Friday, August 31, 2007

I'm glad you kids get to hear this!

I think this is a nice in joke for fans of Mel Brooks' BLAZING SADDLE.
Today's SHELDON by Dave Kellett who always brings a smile.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Crooked Little Vein: a novel by Warren Ellis

I haven’t read more than a half dozen pages yet, but I have to recommend the first novel by Warren Ellis, “CROOKED LITTLE VEIN”. I’ve been a fan of Ellis’ comic work for a while, his TRANSMETROPOLITAN one of only a dozen titles I collected and kept for our move out here. His issues of THE AUTHORITY went the way of most of my collection, which I regret.

The book just came in to the library the other day, having been initialed by a couple of us when it came up for order. Even with several other books waiting for me I think I’m going to have to take some time and read this.

The book deals with down & out P.I. Michael McGill, who is one of those guys you go to when nobody else is quite desperate enough to take your case. Here he is approached by a Presidential staffer who wants McGill to track down the “Secret Constitution” which the Founding Fathers created in case the first one didn’t work out.

Ellis uses this plot to take a hard look at American society in the 21st century. Just how far have we strayed from what Jefferson and the others foresaw?

Opening the book, almost at random, I came across McGill talking about a recent case where he was checking on a husband suspected of adultery. The description of finding a group of men engaged in tantric sex with ostriches and its effect on his then current relationship had me snickering at the Reference Desk. Truly something you don’t want to do.

Even all but unread the book has my highest recommendations. Clicking on the headline will take you to a review of the book from Entertainment Weekly's Whitney Pastorek

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Colossus of New York: because you never know

In case you've never seen this old B&W sci-fi film the headline above will take you to a review over at SFFWORLD.COM (Science Fiction & Fantasy...).

I was surprised to find that I received a comment on a post I did almost three years ago, which I had totally forgotten. It was a review of a couple of Randolph Scott westerns I had just seen, with an off hand mention of one of his co-stars, Mala Powers. Ms. Powers was an actress who may be remembered for portraying 'Roxanne' opposite Jose Ferrar in Cyrano de Bergerac. She also played the wife of a scientist in "Colossus of New York" and that's the reference the poster caught.

Apparently, independent film-maker Nick D'Castro is working on a new version of the film and the anonymous poster was passing this along.

Just another demonstration that all this stuff sits online and you never know who is going to find it.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Twisted Kaiju Theater

If you happen to be a fan of Kaiju (Japanese for 'strange beast' or what we would call a 'giant monster') movies you will love Twisted Kaiju Theater. The headline will take you to Neo Monster where Sean McGuinness posts his amazing photo manipulation stuff.

He uses many of the Japanese monster models he has in his collection to both honor and satirize the Godzilla/Mothra/Toho films, which he obviously loves. I do want to warn you that Sean does go for a PG13 rating for his language, and there are some pages that might get an "R" with fan-service material. Still I only think a real prude, or somebody with no sense of humor (and there are those among you I question!) would be offended by what he does.

I've also placed a link down at the bottom of the site for a more permanent way to jump over there.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The True origin of Wolverine?

Not really, but I could not resist sharing Dave Kellett's latest Sheldon strip.
Arthur is my personal favorite strip character now, although I have to admit that Rat (from PEARLS BEFORE SWINE by Stephan Pastis) certainly gives him a run.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

So, what's up?

As I mentioned over at Parting Shots, I haven't had a chance to blog over the weekend. Thought I'd just post a few things so you didn't think I'd forgotten about all of you. :-)

Just got Comics Buyer's Guide #1634 in the mail a few days ago. It's the first issue of my new subscription and I'm looking forward to checking it out. I know that it will probably end up sitting around for a week or so, but did want to make a few comments.

The cover for this issue features Green Arrow & Black Canary who have been dating on & off for decades. It seems that they are finally going to get married, which is never a good idea for super-heroes in either the Marvel or DC universes. Generally, the ceremony itself will probably be crashed by some assortment of villains who have a grudge against one or the other hero. Also, even if you get married in your secret identities somebody will figure out that you've gotten hitched and try to get revenge via your spouse.

CBG looks back at the history of this couple of former JLA members, as well as discussing super-hero weddings in general and some of the more notable in particular. I enjoy these 'themed' issues that CBG puts out on occasion, but it's the reviews of old & new books (that section edited by old buddy, Tony Isabella) that is usually my favorite reason for buying the magazine. Originally it was THE place to find out what was up-coming, but over the past ten plus years that has fallen to the various official and fan sites that abound.

As for television viewing the various 'reality shows' that Donna and I have been watching the past month are all wrapping up within the next couple of weeks. That means we will have to go back to watching Discovery Health, CourtTV, Animal Planet and the Food Network until the regular Fall season starts.

Speaking of TV, we caught The Bourne Identity on the small screen Saturday. I had read Robert Ludlum's book a couple of years ago and had been curious how they would change it. It's easy to see now why the series has taken off. We both enjoyed it and plan on renting the second film, then possibly seeing the third over the Labor Day weekend.

I've always liked Matt Damon and he does a good job as Bourne, at least as he has been 're-imagined' for the screen into a much young man. Unfortunately, I can't say much for Franka Potente as Marie. It's hard to know if she plays the character as flat and uninteresting or if she isn't even trying as a performer. You get that sometimes with actors who feel the role beneath them. I'm sure even the producers of BI were caught by surprise at how successful it became.

Finally, if you aren't already watching them Donna and I both recommend MONK, PSYCH and THE 4400 over on the USA Network. We look forward to them each week, but you should know that USA runs these shows for short 'seasons' a couple times a year. We're about half way through on each with only two or three shows left until the season finales.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

DC Countdown: #41-38

There are going to be some minor spoilers here, but generally the covers of the books seem to give away at least one ‘surprise’ in that particular issue.

Jimmy Olsen finally decides to create a costume and become MR. ACTION. As one other character says, ‘all the good names must have been taken.’ Still it is fun seeing Jimmy trying to do something positive with his new found powers, even if is he still a little unsure about them. He also discovers that his abilities only work when he is in danger of serious harm. For instance, he can be hit with a fist, but if threatened by a weapon his new powers will protect him. There are some fun scenes with him in action and trying to convince Robin that he should be a Teen Titan. I’m hoping that this doesn’t end tragically and Jimmy gets a real chance to prove himself. (A link from the headline above will take you to the Wikipedia entry on Olsen.)

It should not come as a surprise to see that Darkseid is going to be a major player in the series, especially considering that at least one of the New Gods, Lightray, has been offed. Considering the ill treatment Jack Kirby’s Fourth World creations have been given it might be time to remove them from the DCU at least for a while, if not permanently.

I have to admit that, at least as he has been portrayed in COUNTDOWN, Jason Todd is not as unlikable as I had come to expect. It would not surprise me to find that he will not be surviving into the next event, but in these books he comes off with a sense of humor. That in itself is something his mentor, BATMAN, hasn’t displayed in years. I mean, coming up with the nickname ‘Bob’ for the Monitor who accompanies he and Donna is pretty funny!

This was my first look at the new incarnations of BATWOMAN and THE QUESTION, at least in costume. I don’t know how others feel about it, but I don’t see why a female QUESTION couldn’t work. As she herself says at one point, Renee Montoya was a good detective and police officer in her own right, before following in the footsteps of the late Vic Sage. I read at some point that she and the new Batwoman (Katherine Kane) had beenlovers at some point, something which some fans seem upset about. I don’t think they have a problem with either character being gay (although there are some folks I’m sure not thrilled by the idea) but that they have gone back and retroactively made the existing Montoya into a lesbian.

I’m not reading the current LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, but it was mentioned previously that several Legionaires will be left behind in the 21st century. We see Karate Kid and one of Triplicate Girl’s personas is left behind, while the rest of the Legion returns home. I remember in old continuity that when one of her bodies was killed, she became Duo Damsel, but it caused her some emotional trauma. Here she seems to be okay with being separated and is going by the name Una. I expect the two of them to be reunited (no pun intended) with the equally time-stranded Starboy/man pretty soon.

Overall COUNTDOWN isn’t a great series, but it continues to hold my interest. Unfortunately, I know full well that it is not going to actually end, but eventually morph into the next event, FINAL CRISIS at some point. Whether I’m still around for that remains to be seen.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Countdown #44-38: I meant to review them, but....

Let me start by clearing up something from my last review of the series.

It was pointed out that I may have forgotten that Jason Todd and Donna Troy were accompanying one of the Monitors because of their own personal connection to the problem. Both Jason & Donna come from different realities/universes than the one in which they currently reside. According to the majority of the Monitors their existence threatens the multiverse, so they should be eliminated by any means. Honestly, I did know this from reading earlier issues of the series, but that misses the point.

In my usual ham-fisted manner I was trying to show that there was no explanation for their being together or with the Good Monitor (GM) stated in the course of that particular issue. It shouldn’t be necessary, especially in a crossover event like this, for the reader to keep track of every plot device. A good writer (and I don’t hold Paul Dini, who is supervising this whole thing, solely responsible) would find some way to put this information somewhere. As The Tony Isabella often reminds us, every book should be accessible to a new reader. That is what turns the new reader into a returning reader, if done correctly. Back in the Silver Age this was done in most of the books and aided the casual readers in understanding the DC & Marvel universes a bit better.

While we are on the topic of not knowing what the heck is going on, it would be nice if the writer (or maybe an editor using a footnote) would identify by name some of the hundreds of characters in any issue. I know you can’t do this in a crowd scene, but for instance when Pied Piper & Trickster are being chased by the new SUICIDE SQUAD it would have been nice if the characters at least called each other by name so we would have a hint. Some of these folks even had dialogue, so it would not have been impossible to identify one or the other. I know that each page of ads if important and you simply must have the in-joke/name-dropping nonsense of DC Nation in each book, but still!!! How about a ‘what has gone before’ box or half a page to identify some of the characters? (i.e. That’s Bronze Tiger in panel 5, pg. 7)

Geez, I’m into the fourth paragraph and haven’t even started on a review of the books. Let’s hold off until next time, okay? Maybe I’ll be in a better mood.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mike Wieringo: RIP

A click on the above headline will bring you to a short biography of comic artist, Mike Wieringo who passed away yesterday (Sunday, 8/12/07).

I had the chance to meet briefly with Mike at a couple of conventions and found him to be a really nice guy. It's terribly sad that he passed away at such a young age, as he was only 44. I have been reading on several other sites that Wieringo was considered very healthy, so his death by heart attack was sudden and unexpected.

My condolences to his family, friends and his many fans.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

DC COUNTDOWN: #44-42 - overview and rant

(Headline above will bring you to the Wikipedia essay on Flash's Rogues Gallery, should you care.)

If you haven’t read these books yet (and I have a feeling I’m probably the last to actually get around to them), or are waiting to read the inevitable TPB collection, you should know that I’m going to give lots of stuff away. First because I can, and secondly because five of the six of you who read this blog couldn't care less about comics anyway. :-)

So if you’re still reading….


Since I’m only reading the COUNTDOWN books themselves and not the individual hero titles or various spin-offs I was startled by the news that Bart Allen had been killed. How sad is it that one of the most likable and fun characters created by DC during the past decade had to be killed off. Not only that, but he was killed by that ridiculous group of third-rate bozos the Flash Rogues Gallery. They had to gang up on him aided by two supposedly reformed members (Trickster & Pied Piper) who had actually befriended his predecessor, Wally West. It doesn’t matter that these two were apparently trying to discover what their former colleagues were engaged in, they seemingly made no attempt to stop it from happening. By the end of #42 the two had been captured by the equally second-rate Deadshot and some other costumed thugs, but have made their escape by leaping from an aircraft several thousand feet up. Do we care at this point?

It appears that Jason Todd (the second Robin who was killed but got better) and Donna Troy (who has been killed at least three times that I recall and got better each time) are an item, or are at least hanging out with each other. For some reason they are teaming up with one of the Monitors (we’ll call him the Good Monitor, I guess) and are searching for the original Atom, Ray Palmer (who is teeny-tiny now and off in some teeny-tiny universe). In order to locate him they have sought the aid of the latest hero to call himself the Atom, who was Palmer’s student (or something, it isn’t clear at least to me) and has access to one of his minimizing belts. According to GM only Palmer can save the current multi-verse from his scheming fellow Monitors.

Meanwhile, the female warrior called, Forerunner (whom we made fun of last time out) has hooked up with Monarch. I’m not even going to try to explain who this guy is, since he was basically a last-minute replacement for another character. In a ham-fisted manner, DC editors who realized they had left too many clues to the original identity of this “mysterious” character did this. Anyway, Monarch is a bad guy and I don’t remember who he was supposed to be (although I think it was the original Hawk), plus with so many changes to the DCU since his original introduction he may be a different guy anyway. Monarch has this huge army and space fleet that he wishes Forerunner to train in order to stop the Monitors. We know that Monarch has his own plans, but personally I can’t be bothered at the moment to care. We simply assume that he will betray Forerunner who will then seek revenge on him after being used to kill several planets full of innocent people or something.

We also have the current Catwoman, Holly Robinson, being taken in by some Amazons who have set up ‘shelters’ for women. I didn’t follow the “Amazons Attack” series so have no clue what this is all about, but figure that folks following Catwoman or Wonder Woman do have some idea who all these women are. Holly, while enjoying sitting around partially clothed (we get plenty of what the Japanese would call ‘fan service’ in the scenes set here) meets the former Harley Quinn (Dr. Harleen Quinzel), now seemingly over her infatuation with The Joker. We can also guess that there’s something going on behind the scenes here, besides chicks in short togas serving each other goblets of wine and bending over a lot.

Finally, Mary Marvel now shares some of the power of Black Adam and is kicking butt and showing her own, along with lots of up the skirt shots. Hats off to the fine gents at DC editorial for being as immature as some of us have always considered you.

There is a story hidden in all this plot, but I’m loosing track if not total patience. It may be one of those car wreck scenarios where you can’t turn away no matter how bad it is. On the other hand, somebody may actually know where this is heading and create order from Chaos TM (I think DC has a copyright on that, but I’m not sure).

Oh, yeah! Jimmy Olsen still has not figured out where his new found powers come from, or what exactly triggers them. For me this is THE most interesting part of the whole saga. Especially since we know that this fifty-two issues is simply set up for the Final Crisis series that follows.

For me, personally, the nicest scenes were during Bart’s funeral where we see the Kid Flash/Bart and hear his own thoughts on being a kid hero and life in general.
I'll be doing a similar overview of #41-38 in the next few days, unless one particular issue or incident proves interesting enough for its own post.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Paul Storrie: nice guy and comics writer

Back in the other life I had the opportunity to meet a number of creative folks. I can't begin to remember all the writers, artists, editors and fans that I had the chance to hang with at cons, parties, bars and restaurants. Considering how cut-throat the industry can sometimes be you would be surprised how many of the pros are genuinely decent people and not the ego-beasts you see in other entertainment media.

I knew Paul Storrie when he was a fanboy looking for his first few breaks, and was able to congratulate him as his name began to appear in the credit boxes of published comics. Paul is indeed one of the nicest guys I met back then and also one of the most fun to sit and chat with. He may not be as funny as Bob Ingersoll or have as many great stories as Mark Evanier, but it was good sitting around listening to him talk about his plans and projects.

If you click on the headline above you'll link to his personal site and I'm also adding it to the growing list over at The Right.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

CELL by Stephen King: a quickie review

Clayton Riddell has just made a sale of his graphic novel to Dark Horse and can’t wait to tell his wife and son. He’s sure it will make his wife change her mind about his ‘hobby’ and perhaps move back in with him. He’s heading back to his hotel in downtown Boston, when it happens. Cell phones begin ringing and as people answer they are hit by The Pulse and become what the survivors call Phonies.
The electronic signal wipes out any trace of civility, turning each victim against each other or anyone else that stands in their way. Riddell soon encounters others who were lucky enough to escape the initial event, but quickly discover that there may be worse things in store.

This is ‘classic’ Stephen King, in the fashion of THE STAND and SALEMS LOT. What to average folks do when their entire lives are suddenly altered and everything around them may be a danger. The only character you could honestly call a villain in the book is The Raggedy Man/President of Harvard, but he is in some ways just as much a victim as the rest of the Phonies.

If you’re a fan of King I’m sure you’re probably already ahead of me, but if you only pick up an occasional novel by the author (like I do) I recommend this as one to try. Your local library probably has a few copies lying around.
For those same 'sometime' King fans I really want to recommend his, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. It's a quick read about a young girl lost in the woods, where something not quite natural is hunting her. Alone she has only her radio for company, which lets her hear the Boston Red Sox and her favorite Tom Gordon. Will Tom's silent encouragement be enough?

Friday, August 03, 2007

I didn't go but.... The San Diego Comic Con

I've been watching videos and reading lots about what I missed at the convention this year. One thing I learned was that I'm glad I wasn't there on Saturday. I also see that, as usual, Mark Evanier has one of the best perspectives on SD and conventions in general.

Conventions are what you make of them and we all expect something different. It has been my experience that any two people can attend the same con but see it with totally different eyes. The convention that you find exciting and fun, might give me that feeling of deja vu and have me looking for the exit after the first few hours.

Back in the Other Life there were some events that I looked forward to and a couple where I had to all but drag myself through the doors. My last few Big Apple events were along those lines. The same folks selling the same things and the place just getting more crowded and less fun each time. If it hadn't been for the fact that I'd get to see folks like Leah Adezio, Dan Reed and some of the Lulu Metro members I might have stayed home.

I also agree with Mark (big surprise!) about SD always being about more than just comics. The costume contest, was just one example of seeing fans of non-comics representing their favorite characters. The first couple of conventions I attended had folks like Mel Blanc, Kirk Alyn (movies first SUPERMAN & BLACKHAWK), George Clayton Johnson (writer of several episodes of the original Twilight Zone & co-creator of Logan's Run) and even Dr. Timothy Leary (now that was a shock meeting him as I entered an elevator!).

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Igmar Bergman

The headline will link you to Roger Ebert's column & remembrance of the late director, Igmar Bergman. If you go to the Ebert's homepage you'll also find his article on Michelangelo Antonioni, the Italian director who also passed away on Monday.

There is nothing that I could add that Ebert and others have not already said about how brilliant Bergman was, or how much he influenced both European and American filmmakers.

I don't think I ever saw any of Bergman's films until I took "International Cinema" as an elective in college. He and Antonioni didn't creat fluff, or try to appeal to the general audience, but both made their mark on cinema in the late Twentieth Century.
How could you not be moved by the scene above or dozens of others from "The Seventh Seal"?