Thursday, May 22, 2008

Oh man...

You know it's been a while if you have to reenter your Blogger password to enter the site...

I didn't mean for this to become a two-week leave of absence, I promise. It's just... stuff happened, specifically school stuff that just erupted like a zit all over my life. I know, I'm older now, I should be able to deal with a little thing like finals now that I practically qualify for the Senior Citizen discount at Denny's, but there you go. Roughly seventy pages of school papers written in a little under a week? Pfff. No problem. Just don't ask me to do anything else for the duration...

So, are comics still around? People still talking about these things? Hasn't the whole thing just fallen into a sinkhole yet?

I'll ease back into blogging with that old warhorse, Whack-A-Comic-Book-Movie.

I did find time to see Iron Man. It was very good. It got the tone exactly right, which makes the first time any of these Marvel films have really succeeded exactly. Tone is very important: that's why I remain indifferent to Brian Singer's first two X-Men films and am rather annoyed by the Spider-Man movies: they may get some of the surface attributes of the properties right, but they miss the tone that made the books so compelling (when, that is, they actually were compelling) by a country mile. I'll defend the third X-Men film despite it's many flaws because it was the first of the X-Men film that actually felt like it was cut from the same cloth as all those X-Men comics I read when I was a kid. The Ghost Rider film, while essentially disposable, also did a good job of recreating that character's milieu (such as it is, considering thirty years of history have left Ghost Rider basically a cipher). The Fantastic Four films were so far off the mark of the original comics that they're not even worth discussing. It isn't even fair to discuss Blade because while the first film still holds up, they were essentially recreating the character from a whole cloth.

But yeah, this actually felt like the real deal. It also seems to me as if Marvel got extremely lucky in their choice of vehicles for the debut Marvel Studios production: Iron Man is selling exactly the type of message the American public is wanting to buy in 2008, in much the same way as the first Spider-Man really hit the proverbial jackpot in terms of cashing-in on the post-911 "end of irony" vestigial patriotism thing we had going for a few minutes. People want to have a hero who can sort of pretend to address the complexities of foreign war and then come in and solve everything with a pro-American ethical Occam's razor. It's essentially an anti-war movie about how great war toys are, which is a nice mixed message for the kiddies. But that's also an essentially weakness of Iron Man as a character, too, at least for anyone who wants to play-up the anti-war aspect of his origins.

I will say, I don't think they hit a wrong note during the entire running time. My companion during the screening, heretofore known as The Lady-Friend, remarked that it was like watching a two-hour-long erection, there was so much testosterone onscreen - between the cars, liquor, girls in bikinis, explosions, fighter planes, really, the only thing missing was Samuel L. Jackson showing up to chew scenery for no damn reason except to jack up the heartrate of every 18-35 male in the audience. And oh yeah, they even managed to shoehorn that in there, too.

They even managed to sneak in a Ghostface Killah cameo - which is really, lets be honest, far more recondite a connection than you would have any reason to expect the filmmakers to know. The only thing missing was to have someone call the SHIELD agent Jasper or Clay - they even managed to cram Happy Hogan, the Iron-Monger sobriquet and freakin' Captain America's shield in there, for the love of God. (Although I confess I didn't catch that one in the theater.) So, yeah, I enjoyed myself, certainly more than I did for Fantastic Four 2: Let's All Look At Shit.

And speaking of Ghostface, why don't I possess this? Someone needs to get on that, pronto.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Lightning Round, Part 2

1. So, after an eventful first issue, I see that Secret Invasion is settling into the usual Bendis rhythms of, er, nothing happening. With that said, I will say that if the character they're supposedly telling us didn't die way back when actually didn't die, and will prove to be the real deal (I suppose one of those Skrull phonies should probably have to be genuine), that would be cool. I always thought it was a mistake that they killed her in the first place. That said: how did the Skrulls trick Mephisto? (I'm being cagey so as not to totally spoil the "reveal", but if you know the character in question that makes sense.)

2. We live in an age of miracles and wonders, where almost every series from Marvel's Silver Age is available in reprint in some format, whether it's an expensive hardcover Masterwork edition or a cheaper Essential - even the Kree Captain Marvel, and I think at this point most people probably figured Marvel had forgotten they owned the character. Hell, even Sgt. Fury and the Rawhide Kid have Masterworks (although I think most people would much prefer the former in an Essential). Even those weird Spider-Man black & white magazines, for the love of God. However, there is one glaring omission, a series that featured the work of some of Marvel's best cartoonists and creators - people like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Gene Colan, Bill Everett, John and Marie Severin, and Roy Thomas - doing memorable work in an unusual format: Not Brand Ecch. So far as I know there's never been so much as a whisper about reprinting this series in any format, and that's a shame, because this one I'd actually buy.

3. Why don't more Emo kids like the Notorious B.I.G.? His first album is more Emo than a crying kitten at a Get-Up Kids concert.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Lightning Round

1. What if it's not Barry Allen? Remember back during "Hush" when it looked like they had brought back Jason Todd but it was only a fake-out? People got really excited and then they thought it was a cheap gimmick - but DC saw it was a popular idea, so they brought the character back for real. (Notably, however, the second resurrection was much less effective and popular than the reaction to the first fake-out.) I can think of half-a-dozen ways that the person seen briefly at the end of DC Universe is not the person we think it is - and I'm not even that plugged-in to minutiae anymore.

2. Do Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo have distinctive personalities? I've been watching a lot of old MST3K's recently with my significant other and it strikes me that the robots don't really seem to have the well-defined personalities I thought they did. Perhaps I'm missing it - please explain your answers.

3. Portishead's Three - awesome or amazing? The Roots' Rising Down - disappointing?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Selected Panels From The Greatest Comic Book Ever Printed,
Marvel Two-In-One Annual #7, 1982
by Tom DeFalco and Ron Wilson

To Be Continued . . .