Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Seven Months!

Yeah, I'm a total lame-o for not bothering to post in exactly 7 months, if I counted right. Blame it on work and posting too many comments over at various blogs and message boards! However, since seven is (for me) a very lucky number, and since May 2nd is the day my wife-to-be and I first became a couple, lo these many (well, four) years ago, what better day to resume posting than today?

I could talk about Spider-Man 3, which I went to see yesterday, and which I rate lower than Spider-Man 2 (no real surprise there, I adored S2), but higher than Superman Returns (again no surprise, that movie was pretty mediocre), and at about the same level as X3 (mind you, I'm one of those happy few who actually enjoyed the third X-Men movie the most of all three of them, so take that for what it's worth). Unlike Spider-Man 2, I'm really not too anxious to rewatch this outing, which is a pity. It wasn't a bad movie at all, and when the action takes control, things are really quite strong, but the story itself, as classic as the idea may be, is rather weak, with a fair amount of odd editing/cutting choices that make the whole less than its individual pieces...

Or I could talk about this week's episode of Heroes, which was Very Good Indeed in its Days-Of-Future-Past-y-ness, knocking me around the ears with a couple of surprises which I was too unsuspecting to notice in advance. Well done, Heroes crew. You keep me excited, I like that in a show. I'm certainly anxious to watch the grand finale with my lovely fiancée in a mere three weeks...

I could also pontificate about the JLA back issues I've been rereading, written by such fan-favorites as Grant Morrison and Mark Waid, currently returned to DC after their original stints back in the 90s (how time flies). It's interesting to see the cyclical nature of comics captured in their runs on the League. It's even more interesting to compare Meltzer's approach to the JLA to Morrison's, something I will get around to eventually (ditto for Bendis/Busiek on their respective Avengers runs)...

But I'd rather take the time to turn the spotlight on Sequoia, the woman I love with all my heart. She is my companion, my light in dark times. My effervescent angel, full of wit and whimsy. My very best friend, who shares my interests, but also introduces me constantly to new ideas and concepts I had never approached before, enriching my life in ways no other ever has or even could. Her compassion and sensitivity are her greatest strength--but her actual willpower in the face of repeated adversity is what makes her a true hero to me.

My entire life, I've been fascinated and intrigued by fictional heroes and their suspenseful adventures. It shows, in a collection of strips, comics, novels, tv series and movies that exemplify the varied nature of heroism time and time again. I think you can imagine how thrilling it must be for me to embark on the greatest adventure of all, the tale of a lifetime, with the woman whose heroism, to me, is unchallenged, without question nor fail. After all, a hero can be seen as someone who does the right thing exactly because it is the right thing to do. If anyone corresponds to that capricious category, it is my darling petatje: Sequoia.

Thank you, honey, for being you. I cannot say it enough. And as such, I'll never ever stop saying it :D

Monday, October 02, 2006

Dee-Cee-You, Dee-Cee-Me...

There was a nice selection of DC titles out this week, 7 of which were on my pull list (if the previous issue of Trials of Shazam hadn’t been such a blah-fest, that would’ve still been on the list as well, alongside Supergirl, but there’s only so much patience I can muster for that series, even with Joe Kelly writing it now; I flicked through it in the store and my decision to drop it seemed wise, as the stories appear to remain singularly uninspired, especially compared to the previous Supergirl series by Peter David, which was one heck of a ride, only making the current incarnation even worse of a travesty.)

So, going through them alphabetically, we automatically start with 52, which is nearing its half-way point with #21. Topped off by another beautiful J.G. Jones cover (featuring a Titan I can’t properly identify, as there’s seven here but only 6 in the issue, and I’m not sure who the seventh is meant to be), this week’s instalment mainly focuses on Luthor’s superhero team, dubbed Infinity Inc., which you’d think would attract some heat from the JSA rather than the Teen Titans, but oh well. Luthor is portrayed as thoroughly vile here, willing to see a bright-eyed innocent killed to advance his own nefarious schemes with the Everyman Project. It’s taking him a bit too much into cackling, moustache-twirling territory, not sure if I like that. Only a year ago this same Luthor claimed in the concluding pages of Villains United that he was no child-killer. I guess in this case the victim wasn’t quite a child anymore, but even so, Luthor never struck me as someone who delighted in killing anyone other than Superman. The issue was enjoyable nonetheless, so we’re going three for three here, which hasn’t happened in a while. I get the feeling Greg Rucka has been less involved in most of the September issues, which is my idea of why I’ve been liking weeks 19-21 a lot more. I could be thoroughly mistaken of course, but most of this issue seemed “on”, which tends to imply greater involvement of both Morrison and Johns, in my estimation. The cut-scenes with E-Man and Red Tornado kept my interest as well, so the ball seems to be rolling better again, no doubt aided by Joe Bennett and Jack Jadson’s line-work, which is not spectacular but thoroughly solid, exactly what’s necessary for a weekly book. Great coloring, too, at that. No real complaints about pacing or anything this time around, and I’m looking forward to finding out more next week, so I guess it gets the thumbs up!

Action Comics #843 saw the concluding chapter of Fabian Nicieza and Kurt Busiek’s “Back In Action” arc, which makes the DCU at large properly believe that yes, he’s the real steel deal, as Lois Lane so aptly put it. Flanked by a diverse array of fellow heroes, Big Blue proves that he’s not only super-strong, but pretty super-savvy as well in dealing with the Auctioneer, a cross between Galactus and Manga Khan, who’s such a fun antagonist, both thematically as visually that I hope to see him again in the pages of Busiek’s own Superman series. Alongside the high dose of action making the series live up to its title—love the packed splash page of all the heroes battling the alien droids after they’ve been set free by Superman and his posse—Busiek not only acknowledges Superman’s intelligence in the way he dispatches the Auctioneer, but smoothly sets up what will no doubt be a big part of Richard Donner and Geoff Johns’s storyline starting next issue. Between a promising end, a highly entertaining cover (I’m particularly fond of the idea of an entire Ohio town forming a big human ‘S’ that can be seen from space, w00t!), and of course rock-solid art by Pete Woods, this was very good indeed.

I hope that Morrison intends for us to truly dislike Damien, supposed son of Batman, as his portrayal in Batman #657 is far from endearing. It’s strange how this chapter seems both very slow and simultaneously an example of how Morrison likes to throw out all notions of decompression, as Batman’s response to being saddled by an obnoxious teen assassin is peculiar, to say the least. No doubt Morrison is trying to play with metaphors and the like, but to be honest, I’m not feeling very invited to look past the surface, and on the surface, Damien is a creepy twerp. I find it hard to understand why Batman takes Talia at her word and brings the boy to his sanctum sanctorum (which is portrayed fairly pathetically by Kubert, I must add, and I tend to like his art, but the tiered levels seem oddly unappealing and stale, there’s not enough spooky-coolness going on there). Not only does he bring him there, but he basically gets to run around freely, with disastrous results. Sure, it’s true that he was in a locked room, but if Bruce is presupposing this *is* his own flesh and blood, descended from the Demon as well, no less, then you would expect some more foresight considering his skills. It also irked me that yet another not-quite-classic Batman-foe is callously killed off, something that has been happening far too often in recent months (and years). Black Mask, the Ventriloquist, Killer Moth, the KGBeast, now the Spook, anyone who’s not from the Golden Age gets bumped while the classic foes continue to return ad nauseam (in some cases resurrected without explanation, as is the case with Poison Ivy). And yet, for my complains about Damien and the Spook, I still enjoyed Kubert’s kinetic art and Morrison’s snappy patter. It’s a pop-comic, as Morrison likes to call them, and he does those well (but last issue was still much better though). Not nearly at the same level as All-Star Superman, but not a waste of time nor money, at least.

Blue Beetle #7 proved to me once again the strange relationship I have with the series. Every time I think “this will be my last issue” and every time I’m at the end of an issue, I’m looking forward to the next one, a feeling which fades away until the next issue is in my pull box and I duly take it home with me. There’s a subtle charm permeating from Jaime and his family and friends, which takes this book beyond mere superheroics or space opera, evoking the qualities that made Stan Lee’s Spider-Man or Claremont’s X-Men so popular. It doesn’t hurt when Cully Hamner is on art duties, as he brings the perfect kind of human softness to all the characters, bringing them to life in the most perfect manner. Despite the absence of Keith Giffen’s hand in the plot (he’s back next issue), there are still a number of humorous moments involving BB out of his depth during the flashback scene (my favourite one was Jaime calling Black Canary “ma’am” :D) and the dialogue continues to ring true. With both Hamner and Duncan Rouleau (who’s arrived at a point in his career where I truly enjoy his work, distinctly stylised without being impenetrable) scheduled to pencil the upcoming issues (featuring the New Gods soon!), I’m thinking I’ll likely be along for the ride until at least the end of the first year (which is #13, not #12, like DC itself will probably try to claim, erroneously so ;)) No doubt I’ll have forgotten all about that by the time next issue arrives, and I’ll go through the same process of “Should I drop this? // Heck no!” yet again. I don’t know if that’s a compliment or not, but it’ll have to do.

JSA Classified #17 will be one of the last issues of this series I’m buying, as I’m beginning to lose interest in this stand-alone tales. This one I didn’t want to miss though, as it’s a rare occasion when Tony Bedard writes for DC, spotlighting Hourman and Bane, no less! Just the notion of teaming up Bane and Hourman is inspired, as they have nothing in common at first glance, and it’s made all the better by Scott McDaniel’s exaggerated yet fluid artwork, which works tremendously well for a goon like Bane. By no means is this an instant classic, but it’s a fun little story tying one well-established drug in the DCU into another one, with some typically well-designed lay-outs from McDaniel. I have quibbles with it, such as the rather abrupt ending, which isn’t as suspenseful as it wants to be, or the overly familiar “misunderstanding” between Bane and Rex Tyler leading to an (unfair) fight. I had fun reading it, and I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy the next two-parter featuring Dr. Midnight with art by Rags Morales, as well, but with the regular JSA ongoing restarting in December, this one’s headed for the chopping block. Unless a spectacular creative team does an arc, of course, then I might be tempted again :)

Justice League of America #2 is another animal entirely. Starting with the hideously generic and plain ugly cover: Michael Turner’s art makes everyone look spicy and clumsy instead of the iconic look it’s aiming for, and the orange background simply dumbfounds me, clashing as it does with the characters’ dumb, boring poses. Ed Benes, with inks by Sandra Hope, isn’t a bad artist, but he’s not a very good one either. Far too much cheesecake (although I’ll admit I don’t mind as much when the cheese involves Black Canary. Mmmm, Black Canary :D) and an overabundance of crosshatching, which must be meant to add an extra dimension to the art but instead only makes it flatter. It also displeases me when an artist can’t keep track of his own work, portraying Vixen without a jacket in a scene which continues immediately from the previous issue, where she was still wearing it, or when we get non-functional two-page spreads like the shot of Red Tornado's severed (former) head. Meltzer only makes things worse with his pretentious narration and confusing caption boxes, which only work because of their colour, and even then I got confused sometimes whether it was Superman talking, or Wonder Woman. I find fault with narration which goes “My name is Mary McCabe. Vixen. I can channel any animal through the totem I wear on my hip. That means if I pick right, I can rip your head off.” Meltzer is one of many comic book writers who has no clue about narration like this: if the narration is meant to be her own thoughts, then this is sheer idiocy, nobody thinks like that. If the narration is meant to be exposition, then why not have an omniscient narrator? It becomes a muddled mess that’s neither fish nor fowl, which irks me greatly.

What’s even more vexing is the reintroduction of a classic Superman foe who’s meant to be dead and buried, something editor Eddie Berganza knows full well, having allowed Jeph Loeb to bump off the villain to begin with. I don’t mind his return—I do mind the lack of understanding of his powers—but why not acknowledge in the story that he’s not meant to be alive? I get the impression Meltzer is simply unaware of this aspect of continuity, which somehow rankles. Apart from that, his pacing/timing/sequencing is rather off too: the way the story is structured, Vixen and her opponents stand still for about 40 minutes, allowing the now-human Red Tornado to do the monkey dance with his wife and for the rest of the League to get involved. Meanwhile, we get the over-arcing scenes of the trinity picking and choosing who’s hot and who’s not, which grates severely because they are voicing Meltzer’s own wishes, not their own. I rolled my eyes profusely when Superman grabbed a picture of Batman, at that. Who on earth would be able to take a full frontal picture of Batman? That defeats the entire mystique of the character! Lastly (I could go on longer but there’s only so much complaining I can do), I was rather galled by Roy (pardon me, “Red Arrow”) shooting professor Ivo several times with his arrows, that seemed pretty uncalled for, considering he didn’t even know who the guy was. The writer may think that gives the character an edge, I think it makes him an ass. I was okay with the previous two issues, but this one was a pretty big dud. Here’s hoping the quality will veer upwards again, because believe me, I *want* to like the JLA’s own book. The Meltzer/Berganza combination (“don’t know/don’t care”) doesn’t fill me with much confidence at all though, so we’ll have to see.

A good one to conclude with: Secret Six #4. I was delighted to get more of the all-new, all-different, yet strongly familiar Doom Patrol in this issue, which had great, moody visuals from Brad Walker and Jimmy Palmiotti. I’m not a big fan of Palmiotti’s inks, but I think they mesh will with Walker’s looseness, although I admit to being curious what a tighter inker would make his art look like. The fight between our (anti-)heroes and the DP though was fun to follow, even if writer Gail Simone tries far too hard to be “edgy” like Mark Millar or “insane” like Grant Morrison. There are too many times (“Now shut up and eat your Grundy”, “Parademon would have loved this view”, “My lovely throbbing hat”) where it feels to me as if Simone is trying to push the buttons she knows full well a lot of fans like, which comes across as insincere writing. Enjoyable writing nonetheless, as I intend to happily reread both Villains United and the current mini-series once it’s all over and done with. I even hope for an ongoing of some sort, either this or an updated Suicide Squad, because I’ll readily admit that seeing a bunch of villains being sleazy is a lot of fun. Speaking of their sleaziness, both the opening and the final scene were somewhat too predictable: the nature of Vandal Savage’s friendly dinner was immediately clear to me, as was the eventual tryst between Knockout and Deadshot. Luckily, that final scene should lead to some fireworks next issue, so I don’t mind too much, but it’s always a bit disappointing when writers don’t really stray off the beaten path, even while thinking they’re taking the audience by surprise. In a very short amount of space though, Simone has made me look forward to the misadventures of these psychotic nutjobs, which is an accomplishment in its own right (as is impressing me with chapter titles, hers always sound inspired, which pleases me greatly). Despite my quibbles, this was probably the DC book I enjoyed the most this week, and really, apart from JLA, I was pretty happy with all of them.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Make Mine Marvel! (it's amazing but it's true :)

This was such a fun week for superhero comics that I couldn't resist writing up a few words about them. Let's go over the Marvel batch first.

The weakest of that bunch would be Young Avengers/Runaways #3. I buy the regular series of both teams so I was hoping for something nice here, despite the idiocy that is Civil War, but I have to admit I'm feeling kind of suckered. The art by Caselli is not bad per se but decidedly strange-looking for either the Young Avengers or the Runaways, and the plot has me rolling my eyes, as it's yet another nail in the coffin of Tony Stark (without him even appearing in the issue, but if he doesn't know there's an insane-o warden torturing superheroes in his prison, then how off the mark is he exactly?) The less said of the mauling of Morrison's Marvel Boy, the better. I'm counting my blessings this is only 4 issues and not 6. As it is, I'm going to get the final issue, but if this had been a midway point, I would've dropped it like a hot potato. Yes, there have been a couple of cute moments here and there in these past 3 issues, but overall it's been a big dud.

Next up is X-Men #191, which is part 4 of Mike Carey's "Supernovas" arc. The titular Supernovas appear to be a better thought out version of Claremont's Neo from several years ago, but there's a shakiness to the concept which is making me less enthused about the concluding two parts. This might be in part due to the art, as Clayton Henry, the apparent fill-in artist of choice for the X-Office currently, does a serviceable job, but never reaches the stylish etherealness of Bachalo at his best. I then have to wonder whether it would've been better if the book had been late, waiting for Bachalo and his inkers to finish the chapter. It's going to look odd in the collected edition, that's for sure. It remains one of the better X-stories I've read in a long time though, and for that, I am grateful.

Now we're getting to the really good stuff. Over in She-Hulk #12, Dan Slott and Rick Burchett dress up Jen all purty because apparently the Living Tribunal enjoys it when his representatives look hot in an ancient Greek kind of way ;) The various subplots at the lawyer firm are ticking along nicely and there's a big reveal at the end which shows remarkable insight in the characters of both Starfox and Thanos. It's so cleverly obvious that you have to wonder why someone never thought of it before. Highly recommended, making me yearn for the arrival of the first two trade paperbacks when my lady love returns this winter. Something worth mentioning is that this issue had printing problems similar to last week's issue of 52, where several of the pages appear to have been "double-pressed" or something, because the lines and words were a lot thicker. Did I just get a bad print both times or do printers no longer proof their books first?

Saving the best for last, two books sticking out head and shoulders above anything else Marvel (or DC) had to offer this week, both written by the scribe supreme, Ed Brubaker: Captain America #22 and Daredevil #89. Brubaker manages the impossible not once, but twice: his CW tie-in makes me enjoy the plot about a million times more than its main architects (JMS and Mark Millar) have been able to do, and he makes the Matador look like a kick-ass villain. Let me repeat that: the Matador kicks ass! Yes, I'm as surprised as you are :p

Ed Brubaker is truly a lucky man, getting to work with artists like Michael Lark, Stefano Gaudiano and Mike Perkins (and Steve Epting, usually, but he's taking a break again for 3 issues, I believe). Lark's storytelling flows so beautifully, I can flip through the pages of Daredevil over and over again, adoring the way he lays out his pages, the way his characters move, it's fantastic. He is ably assisted by Gaudiano, pencils and inks meshing into a rich, fulfilling storyboard, particularly during the scene involving the Matador. Even colorist Matt Hollingsworth deserves a stand-out credit, adding to the superhero-noir feel Brubaker is aiming for. Daredevil has rarely been better.

Captain America, meanwhile, features a story of love and devotion, evil and corruption. Brubaker fleshes out the relationship between Sharon Carter and Cap some more, leading us to believe she would actually betray him, keeping the audience on its toes. Moreover, he presents the entire debate concerning the Superhero Registration Act in an impassioned but reasonable manner, without making either side look like stubborn fools. I was dreading this tie-in arc to the lamest crossover event Marvel's come up with since Onslaught, but between the writing and the purty (if more posed than Lark's) art, not to mention the excellent cliffhanger revelation, I am hooked for the next issue.

DC's offerings were no less enjoyable, but there were less Marvels, so they got to go first ;)

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Sequoia-Files

I promised Sequoia I'd pimp her X-Files reviews once I finally wrote a little something myself again. So it was high time that I did write something because these few reviews of old classic the X-Files are pure dynamite so far!

You can find them at and I hope there will be many more, especially because she writes circles around me with the greatest of ease ;) Her passion for the show seems unequaled, so if you've ever been a fan of the X-Files, as she and I have been from the start until they ruined it all, give her reviews a look and bask in the glories of old!

I cannot believe it's been 13 years since the series first started. That's almost half my lifetime ago! Talk about tempus fidgeting!

Office Rules

The Office is back (and I with it, from a highly enjoyable vacation period), after a lovely cliffhanger moment last season, which has changed everything while keeping many if not most things the same.

After almost 30 episodes of hilarity, the Office has one certain rule:

"Be as awkward as possible."

And with a manager like Michael, it seems like there's no limit to the over-the-top awkwardness he can bring to the table. It seems physically impossible to explode with laughter from the gut while cringing so hard that it feels you're trying to hide in your own intestines, but the writing and acting (and directing!) crew of this fantastic series seem to manage it over and over again. You have to see it for yourself to believe it.

I do have to wonder if the series can be as funny for newcomers as it is for those who've been watching since the beginning though. Thanks to the antics that have gone before, a certain rapport with and fondness for the various office employees has been created which enables the loyal viewer to appreciate the revelations and reveilles in this season opener more than someone who's tuning in for the first time. Nonetheless, even when taken as an entity completely on its own, there are bound to be several guffaws expelled by even the most self-controlling members of the audience.

What strikes me as interesting is that the (bleaker and meaner) British series which spawned this American offshoot only lasted a very short (yet widely hailed as classic) 2 seasons, around 13 episodes total, while this version is getting a lot more mileage out og the potential the characters are blessed with. I am sure we have only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to "background" characters (compared to the way Michael, Jim, Pam and Dwight are in the foreground, at least) like Stanley, Kelly, Meredith, Phillys, Creed, and so on. Through every laughter-filled moment, these characters become real people far more than one-note gags and jokes.

I would never have thought, for instance, that I could come to care about Angela as much as I do. She is not at all the type of person I'd enjoy spending my time with, but it's little things like her apology to Kevin for being mean (because she doesn't mean to be) in the excellent webisodes on the Office website that make her an interesting and multi-faceted character. Of course her office fling with Dwight has propelled her into the spotlights, but she is defined by far more than that. Every single member of the cast is part of a greater whole, and together they are able to be more than the sum of their individual parts.

I am greatly impressed that the show isn't running out of steam yet and hope to see much more mayhem to come! The storyline involving Jim and Pam, for instance, is about as perfectly construed as can be for prolonged viewer "torture": make the audience want them to be together as much as they themselves want it, but keep yanking our collective chains. Will interest remain if these two ever wind up together? I personally am hooked on far more than just the two of them, but I do think a large percentage of the audience is intrigued by the soap opera aspect of the show involving them. For me Dwight and Angela are the couple to watch though: two misfits who have a genuinely sweet vibe going on between them. Acting at its best.

If you haven't watched the Office before, I implore you to give it a go. Alongside Arrested Development, it is one of the finest comedy series to ever appear on American (or European, but we don't get it yet, so long live the internet!) television. And I like a LOT of comedy series ;)

There, I finally wrote something again, I hope my honey is happy :p

(I know I am!)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sequoia Reviews Superman Returns!

Although the heatwave is still persisting, today the temperature went down a few degrees, enabling us to finally go see Superman Returns, which was long overdue, considering my excitement for the movie (without having seen any trailers, mind you--I kept myself as spoiler-clear as I could!). Because Sequoia rules and I don't, she is the first of us to write down her thoughts on SR. Brace yourselves, because it ain't pretty! And I can't blame her for that one bit, really, because I found it rather disappointing and dull as well, all in all, so her observations tend to match mine pretty thoroughly. Unlike with X3, I will definitely truly for sure write about this one, because I like Superman more than the X-Men, heh. Although I do love the Beast (duh!) so maybe I'll somehow be able to sit down tomorrow (still on vacation for another five weeks, huzzah!) and actively compare this year's superhero movies before Pirates 2 rolls around next week. Anyhoo, time to let Sequoia speak...

* * * * *
I am a Marvel Girl through and through. I have attempted to get into the main DC universe numerous times in my decade of comic reading, and just do not feel any connection whatsoever to the characters. Everything I’ve tried – and Peter never lets me stop trying – has left me with negative impressions that range from meh to actively disgusted. I really don’t think it’s the place for me. I even – shock, horror - disliked Batman Begins. But Superman Returns looked interesting in the trailers, and Peter is a huge Superman fan, so we made a date of it, and I went into it with an open mind. Not filled with the charged mix of anticipation, excitement, and sick dread I felt before X3, but willing to enjoy it for what I consider it – a stand alone summer blockbuster. Adherence to continuity, comic or movie, was not a factor for me, because I know next to nothing about the subject. I had no opinion on casting matters, except that I thought Kate Bosworth was fantastic in Wonderland and is darling to look at, Parker Posey is usually tremendous fun, and Brandon Routh looks the part to me more than Reeves or Welling.

Anyway, as the final credits rolled, Peter summed up my feelings rather succinctly: Superman Returns isn’t Spider-Man 2. It’s not even X3.

But, it’s not Fantastic Four, either. I would hope it is also better than Daredevil, which I have vowed never to see, the casting offends me so greatly. And I would say that Superman Returns is also significantly better than Batman Begins, because I didn’t fall asleep or walk out, two things that occured during my viewing of BB (in the interests of full disclosure, I watched BB the day after Thanksgiving, on my couch, in my pjs, and full of pie).

It wasn’t laughably bad yet fun if you’re watching it with others, like Smallville. Tom Welling was quite the cutie, but he plays Clark as functionally retarded, and since they dialed back the homoeroticism, offed Jonathan, and made Lex OMG TEH EVOL, it’s even harder to watch. The Christopher Reeve Superman movies...let’s just say they weren’t really my cup of tea. I’ve seen them all, but have no desire to rewatch them. SR didn’t make me cringe, or yawn, or wonder what time it was. But I did roll my eyes quite a bit, and my strongest reaction This is what all the hype was about? This? Really?

What I actively disliked:

1. Luthor’s Real Estate Development Plot of Evil. Anyone else see the hilariously awful 10.5 Apocalypse tv movies earlier this year (and the prequel, from 2004)? Just me? I almost started laughing when they showed the new map of the world, with North America split up the middle, because I think they stole it from the prop room at NBC. And did I understand this correctly? Lex is going to use the crystals to radically change the geography of the earth, and in the process, kill “billions”. A significant percentage of the dead would come from the wealthier and developed parts of North America and Western Europe, unless Lex’s map is like Buster Bluth’s and the blue parts are land. Lex will then build beach front property that he will sell to the highest bidder, giving him all the power in the world. The highest bidder left among the severely traumatized masses in South America, Africa, Asia, apparently. I know that after the planet has been ripped apart by a madman, and most of my family and friends are dead, and all my stuff has been destroyed in the earthquakes, tidal waves, and gas fires, not to mention the disease that spreads after disasters, or the sickos that see disasters as a opportunity to prey on others, the first thing I’m going to do is call Century 21 and get me a piece of that ocean view condo action. Especially when the beaches are spikey and grey and look like something the earth vomited up in a desperate attempt to purge.

2. NOTHING HAPPENED. Full circle, Singer’s a genius, blah, blah, blah – Clark in space? Check. Lex Luthor out of jail and temporarily helpless but you just know he’s plotting something? Check. Martha’s lonely and doing dishes? You know it. Lois Lane doesn’t know Clark=Superman? That last one truly aggravates me, and my aggravation aggravates Peter. I cannot suspend disbelief on this. Maybe in the comics, I don’t know, I haven’t read more than a scattered dozen or so issues. But in a movie where they take the time to consider the possibility and discuss it out loud? When Clark and Superman disappeared on the same day and return the same day five years later? Where Lois sees Supes unconscious in a hospital bed – so he’s not changing his voice or projecting confidence or any of the desperately reaching excuses I’ve heard, she still doesn’t recognize him? Is the spitty curl all it takes? I guess so, considering that they also must have realized that Clark is MIA while Superman’s in the hospital. And Clark’s clothes/glasses were probably found in the elevator shaft by the janitor. I was so hoping that Jason would go over and draw glasses on Clark’s face with a marker. Speaking of Jason, I guess something did happen – Clark knows he’s his. And I like that Lois stayed with Richard – they are a family. I love that.

3. No heart. I really didn’t feel any emotion, except some brief nervousness and sadness when Lois, Richard, and Jason were in the boat. That was very well done. But for all the moaning about how X3 had no heart because it wasn’t done by Singer and because it was so rushed and Scott died, it had a hell of a lot more than this one-dimensional, over long, exercise in monotony. And I’m not just saying that because most of my favorite characters are X characters – DD and Runaways are my other favorite Marvel books, and I’ve loathed the X-Men comics for years. Spider-Man 2, remains, in my opinion, the finest superhero movie in terms of plot and heart and motivations. And I don’t particularly like or read Spider-Man, or like Tobey Maguire. It’s just a solid film.

What I actively liked:

1. Lois’s clothes. I’m serious. It was the high point. Loved every single thing she wore, the skirts, the blouses, the robe, the shoes, love looking at Kate Bosworth wearing them, frail as she is. Loved the dark toenails even. Didn’t bother me that she was young-looking – Brandon Routh and Jimmy Marsden look very young as well. Anyway, fantastic wardrobe. Actually, I thought everyone’s wardrobe was rather nice. I appreciated the retro feel. And the darker red on the cape.

2. Excellent special effects. The opening sequence was fun. The effects during the inane space shuttle/passenger jet sequence were so thrilling that I couldn’t scoff, though I tried. I also enjoyed all the spikes erupting, though the mass that Clark threw into space looked rather small. Like 6 city blocks small. Weird. I thought it was my eyes, but Peter concurred.

3. The movie was failing so thoroughly to make me feel for the characters – nothing against the actors, I thought all did a serviceable, respectable, and enjoyable, albeit forgettable job – that when Richard, Lois, and Jason made it to the plane, and Marsden was flying the sea plane, it made me think of Cyke flying around with Maddie on their honeymoon – who I’ve always thought really was Jean/Phoenix reincarnated after her death on the moon in a Vertigo like twist, and Cocoon Jean is the clone, planted by Sinister, but I digress – and I started picturing Richard as Scott, Lois as Jean/Maddie, and Jason as Nathan, having an adventure, and fantasized me a little fanfic. Thanks for that, Singer. It was fun.

I give it 2.5 stars out of 5. 1.5 stars are for wardrobe. I’m glad I saw it, I mostly enjoyed it during, what?

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Walls Have Comics (And The Floor, And The Bed...)

I figured I should update with a quick post just in case there's actually anyone reading this and wondering where the heck I wandered off to this time around! Sequoia arrived on the fourth of July and I've been working on our new and improved attic ever since. Most of the past week I've been taking my time in carrying a couple thousand comics upstairs from my old bedroom and arranging them in all the new bookcases. I'm down to the "leftover" series (Punisher War Journal, Sleepwalker, Ghost Rider, Azrael, Aquaman, that sort of stuff) and then all I need to is bring up all the mini-series, one-shots and specials, after sorting through all the trade paperbacks. And after all of that, I have to get the old bedroom looking nice again *and* sort through everything that came down from the old attic to begin with, so odds are against me properly posting for a while. (Sequoia and I having a Star-Trek-athon every day doesn't help matters either, long live geek-hotties though :p)

And yes, I'm a total blasphemer, my comics are now completely out in the open, no bags and boards for me, as you can see in the pics below :)

And wait until you see what I'm doing with the desk area, it's looking pretty damn neat in a geeky goofball way. Growing up, who needs that, eh? ;)

Very quick thoughts on comics stuff:

Ed Brubaker and Mike Carey on Uncanny X-Men and X-Men is great, first time in ages I'm excited about both X-books.

Runaways is EVIL (and so good).

Thunderbolts is running perfectly with the theme of Civil War, even if the mini-series itself is a mess.

Carlos Pacheco on Superman kicks all sorts of ass but draws one ugly Lois though.

My girlfriend likes Warren Ellis's work, so go him! PAD is less lucky in that respect though.

Paul Dini on Detective Comics should be a hell of a ride based on his first issue.

JSA ended on less than a whimper, which was highly disappointing yet expected.

I finally read The 49'ers and was appropriately impressed (also as expected).

I have too many trades to read!

And oh, Uncle Scrooge is the very best character ever ;)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Torchwood Is Just Another Name For Doctor Who

While I don't have the time to write a proper post about tonight's episode of Doctor Who, the penultimate chapter of the current series' second season, because I have to finish painting the attic to prepare for the arrival of the most wonderful woman in the entire world, I wanted to quickly share my utter excitement at the magnificent cliffhanger ending.

The mysterious organization called Torchwood has been a recurring theme throughout the series since the 2005 Christmas Special. During this two-part finale, the Doctor finally meets up with them, just in time for Earth to fall victim to an alien invasion once again, only this time the odds are decidedly against our heroes, more so than ever before. Old enemies resurface in a momentously chilling cliffhanger (love the score!), truly catching the Doctor, Rose and her mother between a rock and a very hard place.

This particular ending made me squeal with glee. That's three for three, this season. It's quite fascinating how I can find this show thoroughly silly yet also incredibly exciting. In fact, the series reminds me why I was drawn to superhero comics to begin with, something which both Marvel and DC are attempting to trample into the dust with their boots: over the top adventure with a lot of emotion thrown in, and awareness of your own inherent silliness. It's exactly because the two biggest comic book publishers take their products so damn seriously that the sense of fun and grand-scale adventure is hopelessly lost in a lot of their books. Luckily back issues never fade, just like this taped episode of Doctor Who never will, either.

Definitely one to revisit, if only to feel my hairs raise on end anew when "they" make their ominous return, to bedevil the Doctor and Rose Tyler one final (?) time... Two thumbs up, without question.

And oh, the teaser did exactly what it was supposed to do, only they're not fooling me. All I'm saying is "Alas, poor Jackie, we knew her well..." and that is the end of it... for now!