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Winter is Coming as is White Walker Whisky

New York, NY — Send a raven— Scotch has officially entered the realm. In collaboration with HBO®, DIAGEO is unveiling the new White Walker by Johnnie Walker Blended Scotch Whisky and The Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection. The limited-edition whiskies are inspired by the iconic characters and the creative world of Westeros and beyond and are here to tide fans over during their wait for the eighth and final season. Even the most revered Maester couldn’t have predicted a collaboration of this monumental proportion.

Groundbreaking partnerships continue to be a strategic initiative for Diageo as they foster exceptional creative collaboration and help showcase the breadth of our portfolioWe are very proud to have our collection of single malts and Johnnie Walker, the number one scotch whisky brand in the world, collaborate with HBO’s most successful TV franchise to develop these limited-edition offerings for fans to collect and celebrate the final season of Games of Thrones,” said Dan Sanborn, Senior Vice President, Culture and Partnerships at DIAGEO.

“We knew there was fan appetite for a Game of Thrones whisky and once we saw Diageo’s vision for a way to collaborate together we knew the idea was perfect and the time was now. From the beginning, they understood that we wanted to create something special, and they’ve accomplished that with both White Walker by Johnnie Walker and the single malt collection. We’re confident fans will enjoy sipping these delicious whiskies as they wait for season eight and beyond,” said Jeff Peters, Vice President, Licensing & Retail at HBO.

The first limited-edition offering available in the realm is White Walker by Johnnie Walker, inspired by the most enigmatic and feared characters on the show — the White Walkers. This blend was created by whisky specialist George Harper alongside the small team of expert blenders at Johnnie Walker. At the heart of this new, innovative blend are single malts from Cardhu and Clynelish – one of Scotland’s most northern distilleries where whiskies have endured long Scottish winters, not dissimilar to the climate north of the wall. This special blend has notes of caramelized sugar and vanilla, fresh red berries with a touch of orchard fruit and is best served chilled – the Night King would have it no other way.

The bottling brings you right to the Frozen North with its icy white and blue design along with the iconic Striding Man now fashioned in armor to fit in among the ranks of the Night King’s forces. Utilizing temperature-sensitive thermal chromatic ink technology, fans will be reminded that “Winter is Here” from an unexpected graphic icy reveal on the bottle when frozen.

The Game of Thrones Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection features eight, scotches that are all new to the U.S., and are each paired with one of the iconic Houses of Westeros, as well as the Night’s Watch, giving fans an authentic taste of the Seven Kingdoms and beyond. Diageo’s unparalled diverse range of distilleries in Scotland, much like in Westoros, each have their own unique characteristics and produce a distinctive whisky representative of its local terroir. These similarities were the inspiration behind the collection, drawing an authentic storyline between each House and single malt pairing – from the power of water between both House Tully and The Singleton of Glendullan, to the legendary women behind House Targaryen and Cardhu, or the royal lineage of House Baratheon and Royal Lochnagar and more.

These limited-edition whiskies are certain to be as fleeting as the holder of the Iron Throne, so be sure to have White Walker by Johnnie Walker or one of the unparalleled Game of Thrones Single Malt whiskies on hand to toast to the final season before they are all gone.

White Walker by Johnnie Walker will be available nationwide starting October 2018 wherever fine spirits are sold. The Game of Thrones Collection Single Malt Scotch Whisky Collection will be available nationwide starting fall 2018 wherever fine spirits are sold. Suggested retail pricing is included below.

  • White Walker by Johnnie Walker SRP: $36 for 750ml; ABV 41.7%
  • Game of Thrones House Tully – Singleton of Glendullan Select; SRP: $29.99 for 750ml; ABV 40%
  • Game of Thrones House Stark – Dalwhinnie Winter’s Frost; SRP: $39.99 for 750ml; ABV 43%
  • Game of Thrones House Targaryen – Cardhu Gold Reserve; SRP: $39.99 for 750ml; ABV 40%
  • Game of Thrones House Lannister – Lagavulin 9 Year Old; SRP: $64.99 for 750ml; ABV 46%
  • Game of Thrones The Night’s Watch – Oban Bay Reserve; SRP: $62.99 for 750ml; ABV 43%
  • Game of Thrones House Greyjoy – Talisker Select Reserve; SRP: $44.99 for 750ml; ABV 45.8%
  • Game of Thrones House Baratheon – Royal Lochnagar 12 Year Old; SRP: $64.99 for 750ml; ABV 40%
  • Game of Thrones House Tyrell – Clynelish Reserve; SRP: $59.99 for 750ml; ABV 51.2%

Book-A-Day 2018 #276: Sex Criminals, Vol. 5: Five-Fingered Discount by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

I have two ways I could start this, and I don’t know which one to take. So my indecision will instead be the actual starting point, and I will provide you with two options:

  • Last time out, I noted that Sex Criminals seemed to be sliding in the direction of being a superhero comic about people with sex-based powers, but that tide is now going out.
  • There might be a real honest-to-god ending coming up for Sex Criminals, and not just amusing sex-jokes and vaguely sex-positive character development.
Both of those things are positive, to my mind — the world already has too many superhero comics, and not enough comics that actually end well. So I’m reenergized, at least a bit, which is a nice thing to have happen five books into a series.
In case you’re lost, I’ll repeat the information in the title. The book is Sex Criminals, Vol. 5: Five-Fingered Discount , reprinting issues 21-25 of the Image series written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Chip Zdarsky. For some more context, see my posts on the earlier books: the unnamed first volumeTwo Worlds, One Cop , Three the Hard Way . and Fourgy .

As the back covers explain amusingly, both Suze and Jon make time stop when they orgasm. They discovered their mutual secret the first time they had sex, and used it to rob banks for a while. Since then, they’ve learned that a bunch of other people can do the same thing, and even weirder things.

In the last volume, they broke up. (Um, Spoiler! I guess.) Since Sex Criminals is a reasonably mainstream serial comic with occasional superhero tropisms, we know both that “breaking up the team” is something that will happen every so often and that it cannot be permanent.

I’m not going to throw in a Spoiler! again, but guess what?

This is the volume where nearly the entire sex-powered cast (which is all but one or two of them) are slowly gravitating towards each other, slowly giving up their individual complaints and animuses, for the big team-up against the real villain: the rich guy.

(He is a real villain, too, and a complete asshole, but he’s also the one rich guy.)

From the end of this book, I had the strong opinion that there would be one more volume to get us to the big ending, and it looks like I’m right: random Googling told me that some random Internet guy says that is indeed the case. And if you can’t believe some random Internet guy, who can you believe? (He sourced it to the issue #25 letter column. Does that sound slightly more authoritative?)

So: this is mostly character stuff (plus sex jokes), and the threatened superhero-style all-hands smack-down has been averted, at least for now. There will be one more volume, to fix whatever can be fixed, and give whoever deserves it a Happily Ever After. Stuff actually happens that matters in this book, and it’s pretty much all decisions and thoughts — moments between people. And, again, a lot of sex jokes — what could be better?

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

Mission: Impossible – Fallout Home Video Details Unsealed

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.  – “The action is off-the-charts spectacular” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone) in the “wildly entertaining” (Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly) global hit MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE—FALLOUT, arriving on Digital November 20, 2018 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD December 4 from Paramount Home Media Distribution.  The exhilarating, action-packed movie will also be available as part of the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 6-movie Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray Collection, the perfect gift for the holidays.

Produced by Tom Cruise and Bad Robot, Paramount Pictures and Skydance present MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE—FALLOUT, one of the best reviewed movies of the year, thrilling critics and audiences alike and boasting a 97% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  Now fans can go deeper into the Mission with over an hour of high-octane, behind-the-scenes footage highlighting the incredible stunts, heart-pounding action and exotic locations on Digital*, a 3-disc 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack or a 3-disc Blu-ray Combo Pack.

Drop from the sky, race through Paris, and cling to a cliff with Ethan Hunt as the cast and crew reveal the incredible work that went into creating the breathtaking action.  Plus, check out deleted scenes, storyboards, multiple commentaries, and much more.  The 4K Ultra HD disc and 4K Ultra HD Digital release** feature Dolby Vision™, which brings entertainment to life through ultra-vivid picture quality with spectacular colors, highlights that are up to 40 times brighter, and blacks that are 10 times darker.  The film also boasts a Dolby Atmos® soundtrack remixed specifically for the home to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead***.  In addition, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Combo Packs include access to a Digital copy of the film.

On a dangerous assignment to recover stolen plutonium, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) chooses to save his friends over the mission, allowing it to fall into the hands of a deadly network of highly skilled operatives intent on destroying civilization. Now, with the world at risk, Ethan and his IMF team (Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Rebecca Ferguson) are forced to work with a hard-hitting CIA agent (Henry Cavill) as they race against time to stop the nuclear threat.  Written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE—FALLOUT also stars Sean Harris, Angela Bassett, Michelle Monaghan and Alec Baldwin.

BONUS FEATURES ON 4K ULTRA HD COMBO, BLU-RAY COMBO & DIGITAL*

  • Behind the Fallout
    • Light the Fuse
    • Top of the World
    • The Big Swing: Deleted Scene Breakdown
    • Rendezvous in Paris
    • The Fall
    • The Hunt is On
    • Cliffside Clash
  • Deleted Scenes Montage with Optional Commentary by director Christopher McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton
  • Foot Chase Musical Breakdown
  • The Ultimate Mission
  • Storyboards
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Commentary by director Christopher McQuarrie and Tom Cruise
  • Commentary by director Christopher McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton
  • Commentary by composer Lorne Balfe
  • Isolated Score Track

The MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE—FALLOUT DVD includes the feature film in standard definition.

PARAMOUNT PICTURES and SKYDANCE Present A TOM CRUISE / BAD ROBOT Production
TOM CRUISE “MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT” HENRY CAVILL VING RHAMES SIMON PEGG
REBECCA FERGUSON SEAN HARRIS ANGELA BASSETT with MICHELLE MONAGHAN and ALEC BALDWIN
Music by LORNE BALFE Co-Producer TOMMY GORMLEY
Costume Designer JEFFREY KURLAND Film Editor EDDIE HAMILTON, ACE
Production Designer PETER WENHAM Director of Photography ROB HARDY, BSC
Executive Producers DAVID ELLISON DANA GOLDBERG DON GRANGER
Produced by TOM CRUISE CHRISTOPHER McQUARRIE JAKE MYERS J.J. ABRAMS
Based on the Television Series Created by BRUCE GELLER
Written and Directed by CHRISTOPHER McQUARRIE

Book-A-Day 2018 #274: Love and Rockets: New Stories, No. 1 by The Hernandez Brothers

This week, I Love (And Rockets) Mondays leaves behind the lands of carefully tended and curated reprints and heads into the off-road weeds of messy serial comics. We’ll be back to carefully-tended a couple of times before the end, but Love and Rockets was a serial comic to begin with, and that’s how nearly all new L&R material has appeared for nearly forty years. So we were going to get there eventually.

The paperback Love and Rockets series, subtitled “New Stories,” was the third series. The original magazine-sized L&R ran from 1981 to 1996, was followed by a bunch of individual comics by the two Hernandez brothers (Gilbert and Jaime), and then by a triumphant reunion with the comics-format second series in 2001. After twenty issues of that over six years, it was time for another change, and so New Stories was born: it would come out once a year, with exactly one hundred pages of comics, evenly divided between the two brothers. [1]

That didn’t exactly happen — I keep getting the sense that behind the scenes Gilbert was more prolific than Jaime, which may have caused some stress to the model — but New Stories had eight big books from 2008 through 2016, and only skipped one year as the time between issues kept to twelve months most of the time.

So: this week’s book is Love and Rockets: New Stories, No.1 , which contains the first two installments of Jaime’s Ti-Girls Adventures, which we’ve already seen in revised and collected form in Angels and Magpies, and a collection of not-obviously linked stories from Gilbert, at least one of which is familiar from Comics Dementia. Again, we’re getting into the time-frame where everything hasn’t been collected cleanly yet — or, at least, where I haven’t figured it all out yet.

It’s structured as a sandwich: Jaime has two long (25-page) installments of a larger story, which open and close the book. In between are seven shorter Gilbert stories — including one, “Chiro El Indio,” scripted by his Halley’s Comet of a brother Mario — which feel a bit like palate-cleansers, without any obvious connections to Palomar or Maria’s three daughters.

Ti-Girls is choppier and more comic-booky in this original presentation — each of the two sections is one page shorter than the final version, and Jaime later moved the single “cover” image here and added a new one for the other installment. I have the sense that the dialogue might have also been changed between the two versions, but I’m not looking to do a panel-by-panel comparison. (I still think this is basically Jaime’s least successful story of his mature career.) Given that Love and Rockets was largely selling through direct-market comic shops, and those were (and still are) heavily superhero-centric, I can’t say this was a bad way to launch the new volume, and it might have pulled in new readers.

Gilbert’s stories include the creepy “Papa,” featuring that guy with holes in his forehead and long hair in back. I don’t remember if he comes back directly, but Gilbert rarely hits an idea only once, so I’ll be looking for him. Also a pleasure is “The New Adventures of Duke and Sammy,” a Martin-and-Lewis comic in Gilbert gonzo-space-epic style: it is unique and nutty and coo-coo. The other stories tend to be shorter and more allusive: there’s a full-on dream-logic piece titled “?;” “Never Say Never,” which is almost a fable, in a twisted Gilbert way; “Victory Dance,” which connects oddly to “Papa” and feels like it may be another brick in a much larger wall; and a single page of miscellaneous strips under the title “The Funny Papers” that are not as humorous as you would expect.

It was a decent relaunch for the series, showing what the two brothers could do, and bringing back Mario in a supporting role one more time. Interestingly, it was very much not the two brothers doing their usual kind of stories — Jaime was wandering off into the lands of superhero self-indulgence and Gilbert was making individual unconnected short stories in between longer epics. Maybe after almost thirty years they decided they didn’t have anything to prove this time. (And they didn’t.)

[1] This may be a spoiler, but that paperback-format series itself ended, and there’s now a fourth Love and Rockets series, back in comics format, which started in 2016. There is an unstoppable tropism to pamphlets in American comics; we stand against it at our peril.

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

Book-A-Day 2018 #273: Henchgirl by Kristen Gudsnuk

Flipping the script is a great way to freshen things up. The standard take on Young People Today is that they’re poor and stressed out, so how about giving your heroine more income than she knows what to do with and a give-no-fucks attitude?

OK, sure, she still lives in a dumpy apartment with two roommates, because young people always do that, but she actually has a decent health-care plan. (Though she does have to see Dr. Maniac every time.)

That’s the kind of plan you get when you work for a supervillain: those are the pros and cons. You have to fight superheroes a lot, but you make a lot of money and get to steal really cool things.

This is Mary Posa’s life: she’s a Henchgirl  in the Butterfly Gang, run by Monsieur Butterfly. (The other members: Larry Va, Paladan Birdwing, Chris Calis, Katie Pillar, and of course Coco Oon.) She’s young and gleeful in Crepe City, in this offbeat and not-entirely-serious story about superpersons by Kristen Gudsnuk.

I said “not-entirely-serious,” but it’s not entirely silly, either. Henchgirl is neither parody nor straight superhero story, but something more particular, in-between. Mary’s world is silly, maybe even a little more so than your standard superhero world, but it’s taken as seriously as any of those. Mary lives in a town where the preeminent hero is Mr. Great Guy, and where we the readers can figure out pretty easily that’s he’s actually millionaire playboy Greg Gains. But that’s where she really lives: it’s not the basis for jokes. Crepe City is absurd in different ways than our world — ways that align with a lot of superhero-comics cliches — but who’s to say those absurdities are less likely?

Mary is flippant and frivolous and carefree — well, as carefree as you can be when you’re one of the top lieutenants of a major villain in a superhero universe. Luckily, this is the kind of superhero universe where the villains mostly get away with it and their henchfolks are rolling in the dough. Things blow up, buildings fall down, aliens invade and kill thousands — it’s a modern superhero world, and it would probably look pretty grim ‘n’ gritty if we were seeing it from Mr. Great Guy’s POV.

For Mary, though, it’s pretty sweet for a long time: she gets a boyfriend, Fred, who is also the not-terribly-effective superhero Mannequin, and uses him to leak her boss’s plan to rob an orphanage. (So the crew does her heist instead, and also she gets to feel good about the horrible thing they didn’t do.) The money’s great, the hours aren’t bad, and she can live with her roommates Tina and Sue complaining about her evil activities and lack of tax-paying work.

But then things start getting more problematic: Monsieur Butterfly is getting violent as he searches for the “mole” in his gang…and the gang is not that big to begin with. And her parents, the ’80s-era heroes Flame Girl and El Romancero, come to town on their big fancy book tour, accompanied by the daughter they did put in their book, the budding superheroine Photo-Girl.

And Mannequin gets a new crime-fighting partner in the cute but overwhelming Lovely Celestial Angel Amelia, and along the way gets a power increase from her magical gadgets and a new identity as the Time Baron. And Mary’s roommate Tina starts developing a weird superpower of her own. And Mary’s attempt at heroism, saving her parents from a supervillain, is successful but not particularly popular (or legal, for that matter).

Can one henchgirl make it through all of those problems and find happiness, fulfillment, and that one perfect mask? You’d better believe it!

Mary is an interesting character: a slacker villain henchwoman with vaguely good intentions and a random vague cluelessness that may be just not bothering with things that bore her. The world around her is filled with similarly interesting people — all pretty flawed, in various ways, but not necessarily bad people, even if they spend their time robbing banks and cheating orphans.

This is the complete Henchgirl, at least for now. There could be more stories about Mary, but Gudsnuk left her in a good superhero-universe ending spot, so I don’t think there will be any for at least a few years.

I think Henchgirl was creator Kristen Gudsnuk’s first major work — or maybe I think that because I didn’t hear of her before this. (And I hope I would have heard of someone doing work that’s this much fun!) She’s got a nice, easy line, in a modern style with some anime and western-animation influences and a loose-limbed ease with action and the lack thereof.

I liked Henchgirl a lot — example: while Googling Gudsnuk to type this, I found she has a new middle-grade graphic novel out this year, and I already have a hold on it at the library — and, if you actually read my blog, there’s a very good chance you will, as well. It’s that kind of off-kilter semi-superhero thing that uses the genre as a jumping-off point rather than a pit to wallow in.

Gudsnuk is funny and smart and tells good stories with good people. I hope she does a lot more comics, so I can read ’em.

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

Book-A-Day 2018 #272: Oddjob by Ian and Tyson Smith

An indy comic with bold, dark-outlined computer art and a cast off oddballs investigating weird things…I smell the ’90s!

I kid, I kid. But Oddjob  does feel very much of a particular era in comics. This book collects the full Slave Labor Graphic series of the same name (which followed a series of minicomics, some in different art styles, under slightly different names) by Ian and Tyson Smith. The book was published in 2002, collecting comics from early 1999 through early 2001 — which is close enough to “the ’90s” for me.

I don’t know the Smith brothers otherwise: I found this book randomly in a store, many years later, and picked it up because it reminded me of a lot of other oddball comics from the ’90s and other decades. From a quick websearch, it looks like this was the way they broke into comics, and they had a couple of projects afterward, moved on into movies for a while, and have been quiet (at least on the places I saw) for about a decade.

On the other hand, there’s both a dead British politician and a live British comedian named “Ian Smuth,” and Tyson is only somewhat less common. So it’s entirely possible that they’re active doing something artsy but not plugged strongly into Google-Fu.

Anyway, this is the mostly-complete adventures of Moe, Investigator of the Odd! He has a mysterious, enigmatic origin, goggles that he never removes, a vault full of strange and quirky artifacts that he must keep from the hands of ordinary men, and an office above “the second freshest-smelling bar in Spiral City.”

His sidekicks are the tough Moose Mulligan, owner and tender of that bar I just mentioned, and the nearly-useless performance-artist Robin the Clown. His investigations include living Gummi creatures from another dimension, exploding echidnas, missing mystical tikis, and the bell that makes it recess forever. There is both a runawayMoe-bot and an Evil Moe within just eight issues.

It has to be said that Oddjob is aggressively wacky. I think it’s all honestly wacky: these are the stories these guys wanted to tell. But it is not unlike other very wacky things in comics and animation, from Flaming Carrot and Freakazoid on down.

Writer Ian has a knack for keeping it all going and making the pacing work — not a small thing in a story where literally anything could happen. And artist Tyson’s fat inky lines are delightful — there’s a note in the backmatter that he moved to computer art because he could finally get the really clean, thick lines he wanted that way, and it shows in his work.

Even in the history of quirky comics, Oddjob is just a footnote. But everything doesn’t need to be important or major: things can just be fun. And this is.

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

REVIEW: Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury’s beautiful prose created a chilling dystopian world in Fahrenheit 451 and given the incendiary times we live in, adaptation seems apt. He goes George Orwell one better by erasing history rather than merely rewriting it. HBO was an ideal forum for this, giving the production room to breathe and without the hassle of pacing for commercial breaks.

The 65-year old novel’s bones are well-translated to the screen with Guy Montag (Michael B. Jordan) a dedicated fireman, burning the few remaining books in the world, televising the event to a cheering audience. We watch him begin to question his work and its effects on a world controlled by malevolent forces.

He begins to rebel, aided by Clarisse (Sofia Boutella), and in direct opposition of his superior Captain Beatty (Michael Shannon).

Director Ramin Bahrani shows us how unhappy the people in this world are, how dark the future can get despite the light cast by the burning words. He replaces those words with new terms, ones that smack of Orwell and his dystopian successors, distancing us from the world Bradburty was trying to warn us about.

Bahrani and co-writer Amir Naderi layer on anxieties about today’s reliance on the Internet and social media, things Bradbury wasn’t worried about. That book would certainly have been interesting, but adding them here is retrofitting that doesn’t quite work. We used to revere the printed word but with every passing year, we lament that fewer and fewer people read with any regularity. My high school students uniformly tell me they hate reading (as hey scroll through dozens of texts and group chats). As a result, the entire story doesn’t gel as it should.

Neither does Shannon’s too angry performance, spoiling some of the acting fun. Jordan is fine and Boutella is proving quite an interesting actress to watch (you’ve seen her in Star Trek Beyond and Atomic Blonde).

Bahrani had the challenge of honoring Bradbury’s brilliance and creating his own version so as not to be overshadowed by the superior François Truffaut 1966 adaptation.

The show aired in May on HBO over several nights and is presented here on Blu-ray and looks just fine.  The miniseries comes with one extra: Behind the Fire, a pretty perfunctory look at the making of the film.

Preview: EmptySpace #1

Your name is Robinson Dark. The last thing you remember is fighting an alien invader that threatened to destroy your ship and crew.

But you’re not on your ship anymore. You’ve woken up on another vessel, in a uniform you don’t recognize, and the only other human being anywhere around is howling gibberish at the top of his lungs, heading straight for you.

You should be scared. Your heart should be pounding in your chest like an animal in a cage. But all you feel is… empty.

Take a look at EmptySpace #1 and dive into the great unknown…

Written by New York Times bestselling author Michael Jan Friedman with art by Caio Cacau and lettering by Jim Campbell.

Book-A-Day 2018 #270: Come Again by Nate Powell

The cliche is that the happiest-looking people have the darkest secrets. I don’t know if that’s consistently true in real life — how would you design a study to test that, anyway? — but it’s a surefire winner in fiction, where contrast and irony are the go-to tools.

Nate Powell’s new graphic novel Come Again is about the secrets in a seemingly idyllic group of hippies on an Arkansas Ozark hill. Haven Station is where they live, an “intentional community” eight years into its life in 1979. They farm and garden and live off the land — what the land mostly provides is marijuana, but don’t say that too loudly.

Two couples were among the first to join up back in 1971; four young friends who had known each other since childhood: Haluska and Gus, Whitney and Adrian. Since then, they each had a son — Haluska and Gus’s Jacob, Whitney and Adrian’s Shane. Gus left Haluska, a year or so back, and went “downhill” to the local town, back to straight society and normal life. It looks like it was the usual kind of breakup, and they’re friendly with each other, still, for Jacob’s sake and because this is a small, isolated area and you can’t get too far away from each other.

Gus did not leave Haluska because she’s been having an affair with Adrian. He doesn’t know that. No one knows that.

But they have: they’ve been sneaking away together since at least 1971, since before they joined Haven Station. And Haluska is our central character here, the one who will have to confront those long-held secrets and those years of lying.

(I’m happy that the book focuses on a woman: we need more of that. I’m not as happy about how Come Again settles all of the weight of responsibility for this affair on her shoulders, letting Adrian stay vague and personable. He’s just as responsible, just as complicit, just as central, just as lying. And centering the story on her can look like slut-shaming from a lot of perspectives: that the woman bears the price for infidelity, and is the one who has to make everything right, because she’s the one who controls sexuality and child-rearing. It’s not a fatal flaw, but it’s noticeable. And that conception  — that this all is Haluska’s responsibility — is central to Come Again.)

Powell’s books often have supernatural underpinnings, particularly the magisterial Swallow Me Whole. Come Again follows in that tradition, but, as before, it’s nothing you’ve seen before, nothing with a name. On that Ozark hillside, there’s a door, which leads into some rooms and caverns. In that space — maybe also elsewhere; maybe everywhere — is an entity, a voice in the darkness that is sometimes quiet and half-forgotten and sometimes is demanding, feeding on secrets.

That set of caverns, of course, is where Haluska and Adrian run away to have sex together. We see them do so near the beginning of this book; we think they may have been doing this, off and on, every day or week or month for eight years or more. That’s a lot of secrets.

Most of Come Again take place over a couple of days. It’s Haluska and Adrian’s turn to take the farm’s produce — again, with the pot hidden under the table but the real draw for their customers — down to a farmer’s market in town. Meanwhile, Jacob and Shane, the two boys of these two couples, are out wandering around like boys do.

They find the door. They enter the caves. They go too far.

Meanwhile, Haluska and Adrian come back from town, in the middle of a fight. They break up, for what might be forever. They won’t need that door anymore, and prove it to each other.

But a boy is lost. And when he’s not found, he quickly drops out of memory — as if no one, except one person, can hold on to the secret of his existence.

And who cares most about secrets in this place?

Come Again has gorgeous, brilliant pages, equal parts seeped in the darkness of night secrets and dark caves and shot through with the glow of a late-summer day. Powell has some neat tricks with lettering as well, to show secrets and forgetfulness, to hint at the power of that strange voice underground.

I didn’t love Come Again as much as Swallow Me Whole, in part because of the embedded sexism of Haluska, in part because I don’t quite buy the logic of the supernatural deal at the end. But it’s a strong work, well-written and powerfully imagined and brilliantly drawn. And Powell is one of our very best comics storytellers in the modern world.

Don’t let my minor misgivings keep you away: this is a major book by a major creator, and if you’re not familiar with Powell, you’ve got a lot of great work ahead of you.

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

REVIEW: The Gifted The Complete First Season

You have to give Fox credit for attempting to bring the spectacle of the X-Men to the small screen and finding a way to maintain the themes without duplicating the film series. The Gifted arrived in an abbreviated season last year and in its own quiet way, makes its mark. It lack the glossy of DC’s CW shows and special effects budget of a feature film, but maintained a bleak atmosphere with just enough connections to the film universe to be satisfying.

Thanks to the multiple alternative futures created by X-Men Days of Future Past, the producers neatly fit this into one such reality, one where the X-Men have left Earth, but not before an event equivalent to 9/11 leaving mutants remain hated and hunted.

Enter the Struckers, oddly related to Baron Von Strucker, who is more closely associated with Hydra than mutants. Reed (Stephen Moyer) and Caitlin (Amy Acker) are loving parents of Lauren (Natalie Alyn) and Andy (Percy Hynes), teens who have begun manifesting mutant abilities. Rather than surrender their children to Sentinel Services, a government agency formed in the wake of the “event”, the family goes on the run. Their journey brings them into contact with the mutant underground, filled with interesting and familiar mutants.The focus on the core family then expanding this to the mutant family is a clever conceit and keeps the show fresh. The parents are dealing with the children and the others in need while the teens are struggling to master their abilities and figure out where their loyalties lie.

Meantime, the mutant underground has their own issues with Lorna Dane (Emma Dumont); daughter of Magneto (never quite spelled out) arriving to stir things up and here the melodrama feels like a convoluted Chris Claremont story arc. Late in the run, the Stepford Cuckoos (Skyler Samuels) are revealed, complicating things nicely.

We are given glimpses of all sides of the struggle, from the Sentinel Services people who lost loved ones during the struggle to mutants being turned against mutants and fractious splits among pockets of the underground. There may be a little too much running instead of talking or even thinking, but the pacing is even and the stories build slowly.

The second season began this week and the thirteen episodes from season one are now available on a three-disc DVD from 20th Century Home Entertainment. The show transfers just fine, but it’s interesting they don’t get Blu-ray treatment and there’s a curious lack of extras, even deleted scenes.