Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Wheeee! I'm the Flash!!"

Courtesy of Crisis/Boring Change -

Your results:
You are The Flash
The Flash
Green Lantern
Iron Man
Wonder Woman
Fast, athletic and flirtatious.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

I could only be happier if it was the Barry Allen Flash. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no DC purist. I don't curse the name of Kyle Rayner. Heck, I'm the first to admit that characters can become stale after a time, if they're not given the attention they deserve. I even liked the "Four Superman" thing they did after Doomsday offed Supermullet. (well, liked might be too strong of a word. I enjoyed the Superboy stuff and thought the rest was okay)

But the Flash is different to me. My formative comic-book reading memories involve buying the Trial of the Flash issues right off the stand at the drugstore on the corner. I remember being absolutely riveted by the isue in which the JLofA vote on whether to allow Barry to remain a member. Even with the Infantino art, which I love now but creeped me out as a kid, didn't stop me from devouring those issues. I even managed to amass a nice little collection of Flash back issues, including the great mindf**k issue #300.

And then they killed him in Crisis. I was completely blown away. How do you kill the Flash? To my pre-pubescent incarnation he was the greatest super-hero that ever pulled on tights. Still, dead he was, and dead he remains.

Wally West quickly took up the mantle. I think this was a great move in a lot of ways: it introduced the concept of a "legacy hero" to the DCU, it started the cohesion of the Flash Family (a concept that Mark Waid really went to town on), and it resulted in the development of a character who has become one of the mainstays of the super-hero community.

Wally, through time, attention ,and inclusion in the animated properties, has effectively become the Flash. In fact, many younger readers probably have no more than a vague idea of who Barry Allen was. He has taken on the role of Thomas Wayne in Wally West's origin. He had to die, in order that Wally be allowed to take up the mantle. He's even become something of a running joke in the JLa (i.e. "Barry never yelled when things didn't go his way").

I think the ursurping of the Flash role by Wally is interesting, and I certainly don't think Barry Allen should return to the DCU. Ever. But still, when I think of the Flash, that's who I think of. The blond flat-top Police scientist. And that's the Flash I'd want to be.

Even if he was a square.

Monday, November 28, 2005

James Robinson Surfaces!

Crisis/Boring Change communicates the very exciting news that James "Starman" Robinson is slated to make his long-awaited return to monthly comics, taking on the writing duties for a Batman/Detective Comics story arc post-IC.  This is very welcome news. Starman was, for a period, the only comic book I read with any sense of regularity.  Even though the bulk of my floppies are in storage at my parents' place, my stack of Starman issues has a place of honour on my bookshelf, next to my Terry & The Pirates collections.

I think it's very telling that, although Starman was a very popular series, and Jack Knight a compelling and complex character, the series was ended with such grace and panache that there hasn't really been very much outcry for its return.  Sure, people are still hoping to see the story of Jack's trip to China, but there seems to be a sense of patience involved.  Fans seem to understand that the story will only be told if and when Robinson and Tony Harris feel the time is right.

On a related note, at the time that the series ended, Robinson had promised to return to the DC Comics Starman board in order to answer one last round of reader questions about the series.  While I checked back every now and then, I don't believe he ever did so.  Maybe he'll now find the time.

Welcome back to comics, James Robinson!  We've missed you!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

This Is A Test

...because A) the Comic Weblog Update page hasn't been reading me (for
some reason), and B) I'm testing my abitlity to post to ze blog
through email.

So, um carry on. Or pad my ego by posting copious amounts of
illuminating comments on the most inane post yet. Your choice.

The Stupid Patrol Runs From Dracula

Pop quiz, hotshot. You’re a full-time vampire hunter. Count Dracula is your sworn enemy, and you’ve vowed to destroy him more times than you can remember. He’s killed your friends, your family, and has threatened to end the lives of everyone you hold dear.

You’ve attacked him countless times, devoting every second of each day to either the preparation or execution of an attack on Dracula. However, every time you strike, he laughs in your face and repulses you with ease. No matter what you throw at him, you and your team are lucky to just escape with your lives.

Now, put yourself in a situation where you have the upper hand. You are stranded in the Transylvanian Alps with Dracula. He’s weakened; he hasn’t tasted blood in days. He can’t change from his human form because of the howling winds. He’s keeping you alive in case he needs you as a food source.

Suddenly, from above, salvation! A majestic mountain ram, just as hungry and desperate as Dracula himself, drops from an overhanging ledge. Dracula is overpowered at once! He is completely unable to defend himself, the ram’s teeth sink into his flesh. All you have to do is watch, and he will be torn to pieces by the mighty beast. The culmination of your life’s quest rises before you.


Well, if you’re Rachel Van Helsing in Tomb of Dracula #20, you SHOOT the RAM because you can’t bear to see it kill DRACULA!

I repeat, she kills the wild animal to save Count Dracula. While sobbing.


I think Tomb of Dracula is maybe just lame. I was enjoying it in a superficial, old-skool Marvel way, but this is just ridiculous. I find early nineties Image comics to have more credible plot twists.

I need you to understand how much this frustrated me. I was reading it last night in our hotel room, and even though I wasn’t yet tired enough to go to sleep, I had to put the damn book down out of sheer irritation. The should have renamed this book "The Stupid Patrol Runs From Dracula", because that’s what it is.

Tomb of Dracula #20? You suck.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

All-Star Superman #1 - Yes, Please!

So, has anyone heard of this book? I'm surprised none of the other comic blogs are talking about it.

Seriously, this book was a great deal of fun. Grant Morrison is clearly relishing the chance to write an old-school Superman story, and I am certainly relishing the opportunity to read it. This is one series that I think will be even more enjoyable to read in serial format, and I haven't thought that about a book in awhile. Maybe my severely positive reaction to A-SS is a direct result of the ennuie brought on by the dragging, omnipresent monolith of corporate planning known as Infinite Crisis, but it's awesome to just read a great Superman story, one that doesn't promise Earth-shattering revelations every month, or guarantee to damage either the internet or our mental faculties with its sheer audacity. Morrison just provides the goods, month-in and month-out, to the point where, in order to truly blow my mind, a Morrison title would have to bore me. I don't always love his work (some parts of JLA and New X-Men didn't exactly thrill me), but I am never disengaged by it. It is always interesting and unique.

Quietly's art, while certainly verging on the grotesque at times (his faces sure do look like they're made of great big hunks of flesh, don't they?), is more than up to the task of providing a vsiual sense of the spectacle and awe that Morrison's story demands. His figures never lack energy, and the layouts and panel structures in this issue serve the dynamic power of the script to great effect. Those of you who haven't enjoyed his work in the past, however, won't find anything here to change your minds, I fear. This is Quietly at the top of his game, but it is very much still Quietly doing what he does, whether we like it or not (luckily I do, usually).

With this title, alongside his truly satisfying Seven Soldiers miniseries, Grant Morrison is certainly making a play to be named DC's MVP for this year. I'm just thankful that he's a part of the current "DC Council of Elders" who are shaping the direction the fictional universe will be taking for the forseeable future. It reassures me that, whatever treacle Johns, Waid, and Winick produce, there will be at least a few DC books around that I will be looking forward to.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

RealLife Takes a Craptastic Turn

So, blog posts from me will be sporadic, at best, for gods knows how long. The reason? A fire in the condo next door has resulted in significant smoke damage in my condo, and Tam, the cat and I have relocated to a hotel while our insurance adjuster works out the details. It is truly teh suck.

On the positive side no one was hurt, and we are fully insured so it should just be a matter of inconvenience rather than financial hardship in the long run. Still, virtually no internet access is shite, and I hope a couple of people are still reading this blog when I get back to making regular comments about the things I do to waste my time.

Oh, DMZ #1 was awesome!

Jhunt out!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Infinite Crisis #2 - Spoilers Abound!

Well, first off, it was nice to see Animal Man and his family again. Morrison's AM revamp was my first exposure to his writing, and made me a life-long fan. I even stuck with the series after he left the book, and only finally dumped the book following the 50th issue. Boy that comic went from great to absolute dreck, didn't it? So, it was a treat to check in with the Bakers.

That said, the remainder of the comic was an unmitigated let-down. I really thought I would be this book's target demographic, but thus far the plot seems tightly focused on characters I have no attachment to. I'm not interested in Donna Troy's return from the "dead", and I don't care what Power Girl's geneological tree looks like. Honestly, I'd prefer more Psycho Pirate over those two characters.

And then there is the massive info-dump that comprises the middle of this issue. I think this is the point in which any pretense of telling a genuine story is abandoned, and Geoff Johns admits to the readership that this is nothing more than a long-form "course correction" for the DC universe. Kal-L's monologue is so meta, such a blatent comment on the current state of DC Comics, that he ceases to be a character in a fictional story, and becomes instead Johns' proxy.

The comments themselves, basically that the DC universe has become far too dark and hopeless, seems curiously flawed to me. There are a few examples given of this grim n gritty-ness, but anyone with a working knowledge of the comics published by DC over the past 15 years knows that, while there were many dark, cynical stories published during that time, there were also many, many books that were light, even funny old-school superhero type stories.

The problem with these books, which included at various times Stars and STRIPE, Young Heroes in Love, Supergirl, and Hourman, was that they simply failed to sell. They were all, I believe, cancelled due to poor sales. So, is Kal-L thus levelling a criticism at the comic buyer? Is Johns saying that DC fans were wrong when they voted with their dollars to continue Lobo over YHIL? It's a bit odd, like Johns is telling readers to sit back and buy the books they need, rather than the books they want.

And then there's the kicker. The panel chosen to represent the ultimate descent of the DC universe into complete and utter darkness, the montage of scenes that pushed Kal-L to break free of his captivity in order to set things right, is composed entirely of scenes that occured in the build-up to Infinite Crisis. They are all events designed and orchestrated to darken the DCU prior to this very series. This disingenuous approach, tsk-tsking the events that he himself helped arange and set in motion, weakens the statement considerably. It makes the thesis invalid. Sigh.

Oh, hey, is that a new costume on Booster Gold, or is Jiminez just really off in his rendition? I only ask because there were a few places in this issue where the art seemed really shaky. Clearly, Jiminez hasn't got a handle on Power Girl yet, because I can't imagine his intention was to make her so grotesque.
And his older Kal-L Superman looked odd in places as well. I usually enjoy I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Perez's art, so I hope the drop in quality this issue is a result of deadlines or some such.

Finally, I'm not even going to touch the cliffhanger statement from Kal-L, except to say that it doesn't make sense, except in regards to the dictates of the plot. And that's not so good.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Kilmer Goes 2 For 2

I really appreciate it when I leave a movie theater glad that I was there. DVD has become such an overwhelming, Ultimate Nullifier-type force that I rarely go out to the movies, preferring instead to watch them in the comfort and security of my home. I like to watch my movies in a place where I can be certain no one is going to talk incessantly, or rustle with illicit candy, or even just have an annoying laugh. And where I don't need to wear pants.

So, when I do go to a movie, I really need it to be a great one. I saw Jarhead last week, and it was good, but the movie I saw last night is the one that will stick with me. Jarhead was good, but Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is great.

The first thing you need to know about KKBB is that the plot is irrelevant. Now, I'm not just saying that because it makes no attempt to resolve itself or maintain consistancy, it actually just doesn't matter. This movie is all about watching two of North America's greatest currently living actors bounce snappy, clever dialogue off each other. Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer are on f**king fire here.

You know how you'll watch a Val Kilmer movie sometimes, and you can almost see the contempt he feels for both the director and everyone else in the movie? Well in KKBB you can sometime catch a glimpse of the absolute glee he seems to have been feeling in making this movie. These two give razor-sharp performances that are hilarious, but never veer into caricature. And Kilmer, who also tore it up in Spartan, is absolutely mesmerizing as Gay Perry. It looks like he shed his notorious bad attitude along with the chub he's also dropped.

This movie has a story, but I'd have to draw a chart to try to explain it. And it still wouldn't make a lick of sense. It loosely folllows the outline of a dime-store detective novel, but all you really notice is Kilmer and Downey. They seem to almost egg each other on, and their interplay is riveting.

I'm buying this movie when it comes out on DVD, and I hope to god there's a commentary track on it, because I want to hear these two discuss the process they used, because the end product is, I think, the best buddy-movie of the past decade.

Yes, better than Tango & Cash. I know. That is f**king crazy. I know.

Oh, and best opening credits since Catch Me If You Can. Very slick.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Wedding Social

So, I haven't posted in a bit, and the main reason is that I'm still working away the hangover from my wedding social on Friday. A wedding social, for those of you not from the Canadian Praires, is a party put on by an engaged couple, in which tickets are sold for admission, drinks, and raffle prizes, with all monies raised going towards the cost of the wedding. It probably sounds pretty bizarre to outsiders, but it's a long-running Manitoba tradition.

It was a lot of fun, but my voice is still hoarse from all the chitchatting, and let's just say many beverages were enjoyed by yours truly. Luckily, I have the week off from work, so I'm hoping to be able to blog quite a bit. I just reread Avengers Forever, and my opinion of it has changed considerably. For the better or worse? Stay tuned!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Erik Larsen Makes No Sense

Just a quick note, cause I'm on the move today. Erik Larsen, whose work I enjoy for the most part, has written the strangest column I've read in quite a while. He seems to be ranting about not being able to recognize Bruce Wayne in a crowded room. It's just really weird stuff. It seems like he's expecting a lot of comic fans to agree with him, but I just don't see it. Honestly, when is the last time you were reading a Batman comic and actually couldn't figure out who Bruce Wayne was? Never, that's when.

I think he wants to give all famous characters eye-patches or a top hat or something, so he doesn't have to bust any brain cells finding the protagonist. And this is completely ignoring the point that Batman, not Bruce Wayne, is the star of the show. If anyone is having problems identifying Batman, then I think the latest issue of Detective Comics is the least of their problems.

Anyways, go read it here, and let me know if you understand what the heck he's going on about. Cause I'm just not getting it.

Besides, Bruce Wayne has an iconic look. It's the Jim Aparo version. True dat.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Bulleteer #1 - Um, good?

I think I really liked this comic. I'm pretty sure, anyways. Bulleteer, the latest Seven Soldiers mini, seems to be an examination of the public perception of superhumans, and the lengths one will go to in order to interact with them. It has definate shades of celebrity culture, and also addresses the body modification craze. It's a parody of cheesecake super-heroines, but it also embraces that very same cheescake asthetic through Yanick Paquette's artwork. It addresses internet culture, pornography, and the effect of classic super-hero origins on hospital wards.

In other words, this comic has cast a pretty wide net in terms of themes and focus.

I'm going to be very interested to see where this book goes. Its so abitious, conceptually, that I'm not sure how all of the different areas can be given their due. I think Grant Morrison has a tendancy to throw ideas against the wall and see what sticks, but in this case I'll be disapointed to see any of them get short shrift. I enjoyed this comic a great deal, and I really hope the rest of the mini lives up to this introductory issue.

The main character, Alix Harrower, is definately one of the strongest of the Seven Soldiers books thus far (behind only Klarion, in my eyes). She doesn't come off like a ditz or a ball-buster, but a complete person. She clearly has faults (um, inattention would seem to be the main shortcoming), but is clear-headed and kind. I like reading stories that don't feature brooding sociopaths or angst-ridden whiners. It's kind of a wake-up call when a failed suicide is the most positive protagonist I've read in a current DC comic recently.

Anyways, Bulleteer is the bizomb. I think it's overambitious, but I'd rather read a book that tries too many new things, than one that does the same crap all over again.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Marvel vs. DC: 70's Style

As I've mentioned, I'm currently reading Essential Tomb of Dracula vol 1. What I don't think I've revealed thus far is that I'm also working my way through Essential Defenders vol. 1.

I, a lifelong DC fan, am expanding my comicbook horizons, and sampling a brick-sized portion of Mighty Marvel in the 70s.

And it is blowing my mind.

I mean, were the Marvel writers in the 70s being paid by the pound or something? Each character feels the unrelenting desire to verbalize every single aspect of their thoughts and actions, using as many words as humanly possible! It's actually kind of exhausting to read. I read these books in bed before I hit the sack at night, and I rarely get through more than an issue before I conk out.

It's not that I dislike the writing style, it's just such a complete adjustment to someone whose primary Classic Comic Experience consists of Shooter-era LSH reprints. Where Lightning Lad might thought-balloon:

"*Sob* Maybe they're right! Maybe I am a menace to everyone around me! *Choke"

Hawkeye would say:

"Great ginger beer! Can those big-headed browbeaters have a point? Could I, Hawkeye, the sureshooting archer with the deadeye aim, be a menace to everyone I love? It can't be true, can it?! But why not? I've never really felt comfortable among these flatdomed uptights. Maybe it's time I, Hawkeye, masterful marvel of mirth and marksmanship, took my ever-lovin' quiver and made a quick fade!"

These Marvel heroes have some incredible lung capacity. And they must talk faster than the Flash himself. I've seen heroes go through whole character arcs during the time it takes to close their finger around a trigger. I'm not kidding.

Keep in mind, this is not even taking into account the fact that the Marvel Universe has a significantly higher population of characters who speak with serious affectations. In these two Essential volumes alone you have a veritable Who's Who of the worst verbal offenders: Sub-Mariner, Dr. Strange, Silver Surfer, Dracula... hell, they even stick a little Thor in there just to remind you of the original fancy-talker!

And then there's the Hulk. I think I just don't get the Hulk. He's been a fan favorite for like 40 years, but reading his dialogue throughout his various "dumb Hulk" periods makes me cringe. Here's a fun game: whenever you're reading a "dumb Hulk" story, pretend all dialogue is being spoken by Super Baby. Just change all instances of "Hulk" (because 'Ol Green Skin loves himself some third person) to "Me" and see if it fits. Because it will.

And your mind will be blown.

What I like about these 70s Marvel comics (because clearly it's not the dialogue) is the bats**t crazy, anything-could-happen plots. The Defenders fight a fuzzy monster with a steel dome on his head. Hey, that's a little weird, but not too weird, right? Yeah, well that fuzzy monster is hosting a children's show a la Barney in order to mind-control all of the viewing children into returning with him to his home planet.

'the f**k?

It's completely awesome in its sheer lunacy. You just can't read something like that without gaining a certain measure of respect for the creative team. Especially because, unlike modern comics, there is no *wink* to the reader. This book treats the Space Barney Menace as if it were as deadly as a heart attack, and shame on the foolish reader who disagrees. I admire that.

And I admire Marvel in the 70s, when it seems there was no concept too far out there to try, if only for a month or two. I hear the next volume of Defenders is even more bananas, especially once Steve Gerber comes on board. I don't even want to think about what that could possibly entail.

I have visions of giant lactating space-oysters who need Valkyrie's metal chest-plate to signal their spaceship in order to attack Atlantis.

And just like that, I'm sold.