Book Reviews: Graphically Challenged

Blue Hand Mojo: Hard Times Road
A half-dead magic man walks the slums of Chicago in 1931, helping out an old friend while trying to regain what he’d lost, or more likely sold, to the devil.
This is the first time I’ve heard the term Hoodoo noir. As far as the artwork, it translates into harsh black and white drawings, though some of the work is intricate. When it comes to dialogue, which appears on the side of the drawings, while he mostly speaks usual, he’ll also bring out stuff like “I likes my liquor” and “I’m starvin’ for some beans, so spill ‘em.” So in other words, not that different from regular noir.
The magic stuff was all sorts of confusing. The only clear moment is him using cigarette smoke to make it happen. His girlfriend’s sorcery is a lot more intriguing.
This would have been much more awesome if it had been named Mississippi Golem or some such.

Angry-at-the-world redhead and creature of the sea find each other because of their matching necklaces. There’s some evil creature that looks nothing like Ursula out to get the merpeople, because a certain part of their anatomy goes well with wine.
This had possibilities, but all the high school drama makes it hard to like. I get how I’m supposed to feel sorry for her, but she and her friends act so stupid at times. This is probably for young teens, because with anyone older I imagine a lot of eye rolling. And the scene where someone is sneaking up on them just left me cringing; did the author really write such dumb characters on purpose?
As for the artwork, the bright colors make it looks like a vintage comic, like Archie or some such. At the end there’s some early designs and small articles about the mythology of the sea.

The Castoffs, V.1: Mage Against the Machine
Clever subtitle.
All black and yellow to start as a group of semi-super fighters take on killer bots destroying what looks to be a European town. Soon enough it switches to a full color fantasy where a healer in a far-off land asks for help when people are losing their memories. She sends three students to help, with the warrior always bickering, the scout too insecure to say anything, and the healer surreptitiously controlling the warrior with her inside voice. When they’ve figured out why they were chosen for this mission they quit their bickering and go all Wonder Twins—or Triplets, in this case—powers, activate!
There’s some good stuff, like the history lesson around the campfire, and more importantly some sly humor; “Why am I getting licked?” Wrong potion, happens all the time. My favorite part was “You have your dad’s eyes.” Talk about an easy distraction, like “Luke, I am your father.” But I’m not a fan of all that squabbling, so that even when they got it through their heads to work together I was already disliking them too much.

DC Essential Graphic Novels 2017
First off, great cover of Wonder Woman reading a comic while easily winning a tug-of-war against a bunch of guys, including Superman and Batman.
After an intro with the Flash stopping a comic book store robbery, there’s 25 Essential Graphic Novels; quite a bit of Batman, but I like that Gaiman’s Sandman was included. Each major character gets a page, but not much info. Even Suicide Squad shows up, no doubt because of the recent movie. There’s a section on Page to Screen, starting with Wonder Woman, also as expected considering that movie will be out soon. TV shows like Supergirl, Flash, Arrow, and a couple of my faves—iZombie and Lucifer—are here as well.
Wow, MAD magazine! And a section on collectibles. There’s also a large section at the end, over 30 pages, that lists a recommended reading order, plus a selected backlist, but if you’re that much into comics it’s stuff you should already know.
As a catalog it does its job. As a guide for those entering the comic book world, it’s good too. Just don’t expect it to be an actual BOOK.


Book Reviews: Graphic Pencils

“I make a mean sandwich.”
She cooed, “I make a mean sandwich happy.”

A Roman soldier is manipulated by the chief of the Vestal Virgins to become the first detective in history, unless the ancient Greeks had stories they didn’t bother to tell (long shot). Then Nero sends him to the British Isles to find out what’s going wrong, thinking it was actually his idea.
Starts with a history of the Vestal Virgins; seems like far too many of them were blonde. The story quickly moves to northwest Europe, with plenty of blood and gore, as well as magical Druids and devils, so it’s certainly not a straightforward history.
There’s this one panel of artwork that I find so spectacular—though I can’t explain exactly why—full width with a flying sword. You’ll know it when you see it.
In between the chapters are scholarly articles on the Vestals, centurions, Nero—was he really that bad? Yes and no—and Roman Britain.

Letter 44 V.1 $10 Trade Edition
Pseudo-Obama takes over for pseudo-Bush and finds out there are aliens in the asteroid belt who no doubt will invade Earth at any moment. There’s also a mission sent to check out the aliens, launched three years ago.
There’s some really good scenes among the expected storyline; the briefing from the scientist in charge, the three questions guy, for example, was brilliant. I laughed at the baseball breaking the White House window and scaring the Secret Service. Sending conspiracy bad boy on a tour of every embassy is such an awesome twist. And there’s a very cool artistic effect on the flash-bang.
I’m liking the way this is written, though the plot may be too much. Thought there might be something to the scene when General Johnson comes in for the briefing, since they’re talking before the secretary leaves. . .
The scientist repeating that all of them were volunteers is rather ominous. . .
Sadly it ends at a critical juncture; get another ten bucks ready for volume 2.
Almost 20 pages of dossiers on some of the players, creator bios dressed as White House correspondence, and ads for other books.

Small Favors: The Definitive Collection
A lesbian who can’t stop with the self-loving is told to cut it out—there’s a lifetime allotment of masturbation? Wonder if there’s an actual number (asking for a friend)—and is given a helpful little blonde imp to keep her fingers and dildos in check. Little Nibbel is also helpful in letting me know the next section is a dream sequence, so thank you! Plus she’s really cute, incredibly funny in her naiveté. She’s the best part of this, playing a big part in the stor, as well as defining the title.
For me the other best part was how the author wasn’t afraid to break the fourth wall of get meta. Something as simple as “Bet you had to shower after that one!” makes for a big guffaw. Even when the author doesn’t know where to go with the plot we’ll get a line like “Who was that girl on page 104?” I thought it was the neighbor, but I guess I was overthinking it. And I also wondered who was taking the photos.
Very explicit sex is depicted, which is for the most part fine, though I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that, had it been a man taking her so roughly rather than a blonde pixie with a strap-on, there’d be all kinds of protests. There’s a small interlude of Nibbel doing herself on a lightbulb that made me laugh so much. Spaghetti and wooden spoons just got a lot more sexy, but it helps if you have a Barbie-sized pixie playmate. And the safari story was extra hilarious, along with the dramatic cry of, “Alas, we are exposed!”
There’s about 15 pages of early sketches and outtakes at the end, the best feautring Nibbel playing Rock ‘em Sock ‘em. . . better yet, Nibbel being playfully attacked by the dialogue bubbles. . .
Most of it is done in simple black and white sketches, quite effective. When it at a certain point turns to color, it’s a little jarring.
It’s a fun read, if nothing else because it treats sex, especially lesbian sex, as fun. Another reviewer nailed it by calling this “innocent and lighthearted.”

The Life After V.1: $10 Trade Edition
Groundhog Day turns into a time travel back to what looks like 19th century England. Then things really get crazy. . .
Then Ernest Hemingway shows up. . .
My initial thought was “That lady sure has a lot of handkerchiefs. . .” Every little thing is controlled in this Orwellian world, so when he steps out of the usual routine to return the handkerchief everything goes crazy, and the story behind the story unfolds.
“I was talking to the dog. . .” Saw it coming, still made me laugh. The dog also does the best sideways-head-tilt puzzled I’ve ever seen in a two-dimensional character. Plus he’s a tease. . .
What kind of people are in charge of this crapsack world? “Let’s see if we can find someone taking a shower or something. . .”
You can see it in Hemingway’s face: “Surely you must be the son of god. . .”
This volume one finishes on a pretty big reveal.
Creator bios and ads at end.


Book Reviews: Everything’s Graphic

Time Share
If you read the blurb and expected this to be like “Back to the Future”. . . you’re right. The first panel alone made me think it. A little later there’s a part—let’s call it homaged—from “Terminator.” And just to make sure, there’s this line: “Roads? We don’t need roads!”–“We do too need roads! Dumbass!”
I wish I could tell you what this was about, other than time travel, but it would be easier to tell you what it’s NOT about, as the plot jumps around everywhere without rhyme or reason. If it wasn’t for the humor I would have quit just a few pages in. One of the characters says, “I am so lost. . . figuratively speaking, I mean. . . okay, literally too.” Join the club.
So I stuck around for the jokes, having given up on trying to make sense of it. There’s silly stuff, like “Teddy! Move!”–“Okay, but I’ll need some boxes!” Then there’s the ever-popular “Hooray for A.N.A.L.!” and “I’m keeping my eye out. . . also my penis.” We find out about the author’s fixations with the lines, “Perhaps I could interest you in some mouth pleasure?” and “Is he requesting. . . mouth love?” How naïve is the defective robot guy? He says things like, “You said a swear!” And I also “have so much sympathy for Pac-Man right now. . .” My two faves were “I was too follow to drugged” and “Horse’s ass of the apocalypse!” which was the most brilliant thing I’d read that day.
Even the cops get their jokes, like playing “One two three not it!” “We’re coming in! I can’t guarantee Frank won’t shoot anyone.”–“Jesus, Al, let it go.” “Target evaluation: Kinda sad, really.” And what are “medium warning shots?”

Brickleberry V.1—Armoogeddon
According to the recap—one huge star just for including it!—this is about how alien cows took over the planet, with one guy particularly happy about it because of the love that dare not moo its name. The protagonist looks like Peter Griffith if he REALLY let himself go, but hey, he’s the hero, gotta root for him. And since cows are racist too they make really good bad guys here.
“Steve, you’ve returned.” Oh boy, this writing is not instilling confidence early on.
Some of the jokes you can spot from a continent away. For example, I had a feeling the scientist was screwing with him about inserting all the stuff from the time machine. Likewise the “Who’s your daddy?” twist. Thankfully a lot of it is inspired funny lunacy, like the hero’s weapon of choice being a t-shirt cannon; awesome in some circumstances, not so much in others. And spike strips should not be used on humans! Owwie! (There’s a close-up, in case you had any doubts.)
“Way to think on your feet, Wayne Brady.” Wow, that’s a reference I never thought I’d see. Definitely not often Amazon and Obama get slammed back to back, and that’s probably a good thing.
Plotwise there’s nothing new here—except with cows—and a lot of it doesn’t make sense, but it’s so madcap the sense is it was never meant to in the first place. Just be on the lookout for the jokes, which are sometimes too-far or too-soon but always hilarious.

Big Nate: What’s a Little Noogie Between Friends?
This comic strip is consistent in bringing the funny, and that’s all you can ask. Whether it’s soccer, table football, Star Trek: The Next Generation. . . Nate always finds a way to pull a screw-up from the jaws of victory. You’d think it couldn’t get any worse for him than his crush moving away, but when he ends up at the movies next to his nemesis—and they’re mistaken for a couple!—noogies hardly seem to matter at that point.

Bizenghast Collectors Edition V.1
After a newspaper cutting to set the scene—thank you for that!—the story is told through pencil sketches and grayscale, in which an orphan girl claims ghosts haunt her. Deemed crazy, she escapes her aunt’s house with a boy and they explore a cemetery, finding an underground cathedral-like place that they really should not have entered. From there each chapter takes them on a different mission to help bring peace to ghosts, picking up some snarky advisors along the way.
She might have been a crazy shut-in, but she’s got an amazingly huge wardrobe, while her guardian moans about not having money. She even spouts life lessons such as: “I can do anything with the right outfit.”
That snarky little mask-faced creature easily steals every scene. Communism is bad for your eyes. . . or is that television? He was the most entertaining, with lines like, “Remember we’re parked in level. . . ocean.”
There’s over 500 digital pages and the story’s still not over! Though to be fair the drawings and panels are bigger than most. Toward the end the format changes to a more serialized story, which rapidly becomes confusing.
While the artwork is minimalist, some of the drawings are beautiful. Dinah at one point is wearing a peacock inspired dress that would have been so beautiful in color.
The author included some notes at the end, basically celebrating weirdness; this is not the first time I’ve heard a creator refer to a second version of their work as a “director’s cut.”
To put it succinctly, this was more interesting than I expected.


Book Reviews: Graphic Surprises

There’s actually a word for how good it feels when I tumble into bed every night! Bedgasm!

Love, Volume 4: The Dinosaur
This is the third of this series I’ve read; the first was excellent, the second not as much. As usual you get a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with the plot, just beautiful artwork, which is fine when it’s not close-ups of insects—ugh. Unlike the previous, though, these are done in something close to sepia, so definitely not as eye popping as the sheer gorgeousness of the past issues.
There’s all kinds of dinosaurs included here, including some I’ve never seen. The narrative doesn’t seem all that focused, as it took a long time to figure out which dino was the one in the title. Was it the little guy, or the T-Rex? Still not sure. There’s some surprisingly good action scenes for 2-D, like Rex against a Three Horn, right out of the Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles. Another good one is the pterodactyl coming in for a crash landing; you could almost hear him screaming, “Didn’t hurt!” But the best artwork has to be at the cataclysmic ending.
Unfortunately I found it hard to overcome the color scheme, which made most of the art somewhat boring. And it’s slow going if you’re really trying to pay attention. The previous entry was disappointing compared to the ones before, but this one even more so.
There’s 22 pages of extras, basically showing off drawings that didn’t get into the story and some early storyboards. There’s a funny drawing of a T Rex trying to read a tiny book with its tiny hands, even wearing glasses.

Puppet Master V.5: Vacancy
An inn on the northern California coast is reopened, still inhabited by killer puppets. A human boy now has them under control, or so he thinks.
This is the first of the series I’ve read, and unfortunately there’s no backstory included. Even the prologue doesn’t help. It isn’t till the main story starts that the main character explains about the inn, but it’s basically one long info drop with very little style.
These puppets kill in the most gruesome ways. . .
The ending makes it sound like more of the same, according to the puppets.
No extras, and there’s nothing in the artwork that’s particularly noteworthy.

Rick and Morty: Lil’ Poopy Superstar, V.1
An animated TV show comes to print with a main character named Mr. Poopybutthole seeking the help of a redhead named Summer Smith (because everything’s better with alliteration).
Even though I’ve never seen this, it doesn’t require a lot of background. Mr. Poopybutthole is well aware of what he is—at one point he shouts, “I’m a changed butthole!”—and speaks with a Suthin’ accent. He likes to say “Ooo-wee!” On the other hand, he has an inflated sense of self, with lines like, “I had to put all this charisma and flair to good use.” I already felt sorry for Summer at the start, but it only gets worse and worse for her, because we all know redheads are never allowed to win.
*Team High Five!* Space ice cream!
This would no doubt have been better with previous familiarity with the TV series, especially toward the end when family jealousies erupt. It’s all pretty silly, but that kinda works to its advantage. It was okay, but nothing I’d go out of my way for.
A few pages of creator bios at the end.

The Adventures of Basil and Moebius V.4: The Fate of All Fools
Having enjoyed a previous edition of the adventures of these characters, like something to the left of Indiana Jones or Lara Croft, I was looking forward to this.
Don’t know what’s worse: traveling back in time and arriving at an Inca sacrifice, or landing in another dimension that looks too barren for anyone to live. They get to find out.
Of course Basil’s still the ladies’ man, mostly because he pays well. Moebius is a lot more arrogant than I remember. Even worse is when Basil becomes Captain Obvious; truly ridiculous for him to be spouting the exact thing we see. “Have to. . . pull free. . .” No kidding. It got to the point where I was far too happy to have another panel of the delicious blue-eyed Israeli spy to gawk at, though despite the beautiful face and tight suit she didn’t appear nearly often enough.
As before, the humor is what sells this, even when Moebius is being extra haughty. “That’s why I always stress the importance of keeping your wits about you. And a pet golum.” He even comes up with the perfect reasoning as to why they don’t fall when they’re hanging upside down.
As expected, it ends on a cliffhanger. The artwork is exactly how you would expect it, a dark superhero style. But I definitely liked the previous ones better.


Book Review: This may Be Graphic

“When you’re done decomposing. . . I mean decompressing. . .”
“I’m not a zombie!”

Hugo Broyler
A futuristic “car” race pits father making a comeback after a huge accident against his champion daughter. But of course things are never that easy.
This turned out to be a much more difficult read than I expected. The best part is the snark. “It ain’t the (computer) chips you should be checking, it’s the salsa.” Even better: “You should have stayed retired.” “You should have stayed in your mother’s womb.” Saying that to his daughter. . .
The bad: his arrogance, for starters. Talk about an unsympathetic antihero! Even worse, he’s hearing a voice in his head that can take over his body, and that’s not the last science-fiction twist here.
The second half starts off as a world history that explains how the technologies and racing came into being, followed by profiles of the teams. . . then becomes a complete role-playing game! What? I ended up skipping that, having absolutely no interest. It dropped the score a point, but I wasn’t enjoying it much anyway, despite being a racing fan.

The Damned V. 1
1930s mafia stuff—all black and blue, film noir—except the Don is a cross between a bull and a demon. Other characters are similar, still others are all too human.
After a confusing first scene, things get a little better. The best part is the humor, with lines such as “She found herself a better class of lowlife” and “Ain’t that always the way? Lucky to be alive, better off dead.”
The supposed dream sequence was eerie, but ultimately jut a time suck. Took till the next one for me to figure out what it meant. And damn, the Worm is as ugly as you’d expect. . .
Really, if it wasn’t for the demons and being reborn, this is just a gangster story. . . except for the McGuffin.

Bad Machinery V.1
It’s the first day of high school—I think—at a preppy private school, apparently in England. A group of kids from all levels of wealth—or non-wealth—get along as they try to thwart a Russian billionaire from evicting an old lady to build a new soccer stadium.
Though all of them look dour, except for the overly excited Linton, at the beginning, the main thing here is the sense of humor by most of them. The whole book is actually made up of pretty hilarious moments, even by the teachers, especially the one talking about losing his hair in warlike terms. I particularly like Lottie’s scientific snark, and the blonde gets some good ones about her dad’s music selections. But my fave line had to be “Today might be the start of a troubled adolescence,” as said by the adolescent herself.
The ending, however, was kinda anticlimactic; might have scored higher had it been better.
Ends with 15 pages of extras, including a glossary of British terms—mostly Cockney—and a history of the soccer team in question.

Pink Panther V.1
Subtitled “The cool cat is back!”
In the first of a number of vignettes, the panther in question—at one point called the “blush-colored buffoon”—is coming home from a grocery run and picks up Thor’s Hammer. . . seriously. But his dream of being a superhero is derailed by not knowing how to operate the damned thing, as well as its angry owner coming back to reclaim it.
There are even shorter funny stories in between, like an ant getting an anteater to do his vacuuming. One chapter even takes a turn toward the Gumby in a library. Never be the clown at a spoiled three-year-old’s party. Learn how to impress Hot Redhead Cavegirl. Flyswatters totally work on vampires.
The last 20 pages or so were one-off jokes and sketchbooks.
If these writers wanted to follow the slightly askew and vaguely juvenile humor of the original, mission accomplished.

Generation Zero Volume 1: We Are the Future
As a lot more comics should do, this starts with a character page, though barely a quote on each. The “big bad” only gets a shadow. Once in the story the characters are introduced at a concert and while playing VR games, which also has some plot drops, including the fact that Mexico City is nothing but a crater due to the military playing with supersoldiers.
The action moves to the planned community of Rook, Michigan, derisively called the Redneck Dubai, which made me laugh more than I should probably admit. Couldn’t help but think that the drawing of the town showed what a dangerous place it was to put an airport, especially with that giant bridge nearby. Anyhoo, the daughter of the local sheriff calls the now-free and freelancing supersoldiers for help when she thinks her boyfriend is killed in this supposedly perfect town.
As with many graphic novels nowadays, the story takes second fiddle to the humor. Some of my fave lines:
“They’re deader than disco.”
“Weaponized geometry!”
“On the one hand, my personal integrity. On the other. . . free beer.”
“Fungible.” “Oooh, good SAT word.”
“I’m Jane Austen’s wet dream.”
About a superhero that can read minds: “The inside of her head is one infinite YouTube comments page.”
At one point they’re suddenly inside an Archie’s comic, though in the end I was fine with that. Felt the same way about the artwork: fine, no big deal. Basically there’s so much funny in here you almost don’t care about the plot; I was simply looking for the next awesome joke.


Book Reviews: It’s All Graphic

The times when I have been most happy are when I’m in a new place, find a spot to stand, and simply look around, no doubt smiling goofily.

Ghoul Scouts: Night of the Unliving Undead
As the title implies, scouts are attacked by zombies. Five survive, armed with baseball bats, frying pans, slingshots, and a potato gun. A little hilarity and a lot of fright ensues.
When it comes down to it, it’s a funny bit of fluff without anything meaningful to it, so as far as entertaining pre-teens or so, it works, even though the ending was too a bit of a cop-out. I just want to know how these zombies found the intelligence and patience to climb into a suit of armor and then wait to spring the ambush!
After the first few chapters there’s some sketches, and there’s a “making of” little documentary toward the end.

Lords of the Jungle
Sheena and Tarzan, despite the different time periods, team up to fight environmental abuse. Sheena magically travels from the Amazon to Africa, where there’s a similar problem with exploitation, but must take a ship to London like a mortal when she’d trying to get Tarzan involved. She even joins the circus.
There’s a few major problems with this treatment of the legends. For one thing, it looks completely ridiculous to have Sheena talking out loud while she’s fighting. But the biggest complaint I have with this. . . I get that a woman wrote this and doesn’t want this to be a focus, but the fact no man, particularly the bad guys, even mentions the fact she’s a gorgeous blonde scantily clad in a few scraps of leopard skin is unbelievable, and so unrealistic it’s a huge distraction. And by the way, she’s actually more attractive in shorts and shirt. More than anything, though, there’s far too much talk. Not that there isn’t action, but the exposition is shoved down the reader’s throat.
I did like the twist that had them traveling to yet another time frame. “The future is. . . not very clean.” But the sad fact is this could have and should have been better.

Miraculous: Origins
Apparently based on an animated TV show I’ve never heard of, the story follows some ancient powerful jewelry—which look like they could be bought at a thrift store—that hold the key to world domination, or something like that. One of them is captured by an evil villain, and he forces it to help him find the others.
Rather than conventional artwork this is more the 3D digital type, with the characters placed on realistic-looking backgrounds. Sometimes it works; the girl, for example, looks cute despite the purple hair. When she does a faceplant it looks realistic and completely hilarious. She’s gotta be the superhero that giggles the most. Oddly enough, she reminds me of Lindsey Sterling’s avatar in the “We Are Giants” video, and the guy has the same pose as the blonde kid at one point. You’d need to watch it to know what I’m talking about, but it’s either an eerie coincidence or a homage.
Some parts of the story are not very original, like having a blonde alpha bitch at school, and a redheaded teacher named Miss Bustier. In the outdoor scenes there’s so many background items and events that tell you this is Europe, more specifically France, especially the car designs.
Most of the jokes are silly, but once in a while a real gem comes out. But c’mon, guns that go “Pew!” are not going to work on a stone monster. (And that reminds me of another moment from the aforementioned video, with the flying tomato. . .)

Zoe Dare vs The Disasteroid
This semi sci-fi story features a stuntwoman rounded up by the government to halt an asteroid from crashing and destroying the planet, though of course they’re wrong about what it really is.
After a brief teaser on how she’s trying to save the world, it’s back in time to her on her motorcycle, doing a big-time aerial trick in Vegas. This is done so the reader will know her sister is her ground control, and Dad did stunts too. Eventually the story goes back to where it was at the beginning, with her flying off world with her most hated enemy to stop the “Disasteroid,” the naming of which is the funniest part of the story.
There’s one robot who only speaks in social media, saying things like, “LOL, hashtag irony,” “Hashtag WordsHurt,” and “Hashtag ImOverIt.” The bad guy is basically an alien version of The Joker.
But my problem with this is Zoe, the protagonist, who simply did too many stupid things for her to be likeable. Can’t help but think if the genius sister had been in charge this would have been more fun, and over a lot quicker. Another problem is that no matter the most gruesome of injuries, everyone survives again and again!
At the end of first issue there’s character sketches, both literal and literary, which were pretty helpful.


Book Reviews: Strange Graphics

“I love sour cream.”
“On what?”
“On my tongue!”

The Trouble with Women
When a book begins with “In the olden days there were no women, which is why you don’t come across them in history lessons in school” you can only hope the rest of it will be as satirical and funny. And for the most part it is.
Each page has a drawing that adds to the point of the prose, which is presented in sometimes-hard-to-read cursive. It’s an intense combination of history lesson and barbed sarcasm smoothed over by honey-covered humor. This can probably be read simply for its humorous value, but it’s better to risk a little uncomfortableness and take it in the spirit it was presented.
Some of the highlights:
The embroidery begging for help almost made me spew. “So so bored.”
“It wasn’t till the 1960s that women were allowed to uncross their arms, and even then only in emergencies.”
“Women who studied science also ran the risk of growing a beard.”
There’s even a whole section on corsets.
At the end there’s a drawing of women escaping the Dustbin of History via waterslide, which would make a great attraction at some amusement park.
I was lagging at the end, as there are only so many ways to make what is basically the same joke over and over. So do not read this in one sitting. Some of the captions were unnecessary, like the shriveled child, or the four dogs named Psyche.

Rendez-Vous in Phoenix
As told in the intro, this takes place in the late 1990s, definitely not today. It also says it’s a true story, of which I have no doubt.
Basically a young artist in Mexico—who looks like Geddy Lee minus the glasses—fell in love with an American girl and now they need to be together. The story chronicles his—and others’—struggles to cross the border illegally and then get together after that, as even when across the border there’s still dangers.
The best thing here is the artwork, colorful yet conveying the starkness of the desert. But the story was depressing; even when Tony’s at his most hopeful, it’s still bleak. Stories are supposed to entertain and/or educate. There may have been some education here, but I definitely didn’t find it entertaining.
Eight pages of sketches round it out.

Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: Wild Card
A demonic soul-sucker is terrorizing Chicago, but has a hidden agenda beyond just scaring everyone. A lot of different factions get involved, being manipulated into fighting each other, with Dresden stuck in the middle.
I like how he calls his apprentice padawan, and refers to what he does as “make things go boom” magic. Considering all the things that’s happened to Dresden over the years, he probably didn’t expect “kidnapped by a giant owl” to make the list.
There’s a flashback to Murphy’s childhood, and if you pay attention to these kinds of stories you’ll know exactly what’s being set up.
“A guy who made Darth Vader look like Mr. Rogers.” Can’t have noir without that kind of comparison. And yet it might be true; the bad “guy” is a much more powerful and horrifying version of the Joker.
Despite how simple the ending was, I liked it.

The Twilight Zone: The Shadow David Avallone
I don’t have a history with the Shadow, so it was difficult to understand the plot at first. I may not have this completely right, but I think The Shadow’s mind is now inside a guy who impersonates him—possibly a security double—after being gassed fleeing from an attack on some Nazis. Then it takes a Twilight Zone twist we’ve actually seen before in the original series.
As if it wasn’t confusing enough, he’s wandering through different worlds in different bodies, even makes like Gumby inside a book, where Lady Justice has a go at him, first with a sword and then pointed words as he fills her in on his backstory.
I was wondering if the Jedi mind trick was something he’d always had or part of the Twilight Zone twist, but apparently the power to see into men’s hearts is literal.
The image of the typewriter keys coming down was the best in the book.
There’s both humor—“Hit him with a cheaper vintage!”—and pop psychology/philosophy—“The war didn’t change me. It revealed me.” He also gets called a big goof, which is fair.
The author obviously had a point to make and spelled it out at the end, but if he hadn’t I wouldn’t have gotten it. Most of it was just too confusing.