Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Poly-verbal comics review revue!

Haven't done one of these in a while. Of course, I've hardly done anything on here in a while, I suppose... Anyway, here is the space where I talk about some of me latest purchases at the ol' comic book emporium. Naturally my imaginary audience will want to read this. Any of you that are part of my real audience probably aren't very interested. Well, says I, too damn bad. Now, let's do this...erm... alphabetically!

Astonishing X-Men #6: Joss Whedon (Buffy? Angel? Firefly?) and John Cassaday (Planetary, Captain America) finish up their first arc here. My opinion of this comic changes with every issue. The first one was poor, the second and third were amazing, the fourth was alright, the fifth was a little better, and this one is a mix of all of those. It starts off great, with some fun exposition scenes, until that's interrupted with an out-of-nowhere bit that derails the plot. Then there's some stupid exposition (and Joss trying to shoehorn a 'prophecy' into a sci-fi book) followed by a rapid-fire ending which seems to go way too quickly but has a nice moment tucked into it. It wraps up too neatly, but there's some good character stuff at the end, and then a cliched cliffhanger.
As for how I feel about the return of Colossus from the dead, I dunno. Comics are riddled with pointless resurrections, and frankly I've never had any interest in this character. But Joss is the master of bringing characters back from the dead, and aside from the complete implausibility of this, the emotions ring true. We'll see where the book goes. I'll buy to #12, when Joss and John are apparently exiting the book. If they leave then, so will I... and if they stay, I'll think about it.
Anyway, I'll be nice and give this issue a 7/10. The art was pretty. And, hey, there was a letters page!

Fantastic Four #520: So now Johnny Storm, the former Human Torch, has the Invisible Woman's powers, and vice versa. Oh, and Johnny's the herald of Galactus, the gigantic alien being who eats planets. So it's a nice set-up, and all, but I think it would've been better just to have Sue be the herald. Anyway, this is the best issue since #513, and that's because of some excellent character moments in the two flashbacks that occur here. This, however, doesn't mean that there aren't lame bits. I'm reeeally tired of this book being stuffed to the gills with characters from other planets who still speak freakin' English. I just can't suspend my disbelief with that anymore... I can take an explanation, sure. Throw in a babelfish or something! Maybe Johnny's cosmic powers translate for him, now (which doesn't explain Zius and crew from the last few issues, though). Whatever. This issue's also got some goofy high-tech and a surprise guest star that probably no one expected to see again. And it ends a bit abruptly. Still, there's some really good bits, as well. I was planning to drop this title, and now it looks like I'll have to, as Waid and 'Ringo are leaving the book, anyway. So I'll ride out the arc and bid adieu to the book. 6.5/10

Gotham Central #25: This marks Michael Lark's final issue on this book as artist, as he's moving to Marvel. It's a damn shame, as the guy defined the style for this book, and I'm not sure if anyone can replace him on a regular basis. I guess we'll find out sometime in the early 30's when the new guy comes on. Anyway, it's also a shame, because the art seemed rushed and sloppy in this issue as compared to previous ones, but it still fits the mood. In this episode, scripted by Greg Rucka, the Commissioner of Gotham City (not Gordon, anymore, but the new guy, Akins), due to some Bat-crossover I never read, has severed the GCPD's ties with Batman, and removes the Bat-signal (which gets all smashed up). We see the cops' reactions to this, the mayor's reaction, and Batman's. All good stuff, and this book deserves all the awards it's been winning. I only wish more people were reading it, is all. 7.5/10.

Human Target #16: It's the end of the "Christopher Chance impersonates the supposed new messiah" arc, and, in the Peter Milligan tradition, new plot points pop up, some characters are shoved to the background, and everything's resolved with painful death. There's so much tragedy in this issue that one gets tired of it. Throw in some art inconsistencies (not that the art isn't still great-- Cliff Chiang is a wonder, and perfect for this book) and it's the weakest one in a few months. The first two parts were better. This comic, however, remains one of my absolute favorites, and it desperately needs sales. This issue gets a 6.5/10. Future issues bring back some neat old characters and also include guest art from Cameron Stewart, of Seaguy fame. Buy it, damn you.

JLA: Classified #1: Grant Morrison teams up with Ed McGuinness for the first three issues of this new Justice League anthology series. One would naturally assume that the Justice League would appear in the first issue of their new series, but they do not; only Batman shows up in this one. The real stars of this issue are the Ultramarines, the "nu-edgy kewl" super-heroes who spout cool one-liners and kick ass and take names... that is, until they start getting asses kicked, at which point one of them calls in Batman. Then the book gets really good.
At first, I didn't really care for this issue, and I thought it wasn't up to Grant's usual snuff. Rereading it, however, and reading the Barbelith commentary, gave me a renewed appreciation of the issue. It seems like it lacks substance, but one finds here is a delicious pop comic dripping with new and weird ideas: jet apes, Gorilla Grodd, infant universes, cosmic keyboards, floating cities, sci-fi closets, flying saucers, secret Pluto bases, and nuclear-sumo-engines-of-destruction-that-speak-in-haiku, just to name a few. Throw in hilarious kitsch like the Batphone and you've got yourself one helluva joycore book. The dialogue is also excellent in that regard, especially Batman's: "No, I'm Goldfish Man. Can't you tell?"
The art is slick and wonderful, with some absolute brilliant page designs and panel formations. The writing is equally as fabulous-- this is where comics are heading, and I'm happy for quite a bit of that. This also reads like it's a prelude to Grant's upcoming Seven Soldiers event next year, which I'll also be getting. The guy's a maniacal bastard, and a genius. 8/10.

We3 #2: This here's the other Grant Morrison comic I picked up, and it packs all the energy of an atomic bomb. It's full of ultra-violence and explosions and stuff, but what it really is is a story of three lonely and confused animals looking for their place in the world, and only finding tragedy. Basically, our dog, cat, and bunny, who are also cyborg killing machines, fight back against the army and We2. Until a tragic fate befalls one of them, that is.
This issue packs plenty of emotion, but the real star of the show is the artwork. This is easily the best art I've ever seen in a comic book. It's incredibly dense yet flows perfectly, each panel trapped in time but portraying a sense of movement. The panel layouts are incredible, with quite a few things I've never seen before. Never have I seen violence so brutal and terrible yet so utterly beautiful to behold. Frank Quitely is a master.
There's one more issue of this, and it comes out in January. I seriously cannot wait. If you've ever said "Why can't someone take The Incredible Journey and add cyborg death machines?" then this comic is for you. It's got stunning artwork, brilliant writing, and tugs at the heartstrings just moments after it's shocking you with brutal violence. This comic is literally redefining the medium. My only question is, is anyone listening? Easily one of the best comics of the year. 9/10.

That's it for this installment. Join us next month for another Review Revue, won't you?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Role models are for brainless mooks, and here's why!

There was once a time when a young lad or lassie would aspire to great heights. "I want to be just like Jackie Kennedy," said the lassies (and a few of the more flamboyant lads). Alas, the time has come to put away this foolish practice of "role models," and I will tell you why.
I don't have any role models. Surely, I have influences (Grant Morrison, Joss Whedon, Douglas Adams, Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, the Barenaked Ladies) but no person I aspire to be like, because, frankly, I don't want to be just like someone else, I want to be just like me, and the best me I can be. I don't want to assume someone else's role, I want to fill my role.
When our society prized itself on conformity, well, we had role models. But conformity is for idiots and Republicans (badum-bum!) and we don't need that crap anymore. Everyone should prize themselves on individuality.
For God's sake, don't be like me. Be like yourself.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Cutting a swath of glimmering gleam

Take this, Imaginary Readership!
The world doesn't make as much sense as it does on the tee-vee. You can hope and pray that all your problems will resolve themselves in comic fashion within thirty to sixty minutes (if you count commercials), but the truth is, they just don't... unless you're very lucky.
Ahh, to be four again. No worries. No responsibilities. No languishing depression or obsessive compulsion or deranged paranoia or hopelessly doomed romance. Just a limitless imagination, the undying urge to create, and the Godzilla animated series, every day on channel 83. Life goes on, though, and when you come to be a certain age, you realize one terrible fact: Godzooky can't solve all of your problems anymore. And it's here that we pick up, in a life filled with
languishing depression, obsessive compulsion, deranged paranoia, and hopelessly doomed romance.
Love is literally the scariest thing in the world. And I imagine that, if it doesn't scare the crap out of you, and nearly give you a heart attack, well, it's probably not worth it. But it's crossing that threshold that's the hardest thing to do... Lord knows how many times I've completely ucked it all fup. And the truth is... maybe somewhere I wanted to. I'm frightened, you see, frightened to death of... of...
It's incredibly hard for me to write about this, you know. I hate discussing my feelings, and I can rarely manage to put them into words... especially if there's an audience. You out there are my imaginary audience, and as unreal as you may be, you're still listening. The walls have ears. Or the corn has ears. One of those.
This story starts where all stories start: It starts with a girl. Now, this wasn't just any girl. This was the filet mignon of girls. So beautiful she could melt your heart, and your eyes, from thirty paces. Which is just what happened. And so I fell, and at first, it was just a minor crush, and that was satisfying enough. But I was unfulfilled, and wanted desperately to pursue it. This was where the fear came in; I was way out of my league, here, and desperately, maddeningly afraid of rejection... like I am in most things. Which is why I seemed perfectly calm to simply sit there and shut up, and step to the side if necessary... which I did, in fact, a few times. I was depressed, majorly, and I retreated... and her discovering how I felt didn't help matters, and that's not mentioning how much I made a complete and foolish ass out of myself numerous times during the course of these shenanigans. I really have no idea how to handle relationships with people, and I completely screwed everything up. And yet I still couldn't shake my feelings.
Cut to the present: she's seeing somebody and I'm still a lonely and depressed weasel. I am, quite possibly, over this whole thing. Or perhaps I'm just trying to convince myself of such; I feel that I want to be, as I know it's an entirely pointless endeavor. And yet... it still hurts a little every time I see her. And I still feel regret. But I'm working to develop a new infatuation. But are they real feelings or just an excuse to get away from things? Even I don't know.
But what I have done is possibly screwed stuff up more. Just a small , supposedly witty but sappy note scrawled down relatively quickly... a chance to sum up the world. But there are no magic words, and I'm afraid I chose my words incorrectly. I'm afraid, now, that it says "Hey! I'm obsessed with you!" when what I really wanted to say was... "Listen. I was utterly in love with you, and I still think you're a charming and beautiful young woman who will actually have a fulfilling and enjoyable life. And I invite you to. And hey, one day, fifty years from now, if I turn the corner in Tibet and see you standing there, I won't even be surprised. I still care about you, yes, and that's why I want to see you have the greatest life possible. And dammit, one day, I expect an invitation to your wedding... and I'll do my best to forever hold my peace. I'll be waiting... see you around." Actually, there's probably more to that, but I can't remember it right now... and that seems good enough.
Not all of us can press a button and have a gigantic lizard come to our rescue. And hey... maybe some of us don't need it.
I'm out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Land of "Where-You-Get-Your-Ideas."

Y'know, as a writer, I find that people always ask me the same question over and over: "Where do you get your ideas?" Well, alright, no one's ever asked me that, but I expect them to one day, dammit, and I will tell them the same thing I tell everyone: "I get them from the same place you get your ideas... you know, that tiny little leprechaun that lives in your ear canal and whispers sweet somethings to you when you least expect it! Now, I'd filed to get a new leprechaun... the one responsible for stuff like the light bulb, the spork, Abbey Road, and Bob Dole, but instead I'm saddled with the one that came up with the Macarena, Donald Trump's Hairstyle, and that abomination known only as 'tofurkey'..."
But c'mon, everyone has ideas. Just because I label myself as a writer doesn't mean my ideas are more important than yours (even though we all know they are) or more pronounced, or bigger, or anything... I mean, when you think to feed the fish so they don't turn upside down and float about for a week until your neighbor's cat manages to sneak in at night and eat them, well, that's an idea, the same as Grant Morrison's idea to update the Scissorman from a fairy tale as a cadre of dark science-fantasy characters in Doom Patrol (more on that someday, probably).
Ideas come, of course, when you least expect them to, so you should try to expect the unexpected at all times. The slightest idea from an English lecture, a nuance from a line of dialogue, random words being thrown together on the wall like they were spaghetti... any of those can produce a new and intriguing idea in my head. No one's quite sure how the brain works. At least, I'm not sure how it works, and no one's told me, so therefore I deduce that no one knows. It's an amazing yet terrible (in the scary Biblical sense) device, isn't it? Each of us with a portal to the fifth dimension just lounging about in our skulls. Makes you wonder...
Now if you'll excuse me, there's something gnawing on my eardrum, and I'm fairly certain my hair will never be the same again.

I shall leave you with the thought of the day:
"Boogers are like pearls, except in your nose."

Monday, November 08, 2004

Wearing the electric pants of the future!

It has come to my attention that I haven't updated this in a short while, but that is because:
a.) I'm a lazy git.
b.) I forgot.
c.) No one reads the damned thing anyway.

Yet, however, I shall persevere, simply to spite the universe.
Frankly, I've got nothing to talk about. Certainly my imaginary audience doesn't give a damn about comics, unless, that is, they do, yet they don't tell me, because, after all, they're imaginary, and I certainly enjoy commas. I could talk about life, and whatnot, but I'm a very guarded person who doesn't talk about how I feel because then I get all choked up and have to listen to depressing music and watch Buffy DVDs before I resume my default cynical and sardonic persona. Besides, there's the off chance that my audience isn't imaginary and people I know are reading this and my horrible secret that I'm really the illegitimate son of Bigfoot and Prince Charles will come to light.

However, I've come to talk to you about something all near and dear to our hearts, and that's television. I hate TV. It sucks. Joss Whedon has left the medium, and I went with him, only to come crawling back because I am so indescribably bored. And I've been watching several things recently, which amazes me, as it's the most TV I've watched in years, and it's nearly all on Sunday nights, which is fine with me.
The best new show this year is quite clearly Boston Legal, for three reasons: Shatner, Shatner, Shatner. Okay, that's a lie, Shatner's just one reason three times, and the other two are Spader and David E. Kelley. The dialogue is sharp, the acting is sharper, and the show is just damn hilarious, but can do an about-face and become a drama on a dime, just like our favorite TV shows, Buffy and MASH. I love genre-benders.
I've also been watching Desperate Housewives, first out of morbid curiousity and now out of some kind of addiction. I'm not quite sure, but I just want to know where the damn plot is going.
Also on the list is the Simpsons (one episode's out so far, and, well, it sucked so much more than the last five years, which have really sucked), which I keep meaning to stop watching, and Smallville, which is utter trash, but like watching a train wreck, in that I can't turn away.
In fact, there's only one other decent show, unless I'm forgetting something, which I probably am, and that's Arrested Development, which is simply hilarious.

That was one helluva twelve-minute power writing session, and I'm almost sad that it's over. Farewell, my imaginary audience; I bid you adieu, adieu, adieu, and thank you, no, thank you, yes yes, no no, indeed, quite so!