Saturday, September 24, 2011

Signal Watch Reads: Wonder Woman #1 (of the New 52)

Wonder Woman #1
The Visitation
writer - Brian Azzarello
artist & cover - Cliff Chiang
colorist - Matthew Wilson
letters - Jared K. Fletcher
associate editor - Chris Conroy
editor - Matt Idleson

I am not a fan of too much of the work of Brian Azzarello.

I still associate Azzarello with his work on Batman: Broken City, the multi-issue epic that drug out over a year and somehow never managed to tell a story, and Superman: For Tomorrow, which derailed Superman for a year with unrelated and uninspired plotpoints, and a nonsensical conclusion.  And, of course, his Joker graphic novel, which was more or less a testament as to why we don't treat super-villains like actual criminals and psychotics in comics (its not particularly fun reading), but unintentionally raised the question as to why the Joker wasn't put down by a twitchy henchman on his second outing.  And his Luthor series just doesn't hold together as an actual story.

In all honesty, I get the feeling from his work that Azzarello more or less holds a lot of contempt for superheroes, but he knows that's where the money is.  And as long as there are young men looking for "more realistic" superheroes (ie: more blood), then Azzarello is going to be able to move comics and get hired.

Between you, me and the wall, I don't think Azzarello actually knows how to tell a story.  I think he knows how to provide a good set-up, and he knows some interesting beats he wants to put into those stories, but he doesn't seal the deal with either tying the narrative together or with taking the characters through an arc, so much as making them bystanders to a series of events he puts in motion.

Maybe his crime comics do a better job of this, but I don't know.  I still haven't read the 100 Bullets trade I picked up a while back.

So when it comes to Azzarello approaching Wonder Woman, I'm more than a bit skeptical.

DC Comics New 52, Week 3 - Part 2

  • I'm breaking this week up week 3 into three parts.  In Part 1, I reviewed Supergirl #1.   I'm of the opinion that Wonder Woman #1 warrants its own post.  

So, this is Week 3.

So, onto my Week 3 reads.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Signal Watch Reads: Supergirl #1 (New 52)

Supergirl #1
Last Daughter of Krypton
writers - Michael Green & Mike Johnson
penciller - Mahmud Asrar
inkers - Dan Green with Asrar
colorist - Dave McCraig
letterer - John J. Hill
cover - Asrar & McCraig
editor - Wil Moss
group editor - Matt Idleson
this review is of the print edition


Firstly, because I see no way to avoid discussing it:  I think the new Supergirl costume is absolutely great, at least from the top of her head to her navel.  And then, somehow, as you head south the rest of the outfit is a bit of a trainwreck.  At least how its being drawn in this comic.

I bring this up because, as a reader, I became utterly distracted by how much I could not not notice how terrible I found Supergirl's new get-up.  Why is she wearing a strange red patch over her, uh, lower abdomen?  I assumed I just wasn't getting how this would work in the preview art, but no...  I don't care what planet she's from - that just seems poorly conceived.  It really looks like some sort of awkward medical device or improvised covering when she had to run out of the house with no pants on.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reminder: "War of the Worlds" (1953) showing at Alamo South on Saturday

SimonUK reminded me today - the Alamo Kids Club is showing the 1953 version of War of the Worlds at Alamo South on Lamar on Saturday.

You can see info here.

The showtime is 11:45, but I'll be there a full hour early.  Why?  The show is free!  And that means lots of folks come early to ensure they get a seat.

If you've never seen the 1953 War of the Worlds, its an incredible movie.  I like it enough that my b-day present to myself this year was a scale model of one of the Martian ships.

they are here to chew bubble gum and heat blast earthlings.  And they're all outta bubblegum.

I confess, I find a bit weird to show this to small kids as I remember it spooking me a bit even when I saw it in 6th grade (I was not raised on horror movies and was a sensitive child, I guess).  But the effects are fan-freaking-tastic, and the aliens are not kidding around with their plans to heat-beam us all into smithereens.

I hope to see you there!

Laura Hudson's Post Re: Sex and Women in Comics

Look.  So, yesterday the comics internet decided to explode in one of its usual firestorms of outrage over something I do, actually, take fairly seriously.   This is such a usual occurrence that I think its, from time to time, worth looking at what is being said versus what is happening.  And so I talked a bit about the "controversy".

I absolutely do not share everyone's views, and/ but I am not dismissive of negative representations of women in comics.  Or the under-representation of women in the industry.  I do think we're going through growing pains as women have joined the ranks of readers in the past few years in numbers that I find truly surprising and welcome.

Like any critical read of a work of "art", there's always more than one point of view.  Any kind of reading from a feminist perspective is constantly undergoing convulsions as the narrative of gender roles is no longer defined by the mores of the 1970's culture movements. 

Yesterday via Twitter, Comics Alliance EiC Laura Hudson declared her fury regarding the comics we talked about yesterday.  In fact, its how I became alerted to the issue.

Today Hudson wrote a post that I think addressed some of what I was discussing (though not at me, because it is extremely, extremely unlikely anybody but NTT and myself actually read yesterday's post).  But enough people must have raised a hand in question that she went ahead and put together a thoughtful post that went well beyond the usual Gender Studies 101 rhetoric that usually defines these conversations.  I appreciate her honesty.  I don't agree with everything she says, and I'd actually argue her one example of an "acceptable" approach is open to the same criticism she ladles elsewhere, but I very much recommend reading her post. 

You can find it at Comics Alliance.

The trouble is:  I think Hudson is hitting a cross-roads that a lot of us are hitting.  DC just relaunched.  Its seeking new readers.  Its counting on old readers to stick around, but there's a calculated move going on to appeal to a very certain demographic.

In which I talk about comics fans and sex in comics (with little to no context)

Look. I get it, but no. Comics fans, I am not jumping on the gravy train of complaining about "sexiness" in a couple of DC Comics released this week.

I'm not reading any Red Hood comics. Partially because I'm not interested in either the characters or seeming arc of where DC is taking these characters and partially I'm just not interested in "back-to-life" Jason Todd. It was a bad narrative choice that should have been corrected with the ReLaunch.

I'm a little surprised by the one page I saw online that everyone is having conniptions over but

1) I have no idea what that exchange about not remembering any of Starfire's old pals the Teen Titans is about.  Amnesia?  Clever joke about continuity mishaps?  I have no idea.
2) Its not exactly out of character from what I recall about Starfire - and this is going back to middle-school
3) complaining about Starfire's look in 2011 is approximately 30 years too late and only demonstrates - you haven't been paying attention.  Those horses are out of the barn and across the state line.
4) she and Dick Grayson all-nekked-in-bed broke ground for comics... when I was in grade school
5) if Gail Simone wrote that scene, we'd all be throwing rose petals at her feet for being so darn clever
6) DC quit pretending to sell comics to kids with the conclusion of the CCA a year ago, so you are forbidden from playing that card
7) and most importantly:  a woman dictating her own sexuality and when and with whom she has sex, is not sexist.  For those of you who missed that class your freshman year of college: on the contrary, the power to make those decisions and not be sold to some guy over the hill for a goat and a couple of acres of land is the hardest won battle of women's rights next to the vote and pretty damned well ingrained in life outside your comic shop or, apparently, your Colorado City commune.*

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

DC's December Solicits Got Me Thinking...

Its terribly interesting that stories are already surfacing of creative-team shake-ups on some of DC's New 52.  I'm curious if DC is committed to the characters enough to give them a year and chuck creators who aren't pleasing fans (and by employing interns to read reviews, it'd be easy enough to get some data beyond sales, which aren't indicative at this point as EVERYTHING is selling out) and try to, say, make, say Tremendous Man work with a new writer rather than blame Tremendous Man.

There's something to that, I think.  DC has a core of characters that it should be trying to make work, and my assumption is that the New 52 likely contained all of those characters (why else is Aquaman getting a shot by one DC's top talents?).  Heck, we've already heard Static ALSO had a creative shake-up, and I'm not surprised that DC wants that title to work.  Static is incredibly lunchbox friendly.

DC needs to be able to demonstrate to the folks upstairs that they can make The Super Friends sell.  That's the intellectual property.  The people upstairs don't care who makes it work, so long as it works.

But, the solicitations.  DC released solicitations for December books on Monday, and the New 52 party rolls on!

I found the solicits interesting for three major reasons:

1)  Flex Mentallo

I, The Juror!

You know what was weird?  Jury duty.

absolutely nothing this good happened today at Austin's Municipal Courtroom 2A

From the fact that the parking directions sucked, to the sheer number of people called to fill a six person jury for what seemed to be a minor issue (and one, frankly, the defendant should have just taken the ticket on), today was a bit odd.

Making justice, I suppose, is a bit like making sausage.  I have a Mr. Smith Goes to Washington-level of naive faith in the system.  I really, really believe in trials of juries by peers, that we have a system that is much, much better than local bureaucrats determining your fate by whether or not they like the cut of your jib...  but today was also a bit eye-opening.

I don't know why there were more than 3 dozen of us called in to fill 6 seats.  I don't know why we were summoned at 9:00, dismissed at 9:45 and then told to come back at 1:45.  And why there were more of us at 1:45 than 9:00.

I did like voir dire, which was interesting to see everybody taking their part in the process with the utmost sincerity.  But I also realized that my idea of what is "reasonable" is going to get me bounced from jury selection every time on these sorts of minor criminal tickets.  But I also had never really thought too much about the fact that if its just a ticket in Texas, you aren't assigned a public defender.  And, frankly, I'm not sure from what little our defendant said and did today that he was competent enough to make decisions for himself like "I should go to trial" instead of "I'll just pay the ticket".

That's not to say the guy was guilty, but I'm a bit soft hearted when it comes to watching people getting in over their heads, and this fellow seemed to be tanking just having to listen to voir dire.  And clearly I wasn't the only one pretty sure nobody had counseled this fellow at all.

Sitting there, I began to wonder about whether I really could impartially review evidence.  I can do this at work to make decisions, but that's something I'm practiced at.  How well can I look at a ticket, impartially hear a witness description of an incident, and divorce myself from my mixed feelings about police, about what got this guy to the point he's in the courtroom, and what will happen to him should he wind up losing the trial?

I tend to think I could have made the distinction between "reasonable doubt" and "all possible doubt", an issue that took up, I think, a pretty good amount of time in our courtroom (and somehow nobody brought up CSI), and I like to think you can rely on witness testimony.  Mostly.

Lady Justice looks different to everyone, and so I think I could have done it.  Of course, at the end of the day they basically picked jurors 1-6 and sent the rest of us home after all that (I was juror 20.  The Rural Juror, I like to think).

What I liked best was the fact that despite my misgivings, my ego was a bit shattered that they didn't look upon me and see my innate sense of pure justice, just rolling off me in waves.  Also, I think I got bounced from consideration anyway because I said I thought a $500 fine for having marijuana paraphernalia seemed a bit steep.

JimD's Daredevil Deposition of Mark Waid!

JimD, the original Signal Corpsman, and one of the contributors at the always fine Abnormal Use law blog, has landed an interview with comics scribe Mark Waid (one of my personal heroes).

As you may know, Mark Waid is currently writing (Here Comes) Daredevil, and like everything else the man has touched the past decade, its just another darn fine comic.  Our protagonist, Daredevil, is, by day, attorney Matt Murdock.  And thus: our connection.

Don't take our word for it - read JimD's post and then go to your local comic shop this week and find Daredevil #4.  And then buy the previous issues if they're on the shelf.

You have to like it.  Cap AND Daredevil.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Books, Comics, Personal and Movies - Come read a round-up, won't you?

I'm not really feeling like doing some big, hefty posts at the moment.  Perhaps all the DCNu has worn me down.

Books:  On my quest to get to books I haven't read yet that you're supposed to read, I'm currently listening to The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck.  It's read by actor Dylan Baker, who I've always thought to be really good, no matter the project he's in.  And he's doing an awesome job thus far with this book.

Comics:  I just read Fogtown by Andersen Gabrych and Brad Rader from Vertigo Comics' Vertigo Crime line (my first dip in).  Its a pretty good detective story in the classic vein, but with a lot of modern sensibility despite its 1953 time-setting.  The protagonist/ narrator is very deeply in the closet, but its really the post-Chinatown content that keeps the 50's a setting rather than being truly evocative of the period.  Still, a good, brisk read.  And now that these books are in paperback and the price dropped, a lot better deal.  Feels a lot more like the dimestore novel this book emulates in spirit.

Personal:  My folks are off the Las Vegas for the first time.  It cracks me up.  They've been all over the planet, but I wasn't sure how to prepare them for the most ridiculous place I've ever been.  "Go to the Bellagio!" I said, unsure of what else to tell them.  What am I supposed to do?  Recommend The Gun Store to The Karebear?

Movies:  For some reason the 1984 film Streets of Fire kept coming up, so this evening I made Jamie watch the Michael Pare vehicle.  The entire movie makes so much more sense when you realize Jim Steinman, the brains behind Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell and Bat Out of Hell II wrote some of the movie's music, and no matter what they tell you, this should have been a Meatloaf musical.  It also stars all kinds of folks you know from other projects from Rick Moranis to Robert Townsend to Willem DaFoe and a very, very young Diane Lane.

Dude, I can only wish that "what it meant to be young" for me had included shotguns, cool cars and Diane Lane.
The dialog is pretty goofy in that way tough-guy dialog from the 1980's just absolutely doesn't work at all anymore (and not because of dated slang, etc...  It was like they were just learning how to use swears back then).  And frankly, I'm not sure anybody is very good in this movie, but its absolutely interesting.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

round-up Monday post

You're on your own for a day or three.

In the meantime:

I recommend going to see the movie Drive at better cinemas everywhere.  It features Christina Hendricks.

Hendricks ponders the likelihood that bed bugs have invaded the Motel 6.
I didn't watch the Emmy's.

in a lot of ways, personally and professionally, I strive for Swanson-ness
I hear Mad Men won for best show without a laughtrack or whatever.  That's good, I guess.  Peter Dinklage was great in Game of Thrones, so good on him for winning.  Kyle Chandler won for Best Actor for Friday Night Lights, which is correct, but how he can win and Connie Britton did not demonstrates that this was a pity vote for a show everyone heard was great, but that nobody had actually seen (Chandler and Britton were Voltron, people.  Alone, you could take them, but together, they were awesomely powerful).

And Jim "Hey, I went to high school with that guy" Parsons won an Emmy, too.  So, there you go.

I guess that's all I care about there.

Saturday my Longhorns surprised the living heck out of me by not just beating UCLA, but beating them at home by 29 points, or about four touchdowns.  I had said in the week leading up to the game "if we come within 7, I guess I'll be happy."  But, man, The Horns actually looked shockingly solid out there.  Maybe not as solid as Baylor (or even TAMU), but they looked like a team for the first time since the National Championship about a year and a half back.

We have this crazy-good tail back, Brown, who is my favorite new Longhorn.  And, of course, we've got Marquis Goodwin, Fozzy and DJ Grant.  And, man, its a nice storybook angle that its Case McCoy and Jaxon Shipley out there (and I'll mention Ash, too, because he certainly contributed).

Just a total surprise.  What a fun game.

The Longhorns have a lot of luck in this stadium, it seems