Archive for the “NERDS” Category

Bored of the Rings, 1969, “Harvard Lampoon”
Nerds have never been funny. Nerds have always thought they were funny. Nerds have always mistaken references to things, sexism and racism for actual humor.

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So, let’s get this out of the way first: I’m not a Star Trek fan. In fact, I dislike Star Trek more than I dislike Star Wars. To further put that into perspective, I’m a Doctor Who fan who will hash out seeming continuity errors with friends for fun, and I still think that people who like Star Trek have an unhealthy attachment to the show.

Recently, some footage from the upcoming reboot of the franchise, directed by J.J. Abrams, was shown in London, and Empire had a spoiler-heavy post about it up.

But, let’s look to see how the Trek fans responded:

References are no good if they’re misplaced and misused. Kirk entering the Academy AFTER Uhura? Chekov serving with Pike? I’ve seen better fanfic stories with better consistency, AND THEY’RE SPENDING OVER A HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS ON THIS IDIOCY!?! It’s not honoring canon, it’s meaningless pandering by hacks who haven’t got a clue what they’re doing.

“I agree with Capt April that they’re not following canon but then that would be extremely limiting in what the filmmakers do…”

Shouldn’t that be one of the reasons these jokers get paid more than the average 7/11 slurpee monkey, who could come up with a story just as good as this?

Yes, it’s limiting. The skill and talent to work WITHIN those limits are the mark of creative professionals.

Interestingly, the only other place I’ve seen this particular point articulated in this fashion is in defense of super-hero fan-fiction…

But maybe I’m not being fair to the Trek fans…let’s take a look at what those masters of reasoned and rational debate at Ain’t It Cool News have to say:

Who the hell is he making this movie for? It can’t be the old school Trekkies who’ve kept the franchise going for 40 years with their support and money. Call me a basement dwelling contnuity nerd all you want, but the Enterprise built in Iowa on Earth? Chekov on Pikes Enterprise as a member of the bridge crew? Kirk as a malcontent badboy? This isn’t a just a re-imagining, it’s a big FU to anyone over 30 who’s followed Trek at all over the years. It’s teen angst Trek aimed at grabbing a different demographic than the increasingly older audience that has made Paramount over a billion dollars. If you’re new to Trek you may love it, but it sure won’t be my Star Trek.

I fail to see how any of that is a bad thing. I can’t imagine this mindset. I can’t imagine loving something so much that you want to see it die from lack of interest. Again, I’m a Who fan, and I’m ecstatic that the show is successful and popular again, and if the price I have to pay for that are Rose/Ten ‘ship sites and no resolution over Ace’s fate, that’s a price I’m willing to pay.

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Astonishing X-Men to become readable. Beast to spout slightly more techno-babble than usual. Kitty Pryde to become world-weary chain-smoker.

Every single character in Runaways to become a lesbian. Yes, even Chase.
Man, I can’t wait for the letters page to fill up with bad poetry.

Viz hopes no one remembers Raijin Comics.

IDW finally manges to put out a book I’ll buy. I mean, sure, it’ll cost about $1 to $2 more than it should, but it’s Doctor Who!
Of course, I’m not optimistic about it’s sales potential. Doctor Who is pretty much a cult show in the U.S. Comic books are a niche market. Comic adaptations of TV properties are even more of a niche market…you see where I’m going with this, right?

With Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones Final Crisis has got to be good, right? Right? Guys?
A fan asked what would make Final Crisis different, and Morrison said it would have Anthro the First Boy on the first page, and Kamandi the Last Boy on the last page.
…Okay, yeah, it’ll be good.

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Dark Horse to publish “old Indiana Jones” comics. Boom to publish “young Vito Corleone” comics. I smell cross-over!

Top Shelf to reprint Marshall Law. Now all you little pissants complaining that Grant Morrison “clearly hates super-heroes” can see what a comic created by people who really hate super-heroes looks like.

Marvel announces new mini-series featuring Golden Age characters no one remembers.
Another story has this information:
“It’s about them adjusting to the present, letting go of the past,” exploring whether or not the past was all it was cracked up to be and if the future was what it was expected. He said it’s also a murder-mystery, and that the Blue Blade gets killed towards the beginning of the book (although he’ll still be seen in flashbacks).

So nothing at all like Watchmen then…It’s almost like Straczynski is asking people to accuse him of ripping off Alan Moore now.

Marvel hires Hollywood guy and notoriously slow artist to do an Iron Man comic. Look for it to finish up around the time the movie comes out on cable.
Basic cable.

Matt Wagner to write Madame Xanadu for Vertigo. So DCU characters can appear in Vertigo books, but characters in Vertigo books can’t appear in DCU titles. I appreciate the intentions behind keeping the lines separate, but they’re straining reader patience at this point with it.

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The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg, published by DC/Minx

Being pretty far removed from the target audience for this book, both by age and gender, I wonder if that makes me a better or a worse judge of its quality. It reads a bit like some of the better shojo manga out there, with a dramatic, if not melodramatic, emotive approach to story, placing its emphasis on relationships between characters instead of plot. But a little more plot wouldn’t have hurt, as new girl Jane, eager to reinvent herself in a new town after her parents fled the city in the wake of a terrorist incident, forms a new clique with three other girls named Jane. By the rules of high school cliquedom, that these four girls would so easily become good enough friends quickly enough to form an underground art collective that peppers the city with conceptual and installation pieces…well, it seems unlikely, and a bit too conveniently handled in order to hurry the plot along. But those quibbles of pacing and convenience aside, the story does have a nice emotional resonance that I suspect will mean more to someone not quite as old and jaded as I.
Although, if I can inject a small complaint over one of my pet peeves: the gay best friend character? Who adds nothing to the story other than to be the “gay best friend” type of character? Yeah, I don’t need to see that character in anything anymore.
Jim Rugg’s art is nicely matured here from his earlier work. He strikes a nice balance between a realistic and a cartoony style, which allows him to very clearly show emotion and action, but still caricature and exaggerate characters for whatever effect or mood the scene calls for. If there is a fault, it’s the sometimes odd choices of “camera angle” which just call attention to themselves for their peculiarity. Just because Gil Kane could pull off an up-nostril shot, that doesn’t mean they’re always a good idea.

Countdown #51, by Paul Dini, Jesus Saiz and Jimmy Palmiotti, published by DC

Judging by online critical reaction, I seem to be in the minority in enjoying this comic. For what it’s worth, it’s not that I necessarily disagree with any of the more intelligent and perceptive critics who have been disappointed by this book. It’s just that: what they call a slow story, I call deliberate pacing. I also can’t get too bothered by the the somewhat insular appeal of this book. Let’s be perfectly honest: this isn’t going to be anyone’s introduction to the DC universe. And while overtures to new and returning readers who aren’t caught up with all the intricacies of contemporary continuity are always appreciated, I don’t think a book that’s designed specifically to appeal to the regular super-hero reading audience has to necessarily go out of it’s way to pretend that “every comic is somebody’s first.” Even the much maligned scene from Justice League of America which reappeared in issue #50 works within that context, as it establishes a benchmark by which events in other DC books can be placed on a time line. Given that the title of the series is “Countdown” that seems like an acceptable use of a few pages every couple weeks.
All that being said, I actually do enjoy this book. Dini has a good ear for dialogue and the voices of the various characters, his plotting is very deliberate, and the co-writers and artists lined up for this series have all done good work which I’ve enjoyed in the past. No, it’s not the super-star line-up of 52, but it’s competent craftsmen who know how to tell enjoyable super-hero stories in service of the corporate properties.

Manga Catch Up: Some manga titles I’ve been reading, that I don’t believe I’ve talked about before.

Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs, by Yukiya Sakuragi, published by Viz
A very, if not deliberately, cute comedy about a dog-crazy girl and the misunderstandings and adventures she gets into because of her infuriating naivete and love of dogs. It has good, if somewhat unremarkable art, with the exception of highly realistic and exquisitely rendered dogs. And in a really nice change of pace for a story about a naive girl in the big city, there’s so far not a hint of any romantic subplots.

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service by Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki, published by Dark Horse
A comedic horror/mystery series with engaging art in an original style, with a wacky cast of characters who, in any other title, would be really messed up, but just fit in perfectly and work here? What is not to love?

Mushishi by Yuki Urushibara, published by Del Rey
I was actually a bit underwhelmed. Oh, the art is lovely, to be certain, but the stories are so…vague and ephemeral. Yes, I understand that what we’re going for here is more tone and “bigger picture” effects than any emphasis on plot or character would allow. But the end result is something that feels a bit hollow.

Reiko the Zombie Shop by Rei Mikamoto, published by Dark Horse
I can’t even begin to adequately describe how much I’ve come to love this comic. I’m not sure if it’s the super-cute artwork, or the utterly depraved over the top gore, the absurdist black comedy, or the intersection of those three elements, but it all comes together in a glorious totality of cute girls and horrific violence that puts the most ambitious torture-porn producing shlock producer to shame. And, to its benefit, unlike the torture-porn films, the women actually legitimately kick-ass and take no grief.

Welcome to the NHK by Tatsuhiko Takimoto and Kendi Oiwa, published by Tokyopop
Unlike the various iterations of Train Man that have come out in the last year, this is not the story of a nerd who comes out of his shell and discovers the wide world outside of fandom. No, this is the dark mirror of that story, about a shut-in who only falls further and further into more and more depraved and soul-numbing depths of misanthropic nerddom. There’s a bit of “there but for the grace of” feel to the enterprise, especially as this is no gentle mockery of the foibles of nerds, but rather a vicious evisceration of all their negative personality traits.

I hate the kind of scuttlebut that says “if you don’t support Book X it will be cancelled” because the suggestion that a book is on the cancellation bubble is usually enough to get it pushed over, but since there seems to be concern over the survival of Aquaman, I thought I’d take a moment and say that Tad Williams has been doing a bang-up job with the title since he’s taken over, adding a nice, lightly humorous touch to a super-hero adventure title that retains the best elements of Busiek’s revamp while bringing the title more in line with a traditional Aquaman book. It’s good stuff, in other words, and you should give it a shot if you haven’t yet.

Speaking of which…I’ve been enjoying Will Pfeiffer’s run on Catwoman a great deal since the start…but if there are any dead babies in upcoming issues, I’m done with the book. I put up with Nazis buzzsawing children because I trusted that Johns was going somewhere with it, and y’know, Nazis are bad. But killing a baby we’ve known for over a year, who actually brought something new and interesting into the title character’s life…no, that’s my limit.
Consider yourself on notice, Pfeiffer.

I love comic book fans. “Oh noes, a not very good picture has been released to the internet! Clearly the movie is going to suck! I’m going to go on every message board I can find and make a Brokeback Gotham joke to express my displeasure!”

Apart from Doctor Who, the only television I’ve been watching much of lately is the new BBC Robin Hood series. It’s overall good, but the “family appropriate” heart it wears on its sleeve is very telling and overpowers the stories a good deal of the time. If anything, the series is a bit too bloodless. When even the villain of the piece is making metatextual comments about how the hero is stupid for not just killing him already, you’ve perhaps pushed your “the hero doesn’t kill” rule too far.
But, apart from that, I enjoy it, and I’m continually fascinated that even the BBC was willing to put a children’s show on the air that’s basically a thinly veiled condemnation of the “war on terror” and Britain’s and America’s domestic policies in response to it.

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