Man of the Moment


Sean William Scott


Kindly direct email to:
dorianwright [at] gmail[dot]com


"Reading his blog is like watching a beloved 50's Rat Pack Vegas act"--Larry Young
"One of the few comics blogs I always make time for"--Antony Johnston
"Dorian Wright is intelligent and slightly bitter, like a fine coffee."--Kevin Church
"Absolutely huggable."--Bully
"It's always fun to see Dorian be bitchy."--Chris Butcher




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Saturday, April 30, 2005

Phun with Fonics 

Today at work, while processing some back issues that looked as if they'd been run over with a lawn-mower and smelled as if they had been stored in a burnt-out gas station:

Me: Say, was there ever an issue of Unk-now-in Worlds in which the Sub-marine-ur fought Dark-seed?

Mike: I hate you.

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Lessons the Internet has Taught Me 

Never express an opinion that at all differs from that of the majority, or more usually the vocal minority. It doesn't matter what you opinion is, or how you said it, you're wrong.

Should you ever have the audacity to find the work of "nerd made good" favored creators, such as Joss Whedon, Brian Bendis or Quentin Tarantino, to be of inferior quality, it must be because you are jealous of their massive talents. Creators who have fallen out of favor are fair game however.

Failing to be irrationally enthusiastic about someone else's favorite work is proof that you are being unreasonable.

Never be calm and rational when people are busy being outraged. Never attempt to apply logical thought to a "controversial" topic.

It doesn't matter what you said, or how you said. Somebody was offended by it. And the fact that they were offended means you were in the wrong.
It won't stop them from going back to your site over and over though. Apparently people like to be offended.

If your clique seems predisposed to like a work, you must praise it beyond its actual merits. If they dislike it, you must trash it beyond its flaws. Once the decision has been made that a work is bad, you must now attempt to outdo all the other members of your clique in hyperventilating, super-negative attacks on the work, its creators, and the people who dare to think differently about it than you do. This is regardless of the work's actual flaws or merits, or the critical or popular reaction to the work.
In none of this is it actually necessary to read the book/see the movie/listen to the album/etc. yourself.

It doesn't matter how many people out there are acting and thinking exactly the way you do; you're an iconoclast, the lone voice of sanity in the wilderness.

In serial entertainments, anything that happens in the plot or to a character that you happen not to like was clearly put there as a personal insult to you.

White heterosexual males must always be the final arbiters of what is or is not racist, sexist or homophobic.
(Oh, and there's no racism, sexism or homophobia in the comic book industry, and all the people who claim there is need to grow up!)

Other people are patronizing and condescending. You're just forthright and honest.

When you have nothing original or intelligent to say yourself, make sure to point out other people's inconsequential grammar or spelling errors. That way they know that you're smarter than them.

Anyone with a web-page with a higher hit count than yours is clearly an idiot. Be sure to make snide comments directed at them whenever the opportunity presents itself. Because you're not jealous or desperate for attention and have to resort to being a jerk to get it.

"Irony" means "made of iron."

Adopting the web persona of a popular curmudgeon, such as Warren Ellis, only without the wit or intelligence, is always a good idea.

Anyone who would devote the time to making a knowing, self-aware list of fake "lessons from the internet" in which maybe one or two items could potentially be true of themselves is a hypocrite.

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Friday, April 29, 2005

So, comments are back. For now. Three things, though:

No more anonymous comments. Under any circumstances. I will delete all anonymous comments, regardless of the content.

If you're posting under something other than the name on your birth certificate, I'd like you to fill in all the fields that Haloscan asks of you. That's name, e-mail and web-page. Preferably yours, on that last one. If I have any reason to suspect that you're taking advantage of the relative anonymity of the internet to be a jerk, I'll delete your comments as well.

If you're posting under your real name, I'd prefer it if you filled in either your e-mail address or your web-page address. On these last two I'm willing to cut people some slack. I understand that not everyone wants to splash their information around on-line, so as long as you're not being abusive to me or other commentators, I'm willing to look the other way.

I'm sorry if this seems needlessly draconian, but my house, my rules, so to speak. When I started this site, I basically had to be talked into allowing comments. I'd seen how they can go bad on other sites, and I didn't want that to happen on a space I'd set up primarily to amuse myself with. The only reason I did put in comments was because, in general, other people enjoy being able to talk about the posts, and a comments section is the easiest way to let people do that. In other words, the comments aren't for me, they're for other people.

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from Justice League of America #94

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Some days... 

I feel like Wildcat. Some days I feel like Power Girl. And some days I feel like the little alien in the corner.

from All Star #67

So, yeah, I'm frankly fed up with snide little comments directed at me in my comments section. I might bring them back in a day or two if my mood lightens.

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Yesterday's Comics 

By my count, there were at least six comics that had variant covers. Now, I don't mind variant covers every once in awhile, but six in one week sounds symptomatic to me of a return to silly speculation days. Especially when one of those "variants" is nothing more than your choice of a black or white background color, on the Red Sonja comic.
And why does Kolchak rate a variant cover?

Speaking of Red Sonja, I thought I'd be cute and count the number of close-up drawings of her ass, breasts and crotch in this sixteen page comic, but it got to be too much for me. It's quite clear at what market they're aiming this book at though. Man, that first page, with its fetishistic focus on her ass is just embarrassing.

Oh, and yes, it was only sixteen pages long. Which makes it a better bargain than Invincible #0, which was only twelve pages long and a quarter more.

Speaking of fan service, Spider-Woman spends a good deal of the most recent issue of New Avengers naked. And in some sort of strange, glowing bondage gear.
So, yeah, that's another book that knows its target audience.
[Edit for the context-impaired: See, it's a joke, and part of a larger thesis about the surprising amount of fan-service in this week's "mainstream" comics. The fact that the men are naked as well is irrelevant, because they're not the ones that the artist has admitted to over-sexualising in a creepy, adolescent way.]

And while I'm on the subject of exploitation, we got the "Who will be the new Wonder Woman?" cover of Wizard, which we did not order. They just decided to substitute the cover we did order with this one. Now, I realize that the cover and accompanying article is just an excuse to run pictures of attractive women, but I really hate it when Wizard does articles like that. Because, right now, maybe Joss Whedon knows who might be cast as Wonder Woman in the movie. So anything in Wizard's article is just fanboy fantasy casting. It's almost as if someone in Wizard's editorial department said "We're four pages short of content this month. Let's run pictures of hot chicks instead."

That Wizard cover also prompted my first psycho customer of the day moment. Upon seeing the cover by the register, the woman I was ringing up said to her companion, with no trace of irony or humor whatsoever, "If Joss Whedon casts her as Wonder Woman I will kill them both."
And people will sometimes ask why the "myth" of the socially awkward, hyper-sensitive, uber-nerd nutcase fan is so persistent...

As to yesterday's comics...we were shorted our Shojo Beat sampler, which is a nuisance because, well, I wanted to read it, but also because knowing the quality of the material we're going to see in the line would help our ordering a lot. Hopefully it will ship to us next week, and not disappear into back-order limbo.

I did manage to pick up Baron: The Cat Returns, which is a nicely illustrated all-ages manga title, and the basis for the Studio Ghibli film. It was originally solicited in a Diamond Dateline update, so I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if distribution is a little spotty on it.

I've also got a wicked suspicion that, just possibly, Mike and I may be the only people who like the identity of the new Eclipso, as revealed in Day of Vengeance. I think at least part of what amuses us is that many people are almost certain to be annoyed/offended by it.

Ultimate Secret was also quite funny, for a book that consisted mostly of people talking at each other. I like it when Ellis treats his material as seriously as it needs to be treated.

Today, I think I will make up "teen-friendly" bags of Free Comic Book Day comics, since making the kids bags proved to be a good way to use up most of the day last week.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Superman's Little Known Powers 

By request, as I normally try to avoid doing Superman images these days:

from World's Finest #113

Remember kids; never, ever touch Supes' hair...you don't want to know where it's been.



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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

FillerFiller by Rick Spears and Rob G.

In this new graphic novel from the creators of the excellent Teenagers from Mars, published by AiT/PlanetLar, John Dough is a filler. He makes his living by standing in police line-ups and by selling his blood. He is, in effect, an extra. A walk-on bit player with no lines in the stories of everybody else's lives. When he meets Debra, a roughed up hooker with a sob story, he makes the mistake of getting involved in her story. From there he quickly becomes involved in an escalating series of set-ups, murders and frame jobs before, seemingly, settling back down to his natural role in the world as "filler" for other people's lives.

It's a good hook for a noir story. John Dough is a nicely symbolic name for a lead character, and Spears and G capture his alienation and isolation from the rest of humanity well. Dough is a hard character to relate to, as he has withdrawn so far into himself. We're not given very many reasons to sympathize or identify with him, but that's largely the point of his kind of withdrawal. It's not that he necessarily wants to be just filler, but that's the role he has found for himself, and he's comfortable with it. His one lapse out of character, his attempt to "help" Debra, seems as much a mystery to him as anyone.

The popular tack at the moment seems to be to compare this work to Sin City, particular because of the limited, one-color printing. That may or may not be a fair assessment of the look of the book, but in terms of narrative I think this is actually a bit more complex than Miller's adolescent pastiche (and I mean that in a good way). The work that actually came to my mind while reading this is Horace McCoy's They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, a proto-noir novel that also uses the idea of people on the edges of society finding themselves in situations beyond their control. Spears and G present a similar kind of alienated protagonist, and put him into a situation beyond his understanding. Dough is almost the anti-Everyman, fully aware that most people, as much as they would like to pretend that they are the heroes of their own lives, are really just background for other people's lives. When his fatalism is used against him, his best revenge, and the solution to his problem, is to turn the tables again, and make his enemies into pawns of his.

Now, while these are the strengths of the writing, the problem with using an alienated protagonist, especially when you place him in the middle of a complicated plot based on bluffs and betrayals, is that the story can become too suggestive. And unfortunately that's what happens here. Spears suggests, rather than tells, important details, and it doesn't quite work out the way he seems to have wanted it to. It's a good story otherwise, but the lack of focus and clarity, while in service to the mood Spears is trying to establish, hampers the narrative aspects of the book.

Rob G's art here is very rough and sketchy. There's a lack of deep detail, and a certain sameness to many of the characters. It serves the story well, and highlights the themes of alienation to the work. The most visibly notable aspect of the art in this work, however, is also the one I found distracting, and that's the red highlights on almost every page. When they're used sparingly, the details picked out in red draw the reader's eye across the page and highlight important details. But many of the pages have so much red it ends up over-powering the rest of the art.

And finally, the last page reveal, which I'm reluctant to go into too much detail on, is either a very cheap gag or a very smart way to clue the reader in to what really has been going on in the entire book. I'm leaning towards the latter, because it adds a nice conclusion to the story. John Dough thought he was filler, became the subject of the story, and resolved his part in the story by becoming filler again. With the revelation of who was really behind everything that happened in the book, it becomes clear that, actually, John Dough was always just a player in someone else's story. A temporarily important player, but not ever the lead he was afraid of becoming.

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New Comics, Reviewed 

City of Heroes #11: The final issue of the current run. This book was never anything exceptional, but I enjoyed it for what it was: a light and fluffy look at some of the yes, okay, sillier aspects of the game, from the perspective of characters much like the kinds of characters people can play in the game. Great care was taken to make sure that just about all the costumes were actually "buildable" in the game, and the powers were rendered faithfully enough that you could usually tell which of the game's powers was being used. Even little things that players do, such as meeting under the statue of Atlas to look for team-ups, made it into the comic. Brandon McKinney's art had a suitably heroic feel to it, and that was a big part of the charm as well.
In other words, I'm sorry to see this version of the book go in favor of the grim and generically drawn series focusing on the NPC characters from the game.

Birds of Prey #81: Joe Bennett's art hasn't fully grown on me yet. And, frankly, I don't really need to see a story about super-heroes traveling to Asia to deal with crime lords ever again. Still, Simone's usual mix of humor and action is here, and she does write the characters very appealingly. She's got a very good handle on Wildcat, in particular. His relationship with Black Canary gets glossed over from time to time, so it's nice to see his paternalistic side brought out a bit. And it may just be me, but I really like the idea of Wildcat having made (potentially) sword and sandal movies.

Hawkman #39: So...is Carter's vision here a foreshadowing of events in this title, or of events in Rann/Thanagar War?

Young Avengers #3: Okay, my good-will towards the title is starting to wear off. Three issues in and we're still just getting the barest out-line of a plot. And have I mentioned before that the "death of a character" tease they've started for this title really annoys me? Maybe if the book wasn't so closely tied to a poorly done prior story-line, or if Jim Cheung could draw the characters so they didn't quite all look alike, I'd be more forgiving and patient. As it is, the book is starting to feel more and more like a big tease with no payoff.

JLA #113: You know, I really liked this issue. It was clever, it was well written, and the characters all felt like themselves. Well, except for the Batman/Martian Manhunter switch, which struck me as a bit silly. And I absolutely loved that the JLA essentially sics the Qwardians on the Crime Syndicate in order to deal with both threats at once. In fact, about the only thing about this issue I didn't enjoy was the fact that this is part seven of the storyline. It, to be honest, has felt a little long.

Runaways #3: Reading this in the same week as Young Avengers makes for quite a comparison. We've got a reliance on older continuity in both titles, but here it feels more like the older characters are being used as an opportunity to tell a new story, not as a way to limit the kind of story that can be told. And as a result, the story here feels fresher and more interesting, and not like an exercise in copyright renewal.

JLA: Classified #6: Eh. I'm starting to feel that this may have been going back to the well one time too many. It's over-long and over-talky and a lot of the jokes simply fall flat.

Conan #15: I enjoy the "in-between" stories on this title flashing back to Conan's boyhood. Greg Ruth's art is very strong, and the short story format I always think tends to work better for Conan stories. And seeing stories of Conan's youth, in a "the boy is father of the man" fashion, adds a welcome element to the character.

Ex Machina #10: The resolution to the great mystery is...another mystery. I like this title, I really do...but man, all the little hints getting dropped with little in the way of resolution...it can be a bit trying at times.

Question #6: A great wrap-up to the series. The ruthless (I'm almost tempted to say Randian) side of the Question comes to the fore, and we get a very nice scene with him and Superman to round out the run. And, as usual, beautiful art by Edwards. And, of course, a final little twist is revealed that ties all the seemingly disparate elements of the book together. That last crucial bit of information that was with-held from the reader puts much of the things that seemed odd about the book in a new light.

Manhunter #9: It's nice to see villains just cutting loose and being villains from time to time. And the subtle implications that maybe, just maybe, Kate really is in over her head in this vigilante business is a compelling hook for the character. So, go read this book.

Omac Project #1: If I had any particular interest in talking in circles with people again, I would point out that some of the "problems" with DC Countdown are addressed in this comic. But, I don't, so all I will say is: this first issue is a little slow, and dwells too much on a character who never really appeared much outside of a few Batman comics from several years ago, and that may have been a poor choice for viewpoint character.

Teen Titans #23: It's a good, old-fashioned super-hero bang-em-up, with one largely implausible flaw at the end. Yeah, I know that it explicitly ties in to DC's new meta-continuity and inter-title-connectivity...but I still don't' buy that those two are able to impersonate who they impersonated so easily.

ps238 #11: While I did laugh out loud at the notion of using Magic cards to foretell the future, I didn't enjoy this issue as much as I usually do. And the reason is plain: I don't know anything about four square. We never played it any school I ever went to, so the very concept of the game is a bit of a mystery to me. And the bulk of the book is an extended game of it. So, I had no idea what was supposed to be happening.
This is why I don't like sports manga, either...

Klarion #1: While I really like the self-centered brat version of Klarion, and while Frazer Irving's heavy-blues give the book a unique, compelling and distinctive look, so far this has been the Seven Soldiers book I've been the least responsive too. I loved the idea of it. It was probably the title I was most looking forward to. And then the issue finally is in my hands...and while the world-building that went into Croatoan and Limbo Town are nice, this has all served largely as prologue to Klarion's adventures. Ah well, perhaps I'll see some witch-boy mischief in the next issue.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

Four Thoughts 

I've noticed in the last month to two months that sales on Image titles have improved. We've gone from not being able to give any new Image titles away to either selling out or doing respectable sales on almost all of them. (This is new titles, mind you. All things Spawn are still spiraling ever downward.) The sole exception to this trend is Amazing Joy Buzzards. We've only sold one copy of one issue of that comic, and that was to someone whose regular store sold out.

Now, I'm curious as to what caused this shift. I haven't noticed any increased amount of hype on Image's part for their new titles, nor have I noticed any positive word of mouth for any of these new Image titles (Well, except for Amazing Joy Buzzards). The two possibilities that seem strongest to my mind are that this is a specific example of how, in general, comics sales are trending up without any one particular comic or company seeing a drastic increase in sales, or the comic buying audience is so skittish about "sell outs" on "hot titles" that they're speculating on new titles again.

I have this horrible suspicion that the latter possibility is more accurate.




So, you all know how I don't like discounts very much. I think discounts encourage bad behavior and spending habits in customers. A particular telling example of this happened today, with one of our discontinued product lines. There are these items that we no longer carry, because they were too expensive, took up too much space, and we had too much competition locally for them. But we still have a good stock of them. More stock than we'd like to have, in fact. So, in a bid to get rid of the damn things, we marked them down. They were, on average, about $30 to $35 each. We're now selling them for $5. This is a discount of a little over 80%.

I had a customer today want to haggle with me on the price. They're. Only. Five. Dollars.

Marked down from $35.

I'm not going to mark them any lower than that! Do you have any idea how hard I had to talk my boss into letting me sell them that cheaply in the first place?




I really wish we had a big sign on our door that says:

We are in no way affiliated with the computer store next door or the skin-head clothing shop across the street. We don't know why either one went out of business*. We're very sorry that they still have your computer/money/hold items/special orders. We can't do anything about that.

Stop asking us about it.


I don't think it'd do any good, though. I mean, when the lights are off and the closed signs are up--at eye level, mind you--it doesn't stop people from shaking the door trying to get it to open.

*--In both cases, we can sort of hazard a guess...




I am now the proud owner of every issue of Warlord written or drawn by Mike Grell. Including the first annual and the appearance in First Issue Special.

Yeah, I know he's kind of a weirdo.

Yeah, I know only about the first twenty issues are any good.

But think of it this way...I'm now never going to run out of material for Subtext? What Subtext? posts.

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Some of my Weekend Highlights 

"So, it didn't take long for people to start ripping off Sin City, huh?"

What do you mean?

"That Quit City book! Man, what a rip-off of Sin City!"

How, precisely? There is nothing similar about either the art or the story.

"Uhm...they both have the word City in the title."




"Can you help me find a certain manga title. I looked on your manga shelves but I didn't see it. I don't remember the exact name, but I know they run it in Shonen Jump."

Well, if it's a Shonen Jump title, I probably keep it in this section over here with the more kid-orientated manga titles, instead of in the regular manga section.

"What! How dare you imply that Shonen Jump is for children!"




"Do you have any comics with the Joker?"

Sure, lots. Was there a specific Joker story you were looking for?

"Do you have the first appearance of the Joker?"

Well, no, I don't have the first issue of Batman, but I may have a reprint of it.

"I don't want a reprint. Can't you order the first issue of Batman for me?"

No, I can't really order anything that's been out of print for sixty-five years.




And then there was the guy who was looking through our poster displays, naming each character on each poster. Well, except the female characters. He just made little "kissy-kissy" noises for each of them.

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

Things I Don't Quite Get 

Half of the comics fans on the planet: "Brandon Routh's trunks are the wrong shade of red! His insignia is too small! He's too short and scrawny to play Superman!"

Me: Uh...so what? If the movie's no good, it won't be because his trunks aren't the right color. If it bombs, it won't be because his insignia is too small.

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Things We Don't See Daredevil (or Moon Knight) Do Anymore...Part II 

(Part I of this series can be seen here)

from Moon Knight Vol. 1 #13

I don't know about the rest of you, but for some reason this panel kind of creeps me out.



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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Another Free Comic Book Day Update 

Yesterday I sorted through yet more Free Comic Book Day boxes to put together packets of "All Ages" material to give out to people on May 7th. This year, those packets will include Betty and Veronica, Bongo Gimmie Gimmie Giveaway, Star Wars, Batman Strikes, Uncle $crooge, Flight Primer, Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, Amelia Rules #0, Buzzboy Roboy Major Damage Triple Frosted Fun Comics and Owly: Splashin Around.

We're also going to put together some packets of "Teens and Up" comics and some "Mature Readers" packets. If we even bother to put the Wizard Presents the Top 100 Trade Paperbacks of All Time comic in any of the packets, it's going to have to go in the adults pack. But frankly, we're all so annoyed by the crassness of the material in Wizard's offering, we're giving serious consideration to not even bothering to put it in any packets and just leave it out so that those who want it can get it. We're also going to put Keenspot Spotlight 2005, Funny Book, Mortal Coils and Alternative Comics Presents in the "Mature Readers" packet. Everything else is going in "Teens", though we may fill out the "Mature Readers" selection with some of the Teen titles.

Now, in addition to these packets we'll also have copies of all the books available for people to pick up individually. This is the method that seems to work out the best for us, and seems to get most of the comics distributed, and most importantly, into the hands of the people who will most appreciate them. This will be the fourth year we've participated in Free Comic Book Day, and we've learned from the past what does and does not work for us during an event like this. For example, one of the most important lessons we've learned is that moving the event out of May to coincide with whatever movie Marvel has coming out during the summer doesn't work. May is about as late into the year as an event like this seems to draw attention. Once kids are out of school there are too many demands on their time for them to be able to make a special trip to the comics store, and during the fall and winter there are too many demands on everyone's time for anyone to make a special trip just to get free comics.

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Good Advice 



From Spyman #1.




On a related note...since the host transfer, my e-mail seems to wonky. If you've tried to send me e-mail in the last day or two and it's bounced, please try again. Or, send it to postmode at this domain name if it continues to bounce.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Free Comic Book Day Stuff 

Today was the day I waded into the boxes of Free Comic Book Day boxes to see what we had, how much of it, and try to determine what was missing. So far the only comic that's missing is Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards: A Tale of Edwin Drinker Cope, Othniel Charles Marsh, and the Gilded Age of Paleontology. We're also missing our free Minimates and Batman Heroclix, which I'm not worried about, but several people have expressed interest in them, and I hate to have to disappoint them.

I'll have reviews up of each of the books a little closer to the event, but I did have a chance to glance through most of the books, briefly, as I was dealing with the counts. So far, very little looked like a break-out hit. Each year prior to this there's been one book that goes over fantastically well with our customers and picks up readers and fans. Nothing this year looks to have that same break-out quality, though a few books, like Owly and Buzzboy may have the potential to do so. The anthology titles look to have strong work in them this year. I didn't really expect Fantagraphics to do an all-ages appropriate book, not with Johnny Ryan contributing, but I do rather wish they hadn't called their adult humor contribution Funny Book, as the title is going to mislead people, I'm sure.

And, showing why they're the public face of the comics industry once again, Wizard's contribution proved to be the one of the most adult orientated titles to be released. It could have been good. But no, they had to go and put a bunch of dick and ass jokes accompanied by graphic illustrations in there. Because of that, I can't give it to kids, and probably not to parents either. Hell, even Chip Zdarsky managed to put out a general audiences Prison Funnies story for Comics Festival, but Wizard couldn't find any articles without frat boy gross-out humor to reprint?

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Business As Usual 

I'd be a lot more entertained by the ongoing controversy over the sexual identities of Hulkling and Asgardian in Young Avengers if it wasn't for one thing. This is a Marvel comic we're talking about. Oh sure, there will be plenty of ambiguous statements regarding what's going on with the characters, some blatantly subtle "hints" in the stories themselves, but I very much doubt we're ever going to see something as simple as either character simply saying "Oh yeah, and I happen to be gay."

See, this way Marvel gets to congratulate themselves for "putting the issue out there" without actually having to follow through. They can milk the "controversy" for all it's worth, and still use the "oh no, they're just very sensitive boys" excuse and give them girl-friends if somebody buys the film rights to Young Avengers.

And if Marvel actually does have the nerve to have the characters come out, let's hope that nobody tells Wolverine.

And before anyone chimes up with "But Allan Heinberg, surely we can trust him to honestly and fairly address this, he put lesbians in The OC!" Yeah, but putting faux-lesbians on your teen angst show to titillate the male audience members is about as "brave" or "groundbreaking" as putting out a sitcom about a family with a dad who's kind of an idiot and a mom who's far too attractive to be married to that slob.

(And, oh yeah...I called the "big shocking revelation" regarding Patriot. I still don't get what the big deal is. I'd have been perfectly happy with Cap. Jr. just being black, without having the whole "black Captain America"/"you will like this character"/Truth spin-off angle shoved down my throat.)

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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

No pithy comments on new comics day from me. I'm in the middle of trying to change web-host, due largely to the lack of communication from my current web-host after making several inquiries about upgrading my plan. So now I've found a company offering more space, more bandwidth and a lower monthly price to take my business to. But I need to figure out how to transfer files and mail over without losing anything important, than update all the neccessary registries.

So don't be surprised if I'm quiet for a day or two.

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The Music Challenge Has Been Met 

By Lito Sandoval, who will have a copy of the mix disc flown out to him in the next few days. For those of you who are still curious, here's the annotated list of what went onto the disc.

1) "His eyes said 'make a date.'"--An unknown artist (to me, anyway) singing a song called "Down by the Riverdrive," a song about getting tossed into jail for cruising a cop. There is a brief, spoken word piece at the start of the song, about "tension between police and homosexuals" being deal with in "homophile humor and songs." I love that phrase, "homophile humor and songs."

2) "Tell the story of my life, from zero hour to twelve AM."--"Scheherazade" from the film "Zero Patience," the self-described movie musical about AIDS. It's an upbeat sad song, and probably one of the two stand-out songs in the film. Well, except for the one where the two male leads dissect Freud in bed.

3) "You told me you loved me, I know where and when."--"T Thought You Were My Boyfriend" by the Magnetic Fields. It's another upbeat song, only this time about getting dumped and trying to put on a brave face about it.

4) "Playing with prodigal sons takes a lot of sentimental valiums."--"Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk" by Rufus Wainwright. Not an explicitly "gay" song, but it certainly touches on a lot of familiar sounding refrains.

5) "I was late getting to church on the morning of my ceremony."--"Ban Marriage" by the Hidden Cameras. I really like their sound, full of big, jangly musical arrangements. That most of their songs are about gay sex is a bonus.

6) "Hey Johnny what's the deal, boy?"--"Johnny, Are You Queer?" by Josie Cotton. So I like cheese.

7) "I'm tired of boys who make me cry, they cheat on me and they tell me lies."--"Gay Boyfriend" by the Hazzards. This is the remix version, so the ukulele is a little drowned out.

8) "I got a sweet tooth for licorice drops and jelly rolls."--"Sugar Daddy" specifically Frank Black's cover of the song from "Hedwig and the Angry Inch". A big and loud rock song about dressing like a woman to please your man.

9) "Remember that tank top you bought me?"--"You're Gorgeous" by Babybird. Any song about a man stripping so that another man can take his picture sort of needs to be on this mix.

10) "Got tired of wasting gas, living above the planet."--"Ballad of Maxwell Demon" by Shudder to Think, from the film "Velvet Goldmine." The entire soundtrack to that film is amazing, but I specifically wanted this song to serve as a counterpoint to the next song.

11) "Got your mother in a whirl"--"Rebel rebel" by David Bowie, not my favorite song of his, but the most explicitly "gay" one of his glam years.

12) "Off the rails I was, and off the rails I was happy to stay."--"Piccadilly Palare" by Morrissey. A song allegedly about teenage male prostitutes using gay slang that uses precious little gay slang.

13) "Take your mind back, I don't when, back when it seemed to be just us and them."--"Real Men" as covered by Tori Amos. I thought briefly about putting the Pansy Division cover on here instead, but I honestly don't like it as much.

14) "When you're walking down the street and a man tries to get your business."--"Filthy/Gorgeous" by the Scissor Sisters. Any song about transsexual prostitutes tripping on acid had to be on this mix.

15) "Hey dude I was thinking we could go do something dirty."--"Soccer Practice" by Johnny McGovern, aka Gay Pimp. Very funny, over the top raunchy song that, unsurprisingly, isn't about soccer practice at all...

16) "Every time I see your face I get all wet between my legs."--"Flower" as covered by Pansy Division. In the liner notes to one of their albums, they make a note about how this song just screamed out to be covered, and I sort of agree with them.

17) "I started this, it's all for me."--"Be Aggressive" by Faith No More. I really used to like Faith No More. I still do, but my patience for obnoxious and fast and angry rock has diminished as I've mostly gotten over my teenage angst. They still make for good driving music. And to go with the theme, given what the song is about, I had to put it in the mix.

18) "Let me tell you the way it is everywhere I go."--"Yes Sir" by Extra Fancy. From that brief period when the mainstream music world was pretending to treat gay musicians who worked in genres other than jazz or dance seriously. Technically, their song "C'Mon Louie" would have been a better fit, but I really like the idea of a chorus where men just chant the phrase "yes sir!" over and over again. Plus, it supplies a nice counter-point to the first track's discussion of "tension between police and homosexuals."

19) "You're the one I trust enough to hurt me."--"Take Me Home" by King Missile. I know what you're thinking..."Detachable Penis" would have been the obvious choice, but the song about S&M fits with things several of the other songs hint at. And while it's not a "gay" song per se, their keyboard player is a really cute bear.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Snark-a-palooza! 

I actually did mean to add Absorbascon to my side-bar last night...in all the reconfiguring madness I left it off.




Everybody else is linking to this analysis of Korean girls who read yaoi, so I may as well. It's a good piece, overall, though it does have that dryness typical of academic writing (one of the reasons I never really pursued more academic writing).




Why look, Marvel's solicitations for July are out...and as usual I have very little to say because marvels solicitations are trying so hard to be "funny" that they are essentially contentless.

I've got this horrible suspicion that we're going to be left holding a lot of unsold House of M tie-ins. People actually seem to be interested in DC's upcoming crossover, at least partly because the way they're approaching it feels more satisfying as a reader. Marvel is just dumping a bunch of minis and one-shots on the public, and interrupting storylines on lower selling titles, to create a massive number of books to dump on retailers. And tellingly, no one except the most die-hard Avengers and X-Men fans are asking us to reserve copies of this series for them, while we're still getting lots of requests from people to hold all the Infinite Crisis build-up titles for them.

So, anyway, yeah, of course Wolverine is the star of the cross-over, and the "you will like this character", "most important character in the Marvel Universe" character is going to be a teenage girl...

Okay, hands up those of you who are actually surprised that Marvel is teasing the possibility of the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Marvel Universe crossing over in Ultimate Fantastic Four...let's see, that's precisely none of you. About what I thought.

Way to spoil the ending of Young Avengers guys...

Anyone want to take bets on the likelihood of Combat Zone even coming out as a graphic novel?




The new "Mythos" line from Marvel is going to present "all new" origins for the characters that blend the traditional comic origins with the movie origins. On the assumption that people will go see the movies and then rush out to comic shops to buy a comic featuring a version of that character that is neither the film nor the comic version. Uh, yeah...

Nevermind that the usual pattern we see with films feeding interest in the comics is that all our sales occur up to the release of the movie and rapidly diminish after the movie comes out. We saw that pattern most recently with Sin City and Constantine/Hellblazer.

On that note, it's worth pointing out that we're doing brisk business with Batman trades at the moment, but we can't friggin' give any Fantastic Four comics away.




I spotted this over at The Beat: Apparently in the upcoming film Forty Year Old Virgin, they're presenting the main character as a comic book collector.

Cue the bitching about "dated stereotypes" and "giving comic fans a bad name." Maybe someone could start an interweb petition to get them to change that plot point...




While poking around that site, I also found some set photos from V for Vendetta and immediately cringed. Yeah, as if that unconfirmed rumor about England turning fascist because Nazis invaded wasn't clue enough, those photos pretty much confirm my fears that the people making the movie were going to misunderstand the source material.

The whole point of the Voice is that he's anonymous. As far as the public is concerned he literally is the Voice of Fate. To turn him into a celebrity newsreader, with his name and face plastered all over the place...it just reeks of a sad attempt to "contemporize" the material.

(And it's my annoyance over things like this that make me feel slightly guilty for making fun of the people who are going to be offended by things like Forty Year Old Virgin...)

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Monday, April 18, 2005

Brief Things 

Hey, would you like to support your local comic store? I've got a really easy way for you to do that? Got a little extra cash this week? Is there some trade paper-back or back issues you've been thinking about getting? Well, this would be a good week for you to pick those things up at your local comic store, as odds are this is the week that your shop got the bulk of their Free Comic Book Day titles. Which, while free to you, are not free to comic stores. This is also the week that Marvel and DC decided to drop almost fifty new titles on stores, in addition to shipments from Dark Horse, Image and the non-premier publishers. The size of this week's comics shipments, combined with the Free Comic Book Day books, not to mention the unfortunately close to the end of tax season timing in the United States, means it's very likely that your local comic shop could experience a cash crunch this week. Buying an extra trade, or back issue, or sampling a comic you don't normally buy isn't much, but every little bit helps.




I've tinkered with the side-bar a bit. I've split comic creators and publishers into their own section, and I've separated out the rest of the comics blogs into two very broad categories. I haven't labeled them because I couldn't think of any labels that someone wouldn't be offended by. Basically, I put all the "serious" blogs, the review blogs and the news blogs into one group, and the "less serious" blogs in another group. All according to my arbitrary standards. I also took the opportunity to move a couple of links over to the "Media" category. So, what I have now is something that should be more convenient for me, which is the only reason I have a side-bar in the first place, since I hate book-marking pages.
(And no, I have no idea where in that list my site would go...)

I also took the opportunity to add Dave's Long Box to the side-bar. He had me at "Kobra takesss honey only!"




Hey! Radio Comix is having a sale. I noticed that issues of both Dangerous and Sexual Espionage were marked down, in case anyone was looking for some entertaining gay porn in a manga style.

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Slightly More Timely Comic Reviews 

See, it doesn't always take a month to get these damn things out of me.

Exiles #62: Yes, it is now official. Despite no longer having explicit, plot-driven connections to Marvel's latest Age of Apocalypse "epic" I've lost what interest I had in this title. Those two issues I skipped apparently had so much vital information in them that now even I, a veteran of reading silly and contrived comic-book explanations for what's "really going on" can't make sense of what the hell is happening in this title. Talking bugs inside the M'Kraan crystal? Dead/not dead characters frozen in ice...pass.

Ultimate X-Men #58: It's hard to describe this book as "compelling" because it really consists of Professor X sitting in his wheel-chair and thinking instructions at other people. But as a done in one story, it feels much more satisfying than most of the recent Vaughan efforts on the title. And, of course, Steve Dillon is always a welcome presence on a title. I particularly like how Vaughan builds on a plot point occasionally hinted at by Millar during his time on the title, namely that the Professor X of the Ultimate universe is not necessarily the all-benevolent force for Good that he is in the regular X-books. He's got a sinister side, and the occasional reminder that the X-Men are only the public face of his plans for the world's mutants are a nice bit of meta-plot.

Ultimates 2 #5: Eh. It certainly looks pretty, but I'm so utterly burnt out on Millar's story-telling approach and public persona that it has become hard to take even quality, unpretentious super-hero work from him. Still, it's a "big dumb super-hero melodrama" and a fairly good example of that genre, so it's hard to fault the actual writing on the title. Still, with the most sympathetic and interesting character on the team, Thor (and you have no idea how much it pains me to talk about Thor as an interesting character), out of commission for some time, I rather suspect what little enjoyment I'm still getting out of this title to diminish.

Bloodhound #10: A whimper. As far as last issues go, at least enough potential stories are left open that Jolley or another writer can bring Cleav back for a short run or guest spot. I enjoyed this title a great deal, and it's rather frustrating that it didn't find more success in the wider comics market.

Gotham Central #30: I'm going to be contrary and say that I like the idea of re-casting Doctor Alchemy as the DCU's answer to Hannibal Lecter. It has the feel of a complicated joke, which I enjoy, and it is consistent with the current trend of complicating the motivations of the Flash's rogues. A process which was desperately needed, as the Flash's rogues, more than any other heroes, all had rather pointless and dumb reasons for going into crime. I mean, when you've got genius inventors who can create freeze guns, air-walking shoes, mirror-based teleportation and weather control rods, and they use those devices to rob banks rather than patent them, your villains come off as idiots.
I'm thinking too much about the Flash villains again, aren't I?

Mnemovore #1: Mike Huddleston does some wonderfully creepy art in this issue. The story, by Hans Rodionoff and Ray Fawkes, isn't exactly scary, at least not at this point. If anything, it more seems to occupy the space between horror and sci-fi. The notion of a creature that eats human memory, well, it's almost Tingler level camp, if not handled properly. At this point, just one issue into the story, I'm interested enough and feel the story has potential enough to want to keep reading. It's also a reminder that I really should check out Rodionoff's previous comic work, the Lovecraft graphic novel.

Conan and the Jewels of Gwahlur #1: P. Craig Russell's adaptation of Robert E. Howard's story is beautiful to look at. And it's very nice to get a story of a more mature Conan than we're presently seeing in Busiek's and Nord's excellent Conan comic, especially a Conan that gets to use his intelligence and cunning more than his sword-arm. Simply put, this is an excellent fantasy comic.

Action Comics #826: "Big dumb super-hero melodrama" sounds like the phrase for it. It's always a bit disconcerting to see Captain Marvel drawn in a totally realistic style. And while the notion of Eclipso jumping from host to host is vaguely interesting, the all-plot of the approach just feels a bit rushed and forced. Why, it's almost as if DC needed to get these three issues out before the first issue of a high-profile new mini-series starring Eclipso...

Adam Strange #7: It's the all-exposition issue! It was probably a necessary evil at this point in the series, but still...At least the next issue promises a good deal of manic action. And, of course, Pascal Ferry's art is beautiful.

JSA #72: It bears repeating, despite the many times I've said it in the past: the strength of this book is the way it builds on decades worth of DC continuity. The weakness of this book is the way it depends on decades worth of DC continuity. So while the little nods to the Earth-2 Huntress and the Crisis are sure to be appreciated by long-time DC fans...well, actually, since nobody reading JSA isn't a long-time DC fan to begin with, I guess they don't disrupt the tone at all.

Fables #36: After the dull "Jack in Hollywood" story, it's nice to see Willingham return to form with this story. Boy Blue is one of the more sympathetic characters in the cast to begin with, and a view at the Homelands was sorely lacking from the title. Buckingham's pencil look quite nice in this issue, and the humor doesn't feel forced or contrived the way it has in recent issues. A very promising start to the newest storyline.

Thirteen by Mike Carey and Andy Clarke: This is the story of Joe Bulmer, a low-level telekinetic and street punk who stumbles upon a mysterious bead that increases his pyschic powers, but also gets him caught up in the middle of a war between a dead alien warrior and the remnants of a slave race that stole an important artifact. Aided by a beautiful West-Asian telepath who can't stand him, Joe has to somehow save the world. It's a nice little high-concept story, and it's an enjoyable, fast-paced read, with some engaging art from Andy Clarke, who has an expressive style reminiscent of Steve Dillon. Carey does a good job of making a basically unlikeable character a convincing protagonist. The story is a mish-mash of several hoary sci-fi cliches and tropes, but they all come right on top of each other, highlighting the quick pacing of the story.
And see, this is why DC's decision to discontinue the 2000AD line is disappointing, because how many more enjoyable, one-volume stories are Rebellion going to be able to afford to put out, without DC's backing?

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Sunday, April 17, 2005

Where Do They All Come From 

Yesterday was the day that all the, well, "high maintenance" customers decided to come into the shop. These are the people who eat away at your time, who who need to have their hands held through every step of their shopping period.

The worst of these are the people who need supplies for something other than comics. Now, I always feel vaguely bad about letting people get to me about the supplies, because they are a surprisingly arcane subject. Mylar, propylene, My-Lite...and that's not even getting into arbitrary distinctions like "current", "regular" and "standard" sizes. But there are some things about the supplies that should be obvious. Such as realizing that every single supply package has the size it is intended for printed on it, and that you presumably know what size the item you need a bag for is. In other words, when you bring in a vintage paperback, and I explain to you the differences in size between the three different types of paperback bags we carry, don't ask me if the "thick magazine" boards are the right size for the paperback bags. They're not.

On a related note are the customers who want some strange, off-brand type of supply, and don't seem to understand why we don't have hundreds of that particular type of supply on hand. These are usually people, I've noticed, who never come right out with what they want to ask you, but build up to it slowly. My favorite example was this gentleman:
"Do you have mylar bags?"
Absolutely. What size did you need and how many?
"Do you have mylar bags for magazines?"
Yes, here you go.
"What size are these?"
These are about 11" by 12".
"Oh no, I need bags for magazines that are 15" by 15"."
Well, I don't actually have any in that size, but I can see what some of our supply distributors carry and get back to you.
"And I need them to have some kind of lockable flap on the top that's at least 3" long."
Okay...
"And they need to have a 2" wide strip along the left hand side that's five-hole punched in an elliptical pattern for use in a D-Ring binder. And the backs must be opaque, not clear. And come for sale in packets of 35, rather than 50."


Usually there's an element of the terminally clueless to the "high maintenance" customers. This is especially true of people who want to sell comics. This little scene gets played out in the store on a daily basis:
"Do you buy comics?"
If they're ones in sellable condition that we could use, yes. The person who does the buying, however, isn't here right now, but will be here tomorrow when we open.
"Oh, well, let me take a bunch of badly torn up and water-damaged comics from this moldy box and pile them up on your counter and tell you about how I bought each one and how much it is worth because I bought a copy of Wizard from you last week and I know that these are worth thousands of dollars and you better not try to cheat me on them, because I know guys, or something."
NO. The person who buys them is not here. You have to take these away and come back tomorrow.
"Oh. Well, what about baseball cards, do you buy baseball cards?"
No. We don't buy sports cards of any kind.
"What about basketball cards then?"

The other daily occurrence with comic sales is the person who calls us up on the phone, either to sell comics or to try to get us to tell them how much their comics are worth (always someone hard to get off the phone, always someone who calls when we're really busy), and lets us know that all the comics they have are "still in the original bag."
One of these days, Mike or I are going to blow off one of these "still in the original bag" people, only to have them come into the store with a bunch of Whitmans...

The negotiators are fairly distracting as well. These are people who usually want to get a discount because they're buying "so many" comics. And while they may be buying a good number of comics, when the average price of those comics is between $1-$1.50, a discount doesn't really seem warranted. I've noted in the past that they people who really do spend a lot of money in the store almost never ask for a discount. Wanting a discount seem to be inversely proportional to the amount of money you actually spend.

We also get negotiators who want discounts on new books. This is our own fault, I suppose, for offering a discount to customers with in-store subscriptions. I think we've got a very fair system, where you get a 20% discount on items on your subscription, for a very modest deposit, usually $20, which you get refunded to you if you ever end your subscription. Most of our customers end up saving at least the cost of their deposit within two weeks of setting up a subscription, but that's still not enough for some people.
"I want a 30% discount."
Well, the most we offer is 20%.
"I'll pay more for the deposit if you give me a 30% discount."
That would be a significant exception to the rules, and you'd have to talk to the owner about that.
"And by 'pay more' what I really mean is, pay no more than $15 for my total deposit."
No, that's definitely not going to work, because the $20 deposit is the starting price of the deposit, not the end-point.
"And I want free bags, boards and comic boxes with all my purchases."
We barely make any money on those as it is...
"And I want a discount on all the items I buy that aren't part of my subscription, and I want a discount on the purchases I make at the game store and the computer store on either side of you, and I want magical pixies to carry my subscription comics to me the moment I enter the store."

Lastly, we get to the people who apparently have an inability to listen to any information that might contradict the preconceived views they have about the world. Most frequently these are parents of small children. Such as the woman who got a mite snippy with me because I refused to sell her precious little darling a Sin City paper-back on the grounds that it was a "mature readers" title. Surely not, because her precious little angel would never want something that wasn't age appropriate for him, so clearly Sin City is appropriate reading material for an eight year old without the ability to understand context, irony or the history of the genre Miller is aping.

Most frequently however, it is someone who just refuses to listen to what I'm trying to say:
"What is the difference between this book that says New X-Men on it, and these New X-Men comics?"
Well, the book is simply a reprinting of these six issues of the comic.
"So it's an all new story?"
No, it's just a reprint of these six issues.
"So it's a story that wasn't in the comics?"
No, it's just a reprint of these six issues.
"So it's like back-ground information on the characters?"
No, it's just a reprint of these six issues.
"So, it's the story of what happened before these six issues?"
No, it's just a reprint of these six issues.
"So, it's a story of what all the other characters were doing during these six issues?"
Everybody's dead, Dave. Dave, everybody's dead. Is dead, everybody, Dave...

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Saturday, April 16, 2005

Okay, fine. 

So, you really want to know what I thought of DC Countdown? Fine, here it is:

DC Countdown was a perfectly acceptable example of a story in the genre of "big dumb super-hero melodrama."

If you don't like that sort of thing, fine. But if you don't like that sort of thing, why the hell are you reading super-hero comics?

And regardless of what anyone thinks of it, it's done its job. It's kept people talking about DC Comics, it's sold really well, making money for retailers and DC, and it's gotten super-hero comic buyers interested in current and upcoming comics published by DC.

There, as far as I'm concerned, and as regards this site, the subject is now closed. Anybody who still feels the need to make snide and/or bitchy comments in my direction should be aware that I have an IP Deny Manager and I'm not afraid to use it.

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Friday, April 15, 2005

Lots of little things 

I just discovered that about half the e-mail sent to this site is being dumped in the spam folder. Serves me right, I suppose, for only checking it once a month.




Hmmm...maybe I made the contest too difficult. Okay, first person to e-mail me with at least 15 correct songs gets the disc.




Things we talk about at work when it's not busy and we're not doing anything that requires a lot of mental effort: You know what just doesn't work? The current DC time-line. Are they still insisting that the current age of superheroes only started twelve years ago, with the appearance of Superman? Because that just throws too many things off if they try to insist on. Most recently, the notion of Captain Boomerang and Golden Glider having a kid in his early twenties just won't work unless you push the time-line back to at least the twenty year mark.

In fact, that's probably not a bad idea. Pushing it back to twenty years lets you still have Batman and Superman showing up twelve years ago and Wonder Woman showing up just after the Crisis on Multiple Earths, but the trade off for that is you have to let some of the "older" characters like the Hal Jordan Green Lantern, the Barry Allen Flash, the Oliver Queen Green Arrow, and possibly Aquaman, be active in that "twelve to twenty years ago" time period. In other words, you can't let the time-line start with Superman. At least some writers at DC already seem to suspect this and have quietly been assuming a twenty year time-line. Grant Morrison in the DC One Million series let drop a reference to a "twenty year old Arrowplane." And as I mentioned earlier, the new Captain Boomerang's parentage simply isn't possible unless you have the original Captain Boomerang and Golden Glider active twenty years ago at least. And yes, I realize that the new Captain Boomerang's parentage is still in question, especially since Golden Glider was a later addition to the Rogue's Gallery, but for it to even be theoretically possible, or presumed to be correct by others, they had to have been able to meet twenty years ago, and the only plausible way is if they were hanging around to fight Flash.


Of course, what really messes up the DC timeline is the Teen Titans. If you go with the twelve year timeline, and figure that Dick Grayson didn't become Robin until year three, that only leaves nine years for all the original titans to age from their early teens to their early twenties. It's possible, but it contracts a lot of stories into a very tight timeframe. For one thing, it implies heavily that Dick Grayson has actually spent more time as Nightwing than he ever did as Robin. If we go with the twelve year time-line, with the Crisis happening somewhere around years five or six, that means that he was only Robin for two, maybe three years, but he's been Nightwing for at least five.




You know what I've really been enjoying lately? Discussion of comics books from the unpretentious perspectives of fans who just want to read and enjoy the stories and are therefore interested in the developments in various titles from the angle of how this affects the over-all fictional "story" of the comic universe they read. You know, people who can read and talk about a big event comic without feeling the need to go on at length about how it is allegedly "disrespectful" to characters, creators or fans, or who feel the need to swear a lot to describe the "awful writing" or "terrible art" but without actually offering any reasoning or examples of why they feel that way about the writing or art (because, y'know, it's evident that everyone is going to agree with them, so why should they).

Now, before the usual suspects chime in to accuse me of doing the exact thing I'm claiming not to like when others do it, bear in mind Walt Whitman. "I am large, I contain multitudes." I'm allowed to feel differently about different things, and for different reasons. I like the grim noir of David Lapham's Detective because it's a good Batman story. I like Winick's more super-heroey Batman because it's nice to see a Batman actually doing super-heroic stuff and occasionally cracking a joke and not being a total dick to everyone. And I don't like most of the last twenty years of Batman stories because they came from writers and editors who didn't get Frank Miller's joke. Also, bear in mind that while I appreciate people who can enjoy super-hero comics in a "at face value" manner, I'm not the type of personality who can avoid thinking critically or analytically about anything. It's part of the consequences of being a critical theory-nerd for so long. (Postmodern Barney, remember?)

So I'm not claiming that I'm "superior" to people who rant on and on and on about what they don't like in comics they proudly proclaim to not even read or care about. But, when I get snarky and vicious about a comic, bear in mind that it's a comic I actually read and genuinely feel is worthy of having scorn heaped on it. I'm not just doing it because I want to maintain my "credibility" with the other "cool bloggers who hate super-hero comics," or to get links to my site, or to impress my friends with how many times I can type swear words. I'm doing it because it's a really crappy comic.

Post shower clarity edit: I guess what I'm trying to say is; if you're going to be a bitchy, know-it-all comics critic, would it kill you to use Gore Vidal as your model/inspiration instead of Ignatious Riley?

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Using Song Lyrics To Express My Mood 

How I'm seeing most on-line conversations going lately:

Alas, alas for you
Lawyers and pharisees
Hypocrits that you are
Sure that the kingdom of Heaven awaits you
You will not venture half so far
Other men who might enter the gates you
Keep from passing through!
Drag them down with you!
You snakes, you viper's brood
You cannot escape being Devil's food!

--Stephen Scwartz, "Alas for You," Godspell

A philosophy I wouldn't at all encourage in real life, but think most on-line conversations could benefit from:

Let's all be Empiricists
Victors of the brain
Through our wit and brilliance
We can know the world again
We'll classify and label
Find the answers out
A culture of certainty will
banish every doubt.

--John Greyson and Glenn Schellenberg, "Culture of Certainty," Zero Patience.

The position I feel like I have to end up taking in most on-line conversations:

You're so nice.
You're not good,
You're not bad,
You're just nice.
I'm not good,
I'm not nice,
I'm just right.
I'm the Witch.
You're the world.

--Stephen Sondheim, "The Last Midnight," Into the Woods

The tactic I really should learn to take when dealing with on-line conversations:

And any questions you might have about the way I run this place
Don't grip and whine behind my back
Just tell me face to face, I'm open-minded, say it all
Then go upstairs and pack, the door's that way

--Carol Hall, "A Little Bitty Pissant Country Place," The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

New Comics Day 

I didn't have the energy in me to post this morning. Partly it was the combination of the massive review post from yesterday and the time I spent going through Previews, again, to work out actual order numbers for manga titles in light of past months orders and actual sales, bearing in mind the number of copies we must order of certain titles to meet the needs of our pull-list customers. That's also how I found out that somebody with a pull-list at our store is sneaking some of their comics back onto the rack instead of just, you know, telling us they don't want to get it anymore. I hate that sort of thing.

So I was really glad to come home and find an e-mail from Matt at No-sword letting me know that he just did an interview with manga artist Nishijima Daisuke, whom I hadn't heard of before, but whose style I really like already. It's very quirky and engaging. I like these three illustrations best so far. The interview is well worth checking out, especially in light of how rare it is to see an interview with a manga artist in English.




I was going to try to rip off Mike and talk about every single new manga title that was released today, but you know what? The only thing that was even remotely of interest to me was From Eroica with Love. I don't suppose there's anything technically wrong with Flame of Recca or More Starlight to Your Heart (though I really wish ADV would put some kind of indication of content on their books...a paragraph of plot summary would be wonderful). The only thing that really struck me as sort of, well, odd, was Death Trance, which for some reason is printed with purple ink.




So, since it seems to be one of the topics of the day, I'm also disappointed that DC chose to sever their relationship with Humanoids and 2000AD. I was mostly happy with the titles that were being released under the Humanoids imprint, and I appear to be one of the very few people who actually didn't mind trading off the size of the books for a thicker page count. Especially thos big thick compeniums of Enki Bilal's work. And at least at our store we were starting to have some luck growing an audience for them. The 2000AD books were a bit of a harder sell. I mean, when I can show people a comic by both Alan Moore and Alan Davis and they turn up their noses at it, that's probably not a good sign. The only things I picked up were the Nikolai Dante books and, just today, Th1rt3en




About the last half of my work-day, I suddenly realized that my working life has devolved into an Eddie Izzard routine. If you were to ask me "Dorian, what did you do at work today?" I could honestly answer "Moved books slightly to the right for a couple of hours."




The highlight of my day was this conversation with Kid Chris. He asked me "Whatever happened to Mr. District Attorney?"
"Oh, he died in the Crisis?"
"What, how?
"Like a punk. Got zapped by one of the Anti-Monitor's shadow demons."
"When."
"Oh, it was in a big crowd scene so you might have missed it. It was Mr. District Attorney, the cast of Gangbusters, and Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis. All zapped by shadow demons."

I think that's when I broke Mike's brain.




I just can't stop adding stuff to this post: So, I looked at the preview of the "new" City of Heroes comic. My two thoughts were: Oh great, generic Top Cow house style art, and Why did they make my City of Heroes comic grim and gritty?




from Hercules #1

Ah, don't you just love Marvel's not at all pandering fag jokes? Get it? They're in a men's room and Herc references Alexander the Great? Get it? Get it?
(See, Herc thinks the other guy is gay, so you're supposed to laugh because Herc thinks he's being hit on! Oh, the comedy!)

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A Month's Worth of Comics Reviews 

I'm going to review everything I bought for the last four weeks. In one go. I know, I'm insane. Bear in mind that anything that I seem to really, really hate, but read anyway, is probably something that I bought because Pete likes it.

Losers #22: I really enjoy this series, the writing is sharp, the art is excellent, but I always find myself at a loss of anything particular to say about any given issue. I suppose it's the curse of serial entertainments. Consistent quality is always good, but it runs the risk of a certain sameness creeping into each installment.

Deadshot #5: This was such a wonderfully depraved comic. It's also a fairly good example of how to do these short, character-based storylines. Some growth has been allowed to happen in Deadshot's character, but at the end the essential status quo is maintained. So other writers can take him in the direction they wish to go, or they can revisit and expand upon what was done here.

Detective #805: So, wait…are we not supposed to immediately assume that the villain behind this vast conspiracy is Clayface? Because all the clues are saying "Clayface," but none of the characters seem to be realizing that.

Witching #10: The conclusion very much reads as if Vankin was given little notice as to the cancellation of the series. It feels rushed and things that really did need some exposition are glossed over hurriedly.

Strange #5: Baron Mordo and the Ancient One fight each other with light sabers in this issue. Uhm…yeah.

Firestorm #12: I was enjoying this series, until it became all about Ronnie Raymond and his villains. I don't want to read about the old Firestorm, I want to read about the new Firestorm. We can revisit all of Ronnie's villains ten years from now in Firestorm: Rebirth.

Spider-Girl #85 and #84: Occasionally I'm asked for a good, all-ages title from Marvel. And the best one I can offer up is this book, which is heavily reliant on an understanding not only of the convoluted Spider-Man continuity, but on the M2 continuity as well. And yet, it's still the best written and best drawn and least condescending of all of Marvel's "all ages" titles.

Superman/Batman #18: Y'know, there are "big dumb fun" comics, and then there are "big dumb" comics. This series consistently straddles that line. This issue was more on the "big dumb" side of the line. I'm sorry, but I simply cannot take the adult Legion's presence in a story as a sign of how serious and important the story is supposed to be. I mean, Loeb actually had to type out the words "Matter-Eater Man" and he still apparently thought that the story should be totally earnest?

Green Lantern: Rebirth #5: If you can't say anything nice--I like the way Ethan Van Sciver draws Killowog.

Ultimate Spider-Man #75 and #74: If you can't say anything nice--Wow…real metal staples.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #17 and #16: It still feels like Ben Grimm is the character that Ellis has the best handle on. Of course, Ben Grimm is probably the most distinctive and easiest to write of all the Fantastic Four characters. Johnny and Reed are, at best, one dimensional, and Sue has always been a bit of a cipher and has had to have quite a few personality implants grafted onto her by various writers over the years. But Ben has a distinctive personality and one that you can wring a lot of pathos and humor out of.

Teen Titans #22: I realize that this is supposed to be the big, scary, post-Identity Crisis Dr. Light, and he's not supposed to be silly anymore. But, it's still Dr. Light. And frankly, I'm more excited by the teased appearances of Wildebeest and Duela Dent at the end of this issue than by the revelation of the "new" Hawk and Dove. Ah well. I enjoy the book, but they can't all be winners.

Outsiders #22: Arsenal fights Deathstroke for most of the book and then realizes that the team featuring three characters who had never been seen before has a traitor on it. Clearly, Arsenal has never read a super-hero team-book.

Batman #638: I was flipping through the most recent issue of Wizard, and the argument against bringing back the character who is (apparently) brought back in this issue is that it would be "spitting in the face of democracy." See, that' the best argument I can think of to bring back Jason Todd. The character shouldn't have been killed in the first place. Never, ever give comic book fans that much control over the editorial direction of a title. It was nonsense like "phone in to see if Robin lives or dies" that lead, almost directly, to DC getting fed up with fans whining over when Hal Jordan was going to come back. They got their way once, now they expect to get their way all the time.

Wonder Woman #214: And see, again…it's hard to think of anything in particular to say about a book that you consistently like.

Hawkman #38: As near as I can determine, most of Hawkman's rogues never even warranted Who's Who entries, in any of the various incarnations of that book. That's not really a complaint, more of an observation. It's hard to take their threat seriously when I don't even know who they are and I've been reading DC comics for 25 years.

Gotham Central #29: Say it with me again…when it's always good, it's hard to find particular things to say about any given issue.

Young Avengers #2: This was going so well. I was willing to put up with the rather silly and contrived time travel story. I was willing to put up with the attempts to integrate the silly and contrived "Avengers Disassembled" story into the back-story of this book. I was even willing to put up with the idea that Ant-Man's daughter has the power to grow. But what I don't buy is the need to let the audience know what color panties the fourteen year old girl is wearing. Sorry. Combined with the already announced death of a character, the promise this book started with is rapidly diminishing.

Batgirl #62: Ugh. I don't generally mind reading this book. It's one of Pete's favorites, and it's usually diverting enough. But that "dead character imparts words of wisdom to a character near death" cliché really bugs me.

X-Men: Phoenix Endsong #4: I think this is the best work I've seen from Greg Land. And while the story does tend to suffer from the angsty melodrama that is all X-Men stories, I'm glad to see a story that doesn't run screaming from the work that Grant Morrison did on the title, or try to ignore or downplay the Scott and Emma relationship.

Ultimate Secret #1: I thought this was a very good start to a short run series. We've got some basic exposition out of the way, we get an action sequence, and if you follow the larger narrative of the fictional universe in question you get some intriguing teases. That being said, it does feel like a bit of a cheat when you put six different super-heroes on your cover, and you only put one of them in the book itself.

Pulse #8: If you can't say anything nice--It's always nice to see Michael Lark's work.

Secret War #4: So, let me summarize this series so far. Something, we don't know what, happened in another country, that some of the heroes seem to remember but others don't, and so in retaliation someone we don't know tried to kill Luke Cage and turned all the costumes of the tech based villains into bomb components. That about it?
Christ, Green Lantern: Rebirth and its "the evil personification of the color yellow possessed Hal" story makes more sense than this shit.

Legion of Super-Heroes #4: I've run out of amusing ways to say "Waid's attempts to meld the look and feel of the Paul Levitz era Legion with a knowing, meta-textually aware story designed to appeal to contemporary comics readers is disconcerting and annoying to me."

Concrete: The Human Dilemma #4 and #3: This is very, very good stuff, and I'm glad that Pete eventually decided to tell me that he was a Concrete fan so that I would buy this for him. But…the angst and melodrama feels just a little heavy here. It could just be the middle part of the story dragging, as tends to happen from time to time, but it feels like something more significant should have happened than finding out that Concrete is pregnant.

Astonishing X-Men #9: So…someone apparently downloaded a bunch of Heavy Metal cover scans into the Danger Room. Because I don't understand why a sentient computer program would make itself look like a sexy female robot otherwise.

Blue Monday: Painted Moon #4: What if…Archie comics actually allowed their characters to grow and reflect the actual tastes and interests of real teenagers, instead of a weirdly idealized version of ultra-pure teenage virginity and innocence? You'd probably end up with this series. I mean, sure they're music nerds of an indeterminate time-period, but they still feel more realistic than Archie's teens.

Hopeless Savages: B-Sides: The Origin of the Dusted Bunnies: More Hopeless Savages is always a good thing. More Becky Cloonan is always a good thing too. Sadly, the parts don't quite add up to a satisfying hole. It was good, but it felt more like a tease than a full story. I want more Dusted Bunnies after this, and I'm probably going to have a long wait.

Ultimate X-Men #57: If you can't say anything nice--Someone, somewhere, is probably really upset about what they did to Longshot in this issue. (What…that is a compliment as far as I'm concerned. It's not about pissing people off, it's about pissing off the right people.)

Fables #35: Wow…I really don't care for this Hollywood storyline.

Ultimates 2 #5: If you can't say anything nice--On page three, that last panel with the ants moving the equipment around amused me.

JSA #71: Needs more Wildcat.

Bloodhound #9: Ah well. It's almost starting to look as if any book that bloggers seem to enjoy is doomed to rapid cancellation. We should use that power responsibly, now that we know we have it.

JLA #112: It's Kurt Busiek writing the JLA, so I should have really dug this, but this issue was just over-load. Too much going on with too many different characters in too many different places.

Catwoman #41: As far as fill-ins go, this wasn't too bad. There doesn't seem to be too much actual "mystery" as to what's going on, though. That's probably just an after-effect of the reader being given more clues than the characters.

JLA: Classified #5: It's nice to have a funny super-hero book come out from time to time, but that doesn't mean that an entire line of super-hero titles should have to be consistent in tone with the humor book.

Wild Girl #5: Oh, sorry, I went to get Chinese food and lost my train of thought. Good lord, that's still a lot of comics to get through. Anyway…place-holder issue. Maybe this should have been a five issue series.

Angeltown#5: I thought this was an excellent series. The resolution of the mystery is a bit out of left-field and doesn't really seem as if it plays fair with the reader, hinging on information that wasn't "in plain sight" all along. I'd like to see more with this set of characters, but Vertigo doesn't seem to have much luck with straight-forward detective titles (where is the second Scene of the Crime mini anyway?).

303 #4: God bless Garth Ennis. If this dialogue were in a Chuck Dixon or Chuck Austen book I'd be rolling my eyes. But here, I can pretend to myself that it's Ennis trying to ape over-wrought, "real American" style speech for effect, and that it's not just clumsy dialogue in service to a heavy-handed political allegory. Now, granted, I like the heavy-handed political allegory…but man is that some clumsy dialogue.

Adventures of Superman #638: If you can't say anything nice--the art pastiches were kind of clever. (Seriously, Rucka needs to lay off the Mr. Mxyzptlk for awhile.)

Birds of Prey #80: Hey! Wildcat's in the next issue! This was fine. The angst was a bit heavy for my taste, but this was still good super-hero stuff.

Plastic Man #15: Eh. I'm not so interested in Plastic Man's adopted daughter.

Legend #2: A bit of a let-down after what I thought was an excellent first issue. It's still a bit hard to tell whether or not Hugo is meant to be a sympathetic character or if we're meant to tick off mentally all the little steps along the road to Hugo's downfall.

Terra Obscura Vol. 2 #6: Another whimper of an ending. It's a nice little resolution with little in the way of loose ends. I have to admit, there's a dark part of me that is greatly enjoying the notion that fans of these characters are incensed by what has "been done" to them in this series.

Aquaman #28: A book I'm constantly trying to decide whether or not I should keep getting. Every time a new issue comes out I say to myself, I'll look at it before I make the decision to keep buying it or not, and each time there's enough there that I feel like I can keep picking it up for a little while longer. And I'm not sure why, because lately it really hasn't been terribly exciting or interesting. It's become a very, well, typical trade-mark perpetuation title.

The Grimoire #1: If you can't say anything nice--The raccoon is cute.

Exiles #61: I honestly have given up on this title. Pete still likes it, so I'll keep buying it for him, and I may look inside it from time to time, but my utter and total lack of interest in anything having to do with this "Age of Apocalypse" nonsense has completely soured me on the book.

Runaways #2: I don't really care who Victor is the son of, because it's almost certainly not going to be a compelling revelation when it's finally made after being dragged out for seven or eight months.

City of Heroes #10: I've enjoyed this incarnation of this title, and I'm still leery of the Top Cow version. Top Cow still means "fan service" to me, and I haven't seen anything in their output over the last couple of years to dissuade me from that opinion. So, I'm not really looking forward to a heavy fan service version of this book. Much less one that focuses on the iconic characters instead of the ones that more closely resemble the kinds of characters you can play in the game. I'm sure someone out there really wants to know just what Swan thinks of Ms. Liberty, but I don't.

Simpsons/Futurama Crossover Crisis II #2: Occasionally funny, but not as satisfying over-all as the first series.

Y: The Last Man #32: I've said before that, if nothing else, Vaughan knows how to make the techniques of serial fiction work for him. In each issue the story advances incrementally, new mysteries are introduced just as old ones are resolved, and each ending is enough of a cliff-hanger to leave you anticipating the next issue. Now, that being said, I did think 355's sudden interest in sapphistry a bit out of place. And having the most recent villain who inexplicably knows more about Yorick's situation than they probably should be the Australian navy will require a damn good explanation.

Ocean #5: Ellis takes that hoariest of sci-fi cliches, that Earth was seeded with life by aliens, and actually makes it work within the context of the story. It also sets up a nice little counter to Kane's character if it's followed through in the story. If Kane likes to take guns away from people who aren't supposed to have them, does it make his job more important, or ultimately futile, to know that violence and aggression in humans are genetic traits inherited from our alien forebears?

Manhunter #8: This is one of those books that causes me to revel in my DCU fanboy-ishness. I find the characters compelling, and Javier Pina makes a good choice of fill-in for Saiz. It's also playing well within the boundaries set for the DCU at the moment, working with the established traits and status of other characters, and giving plenty of story potential for other writers and artists to use if they choose.

Question #5: Isn't weird science in comic books fun? It's always nice to see someone taking the weird, implausible nature of super-heroes and just running with it. I was amused by the scene of Superman talking to Vic from across the city, and greatly relieved to find out that, of course, Lex is being totally evil yet again with his latest project. And, of course, Edwards art on this book is fascinating.

Adam Strange #6: Simply beautiful art in service to an unpretentious story. As I've said before, I wouldn't mind in the least if this book becomes a model of how to write exciting, entertaining super-hero stories.

Ex Machina #9: Well, it's well drawn, and I generally find the storytelling good, but I'm always rubbed a little the wrong way when straight men decide to talk about gay marriage, even when they support it. It's just one of those things I've been trained to expect the worst of.

Conan #14: I was a little under-whelmed by this issue. I'm actually starting to feel a bit frustrated by the number of guest artists coming in to do a page or two here and there on the book, and for what should be a fantasy adventure comic, I thought the fact that Conan passes out and misses a good deal of the resolution while he goes on to have a metaphysical experience a bit anti-climatic.

Hypothetical Lizard #2: The art is much rougher in this issue, and it distracted me somewhat. The figures have a slightly distorted look to them, particularly Rawra Chin, and it looks…odd, for lack of a better word. Despite that reservation on my part, Johnston does a good job here of adapting Moore's story into comics form. The pacing, always a tricky thing to get hold of in adaptations from one medium to another, is excellent, and he strikes a good balance between using the words and actions of the characters to reveal personality and thought and using the narrator to fill in the remaining details. The scenario with Som Som is both strangely compelling and horrifying, not only because of what was actually done to Som Som but because of the position it puts her in for the tragedy about to unfold. She is perfectly aware of what is happening, but lacks the agency to do anything about it, and that is an excellent plot point to hang a tragedy such as this on.

Jack Spade and Tony Two-Fist #1: It's a hard-drinking penguin. He gets into fights. There's precious little plot to the two stories here, and less in the way of character, but there are very good drawings by Steve Rolston of a drunken penguin, and some days that's all I ask.

Sticky #2: This is excellent, excellent porn. I liked this even more than the first issue. The art by Steve Macisaac is probably not going to be to everyone's taste. It has a rough quality to it, but it's very expressive. There's a lot more plot than the first issue, and it's communicated well, despite the lack of text or narrative captions again. And it doesn't hurt at all that all the guys in this issue are a bit stocky and hairy, and therefore much more my physical type. The back-up story, "Too Drunk to Fuck" was good for a grin as well. So, anyone looking for quality gay porn in comics format, this is definitely the book for you.

Deep Fried #2: Sick, bad, and wrong. And those are the good points of this series. I always feel like I should feel guilty for enjoying this book, but I never do. It's just so funny, in it's twisted little way, I can't help myself.

Vimanarama #2: So far, while I'm enjoying this series, it isn't doing as much for me as either Seaguy or WE3 did. It's got that mad, manic quality that usually makes for a good Grant Morrison comic, but there's still something about it that just, so slightly, feels off to me.

Otherworld #1: I've got this nagging suspicion that, had this come out ten years ago, it wouldn't have been a Vertigo title. I've always liked Phil Jimenez's work, but there are times when it feels like he almost puts too much detail into his work, and it can be a bit over-loading at times to try to take in everything on the page. And then he goes and, as the writer, makes the decision to drop us into the story without really explaining what the conflict here is or giving more than a passing glance at each character's personality and situation. While I'm confidant that, in the end, this is the sort of work I'll end up enjoying, and while we certainly haven't had any problems selling it, there are times I would like a little more exposition at the start of a big, epic story.

Countdown to Infinite Crisis: Here is a comment on how the narrative structure of the DC universe is being shaped for a little while. Here is my take, as a long-time DC fan, as to the significance of this event and what it means for the narrative strategies and "meta-text" of the DCU as a whole. Here is a dispassionate and hopefully objective analysis of the actual quality of the writing on this book, focusing on craft. Lastly, here is an allusion to Lacan's mirror theory, mostly because I think I'm smarter than I am, used as a metaphor for super-hero fandom. It is ambiguous enough to be seen as a critique of the editorial direction of the DCU if one so chooses.
"Make with the snark, faggot."
Okay…they should have just had Dr. Light rape the Blue Beetle's corpse. Oh, and to let you know how serious I'm taking my outrage, let me type the words "shit," "fuck," and "damn" many times.
"That's better. If we wanted reasoned discourse we wouldn't be reading blogs, now would we."

Seven Soldiers: The critical reaction to the first three books has amused me. It seems to me that people seem vaguely disappointed that these are "merely" very well done super-hero comics, and not the personally revelatory and ground-breaking works of high art that they apparently wanted them to be. But that's one of the things I like about Grant Morrison. Sometimes you get The Filth, yes. But sometimes you get New X-Men as well. So I'm perfectly happy with my "merely" good super-hero comics, when they have some wit and originality to them. And if you scratch the surface, some interesting things come up.
Shining Knight: I've gotten the impression in the past that Morrison doesn't much care for fantasy literature. It's not just the not-at-all disguised snipes at Terry Pratchett in Kill Your Boyfriend, it's an element to his work over-all. So, this strikes me as Morrison's response to the perceived resurgence in interest in fantasy. It's a bunch of pseudo-mythic sounding names and ideas thrown out at the reader without any context, only to end, literally, in a bloody heap on the too-real streets of Los Angeles. Bianchi's art is wonderful, right out of, for lack of a better description, the European comics tradition.
Guardian: I think this is the least obviously "metaphoric" character to come out of this project so far. What it seems Morrison is trying to do here is integrate a new personality into a pre-existing and developed super-hero universe. Only, in this case, as with Seaguy, it's a universe that didn't actually exist before this character. If you wanted to stretch the analogy, you could see this as a forced metaphor for the comics industry as a whole, I suppose. But why limit it to that. I mean, the book has subway pirates in it. I'd half suspect that Morrison is just trying to throw archetypes out there to let people make their own meaning for the book.
Zatanna: Now, this book does tend to wear its goals on its sleeves a bit. As others have noted, it's hard not to see this as some kind of response to Promethea. Only where that book was happiness and light, this book wants to make it clear that, no, magic is dangerous and not to be taken lightly. It puts me in mind of a "middle-ground" book, taking up that space between Morrison's run on JLA and The Invisibles. It's big ideas, and ideas that are thrown at you, but there's a larger point to them, and signs of careful planning and story structure on display. It's also very much a call-back to other supernaturally themed DCU stories, notably Moore's Swamp Thing and, I strongly suspect, Sandman. Which, again, makes it very hard not to see it as a direct response to some of the notions of the nature of magic and the cross-connections between the "real world" and the fictional world that those authors have offered in their works and Morrison's own view of the subject.

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Monday, April 11, 2005

DC in July 

DC in July

Batman Family

All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder is certainly an unwieldy name, but I'm glad that I finally have a (projected) release date, as "When is All Star Batman coming out?" was the question that would not go away last week. But honestly, those covers do nothing for me. At all. On a purely technical level I can admire the detail in the buildings in the back-grounds, but that's about it. Still, I suppose I'll end up reading this, if only because an "ultimate"-type DCU book is something that Pete will absolutely adore. Sigh…the things we do for love.

Ahem, and while we're on the subject…Hush should have been an "all-in-one" hard-cover in the first place! What could have been a perennial seller for us has been reduced to a novelty item of appeal primarily only to existing comic-book fans because DC is bound and determined to split storylines like this into multiple volumes for the trade. The same sentiment applies to the For Tomorrow Superman story and The New Frontier.

A question I expect to hear in July…"Mommy, what's Batman doing to Catwoman?"

Robin is holding a big gun in this picture...and I thought Chuck Dixon wasn't writing the book anymore. (Cheap shot, I know.)

Superman Family

Wow…a multi-part cross-over, including Wonder Woman and tying into Omac Project…why, if I didn't know better, I'd say that DC is trying to hype up some sort of massive event. And how many covers of Superman fighting Wonder Woman has DC published in the last year?

DC Universe

There's remarkably little to get excited about in this section this month. Warren Ellis and Butch Guice writing a Justice League story for JLA: Classified certainly gets my attention, but, and maybe this is just me, this cover is so cold and impersonal it almost frightens me. And it's not the subject matter, it's the medium. If this isn't a computer rendered drawing, it's so like one as to make no difference, and it's just cold and impersonal and artificial and inhuman and not at all attractive. And we probably have a picture of Wonder Woman and Superman in the same style to look forward to.

In the premiere issue of JSA: Classified Super-Boobies, I mean Power Girl, finally gets an origin. Again. This is, what, her third? Fourth? Anyway…lots of people seem to not like the Adam Hughes cover. Granted, it's not a spectacular image, but it's not a terrible one either. I think the main problem is that it suffers in comparison to the Amanda Connor cover, which is so cheeky and good-natured it's hard not to like.

Comic book fans make my head hurt. They complain about the "darkening" of the DCU in books like DC Countdown and Identity Crisis, but they turn the grim, gritty, serious and no fun Space Ghost revamp into a modest hit. At least enough of a hit to get a rapid trade-paperback out of it. They hurt my head, they really do…

The third issue covers of Guardian and Zatanna are the first cover designs I've really not liked. There's nothing wrong with the Guardian one, per se, it's just very dull. But I can't help wondering what happened to Zatanna's ass in that picture.

Over in Villains United, the new Secret Six appear to be Chesire, Catman, Deadshot, a Parademon, and a figure I think might be Shado and another that could be Ragdoll, or maybe Harlequin. Or, possibly, Brother Power the Geek.

Johnny DC

I'd like to get excited about the Cartoon Network Block Party digest, but since I doubt it will be nothing but "Courage the Cowardly Dog" or "Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy" I can't.

CMX

The new volume of From Eroica With Love should be entertaining. I'll withhold judgment on Tenryu until I have a chance to look at the first volume.

No Humanoids or 2000AD this month?

Wildstorm

Y'know, as much as I'll probably enjoy Albion, probably because I won't have any idea who the characters are or bring any preconceived ideas of the way they should be to the book, I can't help but think that the project as a whole is one of those "Keep Alan Happy" projects that DC comes up with from time to time. "I'd really like to revamp some old British super-hero characters most Americans have never heard of."
"Whatever you say Mr. Moore."
"And let my daughter and her husband write some of the series."
"Sure thing Mr. Moore. Er, say, Mr. Moore, you wouldn't mind if we published a big and extravagant new edition of Watchmen would you?"
"…Will you get Dave Gibbons to draw my old British super-hero characters if I say yes to it?"
"Absolutely Mr. Moore…"

This is a really striking image. The cover to the second issue of Desolation Jones.

Were I a cynical man, I would suggest that given this cover, the only thing preventing sexism accusations being levied at the creators of Matador is that it's being written by a woman…

At only $5.99, I may be tempted by the Promethea Covers book. I'd still rather have the posters available in an inexpensive format.

Vertigo

The next Vertigo manga project by Jill Thompson, The Dead Boy Detectives, is solicited. It's been my experience that there isn't a lot of cross-over between manga readers and Sandman readers. After a very brief flurry of initial interest, the Death manga hasn't attracted any attention and has just sat on the shelf. I've tried putting it with the Sandman trades and no one bit, and I tried putting it in with the manga and still no one wanted to give it a shot. I suspect the root of it is, a lot of the audience for Sandman in our area tends to be amongst the more pretentious and self-important types of comic fans. The ones who dismiss all manga as "school-girl tentacle porn and monkey boys fighting." But who nevertheless get very upset if you describe Sandman as a goth-wannabe super-hero title. So, in our area at least, I don't expect this to go over very well.

You gotta love monkey covers! I think they take away your Blogger account if you don't…

DC Direct

More frighteningly over-priced objects of conspicuous consumption than you can shake a stick at. Let's see, this month we've got merchandise left-over from the Warner Brothers Studio Stores, a statue commemorating a mini-series that only hard-core comic nerds cared about, a Clark Kent fashion doll, creepily misproportioned Japanese imports and Superman, but not really Superman, but sort of the real Superman all the same.

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Four Weeks Worth of Comics 

So, what does Dorian do when whatever he was fighting off decides "no, you, you'll be staying in bed all day Sunday?" He looks guiltily at the stack of four weeks worth of comics and decides to read them (he also develops an annoying tendency to talk about himself in the third person, but that's neither here nor there). Let me repeat that again, slowly, because I think it's fairly horrifying and even I still need time to wrap my head around that concept.

Four. Weeks. Of Comics.

One day.

Suffice to say, no, I won't be trying to review them today. Maybe tomorrow I'll talk about the ones I actually feel like talking about, for good or ill. I'll have plenty of time to sit and write then, but not so much today, when I'm just trying to have something, almost anything, up here today, and if I try to actually sit and write out something barely intelligible I'll only end up making myself late for work.

I will say this however; were I to try to cash in on this trend of people only having nice things to say about comics, I would start regularly headlining some "If You Can't Say Anything Nice Reviews", and the first comic I would review in that manner would be Speakeasy's The Grimoire, and that would just be to say that the raccoon is very cute.

(I also finished off Robert Rankin's The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse--not as clever as it thinks it is, but amusing, and made a start on Richard Matheson's Hell House.)




I keep forgetting to mention that this month Ferret Press is giving away a bunch of keen mini-comics, as part of their monthly contests.

Speaking of contests...I still have a disc to give away. Seven of the songs have been explicitly identified by very nice people, and if you go read Ian's site you can find the name of the most obscure song on that list. But here are some more clues, in no particular order:

This song is from a Canadian film in which the inexplicably immortal Sir Richard Burton falls in love with the ghost of a French-Canadian flight attendant.

This band's previous release contained 69 love songs.

This band takes their name from part of the name of a television show starring John Schneider.

This song is on the album "Space Ghost Hits Post-Modern Syndrome," and the name of the band could be "Infant Avian."

The movie this song is from, and the band that performs it, have been identified in the comments section.

It's a song about gay slang from the king of Mope-Rock.

The song has been covered by both Pansy Division and Tori Amos.

The Gay Pimp sang it. If you go waaaay back in the archives, I reviewed the album.

The chorus features cheerleaders chanting the name of the song.

You could also call the band "Excess Florid" and still have the initials be correct.

The name of this band has also been identified in the comments.




We bid farewell to two more excellent blogs, Thought Balloons and Eat More People. Except it's not really "good-bye," more like "au revoir," as Kevin and Rick have joined forces to bring us Dark, But Shining.




And...that's it, really.

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Saturday, April 09, 2005

Music Mix 

So, after a little bit of trial and error with the number and exact songs I wanted on it, I finally got around to putting together a new mix CD. And it occurred to me that, since I have this little outlet for my fevered utterances here, I may as well go ahead and make an extra copy of this mix and give it to some lucky person. But since I'm apparently a big jerk, I'm not just going to give it away. No, I'm going to be difficult about it and make somebody earn it. So, what I'm going to do is list the first line from each song on the mix and put it here, except in those cases where the first line would give the song away. And since the first song is fairly obscure (I'm not even sure how I got a copy of it, nor do I even have a full copy of it), I'm going to make that one a pass. But, I put the name of the song in the comments section of another ACAPCWOVCCAOE member's post from yesterday, so you can always look it up there. If you want the disc, all you have to do is e-mail me with the names of the songs. First person to get them all right gets the disc.

Now you could, theoretically, just use Google to look up all these lyrics, and that might actually get you the right songs, but that would sort of be cheating, wouldn't it?

(And if I really were as much a jerk as people like to think I am, I'd be making you tell me the name of the performer too...)

Bear in mind, the disc will contain explicit lyrics.

1) "His eyes said 'make a date.'"
2) "Tell the story of my life, from zero hour to twelve AM."
3) "You told me you loved me, I know where and when."
4) "Playing with prodigal sons takes a lot of sentimental valiums."
5) "I was late getting to church on the morning of my ceremony."
6) "Hey Johnny what's the deal, boy?"
7) "I'm tired of boys who make me cry, they cheat on me and they tell me lies."
8) "I got a sweet tooth for licorice drops and jelly rolls."
9) "Remember that tank top you bought me?"
10) "Got tired of wasting gas, living above the planet."
11) "Got your mother in a whirl"
12) "Off the rails I was, and off the rails I was happy to stay."
13) "Take your mind back, I don't when, back when it seemed to be just us and them."
14) "When you're walking down the street and a man tries to get your business."
15) "Hey dude I was thinking we could go do something dirty."
16) "Every time I see your face I get all wet between my legs."
17) "I started this, it's all for me."
18) "Let me tell you the way it is everywhere I go."
19) "You're the one I trust enough to hurt me."

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Friday, April 08, 2005

Friday Miscellany 

(racka-fracka...lousy Sean...making me fiddle with my template again by bringing Attentiondeficitdisorderly Too Flat back...)

And Franklin Harris got a well-deserved promotion which has eliminated his blogging time, so I wish him well and tearfully mourn the hiatus of Franklin's Findings

Also, Steve Gerber has a blog now. And Hard Time now has a co-writer. Interesting.

(via Warren Ellis) Apparently not only is Robbie Williams a Grant Morrison fan, the two of them are friends. That actually makes sense in a weird way, but it still twists my brain into funny shapes trying to work out how a British pop-star and an insane Scotsman got to be pals. Also, Morrison is married now?

Tom Spurgeon teases that Pogo may get the Complete Peanuts treatment. This makes me very happy, as I'm still just a little bitter that the last Pogo reprint project was eventually abandoned by Fantagraphics with very little notice. I'm also, I have to confess, still skeptical of the long-term success of the Complete Peanuts. Yes, of course the first volume did really well, but we're having trouble moving the second volume, and with a project of this ambition fatigue is eventually going to start setting in amongst readers. Especially when they start to see just how much space on a book-shelf all those Peanuts volumes are going to take up.




Manga Thoughts

I've noticed an up-tick in our sales on CMX titles. What is interesting is that the sales aren't coming from our manga buyers, they're coming from our super-hero buyers. Specifically, they're coming from folks who primarily read DC or Wildstorm titles. Which, as a I recall, have had some house ads for the CMX books. I don't know if it's the placement of the ads that's encouraging people to check them out, or if it's a notion that "if DC publishes this, and I already like DC books, I might like this."

I was also helping out one of our customers, a librarian, yesterday, who is in the process of putting together a graphic novel section for her library. They did a survey of the library patrons, and manga was pretty much at the top of the list. But given that this particular library is getting almost daily complaints about the Harry Potter books, the head librarian is insisting that none of the manga or graphic novel purchases be anything that could ever even remotely get a religious conservative upset with the library. So none of the manga can have any nudity at all, or any homosexual characters. Which, you know, doesn't leave you with too much choice for manga, except, maybe, some of the Shonen Jump titles.
And you people wonder why books get edited.




Five Things Meme

Five things my friends are really into that I don't see what the big deal is.

1)Swamp Thing
2)Deadwood
3)UC Berkeley
4)Friday the 13th movies
5)The Sin City movie




Yesterday at work, don't ask me how, but during the course of a conversation with Kid Chris (Mike was off shirking work), somehow the concept of "zombie Curt Swan" was introduced.

Things I shouldn't have to tell my co-workers: "Stop singing Bohemian Rhapsody!"

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Thursday, April 07, 2005

March Search Terms 

I woke up this morning with a bad cold, so I don't have the energy to do anything other than an easy post like this.

jake shears nude
jake shears naked
I'm glad that something finally unseated t****b**** as my top search term. I'm not entirely convinced that this is better.

john schneider nude
Okay, I'm not sure if this person is entertaining Pa Kent fantasies or Bo Duke fantasies.

vintage beefcake
vintage physique
Whenever I post on these topics my bandwidth usage jumps dramatically.

northstar killed by wolverine
Yep. In at least two different alternate time-lines.

dirty comics blog
I'll have you know I clean it daily.

teen titans yaoi
Okay, that's actually kinda creepy.

nazi robots
There's a whole storyline devoted to them in City of Heroes.

things that annoy me
When weird search terms show up in my site logs.

sexy comic
Brian Regan is quite good looking.

most expensive comic
This is a question that, when I get it at work, annoys me out of proportion to the actual obnoxiousness of the question. There's not ever the slightest hint of condescension to it...

emma frost porn
Well, Greg Horn did do the covers...

naked male
I'm not quite sure I'm ready to take the site in that direction yet.

she-ra porn
wonder woman porn
Okay, I'm starting to see a trend here.

betty and veronica naked
Yep, definitely starting to see a trend.

prism and light based powers and dc comics
I think this is the probably the most exact search term on a subject I've never talked about.

it's like someone said I want a gay tattoo no gayer
The hell. My tattoo isn't the slightest bit gay, I'll have you know. (Okay, maybe it's a little bit gay...I should let the people decide.)

jsa and fan film
Hmmm. Not any that I know of, but now I'm all intrigued.

x-man started as a villain
About half of them. And yet they still make noise about "not trusting" Emma.

gayest comic
Hmmm...can't really answer this one without being libelous...I would say Ant, but then he's not funny.

phil ochs gay
I really don't think so.

explanation of someone always making references to comic books
They're a comic book fan? Or, more specifically, they're a boring comic book fan who doesn't realize they're boring and mistakes polite disinterest for "tell me more, I find this all fascinating."

frat misogyny
Nope. Too easy.

cartoon constantine is based on
Ooooh. That's gonna piss someone off.

mark millar rape
Nope. Too easy.

aliens vs predators the real theory
Uhm...a studio mistakenly thought it would make big money?

morality in vigilantism
While that would make an interesting in-depth post, I sort of doubt it's one I would have the patience to write.

nude male physique models for hire
That's what CraigsList is for, isn't it?

spiderman has made you gay
Now that they've given him organic web-shooters, I'm sure this is only a six-issue long storyline away. "What strange new power has ol' Web-Head got now, True Believers?"

victorian metaphor
They were big into sex and death, not in an exciting late-night cable sort of way, but in a very dull, your grandmother's Agatha Christie novels sort of way.

gay hulk
"Hulk Suck!"

sgt frog porn
NO! NONONONONO!

livejournal hate anne rice
Given the number of fourteen year old goth girls on LJ, I doubt it.

trending sales in comics
Sales are up overall, but down on individual titles, and the Big Two's Big Event comics are actually driving sales up on those titles associated with the events.

hitchhiker's guide cliff notes
The books only, what, 200 pages? And you want a cheating guide to it?

green goblin yaoi
Okay, this might be hard to top for disturbing search term of the month.

green lantern popularity gay men
Not that I've noticed. In fact, gay men seem to gravitate towards the X-Men and Legion titles, in my experience.

zombie movies post apocalyptic analysis of themes
Consumerism=bad.

catwoman porn

alien versus predator having sex
And that Green Goblin thing is already topped.

pictures of people having conversations
Any super-hero "action" book written by Brian Bendis.

creepy monkey
Beppo. I mean, come on, a flying monkey with x-ray vision...that's just weird, man.

let me read comics
No, you're not allowed.

spider-man power pack psa
I'm actually trying to find a copy of this one. It's the one where Peter's adolescent experimentation with another boy is presented as child abuse, because, you know, being gay is wrong and bad, so clearly Peter was abused and not a willing participant.

postmodern mystery
Maybe you could make a case for Arturo Perez-Reverte, but that's all that comes to mind right now.

erotic stories of wolverine from x-men
"Oh, it feels so good when you put that in there!"
"I'm the best there is at what I do, bub."

comics about complaining
Why I don't read autobiographical comics, in a nut-shell.

mallard fillmore progressive
Oh, man, you just know that someone out there is pissed off because he thinks that strip is "too liberal."

stuff like that
Frankly, I'm amazed you got any kind of results with a search term like that.

doctor who peri naked
Oh, dear God, NO!
(Katy Manning on the other hand...I do have those pics around somewhere.)

real good pictures of a girl slapping a boy but in cartoons
Hey man, whatever turns you on...(Freak).

are punks postmodern
Not anymore, no. Now they're just being unintentionally funny.

rumiko takahashi's phone number
I really have no idea how to respond to that one.

is the sex scene in the film wendigo real or fake
Probably fake. I know, it's hard to believe.

what is the mythological criticism of the black cat?
Man...I woudn't mind reading an article about that myself.

convincing parents
Of what, exactly?

postmodern comedy movies
Hmm...I might actually want to think about that one for awhile.

comic stores in manhattan that sell sonic the hedgehog comics in manhattan
No comment, I just want to put it up there for some reason.

is the word catfight offensive to women?
Probably.

what should i wear to glaad media awards
It's formal, so wear a tux if you're a man, a black gown if you're a woman.

monkey and dog first living things on the moon
Nope. Nothing lives on the moon.

gay monkey image
Now I'm curious too.

this movie character is the only one to be named in both the top 50 list of villains and heroes by the air
Man...it's like bar trivia night in my blog. I have no idea.

postmodern homosexual gothic
I think I have a new catch-phrase. Now to find a context for it.

monkeys and dogs and horses that are doing funny things
i do not much enjoy seeing dancing gorillas
These people should meet.

galactus porn gay
Wow...that's even better than the Wolverine one...

comics blog by a real jerk
Thank you, it's nice to be recognized and appreciated.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

New Comics Day Thoughts 

Going with my usual theory that children only want super-hero comics when there is some kind of tie-in to other media, I had several children on Monday asking me for Rocketeer comics. So which channel played the movie over the week-end?

Now that I've actually seen the Vertigo: First Taste book, I have to say that it's a very unattractive looking object. I also sort of wonder who the target audience is for this sort of thing. Most people who are interested in the titles would rather just get the trades, I'd think, not spend $5 to see the one book they might like and then five others they have no desire for. Which led me to the conclusion that the only reason DC did it in this format, and put a price on it, rather than just send a dozen copies or so out to every Diamond account as a promotional item is because, had they done that, I'm sure half the comics retailers in the country would have started bitching about the increase in freight costs for "DC advertising."

Two things absolutely killed the sales momentum on the Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith comics: having the trade collecting all four issues go on sale the same day, and losing three days worth of sales because we couldn't put it out until Saturday.

Given the extremely graphic on-panel violence, the plot-driven death of an allegedly beloved minor character, and the tone inconsistent with what most fans of the super-hero universe in question say they want in their super-hero comics, I'm sure we've all got at least a week of rants about Great Lakes Avengers to look forward to.

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Three Options 

I could talk about Peter and Gordon's album "Hot Cold and Custard" and how it is a little-known, little appreciated work of genius.

I could talk about how the film Grease 2 is an examination of how masculine identity is socially constructed.

Or, I could post a goofy comic scan.




from Fantastic Four #164

Let's see: green paisly shirt, red cravat, fringed black leather vest, and orange striped pants. Truly, Johnny Storm is the best dressed man in comics. Either that, or he got dressed in the dark.

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Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Sin City 

Monday night Mike, Tom, Ian and I went to see Sin City. Within the group reaction seemed to be a little mixed, though I think I had the most negative take on the film.

First of all, this was probably the worst, most distracting, most tonally inappropriate score I've ever heard in any film. There's an adage in film that goes something like: if you notice the music in a movie, it's not doing its job. The music in this film intrudes on every scene in the worst possible way.

I never really bought Mickey Rourke as Marv. Primarily it was because the make-up was just too noticeable. The same thing greatly hindered Nick Stahl's performance as Jr. The characters work on the printed page, when drawn in Frank Miller's highly stylized way, but put into a three-dimensional world, and surrounded by other actors, they become cartoonish. The same problem cropped up whenever a scene cut to a white silhouette against a black back-ground. Again, it's a technique that works fine on paper, but on film it comes off as too obviously drawn from a comic book, and it throws you out of the film.

Visually, however, it mostly worked. I'm not a great fan of digital filming, or of filming against green-screens. In most films it creates a look of unreality that overwhelms the viewer. It's mostly more subdued here, and since the material already has an absurdist element to it , it doesn't become as off-putting. Except of course for the cars. Every time a character was in a convertible it looked too small in comparison to the actor. And all the hard-tops looked like boxes on wheels. The proportions were so odd that I didn't even notice at first that the cars didn't move correctly. Apparently in Sin City either the roads have no friction or the vehicles hover an inch off the ground.

In terms of the acting, putting Josh Hartnett up front is not a good way to win me over, especially if you then try to convince me that he's a hit-man. There was a remarkable amount of wooden acting in this film. The worst offenders were Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba and Alexis Bledel. Mickey Rourke gets a pass because to say that his acting is "stiff" would be a marked improvement over his past body of work. It's a particular shame that Willis and Alba apparently decided to phone in their roles, as the "That Yellow Bastard" sequence could have been quite good if they had chosen a more emotive acting style than "sullen mannequin."

The best sequence in the film was "The Big Fat Kill." It had the right mix of over-the-top violence, dark humor and mean-spiritedness to tell an entertaining story, but also to give the actors something to do. Clive Owen does an excellent job with his role, Brittany Murphy is always fantastic, Rosario Dawson, in accordance with my theory that the actors having the most fun with their roles are the ones who recognize the flaws in the film, clearly is having a ball chewing all the scenery in sight, and Devon Aoki out-acts almost every person in the film despite not being given anything to do other than be enigmatically Oriental.

In terms of the audience, well...at least one person fell asleep about half-way through the movie. If violence and nudity can't keep people awake, that's probably not a good sign. Also not a good sign was when someone in the group sitting directly behind us observed at the start of the film "it's in black and white." The same group, upon existing the film, commented "[Hartigan] killing himself was unexpected." My reaction to that, to Mike, was "has this person never seen a movie before?" I mean, Hartigan's death is probably the most baldly foreshadowed moment in the entire film. (The other really good Mike and I moment was during the trailer for the re-make of The Amityville Horror when the words "based on a true story" flashed on the screen and we both burst out laughing simultaneously.)

Regarding the source material for a moment, it's a genre I have some familiarity and fondness for. Back when I still haunted the halls of academia, my senior thesis was an examination of representations of masculinity in the "hard-boiled" school of crime and detective fiction. In other words, I read a lot of the same books Frank Miller did. And, as far as Sin City goes, it's all very uneven work. Some of it can be quite good, much of it is passable, and when it's bad it's awful. What Miller does, and what the move tries to capture, and with only mixed results, is take all the wildest, most bloodily typical elements of the "pulp" genre and make out of them something that is equal parts pastiche and satire. It's not really meant to be taken seriously, and approaching it without an awareness of the intended comedy is likely to leave the viewer/reader with a bad taste in his or her mouth. That Miller revels in the misogynistic subtext of the genre only compounds that problem. Miho, for example, while a compelling character by the standards of the genre, is always more of an object than a subject. I did not use the word "Oriental" by accident earlier. The term is most correctly used to reference things, not people. And while the mystery of Miho is what makes her an intriguing character, it also keeps her from really being human.

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Monday, April 04, 2005

Links 

Trade Who...er, Gotham Lounge is determined to make me fiddle with my template again.

Ed Brisson apparently worked in a book store, but he could very well have worked in a comic shop. An illustration from my week-end: "Do you have any toys?" Sure, I have a whole aisle of toys right here. "Do you have any action figures?" Uh, sure, most of the toys are action figures. "Do you have any action figures of characters I might be interested in?"

I'm getting a lot of traffic from anime and manga boards lately. That isn't really relevant to anything, it's just an observation on my part, born out of checking my site logs this morning. Also, the phrase "t****b****" is no longer my top search term. No, now it's requests for naked pictures of Jake Shears.

Johanna has the details on the Squiddy awards, aka the Rec.Arts.Comics Usenet awards.

House of the Dead is giving away the Bluesman graphic novel

Wildcat is a dickPal John points me to this anti-Folk music spoken word Christian album in which we learn of the dangerous influence of Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and "Phil Ooks" on America's youth.


Newsarama previews the new Rick Spears and Rob G graphic novel.

Comic Monsters plugs a nice little hole that emerged in the comics/horror blogs over-lap.

Things Only I Care About
I came across an issue of Super-Team Family for cheap which contained a Denny O'Neil/Ric Estrada story in which Wildcat and the Creeper team-up to take on a corrupt Latin American dictator. The comic got me to thinking: none of the Wildcat team-up stories that appeared over the years were technically in continuity, because Wildcat is an Earth-2 character and he was always being paired up with an Earth-1 hero. But an unintended side-effect of Crisis and it's removal of the multiple earths is that all those stories that continuity obsessed fans hated, mostly by Bob Haney in The Brave and The Bold, can now be in continuity.

Well, like I said, I'm probably the only one who cares whether or not old Wildcat stories "actually happened" within the context of a fictional universe.

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Sunday, April 03, 2005

In Which Dorian Finally Loses His Patience 

Okay, we get it: anyone who enjoyed DC Countdown, on any level, is clearly a subliterate with no aesthetic or critical sense. Now, can we please just let it go and all stop bitching about it at every opportunity, and move on to complaining about more vital and pressing issues. Like, which long-time character should Marvel re-invent as a sexy ethnic teenage girl next?

Christ, from the way people are reacting to this you'd think it was something important, not a super-hero comic with no larger aspirations than getting the existing fan-base for such things excited about a publisher's upcoming plans.

(For the record, I haven't even had a chance to read the damn thing yet. So no, it's not as if I'm trying to "defend" it in any way. I'm just getting very tired of the lack of perspective I'm seeing in the responses to it.)

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Saturday, April 02, 2005

If I'd known Robbie Williams was a Grant Morrison fan I'd have made more of an effort to go.

Thanks to Pal Ian for pointing that out to me.

You can see him in a couple of the pictures, you know. Ian I mean.

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The Odds And Ends 

I feel vaguely guilty that I only had quotes from men on my little cycle thing yesterday, especially since I was sure that both Johanna and Laura had said nice things about me on their site that were usable as quotes. But I couldn't find them. Here are the quotes I did use:

"One of the few comics blogs I always make time for."--Antony Johnston

"Reading his blog is like watching a beloved 50's Rat Pack Vegas act."--Larry Young

"You and your damn smart brain and such"--Rick Geerling

"My sole complaint with Dorian is that there's only one of him."--Ken Lowery

"...It's a GOOD kind of cranky...--Fred Hembeck

"It's good. It's funny. It should be read."--Mag and H

"If you want him to treat you nicely, don't tell him Mike sent you."--Mike Sterling

Apparently the most popular out-going link that day was the Judd Winick quote from the night before. The most popular Man-Thing link was the custom Lego figure.

For those of you who didn't feel like clicking "reload" over and over again to see all the "funny" comments, here they are, with some annotations:

"Driving my enemies before me, hearing the lamentations of their women since 1975"--This quote should really be a marker of your cultural knowledge.

"Posting inappropriate images since 1975"

"Caught up in your wheeling dealing since 1975"--A line from a song in Phantom of the Paradise

"Deliberately misreading Foucault since 1975"--I've only been accused of this once. It was by a lesbian separatist in a seminar course on "Postmodernism/Feminism" in which the professor from the Women's Studies department made it quite clear on the first day of class that she believed that a) postmodernism is bunk and b) postmodern theory is misogynistic. And, naturally, she had formed this opinion without actually bothering to read any theory that could be described as "postmodern." At all. Half the class were English majors, from a department that was very big on teaching and studying theory, due mainly to a very young set of professors. The rest were spread out amongst several different majors, but all were taking minors in Women's Studies. So, yeah, there were quite a few "interesting" debates. The context of the accusation was that I was arguing for notions of gender and sexuality as socially constructed concepts, not genetic imperatives. This was also the class in which I was told that my interpretation of a text was irrelevant because I was a gay man and all gay men are either pedophiles or going to die of AIDS, so why should they be listened to.

"Hunting the Snark since 1975"

"Going amongst mad people since 1975"--Yep, two Lewis Carroll references.

"Just so long and long enough since 1975"--A very oblique reference to an e.e. cummings poem I happen to be fond of.

"Meeting an actual, actual, actual vampire since 1975"--Probably the only lyric I can remember from the film The Apple

"Holy and good and wonderful and kind and sweet as treacle since 1975"--Anyone who gets this reference impresses me greatly. Especially if they can do it without resorting to Google.

"Upsizing your value meal since 1975"

"My pasture was a street since 1975"--The first Phil Ochs lyric quoted.

"Mooning over Zak Spears since 1975"--My masculine ideal.

"Dancing with the dolls in the doll house since 1975"--The second Phil Ochs lyric quoted.

"Threatening the sanctity of marriage since 1975"--Mike wants to steal this one for his list, but isn't sure if he can get away with it.

"Editing out the nipples since 1975"--Aren't silly comic-book controversies fun? No, they're not.

"Stealing other people's templates since 1975"--The most stupidly obvious joke I could think of.

"Posting when I should be working since 1975"

"Bear hunting since 1975"

"Woofy since 1975"--I hope that both David and Tom appreciated this one.

"Rolling a natural 20 since 1975"--My one concession to my gamer geekdom.

"Trying to make sense of the UNIT timeline since 1975"--Seriously, this is messed up. The original UNIT stories were supposed to take place "in the near future", but later writers somehow thought they were meant to be taking place at the time they aired. And then still later writers started setting the stories "in the near future" again, but under the assumption that the original stories had taken place at the time they aired. So there's big, weird gaps in the UNIT timeline.

"Misusing semi-colons since 1975"--I do it on purpose.

"Vadaing the dolly dishes cartes since 1975"--I'm not entirely sure of the grammar there. I half suspect that "vada" is used in both tenses.

"Waiting impatiently for The State on DVD since 1975"--I hear alternately that it's the music rights holding this up, or that MTV wants a big cut of the money.

"Picturing you in your underwear since 1975"

"Tediously pedantic since 1975"

"Gayer than a gay thing that's gay since 1975"--"Xer than an X thing that's X" is a popular turn of phrase at work.

"Wondering whatever happened to Fay Wray since 1975"--The first RHPS quote.

"Not interesting anyone outside a small circle of friends since 1975"--The third Phil Ochs quote.

"Failing to see the appeal of Brad Pitt since 1975"--I just don't. Mostly it may be that he's blond and sort of generically handsome, and I prefer men with more character in their looks.

"Larry Young's bitch since 1975"--Larry Young may not think he has any bitches, but that's a label I'd wear proudly.

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre since 1975"--A quote from my favorite poem by my favorite poet.

"Doctoring the Tardis since 1975"--A very silly song, but a more obvious Doctor Who reference than the UNIT one.

"Groaning inwardly since 1975"

"Too tolerant of human stupidity since 1975"--Oh yeah.

"Increasingly misanthropic since 1975"--Oh, hell yeah!

"Wondering how Son of Satan was Comics Code approved since 1975"--You couldn't say the word "zombie" in a Marvel comic at that time, but a book about the Anti-Christ was a-okay.

"Hitting you with the reality stick since 1975"--I just wish I didn't have to hit people with it so hard or so frequently.

"Better than a sock in the jaw since 1975"

"Staying up too late playing City of Heroes since 1975"--I just did the Calvin Scott trial earlier tonight, and I think it's the first time we've finished a Task Force before midnight.

"Feeling uncomfortable reading yaoi since 1975"--It's just that the characters are usually so young that I feel like a dirty old man.

"Single-handedly turning Wildcat into a gay icon since 1975"--Well, not just me. Go back and read the ten issue series that Mike Parobeck drew, and try and tell me that there's no subtext in the Ted and Al relationship.

"Getting you a Satanic mechanic since 1975"--Another good RHPS quote. My other favorite lines, which I couldn't make fit, are "This isn't the Junior Chamber of Commerce Brad!" and "A mental mind-fuck can be nice!"

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Friday, April 01, 2005

The Greatest Swamp Monster of All Time! 

Here are some Man-Thing links for you all to enjoy

A brief history of Man-Thing

Man-Thing Magic Card

Man-Thing custom Lego

Wikipedia article on Man-Thing

Rotten Tomatoes' Man-Thing page

Man-Thing dictionary

This page contains Man-Thing stats for the Marvel Super-Heroes RPG

And here's a scenario featuring Man-Thing

Man-Thing fan fiction

Man-Thing cover gallery

Comics guest-starring Man-Thing

Stats for the Man-Thing HeroClix figure

Custom Man-Thing action figure

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© 2007 Dorian Wright. Some images are © their respective copyright holders. They appear here for the purposes of review or satire only.