Friday, December 28, 2012

The Nifty 9 of 2012

It's time for a list of the Nifty 9 - reading material you can find in a better-than-o.k. comic shop that premiered this year:

(In no particular order...)

1.  Jim Henson's Tale of Sand:   I found out about this book after it won the Will Eisner Award for Best Original Graphic Novel. This GN, an adaptation of an unproduced screenplay written by Henson and Jerry Juhl, is a psychedelic romp through Monument Valley in which an average everyman tries to match wits with his better-prepared, urbane doppelganger while on a quest to "follow the map", have a cigarette, win the woman of his dreams, dodge the mad sheik's army, stay out of the director's shot, be the town hero and cross the dessert while heeding the warning:  "don't trust the map."

2. Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #1: the quick-changing robots get the Justice League International treatment, beginning with this issue. Those of you only familiar with these characters (yes, characters) via the Michael Bay films will experience shell shock.

3. Case Closed - Volume #42: this manga series about a teen detective who turns into a kid detective and has to slowly solve the mystery of the clandestine organization behind his transformation, has been going strong for over 15 years, even if any hope for futher episodes of the anime spin-off being brought over to the USA seems unlikely. Anyway, this is the one - the volume I would recommend to someone who would be curious to try it. It's got some strong arcs and characterization, along with appearances and revelations from the semi-recurring characters that tend to pop in and out.

4. Doctor Who - Shada: this was the best read of the summer. Gareth Roberts had to rise to the challenge of cobbling together every draft, fragment and scribble of Douglas Adams aborted Doctor Who epic and reshape it into a proper full-length novel. Well, he did it. He really, really did it. My only question is: What will you do for an encore, Gareth? ... it just so happens that Tom Baker had written a script for a DW film that would have featured Vincent Price as the villain - titled Doctor Who Meets Scratchman, the film was almost put into production before the financing fell apart. When I had asked him on Twitter about it, Roberts reply was, "Good Idea." ...

5. The Secret History of D.B. Cooper: Oni published this series that offered a fanciful look into the life of that mysterious skyjacker whose fate has never been solved. The artwork is very Mike Mignola/Darwyn Cooke-ish, right down to the red gummi bear sidekick.

6. Idolized #0: From Michael Turner's Aspen MLT. The special premiere #0 issue of this comic starts off well. It's about the winner of a reality show in which super-powered wannabes compete for a rookie spot in an established team, The Powered Protectors, but there are hints that the protagonist is going to be their bad penny. BTW, this series is also notable for being the only comic book series I can remember that offered variant photo covers (in which they get a model to pose in costume as the lead character) that weren't bikini pin-ups in disguise. Vampirella, Glory, Ally Kat, The 10th Muse - all cheesecake.

7. Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye, #5: this standout issue is the conclusion to a medical mystery (yes, robots solving medical mysteries!) featuring fan-favorite Ratchet, is very entertaining, with an ending that's a laugh riot. There's a good reason the title of this chapter is not revealed until the last page...spoilers. ;)

8. Burt Ward, Boy Wonder:  the problem with small press companies is that you never know if the premiere issue is the only issue, or in this case, a sneak peek offered on Free Comic Book Day. This was supposed to be a spin-off of a popular series of their hit Misadventures of Adam West series, in which Sir Adam West gets involved in different kinds of adventures in different genres (usually nods to gigs-that-might-have-been, like playing James Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service or a Western film without the Three Stooges or a serious Caped Crusader and even appearing as Indiana Jones or The Mad Hatter). Here, Ward gets his own turn. First we get an update of his life right now - running a non-profit animal rescue shelter and walking two amiable pooches around the location of the batcave from the 60s Batman TV series. Then we see him chase a mysterious masked man (looking suspiciously like The Red Hood) into said cave,with the dogs tagging along. Just as John Carter wound-up whisked into Mars,  Ward and  the dogs wind up on another planet. It sounded like a fun adventure - we'll have to wait and see if and when it resumes. An ad featuring a spin-off series about Julie Newmar was also solicited, but has not appeared on stands yet.

9. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Century, Part 3: 2009: And this is the one to recommend to everyone - be it the folks who are curious try it or the ones who found past installments inaccessible, and not just because they'll get the references to 30 Rock, Burn Notice, Lost, Heroes, 24, Centurions, Emma Peel, Mary Poppins, Harry Potter, Children in Need, The Dark is Rising and Wizards of Waverly Placethis is the best comic book of the year. 'Nuff said. 'Nuff said.

So there you have it - a Nifty 9 bon-bons from 2012. I'll see you in 2013. :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

In The Spirit For An Xmas Wedding

I had to jump out of the passenger side of Nick's car and land feet first in front of the courthouse steps as it hovered near a fire hydrant.

"Thanks for the lift. Central isn't exactly across the street from the carrier."

He laughed and gave me a thumbs up. "No problem. I'm sure Eb would've gotten you here even quicker - Duggan tells me that cab has booster rockets! And tell Colt the job is still open if he wants it!" He shut the door and took off as I rushed in.


The Groom was staring into a mirror in the Commissioner's office, adjusting his mask. I knocked on the door. He saw me through the mirror's reflection.

"The door's open!"

"Hi Denny. You're not wearing your black suit?"

"I don't wear a black suit."

"Right, right. So anyway, I'm glad I made it here in time to be the best man and all, filling in for Eb and such. Where's Sam and Blub?"

His mask secure, he began readjusting his tie. He must have been nervous. "Sam's on a new case with Tracy's kid, Junior - and he talked Eb into coming along...a trio of investigators...sheesh. And Blub is with the Curry's in Alaska, fighting winter zombies. By the way, Eb left his cab behind to serve as our chariot - you'll have to drive it, so that's three jobs I've got for you."


"Yeah - Dolan's doing the ceremony after we caught Mr. Carrion posing as Judge Kitchen. You'll need to give away the bride."

"Busy day?"

He smiled. "'s looking up. It looked like the bride would be late, but it turned out she found where we left the gown on her own and sent the message to Dolan through one of the bailiffs." Finished, he took one last look at himself. "..and something blue."


I couldn't see the bride under the heavy veil, but the gown was beautiful. It also had a very long train that I almost tripped over when I walked around from behind to take her hand.

The organist began to play the wedding march. As we slowly walked up the room, I took stock of how they decorated the area with loads of Christmas and Wedding-themed decor: pink bouquets, a white cake, a Christmas tree, a table full of gifts (I'm glad I remembered to bring something, although most of the gift boxes were the same size as what I had brought with me - a dreadful thought popped into my head)... Dolan stood at the center, with Denny to his left. I wonder what Dolan was going to say? Or did the Bride and Groom have vows prepared?

There were even two of Santa's helpers - though they looked kind of seedy: the first one was acting as an usher and didn't even fill out his suit; the second was slumped in a chair at a far corner with his gloved hands wrapped around a bottle of rot gut on his lap. He was out for the day.

I also took notice of the crowds in attendance: Family, friends and acquaintances of the Dolan family appeared on the Bride's side...the Groom's side was made up entirely of cops and crooks - the crooks in handcuffs, of course. Among that lot I recognized Satin, Wang, Boil, Cossack, Hussein, Lox, Carrion, Paris, Julia, Sand, P'Gell ... I think someones missing..

And then I almost tripped again! "I've got you," the Bride whispered. She did have a very good grip.

"Yeah, thanks," I whispered back.

And then she kept on whispering. She was talking to herself. "I've got you this time, Gainsborough, in front of everyone, now. There'll be no more cat-and-mouse games from here on."

Her grip was getting tighter, that's when I looked at her hand and notice the gloves she was wearing. They were purple with stripes on the back...purple, purple, purple...


It turned out this was going to be a very short ceremony. Neither side had anything to say and Dolan seemed keener on re-lighting his pipe.

"I left my matchbook in my desk, so if the Groom wouldn't mind putting the ring on her and getting on with it, so I can consider you kids married already.."

"Sure, sure, of course." Denny nervously nodded. His hands were shaking fierce as he reached into the inside pocket of his jacket ... and then became eerily clam as he smiled while he revealed a pair of handcuffs and slapped them on the wrists of his bride!

"Sorry, dear, but I'm afraid I've got cold feet to go with your cold hands." He lifted the veil. The face was familiar: white and blue complexion, with matching blue hair and makeup. Actually, there are three or four nasty women fitting that description, so I waited for Denny to say it. This event was cooling up.

"Louise Lincoln, it's been a pleasure." He reached inside his jacket again. "I believe you were looking for these?" He held up a set of gold wedding bands that revealed inscriptions that glowed and became legible when held up to the light. "The Tibetan Yeti Bands - believed to grant unknown power to the bearer of the ring, if I recall the legend correctly. I just thought they'd make good bait when I had this event advertised in the papers."

"What did she do to Ellen?" I asked.

Dolan laughed. "Who? Seriously, this event was advertised as the wedding of Thomas Gainsborough, here. There was no mention of the bride's name."

The purple gloves on Louise's hand began to change. First they began turning into a paler shade, then they formed a heavy coat of frost before crystallizing and shattering, exposing Lousie's free hands. Her handcuffs become useless when she froze them, breaking them off as well. She then froze Denny, Dolan and myself  and grabbed the bands off Denny's palm with ease. All we could do was watch.

"Just because the wedding's off doesn't mean the bride is obligated to give back the rings, Gainsborough! Watch this bride run away!" She turned and began to make her exit. All the crooks seated in the groom's aisle were cheering her, but didn't dare cross her path.

That's when Santa stepped in. "Where's your Christmas spirit? Is that why you're so blue?" He then grabbed the train of her gown and began to spin like a top, forming a tornado that reeled her in. She began using her powers to fight back, but the end result backfired.

Santa took off his suit and revealed another red suit, one with a familiar lightning bolt symbol stamped across his chest.

"Just when I thought I was going to have to pull one of my old tricks and dash for a present, Louise shows up to help me make a gift: an ice sculpture!"

He raced forward and used his powers to thaw out the three of us - generating heat by offering the ultimate pat-down. It would've been very awkward if it lasted longer than 2.5 seconds.

Denny thanked him by admiring his handiwork with Louise - currently serving as a wedding gown tornado preserved in her own ice. "What a pity we'll have to arrest this one and put it in the fridge right away. You do good work, Wally."

"Thanks. I love spending the holidays back home in Central. By the way, those gloves she was wearing..."

I jumped in. "I can answer that one. Those gloves are a big deal this year. I brought a set for you as a gag. And I noticed that drunk Santa wore a pair as well."

Denny's eyes widened. "Santa?" He turned to the corner. There was only an empty chair where the fat man once sat.

Denny looked a bit forlorn. "I missed him...Santa was here...and I missed him."

Wally tried to cheer him up. "Y'know, it might not be who you think it is...I mean, Bats' wore purple gloves, too."

The End