some friendly neighborhood stream of "consciousness"

No real post today, just some errant thoughts and concerns. None of the images I use will have anything to do with anything.

1) THIS IS MY REVIEW FOR THE SPIRIT (2008):
Frank Miller's The Spirit was OK. I mean, it's a completely different monster from Will Eisner's stuff, because Eisner managed to tell a story in 10 pages, and didn't try to pack so much into a single story, but the movie was OK, and paid enough attention to the past.
The tone was somewhat schizophrenic, and not as fun/action/adventure-y as Eisner's. Why was there such an emphasis on technology, and artillery? I felt that went a little overboard.
the Spirit
(SPOILER:) It was totally awesome when Octopus exploded and left a smoke trail in the shape of an Octopus. That is the kind of visual thing that Eisner would play around with.
Also, Morgan Stern, the rookie police officer, is really cute. I adore her Brooklyn accent.

2) I JUST FINISHED ALAN MOORE'S WATCHMEN:
And no, it's not 'cause the movie's coming out. It's just that the library never has it, because everyone wants to read it.

I always approach these kinds of critically-acclaimed books with a skepticism, because hey -- I'm not really reading this of my own will. I'm reading it because it's so darn acclaimed, and you can't escape that fact.
Hank Pym, you idiot
That said, it's pretty awesome. It's a little dense at some points, and intellectually hard to chew, but it makes sense in the end.
My particular favorite aspect about Watchmen is that every issue tells its own story, in contribution to the larger story. God, this trade. . . it was in an era when we didn't have decompression. You know how good that feels?

Every issue has its own meaning that sets it apart from the others. One is about Rorschach's past, and it frames his behavior perfectly while in prison. Another is built to flesh out Doc Manhattan, and it's something of a philosophical treatise on time! Another is designed to show us the blossoming relationship between Laurie Juspeczyk and Dan Dreiberg.
Hammerhead, you idiot
It might be my cynicism on recent weekly comics, but I really miss this kind of writing. Where something important belongs to each issue, and they all culminate in the final insight of, "Who watches the Watchmen?" God.

3) OKAY, I WAS LYING:
I do like Rocky Road ice cream.


4) UNFORTUNATELY:
In the midst of all these trades, and these movies, and my "thoughts" on them, I won't be able to review the last volume of 52.
sobek and osiris, after offing that guy
I know, it breaks my heart too and widens my eyes in terror in the background of a horrendous fire. I don't have enough time, because I need to return to university on Friday, and I'm actually supposed to be doing academic crap now.
I can't wait to get my grubby hands on the fourth volume though!

5) CLARK BARS RULE:
clark bars
It's true, you know.

6) IF I DON'T SEE YOU GUYS BEFORE THEN:
Happy New Year!

52 Vol. 3: The Power of the Tornado Man!


52 vol. 3
by trillions of people

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: This penultimate collection is the part that obey's Murphy's Law: everything that can go wrong -- goes wrong. This is where we see evil at its evil-est, and tragedy at its. . . tragedy-est. To name a few: the Question is diagnosed with lung cancer, society at large refuses to believe in Black Adam's change of heart, and Luthor's Everyman Program, designed to grant superpowers to anyone willing to enlist, suddenly crashes all its participants' systems on New Year's eve.It's really sad, and really diabolical.

WHAT I LIKED: There is a delicious plot twist in Booster Gold's story, which is just as mind-blowing as the plot twist in last volume. It is always a fun ride to follow all the different stories in 52.

Also, if you'll remember, 52 was a weekly comic that published every week for a year (a total of 52 weeks). This means they eventually reached the holiday season, and it's represented in this trade by Dr. Sivana and friends!
Happy Thanksgiving! Bwahahaaa!

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: There are some occasional, brief appearances by some characters that I think could've been done better. For example, the JSA appear in one issue, and they never come again. Same thing with Bruce Wayne and the Ten-Eyed Man, and this Adam Blake guy, who's only set up to show us how Xtreme the villain is.
There's also all the tragedy at its tragedy-est, which is a bummer, but makes sense, because you want to bring your heroes to their lowest before they can rise up.
Lastly, I have a complaint about the art. It is so annoying to see one artist come in for one issue and then never return. Shawn moll's art, ruins my day every time I look at the first issue of this trade.

EXTRAS?: As always, there are extras after each of the 13 chapters, and there's usually a wonderful insight into the creative process for the stories.
Basically, 52 rawks at extras, and it's the best and most reader-friendly of any trade I've ever read.

FINAL THOUGHTS?: This trade isn't as good as its predecessors, but still engrossing to read! The point of 52 was to show that DC had more than just Superman and Batman, and I really see it. In fact, they've rekindled my desire to get Grant Morrison's Animal Man. Well done DC, well done.

Read all my reviews of DC's 52:
Volume 1: issues 1-13
Volume 2: issues 14-26
Volume 3: issues 27-39
Volume 4: issues 40-52 

The words lose me. . .

laser santa
. . . but I think the picture sums it well. Merry Christmas guys!

memories, like the colors of my mind

It's hard to believe that it was pretty much a year ago that One More Day wrapped up, Joe Quesada's "Christmas gift" to a lot of Spidey fans.

I still remember taking the last issue in my hands and going, OH CRAP I DO NOT WANT TO READ THIS, but out of some foolish hope, I did. It was dark already, maybe five P.M.. I remember going to scans_daily just to read the same thing, and see what everyone else thought about it. And then I went to the Newsarama articles with J. Straczynski defending himself, and read the ten-pages-long message board opinions.

Anyways, that's what my memory, uh, remembers. This week has been really slow in statcounter because, I'm guessing, most people are on a vacation or something, so I'm gonna throw the blog up to you guys!

What memories do you have of last year? They don't have to be comic-related, but, I guess, they could be.

52 Vol. 2: No MSG!

52 vol. 2
by billions of people

52 was DC's foray, for the first time in a long time at least, into a weekly title, and it ran for 52 weeks from 2006 to 2007.

It was pretty awesome.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Uh, a lot. But the gist of it is that DC wanted us to know that they had more to offer than Batman and Superman, so they thought they'd spotlight other superheroes.
Booster Gold struggles with other superheroes on who gets to be the guardian of Metropolis. Renee Montoya and the Question try to solve a mystery, but they also start intersecting with other plots, such as Black Adam's marriage with Isis, and their subsequent quest to bring peace to the world.
Other threads include Will Magnus, the man who built the Metal Men, getting kidnapped to Oolong Island, which is like a secluded island for mad scientists.

WHY I LIKED IT: It is an absolute joy to get lost in the ongoing plot in these books. There is always something going on, and something about to happen. It's always exciting and fun to follow everything. My favorite threads, if I had to choose, would be Will Magnus and his adventure to bring back the Metal Men, and Black Adam's transition (kinda) from ruthless tyrant who tore the limbs of people who rubbed him the wrong way to a tyrant with a heart of goldWHY I DIDN'T LIKE IT: Honestly, everything here was well done, but my biggest complaint is that some plot threads don't occur frequently enough. Like, the thread with Adam Strange, Starfire and Animal Man is really exciting when you're reading it, but then you don't see them again until, like, next volume. It makes you kinda forget about 'em.
EXTRAS?: Again, this collection is just stellar in representing extras. After every chapter, there's a little letter from one of the many collaborators, as well as some sketches or an inside-look at what they changed when the issue was printing, or several of their ideas behind-the-scenes. It tells you they really worked hard on each issue day by day, week after week. It tells that what they're doing, it's huge for comics. What's even better, they always give you the page number in the trade to refer to, for comparison! Now that's what I call reader-friendly!

FINAL THOUGHTS?: This is a really fun ride to ride, but we also get to learn about who these people are. Otherwise, we wouldn't care about them afterwards!
Thanks to this book, I've added Duncan Rouleau's Metal Men: Year One to my amazon wishlist, so well done, DC. Well done.


Read all my reviews of DC's 52:
Volume 1: issues 1-13
Volume 2: issues 14-26
Volume 3: issues 27-39
Volume 4: issues 40-52 

Just a friendly neighborhood Christmas carol

Oh the weather outside is frightful. . .
Spidey in a NY winter

But the fire is so delightful. . .
Vulch

And since we've no place to go. . .
that one Spectre short

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Ymir does not control nature

I hope you're having a happy holiday time guys! It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Cover to Cover: a little less bark, good chap

I am probably going to get sick from eating this year-old chocolate from last Christmas, so let's get this show on the road before I keel over in a fit of uncontrollable bowel-rage.


Birds of Prey #125

by Tony Bedard and Scott McDaniel

Scott McDaniel, your art is atrocious, and I find it appalling that Green Arrow let you draw it for forty+ issues. Appalled.

That said, this issue of Birds is supposed to be something of an anniversary issue, because it's two more issues to the end, and this is the last issue that ends in "5," and DC finally thought to use a stock cover from Frank freakin' Quitely.

Birds of Prey #125

Look at the cover. I'm showing the cover, so I have to show you as little Scott McDaniel art as is necessary. He does not know how to draw a human face. I don't think he understands that the human body has regular, normal proportions. It's sad.

huntress ambulance

You're tellin' me, Huntress.

I'm also showing you this cover, however, because it makes no sense, and Bedard tries his level best to shoehorn it into the comic. The header says "Black Canary and Oracle do Europe on 10 assassins a day" in insane font. The assassins, yes. Europe, no. They don't do Europe. They go to Las Vegas. They hijack an antique car, to thwart the "Collector," who's obsessed with collecting mint-condition everythings, and then finding like-minded people, and collecting them.

wow

The villain may be the only original thing in this comic. The rest of it is a simple thwarting the villain. That's it. We don't get anything meaningful about the Birds as a team, and maybe one panel about the relationship between Black Canary and Oracle. It's as if the past issues -and past eras of Simone and Dixon- have done nothing to further their reliance on each other. I am severely disappointed in what should have been a good issue.

This was supposed to be more than the Birds stopping a psycho. This was supposed to be more than just two partners saying nothing important. There should've been more. This issue failed in every way. Sigh.

It may be the year-old candy, but your art still sucks, Scott McDaniel.


Secret Six #4

by Gail Simone and Nicola Scott

This storyarc is moving really slowly, but I can enjoy the ride, because hey - it's Gail Simone and Nicola Scott. I think I'll stop reading it by singles after this arc, though.

Ragdoll: is hungry

Basically, the beats here are 1) the team of mercenaries start distrusting each other, 2) we see how the main villain is a sociopath (no remorse for others, kills without reason), and then 3) the Six get apprehended. Cue cliffhanger, in which the Six are put in danger, but-not-really-because-we-all-know-that-they're-going-to-live-somehow-after-eating-that-poisoned-food.

Junior: a catholic

It's a pretty standard Gail Simone issue, by which I mean there's some good action, with some gags here and there. The new villain's pretty dark (rips people's heads off), but pretty bland so far. Blander than this year-old candy at least.

I just wish I could get more bang for my buck here. I feel like this is all being written for the trade.

Cover to Cover: How to spell "cash-grab" in three numbers

Well, my toes are freezing, and I have a cold from walking in the snow yesterday, but at least I got to visit my old comic shop today.

The first issue of Spider-Man: Noir came out today, and I checked out the preview for it. It places Spider-Man in a Depression-era New York and has, perhaps the best rendition of Aunt May that I've ever seen:

A rally speaker! Go get 'em, May!

What's even better, the site said that it'd cost 2.99, which is actually pretty rare, because Marvel, for whatever reason (COUGHmoneyCOUGH), have historically sold their miniseries at $3.99.
Unfortunately, it seems like the site lied, and it was actually four bucks, which is just ridiculous, because you're paying an extra dollar, for, what, a glossy cover? There aren't even any extra pages. That is ridiculous, especially in this day and age.
But enough of me griping. Let's get to

Green Arrow/Black Canary #15

by Andrew Kreisberg and Mike Norton

This issue actually came out last week, but I didn't go to the shop last week. I've been waiting for this issue for a while, so what's a week more right?

Here's where we finally get a new writer on the title after the horror that we generally call Judd Winick. Andrew Kreisberg takes over the title, and Mike Norton stays on the art, and to tell you the truth? I may have ragged on him in GA/BC #7, when he took over, but he's definitely improved in seven issues. The limbs could be less exaggerated, and the poses could be more subtle, but everyone looks more real now, and I could stand seeing more of it. Getting an Alan Davis/Todd Nauck vibe from him.

And then the issue itself. Basically, it's a flashback story of Ollie's life, framed by a realtime story of an alley thug about to knife Dinah. It was fun to note all the past comics that Norton was referring to, like Green Arrow: Year One or that one issue of Green Arrow where Ollie proposes to Dinah, but on the whole, nothing new is presented.
I like how Kreisberg has the two "kids" of the family, Mia and Connor, leave the house. It implies that Kreisberg has a plan/future/vision for what he's doing on the title. All in all, the execution of the alley thug plot is pretty good. It presents Green Arrow and Black Canary as a team and everything.

A friendly neighborhood economic address:

We may find it hard to pay the monthly bills:

F4: you're broke

Unemployment may be at an all-time high, and we may even have to move out of our homes:

F4: you're evicted

But we'll never be poor as long as we have. . .

you make me better

. . . the ones we love. Happiness doesn't come from a piece of paper. It doesn't come from metals, and it certainly doesn't come from a big box in shiny wrapping paper. It comes from the heart, and it comes from the people you love. So long as you have them, you'll never be poor.

Reading Catwoman: When in Rome

Trades that I review from the library: priceless! It seems like Mondays are the days I look at trades, so if it's okay by you guys, let's just go with the flow. Let's review

Catwoman: When in Rome
by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Selina Kyle (AKA: Catwoman!) travels to Sicily to solve the mystery of who her parents were, and how mob boss Carmine De-something-something is related (gimme some slack, I read this a week ago, and returned it to the library thereafter).
Along the way, she tangos with some mobsters, one of whom has a bull's-eye on her life, along with weapons from all of Batman's villains! Why is this person after her? Will she find her parents?

WHAT I LIKED: Um, I pretty much liked everything here. The dialogue is witty and snappy; Selina has a delicious personality; the art is gorgeous, and it's a whirlwind tour of Batman's rogues gallery! Jeph knows how to write superheroes in the Batman-verse, and this is a great example.
. . . then I punched him

Yeah, I mean, it might be because I have a hopeless crush on Catwoman, but this is pretty much Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale at their finest. She even heists the Vatican!
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: Frankly, I have no complaints at all. I mean, Edward Nigma is a total perv, but that's par for the course. You could also say how it's short-sighteded to portray Sicily as all about mob life and such, but I'm gonna forgive that in this case, since it was well done.

EXTRAS?: There's a little two-page short story in which Selina does some catharsis over Carmine what's-his-name, but. . . yeah, I don't have it with me anymore, and I don't remember much else. There's an intro by the editor of the 6-issue miniseries, Mark Chiarello, but it isn't that great.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Loved it, and may think of getting it as a gift for someone. I recommend this to anyone who likes reading the wonderful world of Batman and his supporting cast.
Cat. WOMAN.

An interesting footnote, though, is how Catwoman admits something along the lines of,
"Nope. Don't know who Batman is. Never will. You're asking the wrong girl."
This is really interesting, because however many years later, in Batman: Hush, Loeb had Batman actually reveal his identity to Selina, as Bruce Wayne! I guess this goes to show how comic books are dynamic, and always subject to revision/change.

HULK SMASH! but not much else



That's the trailer for an upcoming Animated film from Marvel (the term is Marvel Animated Features, I believe). It centers around the Hulk fighting a bunch of people (two to be exact), and well, not much else.

Granted, it's just a trailer, and it was pretty awesome when Hulk managed to pick up Mjolnir and hurl it back at the Mighty freakin' Thor in Ultimate Avengers, but it'd kinda disappoint me if the Hulk was only used as a plot device to create more fighting and explosions. The Hulk should be more than that.

That's why I think Ultimate Avengers was such a great animated movie. It portrayed both sides of the Hulk, and penetrated into Bruce Banner's psyche. Bruce Banner's inferiority complex gives him this great compulsion to prove himself as a man, to prove that he's a worthy person for Betty Ross, that it drives him to obsession over creating the modern world's super-soldier serum.

And then as Hulk, all that repressed anger and tension erupts. And he punches stuff.

I'd totally understand it if Hulk Vs. were nothing but a punchfest, because it's probably not aimed at fans like me, but I sure hope it's more than that, because the Hulk is so much more.

a friendly neighborhood insignificant question:

Why the heck does Guardians of the Galaxy get a Hardcover for its first trade?

The writing doesn't warrant it -- it fluctuated between the Guardians as plastic action heroes and then about-faced into a dark story about trust issues.

So basically, weak characterization and bipolar focus. It is appalling to me that Guardians gets a HC for its first trade, and Nova gets nothing but a TPB. The writing was far better, more grounded in science fiction, and focused much better on a single hero trapped within the circumstances of his world, but bursting out all the better.

. . . oh wait.

good news, bad news

GOOD NEWS: I am not officially dead guys! Hooray!

BAD NEWS: The blog is undergoing some time constraints right now. Let's give it some time to heal, hm? I foresee it coming back on the week of Monday the 15th.

POSTED BY: That piece of cheese in Peter Parker's fridge that's smarter than the Vulture.

How Peter Parker deals with home invaders:

AGGHGHHHH!

No comics this Wednesday, 'cause a) I'm poor, and b) last week was a holiday week, so everything got pushed to Thursday. Source is the same deal-y from the previous post.

Reading Ultimate X-Men: Blockbuster

With bellies filled and wallets empty, it's that time again. It's the start of a new month, and with nights coming quicker and colder, we're all but waiting for that last leaf to fall from the tree out our window! It's the season we all wait for, Time After Time.


And hey, it's the perfect time to review some trades!

Ultimate X-Men vol. 7: Blockbuster
by Brian Bendis and David Finch

WHAT IT'S ABOUT: After discovering a wedding ring that says, "To my dear James," Wolverine is ruthlessly hunted by a mysterious faction that won't reveal its purpose to him. What does this have to do with S.H.I.E.L.D.? Will he survive? How does the wedding ring relate to all of this? Is Wolverine's real name James?Wolverine travels across New York City for answers, and along the way, he goes on a blockbuster tour of the Marvel Universe's dirtier heroes, teaming up with Spider-Man and Daredevil!

spidey and 'devil

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT IT: Amidst all the shooting and the explosions and the death threats, Spider-Man in here is a really darn fun guy. Bendis knows how to write Ultimate Spidey as he sics the three heroes on an adventure in NYC.

WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT IT: We don't really go anywhere. There's a very large build-up as to the people are who're hunting down Wolverine, but it's not really anything too special. I guess the process of the mystery is more important than its conclusion.

Additionally, David Finch really, really sucks at drawing Ultimate Mary Jane Watson, and for some reason, the agent who's after Wolverine climbs an invisible drop-ladder:


EXTRAS?: There's a cover gallery at the end, but that's only because they didn't bother to put the covers at the beginnings of each issue. Meh.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This is why the Ultimate Universe was started, back in 2001: to tell stories again in the Merry Marvel Manner, for a new audience. Superhero team-ups are alive and bouncing in the trade, and Wolverine's past is a mystery renewed. Although nothing of real significance happens, we get some really fun superhero interaction, as well as an insightful word on mutantkind in society.

There are also some hints at Jean's identity with the Phoenix entity, when she kills two people who call the X-Men "Baby mutant filth."
phoenix?

All in all, not a bad trade, and a good thing to read to get into the Ultimate Marvel U.

Ladies and gentlemen, it does me a great honor to introduce. . .

. . . ME!



Did you catch it? According to Paul Jenkins - one of the writers on pre-OMD Spider-Man - I'm a piece of cheese in Peter Parker's refrigerator! Your very own friendly neighborhood blogger!



And I'm smarter than the Vulture too! Go me!

All from the wonderful fourth volume of Peter Parker: Spider-Man, "Trials and Tribulations," by Paul Jenkins and Mark Buckingham (yes, that Mark Buckingham).

How cheesy!

Just a stray "thought"

What I love about comic books is their constant state of negotiation. That is, how there are always several different versions of the same thing.

Yeah, you'll always have the same superheroes, but what really matters is the person who's writing the superheroes, and they always bring their own vision into the mix.

For example, if you don't like Stan Lee's Silver Surfer as a depressed philosopher, you can always turn to Steve Englehart's Silver Surfer as a hero in the cosmic chess board of space. A current example would be Chris Claremont's Cyclops as a competent but broken leader ('cause he lost his love), against Matt Fraction's current Cyclops, who's kinda a hip guy with a swanky new house and a great girlfriend. Or, for another example, Kevin Smith's Green Arrow as a father figure, which was an add-on to Denny O'Neil's Green Arrow as political activist.

Things get added, things get removed, or things just get a radical facelift! Comic books are dynamic, and they're always subject to whoever's writing 'em and whoever's reading 'em. Two people can write the same comic, but you'll always read something different, for sure.

So that's my spiel today. You can bet your milk money that a comic book got me thinking about it, but that's for another day. Sorry for the no-images, and I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving!

The examples up top are the ones I could think of, but knowing me -- they're not that great.
Do you have anything that comes to mind? Don't be afraid to bring it up!

Cover to Cover: "A naked, grinning maw." deal-y.

Aaaaand we're back to our semi-regular programming. Mind you, the blog is in provisional mode right now, so I won't be doing as many weekly reviews, but there's one comic that I always make sure to get:

Birds of Prey #124

by Tony Bedard and Claude St. Aubin

Well, willyalookit that! It's a new artist for Birds. Again. For the third time now.

Granted, Msr. St. Aubin is a slightly better version of Michael O'Hare -- but it's very unfortunate nonetheless that Birds is in such a state of flux at a crucial time in Barbara Gordon's life.


By which I mean: her first real meeting with the Joker after he crippled her in Killing Joke. With all the odds stacked against him though, Bedard does a stellar job. Barbara does to the Joker exactly what he did to her: Barbara cripples him back.

Specifically, she takes his smile away! What a perfectly appropriate form of retribution! I love, love, love it.

So I just wanna take this time to pimp out the cover. It is so rad. If you take the effort to click and look at it, it's the textbook definition of a great cover. The two, er, items, on Barbara's eskrima sticks signify what exactly goes in inside the comic, and the Joker's silhouette plays an antagonism for Barbara to rebound and get her due.

Basically: it's pretty awesome. Stephane Roux's been on Birds covers now for maybe 25 issues, and I really respect that kind of consistency and commitment in comic book covers.
Kinda turns me on, to be honest.

ANYWAYS: the rest of this issue is pretty much mindless fighting. It's a tedious enaction of the Silicon Syndicate being a bunch of evil losers, and the Birds being unable to stop 'em. We don't even get Lady Blackhawk saying anything cool either!


Well, at least Babs and Dinah team up together for the first time since Gail broke them up so Dinah could "head the JLA" or "spend time with her husband."

Mark your calendars, everyonecominginfromgoogleimages!

I'll be back Wednesday guys!

And that's something you can take to the bank.

Unfortunately, my schedule next quarter is devastating, and I can't say anything definite about the future frequency of blogging.
For the meantime, however, here is French Batman combating the evils of his society:

Painters of the Eiffel Tower: They're a cowardly and superstitious lot.

Another one from Bizarro World #1, yep.

Nextwave: did your mama

I know it's Wednesday, which is supposed to mean new comics, but not this week.

The reasons for that are several-fold, so in a total cop-out here is a list of reasons:
  • I'm poor.
  • I'm getting the sense that the individual issues of "New Krypton" are being written for the trade, and not for the issue, so I don't wanna feel like a schmuck again to get this week's issue of Supergirll or last week's of Action Comics. I'm tired of feeling like a schmuck. I want the issues I buy to actually mean something.
  • Comic book companies, I'm not made out of money. If I were -and you know I would, I'd shill it out of my wazoo like nobody's business after getting some plane tickets.
  • I have way too many papers to kill myself over.
  • Again, I'm not made of money.
In lieu of real material, here's an excerpt from Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen's Nextwave.





Nextwave: is love.
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