Review: The Shaolin Cowboy: Shemp Buffet

By Justin Wood

This may be one of the hardest books to review I've ever come across. In fact, I'd argue nothing I've read can compare to this. Shaolin Cowboy: Shemp Buffet, collecting the Dark Horse era of Geoff Darrow's cult classic miniseries in hardcover, is evidence of an epic undertaking with over 120 pages of Darrow's immediately recognizable hyper-detailed linge claire style, meticulous from beginning to end. It's also an epic undertaking to read from cover to cover, a true endurance test. I can't quite tell how to classify this book. It's either a fascinating piece of experimental art or an insufferable oddity that only exists as evidence to Darrow's inexhaustible patience of drawing the exact same thing for months on end. Or maybe it's both.

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Review: Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1

By Justin Wood

I mean come on. How could I not read this book with a title like that?

A Deadman spinoff with no canonical anchor to any current stories, 'Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love' is kind of exactly what I've been missing from superhero stories, not to mention horror stories, lately. Besides some overtly modern touches, 'Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love' feels like a comic from another time. Expertly paced, moodily atmospheric, and elegantly illustrated, this limited series takes the mic away from nearly everything being done at DC and teaches a class on what actual storytelling looks like.

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Review: Chimichanga: The Sorrow of the World's Worst Face #1

By Justin Wood

Eric Powell wrote this? Big Man Plans Eric Powell? The Goon Eric Powell? The review copy I received was coverless and lacked a title page, meaning it took some faint Google research to dig up the basic creator info on Dark Horse's new miniseries Chimichanga: The Sorrow of the World's Worst Face. It's a comic with a subtitle; it must have had a preceding story, and I was curious how what I had just read had managed to be some sort of sequel miniseries from Top Ten publisher Dark Horse. And there it was. Written and created by Eric Powell.

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Review: Semiautomagic

By Justin Wood

In the second chapter of Dark Horse's new collected trade of Alex Di Campi's supernatural series Semiautomagic, the heroine Alice Creed throws some semi-fourth wall shade on Neil Gaiman's classic series Sandman. It's a cheeky throw-away line; a "this ain't your daddy's supernatural horror adventure series" jab. Now, as a comic that clearly draws a lot of obvious influence from Gaiman's critically adored comic series, as well as its brothers and sisters like Hellblazer, the dig comes off more as an affectionate ribbing rather than taking legitimate potshots, but the moment stood out to me. While spiritually indebted to Vertigo's supernatural lines from the early 90's, Semiautomagic never brushes the feet of Gaiman's best remembered work. That said, having read dozens of original monster slaying adventure comics, silly name and all, Semiautomagic is the closest thing I've read that might deserve to take a few swings at Dream's exhaustingly praised legacy.

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Review: T.I.T.S. #1

By Justin Wood

Sometimes a book comes along to make you appreciate this visual medium. A reminder of the talent and skill goes into books, sometimes completely unappreciated, the kinds of choices being made by artists that are misattributed or unconsciously ignored. T.I.T.S, curiously, did that for me. Despite being a writer and artist myself, it made me reevaluate the real impact the choices of an artist have on how stories are experienced in ways that are separate from the creative choices of the writer. It's not because T.I.T.S was particularly meaningful or imaginative in its choices, but rather because it took me till halfway through the book to finally realize that it had nothing going on in the writing department but was disguised by some pretty decent art.

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Review: Speak No Evil #1

By Justin Wood

I used to like that Gotye song "Somebody That I Used To Know." Not passionately, but it came off less aggressively dumb than most of the music playing on commercial radio, something I wouldn't object to listening to when hopping around stations while driving. A perfectly inoffensive piece of mellow breakup music. Then radio, like it does all good music, decided to kill the song via overuse. That year of 2012, that song got comically overplayed, so much so that on one drive down from Virginia to North Carolina I made a game out of seeing how many times I could hear it while channel surfing. Familiarity bred contempt, and while no worse of a song, it is now firmly outside of my interest of ever hearing it again, and indeed it seems everyone agreed to just forget Gotye as an artist altogether. So what do you think Nikola Tesla and H.P. Lovecraft might have in common with Gotye?

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