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And then suddenly, it was the end of November. I swear it just started last week, but the state of my apartment and the state of my mind testify to the fact that that is not the case. I have actually had an embarrassment of pop culture riches this week, as for the first time in a long time I had significantly more things that I wanted to write about than I had brainspace for. So here are the highlights: two long-overdue revisits and an injection of musical adrenaline. * * * * * [caption id="attachment_14766" align="aligncenter" width="312"] Cover to Daredevil Vol. 2:...

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Hello readers! We’re coming up to the end of a very busy November, and I am only at 16000 words for my National Novel Writing Month effort, which means I’m extremely behind but also par for the course if my past noveling efforts are anything to go by. When I haven’t been writing – which has been quite often, apparently – I’ve been feeding my brain with art and story, and I’ve been very lucky this week to have supported myself with art that celebrated adventure, creativity, and humour. * * * * * [caption id="attachment_14752" align="aligncenter" width="400"] Cover to Catwoman Vol....

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I wish I could say that this Friday The 13th installment of the column was full of spooks, chills, and thrills, but that would mean that I was planning ahead, and I definitely didn’t do that. No, this week’s column is just another amalgamation of the weird and fantastic things that I managed to fill my brain with this week, including one of the strangest and most creative comic books I’ve ever read.

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Cover for The Maxx Maxximized Volume 2 by Sam Keith and Ronda Pattison.

Cover for The Maxx: Maxximized Volume 2 by Sam Keith and Ronda Pattison.

Sam Keith’s cult classic The Maxx was first published from 1993 to 1998, and though it didn’t revolutionize the comic book industry or lead to a host of copycats, it had a reputation of being a visually stunning and imaginative book. I’d read exactly one issue of The Maxx before this week, and while I appreciated the art style, I found it difficult to understand, mostly because the book is based on an original mythology that I wasn’t able to fully grasp when dropped in midway through. This week I was afforded the opportunity to get digital versions of the new IDW reprints of The Maxx: Maxximized, which reprints the original series with updated colours by Ronda Pattison. After reading the first two collections, I have to say that even though I understand the mythology a little bit better, I’m almost more confused than I was before.

Hey everyone! It's the first week of November! I can tell that not simply because I have learned how to read a calendar but because I am exhausted. Between National Novel Writing Month and the ExtraLife video game fundraiser, I'm getting spread a little thin. I still wanted to talk about some of my favourite things from the past week, though, so here are a few pellet-sized reviews highlighting the best of the best. * * * * * COMICS: Yes, Karnak #1 came out two weeks ago but I've read it three times since then and I'm excited by it every time. It's one of those "Warren Ellis comes...

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For the longest time I was a huge proponent of plot being the most important thing in my pop culture narratives. I became plot-blind, worrying only if the story made sense or was original or compelling. But there’s more to most movies, television, books, and comics than the plot. And while the plots in the two books I loved this week were simplistic at best, the art elevates both to great heights.

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Two columns in one week? Yes, it’s true. Thanks, technical hiccups! Enough preamble. I’m excited and raring to go, so let’s just get into it.

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Cover to StormWatch Volume 3: Change or Die.

I’m re-reading a lot of my old comic books as part of my de-cluttering project at my apartment. (Kudos to Danica for being a good influence on me; it only took five years to figure this stuff out.) Sometimes I read stories that I have no idea why I kept after reading them the first time; sometimes I read books that I really enjoy a second time through but realize that they’d be better off in someone else’s collection. Shockingly often I read a book that I like so much that I know I’m going to re-read it at least two more times, and back it goes on the shelf. The best ones, though are the ones that I find I still like, but the re-read unearths aspects of the work that I’d never noticed before.

The most recent example of that is Warren Ellis’ run on StormWatch from 1996 to 1998. In 25 issues, Ellis took an Image superhero property, gutted it, revamped it, gutted it again, and turned it into fertilizer for some of his most interesting and influential comic book works. It’s hard to talk about StormWatch without talking about how it set the stage for The Authority and Planetary, two series that get a lot of acclaim and changed the superhero comic book landscape forever, sometimes for the better, sometimes not (I’m looking at you, Ultimates). In these discussions, StormWatch is often looked at as a footnote, which is unfair. It’s not as groundbreaking as its progeny, but it’s where Ellis developed and refined his ideas about the inherent contradictions in the average comic book reader’s impressions of superheroes, and the difficulty in trying to make a finer world while being above it.

I don't know how September has been for everyone else, but as far as I'm concerned I can bury that month in the cold ground with a stake through its heart and pray that it never returns. Enough of that, though. It's October now, and there are all kinds of wonderful things out there to discover and share with people. I've been going through my comicbookshelves in advance of this Saturday's Geek Swap at Variant Edition, and there were a few books that I thought were worth a mention. I know, I know, talking about pop culture isn't exactly as emotionally satisfying as going for a walk...

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Edmonton was cool and rainy this week, perfect weather for sitting inside and giving oneself a little quality time with some stories. I managed to do a fair amount of that this week, even though I was trying to break through my couch potato tendencies. Here are two that managed to stand head and shoulders above the rest. * * * * * [caption id="attachment_14133" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Cover to Green Arrow #31 by Andrea Sorrentino & Mauro Cascioli.[/caption] Another week, another revisit of a DC New 52 title that I hadn't given the time of day. This time it's Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino's...

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This week was a little all over the place. There were things that I had expected to be terrible that were actually quite good, and there were things that I had expected to be terrible that were even worse than I had expected. Through thick and thin, though, I was generally pleased with my pop culture grazing, and present to the fine Variant Edition readers the best of the best (and also one terrible thing but that will be explained at the end).

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Batman_Vol_2_21_Textless

One of the few books that I loved from the post-Flashpoint DC relaunch was Batman by writer Scott Snyder and penciller Greg Capullo. However, when Batman: Zero Year was announced a little less than two years in, I stayed away from it.  I didn’t see the need for yet another origin for Batman. As an established reader I get so tired of the same plot points done over and over again to satisfy a the demands of a new audience. I understand that as a publishing company, DC needs to make things accessible to new readers, and that directing them to a 20- or 30-year-old story is not the way to go about it. Knowing nothing other than the fact that Zero year was a Batman origin, I figured that it was easily skippable, a decision that was seemingly confirmed for me when it was turned into an event with a dozen other DC Comics titles — only two of which I was still reading — crossing over with it. However, as there has been a lot of buzz about the new direction for the series (and the new issue that came out this week), I decided to catch up on my Batman, and that means reading the 12 issues that made up Zero Year.

To my delight, Zero Year is not an unnecessary story that re-hashes the same ground. It’s an important story that is part of an attempt to redefine the character for the current era. Beyond that, it’s a really good story.