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Wednesday, November 12, 2008
And Now, a Word from Star Trek Fans
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Ragnell examines a trend in recent comics conversations online, in which fan entitlement concerns are dressed up as outrage over imagined sexism to give those arguments undeserved weight. This is a trend I've been sensing coming on for awhile now, and it does no one any good as it obfuscates genuine issues of concern and gives the pro-misogyny crowd ammunition to dismiss legitimate critiques by associating them with illegitimate ones.
On a related note, I can't stress enough how much I disagree with Johanna's fundamental position, that super-hero comics "aren't for girls." It's an overly reductive, near-essentialist attitude towards gender and genre that I'm really disappointed to see coming from such an intelligent and articulate commentator. It's not the genre itself that is sexist, it's the way the genre is marketed. There is nothing specifically masculine about Manichean morality plays in tights. I'm further troubled, because the "super-heroes aren't for girls" argument is the flip-side of those stupid "get your girlfriend to read comics" articles that pop up in the nerd-press from time to time which always recommend Strangers in Paradise and Sandman for women comic readers, as if there is some sort of female hive-mind enforcing uniformity of taste. It assumes that women "naturally" don't want to read about super-heroes, and that those who do are outside of normative parameters.
Kevin makes some very good arguments about accessibility in contemporary super-hero comics, and I essentially agree with him. Where we differ, I think, is that I'm not as concerned with accessibility in comics that are quite clearly designed to appeal primarily to existing fans with an extensive knowledge of comics continuity as I would be in work that is meant for a wider audience or has the potential to appeal to a wider audience. I'm okay with tailoring work for the "continuity porn" crowd to that crowd, in other words.
Chris talks about Dark Horse, and their inability to make material that they're advertising, material aimed at a very narrow market, available to their primary consumers; retailers. So, it's business as usual for Dark Horse, really.
Here's your fun link: I've finally figured out why the character designs in the new Transformers movie bother me. All the robots look almost exactly the same. Apart from variations in color, I'm hard-pressed to tell them apart. The fact that they all look like they've got metal dildos glued on to them doesn't help much either.
"Yes it's over. If anything Marvel comics is more edgy, more realistic and overall much more better written and edited than DC whose characters are all practical throwbacks to the 30s or 40s. Frankly the only people who really like DC are the ones who grew up or were born in that time period. Anyone else probably just buys DC either because they don't like Marvel or resents the fact that hispanics and foreign artists and writers are working there. If anything, the implosion of DC can only help Marvel become the sole dominating force that it is in the comic book industry. Just think about it, if Marvel takes out DC then they could be one step closer to scooping up and assimilating their rivals like Image, IDW and Dynamite then and finally then the comic book industry would be practically unified under one guiding mind with one guiding purpose. Think about it under Marvel's editorialship, you could have every comic book character in the Marvel Multiverse with every major creator working for Marvel comics from grant morrison to geoff johns with Dan DiDio and Paul Levitz forced out like the bootlickers that they are.
Think about it if there was only one comic book company then people like Byrne, Austen and Jones would be in the unemployment line and thats frankly the best reason for one comic book company."
"DC comics is just simply more infantile compared to Marvel. Marvel is about adult and mature themes, the problems that you and I encounter each and every day about responsibility and right and our nomal lives while DC is about guys who dress up in bat suits fighting clowns while endangering chilren or some wish fulfillment story about a kid who magically turns into an adult and finds his orphaned sister and his big brother sidekick.
DC = ludicrious and infantile stories Marvel = serious stories that address current issues that effect our lives"
"Why do you need Superman when you have the Sentry? Why do you need Wonder Woman when you have Thor or Hercules? Why do you need Batman when Midnighter or Moon Knight are much superior copies?"
"DC has no proper sense of history. If you don't have a strong foundation based on continuity, you can't move forward and frankly the DC editors suck at continuity so really DC has been stuck in the same quagmire since CoiE thats almost 20 years of going nowhere, but running in circles. Kill the multiverse then bring it back. Reboot the legion then reboot it again. DC has been caught in this vicious cycle for far too long. It's as I say again the sick man of the comics industry and right now, it needs to be put down for the good of everyone."
"When Marvel gives us fans a Crisis, it's a real crisis. Civil War, World War Hulk, Silent War and Annihilation War are all better than the dozen infinite crisis tie-ins that apparently had nothing to with the main event. If anything, it just further proves how detached DC editorial is from the DCU or from the fans. Hell Civil War, World War Hulk and the rest are more connected than the dozen or so lame Infinite Crisis tie-ins."
"No DC doesn't work for anyone, it's a subsidiary of Time Warner and has lost its purpose while becoming part of the super-corporation in contrast to Marvel which maintains its original purpose of selling comic books to the fans and giving what the fans want: great stories and characterization.
DC: souless part of a super corporation that has lost its way entirely, but still tries to pretend that it cares when it really doesn't Marvel: comic book company run by fans of the actual books who care about stories, characters and continuity"
That's all one poster by the way. Either he really hates DC, or he's doing a better job of mocking fanboy rage and nerd entitlement than I could ever hope to. Fourteen pages long as I write this, and it just keeps getting better and better.
Stupid no-fun insertion of common sense: Marvel and DC go back and forth like this all the time. For now, Marvel is up, due to expansive mega-events. In about a year, when the next cycle of mega-events hit DC, they'll be up. It's probably better to compare the companies on long-term sales, rather than a brief window. When you do that, Marvel tends to have huge sales peaks but just as many near-disastrous sales lows. DC tends to be a lot more stable, sales-wise, over the long term.
"I'm sick of everybody and their cousin saying 300 is HOMO-EROTIC... So basically what everyone is saying...is that when you see a movie about BAD-ASS MUSCULAR SPARTAN SOLIDERS CHOPPING OFF LIMBS AND DECAPITATING HEADS during COMBAT...that these soliders would rather be sucking each other off... Ok, so Spartans are muscular and aren't wearing much clothing...what the hell do you expect, a bunch of pale skinny nerds in sweat suits facing off against the Persian army... Just because a muscular man doesn't have his shirt on doesn't make him gay... It makes the viewer gay for thinking about homo-erotic stuff from looking at that... So if 300 is gay or homo-erotic... does that make CONSTRUCTION SITES homo-erotic... oh yeah....PRO-wrestling is homo-erotic... CONAN the Barbarian....very homo-erotic... Beastmaster....now that is homo... don't forget UFC- Ultimate Fighting Championship...now THAT, my friend, is about as homo-sexual as it gets... "
There's one line there that caught my eye: "oh yeah....PRO-wrestling is homo-erotic..."
Sounds like an invitation to play one of my favorite games!
Gay Porn or Pro Wrestling?
Gay Porn or Pro Wrestling?
Gay Porn or Pro Wrestling?
Gay Porn or Pro Wrestling?
The only game harder to play? Gay Porn or Country Singer?