Monday, March 26, 2007

Comics: Week of Mar. 21 2007

52 Weeks 44-46 - So the plot against Black Adam comes into focus, somewhat. I feel a bit disoriented. With all the talk about WW III and the Countdown weekly coming up, I was thinking that the Four Horsemen would somehow be major players/instigators, but they were merely bait to get at Adam. With all the new ads asking me if I've figured out 52, I have to profess that I'm lost. Not that that's a bad thing, I guess. I just hope it's more emotionally resonant than Civil War ended.

What will likely happen is that while the central question to 52 may be answered, it will ultimately end up asking many more, and those will have to be answered by successive events and minis.

JSA #4 - Relatively evisceration-free issue. The opening storyline feels truncated by this resolution, as it seems it's more about getting the team together than about the plot against them. Still, I admire the new direction, the clarity of purpose this title has. Before the restart, it was just cool to read about these great characters that nobody wanted anything to do with for a long time. Now, there's more of a purpose to be together.

Also, the Ross cover for this issue seemed especially warm. I'm on the fence over these black velvet paintings he's been doing... they all seem a bit too cold, too removed from the personality of the characters. Having Ted giving his son a noogie surprised me when I saw it.

Manhunter #29 - Did I hear that this title's been uncancelled again? As much as I've been underwhelmed by the (formerly) final story arc, I still want to see more.

It's not that the story's bad, it's got a lot of great moments and ideas to it. It seems awkwardly paced and choppy. The cutting between Kate, Chase and Mark's stories seems entirely disconnected and random. I'm interested in them all, but I think that in light of trying to bring a sense of resolution to each character in anticipation of the series ending, the focus is scattered.

The Spirit #4 - Just solid. Quickly becoming the best comic in my eyes. It's a good sign when I sit down and can't blow through this title like I can with others. It's deceptively dense in it's storytelling, and I always find myself slowing down to savor the experience.



Wednesday, March 21, 2007

OT: Movie Meme

In addition to comics, I like a lot of movies, so I'm lifting this Movie Meme from Bill D. who got it from others. Without further ado, Thought Balloon's first meme participation:

1. Name a movie that you have seen more than 10 times.

What haven't I seen more than 10 times? I don't think I've seen a movie in the theater more than 10 times, so this brings me to video. I'll go back to the beginning and pick the first movie I obsessively watched over and over again: Blazing Saddles. It was our first video on VHS, and I played the hell out of it. Also, I had the biggest crush on Madeline Kahn.

2. Name a movie that you've seen multiple times in the theater.

Silence of the Lambs... also The Abyss.

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to see a movie.

I'll see anything with Laura Linney.

4. Name an actor that would make you less likely to see a movie.

Rob Schneider and/or Adam Sandler.

5. Name a movie that you can and do quote from.

The Big Lebowski has a wonderful selection of choice quotes for all situations in life.

6. Name a movie musical that you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs.

Tough one. Not a huge musical fan. The closest would have to be Moulin Rouge since it's a mash-up of pop songs from my youth. Oh, and maybe Xanadu... don't judge me, I had a crush on Olivia Newton-John, alright.

7. Name a movie that you have been known to sing along with.

I don't really do that... though I like to quietly hum along in that scene from Magnolia where all the characters sing. It feels very "meta".

8. Name a movie that you would recommend everyone see.

That's a tough one, but I'll say To Catch a Mockingbird. It's positively un-American not to.

9. Name a movie that you own.

Heat. It's a guilty pleasure I enjoy when the girlfriend is out of town.

10. Name an actor that launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops.

I'll agree with Bill D. and say Mark Wahlberg. The guy's really got something. He's not a great actor, but he's got an emotional vulnerability that makes him compelling to watch.

11. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? If so, what?

Hell, yes. I practically grew up at the Burlingame Drive-In. I saw Star Wars for the first time there... as I grew older, it was a great place to take a date. I miss the drive-in, and their unique cafeteria-style cheeseburgers.

13. Name a movie that you keep meaning to see but just haven't yet gotten around to it.

I've seen parts, but I've always wanted to watch the entirety of Lawrence of Arabia.

14. Ever walked out of a movie?

That Blair Witch sequel. I think we walked out during the opening credits and snuck in to O, Brother and saw that again.

15. Name a movie that made you cry in the theater.

Recently, Children of Men.

16. Popcorn?

I'm a candy guy at heart, but K usually goes for the popcorn. Damn, if that smell doesn't make me eat half of the bag.

17. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)?

We go once or twice a week. It's pricey... but I love the experience.

18. What's the last movie you saw in the theater?

The Namesake on St. Patrick's day. We're such iconoclasts!

19. What's your favorite/preferred genre of movie?

Used to be sci-fi, then comedy... these days I'm just looking for something that will surprise me.

20. What's the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?

In the theatre: It's a toss-up, but after checking dates at, it would be The Marathon Man or Car Wash. I don't think my parents could afford a babysitter back then.

In the drive-in: This would have to be Jaws. Again, my parents were poor or society hadn't ratcheted up that notion that you could warp your kids minds with "inappropriate" entertainment yet.

21. What movie do you wish you had never seen?

That Spawn movie was pretty bad, even for a comic book movie. That's time I'd like back, please.

22. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed?

Un Chien Andalou. Got to see this one in a film class in college.

23. What is the scariest movie you've seen?

The original Dawn of the Dead has scarred me for life.

24. What is the funniest movie you've seen?

I like lots of funny movies, but the funniest one I can think of is more funny in a distrubing way. Every time I watch Network, I find it both hilarious and creepy how they depict the inner workings of those who make entertainment and news, and how the gross parody of the 1970's became our reality decades later.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

TPB Review - Grounded (2006)

No, I haven't followed Cap in to the great beyond*... I'm still kicking. I just had a few personal projects at home to work on, and haven't had time to get to the LCS.

Still, there should be content, and looking back, I am a lazy blogger. You may have started up with other blogs by now, and I couldn't blame you, baby.

A while ago, I went nuts on the TPB's. I was a little bored as Civil War started to wind down and it looked as if it wasn't going pay off like I hoped it would. I bought up a bunch of stuff that looked different.

Grounded by Mark Sable and Paul Azaceta was one of the trades that I picked up. It has a clever concept: the main protagonist is a normal, powerless teenager who goes to high school with superpowered kids. Kind of like Sky High, except the kid never develops his own powers.

The story kind of writes itself from there. All the tension of being an adoloescent, plus super powers. There also the added dimension of the parent's life intruding on the kid's as super villains start gunning for them.

To my knowledge, this is the only writing Sable has done in comics to date (according to The story's packed full of ideas about the whole superhero genre, almost too packed. Maybe it's just a sign that I'm so used to decompressed storytelling, so used to writers expounding on an idea over an over again, but I almost wish that the story was either pared down a bit, or lengthened. There were a number of secondary characters in Grounded that I thought could rate their own story (I especially liked the Desire character... he/she appears as the object of the viewers desire, though no one know what gender this character is, hence no one goes near him/her for fear of falling in love with someone of the same gender). Still, there are worse things than having too many ideas, so I'll just shut up about that.

I think Azaceta's artwork is gorgeous, though with the complexity of the story and ideas, I think it's an awkward fit. Sable is writing with a near prose level of detail and ideas, and I think Azaceta's style is more suited to impressionistic, noirish tales. There are a few sequences that I wish were a little clearer, a little more detailed. Still, on it's own the art is great, so it's a minor crab.

I would highly recommend this TPB. I think it may have been intended to be an ongoing, but the six issues contained here provide a complete story and clean closure.

*comics definition of "great beyond": death of prominent character, usually short-lived. Media coverage inversely proportionate to likelihood of characters staying dead. May lead to influx of outside interest and sales, followed by exodus of same the following month. See also: Phoenix, Superman, the whole Onslaught thing, maybe Magneto, Spider-man, Batman, Bucky, Captain Marvel, Thor.



Thursday, March 01, 2007

Comics: Week of Feb. 28 2007

52 Week 43 - See, I knew they couldn't kill Buddy. At least, not this way. I get the feeling that Morrison's run on Animal Man is still in continuity, but what that means could be very different. I get the sense that the yellow aliens could just be figments of Buddy's imagination at this point, which is fine. This is probably the coolest "sampling" of animal powers ever, though there could be sinister implications. This series, as always, is best at linking two disparate points of the DCU together, showing the variety and abundance of ideas at play, and that they all work together.

And the fourth horseman is revealed. Pretty brutal, but the kid was getting on my nerves anyway. Now who could have written that especially bloody, gore-splattered sequence?

I'm looking at you, Johns.

Eternals #7 - Kind of what I was expecting in the end. It's all been a grand reset for this property, and I expect news of a new ongoing as a lot of things are left unresolved. I'm wondering about the additional issue to this series (as it was originally solicited as a 6-issue run). What I keep coming back to is that this series could provide a hell of a loophole for the the Marvel U. Sprite's changed the world, we got a Celestial parked in San Francisco and a stronger than needed connection to Civil War. Seems to me that Gaiman has handed them one giant, seven issue reset button.

Immortal Iron Fist #1-3 - Playing catch-up on this title. The pace is a little slower than I'd like for a monthly, but it's good.

The writers are taking the tried and true method of connecting a somewhat b-string character and revealing that they are, in fact, part of some kind of legacy. It's been used to revive Swamp Thing, Starman and Manhunter, to name a few (of my favorites), so naturally I'm a sucker for this kind of thing. It makes sense that Danny isn't the only Iron Fist ever, and I like the flashbacks to different eras using different art styles.

Power Man and Iron Fist was one of my guilty pleasures back in the day. It was a quirky title that kind of existed in its own corner of the Marvel U. Secret Wars II kind of came along and messed that up, but up until then, the title had a charm to it, and was relatively self-contained.

There's a scene in issue two between Danny and Luke Cage that kind of boils down the magic appeal these two have together. I almost wish Cage was more than a cameo, but it's Iron Fist's book. I'm going to see how this first arc plays out.

X-Factor #16 - I love Peter David. Clearly he's on a trade-length arc, but demonstrates the rare skill to actually make each issue feel complete on its own. There are titles I enjoy, but can't bear to pick up in monthly format due to the pacing.

This is not one of them.