Saturday, May 27, 2006

X-3: Funeral for a Franchise

Really upsetting in it's dumbassery. I had known it wasn't going to be good when I heard Ratner was going to take it over, but I think I kind of psyched myself out at the last minute. What the hell?

Really missed the mark. Singer knew how to really communicate the essence of the characters, and he also knew how to take them on an arc. Look at the first two movies... they actually tell a story where people grow and change, just like real life. If you never read the books, you would still know everything you needed to know about those characters and that world. X-3 has none of that. It's just plot... and all the characters are there to serve it, and it relies too much on having gotten to know the characters through the first two movies.

Like a good nerd, I did like some things:

- I liked the explanation of the Phoenix. Good way to get around the whole "Cosmic Entity" aspect.
- Fastball Special.
- Kitty Pryde (More for seeing her in action rather than her usage as a wedge between Bobby and Rogue.)
- Beast (Same as above, but replace "as a wedge between Bobby and Rogue" with "as a replacement for Nightcrawler.)
- Wolverine really making use out of that healing factor of his.

Some things that bugged me/made me laugh out loud:

- Xavier dropping the whole "I put blocks in her mind" bit. Felt unnatural, not that he wouldn't do something like that, but that he chose that moment to reveal it to Logan without any kind of provocation.
- Scott totally gets punked and killed off-camera. Wow, Fox must have been pissed at Marsden.
- Logan totally gets punked and made to cry like a baby, twice!
- Magneto needing the whole bridge to get to Alcatraz. Also, it seems there are some missing hours between when he drops the thing and when he turns to attack. Goes from day to night in one cut.
- Depowering Mystique. She was one of the standouts from X2, and I wanted to see more of her.


Friday, May 19, 2006

New Comics 5/19

I didn't buy much new this week.

Batman: Year 100 #4- Emotionally satisfying conclusion to a good Batman story. I think Pope played this out just right, and I wonder if he was keyed into the same desire to make the character more accessible as he is on the OYL books. I like how his identity is resolved in the end.

52 Week #2- Like a lot of people reading this, I'm wondering how long I'm going to stick with this series, not that I'm not enjoying it, but the portion control is a bit much. There are a lot of storylines going on, and they don't seem to be connecting anytime soon. I may switch to just buying a month's worth, and then reading all four issues in one go. One critique: the scene with Montoya in bed seemed totally gratuitous...

Young Avengers: Sidekicks TPB- I picked this up on recommendation by one of the CGS guys. I'm about halfway through it, and am enjoying it. The dialogue has a snap to it and it is steeped in enough continuity to reward older readers but won't hinder new readers.

Trading Spaces

It seems that the comic shop of my youth is mostly gone, and I just realized what it is being replaced with.

It used to be that a comic shop carried new books and back issues... long box after long box of back issues. Part of the fun back then was filing through those long boxes, looking for that handful of issues that would complete a run, or discovering something by accident. The hunt, to me, was half the fun of reading comics.

After the bust in the 90's, fewer and fewer shops maintained their back issues. Mostly they were replaced by gaming paraphenalia or toys or both. Older shops that survived might have them, but newer shops mostly didn't even bother. I understood the economics of this, the burden of devoting so much floorspace to an archive, but I just didn't agree with it. The most attractive aspect to comics is the strong sense of continuity, and how can that sense be maintained without a way to verify it (ie. back issues)?

And then I just had the most startling revelation, startling in that I didn't catch on sooner. The trades have replaced the back issue. It occurred to me in a shop yesterday... lately I've been trying to catch up on a few series I missed during my years of semi-retirement from reading... as I perused through the selection of trades available. To me, trades were always a sign of a successful miniseries or particular run on a regular series, dressed up and represented for collectors to place on their bookshelf. It never occurred to me that they were simply a viable replacement for back issues.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Event Fatigue

Not to crab, but I'm kind of wiped out right now. In the last week we saw one company's major event wrap up (kinda) and another company's start. Whew.

Not that I mind the Big Event, mind you. It's one of the reasons that drew me further into this kind of storytelling in the first place. I was only collecting a handful of Marvel comics when the first Secret Wars dropped, and that Big Event fully activated my geek gene. Soon after, the original Crisis came along, and then I had two universes to keep tabs on. I love the idea of a shared universe, and characters from different creative impulses or origins coming together and interacting (And this is not limited to comics, as my girlfriend can attest. She would watch me geek out over the old, semi-regular Law & Order/Homicide crossovers).

I just feel I need a breather, almost. Infinite Crisis, with it's preludes and buildups, has been going on for over a year (Longer if you count Identity Crisis) and the story tension kind of got rolled over into 52 and the miriad OYL series, so it's almost like it's not over. Civil War just started, and I'm checking that out (at least for a few issues, anyway).

Some brief thoughts:

Infinite Crisis 7- Kind of a mixed bag, for me. In terms of the Trinity, I felt that there was a nice resolution to their conflict. If you figure that they are the hub of the DC universe, then any changes one would want to effect on the universe as a whole would stem from them. Having them "gone" for a year is brilliant move, I believe. I know there will be bits of retcon here and there, but having them go on vacation is a great way to reinvent them without starting from scratch.

I feel a bit iffy about the resolutions regarding Alexander and Superboy Prime. I missed the Secret Files special, but I still feel the main series lacked any kind of depth on their end. I think as a reader, I was asked to fill in too much as far as their motivations. What perfect Earth was Alexander looking for, and why would villains taking over this Earth be an acceptable plan B? I'm not alone in thinking he was being manipulated himself, but in the end he was acting alone. I'm also uncomfortable with the idea of holding over Superboy Prime as some kind of boogeyman for future exploitation (interesting observation here on the logistics of keeping Superboy in lockdown).

52- Loved it. I never really cared much for Booster, though I always thought he had potential. He's a loser from the future, looking for fame and fortune in the believed certainty of the past. There's a great character arc for a writer willing to take him on that journey. Also glad to see the Question will be involved, as well as Ralph Dibny. Since Identity Crisis, I've been craving some kind of resolution for him.

Civil War- I didn't intend on buying this book. The Marvel universe has seemed so chaotic to me since the 90's that I'm rarely interested in picked up anything on a regular basis. Usually a writer I trust or pretty artwork will tempt me. I saw that Mark Millar was involved, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

It's an interesting premise. Many bits of current pop and news culture sprinkled in for that air of plausibilty: reality show featuring c-listers and has-beens, a Cindy Sheehan-like figure (though her son's name was Damien... Damien... does that strike anyone else as odd?) My favorite bit was the Secretary sharing that Cap bought lunch for the pilot he hijacked... I don't know if it's literal or anecdotal, but it doesn't matter, because it's both in a way. Cap's a living legend, and this detail nicely underscores that perception of his character.

I'll hang out a bit on this one, though I need to do some research... Ms. Marvel and Jessica Drew are back? And when did Bryan Deemer find his way into the Marvel universe?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

What the Fuh?

Points to my girlfriend who, during last night's climax on Lost, said, "Just because they got a DUI?"

(According to this interview, apparently not.)

Still rattled over what I saw. I can only guess is that (a) Michael has upped in his desperation to get Walt back, desperate enough to kill a few people and blame Henry Gale, leading to a war with the Others or (b) He's been brainwashed somehow by the Others, and this is part of some plan. I'm thinking (a) is more likely, though I'd hate to see his character take that turn, unless, of course, he's just cracked right now. Up until he shot himself, I thought he might be a brainwashed assassin, sent to kill Henry.

I have a sneaking suspicion that there is more than one group of Others... I can't explain it, it's just a feeling. There's a duality in their actions so far that's been bugging me up to now.


Haven't been to the comic shop this week. I'm putting off a visit until FCBD, just to gauge if it's having any effect on bringing in new readers.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Like Comicon, but with Books...

Last Saturday, we attended the LA Times Festival of Books. We've gone the last three years, but this was the first time that I actually attended one of the "Conversations with..."

I went to see Chip Kidd. He's been my favorite graphic designer for a while. I think I first saw his work in the Batman Animated book from a while ago. It isn't just your run-of-the-mill survey of the show. It's clearly aimed at those who are interested in how a show is made, and puts the reader behind the scenes. It's filled with beautiful photos of artwork, as opposed to reproducing the art, they reproduce the context. It's one thing to be able to see the art, but it's another to see the stray pencil marks and the texture of the paper.

I went to get a sense of his personality. His work, to me, has a subversive sense of humor to it. In school, it seemed like the prevailing attitude of working designers was one of a kind of snobbish disdain for poor or obvious design. I gambled and wanted to find out if one of my heroes also shared this view. Gladly, he seemed more down to earth than I could have guessed. It turns out that he originally wanted to work in animation or comics, but realised he didn't have the talent, so he kind of backed into graphic design. Over the years, as he has gained more clout, he's been able to involve himself in cartoon/comics-related projects.

Later, I blew some money at the Hi De Ho Comics booth, sadly the only comics offering at the festival. I got the new Acme Novelty Library and Rocketo. I'm working through Rocketo first and I'm saving Acme until a time I'm feeling better about myself.

Fighting traffic on the way back from UCLA, I spotted Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash. I had remembered that they had opened a store in the Westside a few years ago, but never made the trip. The store was decent, though half of it was kind of a Planet Hollywood-style display for the various Kevin Smith projects, or even friends (they had Ben Affleck's Daredevil costume). Pros: Good selection of trades and friendly employees. Cons: No back issues, monitors play a loop of moments from Smith's movies, which I understand, but then makes me think the store is less about comics and more about Smith.