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Sunday, December 31, 2006
Good News/Good News
As to the controversial post from the other day; one of the reasons I do those, is to effectively close discussion on those topics here. And since I don't really engage much in cross-blog conversations, I pretty much won't be bringing up any of those topics again unless it's in a newly relevant context.
And this isn't me "avoiding" the issue or criticism or any of the other things you clever people might want to accuse me of. This is just a sort of end-of-year palate cleansing/getting off my chest thing.
So, yeah, I hate Christmas. I still got two really fantastic presents though, both courtesy of Pete.
A new toy:
That'll be two concerts in two years...when did music start getting good enough to bother seeing live again?
The "Better Late, Literally, Than Never" Award Goes to Marvel comics, for publishing a "creator-owned" Jack Kirby comics years after his death. I suppose at this rate, Steve Ditko might start getting some of the credit for creating Spider-Man sometime around 2030.
The "These Are Not The Queers You're Looking For" Award Goes to Marvel, for their entertaining to watch policy on gay characters. We went from "gay characters only in adults only titles, because we don't want to offend bigots" to "we're reviewing the policy" to "there never was any such policy" to "we love the gays, look, our flagship title Marvel Team-Up has a gay lead" to "oops, we just killed our gay lead character."
The "You Kids Stay Off My Lawn" Award Goes to a some-time blogger and comics commentator, nameless here because even I feel slightly guilty about picking on the guy, who felt the need to try and dictate who could and could not link to his on-line comments made in public forums. Guess what folks, the internet doesn't work like that.
The "Taking My Ball and Going Home" Award This very nearly went to Tokyopop, because of their attempt to make low-selling titles on-line exclusives, thus cutting direct market stores, the only venues which really had a chance to sell the niche, low appeal titles Tokyopop was pulling in the first place. In the end, however, I think it has to go to Alias Comics, for dropping all their non-religious titles and selling what remains of their line only in Christian bookstores. It was about as bold a statement as to the niche nature of their product as they could make, really.
The "Well, Somebody Had To Say It" Award This is all Grant Morrison's, for telling us exactly what he thinks of Frank Miller's proposed Batman vs. Al Qaeda series. The money quote: Batman vs. Al Qaeda! It might as well be Bin Laden vs. King Kong! Or how about the sinister Al Qaeda mastermind up against a hungry Hannibal Lecter! For all the good it's likely to do. Cheering on a fictional character as he beats up fictionalized terrorists seems like a decadent indulgence when real terrorists are killing real people in the real world. I'd be so much more impressed if Frank Miller gave up all this graphic novel nonsense, joined the Army and, with a howl of undying hate, rushed headlong onto the front lines with the young soldiers who are actually risking life and limb 'vs' Al Qaeda.
The "I Didn't Make Him For YOU" Award Chris Butcher wrote a thoughtful piece on yaoi, from the perspective of a gay man. Yaoi fangirls reacted with much horror, because they seemingly forgot that gay men are actually, you know, real, and might have an opinion about companies and creators making money off of fetishizing gay sex for teenage girls. And, in the process, the creepy homophobic/heterosexist attitudes of many yaoi fangirls was brought kicking and screaming into the light. So, this award goes to all those yaoi fans who can't stand the thought of gay men putting in their two cents about mass media depictions of gay men.
The "AHHH! Pornface!" Award This is for Greg Land, who this year taught us all that you don't need much to be an artist, just a stack of porn magazines and a lightbox. Hey, look, I can trace super-hero costumes over pictures of porn stars too, where's my Marvel contract?
The Creepiest Realization of 2006 At some point this year I realized what, exactly, was causing me to hate Kitty Pryde so much. When the character first appeared she was, to borrow a phrase from manga and anime fandoms, a moe-ish type. She was the ideal comic book girlfriend of those folks who were just a tad too into their X-Men comics. But, as Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men has made crystal-clear, she's morphed into more of a Mary Sue figure for the mostly male comics audience. If you will, the attitude from fans has gone from "I think of her as a younger sister...that I wanna screw" to "I wish I was a super-genius Jewish ninja getting fucked by a Russian body-builder." I mean, the fan attitude towards the character was messed up to begin with, but the Mary Sue appeal brings up all kinds of weird, kinky psycho-sexual issues with comics fans that I just do not want to think too much about.
The Cognitive Dissonance Award All those comic fans complaining about all the sex in Lost Girls. You...you don't want borderline inappropriate porn? Since when?
The "Worst Idea Ever, Of All Time, Bar None, Subject Closed" Award Clone Thor. What the hell was Millar smoking when he came up with that? I know it wasn't crack. Not even crack messes your head up that badly.
The "We Get It Already" Award Without a doubt, this goes to all those folks still complaining about All Star Batman and Robin. Okay, we get it, you don't think it's good. I'm not sure there's anyone left who doesn't know you don't like it. Constantly bringing it up to bash it or complain about? Not clever, not funny, pretty much a dead cliche at this point.
The "Would You Just Publish The Damn Thing Already" Award Oh, so many contenders for this award. I could give it to All Star Batman and Robin, for becoming an annual instead of a monthly, but that's too easy. There's always Daredevil: The Target. I'm slightly inclined to Ultimate Wolverine Vs. The Hulk, because the quality of Lost gives the lie to the excuse that it's taking up all of Damon Lindelhof's time. But, in the end, it has to go to Civil War, because Marvel editors, in their infinite wisdom, are so certain that anyone will still give a damn about this book in five, ten, or twenty years time, that it absolutely must have a consistent artistic vision throughout. A consistent artistic vision on a commercial cross-over which only exists to encourage Marvel readers to buy more Marvel books than they already do. A consistent artistic vision on a book which is really just a glorified "super heroes punch each other over stupid misunderstanding" story spread out over seven issues and 70+ ancillary titles. A consistent artistic vision that was apparently worth pushing back almost all of Marvel's entire publishing output several months. Because, all those other books I named above? Their lateness only affects themselves. Civil War's lateness affects Marvel's entire line. And that's almost beautiful in its wrongheadedness.
The "Gee, Can Even I Get Away With Saying This" Award Now, as any long time readers here know, I'm interested in gender issues as they relate to comics. I have a genuine concern about how men and women are depicted, and I truly think that issues of sexism and misogyny in the comics and the industry should be discussed in a mature and rational manner. But, over the past year, I noticed that the types of fans who are prone to knee-jerk, hysterical bouts of fannish rage, the fans who have a tendency to think that all comics should be drawn and written to their own over-privileged and over-indulged tastes, discovered a new tactic which allowed them to indulge in their outlandish rages and whines without getting much in the way of challenges. And that was to just barely disguise their rages and whines as feminist concerns. Which, you know, I found more than a bit off-putting. Because while there is ample evidence of institutional sexism in the comics industry, and more than our fair share of out and out misogynists working in the industry and in fandom, whether or not Stephanie Brown has a display case in the Batcave is a real hard-sell for me as a legitimate grounds for calling out DC for sexism. Batgirl becoming evil is not evidence of misogyny, it's evidence of sloppy writing. Every time I see a fanboy or fangirl entitlement rant disguised as a serious discussion of gender issues, I cringe, because all those false accusations of sexism confuse the signal to noise ratio to the point where genuine issues of sexism and misogyny get lost, or dismissed out of hand.
Okay, now that you all hate me...
Favorite Superhero Comic of 2006 Seven Soldiers. It may go down in history as, at best, a flawed masterwork, but masterwork it was. Grant Morrison's examination of super-heroic archetypes, the nature of fiction, and the interplay between text and reader was the most exciting super-hero work of the year, bar none.
Favorite Nonsuperhero Comic of 2006 Testament, Douglas Rushkoff's retelling of the Old Testament against the backdrop of an uncomfortably plausible future is one of the most challenging and well-drawn, and criminally under-read, books on the stands. Close Second Elephantmen, a touching and subtly characterized sci-fi story with jaw-droppingly beautiful art.
Favorite Graphic Novel of 2006 Rock Bottom, Joe Casey's and Charlie Adlard's examination of what it means to be human was another stunning work, and an impressive leap in Casey's skill as a writer. Close Second Pride of Baghdad, another beautifully illustrated work that will rip your heart from your chest.
Favorite Manga of 2006 Reborn. It's about a toddler assassin. Who shoots people in the head. What is not to love?
Sexiest Man In Comics, 2006
A bit of a change of pace this year, as a comics commentator gets a nod. Tim Leong
And, since I can never pick just one good-looking man, his co-winner. Chip Zdarsky
(photos nicked from Kevin Church, who will probably give me grief for not choosing him for this award)
Need a summary of Sandman series I need a favor fellas, the hot indie record store/cafe girl i've been trying to kick it to it turns out likes comic books. the bad part is, she doesn't like superhero stuff really, just that weirdo goth stuff like sandman. i lied and said that i love sandman and said some vague stuff about symbolism and what-not. i was just making smal talk plus she's real cute in a geeky way kind of like lisa lobe or daria from the beavis and butthead cartoon. anyway she got real excited and said we should get coffee together sometime and talk about sandman. i don't want to buy it, and my library doesn't have it, can anyone give me a summary or point me to a good site?
Because the whole lying thing really turns chicks on.
An open discourse on the board's general misogyny Has everyone lost their sense of humor? Being a misogynist, actually hating women and treating them like objects/garbage is wrong. Acting like a misogynist, play acting, in front of your buds, whomever, is funny. It's a way to blow off steam and remind us of our ever present faults/dark sides. I think that's mostly what goes on on here at the boards, harmless tomfoolery.
Putting that through my "comic fan to rational person" filter I come up with: "Geeze, can't you dumb broads learn to take a joke?"
Elephantmen #5, by Richard Starkings and Moritat, published by Image
The origin of the Elephantmen continues in this beautifully illustrated book. Several connections between past characters and old grudges are revealed, as events from the past lead to new complications in present situations. Of particular appeal to me in this issue is the nice, subtle way that Starkings creates a sense of unavoidable tragedy and pathos in regards to the fate of the human-animal hybrids, and the strong degree of self-loathing many of them have, that is never verbally expressed. It's a very deft and capable bit of characterization that deserves special notice.
The Spirit #1, by Darwyn Cooke, J. Bone and Dave Stewart, published by DC Comics
Now this is more like it. After the rather disappointing team-up with Batman, Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone kick off the Spirit on-going with a fun, done-in-one story that mixes humor, action and sexy dames in a way which pays appropriate homage to Eisner and his work, without dissolving into slavish pastiche. The Spirit and his world are very subtly updated to a setting that feels contemporary, but also manages to retain a bit of an "out of time" feeling which allows the noirish elements of the character and his setting to feel natural, not forced or artificial.
Warhammer 40,000: Damnation Crusade #1 by Dan Abnett, Ian Edgington, Lui Antonio and JM Ringuet, published by Boom Studios
Well, at least it looks pretty. I imagine reading this comic is akin to coming into a super-hero comic like X-Men or Legion of Super-Heroes, only having the barest knowledge of the characters and settings. I know just enough of the Warhammer universe, both fantasy and sci-fi, to have a general idea of what is meant to be happening, but not quite enough to grasp the importance of it. It doesn't help that the comic has been written for a presumed reader who is already familiar with the setting. It makes for a more than a little off-putting experience as a reader. Combined with a general skepticism on my part of the appeal of a comic such of this to even dedicated Warhammer fans, borne out of years of dealing with Warhammer players in a retail setting, and it all ends up in a disappointing reading experience. Very pretty art, though.
As usual, Americans are getting shafted when it comes to holiday specials. Let's be honest; I never need to see A Charlie Brown Christmas ever again. I never need to see It's A Wonderful Life ever again. And I damn well don't need 24 hours of back-to-back airings of A Christmas Story.
One of my cherished readers sent this to me as a non-sectarian Winter-period festive gift. It's fantastic. If you ever get the chance to pick one up, it's worth it, if only for the sight of Batman and Robin keeping each other's salad dressing recipes secret from one another and Green Arrow acting like a jerk. Repeatedly.
Oh, and there's more examples of Wonder Woman, corporate shill, to be found.
The rest of you shouldn't feel any pressure to send me presents, though.
Comic fans, most of whom probably haven't even read an Archie comic since their age was in the single digits, go a bit weird about it.
IS NOTHING SACRED??
now the question is will they take the next step and have the gang in real teenage situations like teen pregnancy, drugs, divorced parents, etc. it doesnt have to be serious all the time, it could be funny in an OC kind of way
Now, that's the kind of reasoned discourse I expect from comic fans!
I have two daughters, one who will be reading soon (she already has a dozen superheroes down cold - Dad's been working O.T.!) They will NEVER see this atrocity. Good God, what goes through people's heads?
Yes, because God forbid your kids like something you don't...
Q: How do we know Big Moose is a virgin? A: If he wasn't, Midge would have a pair of bowed legs the likes of which haven't been seen since the Fleisher Brothers and Ub Iwerks were doing cartoons!
So...Moose is a comic fan?
Is it just me, or does Veronica look like a bull dyke on at the example page?
Y'know, I could have made a comment about the acceptance of casual homophobia amongst comic fans in response to this but, nah, too easy.
I almost thought That Archie comics would be the last place that I would find Changes like this, but now that it about to occur I'm scared. I always thought that Archie's comics were scaraed cows of comics, never changing the look of the characters but always kept with the current times. TO see the comics like this may be step forward into trying to gain new readers by looking like a current comic book series, but it also a mistake due to the loyal fans of the old Archie style. I'll give this a chance, althought it may seem a bit creepy at first but maybe it a sign that changes. Ones that may have to be made in order for a business to continue, but the scarfices made for the changes may live on forever in the minds of those responsible.
It's...it's just a change in art style, man! Suck it up!
Elephantmen #0 by Richard Starkings, Joe Casey and Ladronn, published by Image
Elephantmen is easily one of the best science-fiction comics on the market right now. This reprint of the "origin" story for the beast-men of Starkings' and Ladronn's noir-ish future is a fairly good starting point, as it establishes a good deal of the back story and mood that informs the regular Elephantmen and Hip Flask comics. Ladronn's art is lushly detailed and simply a thing of beauty in and of itself. That it's paired with such a strong and compelling story, that isn't afraid to use suggestion and nuance rather than heavy exposition, makes it an indispensable read.
Justice Society of America #1 by Geoff Johns, Dale Eaglesham and Art Thibert, published by DC Comics
Okay, to be up front, I'm frankly a bit too much of a fanboy for too many of the characters featured in this book to be a really effective reviewer of this. It's the sort of the thing that, whether it's good or bad, I'm going to be buying anyway. Because I'm sad like that. So, it's probably easier to break down the list of things I liked and didn't like. Liked The pacing. New characters are introduced, new status quos are presented, and the story actually moves along rather than dragging itself out. Now, granted, there's not a lot of introduction for those new or returning characters, but this is no one's first comic book. If you're buying a trade-mark maintaining title based on a sixty year old concept, it's safe to assume you know what you're getting into, character-wise. The breadth of characters. There's a good selection of types here, all presented in an interesting way. The story. Uniting the legacy characters under one banner, and the threat to them, is actually a pretty good and original idea for a long-running concept of this nature. Mr. America. I just like it when minor and forgotten characters get used at all. Disliked The continual shoehorning of elements of Kingdom Come into the mainstream DC universe. Really, it wasn't a very good comic, and it's unrelenting bleakness is supposedly something DC is trying to move away from. And the "new" characters from it were just sort of, well, lame. The use of Obsidian. Yeah, taking him away from the book where he's actually being used, and sticking him in for one panel, dismissed as a mere security guard...yeah, that's not a good sign that Johns plans on doing anything worthwhile with the character. Emo-Damage. From the characterization to the knock-off of the Atom/Atom Smasher costume, it just feels like forced, unnessecary angst. The fate of Mr. America and his family. Cripes, but did that all seem gratuitous. Cautious About Eaglesham's art. It's workmanlike at best. It doesn't thrill me, but it doesn't offend me either. The characterization of Wildcat. Frankly, he feels a bit off. Wildcat not wanting to train the new kids doesn't make sense, given that that has been his primary function for the last thirty years. He's been the "go to" character for fitting in a mentor/trainer for a character for quite some time. Granted, I get that his attitude is set up so that he can have a change of heart in light of the new revelation about his past (a change I approve of, as it plays off dropped plot threads regarding him from the past). But it still doesn't feel quite in character for him.
newuniversal #1 by Warren Ellis and Salvador Larroca, published by Marvel
I keep thinking of this book as "Warren Ellis finally gets around to borrowing plot points from Valis." Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, mind you, but this first issue contains more than a passing resemblance to Dick's novel. Given the sudden shift to Dick-related territory in last week's Desolation Jones, it seems more than a little coincidental. If anything, this is probably the strongest super-hero genre work we've seen from Ellis since the start of Planetary. This is also the strongest work I think I've ever seen from Salvador Larroca ever, using a much less stylized approach than he's used in the past, beautifully complemented by Jason Keith's colors. The typical, and appropriate, complaints about pacing for the trade apply, but apart from that, this promises to be the start of a good, atypical super-hero comic.
Welcome to Tranquility #1 by Gail Simone and Neil Googe, published by DC/Wildstorm
An excellent opening to a series blending comedy and drama, with realistically aging "Golden Age" heroes.
Manhunter #26 by Marc Andreyko, Javier Pina and Robin Riggs, published by DC
The critically acclaimed book all of you should be reading returns with an extended team-up featuring Wonder Woman, tying up loose threads from before the most recent Crisis.
Mystery In Space #4 by Jim Starlin, Shane Davis, Matt Banning and Al Milgrom, published by DC
Space opera with an occasional tongue-in-cheek tone, featuring proudly C-List characters.
Midnighter #2 by Garth Ennis, Chris Sprouse and Karl Story, published by DC/Wildstorm
Gay guy in leather kicks lots of ass as he's being forced to travel back in time to kill Hitler. Ennis-brand violence in his "don't take me too seriously" style.
The Exterminators #12 by Simon Oliver and Mike Hawthorne, published by DC/Vertigo
One of the stronger recent titles from Vertigo, with a multi-layered plot that moves at a brisk pace.
Especially given the gruesome consequences of one going bad:
After much deliberation, I have determined that "The Chipmunk Song" is the most depressing Christmas song ever written. It's not so much the mental image of David Seville, alone in his recording studio, singing into a tape recorder, speeding it up, and pretending that the results are his children. It's thinking of this little scenario:
"Daddy, when can we be on one of your records?" "When you make as much money as the little rats. Now bring Daddy another Scotch."
Blog@Newsarama has the statement and a recap of the situation I discussed in brief here. As I sort of suspected, Ross' objection wasn't that Andreyko made Obsidian gay so much as it was that the character was being written in way that was slightly different to the way Roy Thomas wrote the character. Twenty years ago.
Gamasutra checks in with yet another Bully inspired article on gay characters in video games. It's largely the same material that has been covered in a variety of places now. What I find most interesting about these articles is the de rigeur quote from a white heterosexual male working in the video game industry who insists that, nope, there's no sexism, racism or homophobia in our industry. The naivete in which these commentators insist that, no, honestly, your average video game player would have no problem playing a game with a gay lead character is almost charming. If it wasn't reeking of disingenuousness.
AfterElton looks at the de-gayed character from Heroes. Despite quite deliberate mentions of the character's sexuality in materials that were released in advance of the show, despite numerous examples of dialogue on the show that are clearly meant to indicate that the character is gay, someone decided that, no, the character must be straight. It was apparently a decision made by someone up the network chain of command, judging by the way people are seeking to avoid taking responsibility for the change.
Should that decision stand, and not be reversed by negative publicity pointing out the blatant homophobia of this change, it would be disappointing, but not surprising. Gay characters tend to be invisible to non-existent in science fiction, despite producers and writers talking a good game about "gender blind" universes, and the popularity of science fiction in the gay community. (Seriously, we all seem to be big geeks for it.) But, at the end of the day, there are no gay characters on Battlestar Galactica, no gay characters on Star Trek (apart from the occasional pandering lesbian tease), no gay characters in Star Wars. Even Captain Jack, on Doctor Who and Torchwood, would be better described as omni-sexual than gay.
Mostly I think I can chalk this up to writers and producers not being willing to challenge the prejudices of their audience. It's been my experience that the politics of most science-fiction fans ranges from the faux-libertarian to the reactionary. It sounds counter-intuitive, given the air of progressive politics that most sci-fi shows adopt. But when the point of most of the shows is to successfully maintain the status quo, through force, with an almost fetishistic devotion to weaponry and warfare, well...Besides, being a "liberal" or a "progressive" is by no means the same thing as not being homophobic. Some of the most homophobic people I've known are quite enthusiastically liberal. Phil Ochs sang Love Me, I'm A Liberal for a reason, after all.
So, Alex Ross made some very stupid statements about Obsidian which have been widely viewed as homophobic. And, well, yeah, they are. There are only two writers who have been using Obsidian in any notable roles. Geoff Johns made him a villain and Marc Andreyko outed him. And since Ross apparently approves of Johns handling of the character the only "molestation" he can be referring to is Andreyko's use of the character. But the thing is, I seriously doubt that Ross meant to say that making Obsidian gay was bad. Ross always strikes me as a particularly good example of fanboy entitlement at work, played out in spectacular fashion because his work is popular. The root of fanboy entitlement is wanting superhero books to be exactly the same way they were when they started reading comics, and much of Ross's professional career has been devoted to preserving a particular early-80s attitude in comics. So, my money on what Ross meant was that "Andreyko isn't writing Obsidian the way Roy Thomas would have, and I disapprove of that." And it simply never occurred to him that there was another meaning to what he was saying.
Far more bothersome, to me anyway, was DC recently soliciting a Grifter and Midnighter mini-series written by Chuck Dixon. Dixon has in the past made no secret of his disapproval of gay characters in comics, and he's quite outspokenly conservative. And, despite protestations by his fans, he can't keep his politics out of his comics work. Look no further than the anti-abortion messages in his Robin run for one example. Despite being quite certain that I will never, under any circumstances, spend money to support this project, I'm almost curious to see how it turns out. I have this half-formed notion of seeing Dixon transform Midnighter into a mincing, limp-wristed, lisping pedophile, but I doubt even DC would allow that sort of nonsense to go through. No, it'll probably be a more subtle contrast between the macho, manly, rock-solid and God-fearing heterosexual conservatism of Grifter versus the ineffective, effeminate, ineffectual faggoty liberalism of Midnighter. Sort of a "Fox News" approach to comics scripting, if you will.
Here is a brief update on the War on Christmas: the vile racism of one S. Claus.
Also, I got trolled by a Dane Cook fan. Whee!
Dane Cook is not funny? Wow you are a lesbo. Add c u next tuesday to that mix also. jealous no body Fann
I've heard of them pulling stuff like this: trolling the net and flaming anyone who dares to say anything negative about their hero. I didn't really think a casual mention of the unfunnyjoke thief would warrant any attention from them. Now, getting flamed by Hitchens defenders, yeah, that I expected.
Normally, I just delete obviously trolling comments. But that one is unintentionally funny on so many levels I left it up.
Action Comics #845, by Geoff Johns, Richard Donner and Adam Kubert, published by DC Comics
This comic is something of an odd beast. Rather than pander to the typical super-hero comic audience, the book seems intent on appealing to those fans with a high degree of loyalty to Donner's one and a half Superman movies. Certainly, the revelation of the villains behind the "Kryptonian child" plot is an element of that, given that the characters were never really that integral to Superman's history prior to the films. And that's largely the flaw in the book: it doesn't feel like a Superman comic as much as a continuation of Donner's Superman films in comic form. There's big, action-movie pop spectacle, but it lacks the humanity of the far superior Busiek and Morrison written Superman comics DC is putting out now as well.
Batman/The Spirit by Jeph Loeb, Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone, published by DC Comics
This sort-of prologue to the forthcoming Cooke and Bone Spirit series from DC is an amusing, slight diversion featuring lovely art and a lively sense of humor and fun. It's not quite a perfectly successful comic. The story assumes that the reader is familiar with the heroes, their supporting casts and their enemies. In the case of Batman, this is probably a fair assumption, but the same cannot be said of the Spirit, whose popularity these days seems confined mostly to the more intellectually and historically minded comic fans. And while it's a tirelessly faithful pastiche of Eisner's Spirit comics, it's too reverent of the material to really feel like more than a pleasant wallow in nostalgia. Eisner's spirit also had a certain sense of self-awareness that is missing here. The end result is an enjoyable comic, but I'm left wondering what the point of it was outside of servicing trade-marks.
Hero Squared #4 by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Joe Abraham, published by Boom Studios
Boom's premier humor book marks an escalation in the conflict between corny do-gooder Captain Valor and his ex-girl-friend/arch-enemy Caliginous. It's the closest the series has come so far to a "traditional" super-hero comic, with an extended fight scene laying waste to the city. In a nice twist, and a much needed display of character development, a specific point is made about the level of devastation that real super-humans wreak on the world around them. It's an escalation of the ongoing story that makes for an engaging development in the series.
Whisper by Steven Grant and Jean Dzialowski, published by Boom Studios
In this kinda-sorta revamp of Grant's Eighties female ninja comic, a new female assassin who speaks only in a whisper becomes involved in an elaborate double and triple cross scheme with drug dealers. As action comics go, it's not a bad story, and Dzialowski's art is very impressive. The problem is, we're given no reason whatsoever to care about any of the characters in the book or what happens to them. Even the actual plot is more implied than stated, and when it is stated it comes out in a great rush of exposition. So, what we end up with is a clumsily written story about unpleasant characters, trading off the name of a generally well-remembered older comic.
Christopher Hitchens, who has proven himself to be objectively, demonstratively wrong about everything, has a new article in Vanity Fair about how women are incapable of being funny. Because, apparently, women don't need to be funny to attract a men, so they never develop a sense of humor.
Oh, and then there's this: There are more terrible female comedians than there are terrible male comedians, but there are some impressive ladies out there. Most of them, though, when you come to review the situation, are hefty or dykey or Jewish, or some combo of the three.
He goes off on a half-cocked theory about how women don't develop a sense of humor because it presents no advantage to them in their attempts to attract a mate. Which is why "hefty or dykey or Jewish" women apparently are funny, because no red-blooded heterosexual man would find them funny anyway, I suppose.
It's the sort of piece that suggests that it should be responded to or refuted in some way. But, since it's Hitchens, who remember is always wrong about everything, the entire premise of his piece is so stupid as to make any rejoinder unnecessary.
Though, I will say, this notion that men are inherently funnier than women? I can disprove in two words: Dane Cook
I feel like I'm been slacking off lately. It's not that I don't love you all, it's just that I've been really busy, and the last thing I want to do when I come home is think. Or write. I'd much rather relax, or "chillax" as all the hip kids would say. For example, tonight, rather than give deep or serious thought to any of the pressing issues of the day, or get caught up on comics I've been asked to review, I watched the DVD of Beerfest and ate veggie chips with chipotle ranch dip. And listened to our upstairs neighbor roll bowling balls across the floor.
Johanna mentioned that she's been listening to Robbie Williams' last album, Intensive Care lately, which reminded me that I hadn't really talked about his newest album, Rudebox at all. It's good, but not as good as Intensive Care, I think. It's not as coherent as a whole. Though I think "She's Madonna" really deserves to heard.
The new Scissor Sisters album is still getting a lot of play in my house. As is the new-ish Polyphonic Spree EP that came out in advance of next year's album. But I haven't heard a lot of material from new performers that has appealed strongly to me.
So, I notice that A&E is getting a fair amount of buzz for their upcoming film Wedding Wars. To put it bluntly, I'm highly skeptical that the film will have anything of merit to say on the topic of gay marriage rights. All the material I've seen so far suggests that the focus of the film is less "marriage is a civil right, and the legal inequalities presented by the lack of gay marriage rights is a serious problem" and more "straight couple inconvenienced by uppity faggot demanding to be treated with respect and dignity."
The "Apple ad parody" format is well past over-played (as it was when the first Apple ad aired), but here's a specific example of something straight couples take for granted:
Does it contain the truth about his relationship with Jughead?
Does it contain his personal anxieties made manifest?
Is it a doorway into the brain of a minor celebrity?
Is he growing "wacky weed" in there?
Or did he just stuff it full of junk in lieu of actually cleaning his room, and he doesn't want Veronica to be buried comically under a load of rubbish, thus guaranteeing he'll never get any play from the rich girl ever again and he'll have to settle for middle-class Betty Cooper?
I want to change tactics for a minute here and talk about an important social issue that isn't getting enough discussion. I know that this site has a reputation for being "funny" but now is not the time for humor. There is a serious threat out there to every man, woman and child on the planet, and I want to address it in a totally honest and sincere manner.
I'm speaking, of course, of the threat of Christmas.
At this very moment, brave men and women are overseas fighting to protect us from this scourge. There they are, up at the North Pole, in deadly combat with The Fat Man's miniature army, and how do we react here in America? We put up altars to The Fat Man in our homes. We take our children to our shopping centers to receive a blessing from his look-a-likes. We turn our media over to paeans to his "greatness."
We have, in short, sought to appease him.
The situation has gotten so bad that many of our television and radio personalities now speak approvingly of the need to re-introduce "Christmas" into the public sphere, in place of the more generic, inclusive and accurate "Holidays." These people are willing to surrender our nation to the most vile and repulsive of tyrants, and they have the audacity to question the patriotism and nationalism of others. The man I like to call "Bethlehelm Bill" is the worst of these offenders, but there are many, and the strange acquiescence of the American people to the foreign despot at this time of year brings them out of the woodwork.
And so, I have a simple plea for all of you at this time of year. Fight it. Fight the War on Christmas. When carolers come to your door, insist that they sing some Sabbath instead. Don't shop at stores advertising "Christmas sales." Don't kill a beautiful tree simply to worship a red devil or place aircraft confusing lights on your house or yard.
This is a war we can win. This is a war we must win, for the future of America and our children.