Rusty's World

Rusty’s Comic of the Week: The Unwritten #33.5

January 29, 2012
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After a week were just about every book was fighting for the top spots, this week was a lot more… sedate. Not bad comics, just not shining stars.

 

THE UNWRITTEN #33.5 (Carey / Gross / Locke) Vertigo

You want to hear effusive praise? It felt like I was reading an issue of Sandman.

What was most amazing about it is that everything was telegraphed but rather than that ruining the reveals it just me anticipate them more. I’ll admit that I don’t know how this issue ties in with the rest of the main story, but at the moment I don’t care. I am just enjoying the storytelling.

 

ALL-STAR WESTERN #5 (Justin Gray / Jimmy Palmiotti / Moritat / Phil Winslade) DC

Quite a disappointing issue for ASW, but the book is so good that it isn’t damning. The main story opened strong but there was very little suspense as the issue continued. The back up wasn’t stellar, but it made me want to read the next part, so that is saying something.

 

FANTASTIC FOUR #602 (Hickman / Kitson / Mounts) Marvel

This was a better read than I expected, but maybe it only seemed so good because I had just read FF. The story is continuing in a clearer fashion than usual. One question… why does Galactus have a big bowtie on his stomach?

I am not a big fan of the jerky / jump cut style of storytelling, but it didn’t bother me as much this time out.

 

SECRET AVENGERS #21.1 (Remender / Zircher / Troy) Marvel

This issue sets up Hawkeye as the new team lead and sets up the new Masters of Evil as the villains. I am looking forward to the new book, but this issue had some problems. Mostly, it gets the relationship between Captain America and Hawkeye a little backwards. This is what they were like towards each other a very long time ago, but they had moved well past it. They had become actual friends instead of this shadow-boxing semi-advesarial thing they have going on here. It didn’t read well.

I am REALLY looking forward to the new run… partially because Ellis is off the book and Rogers will be out of the book. (He was ALWAYS a bad fit here.)

 

CAPTAIN AMERICA & BUCKY #626 (Asmus / Brubaker / Francavilla) Marvel

This book has taken a slide since it left WW2 (and left Chris Samnee behind). The problem is I think that the Bill/Fred versions of Cap and Bucky were never that interesting. I am looking forward to the reworking of the book and Captain America & Hawkeye taking over.

 

THE ULTIMATES #6 (Hickman / Peterson / Ribic / Rauch / Delgado) Marvel

Some good character work here but this is more of that jerky style of writing that doesn’t suit my tastes. A perfect example is the scene at the very end of the book that is labelled as Black Widow (which is good because there is no other way to recognize her) with a little character piece that has no apparent relevance to the rest of the story. It feels tacked on.

 

THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #5 (Van Siver / Simone / Cinar / Rapmund) DC

I am almost surprised that I am still buying this book. There is just enough here to keep me interested… but I am getting kind of tired of there being so many Firestorms. The rapport between Jason and Ronnie is interesting and the terrorist Firestorm was disturbing. They get yet another issue out of me…

 

ALPHA FLIGHT #8 (Van Lente / Pak / Eaglesham / Aburtov) Marvel

And it ends again. Why can’t they make a really good AF comic? Check the line-up at the end. Notice anything?

 

FF #14 (Hickman / Bobillo / Sosa / Sotomayor) Marvel

What is Marvel thinking? Who thought they should keep having THIS calibre of art on the book? On ANY book? It is really awful and is making this book hard to read.

 

AVENGERS SOLO #4 (Van Meter / RObinson / McCann / Henry) Marvel

This book remind sme of the old Spotlight issues. They weren’t very good either.

The back-up is decent. That is the best I can say about this comic.

 


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Moon Knight #9

January 22, 2012
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This was a REALLY good week. A lot of top comics and even some strong showings from weaker books. Only one clunker (though I may have some smaller complaints about bits along the way.)

Starting at my favourite comic of the week and working back.

MOON KNIGHT #9 (Bendis / Maleev / Hollingsworth) Marvel

This has been a solid book from issue 1 but it really hits its stride here. It is a fight issue, but it is interspersed with flashbacks between MK and Buck to show where he got his new toys to outfit his delusional mind state. It also shows that Buck is on to him. The fight was beautiful, as was all the art. The cover deserves special recognition. Maleev is extremely talented.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #678 (Slott / Ramos / Olazaba / Delgado) Marvel

After a ‘less good’ issue, this book is right back on its game! The premise, with Peter getting a little look into the future and seeing the destruction caused by that look was really interesting (and of course the reason why that particular device will be destroyed at the end of the story, I am sure). How he is going to try and fix it is also interesting. I can’t wait for the second part and THAT is the sign of a great story!

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #6 (Bendis / Samnee / Ponsor) Marvel

Third Marvel book in a row. Second Spider-man book (though they are very different characters). Second Bendis book.

I was really looking forward to Chris Samnee joining this book. I have nothing against Sara Pichelli, but Samnee is a favourite of mine. This issue was an interesting mixed bag, though. The Mexico scenes were excellent… but the actual Spider-man scenes were less so. Having an artist draw Spider-man who isn’t great at drawing Spider-man may be a problem. Luckily this book does not lean on the ‘in-costume’ antics a whole lot.

THUNDERBOLTS #169 (Parker / Walker / Pallot / Martin) Marvel

If you are surprised to see T-Bolts this high on such a strong list, well so was I. This is the best issue in a while. Walker seems to really like the Camelot setting. His Merlin in particular is really well done. The story is strong and really hinges on the fact that these are not heroes.

There is a ‘but’ here. A big one. The Black Knight artfully carves off Troll’s clothes so now she is a little hottie underneath wearing a loincloth. Give me a break. That is stupid on SO many levels.

FABLES #113 (Willingham / Leonardi / Randall / Russell / Cannon / Fern / Bachs / Hughes) Vertigo

My partner in comic reading (and life) Ruthanne disagrees with my assessment of this issue (and the last). She would put Fables first, I think (and would drop T-Bolts a lot farther on the handling of Troll). Don’t get me wrong. The Fables book is really good. This is just a week of a LOT of really good books. My problem is that despite some really great artists (Adam Hughes and P.Craig Russell to name two) this still reads like a fill-in. In addition, in a book that trades heavily in fable (duh) Willingham seems to create a new one (as far as I know) and swipe heavily from native mythology (Turtle Island). If you wanted a Turtle Island story, why not make one instead of creating something that uses the story but makes it European? (If I am wrong and this is a case of parallel world stories then sorry to Bill.

WONDER WOMAN #5 (Brian Azzarello / Tony Akins) DC

WW has been at the top of this list recently. The change in artists stings, though it is the regular artist who has to take credit for the cover. Put that one under ‘poses you would never see male heroes doing’. The tentacle wrapped around the leg makes it a little icky.

It was still a good read but it lost some of that wow factor.

AVENGING SPIDER-MAN (Zeb Wells / Joe Madureira / Ferran Daniel) Marvel

Third Spidey book this week and I think that hurts this issue by comparison. The way Spidey wins is kind of silly, and the fact like the other heroes are acting like it is a big deal kind of seems dishonest to me. “Congrats, you accidentally beat the bad guy!”

AVENGERS #21 (Bendis / Guedes / Megalhaes / Keith) Marvel

A third Bendis book, but one I wouldn’t be especially proud of is I was him. (Aside: Ruthanne referred to Storm’s outfit as a ‘stripper costume’. I am not sure I agree with that – or that had ever crossed my mind – but I sure miss the punk rock / mohawk bad-ass Storm. She was way cooler then.) The art was not to my liking, in general. I have seen worse, but it didn’t make me hope to see more by the artist, that is for sure.

Overall, a very good week. Even the clunker is nowhere close to being on the chopping block for me. (And seeing how I have the entire run of Avengers back from 1963 – though not all the ancillary books any more – it is pretty unlikely I am cancelling this one anyway.)


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Batwoman #5

January 15, 2012
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There was a lot of fighting this week… and some of it was pretty well done! Cutting another book this week… sadly. You will see.

BATWOMAN #5 (J.H. Williams III / W. Haden Blackman) DC

Williams is simply amazing. Every page is a work of art and all of it is DESIGNED rather than just drawn. He shows that some artists are not functioning to the level that they could be. It is beautiful stuff. Williams is subbing out for Amy Reeder Hadley next, I believe, but she is a great artist too! It will be interesting to see what she does while under the shadow of Williams.

The story is good too, but honestly, the art is almost TOO good to pay much attention to the story. 🙂 I like Bones so Batwoman’s new associates are very welcome.

THE UNWRITTEN #33 (Carey / Gross / Perker) Vertigo

As I said, a lot of fighting this week. Even The Unwritten involves a full frontal assault (albeit Dragoon-aided). Things are starting to be spelled out here and the ideas that come out of the workings of the Unwritten world work towards their ultimate conclusions… almost. The question is… why don’t they ‘write him out’?

BRILLIANT #2 (Bendis / Bagley) Icon

The quality of Scarlet got me to give Brilliant a try. It is very different but still well worth a read. The Bagley art and Bendis dialogue makes it feel like Peter Parker is going to wonder in any some point. The characters are strong and while the plot is unfolding slowly it is still keeping me hooked.

NEW AVENGERS #20 (Bendis / Deodato / Beredo) Marvel

So an issue that is just one long fight scene and drawn by Mike Deodato. Sounds like something I would slag, right? Well, I would have thought so, but this was a really entertaining comic! Deodato was nowhere near as bad as he normally is. The different characters were actually different and not cut-outs of each other! The only real thing I didn’t like came on the last page because I hate being reminded that such a stupid character exists.

ULTIMATE X-MEN #6 (Spencer / Medina / Barberi / Vlasco / Lokus) Marvel

First off, what is with that cover? When was the last time Kitty looked ANYTHING like that, it either world? Leaving that, Rogue redeemed herself as a character SOMEWHAT, but still has a ways to go. The surprise ending was something I projected before it happened, though I didn’t think they would admit it yet. I didn’t read Ultimate X-Men before the relaunch… so I don’t know how big a surprise that was.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #7 (Brubaker / Davis / Farmer / Martin) Marvel

The only thing I don’t like about this story is the seen-it-before syndrome. Cap losing his serum powers is a story I feel like I have read a few times already. It is working okay so far, and I quite like the Serpent Squad (though I would like to see the return of the Serpent Society). The new Cap book reads a bit like the old Mark Gruenwald issues and that is a very good thing. I think the Davis art really helps that feeling.

SECRET AVENGERS #21 (Ellis / Immonen / Von Grawbadger / Sotomayor) Marvel

Sigh. The best thing about this issue is the knowledge that it is Ellis’ last. I don’t dislike Ellis and I have liked SOME of his run (last issue was REALLY good) but his apparent dislike of Steve Rogers is really a problem for me. I tried to look at this issue two ways: once as is and once with a mental substitution of Nick Fury in for Steve Rogers. With that chane, the book was actually quite good. Fury was ruthless. Beast was his conscience. Rhodey was good. Natasha was good. Valkyrie was good.

But it wasn’t Fury. It was Rogers.

Look, I am NOT getting into a debate about torture. My problem is not about whether it is okay to torture someone or to casually discuss killing your own team without first trying to find a better way. My problem is that Steve Rogers WOULD NOT do those things. Beast was saying things that Rogers should have been saying.

Looking forward to Remender.

BATGIRL #5 (Gail SImone / Adrian Syaf / Vicente Cifuentes) DC

Neural implant surgery? In a tossed off line? You need to do better than that.

EXPLAIN WHY SHE IS WALKING. EXPLAIN WHY SHE CAN DO THINGS THAT NOBODY SHOUDL BE ABLE TO DO.

If you don’t do that, Gail, and soon, I am dumping this book. You are making those who complained about taking her out of the chair right.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #677 (Waid / Rios / J.Rod) Marvel

This is part one of a cross-over with Daredevil and it is written my Mark Waid, the DD writer, instead of Dan Slott. It feels like a fill-in. Quite disappointing. Also, I liked Rios’ art on the Osborne series but it doesn’t feel right here. The dialogue is light and playful and the art is dark and ominous. There is a disconnect.

SUICIDE SQUAD #5 (Adam Glass / Federico Dallocchio) DC

Someone tell me when this gets better. I’m not waiting anymore. (Bring back Ostrander! Or maybe Simone!)

Dropped.

AVENGERS SOLO #3 (Van Meter / Barrionuevo / McCann / Henry) Marvel

The back-up is good. The lead is not. I’ll run this out because I like the Avengers Academy story but I really wish it was McCann on the lead story.


Captain America and…

January 11, 2012
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Marvel just announced that Captain America & Bucky is going to become a Cap team-up book done in four issue arcs. The first four issues will be called Captain America & Hawkeye and will be by Bunn and Vitti. Can’t say I am familiar with the creators but I sure like the concept.


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Avengers Announcement

January 10, 2012
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Brian Bendis just tweeted that as of issue #25, the new artist on the Avengers will be…

Walt Simonson

Holy crap.

Rusty is happy.


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Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Avengers Annual #1

January 9, 2012
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Good week for comics! Not to big… a nice amount of good reads. Even the clunkers seemed to be improvements on what had gone before.

Let’s start from the best and work back, as always.

AVENGERS ANNUAL #1 (Bendis / Dell’otto / Svorcina) Marvel

This is a really good book! The voice of the people versus the voice of authority sang through this book. This was an interesting parallel to Bendis’ book ‘Scarlet’. (Great book, by the way).

I used to be a Wonder Man fan but he hasn’t be interesting in quite a while. This changes that. I heard people complaining about D-Man, of all characters. D-Man was a one-note character that was never interesting. Now they are claiming that he is crazy. What I want is for him to be telling the truth (AND a little crazy). But that I don’t really like the people on other comic forums… so screw them! 🙂

If you let it, this is a comic that actually makes you think. Rare for superheroes (let’s be honest here…)

SWAMP THING #5 (Scott Snyder / Yanick Paquette) DC

I go back and forth about what is the best of the new DC books. Is it All-Star Western? Is it Wonder Woman? Right now I am leaning towards Swamp Thing. This might not be quite Alan Moore, but it stands on its own. The Rot is a really cool villain and Abby is one of the best supporting characters going (along with the Baker family over in Animal Man).

The Paquette art is brilliant. The panel layouts were very well done (other than a single somewhat confusing double-page spread).

DC may not be great at superheroes, but they are great at the periphery books.

iZOMBIE #21 (Chris Roberson / J.Bone) Vertigo

Right up until I read the last two books in my pile, I thought iZombie was a shoe-in for comic of the week. As much as I have a big man-crush on Mike Allred, J.Bone is a wonderful change of pace. Don’t let the cartoony nature of his work fool you, this is some pretty deep work.

My only complaint was that I wanted to read the rest of the Dead Presidents origin.

ANIMAL MAN #5 (Lemire / Foreman / Huet / Pugh) DC

This is sort of a companion book to Swamp Thing. They share a villain and the books are going to cross soon. The only thing that knocks this book down is that Travel Foreman is no Yanick Paquette. Foreman is a very talented artist but the book is just so ugly. It is appropriate to the story but it makes it less enjoyable to read it.

I mean, just look at that cover. Ick. Not much of a selling point.

AVENGERS ACADEMY #24 (Gage / Grummett / Hamscher / Sotomayor) Marvel

This is a good read. The villain is not the most interesting and the Reptil from the future thing doesn’t ring my bell a whole lot… but the characters are just so wonderful. Tom Grummet is the perfect artist for this book. He is an upgrade without being a drastic change from what was going on. The cover was kind of misleading, but what the hell…

THUNDERBOLTS #168 (Parker / Southworth / Martin) Marvel

This issue was decent. I like getting back to the T-Bolts in the modern day, but I wasn’t really moved by the Mr. Fear story. The art was good but I didn’t think that the fact that Cage thought he killed that person was shown very well. Ghost is just plain awesome. I have a feeling one of two things will happen when this big time travel story is over. A: The new status quo will be very different OR B: the book will be cancelled. I hope it isn’t the latter.

ACTION COMICS #5 (Grant Morrison / Andy Kubert / Jesse Delperdang) DC

Action has been teetering for me. I have already cancelled Superman and I found this book was not holding my interest very well… until now. Strong storytelling here! I find that Morrison sometimes gets caught up in his ideas and doesn’t tell the story well, but not this time. Even the back-up was spot on.

Keep it going like this and Action will move up this list.

THE DEFENDERS #2 (Fraction / Dodson / Dodson / Oback) Marvel

Issue #1 was a big disappointment for me. This issue was quite a bit better. The scene between Dr. Strange and the red She-Hulk was worth the price of admission alone. Oddly enough, it is still Iron Fist that doesn’t feel right to me, and word is that Fraction loves the character.

AVENGERS: X-SANCTION #2 (Jeph Loeb / Ed McGuinness / Dexter Vines / Morry Hollowell) Marvel

Issue #1 was just terrible. Issue #2 was not exactly great, but it read better. I still can’t stand the art and the ‘Avenger of the Week’ thing doesn’t flow well. There was a little more characterization this time. Is it wrong that I just keep hoping that Cable will die again?


Rusty’s Comic of the Week: Secret Avengers #20

January 2, 2012
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This post is a little late because of New Year’s. Last night was spent NOT reading comics but enjoying a party held by our friends, Nadine and Phil. It involved me successfully defending my NYE Poker Championship! Then today also had some New Year’s festivities with those same friends, in the form of Chinese food.

I finally got down to reading comics this evening, and no it is time for reviews!

Big week.

SECRET AVENGERS #20 (Ellis / Maleev / Filardi) Marvel

When Warren Ellis took over Secret Avengers I absolutely hated it. His first issue was completely awful and the next issue was not a lot better. His third issue, on the other hand, was pretty good and now this one… which is great! A Black Widow story, which gets brownie points already, Alex Maleev art, not at his absolute best but still very strong, and a VERY well done time travel story. Everything worked here, including the newspaper strip homage. I have been looking forward to the end of the Ellis run and the start of Rick Remender’s and this doesn’t change that, but at least there was finally an issue worth the praise that has been heaped upon the Ellis run.

ALL-STAR WESTERN #4 (Justin Gray / Jimmy Palmiotti / Moritat / Phil Winslade) DC

It has not gone unnoticed by me that the best of the DC relaunch are the books that are not mainstream superhero books. Marvel does those better. Where DC shines is going outside of those bounds with books like Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Animal Man and this one.  ASW has been my favourite comic in some weeks and this one was pretty good. The Moritat art was not as great as it usually is, but it was still very solid. The back-up was also not stellar. The main story more than made up for it. I am looking forward to the further adventures of Hex and Arkham.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #5 & 6 (#5 – Brubaker / McNiven, Camuncoli / Leisten… #6 – Brubaker / Davis / Farmer / Martin) Marvel

Yes, two issues of Cap in the same week. (Even more, Cap & Bucky came out this week as well.) I have no idea why. Even more puzzling, this is a transitionary spot as one art team makes way for the next. #5 was the best issue of the new title so far. I especially liked it as it reminded me of early Flag Smasher, before that villain was ruined by bad writing. It is really interesting to read about a villain he is completely right but using unacceptable methods to fight for his cause. It is so reflective of so many things going on today. Then, #6 was even better! Bru’s writing style feels slightly different under the pencil of Alan Davis. I have no problem with McNiven but what a treat to switch to Alan Davis! I was so happy when he did that Avengers Prime mini and when I heard he was taking over Cap… well, his style is perfect for this book. People who really liked the dark and gritty stylings when this was a Bucky book might disagree. Too bad for them, I guess. 🙂

AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE #8 (Heinberg / Cheung / Morales / Ponsor) Marvel

I have enjoyed this mini… I just don’t like waiting two months between issues. I am not a huge fan of the way both the Avengers and X-Man are made out to look like d-bags, but that is kind of seeing it through the eyes of the next generation. Are we trading Cassie in for Scott? I’ll take that trade… and I don’t dislike Cassie.

ULTIMATE X-MAN #5 (Spencer / Medina / Vlasco / Curiel) Marvel

This is SO much better than the old Ultimate X-Men. It has a great cast. I hope they follow through and get rid of Rogue. It looks like it is Kitty’s time to shine. And what is Pietro up to?

All are reasons to keep reading, which was something I couldn’t find myself doing before the relaunch.

FURY OF FIRESTORM #4 (Ethan Van Sciver / Gail Simone / Yildiray Cinar) DC

Last month I felt close to cancelling this book. This month I enjoyed it a lot more. Adding the Russians was great. International intrigue that a couple of teenagers now have to deal with? Good call. I liked the juxtaposition of Ronnie being upset that Jason would think him stupid… followed by him apparently doing something very stupid.

CAPTAIN AMERICA  & BUCKY #625 (Asmus / Brubaker / Francavilla) Marvel

This book started to slide as soon as it left WW2 (and lost the Chris Samnee art), but it made some gains again this issue. Focusing on the second set of Cap & Bucky, while still making it a modern story, really works. I don’t see a long run before this book is cancelled (and then the other Cap book takes over the original numbering) but for now it is worth a read. At last this month.

FF #13 (Hickman / Bobillo / Sosa / Sotomayor) Marvel

Bobillo’s art is a lot better than last issue. And by a lot better, I mean that is merely really crappy instead of that mess from the previous book. Hickman’s story is solid but the bad art is very distracting, Hopefully that problem is corrected before this book gets the axe.

THE UNWRITTEN #32.5 (Carey / Gross / Ormston) Vertigo

The first .5 issue of The Unwritten was one of the best issues I have read of this title in quite a while. This issue was… boring. I found that I just didn’t care about it in any way. Hopefully further of these interlude issues will be more like the previous one than this one.

THE ULTIMATES #5 (Hickman / Peterson / Ribic / White) Marvel

Without going back and double-checking, I assume this is a different artist from the previous issues. I assume that because the previous issues were much better. That isn’t the big reason I rate this book so low, though. It is more because NOTHING HAPPENS. The interaction between Thor and his… relations were the only real saving grace this issue.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #4 (Peter Milligan / Mikel Janin) DC

This is the last issue of this book I will be getting. Four issues in and there is still zero story other than ‘bad things are happening. Of some sort. Or something.’ Milligan can sometimes slip in incoherence in his writing and gets away with it by coasting on style. I bought this book for Zatanna, Madame Xanadu and Constantine. This isn’t Zatanna. This isn’t Madame Xanadu. Constantine… well, if it is just him, I could just buy Hellblazer. Which I don’t.

Dropped.

SUPERMAN #4 (George Perez / Jesus Merino) DC

If I am dropping JLD and this is rated lower, what does that tell you? This has been the weaker Superman book and this issue made no in-roads there. As a writer George Perez is a great artist (luckily he IS that…). Good writing is not just putting in more words. I would think an artist would understand that, but I guess not. I miss the 80’s version of George. (But hey, can’t we say the same thing about John Byrne, Chris Claremont, Walt Simonson…?)

Dropped

ALPHA FLIGHT #7 (Van Lente / Pak / Eaglesham / Aburtov) Marvel

Do you remember the last time there was a good AF comic? 1985? I had high hopes for the new series that started as a mini, was changed to an on-going, and now back to a mini. With only one issue left, I am not going to cut it, but if it were an on-going, I would have.

ANNIHILATORS: EARTHFALL #4 (Abnett / Lanning / Huat / Hennessy / Quintana) Marvel

People talk about how great the Marvel space stuff is. I have no idea why. This miniseries was awful in every way… except the Rocket Racoon and Groot back-ups. They were good but not  enough to save the series.

I picked up some trades after Christmas, which I will do a mini-review about sometime soon. They are Green Lantern: Rebirth, Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle, 100 Bullets Deluxe Vol. 1, Fantastic Four Vol. 1 Imaginauts and Age of Bronze Vol. 1 (and then Kevin Matthews has lent me Vol. 2 & 3)