Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Too Much Coffee Man and Steel Rain

By reviewed by Marc Savlov

SEPTEMBER 21, 1998: 

from Too Much Coffee Man's Guide For The Perplexed

What's really perp-lexing is why Wheeler and Ol' Coffee Head have managed to stay so far underground all these years. Despite the chatty forward by local transplant Mike Judge and a brief afterward by Wheeler in which he smilingly bemoans the fate of cell phones and agents in his life, Too Much Coffee Man has, by industry standards, created only a relatively small blip on Fanboy's sonar up 'til now (that wonderfully weird animated Nike advertisement notwithstanding). Which is a shame. TMCM falls into the comic medium's "what the hell?" abyss, although with the advent of other, stranger books (I'm thinking Yummy Fur, Squee, and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, among others), this situation ought to be by all rights changing. Keep your java-and-nicotine-stained fingers crossed on that one.

Guide for the Perplexed is one hell of a collection, bringing together this existential, red-suited, coffee-mug-noggined millenial hero with his longtime cohorts in non-sequitur White Chocolate With Almonds Woman, Too Much Espresso Guy, and my favorite, Klix the Happy Computer. As if that weren't enough, the infamously original "Bullet Hole Story" (in which a bullet zips through the stories' panels one page at a time -- the original run had a hole in the mag's cover, no less) is reprinted, as well as another personal, text-heavy fave quoting Balzac's spot-on essay "The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee."

In the end, though, it's enough to know that Wheeler and TMCM are still going strong after all these years, serving up piping hot dollops of angst-flavored, bittersweet brew and keeping my pantry (and bookcases) stocked with TMCM merchandise and new adventures to peruse while sloshing demitasse on myself and righteously avoiding the perils of Starbucks. Here's mud in yer eye.

from Steel Rain

I think it was Harlan Ellison who said the world needs another big-breasted bimbo superhero like it needs another Stan Lee. Okay, I'm paraphrasing, but let's face it, pulchritudinous mutant ass-kickers have pretty much worn out their welcome in my book. Still, this mutants-on-the-loose offering from local Jay French and his Golden Eagle comics (note to Jay: That bird on the cover is actually silver; you might want to talk to your colorist) is above-average stuff that works better than you'd think if given half a chance.

Think mid-Eighties X-Men dosed with a little yellow pill from the New Mutants stable and you'll have a vague idea of French's writing style. The art here is of the detailed, scratchy kind that grates on my nerves but seems to be coming back into form thanks to that black-and-white revolution of a few years back. Storywise, French keeps things ricocheting around between his mutant humans Odyssey, Silverstorm, She-Wolf, Blackstar, Switchblade, etcetera, and their ongoing battle against a mysterious cabal of wimpy baddies. It's nothing you haven't seen before unless you've been hiding in a Prague basement for the last 30 years, but French has a way with dialogue and action panels that echoes after the book is set down. To be fair, this isn't exactly my cup of tea, but then good things all too often blossom out of rough beginnings in this medium, so, hey, I'm eagerly awaiting ish number two to see what the hell happens next, both with French and his chesty legion of supergoons. -- Marc Savlov

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