Wednesday, July 31, 2019


Welcome to my latest Media Diary.  Today, we'll begin with TV, and a series I just binge-watched from beginning to end. Here it is!

Amazon Prime

Based on the cult Garth Ennis/Darick Robertson comic book series, The Boys is about an on again, off again clandestine team of deep cover agents whose job is, ostensibly, to keep a tight leash on the nation’s growing community of superheroes. These “supes”, as the Boys refer to them, are mostly affiliated with Vought-American, a vastly powerful private corporation that has its tentacles wrapped around everything from pharmaceuticals and defense contracts to movie production and a 24-hour news channel.

All of Vought’s disparate entities operate behind a ruthlessly enforced, corporation-wide, culturally “conservative” facade, infused with the sort of pseudo-populist, phony Christian “friendly fascism” with real-world echoes that should be all too familiar to anyone whose powers of perception are superior to those of the average jar of mayonnaise.

The Boys consist of Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), the hot-headed, foul-mouthed leader, Frenchie, the weapons expert, Mother’s Milk, whom the others look up to as being the most pure-hearted, the Female (of the Species), who is a deadly dangerous, psychologically damaged young South Asian mute who was drugged by Vought as part of a treacherous plan to [NO SPOILERS FROM ME], and Wee Hughie, who longs for revenge against A-Train, a speedster supe (and member of the World’s Greatest Superhero Team, The Seven) who, while freaking out on a dose of the specialist supe pharmaceutical Compound V (as opposed to Compound W, America’s most popular wart removal system), ran straight through his girlfriend, accidentally exploding her like a water balloon full of blood and guts.

Meanwhile, The Seven are also important characters who get a lot of screen time in their own right, particularly team leader The Homelander, sort of a psycho-fascist cross between Superman and Captain America. There’s also the newest member of The Seven, the relatively innocent and swiftly disenchanted Starlight, who coincidentally—some might say a little too coincidentally—becomes Wee Hughie’s friend and love interest after a chance encounter in a park.

I have long been a fan of the comic book The Boys. It’s an intriguing concept—one that was tried a few years before, with far less recognition and far fewer laughs, with the 11-issue run of the DC series Stormwatch: Team Achilles (a series of which I appear to be the sole surviving fan)—and the Amazon studios version of The Boys feels like an unmitigated success to me, even if it isn’t slavishly faithful to the comics.

However, where the series truly excels, even exceeds expectations, is in how it takes the comic book’s portrayal of the prevailing political climate of illegitimate Preznit Dubya’s post-9/11, post-T.H.E.U.S.A.P.A.T.R.I.O.T.A.C.T., post-Shock-and-Awe America—the often justified paranoia and distrust engendered by all those no-bid multi-billion-dollar contracts and unaccountable mercenaries murdering carloads of innocent Iraqis and the phony rescue narrative cooked up around “kidnapped” soldier Jessica Lynch and the very suspicious “friendly fire” death of former NFL’er Pat Tillman, all of which led to the rapid rise of conspiracy theorizing as America’s new favorite pastime—and updating it for the even more horrific, post-reality, anti-truth, proof-allergic, New Fascist International(e) America, full of brainwashed, Bizzaro World, “alt”-media sheeple who think that repeating their favorite paranoid, raging, Pizzagating Q-tard Youtuber’s rants verbatim proves that they’re independent, original thinkers who “do their own research”, all of which are hallmarks of the even more illegitimate Reality TV criminal/traitor Preznit Donald Trump’s ongoing pornocratic kakistocracy.

Anyhoo, I binge-watched all eight episodes of The Boys in one day, and the entire series just flew by. Oh, and just for the record, I’m totally ready for Season Two, and hope they’ve already begun to film it, because Season One ends on one hell of a cliffhanger. RECOMMENDED!


And now, it's time for COMICS!

INHUMANS #1, 2, 4
Marvel Comics
Writers: Pacheco/Marin, Artist Jose Ladronn

Roughly three years ago, I asked the lovely folks at The Beguiling (my favorite comic book and art book specialty shoppe) to keep an eye out for a relatively rare, not-so-popular 4-issue miniseries, published in 2000, featuring Marvel Comics' THE INHUMANS. I wanted it for the art more than anything, an intriguing mix of European sensibilities (especially on the covers and splash pages) with a kind of George Perez style, economical, no nonsense approach towards propelling the narrative, punctuated with the occasional bravura action set-piece.

Well, this week, they found me three of the four issues (1, 2 and 4, as seen above)... and they let me have them for three bucks a pop! Talk about tenacity! Talk about a deal! Talk about customer service! Thanks, guys, I truly appreciate it.

Marvel Comics
Story: Kurt Busiek and Various, Art: Alex Ross and Various

I thought we were all done with Marvel Comics' reprint of their groundbreaking, Alex Ross painted miniseries MARVELS, but it looks like they decided to cap things off with an all-new epilogue, featuring another fully painted tale, set long after the finale of the original series' last issue.

The second half of this issue is jam-packed with cool extras that any fan of the series, the X-Men, Alex Ross or pretty much anything that has anything to do with Marvel Comics is going to want to have in their collection. And if you've held off buying this reprint series because you already have it as original copies and/or one of the collected volumes, you're at least going to want to have this issue to add alongside it, for completion's sake.

Marvel Comics
Story: Johnathan Hickman, Art: Pepe Larraz

Well now, this is interesting. In the late 70's/early 80's, the Uncanny X-Men were front and center as part of Marvel Comics' resurgence into the forefront of comic book readers' and superhero fans' hearts and minds. They certainly played a big part in bringing yours truly back to the rack, thanks to their combination of spectacular heroics and diverse roster of characters, from the flamboyance of Nightcrawler to the grimdark heaviness of Wolverine, and from the softhearted powerhouse of Colossus to the relatable teen-aged angst of Kitty Pryde.

This was actually the tail end of the X-Men's heyday, after the awesome heights of the Claremont/Byrne era and before the descent into 90's cash grab proliferation of new X-titles (all featuring Wolverine of course) with their multi-cover foil variant #1 "collector's editions" (with print-runs in the millions, which actually made them the exact opposite of collectible). Personally, I haven't picked up an X-Men book in ages, with the only exceptions being Morrison/Quitely's New X-Men and Whedon/Cassaday's Astonishing X-Men.

Until now.

The hype around House of X (and its sister title, Powers of X) has just been so potent—with Marvel taking the unprecedented step of putting all its other X-titles on hold until these two series are completed—I couldn’t help but get sucked in. So I picked up the first issue, and now that I’ve just finished reading it… I don’t know how I feel about it. Surely that’s what the creators were going for?

First things first, for everyone who complains about how mainstream comics are too “politically correct” these days, House of X works as a pretty bracing corrective. This is a title that, with only one issue under its belt, has explored more politically incendiary and philosophically touchy areas than you’ll find in a week of the average 24-hour news channel’s programming. And the ambiguity of it all can be downright disturbing.

I don’t want to spoil things for anyone, but if you buy comics and you’ve ever had any interest in Marvel’s treatment of the whole mutant-as-metaphor issue, then you should definitely at least pick up this #1 and read it, then decide whether you want to keep up with these series. They’ll be coming at us fast and thick from this point on, with a new issue of either House of X or Powers of X being produced every week until September. Again, I’d love to know what y’all think, down in the comments section. I know it’s a pain to register, but come on, man… I want some COMMENTS!

Marvel Comics
Story: Donny Cates, Art: Tradd Moore

Wow. With the first issue of this five-issue mini (reviewed in this blog last month), Cates and Moore knocked it right out of the park, past the parking lot, over the interstate, and into parts unknown. If anything, the second issue of this series tops the first in every way possible. 

Visually, it’s even more gorgeous, with Moore’s over-the-top character designs and the fluid kinetics of his action scenes bringing Cates’ outrageously bravura ideas and notions to ultra-vivid life. This book is thrilling in the way that only superhero comics, at their absolute, rule-breaking best, can be. 

If you’re not already on board with this mini—which I suspect will come to be recognized as the single greatest Silver Surfer book ever, bar none, by the time it’s through—what the Christ are you waiting for?! An engraved invitation?! Buy this book! And get a hold of the first issue, now, before it becomes a collector’s item!

LITTLE BIRD #5 (of 5)
Image Comics
Story: Darcy Van Poelgeest, Art: Ian Bertram

From the first issue of this five-issue miniseries, I have made no secret of my love for Little Bird. The story, the artwork, the characters, the world-building, all of it. Now, as the series comes to its climax, although my admiration is undimmed, I can’t help but feel that all the disparate strands were singled up just a little too swiftly, leaving a certain level of uncertainty and confusion in its wake. 

Don’t get me wrong… it’s still well worth owning, sharing, and recommending. And yes, it still stands as the best comic book miniseries that I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a year or so. I’m also probably going to have to go back and read the entire series in one sit-down session to pick up on some of the details that I may have forgotten that would make my reading of the series finale more rewarding. I just find it’s kind of a wasted opportunity to have Little Bird finish out on what on first read seems like sort of a serious downer note. 

But who knows? Maybe I set my expectations too high. Or maybe my first read is somewhat of a mis-read. Please let me know what you all thought of the book, down in the comments section. Anyway, this still counts as a big time RECOMMEND from me. You’ll want to have this series in your collection. Also, the preview for Poelgeest and Bertram’s next offering—Precious Metals—looks pretty great, too.

Monday, July 22, 2019


Sorry it's been so long since my last Media Diary. I've been busy with personal stuff lately. Anyway, this blog post is to let y'all know that I've begun reading Black Wings of Cthulhu volume 5, and I'll be reviewing each story on an individual basis, a few at a time, over the next few diary entries. So let's get started, shall we?


Twenty New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, Edited by S.T. Joshi

“Plenty of Irem”, by Johnathan Thomas ~ Set in modern day Kingsport, the protagonist has decided to get a feel for the town before beginning his job as a “capital campaign manager and PR troubleshooter at Kingsport Community College” (formerly Kingsport Freemason’s College) on the morrow.

While checking out one of its ancient cemeteries, he spots an old barn type building with a sign identifying it as the “Mugford Museum of Quaint Kingsport”, and decides to investigate. Once inside, he finds the place empty of people, with just a few mannequins in colonial dress and a container with a hand-written sign requesting a donation of $10.

Feeling the place must not get too many visitors, he pays double out of pity, only to be surprised when one of the mannequins turns out to be Eldred Mugford, proprietor and museum guide, who thanks the protagonist profusely for his “liberality” and proceeds to interrogate him, in an oddly buzzing voice, about his familial background on both sides. Then, after forcing his guest to partake of a “jonnnycake” (or journeycake), he leads him down to the basement—hewn out of solid black granite—where the exhibits are kept.

Here is where the author lets his imagination (and the fruits of his arcane research) blossom into something truly beautiful, bordering on crackpot genius, for the exhibits are all chock-a-block with legitimate lashings of weird history. Among the items on display are “the formal sable tiara of the grandmaster of the furrier’s guild in Norumbega” and an elaborately scrimshawed “demon’s baby tooth from the Himalayan caves descending to the ghost-infested citadel of Agartha”. Borges would have loved it.

The other exhibits in this underground showroom are stranger still, as is, increasingly, the behavior of his guide, causing the protagonist to fear for his safety with increasing alarm. When it comes to the story’s ultimate revelation of a vision from beyond, Thomas’s writing style is effective and, when called for, terrifying.

This story has everything you could want from weird fiction: otherworldly creatures, inexplicable dark visions, mysteries beyond understanding, and even a diabolical mannequin or three. A truly excellent Lovecraftian tale.

“Diary of a Sane Man”, by Nicole Cushing ~ This intriguing short narrative takes the form of a diary charting the rapid descent into madness that befalls a loving husband and father of two after he takes a nasty slip and suffers head injury during a moonlit winter’s walk. Or was he really primed to lose his grip on reality from the start? And is that even what happens to him? After all, who are we to judge his shifting perspective on life, as described in this story? It can hardly be described as inaccurate, what with its firm grounding in evolutionary theory. A smart and captivating story that rewards multiple reads, and is short enough to justify them. Another excellent entry.

“The Woman in the Attic”, by Robert H. Waugh ~ This collection’s third first-person entry in a row, and its second that takes the form of a diary, “The Woman in the Attic” is an alternative, ostensibly feminist re-telling of the story of Abigail “Nabby” Gardener, the doomed housewife from the equally doomed family in HP Lovecraft’s legendary novella, “The Colour Out of Space”. An intriguing literary exercise that takes just a few too many unnecessary liberties with the original for my tastes, it nevertheless features some emotionally resonant passages relating to the status of women in the all-too-recent past (who were, in many ways, women in attics). However, if you’re a man trying to write a story in a feminist vein, maybe don’t have your main character have sexual congress with a space rock? Just a thought. The story remains a decent offering, despite my minor quibbles.


LIMMY’S SHOW ~ Have you seen this bonkers sketch show from Scottish comedian Brian Limmond yet? It first aired on Scottish BBC about eight years ago, and lasted three seasons. Every single episode is currently available on Youtube (you can start with the first episode of the first series, above), as well as on Netflix in a bunch of countries (I'm watching it in Canada).

However, viewer beware! Due to some music rights issues, almost every single episode of Limmy's Show features missing or shortened skits! I’ve actually gone to the trouble of cataloging all these missing skits on the episodes' respective Youtube pages (see comments from Mark Thibodeau), but if anyone expresses further interest, I’ll post those corrections here, too. 

Anyway, I’m addicted to this damned show, as I’ve never encountered a sense of humor quite like Limmy’s before… at least, not on television shows, or in the movies or anything. He truly appears to suffer from some of the same mental illness issues that I do, which makes his show utterly relatable. Maybe you’ll find it as engrossing as yer old pal Jerky does!


I’m currently in the midst of reading Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump, for which I will be creating a reader’s guide in the very near future… something not quite as in depth as my concordances for, say, In the Dust of This Planet, or Season of the Witch, but which will nevertheless contain all the most important information contained within this book, distilled down to a single blog post. In fact, the reason why I’m reading this book is because it serves as background research for my ongoing project, which I’ve been working on for over two years now. It's about my theory regarding the New Fascist International(e) conspiracy I keep harping on over at the Daily Dirt Diaspora blog. So keep your eyes peeled here, and at the DDD, for more updates, soon!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

MEDIA DIARY ~ JUNE 29 to JULY 2, 2019

First up for today's Media Diary? Movies!

XX ~ Two thirds of a hardcore porno? Nah. XX is a horror anthology featuring four short films, all directed by women, hence the XX—as in double-X chromosomes—of the title. The brainchild of former Rue Morgue Editor in Chief Jovanka Vuckovic (who also directs “The Box”, which is the first, and best, short, based on a Jack Ketchum short story), XX works fairly well, with two good shorts (“The Box” and Karyn Kusama’s “Her Only Living Son”), two mediocre ones (“The Birthday Party” and “Don’t Fall”), and some really beautiful Brothers Quay style animated interstitials. Ultimately, I think this would make a good TV or extended film series, and I would definitely watch more, as there is undeniably something unique and intriguing about the female perspective on horror.

ALIEN: COVENANT ~ Yeah, I know. It took me an awful long time to catch this flick, which is odd, because I’m one of the few people I know who actually really enjoyed Prometheus, of which Alien: Covenant is a direct—almost too direct—sequel. The performances are all decent, and there are a handful of impressive characterizations strewn among the many anonymous characters who exist only to be xenomorph chow. And of course, it looks pretty great. Unfortunately, the characters make some of the most incredibly stupid decisions I’ve ever seen characters make in a science-fiction horror film. And that’s saying something. Also, the all-CGI xenomorphs are nowhere near as cool as the original, practical creatures from ALIEN and ALIENS, and even the CGI-enhanced practical creatures from ALIEN 3. Also, am I crazy, or were the creature effects a step down from Prometheus? One good thing about this one, though… Scott didn’t choose to make any of the human characters into convenient bad guy stereotypes. All the characters (the ones given stuff to do anyway) are likable and relatable, dumb decisions aside (PUT ON A FUCKING HELMET WHEN YOU’RE ON AN ALIEN PLANET!!!).

ZOMBIELAND ~ Another one it took a long time for me to watch that I finally got around to. I’m pretty much sick and tired of the whole zombie thing by now—and actually have been for, like, a decade or two (I’ve even got witnesses to this fact)—but a likable cast goes a long way with me, and Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Bill Murray are nothing if not likable. It’s funny, cute, relatively exciting, a good ninety-something minutes of time-wasting fun. Certainly not essential, but the sequel is coming out this year (Zombieland Double Tap) so if you’re a fan of the genre, you should probably check it out.


And now, this week's comics haul!

Marvel Comics, writer: Kurt Busiek, artist: Alex Ross

And that's it! All four issues of this marvelous reprint of the gorgeous, trend-setting, ground-breaking, hand-painted mini-series chronicling the Marvel Age from the point of view of the little people who watched from ground level as a new generation of four-color costumed titans duked it out in the name of Good and Evil in the skies and stars above! Especially recommended if you didn't catch this series the first time around in 1994, seeing as it comes complete with a wealth of trivia and background information, including script samples, and a definitive list of the literally hundreds of Easter eggs the creators hid in those handsomely illustrated pages. 

Image Comics, Writer: Darcy Van Poelgeest, artist: Ian Bertram

You all already know how I feel about this wonderful mini-series. With this, the penultimate issue, the creators continue to outdo themselves. All the pieces are set up for the final confrontations and ultimate revelations, and the nature of the mysterious past cataclysm that transformed the world into the nightmare theocracy is poised to be revealed. One month to go for the thrilling conclusion, and I can't hardly wait! 

Marvel Comics; Writer/Artist: Ed Piskor

Basically the sixth issue of a planned eight issue "grand narrative" of the X-men, Piskor's task was already becoming all but impossible with the last issue. This issue really is a mess, and it's not Piskor's fault at all. He was given the job of creating a gourmet meal out of a dog's breakfast, and it just... doesn't... work. I mean, Cable? Bishop? All that bullshit? The WORST era of X-men ever. I won't be picking up the final two issues, unless they turn out to be something special... which I doubt. Anyway, it'll be good to shrink my pull list and save a few bucks.

And, finally for today, a Graphic Novel.

by Josh Simmons

Josh Simmons’ The Furry Trap is a beautiful hardcover collection featuring some of the most demented, perverse, vile, and downright disturbing sequential narrative artwork ever committed to paper. Simmons has been producing comics for over a decade now, first gaining attention for his weird and subtle black and white indie one-shot House, and ever since then building a reputation for himself as one of the most uncompromising comics creators at work today.

Collecting most of his short comics from a number of smaller independent anthologies, The Furry Trap serves as a fantastic showcase for Simmons’ mastery of myriad visual styles—from the clean and colorful funny book cartooning of “In a Land of Magic”, to the small, fuzzy, sketchy style of “Night of the Jibblers”—as well as his ability to tell all kinds of tales—from the Freudian nightmare logic of “Cockbone” to the surreal, wordless Apocalypticism of “Jesus Christ”.

Be warned, however… The Furry Trap is definitely NOT for everybody. In fact, I have to wonder about the legality of some of these stories. Simmons isn’t shy about letting his id run rampant via his work, as in, for instance, “In a Land of Magic”, where the protagonist, an elf of some sort, dispatches a villainous warlock and his evil pet dragon first by disemboweling the fire-breathing beast, then paralyzing the warlock with a sharp shot to the neck, after which he… well, there’s no nice way to put this. He rapes the warlock in one of the most vicious displays of sexual sadism I’ve ever seen portrayed in comics. Then there’s “Night of the Jibblers”, where children are murdered horribly just for being overly curious. And finally, the last story of the collection, “Demonwood”, doesn’t actually show any violence, but the story is so chillingly effective and so masterfully structured, it ends up being one of the book’s most disturbing tales, regardless.

If The Furry Trap sounds like something that might appeal to you, and if you think you’ve got what it takes to absorb this level of twisted insanity and walk away with your sense of self intact, then why not head on over to and purchase a copy (using this link of course, so I get a shekel in my begging cup)? The only thing you’ve got to lose is your mind.