No DCU books worth buying this week.
Majestic is wearing thin, the future of the book (or at least me buying it) looks dim. It went from a great cosmic adventure to a very not-cosmic misadventure, and that disappoints me. It's basically the last WSU book around, and as such seems to find it necessary to pull in characters that have run their course years ago. Zealot just isn't interesting enough in this storyline, Desmond I never liked in the first place, and Helspont... c'mon, Helspont? He pretty much lost all credibility after appearing in Gen 13 #50, which while not wholly my doing, I will sheepishly take responsibility for. I know that two other WSU books are hitting shelves, Wildcats: Nemesis and Team Zero, but on the surface I find both books truncating the potential of what little is left of the WildStorm Universe. I don't know that I can ever truly give up my undefinable attachment to WS, but for some time now it's akin to having a wife in a coma with a depressing prognosis.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
No DCU books worth buying this week.
Monday, November 28, 2005
New ideas in comics? Are you kidding? The "return" of Hal Jordan is a keystone in the regression of creativity at DC. As a Hal Jordan fan I personally don't mind new stories, but there is no reason those stories could not be told "in his time."
What Hal Jordan represented in his prime was the epitome of what the Green Lanterns could be, and at points, what a hero could be. A man without fear who is given the most powerful tool in the universe is a science fiction gold mine. I speak of the ring, of course, and while most writers and fans describe it as the most powerful weapon in the universe, they are limiting themselves. The concept of the Green Lantern Corps is fascinating, if not somewhat Orwellian, that of a galactic spanning police organization. The appeal I found in Hal Jordan was his entry into a world so much bigger than his own, and that he became the greatest Green Lantern all despite of it. Of course he became the greatest because they wrote it that way, even though there was no shortage of other Green Lantern characters whose stories were told over the years.
In the Green Lantern canon, things get really interesting in two places. They are both based on the classic addage, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." First, one of my favorite Green Lantern stories of all time was Emerald Dawn. It was revealed that when Hal Jordan was first introduced to the Green Lantern Corps, he was to be trained by Sinestro. Sinestro before this story was only known as being Green Lantern's #1 foil. I thought it was awesome that Sinestro was once a Green Lantern himself who ended up taking advantage of his power. So much so that he turned his home planet into a fascist regime, where he was feared by his entire race. Eventually the Green Lanterns discovered this and expelled him, thus forming the beginning of Sinestro's criminal exploits. Prior to Hal Jordan's introduction to the Corps, Sinestro was considered the "best." In turn, Jordan was trained by the best, and yet those many years ago no one could see what now looks like a natural evolution of events.
As Hal's exploits became more grandiose and legendary (or I should say were written as such), it came to be that Jordan would begin training new Green Lanterns. While this was going on, two other folks on Earth became members of the Corps: Guy Gardner and John Stewart-- but let's stay on focus here. The second turning point in the Hal Jordan story came as a shock to almost everyone in the Emerald Twilight storyline... or did it? During the concurrent Death of Superman storyline, an alien warlord named Mongul destroyed Coast City, Hal Jordan's home. Flat out nuked it to dust, the whole damn city. Everything Hal Jordan had loved on Earth was suddenly gone. And that kinda drove him a little nuts. Here he was, the greatest of Green Lanterns, with this incredible, near limitless power, and he felt he had lost everything. Burdened by the additional guilt of millions of deaths, Jordan decided it was finally time to use his ring for a little personal gain. By sheer willpower, he decided that he could re-create Coast City as it once was. But his ring proved not to be enough, so in a move many readers felt was out of character, Jordan embarked on retrieving all of the other Green Lantern rings, most of which were not given up willingly. Despite his continued accumulation of power, his deeds did not go unnoticed, and things did not end well. Finally it came to a point where even Jordan knew he had crossed the line, but at that point he had already gone so far over that line that there was no turning back. In a weird "I told you so" plot twist, Sinestro was resurrected (from some form of cosmic prison suspended animation) to combat the evil Hal. It wasn't enough since Hal, calling himself Parallax, killed Sinestro, some other dudes, and caused all of the Guardians (the little blue guys) to commit suicide. So yeah, it was a mess. But in hindsight, a fine, tragic mess it was. Out of it was introduced the sole Green Lantern we have all known for over a decade, Kyle Rayner.
Where we are at now with the return of Hal Jordan is because of two subsequent events, both of which were detriments to his history. First up was the pre-mature Crisis-like Zero Hour crossover (which ironically was born out of a need to retcon Hawkman). Someone was messing with the time stream and looking to re-write history, and that history happened to have a Coast City. The mastermind behind it all was indeed Hal Jordan as Parallax. Parallax seemingly had tapped into the very essence of the power infused to Green Lantern rings and batteries and was using it to form the universe in his own image, teetering on godhood. This may have been the natural next step after what had happened in Emerald Twilight, tho I personally did not feel it was executed that well. Sort of a bungled Crisis On Infinite Earths wannabe. Suffice it to say the universe was saved and Parallax thwarted. Next up was the Final Night crossover, where the Sun Eater was consuming the Earth's sun. In an anti-climactic redemption move, Parallax returned to make good on all his misdeeds and sacrificed himself to save the world by consuming the Sun Eater. This bothered me because it seemed like a bow to pressure. People just could not accept that Hal Jordan's fate was to be a bad guy, so they had to do something to bring him round again.
Just when you thought Hal was as dead as Jason Todd (-ahem-), he returned as the spirit inhabiting the Spectre. This was a super-bonehead move and I can hardly bring myself to acknowledge it. Again, people just could not accept the fate of Hal Jordan, they just had to have him around in whatever form available.
Which brings us to The Return of Hal Jordan. Most recently in Green lantern: Rebirth it was revealed that the well known impurity of Green Lantern Rings, the color yellow, was in fact the embodiment of fear itself-- an actual intelligent, malevolent entity. It was this creature who was responsible for all the corruption associated with Green Lantern N'er-do-wells like Sinestro and eventually was what took over Jordan's mind as Parallax. So much for personal responsibility. Did I mention that Rebirth was written by Geoff Johns? The end result is what too many people wanted so badly-- the return of Hal Jordan as the one, true Green Lantern. Would it have been so bad to just launch a new series set around the untold tales of Jordan in his prime? Are the core readers of the comics world so entrenched in the past that they can't accept new concepts? Take for example Hal Jordan himself-- as the launch of the Silver Age, Jordan and his cohorts like Barry Allen, the Flash, completely took over the roles of the heroes whose name they bore. You know, it took a little longer, but somehow they managed to work those Golden Age versions back into continuity, too...
What I hope some readers will get out of this is that it is okay for things to change. The stories will not disappear, you can choose to remember and honor your favorite era to your heart's content. But if all we can do as comics readers is keep pouring those same molds, where can it ever go? Right now, as Infinite Crisis is in full swing, it appears to me that there will not be a total reboot as there was with the original Crisis. There should be a total reboot, and there's no reason there can't be a new Green Lantern for this generation, Hal Jordan or not. But there won't be a reboot, just a little continuity shuffling so the die-hards can put their favorite characters in all the right places. I won't say that's the end of good stories, but I do suspect it puts a cap on doing anything spectacularly creative.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Stack additions for the long weekend:
Tom Strong (!)
Conan Vol. 1: The Frost Giant's Daughter
X-Men, strorywise, holds little interest. Less if you include the aftermath of whatever House of M was (too many mutants?). However I am not averse to picking up an issue solely for the drawings of Chris Bacchalo, frankly I am taken aback by his continued presence on the title.
Treat of the Week belongs to new Tom Strong, with the return of art by Chris Sprouse! Paul Hogan as writer is more than fine with me, and the issue features Dr. Permafrost-- a little used but strangely interesting villain with one of the best looking costumes ever.
The TPB of Conan is a worthy addition to anyone's library, and I even have most of the individual issues. But Dark Horse's packaging and design for this softcover trade is so damn nice I had to pick it up. Aside from that, Busiek delivers strong stories of Conan lore, and the art by Cary Nord and outright painting by standout colorist Dave Stewart is just plain pretty. I will now have to pick up Vol. 2, tho it will be in a couple weeks or so to spread out the cost.
Aside from the prospect of "really big food," I'll be using the holiday weekend to relax and catch up on some sleep, some drawing, and some reading. Sure I read comics as they stack up, but they by far don't hold a monopoly on my literary consumption.
Currently I'm about 2/3 thru Altered Carbon, by Richard K. Morgan. I generally loathe modern sci-fi (modern=anything written after 1985), but this is holding up allright. It's a uber-future detective novel chock full of violence and politics, body sleeves and neural conditioning. Wild stuff. The exposition is pretty good, with occasional gems like
I saw one leg turned to pulp below the knee, and then the body hits, bloody fistfulls of tissue torn out of her pale flanks as she fell through the curtain of fire.
So, what is everyone reading????
Monday, November 21, 2005
I don't know why I'm always reviewing JLA. It comes out every other week and I kinda like that, and yet I always find myself writing it up just for the heck of it. Tom Derenick's art falls a bit off path this issue, but it's holding up for now. In this ish we have yet another appearance of OMAC's, which I just don't need anymore. They are not compelling antagonists, they reek of genericism and as a reader we already know they can't do any real harm. The OMAC book already proved that to us! The more I think about it, the more the OMAC miniseries leading up to Crisis seems completely inconsequential. OMACs killed what, a half dozen (if that) 4th tier characters? So what? If it was handled better, and the OMACs were responsible for a major death, the appearance of one may engender a little more excitement. I could imagine if that the OMAC series played out with more consequence, the subsequent appearance of one would give the reader an impending sense of "Oh, shit! an OMAC! Somebody could die!" But now? Eh.
Green Lantern #5
This book is holding up pretty well for a relaunch of a relaunch. It has a few sub-plots but is pretty much focused on Hal Jordan as Green Lantern doing Green lantern things. I have always liked the cosmic aspects of the Green Lantern mythos, but I don't think that is the focus or direction of the title (for now). Green Lantern Corps seems to have that covered, anyways. The art is nice, Van Scyver is no slouch, tho I think he's trying a little too hard sometimes, some of the rendereing is a little much. But that's subjective, at least the man can draw sharks.
Sharks play a big part of the story, or I should say a big shark plays part, and I like sharks. Sharks are fascinating, amazing creatures. Reading of and drawing sharks along with all things aquatic has been a hobby of mine for many years. There's a line in the story referencing the shark man's "ampullea of Lorenzini" which I thought was kind of funny. It's a real anatomical feature of sharks, pretty nifty electromagnetic receptors that help them navigate the ocean (and possibly detect/react to metallic objects). Green Lantern's ring mentions an alien tracker of some kind lodged in the sharks ampullea-- and that's the extent of the reference-- which is an odd place for a tracker on a shark if you ask me. The reference is an obscure one, I don't think it falls into most readers' common knowledge of sharks, so maybe Geoff Johns just threw it out there for shark aficionados like me, or maybe just to let other writers know he read a book on sharks once.
All Star Superman #1
I am smiling. It is a very wide smile.
MK Spider-Man #20
The Other, part 5
Oh god, make it stop. I'll just leave Pat Lee out of it this time. I don't know much about Reginald Hudlin's work, but whatever he's doing here is lost on me. I get the sense that he can craft a humorous adventure story (with or without Spider-Man) but lost in the mire of whatever "The Other" is supposed to be, the script seems jarringly out of place. In some other context-- and god help me I don't know which-- Mary Jane and Aunt May rumbling around in old Iron Man armor could be considered inventive if not outright funny, but again, in the context of this arc it's just bizarre. Why am I buying these books again?
Books of Doom #1
Doctor Doom has always been my favorite villain, I connect with him in ways that I don't think I'll be going into at the moment. But it's the glory days of Doom I admire so much, some of you know what I'm talking about. I don't think he is used very well these days, and in fact I wonder if that is even possible. Doom is a villain of another generation, Marvel can hold off using him "untill it counts" for as long as they want, he may never have the same impact again. Maybe he does, for new readers, but how many of those are there? Books of Doom is the supposed origin of the man he came to be, from his birth onward. It's an interesting enough story, already more interesting than Wolverine's childhood we were subjected to in another origin series... (tell me that story couldn't have been told in one issue) I find the childhood stuff falling into the realm of conjecture, if it's in its own book it's really in the hands of Ed Brubaker now. If Marvel had any balls left they would have told this in regular issues of Fantastic Four. I would like to see where Brubaker takes it into Doom's teens and beyond, tho much of that we've already seen in various aforementioned FF books. Where I think it can get cool is if there's some expansion on how Doom actually took over rulership of his country, but in a six issue series (jee-ZUS) I'm guessing that's issue four or five...
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Is it true? Is it finally here?
All Star Superman
Tomorrow Stories Special
Top 10: Beyond
Books of Doom
Oh All Star Superman, I've been so patient. Will you be everything that All Star Batman + Robin is not? I believe this to be so.
Don't know why Tomorrow Stories came out with a "Special," quite possibly a marketing ploy to rebrand and make up for however long it was since the "last" issue. A fairly large chunk of the book is Cobweb, which is not a terribly exciting prospect. This is made up for by a Kevin Nowlan Jack B. Quick segment and a new Johnny Future bit by Cam Stewart-- it ain't Art Adams, but not a bad substitute if you ask me. The book is rounded out with Splash Brannigan and Greyshirt, but no First American to be seen. Maybe in the next ish (the cover is branded "1 of 2." Greyshirt is always entertaining, bordering on genius on occasion, but with last week's A to Z issue featuring both Greyshirt and Cobweb things look to have doubled up. God bless WildStorm for continuing to publish ABC books, but methinks the organization behind it is without focus.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Did you know that the Playboy Bunny outfit was updated? Neither did I, maybe because where the hell do you go these days to see a Playboy Bunny?
I'm content with my place in time, but one thing I wish I was around for in the past was the Playboy Club. I think the Bunny Girl is a pinpoint of Americana, and the thought of lounging away the night having drinks served via the "Bunny Dip" is something that for now remains a fantasy. I love the classic outfit with the satin fabric, vertical seams, collar and cuffs. The ears and cottontail play a big part in the fetish, and the colors were always rich. I'll take the kelly green bunny myself...
The reason for the update, and the answer to the dilemma mentioned above, is the new Playboy Club that's being introduced at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. The outfits are descriobed to have a more modern cut and a s+m undertone... whatever. The ears remain but the tuxedo cuffs are replaced by generic wristbands that might be found on an Avril Levine wannabe in possession of a Bedazzler. There are a couple more photos of the new outfits at Fox news here. Eh, they look okay I guess, but I don't see alot of color. That's why they have the word "classic."
Lots and lots of Bunny pics.
I lifted this story from Drawn!, you can download the video and watch it here: http://www.devilducky.com/media/37886/
This is the cooooooolest thing I've seen in a long, long time. How this was accomplished isn't exactly out of Snow Crash, quite the opposite. If you follow the Drawn link to the London Times article, the method is found in an old theater trick.
It may be "all done with mirrors," but this is some serious science fiction shit.
I'm talking about the concept of artificial stage presence, found in numerous sci-fi yarns from Star Trek to Macross. But two things are happening here, as exampled by the Gorlllaz: The talent and the art. The literal musical talent speaks for itself, as does it's multi-million selling album. The art is taking this to another level. I was immediately snagged by Jamie Hewlett's character designs the first time I saw the Clint Eastwood video, you can't say the Gorillaz don't have style. Seeing them on the Euro VMA's it's clear they've been translated to 3D, but the designs sure held up well. For a stage show, a 3D model is much more economical, as models only need to be built and rigged once, where as 2D work needs to be created from scratch every time something is added or changed.
So maybe the Gorillaz take the next step and start messing around with holographic laser-gas projection do-dads or whatever, and they pull off this "live tour" as the creators originally planned it-- with the Gorillaz' band members existing as distinctive entities and eventually mimicking some sort of concert-like interaction with crowds. Then imagine the step after that as some snazzy AI is put into place and they actually do interact with the audience. Yes, things begin to get very cool. There is some sweet AI floating around right now, and it ain't just for playing chess or Nintendogs. This can lead to some very interesting things, like maybe the Undead Rolling Stones as envisioned by Mike Mignola. Or in what I guarantee is in the not too distant future, A Michael Jackson concert where Jacko performs on stage looking like he did for any given video. The best thing to come out of this is already heralded by the Gorillaz-- fictional creations built around new material.
It doesn't have to stop at music or stylized constructs. We could see long dead actors return to broadway or historical figures make presentations at schools. And the porn, my god, think of the porn! Or don't. But I will.
PS, here's a phonepix I snapped at Kid Robot in Santa Monica of some cool "tangible" Gorillaz figures:
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Look out!!!! It's a Crisis week!!!
Danger Girl: Back in Black
Y the Last Man
ABC A to Z: Greyshirt and Cobweb
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man
Crisis... two equally poor covers for issue #2 if you ask me, one by Jim Lee and the other by Perez. How am I supposed to care with such non-threatening images fronting the book? Shouldn't someone's eyes be bleeding, or at least be being sucked into cosmic nothingness? WTF guys, I thought this was Infinite Crisis.
Actual goodness is offered this week with an issue of The Escapist chock full of Phillip Bond, one of my favorite artists. I don't know why I'm still interested in Danger Girl, altho art by nick Bradshaw may have something to do with it-- "digital inks and colors" by Jim Charalampidis play a part, too.
I don't like to admit how much time I spend online, but it's significant. Thank god I have actual work I'm responsible for lest I be lost in a daily sea of blogs, game FAQs, and galleries.
Mac browsing is a different animal from PC browsing. I do both, but since I finagled a G5 into my work environment there's little reason at all to browse in the PC world--- that is unless a page just doesn't read on a Mac, which happens more often than I'd like. Alot of commerce sites are PC only, as they deal directly with Windows based encoding or whatever Microsoft has put in the bottle. For PC's, Firefox is the way to go, no question. It's a handy dandy browser with a cool-ass logo. Explorer on the PC especially is notorious for security breaches, and I'm just paranoid enough to have to worry about that sort of thing. I would use Firefox on the Mac side, but it's a bit less stable and updates are infrequent. It's not native on the Mac and that keeps it buggy.
Camino is OSX native software, and is my browser of choice. It has a couple quirks I don't like, ironically features found to work well in Explorer... but sacrifices had to be made. Historically I've found Explorer for Mac to be just fine, it's engineered differently than the PC standard (which is incestuously embedded into the Windows OS) and rarely locks up.
Safari, Apple's native app that ships with Macs, is a fine browser. It is noticeably faster than other browsers which I believe is due to a hefty cache tied directly into OSX-- data can't physically come to your machine faster than the ISP allows, so I'm betting super-cache... It's just a little bland for me, it's got the brushed metal interface and few options for customization. It does have tabbed browsing, which I love, but so does Camino. Camino has nifty buttons. I like nifty buttons. Camino opens in a OSX window and looks like it belongs. I am a simple man with simple needs, and when one must browse as often as I do, the environment plays a big part. I could get used to Safari if I gave it a week or two, but I've never really needed to.
Camino, unfortunately, is still in the development stage and when it bugs out it does it big time. It is stable enough for me to use on a daily basis, tho the latest issues with Blogger (due I'm sure to Blogger's PC-ness), are bothersome. Creating a new post in Blogger looks different in every different browser... ???... sometimes it just don't work. These things tend to fix themselves over time, so no big deal for now.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Sugarbank has pointed to Jenna Fatigue, a new blog devoted to the over exposure of Jenna Jameson. I have a continued fascination with porn's crossover into the mainstream, and currently, while I agree overexposure of a certain nature is the case, Jenna is about as close as we get to just that. In fact, I've mentioned this before.
Jenna Jameson will either be the stopgap to the crossover or the gateway. She's not the most interesting the smut biz has to offer but she's by far not the worst--- still it's the next Jenna that will prove whether or not the "mainstream" can really embrace the adult industry.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Hardly any books for me this week, but quantity has been supplanted by quality.
The Originals (softcover)
Rocketo = Good. Bulleteer can be whatever it wants because I'll flip pages of Yanick Paquette all day long. Also I am really looking forward to finally reading The Originals.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Solo: Michael Allred
The above image is of course not the cover, but the substitute was fine with me-- if not the reason unsettling. This issue is solid gold from cover to cover, but "Batman A-Go-Go" stands out as an exemplary tale that will be remembered for years to come. I give it the weight of a "Killing Joke" or "For the Man Who Has Everything," two Alan Moore classics that are timeless examples of definitive personality studies-- both of the lead characters and comics themselves. It's that good. Allred plasters his signature storytelling all over the Batman mythos with equal moments of sincerity and absurdity. I was so wrapped up in the story with disbelief that I didn't see the ending coming, even though that was the only possible conclusion. Buy it. Read it. Love it.
Maybe Azzarello is tapping into the latest rage where a western must be stock full of cussing, violence, and good ol' sexin' around, ala HBO's Deadwood. I personally thought it was a little much, the genre is no stranger to such things but I felt as if I was being clobbered by them by book's end. But Loveless redeems itself with a well crafted introductory chapter that stands out as a prime example of why comics is a medium that offers a completely unique discovery in storytelling. //SPOILERS// The reveal at the end is something that can only be delivered in comics form-- Wes Cutter's mysterious companion is shown to be his lover at about the last moment possible. In film, no matter how long she was cast in shadow or how long she kept unmoving, she would have been given away by her voice and body language. I thought very hard of how such a situation would have been handled in prose, and while it would have gotten farther along the reveal would have been a bit awkward without any previous setups or even as the bizarre stripping-at-gunpoint scene was described. But in comics it's done just right with the Azzarello flair reminiscent of 100 Bullets and fine artistry of Marcelo Frusin. I'll give the series a chance based on that alone.
I have no idea where this series is going, but it would seem to be recommended "reading between the lines" while this whole Crisis debacle is going on. New series artist Tom Derenich does a nice job, even if some of his female faces fall on the stern side. His action panels show off some great body movement and he seems very comfortable moving the camera around. Inks by Dan Green were very nice-- thick and solid. At first I was wanting Baron's colors to take more advantage of the different settings as all characters are instead presented in their undeniable hues. But then I came to the conclusion that JLA has been leaning towards more of a showcase book, and there's no reason they shouldn't pop off of every single page, which they do. The renderings are bright and unapologetic, screaming the identities of each hero. JLA as a series has been holding up pretty well over past year.
JSA Classified #4
Well we sort of get a resolution here, but of course it's played out to be continued in Infinite Crisis. Power Girl would appear to play a significant role as one of a handful of survivors of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Johns packs this issue pretty full, even with a few splash pages, but the real star of the book is Amanda Conner's art (equally complimented by Jimmy Palmiotti's sharp inks and very nice coloring by Paul Mounts). Conner needs to draw more! I mean, I know she does books now and again, but this just seemed like the perfect fit. I've loved Conner's art for a very long time, I first caught eye of it in the 90's on Marvel's Barbie comic, no less! Her work is very inspiring to me and I've learned immensely from it as it jives well with my own personal style. I am really hoping the success of this arc-- both of sales and critical acclaim-- lead Conner to get a regular book.
Amazing Spider-Man #525
The Other, Part 3
Man, this thing is going downhill fast. From what I've read so far I seriously doubt this thing has to be 12 parts. This particular issue got me lost, as if things were happening that we should have seen but were replaced by talking head conversations that really have no bearing on the outcome. On one hand this can be some sort of Morrison-esque experiment where the reader is just expected to know what's happening behind the scenes because of sporadic inferences, on the other Peter David might be in over his head. It's not like him. I know he needs to coordinate with 2 other writers, and I certainly don't think a writer can't experiment with new styles, but I am just not getting this.
The Authority: Revolution #12
The story has concluded with an expected outcome, but the whole series felt anemic to me. Dustin Nguyen did a fine job with art, altho I was dissapointed with veteran Friend's chosen method of inks. The art was presented in more of a hard-edged graphic style than both Nguyen and Friend are known for, and the art is certainly not bad by any account, but I longed for more of a presentation representative of past work. Brubaker's story followed through as it needed, but there were some directions I thought were truncated and opportunities that were missed. Remember when The Authority completely blew you away? I just didn't get that this time around, as much as I enjoy the individual works of the book's team I didn't see the puzzle pieces fall into place this time around. Considering this was at first an "Eye of the Storm" book, subsequently relegated to "Mature Readers," more could have been expected than the occasional swear and far-too-sporadic bare breast. There is a decent set up at book's end, but I really wonder how much more Authority we will be seeing from WildStorm in the future.
I was a bit befuddled after the first issue, but the second issue was fantastic. There is a larger story going on with each of the Justice League icons, but I found the central story revolving around Batman and the Riddler to be fascinating. If that was the sole plotline it would be enough, but there seems to be much, much more going on.