Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Y Comics Day

Urk! What a great week!

Y The Last Man (!!!)
New Avengers Annual
Green lantern Corps
Suburban Glamour
Madman

This week is ALL ABOUT the last issue of Y The Last Man. OMG! Expect a recap!

It has some fine companions on the shelf, too. I don't read New Avengers regularly (tho it does look good for trade reading), but this annual is a good excuse and the art by Carlo Pagulayan is rather tasty. He channels Yu to be sure, theoretically in effort to maintain a series consistency that many more books should adhere too, tho there is a bit of flash and looseness in comparison to Yu's more disciplined pages.

Madman is such a great comic book. I hope many, many people are reading it and agree.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

World War Z

It is rare-- rare I say-- that a modern sci-fi novel grabs my attention. In the case of World War Z, the damn thing gripped me in a vice. It is an astoundingly good read, addictive and fascinating. Scary as all fuck.

Max Brooks, author of the those-who-laugh-now-will-die-later Zombie Survival Guide, takes the concept of zombie survival an evolutionary step forward in World War Z: An oral History of the Zombie War. The book is set after the undead have wreaked havok and nearly extinguished the human race, and we were easy fodder. It is the story humanity's recovery from the brink of annihilation where truth and fact are the only laws of the land, Along with the lessons of constant vigilance with the dead still roaming.

The format of the storytelling fuels the page-turning-- it's done by almost completely anecdotal evidence as told by the survivors of Earth's collective nightmare. Compiled by a researcher for the new world government's official report, interviewees run the gamut of military generals, world leaders, scientists, soccer moms, monks, and the unlikely walks of life in-between. A theme that hits home throughout the book is that the threat was global, it affected everyone, no matter the class, race, or sociality. As witness accounts bring the reader through the opening suspicions, realized outbreaks, mass panic, devastation, and eventual offense, you can't help but take both tragedies and breakthroughs very, very personal.

The clincher is the detail that is employed in the narrative. Constantly I found myself thinking how the domino effect of destruction need not be triggered by the undead. Brooks spills out in front of us all of our modern life dependancies with hardly a hint of smugness but lets us know how easily it can all come tumbling down. The details... soon the abstract gives way to thoughts that the zombie phenomenon is less a construct of fiction and more a matter of time. And oh, the details... Each witness account includes a smattering of concepts grown from the teller's dire situation that feeds into the zombie mythology little by little. Some are trinkets of science, others give a hint to the backstory. Other concepts let forth a deluge of thoughts and wonderings that are so fascinating you are compelled to read on, praying the source will give up just one more piece to the puzzle. It is a puzzle, too, even though large areas are covered there are a few key ingredients left solely up to the reader to discern. Combined with the abject nature of the zombie scourge, an enemy to mankind who is infinite and wholly without conscience, the combined experience is surprisingly unsettling and outright creepy.

There are so many points of views covered across cultures and battlefields, the struggle hits a level of reality I've not read before. I think partially because this is speaking directly to us, right here, right now. If the book proves anything it is that should something even remotely akin to a global threat upset our delicate modern balance, we are boned. This small excerpt from the early American regrouping after the initial "Great Panic" should be enough to question one's complacence:

You should have seen some of the "careers" listed on our first employment census; everyone was some version of an "executive," a "representative," an "analyst," or a "consultant," all perfectly suited to the prewar world, but all totally inadequate for the present crisis. We needed carpenters, masons, machinists, gunsmiths. We had those people, to be sure, but not nearly as many as were necessary. The first labor survey stated clearly that over 65 percent of the present civilian workforce were classified F-6, possessing no valued vocation.


That doesn't even scratch the surface, and it's well after the outbreak and only the beginning of a full on zombie assault to reclaim the planet. Combining the personal stories with the details of unexpected terror, civilization's hubris, and the desperation of being faced with extinction really gets one to think. Even as the human race rallies to fight back, the hard choices made to survive are ones you never thought possible and are often cause to shudder. The book rides a wavy line between escapism and morality play, and damned if along the way you don't start freaking out about zombies.

Whether or not you're into zombies, sci-fi, history, economics, or what have you, if you read you owe it to yourself to pick up World War Z. Seriously, read this book.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Comics Delay

Slim pickin's...

Wonder Woman
Fantastic Four: The End TPB

While Wonder Woman continues its Giant Talking Apes Fighting Nazis shenanigans, the only other spotlight pick for me this week was the collected FF: The End. One of the many "The End" series of books from Marvel, this is of note not only for featuring Marvel's First Family but for having doing so with Alan Davis. His art remains spectacular as always, finely inked here by one of his best parings in Mark Farmer. But Davis is a great storyteller, too, much of his writing work has strong sci-fi influences and this collection is no exception. The FF are engaged far out into space with many a strange creature, and even the Inhumans show up. The hook of "The End" books are that they would supposedly be the last story told for the book's heroes, but in an age of comics rampant with multiverses, elseworlds, and licensing offshoots, the premise is little more than a novelty. It does reach a little bit farther in the hands of someone as accomplished as Davis, even though we know in the back of our heads that there could never be a "last" Fantastic Four story. Heck, Stan Lee himself did another one just this past year. But if only for the art, if you missed the original miniseries issues this is a great trade to pick up.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Making Games Even Cooler?

I rarely find the need to link to YouTube around here, but with videogames being very near and dear to me, this is THE DOPE SHIT.



AWESOME. Awesome.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cloverfield

So yeah I bought into the hype machine and saw Cloverfield. It's really not that bad, I mean it's nothing spectacular in the realm of monster movies but it holds up pretty well considering the entire film is from a single point of view.

But you know, really could have used more monster. Lots of glimpses and destruction and stuff blowing up. But even the "good look" at the beast wasn't that good of a look. And after all the hoopla of what it would look like (honestly I can't believe I didn't see it beforehand, and I sure looked for it!), It was just okay. Storywise its very straightforward, by the numbers. Hits all the action movie beats, no switcheroos, no fake-outs, and that was a bit of a letdown considering all of the secrecy involved. The folks I saw it with were generally entertained but we surprisingly came up with the same idea for a way cooler ending. And -no- science whatsoever. No explanation of what, how, why, nothing. Me, I really like the sci in my sci-fi. Can't I get a little sumptin' sumptin'?

I don't know if I'm alone in this, but I felt the movie had a heavy overtone of dread. Not even sure why, maybe because the deaths are both on the mass scale and the up-close and personal. Outside of the plot of random and wanton destruction, I don't know if there was a metaphor involved or if there was I'm not thinking enough to make the connection. The handheld camera viewpoint leads to some intense scenes where the military lets go full bore, as a viewer this is impressive and even jarring. It's so close up and loud, one can only wonder what actual modern warzone life is like, no doubt terrifying outside of the realms of fiction. Coupled with the no-win scenario omnipresent through the course of the film and held to the very end, it's definitely not the feel-good film of the new year. I know that's a strange thing to say about a monster movie, but Cloverfield is not an average movie in many ways. Does that make it better? Not sure... even with the hook of the single camera and personal POV, there are definitely some areas of story that could have been stronger to make a crazy-awesome monster flic instead of just an eyebrow raiser.

In the end I wish the monster really did look like this.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Celebrating 500 Posts


To all my friends, readers, fans, and blog feeders: Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

New Comics Day

Well, Barely.

The Pin-up Art of Dan DeCarlo vol. 2
Boneyard

Dang, hardly anything this week. Tho it wasn't hard to pick up Fantagraphic's new volume of lovely Dan DeCarlo art. And Boneyard is a great comic.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Sarah Connor Chronicles


I must say I loved the first two episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on Fox. It is a bit like fanfic gone wild, set in an alternate history which takes place directly after Terminator 2: Judgement Day but upsets the introduction of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.

Now I wasn't expecting much to begin with, so I was pleasingly assuaged when the beats I define as keen to Terminator canon were hit repeatedly. These include:

  • Hard-as-nails Sarah Connor

  • Random, instant violence

  • Heavy ammunition usage

  • Terminators hit by cars

  • Exceptionally high imbalance of body-to-drywall ratio

While she does know how to kick ass and take names, TV's Sarah Connor played by Lena Heady is quite a bit more accessible than her movie counterpart Linda Hamilton. In T2, Hamilton is freaking amazing as a detached, single-minded lioness who will stop at nothing to protect her son. That transformation from the original movie's terrified damsel on the run is a thrill to behold and one of the anchors of what makes T2 so great. Hamilton's Connor outright personifies someone you do not want to fuck with.



Here in television where the titular character must be sustained for presumably much longer storylines, I understand the choice to take a less intense direction. Luckily Heady appears to play the balance well, and still keeps the thick skin and unflinching trigger finger.

Not surprisingly John Connor plays a big role, as well as his new Termanatrix protector (aptly done, if expected, by Summer Glau). Model number as yet unidentified... though there seem to be plenty of T-800's around.

The alternate timeline takes a little getting used to, I really enjoyed T3 and its striking resolution. Judgement Day cannot be stopped, it is inevitable in the Terminator storyline. Chronicles may not stop it but has certainly postponed it, and it will be interesting to see how much they play around with chronology or if the third film is even referenced at all. Not to mention the fourth film in the works! In its first episode the show has brought time travel into play, which I love, but we've yet to see if it will be overdone as paradox piles onto paradox. I hope the series either stays strong or stays brief. Heroes was a big let down by the end of the first season, and I can barely bring myself to mention the dashed hopes of Bionic Woman. I hope Chronicles keeps itself on a tight leash.

UPDATE: My new guilty pleasure, i09, picks up on the "kinder, gentler Sarah Connor," supposing and fearing it may lead to a downhill trend. And I gotta say that original pilot ending is kick ass compared to what aired. Keep your fingers crossed the character won't stray too far into that territory.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Pardon My Dust...


Yeah I'm updating things around here, finally getting this 'ol blog onto the modern Blogger templates as well as some content shuffling. Things may look a bit wonky until it's all figured out.

Kinda tricky, this. My old template did not transition well enough for me to keep the basic layouts and changes I needed, so I chose a new one. But that one is still missing some key features from other templates... Grrr. BUT I am able to hack into the html which has given me some of the tweaks I want, as for the others I don't know if its possible or if I haven't deciphered their placement deep within the code yet.

Anyhoo, stay tuned, good things in store!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New Conan Day

By Crom!

Green Lantern Corps
Black Canary/Green Arrow
Savage Sword of Conan

Green Lantern Corps is tasty... especially after seeing that teaser of Mongul wearing more than one ring... Infinity Gauntlet anyone? Actually I think that's a splendid idea for a GL story and I hope it plays out as cool as it sounds.

BONUS: Beaucoup Kevin's take on the matter is funny.

HOWEVER, books this week have been eclipsed by the Dark Horse release of the Savage Sword of Conan reprints. In glorious, original black and white! Similar to the DC Showcase and Essential Marvel bibles, this big hunk of Conan collected from the old Marvel magazine is something I've longed for for some time. I wanted it mainly for the fantasticariffic John Buscema art, here joined by some tremendously embellishing inkers that raise his art to a new level. I personally feel this collects most of his best work, as great as his runs on standard Marvel fare were. The book prints a little light in places, I don't know if this is my copy or just a result of not having decent films to reproduce from, but it's still days worth of entertainment I can't wait to dive into.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

New Comics Delay

What with the wonky holiday shipping schedules I finally caught up on a couple weeks worth of books.

Green Lantern
Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps Secret Files
Supergirl
Teen Titans Year 1
FF: Isla de los Muerte
Sorrow

The Secret Files + Origins edition of Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps is an invaluable resource for any Green Lantern fan. It lists all active Green Lanterns with small bios, and a handful of the known Sinestro Corps recruits. It's got a couple extra stories expanding on Lantern lore and a peek at some things ahead. The shame of the issue is an awkward layout throughout. Perhaps it was rushed into production, though there's no reason for it since GL seems to be riding a pretty high wave right now (or maybe that is why). I just wish they would have spent some more time to actually, you know, design something. This stems from a convoluted series of events in current times related to generational roles in the work force, not something I'm going to get into right now. But you know, outside of actual art content, comics were framed rather well aesthetically for a damn long time. Then came Image, digital pre-press, and a shitload of punks who suddenly found themselves making alot of money but without an actual career in print production. Then all of the veterans retired or moved on and even Marvel and DC found themselves with crap logos and amateur editorial pages. But I've wandered into this tangent too far... perhaps another time. Green Lantern is still cool, tho.

Marvel printed two editions of the FF special Isla de los Muerte, one emblazoned with the logo Los 4 Fantasticos that I could not resist. Yes, the contents are in Spanish which even with limited knowledge I was able to get the gist of. It's not hard to discern with a smile that Hombre Topo is Spanish for "Mole Man." The art by Juan Doe is very stylish and eye-catching, the initial reason I picked up the book. I just think the Spanish version is quirky and sets it apart from just another one-shot.


Also of note is Teen Titans Year One, again for some standout art by Karl Kerschl and friends. Those Aqualad pages are awesome and I can't wait until he gets the spotlight in the next issue. But the visual take on all the characters is great- they actually look like teens! Not just superhero-anatomy on smaller bodies. The story is not bad, albeit confusing for an older reader like myself. I mean, I totally want to buy that young Titans chat on IM and that Kid Flash enjoys his Ninty DS and kids roll around town in Mark Ecko shirts. But if you've been reading comics for more than ten years (or perhaps in this instance five) for the Teen Titans that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. It's part of that whole boggling continuity-with-the-times happening-but-not-happening with or without a reboot and Peter Parker is single again storytelling quagmire that we love so much about our legacy comics. Basically there is no status quo anymore, and that may bee a good thing. Just tell a good story with some hot art.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Ichiban


Another great sign on Burnet Road. Tasty gyoza, too!