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Mitchell, Brian John & White, Andrew – R.E.H. #7



R.E.H. #7

Out of all the various series that Brian writes, this is the one that makes the least sense to me. Granted, that is mostly my fault, as I have #5 and #7 of the series and that’s just guaranteeing that I won’t know what’s going on, but I feel compelled to point that out before I get started. As a stand-alone issue this is fascinating, and it has a good message for people in general. It’s all about the meaning of names, where names come from and how you should try to live up to your name if you know what it means. There’s also a bit about how he’s not sure if he could ever picture himself getting married, but he could see himself with a son. See, here’s where I get confused: I’m not sure if this is Brian narrating a tale, or Brian speaking in the hypothetical voice or Robert E. Howard. Oh yeah, I should have also pointed that out up front: “R.E.H.” stands for Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan and a long time pulp writer. Anyway, the content of the comic is still well worth checking out (Andrew White does his part to make things feel a bit hazy and indistinct, which makes me think that this is all meant to be a fictional memoir by Howard), and it did compel me to check and see what my name means. Apparently mine means gentle, handsome and beautiful. That is absurdly complimentary, but I’ll take it. $1


Mitchell, Brian John & White, Andrew – R. E. H. 5



R.E.H. #5

Anybody out there know much about Robert E. Howard, the writer who was most famous for creating “Conan the Barbarian”? Besides that fact, I mean? Well, Brian has put out a series of minis featuring quotes from the man, so it’s easy enough to get to know him a little better. Or at least this one has a long quote from R.E.H., so I’m assuming that the issues I missed also have those quotes. Anyway, this time around the quote revolves around Robert talking about getting fan mail, and how he’d prefer to be a manual laborer who does back-breaking work all day to writing. Writing never came easy to him, and that combined with a complete unawareness of how writing worked to the people Robert interacted with had a tendency to make him a little crazy. I particularly enjoyed his comparing writing to boxing, but I won’t spoil why that was such an apt comparison. It’s a fascinating little peek into the mind of somebody who, I confess, I’ve never thought all that much about.


White, Andrew – Territory



I’m gradually discovering that I’m losing my taste for subjective, mostly silent comics as I get older. Or maybe it’s just that the comics I’m not liking just aren’t that good and I have trouble calling them out on it. Which might seem odd coming from somebody who reviews comics on a regular basis (I almost said “for a living” there, then realized how ludicrously incorrect that was), but I always start from the general premise that anybody who makes a comic should be given every possible benefit of the doubt. Anyway, enough with the rambling justifications, it’s time to get to my problems with this book. I’ll start with the fact that I’ve read through this three times now (it’s short and mostly wordless) and I’m still not sure what I’m meant to be taking away from it. This starts off with a man explaining to his girlfriend/wife that he’s going away for a few days with a couple of friends, but she doesn’t seem to believe him, or she at least requires assurances. He travels until he reaches a cabin, and it’s immediately apparent that he was lying about any other friends being there. He then discovers a game board of some kind in the woods and calls his girlfriend/wife to lie about why he wants to spend another week there. The man plays the game, sits, contemplates, gets in another fight with his lady, and shouts to the heavens that he thought he had it all figured out. He keeps playing and keeps making excuses with his lady friend until… eh, even if I have my problems with this comic, it’s still not a good idea to get into spoilers. I will say that his reaction to the traumatic event was baffling, and what he chose to save (and how he treated it afterwards) was even more confusing. Maybe the whole comic was an allegory about valuing your loved ones and not wasting all your time on games, or maybe I’m reaching. I did enjoy the bright, vivid colors all over the place and how the man alternated between red when he was exploring or playing games and blue when he was talking with his wife. Some consistency in facial hair would have been nice too, as I wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be obsessed with the game to the exclusion of all else (hence the unruly beard) or if that was my imagination, as he was clean-shaven on several panels when he was fully bearded in the next one. There’s still lots of imagination in this one and it’s entirely possible that the fault of not understanding it lies with me, but on the whole this comic didn’t really work for me. $5

Mitchell, Brian John – Just A Man #4 (with Andrew White)


Just A Man #4 (with art by Andrew White)

One of the many reasons I caution people not to take these reviews too seriously is that I do them every day.  Well, I try to do them every day, but I come pretty close.  As that’s the case, I’m reading these in all sorts of moods, and I’m sure there have been times when a crappy mood has translated into an unfavorable review, something I take every precaution to avoid, but there’s no way I’ve been anywhere near 100% successful.  I mention all this because I had a negative reaction to the last issue of Brian’s Marked series, which was odd because I’ve been a fan of pretty much all of his other series (including the first issue of Marked!).  So was it my mood?  The comic?  Road construction pounding in my ears while I was trying to type?  I’m not sure, but will have a chance to revisit it when the next issue of that series comes out.  Either way, I still absolutely love this one.  This time around our hero has just discovered his wife (who he thought murdered in the first issue) is still alive, and that the “daughter” he has been sent to free from whorehouse is not the man’s daughter at all.  Our hero frees another whore and gives her some new cash to start a new life and has a confrontation with the man who hired him for his “daughter”, so we’re still going to have to wait at least an issue to see what’s up with his wife.  Fine by me, I’ve been enjoying every bit of this and am fine with him keeping it going for as long as possible.  I’m a sucker for the hopeless gunman trying to get his revenge on the people who wronged him, and if things aren’t as cut and dried as we’ve been led to believe, well, so much the better.  Things are rarely as black and white as depicted in most western stories, and the shades of gray are a welcome addition.  I’m assuming you people are already keeping up with this series, but if you’re not and if you wanted to check out just one of his books, I’d go with this one.  Or Lost Kisses, I love that one too.  Or Worms, that’s creepy as hell.  Or maybe XO… $1

Mitchell, Brian John – Just A Man #3 (with Andrew White)



Just A Man #3 (with art by Andrew White)

What the hell?  Sorry, us “professional” reviewers need to give you readers more to work with but… what the hell?  Brian has expertly flipped the motive behind our hero completely around with this issue, and he caught me completely by surprise.  In this issue our hero takes off towards the whorehouse, at the request of a man in town who says that his daughter is working there and he wants to get her back.  He makes his way to the whorehouse, finds the girl in question, and manages to grab her and head her towards the door… when his wife calls his name.  She’s at the whorehouse too, and she has a gun on him.  His reaction to this is, well, a little odd.  It’s my personal (and constantly changing) rule that everything after the midway point of a book is a spoiler, so I can’t say too much, but this naturally sets our hero to wondering about everything that has happened in the last couple of issues.  He has McTeague’s men after him (looking for revenge), men from the whorehouse after him (looking for the woman he basically kidnapped), and then he’s confronted with another moral dilemma when the woman he’s taken says that she is not the daughter of that man after all, just somebody he wants as his own personal whore.  This is by far the best issue of the series, and the other two were pretty damned good already.  It takes some talent to make a straightforward western revenge story into something else entirely, and Brian did it flawlessly.  Check it out, it’s a tough competition but this may end up being his best series of all.  $1


Mitchell, Brian John – Just A Man #2 (with Andrew White)



Just A Man #2 (with art by Andrew White)

Hey look, it is a series after all!  If you’re confused go back and read the review for the last issue, where I kvetched endlessly about the merits of this as a one-shot versus as a series.  Judging from the most recent pile of books sent my way this isn’t his only new series.  If the man keeps up this ridiculous pace he might want to put together some sort of index so we can all keep up.  This time around our hero has finished off the people who killed his wife and child and is left with an understandable emptiness.  Adrift, he goes to sleep on the back of his horse and lets it take him to his next destination, wherever that may be.  He’s also on the lookout for some of McTeague’s men who may be out looking for revenge, although he’s at a bit of a loss to explain why he should go on living.  He eventually has a reason to live drop into his lap, or at least a way to have a meaningful death, which we’ll learn more about the next time around.  Feels like I may have spoiled too much with this one, but the pacing of these makes it a bit too easy to summarize.  That’s right, it’s somehow Brian’s fault.  Sure, I’ll stick with that.  Anyway, my opinion of this series went up considerably now that I know it IS a series, as who doesn’t like a good western about a man on the run?  It’s officially worth a look as far as I’m concerned.  $1


Mitchell, Brian John – Just A Man #1 (with Andrew White)



Just A Man #1 (with art by Andrew White)

If there’s one thing that Brian needs, it’s clearly another series.  As sarcasm doesn’t come across well on the internets, let me just make clear how very sarcastic that was.  The man is already a machine, it seems ridiculous to start up another series.  More power to him if he wants to keep four series going at once, although it’s hard to tell if this one is going to be more than one issue.  This is the story of a simple man who works the land to feed his family until he comes home to find his house on fire.  His infant son is dead, his wife is missing, and he has a pretty good idea who’s responsible.  I may have my westerns mixed up, but isn’t that the plot from Unforgiven?  Except that the Clint Eastwood character at least had a history as a gunslinger.  Anyway, a confrontation occurs (sort of), things end, and I’d think this was a one-shot if it wasn’t for the gaping bit of story that remains unresolved.   All told the story didn’t do a lot for me, as it seemed like something I’d seen before, and even the dialogue got cliched every once in a while.  Granted, that’s probably hard to avoid with a western, so he doesn’t lose any points for that.  Still, that gaping plot hole (I’m trying to avoid spoilers), the lack of resolution with what should be a central character, is annoying.  If this is a series, fine.  If not, it ruins this as a one-shot.  Time will tell, but start with his other series and work your way over to this one.  Oh, I should mention that the art perfectly suited the mood of this book, to end on a positive note if nothing else.  $1