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Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Reed and Johnny: Totally Hetero
Boredom and Photoshop are a dangerous combination.
And that's quite enough of that. I told Andy he could change one graphic, one. It will be awhile before he's allowed anywhere near the site again.
Although he did want to say that he was very put out by those of you who suggested that he's not real. That was his actual phrase too: "put out."
My all time favorite stupid DC message board thread of late has been this one: Obsidian: Radical Changes Needed!! It might surprise you to learn that the "radical change" in question here is not "give him more screen time than three silent panels in two of three issues published so far." No, I'll let the original poster explain what the problem with Obsidian is: For the past few years, Obsidian has fallen into decandence... in my opinion Obsidian was WAY BETTER in JSA: Darkness Falls!! From the time he quitted, his story became a huge nonsense... I'm not making discrimination, but I really think that him changing his sexuality was the biggest mistake ever made to this character! From there Obsidian was taken less seriously than he have been!! If there was a potential storyline in my mind, it'd be Obsidian with Nightshade (which will also help explain if the "World Of Nighshades" is or isn't the "Shadowlands"... Making Obsidian part of the JSA was good, but unnecessary for Alan Scott alredy has a place there. Obsidian was better off being evil... I hope the DC Editors will think about it REALLY WELL for I've followed DC Super Heroes since I was 2 years old and I never got disapointed in the comics! I hope I won't ever get... Then again, this is NOT discrimination... but this character should have stayed the way he was before... He's the decendent of one of the earliest superheroes, he should not have been inflicted with such a decadence... I hope you understand what I'm trying to say.
But lest you think that perhaps homophobia motivates this anti-gay Obsidian post, be assured that's not the case at all: I was not discriminating by saying that Obsidian was better before... the best way to prove it is that Freddie Mercury is one of my favourite singers! The thing is that Obsidian should have gotten a better "base" (if you understand the term).And it was, most of all, the fact that Alan Scott would have no more succesor in his bloodline after Obsidian's death that bothered me... that's it!! If anyone has a problem with that than express your feelings... but calling me a homophobiac is the proof that you did not read and understood the sentence : I'M NOT MAKING DISCRIMINATION. I wrote this because I knew some people would understand what I meant in a different way that I expected. So if you can't read, quit comics!
I swear, the thread is a treasure-trove: adreyenko said himself that he MADE obsidian gay in an interview, which PROVES that the hero wasn't always gay. adreyenko should have left todd rice alone. his run on manhunter led to only one thing: THE CANCELLATION OF THE TITLE!! wtf??!! obsidian had a relationship with harlequin III, why can't he stay the way he was?? it's not because he was shy or had mental illness (which were because of his mother's genes) and that his first relationship had a little difficulties that he is gay! and it's not because nuklon is his best friend and that he was avoiding homophobia and because he didn't have any relationship or love neither. don't call me narrow-minded because that's not true, it's just the damn truth!! the ones who say he's gay say it because they WANT him to be like that... but he was never meant to be!! PS: if he turned evil, it was because of his mental illness!!!!
Alright, maybe Obsidian's mental illness wasn't revealed until Darkness Falls, but come on guys... it's more coherent for him to have this as a hertitage from his mother than his change of sexuality!!!!!! Darkness Falls was one of the only stories that made Obsidian important, and his decadence started from the time he came back! Now he's just a shadow doing nothing exept when Jade died!! Give me a break... this dude needs RADICAL CHANGES so that he can become better!! He looks pathetic now... and if writers don't do anything about it, he'll soon be useless and so he won't be used that often... AND HE'S THE BLOODY SON OF ALAN SCOTT!!!! Come on... it looks like the death of Jade didn't affect him that much, for they only made him furious in 52... but he's not carrying the sadness, while he should, for it would go on well with his darkness. This character could use alot of work, which would fortunately pay well amd make his popularity increase. He should also get closer with his dad. And can anyone answer me this question: Is the shadowlands the land of nightshades?? I hope you understand that Obsidian is not taken seriously AT ALL right now. The Infinity Inc. should also get worked up, and have a more important role in the DCU. I hope that the JSA title will CORRECT Obsidian's MISTAKES, and make him have an important role in the team that just being a useless shadow security guard. Make the true POWER of his powers come out, for he's VERY powerful, the writers just don't use all of his qualities, and rather make him gay for some stupid unknown reasons (exept for Andreyko's Manhunter selfishness). Remake him te way he was before, and add all the things I said in this post... then come up with an amazing story... and there you'll have the REAL Obsidian.
Now, most of the other posters take "goldenagebat" to task for his attitude, but there's at least one other poster, "dixon64" who has his back. At any rate the character is not being as well received as he was and it is precisely because of that change that he isn't. How is that good for a company if their goal is to sell as many copies of that title to consumers as they can ? It is not. But if I had a political or social agenda sales would not matter to me. But the idea that we are going to cry on the internet because of it is foolishness. DC and you are assuming we will continue to buy the book. I love "The Justice Society of America" . For years and with it's return I have stated vehemently that it is hands down with no close competition the best title on the market, but don't let it fool you into believing that I wont leave that and every other DC title on the shelf if I see it that DC doesn't hear my voice for the $3.00 I pay for their title. The character of Obsidian has been diminished and DC shouldn't suffer the loss of that asset nor should they suffer it on the consumers who purchase "The Justice Society of America"
Now, setting aside that Obsidian really only became interesting as a character when he came out, what I love in that last excerpt is the notion that negative fan reaction to Obsidian is having an adverse effect on the Justice Society book. And here I was thinking that the vast bulks of criticisms I've heard about this latest relaunch is the over the top violence. Silly me.
I'm not actually overly bothered by the violence in Justice Society to be honest, but nor am I overly concerned with the pace of Justice League, so clearly my taste is suspect. My concerns for the book are born out of pure fan entitlement selfishness. I don't like the bitter and mentally scarred Damage, especially since it seems to be broadly telegraphing a heel turn, especially with the introduction of his "father" Vandal Savage into the storyline. I don't like a suddenly emo Wildcat who resents having to train younger heroes, something he's been consistently portrayed as enthusiastic about in the past. I don't like the apparently Alex Ross mandated sidelining of Obsidian. And I really hate the masturbatory insertion of elements from Kingdom Come into the book.
Speaking of DC comics that are failing to meet the expectations of their audience, I've noticed, here and there, a number of people who feel that the tone of Trials of Shazam is excessively dark, especially in comparison to Jeff Smith's Monster Society of Evil title. Which is a fair enough exception to make. My own response to that is that I've been thinking of Trials as more of a Captain Marvel Jr. story, and Freddie Freeman's adventures have always been a bit darker in tone than those of Billy and Mary. Let's compare their origins for a minute.
Hey, Billy, how'd you get your powers? "A wizard gave them to me!" Cool. How about you Mary? "A wizard gave my brother powers." Okay...And you Freddie? Where did your powers come from? "Nazis killed my family and crippled me." Wow...aren't you a bright and shiny figure of escapist fun for little children.
Not that I have any idea how a good, law-abiding citizen of the United States could watch those episodes in anything resembling a timely manner.
Carla's tale of trying to find a contemporary Iron Man comic for a kid reminded me an awful lot of my days working comics retail. Marvel used to have this peculiar knack for capitalizing on their film release dates with wholly inappropriate material in their promotional comics. Such as a twenty-five cent Hulk comic with an attempted rape but no Hulk. Or an X-Men comic featuring graphic crucifixions when the second film came out. They've gotten marginally better about it, though I do sort of wonder why there was no general audience appealing Ghost Rider comic this month.
Patrick Fillion has some preview pages up for his forth-coming gay barbarian comic, Zahn. I shouldn't have to tell you that the link above is not safe for work, but be assured it is.
Destructoid profiles a game I enjoyed far too much, Pokemon Snap. It was the best puzzle/photography game I ever played. It was the only puzzle/photography game I ever played. I would absolutely download it if it became available for the Wii Virtual Console.
The Brave and the Bold #1, by Mark Waid, George Perez and Bob Wiacek, published by DC Comics
I'm an unashamed fan of the concept of The Brave and the Bold. There's something very satisfying, on an intrinsic level, about super-hero team-up adventures. It's a great joy and delight for the little kids hidden inside super-hero comics fans. And this latest iteration of the series captures that perfectly. It's big dumb super-heroic adventure, but without the melodrama that has come to dominate the genre of late. Mark Waid's penchant for exhaustive continuity based story-telling is well suited for the concept, and he writes the characters, in this case Batman and Green Lantern, in a way which makes them familiar to long term fans of the characters and sketched in enough for those unfamiliar with a particular character to get an idea of what they're about. Perez was an inspired choice for artist as well, having a broadly appealing style that looks, importantly, suitably super-heroic. His figures "act" well, being very expressive and detailed, yet loose enough to still possess a sense of dynamism. The final product is an unpretentious book which revels in the fun of the shared universe concept.
(After a long hiatus, my younger brother, Andy, felt the need to share his opinions about comics with the world. Well, one comic in particular. So, in the name of keeping peace in the family, I've agreed to turn over my site to him for the day. In other words, don't blame me for anything you see here today.)
Civil War nomber seven is the frelling awsomest comi in thr world bitches
Never before in all of comics history hs thee ever been a comic as awesome as this! it hast everything you could ever want in a comic. The most imporant thing of course is that marvel finally give the true fans what theyve wanted all theis years and given us hereos fighting toher heroes to the death over really important and important social issues and stuff.
I know Dor has said the comic was a "mataphore" for political issues. I don't know about that I dont pay any atention to politics all i know is what I see on Fox news which i only watch because theyre unbiased but I think what he means is that Iron man is an american hero and patriot and Captain America is a terorist who hates our freedoms. Which is good because it means Marvel is fianlly paying attention to some really impotant stuff in this country. I dont think Marvel ever really adequatly talked about September 11 in any of their comics so it was good that they talked about it in this one.
What I get out of the comic is that Iron Man understands that we cant just do busienss as usual and we have to understand that the Constitution is really old and not really relevant to our lives today because it is old and was written a long time ago. And so Iron Man understands that things like trials and courts are conveaniances that we cant really afford to have anymore when were dealing with people who want to kill us and blow up our buildings and things like that. I kind of dont really know how I feel about that because I have a hard time thinking about characters like Cloak and Dagger as terorists but since they're fighting Iron Man and hes the good guy I guess they must be.
But as good and as deep as that is it doesnt really compare to all the kick ass fights that are in this book as well. Politics and stuff are all good but thats not why real fans read comics we want to see kick ass fight and explosions and stuff and this book gave us all taht ahnd more that we wanted. There were all this really cool fights in the negative zone though I'm kind of annoyed that Marvel brought back Captain Marvel )The REAL ONE, screw DC's stupid fake imitations one they madeup just to try and steal the copyrights from Marvel) and didn't give him more to do in this comic other than show up for one panel. After the fantastic way they brought him back , and hey wasn't it cool to see him shar e book with Sentry who ahs got to be the best and hotest new character since Woverine give us more Sentry Marvel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I kind of wanted to see him smack around captain American and his teror loving pals some more and maybe smack the gay out of his kid. DOn't get me wrong, I like gay people, hey Dor is my brother but I really don't think they belong in comics and I wish that they woud make Hulkling not gay and maybe have Wiccan be a girl since hes supposed to be like the Scarlet Witch anyway.
But there were still a lot of cool fights anyway one of the things I like about marvel is that they have the best and most realistic and believable illains and one of the reasons they are more belieavable is that they act like real people. I mean its stupid the kinds of villains they have at DC I mean an insane clown? and and scientist those are lame, but Marvel villains act like real people and even the villains understand that Tonys plan is the best one and that Captain America is a traitor and they team up with Iron Man to fight the teror lovers working with Captain America. I have one complaint about that one though and that is that that Punisher is a vet and a solider and theres no way hed fight with Captain America he would understand that were fighting for God and our way of life and so he would work with Iron Man I think it was way out of character for Punisher to fight with Capatain America but then they havent had Punisher in character since they started to let Garth Morrison write him.
But I guess the really important thing is that Captain America was finally defeated. I thought it was really cool and symbolism that Captain America finally was shown that he was wrong and only helping terorism when he surrendered. I thought it was really cool and a fitting tribute that Marvel had the real heroes of america, the cops and fire men of New York be the ones who show Captain America that he was wrong.It was very evocative and subtle and i thought it sent a really important mesage. It was also good because it showed that Marvel is finally taking 9/11 seriously and thats important because I think people forget about how important it was.
Now Dor is one of those stupid jerk bloggers he reads more DC than Marvel because he doesn'thave good taste and sophitcation like me, and he says that there is a fundymental sotry flaw in having Captain America surrender like that even though it so s totally obvious that Irn Man is right and Captain America is wrong and thats that Captain America is one of two voices of moral authortary in the marvel universe, First he says that Captain America has a "credibality' because he fought Nazis and he understands what totallitaryan governments lead to.And so Dor says that for Captain America to surrender in the face of Iron Man and the good guys stoping havius corpses and trials with lawyers and at best manslaughteris to give up in the face of treasouns and unconstitutional actions. And that colatarol damage in defense of higher principle is something that a soldier like Captain America would understand. The other thing he said was that the other moral voice for Marvel is Spider-Man because the moral underpinnings of Spider-Man stories is that "great power comes with great responsibility" and so when both Captain America and Spider-Man are against you you you are by default in the wrong. Which I think is stupid because it was totally bogus that Spider-Man wuold change sides since he is a totaly good guy and he should have stayed on Tony's side but I kind stopped paying attention to Dor at that point and said if he did't stop calling Iron Man a cryptofascist I would sock himin the goddamned face.
I hate your metaphor, and what it says about your audience. Comparing it to how all of the 15 people at a Sex Pistols show formed a band and influenced music, Vaughan said that the influence of comics is now reaching into the mainstream. He cited Damon Lindelhoff as a huge fan of Watchmen who grew up and went into another field but still shows that influence.
I would be so happy to never see anyone compare anything to the Sex Pistols ever again. It's such a cheap and easy short-hand to "yeah, our corporate, work for hire comics are gonna RAWK! They're totally punk man!" (Also, apparently no one told Lindelhoff that Watchmen was notable because it was so good. Not because it was so late.)
What Marvel wants us to know about the new New Warriors NRAMA: Now Sophia (with the iPod) is Wondra? Judging by the color sketch may we assume she’s Latina? KG: Ha! I think It depends on what you call Latina. Also, who even said Sophia was Wondra?... She’s a young black girl with semi-elemental powers... He’s a white kid with the ability to fly obviously and has a host of cool weapons at his disposal.... He’s also a white kid who of course has sonic powers given his name.... She’s a white female, who given her power set, is not someone you really want to mess with. And Renascence, who is also a white female, has a host of different abilities that are constantly changing over time depending on her mood....
Though, seriously, I might check it out. Marvel's teen-hero books are the only ones I ever seem to enjoy anymore, plus Decibel is in a kilt, and I sort of have a thing about that.
Marvel continues to milk their well-reviewed cross-over book Annihilation: Conquest: Starlord according Rosemann follows the original Starlord sent on a suicide mission and joined by a band of misfits including Groot, Captain Universe, Deathcry, Mantis, Bug of Micronauts fame, and Rocket Raccoon. Rosemann described the titles as Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandoes in space.
They're going to kill Rocket Raccoon, aren't they?
Also in the lineup, Annihilation: Conquest – Wraith will feature a new character called the Wraith, who carries a Western feel and element, but is much darker and grittier than Marvel space heroes of the past.
Wow, really, a "darker" and "grittier" Marvel character? Hoo, boy, is that ever what Marvel needs more of!
Matt Fraction talks Strikeforce Morituri, I mean, Champions While Tony Stark will remain in an oversight capacity of the team he founded under the moniker of 'ZEUS', his new duties post-Civil War have made it so he needs someone in place with the Champions to be more directly involved. The man in the 'HERA' position is an old friend of Tony's, an actor that used to play Iron Man on a television series. "He and Stark were kind of like the Cary Grant and Randolph Scott of the Marvel U, you know? Party pals. And now that the party's over for each of them, Tony's reached out to his old friend to be a Champion," Fraction said.
So, I presume that if there's any property damage in Manhattan, the heroes will have to surrender to the Hulk, right? Isn't that the precedent that they've established; smash a building, abandon your principles?
DC toys with me. Going back to talk about spin-offs from 52, Jann Jones announced a new project: Captain Carrot and the Final Ark, a three-issue limited series. "It's a very important year for Captain Carrot," Jones said. The project will be written by Bill Morrison and drawn by Scott Shaw! The villain of the story will be Ra's al-Pica.
This is going to turn out to have been a joke, isn't it? So long as they were serious about un-cancelling Manhunter, I'll deal. Now if only we could get Obsidian back into the book that was actually willing to use him.
"Super-misogyny" is one of Brainiac 5's lesser known powers. I mean, when facing an enemy whose power is telepathic control over animals, you surely wouldn't want to let a telepath face off against him. Oh well, I'm sure that by excluding Saturn Girl, the most qualified member of the team will get the opportunity to take on this dangerous task.
Or, you know, they could let Bouncing Boy handle it. Cripes, was Matter Eater Lad too busy?
The Krypto story was (temporarily, we hope) shelved at the last minute at an executive level for reasons that it's up to DC to make public or not. Everyone who's read it likes the story, but there are reasons they don't want to print it at the moment. So it's on the shelf -- and boy, did that help our struggling schedule! -- and what'll come out as #659 is what was solicited as #660.
My guess, based on DC's past practices for holding and cancelling comics, is that the story was probably deemed unsuitable to be on the racks at the same time as the kid-oriented Krypto the Superdog comic. So, let's hope that it gets published in some form sooner rather than later.
So, Countdown is officially announced, after months of rumor and speculation. I've enjoyed predecessor series 52, I like the writers and artists associated with this new series, and I enjoy well-crafted super-hero melodrama. What cinches it for me, oddly, is this quote from "show runner" Paul Dini:
I’d say our everyman character in the story is Jimmy Olsen, who to a great degree fits that bill within the DC Universe anyway. He has links to the Justice League, the Legion of Super-Heroes and the New Gods. And he is in the unique role of being not only a traveler through the mainstream DC Universe, but also becomes increasingly aware that he might have a bigger part to play in all this than he’s ever suspected. His quest to find out his role is one of the major driving points of Countdown.
So, the series could almost be described as a new version of Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen. Now, I hate the Silver Age version of Jimmy with an unnatural passion, but so many modern writers have treated him as faintly embarrassing that I'm glad to see him given some kind of due.
To those who would challenge me on my hatred of Silver Age Jimmy, allow me to illustrate by vignette why I loath him. "Super Duper, no one will see through my disguise of a fake beard! Super Duper, Lucy agreed to go on a date with me, but I'm going to disguise myself as a rich Arab and try to trick her as a test of her love! Super Duper, I'm going to blow off the date anyway to go hunt down jewel thieves!" "Jimmy, if you say 'Super Duper' one more time, I'm throwing you into the sun and telling Perry that you were Omega Beamed by Darkseid." "Sup-...sorry, Superman."
The comics blogging world has been too heavy and serious lately. We all need to lighten up. And to do just that, I present panels from Golden Age comics taken out of context to imply sexual shenanigans.
Too much? How about Alias, The Spider and his, ahem, male companion watching a man undress?
A Primer Born Out of Many Years Experience Blogging
Don't Blog. Seriously, don't. Blogging has been called the CB-radio of the 21st century. That's being far too generous. It's also been compared to publishing a zine. That's simply stupid. Blogging is the pet rock of the 21st century. Inherently stupid, probably a scam, and the people who fall for it should really know better. Let's face it, ten years from now, a bald and fat Dane Cook will be on VH-1's latest talking-head nostalgia exploiting reality program talking about how everyone thought blogging was cool and everyone had a blog and then just as suddenly everyone came to their senses and got on with their lives. When your significant other asks, all innocence, if you ever had a blog, do you really want to admit to it?
Don't Link to Other Blogs. A link to another blog is a tacit endorsement of that blog's content. Think carefully about the content you've seen on other blogs. Do you really want to be associated with...that? I don't think so.
Don't Pay Attention to Your Incoming Traffic. This is very tempting, but it should always be avoided. Blogging, by its nature, is a very egotistical act, so you'll want to see who is sending readers your way. You'll want to know who thinks you're a genius. What you will discover, almost every single time, is that the people sending you readers are idiots or assholes or both. Idiots and assholes and idiot assholes like your blog. That means you suck.
Don't Host Your Own Images. Some pipsqueak on MySpace will just hot-link them.
Don't Ever Review Anything. It's not worth the hassle or the challenges to your taste or ethics. If you buy your own materials to review, you're just a fanboi, so you can be safely ignored. If you are sent materials to review by publishers or distributors, then your opinion can be ignored since you only give things good reviews to keep the free loot coming in. And if you ever have the nerve to give anything a bad review, well, you're probably just a bitter crank who doesn't get it!
Don't Linkbait. In other words, don't put up posts just to get people to link to you and talk about you. There are various ways to go about this, all of them a bad idea. You could blog about things you don't like, but that would just be sad. Or you could start a blog tracking discrimination in popular entertainments, but reveal yourself to be a xenophobic, racist, homophobic religious supremacist with every post. You could even make a habit of going out of your way to deliberately provoke other bloggers, because a good flame-war increases hit counts on all sides. The ultimate expression of this would be simply to start a blog linking to other blogs. But no one would be mad enough to do that.
Don't Allow Comments on Your Posts. The only thing remotely sadder than a blog writer is a blog reader. Do you really want validation so badly that you are willing to put up with the inevitable trolls and sycophants?
The most interesting thing about going to see Ghost Rider was that it was raining as we left the theater.
Not that there's much point in bothering to review a movie like Ghost Rider. It will, no doubt, do well for a week, maybe two, and then be forgotten, because it is a thoroughly forgettable and relentlessly mediocre film. Badly acted and poorly written, striving for camp (it's one saving grace) but in the end taking itself too seriously. Never before has the utter ridiculousness of super-heroes been so brilliantly, if unintentionally, translated to the screen. Every ponderously self-important utterance of the Ghost Rider sets off giggles, and the "penance stare" is the worst conceived super power in film history, consisting of thirty seconds of vague orange shapes flashing across the screen.
Still, better to go see this than Norbit.
Actually, I lie, there was one interesting thing about going to see Ghost Rider: trying to place it on the scale of awfulness in comparison to other films based on Marvel properties. The list I devised, from "not bad" to "proof there is no loving God" runs:
X-Men X-Men 2 Spider-Man 2 Fantastic Four Punisher Spider-Man Ghost Rider Hulk Daredevil X-Men 3 Ultimate Avengers
(Please note, if you think I'm unduly harsh in my assessment of a film, particularly a film you're really looking forward to, that the point of a trailer is to make you want to see it, and these are my reactions to those efforts. Also, if you think I say mean things about these films, you should have seen the trailers I couldn't, in good conscience, inflict upon you.)
Pay Full Price
First Snow: This has a really good, strong cast, and it gives every appearance of breaking out of the usual thriller mode to provide an interesting look at notions of fate and destiny. They're not uncommon themes in the genre, but there's a certain mix of paranoia and self-fulfilling prophecies that promises a better crafted look at the notion than similar films.
The Valet: I will admit, I laughed at this. A poor schmoe forced to live with and pretend to be in love with a beautiful woman in order to hide from the paparazzi a wealthy man's philandering. It's been a good long while since the French put out a decent sex comedy. I'm already almost depressed at the prospect of a terrible American remake. Probably starring Dane Cook.
The Host: A Korean horror-comedy about a horrible mutant monster. It simply looks fantastic, and from what I've seen has only been praised. (Okay, granted Ain't It Cool News is quoted in the trailer, but I won't hold that against the movie).
Zodiac: This is one of the upcoming films I'm most anticipating. It's been too long since Fincher had a good, intelligent film out, and it's getting horrendously rare to find a thriller with a strong cast and a strong visual sense. I'm particularly interested in the approach the film apparently takes that, because this is a mystery with no real solution, it is important to focus on why this case became important to these investigators and such a cultural touchstone.
Hot Fuzz: This is the other film I'm eagerly anticipating. Not just because just about everything Simon Pegg has done has been so good, but the comedic mystery has always been one of my favorite genre mash-ups. That the people who gave us the nigh-definitive horror comedy and the freshest sitcom in decades made it makes me tremendously giddy.
Add to Netflix Queue
Knocked Up: I'm going to set aside the obvious question this trailer raises, because I'm fairly certain that contemporary politics make it impossible to bring up in a comedy. Well, and the other obvious question the trailer raises, because that's even more of a hot-button issue for a comedy. But I trust Apatow. Plus, Paul Rudd.
I Think I Love My Wife: I'm finding myself oddly surprised that Chris Rock is no longer playing the obnoxious, loud-mouthed kid roles. Normally marital infidelity movies don't interest me, and I can't say I find myself particularly compelled by this one either. I'm just lacking the requisite puritanical outrage to be shocked or appalled by the suggestion that sometimes people stray or think of straying.
Amazing Grace: No sarcasm or cynicism here. A film about the English abolitionist movement, even if it wears its heart on its sleeve, is probably long overdue.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer: Well, it's not like it could be that much worse than the first one, right? Although, for me, this trailer fails on one fundamental level: it doesn't tell me enough about the movie. Okay, so the Silver Surfer will be in it. And? That's supposed to be enough, I guess. Though, the fact that Pete will make me go see it in the theater makes my opinion as to the trailer's projection of the film's quality a moot point.
Across the Universe: Assembling Beatles songs into a musical? That plan could never fail. It looks pretty, though I often find myself wondering when writers and directors of a certain age are going to get over the Vietnam war. I'm not denying the profound psychic scars it left on the country, and it's been the inspiration for some truly stellar works of art: it's also been used for lots and lots of trite political short-hand.
The Abandoned: Yes! Ride that Russo-horror bandwagon! Follow in Nightwatch's coat-tails. Oh, wait, hardly anyone went to see Nightwatch in this country. This may get a pass just for the haunted house angle.
Nancy Drew: I never liked the Hardy Boys (too white bread) and never even gave Nancy Drew a chance. I sort of skipped over the whole "young adult" phase of books anyway. This looks cute. Silly, somewhat superficial, but cute. It may be a "take the cousins out for a date and give the rest of the family a friggin' break" type of movie.
Sunshine: It's actually quite...refreshing...to see someone even attempting to make a science-fiction film that's actually a science-fiction film. And not an action movie in space. Or a western in space. Or anything other than God-forbid a science-fiction movie. Because, let's face it, the science-fiction audience doesn't want science-fiction, they want an action movie in space.
Seraphim Falls: For some reason, this put me in mind of Ravenous. It doesn't have the horror angle, but that taut, genre-bending mood seems to be the same as in this thriller.
The Lookout: It seems a bit late to me to be mining Memento for plot points for your crime drama, but there you go.
Shooter: Ah, the "Oswald was a patsy" theory translated into a big budget action-thriller. These sorts of things always beg the question with me: if the hero is smart enough to unravel and expose an international conspiracy by himself, how come he couldn't tell he was being set-up?
Blades of Glory: This will make Pete happy, a Will Ferrell movie I won't try to make him see. Largely because I don't care for Jon Heder in the slightest. But also because a broad farce about male figure skaters makes me think I should probably bring along something to keep a tally of the number of gay jokes.
Spider-Man 3: Man, imagine how good these movies would be if anyone who could act was in them. Well, okay, they probably still wouldn't be very good because Spider-Man is a whiny little punk, but surely they'd be better, right?
Let Me Claw My Eyes Out First
Wild Hogs: Ah, is there anything better than a comedy about men playing dress-up and pretending to be bad ass bikers because they're in the midst of a mid-life crisis? Anything is better than that? Even yet another movie about a guy with daddy issues? And this particular trailer ends on a quasi-Brokeback Mountain joke. Because those are still cutting edge.
Mr. Brooks: I can still appreciate the serial-killer genre of thrillers, even if their ubiquity is troublesome. And I can even appreciate the effort of having two different actors play the different personalities of the lead character. Where you lose me, utterly, is Dane Cook. No film, by definition, can be worth watching if Dane Cook is in it.
Surf's Up: Yes, penguins are always cute, but too many assemblies as a child where we were "rewarded" with tedious surfing documentaries has killed any desire in me to ever see any film about surfers. Even cute penguin ones.
Full of It: Ah, a film for children about how your life improves if you lie a lot. Only in Bush's America.
Dead Silence: Now, I'm usually in the mood for a good haunted house/vengeful ghost type of horror story. It's probably darn close to my favorite genre within the genre. And the creepy dolls and prohibition on screaming angles make for both an old favorite and cool new twist, respectively. So I should really want to see this. But, see, where you lose me is this: "From the writers and director and producers of Saw." I hate the torture and gore porn school of horror. I hate that it's come to dominate the horror genre in film (well, that and stupid remakes and sequels). So, no, count me out. Your previous work in the genre leaves me with no confidence that you can make anything worth watching.
Grindhouse: No. Just because you Tarantino and Rodriguez grew up on shitty movies in the seventies is no excuse to make more.
Black Snake Moan: I'm left baffled by this. Is it meant to be some sort of bad taste comedy? Or is it serious and unintentionally funny? Or is someone working out their issues with women on film?
Live Free or Die Hard: Have I ever mentioned how much I intensely dislike the Die Hard franchise? Let's put it this way, the only action movie with Bruce Willis I enjoy is Hudson Hawk. Please note I said "enjoy" not "think is good." It's the All Star Batman of action movies.
Fred Claus: I'm hard pressed to think of which actor has more worn out his welcome, Vaughn or Giametti. The combination of the two of them? Man, I'm feeling slightly nauseous just thinking about it.
The Hills Have Eyes 2: It's probably best to just count-off the reasons why I'll refuse to see it. Torture porn. Sequel to a remake. Female soldiers screaming and panicking.
Fantagraphics Books is pleased to announce that it has acquired the rights to publish a comprehensive series comprising Walt Kelly's classic POGO comic strip. The first volume of Fantagraphics' POGO will appear in October, 2007, and the series will run approximately 12 volumes.
Twelve volumes, reprinting all of Walt Kelly's Pogo strips from 1949 to 1973, with each volume designed by Jeff Smith. Fan-freaking-tastic.
Now, my only question is: will the "bunny strips" Kelly created as replacements for editors too skittsh about political themes be included? Okay, two questions: does this mean there's a chance of non-strip reprint Pogo books like The Jack Acid Society Black Book coming out?
I have been in a contemplative mood of late, and one of the threads I keep coming back to is images of masculinity that resonated with me as a child.
The Earliest Memories
I've talked about this before, buy my earliest notions of what men were was watching and hanging around sailors. Being a Navy brat, this wasn't difficult to do, as most of my parent's friends were connected to the Navy, and most of our shopping was done on base. Sailors were just always around and were the primary non-familiar men I saw around me every day. I don't know that I ever had any generalized impressions of what sailors were supposed to be like, but the imagery has always stuck with me.
How Men Act: Errol Flynn and Cary Grant
I wasn't an athletic child at all. I was probably nine or ten before I even learned to ride a bike. Most of my free time was spent reading, with occasional toy or cartoon breaks. The only prolonged television time I spent was on weekends, watching old movies on local television stations. Most of the movies they showed were old comedies and monster movies, with Godzilla movies on occasion and Popeye cartoons to pad out time. But more adventure orientated films made the cut from time to time, and I quickly grew to appreciate the swashbuckler films that Flynn starred in. There was a virile recklessness to his screen persona, particularly when playing Robin Hood, that appealed to me. Even today, my fascination with Flynn's Robin has created a fondess for Robin Hood stories over the more popular European and American folk heroes.
Cary Grant, by comparison, I was first exposed to in comedies, and it was some time before I associated him with dramatic acting. He had a strong appeal to, especially in his mannerisms and attitude. If Flynn was a reckless type, Grant was the mature, level-headed one. He was just enough of a dandy to be debonair.
Between the two of them, I formed a notion that men were meant to be elegant and dashing, eloquent and just a bit biting in their wit.
The Adventurers: Sinbad and Hercules
No matter how bad the movie was, if the name "Sinbad" was in the title, I was almost certain to sit through it. The swashbuckling elements appealed to me, as did the rogueish nature, but the sense of braving the unknown had a strong appeal as well. The Sinbad movies are probably largely to blame with my childhood fascination with mythology and fantasy as well.
I'm not ashamed to admit, that my fondness for Hercules films, and sword-and-sandal films in general, was almost purely aesthetic. Even as a kid, I know that the sheer physical presence of Steve Reeves and other actors in the genre excited me in a way that I couldn't articulate. Even more than sailors, these athletic, well-muscled men defined what masculinity meant physically. This is almost certainly the direct root of my still current fascination with physique photography from the period.
The Heroes: Tarzan, Zorro and the Lone Ranger
I was a teenager, practically, before I gained any interest in super-hero comics. Up until then, I mostly read Disney comics and horror comics. The only super-hero titles I read with any regularity were Wonder Woman, Batman and occasionally Hulk. There's a common thread to those three titles if you stop and think about it for a moment. My idea of an exciting hero figure than was more pulpy in tone. There was probably a strong aesthetic element to my fondness for anything Tarzan related as well, there were no shortage of handsome men in skimpy costumes to look at in a Tarzan movie or cartoon, after all. And though I'm a good post-colonialist now and cringe at the racist ideas and terrible "White Man's Burden" subtext of most Tarzan productions, as a kid the notion of the jungle was so exotic and alien that it may as well have been a fantasy film.
I always tended to think of Zorro and the Lone Ranger back-to-back as a kid. I probably was more enthusiastic about the Lone Ranger. He had a horse, and a toy gun was easier to come by than a toy whip, and I did in fact have a dress-up kit which I wore out, pretending to be the Ranger. That you couldn't get me out of cowboy boots until I was about six is pretty much his fault as well. With these two, you had the swashbuckling angle, and the Robin Hood aspects as well. Plus, they dressed really, really well. There goes that dandy-ish aspect to masculinity as well.
I Give In To Pop Culture: Han Solo
Eventually, the world at large intruded into my world, and I somehow got exposed to Star Wars. While other boys desperately wanted to be Luke Skywalker, or Chewbacca, or in at least one worrying case, R2-D2, I always wanted Han toys and to play Han with other kids. In light of earlier men who appealed to me, it's easy to see why. He's not quite a swash-buckler, but he is a charismatic rogue, who (eventually) does the right thing. He's witty and dresses fantastically, and he explores a world that's amazingly exotic and filled with strange creatures. Han was almost the perfect distillation of all the male images I had fallen for before. He was quite possibly the first person I wanted to grow up to be. That's almost an embarrassing confession, as I can't even stand to watch the Star Wars films anymore. But I liked them when I was eight, which is fair enough, I suppose, and I still won't let go of any of my surviving toys and artifcats with Han on them.
Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith, published by DC Comics
It's no exaggeration to say that this is one of the best comics of the year so far, and easily one of the best super-hero comics of recent memory. Smith manages the extremely difficult task of retaining the innocence and child-like charm of the original C.C. Beck Captain Marvel comics, while maintaining the gravitas readers have come to expect from contemporary super-hero comics. The result is a book which feels both nostalgic and modern.
The story is the by-now familiar retelling of Billy Batson's first encounter with the wizard and his bonding with the mighty Captain Marvel. Smith does an excellent job here of portraying the misery of Billy's existence, the horrible conditions he must live in while still possessing an optimistic innocence. A suggestion is made, briefly, that Marvel and the wizard are fantasies of Billy, which only serves to heighten the wish-fullfillment aspect of his transformations into Marvel.
Smith's art is also exceptional here, a nicely detailed work that doesn't stray far from the friendly, rounded world that Beck created. Smith isn't afraid to let the art carry the burden of the story-telling either, going for several pages at a time without words, letting Billy soak in the strangeness of his experiences just as the reader soaks in the art.
The strongest recomendation in the book's favor, though, is that Smith has created a fun, innocent comic for all ages that doesn't shy away from the kid-oriented origin of the material. Smith doesn't try to inject any false notes of seriousness or importance, or attempt to make the work more than a charming fable for adults and children.
Yakari and the Grizzly by Derib and Job, published by Cinebook
I've been filling a gap in my comics collection: I simply don't have enough European comics that aren't attempting to be "high art" available to me. And since I don't care for rampant heterosexuality of Heavy Metal-style comics, and since Trondheim doesn't appeal to me, and iBooks and Humanoids in limbo, what I've been scrounging for are interesting European kid's comics.
Yakari is a Native American boy who can talk to animals and helps them when they're in trouble. In this particular adventure, he helps a group of animals who are being forced to gather food for a bear. It's a very simple story, with a not very threatening menace, and everyone turns out to be all right in the end and very friendly with one another. It's cute, but is clearly on the extreme young end of the kids comic spectrum. It would be a very good book for the younger brother or sister of a child getting into comics with super-hero or manga titles, as it's straight-forward story makes for good practice in reading, and the conflict resolution is handled in a clever and non-violent way.
The art is attractive, and about on a par with other European kid's comic. If you've ever read any Asterix books or Peyo's Smurf comics, you know what to expect, art-wise. The animals are cute, and everything is appealingly stylized against more realistic backgrounds. Again, if you're looking for something for younger children and you want to avoid any potentially problematic content, this is an eminently suitable choice.
I'm listless tonight, and not feeling particularly enthusiastic about anything I'd planned to write about. Not even my mini-rant about the quality of the paper Dark Horse is using as cover-stock on Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, which starts to curl the moment I take off the shrink-wrap and expose it to air. Not even a (slightly) mock expression of surprise that super-hero fans are appalled at over-sexualized anime versions of super-heroine action-figures, given that the plastic statues in question are positively tame in comparison to most examples of anime-gal figures I've seen. The only thing that did immediately catch my eye today was the relase of the DC solicitations for May, in which I note that a JSA Classified story-line will focus on Wildcat.
Only thing is, it's written by Frank Tieri. Whose work hasn't particularly impressed me in the past. I have a dim recollection that his run on Wolverine wasn't terrible, but that's largely in comparison to what came before and after.
So, I think I'll just post some pictures of John Tristram instead.
Oh, what the heck. John Barrowman and Ruthie Henshall singing "Anything You Can Do"
Now that the publicity for the third Spider-Man movie is ramping up, I thought it would be amusing, for me anyway, to more explicitly describe what my primary objection to the film series is. Namely, Tobey Maguire's complete and utter inability to emote in a recognizably human fashion. Which brings us to a slight repeat, and improvement upon, past content as we play:
What Emotion is Tobey Maguire's Blank Stare Supposed to Convey?
Is he happy? Horny? Or just trying to remember where he left his wallet?
Is he angry? Afraid? Or just really, really stoned?
Is he sad? Serious? Or did Lenscrafters get his prescription wrong?
Is he pensive? In pain? Regretting ever signing up for this gig?
Is he...you know, never mind, I don't want to know what's going through his mind in this shot.
Now, I've seen older Archie stories relettered to make references more contemporary (a process which I swear I once saw result in a character holding up an LP and calling it a CD...oh, to have had a scanner then), but this is the first time I think I've ever seen the art altered to include a contemporary ad.
For a while now, I'd been hearing mutterings of discontent amongst the on-line bear and gay communities about dissastisfaction with Bear411, a hook-up site for gay men who identify as bears and bear admirers. I hadn't really paid too much attention to it because, to be perfectly honest, I'm pretty much over the whole bear thing.
See, when I was first coming out, I was very welcomed by the bear community. It was nice to be in the company of gay men who didn't buy into the gym bunny/twink imagery that dominated the gay press and porn industries at the time. It was nice to be in the company of "regular guys" who just happened to be gay. But over time, and as the prominence of the bear community grew, it started to feel just as insular and cliqueish to me as every other gay sub-group. I found myself being snubbed at bear events because I wasn't hairy enough, or fat enough. In fact, it was starting to look to me like "bear" increasingly meant "twink who stopped going to the gym and grew a beard." And as more and more bear clubs and events started appearing, it became even clearer to me that the "bear" identity, rather than being the reaction to the limited images of gay men that proliferated in the wider media and the gay media that it had started as, was now just another convenient brand-identity for parting gay men from their money.
Eventually I did a little more reading into what exactly the issues with Bear411 were, and it mostly boiled down to people being denied accounts with the service, apparently for failing to meet some sort of "correct" bear standard. Which, on the face of it, is patently ridiculous. If you're going to put up a site, focused on getting large hairy men laid, you have to someday realize that not everyone into large hairy men is large and hairy themselves. There's always going to be chasers, and frankly some of us prefer the chasers to the chased. What truly bothered me though, was the appearance of asianmen (links via) in particular being turned away from the site. I'm not surprised by that, sadly, as looks-ism, as applied to race, is rampant in the gay community. But I'm annoyed that such a blatant display of bigotry is happily excused by a group that has its roots in reacting against judgements of worth based on appearance.
There's been some question in the gay blogosphere if this ad from the Super Bowl should be considered offensive or not:
The joke here seems to be that casual homophobia is funny. Which, at this point, if you have to have why it's not funny, or appropriate, explained to you, well, there's probably no point explaining it to you. For myself, I find the ad more stupid than offensive, and it certainly doesn't make me want a candy bar.
What I found more troubling was the reaction videos Snickers used to have on their web-site, in which football players expressed disgust at the notion of two men kissing. Homophobia in professional sports is a real problem, and one that most American sports leagues have been more than willing to turn a blind eye to, and it's disheartening that advertisers would seek to profit off it.
This picture has also made the internet rounds lately:
Now, I look at that picture, and I see a very attractive man. But apparently most gay men online are looking at that picture and seeing a big, fat, disgusting, fat, piggy, fat-fattie.
How fucked up is the body image of most gay men that they look at Morrissey and see someone fat? I'm not ashamed to admit, he's in better shape than I am, and he's in much better shape than most Americans. But then the attitude of Americans towards their bodies is out-right schizophrenic; we're quite probably, if not certainly, the fattest nation on the planet, but we loathe any body-type that strays from an impossible notion of perfection, so this sort of thing really shouldn't surprise me.
I've become interested in the culture that has sprung up around massively multi-player games. Enough so, in fact, that I finally broke down and bought a copy of World of Warcraft. This is as much a surprise to me as anyone, as when I had played WOW before, I hadn't really liked it very much. The emphasis on the game is very much on grinding to the maximum level possible, and then running the same dungeons over and over again to collect better and better equipment. There are also a great deal of time-sinks built into the game, designed seemingly to keep you playing and distracted from the highly repetitive nature of the missions. I'm still continually baffled by some of the "loot" drop rates, which more often than not defy all common sense: "Go and bring me back eight wolf paws!" "Okie-dokie, that just means go out and kill two wolves. No problem." Three hours later... "Boy, I can't believe there were over two hundred paw-less wolves in this forest."
And the less said about crafting systems and auction houses and other manifestations of in-game economies, the better. No, the City of Heroes games are much more my speed. The missions aren't any less repetitive, but there's a "get on, beat bad guys up for an hour, team if you want to, log off" approach that suits my lifestyle a little better.
So, why did I get the game, if it's not really my sort of thing? For some variety, mostly. Now, when I want to pretend to be someone else, I have another option besides "superhero" or "supervillain." I even went a step beyond, and put the character who has evolved into my "main" on a role-playing server, a step I'd always been reluctant to do in other on-line games. I'm not sure why I ever hesitated, it's not as if anyone on the role-playing servers ever, you know, role-plays their characters, but it was the thought that counted. Plus, as I said, I'm finding myself intrigued by the cultural significance of MMO games, and WOW is definitely the biggest one out there, so it felt like it was worth investigating.
Plus, I played a little bit of a "free" MMO from a major publisher that was basically a complete and utter knock-off of World of Warcraft, but without a tenth of the charm or appeal but plenty of fanboy pandering geek humor. After seeing WOW done wrong, it suddenly made the real game look a thousand times more appealing.
Elephantmen #6, by Starkings, Moritat and Ladronn, with David Hine and Rob Steen, published by Image Comics
The emphasis is on Sahara in this issue of the sci-fi series. As per usual, a great deal of background on the character is revealed through deft understatement and careful and deliberate plotting. Sahara is a character that, until this point, we've mostly seen in flashbacks, and her portrayal here, as a rather passive fiance to a figure who has largely been made out to be a villain, is in contrast to the assertive personality we've seen in flashbacks. The difference in portrayal is compelling, as it serves as another example of the subtle characterization that marks this series: more is clearly going on here than is being told on the surface level.
First Moon by Jason McNamara and Tony Talbert, published by AIT/Planet Lar
As a follow-up to the same creative team's Continuity, which I found to be an accomlished and impressive debut work, First Moon doesn't quite live up to my expectations. There is a good story here, about teen angst and connecting with seemingly monstrous parents, with a very clever lycanthropic metaphor, but the transistions between that story and the parallel tale of the fall of the Roanoke colony are awkward and forced. It's an intriguing historical mystery, granted, but the tale doesn't quite fully mesh with the teen werewolf story at the heart of the book. That emotional core is strong, though, as in Continuity, and the art, particularly in the action sequences, has an appealingly frenzied and chaotic quality, as well as very impressive and loose character designs which are strongly emotive, but the disparate story threads never quite gel together satisfactorily.
I'm trying so hard to avoid making a "stalker" joke...
Two new web-comics you might enjoy: The Gay Monsters, Andy Bauer's comic about the lives and loves of, well, gay monsters The Rack, Kevin Church's and Benjamin Birdie's look at the funny side of comics retail. Because a serious look at comics retailing would just depress you all.
I want to personally thank you for coming to the smart decision and removing Joss Whedon from the Wonder Woman film project. I'm sure it's terribly obvious in hindsight, but the man was simply never a good fit for the project. In every interview he gave on the subject, he seemed disinterested in the film. Persistent rumors even suggest he never even bothered to finish writing a first draft of the screen-play. And I know I, personally, felt he was wrong for the film when he mentioned that he wouldn't use any of the traditional Wonder Woman villains in the film. I'm sorry, but if you can't think of a good filmic treatment for characters as diverse as the Cheetah, the Silver Swan, Ares, Circe, the Red Panzer, Paula von Gunther or Doctor Psycho, maybe you shouldn't be writing a Wonder Woman movie.
(And I realize I'm in the minority on this point, but I just don't see the cause in citing him as a "good" writer for female characters. Outside of pixie-ish ingenues prone to making contextually inappropriate pop culture jokes, he doesn't seem particularly interested in writing women.)
Now, to address some of the complaints about this decision you're likely to hear, let me take two I spotted right away as examples:
To clarify, Joss Whedon had one movie tank, a moderately successful cult television show, a struggling television show, a quickly cancelled television show, and a second film that tanked. Oh, and a couple of moderately successful comic books, by the current standards of the comic book industry. Not assigning such a person to a summer tent-pole, franchise-launching film is a sign of a studio executive trying to prevent the loss of great amounts of money, to my mind.
There are two phrases I've been known to bandy around; "nerd rage" and "fan entitlement." That excerpt above? It's a near perfect example of both principles in action. An over-identification with a fictional character, to the point where any slight deviations from what the fan thinks should be done is taken as a personal affront, and inappropriate emotional reactions to something of ultimately trivial consequence.
(I mean, I'm a Wildcat fan, and a bit notorious for being one at that, but when Geoff Johns kills Ted Grant off at the end of the current Justice Society story-line, you're not going to see any angry, bitter posts from me on every blog and message-board you can find, nor will I be calling Johns names. My borders might go black for a couple weeks, but that's about it. This is because, while I'm a fan of the character, and care about what happens to him, I'm not fucking nuts.)
Lastly, and if I may be presumptive, there is one tremendous benefit to not having Whedon attached to the project. And that's the possibility that Peter Dinklage could be cast as Doctor Psycho:
Recently, I remarked that there were certain words that I'd generally prefer comic fans to stop using, until such a time as they can demonstrate a knowledge of what the words actually mean. Since apparently many comic fans took Humpty Dumpty's maxim to heart and persist in a belief that words mean whatever the hell they want them to mean.
But I've received some further input, and it seems like I left off a few other much misused words. So, I'm officially taking nominations for overly misunderstood words in comics fandom. Here's what we have so far: