thehefner: (Green Lantern: New Frontier)
My latest kick in comics: Marvel's cosmic stuff. Mainly for Thanos, because Thanos is one of the most magnificent bastards in the history of comics.

I'd originally planned to read all of Annhilation onwards, but that's turned into a desire to read Infinity Gauntlet first. Which meant that I should probably read Thanos Quest first. Which meant that I should probably read Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos as a whole. Oh hell with it, I'm gonna track down a copy of The Life and Death of Captain Marvel and just go from there.

I'm also wondering if I can get Henchgirl interested with me. She loves the epic cosmic scope of Green Lantern, as do I, but lord knows if she'll give a damn about the Captain Marvel epic. Hell, lord knows if I will, as I haven't even read it yet. Again, I'm mainly in this for Thanos. Because Thanos is Thanos. When I read him, the voice I hear is Scorpius from Farscape, with the teeniest dash of Michael Ironside's Darkseid.

Similarly, Henchgirl has picked up Mark Evanier's Kirby hardcover coffee table book, which has gotten her interested in checking out some classic Lee/Kirby Fantastic Four. I have the third Essential volume, so we're gonna see how far we get reading the issues aloud from the Inhumans on through Dr. Doom meeting the Silver Surfer. That seems like a pretty solid run.

Maybe I'll also take the opportunity to read the original Negative Zone storyline. I just reread Ultimate Fantastic Four vol. 3, "N-Zone," the retelling of the Negative Zone by Warren Ellis. I normally find Ellis' superhero work to be entertainingly glip and superficial, but I think the science aspects really gave him a sense of fun to work with, because I really dug that story.

Not such which would make the better intro for Henchgirl. She's a lot more picky when it comes to Marvel, because he's a hardcore DC all the way. Which, really, is still rather awesome to consider. So Marvel's cosmic works might just have to be a pleasure for me and me alone. Unless you guys have read 'em too. If so, keep an eye out here, as I may be coming to you guys for geekgasms and rants.
thehefner: (Bill the Butcher: They Tuk Er Jerbs!)
Y'know, I've known several people who have no interest in Captain America because they understandably think he's nothing but a gung-ho jingoistic flag-waving conservative superhero. It was for this very reason that I was afraid the upcoming CAP film would result in... well, did anyone see this Tea Bagger photo?





Yeah. I was expecting to see dozens, even hundreds of people sporting Cap costumes and memorabilia at Tea Bag rallies, giving their own "do you even know what you're doing to be doing it wrong?" protests ala how 4Chan has utilized V FOR VENDETTA to protest Scientology. Because hey, the guy's name is CAPTAIN MOTHERFUCKING AMERICA! He dresses like a 4th of July parade! He has little eagle wings on his head! AMERICA, FUCK YEAH!

Now, at this point, I would start composing my own impassioned defense of Cap to all those who've never really read the character, but guess what? Now some of the Tea Baggers are actually going AFTER Captain America for not being patriotic ENOUGH.

They probably wouldn't have, if CAP director Joe Johnson hadn't opened his big mouth and said absolutely right and true things about how Steve Rogers is "not this sort of jingoistic American flag-waver," but instead a good person who represents the ideals of America.

Of course, Tea Bagger bloggers took issue with this, displaying obvious knowledge and appreciation for the character, seeing this as further evidence to condemn Hollywood:

"The same industry that spent hundreds of million of dollars on a dozen-plus embarrassingly awful anti-American flops that were specifically designed to undermine morale at home so we would lose the war in Iraq is now putting the brakes on the Americanism of a character named Captain America."

For extra fun, be sure to read the comments, littered with angry and disappointed people saying things like "This one hurts," and "They should call him Captain France.*"

Honestly, I'd figure all the Tea Baggers would need to know about Cap's politics and outlook on America was formed by his being a direct production of the FDR years. But then again, these are the same people who worship Ayn Rand as the savior of all that's good and true of America while ignoring the fact that she was a staunch atheist and therefore at odds with, well, probably most of their core values. Not to mention fucking evil. So I can't expect the Tea Baggers to actually think about such things.

But that's just the abstract. They can ignore such a thing, because the actual character is on their side, right? Well, if they're thinking about the Captain America from the 1950's, sure. THAT Cap--an impostor who took over the role while the real Cap from WWII was frozen in an iceberg, oh comics--was a flag-waving, jingoistic asshole, a Commie-bashing Red-phobic rabble-rouser who had his ass kicked by the REAL Cap.

And then, he delivers this speech.





Yeah. THAT'S Captain America. For the full skinny on what's going on in that story, here's a synopsis and analysis. Damn, I need to find me that issue.

The Daily Kos article expands upon those points better than I'm equipped to, at present. And in truth, I'm not even that big of a fan. I'm a DC boy, remember. I certainly want to read more Cap, but I'm still getting into him.

My main hope is that--when you inevitably see Tea Baggers who didn't get the memo co-opting Captain America in protests--you won't think it's because the character represents their jingoistic luv-it-er-leeve-it ideals. You'll think of that above panels, and how even Cap himself would say, "America: you're doing it wrong."

All that said? His movie costume still needs the little wings on the sides of his helmet. Just sayin'.




*Maybe they'd prefer Mark Millar's Cap from THE ULTIMATES, a much-loved alternate universe series where all the Marvel heroes are turned into assholes, fascists, sociopaths, perverts, idiots, or madmen. So, y'know, Mark Millar characters.
thehefner: (Bill the Butcher: Reflective)
Harvey Pekar to be buried next to Eliot Ness. Neat. Well, now I have something to see should I ever be in Cleveland.

When I heard that Pekar died, I felt incredibly sad, even to the point of tears. This is bizarre because I never really liked his work. I loved the film of AMERICAN SPLENDOR, and I admire and respect the fuck out of him not just for what he did for comics (it's been argued that he's the equal of Alan Moore when it comes to his impact and influence on the medium), but also for how he's one of the pioneers of autobiographical storytelling. His actual comics never did much for me, though. So why did it hit me so hard? At least it was rather cool to see that it hit everybody else hard as well, to the point that "Harvey Pekar" became a trending topic on Twitter.

Also cool: Ty Templeton remembering his first meeting with Pekar, told through comics. Ty is one of my very favorite comic writer/artists (the mastermind behind most of the best DCAU Batman comics!), and his website is always a delight. I particularly enjoy when he channels his inner Harvey Pekar through stories like this.

I love that story, as did many in Ty's comments. "Poignant" is the word that keeps coming up. I find Ty's response to the compliments rather amusing, and also telling:

I feel odd accepting any compliment for what is a verbatim conversation simply written down, but it did involve drawing, so I suppose there’s that.

That comment resonated with me. Recently, I started writing original work (non-autobiographical, non-fanfic), and I'd forgotten how great it feels to have the freedom and ability to tell anything, without being tied down to fact or someone else's continuity. You put your imagination to work and play at the same time, and I can easily imagine that, to some, autobiographical bits feel almost lazy, because you didn't go through the effort to create something. You just told it.

But then again, that's what Harvey Pekar did. Hell, unlike Ty, he didn't even draw anything.

What's my point? Hell, I dunno. This was meant to just be a post of comic-related links and fun, and the rambling took over. Maybe I'll get that one written sometime before I go up tonight. I feel like I should make some comment connecting what I do on stage to what Harvey did on paper, but eh, I don't want to sound like a wanky poseur. Feel free to connect the subtext yourself.
thehefner: (Venture Bros: Marvel Comics)
How the Mandarin could possibly work in IRON MAN 3, and why it's okay to hate Tony Stark. Even if you take out the Yellow Peril racefail issues, one still has to wonder how distinctly magical elements would jive after the first two IM movies.

If handled well, I could see it working. What better way to frustrate Tony Stark than with magic, something he has absolutely zero concept of understanding? It'd be like Waid's FANTASTIC FOUR Dr. Doom story, only, y'know, without ruining Dr. Doom. Of course, there's still the concerns of racefail. Which brings me to...



"Why I Won't Be Watching the THE LAST AIRBENDER movie," by Gene Luen Yang of AMERICAN BORN CHINESE. I've made it to the third season of the original Nickelodeon show, and I'm blown away by how great it is. Witty as hell, marvelously complex characters who have actual arcs, stunning action, and compelling storylines.

I haven't loved a cartoon like this since JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED, and I was already dreading to see it from the trailers, which seem to indicate that M. Night has sucked all of the fun and life out to turn it into a self-serious action epic. But that just clinches that I won't be seeing it at all.



Three Arguments We Could Be Having (about comics). Number two is most relevant to my recent post about the "Girlfriend Section" of the comic shop, but as a fan and writer, I'm most intrigued and thinky about number three: "What Are All These Superhero Comics Really Saying?" Because at their heart, you'd think the most they could be about would be the struggle of good vs. evil, but most comics don't seem to have anything to actually say about it.

It reminds me about one of the reasons Alan Moore dislikes BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE, because he--as I understand it--thinks all the themes and character and drama amounted to saying nothing of value that applied to anyone but Batman and the Joker. Many writers seem to feel this way, that superheroes can't be used to say something of literary value.

But while I have my own problems with TKJ, I have to disagree with Moore. I think stories like that say something about the human condition, and even if it's a flawed hypothesis, it's still one that can resonate and provoke thought and discussion. I believe in the power of superhero comics to do this, but I don't know how many fans and/or writers do, or if they'd even care.
thehefner: (Hamlet: Damn I'm Interesting)
Via bleedingcool.com

KILL SHAKESPEARE is a new comic series from IDW by Anthony Del Col, Conor McCreery and Andy Belanger that’s kind of like a cross between FABLES and LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. And Shakespeare. In which Hamlet, Romeo, Juliet, Othello and Falstaff have to team up to beat Richard III, Iago and Lady Macbeth.

...

Y'know, I'd be wayyyy more behind this if the choices weren't so frickin' obvious. And I love Hamlet, I do, but he'll be terrible on a team. The only character who really intrigues me is Falstaff. I just get the distinct impression this will be written by people with only a casual knowledge of Shakespeare, or that it'll just do like FABLES and make the characters unrecognizable while trying to seem clever (Cinderella's now a lethal spy. Sure, why not?).

If I had my way, I'd have Edgar and Edmund on the respective good/evil sides, Benedick as the dashingly snarky Han Solo type (with Beatrice as his Leia), Sir Toby and Sir Andrew as the drunken "Blue Beetle and Booster Gold" pair always cooking of crazy doomed schemes, Tullus Aulfidius as the badass tactician/warrior, Rosalind and Viola as the spies/masters of disguise, and Aaron the Moor as the resident "Scorpius/Lex Luthor/Benjamin Linus" character.

What about you, Shakespeare fans? If you could choose your own take on this premise, which characters would you include?
thehefner: (Two Face: A Lonely Place of Dying)
So how did I celebrate getting the Winnipeg Traffic Authority to forgive my $50 ticket for parking illegally on their ill-marked and confusing streets?

Why, by going to an awesome used book shop and blowing $100+ on old comics! )

So yes, a pretty awesome haul, all considered. Even the bad stuff has given me food for thought, which is the best one can hope for when it comes to bad stuff. If you've read any of the above, do post your own impressions and recommendations as to where to go from here!
thehefner: (Kids in the Hall: Tea Bag)
Still alive. Posting tidbits on my Twitter (still finding it kind of useless; if anyone replies to me, I end up losing it in the morass of everyone else's bloody tweets!) and my Facebook. Full Orlando report to come by the festival's end, plus a video or two.

In the meantime, remember how I raved about the brilliance of THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SCROOGE MCDUCK as a no-bullshit sweeping epic of comics? You could seriously bill (har) it as THERE WILL BE DUCK. If you don't believe me, or were curious to read this criminally out-of-print masterpiece, someone at the other scans_daily took it upon themselves to scan an overview of the entire book w/ commentary in two parts.

Reading those just solidified what I've already felt: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF SCROOGE MCDUCK is in my top three or two favorite graphic novels of all time. Give those a read until you can actually check out the graphic novel.

Back to Fringing. But first, my filthy assistants require food.
thehefner: (Charlie: Shun the non believer!)
Speaking of [livejournal.com profile] bitemetechie, I'm compiling a "Why Superman Actually Doesn't Suck" mix of graphic novels for her to read during out mad twelve-day excursion to Orlando Fringe Festival.

And really, I've needed to make this collection for some time now. After all the years of hearing people complain about how they hate Superman, it's only in the past year or two that I think we finally have some amazing Superman comics that can finally depict what we fans have always known in our hearts and seen between the bright colors, boy-scout heroics, and lack of grimdark angst.

Therefore, on the "musts" list for this "Why Superman Actually Doesn't Suck" collection, I think it's essential to have the first part of Geoff Johns' current ACTION COMICS run. Start with ACTION COMICS ANNUAL # 10, which for some reason is idiotically not collected anywhere*, even though it contains crucial material.

And then, go on to SUPERMAN: LAST SON (which I didn't love at first, but it leads to get stuff later with Zod), skip the BIZARRO WORLD story (unless anyone here thinks it's awesome/essential), go right to the LEGION OF SUPERHEROES story (the book that finally helped me get the Legion, and features three heart-stopping Clark moments), and finally, SUPERMAN: BRAINIAC (I dislike Brainy 1.0's new muscle-bound look, but it's better than the bony 90's-esque monstrosity he's been sporting recently).

Besides that, ALL-STAR SUPERMAN. I mean, duh. I think that should go after the Johns stuff. Let that be the grand finale of Superman. I hate, hate, hate what Morrison's done with BATMAN and FINAL CRISIS, but after rereading ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, I'm just in awe of this book's elegant power and joy. Throughout, he and Quitely are able to say so much with so little, making it tempting to breeze through the stories as if they were light little trifles, and thereby miss out on all the incredible detail they cram into each panel. Like a Sergio Leone movie, no one says a word of dialogue unless it's absolutely essential to the story.

Plus, Mark Waid's introduction to Vol. 2 really helped me better get what Morrison is showing here with this perfect portrait of who Superman is and why does what he does. He particularly nails it at the end:

But the big moment is the perfect line of dialogue. It comes in Chapter Ten, when Superman, without a second's hesitation, takes time from his world-building feats to embrace and comfort a suicidal young girl. When he tells her, "You're much stronger than you think you are," they become the most moving words we have ever read in a Superman story. And they are perfect because they reveal, in one sentence, the fundamental secret of Superman and why we love him so:

Gods achieve their power by encouraging us to believe in them.

Superman achieves his power by believing in us.


Couldn't have put it better myself.

Besides the Johns and Morrison essentials, I was thinking of including maybe the two Excellent Superman Comics That Don't Actually Feature Superman: IT'S A BIRD, by Steven T. Seagle and Terry Kristiansen, and SUPERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen (which is criminally out of print now! WTF?), not to mention SUPERMAN: RED SON, which is the one truly great thing Mark Millar has ever written.

I've considered SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT, but I didn't get it for the same reason I didn't pick up Geoff Johns' "One Year Later" arc, UP UP AND AWAY, because it just seemed a little too been there, done that. Good stories, but nothing that'll really persuade somebody who doesn't like Superman. Maybe I'm wrong?

Meantime, I'm reading Alan Moore's two SUPREME collections. I'm not sure I'd put them on the list, as they're more about superheroes and comics in general rather than Superman himself. But damn if they aren't fun. Anyone who thinks Moore is too grim and serious should check these out, if they're even still in print. Cracktacular meta superheroics galore!

So yeah, to sum up my list, in the following order:

The Essentials

ACTION COMICS ANNUAL # 10
SUPERMAN: LAST SON
SUPERMAN AND THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES
SUPERMAN: BRAINIAC
ALL-STAR SUPERMAN VOL. 1
ALL-STAR SUPERMAN VOL. 2

Other possibilities

IT'S A BIRD
SECRET IDENTITY
BIRTHRIGHT
UP UP AND AWAY
RED SON


What think you, Super-fans? Any other suggestions? If nothing else, do assure Techie that these books are actually good, because I suspect getting her to read 'em will take some persuasion.




*More and more, I'm trying to figure out some way to campaign against Bob Joy, the editor of collected editions at DC. I've noticed so many problems in DC's graphic novels, such a drop in quality compared to previous editors like Robert Greenberger, that I feel like something seriously needs to be done. Who else is the blame for putting all the tie-in issues of SINESTRO CORPS in a separate volume, rather than integrating them into the actual story as they're SUPPOSED to be read?

But the one sternly polite letter I'd written him regarding my displeasure of the BATMAN VS. TWO-FACE collection went unanswered, and I feel like there's nothing I can do to voice my frustrations to any powers-that-be. It's seriously hindering my interest in buying trade paperbacks from DC.
thehefner: (Simpsons: ...Comic Books?)
I hate this day. No, I mean it, I really, really do. If I'm not made to feel like an ass, I'm disappointed because certain jokes just aren't true.

Harlan Ellison forms COMIC BOOK LEGAL OFFENSE FUND. I would be giddy with terror over the alliance of Harlan and Dave Sim, let me tell you.

Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev to adapt WAITING FOR GODOT. Bendis desperately needs to be kicked out of comics so he can become a playwright. In all seriousness, he has the ability to become the next Mamet. For better or worse.

Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Scriver's latest character resurrection: VIBE: REBIRTH. Hell, I'd happily take that over WIZARD's April Fool's joke article a number years ago about Paul Dini and Alex Ross doing an tabloid-sized fully-painted WONDER TWINS epic. My favorite part:

"There is a downside, though. Just as Ethan Van Sciver had to scale back his involvement with Blackest Night in order to do Flash: Rebirth, Geoff Johns won’t be available immediately for the post-Rebirth relaunch of The Flash. “I’m sure the fans will be happy to know,” Didio said, “that for the first six months of the ongoing, the Flash will be in Judd Winick’s capable hands.”

Winick himself was unavailable for comment."


As someone else already remarked on [livejournal.com profile] noscans_daily, man, that's cold.
thehefner: (Green Lantern: New Frontier)
For the first time in a long, long while, I am extremely psyched for something coming out from DC Comics: WEDNESDAY COMICS.



According to Newsarama: "The concept is that we are trying to recapture the spirit, format, and sense of enjoyment that people had form reading the Sunday comics that arrive in newspapers every week," DC Sr VP and Executive Editor Dan DiDio explained to Newsarama. "So, for this 12 week period, we’re creating 16 weekly strips that will be presented in newspaper format, which will feature some of our primary characters, as well as some of the premiere creators in the business."



Comic gossip collumist Rich Johnston adds: This is just the brave, creative experiment that companies like DC should be taking and they are to be applauded for it. And with the likes of Kyle Baker on Hawkman, and Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred on Metamorpho. Adam and Joe Kubert on Sergeant Rock, Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso on Batman, Sean Galloway on Teen Titans, Joe Quinones on Green Lantern, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner on Supergirl and Ben Caldwell on Wonder Woman, and John Arcudi, Lee Bermejo, Dave Bullock, Kurt Busiek, Dave Gibbons, Paul Pope, Ryan Sook, Walt Simonson… well, it’s one hell of a sell.

He's absolutely right, this is exactly what DC and Marvel should be doing. No more crossovers, no more huge events where "nothing will ever be the same again!," no more misguided attempts to reinvent the wheel... just pure, unadulterated superhero goodness that anyone can enjoy!

And what a breadth and variety of stories! Gaiman and Allred doing a presumably-fun METAMORPHO, Azz and Risso doing grim-and-gritty BATMAN, Kyle Baker channeling Hal Foster for HAWKMAN, old-fashioned war comics with the Kuberts on SGT. ROCK, Amanda Conner drawing anything, and particularly Kurt Busiek and Joe Quinones' brilliantly retro GREEN LANTERN...



I don't know if this is the future of DC Comics, but for the first time since I can remember, I don't think I'll wait for the trade paperback. I want to support this week in, week out, in the hopes that this will be but the first of many bold creative moves from DC (and will hopefully inspire Marvel to do the same).



EDIT: Even professional grumpypants Warren Ellis is excited about this, and posted so suspiciously right after I did, even though this has been news for several days now. He better not be stalking my LJ or anything awesome like that.
thehefner: (Doom: Coming to DINNER!)
Did anyone read NIGHTWING this week? [livejournal.com profile] nymphgalatea, I'm looking in your direction. I was hoping to bitch about this on [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily, but those Harvey-centric pages weren't scanned and I have serious comic discussion blue balls here.



Also, here's my (revised) take on how I'd have written DARK REIGN:

NORMAN OSBORN: Let me tell you how it's going to be.

DOOM: A madman in pixie books and cornrows dares to order DOOM?!

(snaps Norman's neck)

THE HOOD: Shit-fuck, yo!

DOOM: Doom's hood is far superior to yours, snarky-boy! And what are you even doing here?! Shouldn't you be at the Kiddie Table of Evil? Pay for your insolent douchebaggery!

(violent death)

ACCURSED RICHARDS: Hey guys, I just came to deliver a fruitcake which I made from scratch at the atomic level and fruits candied with unstable molecules, and... whuh oh.

DOOM: Christmas has indeed come early. Me be praised.

(about damn time)

DOOM: Come, bitches. Make sweet love to Doom. That includes you, Namor.

(arms around Loki, Emma, and Namor, Doom departs in a cloud of awesome)

The end.

Marvel need to fire that long-winded Mamet-wannabe and hire me already.

brain-dump

Dec. 10th, 2008 07:03 pm
thehefner: (Two-Face: Snarl)
It's official. Seattle gives me pinkeye. Or at least, something here at Edd's house does. Every time I've come to visit over the past year, bam! Pinkeye. What the hell.



Comics this week hurt my soul. Like, watch this: Marvel's DARK REIGN # 1? FINAL CRISIS # 5? Ow, my soul! See?

On the plus side, there's SECRET SIX # 4. Bane and Scandal are absolutely wonderful, and I will never stop loving Deadshot.

And then there's NIGHTWING. Sigh. Harvey's latest story was... predictably disappointing. If one can expect to be disappointed. Ultimately, it's just another "Two-Face is unrepentantly evil and not much more" depiction. Sigh again.

Back to the ol' Harvey Dent novel. I've been an editing machine lately, tightening up the story throughout. Once I get Bloo's notes in and incorporated, draft number six will be ready!

It's really good, you guys. It'll probably always be too long, but I'm super-pleased nonetheless.



To cheer myself up, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] scarydavedc:

17 Fabulous Prequels To Broadway Musicals
by Lydon, Toon, Norman, & Rutledge


1. Kate, We Haven’t Been Introduced
2. Bar Mitzvah of La Mancha
3. Sand And Primer Your Wagon
4. A Chorus Dot
5. Fiddler Borrows A Ladder
6. Little Business Plan of Horrors
7. A Star's Mom Allows A Handsome Stranger To Buy Her A Drink
8. Indian Territory!
9. The Guy Who Is A Little Intense But Keeps To Himself And Isn’t Really Bothering Anyone Of The Opera
10. Annie There’s A Waiting Period
11. Kittens
12. Brand New Acquaintance Joey
13. Handshake Of The Spider Woman
14. Jesus Christ Waiter
15. Starlight Right-of-Way Allocation And Environmental Impact Study
16. Vocal Warm-ups On A Cloudy Day
17. West Side Backstory



Also, Edd just informed me that NPR just did a whole story on how Northern Virginia sucks total ass, with special emphasis on Tyson's Corner. He's now seriously considering writing in to Robert Siegel and thanking him profusely, as we both shouted, "FINALLY! THIS SHIT IS BEING GIVEN NATIONAL ATTENTION, AND WE'VE KNOWN ABOUT IT OUR WHOLE LIVES!"

NoVA peeps, I love y'all, but seriously.
thehefner: (Batman: Freeze's Lament)
I had thought to have been a lot further along by now, especially considering how little I saw yesterday after leaving L.A, but if today's any indication, it's gonna take me a full week to make it up to Seattle. Then again, I have to wonder how many other things I'll see along the way on par with the time-consuming nature of Hearst Castle and Big Sur.

I may have to skip Napa Valley, which is probably for the best. Even if I could rest to sober up for the night, I've learned that I shouldn't drink anything if I'm driving the next day, as even a single beer can hamper the next day's ability to wake up energetic at 7am. And really, spitting out wine? What an expensive day-long cocktease.

I imagine I'll be spending the majority of tomorrow in San Francisco (hint hint, [livejournal.com profile] kali921! Don't leave me hangin'!). Seeing the Winchester House is a priority, as is finding a comic shop. Need to see how the hell this abortion known as BATMAN R.I.P. wraps up.

Which reminds me, the news just broke that the Paul-Dini-scripted BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM video game (in the style of SILENT HILL horror survival games) will feature Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker! FUCK YES YES YES!!!!

Meanwhile, on [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily, a noted asshat had to be "that guy" and sniffed (or at least, I imagine he sniffed) "Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy are good actors, but they are not the Gods fanboys make them out to be. Nor is Paul Dini a god." In a rare moment of snark (for I loathe to be snarked and to be snarky alike), I simply replied, "We have some lovely parting gifts for you."

I mean, clearly they're not gods. But dude, get over yourself. No one likes a contentious snob, especially not one against something so universally respected and beloved. Meantime, you show me someone who can do a more pitch-perfect job than those three respectively, and let's get them hired pronto, because dear lord, we need more people of the caliber of Dini, Conroy, and Hamill.


Oh, and I am officially accepted into the Orlando Fringe Festivals. With NYC, Montreal, Winnipeg, Indianapolis, and Vancouver, that makes six for 2009. Am I seriously mad enough to go for seven with Minneapolis, because I keep hearing that it's so goddamn awesome that it's a must-do?
thehefner: (Blame Sinestro!)
So.

In this week's GREEN LANTERN comics, we were introduced to the Red Lantern Corps, an intergalactic force akin to the rage infected zombies of 28 DAYS LATER, but given incredibly powerful power rings. And this power manifests, infected-style, by vomiting up blood. I feel like the only one making the 28 DAYS LATER connection, but it seems obvious to me.

I'm going somewhere with this, bear with me.

It's all building up to an epic war between the various Corps along the color spectrum. For those who don't read GL, all this must sound like the stupidest goddamn thing ever. Or at least, with a "Rainbow War," the *gayest* goddamn thing ever. And yet somehow, in practice, it is utterly goddamn jaw-droppingly awesome, space opera on a grander scale than any I've seen before. You'll just have to take my word for it.

You see, the Green Lanterns' power derived from willpower. The Sinestro Corps--the evil Corps, formed by the renegade GL Sinestro, natch--their yellow energy is derived from fear. The Sapphire Lanterns' violet powers are love (albeit the Zamaron's own brand of love), the Orange Lanterns are avarice, the Indigo Lanterns are compassion, the Blue Lanterns are hope, and the Black Lanterns are, of course, death. Death in the form of space zombies with power rings.

(No, it's awesome. Really, I swear to god.)

But the Red Lanterns... the Red Lanterns are rage and hatred. And this past Wednesday, on New Comics Day, the Red Lanterns finally struck with their newest member.

His name is supposedly "Dexstar." We* call him "Ruffles." And we love Ruffles the Red Lantern.

And as someone observed, it makes perfect sense. After all, few creatures in existence can hate quite like cats can hate.

See? Told you it was awesome.



*Actually, he was dubbed "Ruffles" by a guy on scans_daily who I have held a bit of a grudge against ever since he preferred being dismissive and slinging mud at me rather than actually take up on my offers to have a real discussion. Don't you just hate it when people like that come around and say something great?
thehefner: (Watchmen Babies: V For Vacation)
And in comics this week, Harvey Dent fights a werewolf.

... huh.

And not for the first time in my years of reading superhero comics, I can't quite decide if this is ridiculous or badass.



So as I understandably missed Spike TV's awards show last night, I subsequently missed out on the WURLD PRU-MEER of not one but two teaser trailers. First, for the new FRIDAY THE 13TH remake/reboot (fast forward through the annoying pretty people at the awards show to the annoying pretty people in the actual movie):


Friday the 13th: Exclusive First Look

Gotta say, the 80's fanboy in me is excited. And while I loathe fast zombies, I think I'm digging fast Jason based on that two-second clip. The speed of Leatherface, the precision of Michael Myers, the ferocity of Jason Voorhees. Jason's a character I've always loved for some reason, way more than any of his actual movies.

While I wince at the knowledge that this film is by the same asshats who remade TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, one of the most horrible remakes I have ever seen... I, for one, welcome our new Camp Crystal Lake overlords.



Oh, and of far more interest to most of you, the new WATCHMEN trailer:



I still love the music on a purely subversive level. The fast-slow-fast effects scream "style over substance," but all critics who attended a 25-minute screening of footage have universally raved about the film, and how the speed changes actually work beautifully to convey the shifts in speed of actual comic panels, translated to film.

I know the fandom world is aflame with reports that OMG THEY CHANGED THE ENDING WTF but I'm reserving judgment until we hear more. As I understand, those reports come from a small handful of dubious sources at a rough cut screening. And besides, some things are just gonna have to be cut to later be reinserted into the 5-hour long final DVD cut down the line. I recommend a philosophical and patient perspective for the time being.

By the way, is this tagline an actual line in the book? If so, it's awesome. If not, it's cheesy. Yes, that's my geek double-standard and I'm sticking by it.

thehefner: (Doom: Woobie)
... damn.

I... think I should maybe start finally picking up ASTRO CITY in trade paperback. I was always like, "Twenty bucks?! Maaaaaaaan..." but now methinks it would be a worthy investment.

The rest of you may commence the onslaught of "OH MY GOD HOW HAVE YOU NOT READ ASTRO CITY GET THEE TO A COMIC STORE YOUR COMIC GEEK CARD IS REVOKED." I'm... just gonna sit here for awhile and think about "The Nearness of You" for awhile.
thehefner: (Simpsons: ...Comic Books?)
And now, I have my sole regret for missing Baltimore Comic Con this year:

Bendis vs. Kirkman

That's twice now* that Robert Kirkman has seemingly broken through the pablum of these Con panels and their self-congratulatory smugness. I can't stand panels, since they're usually about as genuine as a White House press conference, but now I'm gonna make it a point to see every one of Kirkman's where I can. Not only does he write two of the very best monthly comics out there today--INVINCIBLE and THE WALKING DEAD--he has the both the insight and the vision to back up those huge balls of his.

I don't now how right he is, but he's bringing up the topics that Marvel and DC don't want people discussing since they're far more content to rest on their laurels and keep the ship going. But we in the comics industry, fans and professionals alike, need to be addressing all this. For all that I bitch about the current states of DC and Marvel, I still love those companies and their characters (and still happily follow enough books that I think prevents me from being a Comic Book Guy), but they're all too content to be big fish in a small pond, one that gets smaller as comic fans get older.

In the eight years I worked at Big Planet (with breaks for college), the vast majority of regular comic buyers were between twenty-five and fifty. Shit, when I first became a regular comic reader at age thirteen, I knew of maybe two other kids in my entire middle school who read comics. As I went to high school and then college, it stayed the same. Trust me, if anyone else read comics, we would have found each other. Geek radar is amazing.

DC and Marvel don't want to discuss how the industry is starting to resemble CHILDREN OF MEN here, but that was my experience over the past eight years, and Kirkman's findings only back that up. Hopefully people will listen, or at least the discussion will continue, now that Kirkman drank Bendis' milkshake.



*From San Diego 2006, when he drank Todd McFarlane's milkshake.
thehefner: (Batman: Riddler in the Rain)
You know who needs more love? The Riddler.

Like the Penguin, the Riddler is one of those classic Batman villains, one of the true iconic big baddies* that everyone remembers and no one cares about. Why is this? Well, to answer the first part, the reason why they're remembered is obvious: the 1960's Adam West BATMAN show. Burgess Meredith rivals Paul Williams III's vocal performance as what I think of when it comes to the definitive Pengers, and was definitely one of the genuine highlights of that show.

But then there was Frank Gorshin. Everyone rightly holds Frank Gorshin up as the one true non-ironic non-campy element of excellence from that whole show. I've heard people describe Gorshin's Riddler as the only villain on that show who had legitimate menace, that at any moment, this guy could snap from serious to giggling to downright dangerous and right back again within an instant.

How ironic, then, that the Riddler should be left behind in rise of the "grim 'n gritty" era of comics. In the bright and shiny Silver Age of comics, the Riddler (the TV Riddler, anyway) at least felt like a genuine threat, in the Modern Age of Comics--as Neil Gaiman once excellently observed--he's a relic of a bygone era, lamenting the past and wondering where it all went wrong.

There's a poignancy in Eddie's line, "The Joker's killing people, for god's sake!" And it's that very sentiment that touches upon why people these days so often consider the Riddler to be... well, a joke. In this era of Batman, this dark and creepy age where monsters like the Joker and Two-Face fit in perfectly, what kind of threat can the Riddler really pose?

Of course, inevitably, some writers have come along to try and make the Riddler "dark," because to the minds of lazy comic writers, "dark" automatically equals "relevant." One story had him as the Lovecraftian herald for some evil spirit, doing things like choking babies with ping-pong balls and forcing Batman to perform emergency tracheotomy (yeah, wish I had scans to prove that one exists, but here are the covers to said storyline).

But I never noticed just how much the Riddler was considered a has-been (or even a never-had-been to some) until that general assumption was used as the driving force behind HUSH, where Jeph Loeb revealed the Riddler to have been the mastermind behind a massive--and utterly nonsensical--plot-hole-ridden plot to destroy Batman and Bruce Wayne (whom he knew were one and the same). Much as I furiously loathe Loeb and HUSH, I reluctantly grant that he was on the right track here. The Riddler as a mastermind is a great take for this intellect-based character, and would have been a great direction for other, better writers to develop.

Instead, we got the tattooed metrosexual bishie Riddler. Riddle me this: when does my forehead meet a writing desk?

Thank god for Paul Dini. Not only did BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES provide a magnificently smug and brilliant Riddler (with a magnificently smug and brilliant vocal performance by John "Lionel Luthor" Glover), but little over a decade later, Dini would give metrosexual mastermind Riddler a classic case of head-trauma-amnesia (assuming he's not faking) to reinvent the character as a camera-whoring grandstanding private investigator. As a morally dubious P.I. with a dark past still lurking behind the shadows, the Riddler now fits perfectly into the neo-classic noir of Batman's world.

So now he doesn't have to be a threat, not to Batman anyway. But while I hope this current incarnation sticks around for as long as possible before the inevitable reversion to status quo, I still wish we could see more of a Riddler that's a threat while still being the Riddler.

I keep hearing talk of people thinking about the Riddler for THE DARK KNIGHT's sequel, which could go wrong in oh so many ways (see above). I've already seen fan imaginings of Nolanverse Riddler as something akin to Kevin Spacey's character in SEVEN, madly scribbling questions on newspapers, photos, even his own skin (or maybe they're tattoooooooos! OOOH EDGY!)

Ultimately, I realized why we've seen so few good Riddler stories when I read Paul Dini's described Eddie as "a constant frustration" to the B:TAS writing staff, as well as to Batman. The problem, I fear, is simply that the Riddler is too smart, at least too smart for most writers.

Most writers can bullshit their way around the brilliance of characters like Reed Richards, Tony Stark, Lex Luthor, and Dr. Doom. How do we know they're brilliant? They invent all these crazy things! Yeah, but how did they invent those crazy things? The specifics don't matter, just trust us, they're brilliant. And that's fine, you can get away with that.

But with the Riddler, his brilliance has to be revealed by explicitly exploring, step by step, the mental puzzles he creates expressly to stump Batman. Not just anybody, I mean fucking Batman. The riddles are his entire motivation, the triumph of his intellect, all accomplished with style and art. And yes, people might get killed, but that's not the goal. It's just part of the game, part of the risk, part of the fun.

As such, perhaps the best comic depiction of classic (true) Riddler as a real threat comes, mind-bogglingly enough, from this issue of GREEN ARROW written by the otherwise-intolerable Judd Winnick. Following not long after Kevin Smith's terrible (but snappier-looking!) game show host take, Winnick's Riddler would eventually go right back to lame sub-Joker "urban terrorism," but for those four pages, I dare say we come close to a perfect Riddler: brilliant, smug, stylish, whimsical, theatrical, cold, psychotic, calculating, vicious, dangerous, changing any combination of the above from one panel to the next. It's John Glover cool with Frank Gorshin menace, and I love it.

Such a character could fit perfectly in any era Batman story, from the Silver Age to THE DARK KNIGHT, but pulling it off takes a deft hand and a cunning mind. As such, barring the character starring in some legendary and influential "Killing Joke" of his own, I fear Eddie Nigma's doomed to languish in the C-list. I seriously doubt I could write that story to do him justice, yet I will always have a fondness for the character. After all, this is a guy who values theatrics and style, the only villain who would employ jazz hands, rocking the bowler derby and snazztastic suits all the while. Hell, the Riddler even has his own Spunky Lesbian Sidekicks! Two of them! The guy simply rocks, no matter what anyone else thinks.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I'm dressing up as the Riddler** for this year's "Project: Rooftop--Fights, Flights, and Tights" costume contest.***



*I refuse to ever use the term "Big Bad"

**A Victorian take, specifically. Imagine the Riddler by way of the Shade.

***I just hope there's some way to also submit one or all three of our massive Joker/Harley photoshoot. Maybe I should just send in the ones of us in sexywear? Aw, I wanna submit them all!
thehefner: (Doom: Woobie)
An excellent essay examining why Lex Luthor is utterly awesome, and may yet give the Joker and Dr. Doom alike runs for their money when it comes to the title of "greatest supervillain ever."

"Other villains fight men. Luthor is, when you get down to brass tacks, a man trying to fight God." I love it. I used to struggle in my attempts to hold Lex up as one of the true all-time greats just because of the conflicting takes on the character, but Mr. Bird makes the astute observation that those conflicting versions are all essential to the character. Amazing.

That said, he may or may not be simplistic or mistaken in his assessment of Dr. Doom. The jury's still out on that debate. Plus, I can think of a certain someone who might take issue with her Joker comments, but that's a whole other post entirely. His points on Sexy Lexy still stand.



Looks like that cold/sore throat I'd been fighting off for the past two weeks finally kicked in, just in time for me to sleep in, relax, catch up on my Netflix (on the pile today: MISHIMA, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER, and POINT BLANK), and plot and plan my next big move.

Once things gel a bit more, expect a rather huge and possibly insane announcement for how I plan to spend the next four or five months. Hell, if things pull together like I'm planning, all of 2009 is going to be glorious madness on levels that would put Arkham Asylum and Sparta alike to shame.
thehefner: (Bill the Butcher: They Tuk Er Jerbs!)
Once I saw the photograph* accompanying the A.V. Club's coverage of Comic Con, an unpleasant thought occurred to me, and I immediately sought verification by calling up [livejournal.com profile] angrylemur, who actually is attending Nerd Prom.

I asked her, "How many Heath Ledger Jokers have you seen?"

Unflinchingly, and with a telling weariness, she replied, "Too many to count."

Yep, exactly as I feared.

Y'know, going to Ren Fest these past couple years, I've noticed that there always at least two Captain Jack Sparrows. Ren Fest peeps, you can verify this, can you not? How many do you see on any given day? How about season?

Now, I'm far from a Ren Fest purist, and while I love dressing up for photos and whatnot, I generally have little interest in outright cosplay. But it seems to me that the Captain Jack Sparrows (who also go to comic cons that way) and the Heath Ledger Jokers are cut from the same cloth: specifically, I mean "poseur douchebag with no sense of originality" cloth. I hear they sell it at Jo-Ann Fabrics now.

Seriously, how lame do you have to be to put so much time and effort in a Jack Sparrow or Heath Ledger Joker costume? Christ, people, show a little effort. But no, I fear we're just gonna be seeing more and more of these unimaginative, lame-o geeks in the coming years.

To a lesser extent, what's up with people who dress as Stormtroopers? Like, just regular ol' Stormtroopers, just like the same boring old Stormtroopers year in year out. What's the point? Aren't you trying to stand out and be cool?

I mean, look, Darth Vader's always gonna look awesome, but really, why would you want to be yet another plain ol' regular Darth Vader when instead you could be doing something like this:

title or description

Really. What's the point of being a geek if you're just going to be boring and vapid like everybody else? We could all learn a lesson from the awesomeness that is Hello Kitty Darth Vader.

God. And some people wonder why I dress up as Bill the Butcher at Ren Fest.** Christ, I should just take this as my cue to dress that way all the time. Just to provide some karmic balance.



*And really, what is up with that picture? Who's he trying to be: Griffin Dunne as Heath Ledger as the Joker?

**Well, aside from the fact that it makes me look AWESOME.

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