Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Signal Watch Reads: Batman - The Black Mirror


Unlike a surprisingly vocal group on the comics internets, I wasn't pulling for Dick Grayson to remain Batman forever. For many, many reasons, Grayson is Nightwing, and the longer he stayed in the cape and cowl, the more likely we'd end up in some new "Kyle Rayner is my Green Lantern!" conversation a bit down the road as we dealt with that small section of the populace that came to Batman during the window of Grayson as Batman.

But I like the stories that came out of the era, at least those by Morrison, and I'm pleased to say I quite enjoyed Scott Snyder's The Black Mirror collection as well (and, hey, what are the chances he's an Arcade Fire fan? Pretty high, I'd guess).

Black Mirror started as a series of back-ups in Detective and dovetailed into the mainline story, which must have been quite thrilling to watch unfold over the course of the year. I missed all of this as during the post Return of Bruce Wayne era, I have relegated all new Batman reading to trades.

Snyder's Batman is as close (closer than Morrison's) to how I've been interpreting Gotham and Batman's place in the city as anything else I've read. I'm not sure its exactly Alan Grant-riffic, but it is back to Batman as the line of defense against a city under siege by human monsters (which, actually, is more or less how I read Arkham Asylum by Morrison some years back. It was the pen for all the monsters/ the inside of a madman's mind).

The story throws red herrings, plays off paranoia developed after living so close to the Gotham's violent undercurrent and explores the lives of characters that were present in the assumed past of Batman comics, but whose lives were moving steadily forward in parallel to those of Batman and Robin, but off frame.  Sure, its a bit odd to come in so late in the game with this entirely new backstory, but it fits for the Gordon family, and fills in gaps and works with ellipses Miller left at the end of Year One that no other writer has ever picked up.

It does, however, raise  some questions even while it cements issues around "so how old is Batman, exactly?"

But the real success here isn't just in playing well as a continuity cop.  Snyder manages to tell a compelling page turner of a tale that I thought worked great as a collection, even while enjoying the episodic nature of the book.  The various alleys taken, from the Etienne story to Tiger Shark to our final conclusion all manage to fold together nicely, and while its not so much a mystery at some point, its still manages to work as character study for some of our primaries and for Gotham, itself (something Snyder is exploring in current issues of Batman.

I'd be remiss not to mention the impressive collaboration of artists Jock and Francesco Francavilla, who managed to blend their two distinctive styles of Klaus Janson-esque scratchy line art and illustrative exactness a la Mazzuchelli.  Its a nice blend as they handle separate assignments within the same book. And that's not to mention the exemplary coloring.

Its an odd contrast to the sort of stuff I felt Tony Daniel was doing over in Batman last year and that it seems he's doing in Detective now that just feels so much like watered-down retreads of other stuff you've seen before.  Snyder seems to have found a way to tell a fresh story using familiar parts of the Batman mythos without the need to overhaul everything we've known, and that's not small thing.

Anyhoo...  its a little pricey as a hardback, but if you can find it on sale, its a nice, solid Bat-read.

SW Advent Calendar December 14

Brooksie just isn't going to make a big to-do about decorating, one supposes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

SW Advent Calendar December 13

I've not read this issue of Flash by Mark Waid, and I've got to find a way to correct that before Christmas.

We're not crazy about the SOPA Bill

I've censored the following, in protest of a bill that gives any corporation and the US government the power to censor the internet--a bill that could pass THIS WEEK. To see the uncensored text, and to stop internet censorship, visit:

I don't ████████████ ████ it in for the ████ or the ████. ████ █████ █████ ████████. But ████ I do ████ a ███████ ████ is the ████ █████ ██████ ████████ ████ █████ ████ █████ 95% of the ████████ on the ████████ a █████ █████.

No, you ███████'t be █████████ ███████████ ██████ or ██████, you █████. But ████'s █████████ now is ████ a ████ has ████ ███████ ████ █████ an ████████ ██████ of ███████ ██████ ██████ ████████████ █████, █████████ ████████ █████████. If you ████, ███████████, a ██████████ ██████████ ████████, go █████ and ███████ ████.

I ██████ █████████ ████ ███████.

Uncensor This

Monday, December 12, 2011

Signal Watch Reads: Action Comics #4

Action Comics #4
Superman and the Men of Steel
writer - Grant Morrison
penciller - Rags Morales
inkers - Rick Bryant & Sean Parsons
colorist - Brad Anderson
letterer - Patrick Brosseau

One of the funniest things about this issue wasn't what was on the page so much as a few comments I read online. Man, a lot of superhero comics fans really, really do not know their Superman. Even after the recent terrific Brainiac storyline in Action Comics by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, culminating in the crazier and better bits of the conclusion of the massive New Krypton storyline.

SW Advent Calendar December 12

Scout and Lucy have the spirit of Christmas a-glowing from within...

Dames to Watch Out For: Today is Jennifer Connelly's Birthday

which gives me an excuse to post a picture of Jennifer Connelly.

along with some dude's 'stache
Ah, Ms. Connelly.

Unlike a lot of her contemporaries, Connelly never really became part of a Brat Pack or became known in the sort of faddish way many actresses get used up and spit out, only to wind up on absolutely terrible Lifetime and Hallmark Channel holiday movies.  Which I've been watching again, and they are awesome.

Connelly was a child actress, showing up in Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America as the 12-year-old Deborah, but I remember her as the girl from Labyrinth that I was crushing on and who was pursued by David Bowie and Muppets.  Of course later she wound up as Bettie Page stand-in Jenny in The Rocketeer, which is worth watching just for Connelly in a cocktail dress.

She's gone on to all sorts of work, and has carved out an interesting career for herself while not melting down in public, but managing to mostly appear in movies I just never see.  I think the last of her movies I saw was the iffy remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Still, my hat is off to Connelly, because, dang, yo.  You keep being you, Ms. Connelly.

ah, heck.  here's Ms. Connelly in that cocktail dress.

a wee bit more on Superman Family kids' comic

DC Comics' blog made a formal announcement today regarding the Superman Family Adventures comic I mentioned Friday.

It sounds exactly like the sort of thing I was hoping DC might do this year.  Well, 2012 is close to this year, so I'll take what I can get.

From the article:
This May, the Eisner Award-winning creative team of the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling TINY TITANS, Art Baltazar and Franco, will continue bringing their wonderful and unique humor to DC Comics with the new ongoing monthly series, SUPERMAN FAMILY ADVENTURES. The series will be starring (you guessed it!) the whole Superman gang – Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luthor, Bizarro, General Zod and … Fuzzy the Krypto Mouse!
As near as I can tell, Fuzzy the Krypto Mouse is all-new, but its been a while since anyone was added to the Legion of Super-Pets, so I welcome Fuzzy with open super-arms.  (But "Krypto Mouse"?  Could he be Streaky's nemesis?)

This is, of course, in tandem with the line of kids' Super Pets books which will soon have volumes featuring Super Turtle, Comet and more Krypto and Streaky.

I did notice on the bigger image DC provided of the FCBD comic that Superman is in his new suit.  I'll be curious how Jim Lee's design translates.

the kids love a high collar!

But, yup, that's Superman.  I am pretty excited about this!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Signal Watch Watches: Hugo

When the trailer hit for Hugo, I think a lot of folks were bemused or confused. Scorsese made his bones with some tough subject material, is closely associated with his gangster work like Casino and Goodfellas, and still turns out good stuff, the most recent that pops to mind for me is The Departed and the doc Public Speaking.

Of his contemporaries, Scorsese never went off the rails as much as Coppola and Lucas seemed to after their initial decade or two of success. He's been consistent, usually sticking to fairly mature material even when handling a costume drama like The Age of Innocence.  Thus it may have been, I raised an eyebrow when I saw he was doing a family movie for release at Christmas with 3D, storybook sets, a bright-eyed little boy a lead and dogs.  I still wanted to see what he'd cooked up, but more or less planned to write it off as Scorsese's holiday-film lark.

Firstly, Hugo is not at all the movie I believed it would be from the trailer. Nor the poster. And, I'd argue, its barely a kids' movie. Or, if it is for kids, its not going to slow down for your dopey kids as it goes about telling very exactly the story it has in mind.

SW Advent Calendar December 11

Thanks to Nicole for this video.

Actually, this video might actually be of Nicole.