February 23, 1999
by Chuck Miller
Good afternoon! Did you notice that I've been gone for a while? I hope you missed me as much as I missed you.
All kinds of weird crap was going on in my life. I won't tell you about it because it's just...too...*choke*... painful... You understand. Anyhow, this column is not about me, it's about those four-color fantasies we all treasure so... COMIC BOOKS!!!!
I thought I was in a pickle because of all the drawn-out construction going on down where I live. Still cleaning up the hurricane damage from last year, and paving roads and tearing roads up and so on. But It could be much worse. I could live in Gotham City, which would just suck.
As you may remember, most of the city was leveled by an earthquake during the "Cataclysm" story last year. Well, Congress decided they weren't going to provide any federal funds to help rebuild, and the government shut Gotham down. They evacuated everyone who wanted to leave and sealed off the city, blew all the bridges and tunnels leading in and out, and posted signs saying, "You Are Now Leaving the United States of America." Pretty intense. (Maybe we ought to do something like that to Dauphin Island if they keep making noises about a toll bridge.)
Which brings us to the new story arc, "No Man's Land."
Anyhow, Gotham is in pretty sad shape. The streets are ruled by roving bands of thugs, punks, and super-villains. The Gotham City Police Department and Batman are trying desperately to restore order. During this yearlong saga, DC has temporarily (so they say) gotten rid of all the regular creative teams and handed the books to new faces. So far it isn't too bad. I was about sick of Doug Moench anyhow, but I will miss Alan Grant. I have mixed feelings about Chuck Dixon. He's like the little girl in the nursery rhyme -- when he's good he's very good, but when he sucks -- ye gods!
Be sure to check out "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," written by Alan Moore and available from America's Best Comics (not to be confused with America's Best Carpets). I don't think Moore will ever regain the awesome power he had back when he was doing "Swamp Thing" and "The Watchmen," but he still has a few tricks left up his sleeve. He reminds me a little of David Bowie, who was very good for a long time; then he started to lose it and his work was never quite up to scratch again -- but he can still surprise you every now and then with something worthwhile. "Extraordinary Gentlemen" is a sort of late 19th century Justice League, featuring such vintage "superheroes" as Captain Nemo, Alan Quatermain, Mina Harker (from "Dracula"), Mycroft Holmes, and so on. Pretty nifty. Doc Savage biographer Philip Jose Farmer fans should dig this one. Heck, I'll bet Farmer HIMSELF will like it, if he's aware of it. Somebody send him a copy!!!
Kurt Busiek's "Astro City" is now under DC's corporate wing. They just released a paperback compilation of the first few Image issues. If you've missed this title so far, this is a good way to get started. I recommend it highly.
Be sure and catch the WB Network's "Batman Beyond" on Sunday morning. I don't like it as much as the regular "Batman/Superman Adventures," but it has lots to recommend: Good stories, good animation -- all the stuff you've come to expect from this creative team.
If you aren't watching "Xena: Warrior Princess," you're missing out on one hell of a show. Maybe you're like I used to be. Maybe you think, "Oh, that's just a bunch of silly crap." Well, I was wrong. I started watching it when they put it on the USA Network every week night, and within days I was a full-fledged Xenaphile. This show has it all: action, comedy, adventure, darring-do, tenderness, lessons on friendship... Not being a sexist, I won't bring up the good- looking women in skimpy outfits... but if you LIKE that sort of thing, it has that.
Now, I have heard a lot of talk about "lesbian overtones" in "Xena." A couple of people I know refuse to watch it for just that reason. Well, I have never noticed anything of the sort. And even if there were, so what? What's wrong with lesbians? It's a good show! Grow up, for Zeus' sake!
There is also a line of "Xena" comics from Topps. The quality is pretty uneven and usually falls well below the show itself. If you've only read one of those rags and never seen the show, don't judge "Xena" by it.
IRONIC NOTE: "Xena" is one of my two favorite shows. The other one is "The X-Files." Not only do both start with the letter "X," but they both premiere new episodes at 8 o'clock on Sunday night! And me without a working VCR! Oh, the pain. I usually watch "X-Files" and wait until the following Saturday to see the replay of the new "Xena." Life can indeed be painful...
"Hercules" is pretty good, too, but it isn't in the same league as "Xena."
Both shows are produced by Sam Raimi, who did the "Evil Dead" movies, "Army of Darkness," and other more respectable stuff.
"Captain America" is still Marvel's best monthly title. A chilling confrontation is currently going down between Cap and the returned-from-the-dead-cosmically-powered-totally-pissed-off Red Skull. Don't miss it.
I was really looking forward to Kevin Smith's run as writer on "Daredevil," but I've been disappointed. The current storyline is too ponderous, wordy and-- yes, dammit-- pretentious for me. And he makes such great movies!
Last week marked the Chinese New Year. We are now in the year of the rabbit, which is MY year. I'm a rabbit year person. I hope that means all my dreams will come true. All you other rabbits out there, have a good one.
I'll see you in two weeks.