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Tuesday, Jun 1, 2010
Gathered Together: Joe Coleman’s signature artwork provides an observational frame for true crime stories in this classic offering.

When the notorious serial killer Carl Panzram stood on the gallows in 1930, he’s reported to have told the hangman to hurry up: “I could hang a dozen men while you’re fooling around.” That moment, along with the life of brutality that led to it, inspires one of the stories in Joe Coleman’s magnificent collection, Muzzlers, Guzzlers and Good Yeggs, published by Fantagraphics.

Not so much a comic as a book of illustrated stories, Coleman’s book adapts four autobiographies of people who led infamous lives of crime, and whose stories span much of the twentieth century: Jack Black (no, not that one), “Boxcar” Bertha Thompson, Panzram and Paul John Knowles.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Wrestling with immigration through the lens of of superheroes possibly suggests a new vision of how "God enriches".

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face,
—George Orwell, (1903-1950), 1984

“’We were making the future,’ he said, ‘and hardly any of us troubled to think what future we were making. And here it is!’”
—H.G. Wells (1866-1946), When the Sleeper Wakes

“I guess all this history is just a mystery to me.”
—Wilco, “Hotel Arizona”

It has long been said that the United States is a nation of immigrants, a melting pot of various cultures from all over the world. Many of the same people who say that are also familiar with the so-called “golden rule”, the notion that we should treat others as we fish to be treated. It’s very telling, then, how America tends to treat its immigrants, or rather, the Americans of tomorrow. Our immigrants, ourselves.

Though most growing up in the States following the Second World War remained blissfully unaware, thanks to the American government and the then-current education system, of the German, Japanese and Italian interment camps that existed on American soil during the War, many eventually wizened up and learned of it. “It can’t happen here”, they used to say. “It can never happen here. Not again.”

Well, as most people who have uttered that rallying cry against fascism, when “it” happens again, when it comes knocking on our door and takes our neighbors into a darkly-lit, packed detention center, what do we do?

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Monday, May 24, 2010
A chilling work by the most famous figure in Japanese comics, MW is also eerily prescient, utilizing themes and topics that are as relevant today as they were in 1976.

The cast of characters includes a terminally ill survivor of childhood sexual abuse, now a sadist, kidnapper and murderer, and a Catholic priest who is not only the killer’s lover, and true love, but also the person who abused him 15 years ago.

More than 30 years after its initial publication, MW still has the power to unsettle. The themes in this stark manga by Osamu Tezuka cover not just the nature of evil, guilt, and sexual and personal identity, but also post-war Japanese history, terrorism, protest and governmental abuse and mistrust.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010
Rather than tap the obvious Nordic tradition for the character of Thor, Millar offers readers of "The Ultimates" a surprise twist by grounding the character in the life of another foundational religious figure noted for his social activism.

Mark Millar’s re-envisioning of the Avengers in the Ultimate Universe provided the Ultimates—a super team with revamped icons like Captain America, Iron Man and our favorite Norse God of Thunder, Thor.

Millar maintained the Norse roots of the character, even having Loki act as a main antagonist of the series. However, this isn’t your father’s Thor—or even your great-great-great grandfather, assuming he was part of some early Germanic tribe. Gone is the accent, the recognition and even the credibility of being a Norse god. What was added was a heavy dose of Jesus Christ. Millar has admitted to crafting Thor’s narrative as a Christ-like tale—a man who is said to be a god but questioned by many. He proves his good will and heroism, but is constantly scorned by those who don’t understand or wish to destroy him.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010
It has been a long-term romance between Marvel and Norse mythology, one that began in 1962, with the publication of Thor.

In 1962, Journey into Mystery #83 wasn’t the debut of a hero that was bombarded by cosmic rays—or even gamma rays. This new hero wasn’t bitten by some radioactive spider or simply born with powers that implicate an evolution of the human species.

This hero was a god. Specifically, he was a Norse god.

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