Thursday, December 30, 2004

Internet Radio Station of the Moment


A nice mix of adult alternative with a few international tracks.
Great to listen to after work, while writing or drawing or just to relax.
Go check them out.

Artists played recently: Tori Amos, Tracy Chapman, Santana, Sade, Sarah Connor and Toto.

Listen Now!

Monday, December 27, 2004

MP3: Red Hot Chili Peppers

For your enjoyment during this holiday season, I present the Red Hot Chili Peppers with "Give it Away".
At a time when gift giving is in full swing what better song is there?

The Chili Peppers were one of the best psychadelic rockers of the '80s. Their latest CD, "By The Way" was actually very good. Much better than "Kalifornication" or whatever it was called. While still a bit mellow, it wasn't as depressing.

This track emboddied everything that the Chili Peppers could be. Energetic and soulful at the same time.

So stop reading this and get out there and dance. Dance, I said.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

This Week in Comics - Shipping 12/29/04

This week's top three books with a bit of my ranting for good measure.

First up:

Written by Mark Waid
Art and cover by Barry Kitson

One of the most anticipated returns of the year begins as Mark Waid and Barry Kitson — the critically acclaimed team of the miniseries EMPIRE — rebuild The Legion of Super-Heroes in a way no one can afford to miss!

The early days of the 31st century are a Golden Age for the galaxy, as poverty, famine, war and disease have become relics of the past, not only on Earth but on most other known worlds. The Dawning Millennium is utopian: shining, optimistic, bright…and deadly dull. That is, until a bright, defiant, energized team of super-powered teenagers from different worlds is assembled! They form a team of passionate activists and fierce dreamers crusading to make a difference and leave their mark on a society that has forgotten how to fight for change!

Every issue of this monthly series will be a whopping 40 pages for just $2.95 US. Get ready for The Legion of Super-Heroes: fighting for justice and tolerance while learning from — and learning to tolerate — one another!

On sale Dec 29 :: 40 pages :: $2.95 US :: Edited by Stephen Wacker

Buy this book. Or else!

The Legion of Super-Heroes is a funny thing. Not funny "ha ha". Just... funny. It's been going for almost fifty years and it... hasn't.
Seems that because DC "restarted" it's line-up back in the mid-eighties to try and make all their books interelate, they had to take out some inconsistancies. One of which was Superman's involvement with the group as "Superboy".

Instead of leaving it at that, they decided to rework their history. Not just once, either. It soon became a jangled mess of conflicting histories. And while the recent run by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning did bring a bit of fresh breath to the floundering series it didn't actually reach the same heights that the Legion had struck just before it's "Crisis" in 1985.

I've read several versions of the Legion. Classic stories from Adventure Comics that were reprinted in DC Digests, the old series that became Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes, the "Baxter" series that ran alongside it, a few issues of the series preceding the Abnett/Lanning run and of course it, itself.
And I still think that the Paul Levitz/Keith Giffen/Dan Jurgens era is the best.

From what I have read about this new series, Mark Waid is trying to recapture what made the Legion so popular to begin with. We get the clubhouse feeling, the -girl, -boy, -lass names, the costumes with insignias and we get deeper characterization. Add to that Waid's proven talent at writing character-driven books and art by the very talented Barry Kitson. The book practically sells itself!

I'm not so sure about the "future is a utopian society and the kids want to change things" angle, however. It does seem plausable, though, seeing how rebellous kids can be (I remember being one, myself). And a "utopian future" at least steers away from the countless dystopian futures that have been put to use in recent stories.

I plan on picking this up, at least for the first three or four issues. It looks like a winner to me.

Written by Brian Michael Bendis & Kevin Smith
Art by Michael Lark
Cover by Joe Quesada

The worst thing that ever happened to Daredevil was watching his one true love Karen Page die in his arms after a brutal attack by his archenemy Bullseye. The events that followed spiraled Matt Murdock's life out of control and he has never recovered. The award-winning team behind DD's monthly book join DD legends Kevin Smith and Joe Quesada in this shocking once-in-a-lifetime look at Daredevil.

December 29 :: 32 pages :: Marvel PSR :: $2.99

Featuring the artistic talents of Gotham Central's Michael Lark. This is Lark's first project for Marvel and will be doing the art for Pulse starting with #8. The Pulse is what many consider to be Marvel's answer to Gotham Central, featuring Spider-Man's Daily Bugle newspaper offices as the setting. Bendis is also the writer for Pulse.
Odd that they would let Kevin Smith co-write this book, considering he has two as-yet unfinished books under their name. The first of which came out waaaay back during the Daredevil movie.

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Michael Gaydos
Cover by Young Guns Artist David Finch

Ripped from the pages of the Avengers and fan-favorite Alias — Jessica Jones, ex-superhero private eye was once tapped to join the Avengers, but chose not to and gave up being a super-hero altogether. But what if she had taken the job? The events that followed shake up both the Avengers and Jessica's life in ways no one could have guessed. Could Jessica have saved the Avengers from the disasters of Disassembled? For the first time ever Avengers' writer Brian Bendis reunites with Alias artist Michel Gaydos, with a special cover by Avengers’ artist David Finch.

December 29 :: 32 pages :: Marvel PSR :: $2.99

Look! Another Bendis book this week!
Y'know... it's getting where Marvel only has three writers. Guess they figure if it worked in the '60s...
Anyway, this proves to be an interesting read. Let me explain why.

Originally Bendis and Gaydos were going to do a book called Alias that didn't feature Jessica Jones. It was supposed to have been Jessica Drew (the '70s Spider-Woman -even had her own cartoon!). Unfortunately, Marvel thought that sex with another '70s star Power Man (Luke Cage) was a bit too much for their clandestine heroine and asked Bendis to change her name. So Jessica Drew, former super-heroine-turned-private investigator became Jessica Jones, former super-heroine-turned-private investigator. Pretty neat, huh?

It doesn't stop there! Nope. As luck would have it, Bendis was able to bring back Jessica Drew, this time as former-super-heroine-turned-private investigator-who comes out of retirement to join the Avengers. So now he's writing Jessica Jones in Pulse and Jessica Drew over in Avengers. Couldn't have just one, could he?

So this book looks at what would have happened if Jessica Jones had joined the Avengers.

You with me?

And it's written and drawn by the same guys who did Jessica Jones' first series, Alias. Alias also had a bit of controversy surrounding it, as well. Seems it led to a bit of confusion between it and the ABC television series which also first appeared about the same time. And now there's a comic company calling itself "Alias". Seems to be a catchy name.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Sweet Christmas!

Just a quick post to wish everyone a Happy Merry Christmas!
And here's something for reading. It's someone's study on the origins of the customs of Christmas.

Enjoy. And be safe.

Oh... almost forgot... a present for


Thursday, December 23, 2004

It's Space Age Poppish, Baby!

Okay... so how is it someone born in 1971, who's listened to mostly r&b and rock most of his life would find himself with a fondness for Space Age Pop?

Could it have come from my interest in B-Movies? My love of '60s comics and tv? Could it be because of my indulgence in New Swing back when Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Cherry Poppin' Daddies and Brian Seltzer were recharging the genre?
Or was it Mike Allred's Madman?
Perhaps it's because I'm drawn to exotic things.

Well, I'm not sure how it happened but it did.

The earliest memories I have is from listening to the Retro Coctail Hour on KANU via their internet webcast. I then got enough interest to go out and purchase the two Ultra Lounge samplers.

While not something that's appropriate for continuous listening (you may drive your uninitiated friends crazy), it's definitely a nice break from what is being churned out these days.

There are some resources on the 'net for downloading and/or listening to albums of this sort, as well.
Places like Bellybongo, Mr. Swank, Basic Hip Digital Oddio, Sem Sinatra, Raymondo's Dance-O-Rama, Dana Countryman, Comfort Stand, Oddio Overplay, Milwaukee John, Your Pal Doug, 365 Days, Delicado, Vegas Vic, Journey to the Past, RATO Records, Vinyl Orphanage, and Space Debris.

Highly recommended is Two Zombies Later, a tribute cd made by members of the Exotica Mailing List.

For more information on Space-Age Pop, Exotica or similar sounds check out the Space Age Pop Music Page, the Roots of Lounge, Hobby Space and Space Age Pop A Go-Go.

Just be careful. It looks harmless, but it's actually infectuous.

Also worth mentioning is Soma FM's Secret Agent webcast.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Kossori's Newsfile

Not many of you are aware of this, but I had a column over at the website of a local comic shop.
The comic shop I mention is Ground Zero Comics of Tyler, Texas.

I did eight articles before taking it to the message boards or posting on my own website.

Here you can find my original pages:
#1 - Marvel Max and The Comics Code
#2 - Love and Rockets
#3 - The Return Of Sword And Sorcery
#4 - Online Comics
#5 - Meet the Skunk
#6 - Mangaverse and CrossGen Anthologies
#7 - Aggie Con 33
#8 - Mighty Movie Madness

Some of the picture links don't work on the pages, but the info is till all up there.

I also did a write-up on the Doom Patrol for a fanzine called Heroic, which I was paid for but still haven't seen in print. And I have an article on the Silver Age Batgirl floating around that someone had offered me money for but never heard anything else from.

MP3: Frank Sinatra & Cindy Lauper

Yeap, not a mistake.
I said Frank Sinatra and Cindy Lauper.

For your yuletide enjoyment here is the generation gap-breaking single, "Santa Clause is Coming to Town".

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Aggie Con 36

April 21-24, 2005
Looks like this year's theme is "Resurrection".
And boy do they need one...

The first Aggie Con I went to (2002) had Neil Gaiman. I saw him, from a distance. But it was still pretty cool. There was a lot of small press people there. I met alot of other creators.

2003... I met Marv Wolfman, writer and co-creator of the New Teen Titans. I was a bit more interested in Marv than I was in Neil. Partly because Marv actually talked with me. I liked that. It put a person behind the name.

In 2004, I met a local artist, Joe Singleton. There was virtually no small press presence this year. If it wasn't for Singleton being there (who had a booth and was not a guest) I would have felt my money was wasted. I seriously was ready to go after stopping by Singleton's booth four or five times. I know we must have drove him crazy. But then again, the turnout was pretty small. Maybe he didn't really mind us stopping by so much. I do know he had a much larger audience to play to at Wizard World this year. I'm sure he got himself plenty of exposure over there.

Of course, we all know that Aggie Con is ran by students. Which means they don't have the funds available to create something as grand as Wizard World. And we also know that when you have something like this, ran by students, they're going to focus on their own personal wants. Which may explain the larger emphasis on fantasy this year and less attention towards comics or sci-fi.

Another problem with this year's Con was the lack of small pressers. This was because they knew that without a comic industry guest there would be no comic interest to the con. Which meant there would be no audience for them to sell their mini-comics to. This is what led to the abyssmal Con we had this year. Vendors selling t-shirts, hero-clixs, knives, paperback books and fantasy paintings.

Hopefully Aggie Con will indeed have a "Resurrection" and will bring some sort of excitement with it. Otherwise this will be the last time I bother with going. I can easily wait until next year's Wizard World. I just don't want to have to.

Info on Aggie Con 36 can be found here.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Comics With Soul

It's been a while since 'Nuther World Comics #1 was printed. Almost a year now. Work on #2 was halted around July when I went through a couple job changes. Everything seems to be settling down and I'm starting to get back into the groove of things.

During my downtime, I spent a bit of time trying to determine what my target audience is. Previously, 'NWC was targeted towards college-level readers. A little alternative. I like the freedom of doing an anything goes independent comic.

I've also been taking the time out to see what exactly my influences are. What made me the way I am? What do I want to see more of in comics?

To which I discovered that there's a lot. More than I can really mention. Of course, there are some that are more prominent than the rest. And it changes constantly as I'm subjected to different ideas and styles.

I still list the Hernandez Brothers as an influence, with Love and Rockets. Love and Rockets is one of the most well known independent comics ever, with a long history. It's been going for just over twenty years now. My most treasured item of theirs is the "Ten Years of Love and Rockets" special. In it, both Jaime and Gilbert give pointers on doing a comic, detailing their methods. It's this book that really opened me up to their work.

I also still list Mike Allred. Granted, although I haven't read anything he's done since he started on X-Force, I still think he's a very talented artist and writer. The reason why I like him so much is that when he's doing both, writing and drawing, he's awesome. His art is a poppish, clean style, not too far removed from the Hernandez Brothers. Madman Adventures was my first introduction to his work, and I highly reccomend it and Madman Comics. Still looking forward to that 105 issue run he had planned. ;-)

Other artist/writers (also known as cartoonists because they do both) I've encountered that had a similar style as the above quickly found me liking their stuff. Most notably Jay Stephens with Atomic City Tales and David Hahn with Private Beach.

Oddly enough, the reason why I got into the styles of Los Bros Hernandez and Mike Allred was because of my exposure to Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis' Justice League International comics. These were the comics that in light of such comics industry changing books such as The Dark Knight Returns and The Watchmen (both really great tales which revolutionized comics in the mid-'80s) still held onto the concept of "fun" comics. Not entirely silly but hardly serious, the book kept a tongue-in-the-cheek approach to super-heroes. Eventually a core group of characters surfaced that made the book feel more human than anything else at the time. With art by Kevin Maguire or Adam Hughes (before he resigned himself to doing just covers), JLI lasted for sixty issues, with a sister magazine, Justice League Europe, running thirty-six issues. Both were changed the month after Giffen and DeMatteis' departure to a more commercially acceptable format. But with fan response, the team has come back to do two follow up stories that reunited most of their signature characters.

So, I really must give credit to Giffen, DeMatteis, Maguire and Hughes for introducing me to the idea that comics really can be fun. Even without a punch being thrown. And they in turn need to thank ABC's Moonlighting tv series for my quick acceptance of their approach. Moonlighting was the first time that that I was exposed to tongue-in-cheek humor with snappy dialogue. It was a show that was fueled more by dialogue and characterization than anything else. Adam Hughes even did a Moonlighting-type comic, called Maze Agency, before he was brought into JLI.

Peter David had a short stint with this sort of storytelling with Marvel's X-Factor. Unfortunately, Marvel wasn't as excited about the approach as would have been liked.

Recently, I've discovered Gail Simone's Birds of Prey and it's every bit as fun as the JLI. It's nice to see at least one current title that keeps me entertained on that level. Gail gets alot of my respect for breathing life into a medium that has almost forgotten what "fun" means.

Joss Whedon, with Buffy and Firefly, has brought the snappy banter back with mixed results. Although his Astonishing X-Men is taking a while for me to get into (perhaps because they're not his creations), I find his dialogue the best in comics or television.

Another side of comics that has in some way clicked with me the most is urban crime. When I first really started reading comics (back in 1982) I read mostly Marvel. Of those the ones I liked the most were the vigilante types, Daredevil, Spider-Woman, Power Man and Iron Fist. And once I found him, Moon Knight. These comics not only had a similar feel but they had one key thing in common: They were all edited by Dennis O'Neil. Dennis O'Neil had set the comic world on fire when he was writing Green Lantern for DC Comics. In his stories, with the inclusion of a vigilante character of DC's (Green Arrow), Green Lantern was brought more down to earth with subjects such as urban crime and drugs. When I discovered, years later, that Daredevil, Spider-Woman, Moon Knight and Power Man and Iron Fist were all edited by one person and who that person was, I started paying much more attention to not only writers and artists but also to editors of comics. Generally speaking, if you like one comic, you'll often find that you'll like another book that they edit.

The urban crime influence has continued, however as mostly a spectator thing. I enjoy 100 Bullets, the current Daredevil series and Gotham Central. I like shows such as Sopranos and anything by Quentin Tarantino.

Quite a contrast to the "fun" comics that I listed above.

But these all have one thing in common: they all focus on character. The stories are character driven and their characters are as human as you and me (well, except for the few aliens that may appear in JLI -although most of them still come off more human than your average comic character).

Another influence currently is my fascination with the Silver Age of comics. Especially the 12-cent era. The simplistic way of storytelling. The way they were able to tell such entertaining (and fun) stories in just one issue. And somestimes fitting more than one story in a book. The idea of a free continuity, one that followed the same as a tv sitcom. Where you could come into it whenever you wanted and still enjoy it. The stories usually brought the characters back to where they were when the book opened. With special character specific stories often that did change a character in some way whenever a book needed to be freshened up or energized.

And it could be argued that my interest in the Silver Age comics could be a result of my fondness for Mike Allred's Madman, which is heavily influenced, itself, by that period.

So after much speculation over my influences and what I like currently in comics, I would like to say that whatever the outcome, these are the people who I have to thank. They are the ones who have driven me to where I am. I may never become a big name creator, but I would be thrilled if someone was to one day list me alongside any of the above.

Stocking Stuffing Made Easy

This is where I take the time out to list all the things I would love to be getting this Christmas.

Note that I don't list things like huge plasma tvs or fancy sportscars... I have very little chance of getting things like that with the economy the way it is.

Let's see now... the list...

A new video card for my computer would be nice. One with pixel shading, so I can play EQ2.
But then if I got one, I'd spend even more time playing games... Maybe I don't really need that at the moment.

I have just gotten into the Adult Swim shows on Cartoon Network, so any related DVDs would be great. I already have the complete Cowboy Bebop, however.

A year's subscription to Comics Revue would be cool. Comics Revue reprints adventure comic strips like the Phantom, Flash Gordon and Prince Valiant.

The Twilight Zone ('60s) box sets would be a perfect choice, as well.
So would the second and third James Bond sets.
And any volume of the Emma Peel Avengers box sets.

As far as comics go, the Doom Patrol archives would be a good gift. As would the Golden Age Sandman Archive. Or just grab about ten DC comics from the '60s.

Music: I'm still missing for some reason (read: I just haven't gotten around to buying it, yet) Tori Amos - Strange Little Girls.

And if they ever get made: the Blade Runner Special Edition DVD (with all three versions) and the Kill Bill Special Edition (with both films put together).

There we are.

Now it's time for me to go and spread holiday joy!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Ah, Settling Down Again...

Now that I'm finally getting adjusted to my new schedule, I've started finding time for entertainment.
I'm going to be adding Adult Swim and Comedy Central to my weekly viewing habits.

And I'm actually moving forward in my Alias consumption. I'm now eight episodes into the second season.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

MP3: Tori Amos

It's the return of MP3s!
For the first one, I bring to you a fun lil' tune from Tori Amos, called "Wednesday". Quite fitting, don't you think?

Meanwhile, it's been announced that Tori's next album, The Beekeeper, will be released in February.
From what I read, it'll have her playing the organ along with her normal piano skills.
I know I'm looking forward to hearing it.

Gwen Stefani's a Star!

L.A.M.B. has proven it. While not as great as some of No Doubt's older stuff, it is comparable to their last couple of albums.

If this cd sells very well, it'll be for Gwen's name mostly. The songs on the album, with the exception of a small few, come off as underproduced or too retro.

The album is too different or retro to fit perfectly in pop land and it has too much pop to be accepted by the alternative crowd.

"Crash" features the return of the '80s cowbell and freestyle. "The Real Thing" sounds like what would happen if Madonna sang a New Order song.
And "Hollandback Girl" looks to be the most belted song on school campuses next year.

High points: "What You Waiting For" and "Luxurious".
Catchiest song: "Serious".
Low points: Pretty much everything else...

Super-Heroes in the 21st Century

In light of the Super-Hero Happy Hour fiasco and the recent City of Heroes lawsuit, one has to wonder if there's still any room within the boundaries to create characters with remarkable ability.

I remember when I was a kid and I'd run around with a towel clothespinned around my neck, pretending to be Superman or Batman. Or times when playing with action figures, Boba Fett made a pretty cool Iron Man. Why did I do it? Was it because I wanted to infringe their copyrights? Or was it because I enjoyed reading about the characters so much that they found their way into my imagination and inspired me to be creative?

There are times that I hum old songs or sing lines from them. Like Billie Jean or Prince's Kiss. I don't own the originals anymore. Should they be paid a fee for my use of their songs? Or is it just a sign that their music had touched me in such a way that I'll never forget it? Shouldn't they be proud of it? Doesn't it speak volumes for someone's creation when someone else finds such joy in it?

And then there's City of Heroes. I have not played CoH, and I probably won't due to the fact that I'm already playing a MMORPG (massive multi-player online role playing game), but it's a shame that people getting together to share in the joy of their love of comics and super-heroes can cause so much grief.

I'm pretty certain that the main reason behind Marvel's decision was that it wasn't their game and that in some way they should be getting money out of something that allows players to pretend to be super-heroes. Especially when "super-heroes" is defined by the comics that Marvel (and DC) have been publishing for over sixty years.

Sixty years!

Know what sixty years does to a property?
It makes them sort of idolistic. Think about it. Anyone that is under the age of sixty has come into contact, in one way or another, with DC and Marvel's super-heroes. The concept no longer is the result of any kind of social or storytelling movement. It is now a foundation. It is the norm.

Everyone knows what the term super-hero means. And there's a lot of potential for stories and characters within that concept. But writers have to be careful that the characters aren't "super-heroes", don't have "energy blasts" and don't use "utility belts".

This may be one of the leading reasons that non-super-hero genres are quickly picking up steam in comics. It's easier to write a story within a western or crime context than within a super-hero context where you spend most of the time struggling to make sure your hero (or heroes)'s name, powers, origin and city don't resemble any characters owned by the Big Two. Not to mention villains.

But it wasn't always like this. In the '80s and '90s, several independent comics companies made their own universes of super-powered characters, to varying degrees of success. While there were similarities to DC and Marvel's characters, it wasn't much of a matter at the time. For two simple reasons: the state of the comic industry at the time and how small the indy companies were (they didn't last long).

Nowadays it's a bit different. The comics industry is more rutheless as there's way too much product being produced and way to few readers. Anything that can be done to remove a possible opponent will be attempted.
And there's a massive influx of independent comics creators as it has become relatively easy to make your own comic. Creating comics has become second only to making music as the most inexpensive way to express yourself or be creative. And with internet and free webhosting, web comics (which cost nothing to create) have become one of the biggest trends for writers and artists.

I imagine that we're coming to another point where the people who are eating the fish that the big two are giving to them will learn to catch fish for themselves.
And that's what they're afraid of.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Upcoming Comics: January 2005

100 BULLETS #57
Written by Brian Azzarello
Art by Eduardo Risso
Cover by Dave Johnson

This is it: the shocking conclusion to “Wylie Runs the Voodoo Down!” With the stage set and the major players in order, it’s now time for the big showdown between Wylie, Sheppard, Dizzy and Graves. The trail of bodies has been a long one so far, but not as long as the trail of tears will be…

On sale Jan 12 :: 32 pages :: $2.50 US :: MATURE READERS

Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Jason Alexander
Cover by Michael Lark

Featuring guest artist Jason Alexander (Queen and Country)! After a robbery gone wrong, Catwoman is the prime suspect in the murder of a televangelist. Josie Mac knows better, but how can she tell her partner the evidence points elsewhere?

On sale Jan 12 :: 32 pages :: $2.50 US

Written by Gail Simone
Art by Tom Derenick & Bob Petrecca
Cover by Ryan Sook

Part 3 of the 4-part “Hero Hunters,” with action-packed guest art by Tom Derenick (SMALLVILLE) and a cover by Ryan Sook (ARKHAM ASYLUM: LIVING HELL)! In this issue, the Birds face the terrifying, life-stealing vigilante Harvest, and one member of the team may pay the ultimate price for her past!

On sale Jan 19 :: 32 pages :: $2.50 US

Written by Mark Waid
Art by Barry Kitson & Mick Gray
Cover by Kitson

The new future continues in this series courtesy of Mark Waid and Barry Kitson (EMPIRE)! As the Legion faces pressure from the newly formed United Planets to “play ball” with the system, the team finds it’s not easy to work with the law and fight it at the same time!

On sale Jan 26 :: 40 pages :: $2.95 US

THE QUESTION #3 (of 6)
Written by Rick Veitch
Art and cover by Tommy Lee Edwards

The Question rains terror upon the Subterraneans’ criminal operations through Metropolis — striking those that fall “beneath” the eyes of the Man of Steel. Meanwhile, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen get the scoop on Luthor’s motivations behind the Science Spire.

On sale Jan 5 :: 32 pages :: $2.95 US

Written by Mark Millar
Pencils & Cover by Bryan Hitch

"Gods & Monsters" Part 2 (of 5)
Who leaked the most terrible secret the Ultimates keep, and what does it have to do with Banner? Captain America takes matters into his own hands and confronts ex-Ultimates member Mighty Thor! Plus — a bizarre session between Bruce Banner and the most powerful telepath on Earth — Charles Xavier!

January 12 :: 32 pages :: Marvel PSR+ :: $2.99

Written by Warren Ellis
Pencils & Cover by Steve McNiven

Yes, it is Ultimate Captain Marvel! Mahr Vehl is in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody and we begin to see the outlines of what his race — the star-spanning Kree — have planned for our planet. But can Mahr Vehl be turned to the side of Earth before the interstellar Kree make our planet uninhabitable?

January 26 :: 32 pages :: Marvel PSR :: $2.99

BLACK WIDOW #5 (of 6)
Written by Richard K. Morgan
Art by Goran Parlov & Bill Sienkiewicz
Cover by Greg Land

Armed with the shocking revelations about her Red Room past, Natasha leaves Moscow and heads to the birthplace of the Black Widow program. Has the time finally come for her to meet her maker?

January 26 :: 32 pages :: Marvel PSR+ :: $2.99

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art & Cover by Alex Maleev

"Golden Age" Part 4 (of 4)
With Daredevil down for the count, a new hero must rise!!! Who carries the legacy of the White Tiger? The Eisner award-winning team of Bendis and Maleev continue to tell the story of the original Kingpin!
January 19 :: 32 pages :: Marvel PSR :: $2.99

Written by Michael Avon Oeming & Daniel Berman
Pencils & Cover by Andrea Di Vito

Beta Ray Bill jumps out of the pages of the now classic THOR series and finds himself the sole survivor of all that was Asgard. Will Beta Ray Bill escape the end of one world only to face his own end?

January 12 :: 32 pages :: Marvel PSR :: $2.99

Written by Gail Simone
Art by Ed Benes, Alex Lei, Michael Golden, Joe Bennett, Cliff Richards, and various
Cover by Greg Land

There’s trouble brewing for the Birds in this thrilling new trade paperback collecting BIRDS OF PREY #63-68 featuring guest appearances by a host of DCU heroines and villainesses!

On sale Jan 12 :: 168 pages :: $17.95 US

Comic news - December 07, 2004

Well... let's see...
I think I'll start off by listing the books I was previously listing as my "current must reads" back in September:
100 Bullets
Gotham Central
The Ultimates
Birds of Prey
Black Widow

Now to see how things have changed...

100 Bullets is still going strong. I generally won't read it until each story arc finishes, though. A habit I got into after reading the trades for the first 30 or so issues. It reads much better in large doses. Very engrossing and requires a lot of attention to detail. Something you really can't do waiting a month for the next part.

Daredevil is starting to wind down as both the writer and artist are slated to leave the title at the end of next year. It will be a shame to see them go. Especially if they can't find someone of at least equal talent to replace them.

Gotham Central has just lost their main attraction: Michael Lark, who has struck an exclusive deal with Marvel Comics. Brubaker and Rucka are both really capable fellas, but I just can't see the book lasting without Lark's distinctive look.

The Ultimates has just started Volume 2. While I haven't picked up the first issue, yet (I'm two months behind), I'm eagerly awaiting sinking my teeth into it.

Birds of Prey has been a fun title and it's mostly due to Gail Simone's intelligent writing. The book is a breath of fresh air at times. The last story was kinda anti-climatic but I'm still sticking to the series. The characterization is just great. I could probably do without all the t&a, however... Well... some of it...

Manhunter and Bloodhound are suffering the most from my alienation from comics. Both are brand new series and neither are really begging for my interest as I'm restructering my list...

Black Widow stays just because Sienkiewicz is doing it. And it helps that the first issue was just awesome.

The Legion of Super-Heroes are making a comeback and what I've heard so far is really impressing me. I may have to check it out.

Waiting for the return of Thor. Funny thing about Thor... I never really cared much for the character. I like mythological themed stories and characters (I think Wonder Woman was best when George Perez relaunched the book in 1988 steeping it in Olympian mythology). Why I never connected to Thor is beyond me. And it wasn't until recently that I felt compelled to pick up Thor. Dan Jurgens and Tom Raney were doing a fantastic job mixing fantasy and super-heroics. Until Jurgens stretched out a good story plot for waaaay too long.
Then, with Avengers Disassembled, Thor was given a new look and feel with a new creative team (Michael Oeming and Andrea Di Vito). Shit really hit the fan and things started to move forward. And then the book got cancelled.
I started to despair.
But it looks like Thor is only on hiatus as the story's being continued in a six-month comic, Stormbreaker, that appears to be branching the previous series with a new one that is coming soon.
You better bet that it's on my list of things to watch for.

Monday, December 06, 2004

It's been a long time...

Damn! It's amazing how changing jobs can really suck you out of energy and creativity!
Not to mention having to adjust to a whole different pay schedule...

I'm no longer playing Star Wars Galaxies. I decided to get Everquest 2. But then, my computer didn't like it as much as I wanted it to. So I have gone to Dark Age of Camelot.
I like it, but I may be taking a break from online games altogether so I can get everything back on track around here.

I've missed the last couple months of comics and a friend is begging me to finish watching the first disc of Alias Season 2 so he can borrow it.

I picked up an issue of "Comic Book Digest". It's a new monthly book put out by Lamp Post Productions that has samples of comics coming out, as well as articles and a 22-page ongoing story -all for less than $2!! Definitely worth checking out if you have an interest in finding comics that are less commercial.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Origin of the Blue Light Special?

A friend of mine shared this joke with me. And since I'm terrible at remembering jokes (especially at those times when I'm expected to tell one), I've decided to post it here.

One day God came to Adam and said, "Adam, I am very pleased with you. You've named all the animals in six days and you've tended to the land in a diligent manner. I feel I must reward you."

"How so, my Lord?"

"Adam, I shall give you a mate. And she shall be called Woman. She will be the most beautiful and caring creature I have ever made. And she shall be put here to serve you as you have served me. Your every wish will be carried out by her. You will never be lonely again."

"Wow, God, that sounds amazing! But what's it gonna cost me? An arm and a leg?"

"Precisely," God replied, "An arm and a leg."

"Uhmmm...", Adam said curiously, "What can I get for a rib?"

The Texas Renaissance Festival

Yes, the Texas Renaissance Festival would've been much better with money.
Twenty dollars only goes so far....

However, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and all the events.
The knife throwing show was cool.
The "Drench a Wench" booth was great. One of the girls just stole the show with her wisecracks.
I watched many performers. A talented lady, named Courtney Hale, who was playing an acoustic guitar and singing. A couple guys playing bongos. And these two guys with a guitar and a chiming thing. Oh, and a guy with a didgerido (sp?).
I got to see the belly-dancing chain-mail fashion show. Woo-hoo!
And trained birds.
And I met lots of people.

Too bad this came up on a bad-income period for me. December would've been better. I'll get three paychecks next month instead of two.

Wizard World Texas

I barely could afford to go through the door... but they let me in.
Wizard World isn't that great when you have no money. But it was still pretty cool.

Things I did:
*Met Michael Lark and got some signings. I also picked up his sketchbook. More info coming.
*Picked up two comics- Official Index to the Doom Patrol #1 and 12 cent issue of Secret Six (only because they were both on sale for $1)
*Saw Joe Singleton again.
*Met the artist of Forsaken and got the first three issues cheap.
*Oh... at this point I was broke. Had only $20 left. And had to save something for the Rennaissance Fair the next day.
*Met the writer of Hawaiian Dick. He wasn't very talkative.
*Saw Mark Waid and Barry Kitson (from a distance). Their lines were closed.

It would have been better if I had finished the comic I had planned to take with me to promote. But, damn, work keeps getting in the way.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Mixing it Up

Starting this week I'm going to be doing my music a bit differently.
I recently installed a new harddrive in my computer which gives me 60 gigs of more room. Very nice considering my original harddrive is 14 gig and Star Wars Galaxies took up a big chunk of it.

So, I moved all my music mixing software over to the new drive.

What this does for me is it gives me the freedom to do something else with my computer besides play SWG. I can install another game, I can make mix cds, I can mess with photoshop. Whatever I want. Without worrying about running out of room. Or worrying about lack of memory space (something I was beginning to have to deal with).

Which brings me back to what I'm going to do with my mp3 features here on my blog.
I currently have three mix cds I've made. Starting today I'll be posting them here.
Unless something that requires being spotlighted seperately comes up, all the tracks I put up will be part of a continuous mix.

The first one was made last year, the second early this year. The third one was made yesterday. Once I've caught up, I'll be posting a set once a week, provided I have space. I don't have a file host, so I'm using the space given to me by my internet provider which comes in 10mb sections.
You'll notice that the sets are seperated by tracks. That's for two reasons. 1) I like to be able to find a song easy and 2) it lets them fit in those 10mb sections.

Here is the first set-

Mix 1 - 8 tracks
PDOA - "F*** the Fake Stars"
Tiga - "Hot in Herre"
Tori Amos - "Don't Make Me Come to Vegas"
Basement Jaxx - "Get Me Off"
Benny Benassi - "Satisfaction"
Madonna - "Hollywood"
Zombie Nation - "Kemkraft 400"
DJ Thako f/ Taylor & Flow - "You Make Me Feel 2002"

I lost my original track listing for this set, so I don't have the names of the specific versions of the songs. And you may notice the artist name "kossori" on the MP3s. That was my dj name.
Enjoy. Comments and requests welcome.

Monday, November 01, 2004


Tomorrow is election day. Many people have early voted. Some even told me they early voted so they couldn't change their mind again.

It's gonna be a tough race, folks. Even I kept bouncing back and forth between Kerry and Bush. Even after posting the blog entry where I announced my decision to vote for Kerry. The debates were very intense this year.

Ultimately, I did what each of us should do. I imagined myself as president. What would I do? Where would I direct our country? How would I bring America back to being a country of freedom and not elitism? What issues do I think are important, from living my life?

These are the important areas.

Here is a message that I received that is being relayed throughout the blogging community, via Music Bloggers for Democracy:

Hey!! Stop what you're doing! You're not going to find that Arcade Fire live bootleg today, nor will you be stumbling across the b-side to "Hand In Glove", and there's no way you'll be finding that unreleased Pixies album. What you need to do is get ready to vote in the most important
election of our lives. Figure out where your nearest polling place is and make sure you are registered. Tell your friends to vote, tell your enemies for that matter. But just vote.

Worried that you're not informed enough to vote? You're on the internet - the information is out there waiting for you. Not a U.S. citizen? Then please call or email all your American friends and make sure they plan on voting. Many artists/organizations are stepping up and helping with the Get Out the Vote campaign, and now so are many of us in the music blogging community. Below are some links but please continue to add your own.

And since this is an mp3blog we've added a song or two as well.
Vote by Chris Stamey w/Yo La Tengo

Get Out And Vote On Novemeber 2nd. Regular Blogging Will Commence On November 3rd.


Music Bloggers For Democracy
and everyone that has agreed to post-
the big ticket
last sound of summer
bradley's almanac
republic of replicants
mystery and misery

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

MP3: Prodigy

Almost forgot to put an MP3 up...
Here's one I found recently. It's a chop/edit beats and breaks mix of Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up". One of Prodigy's best tracks ever. And one of the most controversial, sexy, trippy and surprising videos ever.
The video plays over on XRM, btw. If you watch long enough you may catch it.

This mix is done by a guy known as JPL - Master Remixer.

Monday, October 25, 2004

GTA: San Andreas

Well, here we are on the eve of one of the most anticipated games of the year (the other being Halo 2).
We're gonna be dressing up at work for the release.

Get your thug on.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

For the Couch Potatoes

Here are a few links that I've had stored for quite a while in my bookmarks.

Two are schedule grids (so you don't have to buy TV Guides or Satellite Guides). These are TV Guide and Zap2it. Both are really useful. I've been using Zap2it for the last few years. TV Guide is just as good, if not more well known.

TV Now has a theme search feature with lists movies for a particular theme. And it tells you the scheduled times and stations for them, usually within a month's time. You can get listings based on actor, actress, director, Sci-Fi, Horror, G-Rated, Martial Arts, Musicals, Foreign, Letterbox, Classic Comedy, Classic Mystery, Classic Western, 4-Star, Film Noir, Detective, World War II and Silent films. Very useful if you just want to watch specific types of films.

TV Tome has what would be the most comprehensive online guide to almost every show ever broadcast. Great resource. Includes episode guides and character info, as well as details about the original airdates. Here are a some samples: The Avengers, The Prisoner, Twilight Zone, Aeon Flux, La Femme Nikita, Alias, The Saint, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charlies Angels, Starsky and Hutch, Firefly, Star Trek, Batman, Mission Impossible, Moonlighting, Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

And for individual channels, here are the sites for BBC America, The Sci-Fi Channel, Starz Action Channel, Starz Mystery Channel, Sundance Channel, and The Independent Film Channel.

Monday, October 18, 2004

More Pulp Fantastic

I recently posted a blog about the new Hard Case Crime books. I hope it at least sparked a little interest in you folks to check them out.

I just got the third book, Top of the Heap, by Erle Stanley Gardner, yesterday. Gardner was the creator of Perry Mason. I'm not too keen on this one's cover but I'm sure given the level of talent involved I won't be let down by the story.

However, Little Girl Lost, by Richard Aleas, also comes out this month and has a very cool looking cover. So far, I've like the covers to this one and Fade to Blonde the best. I'll be keeping an eye out for this one.

And I just found out that Glen Orbik, who did covers for DC Comics' Pulp Heroes Annuals and American Century, has been chosen to do covers for Hard Case Crime. Orbik was my favorite cover artist during the Pulp Heroes event. He captured the pulp feel beeter than most everyone else. His work on American Century only proved that he was very at home with the style.
His first work will be for Branded Woman, by Wade Miller. It's scheduled to come out sometime early next year. Here's the cover:

Nice, huh?
Hard Case Crime.

Ten Ways to Get More Music in Your Head

One of the best reasons to have the internet and a dsl/broadband connection would be all the choices a person has to enjoy music. If you can think of a genre, chances are that there's someone out there broadcasting that very thing.
I'm going to share with you guys the stations or groups of stations that have had me enthralled in recent memory.

The one I've been spending some time watching/listening to recently is XRM's techno video stream. If you like Basement Jaxx, Underworld, Chemical Brothers, ATB, Tiesto or any other artists who fall into this category, then you should check XRM.
They even have a chat room, too, if you want to hang out with others who are also watching the videos.
XRM Radio.

KCRW and KCRW Music are Public Radio stations, much like Public TV (PBS). Both stations are broadcast over the net. I mention them because a show, called Metropolis, has managed to keep my attention. It airs weekdays and features electronic artists, usually premiering songs before you hear them anywhere else. Worth checking in on routinely just to see what's happening.
KCRW Music.

SomaFM has several streams branching from electronic music. One for droning, atmospheric music, one for ambient beats and another for downtempo. They just added a Trance station.

Digitally Imported was at one time THE internet broadcaster, with great quality streams featuring current trance, house and electronic music. Recently, however, they downgraded the free streams and put the better streams in a "members only" access. The free ones (at 96kbs) still aren't bad.
Digitally Imported.

Music One plays more popular and up-to-date dance, trance and house tracks. There is a rather annoying over-abundance of voice-overs and station identification, though.
Music One.

Global Pop Conspiracy is just different. You really have to check it out to know what I mean. Their website hasn't been updated in a month or so, but the stream continues on. There's also links to free MP3s on the site.
Global Pop Conspiracy.

Netmusique has three streams: Housemusique, Jazzmusique and L'Electrique. Great quality streams, too.

Another multi-streamer, Energy Radio has eight streams, including chillout and club.
Energy Radio.

Proton Radio plays mostly house music. I just found this station, so I don't have a lot of info. Sounds great, though.
Proton Radio.

And for those who like their music a lil rougher or darker, there's AmpedOut. They have a wonderful selection of industrial/ebm for your listening pleasure. Perfect station to listen to on Monday mornings. Or even after a long week of work. Talk about stress relief...

And for a bonus... An alternative music station from the campus of Southwestern Louisiana University, KSLU. It brings college radio to the internet.

Plus, here are two of the most useful resouces I've found for minding music on the internet:
Public Radio Fan -filtered to show only music programs.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Well... That Lasted Long...

As you may remember, I recently prrchased an X-Box. Along with Splinter Cell, Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance and XIII.
Unfortunately, the system has been doing nothing but collecting dust as I spend most of gaming time playing Star Wars Galaxies. I've even gone so far as checking games out from work, such as Ninja Gaiden and Chronicles of Riddick... both really great games... but I just can't invest the time into those games that they require.

So, I've decided to make a change.

I'm going to trade my X-Box for a Gameboy SP. Why? Because it's more accessable to me.

If during Star Wars Galaxies I find myself waiting for a planet to load, I can conveniently pick it up and play for a bit. I can keep it by the bed and play there before going to sleep. If I was to get up and sit to play the X-Box, I'd just turn on the computer. They're at the same spot.
And I can take it with me. Wherever I go.

I think I need a little hands-on for a while to really make a decision, though.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

MP3: Aphex Twin

Here's another song from the Amp vaults.
This one, by Aphex Twin, is called On.
A nice ambient track featuring a persistant high melody contrasted by a slow and steady, deep, resonating bass. It also has a slight rumble of thunder in the background at times to keep you relaxed.

Review: New Mutants #18-37 and X-Men Unlimited #43

Beginning with the Demon Bear story in the issue pictured above, New Mutants (a book I was already a bit interested in as I had read the first few issues) took on a much more energetic look and feel.

Written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz, this era introduced us not only to the Demon Bear, but also Rachel Summers (the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey from the future who comes to the present and becomes the Phoenix), Warlock (an alien renegade who seeks refuge with Xavier's students), Legion (one truly messed up individual) and reunited us with a member long thought dead who's put on quite a bit of weight and gone insane. We also get an appearance by Cloak and Dagger, popular characters at the time that never had much in the way of direction.

This part of the series surely stands out to me as the peak of it's run. I also consider this one of Bill Sienkiewicz's biggest achievements. And it wasn't until after I saw his art in New Mutants that I became aware of his past work in Moon Knight. At the time I started reading comics Moon Knight was only sold in comic shops. And I had yet to see such a place.
Sienkiewicz's art had a great impact on me and I find myself quick to accept artists such as Alex Maleev (Daredevil) and Tommy Lee Edwards (The Question) because of their similarity.

I recommend checking this run out. Don't worry about missing anything previous to #18. The shift in the art and the ability of Claremont to make it accessible leaves nothing necessary from the earlier issues. And as for after #37...

Well... that's easy. The reason why it closes up so well is that they all get killed. Yep. Each and every one. In #37 they have a run in with the Beyonder, a God-like being who was the antagonist of Marvel's Secret Wars II crossover event at the time. He considers them an anomaly and decides to clean house. Killing them all off, he then removes the school from existence. One of the best endings to a book ever. With great characterization of the characters in a sort of tragedy style.

For those of you who are curious... The Secret Wars II story ended between #37 and #38 and the team returned to existence.
#38, while not part of this suggested reading, is worthy of note for the cover which was very fitting.

I was a bit disappointed, however, with X-Men Unlimited #43. I actually had higher hopes for the book. It really did serve as nothing more than a reunion for Chris Claremont, Bill Sienkiewicz and the New Mutants. What could have been a fantastic event for longtime fans was marred by a rather trivial plot that appeared forced to get the characters together. It was nice, though, to experience a bit of nostalgia for a time that deserves to be remembered.

Friday, October 08, 2004

A Patriot Act

Well, November's almost here and I was originally considering not to vote. Not because I don't care about the future of my country. But, rather... because I just wasn't sure which candidate would be better for the position of President of the United States.

This is a very stressful time for my country, where a President has done great on one hand and poorly on another. And to replace him with someone who is yet to be tested is just as worrisome as keeping him.

I have friends who are voting for Bush and I have friends who are voting for Kerry. And they all have legitimate reasons. So, I'm sure they'll respect me for my decision as I respect them for theirs.

I'm voting for John Kerry.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

More Galaxies Screenshots

I said I'd be posting more pics soon. And here we go. For this batch, I'm focusing on my friends. All three of these guys live in the same town with me and we've all been buds for quite a while.

The first one is Schlona (shown in the pic above -he's the one on the left). Originally a Bounty Hunter, has has recently switched to Commando. We have a bit of friendy resentment to each other as he's a Rebel and I'm an Imperial. But we still get along pretty well.

This is my friend Nakiel (again on he left). Currently working on making a fortune by Smuggling, he has to have two houses to store all his stuff. Also an Imperial, but of lower standing, he calls me "Sir" most of the time. I kinda like it. However, I know that Schlona is secretly trying to persuade him to change over. And I don't think he's really getting all that money from smuggling...

And this is my other friend, Asraizi (on the left again -by the green droid). Unlike us "normal" types who play humans, Asraizi is a Bothan, which is best described as a dog-person. He's working on becoming the best Scout in the galaxy. After visiting his house, I asked why he had no bed. To which he replied, "The world is my home, every bit of ground my bed."

I snapped this pic and felt it belonged with this set. This is me looking over as my friend Asraizi, after being incapacitated, finds a bull ronto on top of him. It was really quite dramatic. Once we killed the ronto it made a very satisfying (and loud) thud when it fell. On top of my friend's body. You can see his arm protruding out from under the ronto's neck. I laughed a long time. I tried to hide it, but my countless typos that followed only made it evident that I could not control myself.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Return of the Pulps

Ohhh... look what I found: Hard Case Crime.
I got the first two books, "Grifter's Game" and "Fade to Blonde", yesterday.

They have a great line-up for their first titles. And what really got me was the brand new pulp style covers!

I just started reading "Grifter's Game".
I have read some Lawrence Block stuff previously, but they were all short stories reprinted from pulp magazines.

This is cool stuff, indeed!

BTW... the website has sample chapters of each book, along with the covers.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

MP3: Dire Straits

One of the reason I like some '70s songs is because it exhuberates a sense of gritty, urban earthiness. Kinda hard to explain. Perhaps I have some sort of suppressed memory where I'm attacked in a dark alley on a rainy night or something.

Anyway, I will say that for some reason music like this makes me want to turn the lights down, smoke a cigarette (and I don't smoke) and get all decadent. Which to me was what the '70s was all about.
Cigarette ashes on a torn carpet, with a stained wall of faded panelling reflecting the glow of a dirty lamp through a thick haze of smoke. A record player (one of those big console types, with a tv on the bottom) plays Earth, Wind and Fire in a level that just barely covers the sound of night itself.

Quentin Tarantino gets this. As does a few comics writers, like Dennis O'Neil.

So, turn down the lights... pop in Six Blade Knife and take a trip to the underside of the city.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Mis-Adventure!: Money Matters (1 of 1)

Here we go. I'm going to attempt to move all my comics pages over from my old site to here. I was really worried about the resizing that blogger does to the pics and if it was going to make them unreadable. I think I can change the ratio in "Hello", but I haven't really messed with that aspect of it.

Bear with me as my work I've done previously has a bit of an amateurish charm to it (meaning it's not perfect). I was doing this as a learning process and I'm still learning to this day.

BTW... art and story copyright 2003, 2004 Lee Stone.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Comics to Check Out

People who've been to my site regularly know that I read comics. And while I've only reviewed two titles, so far, I actually read more than those.

So I've decided to take a minute and reveal to you what books I read on a regular basis and why.

First we have 100 Bullets, by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. I started reading 100 Bullets around issue 26. I didn't know what the hell was going on. But I thought the characterization and dialogue were both great. So great that I went and found the first couple of trade paperbacks that reprinted the first year or so and from there I was hooked.
I even went back and got Jonny Double, a trade that reprinted Azzarello and Risso's mini-series that they did before 100 Bullets. It has a lot of the same feel as 100 Bullets and it's also reccomended.

Next is Daredevil, by Brian Micael Bendis and Alex Maleev. Bendis and Maleev have done a splendid job of taking a "just another superhero" and turning him into a living and breathing character that grows emotionally. Turning the book into the comic equivalent of The Sopranos, Daredevil (in no short time) sets himself up as the Kingpin (translated as the Godfather) of Hell's Kitchen. Why? Because someone else would have if he didn't. Maleev's art keeps the story grounded in reality, even when some weird stuff does happen at times.

Gotham Central, written by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka and drawn by Michael Lark, tells the story of the cops of Gotham City, the stomping ground of Batman, Catwoman and other costumed menaces. You would expect a cominc book that was set in such a place would cater to Bat-fans and play up the super-heroics of the environment. Nope. What we get here is in-depth character stories of the people who are at the very bottom of the Bat-food chain: the cops. Kinda like Law and Order or CSI meets very dark city with crazy people who wield more than just guns.
The characters are given more dimension than you see in most other comics and you really start to care for them after a while.

The Ultimates, by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, is not only a beautiful piece of work to look at, but also one of the best comibinations of super-powers and real world sensiblity. This isn't a world where people are expected to fly and shoot lasers from their eyes. Told in what many people call "widescreen entertainment", the stories are grand and the budget is high. Expect to be thrilled. Volume 2 starts in December and I'm looking forward to it.
Warren Ellis is doing a trilogy of sorts with the Ultimates characters, starting with Ultimate Nightmare, drawn by Trevor Hairsine. I'm reading these as I'm waiting for the return of the regular Ultimates title. Also, I would like to say that Trevor Hairsine does a fantastic job of filling in Hitch's shoes. I hope this guy gets a regular gig soon.

Birds of Prey, written by Gail Simone and drawn by Ed Benes and Alex Lei, fills my need of plain fun storytelling. I find that throughout my comics reading experience I've had at least one book that was lighthearted that balanced all the other books I was reading. Birds of Prey seems to be the one at the moment. And Gail Simone has proven herself to be a great character writer with this book and Rose & Thorn. Although the latest story seemed a bit lackluster, I still find enjoyment in reading the main protagonists' interactions with each other.

A book that I've just started reading, and one that's doing a nice job of impressing is Manhunter, written by Marc Andreyko and drawn by Jesús Saiz and Jimmy Palmiotti. It's a much more realistic look at "what if someone took the law into their own hands" and added the extra element of being set in a super-powered universe. There are consequences, as we're starting to see.
And the one thing that keeps me interested is that the writer manages to keep everything grounded in the "real world".

And then there's Black Widow, written by Richard K. Morgan and drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz. have to say that I was also impressed by this book.
Sienkiewicz's art truly fits the subject matter and Widow is portrayed to have much more of a backbone than has been in recent years. The cold nature of being a spy is made more evident in this series than any of her previous appearances.
I went into this book expecting Marvel superheroics with a b-list character, written by an unknown and drawn by an artist who's seen better days. The only two redeeming factors being that Widow is currently appearing in Daredevil and the aforementioned artist is someone who I respect.
What I got was a non-superheroic story set in a gritty, realistic world, with top-notch plotting and dialogue, and art that reminds me of why Sienkiewicz is a great storyteller.
Black Widow has matched Daredevil and found a secure place in my reading list.

Bloodhound, written by Dan Jolly and drawn by Leonard Kirk, is slowly getting a spot on my must reads as the book is very realisticly driven. While the character is a little abrasive, he's been set up with a past that just demands interest. As a cop that was possibly framed for the death of his partner and sent to prison, serving time with those he put there himself, the main character finds himself given a chance at freedom when he's needed to track down a killer. One of the pulls for this book for me is the art. Kirk does a great job of making it seem like it's a real situation with real people. And still manages to keep it energetic.

Honorable mentions: Human Target, The Losers and Mystique, all of which I dip in and out of on a regular basis.