Everyman Vol. 1: Be the People
By The Brothers Goldman and Joe Bucco
Published by FWD Books; $6.00 USD

The allegory here is as transparent as Saran Wrap in its depiction of the downfall of right-wing President Henry R. Birch after his "re-election" is rigged through the use of electronic voting machines designed to throw the 2004 election his way. The political machinations are laid out in extreme detail, unlikely to capture the interest of all but the most politicized of readers -- much as the real-life details of the Bush administration's apocalyptic dismantling of democracy seems to have gotten past a disturbing number of American voters. What we're left with is a well-intentioned but dry and didactic look at a world that is literally too good to be true. Grade: 3/5

No Dead Time
By Brian McLachlan and Thomas Williams
Published by Oni Press; $12.95 USD

Firstly, whoever labelled this as appropriate for teens aged 13 and up is insane: I can't even imagine what the parents of a 13 year old would think if they discovered the profanity and explicit sexual references and descriptions that litter virtually every page of this graphic novel. The discussion of vagina types as "innys" vs. "wet lasagna noodles" is perhaps the worst, but there are many close competitors. The book is also very poorly edited, with dozens of lettering errors, some of them quite disorienting, including more than one sentence where the punctuation is incorrect and the sentence has to be given multiple readings for the writer's intentions to become clear.

Those aggravating distractions out of the way, this is a slice-of-life melodrama about two young adults who are looking for themselves and each other as they bemoan the evils of capitalist consumerism and engage in the brand of disaffected doofus hipsterism that should appeal to fans of Brian Wood's disaffected doofus hipsters. The art is the most appealing element of the book, firmly in the Farel Dalrymple/Tomer Hanuka hyper-realism camp, but the choice of surreal character types (people with horns and batwings are unremarked and apparently quite a normal part of this world) detracts from the naturalist intentions of the script. Individual panels and pages can be quite lovely, but the whole is far less than the sum of its conflicting constituent elements. A nice try, but No Dead Time should have been dealt a much heavier editorial hand and gone through serious revision before being published. Grade: 2.5/5

40 Years of The Amazing Spider-Man CD-ROM
By Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and others
Published by Topics Entertainment; $49.95 USD

This sounds so much more impressive than it turns out to be; 11 CDs containing every issue of Amazing Spider-Man #1-500, plus his first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15. I was disappointed from the moment I put the first disc in my computer. The format is PDF, which is an awkward and unappealing manner in which to read comics. As mentioned in Jason St. Claire's article on comics piracy here at Comic Book Galaxy, one of the most preferred readers for comics on computer is CDisplay. The reason for that is that it makes reading scanned comics a pleasure. The PDF format makes reading them, frankly, a pain in the ass. Long load times and difficult navigation mean that readers will be far better off downloading the pirate version of these comics than investing in what seems like a reasonably priced, legal alternative. But the worst element in this set is the actual quality of the scans themselves. The scans available for pirate downloading are head and shoulders above the quality on these discs. Apparently the pirates care more about how their scans look than licensed vendors. I was expecting so much more, precisely because the pirated scans I've seen were so well done. Add to that the fact that the PDF format is so clunky and obnoxious compared to CDisplay, and this set is nothing but a good idea gone far wrong. Grade: 2/5

-- Alan David Doane

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