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Sean William Scott

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Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Last Weeks Comics & Spider-Man 2 

Maybe someday I'll actually have time to read comics the week they're released...

Ultimate X-Men #48 by Brian Vaughn and Brandon Peterson, from Marvel:
This title, much like Ultimate Spider-Man, has now crossed over into the needlessly self-referential mode that only appels to long-term comics readers. Which, I gather, rather defeats the purpose of a line of books designed to be read and enjoyed by people who haven't been reading X-Men books for the last thirty years.

Caper #9 by Judd Winick and Tom Fowler, from DC:
This time around it looks like we're going to be seeing a "wacky" comedy about two schlubs who stumble onto a criminal enterprise. I'm less interested in this story than the previous two, mostly because the two leads are pretty much unlikeable.

True Travel Tales #1 by Justin Hall, from All Thumbs Press:
This fun book is a series of short vignettes, in which Hall adapts peoples true tales of travel. Most of the stories are of the quirky/comic variety, the sort of things that could happen to just about anyone while traveling abroad, but it's Hall's style that sells the work for me. His figures are very expressive, and there's a rough-hewn quality to it that's very nice looking. But it's the sort of book that I expect you'll only be able to find at your better comic shops, or from the publisher's web-site, where I note that two more issues are available.

Powerless #1 by Matt Cherniss, Peter Johnson and Michael Gaydos, from Marvel:
Yet again, a book designed solely to be read by people who have been reading the last thirty years worth of Marvel comics and will feel special and privlieged for "getting" all the refrences. And while there's certainly a place for that kind of book, this just seems like a gratuitous waste of paper.

Doom Patrol #1 by John Byrne, from DC:
Oy, where to start. Continuing the vampire storyline from JLA was a miscalculation, as most people lost interest in that story pretty rapidly. Yeah, the first two issues sold well. But we still have plenty of the later issues. And most people who stuck through it are JLA completeists. So, I've been seeing lots of people at the store picking this up, looking at it briefly, and then putting it back. And then there's the dialogue...every single panel is filled with huge dialogue boxes, which is a shame, because about the only good thing I can think to say about this comic is that the art isn't too bad. And then, there's the whole concept of the book. Basically, Byrne is writing this book for comic fans his age and the Byrne Forum. Because if the whole idea of this book was to re-introduce the DP to a new audience, wouldn't, you know, actually spending some time explaining who these characters are and why we should care be a good thing. But it's not neccessary, because the only people who are going to stick with this book already know all of that, and if they don't know, I'm sure one of the other Forum poster will explain it to them in a way that won't be condescending and snide at all...

JLA #100 by Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke, from DC:
Dear God, who let this atrocity get published? Oh, Mike Carlin...that explains a lot...

Amazing Fantasy #1 by Fiona Avery and Mark Brooks, from Marvel:
I've mentioned a couple of times before how tired I am of first, and even second, issues of new series and new storylines being nothing more than prologue. That's the case here. The entire book is set-up for something that will presumably happen in a later issue. And it's a story-telling device that's annoying enough when it's done with familiar characters, but when you do it with new characters and concepts it's a fatal mis-step. You've got to give readers a reason to come back, and a rather trite cliff-hanger frankly isn't enough.

Star Wars Tales #20 by Various, from Dark Horse:
This is utterly brilliant, drop-dead funny stuff from some of the best indie and art-comix creators out there. Y'know how I know? Becasue I freaking hate Star Wars in all its various incarnations and everything about it, and yet I bought this comic and enjoyed it.

Also of note: Midnight Mass: Here There Be Monsters #6 from DC/Vertigo, which was good, but maybe an issue or two too long, and Ultimate Fantastic Four #8 from Marvel, which should fulfill your daily weekly recomended dosage of Ellis-ism laden dialogue and snappy art from Immonen.

Now, as for the film Spider-Man 2 which I finally got around to seeing last night:
Yes, it was better than the first film. But then, it would almost sort of have to be, wouldn't it? Many of the problems from the first film are repeated here, notably the incredibly wooden "acting" of Tobey Maguire. His inability to emote in a manner which even superficially resembles real human emotions has now, unfortunatly, been transferred to Kristen Dunst and James Franco. She may be excused, as all she's given to do in this film is look pretty, scream, and run in slow motion. Franco however appears to attempting to emulate Dafoe's scene-chewing performance in the first-film, but it comes off like bad method-acting. Or is "bad method-acting" redundant? Damn you Berthold Brecht, you've ruined me for American Cinema!
As for the effects, the CGI is still over-used and still really dodgy. It all looks so painfully obvious like CGI that it starts to feel like you're watching somebody else play a video-game. And it's perhaps unfair to use that as a complaint, as the same is true of pretty much all CGI films, so I can only conclude that the American film-going public wants their special effects to look obviously clumsy and fake.
Story-wise, there are actually some improvements. The story is over-long, but there is at least the illusion of forward movement. The Doc Ock arc, apart from the bits about the arms taking over his mind (which struck me as fairly silly, even though I know there's textual evidence for this in the comics), was fairly compact and well-done. The Peter Losing His Powers arc could have potentially benefited from even more blatant sexualization, especially in the power-loss=impotence department, as I don't think they made that point clear enough in the film.
Using my film trailer rating scales, I would say that this was a matinee movie. Unfortunatly, I paid full price.


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