Sunday, March 8, 2015


It was Brian Wood that got me to think about this directly again.

I don't know what your experiences are with this. I don't know what your experiences are with anything similar or more socially stigmatizing. If I offend you, it was not by design. Before I start, the usual prostration about how of all the ways in which our one life can be made more difficult, a stutter is preferable to many other things.

I stutter. It's not fun, but it's livable. My friends got used to it. Now, I run roughshod over the sentences I speak. I suppose it goes without typing that I allow myself to stutter obviously. (Some people hide it or get it ironed out. To each their own.)

Thanks to the stutter, I had to discover a vocal rhythm. That, I now believe, was the beginning of my "voice." When I'm on, my sentences sound, deliberately, a certain way. Lots of commas, some single word sentences. In other words, plenty of places where I can pause for dramatic effect or if the engine of my voice cuts out.

I learned a lot of things from managing the stutter, some good, some bad, most useful. If given a choice, I'd excise the stutter. I hate it, but the task is serenity.

If I sound frustrated, it's nervousness compounded by an actual and not figurative inability to speak my desires. Even when the words are right, I still can't vocalize them. The issue is not desire and fear intertwining to compel the speaker to choose to speak multiple words simultaneously, but having nothing come out at all.

It is as if all of the lubricant in the gears of your voice disappears without rhyme or warning. Or, most damningly, another impregnable syllable in the middle of the most unremarkable sentence.

The rest is merely embarrassing details: I have pride, the stutter doesn't allow it. Stuttering in front of people I'd like to stand up straight in front of is rough. I imagine pity in their looks, and I can't stand that. I doubt the stutter has cost me lovers or friends, but my mind uses it as an excuse to believe the worst. The stutter activates my shame, which more powerful than it should be.

I don't know if I've ever wrote about this. I imagine I must have, I've littered the internet with writing, but looking at the publish button feels fresh and relieving, so I suppose I haven't. How have you been, though?

For some reason, I don't find Elastica's "Stutter" terribly insulting. I think it's because I understand I believe the singer (Justine Frischmann) is talking about her boyfriend (Damon Albarn from Blur?) being tongue tied in her presence, which happens to everyone. That, and probably residual love for Phonogram. Anyway. Above image from

Sunday, February 22, 2015

When Blacklisted Grows, People Go

I thought they were gonna write longer songs. It's Blacklisted, though. It's never quite what you expect.

The return of Blacklisted feels spartan. No interviews. No teaser trailers. No touring. One assumes Deathwish Inc. co-owner Tre McCarthy cajoled the band into doing pre-order packages and a music video. "Oh, by the way," Blacklisted says, "here's a new full length. You might like it."

You know the story. Philly hardcore band does two full lengths worth of traditional mosh, loses a couple members, grows weird and mutates into something stranger and more compelling.

In between all of this, US tours, EU tours, Japan tours, everything falls apart. Blacklisted breaks up twice, once in a London Urban Outfitters. Vocalist George Hirsch attempts suicide (he talked about it at This Is Hell 2013 or 2014, I forget which), allegedly goes to prison and records an acoustic album under the name of a character from a book called Der Wehrwolf.

The previous Blacklisted release (So, You Are A Magician?) was about nine minutes long and three songs. When People Grow, People Go is 21 minutes and eleven songs. I get the impression of men returning to their boyhood love of the genre. The fast tempos and final cathartic seconds before the song cuts short are all here.

When People Grow, People Go is about the things you don't talk about. The sense that you're desperately stuffing your slimy, slippery intestines back into your stomach. The lyrics include:

-A friend's in prison for opiate addiction.
-The continued disintegration of Mr. Hirsch's relationships with friends or lovers.
-The many kaleidoscopic expectations of Mr. Hirsch as "guy in a hardcore band."
-His struggles with depression.

Unlike in No One Deserves To Be Here More Than Me, the venue of one minute plus hardcore feels like a more comfortable venue for the lyrics.

A step backwards perhaps, though that implies that the quality isn't there. It is. When People Grow, People Go still a traditional hardcore record more than anything else. The tracklist and song lengths don't lie, but it's shoegazey and grungy in spots and I remember those parts more than I remember Gossamer or Riptide. Though Riptide does have a really cool "maybe I'll break somebody's jaw" moment. Gossamer and Riptide are serviceable and perhaps good (many bands would be happy to author the songs), but are ultimately forgettable. Can George write another batch of lyrics regarding people gossiping about him? Sure. Do you really want to hear it? Nah.

Foreign Observer has the only guest and that's Nick from Cold World singing the title through a vocal effect that makes him sound distant. Speaking of equipment, if you have ever wondered what a proper hardcore band would sound like through major label recording equipment, producer Will Yip's Studio 4 answers the question here: massive and clear.

Everything has space in the mix, with special attention paid to the drums. Describing it analytically is a minefield since I understand very little about mixing and mastering, but the recording feels correct and the drums sound exquisite and sharp.

It is hard not to look into the lyrics. It is hard not to take Mr. Hirsch at his word. Turn In The Pike begins with "they will kill you for your dreams" but continues "so what I need / is for you to shake me / when I start to drift to sleep." Mr. Hirsch is a man who knows the price of dreams and the price of art, and he's honest enough to say that for him the price is too high.

"when creation fills my mouth / just break my teeth"

I have trust issues. I believe Mr. Hirsch does too. I celebrate (literally, I danced around my kitchen when I first heard Insularized) a new Blacklisted record because it feels like someone else who understands how much of a gamble intimacy and sex are, and what can be taken from the person on a losing bet.

The final track (also the title track) is an object lesson in being alive and male. You want to do it on your own, but you know you can't. And asking for help is cheating or it's impossible. "I couldn't just call your name/Too proud to reach out when I was dying…" If it feels like a dirge, well, it is. What I get out of Blacklisted records is the acknowledgment that all is not well and the nerve, only occasionally, to admit it in public.

When People Grow, People Go is a record about abuse, given and received. It's about moving past the abuse or moving away. It feels ugly. It feels true. It's the best record this year.

The first song from this record, and also my favorite. Maybe this should be the single. Between this and Foreign Observer, you might actually get people outside our genre to listen. But whatever. You're reading this, you know my tastes. Play loud.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Purity doesn't absolve you. (cleaned up and crossposted)

"They were not working to save our country," writes David Simon. I disagree. What makes Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and that gang frightening is that they were trying to save our country. The law doesn't require that group of people to come to torture as their instinct, the law only requires that they came to it at all. I believe Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld led a group of cowboys and zealots towards a war, and committed war crimes because they believed it was necessary for the survival of the United States.

The sincere belief that it was necessary for the country's survival doesn't absolve them of what they did. The frightening thing is that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are still human beings. They hug their kids sincerely. They're grandparents that want to make sure their families have good lives. In other words: They're normal people (a given value of normal, I'll grant you) and the trick is normal people can commit atrocities.

I don’t care if Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld is a torturer in their hearts. I do care that they ordered and authorized torture. That’s the only way this matters. I believe they’ll go in front of God or St. Peter or whomever and say “we did unto those sons of bitches before they could do unto us” and face judgment with a shit grin. You won’t get Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld that way.

Here’s how you get them: They hid it. They knew it was wrong and that’s why they went to such lengths to justify it and then hide it. Treat them like Snidely Whiplash and you get nowhere. Treat them like men who got seduced by confirmation bias and then said “take the gloves off” when they could have said “feeding a prisoner through their asshole,” and you get ‘em dead to rights.

They should be prosecuted.

There are other versions of this on the internet, but I'm calling this one definitive until I add or subtract something again in a couple days. This seems like a good place for the epic closer I, Stateside by Crime In Stereo. Play loud, get sad.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Rebecca got livid.

Hearing that Jack Conte, one half of Pomplamoose (the other half is Nataly Dawn), is a co-founder of Patreon and arguably used his "I have no idea how to budget a tour" blog to subtly promote his other, presumably real, job, she was displeased. "Completely disgusting and dishonest" was how she put it.

I…am less angry. It's dishonest, sure, but I can't summon disgust.

Indie isn't what it used to be. There's judgment in there, for sure, but that's mostly a statement of fact. When indie was a thing that people cared about, the world was different. CDs were $18 a pop, unless you were Dischord. College radio stations mattered, because access was a thing that major labels had absolute control over. What you would listen to was whatever the conglomerate had decided would be on air in your market, or whatever you were willing to take a $18 gamble on. Indie meant you were willing to take that gamble.

It's a different world now, and the main point is one of engagement, not access. So when Conte declares that he's a part of the creative class, and like all indie bands, he's willing to lose five figures on a tour, I shrug.

(I shrug after yelling with Rebecca on Twitter about Conte's budgeting for an hour, to be fair. It is not impossible for indie bands of a different stripe to go five figures in debt, but they certainly don't do it for a month long US tour booked like a family vacation.)

Indie, now, only means not currently signed directly to a major label. And Pomplamoose fits that. My question is "why does this guy want to buy in?" Pomplamoose are already tremendously successful through actively avoiding the traditional indie path of tour, record, US tour, EU tour, US tour, repeat.

Because if he thinks indie has cachet, the joke's on him. Cachet is an infinitely decomposing currency, easily lost. Indie bands struggle to keep their heads above water. Pomplamoose, through their hustle, has an inflatable raft.

Pomplamoose gets $6,395 per music video on Patreon, last I checked. Conte and Dawn crank out two a month. Most indie bands have to work two jobs when they're not on tour. Pomplamoose earns enough to give each member a $30,000 yearly salary. I don't know what Conte draws from Patreon.

They've arrived.

The rest feels like errata: Before this, Dawn had her major label debut on Nonesuch, (a Warner subsidiary) underwritten by Kickstarter money. She also appeared on a Barry Manilow record. Of course there's a major label connection somewhere, but at this point, it hardly matters.

The numbers Conte throws around show he's not from around here, and learning that he's also sitting on Patreon money takes the sting out of his "indie band guy/creative making it work" posturing.

To presume to speak to him directly: Mr. Conte. Bro. You don't want to be here. Here isn't anywhere, really. You've got the career you dreamed of, right now, and all you have to do to keep it going is pruning. If your bandmate booked the tour, why are you paying a booking agent? If you know you're going to lose $50,000 on hired guns, workshop a live set that is just as compelling as "big rock show." It'll be a new challenge. Given how intense your band's churn is at normal output, it shouldn't be too hard.

There's a dirty secret, one we're especially ashamed to tell: In all but this respect, we should be taking advice from you. $30,000 a year, on no touring? Sleeping in your own bed every night? Only recording and making videos? Bands dream about that.

You guys don't do tours anyway. You have a loud, intensely engaged fanbase that's willing to support you. You already do the hard work. The rest is just being willing to absorb discomfort.

Which, incidentally, might be the most indie thing you can do.

I thought about embedding a Pomplamoose song, but then realized I have no desire to listen to that band. You'll make do with "We Built This City! (On Debts And Booze)," won't you?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Ring Of The Incredible First Impression

The Ring Of The Nibelung by P. Craig Russell is so pretty it hurts. $30 for a ~450 page hardcover, which you can almost certainly find for cheaper on the internet, but it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that penciller P. Craig Russell's lines are delicate and exquisite. It doesn't matter how many years in the making the project took. It doesn't matter that Lovern Kindzierski's colors make P. Craig Russell look like Moebius. It doesn't matter that it's a 400 odd page distillation of a four night long opera (Wagner's 15 hour Ring Cycle) and is therefore not merely an act of tremendous investment but also judicious editing, before anyone titled an editor ever sees it.

I'm passing over all of these things.

I'm only going to talk about the first story page. Because this first story page below is genius.

1) The creation of life compressed into a single page.
2) Wordlessly.
3) The very first thing you see, before panel borders, is a hand, breaking through panels. Panels are how you indicate time, the first thing you see is God's hand, beyond time.
4) Life gives color to the world. In this case, literally, God's hand, and time before life is in blue pencil. Blue pencils are usually used as the rough guides for a penciller, with final inks done in black, with color added after inks. So: Before life, there was no color. Life springs up? Color, brilliant color, greens, yellows and celebratory golds. Actually, if you look closely at panel five, you see the greens and golds in the seedling that springs up from where the water is dropped. Life introduces color into the comic!
5) And you understand it all, instantly.

It's not merely a neat trick, it's a neat trick that tells the story, introduces characters, scale, and setting on the very first page. This will be an epic, in a literal and figurative sense of the word. The next major question,  how the comic compares to the music it is based on, I have no idea. I am only listening to the first track now. Of course, I really ought to be watching a performance but alas, technology can only take us so far.

The trouble with good first impressions is that they make expectations for the rest of what comes very high. The trouble with P. Craig Russell is that he has the talent and vision to live up to the bar he sets.

The Ring Of The Nibelung by P. Craig Russell is $30 and can be bought from Dark Horse's sister retail operation Things From Another Planet and other booksellers. I got mine for $12, at In Stock Trades.

You can guess what this is going to be, I think.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ignore The Jetsons, Dream Impossible Things

Let's get this out of the way: I doubt anyone reading this at the moment of writing will live to see jetpacks, the way our parents' imagination designed them. Aside from the whole jetpacks shoot flame that will char and destroy your legs bit, the vision of the future is largely understood to be the Jetsons. It doesn't matter that the Jetsons was always highly improbable, it imprinted on the (white) cultural imagination. I must pass over afrofuturism for this whole thing to work.

You have seen this on Facebook. "MAN WHERE'S MY FLYING CAR" and so on into infinity.

But as of October 28, 2014, it doesn't really feel like the future. Unless things get worse, my generation's Selma happened this year, Ebola is back, Russia is posturing on the world stage again and Christ only knows what else will come down the pike with the year 2014 appended to it.

Except, of course, for all the things that watch us from the sky, from the cell phones recording our major moves in our pockets and our social networks recording our minor foibles presumably to be hurled at us when we are cornered or weak. Women get bomb threats for having opinions about videogames.

The future, of course, is always gunning for us. It feels that way in my head.

Except for the margins.

I write this on a laptop computer with 500 gigs of memory, not all of it filled by pornography. I write this listening to a mashup of Aphex Twin and Taylor Swift. It's the mashup that feels like the future. Not in either of the parts, but what that last sentence means.

That last sentence is actually crazy, if given time to unpack it.

1) One no longer needs the imprimatur and recording budget of a big label to make music.
2) Recording technology (and what we define as possibilities for music) has advanced to the point where physical instruments are not always required.
3) The availability of music has gone from requiring a physical copy of the release to a free for all, with almost anything instantly available the day of release, if not before.
4) The ability to manipulate audio that already exists is so unremarkable that it comes standard on a Mac, and similar technology can be found for a steal or a lark on the internet.
5) The ability to record music is so pervasive that it comes standard on a Mac and free versions that do mostly the same thing can be found for a steal or a lark on the internet.
6) The ability to isolate and acquire vocals from a particular recording is available to us.
7) One can distribute what they create for a nominal fee or free, via the internet.
8) The end result is inside a genre that already exists and has a name that fits in our cultural imaginary.

Fifteen years ago, if you wanted to hear music from anywhere else, you had to import a copy of a physical release, which assumes, of course, anywhere else could afford to press it and promote it Today? Troll Soundcloud or Bandcamp for twenty minutes. No promises it'll be any good, but you can hear it.

It may be a shitty punk band you'll be listening to (and I say shitty punk band with solidarity and a smile here) but the option is now available. Something incredible will come. The universe will provide it. Which really means some person will have an obsession and get excited and the technology to create it will exist within their grasp, and the ability to distribute it easily will also exist within their grasp.

As for the content of the music, it's whatever. I never listened to Aphex Twin before, but I thought it was supposed to be weirder and more abrasive than what backs Ms. Swift here. Admittedly, I'm charmed by Ms. Swift's lyrics, even if I hurriedly maintain a jaundiced distance.

It doesn't matter what this mashup is comprised of, what matters is that it can be created, distributed and absorbed.

The takeaway: Music in my lifetime has gone from a thing that I must hunt to find and then purchase to a thing that I can find in a minute and a half if it's particularly obscure and be listening to in 45 seconds after that. Understand that and then multiply it for every other physical medium that yet exists on the planet.

Ten years ago, text messages were becoming interesting. Today? Your phone can record video. Ferguson is Selma, on some levels, but we're different people and we do not require a television channel to broadcast what we see. Now you, dear reader, can find a live feed that's more useful and accurate than CNN. How will that change the way we absorb and weigh information in the future?

Shit, Eleven Names founder Zach plays D&D over the internet with porn actresses. Regularly!

For imperial statements about the future, look to New Scientist or the New England Journal Of Medicine or any military weapons publication. Continuing down this path is a terrible idea, and I did that for an hour until I wisely deleted it.

(The thrust of it: I only have maybe twice my years left again if I'm lucky and the rate of technology currently means that what will be available to consumers the year I die will have existed in a nascent form used by military or random science place for 10 years. Or, put dramatically, the future will end for me in my 60s and it'll take until my 70s for it to reach me.)

And, at least outside of HEY WE CAN CURE [DISEASE HERE] NOW it's hardly ever the technology that is the future, it's what we do with it. The future means women can document the men that harass them using technology available in their pockets. The future means I will still die in fifty years, but I can know and process much more information in those fifty years than my parents and their grandparents were able to.

The future means science fiction is being made obsolete faster than it can be written. The future means everything gets more crowded. Everything gets messier, or we're now aware of how messy everything always was. We are granted more options (if from a fire hose) and more ways of seeing the world. Our ability to make a living on weird or non-traditional jobs has increased exponentially, even if the value of "make a living" is still fairly small. You can express yourself in wild, savage colors.

That last sentence feels too easy. Let me rough that up a little. The future means trans persons may be publicly recognized by my country's administrators while I am alive. When I was a teenager, that wasn't even on my radar, and if it was, I don't think I could imagine their suffrage moving forward at this rate now. Moving beyond the provincialism of my own lifespan, I think we'll be in a better place in terms of recognizing other people in a hundred or so years, even if I only get to contribute to and see the first fifty years of that. I can live with that.

Beyond the old Warren Ellis chestnut "the world's a strange place, let's keep it that way," I imagine, or believe exists a larger sprawl of possibilities at the margins. Look at Homestuck. That's a million dollar property, made entirely by a person from a generation that was native to the internet. Tell someone twenty years ago, you'll see a guy writing a dating sim based on his work on a webcomic, and he'll ask you "what's a dating sim, what's a webcomic and more importantly, no fucking way." We didn't get the future that was in our parents imagination, but what we have currently is something pretty exciting.

We won't get to the Jetsons within my lifetime, I think. But I don't really want the Jetsons now. Do you? How small of a future the Jetsons would be now! How limiting! If all we did was go to the same jobs, but the buildings were taller and the cars smaller!

As I was finishing the major strokes of this at 3 am, I typed in the tags Taylor Swift and it already exists here. I hope and imagine it was Emily or Katrina, from 2010-2011 or a lifetime ago, before the massive needle drop of Phonogram into my life. I don't listen to Taylor Swift or Aphex Twin, but this mashup makes me want to start.
This feels a little too hopeful for me, or I imagine a rebuttal of the terrible things I listed at the top of the article are all still true. It is hard to put a cost on inspiration. It can be done, I am sure, but not by me and not now. I'll say two things. ONE: Access was a major factor in what kept the powerful comfortable and that no longer is true. TWO: Empathy changes lives. What grants more empathy is many different firsthand experiences and failing that, art. I'm a better person for having read Phonogram, but I had to pick my jaw up off the floor after I completed a reading of the Nikopol Trilogy. Borges made me kinder. And if we are not the generation to grapple successfully with the military industry complex, then that makes us like every other generation. But we might gain an inch on it, if we push.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Joe Casey And Nathan Fox And Captain Victory And The Galactic Rangers And So Much More

"Nathan Fox's art on a Joe Casey story is like getting a million dollars and then finding out you won't have to pay taxes on it." -Bleeding Cool forum user alekesam.

I haven't gushed about Joe Casey or Nathan Fox on this website, and the Captain Victory relaunch is the excuse I'm going to use to do so.

The first order of business is that the colorist on the Captain Victory relaunch, Brad Simpson, is inevitably going to get a short shrift, so that's why he's getting mentioned first. For the Nathan Fox pages, everything looks bright and trippy and wonderful. For the flashbacks done by other artists, or for Off Brand MODOK the colors get muted like they're supposed to. During the main storyline, Simpson's color work is heightens the tension and keeps the mood dialed up at 11, if not 12. Look at the whites and blues in the first panel below.

Casey's a comics writer who'se bibliography and volume means he comes up with something great fairly reliably. Trouble is, he might have to get through two or three bad ideas first. Before Captain Victory, his most recent work I liked, Butcher Baker The Righteous Maker seemed to be Joe Casey saying "fuck it, I'm gonna die on this weirdo comics hill, but just after I plant my flag, let me take potshots at Mike Huddleston, who draws this thing." His next two comics, Sex and The Bounce, (Batman after he gives up the cowl and Spider-Man as a person in 2013, respectively) were unremarkable or straight up bad.

That said, he's been in comics long before that, so he was the other X-Men writer while Morrison was on New X-Men, he did the glorious pacifist Superman arc in Action Comics and also was joined by Ashley Wood on Automatic Kafka. For things Kieron Gillen fans care about, he did Vengeance, which introduced America Chavez as Ms. America and The Ultimate Nullifier, both of whom would go on to be in Gillen/McKelvie/Wilson/Norton's Young Avengers.

He's a lifer and a genuine weirdo in an industry where weirdoes with opinions run the joint. He goes for a kind of vulgar existensialism (see Vengeance or Butcher Baker), and his subversive take on superheroes is, when it's good, a couple degrees to the left of what I expect. I repeat: Pacifist Superman. His dialogue, though, in an attempt to be cool, can be painfully corny in hindsight.

I've never thought about a Joe Casey event comic because what I read of his work tends to have the scale one finds in those things anyway.

But when I like Joe Casey most often is when he's playing off in a corner somewhere and gets to make something weird, and that leads me to Dark Reign: Zodiac, which in turn, leads me to Dark Reign: Zodiac's penciller, Nathan Fox. Nathan Fox's style I'd describe as obviously influenced by Paul Pope, but with a delirious messiness to it that obscures or takes credit over an insane amount of detail. It reads quickly, but if you slow down, you see the hundreds of tiny flourishes.

DR: Zodiac was a blink and you miss it 3 issue mini during the Dark Reign era where Norman Osborn was in charge of just about everything, and the heroes went underground. Osborn's big moment was saying to the other major villains on his level "just don't kill puppies on television and you can do whatever you want."

Joe Casey apparently looked at that and said, "well, not every villain is magically going to be Neutral Evil, so can I get three issues to write Chaotic Evil dudes committed to mayhem?"

And Marvel said yes.

Penciled by Nathan Fox, the series was unabashedly mean-spirited. It included a hospital bombing, the savage beating of Johnny Storm and the on panel dumping of skulls out of a burlap sack (below). The opening scene is the investigation of the severed torsos of 100 H.A.M.M.E.R. agents in a warehouse. Nathan Fox's pencils made the experience messy, ugly and stunning. Yes, the heroes, when they weren't beaten to a pulp looked unblemished, but everyone else looked lived in.

Maybe the best moment was a faked Galactus attack.

The Casey/Fox team would reunite on Haunt for about 10 issues, or as long as it took Todd McFarlane to step away from it and then step back to it, to kill the momentum the new team built up. Before Casey/Fox, it was an Image project involving a future fascistic religion, a priest with the ghost of his brother who was a SWAT team member that had an off-brand Venom symbiote attached to him. Dreamed up by Mr. McFarlane, Robert Kirkman and Greg Capullo, the series was a laborious mess.

Casey/Fox looked at that and said "what if we lean more heavily into the b-movie aspect of the whole thing," and made it Awesome. It got wilder, under the Casey/Fox pencils, and apparently, further away from the vision that Todd McFarlane had for the character. McFarlane would take his toys back later, but those 10 issues were gleeful genre work. To go back to my point about Mr. Fox's delirious messiness and detail, just look at the electronics falling out of the helmets in the third panel.

But that was a long couple years ago and now Casey and Fox are reunited to work on a Jack Kirby revival for Dynamite, Captain Victory And The Galactic Rangers.

It's great. Kirby's influence in superhero comics is massive, where any single issue he wrote or drew could have 10 ideas. This being comics, only three of them were worth following up on. Kirby's writing style was bombastic, and while there were tiny details (the man is called The King by the industry today) there were few tiny statements. Kirby's work that reflected Kirby was grand and sweeping.

And here's the thing: Joe Casey knows bombast. Joe Casey knows glorious comics idea that works on the page, but not out loud. It's a fine line between monkey punches robot and Nextwave punches Fin Fang Foom, but Joe Casey has been on the right side of that before, and with Nathan Fox, he's on the right side of it now.

(I pause here to mention Joe Casey's other Kirby comic, Godland, ended last year. Godland's penciller, Thomas Scioli is a dead ringer for Kirby. Godland is the first 100+ issues of the Fantastic Four with the serial numbers filed off, updated for this century, gone wild.)

Assisting Nathan Fox is a murderer's row of alt comix talent, the first issue includes Jim Rugg and Ulises Farinas, the second involves Michel Fiffe and the promotional material says Benjamin Marra, Jim Mahfood and Farel Dalrymple are forthcoming. Nathan Fox draws most of the pages in each issue, while the guests contribute whatever flashback sequences or a scene to add up to a total of 22 pages a month. I think that's what makes Captain Victory so exciting to me personally, is that the pencillers are working outside of their wheelhouse. Yes, they have done superhero jobs before, but their work generally is usually much smaller in scale.

Those pencillers are all talented enough that when they get out of their comfort zones, their work will still be good, and it's in service of a series who's ethos is bombast and crazy ideas, so it'll congeal. It feels new not because it is, but because it's unexpected coming from the people making it.

I did not expect a Jim Rugg Kirby crackle, but those crackles looked real hype when he did draw them. I know Michel Fiffe does COPRA, but that doesn't prepare me for him doing crazy sci-fi.

Captain Victory is the stage and direction I didn't know I wanted to see Casey and Fox tackle. It's hard to imagine a higher compliment.

All images are pencilled by Nathan Fox. Colors: Jose Villarubia (Zodiac), Brad Simpson (Captain Victory) and Ivan Plascencia (Haunt).

Joe Casey might like this one. These Mad Dogs Of Glory by Modern Life Is War. Title says it all, don't you think?
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