Read This!: The Losers

The Losers
By Andy Diggle and Jock

So let me ask you this… Do you like intrigue?  Action?  Engaging characters? A story so full of twists and turns you get motion sickness just reading it? 

If you answered yes to any of those, then you should pick up The Losers.

The Losers was a Vertigo comic series that was later collected in five trade paperbacks: Ante Up, Double Down, Trifecta, Close Quarters, and Endgame.  The Losers of the title are a group of military special operatives who were presumed dead when a mission went horribly wrong.  They learned something on that mission, however, something that makes them want to strike back at the CIA and the illusive agent Max who seems to be behind it all.

Diggle does incredible character work, from the always entertaining computer expert Jensen to the cold-as-steel Aisha to the scarred, silent Cougar, the cast of The Losers is one of the best in recent history.  The final chapters might just make you tear up a little.

And action.  No creative team does over the top action like Diggle and Jock.  They’ll have you biting your nails before you even realize it.

If there’s any complaint about the book, it’s the numerous fill-in artists who dot its run.  For a series that only ran three years, Jock sure seemed to be busy doing other things.  Let’s face it, the days of consistent artists are over.

Recommendation: Strong.  Pick up The Losers.  Start at Ante Up and work your way straight through.  You won’t regret it.

So Long Old Friend

When I met you almost four years ago, I never knew our friendship would last this long.  You just showed up at my door, begging for a place to stay.  I took you in and gave you a home.  You’ve been with me ever since, a faithful companion.  Together, we made several trips down the street and back, smiling all the way.  Over time, I grew to depend on you-to love you, in a way.  I suppose I always knew our partnership couldn’t last forever, but I hoped.  Oh, God, how I hoped.  But now it’s over.  It saddens me so deeply to say it’s over…

…And all because that bastard working the register at Domino’s finally took away my coupon for a large three-topponng for $8.99.

And now a word about Civil War

For those of you who aren’t neck deep in comic book continuity, Civil War is Marvel’s latest crossover bonanza.  It involves a “Civil War” between two factions of super heroes, led by Iron Man and Captain America respectively.

“Why are they fighting?” you ask.  Well, there was an accident during a super hero/super villain tussle that left 600 civilians dead.  In response to this, Iron Man helped sponsor the Super Hero Registration Act, legislation that would require every super hero to register with the government, receive training, and give up their secret identity, and work for the government in the name of the greater good.  This doesn’t sit too well with Cap and his idealized version of America, so he goes rogue along with a number of other heroes including Falcon, The Young Avengers, and Black Goliath (if you’re at all like me, you’re probably asking yourself “Who the fuck is Black Goliath?”). Iron Man, on the other hand, gets Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and some others.  This impending war between the two sides makes up the bulk of the story (in theory) presented in a core, seven-issue series that ties into just about every other book Marvel publishes.

So, let’s break my feelings on this “event” down.  I’ll give the pros first, since I’m optimistic like that, then give the cons.


BIG NUMBERS – Civil War (the core series) is selling to some of the biggest numbers Marvel has seen in a long time.  It’s a boon to a publishing house that probably needs all the money it can scratch together.  Whether they can translate those sales into increased numbers for other books remains to be seen.

NEW READERS – At Christmas, my brother Matt ran up to me and nearly screamed, “Dude!  Have you been reading Civil War?”  Now, Matt hasn’t bought a comic since issue four of Marvel’s Transformers series back in the early 80’s.  I didn’t even know he could find a comics shop in town, but hearing (who knows from where) that the super heroes were having a war with each other motivated him to find a shop and buy a bunch some books.  Civil War isn’t a fan-dependent crossover like last year’s House of M, which didn’t make any sense unless you’d been reading the previous two years worth of Marvel comics.  Civil War has a readily available idea that can grab the attention of casual bystanders.  That can’t be bad, although I don’t know if Matt will continue to buy once the main series is over.  If Marvel’s smart, there will be a nice, bright ad in the back of Civil War’s last isse saying “Follow the ongoing adventures of these characters in these monthly books!” with a list of their regular titles following.


SPRAWL – Civil War, as stated, ties into a regular plethora of Marvel titles.  The intent is pretty clear: they want those new readers to try their other titles.  Unfortunately, comics aren’t a dime nowadays, and a new reader who is willing to spend $3 on, say, issue three of Civil War will probably balk at the idea of buying the other fifteen titles that came out that month that tie into the greater story.  On the other end, there are probably plenty of kids who received the Marvel Ultimate Alliance video game for Christmas who sought out their local shop hoping to read into more adventures of these heroes, only to learn the issue of Spider-Man they bought requires five other titles in order to be understood.

LATENESS – Civil War was supposed to (largely) be a summer event.  Instead, the final issue will be released early next month.  Is this the message Marvel wants to send to these new fans?  And the main series is only seven issues!  Is it that hard to plan ahead?  DC has released an issue of their 52 comic once a week this year without falling behind.  Sadly, Marvel’s policy in regard to this tardiness (as evidenced by Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada’s Christmas song “This Song is Two Weeks Late,” which features lyrics such as “Maybe I should’a have listened to the internetters?/‘cause let’s face it, who on earth could possibly know any better?”) appears to be “Suck it.”

BORING – More of a subjective quality, I’m sure, but for a book about a war, there seems to be much more sitting around and talking about fighting than actual fighting.  C’mon!  I want to see super heroes beat the living piss out of each other, not Spider-Man argue with Iron Man over a prison!  It’s issue five, man!  Fuckin’ punch something!

OBSCURITY – Really, who the fuck is Black Goliath?  I’ve been reading comics for fifteen years, and I can’t answer that question.  How is a new reader supposed to know?  Why are all these characters who haven’t been seen in more than ten years hopping around in this book?  If they’re sticking around, that’s one thing.  Otherwise, shunt them to the background and keep them there.

So what do you think?  Do I just not “get” Civil War, or is there an actual problem here?


Read This!: The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner
By Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner tells the story of Amir, a Pashtun boy from Kabul.  As a child he betrays his cherished friend Hassan as a result of his own insecurities and his fear of bully Assef.  Years after Amir and his father flee Afghanistan in order to escape the Soviet invasion, Amir learns a truth about Hassan that sends him back to the now Taliban-controlled Afghanistan to search for his former friend’s son.

Hosseini has written an incredible tale with The Kite Runner, one that was recommended to me by just about everyone I know.  I hesitate to say too much, because it might give away certain later plot points, but I will say the book relies on coincidence just a little too much for my liking.  I’ve found this problem a lot in so-called “serious” literature.  Genre fiction is usually more careful to leave coincidence at home, as it needs all the credibility it can muster.

Hosseini has an incredible writing style, though.  It’s vivid without seeming brazen.  In the early chapters, he really brings Kabul to life, and his descriptions of invasion-era Afghanistan really get the blood pumping.  I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of him.

Recommendation: Moderate to Strong.  You’ll need to suspend your disbelief a bit for this “Real World” tale, but it’s worth it.

Coming Soon: Read This!

Inspired by Randy Lander’s noble (and possibly psychotic) quest to review a graphic novel a day, I’ve decided to do regular reviews on Static Broadcasts.  It won’t be daily, but it will cover every book I read this year.  I’m calling this little experiment Read This! and if it smacks of a desperate attempt to find stuff to blog about, there’s probably a reason for that.

First review will be up tomorrow or later today.  I have some catching up to do.

The Ultimate Stephen King Collection

For me, at least.  I’ve been thinking about King’s short stories lately (I’m finally plucking my way through The Dark Tower), and I decided to sit down with the collections and piece together my favorites.  In the near future, I’ll probably read all of these stories in order.  ANyway, here goes, ordered by collection in which they appear…


JERUSALEM’S LOT – A dark tale with ties to Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.  Written as a series of journal entries that detail a man’s arrival to a new house that might have rats in the walls and his subsequent find of a deserted village in the forest behind his home.  Builds and builds to a terrifying climax.

GRAVEYARD SHIFT – Workers in a rat-infest industrial laundry spend the weekend cleaning out the lower levels.  When they find a trap door leading to an unknown subbasement, they encounter a new breed altogether.  Terrifying in its description of the lower level and the rat-things that live there.

GRAY MATTER – A man waits to see what will arrive, his friend, or the hideous translucent creature that might have gobble said friend up.  THe story of how he got to this point is as moody and frightening as King has ever been.


MRS. TODD’S SHORTCUT – Mrs. Todd loves to find the shortest distance between two points.  SHe loves it so much, she manages to find routes that are far shorter than they should be, and the things that live around those shortcuts aren’t from around here.

THE JAUNT – In the future, travel is largely accomplished through taking a Jaunt, a form of mass teleportation.  The only hitch is that you have to be asleep when you take the Jaunt.  A boy decides to find out why and suffers terrible consequences.

GRAMMA – A boy is left alone with his ailing grandmother for the evening.  He’s terrified of the woman, and he doesn’t feel much better when he finds her dead.  When she wakes up, though…  Oppressive atmosphere and visceral energy in this one.


THE MOVING FINGER – A man goes to the bathroom one morning to find a finger poking out of his sink drain.  Gruesome, terrifying wackiness ensues.

YOU KNOW THEY GOT A HELL OF A BAND - A couple on a roadtrip get lost and find themselves in a small time.  Over the course of their stay, they realize the town is inhabited with dead rock stars.  Wonder soon turns to terror as the rockers want to give the couple a concert they’ll never forget.

RAINY SEASON – Another couple on another trip wind up at a cabin during the rainy season.  They soon learn that water doesn’t fall from the sky during this season, but carnivorous frogs.  This one has a wonderful B Movie flavor.  Very enjoyable!


THE MAN IN THE BLACK SUIT – A boy out fishing runs into a man who may or may not be Satan.  A calm, creepy story that gets under your skin.

1408 – Probably my favorite of King’s stories.  A man who investigates bogus haunting for travel books enters room 1408 in a fabled hotel.  He soon finds himself WAY over his head.  This story is notable for the hotel manager’s account of past events that have occured in the room, which serve to get the heart pumping before room 1408’s door is even opened. 


Well, my third signing was by far the best.  The two hour sprint at Austin Books and Comics was a blast, with more than a hadnful of folks showing up to say hello and buy books.  Austin Books still has signed copies of all of my books, so you know where to go if you’re looking for one all local-like.  Thanks to Brad and the Austin Books staff, and thanks to everybody who came out.  It was a great thing to be a part of.

Poor Megan!

I have mentioned my quirky love/fixation/lusting for Megan Mullally before (I refuse to say unholy, because that better describes my Kelly Clarkson fascination).  Well, after five months, Megan’s new talk show has been cancelled.

I can’t say I’m surprised.  The damn thing ran at 3AM in Austin (with a 5AM replay).  No, I never watched the thing, but that has more to do with my avoidance of all talk shows not hosted by Conan O’Brien than any desire to not support the number one spot on “the list.”

So, Sorry to hear the bad news, Megan.  I’m sure you’ll land on your feet.  I mean, you’re adorable as all hell.  Plus, you’re rich and stuff.

Ominous Landing and Muy Mal

Cullen Bunn (The Damned) and a crop of other writers have started a free, shared world fiction site.  Ominous Landing looks to be a hoot and a half.  Cullen’s a fantastic writer, and what I’ve seen of the rest looks damn promising, as well.  Go get yourself some free horror!

Speaking of shared fiction worlds, Muy Mal is still crackling a year down the pike.  Mike, John, and Weston are now barreling toward the end of their first majoy crossover, Cataclysm.  Excellent, must-read stuff!