Thursday, 30 July 2009

Ill-Gotten Gain

Well, not particularly ill-gotten; I did pay for the things. But anyway, here's the list of comics wot I got this week:

Dark Reign Hood #3 (of 5)
Detective Comics #855
Fantastic Four #569
Ignition City #4
New Avengers #55
Secret Warriors #6
Superman #690
Terror Inc Apocalypse Soon #4 (of 5)
Ultimatum #5 (of 5)

It strikes me that my posting of this information every week will be of little or no interest to anyone, even if anyone is reading this blog, but I guess it'll be something I can read back over and see what I was buying on a given week. Then again, it also strikes me even I might not be interested in doing that.

Aw fuck it. I'll carry on doing it. What the hell else am I gonna write about?

Not sure what I'm looking forward to most out of these. New Avengers maybe? Ultimatum I'm only buying 'cos I wanna see how it ends; it's been pretty appalling all the way through. Fantastic Four I'm quitting after this issue. Just wanna see how Mark Millar's run finishes (although he's only co-writing at this point). And on the danger list (as in, in danger of being dropped) we have Secret Warriors and Superman. I want to see socks being pulled up pretty sharpish with those two, or else they're gone. So there.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Late Lamented Letters Pages

Letters pages in comic books finally fizzled out a few years ago. The last one I remember seeing was in an issue of Captain America some way into Ed Brubaker's run. DC had already dropped them across their line a few years before that. Now neither Marvel nor DC run letters pages (as far as I'm aware). Which is a shame, because that's a window on the readership that's going to be lost for anyone looking back. Sure, there's the various internet message boards, but those threads don't necessarily stay around forever. Whereas a letters page in a physical comic book acts as a near-as-dammit permanent time capsule, shedding light on what the most fervent fans were thinking at the time.

Why is that important? Honestly, I don't know if it is. But I've been re-reading old Alan Moore Swamp Things, and the letters pages are often fascinating: the shock in the missives at Moore's first few issues (where Swampy's origin was stood on its head); the arrival as editor of Karen Berger, future Vertigo supremo. If you check the names of letter-writers in old comics, you'll often recognize a future comics writer or artist, firing off adolescent fanmail to their favourite book. In years to come, will we be able to look back at archived message board threads and spot the stars of tomorrow? Or have we lost something unique, something maybe even worthwhile?

Monday, 27 July 2009

Am I right in thinking

that the one truly noteworthy news story from San Diego – Marvel picking up the rights to publish Marvelman/Miracleman/Marvelman/whatever the fuck he's called now – leaves anyone who's been following the Marvelman rights clusterfuck since Eclipse went down the pan in exactly the same position as before, i.e., not knowing if or when or even if ever Neil Gaiman's run will be finished or if there'll be new material or, or, or anything really?

OK, well I'm glad we got that cleared up.

Thursday, 23 July 2009


from the comic shop, where I almost, almost bought the Darwyn Cooke adaptation of the Parker novel The Hunter (a.k.a. Point Blank). I've been thinking of trying some of the Parker books for a while, hunting round for old US editions whenever I'm in secondhand book shops, so I was kinda looking forward to Cooke's interpretation. And today there it was on the display table in the middle of the shop, waiting for me. So of course I head straight for it and reach out for it and even before I pick it up I realise it's... kind of small. Dimension-wise, I mean. More like a hardback novel than a graphic novel. Did I know that already and just forgot? Possibly. But it still stopped me in my tracks a little. Anyway, no biggie, I take a look inside, nice art, all good, maybe I'll buy it (even though it'll be cheaper on Amazon), hmm, uh, oh, hang on, what's this?

The captions.

The captions are in the past tense.


Now, I haven't read it yet, so I can't really criticize, and it's possible past tense captions work really well in this particular instance, but, DID WE NOT DISCUSS THIS BEFORE? HMM?! ANYONE??!! The Stand adaptation? Past tense captions? Ringing any bells?

Sort it out.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


I love this blog with a vengeance, but sometimes the artists come up with an approach that's so clever and witty, it becomes more than just tribute, actually saying something about the comic that's covered, the context, the history, the audience... just like art should.

Lots of Covered contributors have had a stab at Avengers #221, but this is really rather brilliant.

The List The List The List for This Week!

Whoo! Yeah! Alright! Here it is!

Aliens #2 (of 4)
Amazing Spider-Man #600
Captain Britain And MI 13 #15
Final Crisis Legion Of Three Worlds #5 (of 5)
Green Lantern #44
Incredible Hulk #600
Invincible #64

Hmm. That's a pretty poor showing actually. Not a great week for new comics. Not even sure about getting Aliens (first issue was OK; I'll flick through this one first I think) or Amazing Spider-Man (haven't really touched it since the Brand New Day debacle). To be honest, I could quite easily skip all of these and not have any real regrets (apart from Final Crisis Legion, which rules).

But that would mean not going to the comic shop this week.


Random Comics Characters We Like for No Discernible Reason

We all have a few of these. Or at least those of us who still read superhero comics well into our dotage. I'm not talking about your Captain Americas or Batmans here. I mean your second- and third- and even fourth-stringers, characters who wouldn't support their own comic in a million years and yet for some reason struck a chord with us, usually at an impressionable age (although not necessarily).

Like this guy. Vance Astro. I've mentioned him before. There he is on the right, bottom right on the cover. Why has he lodged in my brain? No idea. I couldn't tell you a thing about him, although I recently picked up a few old Marvel Presents, so maybe they'll shed some light.

Then there's Kang. I think I like Kang because I like the sound of his name. Kang. Kang. KANG. Kang is a conquerer (in fact he often insists on being called Kang the Conquerer). There are a few comics featuring him I really like, notably Avengers Forever, but beyond the sound of his name and his blue face and funky duds, I have no clue why he resonates with me. Maybe that's all you need with comics characters. A cool name, a nice look, and a chance encounter in childhood. I guess ol' Vance Astro fits the bill there too.

Well there you go. I think we've all learned something there.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Of course,

the problem with maintaining a blog about something (as opposed to maintaining a blog about nothing – see Off Message and previous iterations of Existential Ennui) is you need to have something interesting to say about your chosen subject matter on a regular basis. And if you don't have something interesting to say, or indeed write, then you might find yourself knocking out a post along the lines of this one, which is going to be of no useful interest to anyone, least of all yourself.

Monday, 20 July 2009

For once,

I finished all this week's comics at the weekend. Usually it takes me up until the next New Comics Day to polish them off, and often longer than that. So well done me.

Best of the bunch was probably the Michael Kupperman back-up story in All Select, featuring Marvex the Super-Robot, which read like a lot of other Kupperman comics, i.e. daft and random and full of off kilter moments and unexpected detours (usually leading to dead ends). And then I read the story after Kupperman's effort, a reprint of an actual Marvex strip from the 1940s, and it quickly became clear that some of the more Kupperman-esque comedy stylings – Marvex being paid $20 for righting a wrong, for example – were a direct lift. In fact the 'classic' Marvex comic strip was even more random than the Kupperman version. Which just goes to prove that Golden Age comics really weren't big on logic or reason. Or plot. Or characterization. But they were big on MENTALNESS.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

GeoffJohnsGeoffJohnsGeoffJohns Say it Enough Times it Starts To Sound Weird

So after all my whining and wailing, Blackest Night #1 wasn't half bad. But it made me think. And what it made me think is this:

There are two Geoff Johnses.

No, wait! There are three Geoff Johnses. I forgot the one who sits at his computer cackling and stabbing at his keyboard while scenes of mutilation and dismemberment spew from his mind and fingers (plenty of that good shit in Blackest Night, mm-hmm).

But the other two Geoff Johnses, the main Geoff Johnses, not Leering Slasher Geoff Johns – those guys have two distinct personalities. One is Regular Series Geoff Johns, otherwise known as The Unremarkable Geoff Johns. Regular Series Geoff Johns writes ploddy run-of-the-mill stuff like the last eighteen months of Green Lantern or the quiet bits of Justice Society. Regular Series Geoff Johns isn't very strong on plot, or character, or anything really, although compared to the majority of writers writing for DC these days, he's a literary behemoth, so he gets plenny o' work.

The other Geoff Johns is GEOFF JOHNS: THE EVENT. GEOFF JOHNS: THE EVENT does stuff like Infinite Crisis (better than you remember, kids), or Thy Kingdom Come in JSA, or Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds (which, trust me here, is fantastic; when it's eventually finished and the gaps between its individual issues are forgotten, it will be appreciated for the giggling genius of its million-things-happening-on-every-page madness). GEOFF JOHNS: THE EVENT is really quite a lot better than The Unremarkable Geoff Johns, and it looks like it's the former wot we've got on Blackest Night.

I suppose that shouldn't really be a surprise; it is, after all, an "event". But I think The Unremarkable Geoff Johns lulled me into a semi-comatose state, so it's nice to finally wake up to a Blackest Night.

Ooh, bad pun there. Tragic.


J. Caleb Mozzocco has reviewed that All Select thing I mentioned below, with the Michael Kupperman story in it. Saves me a job anyway. This also highlights a problem with reviewing comics. In America, comics come out on a Wednesday. Here in the UK, they come out on a Thursday. So I'll never be able to beat the Yanks in getting reviews out first. I see this as justification for this blog being utterly rambling and generally pointless. Hooray.

Asterios Polyp, slight return: I've finished it now. There are reviews all over the interweb, and there'll be more all the time, so I'll just say it's a really satisfying, thought-provoking novel – that's novel, not graphic novel; it is the latter, but it belongs with the former – with some brilliant, memorable characters who I wanted to spend more time with. Oh, and the ending made me smile, but then I'm wrong like that.

This Week's Haul

All Select Comics 70th Anniversary Special
Agents Of Atlas
Blackest Night #1 (of 8)
Captain America #601
Dark Avengers #7
Incognito #5
No Hero #6
Rasl #5,
Walking Dead #63

And so the Green Lantern "event" Blackest Night begins, and as you can see, I did buy it, despite my almost completely losing interest in Green Lantern. It will be at the top of the to-read pile. (This, regular readers will know, is Not A Good Thing.) If it isn't any cop, I will stop buying it. No, really, I will. I will! Swear to God! Why won't you believe me??!!

Actually, in my defence, I did resist getting both the Blackest Night #1 variant cover (mostly 'cos it was five bloody quid) and Blackest Night Tales of the Corps #1. Usually I buy right into all this spin-offy shit, so that's an indication of my supreme nonplussedness.

Look – Agents of Atlas is out again. Didn't that come out two weeks ago? I'm sure that happened with Invincible Iron Man too recently. My life seems to be speeding up in a worrying fashion.

No Hero #6 was actually supposed to come out last week, but didn't. This often happens with Avatar titles, and in particular Warren Ellis-written Avatar titles. In fact sometimes my local comic shop doesn't get issues at all, usually a #2 or #3 in a series. This is annoying. I have my suspicions that Warren Ellis himself is fucking with me, instructing Avatar not to distribute random issues to the south coast of England. Sounds like the kind of thing he'd do.

Elsewhere, we got Gene Colan on art duties in Captain America (nice); we got the final issue of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips's Incognito (for now anyway – they're going back to Criminal, which I think I prefer; Incognito has been great, but Criminal is almost like the pure hit heroin version of the crime comic, with none of Incognito's distracting superheroics, fun though they are); we got Michael Kupperman doing a story in All Select Comics (Really? Michael Kupperman? Huh. Definitely coming back to that one); and we got Rasl. Now Rasl I like a lot. This is Jeff Smith of Bone fame's ongoing series, and it has three things in particular going for it: really nice art; a trans-dimensional plot; and a protagonist who's a bit of a cock. One or two of those things will usually put a smile on my face, but all three is like getting a reacharound into the bargain.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

So I'm

halfway through Asterios Polyp. And it's good. Really good. I mean, really good.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Dark X-Men: The Beginning #1

See, this is exactly what I'm talking about. Right here: this is the problem with comics. The three stories in Dark X-Men: The Beginning #1 all subscribe to the prevailing orthodoxy, to a greater or lesser degree. It's the the default storytelling setting for American superhero comics in 2009, and we shall call it The New Boring.

None of the stories herein are particularly bad. They're competent, Paul Cornell's lead story being probably the most competent. But they all, like many, many current comics, bear the hallmarks of decompression, a style of storytelling that has tightened its grip on the imaginations of comics writers until they can no longer conceive of any other way of telling a story.

Now, decompression is no bad thing in and of itself. It was entirely useful when Warren Ellis rolled it out in The Authority (although in truth the style had been in use selectively for some time already), a way of getting past the torpor of the 1990s. And in the hands of a writers' writers like Ed Brubaker, it's been blended with other cinematic tropes – voiceovers for example, in the form of captions – to create a pseudo-realistic hybrid that strives for character depth and allows stories to wander where the protagonists take them.

And that's fine. I like those kinds of comics, when they're done well. But let's not lose focus here: this is superhero comics we're talking about. And fascinating as Matt Murdock's relationship woes and Bucky's identity issues are, if every comic is going to be as sedately paced and voiceover-heavy as Daredevil and Captain America I think I might stab myself in the fucking eyes.

A conversation between Norman Osborn and Namor does not have to last ten pages; you could get it done in two pages (maybe even two panels) and free the rest of the story up for, I dunno, Norman slipping Namor a mickey that sends the Sub-Mariner batshit and climaxes in a frenzy of fish-fucking. This is superhero comics. Let's see something insane happening every few panels, mad shit raining down on every page, a brain-busting "WTF?" cliffhanger at the end of every story. It doesn't all have to be so bloody pedestrian!

And while we're on this subject, can we not ever have a comic open ever again with a mugger or muggers menacing a generic man/woman followed swiftly by the hero leaping in to break legs/arms/noses/toes, etc. IT'S REALLY, REALLY TEDIOUS. I mean, come on: is that all you have in your head, Mr. Writer? Is that honestly the best you can do, Mr. Editor? Is that truly the kind of comic you want to publish, Mr., er, Publisher?

(Admittedly there is no such scene in Dark X-Men: The Beginning #1, but IT'S THE PRINCIPLE OF THE THING.)

Grant Morrison recently made a stab at a more compressed style of storytelling in Final Crisis, particularly the Superman Beyond segment, although crucially he forgot to include the connective tissue stuff that would've made the thing actually make some kind of sense to anyone other than Grant Morrison. But still, he gave it a go. Fair play.

And now I'm slightly losing the will to live with this post, so let's leave it at this: Dark X-Men: The Beginning #1 isn't the worst comic ever made. It's not even the most ordinary comic ever made. But it is symptomatic of a wider malaise, and I for one would like to read some more comics that fire me up a little and don't just leave me thinking, Huh. That's all I'm asking.

Sunday, 12 July 2009


I stood on a footbridge with Rachel as a train came down the tracks, and we waved at the train driver. And he waved back.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Well well.

We have our first comment, a couple of posts down.

Shit, that means I really will have to write that Manifesto post.

And now

Existential Ennui is at number 9 in the google rankings. A remarkably rapid ascent that's probably the result of me googling my own blog.


A Manifesto

This has been boiling round my brain for a while, and it's not quite ready to come out yet, but just to warn you: I may at some point blog at length about why I think so many US 'mainstream' comics are so disappointing, and what kinds of comics I'd like to see being made. And I don't mean in the usual whiny sense of 'Oh there's too many bloody superhero comics and they're choking the market'. I mean in the sense of a paucity of imagination on the part of many comics creators and, probably more pertinently, on the part of many editorial and management bods.

So the gist of it will be: when the only limits are imagination (and we all know they're not, but this is part of the argument), why are so many superhero and adventure comics so pedestrian? And, conversely, if the only limits were imagination, what would superhero and adventure comics be like?

Discuss. Soon.

I know I vowed

to put the irritating navel-gazing behind me when I relaunched Existential Ennui, and to concentrate on something with more substance instead (that's comics, if you were wondering; keep up). But you'll have to allow me a little introspection I'm afraid. As anyone who read Off Message will know, it does come with the territory.

Yes, you guessed it: I googled Existential Ennui. Just those two words, nothing else. And we're currently at number 28 in the rankings. With a bullet. Woo hoo.

(And if you add a 'blog' after the 'Existential Ennui', we're at number 8.)

Not that I'm looking for validation or anything.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

I caved.

I did buy the regular Bryan Hitch Captain America: Reborn #1 cover. I tried to resist, really I did, but it was too darn pretty. Look. Look how pretty it is:

Yes, I know. I need help. And on top of that, any indie cred (ha!) I might have gained by buying this

is instantly trampled on and pissed on and shitted in its mouth by my buying this

which, you'll recall, is a comic I already own, except with a different (and probably better) cover.


The eternal struggle twixt art and commerce, between my better and worser-er natures, between the falutin' and the fanboyish, neatly encapsulated in two covers:



Now then.

Here's something that turned up at the comic shop this week which wasn't on my list:

I feel a lengthy Mazzucchelli post coming on...

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Comics Then and Now


Stan "The Man! The Magical!! The Mystical!!! The Marvellous!!!! The Magnificent!!!!! The Mellifluous!!!!!! The Magnanimous!!!!!!! The Multitudinous!!!!!!!! The Multidimensional!!!!!!!!!" Lee!!!!!!!!!!


Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnn Mmmmmmmmmmmiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiichaaaaaaeeeeeeelllllllllllll Bbbbbbeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnnndiiiiissssssssssssssss.

So my

timely and original thoughts on the back-up text piece in Justice League: Cry for Justice were, it transpires, neither timely nor original; Brian Hibbs said exactly the same thing at Savage Critics last week.


Possibly Maybe

Here's the list of what I'm thinking of getting this week:

Batman #688
Captain America Reborn #1 (of 5)
Dark X-Men Beginning #1
Green Lantern #43
No Hero #6
North 40 #1 (of 6)
Stand American Nightmares #4
Superman World Of New Krypton #5 (of 12)
Unwritten #3
Wednesday Comics #1 (of 12)
X-Men Legacy #226

There are a few titles there I'm not sure about yet. Dark X-Men I probably will give a try, but North 40, which is (I think) a new Vertigo miniseries about a community in America plagued by demons or something (I think), I'm really not sure if I'll buy or not. I'll probably flip through it, see if it's shiny enough to spend money on. World of New Krypton is in the relegation zone if it doesn't buck its ideas up soon, and The Stand is on thin ice too. Not because it's not competently done; it is – it's a very literal adaptation of Stephen King's novel (which I love). There's just one fatal flaw that kills it for me every issue: the captions are in the past tense. That may not seem like much, but it's an adapting choice that pulls me out of the story every time. I don't know if it's something Marvel didn't have any say in, but if they did, they slightly shot themselves in the face. Comics (or at least American comics) have a well established etymology, whereby captions describing or embellishing the action in the panels are written in the present tense, adding to the immediacy of the action. As soon as you go against that dictum, you risk losing that immediacy, and that's what's happened with The Stand. Which is a bugger, because Mike Perkins's art is decent enough, and I'd be happily enjoying the comic if it weren't for that one niggle.

You'll notice that Green Lantern is back again. And yes, I will be buying it. I am mentally unwell.

And in a further illustration of mental illness, Captain America: Reborn #1 actually came out last week, but I bought the John Cassaday limited variant instead of the main Bryan Hitch cover, and now I'm considering buying the Hitch cover as well.

It is a sickness.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Agents of Atlas #7

I tend to sort each week's comics into reverse reading order, i.e., the ones I'm expecting least from at the top of the pile, to be read first, and the ones I'm most looking forward to at the bottom of the pile. Evidently I am a delayed gratification kinda guy. Well, relatively delayed. Anyway, Agents of Atlas has been steadily moving its way down the pile since the ongoing series launched at the start of the year. I liked the original miniseries, but I wasn't expecting too much from the ongoing. I figured I'd give it a few issues, see how it went. It's turned out to be quietly brilliant.

This latest issue is a case in point. We get a main story set underwater and involving Atlanteans, which, as any regular comics reader will tell you, traditionally spells tedium. Here, however, there are great jokes (Gorilla-Man's sarcastic quips), misdirection passed off as tentacle soft porn (the Venusian's fascination with a gigantic plant-creature relates back to his lascivious encounter with an anemone last issue, but is actually something else entirely), and a Namor who, for once, isn't a complete tool. We also get some really lovely art, courtesy of Garbriel Hardman and colourist Jana Schirmer. Hardman's very much in the Born Again Mazzuchelli/Michael Lark/John Paul Leon school: proper drawing, in other words. Writer Jeff Parker also manages to cram in a sub-plot harking back to the miniseries, some great characterization and character interaction, and a back-up story that dovetails neatly with the main feature.

So yeah – Agents of Atlas #7: a bloody good comic.


Well, possibly. Let's give it a go at least.

I've read maybe a third of this week's new comics, and there've been some decent efforts so far (Invincible Iron Man wasn't bad, Destroyer was dumb fun). But the only one that surprised me was Justice League: Cry for Justice. I really wasn't expecting a lot from that, but the artwork was the first pleasant surprise – a striking mix of drawing and painting, with some Jim Lee in there, some Gene Ha... certainly purty enough to linger over the occasional page. So well done that Mauro Cascioli.

On the writing side, despite a significant break from comics, James Robinson still seems to be doing that thing where he emphasizes all the wrong words. That aside, the story was OK, but the second pleasant surprise was the text material at the back, wherein Robinson writes about his reasoning for the characters he's picked, offers hints of what's coming up in the miniseries that actually made me really quite excited in a schoolgirlish sort of way (The Shade! The Shade!), and teases his forthcoming run on the main Justice League title, which, it transpires, Cry for Justice is a lead-in to. And the scant details of that made me a teensy bit excited. (In fact if I were a schoolgirl, I would have done a little wee in my knickers.)

He also talks about a childhood trip to a secondhand book shop in South Africa, gazing upon a treasure trove of old comics and being told by his mum he could have just one (he chose an old issue of The Atom). Robinson's documented his love of the past and of collecting previously (notably in the pages of Starman), but this kind of reminiscence always hits home with me, chiming with my own childhood (and, it has to be said, adulthood) trips to junk shops, flea markets, wherever, in search of comics.

So Cry for Justice #1 turned out to be a bit of a treat. If nothing else, I'll be getting the next six issues for the back-up material alone.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Back Issue Haul

I've been on a back issue kick recently, something I haven't done for a while. And a trip up to London this weekend turned up all sorts of goodies, including the rest of a run of Squadron Supreme (the Gruenwald maxiseries, which I've never read), Marvel Fanfare #40 (bought for its Mazzuchelli cover and short story), a missing Steve Gerber issue (#26) of Defenders, and a bunch of other Gerber things – odd issues of Omega the Unknown and a half dozen Marvel Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy. I dimly recall a passing obsession with the Guardians when I was a kid, in particular Vance Astro. Hmm.

Friday, 3 July 2009

I'm actually

slightly behind in my comics reading. I still have a few comics left over from last week, which I didn't get round to reading because a) last week Marvel published a frankly obscene amount of comics, many of which I'm following, and b) I've been re-reading Mike Carey and Peter Gross' Lucifer, which is my favourite comic series of all time, and which I've been enjoying just as much this time round (the third time round, fact fans), even though I've noticed it does sag slightly in the middle. A bit like me.

Anyway, so before I get to read this week's comics (Green Lantern Corps aside, which I read on the train back from the comic shop), I've first got to finish off the remainder of last week's comics. One of which was Dark Reign: The Hood #2. I read that one last night, in between staring blankly at Celebrity MasterChef and feeling a bit tired as a result of going for a swim at the local outdoor pool (the first time I've managed to do so since moving to the area over a year ago). It wasn't bad. The comic I mean. Not the pool. Although that wasn't bad either.

This Week's Comics

Here's a list of the comics I bought this week:

Agents of Atlas #7
Batman and Robin #2
Captain America Reborn #1 (of 5)
Crossed #6
Destroyer #4 (of 5)
Fantastic Four #568
Greek Street #1
Green Lantern Corps #38
Invincible Iron Man #15
Irredeemable #4
Justice League Cry For Justice #1
Mighty #6
New Avengers #54 (Bachalo Cover)
Savage Dragon #150
Terror Inc Apocalypse Soon #3 (of 5)
Uncanny X-Men #513

I would have also bought the sixth issue of a Vertigo miniseries called Bang Tango, but my local comic shop didn't have it, which was slightly annoying, seeing as it's the final issue, and I've been enjoying its bizarre mix of Strictly Come Dancing/Carlito's Way/Transsexual Beauty Queens 17. As for the rest of the list, the only thing I've read thus far is Green Lantern Corps, and that I bought on a whim because it was billed as a lead-in to the Blackest Night event, which, as mentioned in the previous post, I'm bored of before it's even bloody begun.

See, this is the problem. This is what I'm talking about. I bought the latest issue of a series – Green Lantern Corps – that I'd previously stopped buying due to its utter mundanity, because this latest issue is a prequel to an event that is rapidly losing my interest before it's even started as a result of the convoluted yet tedious storytelling in Green Lantern Corps' sister comic – Green Lantern – which over many months has sapped any interest or excitement I might have previously had about said event.

Still, nice art. In Green Lantern Corps #38, I mean. Patrick Gleason. Nice.

Right. Well then. This new 'blogging about comics' era is off to a cracking start, I must say.

On Addiction

I buy a lot of comics every week. I mean, a lot. At the moment, with Marvel and DC's recent $3.99 price hike, my habit is costing me a fair bit of money each week. And yes, it is a habit, in the addiction sense of the word. Comics to me are like cigarettes – if cigarettes were things that, once you smoked them, you stored in specially made cardboard boxes which you kept in the cupboard above the built-in wardrobe. I try and cut down, to save money, to keep from further cluttering up my already cluttered life. But it's hard to break the habit. I need that weekly story fix, even though much of what I buy is ultimately disappointing. It's something to look forward to every week. It fills a void.

And yes, mostly I buy superhero comic books. This is what the majority of comics fans (as in 'buy comics regularly at a comic shop' fans) buy. Some make pretences to a more literary form of comics, myself included. For example, I genuinely love the comics of Eddie Campbell, Gabrielle Bell, and Kevin Huizenga. But it's the weekly churn of spastic superhero stupidity that I keep coming back to, that feeds the hunger, that scratches the itch. Gotta get the new comics. Over and over, again, again.

Like any addiction, it's a love/hate thing. There are regular cycles of self-loathing, comics-loathing, comics-liking, self-acceptance. Comics and creators often disappoint, but that's balanced by comics and creators who pleasantly surprise. Recently, Geoff Johns's build-up to the Green Lantern event Blackest Night – an event I was eagerly anticipating last year – has bored me shitless. Conversely, Jeff Parker's Agents of Atlas has proved an unexpected gem, and Matt Fraction has come into his own on Uncanny X-Men and Invincible Iron Man.

And even just writing stuff like the previous two sentences I'm thinking to myself, Jesus, this really is fucking sad. And then I'm thinking, is it? Is it really? Or is it something different, a unique form of entertainment, weekly pamphlets of colourful picture-stories, the modern equivalent of how Charles Dickens's novels were originally published, except, y'know, dafter. And this is the conflict of addiction, the constant struggle between denial and acceptance, between disappointment and delight.

This, then, is comics.

Instead of

posting occasional nonsense to my other blog (, which has become impossible to access on Firefox since moved to a new system (and I can't be arsed to get into it through Safari every time), I've decided to resurrect this blog, which I plum forgot about until ten minutes ago. But there's a reason for resurrecting it beyond technical hassles with Off Message. I think it might be time to blog about something other than nothing.

See, most of my Off Message posts really are about fuck all. Oh, there's the occasional post about politics, or music, or comics, but generally speaking, most of the posts are navel-gazing nonsense. Admittedly that was always the point of Off Message (and its precursor, the original Existential Ennui). But after four years of that rubbish, to quote Morrissey, that joke isn't funny anymore.

So now I think I'll do something with a bit more substance. Yes, that's right: I've decided to write more about comics.