Be cool. I’m working on it.

The Arsenal, Entry #7

Hey, Sleepwalkers! It’s Saturday, and around here on Later I Will Destroy This Earth, we like to give you a little something to tide you over until Monday. So sit back, relax, and take a look at some of the most unconventional weapons in comics, in a little recurring segment we like to call “The Arsenal.”

Arsenal Entry #7: Concrete Block

Micro Reviews for June, 2011

Hey there, Sleepwalkers! Hopefully you’ve noticed the short “Micro Reviews” on the sidebar every week or so. If not, don’t worry–I’ve got all of the Micro Reviews from the month of June (and the handful from May) for your reading pleasure!

May 16, 2012–Saga #3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples: Surprising no one, Vaughan continues to craft a story that, three issues in, already has more intricacies than most long-running stories. The three-way plot unfolds in a way that makes every scene more intriguing and revealing than the last. Staples astounds as usual, her art in turns sketchy, evocative, and brilliant. If you aren’t reading this, you’re missing out on a modern classic.

May 23, 2012–Batman Incorporated #1 by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham: After what feels like a lifetime, Morrison returns to the sandbox he created last year. If you liked the earlier series, it’s much the same—a lot of symbolism, a lot of astonishingly choreographed fight sequences courtesy of the talented Chris Burnham, and some great character beats (and Bat Cow!). It’s good to see the Hood and El Gaucho at each other’s throats again, and the mystery of Wingman’s true identity promises to be rewarding. Off to a good start.

May 30, 2012— Harley Quinn’s Revenge: This little bit of DLC for last year’s generally phenomenal Batman: Arkham City is a little bit difficult to pin down. On the one hand, it’s more of the same, which is a good thing—the flawless combat system, the superb voice acting, and the supremely tight gameplay all create a sandbox that’s fun to return to. But it’s a little bit too short to justify the $10 price tag, and the biggest draw—the ability to play as Robin—isn’t that Earth-shattering for completionists (like me) who already own the Robin DLC. It’s worth it, but don’t get too excited.

June 3, 2012—Higher Earth #1 by Sam Humphries and Francesco Biagini: I’ve never drank the Sam Humphries Kool-Aid, and this debut issue doesn’t do much to change my mind. There are some great panel layouts and swordfights, but it’s really counting on the fact that the unanswered questions will keep the reader coming back next month. Unfortunately, it forsakes the world-building that makes books like Saga and Manhattan Projects so intoxicating. Not a bad book by any means, but not transcendent. The alternate-universe story has a lot of potential, but this issue is just sort of…there.

June 6, 2012—The Spider #1 by David Liss and Colton Worley: I was a huge fan of Liss’ Mystery Men, and disappointed that it didn’t get more recognition. He carries on the pulp-inspired work here, and I was pleasantly impressed with what he was able to pull off. His take on pulp hero the Spider reminds me of nothing so much as Denny O’Neil’s run on The Question, and believe me, that’s a compliment. Corrupt city, masked man, bad cops; the art by Worley is good as well, especially his colors. They do a really great job of setting the atmosphere. I’m looking forward to this one.

June 16, 2012—Swamp  Thing #10 by Scott Snyder and Francesco Francavilla: My first thought at getting this comic was, “Oh, I didn’t know Francavilla drew this one.” My second thought was, “Holy crap, I had forgotten how gorgeous his color work was.” Seriously, this is one of the best-looking issues of Swamp Thing yet, and for this book, that’s saying a hell of a lot. ST has gotten a lot of critical acclaim, and not without merit, but I found the last few issues to be a little lacking. With this issue, we get Snyder and Fracavilla at the top of their game, bringing the same greasy, baneful familial tone that they brought to their collaboration back in Detective Comics. Fantastic.

The Arsenal, Entry #6

Hey, Sleepwalkers! It’s Saturday, and around here on Later I Will Destroy This Earth, we like to give you a little something to tide you over until Monday. So sit back, relax, and take a look at some of the most unconventional weapons in comics, in a little recurring segment we like to call “The Arsenal.”

Arsenal Entry #6: Combat Spoon

The Complete History of the All-Seeing Eye: The Journal of Kellan Harvester, Entry 3

Earl’ Summer, Sixday, 1341

Evening. We’re settling down for the night, so I figured I write a little. I talked to Wynellia Silverhammer for the first time today. Actually sat down and had a conversation with her, I mean. She’s with Arkan. They’re both a few years older than me, maybe six, seven years. Not as old as Bullworth and not nearly as old as Brother Xiao, who looks like he’s about sixty. I can’t tell how old Torrent is. She’s got white hair, cut real short, but not a lot of wrinkles around her face. She doesn’t say much. She spends most of her time praying and reading the documents she’s had since before we left Gate’s Pass.

When I told Wynellia my name, she said she had met a man named Harvest back as Gate’s Pass, and was I any relation? I told her no, that that’s a name the orphanage gives foundlings. I explained to her that there are only four last names in the orphanage: Flower, Summer, Harvester, and Frost. It’s based on what time of year they find you. Most folks’ll change their name once they get out, but a few can’t be bothered, so you’ll run into some Frosts and Summers and Harvesters. I’m not related to any of them, as far as I know. But then again, I’m not related to anyone, as far as I know, so that’s what that’s worth.

Wynellia asked me how I got my first name, and I told her that the sisters named us alphabetically. The first kid is an “A” name, the second one is “B,” and so on, until they get to “Z” and start back over. I was brought in after Jon, so I was a “K” name. Lorra came in after me.

I asked Wynellia how she got the name Silverhammer, and she told me it was a royal name from up north, even further than Regesia. I asked her if she was royalty, and she said yes, but then Arkan came over and told Wynellia to making fun of me. I think she was kidding, but it’d be nice if she was royalty. I’ve never met royalty before.

Okay, when I left off, the church was destroyed and I was holding a kid who’s name I had never even bothered to find out, and I was probably going to die without knowing it. I tried to think about the safest place to be in an invasion. First I thought of the garrison, because I figured there would be more guards there. Then I thought that if I was invading a city, I’d want to attack the garrison first, especially if I was attacking from the air. The garrison was probably smoldering rubble by now. So I thought about where I would want to be if I could be anywhere, and all I could think of was how badly I wanted a beer. I had never had beer before, and I didn’t want to die without tasting it. It was stupid, that that was all I could think of.

I thought too long. A pistol ball hit one of the big stone blocks beside me and sprayed chips of rock everywhere. I cradled the kid and started running, just moving, anywhere but there, dodging and weaving around the blocks as best as I could. All I could think about was how much like the games we used to play at the orphanage this was. We’d pretend to monsters and chase each other around trees, or, more likely, since we were always inside, chairs and beds and tables. All I could think about was stupid stuff, like kids games and how I didn’t know the name of the girl in my arms or how I had never had a beer. All I could think about was stupid stuff.

I was running past an open doorway when a big pair of arms snaked out and grabbed me. I started to yell, but a hand clamped down on my mouth. I was spun around and brought face-to-face with a Gate’s Pass guardsman. He was pale, and streaks of blood had dried on his face, but I had never been so happy to see those colors. He held a finger to his lips and let go of my mouth. I let out a long sigh and looked around.

It was a tavern. There were about two dozen people, all huddled together away from the windows and doors. The guardsman closed the door gently, keeping an eye to the peephole. I sort of stumbled towards the group. It was mostly children and old people, covered in blood and dust and looking about as tired and shocked as I felt. There weren’t any other guardsmen, but there were a few people that still looked alert and healthy. There was a skinny guy with long hair, drawn back into a ponytail, and a mustache with the ends twirled up. He had a guitar slung on his back and a pair of clockwork pistols tucked into a wide leather belt. This was Arkan Baes, but I only found that out yesterday.

I saw a pretty girl sharpening an axe. Well, most of it was axe. There was a big spike on the opposite end. She was wearing some kind of tunic with markings I had never seen before; they looked like religious symbols, but I didn’t recognize them. That was Wynellia, of course. She says the axe isn’t just any axe, it’s a weapon passed down through generations of her family. But then Arkan heard her and told her to stop lying again.

There was a fat priest, bald, with the thickest black beard I’d ever seen–that was Brother Xiao, of course. There was a big man, no, huge, almost six and a half feet tall, wearing a thick leather breastplate and a giant sword. I would find out the next day that he was a Knight of Aleria, bound to Torrent in ways I still don’t fully understand. Last, there was Torrent herself. Still the short hair, still the ageless face. She was poring over some documents, the same ones she keeps bringing out now.

I passed the kid to an old woman. She seemed like she could use a friend. Then I walked over to the bar and pulled myself a beer.

That’s all for tonight. I can’t believe it’s only been two days, but tomorrow I should have enough time to finish the story about how I got out of the city.

Special Guest: Zachary Hardy’s Top Five Graphic Novels

Hey there, Sleepwalkers! We have a very special guest with us today! Here to present his Top Five graphic novels, please welcome Zachary Hardy!

Hello, I am Zachary Hardy.  I am the brother of Ross Hardy, the architect of Later I Will Destroy This Earth!  I would like to take the opportunity to let you know about the five best graphic novels that I have had the chance to read.  My collection is not as good as my brother’s, nor do I have my brother’s analytical mind when it comes to the comics medium, but I will try my best to be as in-depth as possible.

This list is eclectic and is solely based on my opinion.  Please feel free to deride or criticize my choices for this list.

5. Smile-written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier (2010)

Considering what the rest of this list holds, this might seem like a strange pick.  Nevertheless, I am going to get the fluff out of the way before I delve into the heavier fare.  Smile is an autobiography of Raina Telgemeier’s adolescence in San Francisco, California.  The time spans from 1989 to 1992.  The premise of this work is Raina’s experience with braces, middle school, changing dynamics among boys and BFFs, and even the 1989 San Francisco earthquake.  Through the emotional highs and lows, as well as her burgeoning talent as an artist, she eventually learns to love herself for who she is on the inside.

This is a book that, although it is meant for the junior high age range, can be enjoyed by people who had to have braces in their adolescence and also suffered the slings and arrows of middle school.  Knowing that these were events that actually took place (my brother was born in 1989) make the character of young Raina even more relatable and all the more fascinating to watch as she matures into a young women who uses her talent for drawing to discover her own inner beauty.  Her artwork is also stunning in its simplistic yet mature rendering of every day scenes.

4. Ghost World-written and illustrated by Daniel Clowes (1998)

I read Ghost World when I was transitioning from high school to college.  Because I read this at such an important time in my life, I was able to really feel the existential angst that is a part of the narrative.  The story centers around Enid Coleslaw, a teenager who has just graduated from high school and is beginning to get her feet wet in the world of adulthood.  She and her friend, Becky Doppelmeyer, spend their days hanging around diners, used music stores, and playgrounds discussing topics that range from politics to the loss of Enid’s virginity.

This book rather predicted the modern hipster.  With a cast of colorful characters, including a Satanist couple and a self-proclaimed astrologist who looks like a creepy version of Don Knotts, this comic is a surreal experience that one has to read to fully appreciate.  Clowes scripts dialogue with a precision that fully digs deep at the underlying fears, hopes, and delusions that are a part of modern youth.  The artwork also gives the comic an atmosphere that could almost be described as a mixture of David Lynch and Terry Gilliam.

3. Green River Killer: A True Detective Story-written by Jeff Jensen and illustrated by Jonathan Case (2011)

I am a true crime buff and Green River Killer fascinated me from its horrifying prologue to its serene ending.  The comic deals with the hunt for the Green River Killer, one of the most prolific serial killers in American history.  He terrorized the Seattle, Washington area for more than 20 years.  In 2003, he was revealed by DNA to be Gary Leon Ridgeway, a Mr. Ordinary who has confessed to murdering 49 young women.  Jeff Jensen is the son of Tom Jensen, one of the detectives who spent 188 days interviewing Ridgeway and gathering information that would put him away for the rest of his life.

This graphic true crime novel is different than most of the standard true crime books that I have read.  For one, it focuses on the detective Tom Jensen and his own personal quest to gain closure and answers about why Ridgeway committed such horrific acts.  We see Tom in his younger days in Naval Intelligence, honing the skills that he will use to help hunt the Green River Killer.  The non-sequential story is told in shifts back and forth from the past and present, giving the reader insights into not only the personal struggles of Tom Jensen, but also a look into the psyche of Gary Ridgeway.  The whole story plays out like a movie, one with a well-written script and enough insight into the case to make the investigators and the perpetrator seem more real then what is ever presented in newspapers or on the programs of Investigation Discovery.

The artwork that is done by Jonathan Case is also a great selling point for this graphic novel.  Combining realistic images, like those drawn by Dean Haspiel, with a noir-influenced black and white inking,  lends a tremendous aura of intensity and brooding tension.  This, as well as another graphic novel on this list, is a great read for followers of the true crime genre.

2. My Friend Dahmer-written and illustrated by Derf Backderf (2012)

Jeffery Dahmer ranks among one of the most loathsome serial killers in modern American history.  His grotesque story of rape, torture, murder, necrophilia, and cannibalism are well known.  However, not too many people know about the adolescence of Dahmer and this graphic novel chronicles a serial killers high school days as told by one of his friend Backderf.

This was one of the most fascinating reads that I have ever devoured.  Backderf lays out the high school experience of late 1970s middle America and shows the many facets of life in a small town life that can turn a maladjusted loner into one of the most evil monsters in history.  Backderf tells about the oddball that was Jeffery Dahmer, a teenager that wanted to belong but was never able to connect with anyone.  The themes of closeted homosexuality, bullying, and peer ridicule help put perspective on how a person evolves during the teen years into the adult that they will be for life.  Backderf never excuses the crimes committed by Dahmer, but his narrative offers a sympathetic view into the personal hell of who may ultimately be a tragic figure.

Backderf’s illustrations, with their quasi-caricature quality, lend an air of surreal beauty and savage honesty.  The tension within the drawings a palpable, especially with the sequence that details the aftermath of Dahmer’s first murder.

1.  Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Directors Cut-written and illustrated by Jhonen Vasquez (1997)

Johnny the Homicidal Maniac is to the goth subculture what American Psycho is to yuppies.  The story revolves around Johnny C., a psychotic and sadistic serial killer who tortures, kills, and dismembers people with the least provocation.  However, this work is not really a sensationalistic splatter fest.  It is a deep and intriguing look at topics such as violence in modern society, the fine line between what is truly good and what is truly evil, and the potential for destruction that dwells within humanity.

Johnny is a troubled individual, a person who is sentenced to his own personal damnation.  He hates humanity, is suicidal, and lives in his own demented reality.  This satirical portrait of the prototypical follower of the goth/emo movement is probably one of the best satires that have ever been conceived.  I was familiar with the work of Jhonen Vasquez going into this novel (he created the short lived series, Invader Zim) and knew I was in for a wild ride.  The combination of artwork that looks like a cross between H.R. Geiger and Tim Burton coupled with deep and witty dialogue combine to make a graphic novel that is equal parts horrific, hilarious, and insightful.

Thanks, Zachary! Hey, Sleepwalkers–if you liked what you just read, Zach has more! Check out his literature portfolio here, and be sure to tell him what you think!

The Arsenal, Entry #5

Hey, Sleepwalkers! It’s Saturday, and around here on Later I Will Destroy This Earth, we like to give you a little something to tide you over until Monday. So sit back, relax, and take a look at some of the most unconventional weapons in comics, in a little recurring segment we like to call “The Arsenal.”

Arsenal Entry #5: Cell Phone & Bottle


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