Saturday, September 17, 2005

Management and Green Lantern Training

Wow, what a week! I just found out I get to go to Management Zombie Training on Thursday!

Thankfully, I'll have Wednesday Night to read Green Lantern Corps: Recharge. I am so excited because I love the Space Cop concept, and by all interviews that I've read, that is what Dave Gibbons plans to do! He'll be doubling the size of the Corps and partnering them up, even -- making so much more sense than having a bunch of lone Green Lanterns running around like Sinestro bait! And Guy Gardner partnered with Kyle Rayner sounds like Pure Heaven (TM) to me. They could be a classic buddy-cop team.
The only way to make it better is to make them bunk together too! It would be perfect. Can't you picture it? Kyle spills paint on Guy's favorite shirt, Guy drinks all of Kyle's coffee (the stuff he has to call John to import all the way from Earth!). Gardner on the top bunk, snoring, Kyle on the bottom bunk, kicking Guy to stop the snoring! And to top it off, they have to save the universe together in the morning!

Okay, maybe that's a bit over the top, but I am totally obsessing over Green Lantern right now and it is a good time to be obsessed with Green Lantern. Since Aug 31, Counting this week's JSA and JLA, I have had 4 doses of Green Lantern! Next week, it'll be 5! And 2 of those doses include Kyle! Who says he needs a solo title?

Yes, I admit I am only reading Rann-Thanagar War for the Kyle Rayner appearances. And yes, I do like that he's becoming Supercop, so there! He'll be back to moping to counter Guy's behavior in the GLC stuff, anyway. It's good to see him exhibit enthusiasm every once in a while (I still suspect Kyle's a Pisces, but there are enough ups and downs to indicate some serious Gemini influence elsewhere in his chart). The silly dialogue he's been given, however, requires a more in-depth analysis of its merits. I'll review RTW#5 later.

Interestingly enough, I just noticed something -- Sinestro and Fatality were in Villains United, Kyle Rayner is in Rann-Thanagar War, Guy Gardner is in The OMAC Project -- Green Lantern characters are appearing in 3 out of 4 minis leading into Infinite Crisis. And the fourth mini-series, Day of Vengeance, was directly caused by Green Lantern: Rebirth.
They are seriously pushing the GLC concept here. I have a feeling that instead of Amazons being the mass cannon fodder body count as usual, we're going to lose a lot of nameless Green Lanterns this crossover. So long as they keep the Core 5 they featured in Rebirth, though, it should be okay. No need, with this huge concept, to risk another Jordangate like right after Emerald Twilight. Everybody can have their favorite character in this franchise.

Anyway, headed to day shift as of Monday. Thus far I have been unsuccessful in my attempts to adjust my sleep schedule to that of a non-vampire, having gotten off work yesterday morning, slept until nightfall, ad then piddled on the internet -- but today I intend to stay Up All Day! And then to actually sleep during the hours of darkness!!

But first, breakfast.

Then, those Green Lantern: Mosaic back issues I picked up yesterday. I must become properly acquainted with John Stewart, and he hasn't shown up anywhere yet this month!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Comic Reviews for Sept 8th

Last week was a mostly mainstream week again. I picked up a couple of trades, but DC Crossover Crisis Mania is sucking me in like a Black Hole of Metaplot. I'm enjoying the ride, though. Hoping for a strange new world of wonders on the other side, as opposed to a bleak existance as a bunch of shredded particles like many DC fans are expecting.

Mild Spoilers Below

Superman #221 -- I'm the reverse of a regular fan here. I picked up Superman issues and The OMAC Project because I'd heard they would be tying into Wonder Woman. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Superman books, and so this month I picked up the next issues of all of the Superman books to see how they were doing.
The last two issues (Action Comics #830 and this one) of the Superman line that I've read were narrated by supporting cast members. Out of 3 issues of non-Crossover Superman books in 10 years (Although to be perfectly honest, the last Adventures of Superman should count as part of the crossover), that's not promising.
Now, don't get me wrong, spotlighting supporting cast is wonderful at times. But I notice a tendancy to spotlight supporting cast as a method of characterizing the main character. Jimmy speaks about Superman in glowing generalized terms, and talks about learning from him -- "He continues to astonish me" "I learn about selflessness, decency, the sometimes unfortunate laws of physics, and most of all, the meaning of heroism."
To take an example I enjoyed more -- Lois in the narration of Action Comics #830 tries to impart a fraction of the wonder at being married to Superman to the reader. This is a really good piece of writing, so true to life that you could see the wife of a perfectly normal human being say it. However, preceeding this issue, it helps to highlight by repetition the deficiencies in that technique in Superman #221.

It's wasted characterization.

We really don't need to hear it.

He's Superman.

We know he's awe-inspiring.

We know he's a miracle.

We know he's a hero.

That's what makes him Superman, silly. Everybody knows that!

If we did somehow forget momentarily, and needed to be reminded, it would be far more effective to show us that he is an awe-inspiring, heroic miracle, or a miraculous, awe-inspiring hero, or a heroic, miraculous inspiration...etc...

Less is more for Superman narration. The splash that accompanies Jimmy's "meaning of heroism" comment (Page 6, Pg 11 counting ads), for example, is a nice piece of Ed Benes art that would stand up on its own as an example of Superman's heroic behavior. No need to stick cliched narration in the background to characterize Superman.

Or is this to characterize Jimmy? Well, I get that he's in awe of Superman and greatly admires him. Not only is that Jimmy Olsen's basic characterization, but its written all over his face in that very panel.

Anyway, I think Mark Veheiden overdid it on the narration for this story. I could have been a very nice Jimmy Olsen spotlight, if not for all of the little narration boxes gushing needlessly about Superman. If you read through the story and ignore all of the narration, the same point is made. Even better, because it is made without subjecting you to so many cliches. This is just more of the unfortunate wordy tendancy of comic book writers, most likely inspired by the success of Kurt Buseik's childlike wonder in and Astro City, and James Robinson's lyrical hero-worship in Starman. But those writers knew, for the most part, when to step back and let the pictures and dialogue tell the story. Their works were considerably more enjoyable for it.

This issue wasn't enough to justify buying another of Verheiden's issues for me. I'll stick with Action Comics, though, because Ms Simone has the golden touch right now -- which brings me to...

Villains United #5 -- The cover is very impressive. It features Deadshot and Catman fighting in free-fall. When you open the book, the first page is a splash that reinforces it perfectly, and helps carry the impression of a falling fast fight throughout the entire book. This is Gail Simone's writing -- being thrown out of a window and taking the bad guy (or, in this case, other bad guy) with you. Even the calm moments where people are planning or catching their breath are loaded with electric excitement. I ended this book unable to sit still for anticipation of the next issue.

I've heard Gail Simone's name thrown around on message boards for nearly every female character in comics, but the character this women needs to write is The Flash. Her pacing and energy are just what the Fastest Man in the World needs!

Ultimate Spider-Man #82 -- was ultimately unimpressive. More Black Cat? I can't bring myself to care very much. This book may be next on my chopping block.

Gotham Central #35 -- The only DC book without a Metaplot sighting! Of course, this is going to change in the near future.
I think Stacy's developing a little crush on the Boy Wonder here. That is so cute. I like Stacy here. A child-woman like her can get very irritating very easily, and dwnright offensive when handled badly, but in Gotham Central she's set off by the bleak landscape and contrasted by Maggie, Rene', Romy and Josie. Rucka plays her sweet nature up only rarely, and when it has a definite effect on the plot. He manages to make her very endearing and naive.
I also love Rucka's characterization of Robin. Tim Drake's a much more likeable boy here than we see anywhere else today. But he's still sly, he's playing Stacy's naivete to get a rare insight inside the GCPD. Not that I can fault him for it -- this mystery seems like a very personal attack on him on the surface (though I'm sure there's a completely different motive), and Bat-jerk has gotten them all kicked out of the precinct here. It would be a interesting replacement for the Batman-Jim Gordan relationship, if it were a Robin-Stacy relationship that got the Gotham vigilantes their inside info.

The Manhatten Guardian #4 -- This issue is all exposition, and takes us deeper into the mystery connecting the Seven Soldiers than any other issue in this series so far. He also made me seriously like Jake for the first time (I must admit, I was reading for the subway pirates at the beginning) here in the last two pages.
And now, for today's Sentance I Never, Ever, in a Billion Lifetimes Thought I'd Hear Myself Day: I badly want more Newsboy Legion flashback stories.
More Ali Ka-Zoom! In this, and in Zatanna #3, he was just plain cool.

Warning though, Guardian #4 is considerably more of a cliffhanger than Shining Knight #4 was. You will buy Seven Soldiers #1 if you enjoy this.

Fell #1 -- I started off not liking this (Despite the initial laugh at the first panel), but gradually changed my mind during the read. It was a good mystery, totally self-contained (in 16 pages!), that introduced enough of Detective Fell's little corner of the genre that I'd be willing to read more. And Ellis manages to do it without shortchanging characterization or plot for the sake of more setup. I'll buy a second issue of this. I wish there was more out like this.

That's all for now, I bought a couple of trades, but those are weekend reads. Until next time, I leave you with something fun to listen to:
Click on Instrumental when you go here.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Reflections at 9 AM

Background Music: "Daysleeper" REM

I miss Brunching Shuttlecocks. Archives just aren't the same. No new material. And I really liked that site. I also miss the "Dysfunctional Family Circus," and "It's A Dysfunctional Life" sites. They got me addicted to the internet

(Excuse me, I must forcibly remove the cat from the hamper)

Anyway, went to an Astrology worshop last night. Learned the neatest way to research. Unfortunately, it means I have to actually ask people what their signs are. (Excuse me again. *Turns and yells in the direction of the hamper* "KNIGHT!!! Rotten cat, first he slays my Dragon figurine...") Then I get to figure out what they have in common with each other.

It's actually a really fun game, though Aquarius fell flat, as only two of us knew any Aquarius. By wierd coincidence, both people had Aquarius fathers both on Jan 20. Wierd.

Other than that, it worked out really nicely. Even comparing people who seem very different from their Sun Sign description, we found they had common traits that matched the basic Sunsign idea. All of our Scorpio examples (And the group had 2 Sun-Scorpios, a Moon-Scorpio, and a Jupiter-Scorpio!), for instance, had a "Scorpio Nitro Button" which would cause the Scorpio in question to vomit Zeal when pressed, no matter how pleasant as the person seemed initially. We delineated them down to a basic phrase, summed up thusly: Still waters run deep... and muddy... with big alligators.

We did some exercises with observing the four elements, too.

Air was okay, but unremarkable.

I nearly burned my hair off with fire, but that didn't sour me on the element. Fire is bright and exciting.

And I have to tell you, water is one creepy element. Do what what we did. Get a bowl, fill it with water, and stick your hand in it. It's cold, and after a little bit of resistance, overtakes your hand as much as it can. It clings, and feels like its sucking you in. It distorts space and time when you look, because your hand is at such an odd angle from where it is above the surface. To your eyes, your hand seems to leave the water just a split second after you've actually taken your hand past the surface. The universe seems to be warped by water. It's really scary when you think of it.

And then you realize that there are people who are like water.

My personal favorite was Earth. We passed around a large rock we found outside, about the size of 3 hands. It was nice, felt comfortable in my hands. It had a good rough texture and a reassuring weight. The Rock had personality. It was old and simple and dropping it and chipping a piece off didn't hurt it or cause a wierd reaction.

There are people like earth too. Solid and dependable, and who don't get hurt by little accidents. Earth has personality, too.

I think people forget that sometimes.

That's all for now. Maybe next time I'll regale you with my revelation that John Stewart must be a Virgo.

Maybe not. We'll See.