Friday, May 18, 2007


This marks the 400th post to this blog. Wow.

Now, I know that, compared to some other comics-related blogs, that’s pretty puny. But this puppy has a history to it that’s a bit different. I originally started the Comics Waiting Room as a blog only; the full website came years later. CWR began as a group blog, and folks like Graeme McMillan, Chris Allen, Alan David Doane, Joe Rybandt, and others participated in it. Eventually, the group format wound down, and I took back full control of the account, using it as a supplementary spot for reviews; my column at Movie Poop Shoot was always available to me, but sometimes I had so much material that I crossed the two over, hoping to pimp both at the same time.

But when the time came for me to leave View Askew and figured out my next move, this blog was sitting here waiting for me, offering me my best option: buy a new domain and start fresh with it, building from this blog. So was born, and I haven’t looked back. And even with the site to play with, I’ve kept this blog running; it acts as a site updater, plus, I still use it for extra reviews and the occasional commentary.

So, 400 posts later, it’s running strong. I feel pretty damned happy about that. And to celebrate, I offer up a huge Weekend Blog Extra, reviewing 7 titles from the good folks (especially my friend and former CWR contributor Mr. Rybandt) at Dynamite Entertainment.

LONE RANGER #5 is written by Brett Matthews and drawn by Sergio Cariello, and much like the first four issues of the title, it’s another sterling effort. Honestly, it’s difficult to find new things to say about this series; Matthews and Cariello have yet to hit a false note as the story’s progressed, and the characters only get stronger and more intriguing on the page, particularly Tonto. The slow, languid pacing might put off some fans, but for a western, it works just fine. And the iconic way that Cariello and colorist Dean White create the figures and backgrounds is some of the finest cinematography at work in comics right now. The book is up for an Eisner this year- it would be a very deserving winner.

Balanced against the wondrous RANGER, WITCHBLADE: SHADES OF GRAY #1 was already facing an uphill battle with me. Writers Leah Moore and John Reppion and artist Stephen Segovia also started in the hole because I’ve always loathed the Witchblade character (and the fact that the book birthed Michael Turner’s “career”). My primary issue with Sara Pezzini and her alter ego isn’t the ridiculous “costume,” however; my larger problem has always been in the portrayal of Sara herself, and the moronic ways the character has been drawn. No police detective would ever get away with wearing the stupid, revealing outfits artists put her in while she’s out on the job. So imagine my enormous surprise when this book opens with Sara dressed appropriately and joining forces with another female detective who does the same. And then the writers begin to put together a genuinely interesting mystery. All was good, and I actually found myself drawn into the story. Then, two-thirds of the way through the book, Sara shows up at headquarters to interrogate a suspect in a dress that would embarrass a street hooker, and the other female detective gets a shower scene and a “towel not long enough” butt shot. So close, but the trip and fall at the finish line leaves a good-sized strawberry.

From the same writers, Moore and Reppion, and artist Hugo Petrus, comes RAISE THE DEAD #2, DE’s entry into the zombie derby. The first issue felt a little flat to me, but the second picks up the pace a bit. We begin to get some background into what’s going on and the characters find a little time to get to know and hate one another, which proves to be a smart move on the authors’ part. Petrus also gets to stretch a bit more on the art side, given more locales and more zombies to work with, as well as some choice moments that take place before the dead got hungry and went out for brains. I’m still not fully sold on the book, but now I can at least see that the potential is there for it to happen. Another issue or two as solid as this one, and I’ll be fully onboard the bus.

My buddy John Layman writes DARK XENA #1, and new series artist Noah Salonga joins him for the tale, replacing the departed Fabiano Neves (currently drawing Layman’s excellent MARVEL ZOMBIES VS ARMY OF DARKNESS book). Layman’s first Xena book was a stunner; I’d never watched the show and kinda snickered at those who did, but he delivered a great story that made the characters extremely appealing. Now he’s traveled backwards; the TV series left Xena dead at the end, and now we’re finding out how she was resurrected. Sidekick Gabrielle makes a pact with an old god to bring back her friend, but in true “be careful what you wish for fashion” she’s returned as her old evil self. Whoops. The book necessarily lacks the joyful humor of Layman’s first book, and Neves’ absence is felt, but this is still entertaining and very readable. We know the ultimate outcome, but the journey is always the best part, right?

DARKMAN VS ARMY OF DARKNESS #3-4 concludes the titanic team-up of the year. No, not Ash and Dr. Westlake; writers Kurt Busiek and Roger Stern. They, with artist James Fry, have combined to produce one of DE’s more surprising recent efforts. Many attempts to combine franchises fall flat, but using the Necronomicon to resurrect Darkman’s mortal enemy and make some deadites was just about a perfect idea. The two classic pros at the keyboard then put together a nifty balance of action, character moments, and amusing dialogue and created a very “classic” reading comic book. Dense and compressed storytelling, art that serves the story and never itself… they don’t make ‘em like this very often anymore. Throw in some tasty covers from George Perez, and this is one of the more under-publicized and under-appreciated series in memory. Worth a look, either in pamphlet or the eventual trade.

Rick Remender’s CLASSIC BATTLESTAR GALACTICA #4-5 concludes his first series arc. The book has been maddeningly inconsistent; it started out terrific, dipped quickly into a slow, plodding pace, and swerves back around at the end to try and make it interesting. It will come as no surprise that Starbuck, Boomer, and their rescued colonists make it back to the rag-tag fleet; suffice it say, they return with the enemy in tow. Issue five sees artist Carlos Rafael finally turned loose for big action, and the book gets better for it. Part of what ailed Remender earlier in the series was not using his imagination in more expansive ways; there’s no limit to what you can do in comics, but until now, it seems like he’s been thinking “small” in many ways. The improvement here rescues the book and makes the arc successful on the whole, but I can’t help but think that it could have been so much better…

Why do I think that? Because CLASSIC BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: CYLON APOCALYPSE #2-3 shows just how effectively the original series can be done in comics. Writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach and returning artist Rafael take the ball and run with it, still producing the best comic currently featuring either crew. A rogue faction of Cylons has created a biological weapon to use upon its own citizenry, and that weapon falls into the hands of Adama and company, who must decide what to do with a genocidal gift. A war of the Lucifer models, robot protoplasm, hand-held laser fights in a vacuum, planetary assaults, debates over the ethics of bio-weaponry… Grillo-Marxuach has taken the best of the new series, melded it to the classic version, and let his creative side run wild. In fact, if the original series had been this good on a consistent basis (as the new one is), it would have survived, no matter the budget problems that dragged it down. On TV, I prefer Ron Moore’s vision to Glen Larson’s, but right now in the comics milieu, this one has ‘em all beat. Great stuff.

That’s it for issue 400. Thanks for reading. Thanks for your support. Please keep reading, both here, and over at the main site, and I’ll keep working. After all… Wednesday is never more than a week away.

/Marc Mason
Closing out the week: easily one of my favorite books of the year to date. The brilliantly absurdist JOHNNY HIRO mixes action, comedy, and giant monsters and robots perfectly.

Buy it. Immediately.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Two for Thursday! Staffer Ericka Stricklett leaves the CWR behind and heads to her new life in Kentucky, but not before two new prose novel reviews that have comic tie-ins: TRAIN MAN : THE NOVEL and FROM THE NOTEBOOKS OF DR. BRAIN.

Text can be beautiful.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

On the mid-week hump: John Kovalic's brilliant fanboy masterpiece DORK TOWER gets a 10-year celebration collection. These days, strips like PVP and PENNY ARCADE may make a bit more noise, but no one has been doing it longer or better.

To ten more!


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

It's Tuesday and we're still on schedule for the week. Yay! Today's review: THE RIDE: SAVANNAH, the latest entry in the series that (tangentitally) follows the adventures of a really hot car.

Is Georgia on your mind?


Monday, May 14, 2007

Back in action! After two weeks of various personal matters taking up time, the site should start returning to full power this week. Starting off, of course, with a new Manga Monday! This week, PARASYTE returns to print, this time in the original right-to-left format. One of the classic sci-fi horror mangas ever...

Go be scared!