Friday, June 29, 2007

Sinestro Corps!


Holy crap, I haven't been this excited about a DC event since Rann-Thanagar War.

Usually these big-ol-goings-on are plagued with decompression and set-ups where nothing really happens. But in the Sinestro Corp special, all kinds of crazy shit goes down! You need to be somewhat invested in GL lore to run along with things, but they do a pretty good job of filling in some backstory points. But there are a few instances, even single lines of dialogue, that require having read specific issues of the past and present. GL follower that I am it's all gravy, even though I'm a little light on my Ion happenings, and Kyle Rayner plays a big part.

There is the stuff one would expect, like Sinestro's grand return, cryptic Guardian councils, and a littering of dead GL's as a result of the Sinestro army attack (they sure have made GL's easy to kill these days). Then the whoop-ass can busts open with honest-to-goodness universe affecting events:

Kyle Rayner is captured by Sinestro who sucks out his Ion powers and replaces it with... Parallax??!!! Kyle Rayner becomes the new Parallax!!??

The new Sinestro Corps busts out all of the Oan prisoners (a classic plot device), which turns out to be a pretty big deal since you may recall their most nefarious captive was Superboy Prime!

Superboy Prime and the freakin' Anti-Monitor join the Sinestro Corps!!!!

Gotta be honest with you folks, did not see that last one coming. I thought they were going to hold off an any Superboy Prime stuff for a while. The book is extra thick and has alot of insanely detailed fights as drawn by Ethan Van Sciver, and Johhs introspective narrative fluff is kept to a minium. There is also a really good back-up story featuring Sinestro and Hal Jordan's initial meeting that gives some insight to the beginnings of Emerald Dawn (I really oughtta go back and read those again).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

New Comics Day

Only 3 books?

Wonder Woman
Amazons Attack
Sinestro Corps

I know I should be waiting for the trade of Amazons Attack (as I've recently decided I'l be doing much, much more of), but Pete Woods' art is really groovy.

Wonder Woman has a new artist for this latest Amazons Attack tie-in, Paco Diaz. It's pretty nice stuff, tho I think alot is owed to Alex Sinclair's colors. He's been using a dreamy, muted "white gold" palette, completely different from his earlier issues over Dodson. Nice.

Finally I gotta say while I'm not Geoff Johns' biggest fan by far, I'm really looking forward to Sinestro Corps. It's a pretty fat book that supposedly sets up the next major GL storyline, and the concept seems like one that's been a long time coming.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Clone Trooper Madness!

Looks like the fine folks at Entertainment Earth have heard my pleas! For a paltry 26 bucks you get 5 super-cool Clone Troopers! And since they are right here in North Hollywood I can pick my order up at will call and avoid shipping.

I'm so glad they did this because the only other way to get figures from them is by the case. Altho their Star Wars Mystery Pack is looking pretty cool, too.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Don't listen to them, listen to me!

In a recent DC Nation column, editor Matt Idelson opines on the tribulations of being a comic book editor, noting the query as to ship a late book or find a fill-in team. But at the end he comes to the conclusion that you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. Then he says something that raised an eyebrow, "How can we, the editors, please the most people?"

I think the answer is simple: Tell most people to fuck off.

An editor has the dubious responsibility to manage creative content, with varying degrees of influence on that content. There is no watermark, some under-utilize the influence, others abuse. This, however is not the issue at hand. When any person in a position of creative influence changes their aim to "please the most people," they lose. Pleasing the most people is best reserved for staples in life like providing clean water or affordable health care. But when an individual chooses to stray from a creative path to appeal to the masses, the result is a dilution of what made something attractive to begin with.

DC's comics as a whole already stew in mediocrity and carnivorous self-sustainment. But out of the dozens of books they publish, I as a reader have found the books I like, as have thousands of others. But I like those books for different reasons and as long as certain factors are in place I will continue to. If the management of those books changes to incorporate additions of broad appeal and lowest common denominators, my books loose what appealed to me and I will regrettably-- but easily-- drop them. A fill-in or a shipping delay rarely sways opinion to stick around if the alternative is to have Lobo or Wolverine show up in every issue.

ADDENDUM: Actually I kinda like it when Lobo shows up. So maybe you shouldn't listen to me after all X^O


As noted in the ever-entertaining Lying in the Gutters, It seems the printed issue of Justice League of America #10 had some adjustments made. Compared to the originally solicited art (black bkg) it's obvious.

Digital correction or no, it doesn't make Michael Tuner's art any less atrocious. There was a time Turner could provoide a likable and sexy alternative to say, J. Scott Campbell, but somewhere between Witchblade and Fathom it mutated into an almost Liefeld-esque monstrosity of wincing nature. Good god man, why does he keep getting cover jobs? Where in the equation does a Michael Turner cover translate into increased sales? As a matter of fact I specifically do not buy comics with Turner covers, I refuse to support it. I don't like it, I don't like that I find myself so put off by a single persons work that am vocal about deriding it. I also know (as do many) Turner has dealt with tremendous ordeals in his life and at the end of it all this is his livelyhood. But something happened to the art. I shudder from trying to understand.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Battle Damaged

I love Clone Troopers. They are freakin' cool looking! I like all Stormtrooper variants, but I like EpIII versions the best because thay are the best blending of the nouveau clone design and the original trilogy trooper design.

But they are impossible to find, and that causes me much frustration. I have only once seen a clone trooper figure "on the shelf," and I always take a look when I'm in Target or if I stop by Toys R Us. What is up with that?? So what I end up doing is caving in and getting one at a convention, or usually ordering a couple from an on-line retailer for jacked up prices. That sucks, because suddenly an $8 figure is $15 plus shipping. And some of the coolest designs are jacked up even higher to $24-35, since they only come one per case. I have yet to bring myself to pay such an inflated price, but man I needs me a Commander Cody. It is not out of the question to consider this is on purpose, specifically to support the secondary market. Ship a goddammed case of Clone Troopers already and give a guy a break. They are clones after all, there should be, you know, alot.

Anyhwoooooo... some of the troopers come off of the clone assembly line all white and shiny. That's fine for a Death Star Stormtrooper, but Clone Troopers are coolest with a little rough-and-tumble. Luckily with some basic black and white acrylic paint and the simplest of drybrush techniques, a field-worn look is only a few minutes away.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Just how fucked up is it?

In a symmetrical dalliance with the Bob Wayne quote a couple posts down, even Neal Gaiman has to deal with this kind of nonsense!

It only hurts when I laugh.

via The Beat.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New Comics Day

Buncha books this week, mostly Marvel!

Incredible Hulk
Iron Man: Hypervelocity
Spider-Man Family

World War Hulk was super cool, tho the tie-in issue of Hulk's own title is more of on the sidelines to the main conflict. It's mostly another point of view of Hulk's arrival with a bunch of characters who presumably are in the supporting cast. But I haven't read Hulk in a loooong time, even though I want to pick up the Planet Hulk trades.

The purchase of Spider-Man Family was solely for the lead story with art by my favorite French artist, Pierre Alary. But there is a nifty reprint of What If #1, "What if Spider-Man joined the Fantastic Four?" It's neat to see, even though I have the actual issue in my collection. Back in the day, What If was a damn cool book. At the time there was nothing like it, especially at Marvel. This was before Elseworlds and Marvel never really had the equivalent of DC's "imaginary tales," and Crisis on Infinite Earths was quite a ways off. Even after Crisis and I was buying back issues of What If for my first exposures, Marvel was pretty shy about alternate universes whereas DC was steeped in them. So those What If stories were quite a hoot!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sad State of Affairs

"If you want to break into comics there's no better way than to make a movie, write a best-selling novel, or make a hit TV show."
-- Bob Wayne, DC Comics
Wizard World Philidelphia 2007

He was joking, but, you know, not really.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Ocean's Thirteen

Ocean's 11 is great, probably the best remake/re-imagining around (kudos to some others, perhaps in another post). Ocean's 12 is a god damned masterpiece, and I will argue that to anyone. And I have; I do not understand the less-than-favorable response it gets from most people. To paraphrase Dennis Miller, should you find it over your head you may need to stand a little taller.

Which brings us to Ocean's 13.

Soderbergh, damn, that guy makes a movie. Sure the Ocean's films have the cast that dreams are made of, and yes the story is clever and witty if not fanciful. But it really comes down to this director and his crazy-ass balls-out cinematography that is giving you a reason to get your ass off the couch and go to the movies.

The story behind 13 brings the crew back to Vegas, because I guess people like that sort of thing. I happen to as well, though they were already there... but that kind of gets lost behind the heist aspect, and clearly this story requires Vegas and Casinos and all the grifting that automatically goes with it. The core of the heist is so ridiculous that as a viewer you are asked more than ever to suspend disbelief and just watch it all play out. In fact in addition to some focal heist points that are barely possible, let alone plausible, we must accept that every inhabitant of Las Vegas is on the take. We all want to think that, and we all have our price, tho speaking from experience as a frequenter of Vegas -- and a former resident-- if that were true the town simply could not do business on the scale that it does. It's a picky argument, but the film does ask alot of you in that vein.

But I guess that's not what's really important, because it all plays out. We get our big set-ups, our snags, our "uh-oh's," and a whole lotta cool as Ocean and crew take what's theirs and then some. Pitt and Clooney riff back and forth like they just show up on set, scan the script and say "Let's go!" much like the laissez faire attitude of the Rat Pack's original film. Damon as Linus Caldwell continues to be my favorite character and even comes into his own this time around. The rest of the cast do what they do best, even Pacino reigns it in a bit (tho is still unmistakably Pacino).

But the real star here is Soderbergh and his 70's acid trip flashback camerawork. Not as daring and inventive as Ocean's 12, mind you, but top notch across the board. Aside from perfectly framed conversations between two people there are seamlessly cut scenes of the whole crew both together and apart, which is no easy task. Then there are massive zooms and panning shots that are sadly rare next to the epileptic editing foisted on us these days. The film explodes with color and high contrast, one imagines the scenes delivered to post for color grading bundled with a brand new box of crayons and a note that reads "go nuts." Seriously, the color usage here is out of this fucking world. What fascination was to 11 and music was to 12, color is to 13.

Ocean's 13 gives the masses the story they probably adhere to better, tho there's just enough nuttiness to make it special. When the final heist all goes down like clockwork you can feel the audience collectively smile like watching a massive display of falling dominoes. Adding the visual zealotry one is unlikely to see in any film the rest of the year, O13 sure put a grin on my face.

A good write up of O13 that takes off the rose-colored glasses with a more critical approach than mine can be found over at Pajiba (home of "good write ups").

Thursday, June 14, 2007

New Comics Day

Some delay in posting, what with Apple's WWDC Keynote and the season premiere of Rescue Me, but I did get a good stack of books this week-- including a finale to outshine The Sopranos!

Green Lantern Corps
New X-Men
World War Hulk
Avengers Classic

More Marvel than usual for me, but man you gotta love Skottie Young on X-Men. And the Avengers Classic special is a great book with some classic reprints (Hulk in clown makeup? Awesome.), new Oeming art, new Maguire art, and that bitchin' Art Adams cover!

Planet Hulk, dude it just looks cool. I wanted to wait for the trade, maybe I still will, but all those pages of Romita Jr were too hard to pass up.

Of course the big buy this week was Strangers in Paradise, the LAST issue. What an amazing run, one of the most consistently good comics ever from front to back. I gotta take some time with it to let it all soak in, but I'll probably be back to post my thoughts and celebration of the series.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Jason Todd: Train Wreck

Over at CBR, there's an article spotlighting the history of Jason Todd. Pre (Infinite) Crisis, good stuff. Post Crisis... Holy crap, what a mess. What were they thinking? You can tell just by reading timeline to timeline where it goes from compelling to just dissapointing.

I commented a while ago when the new Jason Todd stuff was starting how I thought it was a bit silly but may be cool in regards to a specific multiverse angle. It seemed to skew that way at first but hen goes arwry and becomes trapped under its own weight. But hey, maybe some people liked it. I'd be happy to hear the other side.

CBR has been doing these character histories lately, I really dug the one on Sinestro, couldn't have done better myself. I hope they keep doing them. Regardless of how crappy the re-introduction of Jason Todd was, I sure liked reading about it and catching up. Saved me alot of time from reading bad comics. I think the main writers involved here were Judd Winick and Jeph Loeb, and I'm sure DC editorial got their grubby hands involved. I don't worry about being harsh, there will be more than enough opportunity to trash the comics I write in a future yet to come.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sopranos finale

Last season was a pretty drawn-out mess, as was a good half of this final season. The last few episodes started kicking into high gear but with a boggling lack of resolution to several plot points leading into the one, final episode. So now that the final episode has aired what I really think is

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Black Mary

So I peeked through the latest ish of Coutdown at the store, wherin Black Adam gives his powers to Mary Marvel.

BUT I totally missed something-- at the end of 52, Black Adam loses his powers because Captain Marvel changed the magic word. What happened? What book did Black Adam guess (or was told) the new word? What was the new word? Was it in Countdown? I didn't read WWIII, but that was before the end of 52, right? Can somebody fill me in, please?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

New Comics Day

Kind of a letdown this week.

Danger Girl
Sock Monkey

Midnighter is/was WildStorm's best book, and that's not saying much. Here with a guest writer and another guest artist the book falls into the danger zone of being a lackluster comic of some mean guy who wears black. Midnighter is already a knock off of another character or two, so he needs a pretty defined vision and consistency to support his own book. It's decisions like these (with no disrespect to the creators, they are just doing their job) where editorial fails to reign the leash that is so necessary for a publisher like WS and a book like Midnighter. I mean it's only issue 8 and we have another single-shot team and a story that could have been applied to any dozen other heroes, even those within the WS universe. Last issue was of course the Vaughn/Robisnson combo. Issue 9 is another team, Gray + Palmiotti with art by -gasp!- Brian Stelfreeze (that, sir, is a fill in). But wait-- issue 10 is another team, Keith Giffen and Chris Sprouse. It's great to see Sprouse back, but what has the book turned into? Anyone's take on a Batman story that DC won't actually publish in a Batman book? Will a string of writers be dusting off their old Wolverine one-shots for a little chop-and-swap? I give Giffen much more credit than what I'm about to suggest, but if his issue works just as well with Lobo in place of Midnighter, my point will be made.

Danger Girl seems to be faring a bit better, Artist Nick Bradshaw does his best to channel J. Scott Campbell channelling Art Adams. The book looks very nice, the production value is pretty high save for WS's typical bootleg packaging and complete lack of design sense. Hartnel's story is usual Danger Girl fare, tho I think the ceiling here is pretty low. Basically the art is the draw and I wish there was more to it than that. DG as a brand bleeds potential like a patient in the hands of a drunk surgeon.

At least there was Sock Monkey.

Supporting my Love

It's been running for a while already and it can run for eternity as far as I'm concerned. In the best matching of celebrity product endorsement since Fred Flintstone and Winston cigarettes, the loveliest of lovelies JLH hocks the Hanes Comfort Bra in arguably her best role to date: a woman befrazzled by uncomfortable undergarments!

I love this commercial, she's so damn sexy it just comes off as cute. Why can't the Ghost Whisperer be this good?

Um, well, I could launch into a lengthy post of how the underlying concept of Ghost Whisperer is in fact a bottomless well for good storytelling but is continually truncated down to insipid touchy-feely lost-soul-of-the-week Hallmark Channel drivel to the point of being unwatchable, but eh, you know. Given the choice between broad appeal mediocrity and bra commercial, I choose bra commercial.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Speed Racer

On one hand you have the Wachowski's and Joel Silver... The Matrix was what it was tho I felt V for Vendetta was disappointing (to put it nicely). Speed Racer, presumably a solo effort as opposed to a "trilogy franchise," would hold more of a production similarity to V in that respect, so I am wary.

On the other hand, you have that cast:

The film stars Emile Hirsch ("Alpha Dog") as Speed, Christina Ricci ("Black Snake Moan") as Trixie, Matthew Fox (TV's "Lost") as Racer X, and Oscar winner Susan Sarandon ("Dead Man Walking") and John Goodman ("Evan Almighty") as Mom and Pops Racer. Rounding out the main cast are Australian actor Kick Gurry ("Spartan") as Sparky; Paulie Litt (TV's "Hope & Faith") as Sprittle; Roger Allam ("The Queen," "V For Vendetta") as Royalton; and Asian music star Ji Hoon Jung (popularly known as Rain), making his major feature film debut as a rival driver.

Hirsch channels a young Tom Cruise ala Risky Business in The Girl Next Door (a surprisingly good movie) and I'm sure he'll pull off a good Speed should he be allowed to (or be written as). And Fox as Racer X, well, that's pretty sweet. Rain, however you want to see it, was an incredibly smart casting move by the producers.

Then of course the car-- while the press release would have you believe that is a real car, I assure you it is for now a nice rendering of how the car may eventually be fabricated. Though I can hope and dream that the movie's cars and races will be as cool as we all want them to be.

Speed Racer as a big movie is an odd choice, it was never a major force in America, and recollections to the old cartoon are skewed towards a rather old audience. The fears of this new adaptation center around what will surely be an incessant need to "appeal to a younger and new generation" thereby discarding everything that its real audience knew to love. The adaptation of V was weak when compared to the original story, yet it too had to be modeld into something "current and appealing to today's audience." Ugh. I would love for Speed Racer to be a good movie. I know it can be, every element for a good movie is there in the original content. If only they can remember that.

I've a strong attachment to Speed Racer, both the TV series and the original comics, as well as the newer comics which I played a role in bringing to market. Published by WildStorm in late 99/2000, the Speed Racer 3-issue series was written and drawn spectacularly by Tommy Yune, in my opinion you are unlikely to ever find a better adaptation. Yune's story is proof that the series and characters can be updated and expanded upon without subverting history, and is the strongest argument for the potential quality of a new movie. The Speed Racer mini was followed by a Racer X series also written by Yune, but with art by the amazing Jo Chen. WildStorm also published a collection of the original manga which they sadly did not follow with additional volumes. Despite pleas of support, the view of manga and the trade market at the time was woefully short sighted.