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Thursday, March 30, 2006
Bit and Pieces
I love those ellipses right before "cousin." And Clark's annoyed reaction followed by a quick save. Exactly how often does one of Clark's fake "cousins" stop by the office?
Yesterday was a rare Wednesday visit to the comic shop for me. It was worth it, as I got to witness Corey making the William Riker, Thomas Riker and Admiral Riker action figures kiss and talk of their sexual desire for one another's beards. But not in a "gay" way, more in a hyper-masculine/border-line masturbatory way. It was the funniest thing I'd seen in months. Perhaps years. It is entirely possible you had to be there.
I also flipped through The Road to Civil War: The New Avengers: The Illuminanti. It was...well, lots of talking heads interrupted briefly by a confusingly drawn action sequence. But my skepticism regarding the upcoming Civil War cross-over was increased because of one simple fact: when Namor is acting as the voice of reason, you know that something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Probably not quite safe-for-work. But it amused me greatly, especially after some of the recent discussions I've seen on-line about "straight" men in gay porn, "straight-acting" men, and gay men who insist that calling yourself gay is old-fashioned. (from The B-Squad, spotted at Starrfucker)
As a reward for going through all that, here's a not at all homoerotic picture of Chris Meloni and Lee Tergesen wrestling.
Allegedly humorous commentary on above panel. Implication that characters featured in above panel are homosexual.
Unfocused rage at generally poor state of comic book news, both on the internet and in magazine form. Unfair generalization about how all comic-book themed message boards and forums are terrible and visited mostly by lack-wits.
Expressions of incredulity at the latest annoucement from Marvel that sets comics back about ten years.
Jeremiah Harm #2 by Keith Giffen, Alan Grant and Rael Lyra The second issue of Jeremiah Harm transplants the action to Earth, as Harm continues his pursuit of three alien mass murders. The tone of the story shifts slightly as well, adopting a more action-oriented tone, while retaining the tongue-in-cheek humor. It's less of an over-the-top feel, which opens up the story nicely to allow a little bit of plot and exposition to sneak in. As interestingly grotesque as Rael Lyra's aliens are, his humans are equally appealing in their lanky, distorted forms. He very effectively creates a grimy, grungy look that compliments the story. As with the first issue, the tone of the series is probably not to everyone's tastes. For fan's of Giffen's and Grant's darker humored work, particularly Lobo, this is an excellent return to form.
Zombie Tales: The Dead by Many The zombie themed anthology continues. As with prior issues, the tone is a bit lighter than your standard zombie comic, particularly when it comes to the latest installment of Keith Giffen's "I, Zombie" story or John Rogers "Four Out of Five," which touches upon the front-line battles of those who inadvertently caused the zombie apocalypse. A nice change of pace is "A Game Called Zombie" by Jim Pascoe, Don Simpson and Chris Moreno, which takes the zombie theme in a more metaphoric direction. It's not something you usually see in zombie stories, which often tend to focus on gore and grim jokes, and it makes for an engaging variation on the subject. Also noteworthy are Michael Nelson's and Lee Moder's Biblically themed "The Miracle of Bethany" and Johanna Stoke's and Cynthia Martin's "Zoombies," an interesting talking-animal take on the zombie story. The best thing about the Zombie Tales books is that there emphasis on black comedy and non-conventional takes on the zombie genre makes them entertaining reads, even for those who in general don't like horror comics, or especially zombie themed books.
Continuity by Jason McNamara and Tony Talbert This upcoming graphic novel from AIT/Planet Lar focuses on Alicia, a pregnant teenager who ran away to New York. The problem is, she's never had sex and no one's heard of New York. And every time she goes to sleep, the whole world changes. But in this story, what could have been a sci-fi cliche becomes an examination of teen loneliness and anxiety. Alicia is quite literally no longer in control of her life, as her dreams continually blur the boundaries between fantasy and reality. And she never quite manages to take control, despite forming new attachments in a family of choice, of sorts, as she still spends all her time and energy focusing on avoiding her central dilemma. Only at the end does she reach a resolution which manages to be both touching and tragic. Talbert's art is excellent. It's very expressive and he handles both action and quiet conversation well. He also does an exceptional job in showing, incrementally, Alicia's deterioration as she runs away, lives on the streets, and goes without sleep for nine months. Continuity has an emotional depth and resonance that you don't often find in AIT's more action-orientated works, coupled with very strong and dramatic art. It will be released in June 2006.
Man Enough: A Queer Romance by Bill Roundy Bill Roundy's mini-comic is a charming look at the early courtship and first date of a true "queer" couple; a gay man and a female-to-male transsexual. It's a cute story, with an easy, natural humor and sweet romantic tone. The seemingly insurmountable barrier between the two leads getting together (he's gay, he's biologically a woman) makes for good dramatic tension despite the shortness of the story. In the best mini-comic tradition, the art is a bit rough and primitive, but the strength of the writing more than makes up for it. Rounding out the book is a short story illustrated by Tim Fish about the dangers of flirting with customers in a video store. Man Enough will be available from the author at the upcoming APE show, and then at his web-site.
If Jimmy Olsen were a real person, I think I would have to hit him. Hard. And frequently. I've been reading the Showcase Presents: Superman Family volume, and it's rough going. Usually it only takes me a day or two to read one of these Showcase volumes, but the sheer amount of Jimmy Olsen stories makes this book slow-going. I can only stand to read one or two stories at a time before Jimmy's obnoxiousness and terminal cluelessness forces me to put the book down to preserve my sanity.
First of all, well, he's kind of an idiot. He keeps stumbling into dangerous situations and having to have Superman rescue him. Just think how Superman's time could have been better spent if he didn't have to rescue Jimmy twice a day. "Gee Superman, a bus full of orphans and kittens went off a cliff just outside Metropolis and everyone inside was burnt to death in a fiery cataclysm of pain and suffering, including the nun who was driving. Why didn't you save them?" "Well, Jimmy, that would be because I had to save you from the jewel thief whose gang you infiltrated disguised as hobo."
Second, he's got a bit of a tick. I'm not sure I could stand hearing him shout out "Super duper" every five minutes, whether it's appropriate or not. "Hey, I found a nickel on the sidewalk! Super duper!" "I narrowly avoided getting run over by that bus! Super duper!" "Lucy gave me the clap! Super duper!" (I'm sorry, that last joke was out of place. We all know Lucy's just a beard.)
Finally, man is he ever a racist twerp!
At least the book has one redeeming feature.
There's some Lois Lane in there. It occurred to me the other day that, even in the Silver and Golden age stories, Lois was still a damn good reporter. If Clark wasn't continually gaslighting her she'd have proven he was Superman a thousand times over.
This is the closest thing to "work safe" material I found in San Francisco.
It's a chap-book format magazine from 1972, focusing on the gay community in the New York, New Jersey area. I bought it primarily for the fantastic cover. Luckily I found plenty of interest in the magazine itself.
The back-cover is an ad for a bath-house. I like how the ad is blatantly an advertisement for a sex club, but they still play coy about what, exactly, goes on there.
That has got to be the classiest "male massage" ad I've ever seen. Not a thing like today's ads, which focus on every part of the "masseuse" except his hands.
"Sophisticated all male films" is my new favorite euphemism for gay porn.
And this is my favorite bit, excerpts from letters that Merle Miller received after writing his essay "What It Means to Be a Homosexual" in the New York Times, making him one of the first public figures in America in the 20th century to be openly gay.
I'm struck by how little the rhetoric has changed. If anything, homophobes were at least more polite back then.
Garth Ennis will also be working on a Midnighter ongoing series with Chris Sprouse. This is the first ongoing American comic with a gay lead (Northstar had a mini-series which came out after his "outing" in Alpha Flight, in which no words meaning "homosexual" were used whatsoever), so expect this to start percolating through the mainstream media. You can probably also expect a fair amount of panicked, culture-warriors weighing in on the corruption of the children. Especially if it's a slow news week.
Here's what some message-board posters think of Ennis on a Midnighter book:
So what are Midnighter's redeeming qualities? He likes beating the crap out of men and humping them? And somehow Ennis sees this as fighting to change the status quo for the better? Has he studied criminal psychology at all? Can we get past the one trick pony of Midnighter being a practicing homosexual and actually explore the character? Batman is definitely not gay (the first hint would be he sleeps exclusively with chicks) and he could clean the floor with this criminal.
I'm not picking this up just cause Midnighter is Gay If they were ridiculing a Gay character i might bye it just for the laughs
Anyway, I'd be interested in this EXCEPT it's written by Ennis. Aside from the fact I find him to be a bad writer and not particularly funny, I also find he writes a lot of homophobic, gay bashing characters into his scripts. I REALLY wanted to get through his ghost rider, but one of the previews online convinced me yet again he's a one trick pony!
I tried to look for more, but really, it was too depressing. That's when I was able to decipher the spelling and grammar. I don't know how Mike does it.
The trip out of Santa Barbara was delayed quite a bit due to the police shooting to death a carjacker. The fellow in question is destined to go down in "stupid criminal" history, as the story ended when he attempted to carjack a truck being driven by an undercover narcotics officer.
Saturday morning was spent walking all over the city with John and Ian. I did some shopping in the Castro, mostly at Auto Erotica, which carries a good deal of vintage porn and gay magazines. I picked up some issues of Physique Pictorial, then headed over to A Different Light and bought a couple of collections of gay horror stories and Meatmen on sale, as well as a collection of Stephen Lowther and Howard Stangroom comics.
Later in the day we made it over to the Isotope, where I met James and Kirsten and James gave me the tour of the toilet-seat art. It's quite a nice store, with a good and diverse selection, and an inviting and comfortable layout.
Sunday Pete and I had a nice brunch with Larry Young and Mimi Rosenheim. It was a great meal with good company. And we mostly managed to avoid talking about comics. (You can sort of read about it here.) That night was the wedding of our friends Ben and Debra which was...a wedding. I'm not terribly patient with big productions, so I was trying to be on my best behavior. Unfortunately, it gave Pete...ideas.
You know what I want to see? A revival of Life with Archie. I want to see a dramatic, real-world inspired Archie comic. But not like the old Life with Archie, where the idea of the "real-world" was "Archie discovers a spy ring" or "Betty and Veronica are kidnapped by burglars" or "Jughead gets pneumonia."
No, this is the Life with Archie I want to see:
#1: Ronnie's in trouble! But how will she get to the Women's Clinic for that delicate procedure when her father has promised to shut it down in his campaign for the Republican primary?
#2: They used to make fun of him for being a nerd, but not any more! Look out world, 'cause Dilton's got a gun!
#3: For years the gang has wondered why Jughead can eat so much and never gain any weight. And they're horrified when they learn the truth. This month: a shocking glimpse into the world of eating disorders.
#4: The Riverdale High Athletic program is being investigated by the Feds! Chuck betting on the games? Moose on steroids? How could Mr. Weatherbee let this happen on his watch. Or has he been taking a cut of Chuck's action all along?
#5: Archie and his gals and pals are shocked to learn a deep, dark secret about their favorite teacher. Mrs. Grundy used to be Mr. Grundy!
#6: Archie can't figure out why Betty, his soft-ball playing, car repairing gal-pal doesn't want to go "all the way" with him. Could it be Betty is more interested in Midge?
#7: The secrets of Reggie's success with the ladies is made horrifyingly clear. One word: Roofies!
#8: Sabrina just wants to be like all the other kids. But Mr. Lodge doesn't want a witch corrupting the school with her Satanic religion. Can they work out a compromise, or will it all end in tragedy?
#9: Mr. Lodge is indicted! His company over-charged the government for rebuilding projects in Iraq and he illegally moved money out of his employee's pension fund! Will being a rich white businessman be enough to get him off with a slap on the wrist?
#10: Josie's rock-and-roll lifestyle finally catches up to her. A cautionary tale about fame, drugs and alcohol in "Requiem for a Pussycat."
I'm leaving you alone for a few days once more. I should be back Tuesday. I'm going to a different "city of sin" this weekend, San Francisco, to participate in something that's damaging to the moral fiber of this country. I'm talking, of course, about heterosexual marriage. Man, they way those deviants flaunt their sexuality in the public like that makes me physically ill. But their friends of mine, so I'll keep my mouth shut about how God hates what they're doing during the ceremony.
Oh, and don't behave this weekend. I want to come back on Tuesday to find a smoking crater where the blogosphere used to be.
Wildcat stars in Catwoman #56. So you know it'll be an exceptionally good issue.
The solicitation for Nightwing #121 contains a fairly critical spoiler for the issue of Nightwing that comes out...tomorrow.
Sam Kieth's cover for Batman: Secrets #4 is a very nice portrait of Batman and the Joker. It's a shame that by the time it comes out it will be cluttered with a logo and UPC bar.
David Lapham's Batman: City of Crime has a trade solicited. The storyline started well, but the ending was a bit of a mess. The fault, I think, was simply that it went on to long.
Brian Singer, Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris plot four one-shots that tie into the upcoming Superman Returns film. Marc Andreyko scripts Ma Kent and Lois Lane, with Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray scripting Krypton to Earth and Lex Luthor, with Adam Hughes providing covers to all four $3.99 books. John Byrne, Karl Kerschel, Rick Leonardi and Wellington Dias trade off art chores. I'm not quite sure what to think of these books. I've already seen complaints on-line about "But Ma Kent is dead in the film continuity" and "But Bryan Singer was supposed to write an X-Men comic." Frankly, I'm surprised DC is doing more to promote the film in comics than an over-priced adaptation and rushed out trades. I suppose I may check out the comics, if only because, in general, I don't really object to any of those creators. But I don't really find myself going "ooh, cool, neat, ancillary tie-ins that tangentially expand the plot" either.
Superman/Doomsday Omnibus collects the bulk of the post-"Death of Superman" Doomsday appearances. Material like this, when I still worked in comics retail, mostly sold only to kids who thought that Doomsday was "cool." The same kids who think Venom, Carnage and the Scarlet Spider are cool, I suspect. In general, those kids won't buy trades.
DCU: Brave New World is a $1 showcase for many of the post-Infinite Crisis minis and on-goings. Most of these titles look like things I'll be interested in, and at a buck for eighty pages it's a good bargain. That won't stop the never-ending stream of gratingly unfunny, page-by-page and panel-by-panel attack reviews and dissections from folks who are deeply offended that comics aren't still exactly the way they were thirty years ago.
Flash: The Fastest Man Alive starts, with writers from the Flash television show. Frankly, I'm more than a little tired of DC editorial making noncommittal and vague statements about this title. If they expect me to give it a shot they really need to, oh, I don't know, tell some damn details about the tone and direction of the book.
The Green Lantern Corps: Recharge series was actually not horrible, despite being about people calling themselves Green Lantern, so I may be willing to give the Dave Gibbons written Green Lantern Corps a shot. Plus, DC is apparently doing a Green Lantern ring promo in conjunction with it. I used to have one from another long-ago DC promotion, but it's long lost. It might be worth picking up another one.
Hard Time is cancelled again. I'm not surprised, I haven't been as impressed with this "second season" as I was with the first. I'm also really tired of this notion of "seasons" getting translated into comics. Also, comic books can't have "Director's Cuts" or "DVD extras."
Mogo guest stars in Ion #3. That's almost reason enough to get it.
We recently learned that the Golden Age Atom was the grandfather of the current Manhunter. I think we may know who her grandmother was now.
I think I'm the only comics blogger who cares neither for the Metal Men Archive or Showcase Presents: Elongated Man. Does this mean I lose my license?
Allan Heinberg and Terry and Rachel Dodson launch a new Wonder Woman series, and remarkably there's no colon and sub-title. Doesn't that violate the "One Year Later" rules? I'm not sure of the cover. Dodson is a good artist, but he tends to over-indulge in the cheesecake. I'm not sure that's a good approach to take with a character like Wonder Woman. Unless they're going for something a little more ironic this time around.
A new Astro City special focusing on Samaritain and his arch-enemy Infidel makes a bow.
Wildstorm also launches a new Claw the Unconquered series. The character is best remembered as one of many comic knock-offs of Conan and as a victim of the "DC Implosion." My experience has been that, as a back-issue, it only sells to middle aged men who are trying to re-buy all the comics they had as a kid. Apparently Claw writer Chuck Dixon is going to ditch the previous continuity for this new series. Which means that the fans of the old Claw series probably won't be interested in this new one. So why bother doing it? Oh, right, Dark Horse making money on a Conan comic...
As has already been pointed out by a few others, the first Testament trade contains issues that haven't been released yet. This is pretty significant for DC, as in the past they've always preferred to give retailers time to sell comics before putting them in trades. It could also be seen as a sign of extreme confidence in Testament. I understand that the first DMZ trade is being semi-rushed as well. The indications are that Vertigo editors are either supremely confident in the titles, or strongly hoping to build them up as tent-pole titles for the imprint.
I could take a look at the Marvel solicitations, but the only noteworthy thing there is Neil Gaiman's Eternals series, which has the obligatory variant cover and an artist whose work I can't stand.
Plantary Brigade #2 by Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, Fabio Moon, Zid and Alfa and Joe Abraham.
The prequel to Hero Squared continues, and like the previous installment, this satirical take on super-hero team cliches is amusing. The characters are familiar types, but Giffen and DeMatteis render each one with an engaging personality and enough twists to make them enjoyable despite their familiarity. The only sour note in this issue is the introduction of Mr. Brilliant. He's a fat guy who lives in a comic book store. It's a cheap joke, and one that's made often enough, but it feels out of place and trite here.
Sky Ape: King of Girls by Richard Jenkins, Phil Amara, Tim McCarny and Mike Russo.
Sky Ape is a fun, absurdist action comic, and another satire of the tropes of super-hero team books. I had difficulty remembering the names and details of Sky Ape's secondary characters, but really it doesn't matter. There's a semblance of a plot here, having to do with men being taught manners and how to socialize with women, only to then use those new skills for revenge, but the bulk of the book is taken up with strange, surreal jokes about an incompetent super-hero team named Victory's Thirteen and the Minotaur. Jenkins' art has an angular, cartoon look to it that's appealing, and the jokes are, well, funny, but as I said, a strange, surreal humor that may not appeal to all folks. I love it. It's pure comic book goodness and strangeness and the kind of wonderful nonsense I look for in comics.
Dorothy #5, by Mark Masterson, Greg Mannino, Illusive Arts and starring Catie Fisher
As Dorothy finally reaches the Munchkin village, we get an issue that's heavy on the exposistion. Some of the basic elements of the status quo of this version of Oz are established, with heavy foreshadowing of what still lies ahead for Dorothy. The art, a mix of photography and digital imaging for those unfamiliar with the title, is lush and lovely. And while this is a very dialogue heavy issue, the story still retains a brisk pace and forward momentum. It's also a fairly good issue for those unfamiliar with the title to pick up on, as all the vital details of past issues are covered. If your local comics store doesn't carry Dorothy, it is also available from the publisher's website.
Channel Zero by Brian Wood
This is one of Brian Wood's earliest comics projects, and it has been reissued in a new edition by Ait/PlanetLar. It's a story of resistance to government censorship and a fascist, racist near-future America. And while there are certain resonances with current political discussions in this country and abroad, the book very much feels like a product of the time in which it was created, 1997. Much of that probably has to do with the fact that this is very early work from Brian Wood, and as a writer he hadn't quite found his voice yet. It suggests, heavily, the relative youth of the creator, and of the intended audience. It reminds me, in that sense, of DMZ, Wood's current series for Vertigo. Both books have a very angry, and somewhat unreflective, political viewpoint that "feels like" the kinds of unfocused political awakenings people often experience in their late teens and early twenties. It's not a criticism of the book at all. In fact, I would strongly suggest the book to any fairly bright teenagers you know, but reading it did, at times, made me feel very, very old. Mostly, I suspect, because I remember when I would have been much more enthusiastic about a book like this. I also feel like I should note that there's really only one sequence which, to me, doesn't work at all. It's the brief passage about the "cleaner" who operates in New York. While I have no trouble believing in an American public that happily accepts neo-colonial overseas adventurism and media censorship, I have quite a bit of trouble finding an America that cheerily accepts government sponsored death squads openly roaming the streets plausible. It also works against the grain of the story. If, as the story suggests, the fascism of this future America is of the velvet glove variety, then a public morals officer with a license to kill smacks more strongly of the iron fist. It doesn't quite fit. As I said, the book makes me feel a bit old, but it's still good work. What I find particularly remarkable about it now is the art and design work that went into it. Wood is an excellent artist, with a keen eye for design, and this book, as an aesthetic object, is superlative.
DC: One Year Later
Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #40, by Kurt Busiek and Butch Guice This was a perfectly acceptable Aquaman comic. The combination of Busiek and Guice means that this book has lots of potential, and perhaps higher expectations than it can live up to, but this issue serves as a fairly standard set-up and quickie origin for the protagonist. If anything, for my taste, this issue would have benefited from fewer references to previous Aquaman continuity. If they're going to make a clean break, best to make it an all the way break.
Detective Comics #817, by James Robinson, Leonard Kirk and Andy Clarke Much like Aquaman, this is a perfectly adequate Batman comic. I'm slightly disappointed by the lack of any characters from the late Gotham Central comic, as putting James Gordon and Harvey Bullock in the roles of Batman's police allies feels like an unnecessary step backwards. It's a needlessly retro move, and feels counter to the general direction of the "One Year Later" books, which is forward. In addition, the broad hints as to what happened during the "missing year" weren't engaging, but merely annoying. In fact, the over-all feeling was that this storyline is only serving as a place-holder filler until Dini and Morrisson can begin their runs.
Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #23 by Stuart Moore, Jamal Igle and Keith Champagne By retaining the previous creative team, Firestorm manages to avoid both the placeholder feeling of Detective and the "that's all" feeling that Aquaman flirts with. Instead it feels much like a continuation of what has gone before, only with a big gap in the narrative. Only in this case, the mystery of the missing PhD is strongly based on the existing Firestorm continuity, making it feel more natural than Detective's vague hints about whatever it is that Bullock did in 52. It's a fun super-hero comic that doesn't pretend to be much of anything else.
JSA #83, by Paul Levitz, Rag Morales, Dave Meikis with Luke Ross The story is passable, and I enjoy Morales' art, but the entire Levitz run as a whole, including the prequel issue #82, strongly feels like a place-holder. It's a fun enough comic, and the Gentleman Ghost is a goofy enough concept that I can get behind it. But it feels like this storyline is killing time until Johns (or a new writer) can start work on the title.
Outsiders #34, by Judd Winick, Matthew Clark and Art Thibert Of the "One Year Later" semi-reboots, this is my favorite so far. I like Winick's take on super-hero action comics, I like Clark's art, and this issue has a nice mix of old, familiar characters and characters new to the team. And the "twist" for this issue, that the world believes the Outsiders to be dead, is saved for a pleasingly dramatic cliff-hanger. The mystery is engaging, but it isn't allowed to over-power the story, nor is it teased out pointlessly. Instead, it serves to establish the direction of the next storyline. It's a good use of the "One Year Later" gimmick, in addition to being a fairly good comic.
Pete and I watched the Ultimate Avengers direct-to-DVD animated movie last night. What did we think?
If we hadn't rented it from Netflix, it would probably have gone in the garbage.
It was utter crap. I went into it with neutral expectations. I didn't expect a translation from comic to animation as good as the Cartoon Network Justice League cartoon, but I was hoping for something that would be at the very least entertaining, or good-naturedly mindless enough to be watchable. But no. The voice-acting was grating and obnoxious and the script, which apparently tried to cram twelve issues of the comic into an hour and a half, while ditching all the "objectionable" content, also managed to ditch all the "enjoyable" content and any attempts to make sense. So, what, the aliens just "hung out" for sixty years until one day they decided to attack SHIELD? At least the animation was of acceptable quality.
To sum up, Pryde of the X-Men was a better translation of a Marvel comic than that.
(And no, no pictures or funny talk about the horrible bonus features. If you think I'm even looking at that damn thing for another second you're insane.)
I've been strangely compelled by this picture for a couple of days now. Morrissey is aging well. No, I mean he's really aging well. The years look good on him. Not only does he look much better than any other rock or pop star his age, which only goes to prove that there's some truth to the theory that excessive drugs and drink age you, but he looks better now than he did when he was younger and supposedly in his prime.
I'm not quite sure what to think of the fact that Morrissey is triggering all my Daddy fixations.
Beat to hell Silver Age DC comics really are your best entertainment value per dollar.
I keep thinking I should write some on my reactions to the DC "One Year Later" books I've read. But with only a few out so far it seems premature to try and talk about them authoritatively. But waiting for them to all come out seems to be a good way to waste the topicality of the subject.
Or perhaps I'm just stuck trying to think of something more insightful than "I would have liked Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis more if it had fewer connections to previous Aquaman titles" or "I was under-whelmed by James Robinson's first issue of Detective, and thought the reintroduction of Gordon and Bullock to the police-force was an unnecessary step backwards."
Similarly, I'm tempted to talk about Infinite Crisis #5 because the impression I've gotten is that many people were disappointed in it, and thought it was relatively low-key. Which surprises me, because I can't think of anything duller than thirty-two pages of Superman fighting Superman. My reaction was that it was a welcome step back to allow some plot advancement through methods other than people hitting each other.
But then, I don't talk about cross-over comics on this site anymore.
(I did have an idea for a series of in-depth reviews and discussions to do here, but I've decided I can't. It would involve reading Civil War.)
Purely by happenstance I discovered that VH1, having run out of decades to plunder for tired pop culture "jokes," has started focusing on random nouns, starting with I Love Toys. If you missed it, don't worry, it's a VH1 show, so it'll be run for freaking ever.
What's irrationally annoyed me about it is, these people they have on the show aren't the slightest bit entertaining. Even people who genuinely are funny, aren't funny on these "I Love" shows. Hell, more than half of these people I only know as "that guy from the 'I Love' show!" Yet I can't turn away. I feel like I must watch.
At least now we know what happens to Daily Show correspondents when they leave the show. (Didn't Mo Rocca used to be funny?)
The thing about Lois Lane is that she's continually presented as some kind of ideal mate for Superman, but it's not really easy to see why. In the Golden Age she was, to put it politely, an emasculating shrew to Clark Kent. In the Silver Age, she was a conniving minx, continually attempting to trick Superman into marriage. Not, exactly, a stellar role model for young girls, or a positive portrayal of femininity. But, it's not like she was a bad person. She was just written the way that the writers at the time thought little boys would think women were like. Sort of thing.
Still, at least she wasn't a completely insane psycho witch like Lana...
"Dammit Superman! Kill her! Don't be fooled by her attempts to sacrifice herself to save another person! KILL! KILL! KILL!"
Dale Lazarov, writer/editor of STICKY (out now in hardcover from Bruno Gmünder Verlag), seeks a queer comics illustrator interested in collaborating on an all-new 80-page album of gay erotic comics. Payment for the work will be split 60% artist / 40% writer/editor. Ideally, the illustrator for this project combines strong comics-based narrative and draftsmanship skills with a keen sense of how actual human beings look and interact in intimate situations with carnality and sweetness. Please contact Dale Lazarov at homoludenz[at]aol.com with a link to an online portfolio (if available) if interested.
"Surely no costume is more ridiculous than that worn by Wonder Woman. Red and gold? Tacky, tacky, tack-ey! And those eagles? For a woman who's supposed to be serving as a role-model to young girls, she sure does seem interested in drawing attention to her bosom, doesn't she?"
Diana, care to rebut?
"Well, of course Ms. Lane is entitled to her opinion, but I don't feel the need to justify my costume..."
I really don't care about the Academy Awards. I think I've described them as "Hollywood's biggest circle-jerk" often enough that at this point even I'm tired of hearing it. (As I type this, bear in mind that I have no idea who won what.) And I'm not "rooting" for Brokeback Mountain to win, as some people seem to be. Firstly, because the film's merits and flaws stand well enough on their own, without some kind of vaguely official recognition. Secondly, my sense of self is not impacted one bit by whether or not a bunch of rich, mostly white, mostly male, mostly homophobic celebrities consider a film with gay themes worthy of vaguely official recognition or not. And thirdly, because it's always been my observation that the award for Best Picture traditionally goes to the most self-important, self-congratulatory film of the year. Which makes Crash, a film in which white people learn An Important Lesson About Racism a lock for the win.
There are, of course, rare exceptions to the criteria for "Best Picture." Return of the King won, not so much on its own merits, but as an "atta boy" to Peter Jackson for the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a complete body of work. Plus, the Academy occasionally feels the need to make populist gestures by nominating a crowd-pleasing film. Mostly to deflect the criticism that they, well, only award the most self-important and self-congratulatory films.
So, for no particular reason, Pete and I went to see a film almost guaranteed to be nominated for no awards next year: Ultraviolet. How was it? Well, this is the conversation Pete and I had about one third of the way into it:
Dorian: "So, they're not even going to pretend that this has a plot, are they?" Pete: "It's pretty, though."
That pretty much sums it up. It's a sci-fi action flick that doesn't hold together or make any sense in the slightest, in which vampirism is used as an extremely heavy-handed metaphor for AIDS. There's something vaguely Old World about it. The way it's shot and edited reminded me of several European science-fiction and action films I've seen over the years. I almost expect that the picture might make more sense once it's dubbed into German or French. And this and the similarly flawed Night Watch are the only films lately that I've had any desire to see.
(I should add that at this point there's no guarantee that I'll end up seeing V for Vendetta. I will be in the Bay area that weekend with friends, and increasingly, if I don't go to see a film within a week of it's opening, I don't make time to see it at all. I think the lack of urgency past that first weekend is that, if I didn't want to see it before everyone else had a chance to see it and spoil it for me, I must not have really wanted to see it very much at all. Plus, at this point, I kind of suspect seeing the punditocracy going ape over it might be more entertaining than the film itself.)
And, when I look at forthcoming films, to see if anything this year might entertain me, or at least find enough films to say something about to generate at least one "looking at trailers" post, I come up empty. I mean, this is the best I can come up with lately:
Stay Alive: Oh, look, a shlock-horror riff on Mazes and Monsters. Only with a far less compelling cast. And I loathe Tom Hanks. Actually, having Tom Hanks reprise his M&M role in this might make it slightly more watchable. The Notorious Bette Page: How do you make a Bettie Page bio-pic and not cast Jennifer Connelly? The DaVinci Code: This was the worst book I ever had the misfortune of reading. Yes, even worse than A Separate Peace. And it's going to be a huge hit. That depresses me tremendously.
So, I may not be seeing very many movies for the remainder of the year. Which, in the long run, is fine, as I have plenty of films in my Netflix queue to get me through the year. But, it's worth noting that as a film-goer, I have very broad and eclectic interests in film. And I actively go to the movies, several times a month. And I have no desire to do that anymore because all that is being offered to me as a film-goer is dreck.
To revisit an earlier post of mine, the exact line in the V for Vendetta novelization is "I fell in love with you Evey."
The downside of kids digging manga in book-stores: Gee, I really would have liked to have browsed your manga section, seen what was new, see anything I might like to spend some of my money on... But, of course, it's kind of hard to browse when you can't even reach the shelves because there are so many kids sprawled out on the floor, incapable of moving aside after you say a polite "excuse me." And if you do manage to reach the shelves, the books are so badly out of order because the kids don't work there and don't have to clean up so what do they care, that you can't possibly find anything. (And I'm one of those pro-manga, pro-kids-reading-comics guys, and this annoyed me.)
War of the Worlds: Second Wave by Michael Alan Nelson and Chee
This is one of those rare comics that deserves all the pre-release hype it's been getting. I was skeptical of the chances of revisiting the concept of H.G. War of the Worlds successfully, especially after so many of the recent comic treatments, intended largely to piggy-back on the Tom Cruise film, weren't very good. But Nelson and Chee pull it off, largely by avoiding the bombast and spectacle of an intergalactic war and instead focusing on a smaller, more human tragedy. A side-effect of the war, as it were.
By ignoring the spectacle, Nelson crafts a far more interesting and engaging story than those stories and films of the "large explosion" school. The protagonist isn't even particularly heroic, and certainly he's no leading man. Instead he's a likeable, somewhat hapless, everyman. A very human protagonist. And by seeing the events through his eyes, it makes the horrors seem more relatable.
Chee's art is quite impressive as well. His style over-all has the impression of comics of an earlier era. His art is clear, with strong storytelling. It's a look that's very grounded in reality, and it fits the mood and tone of Nelson's story well. His tripods are especially interesting. They have an organic, almost insectile look that emphasizes their alienness.