Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Superman Never Left

Best. Movie. Ever.Oh.

My.

God.

Have you ever gotten afterglow from a movie before? Great Caesar's Ghost, Superman Returns was amazing. Like, remember how bad "Batman & Robin" was? Try to imagine the exact opposite and you'll have some idea of how good Superman Returns was.

Go. See it. Spend $10 for a ticket. Spend $20. Drain your bank accounts. Just go, now.

To DC Comics, Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures, Bryan Singer, and everyone else involved: Thank You.

Now, here come the spoilers. You do not want to spoil this movie. So...
I have no complaints about Superman Returns. It was quite probably, if not easily, the best superhero movie ever made. I've watched most of the first two Superman movies in the past two days, and I can say without reservation that it is the best Superman movie ever made. It might be the way it pays homage to the comics (check out the cover to Action Comics #1!) to the history (two Jimmy Olsens, 50 years apart, hugging), and to the previous films ("I hope this experience hasn't put you off flying. Statistically speaking, it's still the safest way to travel"). It might be the way it manages to make the action scenes frantic and suspenseful, without letting them become jumbled messes (which was a problem in Batman Begins, sadly). It might be the fantastic score, which at once sounds fresh and timeless thanks to all the use of John Williams's theme. It might be the way that this film ditched the "epic saga" approach of the Donner movies, instead taking a more heartfelt, emotional route. It might be the little touches, like the fact that there's no flying sound effect. But I think it's because the story kept me guessing.

That's right: I had no idea what was going to happen. When I read a Superman comic, I know he'll be all right in the end. When I see a villain's plan from start to climax, I usually can figure out from the clues and foreshadowing how the hero is going to win.
I had no idea how Superman was going to get through this one. Not a clue. I actually believed he might die. I haven't thought Superman might actually die since I was 9 and reading Superman #75. And even then, I doubted it. This? This was perfect.

What about the Christ imagery, you say? It's there, from Pieta to Crucifixion to Resurrection. The "gay Superman" angle? Yeah, that too, in a Matthew Shepard sort of way. Is Routh good as Superman? Routh is Superman, at least as much as Reeve was. Everyone is top-notch; not a wooden actor or phoned-in performance in sight.

It's fantastic. It's superb. It's got me anxious to see it again, to buy the DVD, to see the extended edition. I want to see this in IMAX. I want to memorize this film and burn it onto the backs of my retinas. It's JUST THAT GOOD.

I'm going to be gushing about this movie all week. Expect a lot of spoilers-below-the-fold posts.

If you haven't seen Superman Returns, for the love of Rao, don't click this link.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Snippets

According to The Great...er, Blog@Newsarama, John Byrne had this to say regarding the difference between his work on Action Comics, and on The All-New Atom:

“Well, I have a good inker this time. Fans will actually get to see what I drew without having to check the pencils scans on my website.”

Gee, John, maybe if your work these days looked more like this:

This starts a feedback loop of homages

And less like this:

Superman's covered in boils!

then you wouldn't need someone to redraw your work. Your work lacks the polish, tightness, detail, and skill that it once had, buried in a sea of unnecessary hatch lines and distorted, melting anatomy. You lack consistency, you lack the dynamic flair that your art once had. Either this is because you refuse to put forth the effort to tighten your work up, or because you are unable to put forth that effort. If the former is the case, then you need to lose that trademark arrogance, spackle the chip on your shoulder, and show your readers some respect by giving them quality work. If the latter is true, then I'm sorry, but it may be time to cut your losses and consider retirement, not to lash out at all the whippersnappers who would like to see high-quality art from a 'superstar' artist. I'd say you could go back to writing, but I read Spider-Man: Chapter One, and I don't think that would be good for anyone.


Black Condor's new look:

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Who says the Bwah-ha-ha is gone from DC Comics?
Honestly, how can you start with this:

Maybe he should be the Pink Condor.

And end up looking goofier? He looks like a refugee from a Misfits concert or something.

I have never heard one of their songs.

No, no, not quite.

We are the Misfits / Our songs are bitter. / We are the Misfits, the Misfits / And we're gonna get her!

Yeah, that's about right.

From Stephen Wacker's "5.2 About 52 Week 7"

Curiouser and curiouser

So, Natasha's reasonably smart, how can she hear that report and think "Uncle John intentionally got a Metagene treatment"? Isn't the doctor violating confidentiality by releasing John's medical diagnosis to someone other than him? And, unless something has changed, John Henry Irons is already a metahuman. He had the ability to instantly transport his armor onto and off of his body, until he built armor out of an alien ore in Superman: The Man of Steel which didn't react to his mental commands. Will this be addressed, or did Superboy punch something?


That's it. Thoughts?

Spoilers!

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Happy Bloggiversary, Fortress of Soliloquy!

Wow, so it's been a whole year. A whole year of broken promises, unfinished ideas, countless post drafts, and irregular regular features. And bad jokes, can't forget the bad jokes.

But you know what? It's been loads of fun. I love blogging; I love geeking out about comics. I love that occasionally people read my geeky rantings and respond to them. I love that the deities of comic blogging themselves occasionally grace my humble site with their presence.

I've made some changes: I dropped the moronic post categories (Bloodlines, Panopticomic, and others that I never used), I shifted away from my initial ambitions to make this a review blog, that sort of thing. Yet I never did change the title that I thought was so stupid back in the early days, nor have I removed Robby Reed's Rann banners, even though the Rann-Thanagar War is (mercifully) over. I don't know if I'll ever change "one blog in search of a reader," despite having many regular readers, just because I think it's neat.

Since this begins a new year of sorts, I've decided to make a New Year's Resolution, if you will. I resolve to finish more of my ideas, to post more frequently, and to stop making so many promises I can't keep.

So, that's one whole year behind me. Here's to the next one! Thanks for visiting, everybody!

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Friday, June 16, 2006

Dissecting the Rip Hunter Chalkboard (Part 1)

Spoilers ahoy!

My god, it's full of stars...

If nothing else, 52 is presenting us with all sorts of neat images to blow up and examine in detail. Booster Gold's visit to Rip Hunter's lab is chock full of clues, hints, and other oddities, not the least of which is why someone who built a time machine would still be using chalk.

I'll be looking at a couple of things from Dr. Hunter's lab, but I think the most interesting is the way it fuels speculation about the identity of Supernova.

One of the early theories about the mysterious character's identity, and my personal favorite, is that it's Lar Gand, alias Mon-El, Daxamite and former/future Legionnaire. I think the chalkboard has really boosted that line of thought. Here are some selected quotes from the board:
Um...Richard Rider, duh.

In case you can't read the quotes, they say:
  • Who is Super Nova?
  • Further time is different
  • Dead by lead?
  • What happened to the son of Superman?
  • Te versus (Au + Pb)
  • Find the last "EL"
  • Who is Super Nova?

Sure, I'm cherry-picking a bit. Supernova could be the Curry heir for all we know. But consider the above pieces. The second is almost certainly referring to the Legion, and the fact that it is different. What time in the DCU is further than the 31st century (besides the 853rd, of course)?
"Dead by lead" seems to be a reference to the Daxamites' fatal weakness to lead, which in various ages has led to Mon-El's imprisonment in the Phantom Zone until a cure is found in the 30th century.
Quote four asks about the "son of Superman," which could be throwaway, could refer to any number of Elseworld-style characters, could refer to Superboy (his ideological son, or it might even refer to Mon-El. After all, it was a young Clark Kent who christened the boy, and gave him the ability to live in a world filled with lead. Besides that, it's no secret that Mon-El was created to fill Superboy's void in the Legion.
The next quote refers to three elements. The ones in parentheses are Gold and Lead, respectively. Now we have decent reason to believe, based on editorial statements and solicitation covers, that Booster Gold and Super Nova will be at odds, at least at the beginning of their relationship. If "Au" refers to Mr. Gold, and "Pb," by way of his weakness, refers to Mon-El, then perhaps the "Dead by lead" quote refers instead to Booster, killed by "lead," aka Super Nova. That seems pretty unlikely, though, and doesn't really fit with the Au+Pb quote. Te, the other element in the equation, is Tellurium, atomic number (wait for it) 52. It derives its name from the greek word tellus, which is another word for Earth. DC trivia buffs know the word Tellus from another source, the '80s Legion of Super-Heroes.
Tellus everything you know. Ha! I kill me!

Yeah, that guy. Remember him?
In terms of the DCU, and ignoring for a moment DC One Million, Mon-El is the "last El" that we know, by virtue of being a resident of the 30th Century. Of course, this could also be referring to whoever ends the Kent lineage, but the scare quotes around El suggest that it is an applied name (as Mon-El's is) and not necessarily an inherited one.

So, what does this mean? I have a few ideas.
  • First, remember that Grant Morrison is into all sorts of crazy occultish alchemical stuff. In classical alchemy, lead and gold were at opposite ends of the spectrum. Lead was base and worthless, gold was desirable and rare, and the goal of alchemy was to transform one into the other. Putting Booster Gold at odds with someone associated with lead is a nice little classical flourish, and one that will probably get some time in the spotlight, if I know anything about Grant Morrison.
  • Okay, scenario one: Lar Gand arrives on Earth before his trip into the Phantom Zone, and thus before his lead weakness is cured. He dons a suit that covers him head to toe for protection from the harmful lead particles in the environment, and goes after Booster Gold in a classic sort of misunderstanding. Eventually, they work out their differences and team up, to battle against whatever is represented by "Te."
  • Second scenario: Mon-El ended up in our time through all the craziness associated with the Infinite Crisis. He learns that Booster Gold is responsible for the changes to the timestream and seeks to take him out. What he doesn't realize is that his time displacement only exacerbates the problem, and the Earth (tellus) is fighting against their presence.
  • I think that second one is the more likely of the two, but what if Tellus is the former Legionnaire, reinvisioned as a temporal bounty hunter, or a time-cop of some sort? Tellus was sent back from the distant future to kill/capture Booster Gold and Super Nova before their existence wiped out the future timestream as we know it.

Okay, so the case is kind of shaky, but I look forward both to Supernova's introduction and to the return of Mon-El, whether or not they are connected.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

That's my store, and I'm sticking to it.

Switching comic stores is a weird experience, and not one that I particularly enjoy.

The last several times that I switched providers, it was mainly out of necessity: I moved from state to state, and had to find the best place in my new area to feed my habit. There weren't usually many to choose from. When I first found Tim's Corner in Rock Island, IL, it was on a grand comic tour of the Quad Cities with my late grandfather. I visited several shops that day; Tim's is the only one still selling comics. When I moved away from the QCA, I filled the void mostly with orders from Lone Star Comics, and the occasional trip to Graham Crackers Comics in Dekalb or Naperville. Still, whenever I got the chance to go back to Tim's, I would. Anything else felt a little too much like cheating.

I've had the pleasure of shopping pretty much exclusively at Tim's for the last four years, but I finally closed out my pull bag the last time I was there. Eric Garneau has been a good friend of mine since Middle School, and somehow he started running a pretty darn good comic shop--Stand-Up Comics--in the South Chicago Suburbs. It wasn't an easy decision making the shift from one store to another, but the prospect of online subscriptions and a better discount really kind of sealed the deal.

So I said goodbye, more or less, to a store that has served me since I was twelve. Oh, sure, I'll go back now and then. Tim's is going to be close enough to justify the occasional sale weekend or impulse buy, but it looks like my comics will be coming from Lansing for the time being.

Sigh, the end of an era. If you're in the Quad Cities area (Rock Island and Moline Illinois or Davenport and Bettendorf Iowa) head over to Tim's Corner (the corner of 14th Avenue and 30th Street in Rock Island). I guarantee friendly service and decent prices, if not the greatest organizational setup.

Anyway, as long as you're reading my self-important musings, you might as well take a look at Stand-Up Comics. I'm not trying to plug Stand-Up Comics or anything, just giving a shout-out for a friend and my current enabler. While you're there, you could check out the Online Store or sign up with the SUCCESS Subscription Program. And if you should happen to decide to spend a few dollars at Stand-Up Comics, well, so much the better.

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Controversy!

I've thought of the most controversial image in comics today.

The background is alternating images of Max Lord shooting Blue Beetle, and Wonder Woman snapping Max Lord's neck. In the foreground, Joe Quesada tears up pictures of Mary Jane and Peter's wedding, Hawkeye comes back from the dead, Nightwing dies, and Starfox hits on the new Batwoman, who retorts "Are you retarded or something? I'm a goddamn lesbian!"

But my Photoshop skills suck, and I can't draw, so this image will never know the light of day.

Speaking of Batwoman, as most of the Internet is, here are my thoughts:
*The costume is nice, and I like the homage trifecta--Batgirl, Terry McGinnis, and the old-school Bat-Woman.
*I don't know how I feel about Devin Grayson writing. Her run on "Nightwing" was almost universally reviled, so I don't know how great a fit she might be to another Bat-family book. Yes, yes, she's a bisexual woman and the character is a lesbian, but I'm not of the opinion that a minority character has to be written by an author of that minority. Particularly if, as the various editors have suggested, the minority aspect of the character is not meant to be the focus.
*I do not wish for Ms. Kane's death, rape, conversion to heterosexuality, or romantic tryst with Power Girl. Furthermore, I find her existence neither disgusting nor titillating (I do, however, find the word "titillating" hilarious). I do not blame DC for "pandering" to the "gay agenda," nor do I harbor delusions that this is somehow harmful to children (I thought kids weren't reading comics) or that it will cause more people to become homosexual (she's not that hot, ladies).
*I welcome the addition of more realistic homosexual comic characters. That being said, I am glad that the comic industry is sticking to their usual trend of portraying every superhero as an impossible, idealized image of physical perfection. It's high time that the gay community had a four-color representative who could make them feel that society has an unrealistic of their bodies. Now, complaining about big boobs and bulging biceps isn't limited to breeders!
*I care much more about the current state of the current Batgirl. I hope Kalinara's right.

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

No you're not, you'll be stone dead in a moment

I just got back from a week-long vacation in Crystal Lake, Michigan, following the hectic mess of finals week and graduation (no Jason Voorhees sightings, though), and a lot has changed. Comics Should Be Good dropped their logo, their simple white background, and moved to CBR. The Great Curve is now Blog@Newsarama. The Civil War banners on this page are starting to look painfully outdated. Devon at Seven Hells forced me to finally take the Firefox plunge. I think I've got a blogiversary coming up.

Seems like prime time to clean the cobwebs and tumbleweeds out of this place and get back to frequent blogging. A new post every day for a week--that's the goal. Let's see how horribly I manage to botch it.

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