Thursday, March 30, 2006

Old Man River

Well, I thought in honor of my 100th post, the least could do is turn 30 before your eyes. So that's what I've done today. Anyone want to know what a 30-year old man looks like in the morning? Wonder no longer.

I think I'll hit the comic book store today, as I am still immature enough to take the day off work. I still need to pick up the 2nd Seven Soldiers tpb, and Beck vol3 as well.

Wow, that picture is frightening. Sorry if anyone clicked over and was trying to eat or something.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Amazing Spider-Man #530: Marvel Thinks You're Thick

I still haven't quite decided if I'm going to read the bulk of Marvel's fast-approaching Civil War event. It initially sounded fairly interesting, especially for a Marvel event (warning:bias revealed). Like most Marvel mega-events, however, what is promised in the concept is rarely present in the execution. Yes, I'm looking at you, House of M.

The gearing up process for Civil War is taking the form of Peter Parker and his new father-surrogate Tony Stark travelling to Washington to oppose some pseudo Mutant Registration Act that would affect all costumed vigilantes. That's perfectly serviceable as a way to introduce the overconcept for the event, but the way the field trip, and especially the relationship between Peter and Tony, is being presented is making my teeth hurt.

You see, Spider-Man has clearly developed a strong non-sexual crush on Iron Man. It's just really, really weird. He's taken to wearing an outfit that Stark has provided, and even though the outfit could appear in any form (even his classic red'n'blues), he has decided to leave it a metallic supersuit with a decidedly Iron Man-based color scheme.

Honestly, I dont even understand how police officers are recognizing him as Spider-Man. As far as I can tell, they should just think he's some new super guy. Unless maybe Stark International sent out a press release detailing Spidey and Iron Man's new BFF relationship. It's possible I missed that issue.

The most distracting aspect of IM and Spider-Man's new Brotherhood of True Admiration, however, is Spider-Man's complete obsession with addressing by a new nickname. Peter Parker, the world's most irreverent Spider-based superhuman, seems virtually unable to call Stark anything but "boss". Constantly. Ad nauseam. Emphasis on the nauseum.

It's a form of cow-towing, and it jars. I get Peter Parker admiring Tony Stark. It makes a lot of sense. But this swooning, sycophantic behavior is a bad choice. There are ways to show a father-bond without having one character call the other "my new daddy" every couple of pages.

Oh, and his new phallic backback is every bit as silly as you may have suspected. If not sillier.

Related Posts:
Spyder-Mann Iz Teh Extreem!!
Ladies And Gentlemen....

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Icebox: Today's "New-To-You" Website

Remember when there were awesome new websites popping up everyday? Back in the day, people were so convinced that the internet was a diamond-encrusted goldmine that they were throwing money at big-name talent to produce content for their sites. Sadly, in most cases, the Emperor had no clothes, and most of the flashy (and often flash-animated) websites have folded, or at least stopped producing new content.

One such site is Icebox was a site that offered 4 minute "webisodes" of flash cartoons. And they were kick-ass cartoons. Queer Duck, Mr. Wong, The Elvis and Jack Nicklaus Mysteries. They were all top-notch little time-killers.

And there were big names producing cartoons on Icebox. Peter Bagge with Rock 'n' Roll Dad. Larry David with The Paula Principle. Bill Corbett with Poker Dogs.

But the best thing on Icebox was definately Superhero Roommate. Created by Simpson's writer Matt Selman, Superhero Roommate boasted the vocal talents of Dave Foley and Mr. Show's Brian Posehn. When I was working overnights at the radio station about five or six years ago, Superhero Roommate was what got me through the long, slow stretches inbetween newscasts.

Icebox was one of many websites to attempt to go to a micro-payment model, which must not have been the success they had hoped. New content screeched to a complete stop shortly thereafter, and my interest in the site faded.

The site now seems to have released the existing episodes of all their shows to the wild, so it is definately worth a visit if you haven't seen them in years, or especially if you haven't seen them at all.

Tam's heading to Grand Forks today to buy American consumer goods, so I will have ample opportunity to crack a Coke Zero and revisit those crazy days when dot-com money fell from the sky, and Flash cartoons could still make you believe a man could fly. Even if he wouldn't take out the garbage.

God Bless you, Superhero Roommate!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Link? Blog?

I'm leading off with this ASB&RtBW Frank Miller variant cover because :
a) it's very nice, and
b) it just indicates how all-powerful is the Batgirl meme. None may resist the power of the Batgirl meme. Bow before the meme!

Mike Chary is the first (at least that I've read) to take the contrary position in regards to the V For Vendetta movie. I certainly don't agree with his contention that the V movie is better than Alan Moore and David Lloyd's comic (especially as he seems at times to equate "more likeable" with "better"), but it is an entertaining post nonetheless, especially the Top 10 Ways the Movie was Different from the Comic Book. Look, maybe The Incredibles was more likeable than Waking Life, but I would much rather rewatch Richard Linklater's oddly-paced series of monolgues on conciousness and dreams. I liked it, and it didn't evaporate like fairy-dust immediately after the credits rolled.

Mike Sterling is merciless in his clipping of reader reviews of Alan Moore's seminal comicbook works. It serves as a bleak reminder that the internet is permanent, folks, and if you write something silly... it will be held up for ridicule at some point. This excerpt of a From Hell review was my favorite:
(headlined "It's A Big Comic Book!") "I did not realize when I ordered it that it was just pages of illustrations with TINY LITTLE WRITING coming out of the various character's mouths. The writing was so small, I could hardly read it, and finally just gave up."
That's just beautiful.

Hypnoray is right smack-dab in the middle of drinking in the wonderfulness that is the DC Showcase Presents Superman phonebook, and he's lucky enough to get sick enough to require a "bed day" while doing so! Boy, I have to admit I'm actually a little jealous. I picked up the Superman Family Showcase volume on Saturday, and I think I would really appreciate getting to take a day or two to wear my pyjamas 24-7, slurp chicken noodle soup, and watch Jimmy Olsen make a world-class nuisance out of himself. Sweet, stupid, headstrong Jimmy Olsen. God bless him.

Sparky at Trusty Sidekicks has some underwear that my fiance should thank her lucky stars I have never come across in a store. Seriously, I would wear those. Probably ironically, but not definately. Hell, if I still had my Spider-Man underoos from when I was six I would probably try to squeeze into them. So, um, I guess it's rather a good thing that I don't.

In closing, I have to admit, in the wake of the announcement of a forthcoming Showcase volume, that I have never read a single issue of The Phantom Stranger. My experience with the character is pretty much limited to his brief, cryptic appearances in DC's mega-crossovers and that weird issue of Secret Origins that posited four entirely seperate possible origins for the Stranger.
Were his solo stories any good? Was he more of a Cain & Abel type host for horror shorts, or did he actively have his own adventures? I honestly have no idea. It's kind of a gaping hole in my DC knowledge, no?

Related Posts:
V For Vendetta: Preview Review
Superman Ragdolls the JLA Up and Down the Street

Thursday, March 16, 2006

V For Vendetta: Preview Review

First, a small disclaimer. I last read V For Vendetta about 3 years ago, so I am quite fuzzy on the specific plot of the comic. As a result, while I am going to try to keep this review from becoming a movie/comic comparison. If I should do a little compare and constrast, it is very possible that I may err when describing the comic proper. Which is why I'll try to avoid it, when possible.

V the movie is very good. I'll just get that out of the way right off the top. It's stylish and engrossing, and the director, James McTeigue, managed to resist the temptation to Matrix-ize the production, for the most part. There are a couple of scenes that involve some CGI work, but it's smooth and unintrusive. (i.e. there's no bullet-time, for what it's worth.)

Elements of the comic have been rejigged, some just a little and some quite a bit. Most noticeably, the character of Gordon has been changed quite considerably.

I think the changes work, for the most part. Readers of Alan Moore and David Lloyd's original comic might swoon at the thought of changing anything, but this is not an arthouse film, and should be approached as a studio picture. And as a studio picture, it certainly engages the audience, putting forth a message of active resistance against oppression that is more complex than is common among Hollywood action movies.

The character of V is a difficult one, both in nature and logistics. V is so over-the-top, so animated in his speech and mannerisms, that it must be quite difficult to pull of without veering into caricature. I think if the wrong notes were hit, it would be rather easy to see V as a cartoonish character, someone like Bugs Bunny. Hugo Weaving does incredible work with his voice and body language, lending V a sense of nobility and sadness that is easily discernable, despite the abence of facial expression to serve as cue.

Natalie Portman is excellent as Evie. Acting opposite a dynamic personage such as V puts a great deal of pressure on the other lead. The audience must feel connected to Evie, especially when plot dictates that V disappear from the screen for great stretches of time throughout the film. I didn't once fidget during the Evie scenes, didn't once wish that V would show up and slash somebody or deliver a rousing speech, and I think that speaks of the power of Portman's performance.

V For Vendetta is a dark movie, but does contain scenes of great humor and heart. While ostensibly a movie about social problems, about facism and the risks inherent in giving up perosnal freedoms in the pursuit of security, V is very much at heart a movie about the relationship between V and Evie. I believe that a large part of why the movie connects and succeeds is the strength of the performances. I wasn't simply concerned about the plight of futuristic Great Britain, but heavily emotionally invested in the V/Evie interactions.

It's a movie about ideas as much as people. But the ideas would never have stuck, never would have been able to take root without the care that was given to characters exploring those ideas.

Highly recommended, whether you've read the comic or not.

Oh, and the song that plays over the end credits is genius. I left the theatre looking for a fascist government to overthrow. So watch yourself, Stephen Harper.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

V For Free

I'm looking forward to checking out V For Vendetta tonight (preview passes are the bizomb). I haven't read the comic in a few years, so it should feel pretty fresh. I was tempted to reread before seeing the movie, but ultimately decided to not sully my film-going experience with too many direct book-film comparisons. Hopefully, I'll be able to look at the movie as just that: a movie.

I'll try to drop some commentary tomorrow on what I thought of the flick, as it will be the rare ocassion where I actually have something of note to share. I haven't been reading a ton of comics lately, and have been watching mostly old Doctor Who episodes (about which I fear I have already spent far too much time blogging). So, it's been another slow stretch at Sleep Is For Suckers.

On the bright side, at least I'm not bothering anybody with space-filler posts. Um, except that's kind of what this is...


Friday, March 10, 2006

Everybody Loves the Giff

If you dig on Keith Giffen like I do, then you'll definately want to check out a big ol' interview done with the man himself on Newsarama. Keith is current in the middle of some very high-profile stuff for both DC and Marvel, but this interview isn't strictly a "press release primer", as it goes into the roots and highlights of his long and storied career.

I'm a huge Giffen fan, from his early LSH work, through the 5-year-gap Legion, and right up to his more recent Hero Squared book. Heck, I even liked PunX. But my favorite Giffen title, and in fact one of my favorite short-run comics ever, is The Heckler.

I think The Heckler is one of those perfect comics. It only lasted six issues, but my god, what a six issues! Ambush Bug will always hold a special place in my colelction, but it's Heckler that I really appreciate.

If DC ever trade-paperbacked this title, I will go on record as saying I will buy a copy. I guess the ball is in your court, DC! That's one guaranteed sale that you'd be throwing away!


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Night Trippers: Choice Cut

Newsarama has a nice little write-up of what looks to me like an excellent soon-to-be-released graphic novel from Image. Night Trippers is "vampires in the 60s music scene", and that sounds pretty boss to me. And if that description isn't enough for you, there's also a 22-page preview available.

I actually have only looked at a couple of pages of the preview, because 22 pages is a bit excessive for me. I'm planning on buying the book when it comes out in May, and I'd rather not have already read more than 10 % of the story. But if you need a long look before deciding whether this book is for you, go to the 'Rama and fill yer boots.

The book has a very nice website too, and in the grand tradition of NextWave a theme song is available there for download. There's also audio interviews from the world of Night Trippers and quite a bit of extra info about the book's setting and creators.

I like the look of this book, and I'm certainly happy to support creators that are putting this much effort and care into their work. When Night Trippers streets in May, I'll gladly buy a copy.

It's nice to be excited about a book that isn't about masked crimefighters. I'm not about to stop digging on old-school comics, but a change of pace is not only welcome, but highly recommended.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

My Heroic Finale

Crash has been watched. Yes, that means that I have wholeheartedly completed my self-challenge of watching all five Best Picture nominees prior to the Acadamy Awards telecast. It was maybe a bit theatrical of me to wait until the final days to complete my mission, but in the end all that matters is that I did it.

Crash was amazing, by the way. It was probably the Best Picture nominee that I was least looking forward to seeing, and it turned out to be second only to Good Night and Good Luck in my personal ranking.

Besides, any movie that manages to get high-quality performances out of Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock deserves our support, I believe. Tam loved it too, and best of all, it was the type of movie that spurred a great discussion after it ended. Too many movies are completely disposable. Enjoyable while you watch them, but instantly forgettable once you are done. Crash was not one of those type of movies.

I may have enjoyed GN&GL slightly more, but that probably owes more to my status as a politics geek and a Cold War "buff" than to any superiority of the film over Crash.

Crash is higly recommended, and I don't think I'd be disappointed to see it win Best Picture.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Criterion Is Reading My Mind!

I'm on the Criterion DVD email newsletter list, as I'm sure absolutely none of you know or care. However, it is minutely possible that some of you might be a little bit interested in the following bit of rumour. In the latest email, there is a small cartoon on the very bottom of one dog saying to another "Were you Dazed & Confused last month, or just Kicking and Screaming?".

Criterion has already revealed that they are preparing a new edition of D&C for release, but the news that actually made my heart skip a beat was the reference to Kicking and Screaming. I have to believe that this means that Criterion is also preparing a release of Noah Baumabach's first film, and not the Will Farrell comedy from last year.

K&S is probably my favorite comedy of all time. I have a VHS tape with the movie on it that I taped off Canadian Bravo about 8 years ago, and I was relatively certain that that tape would have to last me the rest of my life, because there was no reason to think that it would ever be released on DVD.

And then came The Squid & The Whale. Critically acclaimed, and Acadamy Award nominated. Noah Baumbach, who had been working with Wes Anderson of late, was back on the map as a writer/director in his own right.

Could this be true? Will I soon have not only a DVD copy of Kicking and Screaming, but a gadblamming CRITERION EDITION?

If they are f**king with me I cannot be responsible for what happens. I really can't.

1YL -I Don't Get the Roll-Out

So, was there a SNAFU because Infinite Crisis is running a little behind? Or was 1YL always intended to begin while IC was still in full swing? Because we're seeing the initial offerings of the future DCU in comic stores this week, the same week as IC #5.

It's a little jarring to start reading about the aftermath of a crossover that hasn't run its course yet, s'all I'm saying.

I can't wait for 52* to start up, though. The Question has been the s**t since the O'Neil/Cowan days, and while I never really grokked on the last "urban shaman" interepretation of the character, I can certainly get excited about seeing him brought closer to the JLU version. The DCU can use someone shuffling through it's dark underbelly, making the connections that quite possible shouldn't ever come to light. Cooooool.

I like what I'm seeing from DC lately. I think we're getting close to the part of the story that I want to read. The part where things move back into the light, and betrayal and casual sadism are the exception, not the rule.

Plus, the end of this uber-crossover event means it will become much, much easier to completely ignore books I don't enjoy. Like Outsiders. Blech.