Sunday, December 29, 2019

2019 Comic Book Retrospective Analysis

By nature I am an introspective and analytical person. For all of you laughing out loud at the idea of me being an introvert let me educate you quickly. Being an introvert or an extrovert is not about being quiet or loud in public. It has to do with where you recharge your energy. I have learned and adapted to function in public, in crowds, and in front of mobs of people. The process wears me out. I have to get quite a bit of alone time to recharge.

Because of my reflective nature I like to analyze. I track almost everything in my life. With all the data I gather it is sometimes fun just to look at it different ways and see what can be learned.

The first thing I learned is that I spent way too much on comic books this year. I averaged $329.43 per month. That is about $83 a week. I totaled out at $3953.13 per year. That is almost exactly $1000 over 2018 ($2922.79) and more than $1500 up from 2017 ($2329.42). Some of that can be attributed from an increase in average comic book price from $2.99 to $3.99. I continue to see that price point creep upward on both Marvel and DC. It looks as if the goal is to average $4.99 per book in the near future. While that won't be a complete jumping off point for me I cannot buy 15 books per week at $5 a piece and look at myself in the mirror.

Seeing my habit increase an average of $500 per year makes me feel a little out of control. I do quite a bit of writing, talking, and thinking about comic books. I do think it is time to consider carefully how I spend my comic book dollars.

So what did $3953.13 buy me you might ask? Well, that data is a little imprecise. I bought a few graphic novels and trades along the way and while I have that data it is not as neatly organized as my weekly trips to my local comic book shop. I will say the majority of this money WAS on my weekly pull list, but since I cannot be to the penny precise I won't go into average weekly spend and discount versus retail cost.

To be fair, I did crunch all of those numbers. The data is skewed. Moving on.

I read a metric ton of Marvel Comics. I read 54 Marvel Titles not counting all the individual books for events like Age of X-man or 2099. This made up 341 Issues.

The most individual issues goes to Amazing Spider-man at a count of 25 issues. Immortal Hulk comes in at 17 issues with Avengers at 16. I wouldn't have guessed at this result since I consider X-men my favorite part of the Marvel Universe. If you add up all of the X-Titles, I read 102 X-related issues this year. It was a good year for the X-men if you do away with Age of X-man which was simply dreadful.

Conan the Barbarian had a great year. At a quick glance there were about 46 titles I picked up related to him. I don't feel as if any of those were wasted money. I look forward to more swords and sorcery in 2020 and beyond.

It follows Logic that DC comics makes up the 2nd most read company. I broke DC down into 3 categories: DC, DC Black Label, and Vertigo. All together I read 236 issues from these companies. They break down as follows: Vertigo 28 issues, Black Label 24 issues, and DC 174 issues.

The main Universe is where I focus most of my reading. I read 26 issues of Batman, 24 issues of Detective Comics, and 24 issues of Justice League. Interestingly enough if I add up all of the titles that are about Batman, Joker, or Harley Quinn the total number is 98 issues. That likely indicates accurately that Batman and his pals are my favorite characters. Sean Murphy is hands down my favorite Batman writer. I would love to see him take the helm in the main continuity.

Here is the list of Titles and Issue Count:

Company  Title  # of Issues
Ablaze  Unsacred 2
Aftershock  Knights Temporal  4
Boom  Once & Future  5
Boom  Faithless  3
Dark Horse  Black Hammer/ JL 5
Dark Horse  Berserker Unbound 4
Dark Horse  The Orville  4
Dark Horse  Tommy Gun Wizards 2
Dark Horse  Strayed 1
DC Batman   26
DC Detective Comics 24
DC Justice League  24
DC The Flash  17
DC Green Lantern  14
DC Batman Beyond  11
DC The Batman Who Laughs 9
DC DCeased 7
DC Event Leviathan  6
DC Heroes in Crisis 6
DC Batman & the Outsiders  5
DC Batman Superman  5
DC Tales from the Dark Multiverse 5
DC Doomsday Clock  4
DC Year of the Villain  3
DC Legion of Super Heroes 2
DC Superman  2
DC Flash Forward  1
DC Freedom Fighters  1
DC Harley Quinn Poison Ivy 1
DC Hell Arisen  1
DC Black Label Batman Curse of the White Knight 5
DC Black Label Batman Last Knight on Earth  3
DC Black Label Harleen 3
DC Black Label Last God  3
DC Black Label Superman Year One  3
DC Black Label Joker Killer Smile  2
DC Black Label Batman Damned 1
DC Black Label Batman White Knight Von Freeze 1
DC Black Label Dark Knight Returns the Golden Child 1
DC Black Label Joker Harley Criminal Sanity  1
DC Black Label Wonder Woman Dead Earth  1
Dynamite  Bettie Page Unbound 9
Dynamite  Vampirella 5
Dynamite  Chassity 4
Dynamite  Bettie Page 3
Dynamite  Vengeance of Vampirella 3
IDW Shredder in Hell  4
IDW  Canto  6
IDW  Usagi Yojimbo  4
Image  Criminal  12
Image  Outer Darkness  10
Image  Die 9
Image  Curse Words 8
Image  Deadly Class 7
Image  Unnatural  7
Image  Redneck 6
Image  Sonata  6
Image  Crowded 5
Image  East of West  5
Image  Sea of Stars  5
Image  Analog  4
Image  Self Made 4
Image  Blackbird 3
Image  Dead Eyes 3
Image  Manifest Destiny  3
Image  Prodigy  3
Image  Safe Sex 3
Image  Death or Glory  2
Image  The Marked  2
Image  Undiscovered Country 2
Image  Assassination Nation  1
Image  Coffinbound  1
Image  Magic Order 1
Image  Pretty Violent 1
Image  Reaver 1
Image  Seven to Eternity  1
Image  Unearth  1
Marvel Age of X-man 30
Marvel Amazing Spider-man  25
Marvel Immortal Hulk  17
Marvel Avengers  16
Marvel Uncanny X-men  15
Marvel X-Force 13
Marvel Conan the Barbarian 12
Marvel Doctor Strange  12
Marvel Old Man Quill  12
Marvel Savage Sword of Conan  12
Marvel Avengers No Road Home  10
Marvel Fantastic Four  10
Marvel Marvel Comics Presents 9
Marvel Savage Avengers  9
Marvel 2099 8
Marvel Dead Man Logan  7
Marvel War of the Realms  7
Marvel Absolute Carnage  6
Marvel History of the Marvel Universe  6
Marvel House of X  6
Marvel Jane Foster Valkyrie  6
Marvel Powers of X  6
Marvel Spider-man Life Story  6
Marvel Age of Conan Valeria  5
Marvel Loki  5
Marvel Wolverine & the Infinity Watch 5
Marvel X-23 5
Marvel Age of Conan Belit  4
Marvel Death's Head  4
Marvel Excalibur  4
Marvel Fallen Angels  4
Marvel King Thor  4
Marvel Marauders  4
Marvel New Mutants  4
Marvel Doctor Doom  3
Marvel Ghost Rider  3
Marvel Spider-man   3
Marvel Superior Spider-man 3
Marvel X-men 3
Marvel Black Cat  2
Marvel Conan Serpent War  2
Marvel Return of Wolverine  2
Marvel Aero  1
Marvel Black Order 1
Marvel Domino  1
Marvel Ghost Spider  1
Marvel Incoming 1
Marvel Infinity Wars 1
Marvel Invisible Woman 1
Marvel Marvel Comics 1000  1
Marvel Spider-geddon 1
Marvel Symbiote Spider-man  1
Marvel Thanos  1
Marvel Weapon Plus  1
Oni Press  Rick & Morty vs. D&D II Painscape 3
Vault  Moneyshot  3
Vertigo Lucifer 5
Vertigo The Dreaming  5
Vertigo Books of Magic  4
Vertigo Goddess Mode 4
Vertigo Hex Wives 4
Vertigo High Level  4
Vertigo House of Whispers 2

Make of it what you will, 2019 was a good year in comics. I plan to use the above information to spend smarter in 2020. I am paying more attention to what I love and what I like. Nest year I would like to spend about $1500 less and end up with a collection I am happier with.

We shall see.

Comic Book Pull List 01/01/2020


Batman Beyond #39
Detective Comics #1018
Flash #85
Joker/ Harley Criminal Sanity #2


Death or Glory #8
Manifest Destiny #40


Doctor Doom #4
Marauders #5
Thor #1 
   Donny Cates takes the wheel with Thor. While I will miss Jason Aaron, I am very curious about the change of pace. 
X-men #4

Monday, December 23, 2019

Comic Book Pull List 12/25/2019


Bettie Page Unbound #8


Criminal #11
East of West #45


Doctor Strange #1
Incoming #1

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Comic Book Pull List 12/18/2019


Un/sacred #2


Once & Future #5


Batman #85 - The last issue in Tom King's run. 
Batman Last Knight on Earth #3- The final issue of Scott Snyder & Greg Cappulo's Dark Knight
Batman Superman #5
Doomsday Clock #12- The end. 
Harleen #3- Final Issue
Joker Killer Smile #2
Justice League #38
Last God #3
Hell Arisen #1 - Apex Lex vs the Batman Who Laughs


Chassity #4
Vampirella #2 Replica Edition


2099 Omega #1- So glad to be done with this. 
Amazing Spider-man #36
Avengers #28
Conan Serpent War #2
Excalibur #4
Fallen Angels #4 - The only hard to read X title. 
History of the Marvel Universe #6 - I really hope Marvel has Mark Waid give annual updates. 
King Thor #4- The End of Jason Aaron's Thor Run. 
Marauders #4
New Mutants #4
Spider-man #3
X-Force #4

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Comic Book Pull List 12/11/2019


Batman Curse of the White Knight #5
Detective Comics #1017
Flash #84
Superman #18
Tales from the Dark Multiverse: The Judas Contract #1 


Bettie Page Unbound #7


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #100


Deadly Class #42


Age of Conan Valeria #5- Final Issue
Doom 2099 #1
Fallen Angels #3
Ghost Rider #3
Immortal Hulk #28
New Mutants #3
Savage Sword of Conan #12
Spider-man 2099 #1
Jane Foster Valkyrie #6
X-Force #3

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Comic Book Pull List 12/4/2019


Batman #84
Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 Facsimile Edition
Green Lanterns: Blackstars #2
Justice League #37
   Scott Snyder, you better pull something out on this one after making the Hall of Justice a giant mechanized Battle Beetle in the last one. Shenanigans. Cute, cheeky Shenanigans, but Shenanigans all the same. 


Vengeance of Vampirella #3


Shredder in Hell #5


Dead Eyes #3
    New content starts here. This is Gerry Duggan. You should be reading it. 
Death or Glory #7
Die #10
Manifest Destiny #39


Amazing Spider-man #35
   Nick Spencer, at this point I am sticking around to see what happens with Kindred. Reel it back in, sir. 
Conan Serpent War #1
   Solomon Kane, Moon Knight, Dark Agnes, and Conan! Yes. All the yes. 
Doctor Doom #3
   One of the best capes and tights series on the market. 
Excalibur #3
   Tini Howard absolutely kills it with Besty Braddock and the mutant formerly known as Apocalypse. 
Ghost Rider 2099 #1
   If there is a book I am really worried about buying this week, this is it. 
Marauders #3
   Pyro got a face tattoo in the last one. Oh, and Kate Pryde is the Red Queen. I cannot wait to see where this goes!
Old Man Quill #12
   Finally, the freaking end. 
Savage Avengers #8
Star Wars #1 Facsimile Edition
Venom 2099
   How can they screw this up? Yes, I know I am tempting fate. 
X-men #3

If I only had $20...

  1. Marauders #3
  2. Conan Serpent War #1
  3. Dead Eyes #3
  4. X-men #3

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Comic Book Pull List 11/27/2019


Batman Beyond #38
   Will Batwoman Beyond actually be a new character? I am betting it will be Maxine. 
Detective Comics #1016
   I am enjoying Mrs. Freeze way too much. 
Flash #83
Last God #2
   I think this one has the makings of an epic. I also want this as a campaign setting for the world's best roleplaying game. 
Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Infinite Crisis
   Think I should actually read Infinite Crisis first? 


Bettie Page Unbound #6


Criminal #10
Curse Words #25
   The last issue? Charles Soule is working hard on Star Wars and Undiscovered Country. I can see it ending here. Question is, will it be a happy ending?
East of West #44
   Also last arc. Jonathan Hickman is tying this one off to give his love to the X-men.


Avengers #27
   We literally got an issue last week. It was phenomenal though. I hope for more 1 million BC Starbrand. 
Conan 2099 #1 
    This is the main reason I am interested in the 2099 series.
Fallen Angels #2
   I admit I am so very skeptical of this book having legs.
New Mutants #2 
   Please be more interesting than the first issue. Please. 
Punisher 2099 #1 
   Because why not?
Uncanny X-men #266 Facsimile Edition 
   1st Appearance of Gambit. This is the holy grail for me. I traded mine away for a stupid New Mutants #98. Only Rob Liefeld is proud of me. 
Valkyrie Jane Foster #5
   Such an interesting cast so far. I love you Jason Aaron and Al Ewing.
X-Force #2
   They skinned Domino and assassinated Xavier in the first book. Why are you not drooling for this issue!


Rick & Morty vs. Dungeons and Dragons II Painscape #3
   Do I need to explain the awesome here?


11/20's Pull List let me come to an ending with a few books that I pull. I decided to do away with Marked, Vampirella, Loki, and Safe Sex. My thoughts and feelings about these are all on the review episode of the podcast. Tough week. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Synergy of Thought, Word, and Deed

I have been toying with this idea for a long time, but to write this out is a very sensitive thing. This post digs in to my own thoughts and feelings a great deal more than my typical observations. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. I love when I talk to my friends and they tell me that reading my blog sets off this narrative voice in their head that is just me talking. These posts are my little soliloquies to the universe at large.

My hesitation to expose my deeper thoughts and feelings comes from the fact that I know that there are a few people out there who dislike me and enjoy mocking me in less than clever or subtle ways. I have not bothered to confront these people because I find them cowardly and unworthy of my time or attention. I let the little gnats buzz around the light I try to shine amused at their own childish antics.

Taking the time to swat them down is really more effort than it is worth. Even this much acknowledgement is really unnecessary, but I have always been softhearted. It is hard for me to rationalize when people choose to dislike me without me having taken the time to get to know me or the possibility that their assumptions or the gossip about me could be totally wrong. Hopefully if they are reading this, knowing that I don't miss any of their buzzing will at least give them the proper caution to realize I am not a clueless victim nor in any way helpless.  I can change my mind at anytime and respond appropriately. The thought crosses my mind daily.

Who says I am incapable of reserved and mature restraint?

The ability to not act on things you know is somewhat close to the topic of today's post. In some ways this is the line that separates bumbling amateur from the Master. The reason that I am starting with this is that my chosen title is absolutely misleading.

To be happy in life I think it is necessary to cultivate a rich depth of emotional control and detachment. Your inner plans, hopes, dreams, feelings, and opinions are better kept behind a heavy wall of satisfying silence and rarely, if ever, shared with the world at large. The less of your own truth you put out into the world the more power you have over it. By gathering together and protecting your own energies you become difficult for others to devour and digest. It is very difficult to judge or attack what you do not understand with any degree of certainty of success. Being mysterious means that people are never aware of what you are capable of. This breeds doubt and fear in them.

My facade of arrogant disinterest is built around this concept. People tend to write me off as cocky, weird, and aloof. This gives me a good amount of distance from which I can observe them. I can watch from this position and decide if letting the mask slip is worthwhile. The disadvantage comes in not winning any popularity contests. It makes me appear to not belong to a group or apart from the moves of any games being played. In this context games would mean the forming of cliques and political maneuvering present in any type of gathering of humans. I can typically overcome this by being useful, agreeable, and friendly when the situation where it is safe to do so presents itself. This is easy for me because it reflects the truth of how I feel inside. I secretly want to be liked, respected, and a part of things. I am just smart enough not to cuddle up to a group of hungry sharks smelling of blood and showing an obvious weakness.

For this reason I do not believe your words or actions should often reflect the way you think or feel. The day I master this I will be profoundly proud. I cannot even manage to wear the camouflage of being a fan of sports. This would be quite worthwhile as it would give me a mundane commonality that would allow me to make other people feel more comfortable with me. I want to have a reasonable distance between myself in others after all. I do not want to be alien or completely unreadable. Building banal social connections on a mutual like of sports, music, or even food humanizes and softens a person. It lets them say," David, oh yeah, he is a bit different. He can be a little quiet or shy until you get to know him, but just talk to him about Football. You will be fine."

Sadly, I cannot fake that type of thing... yet. I am working on picking out the more common totems that work for me. Nerd culture from my youth has opened a lot of these doors. Being able to chat with the average person about Batman, Captain Marvel, or Harry Potter helps quite a lot. I may be a calculating strategist, but that is NOT the reputation I want to have. I would rather be seen as a lovable scoundrel than having my public persona be equated to that of a spider watching for vibrations on an ever more complex series of webs.

Keep your chewy nuggat core protected from the world at large. That is the central message of the long and belabored section above. Cards close to your vest and all that. Have strong boundaries. Beware people who do not.

The next part of this concept is going to be extremely ironic since I love words so much. We all talk way too much. We casually toss our business on the internet. Some idiots even put all the dirty details down in a blog for the world to see.

Words in and of themselves are not a problem. The trouble starts when it becomes apparent that the words you say do not reflect in your behavior. While I think it is perfectly acceptable to think one thing and say another in most situations, I think whatever you say should match your over all behavior.

I. am. working. on. this.

There are far too many of my friends out there who get placated about us hanging out. I don't intend for that to be the case. The truth is though that some part of me knows that when I say," We will get together soon," that I am really saying," I care about you but I have no idea when I am going to make time for you."

This is NOT nefarious, but I do allow it to go on too long. I have excused this behavior in myself for too many years. It has become a habit. The people who love me are understanding of this and should not have to be.

Here is my confession. I make time to write blog posts like this. I play Dungeons and Dragons. I make time to read tons of comics each week. I make time to see my little one. I make time to record two podcasts every week. I do have a busy life cooking, cleaning, shopping, and working. I am owning that I do not make enough time for the people I really love.

I am going to say I am sorry about that here for the last time by changing my behavior in two ways. First, I am going to stop placating and just be honest from the very beginning. Second, I am going to stop making excuses and stop letting time fly by and budget aside time for everyone.

I have always been blessed with the gift of gab. I talk a great game. As I have gotten older I have realized a couple of things. I don't claim to be able or willing to do anything I cannot do. When I brag I do so well under my actual ability.

I almost never make promises. They are very insidious and unnecessary things. If someone trusts me then there is no need for a promise. The things I say I will do will be done and they know this through experience. If someone doesn't trust me then making a promise will give no comfort. The concept of a promise was built by the untrustworthy to get one over on people. If you make your word impeccable and in complete harmony with your behavior then you never should need to promise anyone anything.

I also tend to have the reputation for being an honest asshole. This comes from being ready and willing to act in my own interest openly and brazenly. I am direct. While I keep a library of my own truth tucked away safely in my soul, I make no excuses for going after the things I want. I like to think this is lovable and roguish. In reality it is probably just proof that I am focused and single minded and less than charming. You can count on my behavior though. I telegraph my moves on purpose. I will even go into great detail of telling you what I am going to do. You just probably will never, ever know the truth of why.

I find that being able to count on someone's behavior to match what they say is extremely satisfying. My first wife made some absolutely insane moves from my point of view. Her logic and mine were not in the same stratosphere, but to her credit she was always going to do exactly what she said she was going to do. She would never apologize or compromise on this. I didn't agree with her frequently, but I could at least respect her in that way... for the most part.

Talking a pretty game just doesn't work anymore. I prefer an ugly truth to a pretty lie. Promises that are broken just pile up like huge logs damming up the river of trust. All of that is unnecessary. Don't spare my feelings. Tell me what you are going to actually do regardless of the intention and let me deal in reality. I am a big boy and will respect you more that way.

I listen to words, but I am the careful chronicler of actions. I don't forget much. What little bit I might be in danger of forgetting I write down in great detail. I tend to respond to the truth of another's actions with carefully thought out actions of my own. In that situation there really isn't any point in me explaining. You didn't care enough to do what you told me you were going to do. I won't waste my breath.

The exception to this is threats and warnings. I am BAD about threatening well past the point that the person I am threatening doesn't believe I am capable of doing anything. The reason I use a threat is an immaturity or lack of self confidence which makes it easier to communicate a negative potential outcome than to express that a boundary has been crossed that I am unwilling to accept. It is easier to say," Don't do that again or I will cut contact," than it is to say," You really hurt my feelings doing that and I am not willing to allow you to hurt me anymore in this way." Yes, I know the younger, smarter generation would communicate better. I am working on it. 

The truth is I am more comfortable being caustic, rude, or threatening than I am being emotionally vulnerable. I have probably threatened to kick someone's ass at least weekly for most of the last 30 years. That statement has ALWAYS been made to prevent violence rather than cause it at least when it came from me. I know... toxic masculinity. Again, working on it. Trust me when I say, I do everything I can do to keep from acting on the desire to punch someone in the head, throat, or teabag.

By making my words match the deed of my restraint I have successfully lowered the instances where I have gotten abrasive in this way. I am hoping that carefully applying this to all the parts of my life will bring about more peace, love, and harmony. In the meantime, I am not going to slow down in my blogging. If you don't like it or me, too bad. I really do believe that writing this blog helps me and other people. That is why I am going to keep doing it.

That is my thoughts, words, and deeds all in a perfect synergy... and it feels nice.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Most Sinister Trick

We as humans are afflicted. We have been convinced that we are incapable of making changes and are therefore powerless. This deception cuts at the very base of our power. It keeps us weak, submissive, docile, and squabbling pointlessly among ourselves, or worse with ourselves, rather than bringing about growth and prosperity.

I would love to lay this psychological bondage on some supernatural creature, but the truth of it is much worse. We enslave one another with a million different invisible chains. We lie, plead, gossip, betray, deceive, frighten, threaten, and abuse one another each to accomplish our own ends. The result is singular. No matter how you got there eventually you come to believe that you are helpless. You come to believe that there is no way to change this. You come to believe that it is beyond your power to bring about any sort of improvement in your own life. You give yourself over fully to everything being out of your control and that (perhaps only subconsciously) that you clearly deserve every awful thing that has happened to you, is happening to you now, and will continue to happen to you in the future.

You accept the chains of inaction. You become a docile, complacent, and miserable person. You are incapable of making things better, but you can certainly see all the people who failed you and let you get into this situation. Now you are angry. You are indignant. You find righteous fury and while this is not exactly a good thing it feels better. It also helps you to see that everything has happened to you, but it cannot possibly be your own fault. You lash out. You inflate and mutate the story of your misfortunes playing other people more and more into the role of oppressor and villain.

You aren't suffering in silence anymore. Your anguish is loud and obvious. You can see that people are noticing it. That attention feels right. It is good that someone is finally paying you the attention you have always deserved. Surely they will help you balance the scales. Some of those people will feed into your feelings. One or two might point out that you need to seek healthier behavior, but clearly they just don't understand or are just too stupid to get it. No one really gets it but you and the people who think like you.

Come to think of it, Where is God in all of this? Why did He let you be born just to suffer? Why aren't your family rescuing you? Where did all those friends go? They were all probably just wanting something from you. They only care when they have time. They were supposed to love you and do things for you. How could things be so unfair?

Now this dark turn of mind ends up spreading misery. It destroys families. It leads to suicide. It leads to homicide. In a more mundane way, it breaks apart the bonds between people, but the most sinister thing that it did along the way was it took away your ability to see that each moment is a choice. You do have the power to take responsibility for your current choices.

By virtue of birth we humans are imbued with Free Will. We can choose what we believe. In simpler terms we can choose what we take responsibility for.

Let me stop the objections here. I understand that I am dealing with a TON of things that are deeply intertwined with mental illness. I understand on a very intimate level that those of us with depression, anxiety, PTSD, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, and the like have lots and lots of things that they cannot simply choose not to feel. I am blessed to only have a few of those issues, but I know that there are days I cannot simply say," I am not going to feel unworthy today." I get it. Don't mistake what I am saying for the idea that you can simply resolve yourself well and you will be.

Similarly, things do happen in life that are beyond our control and those things will come along and knock you on your ass. You cannot just decide not to succumb to them and survive. If I could have willed away the grief of my Mother's death I would have been much better balanced a human. I couldn't. I had to take responsibility for my feelings. I had to own the fact that, while I cannot resurrect her, I can completely decide how I deal with it. I can define my own terms of what is acceptable for me.

You may not be able to change some part of your life, thoughts, or feelings, but you can take responsibility for what you do with them. This translates into power over the parts of you that you can control. Not feeling powerless means that you do not have to descend into a deeper spiral of misery. If you do begin that circling the drain emotional spiral that is okay too. You can take responsibility for realizing that you have the power to change your circumstances and over some amount of time you can recover.

We all have the power to choose something even if that something is wrong. We can screw up 9 times out of 10. That doesn't matter. Getting it right once matters.

You are never, ever powerless. You have a life. You have a voice. You matter. Those things imbue you with an inviolate ability to choose where you place your energy. You are not a slave to your circumstance no matter how hopeless it seems.

The idea puts me in mind of The Count of Monte Cristo. Edmond was not happy with fortune. He wasn't happy with learning. He wasn't happy with skill or ability. He was instead a slave to misery and revenge. Although, in the end he found happiness through folly. Even making the wrong choice and acting to the wrong ends purchased him the strength to make the next step and the next until he tripped and fell over a lasting happiness and peace.

I don't want to muddy these philosophical waters too much. The central idea here is that we have all been tricked into believing that there is little we can do in our lives to make a meaningful difference. Freedom is found in rebellion from this idea. Strike out against it by believing that you can take responsibility for everything that happens to you in life regardless of fault.

The clearest place I see this trick played is in the complacency of the modern American citizen most of us who are completely dissatisfied with almost all aspects of our political system. Is there an uprising in the works? Are we bringing about sweeping reform with our votes? No. We are fighting each other over imagined sides. We have allowed those in power to distract us, divide us, and we are so busy trying to figure out who is at fault that we are going along with the problems out of a sense of things being bigger than our ability to change.

I wonder what would happen if we all realized that this was not true. For now I am satisfied putting the truth out there and believing that I have done my part to bring about change. I am absolutely certain I have the power to do more.

What is more important is that I don't need anyone else to do it for me. I don't need help. I have the power to bring about change all by myself.

So do you.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Comic Book Pull List 11/20/2019


Once & Future #4 Writer- Kieron Gillen Artist- Dan Mora


Batman #83 Writer Tom King Artist Mikel Janin
Batman Superman #4 Writer Joshua Williamson Artist David Marquez
Batman White Knight Presents: Von Freeze #1 Writer Sean Murphy Artist Klaus Janson
   How can you not love this world?
Green Lantern #85 Facsimile Edition
   This is a landmark issue. It confronted Roy Harper being addicted to Heroin. 
The Infected: Scarab #1 Writer- Dennis Hopless Artist- Freddie Williams II
   I am super excited to see "evil" Jamie Reyes.
Justice League #36 Writer Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV Artist- Francis Manapul
** The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage Writer- Jeff Lemire Artist- Bill Sienkiewicz
   I may pick this up. I am really torn and undecided. Black Label is the big selling point. I don't have any love or hate for the Question. I have a lack of exposure. Do I really want to change that?


Chassity #3 Writer- Leah Williams Artist- Daniel Maine
Vampirella #5 Writer- Christopher Priest Artist- Ergun Gunduz
   I am really torn on this title. I love Vampirella, but this run has been so nonsensical. I would hate to buy it just for the cover art. 


Canto #6 Writer- David M. Booher Artist- Drew Zucker


Crowded #10 Writer- Christopher Sebela Artist- Ro Stein & Red Brandt
Marked #2 Writer-David Hine & Brian Haberlin Artist- Brian Haberlin & Geirrod Van Dyke
Outer Darkness #12 Writer- John Layman Artist- Afu Chan
Safe Sex #3 Writer- Tina Horn Artist- Alajandra Guitterez


2099 Alpha #1 Writer- Nick Spencer Artist- Viktor Bagdonavic
Absolute Carnage #5 Writer- Donny Cates Artist Ryan Stegman
Amazing Spider-man #34 2099 Writer- Nick Spencer Artist- Patrick Gleason
Avengers #26- Writer- Jason Aaron Artist Dale Keown
    1 billion BC Starbrand drawn by Dale Keown. 'nuff said!
Conan the Barbarian #11 Writer Jason Aaron Artist Mahmud A. Asrar
   *spoiler* He didn't die in the last one.
*** Deadpool #1 Writer- Kelly Thompson Artist- Chris Bachalo 
   Mr. Wilson gets his first ever female writer. I am intrigued. 
Excalibur #2 Writer- Tini Howard Artist Marcus To
Fantastic Four 2099 #1 Writer- Karla Pacheco Artist Ron Lim
Immortal Hulk #27 Writer- Al Ewing Artist- Joe Bennett
King Thor #3 Writer- Jason Aaron Artist Esad Ribic
Loki #5 Writer- Daniel Kibblesmith Artist- Andy MacDonald
Maurauders #2- Writer Gerry Duggan Artist- Matteo Lolli 


Moneyshot #2 Writer- Tim Seeley Artist- Kurt Michael Russell

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Comic Book Pull List 11/13/2019


un/sacred #1 Writer/ Artist Mirka Andolfo 
   I will be honest that I have not looked too much into what this is about. The book has cutesey art. It is written and illustrated by Mirka Andolfo. I don't really need anything else. 

Dark Horse

Black Hammer/ Justice League #5 Writer- Jeff Lemire Artist- Michael Walsh
   I haven't read a single issue because I have not caught up on Black Hammer. I am collecting them on the premise of crossover events are historically fun. Also, Garin raves about this one. It is not published by DC though, Garin. 


Detective Comics #1015 Writer- Peter J Tomasi Artist- Doug Mahnke & Jamie Mendoza
   Mr. and Mrs. Freis. Who knew that Norah was a vicious bitch? 

Event Leviathan #6  Writer Brian Michael Bendis Artist Alex Maleev
   I expect this to end with long lasting repercussions for the DCU. I strongly suspect that the events here lead to Superman revealing his Clark Kent identity (though I could be wrong) I also cannot wait to see who is underneath the mask of Leviathan.

Flash #82 Writer Joshua Williamson Artist Rafa Sandoval
   Now begins the Reign of the Rogues? I mostly just love Captain Cold. 

Superman #17 Writer Brian Michael Bendis Artist Kevin Maguire & Sean Parsons
   I am picking this one up in anticipation of the big identity reveal in issue #18. 

Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Blackest Night Writer Tim Seeley Artist Kyle Hotz & Dexter Vines
   These have been so good. Much like the Elseworlds or What if?! series these books take seminal moments in the DCU's history and flip the script on the results. I cannot wait for this read. 


Sea of Stars #5 Writer- Jason Aaron & Dennis Hallum Artist Stephen Green
   Honestly, I have struggled through this series. It is a Father/Son, Survival, Exploration book. It isn't bad. It just isn't my cup of tea. If this issue doesn't leave me wanting more I will drop this one. 


Age of Conan Valeria #4  Writer Meredith Finch Artist Aneke 
   Valeria really needs her own ongoing series. She is fierce, fun, and determined. I have enjoyed every issue. 

Fallen Angels #1 Writer- Bryan Edward Hill Artist- Szymon Kudanski
   Kwannon, Cable, and X-23. This could be fantastic. It also could be ridiculous. I am willing to find out. 

History of the Marvel Universe #5 Writer- Mark Waid Artist- Javier Rodriguez
    If you want to know a broad strokes overview of the Marvel Universe, this series is your opportunity. It is told from the perspective of a far future conversation between Galactus and Franklin Richards. 

Savage Sword of Conan #11 Writer- Roy Thomas Artist Alan Davis
   I shouldn't have to pimp Conan at you. 

Tomb of Dracula #10 Facsimile Edition 
    This is the first appearance of Blade! Amazing reprint!

X-men #2 Writer Jonathon Hickman Artist Lenil Fancis Yu
   Will we still be grossed out by the possible threesome of Wolverine, Jean, and Cyclops? Will Storm continue to sound like the most insane religious zealot ever? Will Vulcan still be grilling? Are the Starjammers going to be unnecessary pieces of two comics? Find out here. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Virtue of Silence

After my Mom died I ended up going to therapy. Naturally, I never got a point blank answer about what was going on with my emotions, but the amazing therapist I saw asked some great guiding questions that lead me to many important self discoveries. The greatest of these is that I was using logic and intellect as a barrier to dealing with the majority of my emotions. Given that I am not all that smart, this was a process doomed to failure.

I was shut down. The answer to that was to be more open and honest about my feelings. I do not like this. Being honest with myself means that I have to admit that I am a deeply sensitive person. I get my feelings hurt really easily. In fact, it could easily be said that I wear my heart on my sleeve. That could be why I spent years building emotional defenses which allow me to be more functional.

Getting me to drop those defenses and face all those feelings is a freaking catastrophe. I find myself almost gushing with emotions. My stupid mouth opens and out pours every little nuance of feeling. This is massively inconvenient to my agenda. It screws with my plans. Perhaps more importantly it is damned unproductive.

One of the truths of life is that no one cares how you feel. The earlier you figure out this fact, accept it, and start to work with it the happier you generally end up. Life is not fair. No one cares how you feel. These are truths so powerful they should be tattooed. Understanding that along with the fact People are Stupid will help you find happiness.

Still, the sensitive little part of me has been awakened. I have allowed the dam to break. As a result, I find myself speaking from the heart. HOLY SHIT! That is a terrible thing. It screws with my ability to do my job. The blessing of detachment is a real boon in life, work, and most of all the functioning of my secret evil plans. When people start to know I am a person that feels things, that I have a softer side, and I might even possess a functioning human soul that all immediately falls apart. Stupid puny human emotions. David smash!

I need to be borderline sociopathic in my ability to divorce my own self interest from most any situation. I need to be able to be calm, cold, and calculating. I need my displays of emotion to be an extension of goals. It is imperative that I can show emotion and that the displayed emotion in no way touches what I really feel inside. I did not work on my facade for decades just to suddenly be exposed to the world as a nice person. I need the cover of the callous, untouchable scoundrel. I need to have a deliberate, focused, and invulnerable front up.

Suddenly, I have lost all ability to do this. It is a very uncomfortable that I cannot camouflage my sadness, vulnerability, and pain. The reason that they call it innermost thoughts and feelings is because they are DEEP inside you. They aren't on freaking display.

I find myself ranting and raving about this problem because I made an awkward attempt to use this newly open nature to help a friend not hurt so much. I failed miserably. I didn't clearly communicate the meaning of what I felt. Of course I didn't. Those emotional muscles are atrophied beyond use. Instead I left the friend feeling as if I basically said,"Walk it off. Pain don't hurt." Stupid emotions.

Walled off David would have kept his mouth shut. He would have said something half nonsense and sounded enigmatic and wise. The answer would not have helped, but then again you don't expect the guy without any displayed emotions beyond excitement, anger, or lust to have anything to say in that situation in the first place.

Emotional and obviously caring David is as useless as a condom to a Eunuch. The worst part is that the friend cleanly communicated my failure to me. "Hey, asshole, maybe the next time you attempt to comfort someone you should try to actually understand how they feel and not belittle their need to feel it." Well, that isn't really a quote, but it is the gist of the message. That was exactly the opposite of what I was trying to grossly squeeze out of my touchy emotions which were actively betraying me.

The best part of that was that my emotions immediately slammed themselves shut around the pain of the mistake. I felt my stupid eyes tear up just before the familiar cloak of facade fell back into place. I apologized hating how sincerely I regretted my mistake. I didn't offer any heartfelt defenses. I didn't explain any further. I recovered a little dignity on the surface. Inside I am stupidly tormenting myself both for letting myself feel in the first place and for breaking my rule against offering any kind of emotional advice. I am not qualified for that.

Want to get revenge? I am your guy. Need to plot and scheme? I am talented. Want to manipulate the emotions of a group of people? Gotcha covered. Want to talk yourself into bed with that crush you have? My specialty. Plans to take over the world? Sign me up. I can play ruthless, merciless, determined, and Machiavellian all day long. I am quite the capable monster.

Need to make sense of feelings of loss from a death or break up? Can't help you. Not don't want to. Can't. I am incompatible. Found out your sweetheart is cheating on you? Well, if you want to get laid to get over it, I am your friend. Want to make sense of it and come to terms emotionally? I don't have those skills. I am directly out of my depth.

You can say what you want about the generations. I don't buy into all the mass media nonsense of it all. I do know that people younger than me seem to be much more emotionally intelligent than I am. My 21 year old daughter understands things about her feelings that I cannot even accept that I can  possess those feelings.

Supposedly with age comes wisdom. My wisdom all comes in the form of accomplishing things. I never really gave a damn about how I felt getting them done.

I doubt that this is true of people my age. I suspect I am quite a bit atypical. I envy these kids that are so much smarter than me and also more in touch with what makes them tick. The younger generation SHOULD be smarter and more wise.

My solution to this problem is going to be quite the balancing act. I am going to shut the fuck up. The basis of this solution is the quote," It is better to keep quiet and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt." Taking the time to filter myself  might be possible with time and practice, but much damage can be done while trying to get to that place.

The balancing portion of the equation comes from the fact that while I am going to stop speaking emotionally and restore my functional facade I am also going to nurture and acknowledge my real feelings underneath all of that. I am going to allow myself to feel and also not be a slave to those feelings. What's the over under on this actually working?

I can tell you that I should be able to write more. My narrative voice is made rich in the fertilizer of carefully repressed and controlled emotions. The current weepy chimp version of myself who feels this need to unburden his soul just doesn't have the bandwidth to have anything of value to say. I am spending too much energy trying to reconcile and remain functional to do much beyond that. Now if I can rearrange my playlist so all these sappy songs don't keep ambushing me I can work on this plan.

Comic Book Reading Priority

Wednesdays really make the week for me. The kid doesn't have school so I get a little more time with her. I have a standing meeting at work that drags me in a little early. This gives me an excuse to leave a little early (when I can) and I try to get home before the little one is in bed. This often doesn't work, but I get excited about the idea. Also, it is new Comic Book Day.

As an almost forty year old man new comic books really shouldn't excite me as much as they do. By the standards of adulthood and maturity that the adults of my childhood attempted to install in me I need to,"put away childish things." Thankfully, I am not slave to such draconian ideas. I strongly suspect I will enjoy comic books, role playing games, video games, and cartoons my whole life through.

If you have paid attention to my Comic Book Pull List posts or listened to the podcast you know that I am an avid reader. I really do devour stories. I typically finish an audiobook a week. I will also read myself to sleep on the Kindle and plow through a novel or two on top of that. I really am rather insatiable in my love of the narrative.

Recently, I have experienced an unintended side effect of the podcast. I pick my books up on Wednesday as early as I am able. I rarely read more than a book or two that day. The last few weeks I have not even had a chance to put my books in reading order until Thursday.

Yes. I do have a reading priority every week. I tackle key issues first.Think of key issues as stuff introducing a new character, introducing a new power for a character, a character going through a major change, or a character dying. Batman #77 is a good example. The death of Alfred Pennyworth is a major life event for Batman. It puts that issue at the top of the pile.

After that comes any #1s. Love it or hate it #1 issues drive sales. Lots of readers get excited for new beginnings. Proportionately, the creators behind the comics work hard at grabbing the audience with #1 issues. I will say that X-men #1 might be a lackluster example of this. On the other hand, take a look at Marauders #1. Kate Pride breaking her nose on a portal to Krakoa in the first couple of pages set the tone for the rest of the issue. It was a delight.

 I work my way through event books next. Event books are a mixed bag. I think of it like a long term couple trying to spice up their sex life with a little kink. The event is going to give you their creators and characters putting forth their very best effort to give you something new and exciting. In all reality you often end up with more of the same thing you have been used to for a good long time. It always starts off strong and then reels things back in to a nice safe and comfortable place.

As an example of this I will point to Absolute Carnage. Donny Cates got off to a creepy start with lots of recognizable dead bodies in one big mass grave. Eddie Brock is having to reach out to Spidey for help. Spidey is his typical self, but Eddie has a new twist of responsibility for his son. The Venom symbiote is uncharacteristically blood thirsty and wants Carnage dead. Things are familiar but just far enough outside our comfort zone as to be interesting. In issue 3 we climax with Venom Hulk. By mid issue four Carnage has claimed the Venom Symbiote and Eddie magically gathers together a new suite from the cast off Codices. We are back to comfortable to finish things off. For further reference on this phenomenon please see Secret Empire, Spider Island, Convergence, Civil War, Civil War II, Secret War, Secret Wars, and most other events. There are exceptions (House/ Powers of X), but events are frustrating.

Next, I read ongoing series stuff like Batman, Flash, or Doctor Strange. These story lines make up the heart of comics. Characters and villains change very little from issue to issue for the most part. Somehow Batman fighting his (mostly) unchanging rogues gallery has remained (mostly) fresh for 70 years. I respect the creators that give us more than 50 issues of the same story. Books like The Walking Dead, Invincible, or Saga are really worthwhile. They break the status quo, and give the comics community something substantial.

 I finish up with mini series stuff like Death's Head or Dead Man Logan. These books are normally good for character evolution. They may or may not have universe effecting consequences, but I typically enjoy these books more than the events. They make almost no pretense about their importance in the greater narrative. Oddly enough because of their compartmentalized nature, mini series often tie up plot lines and set the stage for new ones. I like saving the best for last.

It is funny that I am having a problem as a side effect of the Podcast. I grab all my books on Wednesday and do my level best to read everything so I can report on them in the review episode we record on Sunday morning. This is a labor of love and I have a blast plowing through 15 to 20 issues in 4 days.

It typically means that Sunday afternoon, Monday, and Tuesday are completely and utterly bereft of comic reading. I find myself more and more caught up on back issues and books I only read in trade paperback. My back log of books is lacking. It leaves me a little bit at loose ends for those breaks and lunches. It is a strange problem to have. I tend to fill the time with lots of writing, D&D prep, and podcast prep. Sometimes I worry that I am one dimensional.

There are worse problems to have.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Comic Book Pull List 11/06/2019

This is a very Image heavy week for me. Berserker Unbound will come off this list with issue #4 (although, I would almost expect to see it return) The week feels very much like a 90s antihero celebration with King's Batman, Ghost Rider, Savage Avengers, X-Force, and Vampirella all in the line up. That is no bad thing.

Dark Horse

Berserker Unbound #4 Writer Jeff Lemire Artist Mike Deodato
   The Mogrel King finally faces the Sorcerer that murdered his family. I will be impressed if they tie up the mini series in this issue. Never underestimate Jeff Lemire.


Batman #82 Writer Tom King Artist Mikel Janin
   Only 4 issues remain in Tom King's run. Batman is back in Gotham and headed for a fight with his Father and eventually Bane. 

Green Lantern Blackstars #1 Writer Grant Morrison Artist Xermanico
   Is Hal undercover for the Guardians? Has Hal switched sides? It is well worth 3 issues to find out. Embrace the Multiverse insanity!

Justice League #35 Writer Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV Artist Francis Manapul 
   I think this is the flagship book of the DCU. Doom has won the war for the heart of the universe. Also, Hawkgirl's rage and anger caused her to DOOM everyone. I wasn't surprised. Now she can be emotionally tortured while fixing it. 


Vengeance of Vampirella #2 Writer Tom Sniegoski Artist Michael Sta. Maria
   The first issue absolutely exceeded my every expectation. It set up such a beautiful mythology. I am super excited for this one. 


Dead Eyes #2 Writer Gerry Duggan Artist John McCrea
   This is a case where I am showing writer loyalty more than speaking to the merits of the book. Now I am not saying Dead Rabbit Eyes isn't an amazing read. I genuinely don't know. I have been carrying around issue #1 since it released. I had decided to pass because the original concept didn't interest me, but I have really come to appreciate Gerry Duggan's writing. I *plan* to have this read by the time this releases under its new title.

Deadly Class #41 Writer Rick Remender Artist Jordan Boyd
   Richard put me on to this Remender gem. It is an oddly philosophical piece considering that it is staged in the 1980's in a boarding school for assassins. I am not a fan of any specific character. Honestly, I am following along at this point to see how much misery the characters are going to go through.

Death or Glory #6 Writer Rick Remender Artist Begal
   Cars, motorcycles, kidney failure, and trafficking humans for organ harvest. This is the best type of heist book. Also, Rick Remender.

Die #9 Writer Kieron Gillen Artist Stephanie Hans
   I want to say that this book birthed the RPG comic genre, but that is probably unfair. It certainly defined the genre and raised the bar. This one is just meta enough to be satisfying. It is also fantastically moody.

Manifest Destiny #38 Writer Chris Dingess Artist Matthew Roberts, Own Gieni
   The Lewis & Clark Expedition meets Supernatural. After a long hiatus issue #37 did not wow me. I am really hoping this one picks up the pace. It is a nice dense read though.

Sonata #6 Writer Dave Hine, Brian Haberlin Artist Brian Haberlin
   This is a sci fi epic in the making. Firefly meets Enemy Mine splashed generously with Shadows of the Colossus. Sonata is refreshing.

Undiscovered Country #1 Writer Charles Soule, Scott Snyder Artist Daniell Orlandini
   I would read almost anything Scott Snyder. He has my trust at this point. Charles Soule has yet to steer me wrong either. Joint venture? Sign me up. Oh the book has an interesting premise too.


Amazing Spider-man #33 Writer Nick Spencer Artist Patrick Gleason
   2099 tie in. 

Doctor Doom #2 Writer Christopher Cantwell Artist Salvador Larroca
   #1 stole the week against House/ Powers and a couple of Black Label drops. I cannot wait for this book. 

Fantastic Four #16 Writer Dan Slott Artist Sean Izaakse
   I am not excited about the current arc, but this book has been incredibly well written.

Ghost Rider #2 Writer Ed Brisson Artist Aaron Kuder
   I LOVE Ghost Rider and it isn't just the whole motorcycle thing. I am thrilled Danny Ketch is back in the mix. I think Johnny is the stronger Ghost Rider though.

Immortal Hulk #26 Writer Al Ewing Artist Joe Bennett 
   Last issue put the Leader back in the story. This has been one of the best books on the shelf for the entire run.

New Mutants #1 Writer Jonathon Hickman & Ed Brisson Artist Rod Reis 
   I have always been extremely skeptical of these characters. They aren't "new" anymore. At the same time I am dying to see what direction they are going. The 4th part of the Bagley Every Mutant Ever Cover drops with this book.

Old Man Quill #11 Writer Ethan Sacks Artist Robert Gill
   Is this book concluded yet? One more issue, ugh, fine.

Savage Avengers #11 Writer Gerry Duggan Artist Patrick Zircher
   Enter Elektra? Yes, please.

X-Force #1 Writer Ben Percy Artist Joshua Cassara 
   Beast, Jean Grey, Sage, Wolverine, Kid Omega, and Domino.... This one will be interesting. The 5th piece of Bagley's every Mutant Ever covers is here. 


Sunday, October 27, 2019

Comic Book Pull List for 10/30/2019

I am willing to wager that a good portion of the people who read by blog know me. It feels silly to keep reintroducing myself, but I find myself writing in an introductory voice none the less. In case you did not know, I host a podcast about comic books.

God, I feel dumb. I even mentioned the podcast in my introductory post.

The podcast is called The Printed Panel Podcast. You can find us on iTunes, Spreaker, and a few other groovy services. If you like listening then by all means check us out.

This is not a plug for the podcast. On the contrary, I realized that quite a few people probably don't like podcasts and may still want some guidance where comic books are concerned. This post will be my first attempt to do something about that.

I am going to type up my weekly pull list here. I will share my thoughts about the book as best as I am able. I do want to point out that my Subscription List is published on the blog. I will do my level best to update it monthly as Previews publishes. I may even get fancy and start listing release dates for things.

I really take this hobby a bit too seriously. Since this is the first time I have written one of these posts I will go to the effort of giving a quick synopsis of all these books... at least what I know thus far.


Knights Temporal #4 - Writer: Cullen Bunn Artist: Fran Galan
   Auguste de Riviere is a time displaced knight. Beyond that I don't know what the hell is going on with this book. I think I like it better that way. 


Batman Annual #4 - Writer: Tom King Artist Mike Norton & Jorge Fornes
  If you haven't been reading King's Batman, then you have missed a great run. The bad news is his last issue on the series comes at #86. The good news is he is going to be succeeded by James Tynion IV. 

DCeased #6 (of 6)- Writer: Tom Taylor Artists: Trevor Hairsine, Neil Edwards, & Stefano Guadiano
   DCeased is an alternate continuity event based on the idea of the Antilife equation being spread through the DCU turning anyone it infects into a crazy rage zombie. This is the final issue of the series. *Spoiler* They kill off Batman in the first issue. 

Harleen #2 (of 3) *Black Label* Writer/ Artist: Stejpan Sejic 
   This is a super intimate alternate reality look at the seduction/ transformation of Harley Quinn. It reads like a novel and is stunning in its visuals. 

Joker: Killer Smile #1 (of 3) *Black Label* Writer: Jeff Lemire Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
   With Harleen and Joker/ Harley Criminal Sanity dropping around the same time I would be super critical of this book... if it weren't being written by Jeff Lemire. 

The Last God: Book 1 of the Fellspyre Chronicles *Black Label* Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson Artist : Ricardo Federici
   I am an absolute sucker for swords and sorcery or fantasy books. On those merits and the previewed cover art alone I will give this one a try. 

Dark Multiverse: Death of Superman Writer: Jeff Loveness Artist: Brad Walker & Andrew Hennessy
   This is the 2nd in a series of Dark Multiverse tales. This "What if?!" focuses on Lois Lane being so grief stricken that she becomes the Eradicator. I loved Death of Superman way too much not to pick this up.


TMNT #99 Writer Tom Waltz & Kevin Eastman Artist: Dave Wachter
   There is a female turtle. Splinter is locked away in the Foot Stronghold after losing leadership of the Foot Clan to Karai. Old Hob just mutated a group of humans who were watching Baxter Stockman's inaugural speech as Mayor of NYC. Why have you not been reading this book all along?


SFSX Safe Sex #2 Writer: Tina Horn Artist: Michael Dowling
   Set in an America where "The Party" has enforced laws about sex and decency, SFSX follows Avory's troubles fitting in. That isn't even 50% accurate, but it sounds like a great byline. This one is lightly pornographic and heavily political. So far, I agree with most of it though. 


Conan the Barbarian #10 Writer: Jason Aaron Artist: Mahmud A. Asrar
   This is one of my favorite series. This issue is supposedly Conan's death. I might be impressed more if it actually is, but that wouldn't bode well for issue #11.

Dead Man Logan #12 (of 12) Writer: Ed Brisson Artist: Mike Henderson
   The end of Old Man Logan?

Death's Head #4 (of 4) Writer: Tini Howard Artist: Kei Zama
   This will be the end of a very satisfying story by Tini Howard. I read it as much out of love for her work as I did for Death's Head. 

Doctor Strange Annual #1 Writer: Pornsak Pichetshote & Tini Howard Artist: Andy MacDonald & Lalit Kumar Sharma
   I am about done with Doctor Strange, but again Tini Howard.

Excalibur #1 Writer: Tini Howard Artist: Marcus To
   How the F*&^ is Betsy Braddock Captain Britain? Apocalypse is a good guy now? Really? Like for really real? Also Tini Howard. I have been collecting Bagley's "Every Mutant Ever" Variants and Excalibur #1 is the 3rd part.

Savage Avengers Annual #1 Writer: Gerry Duggan Artist: Ron Garney
   Conan the Barbarian in the modern age. Do you need more? 

This should be an amazing week for comics. What am I missing on this list? What should I be reading that isn't here? 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Deja Vu

I have sat down and written the introduction post to my blog at least 5 times. The first blog, I don't even remember what I titled it, started with a poorly explained story of a possum falling through the ceiling of my house and the adventure that followed. I didn't write an introduction. I did a spastic retelling of the events of the previous night and posted a bunch of pictures because I didn't think anyone would believe me without evidence. What followed was a few years of opinion pieces, writing exercises (including violent poetic imagery- a project for a writing class), and finally a trickle off into silence.

My second blog was called Knoxville Knights. It was an attempt to blog a series of fictional short stories with a urban fantasy theme. I posted maybe 6 or 7 posts before getting bored with it and taking it down. I wish I could claim it had some value. In truth, it was a very masturbatory exercise in telling myself a story. I think maybe 2 or 3 of my friends ever even knew it existed.

I resurrected the blog on blogger a few more times going through titling it Flawed Perception before settling on About five years ago my blog took on a more strategic or philosophical tone. I was still offering up my askew view of the world, but I had a tendency to couch it in broader terms. This hit a climax when I took the blog off of blogger and onto my very own website. I got tired of paying for that pretty quickly. I moved back to blogger. Then I had a bright idea of having a philosophy driven podcast and I decided to launch back to the website.

The best part of that experience was purchasing the URL. I pulled all of the saved information on my old blogs and posted them again completely unedited. That came back to haunt me fairly quickly. Emotions are highly situational and the views and opinions expressed were not anywhere near up to date. I have been blogging for 14 years at this point. It isn't fun to get judged for something taken out of context. That is even less fun when someone attacks you for something you wrote in 2006. After finding out people were judging me harshly, wrongly, and unfairly for things I had written years before it wasn't too big a leap to pull down that website too. God help anyone who dislikes me so much that they need to dig for dirt on me on the Internet. It is a waste of time. I am really not that interesting or controversial.

Meanwhile, Garin and I got back to doing our comic book podcast. Funny thing, reading comic books can be time consuming. Researching for a podcast can also be time consuming. Writing a blog takes a bit of time and effort. Maintaining a website, well, that takes time too For the past few months I didn't feel any real need to maintain a blog. My work with comics was enough. I would love for your to check it out. The podcast can be found on Spreaker, iTunes, and probably a few other places. It is certainly a labor of love for me and I think we do a nice job. Just don't expect bumper music just yet.

Writing this feels good. I get a lot of enjoyment out of broadcasting my thoughts out into the universe. I guess I am even flattered if you hate me and you are reading this to try and find ways to screw with me. There is a thin love between love and hate. Some of you reading this might be surprised to hear that there are people out there who hate me enough to hang on my every word. This isn't ego or paranoia. I have real  enemies. They aren't content to just pray for my downfall I have enough respect for them to be aware of them and take the threat they represent seriously. I have a hard time really caring about them though. In the words of Taylor Swift," Haters gonna hate,hate, hate hate." I do appreciate them increasing my views count though. It is a shame they never leave comments. I dream of interesting, slightly maniacal commentary to everything I say.

With every iteration of the blog before this one (and Knoxville Knights which was a different thing) I have moved my posts with the new blog. I am not going to do that this time. The new is a fresh start with a slightly different perspective. I have some things I want to say and some of them may be controversial, but I am not going to do my best to make this blog a bit less immature than those that came before it.

Don't get that twisted. I am going to write about Dungeons and Dragons, comic books, board games, and on occasion I may go on a rant about boobs. I am still me, after all. I am just going to be mindful that the world has changed a lot even in the last 14 years. I am not independently wealthy and anything I say can and will be held against me. If you hold me appreciating the beauty of the human body against me I doubt we will get along anyway. I am going to aim for a balance of respectful restraint and telling it how it is. Seeing how long that lasts is going to be quite the adventure.

I was twenty when I realized that I really enjoyed writing. Come April I will be forty. Those two decades have taught me quite a bit. I expect that the coming days of my life will teach me even more. My hope is that sharing my thoughts, feelings, and experiences will be meaningful in some way. It has happened in the past. Almost nothing feels as good as someone telling me that they read something I wrote and were touched or changed by it. I don't expect that this introduction will do that. I still wanted to get this out of the way to move toward the good stuff.

If you feel any type of way about me or my writing reach out to me. I am not hard to find on Facebook, Twitter (Cantrelltalks), and Instagram (Cantrellwrites... although to follow the theme it should be Cantrelltakesphotos). I adore talking to people. You can also email me.

 For now I am going to go catch up on a few more comic books before recording the podcast in the morning. Hope you enjoy the blog.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Stages of Being an Adult

I mowed the grass today. Mowing our big front yard is a great time to pause, reflect, and formulate inspiration for my writing. I also sneeze a lot and deepen my farmer's tan.
While I was mowing I got a text from Whitneigh that said," It feels good to pay the bills." I pondered this a few seconds and agreed. Yes, at this stage of my life having the bills paid is extremely satisfying. I spent the next several rotations around the yard reflecting that this wasn't always so. I know that there are few universal experiences. Maybe my journey is unusual, maybe it isn't.
I moved out with Taila's Mom a bit before my eighteenth birthday. We moved into a house my parents owned. I didn't pay for anything except my phone bill for the house landline. My parents footed the electric bill and we didn't pay any rent. We had a mostly free ride.
Stupidly, we moved into an apartment. My bills increased to rent, electric bill, phone bill, and cable bill. I paid them. I resented the hell out of all of them. I paid bills grudgingly, rarely on time, and often with a complaint of what I would rather be doing.
This to me is the first encounter with the adult responsibility of paying the bills. They are annoying. They are a burden. I wanted all of those things, The apartment, the cable, the telephone, and I didn't want to pay for any of them. I accepted that they were good and necessary, but I had trouble rationalizing to myself why they cost so darned much.
I didn't budget for my bills in any specific sense. I totaled everything up and vaguely knew that the amount of money I earned would cover paying for those things. That is the theory at least. I remember struggling a lot. It might have had something to do with my growing video game library, comic book collection, and roleplaying game collection.
I very clearly remember walking through a book store with a stack of novels and sketch books. I get to the register to ring it all up. I handled my money in a fun way. Bill money got folded in half in the wallet to suggest, subtly, that I not spend it. My total comes up. It is a little more than the spare spending money I had. I didn't hesitate to float the rent out until my next paycheck.
I strongly suspect that I improved my hustle back in the day just because I did want to learn to budget and spend responsibly. With my first wife they money got spent at Walmart. We bought tons of things we didn't need at all. We would buy new clothes just to avoid washing laundry. Had I not hated the feel of new underwear so much I might not have resisted this at all.
It was hard times that finally taught me the value of budgeting for bills. After a few times having the power go out I decided that my priorities might not be in the best order. It is damned hard to play a video game when the power is off. Honestly, it isn't much fun reading a book by lantern light in the middle of summer. Lanterns are really nice for camping, but indoors, in the summer they are crazy warm.
The next phase of growing up for me was accepting that the bills were not only necessary but not really a burden. At this juncture you don't enjoy the bills getting paid so much as begin to regularly plan to pay the cursed things. The budget for bills gets more accurate. You actually set money aside. It is during this phase you may get brave enough to let a bill or two autodraft from your account.
Odds are pretty good you are going to screw this all up. Keep a balance in a bank account is difficult unless you have more than average earnings as a young adult. Going out with your friends screws things up more than toys at this juncture. You really learn to hate overdraft fees.
Mostly though lights stay on, cable doesn't get interrupted quite as often because you host things at your place sometimes now, and you may even keep food in your refrigerator more often than not. I am probably being generous. The Fridge really is just for beer and soft drinks. The freezer is hosts a lot of pizzas and that slowly disappearing bottle of your favorite liquor. This is a fun phase of paying bills because every once in a while you manage to sneak from one paycheck to the next with a few dollars left over. Some people never evolve beyond this stage as I understand it.
I realized my next evolution when I had my bills all budgeted out and they were all paid, but I also began take pride in the fact. I started getting bills paid ahead and even started working on banking up emergency money to cover a month or two of bills. The budget for gas and groceries got really solid. I was tracking my finances strongly enough to set aside money specifically for date night and my hobbies. This is fully functional adulting. You may occasionally get stuck in the pay check to pay check routine, but this isn't as problematic. At this juncture if you are eating ramen noodles you actually enjoy the taste.
Now the bills are an understood thing. They are plotted out far ahead of time. I also have a budget for food, gas, fun, comics, this website, savings, incidental savings, and retirement savings. I still get broke on occasion, but this version of broke is different from needing to bum a few dollars for gas or food broke.
The tighter my financial game is the more in control I feel of my life. I haven't lost my ability to hustle up some funds, but I don't have to exercise them as much. The end of debt is still a dream, but the dream isn't even a decade away anymore. Suddenly I am feeling pretty good about paying bills. There is a genuine satisfaction to it. There is a comfort to knowing things are in order.

This is clearly a result of depression. I just attempted to spin out a few hundred words on feeling good about paying bills. I have got to get cheered up. The mowing did help... so did the random rambling post.