Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Burnt. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Burnt. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Horror Watch Party: Burnt Offerings (1976)

Watched:  06/01/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Dan Curtis

I liked this one!  A haunted house movie filmed in the country house I'm familiar with from A View to a Kill.  But Burnt Offerings is in the mode of haunted house film I quite like, from The Haunting to The Shining.  But maybe a lot more indirect than those films?

The cast is small, but contains Burgess Meredith (briefly), Bette Davis, Karen Black, Oliver Reed and Anthony James.  Also, the kid who grew up to become Jeff in Girls Just Want to Have Fun.  

I have also realized talking about the movie any more will spoil it, so I'm gonna shut up.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Longhorns get trounced: 63-21

The Red River Rivalry (or Shoot Out, depending on your generation) is a tradition more than a century old.  The UT Longhorns drive up to Dallas, the Oklahoma Sooners descend from Norman, and they face off at the Cotton Bowl in an elliptical stadium that, when full of fans, is colored half burnt orange and half red in team colors.

As important as the rivalry is (and, I hate to tell Ags, was probably the more important of the two), its also a marker that tells us how our team is really playing this year.  Every year this game seems to be a tipping point for the fortunes of the Longhorns - displaying exactly how well we might do against the conference play in the Big 12 and more or less setting bowl expectations.  OU is always a worthy opponent, and in neutral territory, they don't want to take the slow, painful bus ride home, either.  

more or less the story of the game

Flat out, OU outplayed UT in every conceivable way for about 58 of the 60 minutes of the game.  We couldn't even get the extra point after a fluke touchdown.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Disney Watch: Frozen (2013)

Watched:  11/20/2019
Format:  Disney+
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  2010's

I was on hiatus with The Signal Watch when I saw Frozen (2013) the first time, so there's no record here of what I thought at the time.  I do regret not having any of my reaction caught, because it was the most I'd loved a new Disney movie since Lion King, and, now, Frozen and Moana are probably my two favorite Disney animated features produced post Walt's passing.

Frozen became a smash in a way even Disney hadn't anticipated, becoming the soundtrack of choice for kids for a two year stint there, with merchandise everywhere, and with BluRays on repeat.  I know it became one of those things that a lot of people turned on, simply burnt out on a thing they'd initially liked.  It got so crazy, I recall Mommy Blogs ranting about how Disney was ruining their lives by way of under-producing Anna and Elsa dolls (btw, not Disney's fault there, moms...  That's a toy company's issue, or a sudden case of supply and demand not meeting.).

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Marvel Television: Jessica Jones and the New Era for Marvel

I'm about two months behind everyone else finishing the Marvel Netflix series Jessica Jones, a spiritual sibling of the much celebrated Daredevil, and as far from the TV-logic and twee shenanigans of Agents of SHIELD as you're likely to get.

I'm going to throw this out there, and I'll ask you to stick with me:  Jessica Jones may be, to live-action superhero media, what Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen were to comics in 1986.

Way back in the late-90's/ early-00's, I was reading a lot of this new kid, Brian Michael Bendis, who had some indie success with Goldfish, Torso and other gritty crime books (and Torso is still an amazing read, the based-on-real-events story of famed lawman Elliot Ness trying to find a serial killer in Cleveland after putting Capone behind bars).  He followed this by teaming with Oeming on Powers, a "cops in a world with capes"  comic with a decidedly Rated-R bent, and I followed that series for years.  Around 2001/2002, Bendis and Gaydos brought Alias to Marvel and minted their new MAX imprint - a line of comics with a hard "R" rating, but absolutely within the Marvel Universe.  Something even DC blanched at, separating Vertigo from DCU proper circa 1994.

This was about fifteen years after the atom-bomb of Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns exploded in the comics world and, in the aftermath, the idea that comics could reach an adult audience was left behind in the radiation and sand burnt to glass.  Bendis was part of the generation who came into the field when a few things were happening.  (A) Reaching an audience older than 17 was now possible - which meant the very real-world problems facing actual humans could be discussed in comics, even with a superheroic bent, which (B) meant that the comics companies were setting up imprints to deal with this idea, keeping their mainline branding safe for the parents associations who would show up and breathe fire and throw comics retailers in jail from time-to-time for not carefully shelving their wares.  And, of course, (C) Marvel was dealing with bankruptcy.  I have very little positive to say about 2001-era Marvel honcho Bill Jemas, but he was certainly willing to try new things, and all of that risk-taking has indirectly led to the Marvel we think of today.

Alias showed up in this market as a sort of indie-within-the-Big-2 title.  It was something to see a character who smoked and drank and had sex with Luke Cage (which she does in the first few pages of the series - so I feel spoiler free), and met Carol Danvers for coffee.  It was a detective series.  There was something in her background we'd get to sooner or later, some dark reason she'd quit heroing, but at the outset, it seemed to just be a series about a failed superhero making ends meet and seeing real human foibles and crime in the underbelly of the Marvel U.

So... the TV show.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

46th Anniversary of the UT Tower Shootings

On August 1, 1966 Charles Whitman killed both his mother and his wife while they slept.  He went and purchased firearms from local shops, then drove to UT Austin's central tower.

Then, as today, the tower was an administrative building and, at the time, was also the library for UT Austin. It still looms well above all other features not just on campus, but for much of the surrounding territory.   From the top of the tower, one has a panoramic view in all directions, far out to the hills of West Austin, into downtown to the South if you look beyond the South Mall and the older buildings on campus that surround the grassy strip, usually strewn with students studying and socializing.  To the East lies the stadium and a great swath of campus, and to the North, the science buildings, and past that, the Hyde Park neighborhood.

I went up the first time in 2000 shortly after the Tower's observation deck re-opened for the first time since a rash of suicides in the 1970's.  No, Whitman's atrocity didn't convince the University that it needed to be closed.

On that morning, Whitman took a footlocker full of weapons with him to the top of the tower, and knocked an administrative assistant unconscious with his rifle (she would die later at Seton Hospital).  He would show a final and baffling act of mercy as he let a couple who had not seen the secretary's unconscious form bypass him, and then he barricaded the door.  Moments later he would kill and wound several tourists who came to the door seeking to go out to the Tower's observation deck.

Whitman took advantage of the unimpeded vantage provided by the 27 story tower and began firing down upon students and faculty walking between buildings.  For about 100 minutes Whitman held Austin hostage between Guadalupe and the East Mall, from the North Mall to far past the South Mall, where visibility goes down to 21st Street and further down University Avenue.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Oh, holy @#$%. DC Comics looks to be rebooting. Again. Again. Again. Again.

Look, I don't really read any DC Comics any more.  Which, yeah...   I know, right?

And I have gotten quite tired of saying that watching DC Comics as a publisher/ company/ whatever is waaaaay more interesting than their output.

But what I do know is that for the past year or so, DC's sales have been sliding like mad, and my guess is that even the current milking of Dark Knight Returns with the inconceivably named third volume The Master Race, isn't working out quite as planned.

"I just keep failing upward!"

Anyway, rumors were a-hopping today at Bleeding Cool that a line-wide reboot was in the works.  Heidi opined on this over at Comics Beat.

Then, Didio and Lee both tweeted a kind of stupid looking image of a blue curtain with the word "Rebirth" projected onto the curtain.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

TL; DR: The New 52 - This Reader's One Year Later

In September of last year, DC Comics relaunched their line of comics for the first time since Crisis on Infinite Earths back in 1986.  In general, comics fans my age grew up considering Crisis to be a necessary step in the evolution of superhero comics and enable them to reach a wider and more adult audience.

The relaunch of 1986 gave DC Comics a chance to give their intellectual property a fresh start where they felt necessary (ie: Superman and Wonder Woman), and continue telling the stories about their characters that didn't seem to need a rejiggering (Batman).

What nobody ever really talks about is that:  DC spent more than the next two decades trying to fix all the messes they'd created in their half-baked relaunch effort.  The gaps in planning and execution led to numerous attempts at editorial clean-up and we were treated to numerous in-narrative attempts to "fix" the problem, from Zero Hour to Infinite Crisis and, finally, to Flashpoint with dozens of other hiccups along the way.  In short, after 20-odd years of fixing the problems created by the reboot, DC had more or less reset their universe to very much reflect the DCU that existed prior to the "necessary" change.

My initial response last June on seeing the information that DC planned another relaunch - which I read on my phone in the back of a crowded ballroom at a conference I was supposed to be managing - was absolute surprise.

In 2007, I was reading over two dozen different DC Comics titles, and, of course, other titles, too... but DC was my bread and butter.  I firmly believed that Infinite Crisis - leading into 52 and One Year Later (DC's linewide narrative jump forward a year) were going to be well executed, well realized attempts to finally merge the old, Pre-Crisis DC with the current DC, and we had a chance to enter into a new golden age at DC.  For a long, long time I had believed that DC was working on a mega-narrative intended to pull together a DCU that kept the history of the company intact in its entirety, merging Pre and Post Crisis continuities and celebrating the 75 years of publication history.

I have no idea if DC ever rolled out the promised additional characters in the sidebars.  I do know Wonder Woman is no longer in leggings.

Nope.  They were sort-of scrapping the work and works of the past 7.5 decades in order to draw in an audience that had been daunted by DC's history and the internet chatter about how confusing DC had become (that was, at best, half true), and a lot of misconceptions about DC's stable of characters.

I don't know exactly how soon it hit me, but the realization slowly sunk in that, at age 36, I had just passed out of the 18-34 demographic in a final and unceremonious fashion.  DC Comics was happy to have had my money (a LOT of my money) the past few years - but they were going to do something else now.

Over the years I've had email chatter with a few older and former readers of comics, and I watch folks at the comic shop.  I was aware that there is some point many, many comics readers hit where they hang up their guns and declare themselves done with the characters and worlds they loved - at least in trying to keep up in the Wednesday shopper fashion that the Big 2 cater to.  I'd see these older guys on comment threads, sighing and saying "it's been ten years since I picked up a new comic, and this is why I don't miss it", and sometime about four or five years ago I went from writing them off as old, grumpy men to know that this was an inevitability of the hobby.  Something made all of these people move on.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Signal Watch Reads: Justice League #1 (welcome to the DCNu)

Justice League #1
Part One
writer - Geoff Johns
penciler - Jim Lee
inker - Scott Williams
colorist - Alex Sinclair
letterer - Patrick Brosseau
associate editor - Rex Ogle
editor - Eddie Berganza
cover - Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair
variant cover - David Finch, Richard Friend, Peter Steigerwald
this review is of the print version, standard cover, read 09/01/2011 1:30 am

So, Justice League #1.  Its been a long time in coming.

To contextualize, my reading of Flashpoint #5 concluded about two minutes before I picked up Justice League #1.  DC's decision to release the two simultaneously makes perfect sense, and I was more than delighted to have them both to read back to back.  especially as both are written by Geoff Johns and it was great to make the transition with the same writer.

The problem is that as someone who has been a fan of DC Comics since late middle school, how do you read this comic as something that you'd put in somebody's hands who doesn't know much about Batman and Green Lantern except what they'd seen at the cinema?  I can't really make that call.  And the more I think about it, I don't know that I can write a useful review.  Say you're from the Amazon jungle and you meet a fellow Saudi Arabia who has seen a movie or two with jungles...  once you get him off a plane on the Amazon, what does that guy see that you don't?  And what are the million things you see that he hasn't learned to see yet?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Lagoon Watch: The Creature Walks Among Us (1956)

I quite like the original Creature From the Black Lagoon.  It's just really well shot, has a compelling story, and it is nigh-impossible to beat the creature design.  I just love the way that fella looks.

I'd love to see an updated remake, but when I consider what it'd be like without Julie Adams, well, I have a moment of pause.  And it's that moment of pause that's kept me from ever watching the sequels, two of which I own on a DVD set I purchased at least a decade ago.  But I told myself I was going to watch both sequels this October, because, hey... why not?  I mean, aside from the glaring mistake of not including Julie Adams.

This one image is more or less that whole movie in a nutshell

Alas, we're not here to ponder Julie Adams.  We're here to talk about the inevitable Universal sequel, The Creature Walks Among Us (1956).  Actually, it's the sequel to the sequel, but I watched the damn things out of order, so, there you go.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

6 Years Ago the UT Longhorns won the Rose Bowl

it seems impossible, but I don't own a copy of this cover, and I don't think I've ever seen it before

Six years ago I was living in the wilds of Chandler, Arizona.  It is safe to say now that 2005 was the roughest year I've experienced, and its got to be up there for Jamie, too.

We had moved to Arizona in 2002.  I had lived in Texas since age 4, and had been in Austin most of my life.   And while we loved Austin, I also knew that I needed to try something different.  So, when Jamie's job evaporated in 2001, we began looking outside of Texas, eventually winding up in Arizona.

For a multitude of reasons, we never felt comfortable in Chandler (where we lived) or Tempe (where we worked), and found it exceedingly difficult to find anyone with whom we could socialize.  I will always entertain the notion that I'm a deeply unpleasant person to have to deal with unless your paycheck requires you talk to me, but I think out there, we were just fish out of water in many ways.  And, of course, Jamie's health was always an issue.

By the summer of 2005, Jamie's health deteriorated considerably.  From late spring until November, we were on an hour-by-hour watch for changes.  And, unfortunately, I had fallen into horrendous eating and sleeping patterns.  

But in the Fall of 2005, the UT Longhorn football team was on fire.  Our quarterback was Vince Young, and you could just tell...  we were going to win a hell of a lot of games.  The odd part of watching such a season is that I think you kind of know early on that this could be the year, that this could really happen.  But then you watch every game wondering "is this where we blow it?"

I hadn't watched much UT football when I was actually at UT.  The team hadn't been great for a while, and while I liked some sports (particularly NBA basketball), I was also doing other things in my life than watching football on a Saturday, even when I was watching the NFL on Sundays as a way to defer the inevitable homework.

But I graduated, UT got a new coach, and I wasn't just reading about the games in the paper.  I actually tuned in.  I knew more than the name of the quarterback.  So by 2005, after the frustration of the Chris Simms era, we had this guy Vince Young step into the QB position (eventually.  We won't discuss poor 'ol Chance Mock too much).

FYI:  slighting either of these men in my presence will insure you receive an immediate and justified thrashing
In many ways, I have a hard time getting my head around the fact that 2005 was both My Very Personal Bad Year and The Year UT won the BCS Championship.  It seems like two completely different timelines.  Somehow we managed to catch almost every game that season, even though that was the fall when Jamie had to go back on dialysis and I recall watching at least one game on Pay-Per-View so I'm sure we missed a game or two.  If it were not for a memory of watching the UT/ A&M game on a TV at the hospital the Thanksgiving when Jamie spent her Turkey Day in a hospital bed (and I ate luke-warm turkey out of a plastic container), I'd never be able to reconcile the two timelines.  

By December, Jamie had begun to stabilize.  Jason came in for Christmas, and I know we talked a lot about UT football.

Living in Arizona, we were in Pac-10 territory, and it seemed that my work colleagues were, at best, humoring me once UT was in the championship.  UT was facing down USC, and the pundits and sportscasters were insisting this game was already decided (I particularly remember Chris Berman seemingly frustrated that they were bothering to even have the game, so certain was he of USC's victory).   But what you could tell was that 1.  the pundits seemed to be working from a certain narrative rather than demonstrating first hand knowledge one would have had they actually watched UT or the Big 12 that year, and 2. sports journalists have no idea what they're talking about (and people believe them.  Its hilarious).

Friday, February 22, 2013

Let's Re-Boot "Turner D. Century"

Marvel.  The more realistic universe.


Back in the day Marvel was as devoid of ideas for new villains and driven to whatever place of madness that also drove DC to create "Terra-Man".  

You Millenials won't remember this, but there was a time and a place before January 1, 2000 when "turn of the century" meant the change from 1899 to 1900 and was several decades in the past.  Apparently on a bet or because someone had a deadline they'd forgotten about, in the pages of Captain America a new villain was born:  Turner D. Century!

yes, that's Spider-Woman creeping up to give Turner D. the beat down

A ragtime dandy, Turner rode around on a flying tandem bicycle with a dummy (because... sure), and had a flame-throwing umbrella.  LIKE EVERYONE HAD IN 1900.

He was absolutely driven to convince people to go back to living in an era of doilies, barber shop quartets and when Gary, Indiana was something you wrote about for the Music Man, not a depressing, burnt out mid-western hell hole.  And he was out to achieve this with small scale violence and property damage.  And we try very hard not to think about his relationship with that dummy on his bike.  And we really try not to think too hard about his views on race relations.

But, here in the glorious future of 2013, replete with flying skateboards and Mr. Fusion on our Deloreans, the phrase "Turn of the Century" isn't used so much as it refers to 13 years ago.  Now we just say "a few years back".  Or:  "When Britney Spears hadn't overstayed her welcome".

So, I'm curious.

Here's your weekend assignment:  Turner D. Century is introduced in 2013.  He is based not on the old turn of the century, but on our most recent turn of the century, from 1999-2000.

  • What does he wear?
  • What are his accouterments?
  • What is he railing against in modern life that he thinks was way better in 2000 than now?
  • Who does he fight?
  • Is he still relying on flame throwers?

Please let us know in the comment section all about this all-new version of Turner D. Century!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chris Onstad offers the reason for the multi-month hiatus on "Achewood"

This should probably get posted at our links sister site, but I'm posting it here.  Chris Onstad, sole creator and creative force behind the popular online strip, Achewood, has offered up a bit of an explanation as to why the series slowed to a drip and then went on hiatus, which seemed to start in earnest last October.

You can read his explanation here.

Some will say Onstad owed no explanation, but I'm not sure that's accurate. We can make a guess as to what happened and theorize, but part of having an audience does, in fact, mean that one has a responsibility to at least let people know what's happening.   Not knowing is a bit like if your waiter goes back in the kitchen and never returns (I actually did have that happen once, and its totally freaky.  I waited half an hour before flagging down another waiter and figuring out what happened.  Apparently my waiter's shift was over and he forgot he'd never closed out the tab at table 5.)

Achewood's tone and poise is not set to the same audience as that of "Marmaduke"
Onstad's response is more than adequate, but will confuse the howling masses who have been trained to expect their every whim to be catered to if they believe a penny can be made from such a whim.

His explanation is, by the way, basically:  I got burnt out.  It's been ten years, and with all the stuff associated with that sort of production, maintaining quality and challenging myself became a bit of a drag.  And the constant two-way feed of communication with the public seemed to be getting him down.

In some small way, I can relate on an infinitely smaller scale.  When I shut down League of Melbotis for several months and brought it back up under The Signal Watch, it was the best thing I could have done for myself and for my willingness to continue blogging.  Those months away retrained me that I was more than the work I did to get paid and a race each evening to post lest my readership numbers dwindle (for which I did not get paid).

Back in the blogging day, we attempted a sort of collaborative pop-culture blogging experiment called "Nanostalgia" that didn't really get off the tarmac before we settled gently back into the sea and I found myself on a metaphorical yellow rubber raft paddling back to shore and unnecessarily eating the ration packs.  But at that site I did a column about how hard it was going to be for webcomics because they aren't set up with all the niceties of the corporate structure, and its all on the shoulders of the single creator.  And that meant, man, you'd best be ready to give over your life to nigh-daily content production.

That all got a tough response from a webcomic guru, but six years later, I can see I was mostly right.  Making money and getting support is hard to begin with.  And once you do self-build that empire, its not unlike being successful at, say, owning a hardware store that becomes the size of a box store.  Suddenly you have all these new duties that aren't just "man, I have to get the new hammers out for the spring hammering season".  You got staff, deals to close, etc...  and its a much bigger thing than selling bolts or whatever reason you got into the hardware business to begin with.

And, I think, people do not get into the business of comics to feel like they're on an assembly line, cranking out comics that meet exactly the same criteria every panel, every episode lest the readership get nervous when the artist tries something new.

And, in my own small way, I wrestled a bit with the expectations of the readership, as it were.  I have enjoyed the freedom of the sandbox that I've staked out as The Signal Watch, and in many ways, its easier having a much smaller readership of friends, family, strange Canadians, etc...  who aren't much more invested than sort of checking in and do not think of the content as a product to be delivered to their RSS feed daily.  And while it had little to do with why I quit (however briefly), man...  its much easier to get the "hey, is everything okay?  You haven't posted in a while" emails than the "where are you?  what's your problem?" comments showing up because you decided to do something else for three or four days.  And I never had to deal with the entitlement of a readership that one could see in the sprawling comment sections beneath each and every strip.

I hope Onstad finds his way out of whatever creative qicksand he's been caught in.  I salute the guy.  He created a fantastic strip for about a decade, producing hundreds of times better content in that time than some strips that run 365 days a year, have hit every day for decades and have become the ugly, comfy slippers of the newspaper strip world.  I'll be sure to try to follow him wherever he goes, and I am certain that whatever he does next will be better than even Achewood die-hards would expect.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Noir Watch: Detour (1945)

Watched:  11/16/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1940's
Director:  Edgar G. Ulmer

Detour (1945) is a bitter, furious bit of pulp noir with no budget, no bankable stars, cardboard sets and a half-assed set-up, and it is absolutely impossible to stop watching once you start.  And, that's at least 85% Ann Savage, who doesn't even show up til the 1/3rd mark.  

It had been a while since I'd watched Detour, but Jenifer selected it for a Tuesday watch party, and I was delighted she did.  I have no idea what spawned this movie or even how it got made.  It doesn't feel like a war-time picture, but it does suggest what would come in the months and years following the war.  It's just lacking the gloss the studios would put on something like this - hard-scrabble talent working off a half-finished script and utterly buyable as drifters and wastrels of pre-War America.  

Friday, October 19, 2018

Where Wolf? Watch: Wolfen (1981)

Watched:  10/19/2018
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's

Well, I finally managed to watch Wolfen (1981) instead of The Howling.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Happy Freaking Friday

oh, you want a post?  You want the content machine to entertain you on your Friday?

Where's your part in this whole operation?  I give and I give and I give...


Sometimes it seems like...  its just me blogging here.  Just me pondering Silver Age Superman's relationship with his latest publishing venture...  just me espousing the virtues of Frankenstein...  or searching for semi-tasteful shots of pin-ups girls in holiday themes...

I don't know.  I just don't know anymore.

Well, ENJOY!  Enjoy this post.  I hope you're happy, Mr. "Oh, look at me reading this blog!" fancy-pants.

I'm nowhere ready for blogicide, but I'm a bit burnt out at the moment, Signal Corps.  Give me a few days to recoup.  Forget that my efforts are being hurled into a bottomless chasm of meaninglessness, and maybe... just maybe...  we'll be back at normal operating speed come Monday.

Here's a large goat.  How do goats even get this big?

What do they eat at that size?  Meat?  Where do they live?  This looks like the Alps.

I really don't know much about goats that I didn't learn in a cartoon.

Today I was in a library at a medical school, and they literally have a room just full of rubber models of body parts, and nobody thought this was amazing or funny.

I think I've hit one of those periods I find myself in every so often where I realize I'm just spending too much time online for reasons I can't put my finger on, and its time to crank it back down.

You're all terrific people and goats, but...  I have no idea what I'm doing here this evening.

We'll have a quiet weekend, and maybe we'll see you on Monday.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Signal Watch Reads: iZombie Volume 1 - Dead to the World

I'm not so much worn out on actual zombie movies and comics as I am on the "let us beat this meme into the ground until its an embarrassment" that has come along with the past five or six years in the geek-o-sphere. At the end of the day, I really liked Dawn of the Dead when I finally watched it last fall (it was also about 8x better than Snyder's remake, which people raved about, much to my confusion), I really liked TV's Walking Dead, and I only recently learned that CSPAN is not actually a network dedicated to showing the droning, rambling undead, but until that point, I'd been quite a fan.

So I was a bit skeptical of hopping onboard DC/ Vertigo's new series iZombie, despite the art being handled by Mike Allred, one of my favorite comic artists. Marvel kick started the whole zombie phenomenon with the one-note joke that was Marvel Zombies (and which was a funny good idea for, maybe, a one-shot, not 5 years worth of comics), and virtually every other publisher picked up on the fad, culminating in DC's Blackest Night series, which wasn't really zombies, but that's splitting hairs.

Still, the comics internets really seemed to LIKE iZombie, which means almost nothing on a typical day. I didn't know if this was more "oh, Zombies! He he he!" geekdom just leftover from the zombie craze, if this was one of those cases of the tastemakers seemingly randomly picking a comic or character to champion as seems to be SOP in the comics internets (ex: lets all suddenly love Thor!), or if there was something genuinely to the raves.

As I mentioned above, I really like Mike Allred's work, but I've not always been a fan of the comics he actually works on. I burnt out on X-Force pretty quickly, and I never could stick with Madman (which was weird, because it seemed like it should have been exactly in my wheelhouse). But the comic was written by Austin-local, Superman-scribe and much-buzzed-about Chris Roberson, and I figured that was at least worth a shot.

I'm happy to report that the money spent was well worth it. Yes, Allred seems to just get better, and he seems like he's having the same fun here I felt he was having on those early issues of X-Force. He and his wife, colorist Laura Allred, are hitting on all cylinders here. The body horror of the comic is toned down through the Allreds' style to keep the focus on the story, and to push the story along (one can imagine what this book would have looked like under, say, Juan Jose Ryp - who does what he does well, but it would have been a much different comic).

Of course an Allred-drawn female protagonist looks like a very pretty girl with a migraine, or perhaps working on two days without sleep.  In this case its "Gwen", our protagonist/ not-shambling-mess zombie of the title.

yes, brains will be consumed
Gwen is dead, yes.  But she can avoid becoming a Night of the Living Dead-style zombie by consuming a human brain every 4 weeks or so.  Inbetween...  she's just kind of pale and can eat whatever she pleases.  No, we don't see monstered-out Gwen in this book (spoiler!).

Roberson isn't out to create a horror anthology with iZombie, and he isn't exactly playing to the same tone as, say, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but he is out to create a fun and and surpising book that manages to defy expectations in enough places that it does feel like Roberson is doing something new and different using very familiar tropes.  The first volume's true climax includes the imparting of essential knowledge to push the character (and, one imagines, the supporting cast) forward and out of what's become routine for the undead of the cast.

In many ways, I'm much more interested in the world Roberson puts on the page, and exploring how that world operates than I would be in building toward some big-boss fight.  If he can manage to make the concept of a zombie novel in the middle of 2011, then I've got high hopes.

Here be spoilers

I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm concerned about cliches appearing.  An ancient religious order dedicated to wiping out the paranormal has become so common, its now a standard down at SyFy Network original programming.  Let alone "the hunter and the hunted feel a mutual attraction" is a standard trope in any genre.

I'm not here to offer Roberson advice.  The man knows what he's doing, and for all I know, he's got some off-the-wall plans for what looks like a "been there, done that" storyline.

Endeth the spoilers

The Monster Squad
In a few issues, Roberson has created a memorable cast, and its going to be the "community" feel of the book that will see this title sink or swim.  From Gwen to her ghostly BFF to the hangdog "Scott" (an unfortunate were-Terrier), a clique of vampires and a mysterious, bandaged stranger...  its a good little group that Roberson and Allred have put together here.

There are plenty of seeds planted for at least two years' worth of stories, and I hope Roberson gets a chance to explore them all.

The book manages to pull off an interesting balancing act of bringing to life horror monsters in an almost "day in the life" approach, and makes them likeable without resorting to getting twee or overtly cutesy, defanging the concept utterly, or transporting the concept to another genre in order to make it "relatable" (see:  Monster High).  In short, it never gets turned into kiddy material just because its also not a horror book.

I'll definitely be picking up the next volume, and I'll put this on the "recommended list" if the next volume can maintain the spirit and style.