Thursday 17 December 2009

Time-travelling, violence and loads of profanity

Three publications with futuristic settings share the spotlight this week.

To begin, we look at Star Trek: Assignment Earth.

Written and illustrated by comic industry veteran John Byrne (Alpha Flight, Man of Steel, Spider-Man: Chapter One), Star Trek: Assignment Earth reprints the five part miniseries by the same name (May-September, 2008) which continued from where the 1968 Star Trek episode titled "Assignment: Earth" left off.

In the episode, Kirk and his crew time-travel to 1968 where they accidentally encounter what could be seen by modern viewers as a sort of "1960s American Dr. Who" named Gary Seven and his shape-shifting cat Isis. Before it ends, Mr. Seven's young secretary Roberta becomes his assistant and the Enterprise return to the future.

The episode had two functions: it was a normal episode and a pilot for a spin-off starring Steven, Roberta and Isis. The spin-off never materialized.

In the comic miniseries, Byrne continues the adventures of Seven, Roberta and Isis in a rather unique way. Instead of having the series focus on one story, each issue has its own stand-alone story. An interesting aspect of those stories is that there's a year's worth of continuity that takes place between each issue.

For example, the first issue takes place immediately after the events of the TV episode in 1968. The second issue occurs in 1969, etc...

The miniseries also shines some light on who exactly Seven's employers are and what really happened to the two agents that died in the car accident mentioned in the T.V. episode.

Although the Enterprise and its crew appear in the book, it's not about the Federation. That fact is what makes Star Trek: Assignment Earth very refreshing.

Thanks to cleaver writing, the protagonists cross paths with the Enterprise a second time. Although the encounter acts as the protagonists' second contact, the Enterprise crew did not yet meet them. These described actions take place during the events of the T.V. episode "Tomorrow Is Yesterday." (In that episode, the Enterprise time travels to the past but to a year later than 1968.)

In another story, Nixon died before the Watergate scandal. The public didn't know that because a look-a-like imposter who forgot that he wasn't really Nixon replaced him!

Star Trek: Assignment Earth is a very entertaining book and a paper-based breath of fresh Trekkie air.

The other two books this week do not, in the context of this column, explore unfamiliar territory. They are Tank Girl Two (Remastered) and Tank Girl: Skidmarks #1 (November 2009).

The two publications, both written by Tank Girl co-creator Alan Martin, deliver what readers should come to expect from the character: mostly violence and profanity in the near future.

As with other entries in Titan's "remastered" series, Tank Girl Two reprints older material from anthology magazines. The book covers stories printed in Deadline and Speak Easy between March 1990 and April 1993.

I was somewhat surprised to see how the stories in the book come across at times as more mature and reflective.

In its intro, Alan C. Martin wrote: "(the reader) will be able to see some subconscious parallels between our lives and stories..." That means that I really shouldn't be surprised if I see at least a little more maturity.

Tank Girl: Skidmarks #1 is the first issue of a new miniseries about Tank Girl participating in a race that's sort of like The Cannonball Run. A 2-D version of Dee Dee Ramone appears in a supporting role. The story was originally printed in the pages of 2000 AD Magazine. It's worth adding to a collection.

Star Trek: Assignment Earth: 8/10

Publisher: IDW Publishing

Tank Girl Two (Remastered): 6/10

Tank Girl: Skidmarks#1: 6.5/10

Publisher: Titan Books

Bernard C. Cormier is, among other things, a freelance writer and broadcaster. E-mail: © Bernard C. Cormier 2009

Friday 4 December 2009

Two Books Deal With Different Social Issues

Like it or not, we're all born into groups.

That fact is largely the focus of both books reviewed this week: Shortcomings and The Big Kahn.

The first one we look at, Shortcomings, written and illustrated by Adrian Tomine, is a reprint book collecting Optic Nerve#9-11.

Its protagonist is Ben Tanaka, a 30-year-old Japanese-American movie theatre manager in Berkeley, California. His girlfriend, Miko Hayashi, also Japanese-American, is involved with the local Asian-American cultural scene.

Their relationship appears to be headed off a cliff because they regularly argue. Miko continuously accuses him of being "ashamed to be Asian" and accuses him of cheating on her after seeing his new employee, a cute 22-year-old blond named Autumn.

One day, the heat goes up in their arguments when she finds porn DVDs in his desk. "The thing that kind of bothers me is that all the girls are white", she tells him.

Not long after that event, she moves to New York for a four-month internship at the Asian-American Independent Film Institute. Due to her departure, they inevitably take some time off from each other.

After a brief fling with a bisexual woman, Ben receives a telephone call from his best friend Alice, a Korean-American lesbian, while she's in New York visiting friends. She tells him to join her there because, as she puts it, there's something he has to see with his own two eyes.

Tomine's art and storytelling style are absolutely top-notch. He presents the characters in a realistic way to the point where all of them have noticeable personal problems and flaws. Adding to the realism, the dialogue between characters is as realistic as it can get in a graphic novel.

Via empathy for his characters, Tomine forces readers to ask themselves important questions. Of course, based on the story, as you may have guessed, most of those questions are related to race and sexuality. However, it does contain moments of humour, like when Ben is watching Autumn's band perform at a gig.

The second book this week is The Big Kahn.

Written by Neil Kleid and illustrated by Nicolas Cinquegrani, The Big Kahn is about Rabbi David Kahn who is, once deceased, revealed by his brother to never have been Jewish in the first place.

It focuses on how such devastating news about the rabbi, along his death, affects his immediate family, which consists of his wife and three children.

Before the revelation of his faith, his eldest child, Avi, was to be his successor as a rabbi in their synagogue. Unfortunately, now some people with influence and power in that synagogue don't see it that way anymore because Avi's not "100 per cent Jewish".

He's not the only person being treated differently. His mother and brother are, too, in different ways. Oddly enough, his sister, the family's bar-hoping rebel, is becoming more spiritual.

The Big Kahn touches the fact that there are always snobs in all groups, including religions. As a result, there's always the chance of discrimination, too.

I don't know if the problems Avi had in the book would happen in real life but, really, so what if a Rabbi's parents weren't Jewish?

In brief, the book's visuals look good. Its overall message, despite a (spoiler alert) cliffhanger-style ending, appears to be too pro-religion/faith, especially when one of the characters is described on the back cover as "re-awakening".

Don't get me wrong: being religious can be okay except, in my opinion, it doesn't make much sense for the characters to be discriminated by the religious institution that they are members of and then continue to want to be affiliated with the organization.

Generally speaking, Shortcomings and The Big Kahn are still good books to trigger thoughts within the readers of their own lives.

Shortcomings: 8/10

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

The Big Kahn: 8/10

Publisher: NBM

Bernard C. Cormier is, among other things, a freelance writer and broadcaster. E-mail: © Bernard C. Cormier 2009

Thursday 26 November 2009

Living In Oklahoma

Censorship is a parasite.

It eats away at all forms of free expression, regardless of the medium used as a conduit.

Supporters of censorship, often governments and organizations, like religious and parent groups, who volunteer as unofficial "morality police," want power and control. They may not admit it (and may not even realize it), but that's what they want.

To those people, opposing views and opinions are seen as threats. Those types of thoughts, if expressed, may evoke others to think critically. As such, the influence and power of those groups become unstable.

In the case of governments, the issue is quite "cut 'n dry" when considering places like North Korea and China, but censorship can be seen in places like Canada, too.

What the Canadian Human Rights Commission does and investigates can be seen as poster boy examples. Based on their track record, the government organization appears to be firmly opposed to freedom of expression.

In the case of religious organizations, parent groups, or other types of self-declared morality police, many examples could be mentioned. The international easy targets to bring up are certainly Islamic extremist groups, like the Taliban, but other religious groups support censorship, too.

A good example in recent years was the Danish Mohammed comic strip panel controversy. It managed to generate riots and death threats aimed at publications that printed it.

It would appear that some people couldn't take a joke.

On a more local level, remember a few months back when Marilyn Manson performed in Moncton, New Brunswick?

The public opinion pages of the local English language newspaper were loaded with letters telling readers that the singer's performance would send everyone, attending or not, to Hell.

Some people, because they popped-out children, believe that they must indirectly censor things to protect their offspring. They may not have the power to censor but are loud enough to influence politicians (or others) to do their bidding.

That's why video games have ratings preventing 16-year-olds from buying some of them.

Perhaps, the problem lies with some parents that don't know the difference between reality and fantasy?

By now, I'm sure many readers are wondering why I'm writing about such concepts and issues.

This week's book, The Complete Iron Devil, by legendary writer and illustrator Frank Thorne, contains material that was at the center of an obscenity case brought on by prosecutors with nothing better to do.

I'm not going to hide it: it's a science fiction/fantasy porn comic filled with magical and technological things - and plenty of T&A (and penises), too!

It reprints the 1990s series The Iron Devil #1 and 2, the only issues of the series. Originally, it was supposed to be a six-issue miniseries. Since the owners of an Oklahoma City comic book store were prosecuted for selling them to adults(!), Thorne released Devil's Angel#1, also reprinted, to ridicule the police department. Thorne included not only his characters but also many of the ones he worked on over the years. As an example, Red Sonja's owners granted him permission to the character at a time when Marvel was publishing her adventures.

In brief, The Complete Iron Devil is a humorous adult fantasy book with great art. However, it wouldn't be nearly as good if it weren't for the excellent Devil's Angel story, which points out the craziness of "morality police."

Final thought: It's a good thing we don't live in Oklahoma.

The Complete Iron Devil: 7/10

Publisher: Eros Comix, Inc.

Bernard C. Cormier is, among other things, a freelance writer and broadcaster. E-mail: © Bernard C. Cormier 2009

Tuesday 24 November 2009

For The Sake of Sake

It's an accepted fact that comic books and strips can be about anything. Food and drinks going hand-in-hand throughout the world is also an accepted fact.

Therefore, it should not be a surprise that there's a comic series centered on eating and drinking.

Oishinbo, written by Tetsu Kariya and illustrated by Akira Hanasaki, is such a comic series.

Printed almost uninterrupted in Japan as a regular feature within Big Comic Spirits since 1983, Oishinbo has had a duel function of entertaining readers while educating and informing them about food preparation.

The series' success managed to ring up sales of over 100 million copies for its numerous reprint book collections. It also spawned an animated television series and TV movies in the 1980s and 1990s.

As with most foreign comic series printed in a language other than English, Oishinbo was only available in North America as an import until earlier this year when Viz began reprinting various stories from the series.

Instead of reprinting the whole thing in a linear chronological fashion, Viz decided to group stories together based on the types of food discussed within them. As a result, many segments of the series revolving around sake have been collected in Oishinbo A La Carte: Sake.

Before continuing with an uplifting subject like sake, let's look at the main premise and characters that hold the whole series together.

Fundamental elements of the series:

The Tõzai News, one of Japan's leading newspapers, has decided to launch a regular feature celebrating national cuisine titled Ultimate Menu.

To make Ultimate Menu a reality, the newspaper hires a young journalist named Yamaoka Shirõ. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Yamaoka's father, Kaibara Yuzan, is a big shot food snob who operates a member's only restaurant named The Gourmet Club.

Having such a father has obviously helped Yamaoka with knowledge, but the two men do not get along. To make matters worse, Kaibara has been hired by Tõzai's rival Teito Times to write a series of articles under the name Supreme Menu, as direct competition against Ultimate Menu!

Sake's Plots:

Oishinbo A La Carte: Sake has six stories: The Versatility of Sake, Kusu, Love of The New, A Champagne Tragedy, A New Start and the six-part The Power of Sake. Not only do all of them have something to do with sake but they also educate the readers in traditional preparation and manufacturing practices involved in the beverage's creation. To increase realism, real brands of alcohol are used within the panels.

Although the stories are generally good, A New Start is most certainly the winner among those presented in the book. It's about an alcoholic painter who depends on his wife for financial support. Unfortunately, he has a tendency to embarrass her at work.

The Bottom Line:

As the series' second entry for Viz, Oishinbo A La Carte: Sake is as good, if not better than the first one, Japanese Cuisine.

Each volume follows a similar overall design, which features a large amount of bonus material. That content consists of notes on the text, a commentary by Tetsu Kariya, and, most importantly, a few recipes of dishes consumed by characters in the book. Those recipes in Sake are Sanshõ Kombu and Beef Short Ribs in Miso. Colour photographs accompany the recipes.

It's a perfect book for comic fans who also have an interest in food and, more importantly, Japanese culture.

Oishinbo A La Carte: Sake: 8/10

Publisher: Viz Media, LLC

Bernard C. Cormier is, among other things, a freelance writer and broadcaster. E-mail: © Bernard C. Cormier 2009

Thursday 24 September 2009

Archie Needs To Get Laid, Not Married

When the first press releases revolving around Archie#600 (August 2009) hit the inboxes of people in mainstream media and the blogsphere (including those of local bloggers), it proved that many of the recipients should have had the word "sucker" printed on their foreheads.

For those unfamiliar with the situation, Archie#600 features the first chapter of a six-part story in which Archie Andrews "marries" Veronica Lodge.

Since his first appearance in Pep Comics#22 (December 1941) Archie Andrews (allegedly inspired by Mickey Rooney's "Andy Hardy" films) and his friends, known as "The Archies" when playing music, has been one of the few consistent staples of the comic inustry to remain in print.

Unlike "Andy Hardy," The Archies never disappeared from the public's consciousness.

As such, generations of, both, serious and casual comic readers have grown up following the predictable paint-by-number adventures of the gang.

That, my friends, is what's most problematic with Archie#600 and, as such, is what concerns me the most: nothing ever really changes in any significant way in the Archie Universe.

The reporters and bloggers who were seduced by the aforementioned press releases forgot about the static elements of Archie characters and didn't realize something else: the six-part story is, in a sense, a "what-if" story which is expected to conclude without any lasting impact on the lives of any of the characters.

Written by Michael Uslan, the producer of every Batman movie since the 1980s, "Archie Marries Veronica, Part 1: The Proposal" begins with Archie returning home after the band's last gig before graduation. His parents nudge at him to make a decision relating to college because time's ticking away.

In need of fresh air and a temporary escape from pressure, Archie takes a walk up Memory Lane, not down, which enables him to see, roughly, five years (or so) into the future. Armed with a recently acquired history degree but no job, he decides to do something "important". He buys an engagement ring and proposes to Veronica(!) Betty Cooper reacts to the engagement as if she has nothing to live for now that Archie's taken.

(Is it 1955 or something?)

I respect that Archie Comics is a business out to make a profit and, like other comic companies, they do whatever they can to generate sales and basic interest in their products. That's fine but "Archie Marries Veronica" was hyped despite not having any lasting effects on the characters.

In my opinion, if they want to attract more readers, Archie Comics should allow their characters to evolve with the times and be presented in stories that are more sophisticated. Within those stories, the characters should behave in a more realistic manner based on their ages.

Let's face it: Archie and the gang may be physically in their late-teenage years but they act like they're 13 or so (or less!).

I have often wondered: "Is Archie (literally) retarded or something?"

Since I don't think any of The Archies have ever made it to "2nd Base" and we're in 2009, I don't think marriage should be a top-priority for any of the characters.

Actually, unless Archie realizes before the six-part story concludes that it's a bad life decision, it would be irresponsible to present marriage as the "thing to do" for characters in their early-20s to children.

Archie should be seen living life and experimenting with different things (like sex) before he gets tied-down with marriage.

However, we can't expect too much modern and progressive behavior and thinking from characters that regularly appeared in religious comics during the 1970s and 1980s, can we?

Next is Usagi Yojimbo Book Seven by Stan Sakai.

Reprinting Usagi Yojimbo#32-38 and Critters#38 from the 1980s and 1990s, it follows the adventures of the anthropomorphic samurai white bunny rabbit and his allies.

Some may know the character thru his appearances in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure toy line.

The bulk of Usagi Yojimbo Book Seven consists of Yojimbo and his occasional partner, Murakami Gennosuke, a samurai rhinoceros, helping Lady Asano avenge her husband's death.

Meanwhile, Gennosuke discovers something about the fate of his father"¦.

With its violence and lack of colour, the book is reminiscent of early-TMNT with seemingly more apparent humour.

Its escapism is worthy of its reader's time.

Archie#600: 5/10

Publisher: Archie Comics

Usagi Yojimbo Book Seven: 7/10

Publishers: Fantagraphics Books, Inc.

Bernard C. Cormier is, among other things, a freelance writer and broadcaster. E-mail: © Bernard C. Cormier 2009

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Detour (formerly: "Leo Huff")

Last year, I was a background performer in a movie then known as "Leo Huff". It was released theatrically on September 18th as "Detour".

The film will be shown within FICFA friday night at Empire Theaters in Dieppe, NB. It's replacing "Peche au Sexe".

I found my face in the trailer at the 0:42 mark in the upper-left corner of the frame:

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Acadie Underground 13 (2009)

FICFA's back. That means Acadie Underground's back, too. That also means that I have a film ready for public viewing at Acadie Underground. This year, I didn't submit a solo project but I have another team-up movie with Eric D. Allain. We co-directed and co-shot it. However, I'm also acting in the thing. Acadie Underground 13 will be held Saturday night (September 26th) at 9-ish(?) PM in Studio 700 on Main Street. Follow this link for more details:

Sunday 2 August 2009

Playlist: "Bernard Brule Les Ondes!" - August 2, 2009 on CKUM (93.5FM)

I don't regularly post the playlists of my radio program but it's interesting to do once in awhile.

So here's the latest playlist:

“Bernard Brûle Les Ondes!” – August 2, 2009 on CKUM (93.5FM)

1) Oasis – “Fuckin’ In The Bushes”

2) Maxipad – “Human Slug Vs Gingerbred Man”

3) Maxipad – “Horse Rape My Wife”

4) Paul McCartney – “Junior’s Farm”

5) Sebadoh – “The Freed Pig”

6) America – “A Horse With No Name”

7) Rush – “The Temples Of Syrinx”

8) The Monoxides – “I’ve Got An Idea” (Live)

9) Silversun Pickups – “Lazy Eye”

10) Smashing Pumpkins – “Whir”

11) Lou Reed – “Magic And Loss – The Summation”

12) Peter Murphy – “All Night Long”

13) Sonic Youth – “Massage The History”

14) Billy Joel – “The Downeaster “Alexa””

15) Eels – “Woman Driving, Man Sleeping”

16) Interpol – “Take You On A Cruise”

17) Blur – “Out Of Time”

18) The Natural History – “The Right Hand”

19) The Vines – “Vision Valley”

20) Yoko Ono with The Brother Brothers – “Yes, I’m A Witch”

21-43) AC/DC – Live (the whole album; 2CD version)

Saturday 18 July 2009

Lives Without Dull Moments

Each of the books reviewed this week have "normal" protagonists with lives filled with an unrealistic degree of non-stop action.

Indiana Jones and The Tomb of The Gods collects the four-issue mini-series of the same name. The mini-series came to its conclusion in March.

Since most people have a basic idea of who Indiana Jones is and what he does, an explanation would be almost unnecessary.

However, most doesn't equal all.

Indiana Jones is an archaeology professor by day, adventurer by night. He first appeared in the 1981 film Raiders of The Lost Ark. In that film, along with most of his other movie and television appearances, the character was played by Harrison Ford.

With events set during the same year as those that took place in Raiders of The Lost Ark, 1936, Indiana Jones and The Tomb of The Gods has Jones and his colleague Marcus Brody chasing after the stolen pieces of a key to the aforementioned tomb. As with other Indiana Jones stories, the adventure incorporates plenty of globetrotting.

Indiana Jones and The Tomb of The Gods has exactly the sort of story anyone would expect from Mr. Jones' keepers. It's a book about running. Indiana Jones runs from the bad guys, then he runs after them. Such plot point dance steps are repeated as many times as necessary.

The formula doesn't render the book as a completely bad thing. After all, it worked for 4 movies. Unfortunately, despite their obvious relationship and similarities, comic books and motion pictures are unique forms of communication. What works for one of them doesn't necessarily work for the other. This is such a case.

The book also contains two sequences that annoyed the hell out of me.

The first one is a reworked event from Raiders "" Indiana escapes from a mob via airplane. The second sequence was too unbelievable to even be entertaining "" a great white shark destroys his already half-sunk boat ... But he doesn't get killed!

Next on this week's list is Modesty Blaise: The Lady Killers, Book 16 in Titan's series of Modesty Blaise reprint books. Once completed, the series will contain the entire comic strip that ran from 1963 until 2002.

The Lady Killers presents three story arks that were originally printed between May 27, 1980 and August 27, 1981: Dossier on Pluto (about dolphins), The Lady Killers (about a feminist terrorist group), and Garvin's Travels (about kidnapped friends). As a bonus, it includes previously "lost" strips that were not included in earlier volumes. The lost strips were printed between 1963 and 1970.

More like James Bond than Indiana Jones, Modesty Blaise is a rich 28-year-old woman with an almost passion for destroying the plans of evildoers. She mostly intercepts villains in the name of the Queen but sometimes for whomever else require her services (example: C.I.A.). She can easily defend herself but her occasional boyfriend Willie Garvin is usually assisting her.

The story arks presented in The Lady Killers are like the sort of adventures Bond's known for. The protagonists prevent villains from succeeding by using consequence-free violence. With that in mind, it's almost a guilty pleasure of a book.

It's interesting to note that the British comic strip's non-American origins are very obvious due to the quantity of panels containing nudity. If such things don't exist in 99.9 per cent of modern US comic strips, they certainly didn't in 1980. However, if they do exist, the newspapers running them probably censor their content.

It should be noted that, not unlike other fictitious action characters, Indiana Jones and Modesty Blaise are difficult to relate to on the physical level. No, I'm not referring to their muscular physique but rather the amount of rest they take. They always seem to be bouncing from one adventure to another one. If they were real people, it would be time for a burnout and/or a long vacation.

Despite their flaws, Indiana Jones and The Tomb of The Gods and Modesty Blaise: The Lady Killers are still good examples of escapist entertainment.

Indiana Jones and The Tomb of The Gods gets 5 out of 10, while Modesty Blaise: The Lady Killers rates a 6 out of 10.

Bernard C. Cormier is, among other things, a freelance writer and broadcaster. E-mail: © Bernard C. Cormier 2009

True Crime, True Fantasy

This week, we begin with a historic look at an unsolved crime from the early days of Hollywood.

Famous Players, by writer/illustrator Rick Geary (born: 1946), examines the 1922 murder of William Desmond Taylor (1872-1922).

The multi-talented Taylor (born: William Cunningham Deane-Tanner) began his career as an actor but gradually worked his way up the ranks and became a director and producer.

It must be noted that his filmography contains an interesting Maritime connection. He directed the first of the two theatrical film adaptations of Anne of Green Gables. As of this writing, the film, released in 1919, is considered to be "lost" without any prints left in existence. The second theatrical Anne of Green Gables film adaptation was released in 1934.

As for the crime, in a nutshell, a servant found Taylor's bullet-punctured body on the floor of his bungalow on the morning of February 2, 1922. As we modern people would expect from that era, the police did an absolute crappy job at protecting the crime scene. Curious neighbors arrived before the police did and weren't told to leave. Some of Taylor's business associates removed items that were never to be seen again. Such bad police work explains why his murder was never solved!

Despite such police stupidity, the case was still investigated and numerous people were considered as suspects. Among the suspects was Mary Miles Minter, a 20-year-old actress Taylor had been romantically involved with. Incidentally, she played the lead in Taylor's Anne of Green Gables.

Eventually, the case was closed but remained unsolved.

Famous Players is a history book using sequential images as its means of communication.

It covers the case in a fact-based informative way. Geary presents the story in a manner similar to how photojournalist would cover a news event except that he's presenting history and, perhaps, could be identified as a sequential journalist. He even provides a map representing Los Angeles of that era.

To examine the case from all known angles and possibilities, Geary clustered the information in logical but non-linear ways. As an example, the dead body's discovery is described in the second chapter but Chapter 4 focuses on what's known about Taylor's life.

Famous Players is a very interesting graphic novel that will likely appeal to the tastes of, not counting general comic fans, people interested in either film history or true crime.

Next book on this week's list is the category of fantasy.

All-Star Superman Volume One, by writer Grant Morrison (born: 1960) and illustrator Frank Quitely (born: 1968), reprints the first half of the 12-issue comic series All-Star Superman (January 2006-October 2008).

It has an easy-going, relatively light overall story with somewhat self-contained chapters (which were originally the individual issues).

Lex Luthor pulls criminal strings from jail in a way that poisons Superman. While keeping his health problems to himself, the Man of Steel reveals his true identity to Lois Lane"¦. and gives her an ultimate birthday gift. Although All-Star Superman Volume One is a beautiful and entertaining book, it does have a few flaws.

The first problem is the inclusion of Samson and Atlas. Even if the presence of the two characters were totally unnecessary, they would be at least tolerable if their scenes didn't have the worst pieces of dialogue in the entire book.

Example: "I swear by the everlasting snows of Olympus, Lois Lane, you're practically dripping allure in yon clinging garment." - Atlas

Its second problem is how Lex Luthor is presented. He comes across as a big joke and constantly reminded me of Stewie from Family Guy. Therefore, even within the parameters of fantasy, I couldn't at all take him seriously.

Famous Players: 3/3, Publisher: NBM, Available: August 2009.

All-Star Superman Volume One: 2/3, Publisher: DC Comics.

Bernard C. Cormier is, among other things, a freelance writer and broadcaster. E-mail: © Bernard C. Cormier 2009.

Retrospectives On Two Teams of Two

Both of the books reviewed this week have more in common than simply reprinting old sequential art. In their own way, they each focus on a different creative team.

With an introduction by Simon and essays by Mark Evanier, the book acts as a sampler for people unfamiliar with the work of the legendary team. More than 25 stories and other material, originally published between 1940 and 1966, are reprinted within eight chapters. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific genre: superheroes, science fiction, war, romance, crime, western, horror, and humour. Other material includes photos, cover art, and a rare two-page illustrated article on Lenny Bruce from Sick(Vol.1)#2 (October 1960).As anyone can tell after reading its title, The Best of Simon and Kirby is a retrospective of the collaborative comic book efforts of writer Joe Simon (born: 1913) and illustrator Jack Kirby (1917-1994). Together, the two men made their mark on not only comic books but also pop culture in general, as both a team and as individuals. They are best known as the creators of Captain America, Bucky, and Red Skull.

As expected, some of the stories are better and/or more historically significant than others. Most comic fans will likely enjoy or, at least, appreciate the importance of the inclusion of a few Golden Age Marvel and DC superhero stories.

The most notable of these is "Captain America and The Riddle of The Red Skull" which is the first appearance of the villainous Red Skull. Originally printed in Captain America Comics#1 (March 1941), it's also a curiosity due to the hero's decision to not prevent Skull's death during the climax when he had the chance. (It doesn't really matter because Red Skull was revealed to have faked his death in a later issue anyway).

However, the best overall story within the book is "Weddin' At Red Rock!" from Western Love#1 (July 1949). For a western comic from the 1940s, it has a refreshingly good twist ending.

Of course because humour routinely evolves with society, some "serious" stories have become somewhat humorous by modern standards. "Trapping New England's Chain Murderer!", from Headline Comics#24 (May 1947), is a good case in point. When a murderer confesses to police officers, he says, "I killed 'em!! Killed 'em all!! When I don't get reefer, I go crazy"¦. CRAZY!" (It's a good thing the hippies in the 1960s weren't like that"¦)

For the record, identifying The Best of Simon and Kirby as a sampler is justified because Titan Books is already planning at least six follow-up books.

The other creative team featured in a book this week is Hewlett & Martin in the pages of The Cream of Tank Girl.

Although they're much more contemporary compared to Simon & Kirby, Jamie Hewlett (born: 1968) and Alan C. Martin's collaborative heyday together, primarily consisting of Tank Girl, ended over a decade ago when they got busy doing separate projects. In Hewlett's case, he co-founded music group Gorillaz with Damon Albarn (Blur).

Written by the duo for the 21st anniversary of her first appearance in Atomtan#1 (1987), The Cream of Tank Girl focuses on the behind the scenes rise and fall of the character. In it, the duo doesn't hide their blame on her diminished popularity on the 1995 film adaptation, Tank Girl.

As they point out: "You can't polish a turd".

The book's a great retrospective with all sorts of Tank Girl material: photographs, covers, scripts, etc. It even includes their impressive unreleased G-rated follow-up comic strip The 16s.

Although Tank Girl has resurfaced with miniseries and books in recent years, The Cream of Tank Girl could sadly be almost seen as an obituary for the character.

The Best of Simon and Kirby: 2/3

The Cream of Tank Girl: 2/3

Publisher of both books: Titan Publishing Group Ltd.

Bernard C. Cormier is, among other things, a freelance writer and broadcaster. He can be reached at , or by e-mail at © Bernard C. Cormier 2009

Saturday 27 June 2009

My Comic Reviews: Back From The Dead In The Pages of "Here"

As amazing as it may seem, my comic book/graphic novel review column has returned to the pages of "Here" after an absence of more than 2 years.

Although I'm still reviewing books for Comic Buyer’s Guide, I decided to give "Here" another chance because they wanted me back.

"Here" has an estimated weekly readership of 100,000 people. Everything gets posted online for a month or so. Check out my latest review:

All publishers are invited to send review copies to me. However, they should realize that I’m a critic and not a publicist. Their books may get negative reviews.

Interested parties should e-mail:

Saturday 30 May 2009

My Radio Program's Streaming Again

My long-running radio program, “Bernard Brule Les Ondes!” (BBLO!), like all other programs on CKUM, has returned to the Internet via streaming audio!

Listen to it live tonight (like most Saturday evenings) at 12 midnight AST (Atlantic Standard Time) (AKA: New York/Montreal + 1 hour):

It’s a perfect eclectic mix of anything and everything for open-minded music lovers.

Monday 4 May 2009

I Love Comic Books But....

Free Comic Book Day = Free Cocaine Day (to get people hooked)

Sunday 5 April 2009

Radio Show Break

My CKUM radio program, "Bernard Brule Les Ondes!", will return on April 19th after a little break.

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Going Natural / Au Naturel

Since I like having variety in my portfolio and CV to prove that my work has diversity and that I’m willing to go the extra mile (when others may not), I have an article and a photograph in the current issue of Going Natural / Au Naturel (Spring 2009).

Titled “My Nudist-Curious Adventure”, it’s accompanied by a photo of me. The photo was self-taken with the camera’s timer function.

Yes, I was naked. No, my private parts are not seen.

Sunday 29 March 2009

I joined Twitter to say that I did.

People shouldn't expect many updates.

Tuesday 24 February 2009

Old Review From CBG#1642

While surfing the Internet, I stumbled on a scan of a review did for CBG#1642 (my debut).

It’s about Albert And The Others (D&Q):

(*Note the unrelated panel that was accidentally placed next to my text.)

Thursday 19 February 2009

A Fact (AKA: Paul Pellerin & Charline Cormier-Pellerin)

This may be of local interest but I’m stating a fact for those who didn’t already know:

Paul Pellerin (aka: “Paul A. Pellerin”), Moncton City Councilor for Ward 4, is a brother-in-law of mine. His wife, *Charline Cormier-Pellerin, is one of my sisters.

I’ve known Paul since 1991. He married Charline in 1993.

*UPDATE 04/14/2012: She has been recently identifying herself online as "Charline C-Pellerin" and "CharlineCP"*

Tuesday 10 February 2009

My Dave Gibbons (WATCHMEN) Article

Last year, I interviewed Dave Gibbons (WATCHMEN) twice. 

My article based on our December conversation was posted earlier today at