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Sunday, April 30, 2006
Lessons the Internet Has Taught Me
There is no such thing as comics criticism. All the people doing it must be hallucinations.
Promoting your favorite comic company is expected and encouraged. Unless you’re Larry Young, in which case it is unseemly.
The people that Watchmen joke was aimed at didn’t get it.
Sarcasm is the worst thing in the world. It’s a deadly menace and probably causes cancer.
Comics blogging is dead. Several hundred comics bloggers told me so.
The Portugese think I’ve outed Stanislav Ianevski
Heterosexual men really don’t like it when you point out that a car commercial is homophobic.
Telling people that perhaps they’re taking events in a comic-book cross-over too seriously means you’re the person who’s acting irrationally.
The best way to protest the cancellation of a title you like, or the “death” of a character you like, is to post angry tirade after angry tirade on blogs and message boards about how the comic book company doesn’t respect the fans and you’re never going to buy any more of their comics. And then list about a dozen or so exceptions to the “never buy again” rule because those comics “aren’t really part of the regular continuity.”
Given the number of comic bloggers with scanners, it’s a wonder that images don’t get duplicated more than they already do.
Rape jokes really aren’t funny. No, not even if you’re intending them to be an ironic criticism of the use of violence against women in super-hero comics.
The more venomously someone disagrees with you, the more likely they are to prove your point for you.
Those who don't get the joke will insist that there is actually no joke to get, and that you’re only pretending that there’s a joke to get so that people wil think you’re clever.
X-Men fans are the final arbiters of whether or not a comic is good. Apparently...
Saying you don't like Sin City makes you a big jerk. Saying you do like All Star Batman makes you a big jerk. And nobody cares that Blacksad is better than both of them.
Never, ever criticize Tim Burton films.
When Mike gets sufficiently pissed off, you get a week of Adam West. When Dorian gets sufficiently pissed off, you get a week of Wildcat. Or, when Dorian gets horny, you get a week of Wildcat. Actually, that last point probably explains why you get Adam West weeks from Mike as well.
It’s entirely possible that gay and lesbian comics bloggers outnumber the rest of you at this point, and with a little fore-planning our coming coup could crush you all beneath our lavender boots and completely change the face of comics blogging forever.
Changing your template in a significant way on the fly is more difficult than it sounds.
"So, I was conducting some experiments on hard water in the lab late at night."
"When the chemicals reacted strangely and infused my body with their vapors, accelerating my metabolism."
"And that's the whole story. It was an experiment gone wrong through no fault of my own, and certainly not an accident caused by my own carelessness. And I definitely wasn't smoking around volatile chemicals. And Hourman isn't on steroids, Mr. Terrific isn't manic-depressive, and Wildcat isn't rough trade."
Superman leading Jimmy around the city on a lead. Jimmy happily referring to himself as Superman's "dog." Apparently dog play is just one tiny aspect of the seething sexual cauldron that was Silver Age Metropolis. (No, of course that isn't a work-safe link.)
You know, I just bet Dick Grayson was one of those kids that ratted you out to teacher as soon as you broke even the tiniest and most inconsequential of the rules. Because the rules are "for your own good." And they're "for your own good" because teacher, or mommy or daddy, or the policeman said they're for your own good.
Oh, look, Marvel found another way to make the internet annoying. I particularly like how they point out that the code works on MySpace. Of course it works on MySpace. MySpace only exists so that teenagers can post annoying flash and java apps and hotlink images from people who went to the trouble to put together real web-sites.
What Were They Thinking: Some People Never Learn: Keith Giffen and others again take old, and presumably now public domain, comics and re-dialogue them. It's a bit uneven. Some jokes work better than others, naturally, and to be perfectly frank the original stories appear so random and disjointed in some cases it's a wonder any kind of entertainment value can be had even by adding new captions. The stories this time around all appear to be from post-EC Comics-Code friendly "strange mystery" type comics. In other words, the only way to make the stories readable at all is to completely butcher them with new captions. If you like your old comics with a bit of snark and bite (and you're reading a comics blog, so you must), this is worth a look.
War of the Worlds: Second Wave #2: It's hard to tell how quickly after the last issue this one picks up. The world seems to be recovering, and the arrivals of the new, and seemingly dead tripods, is being largely greeted with a sort of world weary resignation. Michael Alan Nelson's story continues to focus on the "little guy," an everyman caught up as a small piece of this larger story, struggling to get by with a few other survivors while carrying around a tremendous amount of survivor's guilt. Chee's art blends a clean, realistic style that makes his insectile tripods both plausible and unsettling. Your enjoyment of this issue is going to be largely dependent on your reaction to the previous one. The overall approach and tone can probably be best described as a fusion between sci-fi horror and post-apocalyptic survival. It's well done work, to boot.
Pete's comic book collection continues to fascinate and horrify me...
Those shots are of the cast of Sea World Florida's "Salute to the DC Superheroes." As shown in Amazing World of DC Comics #14. There are times I really miss the seventies. And there are times I really, really don't. I'll leave you all to figure out which it is in this case.
As I still do for the comic shop I used to work at, as no one currently employed there knows about manga, it suddenly struck me: "I used to think there weren't enough gay comics coming out. Now it's almost as if the manga shelves are drowning in yaoi...
"Still outnumbered by panty-flashing fan service books, though."
Instead, Pete's comic book collection, which I and his brother Matt moved out of storage today:
That's 25 long boxes and about 20 short boxes. I think I've got about 8 long boxes and another 8 or so short boxes stashed away somewhere.
Also, this thing, out of Pete's comic collection:
The comic nerd in me is both delighted and horrified at what's in Pete's collection ("Hey, that's nearly a full run of Justice League of America! Uhm, that's nearly a full run of Wonder Man..."). The former comics retailer is aghast at how "well-loved" much of Pete's collection is. He's got nearly everything he ever bought, going back nearly thirty years.
All these images come from Teen Titans #12, reprinted in Showcase Presents: Teen Titans Vol. 1. It's a representative example of the stories in this book. In this particular tale, the Teen Titans fight a super-villain called "The Deliverer" who is launching monuments into space, and a disc jockey orbiting the earth in an apparently glass space capsule is being black-mailed by an alien into sending coded messages to Earth telling The Deliverer where to strike.
"Wonder Chick" is strong enough to lift Mt. Rushmore...by a rope.
(And, honestly, the stupid nick-names. I can live with "Twinkle Toes." I can live with "Robin Bobin." But "Wonder Chick?" Man, why Donna didn't wring the little misogynists necks is beyond me. [Aqualad doesn't get a nick-name because nobody likes him.])
Kid Flash can run on beams of light.
Speaking of Kid Flash, none of the Teen Titans are apparently very intelligent, but Wally comes off especially looking like a god-damn idjit in this book.
God damn you Wally. You're too damn stupid to live.
As an historical note, product placement advertising in comic books is nothing new. Almost every issue of Teen Titans included an ad for the Adam West starring Batman television show.
If my sanity can withstand dipping into the book again, I may share some of the brain hurting panels from the story where the Teen Titans go undercover as hippies to help teen runaways being used as mules by evil truckers in league with the mafia. God, I wish I was making these story descriptions up...
Pete and I finally found a place we can afford to move in together. This is after eight years of not being able to live together for any extended periods. And it's only a five minute drive to work for me, and five minutes to school for him (as opposed to the sixty to ninety minute drive in heavy traffic I used to face twice a day, five days a week).
And we met our first neighbor. Who complained about "all the noise" we were making. "All the noise" from putting the bed together. On the day we moved in. Yeah...we can tell he's going to be a real joy to be living next door to.
I was a horrible person and downloaded the latest episode of Doctor Who instead of waiting for the Sci-Fi channel to butcher it with far too many commercials.
It was a definite: Eh. The Christmas special really did work much better as an introduction to David Tennant's Doctor. And the plot was a bit muddied as well. Just about any one of the disparate elements in the episode would have worked fine on their own, but mashing them all together smacked of running out of episodes in which to play this season. And, even by the rather loose standards of this show, the Doctor's solution was a bit too deus ex-machina.
There is also apparently a plan to introduce more fake web-sites and web-games this season to expand the show. The first game is already up. It's a fairly simple maze game, but it does contain a few teases about upcoming episodes.
I thought nothing could hurt me more or deeply than the Showcase Presents: Superman Family book, with it's nearly 500 pages of Jimmy Olsen stories.
I was wrong. I bought the Showcase Presents: Teen Titans book as well. Jimmy's stories make perfect sense in comparison.
It's not just the incredibly condescending tone the stories are written in, in which the reader is talked down to like an idiot. It isn't just the treacly "after-school special" moral that seems to be the point of each story. No, it's the combination of those factors with the dialogue which comes off as a forty-year old trying to sound "down" and "hip" with all the "groovy lingo" that "the kids" use these days.
Plus, Wonder Girl is pretty much primarily to blame for all the convoluted attempts at "fixing" their continuity that DC has undergone over the years. You could almost say that Bob Haney and his refusal to do some basic research is directly responsible for Infinite Crisis.
Absolute Dark Knight contains both Dark Knight Returns and Dark Knight Strikes Again, in an over-sized format suitable for beating people senseless. Specifically people who are still complaining about the coloring in Strikes Again.
Grant Morrison starts his run on Batman with Andy Kubert. Morrison has talked about returning Batman to the "hairy-chested love-god" version of the seventies. I'm...remarkably okay with that, as I find I greatly prefer the more "super-hero-ey" Batman. And Paul Dini takes on Detective, with J.H. Williams III leading off a stable of rotating artists. That scream of rage you hear is Warren Ellis fans preparing to go off on a tirade about how Ellis is getting screwed by DC.
Gail Simone writes a new on-going Atom series. Be prepared for lots of people who just realized they're Atom fans to complain "but he's different!". In the exact same way they complained about the new Firestorm being "different."
I will probably enjoy the new Justice League of America series, but the cover makes the baby Jesus cry. On a similar note, I'm sure that I'll enjoy the new Wonder Woman series, but I'm frankly already annoyed with the vagueness of the solicitations for that and the new Flash book. Teasing us with "new directions" or new characters in the roles when you don't actually provide any hints as to what that direction is doesn't do much to encourage readers.
JSA's final issue is solicited. I'm sure we'll be getting a relaunch any time now. But that's okay because JSA Classified is all about Wildcat.
And to further feed my sick Wildcat fixation there's Justice Society, collecting the 70s-era All-Star run of the series.
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters pushes Grant Morrison's role in "conceiving" the series. I'm not sure if that's a pre-emptive strike against criticism of the book or not.
Omukae Desu by Meca Tanaka has a cute bunny in it, and a story involving escorting souls to the after-life via motorcycle. I'm strangely curious.
Garth Ennis writes another Kev sequel and Battler Briton, a war comic. Both will almost certainly be read and enjoyed.
Newsarama finally notices the manga censorship story that's been making the rounds. Given that the story is from Barstow, one of the more stridently conservative parts of California, I'm not surprised that the big manga back-lash story that everyone seems to be bracing for comes from there.
The thread is notable for comic creator Scott Sava making a case for censorship, quite literally on the basis of the "won't someone think of the children!" argument. His point, basically, is that since he can't monitor his children at all possible seconds, no material that he disapproves of should be available to anyone. He also thinks that the Dewey Decimal System is to blame for a non-fiction book about comics to be shelved in the non-fiction section of a library, where just anyone could find it!
The thread also contains this comment from another poster: This is coming from a state where Child Pornography is ok for private use and a state with a bill in the state senate that will force all public school children to focus on the importance of the sexuality of people throughout history. In other words George Washington was evil because he wasn't gay. Not to mention a state that is so anti-white that anything from other cultures (including unconfirmed reports of graphic beastiality) should be considered art.
See, that right there is what happens when you get all your information about the world from Fox News. I'd like to know exactly how much crack this guy is smoking. Because, really? Child Porn is legal in California? School children are being taught that heterosexuals are evil? Precisely what color is the sky on this guy's world?
(Or, I Work For A Living, I Can't Get To A Comics Shop On Wednesday!)
I discovered today that, in my absence, the manga section has actually managed to expand a little. Which is a promising sign. It was at the expense, of course, of my great experiment with racking manga by genre. Without a full-time person aware enough of manga in the store to keep it going, it was becoming too hard to determine what should go where. Also, I gather that the "but that's not shojo" factor was a problem as well, where people refused to accept that certain titles really and truly belong in certain genres. This was always a problem with racking certain manga titles in the kids graphic novels section. Apparently Dragon Ball Z fans really don't like being told that it's a kids book.
Though I did pick up School Zone by Kanako Inuki. I was flipping through it, slightly put off by the cutesy-goth horror manga aesthetic that almost every Japanese horror comic seems to use, when it struck me that the book was completely bat-shit insane. "Bat-shit insane" is pretty much a selling point on manga for me.
I also picked up The Battle for Bludhaven. People seem to be having mixed reactions to it. Given the general tenor of Palmiotti's and Gray's other collaborations, and the fact that the first issue prominently features the Force of July and the Atomic Knights (and the return of the Monolith), I'd say that the mix of played-for-straight and tongue-in-cheek material is deliberate.
And I grabbed a copy of Superior Showcase, the art-comic that tricks people who get snitty about not reading super-hero comics into reading super-hero comics.
And I got this, because one can never have too many "Bugs Bunny in drag" objects in your collection.
And a small stack of Lois Lane comics were purchased. I also said mean things about a particular Vertigo comic with good art and a dreadful writer to Mike, and he countered by describing one of the books in a certain company's cross-over mania as an example of their attempts to get women to read super-hero comics.
I've effectively been appointed "ISBN-13 Compliance Officer" at work. This means it's my job to keep track of which of our vendors are starting to switch over to the ISBN-13 system and which haven't. "What is an ISBN-13" you may be asking. Well, basically, it's a unique code number that's supposed to be visible on every book and book-type object sold in the world. It's a bit like a UPC code, only more specific. It's changing over because, basically, the existing ISBN-10 system has just about run out of numbers. So, I've had to learn more about the ISBN system than I really want to know. But what I keep coming back to is an utter conviction that the comic book industry, as a whole, is going to drop the ball on this. See, come January 1, 2007, book-stores will be very unhappy about having to deal with mis-labeled product. And any product that only has an ISBN-10 is going to be considered mis-labeled. I've been keeping an eye on new trades, and so far only Viz is using an ISBN-13 on their products. Marvel's not. DC's not. Tokyopop's not. Oni's not. (I haven't checked any recent Image or Dark Horse trades, or the trades of any other smaller publishers. But I'd be surprised if they're using ISBN-13s). Now, given the growing importance of book-store sales for the comics market, the seeming reluctance of comics publishers to get on the ball about this is curious. DC and Tokyopop have good book-store programs, and a strong presence in chain book-stores, so they should definitely be on the ball about this. Dark Horse is in a similar situation, with their licensed titles and the success of films based on comics published by Dark Horse. I'm not the least bit surprised Marvel hasn't rolled out any books with ISBN-13s, as Marvel frequently seems to work against their own best interests, moreso than about any other major publisher. Granted, I'd be more than happy to be proven wrong about this, and discover that every comic book publisher in the country is on this situation and has concrete plans to move over to an ISBN-13 system by the end of the year. But given the general short-sightedness of most comic publishers, I expect some serious problems to develop.
From the Beat comes news that John Blackburn, creator of Coley, has passed away. Coley was one of those seminal gay comics, and Blackburn's work focused on unbridled sexual ecstasy and gay sex as a joyous activity. Blackburn was easily up there with Tom of Finland and the other masters of gay porn comics, and his contributions can't be underestimated.
Hard to Swallow is a new adult comics anthology with work from Justin Hall and Dave Davenport. It's a good mix of erotic and funny stories. Davenport has a great, cartoony style, and Hall has a rougher, more realistic style that's strongly appealing as well. Need some more persuasion? Gay pirates. Need more? Giant gay gorillas.
If, like me, you missed going to the APE expo, you missed Steve MacIsaac and his new comic Shirtlifter. Luckily, it's now available at his web-site. Or, if you're going to be at the L.A. branch of A Different Light on May 12th, at 7:30, you can pick up Shirtlifter or the hard-cover of Sticky at the book release party.
So, this is pretty much how the introduction of the Doom Patrol went.
The Chief: How dare all of you feel sorry for yourselves because you're hideously deformed and disfigured freaks of science!
Larry: Hey, where do you get off telling us how to feel? You have no idea what kind of hell we've been through!
The Chief: Ah, but you see, I too am a freak! For I am in a wheelchair!
Cliff: Uhm, yeah...I'm a human brain locked into a robot body. He's a burn victim possessed by a radioactive ghost. And she...well, okay, she can grow or shrink at will. But your great personal tragedy is that you can't go up stairs. It's not really the same thing, is it?
(And, of course, when you consider that the Chief himself was responsible for Cliff and Larry's accident in the first place...)
Now, to be clear, I don't think the intention of the ad creators was to make something that mocked homosexuals. But that's what they ended up with. It's a classic example of heterosexism in action; the failure to realize that the statements and images you're promoting mean something entirely different when taken out of a heterosexual context. Of course, Dodge's attitude about the whole thing is another story entirely. In a classic defensive move, Dodge has chosen to deflect criticism of the spot back on those finding fault with it. In the Detroit News, a spokesperson said: "We were pretty surprised that there are individuals that are making the conclusion that sexual orientation can be determined by the type of clothes you wear and the type of dog that you're walking." That's a great bit of double-speak right there. Dodge is basically saying "we're not homophobic because we made fun of gay people in our commercial, gay people are homophobic for spotting that we were making fun of gay people."
Though, for the record, Dodge missed the mark because the transformed look isn't really a "gay" look anymore. It's really more of an 80s preppy/yuppie look. The guy actually looked gayer originally.
It's really two places where the ad becomes problematic and skirts with homophobia. First, it's in the symbolic emasculation of the man. He has a big, butch, macho dog, which is changed into a bunch of frilly, yappy little sissy dogs. The root of much homophobic humor is a mocking of the supposed femininity of gay men. It's the area in which homophobia and misogyny converge. Gay men are worthy of derision because they are like women, and being a woman is the greatest sin of all. Just ask Eve.
The other, and much more prominent aspect, is the emphasis on the word "fairy." Had any other word been used, such as pixie, sprite or nymph, the tone would have been much different. But instead the man uses the word "fairy" mockinginly and has his word turned back on him, as the fairy returns his insult in kind. Any other word would have helped Dodge avoid criticism. But they used a word that's used as an anti-gay epithet. Intentional or no, the symbolism of that word, in this context, cannot help but be offensive.
(As always, a good resource for discussion of gay and lesbian images in commercials is The Commercial Closet. Their take on the ad is here.)
It's not well-known, but I'm the only member of the Ventura-area comics blogging community that doesn't mind having his picture taken. So, in the spirit of furthering the public good, I thought I'd share with you some pictures I took in the local comic shop with a small, hidden camera. The guys didn't know I was taking their picture, so you must forgive me if these candid shots don't show them as you usually picture them.
Mike is always eager to show a customer around the store, until he's completely satisfied they know what they came in for.
Inside, Corey and his brother Chad were cruising the New Arrivals section looking for something interesting.
Aaron is always eager to service the customers with a smile.
Nathan usually ends up taking his bike to work.
I don't see him there very often anymore, but Tom happened to be there, looking like he just got off work.
One of the frustrating things about being a gay consumer of popular film and television is that, from the gay culture, you've learned to pick up on subtle clues and hints that often generally indicate that someone is gay. Than you settle down for some mainstream entertainment and you see a character that your every instinct is screaming must be gay. And, of course, the writers and producers never have the nerve to follow through on that and just let the character be gay.
I've talked about this before. Basically, Nick is such a cipher, his role on the show is usually reduced to "generically good looking white guy." But there's something about that good ol' boy demeanor that just feels gay to me. He's like every Southern gay men who ran away from some rural back-water to the big city I've ever met. Plus, if they let him be gay, they'd be able to have him get unprofessionally upset about cases with gay victims or suspects, since "investigator takes a case personally" is the biggest cliche on the show.
A sensitive artist, one with an addiction to a slightly unfashionable drug. He then goes on to forge a non-sexual relationship with a pregnant woman/single mother, and attempts to create a non-traditional family with her. That's the plot of about a dozen gay films, right there. Add in Charlie's slightly skewed sense of humor and you've got a recipe for a big ol' 'mo. No wonder he hangs out with Hurley so often. He probably likes bears.
Actually, I've only seen one episode of My Name is Earl, but Randy seems to have garnered a strong gay following, so why the hell not.
Lives with an older man who pays for his company. Primary care-giver for two boys not related to him. Works out a lot. Oh yeah, big old queen.
An attractive, successful lawyer, living in New York. Completely asexual and spends all his free time seeing to the emotional needs of a neurotic woman who's allegedly his "friend." And he takes his clothes off a lot. If the producers would just let Will be gay, he could be a strong role model and example of how to present positive gay images in the media. As it is, just having him be a vaguely gay-acting straight man only serves to reinforce the lack of those same positive images.
It's time once again to unfairly judge films based on the advertising material released to the public in an attempt to entice the public into viewing the film. The criteria I generally use for this are "Would be willing to see in a theater," "Would be willing to rent," and "I've become temporarily paralyzed with the TV set to a cable movie channel and have no choice but to watch."
Worth $9 Adam & Steve: A light, fluffy gay romantic comedy. The cast is appealing enough that I'm willing to overlook the general tiredness of the romantic comedy in general, and the rather poor history of the "gay romance film" in particular, and it's incredibly refreshing to see a gay-themed film get made in which the male leads are both openly gay. It's the sort of casting choice that makes a subtle difference in films like this. (Now, I say I'd see it on the big screen, but given the frequency with which gay indie films come anywhere near a convenient driving distance, it's more likely to end up a rental.)
Guys and Balls: A German film about a gay soccer team. The stereotypes are a little broad (German's don't really seem to do "subtle" in film comedies), but it looks fairly fun and notable.
Kinky Boots: A British film about drag queens and fetish foot-wear. Frankly, going to see this one is a bit of a no-brainer.
Over the Hedge: I'm shocked and appalled that I actually want to see a CGI film about talking animals.
Worth putting in my film queue The Simpsons Movie: I really hate content-free teasers. I may eventually see this, but I'm pretty much over the Simpsons at this point. The show should have probably been quietly retired long before now.
Little Miss Sunshine: I'm holding out hope here, because the cast is stellar, but comedies about child beauty pageants run the risk of being either insufferably coy or unbearably pretentious. As under-stated as the trailer looks, I'm leaning towards risking pretentious. All right, there's a joke about Nietzsche in the trailer, it's going to be slightly pretentious. But Steve Carell in a beard hitting on younger men makes for an oddly compelling side-premise.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby: Well, it's Will Ferrell not making a "family film." It's Judd Apatow. But...something says "misstep" about it to me. Maybe it's just that I'm a vile Blue State Elitist Fag and a NASCAR comedy just sounds like a bad idea to me.
The Promise: It certainly looks pretty, but I'm getting extremely burnt out on Chinese martial-arts romantic epics that look pretty and have no plot to speak of. Especially when they all end the same damn way.
Keeping Up with the Steins: I'm not sure even Jeremy Piven can keep me interested in a film about over-spending on a Bar Mitzvah. If I were a cruel man, I'd say that this films runs the risk of putting an end to that "Jews are funny" stereotype once and for all.
X-Men 3: And, at long last, the generally okay X-Men films finally sink to the levels of incomprehensibility and self-important angst and posturing that the comics long ago reached.
An American Haunting: Unwieldy title aside ("Bell Witch" would have sounded better...but then people would expect a witch, rather than a ghost movie...stupid Americans), I might be intrigued enough by this to at least give it a glance. Of course, given that it's by the same director who gave us the Dungeons & Dragons move, I'm braced for the worst.
Lucky Number Slevin: Josh Hartnett is a strong disincentive to viewing. And I can't even begin to describe how angry that stupid upside down "7" in the title makes me. And I really never need to see another "edgy dark humored crime thriller" ever again. Pete wants to see it though. The sacrifices we make, eh?
Brick: This looks to have actual potential as a good crime film. But the hard-sell it's been getting as the "next great noir" is grating and causing the film to wear out it's welcome with me.
Dear God, make it stop Silent Hill: If there were some way to make it illegal to make movies based on video games, I'd really feel compelled to get behind supporting any law-makers who'd vote for the bill.
Miami Vice: Maybe if they weren't playing it straight. Or maybe if they could flash the sentence "Academy Award Winner Jaime Foxx" across the screen without making me roll my eyes. Foxx winning an Academy Award is proof that they just like to give the statuettes to people who can do a passable impression of a dead person. (Exactly how many Stealth-caliber films does an actor have to make before the Academy forces them to stop referring to themselves as an "Academy Award Winner?")
United 93: Oh, hell no! Not because I hate America (though I do), but because it has ever appearance of being self-important and cheaply exploitive of tragedy for political and financial gain.
The DaVinci Code: The worst novel of all time might, might have made a semi-decent occult Euro-thriller of the kind that fills up my Netflix queue. If, of course, it hadn't been for the involvement of Tom Hanks and Ron Howard, which pretty much guarantees I won't be able to sit through it. I'll just go re-read my Rex Mundi trades instead.
MI3: I wonder how many body-Thetans watching this film will purge you of?
Stoned: So, I guess we've run out of movies to make about the Beatles and have moved on to the Rolling Stones now?
The Wild: Is it just me, or does this look like Disney more or less remaking Madagascar, another film I have no interest whatsoever in watching.
Alpha Dog: Hey, spoiled, rich, suburban white kids playing gangster get in over their heads! That sounds like a richly compelling drama! No, wait, sorry, that sounds like garbage.
The Omen: Remember what I said earlier about movies based on video games needing to be banned? Yeah, I think we can safely extend that sentiment to include remakes of horror films. Especially in the case of a remake of a film that ground out its welcome with terrible sequel after sequel in the first place.
Apocalypto: Can somebody please stop Mel Gibson making religious movies? Please? And don't tell me it's not a religious film. This has "heavy-handed parable" written all over it.
Art School Confidential: I didn't care for Crumb. And I thought Ghost World really emphasized the weaknesses of Clowes' work (not to mention being creeped out by Clowes' Mary-Sue character having sex with Enid). And really, making fun of pretentious art-school students takes no skill or wit at all anyway. So I'll proudly stake out the minority position on this film and express my complete and utter lack of interest in this movie.
Click: Two things come to mind. One, I loathe Adam Sandler. Two, this film actually makes a joke about the "Beyond" in "Bed, Bath and Beyond." These people must not be allowed to make another movie.
Batman #651 by James Robinson, Don Kramer and Keith Champagne It's probably worth pointing out that this isn't a bad Batman comic by any means. It's simply not significantly different in style or tone than the bulk of the last several decades worth of Batman stories. And the continuing throwbacks to the past (Bullock, Gordon and now Jason Bard) are more annoying than compelling. Once Dini and Morrison take over the Bat-books, they will probably be worth another look, but as it stands now, Robinson's story-line is feeling more and more like filler.
Birds of Prey #92 by Gail Simone, Paulo Siqueira and Robin Riggs Birds of Prey has consistently been one of DC's better titles the last few years, and wisely only minor changes have been made for the jump forward. The cast has been juggled slightly, but the light tone and "super-hero romp" mood are retained. And Paulo Siqueira is another in a long-line of tasteful semi-cheesecake artists to work on the title. The over-all impression is that the "One Year Later" tack on this book was "if it's not broke, don't fix it."
Blue Beetle #1 by Keith Giffen, John Rogers and Cully Hamner Not strictly speaking a "One Year Later" title, but it seems fitting to look at DC's re-launch titles in the same light. People who were incensed by DC killing off the previous Blue Beetle probably aren't going to like this book. But frankly, nothing short of "Ted Kord: Rebirth" is going to make those people happy, so we can safely discount their opinions and examine the book on its own merit. The first issue is a bit of a jumble, skipping between a recap of the new Beetle's origin and the obligatory "super-hero misunderstanding leads to fight" scene. The writing is crisp and clever, quick-paced and funny. And Hamner's art strikes a nice balance between cartoony and dramatic styles. So, while it's not a perfect first issue, and perhaps more could have been done to establish the central conflicts and direction of the title, it still suggests a promising start to me.
Catwoman #53 by Will Pfeifer, David Lopez and Alvaro Lopez Again, Catwoman makes one of the better "One Year Later" transitions by tweaking the status quo slightly but largely continuing on from what has gone before. Given the direction the book had been heading in prior to the jump, the changes that have occurred here seem logical and natural. The change over to the new Catwoman in particular is well handled. It allows some forward character development and momentum for the characters involved and feels like a logical "legacy" figure to step into the role.
Hawkgirl #50 by Walter Simonson and Howard Chaykin Of the books that make dramatic changes to their status quo, this is the most effective. Despite the many attempts to "fix" Hawkman, the character was still over-burdened with baggage. Jettisoning him for a fresher character was probably long overdue. And what we get instead is an impressive dark action title that for the most part foregoes costumed antics for its premier. It's stylish and sexy and funny, and shows what two seasoned creators can do, especially when they approach their material with tongue firmly in cheek.
JSA Classified #10 by Stuart Moore, Paul Gulacy and Jimmy Palmiotti There's no serious flaws in this comic, but there's nothing particularly remarkable about it either. If you're a JSA fan, or a Vandal Savage fan, there's material of interest here, especially as the story plays with the disparate elements of Savage's character and back-story that have been cobbled together over the years. In other words, it's a decent super-hero book, but nothing special.
Manhunter #20 by Marc Andreyko, Javier Pina and Fernando Blanco Manhunter is another of DC's consistently better titles, and one that's been underappreciated. And, again, it successfully makes the transistion to the new status quo. The changes feel natural based on what has gone before, and the central premise has only slightly been tweaked. It's not a great jumping-on point, as some familiarity with the characters is assumed, but this is definitely one of those books that DC fans should be reading anyway.
Nightwing #118 by Bruce Jones, Joe Dodd and Bit I had little expectations going into this, and they were met. The one bit of good character development that preceded this launch, the proposal to Barbara Gordon, has been abandoned, in favor of the "himbo" version of Dick Grayson he's often mockingly been interpreted as by fans. Even the inclusion of the, at this point, far more interesting Jason Todd does little to alleviate the utter banality of this comic.
Robin #148 by Adam Beechen, Karl Kerschl, Wayne Faucher and Prentiss Rollins Robin, as a solo title, has really only worked best as lightly toned super-hero adventures. This works nicely within that mold, but it doesn't break out of it either. It's not angsty and it's not frustrating, but it does, disturbingly, seem to start a storyline that doesn't bode well for the kind of treatment the former Batgirl can expect in the new status quo, a character I did find engaging and interesting. So, not a bad book, but not, I think, a book I'm particularly interested in reading.
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #16 by Mark Waid, Barry Kitson and Mick Gray I thought that book was over-praised and too pleased to wallow in nostalgia in before. Introducing Supergirl into the book does precisely nothing to change my opinion.
Superman #650 and Action Comics #837 by Kurt Busiek, Geoff Johns and Pete Woods These Superman books superficially possess the same problems as James Robinson's Batman titles: too many throwbacks to how things used to be and a hinted-at mystery that's not very compelling. We know Superman is going to get his powers back so there's no real dramatic tension there. And the inability for a simple charge to stick against Luthor is increasingly implausible. This is, what, the twelth time he's gotten off scott-free since the last Crisis? But unlike Batman and Detective, there seems to be a sense that this story is going somewhere, that Busiek and Johns have a distinct destination in mind, that this isn't a place-holder story until a more anticipated creative team can start on the books. It's a problematic start, but it seems to hold more potential to be a satisfying story.
In the eternal conflict between my vanity and my self-conciousness, my vanity appears to have won yet again. This photo was taken after I was sick as a dog for a day, and is in about the most "un-Dorian" pose you're ever likely to get out of me.