Friday, September 24, 2004

Comics 9/15/2004

This week's books in the order they came out of the bag.

The Life Eaters
Ultimate Fantastic Four #11
The Avengers #502
Astonishing X-Men #5
Black Window #1
Ex Machina #4
Ulitamte Elektra #2
Harry Johnson #1

Reviews to follow.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Strange #1 Straczynski, Barnes and Peterson

This has not been a good week for comics. One out of four just isn't good.

I've been a fan of Dr. Strange for a long time. My favorites are still the Lee/Ditko issues, although there have been some great teams on the character over the years. Roy Thomas and Gene Colan, Steve Elnglehart and Frank Brunner and later a short run by Roger Stern and Marshall Rogers.

I was looking forward to the revamp of Dr. Strange by J. Micheal Straczynski. I've enjoyed his work on Amazing Spider-Man. Un fortunately, it's just not working for me. The whole Strange doing and student doctor stint in tibet, curing Wong, meeting the Old One, thing just bugs me. Everything doesn't have to be so neat. Not everything has to tie up into a neat little package. The world is a pretty random place and coincidences do happen.

I'll give this a few more issues. I don't really have a choice. I order my books 2 months in advance. But things better step up or Strange is going the way of Daredevil and Books of Magik.

Books of Magik: Life During Wartime #3 Spencer and Ormston

This is another one I'm going to drop. It's sad. I've been following Tim Hunter's carreer since the very beginning. The series has always been about hope and wonder and Magic. Now it's mean and vicious and, I suspect, weird just for the sake of being weird. There are finally some hints of what's really going on in the world, but three issues in the limit for me if I'm not getting into the book.

Ultimate Nightmare #2 Ellis, Hairsine and Decatro

It's starting to move now. The first issue was okay, but dragged a little. This one's got some great bits in it and is reminiscent of The Authority. Trevor Hairsine is one of the many Brian Hitch look-a-likes we've been seeing in the last few years, but he does a good job of it and it suits the science fiction spin Ellis puts on his super-heroes. Nice inks by Nelson DeCastro and exceptional color work by Frank D'Armata make this a nice book to look at.

The biggest accomplishment in this issue is that Ellis has finally made Sam Wilson, The Falcon, into an interesting character. When he first showed up I thought, "Oh, no, not Ultimate Falcon." I was wrong. Sam Wilson is a compelling character. He's a very smart man, willing and able to face down both Nick Fury and Captain American. The exchange between Sam, Cap , Fury and Natasha Romanov alone is worth the price of admission. I want to see where Ellis takes this character.

Definitely worth a look if you liked Ellis' work on The Authority or Mark Millar's Ultimates or Ultimate X-Men.

Daredevil #64 by Bendis and Maleev

Question: Why am I still reading this book?

Answer: I don't know. I started with issue one of the new series because I'm a fan of Kevin Smith's writing. I kept buying it when David Mack and then Brian Michael Bendis took over. I've continued reading it, I think, out of habit. I'm not even sure where we are in the story. A while ago it jumped ahead a year and Matt was now the Kingpin of New York. Ben Urich stated telling us how this came to be in a long flashback. Are we still in the flashback? I think so, but I'm not sure because now Matt is telling the story. And I really don't feel like going back a re-reading a bunch of issues to figure it out. I'm bored.

The whole book is gray. The tone is gray. The art is gray. The color palette is gray. Monotonous. It's the same note over and over. Sometimes the rhythm varies, but it's still the same note.

There are a few cool Bendis moments is it. When the Black Widow blows the hitman a kiss from 7 blocks away and we see it through his scope, that's cool. But even that is the same cool moment that Bendis has been doing in thes book for the past 30 issues. Monotonous.

Don't get me wrong. I like Bendis' work. Powers is great and it's nice to see it constantly evolving and moving in new directions. Ultimate Spider-Man is a good read. Daredevil, not so much.

Question: Why am I still reading this book?

Answer: I'm not. Not anymore.


Comics 9/15/2004

These are the comics I bought this week in the order they came out of the bag.

Innocence Film Comic #1 and #2
Books of Magic: Life During Wartime #3
Ultimate Nightmare #2
Colonia #10
Strange #1
Following Cerebus #1
Daredevil #64
In the Shadow of No Towers

Reviews to follow.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Warren Ellis

I’m re-reading Warren Ellis’ run on Stormwatch and The Authority for the 3rd or 25th time. It’s still a brilliant take on super-heroes. I’ve worked my way through the Stormwatch material and am just waiting until I have the time to dig out Absolute Authority vol1 to read The Authority run. That run of books turned super-heroes upside down. It’s one of the reasons I’ll take a look at anything Ellis does.

The other is Transmetropolitan. Transmet is unique in mainstream comics publishing. Science fiction with a hard political edge from one of the big two and nary a spandex clad body in sight. Other notable works are Planetary, Scars, Orbiter and Global Frequency. There are many, many more. He doesn’t always hit the mark, but it’s usually interesting. Even the mainstream super-hero work he does is worth a look. If nothing else I know that some of the money I pay for those books goes into his pockets allowing him to do the kind of work I really enjoy in comics and fiction in general. Take a look at his blog site die puny humans. A fairly complete list of his works is there.


Dr. Dolittle's Pastilles

Pastilles are apparently gummi bears for adults. They are made in Switzerland. I like the grapefruit. My 7 year old daughter is partial to the blackcurrant. They're great for a quick sweet fix. The only place I've ever seen them is at Trader Joe's. If you don't have Trader Joe's, your life must be very sad.


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Robert McKee

I just got out of a 1 hour mini seminar with well known story lecturer Robert McKee. The studio I work at managed to get him in to do a talk. It was an amazing hour and tempts me to invest the 600 bucks to take the full 30 hour course. Mostly he talked about Hollywood's reliance on form over content. In brief.

The American Novel is dead.

Theatre is dead.

"Film is in the crapper"

"The best writing being done right now is in television."

He was very up front, opinionated, entertaining and brutally honest all at the the same time. I recommend his book Story if you want a condensed version of his seminar.


Buzz Rickson's "Pattern Recognition" Black MA-1

I finished reading William Gibson's Pattern Recognition a few weeks ago. Great Book. Read it. Gibson's foray into the mainstream is just as compelling and thought provoking as his sf work. But that’s not what I'm talking about today. I've become slightly infatuated with Buzz Rickson's reproductions of US flying jackets. The main character, Cayce Pollard, wears a black Buzz Rickson's MA-1 reproduction. It's her prize possession.

As I read the book I became convinced that Buzz Rickson’s must be a real company or at least based on one. I lived in Japan for more than 5 years and met more that my share of military fetishists. One thing I learned about the Japanese is that they don't have hobbies. They have obsessions. They don't do anything halfway, so Gibson's descriptions of Cayce Pollard's jacket and the company that made it rang very true to me. A quick trip to google and I had over 4500 sites to visit. Buzz Rickson’s was a real company. It only took one to set me off.

The thing about Cayce is that she has a mental allergy to brand names and trademarks. They give her fits. The Buzz Rickson's, in it's purity as an object of almost worship by it's makers, doesn't trigger her attacks. It's an anti-fashion statement. Not anymore. See, the MA-1 was never manufactured in black. The original jacket was a sage green. Maybe William Gibson didn't know. Maybe he didn't care. It doesn't matter.

Buzz Rickson's now makes a black MA-1. They were flooded by requests for a jacket that never existed by fans of the book. They have responded by creating a limited edition "Pattern Recognition" MA-1. Cayce Pollard's anti-fashion statement has become a fashion statement.

I wonder, do the people who buy this jacket burn a hole in the shoulder with a cigarette as soon as it arrives in the post?

Now the sad part. I want one. I won't buy one. I could never spend $455 on a piece of clothing. But I really want one. It is a truly cool jacket.

We are all lemmings going over the cliff.


Monday, September 13, 2004


Greetings and welcome. I've wanted a place to spew random thoughts and corrupt innocents for a while now and this is it. For now. Mostly I'll talk about comics and movies, but anything is fair game. I'll post at least weekly, listing what comics or dvds I'm buying this week. Reviews will follow as I get throught the pile. Inbetween I'll post whatever comes to mind. Try to keep up.

On the TV: Angel season 3, episode 19: The Price