Tag Archives: comic books

Happenings…

Sorry for the dead silence. I’ve been working on a few different projects.

Recently I’ve written for the fantastic horror website bloody-disgusting.com.  If that sounds like your jam, feel free to check out my shit here. Horror fiction is my other passion and it’s been a blast working with those guys. I have a few in the can with them that should be published soon.

Also, I have just been hired as a list-writer for CBR.com. My first list just dropped today. I feel like this is doubly important, what with it being about comic books.

As far as comic stuff. Here are some comic book related updates:

  • So I’ve been on a HUGE Batman kick. I’ve been going through Grant Morrison’s run and even though it’s completely fucking bonkers, it might be my favorite next to Scott Snyder’s (sorry, you can’t touch that dude’s batman). Right now, I’m chewing through Kevin Smith’s mini-series. More on that later.
  • Dark Knight Metal is fucking bananas. I’ve read both preludes and the first two issues, but none of the one shots. I’m not 100% sold on it so far, but Snyder is great, so I’ll stick with it.
  • So the mysterious Mr. Oz is actually…drum roll…REDACTED, which is kinda dumb. Look, I haven’t read the issue in which it was revealed, but I really wanted it to be Ozymandias. With The Watchmen Universe being meshed with the main DC continuity, it felt like a perfect entry point. But what the fuck do I know?
  • I liked Logan. I didn’t love it like the rest of the world, but it was the best Wolverine solo movie (I know, not a very high bar), but I had some issues with it.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on the other hand was super fun and probably better than the first one.
  • Wonder Woman ruled, but I do not have high hopes for Justice League. I want it to be good so bad, but I just don’t know.
  • Warner Bros. wants to make a Flashpoint live action film. Sure. Fuck it. Why not?
  • I read through all of Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force run while I was in the hospital after my son was born. It is amazing and it help me keep sane.
  • On a related note: the Marvel Unlimited app is awesome.
  • So I’m still working on a five page comic project. It’s been very slow coming. I’ve taken it upon myself to do the coloring and the lettering, both of which are a pain in the ass if you have no idea what you’re doing. I have one page left for colors and then it’s on to letters. The comic was written by me and drawn by the very talented Donal DeLay.

 

That’s about it for now. I do have some Batman pieces coming up that I’m working on. Hopefully this will get updated more. I do appreciate anyone who reads it and enjoys my work.

P.S. Here’s a random panel that makes me smile.

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(C) Marvel Comics or whatever…

 

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Logan? Yes, please.

So the new trailer for 20th Century Fox’s third Wolverine solo movie, Logan dropped today and it made my comic geek heart sing.

Yes, I know that this trailer bears little resemblance to Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s absolutely stellar limited series Old Man Logan in regards to the players in the story or its primary conflict, but seeing Hugh Jackman all scarred up and grizzled and the overall look of what they showed in the trailer nailed the attitude of the comic.

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*This ain’t your granddaddy’s Wolverine, bub. This is granddaddy Wolverine.*

Maybe I’m a sucker for comics where characters get the ol’ Dark Knight Returns treatment. Hell, I really loved Spider-Man: Reign and some of my fellow comic fans have shunned me because of it. But this movie looks like it might be something special.

…Or it could be a steaming pile of shit like X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Guess we’ll have to wait until March to find out. But my fingers are crossed. Honestly, the Wolverine solo films have nowhere else to go but up.

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Quick Rant

I try to avoid comments sections on pop culture sites like the fucking plague. Often times there seems to be disconnect between what people read and what the writer intended to convey to their audience. This causes chaos (sometimes racist, sexist chaos), and it does nothing to change someone’s opinion, which, if we’re being frank, doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Who gives a shit if an Internet blogger actually liked Batman V. Superman (I mean, they’re wrong, but whatevs)? Why would any intelligent reader get riled up by clickbait?

The answer is that…we’re human. We love the things we love and when someone is mean to those things, we often try to defend them, and sometimes taking up arms is a petty and fruitless endeavor.

I’m writing about this because I have recently fallen into the dark pit of comments. On a rather popular comic book site, I saw a thread that simply read “Alan Moore or Jack Kirby?” I chuckled at how silly this fragmented sentence was and immediately had to see what people were saying. I was actually sort of taken aback. There seemed to be no solid argument for either side. People were referencing comics by both creators and what they meant to the commenters, personally, and in some cases how much they impacted comics themselves.

I immediately wanted to write a post schooling these knuckleheads. I mean, there is a right answer here. And that answer is: Both. Moore has cited Kirby as one of his biggest influences, and both men have created important work that changed the comic landscape at different periods in time. I suppose you could say you there would be no Moore if there were no Kirby, but that’s a huge leap. Ultimately asking a question like it would be like asking, who is a better front man, James Brown or Mick Jagger? They both rule, but certainly one was influenced by the other.

But what do I know? I’m just another asshole on the Internet. I guess the moral of the story is just read more comics and don’t argue about who is the greatest creator of all time. Eventually we’ll get another Jack Kirby and another Alan Moore and another Stan Lee (j/k).

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The work of Brian Azzarello Part 2 FUNSIZE reviews

Let’s get into it:

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Spaceman (2011-2012)

This is a weird one that a lot of folks did not seem to enjoy. I recall being in the monitory in my gaggle of comic buddies when it came to praising Spaceman. I actually thought this miniseries was a well thought out story with some really great ideas. I don’t remember Azzarello ever tackling science fiction before (as long as you don’t count Superman) and I thought he pretty much knocked it out of the park. The characters were great. The unreliable timeline was compelling. I only wish this book had lasted longer.

Final Grade: A-

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Superman: For Tomorrow (2004 -2005)

This one felt like a cash-grab. I don’t direct that toward the creators. No, no, no. That missile is aimed steadily at DC. Jim Lee was hot off of Batman: Hush and this book felt like the publisher wanted to simply capitalize on having such a superstar artist in their ranks. It’s not godawful, but fuck me, it ain’t great. I will say that the scene where Superman basically threatens the Earth was fantastic. Otherwise, this is a forgettable comic, and it makes me sad.

Final Grade: C-

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Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach (2012)

You know what. It’s fine. Not great, not terrible. Just fine. Move along.

Final Grade: Whatever.

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Joker (2008)

Goddammit, I really wanted to love this book. I remember picking the hardback up after the Dark Knight was released. Again, this sort of felt like DC just cashing in on an already established story. There were some interesting aspects to Joker, but overall, the book was more grotesque (which I’m not against, mind you) than compelling. However, the strip club scene is this graphic novel was great. It was absolutely disgusting, but great (see? I’m not a prude).

Final Grade: C+

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The Dark Knight III: The Master Race (2015 – present)

To say this series thus far has been a mixed bag would be a gross understatement. Every time Azzarello and Miller and Co. seem to add something worthwhile to the Dark Knight Universe, things just up and stall the fuck out. Look, so far, this comic is leaps and bounds better that Frank Miller’s abysmal The Dark Knight Strikes Back, but that ain’t saying much. Getting your scrotum pierced with a batarang would be a better time than rereading that fucking nightmare. Maybe Azzarello’s writing is helping elevate what should be a complete goddamn train wreck.

Final Grade: Who fucking knows?

 

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Who’s Afraid of Alan Moore?

Me. I mean the guy does scare me a little.

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Many years ago, I picked up Moore’s magnum opus about Jack the Ripper, From Hell, with the intentions to crush it like a brittle robin’s egg with my fierce comic-consuming eyes, but unlike my experience with some of his other work, this book bit back. Hard.

Now, I’m not saying I didn’t find any of Moore’s other work challenging (shit, you need a working knowledge of turn of the century Victorian pop culture to get half the references in most of it), but they were always rather easy to navigate. But From Hell fucked my world up. It was dense, horrifying, and exhausting to read, and I don’t mean that as an insult.

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*First date.*

I chewed my way through about 150 pages of the trade until I set it down for something else (I have a bad habit of that). I had all the best intentions to finish it up, but never did.

The book was eventually lent out to a co-worker who was talking about the shitty film adaptation with Johnny Depp when I said, “hey, did you know that movie was based on a comic?” I then launched into my whole “more people should read comics and stop wasting their time with shitty TV shows and bad movies.” Johnny-Depp-in-Frederick-Abberline-From-Hell-Movie-Wallpapers

*Fuck you, you beautiful idiot.*

In retrospect, pontificating about the glory of comic books to a non-reader should have never been punctuated with handing them a copy of From Hell. It was too much comic for them. Hell, it was too much for me.

Now, about six years later, I have purchased a new copy of From Hell and I am two issues (or chapters if you fancy) away from finishing it, and let me tell you: it might be the best thing Alan Moore has ever written.

I was going to wait until I was done with the book before I wrote anything about it, but unless this comic drops the ball in it’s final act, which I know it DOES NOT, this tome is one of the greats, not just in comics, but in historical fiction.

But it’s not just Moore’s writing the elevates this comic to the stratosphere: Eddie Campbell’s art is stellar, evoking the era via Victorian style newspaper cartoons. It’s amazing and renders the Whitechaple Murders in graphic detail.

I love Alan Moore, and I want so badly for all his work to be this good. This book is a reminder as to why I was so disappointed in Providence Act 1.

 

 

 

 

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Contract Blues FLASHBACK!

So about 10 years ago I wrote a crime comic called Contract Blues . I was really proud of it and sent it to several publishers, all of which rejected it. I was doing some digging in the ol’ hard drive and came across the individual page files and I thought it would be fun to share them here. I don’t think you can get this any other way anymore. I sold out of the hard copies ages ago, and the digital distributor who was selling it may have screwed me and my artist, the disgustingly talented Lee O’Connor (No, seriously, that dude is amazing; check out his stuff).

Unfortunately without securing a publisher and a solid distributor, the project died. Lee had the layouts for issue two done (they looked fucking amazing) and I had the first five or so issues scripted and ready to roll. But money, work schedules, and just life in general got in the way of completing what I think would have been a really cool pulpy, action, crime, comedy comic book. But hey, I’m biased. This is one of those things I worked on in my twenties and really wished I had finished. I had so much fun working on this project, and if I win the lottery tomorrow, the first thing I would do is pay Lee to be my personal art monkey and crank out the 24 issues I had planned.

But without further ado. Here is Contract Blues #1. I hope you like it.

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Continue reading

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X-Men stuff.

Hey guys, check out this op-ed I wrote about the X-Men movies for http://www.boundingintocomics.com

I don’t say “fuck” in it, but I still think it’s pretty okay.

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Bitch Planet Vol. 1 REVIEW

Note: This review covers the first fives issues of Bitch Planet.

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How can you not open a comic with the name Bitch Planet without a grin on your face?

The title alone would grab even the most jaded comic fan’s attention and make them pluck if from a store shelf and thumb through the pages. It’s a pretty clever sales tactic (maybe?). Now, I’m not sure Bitch Planet’s salacious title was necessarily intended to draw fanboys in, but it’s still a good call on Image’s behalf to give writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Valentine De Landro free reign on this thing (at least, I assume so).

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*Badassery*

From the eye-grabbing title to the ’70s exploitation pastiche of the cover design; and from the punk-rock, feminist, sci-fi tale that’s part The Longest Yard and part Caged Heat to the hectic, yet smooth as a baby’s ass art style, this book feels like a singular vision with very little intrusive fuckery from an editor or a publisher in culling much material.

Bitch Planet is set in far flung (yet not so far-fetched) future where women have become objectified to the nth degree. There is a protocol for every female on earth to be pretty, subservient, and silent. And women who do not conform might just find themselves spirited away to a prison planet, where the guards are fascist perverts and the warden is a steely bitch who parades around as mother mercy to lull weaker inmates into a false sense of security.

But there are those who rise above this sexist reality and will risk it all to take shit down from the inside, bars be damned.

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*I mean, she makes a valid point here…*

The surface story is simple and well-told. But what makes Bitch Planet special (and I mean special in the way that there is nothing else like this on the newsstand) is its biting satire of patriarchal society and its amazing characters.

Each woman in this book has an agenda. They each have unique, strong voices and vastly different personalities. There are not stock characters in this thing. Female characters this strong can be a rare thing to find in a predominantly male-driven industry. So it’s refreshing when you get a character like Penny Rolle, a character who essentially holds up a mirror to all the jumpsuit, leather-clad female comic characters and says, “you ain’t tough, bitch. Look at ya!” Penny is tough. I’m talking eat rebar and shit nails tough.

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*She fucking rules.*

This book is smart, engaging, and dangerous. This comic isn’t for the masses, but it should be. DeConnick’s writing is razor sharp and De Landro’s art matches the tone wonderfully.

The only complaint I have about this book is simply the delays in its release (Bitch Planet seems to be on that six issues a year schedule that Saga has been rocking). I’d read this comic every goddamn day if given the opportunity.

But for now, I’ll take what I can get. Bitch Planet rocks.

Final Grade: A

**All images are from Image Comics. They own them and shit. 

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The Walking Dead RETROSPECT

Note: This retrospect covers the first 150 issues of The Walking Dead. I will not be giving up any explicit spoilers, but some of the links lead to them. So don’t get all click happy if you haven’t read the series yet.

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Unless you’ve been living in an underground fallout shelter in the middle of nowhere (Montana, maybe?), you know The Walking Dead has become a cultural phenomenon that has wormed its way into the cultural zeitgeist like a tick in a deer’s ass.

This is mostly due to the hugely popular AMC television adaptation. But (and yes, I’m about to sound like a comic geek hipster, so please don’t close this page just yet) some of us have adored the source material for the better part of a decade, long before that first episode aired on Halloween in 2010, which makes it hard to discuss the comic series without the shadow of the show looming over any opinion us elite comic dorks might have on the show’s roots like a doomsday eclipse (too much?).

I remember sometime in 2004, a buddy of mine told me about a cool little black and white zombie comic he was reading and passed along the first trade paperback. After reading it, I scooped up the current issues until I was up to date and continued to buy The Walking Dead on a monthly basis for nearly five years. I used to keep a stack of back issues on my toilet tank. Friends and family members would spend a copious amount of time in my bathroom reading through them, long after they conducted their business (that would be pooping, by the way).

The series was all the rage in my circle of friends and we felt like the cool kids (or at least as cool as a pack of comic nerds could be) among out uninitiated fellow comic readers.

“Oh, you haven’t read this?” we’d scoff as we slapped a stack of (hopefully poop-free) singles in front of them. “For shame!”

This went on for some time…until the comic began to spin its wheels. Shortly after the whole “Battle of Woodbury” story arc, I fell out of the series like an epileptic baby in a crib without guardrails.

It wasn’t until several trade paper backs later, that a co-worker of mine discovered the book and asked if it was any good. I told them it was, at least the first 50 some issues or so were, but I had no idea if the series picked itself up by the zombie skull-crushing boot straps. It turned out the series had. It got good again. Like really fucking good. And about twenty issues later, it began to lose steam…until it got good again.

And that’s the deal with The Walking Dead (and with most monthly comics). There are lulls, and at times they feel like bottomless pits of boredom that make you wonder why you ever enjoyed reading the title in the first place. But unlike most ongoing monthly books, the TWD has zero supplemental material to tide you over until your flagship book gets its shit together.

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**Guess I have to deal with this shit for a bit.**

I mean, you can read Detective Comics until it gets shitty, and then easily jump ship to one of the other ten Batman comics on the newsstands and find one that’s worth a damn. TWD doesn’t afford the same luxury. If the comic isn’t good, tough shit. You have to deal with it if you want to know what happens next. You have to deal with characters talking in circles and spitting monologues that are so tiresome you wonder if they weren’t the regurgitated rally cry of a long dead character from years before. You have to deal with the artwork becoming repetitive and the story beats growing benign and cheaply punctuated with character deaths.

There is nowhere to hide from The Walking Dead when things take a nosedive. Shit, even the TV show has Fear of The Walking Dead as a companion piece.

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**There are no tigers in either show, though…so, I guess the comic still has the upper hand.**

There is good news, however. That aforementioned nosedive does not occur too frequently when you consume the series in large chunks. The trade paperbacks, which come out twice a year, do not have issue breaks and read like single chapters of a larger piece. This works to the series’ benefit. We’ve all read novels where things slow down for a chapter (or several chapters if you’re George R.R. Martin – Fuck A Feast for Crows) and most of us can power through until the next.

I’ve read the first 150 issues of TWD and two thirds of them have been in graphic novel form. I can’t image buying this book month-to-month (but honestly, I don’t buy any comics month-to-month outside of the occasional mini-series & Heavy Metal Magazine).

Now as far as story goes, it’s often difficult to tell where creators Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard (and I guess Tony Moore in the first six issues) are going with things, but they always find their way to something interesting and often times shocking. Now, these things don’t always work. In fact, there have been shocking twists and deaths that have left a bad taste in my mouth (ref: the death of REDACTED from issues 100). It’s not that I have a weak stomach for excessive violence. Hell, I think this may be the only book where I kind of chuckled when an infant gets blasted with a shotgun (I know, I know, but go look at that page again; you know you don’t have anything invested in that baby or the person holding it so get off your high horse).

Even with all its shortcoming The Walking Dead is never godawful, and it’s usually enjoyable and even occasionally brilliant.

Kirkman might be a genius for crafting this thing so well. He’s made a soapy drama about the zombie apocalypse and it sells well every month. I don’t know of any other comic book that sells trade paperbacks in Wal-Mart or Target. I’m sure most of that has to do with capitalizing on the success of the television show, but shit, man it works. Kirkman and Co. have television-watchers and comic-readers eating out of the palm of his hand and now those two factions are cross pollinating.

Look, go read The Walking Dead. You can actually buy compendiums that collect the series in 48 issue chunks. And trust me, that first chunk is awesome. The second, not so much, and the third gets back to form.

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**Hey! New people!**

Many of the characters are likeable. Our hero of the book, Rick Grimes, gets put through the wringer so often, you wonder if the shred of humanity he still holds on to is even legit. The supporting cast is very hit or miss. There are some characters who seem like they get killed because Kirkman doesn’t know what to do with them, which is unfortunate. But there are other characters, who are snuffed out, that make the book devastating and actually add gravity to an already dire situation (I’m looking at you, REDACTED my sweet, sweet prince).

But when it comes to problems with characters, my biggest complaint might be with the villains. The series has really only produced three honest to god villains, and just one of them has been truly fascinating. Yes, I’m talking about Negan. And before anyone gets their panties in a twist, I like Alpha and the Governor just fine, but Negan is the closest thing we have to a filthy mirror version of Rick. Also, he’s super charismatic.

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**Ladies…**

According to the creators, we’re about halfway through this series. That’s both a relief and a disappointment. If they would have said we were 50 issues away from the end, I’d be doing back flips (I can’t do a back flip, BTW).

I don’t know what Kirkman has in store for us. He says there are tons of big things on the horizon, but he’s said that before and has delivered a mixed bag. But I’ll call his bluff. I’ll keep reading. And so should you.

Mid-term Grade: B

*Footnote: All images are property of Image Comics.

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Providence Act 1: REVIEW

Note: This review covers issues 1 – 4 of Providence.

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DISCLAIMER: I am dumb and often times, Alan Moore makes me feel dumber. Now on to the review.

Like many of my fellow comic nerds, I absolutely love the work of Alan Moore. Now, I’ll be first to say that not everything he puts out is golden. But this should not detract from how brilliant the man is, nor should it lessen his importance to the graphic medium.

I’m of the opinion that we should judge an artist based on their strongest works (hence why Francis Ford Coppola is still riding that Godfather/Conversation/Apocalypse Now wave; we all saw Jack; fuck that movie). But Moore doesn’t rest on his 1980s DC laurels. If anything, Moore has grown as a writer since the days of Watchmen and Swamp Thing.

Being that he’s bit of an elusive writer, Moore belongs to an echelon of comic creators that actually make me excited when I hear announcements for new work. Guys like Brain Michael Bendis, Geoff Johns, and Scott Snyder always have several stokes in the fire at any given time, which makes them far more accessible, but that’s not to detract from their talents.

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*Best resume ever!*

That’s why when I first heard Avatar Press was going to publish another Lovecraftian horror comic scripted by Moore and drawn by my favorite horror/shock artist, Jacen Burrows, I had to physically wrestle my erection into submission.

I thoroughly enjoyed (but didn’t love) their earlier collaboration, Neonomicon, and thought it had a lot of potential to be great, but was bogged down with Moore’s own fetishism of monster sex/rape.

I pre-ordered Providence Act 1 in Hardback the day its release was announced, and I immediately cracked its spine the day it was delivered, and about halfway through the first issue, I set the book down and walked away, wondering if I would be able to produce the energy to finish it…

This was not good. I had never had that sort of experience with Alan Moore’s work.

You see, usually with Moore’s stuff, I can’t wait to see what’s next (even in the case of Promethea where things were super entertaining at first, but ended super fucking weird). But Providence initially bored me to tears. I mean, all the elements were there: a quasi-detective story about a journalist named Robert Black researching occult stories throughout New England for a “Great American Novel” he intends to write, all the while a looming horror is just behind every door. This is a really cool setup for a story, but the book just didn’t click with me early on.

I did pick Providence Act 1 back up and powered through it, trying my damnedest to be engaged, and by the end of it, I came to two realizations:

  1. I like Lovecraftain stories way more than actual Lovecraft stories. Now, this is a Moore book, but the man is using such thick Lovecraft mythos to convey it, it reads like H.P.’s greatest hits, more so than Neonomicon. I think you can create a Lovecraftian story without relying so heavily on the source material (i.e. Revival by Stephen King, John Dies at the End by David Wong, True Detective Season 1 etc.) and make is stand on its own.
  2. Alan Moore is simply not a “grab you by the collar” sort of writer any more. I doubt very much we’ll see many “a comedian was murdered in New York” openings in future work, which I have mixed feelings about.

Look, Providence is not bad, okay. Not every aspect was a chore and some of those aspects are quite remarkable: The dialogue in this book is some of Moore’s strongest in years; every conversation was well-conceived and felt real; Jacen Burrows’ art is fantastic and disturbing (the street vendor splash page gave me chills); and some of the diary entries were really entertaining and insightful.

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**Good Stuff…**

I’m not giving up on Providence. Eight issues have been released, which means Act 2 should be out soon (this is a 12 issue mini-series, by the way). This book does not tarnish Moore’s image in my eyes. There was enough here to pique my interest for future installments. I just hope they have a little less dreary pacing issues and a little more of this:

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**”Hi, I’m not in this comic.”

Is this shallow criticism? You bet your ass it is. But what can I say? I love monsters. Give me more of them, Mr. Moore.

Final Grade: C-

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