Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dr. Strange: The Oath

My dream creative team for a Doctor Strange mini series would be Alan Moore and P. Craig Russell, but since the likelihood of that happening would almost be as amazing as Steve Ditko himself ever working on this character again, Brian K. Vaugan and Marcos Matin's 2006 Doctor Strange The Oath mini series (collected into a nice trade paperback in 2007) is a fine addition to the few great Doctor Strange stories that exist.
Marcos Martin, who also illustrated the excellent Batgirl Year One mini series for DC years ago, was a perfect choice for artist on Doctor Strange The Oath. Actually Marcos Martin has a nice clean, sparse style that would probably be suited for almost any kind of comic book story / character, but in The Oath he wonderfully evokes Ditko, while at the same time channeling David Mazzuccheli (artist on Miller's Batman Year One).

Brian K. Vaughan (Y The Last Man, Ex Machina), in The Oath, wrote a Doctor Strange that was faithful to his previous appearances and added some humor to the character that didn't seem out of place. Doctor Strange The Oath opens up with Iron Fist going to an hospice run by Night Nurse (she's actually a surgeon, but as she states in this book, Night General Practioner doesn't look as good on the sign) because he pulled a hamstring in a fight. A couple of pages later Dr. Strange is brought in by Wong (his assistant) due to having been shot. So right away by introducing Night Nurse as a character interacting with Doctor Strange (why hasn't this been thought of before!?), Vaughan has once established that he's done his homework and knows how to get a book started on a strong note. A big part of the series is about Doctor Strange looking for a cure for a medical condition that Wong has and both that quest and the other tangents the story takes all add up to one of the best Doctor Strange stories in years. The only thing missing was Clea, a fellow sorcerer and love interest of Doctor Strange, but that character hasn't been used in years and I don't even know what happened when she last appeared (maybe Alan Moore and P. Craig Russell could tell that story).

Doctor Strange is one of those uber powerful otherworldly characters (Thor has the same problem) that are really hard to do well because of their power levels which make it hard to come up with threats big enough for them and or readers have a hard time getting a frame of reference for. Characters like Doctor Strange are also best used sparingly because with their power levels they could just single handedly defeat almost any villain or fix anything. Having a mini series like The Oath is the way I'd use Doctor Strange in the future because Vaughan came up with a story suited to the character's "world" and yet had it take place within the Marvel universe without the reader having to susppend too much disbelief like I feel one has to with that character being a part of the Avengers.

Arkham Asylum

Yesterday I revisited Batman The Killing Joke and I got to thinking about the other great Joker story, Batman Arkham Asylum, by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean. So this morning I re-read Arkham Asylum and was a little sad to discover that it isn't as great as I'd remembered it being.

I like Grant Morrison as a writer, actually I mostly like him as an idea person, as he is just overflowing with great ideas. The problem to me with Morrison is that often he has too many great ideas and instead of slowing down his story and exploring his mad ideas and concepts, he just moves on to the next one, examples of this being his long runs on JLA and X-Men (the latter of which was additionally hampered by very late artists so for most of Morrison's run on X-Men artists had to be brought in at the twelve o'clock hour to get the book out). Morrison has said before that he scripts like DC silver age comic book writers and while I can appreciate the "fun and what crazy thing is he going to come up with next" aspect of this kind of rapid ideas kind of writing, at the same time I think a lot of Morrison's stories would have been richer if he'd reign himself in a bit and focus more on characterizations and how the concepts he introduces play out. Just so that I don't appear to be a Grant Morrison hater, here's some of the titles I've liked by him: The Filth, St. Swithin's Day, Doom Patrol, Invisibles, and Animal Man. It could also be said that just because I'm looking for something different out of most of Morrison's superhero comics, doesn't mean that what he does doesn't have a big audience because actually it does (although I think those stories might be held to an even higher regard if they were more in line with what I'd like to see Morrison do in his superhero comics writings).

Batman Arkham Asylum is a good Batman / Joker story, but ultimately I don't think it's great because Morrison doesn't really explore the nature of Batman and Joker's relationship in any way that brings anything different to the already established mythos. To me the best part of Arkham Asylum on the writing front is Morrison's exploration of the origin of the asylum (which are nicely interwoven throughout this graphic novel), but I wish even that part of the story had had more weight. Morrison's Joker also has some nice maniacal, twisted aspects.

The true star of Batman Arkham Asylum is artist Dave McKean and his frenetic, painted illustrations perfectly capture the over the tilt realms of madness. Arkham Asylum was released in 1989 (and as Karen Berger mentions in the liner notes, has sold more than 500,000 copies since then!) and is a worthy addition to the superhero graphic novels pantheon that brought more adult sensiblities to that genre. And even though I wish it had more weight I still think Batman Arkham Asylum is worth reading and maybe I'm being too harsh on it having just read it after reading the excellent defining Joker story that is Batman The Killing Joke. I also love the subtitle of Batman Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth, but maybe that very clever subtitle caused me to want more out of the book than I got.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Killing Joke

Last week saw the release of a hardcover, slightly oversized version of the classic Alan Moore / Brian Bolland 1988 definitive Joker story, Batman The Killing Joke. This edition is newly colored by artist Brian Bolland (see example below with the original page on the left and the newly colored page on the right) and has an added Batman short story that Bolland wrote and drew for Batman Black and White, called An Innocent Guy, that Bolland colored here for the first time. So even if Batman The Killing Joke was poop on a story level (which it isn't), you'd have some of the most amazing art that Bolland's ever done to google over (and the new coloring is the most dramatic improvement I've seen to date with newly colored comics from yesteryear).

Batman The Killing Joke was written by Alan Moore because Brian Bolland wanted to work with him and it's interesting to read in Bolland's closing liner notes to the hardcover that he hasn't since worked with another writer (also in the liner notes Bolland says that he's re-touched almost every page of the art in this new edition). Actually Brian Bolland rarely does any interior comic work so fans of his artwork have to be content with his marvelous covers he does for various DC titles. Another sidenote for those of you who haven't read Alan Moore's comments upon finishing The Killing Joke, is that he thought it amounted to nothing more than a really good Batman Annual - this of course didn't make Brian Bolland too happy because he worked on the art for a very long time. Moore has since said that he didn't mean his comment as a slight to the excellent art of Brian Bolland and I'm guessing that he said that because he was at that time getting a little wary of just writing superhero stories.

I consider Batman The Killing Joke, not just the best Joker story ever, but one of the best Batman stories ever (and in a "mere" 46 pages to boot). Many also consider this the definitive origin of the Joker (I certainly do), but for some people their enjoyment of The Killing Joke rests upon how they feel about the last two pages in which (no spoilers) Batman does something that some consider out of character. I, for one, love those last two pages and definitely think they are important to the book as a whole and to the title itself.

Moore has also stated that the story was too harsh (and this book, if it had a rating, would get a hard R) in what ultimately happens to one of it's characters, but I'm in the camp that the way the story was written and drawn perfectly culminated into the ultimate confrontation between Batman and the Joker and what later writers did with said character is a great progression for that character. I would say that with The Killing Joke in mind, that it would be very hard to do another Joker story that wouldn't just seem silly and for the most part that's been true with one big, great exception being Grant Morrison and Dave McKean's Arkham Asylum graphic novel from 1989.

At the heart of Batman the Killing Joke is the question: What happens to a person who has a REALLY BAD day (meaning not just bad in the sense that you had a flat tire or couldn't take a lunch break that day), what do they do afterwards? The Killing Joke also contains great musings on the nature of sanity / insanity and memories - consider the following dialogue by the Joker: "Remember? Ohh, I wouldn't do that! Remembering's dangerous. I find the past such a worrying, anxious place. 'The past tense,' I suppose you'd call it. Ha Ha Ha." Batman The Killing Joke, originally from 1988 is, yes, another of Alan Moore's (and Brian Bolland's) timeless, multi-layered creations that just about everyone who's read it will pay a return visit to.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Superman, Ali & Close Encounters

On a wonderful day in 1978 that has to be at the very top of my all time geek out memories, I bought DC's Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali on the same day that I saw Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. At the time I was in high school in Munich, Germany (it wasn't a German school though, as at the time there was U.S. military people living there) and although Close Encounters opened up in the U.S. in 1977, it didn't get to the U.S. overseas theaters until 1978 (that's how I ended up seeing it the same day I bought Superman Vs. Ali, which was released in 1978).

DC's Superman Vs. Ali was published as a 72 page comic in what was called the treasury sized format (it was the size of the original Life magazines or for those of you reading this who aren't that old, basically it was the size of DC's hardcover absolute editions). Superman Vs. Ali was written by Denny O'Neil and fantastically drawn by Neal Adams with Dick Giordano and Terry Austin inking. Sadly I no longer have my copy and this book is long out of print because of copyright issues so I no longer remember many details of the story (I think finding another copy for myself will be my San Diego convention goal this year). I remember the story being highly entertaining once you get past the small detail of having Superman being exposed to some kind of kryptonite so that he wouldn't have his super strength (actually that's only fair) and thus the actual fight between Supes and Ali became more exciting.

Everything about Superman Vs. Ali was exciting. Starting with the wrap around cover, Neal Adams drew multitudes of famous people that were in the news and pop culture throughout the 1970's (such as Sonny & Cher, President Carter and soon to be President Ford). I don't know how many copies this book sold (and it was only $2.50 cover price!) when it came out, but I'm sure it was huge because how could anyone resist buying a copy of huge comic book that had Supes and Ali (at the height of his stellar boxing career) fighting each other, in addition to the art being so easy on the eyes!?

The first Star Wars movie came out just months before Close Encounters if I remember correctly and while I was a HUGE Star Wars fan even before it came out and was throughtout my teenage years, I had been reading many sci-fi movie magazines at the time and was especially eager to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a movie that's been on my top five movies of all time since it's been released and for me it's aged much better than Star Wars (although I still enjoy the first two original Star Wars movies and the third one minus the teddy bears).

As a kid and teenager I always fantasized about meeting extraterrestrial life so of course I was going to love Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Everything about Spielberg's Close Encounters was fantastic and I think the way things unfolded in the movie would happen the same way if we were ever to be visited by intelligent extraterrestial life (although from what I now know about the universe and how vast it is and how great the distances are, the chances of meeting any alien beings seems very remote at best). John Williams did the score for Close Encounters (he also did the great Star Wars soundtrack) and I don't think the movie would have worked were it not for him. The music, being that it's the way the form of communication with the extrterrestrial ife in the movie, still gives me goosebumps whenever I hear it (and Daft Punk opening their Vegoose set last year with the opening notes from Close Encounters just made that show go way off the chart for me).

So really, having provided these testimonials on why this day in 1978 was such a geektastic day for me, can anyone argue that it wasn't!?

Friday, March 14, 2008

P. Craig Russell, art god

The other day I was walking past my display racks here at my store and I caught a glimpse of The Art of P. Craig Russell and got to thinking "I can't believe I haven't given this great book and this great artist a big shout out here on my little blog!" P. Craig Russell is easily on my top five of favorite artists of all time and The Art of P. Craig Russell is a template for how art books should be done. This book came out at the end of 2007 and I don't have enough hyperbole within me to convey how excellent The Art of P. Craig Russell is (256 oversized hardcover, published by Desperado). P. Craig Russell guides the reader of his art book through an incredibly comprehensive overview of his 25 plus years working in the comic book medium, with his insights on where he was in his mindspace when creating a particular piece and shows us the evolution and process of his craft.
Most people that are familiar with Russell in this modern age of comics (post 1980), discovered P. Craig Russell from his Sandman story in issue #50, Ramadan, from his short story in Sandman: Endless Nights (and for his adaptations of other Neil Gaiman prose works, of which later this year will see two more fine additions: Coraline and Sandman Dream Hunters). Other people became aquainted with Russell's art via his Elric adaptations and or through his excellent Opera adatations such as The Ring of the Nibelung and The Magic Flute.

Other people of an advanced age such as myself, first fell in love with P. Craig Russell's art that he did in for Marvel in the 1970's such as Dr. Strange and Killraven (especially in the Killraven original graphic novel). It's often been said that P. Craig Russell's art is lyrical, well I can't come up with a better description, as Russell's art truely does seem to sing (probably why his art is so suited to doing the opera adaptations he's done). In addition to adapting Neil Gaiman work's, Russell's art has graced Marvel and DC characters (yes, he's done Batman), he's done Conan, and he's adapted Kipling's Jungle Book and various works of Oscar Wilde.

P. Craig Russell is definitely an artist's artist, meaning all other artists want to be him when they grow up. Excuse me while I put on my hyperbole hat again in saying give yourself and or your loved ones a treat and look at the wonder that is The Art of P. Craig Russell at your favorite comic book store (or even not so favorite comic book store that knows enough to stock this book).


Emma is a seven volume manga series by Kaoru Mori (actually an eighth volume featuring short side stories will be coming out later) set in Victorian England. Emma, the central character, is a maid who meets and falls in love with William, who is on the opposite side of the social spectrum as he is from a wealthy family. I normally don't gravitate towards period works such as Emma, but one flip through the first volume was all it took for the artwork to make me want to read the story.

Emma is a love story, but it's not contrived, nor does it have cliched characters. Kaoru Mori, the writer, artist, and creator of Emma so beautifully renders England circa the late 1800's that the city and environments in which her characters live are a big part of why Emma comes alive as it does. Reading and looking at Emma reminds me of anime by Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service, Whisper of the Heart, Howl's Moving Castle) and I can think of no higher compliment.

Later this year the anime version of Emma will be translated here in the U.S. and I for one can't wait. I'd recommend taking a look at the Emma manga (and the anime when it arrives) if you're of the opinion that all manga and anime is of the same mold.

Madman is cool beans!

The newest issue of Madman came out this week (issue #7) and it's quite the visual treat. This issue is the concluding chapter in the Madman Goes to Space arc and even if you've never picked up an issue of Madman before, take a look at this issue as it's done entirely without dialogue and is one of the best silent comics I've ever "read". Another great single issue to look at for those of you new to Madman is issue #3 (of the new series) as it is another great art showcase, with Allred telling the whole issue by apeing (emulating) the art styles of dozens of artists including Gene Colan, Steve Bissite, Hal Foster, Jack Kirby, Dick Sprang, Walter Simonson, John Byrne, Will Eisner, and too many more to list, all in a single 24 page comic that works as a wonderful homage to great artists from today and yesteryear.

Mike Allred has been writing and drawing Madman since 1992 (taking off from working on the character from time to time though over the years to work on other projects) and now Image is the publishing home for Madman. Last year Image released the Madman Gargantua hardcover which collects just about all of the Madman stories to date (when I first got it I was looking through it and marveling at the scope of Allred's talent even from the beginning, but sadly I haven't blocked aside the time yet to devour and revisit these early adventures). There are several smaller trade paperback collections of Madman, with one of the best as means of an introduction being the Madman / Superman Hullabaloo collection (not in the Gargantua hardcover).

What is Madman? Well it's a superhero book of sorts as Madman (Frank) has powers and fights supervillains, but Madman is actually mostly just Mike Allred's forum for portraying a great love story (Frank aka Madman and his girlfriend, Jo) amidst a back drop which allows him to draw fantastical things like space ships and aliens. Madman stories are mostly light in tone, but Allred also explores existensial concepts in Madman without bogging down the book (I actually often wish that the existential themes were more prominent).

I'd say that Mike Allred's creativity is as rich as Grant Morrison's, but Allred is more centered and more positive than Morrison (and I'm not saying either writer's outlook is better than the others, I'm just offering this from my perspective). If memory serves me correctly, I believe that the expressions "cool beans" and "ginchy" were first used in Madman. A short lived, but great cartoon that some of you may remember came out years ago called Freakazoid (I think it's coming out on dvd this summer) - and even though Allred probably should have sued for plagarism, it was a great cartoon and people that liked it would like Madman (and vice versa).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Judenhass preview

No spoilers following:

Yesterday comic book stores everywhere received an advance preview edition of Dave Sim's Judenhass (German term for Jew hatred), his Holocaust book which will ship to stores in May. I know I've already talked once about this book when it was first announced, but I wanted to give another heads up for people to go to their local comic book store and ask to look at the preview.

Judenhass is every bit as powerful and moving as I anticipated it being. On one level it could be said that it would be hard to tell a story about the Holocaust with that story not being powerful and resonating with the reader (and I'd agree), but I also agree with Dave Sim's opening statement in which he says: "Every creative person should consider doing a work addressing the Shoah (Jewish term for the Holocaust)." I don't think that there's enough stories already about the Holocaust because the more such stories are told, hopefully the hatred some people have for other people based on differences in religion, ethnicicity, and or social status will be vanquished.

In Judenhass, Dave Sim assembles quotes from people throughout history that show that anti-Semitism wasn't just centric to Hitler Germany and by using these quotes over his photorealistic illustrations (the photos Sim used are credited in Judenhass' bibliography) the reader is shown the ultimate horror of hatred. As I mentioned in my February blog entry (titled "Sim's Secret Project 1 Unveiled"), Judenhass is a 56 page presentation for only $4.00, that Dave Sim produced as an affordable book that anyone can pick up and learn more about what led up to the Holocaust (it should be especially easier to introduce this subject to students if instructors used Judenhass as Dave Sim suggests). At the risk of further repeating my blog entry of last month (but really this bears repeating), for those of you who haven't yet visited, it's a great site for further information on the genesis and the process involved in the production of Judenhass (the website is designed by Lou Copeland, who also did the digital production for the comic book and was Dave Sim's research assistant). I'd also like to add that the production values throughout Judenhass are of the highest quality (paperstock, binding, and presentation).

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Malificent, our cat that we've had for ten years, died of kidney failure today. Malificent first came into our lives in 1998 when we lived at our condo we have by the store. Just about every day after I'd come home from work, Malificent (we just called her kitty then) would come up to greet me and she did this for almost a year before we even put out water and food for her. We started putting out water and food for her outside our condo because even though we thought she belonged to someone in the neighborhood we thought that a little more food wouldn't hurt her. Her age was estimated by a vet shortly after we took her with us to our new home as being about four, so she lived until about the age of fourteen.
It wasn't until almost two years that we determined that Malificent didn't belong to anyone around our condo's neighborhood (she never had a collar) so when we moved we decided that we'd bring her with us. Our condo was too small to have her stay inside all the time, but as we moved to our house we just kept her indoors and she never made protests to want to go outside. I think indoor living was totally suited to Malificent because she was really just a sedate cat that loved to lounge around (sure all cats do, but Malificent took lounging around to a new level).
Malificent LOVED getting brushed, especially by Kate. The only place Malificent wasn't too fond of getting brushed (or petted) was towards her back and she would try to meow disapprovingly (her meower didn't work that well, we always joked that she seemed as if she was a chain smoker). In the winter time at bedtime, Malificent liked to lay upon Kate for extra warmth and the rest of the year she'd lay alongside me. This past winter we let our other cat, Alucard, come into our bedoom (we used to keep them apart at night, but she gradually tolerated his presence), but since Alucard thinks he's the boss of the house he got to lay upon Kate so Malificent would go back to her old standard place along my side. Kate named her Malificent (after the wicked witch in Sleeping Beauty) just as a joke, because she never lived up to her namesake.
Growing up I never had a cat (no pets in the house much to my dismay) so Malificent was the first cat I'd "owned" (actually our pets end up owning us). I've always loved cats with their independent, mysterious, graceful, and curious mannerisms. Malificent was never that curious (she wasn't really into climbing in bags or boxes or chasing lights like Alucard or other cats I've known) and actually she was a lot more affectionate than other cats in my experience. She actually loved people, but didn't have much regard for other critters (much to my disappointment when Alucard adopted us about six years ago as I thought she'd like a companion animal). So while Malificent wouldn't really come when you called her, she often came up to us to be petted and she was a constant companion to me laying / sleeping by my side on the sofa as I read or watched television. The last couple of months, Malificent would increasingly walk and lay upon my chest for more attention.
Often while perfecting her art of sleeping, Maificent would perform what Kate and I would call "the butt flop", which involved her ungraciously hoisting her butt and her whole body to her flip side - this never got old or not funny. Malificent was also the gueen of prompting us to give her cat treats especially whenever either of us returned to the house as she'd jump upon the kitchen island waiting on the corner for us to go to the pantry where she knew the treats were stored. I hope everyone gets a chance to have a wonderful companion pet such as Malificent because even though she was just with us for what I feel was ten short years (it was estimated that she was four when we took her in), she enriched our lives tremendously.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Barb & First Friday

Last night at First Friday (Las Vegas' downtown arts gathering held the first friday of every month), my friend Barbara (Barb) Rollins presented some paintings from a series she calls Unfinished (they certainly don't look unfinished) that was hosted by the Blue Sky Yoga gallery at the Arts Factory (107 E. Charleston).

This is my favorite of Barb's pieces that I have seen - it's called Driftwood and she did this when she was 17.

One of Barb's more recent pieces that she did at the end of last year as a gift to her yoga instructer. I've known Barb for years and until she showed me this piece last year, I had know idea that she had this artistic prowess! This piece obviously isn't for sale, but all of the other pieces on display are and for crazy low prices. They'll be up the whole month of March at the Arts Factory so I'd recommend swinging by!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Kirby: King of Comics

This week saw the debut of Mark Evanier's Jack Kirby artbook / biography Kirby: King Of Comics and it's a must for everyone who loves dynamic art and for those who want to know more about Jack Kirby, his life and his role in basically creating the superhero comic in the U.S. Kirby: King Of Comics, is a beautiful 220 page hardcover book that serves as a great overview of Jack Kirby's comic art from the 1930's through th 1990's. While Kirby: King Of Comics is also a biography of Jack Kirby, written by the person who knew Jack better than anyone other than Jack's wife Rosalind (Roz), it's not the exhaustive biography that Evanier has said is still a few years away. In addition to having a plethora of color examples of Jack Kirby's art, Kirby: King Of Comics also reproduces many pages of black and white examples showcasing the raw power of Kirby's pencil work.

Again, while Kirby: King Of Comics is more of a wonderful showcase of Kirby's art spanning six decades (!!) than it is a comprehensive biography, there is still a great amount of information within and I'm sure that even those who have read other accounts of Kirby's life, they too will find some new historical tidbits pertaining to Jack Kirby's importance to this medium and his life. Mark Evainier doesn't just write of the successes Jack Kirby's art and creations provided many a comic company throughout the medium's history as he also chronicles how often publishers and editors would take advantage of his speed and creations without compensating Kirby in turn (sadly this happened often in this medium especially before the 1980's).

A lot of Kirby: King Of Comics is sad, in that this creator of enormous talent and heart, who really just was concerned with providing for his family and loved the medium of comics, was just largely not afforded the financial due (and sometimes respect of his craft that was ahead of its time) in proportion to his creations. The book does close with some accounts of how in the last couple of decades of Kirby's life he was finally seeing some financial security and greater recognitions of the importance of his creations was becoming more present. Mark Evainer, in his afterword for Kirby: King Of Comics, remembers thinking "Gosh, I can't wait to figure out what that means", when Jack Kirby told him something in the late 1980's - just another example of how far ahead of us mere mortals Jack Kirby was.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Venture Brothers

Having just finished The Venture Brothers Season Two, I can say with no qualifications that for the two of you out there that haven't checked out The Venture Brothers, there's no time like the present (unless you have no time because of all the great comic books you're reading - grin!).

The Venture Brothers
is a very funny cartoon series that has aired on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming for two seasons (both available on DVD, with the third season airing in June 2008). While The Venture Brothers are mostly an homage to the classic cartoon series Jonny Quest, the show parodies everything from the Fantastic Four to Scooby Do, and is full of all kinds of nudge, nudge, wink, winks that span the pop culture landscape (but not getting the references won't get in the way of your enjoyment of the show). There's funny villain names like Phantom Limb, Sgt. Hatred, The Guild of Calamitious Intent, Molotov Cocktease, and Dr. Girlfriend (a curvy female character with a deep man's voice who's the on and off love interest of Dr. Venture, The Monarch). Everything from the voice acting, the animation, the title sequences, and the music is spot on. My favorite episodes are the ones in which they send up the Fantastic Four, Scooby Do, and the two part season two closing episodes Showdown At Cremation Creek, which features David Bowie in cartoon form (voice impersonated).

Sarah Conner...

Last night Fox aired the last two episodes of The Sarah Conner Chronicles otherwise known as the Terminator television series. I'm sure it'll be back because from what I've heard, Sarah Conner has done very well (because of the writer strike, which recently ended, it's unknown when new episodes will appear though).

From the very first two hour premiere, The Sarah Conner Chronicles has been what I think is the best action packed, engaging and sometimes even thought provoking, riviting genre show on television (I still hold Pushing Daisies as best new show though). Any show that has time travel as a big part of its reason for existence normally gets big points taken off from me (mostly I wouldn't even watch such a show) because I hate the concept of time travel as it's ripe with so many paradoxes. Even though The Sarah Conner Chronicles very premise involves time travel, it manages to do so in a way that doesn't seem convoluted or confusing (although I'm sure that if one thought about scenarios within the show, they could come up with all kinds of problems as to why things can't play out as they are). This show has the expensive effect sequences that other action packed sci-fi genre shows have, but it also has great characters that find themselves in crazy situations, while at the same time not being convoluted and teasing viewers with endless mysteries that never get resolved (I'm looking at you Heroes and Lost).

Anyway, back to last nights episodes briefly (and no spoilers follow): Both episodes show how well cast this show is and how the tension just builds between the characters and again this is due to smart writing that is just the right balance of character development, action, and suspense that doesn't insult viewers. The second episode last night especially ramped things up with a great use of a Johnny Cash song that was both eerie and had you on the edge of your couch. It'll be a long wait until The Sarah Conner Chronicles comes back, but if the people working on this show can keep up with what they've introduced in the twelve episodes thus far, then this show will be a keeper.