Tuesday, December 29, 2009


ITEM! Seriously, if there's an Avatar sequel, it's going to have Gargamel in it, right? He wants to skin the N'avi and eat them, naturally.

ITEM! Really, I have a hard time quantifying how little I want to see this movie. I think I long ago passed the point where they could get me in the door with the promise of something just "looking cool" - call me back when I'm eight years old, why don't you. Everything I've seen and read of the movie leads me to believe that it's Dances With Wolves in SPAAAAACE, even down to the representative of the western imperialistic / hegemonic / capitalistic military culture teaching the indigenous peoples how best to preserve their own way of life. It's well-meaning, sure, and the underlying message of "wouldn't it be awesome if Europe had given up on the Americas after Jonestown collapsed?" is certainly unobjectionable, but well-meaning centrist-liberal pap is still pap. Wow, James Cameron, way to make a stand against 300 year old genocide and colonialism. For his next trick: a movie about how awful the Hundred Years' War was, told by talking grasshoppers on Neptune.

ITEM! The most frustrating attribute of international capitalism, as it persists currently bolstered by liberal-centrist ideology, is how easily it metabolizes and subsequently dismisses alternate points of view. It's not that artists and supposedly "leftist" (actually liberal centrist) provocateurs are hypocrites - they're not, anymore than everyone else on the left or the right who makes hay out of deriding the status quo while still making a living from its continued existence. The system is simply too smart for even the most pointed criticism to have any effect - and in any event, crying over fake-ass blue Navajo or whatever sure does a great job of making centrists feel like they achieved something of value while still slapping down cash for their Avatar Happy Meal.

ITEM! Man, Secret Warriors is the most boring comic book in existence. Seriously, how is it that a Nick Fury comic can be so boring? Let me count the ways: It's got a cast of thousands of interchangeable nobodies; every villain has a similar visual design, i.e. busy and muddied; Nick Fury isn't actually in the book very often; the focus on the titular "Secret Warriors" is laughable in the face of the fact that the book is almost a year old and they are still the cipherist ciphers that ever ciphered; the one member of the team who isn't a cipher is Ares' son, but his storyline is so widely divergent from the other plotlines that any attention given it grinds every other plot threat to a screeching halt; considering how "important" the premise of the book is, it hasn't actually had any impact on the larger "Dark Reign" metastory, or really, any other book than itself. The art is muddy (I think I already used the word "muddy" in relation to character designs, which should tell you something) and the storytelling is massively, massively repetitive - when you have to take half an issue to show different characters doing the same things, or having the same things done to different characters, you're making unwise use of your storytelling opportunities. And hey, did you like that one comic where someone tracks down the Silver Samurai to ask hi mabout a magic sword? You'll like this other one. You know, there are other characters in the Marvel Universe who carry swords, many of them nowhere near as boring as the Silver Samurai. The only thing I can really remember from the last issue was a brunette chick with large breasts poring out of a latex one-piece with a Power Girl-esque boob window. If the only memorable attributes your series possesses are brief flashes of third-rate cheesecake, you are in trouble. If I were Abhay I would really go hammer-and-tongs into why this is really such a terrible comic, but I'm lazy. Just take my word: this is a terrible comic.

ITEM! Spider-Woman isn't very good either. It's nice that the women in this book have different faces, which is depressingly rare in the world of superhero comics, but I think they should have stopped the photoreferencing at the faces. Because all the rest of the copious photoreferencing just makes for a static, awkward, visually flat book. Some of the storytelling decisions almost give one the idea that the creators are actively going for a Steranko on S.H.I.E.L.D. vibe, but the gap between conception and execution is so wide and deep you could throw your grandmother into the abyss and never hear her hit the ground. Most damningly: the book walks away from a potentially interesting moral dilemma in favor of unintelligable fisticuffs. The creators actually set up a not entirely unintelligent dilemma: would Spider-Woman kill an imprisoned, defenseless and broken Skrull in cold blood in revenge, or would she try to help one of the creatures who had kidnapped and imprisoned her? That dilemma gets about five seconds play before, surprise, the Skrull just tries to kill her and her ambiguous moral dilemma gets tossed out the window. It is never surprising when superhero comics revert to type, but it is notable that this specific book entertains some very blatant ambitions of surpassing customarily stunted expectations. Surprise Spoiler! It doesn't.

ITEM! As fast as the new creative team on Fantastic Four established a pile of goodwill with a strong first arc, two monstrously poor artistic fill-ins have erased a good deal of that momentum. Here's a hint, Marvel: when you're launching a new creative team for a struggling book, and advance word is positive, don't throw in an unintelligible story about tying up the poorly-received loose-ends from the last high-profile creative team's aborted run, and then follow that up with a not-quite-as-bad-but-still-pretty-poor story about Franklin Richard's birthday party that is transparently just a methodical lining up of expository ducks for the next major storyline. Jeez-Louise, talk about shooting yourselves in the foot.

ITEM! In other news, finally got around to "The Waters of Mars" in anticipation of "The End of the World." The former was fantastic, one of Tennant's best, the latter was thrilling but very empty. Russell T> Davies may love the Doctor, but he's a horrible science-fiction writer. Doctor Who's pseudo-science has always been more pseudo than most, but the way Davies' stories often hinge on absurd borderline magical super-science is just tiresome. I mean, yeah, we're talking about a sci-fi franchise built around the adventures of a 900 year old alien who flies around the universe in a blue police box. But I have a far easier time believing that than the existence of a machine that can rewrite 7 billion people's DNA in a heartbeat. There's pseudo-science, and then there's hand-wavey plot devices. It all seems leftfield and poorly-cobbled in a way that, say, Grant Morrison's similar type of super-science does not. But with that said, you better believe I'm counting the minutes until I can find a torrent of Part 2. "It is the end, but the moment has been prepared for . . ."

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