Thursday, July 16, 2015

Godzilla In Hell #1

Godzilla In Hell #1
James Stokoe

James Stokoe comes back to Godzilla for this issue and it's a fun little treat.  Not quite as weighty and destructive as his Godzilla: The Half Century War, but more of a nicely violent little snack.  I'm not sure who is going to be responsible for the other issues of this series, but I'm gonna be honest: I'm not really interested in the rest of this series.  The story is minimal, a fight comic in its simplest, most brutal, most fun.  Frankly, the list of people I'd want working on that comic is so small and I'm betting none of them will be working on any upcoming issues, so I'm content with this existing as a simple one-shot in my mind.

Stokoe's art is of course the star of the show as he takes advantage of taking Godzilla outside of a cowering city and having him fall endlessly through a stone abyss surrounded by giant carved lettering announcing his new domain (destroyed almost instantly by one of Godzilla's radioactive shrieks, of course).  We also get some of Stokoe's weird, squishy, dripping design sense in Godzilla's encounter with a Hellish doppelgänger.  It's wonderful and strange, but ultimately it left me wanting more as this level of Hell seemed to be a vast, mostly empty desert flatland.  Part of the fun of Stokoe's art for me is seeing him draw those expansive and bizarre environments, and he doesn't really play that angle here.  We get to see Dante's tornado of sinners and some bizarre monster stuff, but it's set amongst mostly formless blacks and browns and reds.  This level of Hell is a barren wasteland and Stokoe conveys that well, but I think one of the reasons Godzilla elicits such fear and awe is through sheer size.  Every single one of Godzilla's opponents and obstacles in this comic is as big or bigger and I think that diminishes the awe of Godzilla as the shock of seeing something bigger than our favorite monster starts to wear thin when we realize she's probably gonna come out of it ok.

I guess my problem with it was a reduced amount of collateral damage and the fact that there was no real emotional hook or at least a sense of danger.  Half Century War got that right with its focus on the Godzilla hunting crew.  There were actual stakes when we followed humans around as opposed to our invincible super monster.  It's tough to actually care about Godzilla here because we know that she can't be stopped, and whatever's trying to stop her is from Hell anyway, so they're probably the bad guys in this situation anyway.  Since she can't be stopped the thrust of the action is less "will Godzilla survive?" and more "how's Godzilla getting out of this one?"  But that doesn't mean it's irredeemable.  What it lacks in emotional hooks, Godzilla In Hell makes up for in inventive action and fight scenes.  We know that she's getting out of this, but how?? is the question that moves us forward here.  I'd have preferred more collateral damage and senseless destruction, but for a one-off issue like this one it's fine.  Low investment, high thrills.  We should never need to think about a Godzilla comic this much anyway.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Werner Herzog on The Avengers: Age of Ultron

(This post originally appeared on my tumblr)
“For what would Stark’s technology be without a monster lurking in the dark? What once was a man of iron is now a stupid child, screaming horribly into a coffin of his own making.”
“Look into the eyes of Scarlett Johansson and you will know real loneliness.  It is a kind of bottomless loneliness that can only be felt by those surrounded by inferiors, but who know they themselves are inferior.”
“A being driven by anger and denial of the self leaves very little to the question of the common character of the universe.” 
“We see the Captain grimace in pain, but what is truly illuminating is the knowledge that his pain does not come from the hostility of his environment but instead from his own self-loathing and guilt, his frustrations at being a man displaced seething within him, consuming him from the inside.  He grimaces not for his body, but for his soul.  Ultimately his pain is his ecstasy as he gazes further into the emptiness of his mission.” 
“Superhero movies are the death of cinema.  It is the very opposite of passion.  Film is not the art of nerds, but of illiterates.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


The season finale of Empire is happening tonight, and what better way to celebrate the first season of a ridiculously over-the-top primetime soap opera with some BOLD-ASS PREDICTIONS?

1.  Andre chills out and gets medicated, but still resentful of his family's musical talents, switches teams and works for Anika and Beretti.

2.  Malcolm finds out about how Cookie wrongfully set up the hit on that drug dealer, then he finds out about Lucious killing Bunkie.  But he's super loyal to both of them and sweeps it under the rug anyway and handles any problems that may arise because he's really good at his job and he's the best.  I love Malcolm.

3.  Lucious finds out about Cookie and Malcolm and decides to file this away for season two.

4.  Lucious fucks Rhonda.

5.  Vernon reveals that he loves Lucious.  Like, LOVES Lucious.  Lucious, predictably, does not have time to deal with this.

6.  Lucious faints right before the credits roll.

7.  Hakeem, disillusioned by the music industry, buys a motorcycle and just drives off to see America.  He is not in season 2, save for a snippet of "Drip Drop" that we hear before Jamal does something far more interesting.

8.  Titan is released from prison just in time for the season finale concert, where he and Royale-T promptly get into a fistfight.  Cookie loves it.

9.  Jamal's ex-boyfriend comes back.  He's gotten deep into the Bushwick art scene and he needs money to pay back some kickstarter backers for his foray into the conceptual sculpture scene.

10.  Porsha and Becky hang out and become best friends and get their own spinoff show.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Daredevil Tonight! (Today!) 210

Daredevil #210
Marvel Comics
Denny O'Neil, David Mazzucchelli, Danny Bulanadi, Christie Scheele, Joe Rosen

Thursday, March 12, 2015

"On Learning To Love The Futility of Keeping Up With DC Comics," or "I Assure You, This Isn't About Comics Criticism"

I haven't been really keeping up with a lot of new serialized comics lately because I'm not really feeling any of them, but I've been checking in with them here and there, and I think I kind of like that better?  It makes me feel kind of like when you tell yourself you're only going to be making an appearance at a party because there's a better party that you're saving for the night's destination, except instead of parties, it's comics or movies or whatever media I'm feeling like consuming, and that destination is completely non-existent in the long run, so the best you can hope for is to find an opportunity to bow out gracefully.  Does that make sense?  I don't go to as many parties as I used to, maybe that's changed.

That's all a pretty roundabout way to say that while I don't like a lot of the things that are out there so much, I can't stop myself from following my whims and dabbling.  I'm a fickle man when it comes to things that truly don't matter, and I've never had great impulse control, so I figured I'd work these issues out on a public social media platform (I'm also a millennial, duh) while talking a little bit about popping my head into DC Comics.

I've been keeping up with three DC Comics titles: Multiversity, Justice League Dark, and Superman.  It took some doing, but I've worked my way past my first issue hangups with Multiversity and now I'm having fun with it.  I've been reading Justice League Dark because I picked up the annual that Klaus Janson drew and I liked it and figured I'd keep going because J.M. DeMatteis is doing a typical J.M. DeMatteis story, and that's comforting to me, knowing that even after so much about me and my life has changed, J.M. DeMatteis can still make a story with heavy handed ideas about time and life and death.  It's a very "serious superhero comics from the 90s" vibe, different from how most of the other comics in the DC feel like stale throwbacks to early 2000s "realistic" conventions.  Think less like an attempt to make comics "realistic" and more a feeling like trying to make comics right up there with "serious literature."  Likewise with Superman I picked it up because John Romita Jr. was drawing it, and looking at his art and knowing that JRJr is still truckin' along drawing rectangle people and exploding wreckage makes me feel good.  I don't know shit about what's going on with the DC Universe as a narrative, but things like Justice League Dark and Superman, while not great works of comic art, are uncomplicated and undemanding, and I think that's what I need from superhero comics right now.  I think I'm tired of searching for the profound in superhero comics.  That's not to say that it can't be there, but I'm just having a hard time thinking that I have to look at something like, I dunno, that Pizza Dog issue of Hawkeye or fuckin' Batgirl and consider it as great art that elevates the medium of comics storytelling.  I mean no disrespect to those titles, but at the end of it I think they're fun stories that do a great job of making you feel a certain way; none of them are changing comics forever and I feel like nothing out there right now really moves me on a personal level.  I enjoy superhero comics because they're fun, but it's been a while since I've felt positively affected by them.

Whatever enjoyment I am getting from them, I know I'm not going to be following them forever and actually I enjoy that about them.  I'll eventually get sick of Justice League Dark and find it being overwrought and cliched will be less comforting and more grating.  John Romita Jr. will eventually leave Superman and I'll have to figure out if I still have room for new JRJr comics in my life or if I'd rather just go back and flip through old Ann Nocenti Daredevil comics that he drew.  Multiversity will end and dovetail into story seeds that someone like Scott Lobdell will pick up and misuse.  There was a time not very long ago where I would have just kept going despite how overwrought and cliched and JRJr-less these titles were becoming, a time when I was so set on finding an ending.  There won't ever be a real ending to those things, and I think you just have to accept that.  Then you can keep going because that's what you're into (which is fine, I'm not going to give you shit for that if it makes you happy; I just admitted I read Justice League Dark comics because they make me feel good, so who am I to judge?) or you can just drop it and move on.  That comic universe is gonna keep spinning with or without you, so I figure you should have your fun and get out while the gettin's good.  Eventually, if you're like me, you'll get drawn back into it and you'll have no idea what's really happening, but I think that helps makes it fun and exciting again, like when you were discovering comics for the first time and you had no idea what the deal was with any of these characters, but you definitely felt like you needed to know more.  Because of their ongoing serial nature, I think superhero comics will rarely have that sense of closure necessary to be something truly affecting to me, so I figure taking a break from it and making it feel new again is the best way to keep it exciting for me.