I do not like Tristan. (If you can see the cover, he’s the dude on the far right, next to Max.)

He’s a gothy blasé teen that immediately bonds with Max & Chloe, but feels like a fan insert, which echoes my prior gripes that the first volume of this comic book series has a whiff of fan-service. LIFE IS STRANGE’s second half features him being glad-handed by Chloe & Max and it feels abnormal; like a burr, an oddity that shouldn’t exist, and perhaps he shouldn’t, but he does.

That’s is a strange thing to say about a series that features a protagonist who shouldn’t exist where they are, but Tristan? He doesn’t fit. The work already has the holy trinity: Chloe, Max, and Rachel. (Even if I grouse about Max and Rachel meeting. Chloe can’t have two besties at the same time. She isn’t wired for that.) It feels unnecessary, and very strange (no pun intended) that they would be so quick to befriend him.

Also: I’ll note that my Max would never get a tattoo. I can’t imagine any universe in which she would. (Although I’d be lying if I said I never thought about getting a blue butterfly tattoo, because I certainly have and I’m dumb like that and love these games that much.)

I realize I’m back-tracking a bit, based on the Vol. 1 writeup but it zigged where it could have zagged.

I rationally understand that these comics are meant to portray others’ interpretation of the work, and it’s a well-meaning work, for sure! However, it doesn’t resonate for me in the same way the games have. While the intricacies of the choices are intriguing, it feels less cohesive, which is a shame because there’s a lot of great groundwork laid here. It’s still worth reading and it accomplishes what it wants to accomplish but, depending on the choices you made in the original games, it may leave you feeling slightly sour.


I don’t know how to feel about this series.

On one hand, did I want more Max & Chloe? Yes, always. Did I want Max to meet Rachel? No, not really, but that’s fine, totally fine.

On the other hand, I felt like FAREWELL was the perfect kiss-off for Max & Chloe.

There’s nothing wrong with the first volume of this comic book series — penned by Emma Vieceli and illustrated by a very Vertigo-esque Claudia Leonardi — but it does feel empty, it feels 100% like fan-service. Well-penned fan-service, but fan-service nonetheless.

It’s supremely well-executed, with a great high-concept hook that manages to finagle all of the possible timelines, but ugh, I can’t get behind the love story between Max & Chloe. Not my Max! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Max & Chloe are ride-or-die friends — not lovers. Shipping them is just … not an option in my book, but apparently folks want that.

This series leans hard into that, and while I’m all about queerness, that feels fundamentally different from who these characters — these people — are. I’ve previously harped on authorial intent, but this seems disingenuous.

Nonetheless, it’s a very inventive comic, one that embraces the multi-faceted nature of the series and manages to work off it, despite being a linear narrative work. It’s substantive, and worth your time if you’re into the LIFE IS STRANGE universe, despite my grousing about shipping Max & Chloe.


So, if you read my prior post about SHADE, THE CHANGING GIRL, you might have noted that I said the series was very low-stakes.

I retract that remark.

SHADE, THE CHANGING WOMAN ramps everything up 200%, while still being a well-honed and calculated identity tale. Also, it manages to (briefly) interweave prior Rac Shade interlopers Lenny and Kathy in a brilliant way.

In other words, I fucking love it. I wish there was more of it, but I’m so happy what I have in my hands exists. Long live Madness, and may Madness bless Loma Shade.

If you’d prefer a deeper dive, I’ll direct you to this PASTE interview from writer Cecil Castellucci:


Shoehorning the idea of Shade and Madness into a teen girl is brilliant, and I’m shocked it didn’t happen earlier. Writer Cecil Castellucci does a magnificent job of showcasing Shade’s perspective — even if it’s technically not Rac Shade from Milligan’s run — as well as the captured youth that Shade inhabits, as well as the conflict that ensues by doing so, while also filling in new readers on the background of Rac Shade as well as the circumstances on Meta.

It’s also delightfully raw and emotional, in a youthful way that SHADE, THE CHANGING MAN occasionally touched on.

I will say: narratively, it is slight. It’s very low-stakes — yes, like with Milligan’s SHADE, Shade is being pursued by others in order to get the Madness Vest, but that’s more or less a MacGuffin. There’s little conflict — the twelve issues are mostly about this Shade reveling in the joys of Earth and making friends, which I find absolutely fantastic.

Similar to Milligan’s run, it’s overly infatuated with Americana, although in this case it’s all high schools and music and old TV shows, as opposed to repeatedly watching JFK die.

Castellucci does amazing work bringing Shade into a new generation, and Marley Zarcone’s art brings a vibrancy to the story that recalls a looser Mike Allred, especially with some of the more inventive layouts that are interspersed through the issues.

It’s an absolute delight, especially the second storyline. Shade discovering the world solo, luxuriating in everything they enjoy? I couldn’t stop grinning and laughing while reading it, while also relishing the surreal facets of the imagery. I can’t imagine a better re-invention of SHADE than this.


If you are of a certain age and a certain type of comic book nerd, the DC imprint VERTIGO means a lot to you. For most, it represents realizing that mainstream comics can be more than folks endlessly punching each other and offer life stories and lessons and emotions.

Usually, most folks gravitate towards Neil Gaiman’s mythic SANDMAN run which, fair enough. I admit, I have an almost complete collection, mostly of individual issues, including signed copies of the initial storyline which is a prized possession. Or perhaps DEATH: THE HIGH COST OF LIVING mini. Maybe the grandfathered-in ANIMAL MAN or the DOOM PATROL series, which is now a brilliantly adapted TV series, and has an illustrious number of collections.

However, the little-known SHADE, THE CHANGING MAN is my favorite VERTIGO book from that time period. Peter Milligan took a bonkers Steve Ditko-created character and managed to twist it into something far more malleable. Each arc of his grappled with surprising facets of society and culture; from the American infatuation with the death of John F. Kennedy to quiet interpersonal dynamics, all told through the eyes of an alien who inhabits bodies and is intensely over-emotional.

It helped that he was accompanied by the dynamic pen and pencil work of a young Chris Bachalo and Mark Pennington, lending an extremely vibrant verve to Milligan’s imagination.

In the 90s, there was absolutely nothing like what SHADE was doing, and it’s still rare to find today. It was weird, bizarre, absolutely surreal, but still imbued with emotional heft.

I wish there was the demand for them to collect Milligan’s entire run as an omnibus — complete with Brendan McCarthy’s amazing psychedelic covers — but sadly, DC only individually collected three volumes of his work. Nonetheless, if you’re into weird — or just quality — fiction, I suggest seeking them out, as they’re (thankfully) still in-print, and then pick up the remaining issues via dollar-bins because I’m not about to lend out mine.


As I’ve noted before, I will never, ever shut up about the animated HARLEY QUINN show.

However, this is about the off-shoot comic series: HARLEY QUINN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, of which the first volume — “The Eat. BANG! Kill. Tour” — fills in the space between the second and third seasons, fleshing out the honeymoon period between Harley and Ivy. It’s penned by Tee Franklin (who willed the amazing Black elder queer comic BINGO LOVE into the world) with art by Max Sarin (John Allison’s GIANT DAYS — whose BOBBINS webcomic I dearly miss but also, goddamn, just let your eyes stare at how brilliantly that cover is designed), colors by Marissa Louise and lettered by Taylor Esposito, all working at the height of their powers.

I’ve spilled a lot of words about the TV show, but I came to this off-shoot with a bit of reluctance. I’ve been burned by so many opportunistic print cash-ins so many times, but figured I’d give it a go.

Reader: it’s amazing.

It’s even filthier and sexier and emotional than the show, but still sensitive and never exploitative. Franklin knows how to handle intimacy and physical wants and needs and exploration in a mannered way that feels both controlled but also raw.

While the show’s visuals are far more expressive than most animated shows, Sarin takes this to the next level. Everyone speaks through their eyes and mouths and arms, and Harley is constantly throwing herself around, and both Harles’ and Ive’s hair curls so beautifully and I sparkle through each and every page. Every panel is something I revel to.

I don’t want to ignore Marissa Lousie’s work, which is marvelously restrained while also being vibrant, or Esposito’s work, which is significantly nuanced until it shouldn’t be.

However, what’s most notable is that, while Harley’s name is on the cover, this is mostly about telling Ivy’s side of their romance and detailing how she feels about (spoiler alert) Kite Man and her breaking up at their own wedding, and reconciling her own personal trauma via her childhood, the latter of which is never quite touched on in the show (and Harley is too myopic to ask about). It’s a perfect exploration of an already brilliant journey.

If you are a fan of the show, or even if you aren’t — you can go in completely blind and they’ll explicitly catch you up — it’s an absolute delight of a read.


As I’ve been easing myself back into the world of comic books for the third or fourth time in my life, I forgot that there are some protagonists who are malleable, vessels for a writer to explore their own issues and fixations.

This won’t quite happen to iconic characters like Batman — who will always be a self-serious, but angsty, vigilante — but it happens often with other peripheral characters.

Harley Quinn is one of those characters. The Harley I love from the Harley Quinn animated series is far removed from the one I first saw on the animated Batman show, and also quite different from the one I saw in BIRDS OF PREY, and also a bit skewed in the first HARLEY QUINN: HOT IN THE CITY collection I picked up, not to mention the BATMAN / HARLEY & IVY deluxe collection I just read.

Granted, it makes sense; Harley is mercurial and impetuous. Her flights of fancy will always work from a character perspective because she’s goddamn manic and easily influenced, but still smart enough to shut shit down when necessary.

At least, that’s the Harley I like most. That’s the Harley I identify most with.

The opening salvo in HOT IN THE CITY underscores her versatility: it features a litany of different artists given two or so pages to detail their own specific take on Harley, although it was all penned by writer/artist Amanda Conner and writer/inker Jimmy Palmiotti. (I’ll note that they’re married, so a perfect creative team!)

Reader: it gave me whiplash.

I realize that was the intent, but this was the first Harley Quinn book for me, and it felt like I was reading Keith Giffen’s AMBUSH BUG. (Yeah, I realize I’m doing no favors with that deep cut.)

Thankfully, the remaining issues fall into something closer to the Harley I’m familiar with: she’s coupled up with Ivy and they meet Sy and matters delightfully escalate in violent, but amusing ways. I can see how much the animated show leaned on Conner & Palmiotti’s groundwork, however, they still managed to make it their own by digging into more interpersonal dynamics.

While I do grouse about the introductory issue — I just wish they’d just moved it to the end of the collection, because it does feel like self-indulgent back-matter — this is a great way to dip your toes into this world and I don’t regret it.


I ignored the DCU TV efforts when they first launched. I had no interest in signing up for yet-another streaming service, much less one solely focused on rehashing works like DOOM PATROL that I had already read and loved and didn’t want a watered down distillation.

“What is this place?”

Now that all of the DCU TV efforts have been merged into Warner Bros/HBO, it’s far easier to watch them, and holy fucking shit, they’re all amazing, all swing-for-the-fences efforts that somehow have managed to chug along for the entirety of the pandemic.

“It’s a safe place for you to heal. You, and others like you.”

I should have known better. DC doesn’t micromanage their TV creatives the way Marvel does. And DOOM PATROL is amazingly devastating.

Unlike Harley Quinn, I’ve actually been very familiar with DOOM PATROL for years. I have read the entire Morrison run twice over. Shared it with my wife. While I probably should have read it when the original issues were rolling out while I worked in a comic book store, reading them in my late twenties was good enough.


Unsurprisingly, as someone who has been diagnosed as having anxiety, hypomania/bi-polar/whatnot and PTSD (yeah, I’m a fucking shitshow), ‘Crazy Jane’ with her 64 mindsets is the character I identify most with. Diane Guerrero portrays that sort of mental whiplash perfectly.

“Ooooh, please touch me…”

(I’ll note that I have no idea how many appleboxes they have to use to block scenes with Diane Guerrero, but it has to be more than a few. However, her performance has a ferocity that measures her above every one of her co-stars.)

This show is immaculately cast and paced and costumed. April Bowlby is perfection as aloof and fallen Hollywood star Rita Farr, and the extremely form-fitting attire is an amazing narrative nod. Brendan Fraiser’s voice-over work for robot Cliff Steele is astoundingly vulnerable, and the physical effects for him are so tactile. Matt Bomer’s queer confliction as Larry Trainor +1 is so well-penned.

I have no idea how they talked Timothy Dalton into this, but he’s the best Chief you could ask for, and the house they’re shooting in? I want to go to there. It’s all rich Victorian wood and feels old and lived in and haunted. (I actually think I have been, as it looks like one of the WB lot houses, but they did a lot of great work with it!) Also: CIint Mansell provides the score! Alan Tudyk is Mr. Nowhere!

Everyone involved knew what they needed to do, and they did it to perfection, even if they were doing it in service of a bunch of misfits unfit for society.

I am shocked at how good it is, although it is not a subtle show. This isn’t ‘just good’ for a comics adaptation, or ‘just good’ for a genre TV series — it’s a great show, full-stop.

It’s the first show to remind me of SENSE8 in a long time, despite the fact that it is a pretty sexless show. It’s all about misfits trying to come to terms with their realizations and reckoning with them, and we do not have enough of that.

“Do you remember what it felt like? […] To be normal?”


This was the last film I saw in a theater with my wife prior to COVID lockdown and we were enthralled by it. Before this, I hadn’t really experienced much of Harley Quinn apart from a handful of early BATMAN ANIMATED eps from my youth.

For reasons previously touched on, I’ve stupidly identified with Harley Quinn over the past few years, and this was the first glint of that.

Director Cathy Yan’s vision here is extraordinarily vibrant, extremely well-edited, features a pitch-perfect ensemble, an amazing Marilyn Monroe dissociative recreation, and absolutely nails the dubious nature of hands. Seriously, watch for that visual motif. (It’s not subtle! But the subtext works so well!)

I’d be remiss to mention Margot Robbie, who basically willed this production to life and is astounding in the role as Harley. I can’t imagine a better live-action Harley. There’s a physicality here that perfectly exacts how Harley would move.

(Also, I desperately want all of the live-action spin-offs: BLACK CANARY; Renee Montoya THE QUESTION; THE HUNTRESS! A pre-BATGIRL!)

I find it extremely upsetting that it was so rejected at the box office — to the extent where producers truncated the film’s title — because it was so well-done and, culturally, we need more of this.

“Do you know what a harlequin is? A harlequin’s role is to serve. It is nothing without a master. And no one gives two shits who we are beyond that.”

I also really, really want an inverted version of her self-emblazoned shirt.

“Harley. Focus.”

I endlessly rewatch this trailer (and film, when I have the time); it’s my filmic comfort food.


This is one of the most spectacularly fucked-up comic book adaptations of all-time and I am 100% here for it. Apart from a bit of a rushed third act, I have no notes. Fuck all of you Nolan-lovers — this is the real deal.


This is a brutal six issues penned by Eisner nominated Magdalene Visaggio and illustrated by Sonny Liew of an Orlando-esque being who feels they have lived too long, and they just want to die but cannot. It is a very maudlin series that perfectly fits several mindsets.

The colors are pitch-perfect, it’s lettered by Todd fucking Klein, and the inks are heavy; it’s Vertigo 100% of the way. (If you’re too young: Vertigo is the the DC imprint Young Animal mimics!)

But goddamn: the paneling.

The fucking panel work is amazing.

It recalls the amazingly dynamic graphic work in Alan Moore’s PROMETHEA, by the ever-astounding J.H. Williams III, but absolutely peppered with Kirby dots.

I have no idea how much of that’s in the script, but holy hell, it’s astounding. It’s all about splintering and feeling fractured and it’s literally there splayed across the page: the sides you show to people, the facets, and it’s right there in the visual storytelling.

Like I said, it’s brutal, but it is a very worthwhile read.