WIZARD #190

comic book industry has their glossy, all encompassing magazine and it
is this one. They tend to have their formula and stick to it, but
sometimes they’ll surprise you.

This issue’s strong points:

  • I like the "Skrull or No Skrull" feature because I always thought that Marvel had been squandering the potential of having a hostile, militant race of shapreshifters amok in the Marvel Universe. Apparently, Elektra is the first figure to be revealed as one, and I really hope they pull the trigger on a major event following this up. We’ll see…
  • There’s only one Michael Bay, and he gives a good interview here.
  • Bizarrely, they have a great feature on the possible aftermath of World War Hulk which is buried in this issue, and they had a horrible ripoff feature on the same subject last issue when he had one of the covers. Go figure.
  • "50 Greatest Deaths in Comic History" is destined to cause lots of great arguments starting with the asstastic choice of Superman "dying" at Doomsday’s hands.
  • Love the unexpected Halo 3 preview at the beginning. I’ll believe the hype when I play it, but that doesn’t mean the anticipation can’t be lots of fun…

This issue’s weak points:

  • For a mag as dense as this, there can be no rational reason not to have a table of contents.
  • I’m just not a big Mike Mignola fan, and the format of the feature here – wherein he simply weighs in on his most prominent comic stints – didn’t grab me either.
  • A monthly should realize its limitations and not try to lead with "new" photos/news that’s weeks old on the Web by the time the issue hits.

A very, very good issue that’s undercut by the lack of table of contents.

Overall: 8.0 out of 10

2. WEEKLY #943

their film reviews are hated by geeks. Yes, they follow trends
incessantly. And yes, music coverage is generally an afterthought. But
it’s surely the most fun weekly read out there, and they have
television on lock. Plus, they’ll surprise you every now and then with
a great piece on overlooked entertainment industry plebs like personal
assistants and bodyguards. When it’s on, it’s an incredible value. When
it’s not…wait a week.

This issue’s strong points:

  • Very good Transformers piece that doesn’t softstep around the blatant toy/money considerations that have driven the property from the beginning. And for a mainstream rag like this, it’s a pleasant surprise.
  • Solid reviews section across the board.
  • The front section is particularly good here with small pieces on Werner Herzog, Don Cheadle, and a lot of good TV industry-related stuff.

This issue’s weak points:

  • Aside from ole’ Optimus, the features are an absolute disaster, though I will give them credit for at least trying on the Joyce Carol Oates piece. But FIVE FRICKIN’ PAGES on the phenomenon of Xanadu is unacceptable.

A mediocre issue for a mag that had been on the come-up.

Overall: 6.5 out of 10 GUITAR WORLD – SEPTEMBER 2007

see this baby show up more as their coverage isn’t just nerdy articles
on how to do wank-off licks faster than ever, but rather broader
coverage of guitar-oriented artists in blues, jazz, and rock (My
apologies, country fans….for you being country fans, that is).

This issue’s strong points:

  • For fans of the technical side of Van Halen, this is the be-all, end-all issue. Eddie discusses every single facet of his "brown sound" from amps to the electrical components. And unlike GW’s waaaaaaaaaaay premature "Eddie’s Back!!!" issue at the beginning of this year, the lengthy coverage is substantial and he has a lot more to offer fresh out of rehab. Sure a lot of this is to hype up his new 5150 III amp, but he deserves it.
  • I welcome stuff like the long feature on Tool’s Adam Jones because the best time to interview players/artists is when they do NOT have a new product to hype.
  • It’s
    again packed with content from absorbed offshoots Guitar One and
    Guitar World Acoustic. So much great instructional material for players
    of all levels, and the cover story is so meaty, it’s good for
    non-players too.

This issue’s weak points:

  • I’m actually a fan of Dimmu Borgir, but their guitar parts are hardly exceptional enough to merit the amount of instructional space they get here.
  • Prog-punk invasion? No thanks.

A massive and well-done cover story makes this worth the dough alone, but there’s plenty of other good stuff.

Overall: 8.5 out of 10


After the swift and tragic descent of The Source, XXL
has ascended to the throne as the king of hip-hop journalism, both in
print and online. Sure, they favor the big sellers with their feature
stories, but they cover it all from producers to indie dudes to older
guys not in the limelight as much any more.

This issue’s strong points:

  • Cuuuuuuurrrrrtis! Well, if it isn’t the last rapper on the superstar level (Sorry, T.I., but despite your consistent platinum selling, even in these dreary days, you aren’t there yet nor will you ever be). You have to love his interviews because he averages 2.5 people thrown under the bus per article, and in his last two pieces, he’s mostly shit on his own G-Unit clique of weed carriers. I think Lloyd Banks may want to start filling out some applications…
  • I think Yung Joc is absolutely detrimental to the artform of hip-hop, but he’s essential to the business of it. I can’t deny that. So kudos to the article capturing both sides here.
  • Props to covering veterans like WC and Twista with some solid-ass articles.
  • Damn good Q&A with the Lord of BS, Russell Simmons. He twists himself into self-contradictory knots over and over, but it’s fun to watch.

This issue’s weak points:

  • The crop of "Patiently Waiting" trapstars masquerading as rappers gets more depressing every month.
  • Webbie and Lil’ Boosie? WHO. CARES. These dudes are Chingy 2K7 Edition.
  • In a time when there’s such a draught of quality music, the lack of coverage (other than reviews of their albums) of Pharoah Monche, Black Milk, and Common is disturbing. XXL is really dropping the balls on some of the few great rap artists out right now.

Totally a mixed bag, and for people who like hip-hop in WWE mode, the 50 Cent interview will give you what you want. Not too much else, tho.

Overall: 7.0 out of 10 FADE IN MAGAZINE – VOL. 9, No. 5

"Entertainment" magazines are well and good for light reads and what have you. But if you really care about film as a medium and want to read magazines that reflect that, one of your best bets is Fade In.
Despite a dull, "trade mag"-esque layout, this baby brings you good
coverage/interviews of everyone from screenwriters to producers to
major actors, all discussing their craft and the business of film.

This issue’s strong points:

  • You should totally read this issue backwards, as it starts dry and builds to greatness. The last several pages host a fantastic article featuring input from a lot of industry players on the changing times and the future of the film biz. Well-timed and well-done.
  • My God…an interesting Luke Wilson Q&A. How did they do it? ILM? Sorcery?
  • Chunks and chunks of great insider knowledge to be gleaned here.

This issue’s weak points:

  • I’ve had water that was more exciting than the layout.
  • Steve Carell isn’t a particular funny or fresh interview, and covering Evan Almighty with respect after skewering actors taking "paycheck jobs" in the opening editorial is fucking ridiculous.

A good, but unusually uneven issue for these guys.

Overall: 7.5 out of 10 EMPIRE – JULY 2007

The biggest and best movie magazine in the world. Made in the UK. Huge. That’s all you need to know.

This issue’s strong points:

  • I love the 30 different covers concept for Star Wars, as it may be the only property that deserves and could sustain this as something more then a marketing gimmick. Still, with 30 slots open, why waste four on the different types of stormtroopers?
  • Typically fantastic lengthy Q&A at the end…this time with none other than Mike Myers. The "Empire Interview" is the gold standard for film coverage.
  • Damn good Simpsons movie piece, too. Wrote the show off eons ago, but this gets my hopes up.
  • Filled with so many other features, big and small. And they range from just good to hilarious.

This issue’s weak points:

  • Nothing really. Best issue since the action movie spectacular earlier this year.

Overall: 9.5 out of 10