Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Still a bit wrapped up in my real life.

The unread post count in my feed aggregator is sitting at 3808, which is pretty damned scary at the moment.  So rather than even try to attack that I thought I'd just drop a note to assure everyone that I am not dead, not in a coma, not time-traveling, and not captured by supervillains.  Whether or not I've been presiding over the prisons, brainwashing facilities and/or death traps containing superheroes I'm not at liberty to say.  I can say I haven't seen Hulk yet (and I won't be deterred from that mission so don't bother with spoilers or bad reviews).

I'm more than a little behind.  See, over the past 3 weeks I haven't managed to read any comic that isn't in Ed Brubaker's Captain America run.  I've made it to the store, but reading time's been scarce and so all I've read are the trades I carry in my purse for spare moments.  (The beauty of comics, quick reads for quick breaks!).

I will admit that my thoughts turn more charitably towards Quesada, as he was willing to put Brubaker on Captain America, and I'm still savoring the results I praised earlier this month.  That Omnibus hardcover is very very nice, and Brubaker's Captain America ranks with Robinson's Starman as one of the few comics that make me willing to shell out for an expensive hardcover collection.  It's led me to one of the joys of reading comics again, finding a new little universe.  I never was a Cap reader beyond isues of the Avengers before, so I'm discovering the franchise details for the first time.  And I almost forgot how much I love to plunge into a story and trace the plot threads and characters back through the years, piecing together a picture of a universe cobbled together by so many hands.   65 years of hands.  That's why nothing can replace superhero comics for me, it's the history of it.  There's this labyrinth of actual continuity, complicated by retcons and revision as well as your normal twists, turns, dead ends and false paths.  And I'm following plot threads backwards through this monster-sized maze, not so much to find a way out but to collect all of the treasure in the maze.  I can't miss any of it, even if I've read a synosis or know how the whole story turns out.  Hell, part of the fun of back issues is you can sort of read the story backwards that way, starting with a fully developed character and making your way to the seeds of his or her personality.  Internet writeups serve as a guidebook for these tours, telling you where the most worthwhile sites to see are, letting you know not to expect too much from certain places, and giving you behind the scenes information that helps you understand how a character could possibly go from point A to point K, or even from Point D to Point X-which-is-actually-more-similar-to-Point-A-than-Point-D-was.  And of course they tell you how Point A got remodeled somehow during the journey so Point Q makes more sense than it would have at Point H and at the original version of Point A, and that this is all explained at Point N--Honestly, how can anyone not just adore mainstream superhero comics? It's like spending an afternoon lost in your hometown!

I'm rambling again.  I've been busy, but I had a wonderful way to relax and when I get some free time I'll have to do some serious back issue hunting.

Until then I have the odd moment on the internet, Kalinara's font of knowledge, and the trades and hardcovers I've managed to snag on my lunch break (Only work evenings if your office is within 20 minutes of a comic book store, it's just less stressful that way)  to occupy my time.  And Captain America has entertained me so much when I needed entertainment that even though I'm sure he doesn't know or care about it, I'd still like to publically take back some of the mean things I've said about Marvel's Editor-in-Chief.

Not all of them.

Certainly not the true stuff.

But definitely anything that's an absolute.

And if people are still paying attention to this blog after this long break...  Wow.  Thanks?
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  1. Equal to Starman? Wow. Strong praise indeed. I've read some of Brubaker's run and been tempted on occasion to get one or two of the trades. But I always put it off...

    And thats not a knock on it. Its a quality super-hero book. But Starman is the only series I've bought three times. There are a couple where I bought the floppies as they came out or hunted from the back issue bins (Morrison's Animal Man, Ennis' Preacher, Ellis' Transmetropolitan, Robinson's Leave it to Chance) and then traded up for the TPBs. But Robinson's Starman I bought when it came out monthly, then got the trades as they came out and now am getting the big expenisive Omnibus editions...

    Anyways, good to see you back online...

  2. Aww, I was kind of hoping you had become a time-traveling lesbian where you fight for the justice of unprivileged people in society, and so you went undercover for a reconnaissance mission for S.H.I.E.L.D., where you were to spy on Mr. Quesada, and see what kind of donuts he eats and what brand his khaki jackets are.

    And that's why you were gone away for so long.

    But apparently not. I get it - Mum's the word.

  3. Ragnell! You're NOT being tortured on Qward! But yes, real life can be time-consuming, which is why you should always have something to read stuffed in your purse.

    Comparing Captain America to Starman is high praise indeed. Perhaps I should wend my way back towards Marvel, and start picking this up.

  4. I sort of have a love/don't love (I won't call it hate) relationship with Brubaker's Cap. On the one hand, I think he really understands the character in a way that we haven't seen in ages. Not just Cap, but all the characters. His Red Skull is practically definitive (which is why I don't believe Steve Rogers is dead, because Brubaker writes the Red Skull too well to have him just decide to gun Cap down in the street. The Red Skull doesn't want to destroy America, he wants to destroy America while Captain America watches.)

    But on the other hand, the pacing is just brutal. Even following the series in trades, it still feels like very little happens in a single book; I realize that decompression has become the norm nowadays, but when six-issue chunks start feeling like single issues, and slow-paced single issues at that, I start wishing that Brubaker had an editor that would prod him along, just a little.

    (Oh, and I'm just never going to be able to get behind the Winter Soldier. "Grim 'N Gritty Cyborg Assassin Bucky" is just such an inherently silly concept to me that Brubaker just cannot make him work for me no matter how hard he tries. He's like a bottomless pit of lame; no matter what you throw in there to fill it up, you're just throwing good material after bad. I am aware, though, that I am distinctly in the minority here.)

    (I also feel the same way about "Grim 'N Gritty S&M Speedball", but that's a whole other story.)

  5. Well, darn. My money was on alien abduction (with a hedge bet on "set out to walk the earth like Caine in Kung Fu").

    Seriously, though, Captain America continues to blow me away. Nowadays it seems like most writers have a half-dozen issues' worth of story material and then they sort of sputter out. The way Brubaker continues to not only keep all the balls in the air but add new ones...you're right, it does remind the reader of Starman.

  6. Seavey, you just called my new comic book boyfriend a bottomless pit of lame.

    Actually, I thought the concept was worth an eye-roll when someone told me about before I read the series. Seeing how he managed it, and did it well is part of what impressed the hell out of me. I've been holding back from a "What I like about the Bucky retcon" post since everyone did those back in 2006, though, but there's an appeal that goes beyond the formula with this retcon. It's just handed well. There's a complexity and subtly to this that takes it beyond "Grim and gritty" 90s redesigns, and the character is actively progressing towards balance instead of wallowing in this.

    Aridawnia -- I've been savingthe "set out to walk the earth righting wrongs and kicking ass" path for my retirement, actually.

  7. I know, I know...this is why I don't share more of my opinions about comics, you know. Because they are deeply hurtful and joy-crushing. :) Seriously, everyone other than me insists that the way Brubaker handled it made it work, and I still feel that the concept is so unworkable that it drags down an otherwise stellar run of comics by trying to make it fly.


    (Oh, and the other thing I don't like about the Bucky retcon? HE'S DEAD. :) Brubaker keeps saying how they never showed the death, how it always happened off-panel, but he doesn't explain exactly what Bucky's soul was doing wandering around Death's realm in Avengers Annual #16. :) )

  8. He was just lost? ;-)

    Like Johnny Thunder when he appeared in Sand's dream with the other deceased JSA-ers: "I'm not supposed to be here!"

  9. Don't worry about the leave of absences you may need to take when Real Life Attacks! We'll keep checking in and reading whatever you post because you're entertaining and well-reasoned.

    And you've convinced me to pick up Bru's cap run in trade now, so your work here is, obviuosly, done.