Archive for the ‘ Comics ’ Category

A National Hero.

Friends, I feel like we need to take a break for a second.  Let’s pause to honor a man, a man who can influence millions with nothing but blind arrogance and sheer force of will.  I speak of J. Jonah Jameson, Editor in Chief of the Daily Bugle, Mayor of New York, proud father of a werewolf astronaut, reluctant employer of that lousy Parker kid, and the greatest supporting character ever, or at least in comics.

Let’s give it up for the eternally hilarious JJJ.  Best attitude ever.  What a champ.

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More comics.

I’ll be reviewing some more comics today, just stuff that came out over the last couple of weeks.  We’ve got quite a batch to get through, so sit back, settle in, and enjoy the ride.  We’ll start with Captain America.

1. Captain America was incredible.  A thrilling conclusion to the best story Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting have done since Bucky Barnes took up the shield.  “The Trial of Captain America” is also fairly accessible as far as Brubaker comics go.  He’s got a tendency to do a lot of two year epics with everything weaving together, but this one functions great by itself.  Butch Guice’s art helps bridge the mythology gap.  This is some really dynamic art.  The flow’s perfect.


2. Heroes for Hire was a little slow and a touch too predictable.  For a guy who really impressed with the fight scenes in the first three issues, Brad Walker’s handling of Misty Knight’s coma-dreamworld is conventionally dull.  White mist everywhere, kids with skulls for faces.  Been there, done that.  The writing fares better.  Abnett and Lanning have a nice handling of The Puppet Master.  I never thought he made for an interesting Fantastic Four villain, but he works well in a room full of (relatively) normal people.  The waking world scenes with him are the best part of the book.  The dream sequence isn’t awful, it’s just drawn out.  It’s the weakest issue of the series yet, but it certainly looks like things are going to happen next month. I believe in Heroes for Hire.

3. The Amazing Spider-Man #655

I might be being a little harsh on Heroes for Hire due to the work Marcos Martin’s putting in on Amazing Spider-man.  Really, Martin should be drawing Spider-Man every month.  His style just works so much better than the other artists working with Dan Slott right now.  I enjoyed the beginning of “Big Time” but I feel like it got hokey a little too fast.  Peter Parker’s always worked great getting shat upon, so a sudden influx of success seemed intriguing.  After the one issue turnaround, the next few spun wheels in all the soap opera shit, and if you’re writing a Spider-Man comic, you gotta keep the Soap opera shit moving.  Having him inner-monologue about how fuckin swell everything is gets gratingly cheesy.  Humberto Ramos’s Scorpion and Hobgoblin redesigns were also depressingly ugly.

And don’t get me started on this thing.

So extreme, ya gotta spell it X-treme.

I realize suspension of disbelief plays an important role here, but it’s impossible to take anything seriously when the bad guy looks like a Power Ranger villain.  I didn’t get past that first Alistair Smythe issue, but then I saw somebody died so I went back and thumbed through last month’s, which brings us up to speed…

The second half of the story is a dream sequence that Marcos Martin handles with expected aplomb.  This is what I was talking about with Heroes for Hire.  However, equally as good, if not better, is the comic’s first half.  In Issue 655, Peter Parker and J Jonah Jameson go to the funeral of Marla Jameson, Jonah’s wife recently murdered by the Scorpion while wearing a ridiculously stupid costume, which kind of makes it more tragic.  Its pretty Jonah centric and Martin can really get to the heart of a depressed man better than any of the more realistic artists or the hyper-exaggerated cartoony guys like Humberto Ramos or Chris Bachalo.  Being the greatest comic relief in comics, ever, JJJ’s always been a great foil to every other character in the Spider-Man universe.  The sight of Jonah beat down in the face of tragedy is depressing in a very realistic way. In a movie, Jonah’s story would eventually end, but in a serialized format, he has to keep going, keep striving against the unseen hands ruining his life.

4. Meanwhile, Andy Diggle continues giving up in the pages of Daredevil: Reborn.  It’s a damn shame.  The first arc of his run was intriguing, but it got bland fast and this miniseries is even blander.  Shadowland was passable if you’d never read a comic book crossover before but this one should be identifiable by all.  Instead of turning himself in for the appalling crimes he committed, Matt Murdock has fled to the Southwest and is up to trouble with some lousy excuses for dirty cops and drug barons.  I’m not certain of the story’s destination, but I’ve got a good feeling it won’t matter.  Two positive notes.  The comic’s a fast enough read that I can just flip through it in the store and the last page of the book is actually pretty great, because it’s next month’s cover.  Great use of pink, Jock.


5. The On Again/Off Again Thunderbolts was on again this month, thanks to a nice concise Man Thing story.

6. The Hulk continues to be surprisingly good.  You’d think Green Hulk, Red Hulk, Blue Hulk, Son of Hulk and the honorary Hulk Space Brigade would suck, but it’s actually an ingeniously smart move.  (Also, three She-Hulks, but fuck that comic.  I gave up after the first issue.*) The Hulk doesn’t fit into the Marvel Universe proper because he’s the goddamn Hulk.  There’s not much he can’t smash.  So now there’s just a whole Hulk community to interact with.  Suddenly we’ve got two Hulk comics, they’re both team books with a rotating cast of Hulks and they’re both great.  A lot of people are still turned off by the Jeph Loeb helmed relaunch of the Hulk.  But that’s old news.  This is the new-ER Hulk, and what a difference a year or two make.  I never got into Agents of Atlas, Jeff Parker’s breakout series, but his Hulk is a big improvement on that brand of zany storytelling.  Hulk is a romp, simply put.  It reads like the more inconsequential Hulk comic, but the dinosaur fights and promise of More MODOK more than make up for it.  Greg Pak’s Incredible Hulks takes itself quite a bit more seriously.  It’s interesting to see Pak picking up where he left off.  The current arc reintroduces some characters from his Planet Hulk/World War Hulk comics.  The Hulk Mystery Squad is in the Savage Land, helping Ka-Zar fight a giant, evil insectoid.

Ka-Zar: If Tarzan fought dinosaurs and more ridiculous creatures.

The title of the story is “Planet Savage” which kind of bugs me.  I’m getting sick of all these comics having such similar names.  It’s confusing, and the names aren’t even good.  There’s Planet Hulk, World War Hulk, World War HulkS, Son of Hulk, Son of Banner, Dark Son, Black Hulk Son.  Ugh.  (Okay, I made up the last one.)

Both writers are making good use of Hulk science, which I’m a fan of.  Issue 623 of Incredible Hulks features a fun defibrillator  scene as we see how much electricity is needed to restart the Hulk’s heart.  (Hint-A lot.)  Later in the issue, Hulk keeps watching a tragic video so he can stay angry and therefore heal.  It’s ridiculous, but in an awesome way.

The art’s great all around.  Even if rotating artists make for an inconsistent tone, at least they got good ones.  Paul Pellitier recently drew a fun Zeus fight, and Dale Eaglesham draws good dinosaur fights and giant bug men fights.  Ed McGuiness draws good everything fights, which is convenient because the last issue of Hulk was about Red Hulk and Green Hulk fusing together to fight an army of Space Hulks and their leader looked like a wampa and he had mind control powers.  It was ridiculous, but again, in a good way.

7. I was hoping the prices would go down on J Michael Straczinski’s Thor Omnibus because he’s a pretentious child, but no such luck.

8. Mike Carey’s new Alternate Reality X-Men crossover, Age of X, is off to a nice start.  Unfortunately, all the good X-Men are missing.   No Beast, No Multiple Man, No Nightcrawler, No Fantomex, and Wolverine’s almost identical to his iteration from Old Man Logan…   but hey, that was a cool Martha Johansen cameo!  At this point in the story, my complaints rest solely with the cast.  Apart from the stars, Rogue, Magneto, Kitty Pryde, and Cyclops (now called Basilisk) the supporting cast is lost on me.  I think there’s some New Mutants involved?  I recognized Doug Ramsay and Moonstar, but I’m at a loss for the rest of them.  I barely know any of these characters.  It’s a little confusing.  I need to do some wikipeding on these guys.  I’m a sucker for a good alternate reality, and this certainly looks better than the X-Men’s last venture into dystopian future, Grant Morrison’s Here Comes Tomorrow, so I’ll be sticking with this for a while.

In the story, humanity seems to have declared war on the X-Gene and all the mutants are holed up on Magneto’s island fortress.  Of course, Magneto’s up to no good, and is fighting the war with ulterior motives.  Just what exactly, we’ve yet to see.  It’s a good comic that may be exploring some familiar tropes, but it’s also got some interesting ideas of its own.  A good comic for the X-Men fans, but not new-reader friendly at all.  You have been warned.

9. Wolverine #6 isn’t a great jumping on point either.  However, it is a Wolverine story that’s not about revenge, and those are few and far between.  No, instead we’ve got the #1 fallback Wolverine story, where he goes berserk and the rest of the X-Men have to stop him.  Jason Aaron’s script is excellent, as usual, and Daniel Acuna’s art aint bad either.

10.  All in all, not a bad haul.  I promise I’ll review some movies or music or something people care about next week.

Jason Aaron is kicking my ass. A review of Punisher Max 10.

I was arguing about Wolverine with some friends the other day.  He has the tendency to get pigeon-holed into revenge story after revenge story.  The Punisher’s a similar character.  There’s usually not as much vengeance, but damn can he get repetitive.  Even Garth Ennis’s 60 issue run on Punisher Max recycled the same formula on almost every story.  They’re some great comics, but a lot like the blues, you’ve got to appreciate the subtleties.

Jason Aaron’s current relaunch of The Punisher with artist Steve Dillon hasn’t completely turned the Punisher on his head, but it looks like it could.  After Garth Ennis’s great humanization in the last volume, Aaron neatly sidestepped the mistakes other writers made trying to pick up in Ennis’s shadow.  This Punisher is a force of nature.  Aaron understands Frank Castle enough to avoid those pages and pages of inner monologue.  His Punisher is a man of few words.  He’s not as sympathetic as he was in the Ennis run, but he doesn’t need to be.  This Punisher is an anti-hero through and through.  If you’ve read Aaron’s rez-cop drama Scalped, you know he knows his way around a good anti-hero.  If you haven’t, well, just take my word for it.

The new Punisher Max doesn’t connect with the rest of the Marvel Universe, but does integrate Marvel characters for The Punisher to tussle (and murder) with.  Wilson Fisk is his usual self, but Aaron’s Bullseye is one of the few I’ve enjoyed reading.

The world’s greatest assassin was never a character I liked, except the issue of Daredevil where he got stabbed in the head, and the issue of Thunderbolts where he got crippled.  He’s supposed to be the most evil, amoral man ever.  I get that, but it doesn’t make him interesting.  It makes him bland.  His personality never got much deeper than “I like to kill people, especially if it’s Daredevil’s girlfriend.”  He was always just so content with everything, especially after Warren Ellis’s Thunderbolts run.  Ellis boiled Bullseye down to his most basic components.  The guy who lived to kill was now doing that and only that.  Sure, it’s creepy when Mike Deodato’s on art, but every writer to use the character after Ellis has just been miming the same monotonous shit over and over.

Enter Jason Aaron.  With an out-of-continuity universe to work in, Aaron’s made Bullseye an interesting person, and made him scarier in the process.  This Bullseye might be a murdering psychopath, but he’s human too, as we watch him get more and more frustrated as he tries to get inside Frank Castle’s head.  The whole “I need to become you so I can kill you” thing might seem cheesy, but Aaron pulls it off with such style, you can’t not admire it.  It’s actually kind of funny when it’s not terrifying.

Steve Dillon is also doing some great work here.  The facial expressions are fucking perfect.  Kevin Maguire isn’t even at this level.  Check out this page-

It might not look like much out of context, but that’s the greatest smile I’ve ever seen.

It’s odd that I’m raving about a comic 5/6 the way through the story, but you need to be aware of how fucking good this is.  Ennis still has 50 issues of great stories over Aaron, but damn if this current incarnation isn’t on its way to being the best Punisher comic ever.

Ten Things that Sucked in 2010

Don’t worry gang, I’ve got more lists on the way to commemorate things I did like, but first we’re going to warm up with the garbage pile.

10.      Dubstep-They (meaning the internet) keep calling dubstep the punk of electronic music.  At first I thought that meant it was noisier and rawer, but it actually means that it’s easier to do and is trashier than the regular stuff.  Besides, the bass is so heavy, you need 800$ speakers to even hear it properly.  Fuck that.  Not really seeing the punk connection.  It’s amazing how inescapable this shit has become.  Talking to somebody about dubstep recently, he kept calling it “wuamp-wuamp.”  It’s a dumb title, but it’s still more accurate.  “Dubstep” sounds too sophisticated for such stupid music.  Dumb isn’t necessarily bad, I just want them to admit it and stop taking themselves so damn seriously.

 

I don’t know man; maybe I just don’t understand this stuff.  Sure, they’re warping the sound, but it still sounds pleasant.  There’s not enough dissonance in most electronic music.  It’s cold and sterile.  Dubstep is only taking half-measures.  It does get dirty, but it’s not enough.  There’s still a lack of humanity.  The machines are doing the heavy lifting.  That’s what sucks about techno.  There’s nothing wrong with using robots, but there is something wrong with letting the robots do all of the work.   And all of them are so pretentious about it too.  Hey, look at me!  I invented my own genre!  I’m that different.”  Fuck you dude.  You’ve got all this technology at your disposal, and this is all you can do with it?  Dan Deacon doesn’t have a ridiculous sub-sub-subgenre next to his name on his Wikipedia page.  Y’know why?  Because Dan Deacon’s cool.  He doesn’t give a shit.  Electronic subgenres are fucking ridiculous.  It’s the trendiest shit and they’ve got a new one every month.  Stop trying to be different (because you’re not) and start trying to be good.

 

9.      Heavy Rain-The year’s most “revolutionary” (somebody must’ve said it) videogame isn’t really a game.  I thought Heavy Rain was going to be a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure type of game.  All you do is walk around, talk to people, collect clues and other shit like that.  The beginning is fun as you try to figure out how to play, but eventually, the ridiculous story becomes too absurd, the gameplay gets boring, and I realized that no matter what you do, the ending is always the same.  I had already seen a friend complete the game the proper way, so I was determined to have some fun with it.  Unfortunately, none of your actions have consequence.  The story progresses to the next scene regardless of how you play.  Even killing your characters doesn’t get anything done.  Heavy Rain isn’t a game, it just tricks you into thinking it is.  One more thing, for a game that prided itself on its realistic characters, I was a little appalled by the lone female character-a reporter who spends at least the first half of the game taking showers, being another character’s nurse, and making out with said character.  As soon as she starts doing some actual reporting, she gets date-raped.  Classy.

 

8.      Passion Pit-No band this year went from mildly amusing to fucking unbearable faster than these guys.  Catchy songs and good hooks can only take you so far before the unbearably effeminate voice of Michael Angelakos becomes the only thing I hear.  I was hoping they’d win me over when I saw them live at the Sasquatch music fest, but they only sounded worse than they did on the record and the excessive amount of douche bags kind of killed the atmosphere.  Living in dorms with a bunch of other buffoons, I had to hear “Sleepyhead” four times a day last semester, and I’m glad to be through with it.

7.      Blackest Night/Brightest Day

Geoff Johns is starting to piss me off.  Has he not been reading Batman?  Dan DiDio clearly does not give a shit what DC publishes as long as it sells.  Johns has been given a massive corner of the DCU to play with with these two crossover titles, and what has he done with it? One good Martian Manhunter story.  Blackest Night didn’t really matter.  After an incredible first two issues, the zombie comic became textbook dull as the story progressed.  In the end, nothing really mattered, and a bunch of C-List characters got resurrected, because, hey, there certainly aren’t a lot of good living characters to write about.  All of these resurrected people then went on their own sucky adventures in the immediate follow-up Brightest Day.  Brightest Day is an example of comic-fandom at its worst.  Hawk and Dove and company were never compelling characters to begin with, and the comic makes no attempts to improve most of its 30-man cast.  Move on already.  Let a dead dog lie.  Is Aquaman so beloved a property that he has to be revived every five years for another shitty adventure that still won’t work?  Get over it, people.  Most of the stories weren’t very interesting.  Some of them were just plain stupid.  Only the Marian Manhunter tale has any bite to it.  The comic isn’t over yet, but I gave up after issue 13 anyway.  Can Geoff Johns be trusted anymore?  Or is he just a bond company stooge dead-set on maintaining the status quo?

6.      Kick-Ass-The Movie, not the comic.  Hey, what if the Spider-Man movie was just about a crazy kid in a wetsuit getting the snot beat out of him?

Okay, sounds cool.

Yeah, and what if the Spider-Man movie had more swearing, and shitty action, and it was kind of gory?  What if Peter Parker wasn’t relatably pathetic, but obnoxiously pathetic?  What if the fight scenes all looked like shit?  What if, even though we took away all of the superpowers, the script still had leaps in logic that made Spider-Man 3 seem plausible?  What if, at the end, the hero defined by his incompetence straps on a jetpack with attached machine guns and saves the day?

Wait, what?

Fuck this movie.  People have been sucking its dick for how bold and innovative it was, even though it was just a terrible looking, juvenile rehash of comic book tropes with added swearing.  Kick-Ass’s big selling point is the real world setting, but they forego nearly everything that makes the real world matter.  At least discuss hospital bills or something, sheesh.

5.      Kid Cudi-Kid Cudi is bad for hip hop.  He doesn’t make my blood boil the way Drake does, but his own personal brand of arrogance is still obnoxious.  He’s that stoner kid in your high school English class who loooooooooooooooooves drawing attention to how weird and interesting he is.  His music does often forsake traditional rap structure, but I’m not about to congratulate him for just that.  Get some lyrics, Cudi.  Stop rhyming words with themselves, stop writing so many songs about weed, and stop assuming that just because you’re sad, you’re also deep.

5.      Shadowland-Brightest Day might’ve been a great exercise in treading water, but at least that’s to be expected from a DC event comic (Even one only starring C-listers.)  After two groundbreaking Daredevil runs by Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker, it looked like this one was going to be the craziest yet, but Andy Diggle gave up halfway through and decided to make a comic that reads exactly as you expect, only more boring.  Daredevil, now the leader of the ninja cult The Hand, has declared martial law in Hell’s Kitchen and builds the title fortress in the middle of town.  Has he finally lost it?  Has he gone too far?  Nah, don’t worry.  It was just a demon controlling him.  The comic flakes out in the character development, and nothing of importance happens.  Unable to come up with anything better than a reset, Andy Diggle proved that he was indeed a bond company stooge.  In the miniseries’ final issue, Iron Fist and Luke Cage deliver some meta-commentary on the comic.  Motioning towards Bullseye’s corpse, Luke says “Well, at least he’s still dead.” To which Iron Fist replies “Small consolation.”  Indeed.  What could’ve been a decent story got bloated into oblivion until it was just another big pile of nothing.

3.      The Lost Finale-What can I say about this that hasn’t already been said?  Even I got in on the action earlier this year, and anybody who cares about Lost already has their own opinion about the ending.  Regardless, the fact remains that they ended exactly how they said they wouldn’t, and wasted half of a season doing it.  Thanks for the memories, guys.

2.      Drake-There is only one logical explanation for Wheelchair Jimmy’s rap career. He and Lil Wayne are secret lovers, and Weezy ghost writes all of Drake’s good raps.  I’m not a homophobe man, I just call it like I see it.  But seriously, he doesn’t even have an original flow.  Listen to a Drake song.  Can’t you hear those rhymes coming out of Lil Wayne’s mouth?  Drake depresses me.  He’s a former child actor from a Canadian teen soap, he appears in Sprite commercials, he’s had it made for the majority of his young life, and nobody even bats an eye.  Given his circumstances, Drake should be a rapper with class, but god forbid anybody have some integrity.  He’s talking about the same stupid material shit all these young rappers like to rhyme about.  He’s just Lil Wayne-lite from Canada, and he’s got no taste in beats.  Fuck Drake.

1.      The Social Network-

Mark Zuckerberg is an asshole.  20 minutes later-Mark Zuckerberg is an asshole.  2 hours later-Mark Zuckerberg is an asshole.  I don’t care if he’s a real person, he’s still not interesting, and I want to punch him in the face.  Almost every single character in this movie is a rich douchebag, everybody wins in the end, and it doesn’t have anything insightful to say.  It left a bad taste in my mouth.  It’s like a 2 ½ hour episode of King of the Hill where every character is Peggy.  The Social Network is a movie we didn’t need.  It’s not a story worth telling.  Can’t we wait just a little bit longer, and see where this real-life drama develops?  I guess that’s the thing, though.  That’s all there is.  Everybody’s a rich asshole and that’s all they want to be.

 

This movie is boring.  Nothing ever really happens.   This shouldn’t be a problem for the guy who directed Zodiac, but it is.  There’s a few times when they pretend that something’s happening, like that idiotic rowing race,* but Fincher lets Aaron Sorkin’s script do the heavy lifting.  Every character talks in that stylized tone where they’ve always got something clever to say. It keeps things interesting for a bit, but it’s not enough to save the movie.  The characters are all kept at a distance.  It’s impossible to get inside anybody’s head.  We’re only given a chance to identify with one character, and he’s not even in it that often.  If the movie had been from Eduardo’s point-of-view, maybe we would’ve gotten a quality flick, but it seems doubtful.

 

Besides, what kind of loser makes a movie about Facebook instead of adapting Black Hole? Now Fincher’s next movie is going to be an American-ized adaptation of a best-seller that’s already been made into a movie.  I don’t want to say that that’s a Ron Howard move, but that’s a Ron Howard move.

 

I might be missing something, but I don’t care anymore.  I really hate this movie.

 

*A gold star for anybody who can tell why that scene matters.

A Letter to Robert Kirkman

Dear Mr Kirkman,

Word around town is that your comic series, The Walking Dead, is nearing the finish line.  I imagine you’ve already got plans on how to end it, but I’ve got some friendly advice you should hear-

Don’t pussy out.

So many of your contemporaries in the pantheon of popular storytellers have tarnished the legacies of their series by ending them on overly saccharine, sentimental notes that feel tacked on and not in spirit with the bulk of the work.

What brought this dilemma to my attention was the series finale of Lost.  While things wrapped up quite nicely on the island, the alternate universe that was created this season ended things on the single worst note possible.  (begin spoiler warning)Christian Shepard showed up again.  At first, I assumed that he was really the Man in Black, somehow still kicking after getting shot by Kate and pushed over a cliff.  After all wouldn’t that have made sense?  All season long, he was trying to get everybody together in the same place so he could kill them, and here everybody was-Every person in the show (except Michael and Walt, because I guess they don’t count.)  If he can turn into a smoke monster and assume the form of the dead, is it that implausible that he could also have done this?  Instead, Cuse, Lindeloff, and whoever else was involved with this travesty of an ending decided that the alternate universe was some sort of new-age pseudo-limbo.  Meaning everybody was dead.  You know, the thing they’ve been promising, since the first season, is absolutely NOT going on?  Was the big twist at the end that they lied to us?  “Sure, everything that happens on the island is real and it matters, but these flash-sideways don’t.”  What really burns me about the route they took is that it essentially doesn’t matter.  Every flash-sideways this season was pointless.  It doesn’t connect to anything in the rest of the series.  The producers knew people would hate this ending, I wonder why they did it at all? (end spoilers)

All complaints aside, the sixth season of Lost was probably the worst, but it was still better than everything else on network TV.  I don’t think the finale will do much to tarnish the reputation of the show.  The island is what really mattered, and they finished that side of the story with style and grace.  (more spoilers ahead) It reminded me of Bone.  Both involved dire showdowns in magic caves.  I was a little confused by The Man in Black losing his powers.  At first I assumed Desmond had become the new smoke monster when he uncorked the glowing magic light stuff.  (No, they never really explained what it was, but that’s okay, because it doesn’t matter.)  Oh well, at least Des got to return home to his family.  I didn’t see Jack’s death coming, but it was a slow death, so it wasn’t exactly shocking.  Once he went back to the cave, I assumed it was over.  Leaving Hurley and Ben in charge of the island was a fitting ending.  I loved Ben’s last lines, where he tells Hurley he doesn’t have to do things by Jacob’s rules anymore.  Sly and manipulative to the bitter end!  If there was a season seven and it was just those two going fishing and doing laundry I would watch it. Rose and Bernard would also be stars of season seven now that I think about it.  Nice to see them again, but why the hell didn’t Michael or Walt ever show up?(end spoilers)

All of this finale fallout reminds me of Twin Peaks, the show considered the best of its generation.  Coincidentally, Twin Peaks also had a lackluster finale, but hardly anybody ever talks about that.  The ending of the show was weak, but I can live with it.  It was a fun and engaging ride while it lasted, and I’ve got a new Favorite TV show now, it’s called Breaking Bad, it’s about a cancer stricken chemistry teacher who makes crystal meth and I look forward to catching up with the episode I missed the other day due to the Lost finale.

But I digress, Mr Kirkman.  I apologize for regaling you with details about Lost.  We’re here to focus on you and your work.  However, there’s certainly a lesson or two to be learned from Lost.  One-The pressure is on.  Two-If people are expecting you to screw up, and they are, this is how they expect it to be done.  Lost was not an isolated incident.  Garth Ennis got excessively sappy in the last issue of Preacher.  All of those letters are like the comic book equivalent to the excessive flashbacks that plagued the Lost finale.  The last chapter in Harry Potter almost ruined the entire series for me, it was so cheesy.  Planetary got away with it, but I imagine that’s because I read the trade.  If I had to wait a year between issues I probably would’ve been pissed.  The Walking Dead has never been a comic to pull punches, so it’ll be even worse if you blow the ending on some undeserved sunshine.  If you want to get sappy, save it for the ending of Invincible.

Rarely is the emotional finale done right, but Y The Last Man immediately springs to mind.  I don’t want to oversimplify things and give you the idea that it works because it’s also depressing, but uh, it works because it’s also depressing.  Still, I’d try to avoid something like that because 1) You’d be ripping off BKV, and 2) Heavy speeches aren’t exactly your strong suit.  Y was a great ending, but I’m most partial to the finishes that go out with a bang.  Take a look at Brian Michael Bendis’s and Ed Brubaker’s respective runs on Daredevil.  When the characters get written into a corner, sometimes it’s better to have the floor drop out beneath them than to whip out the dues ex machina.

Damn, I haven’t covered Deus ex Machinas.  Here’s another pitfall you’ll want to avoid.  Not that they can’t work, but I can’t see it working in the context of The Walking Dead.

I’ve got faith in you, Mr Kirkman.  You managed to keep The Irredeemable Ant-Man a pretty despicable guy all the way through his cancellation, so keeping the world of Rick, Carl and company bleak and gory should be no tall order.  You seen like a smart guy.  Don’t make the wrong decision.  Make sure it wasn’t all a dream or everybody was dead, or inside a giant cage being controlled by aliens.

P.S. –Could you make sure Bryan Lee O’Malley gets this too?

Kick-Ass: Comic and Movie (Spoilers Abound)

This is the comic.

Halfway through the second issue of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr’s, I had firmly come to the conclusion that the title character, Dave Lizewski, was not a decent human being.  When you see the emotional and financial turmoil he puts his Dad through after his disastrous first outing as a superhero, every iota of sympathy you have for the character should be gone.  The reader’s sympathy lies not for Kick-Ass, but for the people around him. Try as he might, this kid can do nothing but make things worse. Regarding his out-of-costume life, you can either get your pants in a bundle about him being Millar’s critique of the common “comics public” OR you can take solace in the fact that you are nowhere near as pathetic as this kid. It’s easy to view Kick-Ass as another criticism of superhero culture, but is it possible that it’s just about an idiot kid getting the shit kicked out of him? Does Mark Millar really hate his reading public that much?  Have you read a Mark Millar comic?  The guy kind of hates everybody.  I also failed to see all of the racism people were complaining about.  Does Dave beat up/get beat up by a lot of ethnic stereotypes?  Yes.  Do well adjusted people who finish middle school join inner city gangs?  Not so much.  If he were calling them “nigger” while getting the shit kicked out of him, we’d have a different story on our hands, we’d have Wanted, which has some pretty racist characters, but that’s probably because it’s about a guy who’s supposed to be Marshall Mathers joining a fraternity of super-villains and murdering people for a living.

This is the movie poster.

The movie tries its best to make Dave a likable protagonist and takes a much more upbeat stance than the comic.  I feel like they missed the point of the comic in the process, but it’s not like they missed the point of From Hell, Ghost World or something.  I can accept that.  What I can’t accept is the movie’s treatment of the Dave/Katie relationship.  I mean, the jetpack was pretty damn foolish, but this is almost as bad.  Lying about being gay to get closer to the girl, yeah, that’s not morally reprehensible at all.  The scene where Dave spills his guts and comes clean with her on his sexuality and tight-wearing?  Even assuming there’s some superhero fetishism going on; we’re supposed to accept that she goes from attacking him to fucking him in the span of three minutes?  Most adults aren’t that forgiving, let alone teenage kids.  This is the point where it really just becomes a teenage boy’s power fantasy, as Dave gropes his way to sexual conquest.  I tried to roll with it, and I might have forgiven it if they didn’t have to include that goddamn jetpack.

Ugh.  I see no reason why that was at all necessary. It was dumb and excessive in all the wrong ways.  The movie has gotten pretty fuckin ridiculous at this point, but certainly not jetpack ridiculous.  Maybe if someone else had been flying it, but when a character defined by his incompetence flies in and saves the day with his brand-new jetpack and Gatling guns, we’ve officially surpassed fridge-nuking and are now in the valley of shark-jumping.

I could have used some more violence and gore.  The comic is one of the goriest things I’ve read in a long while.  All I’m asking for is somebody’s head getting chopped in half.  Is that too much to ask for?  Ah well, I’m really just nit-picking at this point.  However, despite their noticeable lack of guts, the fight scenes were still mostly comprehensible. I’ve got to congratulate Matthew Vaughan on letting the audience know what the hell was going on.  The acting was also good, and I’ve really got nothing to contribute to the amount of praise everybody’s heaping upon it. So sorry, no 19 paragraphs gushing about Chloe Grace Moritz.  Nicholas Cage was probably better anyway.  He’s not as mega as he’s been recently, but he was pretty funny.

Sorely lacking.

The more I think about it, the more I didn’t like the movie. It had some great moments, a few bits of truly spectacular filmmaking, but it also had one too many really fucking awful parts.  There were some parts that I really liked, I tried to appreciate it as its own thing, separate from the source material, but it all falls apart so horribly at the end, I can’t forgive it.  I probably will sometime in the future, but I’m in no rush.

(It wasn’t just me and the nerds either.  I distinctly heard someone else in the theater say the ending was stupid, so there.)