Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Palookaville 11: The Clyde Fans Keep On Turning

In this issue, the elderly businessman who is the narrator of the story not only potters around his otherwise empty building talking to himself, but also he heads outside for a minute to talk to himself!  Really, this is a good comic, though I have nothing else in particular to say about this issue other than that its letters page is filled with cartoonists, many of whom have written in before, but there are also some new names such as Jim Ottaviani, James Sturm, and Ho Che Anderson.  I can't remember for sure, but maybe in the next issue the narrator will make dinner!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Palookaville 10: "Clyde Fans" Begins!

The story that apparently never will end, "Clyde Fans", begins in this issue.  Basically, it's an elderly businessman giving a monologue about his life as he wanders around his former business office and current residence.  Despite how boring that probably sounds, the story is charming enough that I've stuck with it being serialized in dribs and drabs since 1997.  Here are some other random thoughts on this comic:

*Seth's love of drawing old buildings has now developed in this storyline to also loving to draw their interiors.

*Who is the old businessman talking to?  Well, us, the readers, of course!  If not, he's nuts and talking to himself.  Hmm . . . well, maybe he's not nuts; some of the best conversations I've ever had have been with myself, and I bet that goes for you as well.

*The typical Seth themes of nostalgia and regret are served amply here.

*Strangely enough, every letter on the letters page is addressed to "Dear Sir".  I doubt they came in addressed that way.

*The elderly businessman's brother, Simon, resembles an older Seth, so, even though this story is completely fictional, Seth continues to seem to have an analogue character in each of his stories.

*The U.S. price for the comic was $3.75 while Canadians had to pay $4.50.  Ah, for the old days, when the American dollar still had some value relative to other currencies.  Today, the dollars are roughly equal in strength.  If the U.S. continues to just make money out of fairy dust more than Canada does, expect the initial currency ratio for an issue of Palookaville to eventually reverse.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Palookaville 9: "It's A Good Life . . ." Wraps Up

This issue wraps up the "It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken" storyline as Seth finds some answers about Kalo, the cartoonist he's been researching.  Here are some random thoughts on this comic:

*This was the era when Palookaville was being published the most frequently.  If the three times a year schedule had been kept to since 1997, then Palookaville would now be on number 57.  It's on 21 instead.

*From the letters on the letters page, it seems that I was not the only one who was impressed by the seasons changing opening sequence from last issue.  This issue the atmospheric opening scenes don't fare quite as well.  Instead of having the reader observe Seth progress from the train station to Kalo's daughter's house, Seth might have been better off opening with a splash page of the daughter opening the door to greet him.  By the way, the daughter looks like a female version of Seth.  A psychoanalytic critique of this storyline would be quite interesting.  I imagine it would focus on Seth's worries that his art will be forgotten and is a waste of time.  On a cosmic scale, even Shakespeare means nothing, so don't sweat it, Seth.

*Seth apparently went on a signing tour in 1996 for the graphic novel version of the story.  I've visited many of the comicshops/bookstores he signed at such as Quimby's in Chicago, The Beguiling in Toronto, The Million Year Picnic in Cambridge, and the Virgin Megastore in New York.  He was signing at some cool places.

*Seth's Kalo hoax  even goes so far as to include a purported photograph of the man.  I wonder who is really in the photo.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Palookaville 8: More Time Passes For Seth To Get Nostalgic About

In this issue, the quest for Kalo the cartoonist picks up again after a two year pause.  Here are some random thoughts on this comic:

*The issue opens with a beautiful sequence of seasonal scenes, which allows cartoonist Seth to say "time passes" without using a single word. 

*Cartoonist Chester Brown appears again (at this point, he's the second most significant character in the series), and cartoonists Marc Bell and David Collier pop up in the letters page.  Another letter on the page seems to complain about the lack of penis in the last few issues ("I can see why a lot of people write and say that it's boring--because your writing does meander and not once have we seen you masturbate").  Personally, I'm fine with not seeing Seth's penis every issue.

*Seth's brother wears a t-shirt with 1% on it.  I have no idea what it means, but someone reading the story today who isn't aware of when it was published might think it was an Occupy Wall Street reference (probably a satirical one).  Signs and symbols might not change, but their meaning is always on the move.

*"Who's" appears instead of "whose".  Maybe Marvel and the larger comic companies aren't entirely crazy to have some editors.  Even literate, sophisticated cartoonists such as Seth need some proofreading help.  Everyone does.  I just can't afford any, so, alas, poor reader, you might have to suffer the occasional typo.

*The fake Kalo cartoon on the back cover appears on a page featuring two other cartoons.  I suspect that Seth might have pasted the Kalo cartoon onto a vintage magazine page.  If he's faking three vintage gag cartoonists' styles, that's overkill.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Palookaville 7: You Can't Go Home Again

In this issue, on his quest for the cartoonist Kalo, Seth visits a town he used to live in.  Here are some random thoughts on this comic:

*The letters page includes letters from cartoonists Scott McCloud, Gary Panter, David Collier, and S.A. King.

*Seth walks down Memory Lane as he wanders around the town.  He also meets a crazy artist called Annie, and her artwork is featured on the back cover.  Given that Seth made up Kalo, I wonder if Annie is another hoax.

*Sometimes there isn't much to say about these issues.  They're enjoyable to read though.  Seth is an engaging storyteller, though he pretty much doesn't concern himself with plots, so not all readers will find his work interesting.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Palookaville 6: Quest For A Cartoonist

In this issue, Seth moves from a quest for Kalo's cartoons to a quest for the man himself.  Here are some random thoughts on this comic:

*Nostalgia is clearly a major theme of Seth's, though I'm not sure if one can genuinely be nostalgic for a time before one's birth.  Nevertheless, Seth is fascinated by the past, his own and in general, particularly the early to mid 20th Century, and that motif runs through much of his work, but especially this story.

*Though Seth is fascinated by New Yorker cartoonists, Seth would one day have his art appear on the cover of The New Yorker, which back in 1994 when this issue was published, likely seemed like a pipe dream to him.

*Seth's penis doesn't gueststar this issue, but Chester Brown does.  Cartoonists Chris Ware and James Kochalka pop up in the letters page.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Palookaville 5: The Penis Streak Continues!

In this issue, Seth discovers more about the cartoonist, Kalo, whom he is fascinated by and also embarks on a new relationship.  Here are some random thoughts on this comic:

*Yes, the penis streak continues.  This is the third issue straight and the fifth out of six Palookavilles that Seth has drawn his penis.  He's also drawn intimate scenes with three ex-girlfriends.  Assuming the relationships portrayed are autobiographical, I wonder what the women think of being naked comic book characters.  One might regard these portrayals as an early form of revenge porn, but I suspect Seth is too sentimental for that approach.  More likely, he's showing his life as "nakedly" as possible.

*Cartoonist Chester Brown appears again as a character, and cartoonist Peter Bagge has a letter on the letters page.  In my collection, I had many comics by those two.  I still have a couple graphic novels by them.  It appears that the alternative comics world of the 1990s was so small that many of the cartoonists not only knew of one another's work, but actually knew one another.

*In terms of plot, not much happens in Seth's comics--the high drama this issue is when his cat gets sick--but they're enjoyable for the artwork and the slice of life observations and sophomoric philosophising (and I write that fondly--one of Seth's charms as a writer is when he calls himself on his own b.s.).

*On the back cover is one of the fictional Kalo's cartoons.  It's amazing how Seth transformed his drawing style to resemble a mid-20th Century New Yorker cartoonist.  For a long time, I, and I suspect many other readers of Palookaville, thought that Kalo was a real cartoonist.  Knowing that he is fictional isn't terribly disappointing though; it just allows one to read the story as Seth searching for himself.  One could also regard the hoax as a comment that even autobiography is ultimately a fiction in that any portrayal or representation inevitably presents a limited perspective or leaves a lot of details out. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Palookaville 4: "It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken" Begins

In the fourth issue of Palookaville, Seth begins the "It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken" storyline that tells of his quest to find an obscure New Yorker cartoonist.  Here are some random thoughts on this comic:

*There's a trend in the series to always tell longer and more complex stories.  Only the first issue has a single-issue story.  The past two issues were a two-part tale.  "It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken" lasts until issue 9, if I remember correctly.  "Clyde Fans" has been running since issue 10 and shows no sign of ending before the heat death of the universe occurs.

*The letters page features a letter by cartoonist Adrian Tomine, and cartoonist Chester Brown appears as a character for the first time in this issue.

*Once again, Seth draws his penis.  That's three out of four issues, for you keeping track on your scorecards at home.  The penis appearances are never anything gratuitous in that he's bragging about how well-endowed he is or anything, but he sure does like to draw it.  Maybe he, Chester Brown, and Joe Matt were having a contest for most penis appearances in their respective comics series.

*I've never read the graphic novel It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken, but I wouldn't be surprised if Seth changed some things in it so the book isn't just a collection of the serialized story in the comics.  He's very fastidious, so fiddling with a story at every juncture seems like something he would do.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Palookaville 3: Seth Loses His Virginity

This issue finishes the tale begun last issue.  Basically, it tells of Seth losing his virginity and getting his heart broken.  Here are some random thoughts on the comic:

*In two out of three issues, Seth has drawn his penis.  That's how one knows one is reading an alternative comic, I suppose.  That usually doesn't happen in The Amazing Spider-Man.  Well, at least not in the official Spider-Man comics that Marvel publishes.  There are probably some Tijuana Bibles out there that take the amazing in Amazing Spider-Man to new heights, or lows, depending on one's perspective.

*There was a long pause between issues two and three.  That had to be a bit irksome to have to wait two years to finish the story, both for Seth and for his readers.  Fortunately, I missed out on it, since I didn't start buying Palookaville until about 1993 or 1994 anyway.  I have certainly experienced long lagtimes between issues though.  Issue 21 has been once again delayed, this time until November.  For the 21 years that the title has been published, Seth has averaged about one issue a year.

*The issue closes with a nice bit of symbolism.  Seth remembers a time that he and a friend were out fishing and got caught in a storm.  It seemed like they'd be drowned but they made it to shore and later realized the storm wasn't that impressive.  Clearly, Seth is commenting on how overwhelming the emotions of heartbreak are but how quickly they also pass.  The other fish symbolism I'll let you figure out yourself.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Palookaville 2: Things Get Fishy

This issue is the first of a two-part tale (assuming my memory is correct), a slice of life narrative concerning writer/artist/protagonist Seth working at a seafood restaurant and having an affair with his married boss.  Here are some random thoughts on this issue:

*It's printed on newsprint.  Cartoonist Eddie Campbell always argues that comics look best on the worst paper possible, but I doubt many readers, especially those who are also collectors, agree.

*The letters page contains letters from fellow cartoonists Mike Allred and Scott McCloud, as well as David Greenberger, who I assume is the guy behind the Duplex Planet zine. There's also a letter from Malcolm Bourne who seemed to write a letter to every good comic in the 1990s.  I could read an entire novel by somebody, and I've still probably read more words written by Mr. Bourne than that novelist.  He was a very prolific letter writer!

*I think I might have picked this up at Watch The Skies!, which was a great little comic shop in Kent, Ohio USA.  For some reason, Kent had three comics shops.  WTS was the best of them.  Comics folks such as Jay Geldhof, Rob Ullman, and Marc Andreyko used to work there, and other comics folks such as P. Craig Russell, Jill Thompson, Galen Showman, Vince Locke, and Brian Bendis used to stop by when they were in town, which for Russell and Showman was a lot since they lived in Kent or thereabouts.  Anyway, WTS, with the help of wise publishers such as Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly who kept back issues in print, would stock an entire run of a comic at cover price in whatever was the latest printing.  This was good business because if someone liked an issue of something, then he or she could come back and get the rest.  Today, trade paperbacks and digital comics make things even easier, but back in the early 1990s, the WTS system was great.  Though it can be fun to hunt for a missing issue in a comic run, it can also be a pain.  As a result of WTS, I got hooked on and picked up entire runs of comics such as Bone, Love & Rockets, Hate, Eightball, and, of course, Palookaville.  Alas, the store went out of business a few years into my sojourn in Kent.  I always thought that three comic stores in a small town was probably two too many; it's just a shame that the best one went under first.    

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Palookaville 1: Seth Gets Started!

The first issue of Palookaville appears to be an autobiographical account of the time writer/artist Seth was attacked by homophobic thugs on the subway.  Here are some random thoughts on the comic:

*Palookaville originally was spelled with a hyphen as Palooka-ville.  At some point Seth must have changed his mind and made it all one word though.

*Seth's real name is Gregory Gallant.  Seth is his penname.  Perhaps he chose it so he wouldn't appear to be a Stan Lee character come to life (Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Reed Richards, and the list goes on).

*I like the cardstock covers Drawn & Quarterly uses.  It makes their comics stand out from most others, even other alternative comics.  My copy was a second printing from 1994, so I got the improved production values.  The first printing in 1991 was probably not so fancy.

*If you read a lot of indie comics, then you may have met Seth before as a character in Chester Brown's Yummy Fur and Joe Matt's Peepshow.  Brown and Matt also appear as characters in Seth's comics.

*I must have liked Palookaville a lot.  I complain about $2.99 comics now, and Palookaville was $2.95 back in 1994.  I was willing to accept higher prices on indie comics though since they generally had no advertising and so were financially supported entirely by the readers.  I must have fancied myself patronizing the arts.  Along those lines, I have always regarded action figures as the poor person's sculpture gallery.

*The reason that Palookaville is the last bit of my comics collection being reread is that I started reading it before and then realized I was missing issue 15.  I seemed to miss a lot of issue 15s as this happened with a few other titles as well (34 was another problem number).  In any case, I tracked this issue 15 down, but saved the series for last because Seth has been publishing a serialized story called "Clyde Fans" in the comic since 1997 and I was hoping that he might finally finish it.  A new issue of Palookaville is supposed to be out this month, so maybe I'll get lucky.  If not, the series is still going out the door.  I like it a lot, but while downsizing my comics collection from thirtysome boxes down to just one, if I kept everything I liked, then I'd still have thirtysome boxes of comics.  I can always read "Clyde Fans" when the completed story is collected.  Even if I never read the finished story, waiting 16 years for it is probably being patient enough for a reader.  It's especially frustrating when Seth will go off and do another complete graphic novel in the middle of "Clyde Fans", which has happened several times now.  I'm surprised a crazed fan hasn't kidnapped him yet and chained him to the drawing table and told him to finish the damn thing already!  Not that I would ever consider doing that.  If I drove up to Canada, homeland of Seth, I would be too busy gorging myself on Big Turk and Coffee Crisp candy bars to worry about Seth. I might get in a sugar frenzy though and harass rocker Danko Jones about when he's finally going to bring his band to play Cleveland.  

*This issue is a bit gritty for Seth.   He's not exactly a Harvey Pekar everyman type of figure, so much of his work is stylish and nearly-pretentious (he usually dials it back in at the last minute by making fun of his pretensions).  Aside from the stylish art, this issue is straight-up social realism.  A bit of Seth's trademark irony does work his way in.  He gets beat up by homophobic idiots, and he's not even gay.  The jerks just think he is.  This is likely a true story, but with Seth it's hard to tell.  This is the guy who once made up a fake New Yorker cartoonist and then wrote an entire "autobiographical" graphic novel (serialized in Palookaville first) about how he tracked the cartoonist down.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

She-Hulk 21: Dan Slott And I Say Goodbye To She-Hulk

This is the last of my She-Hulk posts, as it's the last of the She-Hulk comics I own.  Here are some thoughts on it:

*I really like the cover as Jennifer Walters gives her alter ego a good talking to.  This scene does actually occur in the comics, so this isn't a thematic cover.  This issue sees Slott wrapping up a bunch of plotlines as he clears the stage for new writer Peter David, who gets namechecked this issue as well.

*I tried the first Peter David issue and thought it was all right, but I didn't carry on reading his run.  Even though David was probably a bigger name in comics than Slott was at the time, he would have a tough time improving on what Slott did with his run.  Apparently, other readers thought similarly, as the series folded about a year later, having dropped about ten thousand copies per month from Slott's last issue.

*I'd love to see a new She-Hulk series.  Maybe there is someone out there who could top Slott.  Every time she gets an ongoing series, She-Hulk gets improved upon.  She hasn't had a series this decade.  Maybe with Marvel's rebooting, called Marvel NOW!, there will be room for a new She-Hulk title.

*Slott and co-writer Ty Templeton have fun explaining all the continuity errors in the Marvel universe with a story showing how people from an alternate Earth were coming to the Marvel universe and impersonating their counterparts.

*She-Hulk sings Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping" once again, bringing the series full circle to Slott's first issue.  The finale is satisfying, but seeing all the plotlines, such as Pug being a servant of Morgan le Fay, that will never get to be followed up on, is bittersweet.  Slott, however, had to go since he was drafted as one of the writers on Amazing Spider-Man.  One can't blame the guy for wanting a bigger paycheck.

*And, I have to go as well.  Tomorrow, we head across the comics universe from superheroes to the alternative/indie crowd.  Next stop:  Palookaville!  It's the last stop too.  It's the last bit of my comics collection that headed out the door in the last decade.      

Friday, October 19, 2012

She-Hulk 20: A Visit To Duckworld

This issue sees more manic wrapup of plotlines as writer Dan Slott's run on She-Hulk concludes.  The issue is still fun to read, but it would have been nice to have seen these stories fully fleshed out.  Here are some more random thoughts on this issue:

*We are treated to a quick visit to Duckworld, homeland of Howard The Duck, which makes for a great cover.

*Even with all the wrapping up of plotlines, some still get unaddressed.  For example, we never learn what happened to She-Hulk's boss, Holliway, who is presumably still wandering around looking for his niece.  We do find the niece, however.  Meanwhile, Slott, or co-writer Ty Templeton, are still introducing new subplots, none of which will likely ever get followed up on.  Thanks, guys!

*Man-Thing gueststars, as does She-Hulk's former boyfriend Richard Rory.  It's always a nice treat to see characters such as them.  Some of the Marvel characters can't really star in their own titles.  Man-Thing's a prime example.  Unless you're Alan Moore, what can a writer do with a bit of swamp muck wandering around in a swamp?  Not much.  Slott uses these bit characters well though; they're better as supporting characters.

*The letters page has disappeared for several issues now, along with Pip The Troll.  That's too bad, as it was a funny gag.  Either no one wrote in or they couldn't spare the page.  I do miss the letters page in comics.  Not many are left.  And, speaking, er, blogging of not many, not many She-Hulk posts are left.  Only one.  Tomorrow.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

She-Hulk 19: Dan Slott Gets A Co-Pilot

This issue concerns the depowered She-Hulk being roped into a trial of The Hulk villain The Leader.  It's much better than the past few issues, possibly because writer Dan Slott was co-writing it with his frequent collaborator Ty Templeton or just that Slott was finally free of the World War Hulk tie-in stuff.  Here are some other random thoughts on this issue:

*Slott and Templeton apparently traded off plot and scripting duties on the three issues of She-Hulk they wrote together.  I suspect that Slott, who was also writing The Avengers:  The Initiative at the time, needed some help meeting deadlines.  The final Slott issues are a lot of fun, but they're slightly manic (some of the pages have ten to eleven panels on them) as he seems to be racing to wrap up all his plotlines before passing on the series to new writer Peter David.

*Panels from previous She-Hulk comics get sampled into the art for a cool effect when Jennifer Walters, She-Hulk's alter ego, is on the witness stand.  Walters's rival, Mallory Book, is trying to argue that gamma radiation, the source of The Leader's and She-Hulk's powers, makes people affected by it addicts and unable to control their behavior.  As evidence, she shows how Walters has always preferred being She-Hulk to being herself ever since she got the blood transfusion from her cousin The Hulk (Marvel probably explained this away at one point, likely due to the shared DNA between Bruce Banner and Walters, but why don't more people in the Marvel Universe try to get some blood from Banner so they too could turn green, walk around in their underwear, and smash things?). 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

She-Hulk 18: Shulkie Vs. Shellhead!

In this issue, She-Hulk learns that Iron Man and some other Marvel universe icons conspired to shoot her cousin The Hulk off into space, and she goes to express her displeasure at that event.  Here are some random thoughts on this issue:

*This issue marks writer Dan Slott's 30th issue of She-Hulk, making him the writer who has written the most She-Hulk solo issues (actually he probably hit that mark last issue, but it's never too late to celebrate).  She-Hulk's been fortunate in her writers.  She's had some good ones including Stan Lee, John Byrne, Steve Gerber, and Slott.

*She-Hulk returns to her law firm in this issue and I suspect Slott agrees with her when she calls it the place she shouldn't have left.  Finally, he can put the S.H.I.E.L.D. She-Hulk as intelligence agent storyline away, which was likely imposed upon him by higherups, and return to the storyline he had to leave dangling for a few issues.

*S.H.I.E.L.D. thinks that The Hulkbusters have captured The Hulk and they set up a "Mission Accomplished" banner, which allows Slott to poke fun at the infamous too early declaration of victory by George W. Bush in the Iraq War.

*She-Hulk loses her powers, but she claims that she'll make Iron Man suffer more in her lawyer alter ego.  She-Hulk smashes, but Jennifer Walters sues.

*This was the best of Slott's S.H.I.E.L.D. stories, mainly because he was able to go back a bit more than in previous issues to the storyline he had been developing for twenty-five issues or so before the Civil War, Planet Without A Hulk, and World War Hulk events interrupted him.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

She-Hulk 17: Well, At Least Tony Stark's Cooler Than Clay Quartermain

This month, She-Hulk sleeps with Iron Man.  And, oh yeah, she fights a Hulk villain who's taken over the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier.  Boy, she's really gotten into the whole spy thing.  Just like James Bond, she has a different love interest each time.  Here are some other random thoughts on this issue:

*During the sleeping with Tony Stark scene (he doesn't wear his armor during sex apparently, though with the She-Hulk involved one would think he might have done so), Stark and Shulkie discuss sexual double standards such as when a male sleeps around he's often considered a stud whereas if a woman does the same she's often considered a slut.  So, one gets some feminist critique mixed in with the cheesecake, which I suppose makes everything all right, er, maybe not.  Place your bets now on whom She-Hulk will sleep with next month! 

*This issue sees writer Dan Slott having a bit more fun it appears than he did in the previous two S.H.I.E.L.D. issues.  He disposes of three Hulk villains being taken down by The Hulkbusters (um, why is She-Hulk in a group devoted to taking down her cousin again?) in three panels, whereas one of those panels would have taken up the entirety of an issue in the past couple of issues.  And, he does it all to the tune of Ray Parker Jr.'s (er, maybe Huey Lewis And The News's) "Ghostbusters" song!

*The doublepage spread of She-Hulk fighting a number of Nick Fury Life Model Decoys (robots that function as body doubles for Fury) is one of the most fun panels in Slott's run.  Old Marvel hounds will enjoy identifying all the Nick Fury quotes from over the years that appear in it.

*At this point, Slott was also writing Avengers:  The Initiative, which was also a good series (though not as fun as She-Hulk, of course!).  He was slowly making his way towards the heart of the Marvel universe.  Of course, he didn't forget his roots.  She-Hulk popped up a couple of times in that series as well.

Monday, October 15, 2012

She-Hulk 16: Remember The Incredible Hulk 181 With Wolverine And Wendigo? Wouldn't It Have Been Cooler If It Had Been She-Hulk Instead Of The Hulk? Um, No.

In this issue She-Hulk and Wolverine fight Wendigo (or The Wendigo, I wouldn't want to offend a large furry creature with sharp claws by messing up its name).  It's basically a slugfest and none too interesting.  Writer Dan Slott appears to be in a slump as his She-Hulk run begins to wrap up (only five issues remain after this one, making it the first part of the typical six part story arc of modern comics storytelling).  Here are some other random thoughts about this issue:

*There are more three and four panel pages in this issue.  One could be charitable and describe it as widescreen action, but I suspect it's a bored writer trying to fill up the pages as painlessly as possible.

*Characters from the previous law firm storyline pop up in a subplot.  It's the best part of the issue.  I'm glad Slott snuck that in.  The panel count goes up on these pages as well, showing that here Slott has a lot to say.

*She-Hulk wants to fool around with Wolverine, but he turns her down because he heard that she slept with The Juggernaut, an X-Men baddie.  He may also turn her down because she wears a bikini during a snowstorm.  Plus she's still a married woman, though that dangling plot thread gets left alone in this issue.  In many ways, She-Hulk gets portrayed as a typical male action hero except she has a vagina.  If Marvel ever gives her another series, they should select a female writer.  I bet She-Hulk would be portrayed a bit differently.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

She-Hulk 15: She-Hulk, Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D.!

In this issue, She-Hulk joins the intelligence and law enforcement agency S.H.I.E.L.D. and fights Hulk baddie The Abomination, and that's about all there is to it.  It's not one of writer Dan Slott's best stories, for reasons I'll discuss below.  Here are some random thoughts on this issue:

*The trippy cover by Greg Horn appears to be a homage to artist Jim Steranko, whose run on Nick Fury, Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Strange Tales and on a subsequent Fury title are still well-regarded today for their stylistic layouts.

*The story inside the trippy cover though is pretty flat.  It's basically a standard Marvel slugfest.  A lot of pages have three or four panels on them just like when previous She-Hulk scribe John Byrne lost interest in the title.  I suspect that Slott's heart wasn't in the whole She-Hulk becomes an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline.  It likely was foisted on him when higher-ups on Marvel focused on The Hulk for their next big event.  So instead of being able to happily play in his own obscure corner of the Marvel universe, Slott was forced to set his months long carefully-built storyline aside and make his series match She-Hulk's role in the wider Marvel universe.  Slott conveniently provides an analogy for his dissatisfaction, and perhaps self-loathing, at having to detour and write this stuff, by having She-Hulk sleep with one of the most boring Marvel characters ever, Clay Quartermain.  Sometimes, working for the man, even Stan The Man, sucks.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

She-Hulk 14: Androids Have Feelings, Just Not Nerves

This issue focuses on the supporting character Awesome Andy, an android who has developed human-like feelings.  As usual, writer Dan Slott and the crew do a nice job, but this issue did feel a little flat compared to the others.  Here are some more random thoughts on this issue:

*She-Hulk and Man-Wolf break up.  It's a shame that comic companies often like to return to the typical status quo instead of letting the characters develop.  Having She-Hulk continue in the marriage would have actually been the more interesting narrative choice, but perhaps Slott knew that his run was wrapping up and he was clearing the table per se for the next writer.

*The Mad Thinker, Andy's creator, is drawn in a manner that resembles how one of his real-life creators, Jack Kirby, looked.

*The series gets taken in a new direction as She-Hulk moves from being a lawyer to working for S.H.I.E.L.D., a government intelligence agency.  That's too bad.  The law firm setting still had a lot of narrative life left in it.  I suspect this shift is a result of Slott being jerked around by more powerful forces at Marvel since She-Hulk was being used in two major events, Civil War and World War Hulk.

Friday, October 12, 2012

She-Hulk 13: Blame It On Thanos

This issue concludes the Thanos storyline, and longtime Starfox fans are vindicated in that their hero is found to be innocent (he does voluntarily give up his love powers, which were corrupted by Thanos--I suppose that makes sense, since in the era of roofies and date rape, his powers are kind of creepy, but they were what also made him a bit unique among heroes in the 1970s and 1980s).  Yet another fun comics from writer Dan Slott and crew!  Here are some random thoughts on this issue:

*Marvel in this era would waste the splash page with a full page recap of the storyline.  As former Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter knew, recapping storylines are important since every comic is someone's first, but I don't think they needed to waste a whole page on this.  I suppose this is better than wasting a page or two of the actual comic to cheesily recap the story through some lame character dialogue like they would often due in the 1970s and 1980s, but a text box across the top of a splash page would have sufficed and then the reader could have had an extra page of the comic.

*Assistant editor Aubrey Sitterson is a professional wrestling fan and has since gone on to work on wrestling video games.  I'm not quite sure why She-Hulk needed two assistant editors and an editor (as I stated in an earlier post, I'm not sure why a Marvel editor even needs an assistant), but Sitterson made a fun letters page (even when no one wrote in such as in this issue).  I thought the other assistant editor, Molly Lazer, might have made him up as an over the top persona who enjoyed wrestling and pornography and could go toe-to-toe with such fictional characters as Pip The Troll, but Sitterson is apparently real.  It's too bad that Slott didn't work in a She-Hulk becomes a professional wrestler storyline for Sitterson.  He did have a boxing storyline in the last series at least, so there was a bit of ring action.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

She-Hulk 12: Starfox Returns!

Writer Dan Slott picks up the Starfox storyline again in this issue, which sees She-Hulk whisked off into outer space by The Living Tribunal to observe Starfox's trial on Titan.  Here are some random thoughts on this issue:

*Thanos pops up.  He apparently will be the villain of the next Avengers movie.  A new book, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, among other things, tells the story of those trippy days in the 1970s that led to the creation of Thanos and Starfox and the rest of the cosmic gang who appear here. It looks like an interesting read. Given my backlog of reading material, due to rereading my comic book collection, I should get to it around 2015.

*Slott likes the obscure characters of the Marvel universe so much that when a character needs a doctor, of course, he gets treated by Jane Foster from Thor.

*Like the old John Byrne-era letter pages, a character will start answering the letters, but it's not She-Hulk this time; it's Pip The Troll.  Unlike Jim Starlin, creator of many of the characters Slott uses here, Slott doesn't appear to take psychedelics.  He probably doesn't need to.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

She-Hulk 11: A Lover's Quarrel Is Very Different When One Is A Werewolf And The Other A Hulk

She-Hulk and her new hubbie Man-Wolf get in a fight, you know like newlyweds often do, except newlyweds don't usually have super-powers and pals such as The Two-Gun Kid with silver bullets, so it's another fun issue from writer Dan Slott and crew.  Here are some random thoughts on this issue:

*The cover is a parody of the iconic, and as a result often parodied, Grant Wood painting American Gothic.  What would Wood wonder with werewolf wrung within work?

*Sorry for the alliteration above.  I got a little carried away, albeit an admirable and avid aside.

*Marriage is hard work, even for those with superpowers.  Still, She-Hulk's a lawyer, so she should be able to draft a separation agreement easily enough if things don't work out.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

She-Hulk 10: I'm A Slott Slut!

She-Hulk gets used to married life in yet another fun issue by writer Dan Slott.  After reading his She-Hulks in order and some of his other comics such as his Great Lakes Avengers stuff on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, I think I'm becoming a Slott Slut (or whatever fans of Dan get called), and I'll be checking out his work more often in the future.  Here are some random thoughts on this issue:

*The cover has a couple of folds in it.  I think they were going for an old folded up Bmovie poster feel but I'm not sure why they bothered with the folds when the Bmovie poster idea would have probably worked out well enough on its own.  Maybe they were going for something else.  If anybody has any better ideas, then please comment.

*Previous She-Hulk creator John Byrne's tradition of having She-Hulk fight silly villains returns when Ruby Thursday pops up in this issue.  If you don't know about Ruby, she has a red ball for a head and a hand sticks out of the ball (don't ask).

*Slott pokes some fun at the confusion all the various She-Hulk series over the years have caused collectors, and then the production staff on this comic actually does get confused and in a crucial scene runs the cover to issue 7 from this series where they meant to run the cover from issue 7 of the previous series.  Things were much easier when rebooted comics just picked up the numbering of the previous series, weren't they?

Monday, October 8, 2012

She-Hulk 9: She-Hulk Gets Hitched!

Yes, this is the issue She-Hulk goes to Las Vegas with The Man-Wolf and gets married (and by an Elvis impersonator naturally).  It's another great Dan Slott issue.  Sometimes there's not much to say about these issues, other than that they're well-written and even non-superhero fans will likely enjoy reading them.  Here are some more random thoughts anyway:

*I never got issue 8.  Not only did I miss it when it first came out, but I never even saw it in the back issue bins when I was looking for it in the last year or two.  Despite probably having the highest print run of any Dan Slott She-Hulk (it went to a second printing), the book isn't readily found.  This is likely because it tied in with the Marvel event Civil War in which Captain American and Iron Man faced off in a sort of Bush Jr. era parable about the tradeoff between liberty and security, so people collecting Civil War comics (as in the Marvel storyline I just described, not 1861-1865 battles between the Union and the Confederacy, though I'm sure some people out there collect those as well) also bought copies and apparently they're hanging on to them.  I did read the comic on Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited and it was another good one.

*9 features two short stories, both a lot of fun.  Paul Smith does the art on the first story.  I enjoyed his X-Men run as a kid, so it was nice to see a comic by him again.

*Spider-Man characters pop up and Slott once again demonstrates he has a fine handle of the Webslinger and crew, a factor that no doubt led to him becoming Spidey's regular writer.  Along those lines (weblines of course), he apparently has something big planned for the last issue of Amazing Spider-Man (700, for those of you keeping count on your scorecards at home) which will be published in December (why these comic companies keep wanting to reboot old series with new numbering is a topic I won't rant about, but yes, it is annoying).  Rumor has it that Spidey gets Doc Ock's arms grafted to him or something just in time for Marvel to goose sales with a new number one issue.  It sounds ridiculous, but it's Slott so even I might be picking up that one (if I can find it; I might get left out of the fun just like with She-Hulk 8).  I don't think I've bought a Spider-Man comic from the stands in a decade or so, but reading these She-Hulks makes me want to see what Slott's been up to lately.  Plus, I only buy about a comic a week and I like to buy one a month from DC, Marvel, and an independent company, and I haven't bought any Marvels regularly for a few months (though I did pick up Steve Gerber's last Man-Thing series) since I tired of Ed Brubaker's writing on Captain America and Winter Soldier (I still love his Criminal though, but strangely enough I couldn't get into Fatale, maybe due to the supernatural aspects).

*The spittake page (with nine characters spitting out liquid upon hearing of She-Hulk's marriage) on page 7 is fantastic.  We're in Alan Moore genius page layout and characterization territory here, folks.      

Sunday, October 7, 2012

She-Hulk 7: Starfox Gets Kicked In The Nuts

This issue concludes the Starfox storyline, and it does indeed more or less conclude with She-Hulk hitting him below the belt.  It's another great Dan Slott comic.  Here are some other random thoughts on it:

*The story title is clever:  "Beaus And Eros".  If you don't get it, then say it aloud and know that Starfox's real name is Eros (no wonder he's a player, eh?).

*Artist Will Conrad mostly does a nice job but some of the characters such as Pug don't resemble what they used to look like much.  One nice thing about drawing She-Hulk is that as long as the colorist remembers to tint her green she's recognizable.

*Starfox certainly looks like a date rapist here, but fortunately for fans of the character a followup story will find him innocent (though after this story it's hard to ever view him with the innocence of the 1980s; his charisma powers certainly aren't as charming anymore).

Saturday, October 6, 2012

She-Hulk 6: Starfox Romances The Stars, The Black Holes, And Whatever Else You Got

This issue starts a new case of legal hijinks involving the superhero Starfox being accused of date rape.  Of course, this being She-Hulk, it's a comedy, and, despite the more serious overtones, another fun issue.  Here are some random thoughts on it:

*This was the first Dan Slott She-Hulk I bought, and I was quite impressed, so I picked up more.  I probably would have continued to buy it on an ongoing basis, but issue 8 was a Civil War tie-in and sold out before I could get a copy (in fact, I never did get a copy of it), so after that I just bought an issue once in a while.

*I bought the issue because I liked Starfox and hadn't seen him in a comic for some time.  I enjoyed The Avengers run by Roger Stern, and Starfox was a big part of that.  It doesn't appear that Marvel used the character much since then, making him ripe for a Slott revival/revisioning.  Slott's definitely right though that Starfox's ability to make people agreeable and happy could make him suspect, and Slott uses that ability to make another complication for the two love triangles in the series, as well as for a lot of suspense and comedy.

Friday, October 5, 2012

She-Hulk 5: Welcome To The Twenty-First Century, Cowpoke!

This issue concerns Two-Gun Kid's adaptation to the 21st century.  Brought back from the timecops' pokey by She-Hulk, the Western hero lassos (lassoes?  Any cowboys out there know the standard spelling for the third person singular of lasso?) a place for himself at She-Hulk's law firm.  Here are some random thoughts on this issue:

*I really like the cover.  Not only is it visually striking, but Greg Horn's attention to detail also makes it charming.  Check out the horse's grin, Two-Gun Kid's bemusement, and She-Hulk's crush of the railing or horsepost or whatever the wooden thing is (you can tell I don't ride horses, eh?).

*This is another very funny issue by writer Dan Slott.  Unfortunately, it's also the last issue by artist Juan Bobillo and the series would never again have an artist so well-suited for it.  Though he appears to be busy with advertising work and fine arts exhibits currently, Bobillo doing more comics would be welcomed by me. 

*Slott opens up another love triangle, this time between Awesome Andy, Two-Gun Kid, and uptight lawyer Mallory Book.  He mines much comedy from Two-Gun's time displacement (my favorite is the time traveler support group), but it's hard to top having Two-Gun blunder accidentally into a love triangle involving a big gray android (Ok, maybe a big gay gray android might top it).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

She-Hulk 4: Green Guilt

This issue explains what Shulkie was doing between the two Dan Slott series.  She apparently was cleaning up after herself.  Though Slott was taking She-Hulk to new heights with his stories, other Marvel writers were using her as a plot device to do dumb stuff such as killing The Vision or wrecking a small town in a Hulk Smash mindless rampage (no PMS jokes please).  In this issue, a guilty Jen Walters helps clean up a small town in Idaho that She-Hulk wrecked when another writer made her go nuts.  It's an all right issue, but does "fill" like a fill-in, perhaps due to the absence of artist Juan Bobillo.  Here are some random thoughts on the issue:

*Following last issue's tribute to Iron Man 100, this cover appears inspired by the cover of Secret Wars 4, which features The Hulk holding up tons of rock to save his fellow superheroes.  Then again, maybe it's a coincidence that both are issues 4 with Hulks holding up tons of rock.  Or, perhaps it's a fromage.

*The letters page jokes that last issue's letters page featured readers showing off their She-Hulk tattoos.  There is no letters page in the previous issue.  With the popularity of tattoos today (bleccchhhh!), someone out there probably does have The She-Hulk on their belly or something though.

*Dan Slott clearly has fun playing in the Marvel toybox.  This issue he breaks out an old Western hero, The Two-Gun Kid, and adds him to the comic's cast.  Like She-Hulk, he's a lawyer, so, no, he's not into the whole frontier justice thing, well, except when he's the one shooting someone vigilantestyle.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

She-Hulk 3: Or Maybe This Is Issue 100

This extrasized special issue celebrates 100 issues of She-Hulk, though officially it's just #3 of her current series.  The main story features She-Hulk being on trial by the timecops for violating time travel protocols, which provides writer Dan Slott with a good excuse to recap She-Hulk's entire career.  As a bonus, the comic includes reprints of issues #1 of both The Savage She-Hulk and The Sensational She-Hulk.  Here are some random thoughts on this issue:

*Not only is this issue a lot of fun, it's actually a good value, which can't be said of most comics from this era, or even today.  For $3.99, readers got 82 pages of comics.  I wish comic companies published more issues like this!  Of course, I think I got it for a buck years later, making it even more of a bargain.

*The cover is a homage to #100 of The Invincible Iron Man (or, as artist John Byrne liked to call it, a fromage, especially when the artist was attempting to swipe the work of a previous artist and then got caught doing so--this one's clearly an intentional tribute though).

*Speaking of Byrne (figuratively, literally I'm blogging of Byrne) he appears in this issue alongside other She-Hulk creators and a cast of characters that includes everyone from The Avengers to Howard The Duck.

*The issue is also filled with guest artists including Don Simpson of Megaton Man fame (well, "fame" might not be the right word, but I like his work), which might be the only time Simpson's art has graced a Marvel comic.  Note to Marvel:  If you could get Simpson drawing something else, then I'd probably buy it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

She-Hulk 2: Hawkeye Comes Back From The Dead

This issue completes the teamup with the then-deceased Hawkeye (brought back through some time travel tomfoolery), and it's another good one.  Here are some random thoughts on this issue:

*It's ironic that though comics are arguably better than ever these days, arguably less people read them than ever before.  Take She-Hulk's comics as an example.  Dan Slott's She-Hulk comics are probably the best the character has ever had, but they sold much less than her previous series in the 1980s and 1990s, which weren't as good.  This decade, the poor green dear doesn't even have a series.

*The story wraps up to a satisfying conclusion, but Slott also manages to work in a cliffhanger.  He seems to be making his story threads connecting the individual issues more explicit this time around.

*The comic also features a fun backup story starring Franklin Richards, son of Mister Fantastic and The Invisible Woman.  It's written by Marc Sumerak, who's going to be at the Akron Comicon, which looks like a fun event.

Monday, October 1, 2012

She-Hulk 1: The Fourth Time's The Charm!

She-Hulk got her fourth series in 2005.  Like the others, it wouldn't last, but it ran the second longest of her series, and it might be her best, thanks to writer Dan Slott (the third series was by Slott as well, but he wrote more issues of this one).  This first issue is a bit slice-of-lifeish, which is nice, but it also sets up the following issue, which concerns She-Hulk attempting to bring her dead friend Hawkeye back to life through the wonder of time travel.  Here are some random thoughts on this issue:

*The cover envisions She-Hulk as Lady Justice, which is the second time this has been done.  John Byrne on issue 50 of The Sensational She-Hulk also used this idea for a cover.  Unlike Byrne's cover, more than just She-Hulk's breasts appear here, so I suppose some progress on the don't only treat women as sexual objects front has been made since 1993.  Then again, look at She-Hulk's ridiculous costume . . .

*I'm not quite sure why they didn't add another word to the title to distinguish it from the 2004 series.  Why not The Stupendous She-HulkThe Savvy She-HulkThe Supreme She-HulkThe Suing She-Hulk (she is a lawyer, after all)?  The series is basically a continuation of the previous one since it has the same creative team, so perhaps that's why the same title was kept.  It should have been #13 though instead of another #1.  Supposedly, comics sales drop after every issue these days until the series is ended and then rebooted to start the process again.  This is quite bizarre.  One would think a good series would pick up readers while bad series would lose readers.  Apparently in today's comics industry they all lose readers, but the bad series just lose readers faster.

*The issue begins with Jen Walters listening to Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping," a song Slott used to great effect in the first issue of the previous series.  That band is finally disbanding after three decades.  Their last release will be an ep commemorating former U.K. prime minister Margaret Thatcher's death (she and the Chumbas didn't get along) to be released when she dies.  I rather like Chumbawamba so I'll be sorry to see them go, but obviously, aside from She-Hulk and myself, the rest of the world stopped listening to them long ago.  Someday, when civilization collapses, humanity will construct shelters using old 1990s cds such as Tubthumper and mud.  What else can be done with all the Alanis Morissette and Stone Temple Pilots cds piling up in the remaining used record stores today?

*Rocket Raccoon  appears in a cameo, but Slott doesn't use him otherwise.  This is probably meant as a tribute to the Byrne run.  I'm glad Slott included him as well, so I could finally learn how to spell his name properly (I prefer the one c racoon spelling since that's closer to how I pronounce the word). 

*Through the character Stu Cicero, who administers the comics library at the law firm (don't ask, just read the comic), Slott complains about comics readers waiting for trade paperbacks instead of supporting single issues.  He also pokes fun at the six-issue story arc pattern of comics today.

*The letters page returns!  Hooray!