Thursday, March 22, 2007
Directed by Zack Snyder
Written by Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad and Michael Gordon
Based on the Graphic Novel by Frank Miller & Lynn Varley
Me as a boy was fetishistic about history ,long as you could boil it down to pulpy juvenalia - - - so yes to Alexander, no to Captain Cook. The Battle of Thermopylae was one saga full-on with fetish. Boiling it down to hardboiled grit , Frank Miller's comic spoke to that boy in me. Snyder is that boy,too - - -except with bigger , shinier toys at his disposal. So his 300 is reckless, irreverent, overacted but spectacularly choreographed combatporn that feels like a game engine wrote it. And does nothing to up his stock as little more than a hired gun hack-in-waiting with a trustfund to burn on post. But the macho eyecandy is severely engrossing man opera - - - history boiled down to pulpy juvenalia, really. Me acting my age wishes more was done with it. But the boy in me's hyperventilating in skirmish ecstasy. * * *
Monday, March 19, 2007
by Warren Ellis with Cliff Nielsen, Terese Nielsen and Chris Moeller
Marvels - - -or its cracked mirror self, right down to Phil Sheldon slowly and inexorably dying of the virus in its plot twist. That's the high concept, anyway. And this manner of wholesale black comic cul-de-sac nihilism is the specific make and model of kung fu Ellis is a master of. Structurally wonky as Marvels,sure. And the story feels more like extended prologue than narrative with arc. But you're meant to digest this in pockets. Spasms of viscous imagery like fever-dream hallucinations. That crackling airport set piece with Magneto for one. And T'Challa in cahoots with Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. In no more than a single panel sometimes or a single , precise line of prose, Ellis enlivens Marvel's haggard franchises - - - " . . .they called her a shapeshifter and said that being so many people in a short space of time gave her multiple personality disorder" is Mystique, " . . .then he started to swell" is Bruce Banner's metamorphosis, " . . . technically dead - - -facial fat flying off his torched head like hot rain" is Ghost Rider - - -before vandalising them beyond repair. You can almost hear him cackle with thick and palpable and catchy-like-dengue glee at his flambuoyant desecration of the Marvel Universe. Maybe it's the space my head's in now - - -superhero comics suck eggs - - -that makes all this sacred cow buttfucking , all this geek fetish soiling, ring with blunt force trauma and makes me cackle with glee,too : President Xavier, Quicksilver a human torso, Silver Surfer as space junk, Galactus is God and God is dead , Thor as crackpot cult guru, Captain America as outlaw - - -whoa! Back up. Hmmmm. The Ultimates/Civil War in embryo? Oh, Mark Millar, you naughty boy.
* * * *
Monday, March 12, 2007
Old fogey's about to talk. Clear the room.
I finished my penultimate Phonogram and it is brilliant. I finished my Authority , my New Universal. Good, good. I finished three weeks' worth of stash. Uh huh. There is new Ellis, Morrison, Gaiman, Ennis , even Moore out there. But something's off. This isn't prime Ellis, Morrison, Gaiman, Ennis or Moore. There's no crackle. Been missing for months. Nothing but a kind of cursory going through motions of an old habit that dies hard.
I miss it. The crackle.
I used to get it on a weekly basis - - -back when we all worked at the salt mines, back when comics felt like superconductive narcotics. Today's comics, to force a pop metaphor here, smacks of Don't Believe The Truth-era Oasis. Back then,it was Definitely Maybe/Morning Glory ,week after week after week , courtesy of Comic Oddysey in Robinson's Place - - - Planetary and TransMet, Pop Gun War, Grant's X Men and Flash runs and later Vimanarama and of course The Invisibles and The Filth, all three Vertigo Pop!s , Black and White and No.5, Love and Rockets, Moore's entire ABC line but specially Top 10 and LoEG and of course From Hell, Allred's Madman and The Atomics, Astronauts In Trouble, Dylan Robinson's Reporter , Starman, Preacher, Ashley's Automatic Kafka and Popbot, the random Concrete and Hellboy, Steampunk. There was crap back then, of course - - -DC 1 Million , Strange Kiss, 1602, Tomorrow Stories, parts of Promethea - - - but mostly the stash crackled weekly .
None of that is happening now. There isn't a single superhero comic I've picked up in the last twelve months or so (except All Star Superman , NextWAVE and The Ultimates) that I haven't felt a pang of regret over forking out my hard-earneds. Not that they were any bad. Some of them were OK. But that's the thing. They were merely OK. And superhero comics that are merely OK sharpen into relief the inescapable fact that superhero comics are essentially . . . um, silly. Superhero comics have to be very good to transcend that inherent silliness. They have to have a buzz. They have to crackle. There has been none of that for me of late. Maybe I'm just jaded. Maybe I've been collecting for soooo long, nothing surprises me anymore. Maybe comics were really better four years ago when my collecting was at its peak. We are,after all, living in a mainstream superhero climate where the best/bestselling writer on the block is Mark Millar
- - -well he isn't , he just likes reminding us all that he is. Sounds Palanc
. . .este . . . familiar,eh?
That's old fogey talk, of course. So maybe the geek in me is dying a slow death.
I don't think so, though. I am still looking for that crackle.
Darwyn Cooke's The Spirit has it - - its my favorite comic out there. I am checking out Moon Knight for Mico Suayan's art, and so should you - - -Charlie Huston's writing definitely has crackle of a sort but Mico's art just bristles. Jeff Smith's Shazam and the Monster Society of Evil is very good so far. Otherwise , I don't think I'll find that crackle in the pages of DC or Marvel . I'm thinking The Nightly News might have it. I'm waiting for Paul Pope to go creator-owned again. James Robinson, too. Grant should do something soon now that that 52 flapdoodle's wrapping up. Ellis has his novel. Brian Wood, Matt Fraction, Marc-Antoine Matthieu,The Goon. I haven't read Moore's Lost Girls or Clowes' Eightball:Death Ray yet - - -but I will. Beck and Planetes and Embalmer and Fruits Basket look promising. Allred's returning to comics soon. The Hernandez Brothers haven't left. And Farel Dalrymple is working on something. Travis Charest,too. Godland.
So no, I don't think the geek in me's gone soft or terminal. I'm not giving up on comics,after all.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
story JAY FAERBER
art MAHMUD ASRAR
cover MAHMUD ASRAR & RON RILEY
Image has got me, got me good. If my partner ever asked me (God forbid. Seriously, God.) to drop a couple of titles for money reasons, then I would whip out my list of non-negotiables of which three titles are from Image, for now at least: Robert Kirkman's INVINCIBLE and WALKING DEAD, and Warren Ellis' FELL. Well, make that four. Jay Faerber's DYNAMO 5.
See, I'm a sucker for superheroes and only a few are exciting me right now. The WildStorm reboots suck eggs, just get on with the action already. DC's good old faithfuls just seem to be wading through to the next big event. I'm enlisted on all Brubaker titles over at Marvel (except the lost in space Xmen) but other than that, meh.
So Dynamo 5. Fresh writing. Action-packed. Stepmom gathers her dead husband's (Captain Dynamo. Invincible and Atomic Eve were at the funeral. Cool.) illegitimate children and forms a team. The kids are different enough to be memorable and stupid enough to make you care for them. And the stepmom? Nick Fury in a skirt, but way scarier.
Secrets. Sibling rivalry. Sibling flirting. I'm on board with this one.****
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Civil War outs itself as the glorified setup it really is and leaves the comics world sans Millar for a few months - - - always a good sign but where the fuck is Ultimates 13?
Dr. Strange : The Oath outs itself as not bad but not much.
Eternals outs itself as Gaiman's finest work in a long while - - -and still no Gaimanhead outside of the three of us here seem to like it, let alone read it, let alone heard of it. Not grafiction enough? O hindi lang siya talaga uso ? Pweh!
X Men is starting to bore me a bit (so what else is new?). . . but Bachalo's coming back so I'm still on it, half-heartedly.
This end to cash-in miniserieses and (shortcircuiting of attention span) bodes well for my economy. Only Grant's All Star Superman , Cornell's Wisdom , Illuminati and Phonogram await finishing and little looms over the horizon that has me by the claws- - -except Lethem and Dalrymple's Omega, after a fashion(Lethem can be terribly literary and unfun, though) , and then there's Ellis's debut novel Crooked Little Vein.
My pull list is now down to six - - - Darwyn Cooke's fiendishly entertaining The Spirit revamp is my favorite - - - and until Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie release a new book, I think it'll stay that way.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
For the sake of my future.
Some of the limited series(es?) will be wrapping up soon so that's a couple. Still on the fence with COUNTDOWN. But the latest issue of FLASH: The Fastest Man Alive is actually okay so that's a plus one.
Or. I can just not eat.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Gods that we also call superheroes.
Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr. take on the daunting task of resurrecting one of Jack Kirby’s shiny gods, The Eternals. Issue #7 came out yesterday and just like any proper geek porn collector, I took all the issues out from the box and started reading from the first issue all over again.
As a serial, Eternals was underwhelming mostly due to the months in between issues. And if you pick-up quite a number of titles, the slow awakening of each Eternal was too leisurely paced to be memorable compared to, let’s say, the appearance of Thor on the last panel of Civil War #3.
The entire seven issues in one sitting make all the difference. A fourth world of difference. Cinematic, thanks mostly to Romita Jr’s strong, square-jawed, supersized art. And epic. Which is the tricky part. The story is quite familiar; American Gods meets Paul Jenkins’ The Sentinel. Gaiman takes his time to introduce the men and women who would be gods. Quirky has always been his game; Sersi as a flighty party planner is just precious and Makkari the struggling stubbled intern is, ahem, sexy. As the events turn from dangerous to fucked up, all their inner gods awaken and they do save the world just in the nick of time.
Is it as good as The Sandman thingy?
Maybe even better. Seasons of Mist is the only book that I’ve read more than once. And that serial killer convention arc. Blame it on age but I just can’t get back into the ominous saccharine of the Endless anymore. But I still dig the toys.
Eternals is Gaiman at his most relaxed. Technicolor compelling. This is Gaiman writing superheroes. Mythical, yeah, but still superheroes. And he delivers. The funnies. (Digging Yellow Jacket here.) The action. The larger than life. Gaiman is back to being “my man, Gaiman.”
Stripped of gothic men in drag, his storytelling is blade sharp, slicing and dicing the reader’s defenses with characters that pulsate with pain, anger, deliverance.
Eternals ends with quiet tragedy and a new quest, and quite ready to be picked up by a new writer. Just in time for J. Straczynski’s relaunch of Thor. And the return of the New Gods over at DC.
Gods do live forever.