The Mix : What are people talking about today?

Superior Spider-Man gets 10th Anniversary Treatment

Superior Spider-Man gets 10th Anniversary Treatment

New York, NY— This October, Otto Octavius is back as the Superior Spider-Man! Teased last week, the spider-team that redefined the Amazing Spider-Man will reunite to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the most monumental and shocking Spidey story in a generation in SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN RETURNS #1! Superior Spidey creators Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman will be joined by superstar artists Mark Bagley, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and Humberto Ramos to deliver a Spider-Man story SUPERIOR to all others in this giant-sized one-shot.

The era of SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN that kicked off when a dying Doctor Octopus swapped his mind into Peter Parker’s body was a mega hit with fans in 2013. Determined to prove himself better in every single way, Doc Ock ruthlessly made his way through Spider-Man’s legendary rogues’ gallery, shocking fellow heroes with his violent approach to crimefighting before learning harsh lessons about great responsibility. Did Doc Ock have his fill of the web-head lifestyle or is ready to trade in his metal arms and be the smartest, strongest super hero in the Marvel Universe once more? 

“A run that started with outrage ended with nearly universal accolades,” Executive Editor Nick Lowe shared. “So we were super excited to gather the folks who made SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN the historic book it was back together!!!”

“The challenge Marvel gave me was: for the 10th anniversary, how can we revisit Superior, without repeating ourselves, and while telling a story that impacts Spider-Man’s world today?” Slott explained. “SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN RETURNS is going to take an untold Superior tale, and drag it kicking, screaming, and violently exploding into the present. It’s going to give you everything you liked about Superior but in new surprising ways. No time travel. No clones. And no way we’re telling you how. Read the book!”

The next chapter in this modern Spidey masterpiece starts here! Check out the cover below and stay tuned for more SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN news to be revealed later this week at San Diego Comic-Con!

Babylon 5 The Complete Series Announced for December

Babylon 5 The Complete Series Announced for December

BURBANK, CA (July 18, 2023) – In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment is releasing the groundbreaking original sci-fi TV series Babylon 5 on Blu-ray for the first time ever! On December 5, just in time for holiday gift giving, Babylon 5: The Complete Series will be available at online retailers with all 110 original episodes fully remastered in HD. The highly anticipated release is one fans don’t want to miss!

Babylon 5 is an American space opera television series created by writer and producer J. Michael Straczynski that ran for five seasons from 1994–1998. The critically acclaimed franchise debuted in 1993 with the pilot film The Gathering. The series then launched a year later and ran for five seasons and 110 additional episodes. A future-history story covering the years 2257–2262, with each year corresponding to one season, Babylon 5 was the first series to introduce viewers to the concept of a five-year arc, with a defined beginning, middle, and end, paving the way for a number of such later series.

The beloved award-winning series starred Bruce Boxleitner, Michael O’Hare, Claudia Christian, Jerry Doyle, Mira Furlan, Andreas Katsulas, Peter Jurasik, Richard Biggs, Andrea Thompson, Stephen Furst, Bill Mumy, Tracy Scoggins, Jason Carter, Robert Rusler, Jeff Conaway, Patricia Tallman and Mary Kay Adams.


2258 CE. Five hostile federations dominate the outermost regions of space. Heroes, thieves, and rare and exotic beings find refuge in this time of uneasy peace and the constant threat of war on a lone space station — the last and best hope for peace between a hundred worlds, alien and human alike — Babylon 5


  • Features pilot movie The Gathering

Babylon 5: The Complete Series will be available December 5 to purchase on Blu-ray Disc via online retailers. Pre-order your copy now. 

Pricing and film information:

PRODUCT                                                                SRP

Blu-ray                                                                      $99.99 SRP USA    

Blu-ray                                                                      $119.99 SRP Canada

Audio: English

Subtitles: English SDH

Running Time: 4730 (43 min episodes)

Rated: Unrated – 18+

Blue Is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh

Blue Is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh

I shouldn’t be the one to tell you about this book: I’m the wrong gender, the wrong orientation, the wrong nationality, the wrong generation. So don’t trust me.

Blue Is the Warmest Color  is a graphic novel by Julie Maroh – that’s what the edition I read says; I see indications that the author goes by Jul Maroh now and is transgender and nonbinary, which adds another wrinkle to the story. But this presents itself as fiction, even if, like anyone’s first big story in public, we suspect there are autobiographical elements in the mix. (It clearly can’t be entirely autobiographical, for reasons that should be obvious.)

Maroh is French; so is her cast. I found the story to be in a older mode than I expected: a frame story, coming out amid self-loathing, the clear tragedy of older gay/lesbian stories. It wasn’t nearly as 21st century as I was hoping from a book published in 2010 and translated in 2013 (and turned into a movie in French the same year). It’s not my world, not my community, but I thought we were past the sad dead LGBTQ people.

The main character is Clementine, but we start with her partner, Emma, after Clem’s death. Emma is retrieving Clem’s diaries from her partner’s parents. It’s not really clear how old everyone is, but we immediately dive out of the frame story into the main narrative, and the frame is just used for occasional (and I’d say, unnecessary) commentary. The frame is distancing at best: a more confident creator, later in their career, probably would not have made that choice.

The bulk of Blue is Clem’s story, starting on her fifteenth birthday in the mid-90s. She gets her first boyfriend, Thomas, is focused on school, has dreams of her future – the whole standard deal. She also sees a lesbian couple on the street, and has a strong, unexpected reaction to one of the women, with bright blue hair.

That’s Emma. We already know Clem ends up with Emma; there’s no mystery or surprise there; the frame story has eliminated that possibility. So I won’t run through the plot details, of how Clem denies she could possibly be lesbian, how wrong and unnatural and strange that is, how all of her friends (except one gay man) abandon her eventually. I said this was in the old mode: all that is familiar.

On the other hand, Clem does meet Emma more seriously, and they become first friends and then lovers. Emma is nearly a decade older and already in a relationship, with the forbidding Sabine, both of which would be warning signs in a more modern, conventional romance. But I think Maroh doesn’t mean any of it that way: this is a world where lesbians still live mostly quietly, out of sight, and young lesbians need to be introduced to that world and find a way in; they can’t just declare themselves and be accepted by the wider world.

(I may be naïve in thinking the other is true, now or at any time, in my country or this one. Again: don’t trust me.)

Blue covers two or three years in depth, and then jumps forward a decade to see Clem settled as a schoolteacher approaching thirty, to set up for the inevitable tragic end. There’s no intrinsic reason for this to be a tragedy; that’s unrelated to any of the main plot.

I would have preferred a happier romance; I was expecting one from the cover and the publication date. I’d like to think we’ve had enough tragedies about loves that can’t speak their names, and that most of us are happy to name those loves out loud, even if they’re not the ways we love. Again, I may be naïve.

But this is the story Maroh wanted to tell. It’s a personal, specific story, and I believe the world and the people. Maroh keeps it mostly monochrome, in soft greys and off-blacks, with blue as the one pop of color, making Emma almost luminous, especially in the early days. Like a beacon, like a signpost to a better world for Clem, if only she’s able to follow that sign and join that world – as she does, for a time.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

The Flash to Light Home Up Screens in July 18 and on Disc in August

The Flash to Light Home Up Screens in July 18 and on Disc in August

Burbank, CA, July 12, 2023 – Prepare for the time-bending adventure of a lifetime when The Flash arrives for purchase Digitally at home on July 18. The film is directed by Andy Muschietti with Ezra Miller reprising their role as The Flash/Barry Allen in the DC Super Hero’s first-ever standalone feature film. The film will also be available to purchase on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD on August 29.

  • On July 18, The Flash will be available for early Premium Digital Ownership at home for $24.99 and for 48-hour rental via PVOD for $19.99 SRP on participating digital platforms where you purchase movies, including Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Google Play, Vudu, and more.
  • On August 29, The Flash will be available to own on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD. The Flash will also continue to be available to own in high definition and standard definition from participating digital retailers.

The Flash ensemble also includes rising star Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon, Ron Livingston, Maribel Verdú, Kiersey Clemons, Antje Traue and Michael Keaton. The Flash is produced by Barbara Muschietti and Michael Disco. The screenplay is by Christina Hodson, with a screen story by John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein and Joby Harold, based on characters from DC. The executive producers are Toby Emmerich, Walter Hamada, Galen Vaisman and Marianne Jenkins.


Worlds collide in The Flash when Barry uses his superpowers to travel back in time in order to change the events of the past. But when his attempt to save his family inadvertently alters the future, Barry becomes trapped in a reality in which General Zod has returned, threatening annihilation, and there are no Super Heroes to turn to. That is, unless Barry can coax a very different Batman out of retirement and rescue an imprisoned Kryptonian… albeit not the one he’s looking for. Ultimately, to save the world that he is in and return to the future that he knows, Barry’s only hope is to race for his life. But will making the ultimate sacrifice be enough to reset the universe?

Additionally, on July 18 The Flash will be available as a Web3 Movie Experience, a multimedia NFT allowing fans to own and to engage with the 2023 DC Super Hero film in an exciting way. Through dynamic menu options based on locations from the film, owners can watch the film in 4K UHD on desktop, mobile, tablet or TV, access special features, collect standard or motion key art, discover digital easter eggs, uncover hidden AR collectibles, and more.  The Flash Web3 Movie Experience will be available for purchase at

Also included with The Flash purchase on Digital is the six-part original scripted podcast The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus. An original, standalone audio series, the podcast features Max Greenfield (TV’s New Girl) as the voice of The Flash/Barry Allen.  The podcast is also available to follow on Apple Podcasts at


The Flash Premium Digital Ownership contain the following special features:  

  • The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus podcast – Six-part original scripted audio series featuring Max Greenfield as The Flash
  • The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus Behind the Scenes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Saving Supergirl – featurette
  • The Bat Chase – featurette
  • Battling Zod – featurette
  • Fighting Dark Flash – featurette
  • The Flash: The Saga of the Scarlett Speedster – featurette (Amazon digital exclusive)
  • Making the Flash: Worlds Collide – featurette
  • Let’s Get Nuts: Batman Returns, Again – featurette
  • Supergirl: Last Daughter of Krypton – featurette
  • Flashpoint: Introducing the Multiverse – featurette


The Flash Blu-ray contain the following special features:  

  • “The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus” podcast – Six-part original scripted audio series featuring Max Greenfield as The Flash
  • The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus Behind the Scenes
  • Making the Flash: Worlds Collide – featurette
  • Let’s Get Nuts: Batman Returns, Again – featurette
  • Supergirl: Last Daughter of Krypton – featurette
  • Flashpoint: Introducing the Multiverse – featurette


The Flash 4K UHD contain the following special features:  

  • The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus podcast – Six-part original scripted audio series featuring Max Greenfield as The Flash
  • The Flash: Escape the Midnight Circus Behind the Scenes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Saving Supergirl – featurette
  • The Bat Chase – featurette
  • Battling Zod – featurette
  • Fighting Dark Flash – featurette
  • The Flash: The Saga of the Scarlett Speedster – featurette
  • Making the Flash: Worlds Collide – featurette
  • Let’s Get Nuts: Batman Returns, Again – featurette
  • Supergirl: Last Daughter of Krypton – featurette
  • Flashpoint: Introducing the Multiverse – featurette


Premium Digital Ownership: July 18, 2023

PVOD: July 18, 2023

4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD Street Date: August 29, 2023

4K Languages: Parisian French, English, Latin Spanish, Italian, Canadian French

4K Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French, Canadian French, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Italian

BD Languages: Canadian French, English, Latin Spanish

BD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French, Canadian French

DVD Languages: Parisian French, English, Latin Spanish

DVD Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French, Canadian French, Korean, Complex Chinese, Cantonese 

Running Time: 144 minutes

Rating: PG-13 for partial nudity, action sequences of Violence, some strong language)


Blu-ray: ATMOS TrueHD

4K UHD + Digital $44.98

Blu-ray + Digital $34.98

DVD $29.98

Asteroid City is now Available to Rent at Home

Asteroid City is now Available to Rent at Home

Universal City, California – Continuing its theatrical run, the charming comedy starring Jason Schwartzman (The French Dispatch, The Grand Budapest Hotel), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow, Jojo Rabbit), and Tom Hanks (Elvis, News of the World), Focus Features’ ASTEROID CITY is available tomorrow, July 11, 2023 to buy or rent at home on digital platforms nationwide from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. Packed with humor, an eclectic cast of characters, and an extraordinary alien encounter, the film marks the return of seven-time Oscar® nominated writer and director Wes Anderson (Isle of Dogs, Moonrise Kingdom) and his signature unique visual style.

A “delightfully profound desert charmer” (Indiewire) that “packs a punch with its ensemble cast” (Slash Film), ASTEROID CITY showcases a star-studded, critically acclaimed supporting cast alongside Schwartzman, Johansson, and Hanks, including Jeffrey Wright (Westworld, No Time To Die), Tilda Swinton (Suspiria, Michael Clayton), Adrien Brody (The Pianist, The Darjeeling Limited), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Trumbo), Edward Norton (Glass Onion, Birdman), Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Hope Davis (Your Honor, Succession), Stephen Park (The French Dispatch, Fargo), Rupert Friend (The Young Victoria, Pride & Prejudice), Maya Hawke (Stranger Things, Do Revenge), Steve Carell (The Office, The Morning Show), Matt Dillon (There’s Something About Mary, The House That Jack Built), Hong Chau (The Whale, The Menu), Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man franchise, The Florida Project), Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad, I, Tonya), Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Spider-Man franchise), Jake Ryan (Moonrise Kingdom, Eighth Grade) and Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park franchise, Independence Day).

A fictional American desert town, circa 1955. Junior Stargazers and Space Cadets from across the country assemble for the annual Asteroid Day celebration — but the scholarly competition is spectacularly upended by world-changing events. Equal parts comedy, drama, and romance (with a touch of science-fiction).

Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Live Schreiber, Hope Davis, Stephen Park, Rupert Friend, Maya Hawke, Steve Carell, Matt Dillon, Hong Chau, Willem Dafoe, Margot Robbie, Tony Revolori, Jake Ryan, Jeff Goldblum
Casting By: Douglas Aibel
Music Supervisor: Randall Poster
Music By: Alexandre Desplat
Costume Designer: Milena Canonero
Film Editor: Barney Pilling, ACE
Additional Editor: Andrew Weisblum, ACE
Production Designer: Adam Stockhausen
Director Of Photography: Robert Yeoman, ASC
Co-Producers: Octavia Peissel, John Peet
Line Editor: Frédéric Blum
Executive Producers: Roman Coppola, Henning Molfenter, Christoph Fisser, Charlie Woebcken
Produced By: Wes Anderson, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson
Alpert P.G.A.                                                                
Story By: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Screenplay By: Wes Anderson
Directed By: Wes Anderson

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts hits Streaming Today, Disc in Oct.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts hits Streaming Today, Disc in Oct.

Get ready to roll out when the adrenaline-fueled adventure Transformers: Rise of the Beasts becomes available to buy or rent on Digital from Paramount Home Entertainment. Fans can watch all the action at home starting today.

Fans who purchase the film on Digital can immerse themselves in the world of TRANSFORMERS with over an hour of thrilling bonus content. Take a deeper look at the AUTOBOTS, MAXIMALS, and TERRORCONS, as well as the humans at the center of the film. See how filmmakers recreated 90s New York City through incredible set design, music, and fashion. Go behind-the-scenes of the eye-popping action, from the edge-of-your seat car chase on the streets of New York City to the mesmerizing battle on the mountains of Machu Picchu, Peru. Plus, check out deleted and extended scenes not seen in theatres. Bonus content is detailed below:

• Human Affairs— In a world of robots, machines, and aliens, we explore the humans who help save the world.
• Life in the 90s— The filmmakers discuss how the music, set design, fashion, and cultural references transport viewers to New York in the 90s.
• Heroes— Get an inside look at the inspiration and thought process behind designing the AUTOBOTS and the MAXIMALS.
• Villains—Watch as the filmmakers bring the TERRORCONS and PREDACONS to life.
• The Chase— Meet MIRAGE, a new AUTOBOT that converts into a 1993 Porsche, and experience the adrenaline-filled car chase through New York City.
• The Battle of Ellis Island— Join the cast and crew as they go behind-the-scenes of the epic battle sequence between the AUTOBOTS and the TERRORCONS at the museum.
• Into the Jungle— The TRANSFORMERS franchise has been filmed all over the globe. This time, join the cast and crew as they explore the new and exotic location of Peru.
• The Switchback Attack— Witness the wild, intense driving sequences filmed on location in Peru where the AUTOBOTS fight the TERRORCONS through a town square and into the mountains 15,000 feet up.
• The Final Conflict— Get a behind-the-scenes look at the film’s epic climax. Watch as the AUTOBOTS, MAXIMALS, Noah, and Elena attempt to save the world.
• Extended/Deleted Scenes—Includes an alternate opening and ending to the film!

OPTIMUS PRIME and the AUTOBOTS take on their biggest challenge yet! When a new threat capable of destroying the entire planet emerges, they must team up with a powerful faction known as the MAXIMALS. With the fate of humanity hanging in the balance, Noah (Anthony Ramos) and Elena (Dominique Fishback) will do whatever it takes to help the TRANSFORMERS as they engage in the ultimate battle to save Earth.

TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEASTS will arrive on 4K Ultra HD SteelBook™, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray™, and DVD on October 10th.

TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE BEASTS is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and language.

An Enchantment by Christian Durieux

An Enchantment by Christian Durieux

There is a long-running – it may have ended; I don’t know – series of graphic novels about the Louvre museum, officially licensed by that museum. Each one is separate, a different idea from a different creator or team. It started in 2005 with Nicolas De Crecy’s Glacial Period , and I’ve seen a few more, mostly years ago: The Museum Vaults, On the Odd Hours , The Sky Over the Louvre , (There’s what may be a comprehensive list of the series on Goodreads ; I note that half or more of them have never been translated into English.)

I have a weakness for bizarre publishing projects and quirky brand extensions, so I’m going to try to find all of the books in this series that have been published in English. I’ll go in order if I can, so the next one up was An Enchantment  from 2011, by creator Christian Durieux.

It takes place during some kind of celebration at the museum. We see uniformed staff bustle about, setting gala tables, and an old man in a suit quietly grab two bottles of wine and sneak away. We learn, before too long, that the celebration is for him: he’s some sort of political leader, who has just retired.

We don’t know his name. He does cast some scorn in the direction of a certain leader of Italy who I’m sure is meant to be Berlusconi, so my guess is that this is Jacques Chirac, or a transmuted fictional figure with some aspects in common with Chirac.

That doesn’t really matter: like the other books in this series, An Enchantment is symbolic and allusive and backwards-looking, a meditation and a dialogue rather than a book driven by plot.

And the dialogue this unnamed man has is, of course, with an equally unnamed gorgeous young woman who he meets as he sneaks away from his own fete to explore the museum. They appreciate art, talk about their own lives to some degree, and engage in the typical French philosophizing about life.

Along the way, Durieux has the opportunity to drop in about two dozen major works that are in the actual Louvre, and the handy backmatter tells us in exactly which galleries they can be found, so we could retrace this journey if ever we find ourselves in Paris.

Durieux makes nice pictures and constructs strong pages, though I find his philosophizing somewhat less compelling. (I’ve seen a lot of philosophizing in my day, and this isn’t terribly distinctive or unique – it’s yet more gather ye rosebuds while ye may.) Within the context of the series, this is fairly straightforward and normal, though: quite French, as is to be expected.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Groo: Friends and Foes, Vol. 3 by Sergio Aragones with Mark Evanier

Groo: Friends and Foes, Vol. 3 by Sergio Aragones with Mark Evanier

The modern era of comics is built for short attention spans, all miniseries and limited runs and hot new creators, emphasizing new “jump-on issues” and trying to ignore that vastly more people are jumping off, every chance they get.

Some of that is effect, some of it is cause; it’s been a spiral since the ’90s crash fatally injured the viability of the long-running series. Frankly, long series always tended to dip and (if they were lucky) rise over time – it’s just the “rise,” unpredictable as it used it be, got eliminated from those calculations forever sometime in the early Aughts. [1]

So a comic that’s published anything like regularly doesn’t look regular. There’s this twelve-issue series and that thrilling relaunch and the other one-shot tying into something else. And each one of those “new” things has to be new enough for the fabled “new reader” to start there, which means we get a lot of repotted origin stories and returns of fan-favorite characters and “here’s my favorite Batman story from childhood, done totally awesome!”

This is tedious for anyone who isn’t an utter neophile, but it’s the world we live in. In the case of Groo, it’s why the big series for 2015-16 was Groo: Friends and Foes, a twelve-issue extravaganza in which each issue saw one of the idiot adventurer’s most popular secondary characters returned to do the same things that character (and Groo) does every single time.

Now, Groo was always formulaic: it’s a comedy, and comedies are all about the bit. Groo‘s bit is that the title character is deeply stupid, though well-meaning, and that everything he touches goes wrong and gets broken. It’s usually heavily narrated by The Minstrel – that guy with the jester cap on the right of this cover – in verse that is usually almost as funny as it aims to be. And it’s been running for about forty years now, so there are a lot of recurring characters and running jokes (cheese dip, mendicant, and so on).

That all sounds unfriendly to new readers, but it’s still a light comedy: running jokes are still jokes, and you don’t realize they’re running until it runs into you for the second time. Groo was always built so anyone could drop in anywhere and get basically the same experience; it still is.

So there’s only a thin through-line for this miniseries: it’s basically ten mostly standalone issues, with a recurring character in common, and then a two-part finale. Volume 3 , the book I just got to, has the finale. (See my posts on the first two books for equally random musings about Groo, comics, and comedy.)

This time out, the special guests are: Pal & Drumm, a swordsman nearly as dumb as Groo (though beefier) and his handler/friend; Taranto, the scheming leader of a bandit band; The Minstrel, who I’ve already mentioned; and the recurring new character for this series, whose story gets wrapped up and whose name I won’t mention here to give some very slight suspense for anyone who might read these books. As I said, the first two issues are just like the eight that preceded them, but the last two see the subplot turn into main plot, all of the guest stars for the whole series return for several grand melees and finales.

Like all Groo stories, it’s more good-natured and sentimental than you would expect from a series of stories about a deeply stupid murder-hobo. I’m not a huge Groo fan, so I may seem lukewarm here – and, frankly, I am lukewarm – but this is just fine for what it is, and as dependably Groo-esque as it could possibly be. So those of you who like Groo will be very happy.

[1] Apropos of nothing: in a recent piece I wrote for work and was adapting for UK use, I learned the standard term on that side of the pond (at least according to my organization) for the first decade of this century is “noughties.” I had to believe this out of organizational pride; I can’t require that you do the same.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Are We Lost Yet? by Will Henry

Are We Lost Yet? by Will Henry

I’ve had this same problem my entire book-reviewing “career” – what to say about another book in a series, when it’s the same kind of thing as the ones before. Even if you really like the new one, you’ve already said the things you could say.

So, let me start out by saying that Are We Lost Yet?  is the fourth collection of Will Henry’s “Wallace the Brave” daily strip. The comic itself appears in newspapers and on GoComics every day; the three prior collections are Wallace the Brave , Snug Harbor Stories , and Wicked Epic Adventures  (links are to my posts). This one was published last year, so it includes comics that I’ve seen since I started reading the strip online, which is nicely circular.

(In fact, there’s one of my favorite panels in here, which I clipped and saved to use as a reaction image online – though I never get as much use out of the things in that folder as I think I will. I’ll shove that into this post, a little further down, so you can see if your tastes in humor and reactions are anything similar to mine.)

Those three posts are all pretty substantial; I like this strip and have enjoyed trying to explain the things I like about it. I’ve probably devoted less time to Henry’s cartooning in these posts than I should: he’s a supple cartoonist who fills his panels with details but always in a quick-looking, energetic style. He’s really clearly on the side that cartoons should be cartoony: eyes goggle, bodies fly in reaction to events, sound effects proliferate with a variety of perfectly onomatopoetic lettering.

I don’t want to repeat myself, but this is a great strip, one of the best of its kind and one of the most fun and energetic strips currently running. The only contemporary thing as creative and amusing as Wallace the Brave I can think of is the Peter Gallagher Heathcliff, which is otherwise utterly different.

I know Wallace is the central character, the hero, and we’re supposed to relate to him. But he’s just too much of a cockeyed optimist for me to take seriously, too much of that wide-armed American huckster, always with a new story to tell that he utterly believes in the moment. No, for me the best and most important character is Spud, dragged into situations he’s not good at handling over and over again by his best friend, but always himself and never about to change to be more like that annoying/wonderful friend.

This is a fine modern comic strip, in a mode a lot of people have liked in a lot of styles over a lot of years, so I have to think a lot of you will like Wallace the Brave if you see it. So go see it.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Pop Gun War, Vol. 1: Gift by Farel Dalrymple

Pop Gun War, Vol. 1: Gift by Farel Dalrymple

Maybe I thought going back to the beginning would give me some clarity: I’ve read Farel Dalrymple’s work before [1], enjoying and engaging with it without actually getting it, so I dropped back to the beginning of his career.

I still enjoyed and engaged with Pop Gun War, Vol. 1: Gift , which collects the first five issues of his first solo comic – the edition I read is from 2016, but basically the same material was collected in 2003. And I have to say I still don’t get it, though this is closer to stories I recognize.

Pop Gun War is urban fantasy, mostly: set in an unnamed City – there’s a map before the story pages – where strange and mysterious things happen to a large cast with loose and tenuous connections. It’s all street-level; they’re ordinary people – well, ordinary enough, for this city, but I’ll get to that – rather than mayors and tycoons or even store owners and mid-career professionals.

I should also say there are no pop guns, and no obvious war: the title is a metaphor. As usual for Dalrymple, I can’t quite explain that metaphor.

The central character is Sterling: that’s him on the cover. He witnesses an unnamed angel fall from the sky and then pay a workman to cut off his wings. Sterling grabs those wings out of the trash and runs away with them, later attaching them to his own back. This is urban fantasy: the wings work. (Or perhaps, as we learn later, those wings aren’t what really works.)

The rest of the events circle him; he’s a viewpoint and a center. But there’s no linear plot, and the events don’t necessarily align with each other, either. What we have, instead, is a cluster of characters doing things, some of them opposed to each other:

  • Addison, a bearded guy – maybe a bum? – who maybe finds meaning in his life by engaging with others, especially Sinclair
  • Emily, Sinclair’s musician older sister, who might be supposed to take care of him but is often absent for extended periods, touring with her band The Emilies
  • Koole, a creepy smiling villain (?)
  • The Rich Kid, who is clearly not one of the good people, either, and sometimes seem to be in league with Koole
  • Percy, a giant, flying goldfish in glasses who nevertheless does not talk
  • Sunshine, a small man in a large top hat who grows over the course of the book – no, literally, he’s as tall as a five-story building when he marches off into the sea with his good friend Percy. He’s also probably “magic” in some deep way the story doesn’t want to explain. It’s unclear if he’s a source or a symptom.
  • Mr. Grimshaw, a government (?) functionary who may be scheming to kidnap children and/or steal some vital essence from them and/or something vaguely in that story-space

There are also a group of unnamed, random neighborhood kids, who are both antagonists – trying to destroy Sinclair’s wings, part of Koole and The Rich Kid’s attempts to create chaos – and plot tokens, as they are dragged away from the normal city streets in Mr. Grimshaw’s diabolical plans.

Again: all of these things do not connect with each other. My sense is that each of the five issues here is a story of its own, with the same essential cast, but it’s more like a commedia dell’arte ensemble than a mini-series: everyone has their roles and functions, but they’re doing a different iteration each time.

I still don’t really get it, on the level that I’d like to. I love Dalrymple’s inky drawings, and the way the story pops out into full-page color – mostly soft and muted, maybe watercolor? – here and there. His dialogue is quirky but believable, and this is an interesting, distinctive urban fantasy world even if I couldn’t tell you how it works or what’s important. That’s how Dalrymple works, or at least how his stuff always strikes me: if you’re interested in books that are interesting but stay tantalizingly out of focus to your conscious mind, try his stuff.

[1] See my post on It Will All Hurt , where I laid out my “I don’t get Dalrymple” theory, and also Proxima Centauri  and The Wrenchies .

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.