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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

some thoughts on Beauty Behind the Madness


Beauty Behind the Madness (2015)
The Weeknd

Part of what makes The Weeknd interesting is this commitment to this disaffected persona that Abel Tesfaye puts forth in his albums.  I know nothing about what Tesfaye is like in real life, but as The Weeknd, he's forever aloof, staring into the middle distance as a wild party rages around him, doing drugs as a muscle memory, half-heartedly eating pussy.  It was thrilling, in a way, to see something so bleak in R&B, a genre that had long been known for sexy slow jams to fuck to, but that thrill was far from sustainable.  Nihilism rarely is.

And now The Weeknd is back with more dead-eyed hedonism in Beauty Behind the Madness, but something is different this time around.  This album, while certainly much more pop-ready and radio-friendly, has an insidious quality that lurks beneath its sexual party beats and catchy hooks.  Perhaps the bleakness that pervaded The Weeknd's earlier albums and EPs came from the fact that he knew that what he was doing – the partying, the drugs, the meaningless sex – was going nowhere, that maybe he knew he deserved better, that you definitely deserved more from him.  In Beauty Behind the Madness, The Weeknd has given up, resigning himself to this life of empty decadence and deciding that this is simply who he is now – unapologetic, inconsiderate, openly disdainful.  The Weeknd of Beauty Behind the Madness does not eat pussy.

The strength of Beauty Behind the Madness comes from this heel turn from a known heel.  Nihilism may not have a lot of mileage, but it's to Tesfaye's credit that he put together a fresh new step in his persona's downward spiral.  Beauty Behind the Madness presents The Weeknd as someone who's tired of feeling bad for himself, tired of apologizing.  This is The Weeknd as someone whose self-actualization has revealed that underneath all that pained introspection is just a bad person.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

some thoughts on Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz



Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz

Listen here: mileycyrus.com/andherdeadpetz

There's this tension between Miley's performative stoner/party girl persona and the sad introspection that makes up the best parts of her albums.  She's got those country music sadness ballads running deep in her musical DNA that, much like her Disney past, she won't ever really be able to distance herself from, no matter how hard she parties or how many drugs she takes and I think that's what appeals to me about her, that her partying and psychedelic aesthetic is such a transparent attempt to cover up an inner sadness.

Bangerz was a great breakup album because it took place in such a specific point of a breakup, that time when you're covering up your pain by announcing how fun you are, how ready you are to get back out there, how you're done feeling bad and you're ready to move on (but not really) by getting reckless.  Its strongest moments were the saddest ones, the ones away from the party where Miley gets a chance to take down her Mike Will Made It walls.

Similarly Dead Petz takes place in another very specific post breakup moment, the one where you've achieved an epiphany/clarity (perhaps partly premature because of drugs).  Dead Petz is about accepting loss, being lonely, and more importantly, being ready to move on.  The drugs and the psychedelia in Dead Petz, like the Mike Will Made It club beats in Bangerz, are both set dressing and coping mechanism, working to take her mind off her inner turmoil.  Her coping mechanisms and the causes she chooses to champion from her position of privilege are invariably the least interesting things about Miley on Dead Petz, but the difference here is in the after effect.  In the bleakness of Bangerz, the party ends and nothing's changed, but in the more hopeful Dead Petz, when she comes down from the high there's still that loneliness, but there's also awareness and self-examination.  It's a small victory, but after any heartbreak you take those when you can get them.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Godzilla In Hell #1

Godzilla In Hell #1
IDW
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

SOME BOLD-ASS PREDICTIONS FOR THE SEASON FINALE OF EMPIRE


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.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Daredevil Tonight! (Today!) 209

Daredevil #209
Marvel Comics
Arthur Byron Cover, David Mazzucchelli, Danny Bulanadi, Christie Scheele, Joe Rosen

Monday, February 16, 2015

MULTIVERSITY POWER RANKINGS: The Bottom 10 Earths

Last week I wrote about the Top 10 Earths so far in Multiversity, so this week I'm following that up with The Bottom 10 Earths so far.  It's always good to keep an open mind about these sorts of things, but it's also true that there are a lot of stinkers in the multiverse.

THE BOTTOM 10
10.  Earth-7
This is the earth that was based on Marvel's Ultimate universe, and also it looks like Mike Mignola's Hellboy has been thrown in there for some reason?  It's not that important, considering this entire Earth was wiped out in the first issue of Multiversity to show how bad and tough those tough bad guys, The Gentry, can be.  Maybe it was a kind of cheeky/petty move having the analogues of everything wrong with the comics industry destroying the stand-in for the basis of the incredibly popular Marvel Cinematic Universe, but whatever, I'm glad it's gone.  This Earth is here because on top of being a first issue casualty, it's a copy of a copy mashed up with an adaptation of a copy of a universe.  It's like Walter Benjamin's nightmare vision, plus Hellboy is hanging out for no reason.

9.  Earth-46
Throughout The Multiversity Guidebook, Grant Morrison includes entries for seven unknown worlds that were created by the seven "Monitor Magi" with no further information beyond that.  It's a nice way to create some more mystery around the Multiverse, and I'm pretty interested in seeing what develops, though I have my own ideas.  Earth-46, however, is the worst one of the mysterious bunch because it is listed as "The second most mysterious of the 7 UNKNOWN EARTHS."  It's the second most mysterious because we actually know one thing about it: it apparently came SECOND PLACE in the mysterious Earth Olympics, which means it is the silver medal of mysterious Earths, and we all know that second place is just first loser.  On top of that it's being proudly billed as "the second most mysterious?"  Nobody cares about who's second most mysterious!  You're either the most mysterious or you shut the fuck up about it and fall back in line with the other Unknown Earths.

8.  Earth-34
I literally have no idea what this Earth is about.  It looks like an Earth whose superheroes were influenced more by Ancient Greco-Roman theater than adventure pulps?  Which, now that I'm thinking about it, could actually be a pretty interesting concept that, upon further reflection, would most assuredly fall flat on its grease-painted face.  Who cares.  Oh, also, shoutout to Piotr Rasputin hanging out in his overalls and boots in the back there.

7.  Earth-38
I believe this one is sort of based around John Byrne's Superman & Batman: Generations Elseworlds stories, which I'll admit I've never read, but a quick look at this makes me think that the most interesting idea here is our two main superheroes aging in real-time.  According to this entry the premise is about Superman and Batman being heroes in the 1930s and generations of their sons and daughters taking up the mantle after them, which means that this Earth is filled with a bunch of entitled, self-righteous prick superheroes that probably aren't as fun as my dudes in The Just.  The idea of Superman and Batman in the 1930s just makes me think of Tom Brokaw and all his "Greatest Generation" horseshit, and their children, a group of asshole baby boomers enforcing the status quo in a world of coded racism and late-stage capitalism.  I don't give a shit about John Byrne comics.

6.  Earth-35
This appears to be an Earth populated with ripoffs of characters from Supreme or WildC.A.T.s or Youngblood?  Maybe it's loosely based around Wildstorm properties (Although I think the Wildstorm properties were folded into the regular Earth-0 continuity)?  Is it just a general Image superheroes dump?  At any rate, it's another case of a copy of a copy being forced into a Justice League template, and I'm clearly not a huge fan of those.  You know what while we're at it, what does it mean that the majority of these Earths feature a Justice League-type of configuration?  I mean I know it's all about branding and legacy with DC, but I'm talking story-wise here.  Almost every Earth seems to have a version of the Justice League and given Grant Morrison's interest in spirituality and mysticism perhaps there's something there about that Justice League configuration repeating itself throughout the Multiverse?

5.  Earth-19
Is this a Gotham by Gaslight Earth?  Whatever.  Not interested.  I've read Gotham by Gaslight, and it was a fine comic book that I certainly did not want more of.  There are also some pretty steam punk-y looking designs here so *dismissive jacking off motion*

4.  Earth-33
This is supposed to be our Earth.  This is the Earth where you wake up and read twitter and facebook and get angry about some stupid bullshit and it bugs you for a good chunk of your shitty day and you wonder whether there's a specific point where everything went wrong or if it's just always been this bad and you just weren't smart enough to notice.  And now that you are smart enough why can't anyone else figure it out?  This is the Earth where you are reading a blog post about The Multiversity Guidebook.  Thanks for reading, by the way.  This is also the Earth where I truly do appreciate you taking the time to read any of this.  Also this is the Earth with ISIS and anti-vaxxers.  It sucks.

3.  Earth-1
This is the Earth based around DC's line of Earth One graphic novels, the bulk of which JMS is largely responsible for.  (I don't ever want to try to fumble my way through spelling Straczynski ever, so thank god for whoever came up with the ol' JMS.)  I'll admit to having never read any of those books, but I will also admit to never really being that interested in them.  Also, the thought of JMS setting the tone for an entire universe of stories is upsetting to me.  I believe at some point this was supposed to be DC's attempt at an Ultimate-style version of their universe but with serialized graphic novels instead of monthly issues, but from what I've heard there is still some confusion about how this universe is supposed to function in the scope of DC's business model.  Apparently none of the creators on any of the titles set in this Earth are sure whether they're bound to an official Earth One continuity, and to be fair the description in the Guidebook does playfully acknowledge this, but story-wise there are fifty one other Earths that seem to have figured out their shit.  What's Earth-1's excuse?

2. Earth-36
Earth-36 just looks like another off-brand Justice League but not even with the twist of a different theme like most of the other Earths.  It's lazy.  This just looks like a straight up one to one copy of Earth-0's Justice League, but with some typical, boring redesigns.  It'll probably fit in great with DC's lineup when it gets its own book and some asshole who claims that this is their favorite thing tries to revitalize it or whatever and make their own suitably derivative Justice League of Earth-36 stories to sell to other fans who keep whining about wanting something different and diverse but are still largely unwilling to look past superhero signifiers for that.  I'm sorry if I'm being hard on all the brave work that went into giving Earth-36's Green Lantern a torch or whatever, but I'm using Earth-36 as an example of just how lazy superhero comics can be and how willing we are as fans to not only take this nonsense but to play our part in the hype machine for something as meaningless as a Justice League redesign, or worse, superhero movie casting news.

1.  Earth-32
Speaking of the laziness of superhero comics, take a look at Earth-32 and their mashup version of the Justice League.  This is an Earth so lazy they couldn't even bother to come up with some original redesigns.  They just decided to smash a bunch of characters together in totally boring combinations.  As unexciting as this Earth is, I am pretty compelled to wonder a few things about this Earth: Is everyone in this world a boring mashup?  Are ordinary people mashed up with their other equally ordinary counterparts?  Is the Earth's population cut down in half because what would typically be two people on our world is now actually just one mashed-up person on Earth-32?  Is all music mashed up?  Is everyone just listening to Girl Talk and the Hood Internet like all the time?  Is there still a demand for that type of mashup party music over there?  There are too many stupid questions that come with this Earth, and none of them are that fun anyway.  Fuck this place.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Daredevil Tonight! (Today!) 208

Daredevil #208
Marvel Comics
Harlan Ellison & Arthur Byron Cover, David Mazzucchelli, Danny Bulanadi, Christie Scheele, Joe Rosen, Cover by David Mazzucchelli & Bob Wiacek


Monday, February 9, 2015

MULTIVERSITY POWER RANKINGS: The Top 10 Earths

Back when the first issue of Multiversity came out, I wasn't so hot about it, but since then, I'll admit that it's steadily been working to win me over with each issue.  The Multiversity Guidebook was released recently, and I've been really loving flipping through and seeing all the little capsule notes about the different earths and thinking about all the stories that we're never going to see.  In a way it reminds me very much of reading video game strategy guides for games I'd never played back when I was a kid.  I got a bunch of old Nintendo strategy guides from an older cousin and I'd read through those things, telling myself that if I ever did get to play any of these games, I'd be prepared.  Same thing with X-Men trading cards.  I really liked X-Men when I was a kid, and aside from the cartoon, the trading cards were my favorite way to just devour information about the complicated back stories.  All of these handbook/guidebook type things take me back to a time when I was a kid who was just hungry for pure information, ready to assemble my own context for these disjointed glimpses of narrative.  The Multiversity Guidebook really works to capture that hungry energy and to place that within the scope of Grant Morrison's larger narrative.

Of course, not all Earths are created equal, and with listicles dominating internet #content these days, I figured I'd take a crack at creating my own Multiversity Power Rankings, to give you what I think are the top 10 and the bottom 10 earths so far in Multiversity.

Here are the rankings for the top 10 Earths as of whenever The Multiversity Guidebook was released:

THE TOP 10
10.  Earth-47
I know very little about Prez aside from what I half-remember from that one issue of The Sandman, but mostly what I like about Earth-47 is those wacky Hanna-Barbera-esque designs, particularly that logo on "Sunshine Superman" and that Shaggy-looking "Magic Lantern."  Something really funny to me about a children's cartoon character being an upfront, anti-establishment slacker.

9.  Earth-43
It's a world of super-vampires drawn by Kelley Jones!  Oh, what?  Are you over vampires?  You're over one of the most enduring horror fixtures of all time?  Do I need to remind you you've been reading superhero comics?  Please.

8.  Earth-13 
I cannot believe the multiverse contains TWO goth earths, but here we are, and I'm having a great time.  I've always had a casual fondness for those DC magic/supernatural/horror characters, and Jae Lee's designs look appropriately dark while being tongue-in-cheek.  Making Etrigan this Earth's Superman is a really funny and exciting idea, and I can't wait til this Earth's stories are told exclusively on van murals and large denim jacket back patches blocking your view of the Iron Maiden concert.

7.  Earth-20
This is like a world where everybody is friends with Indiana Jones.  It's an Earth that's filled with tough as nails pulp-hero men and women who are those Doc Savage-type dudes who are probably all about living a balanced life, so they definitely run that line at you like "It's important to work out your body and your mind to realize your fullest potential.  Why, I remember a few years ago when I was in Nanda Parbat..."  Just think about how inspired you'd be to, like, buy some dumbbells and read a bunch of Penguin Classics while you have steak and eggs and cocaine for breakfast.

6.  Earth-18
Just about the only thing tougher than a pulp-hero Earth would have to be a Cowboy Earth, right?  I love thinking about a western-syle DC universe, just filled with a bunch of dirty, ugly super hombres.  I'm also really down with Andrew Robinson's Wonder Woman cowboy design.  Detractors may call it out for being a theme-party Earth, but to them I say this: Flip through the book again. They're ALL theme party Earths.

5.  Earth-3
The Crime Syndicate of America is such a dumb, comic book-y idea, and it feels kind of classic in that regard, but what I like about it is how broadly the idea of "the opposite of our heroes' world" is applied.  Good is evil, things are made of anti-matter, crime is legal, etc.  It's like an Earth where it's The Purge ALL THE TIME.

4.  Earth-4
Superheroes existing at the decline of American optimism is such a good setting, particularly for DC's fixations on tradition and legacy, as it seems like a perfect point of inevitable change while struggling to hold on to an idealized past.  Also, after that Frank Quitely-drawn issue, it's tough not to want more of that. Bonus: This is an Earth that exists largely as a subtweet to Alan Moore, and I think that's an amazing power move (or I guess it'd be more of a power move if Alan Moore actually gave a shit about comics anymore, but let us hold on to this adolescent power fantasy). 

3. Earth-0
This one is here because it just has to be, c'mon.  It's the main earth in the DC universe, and while it's had its fair share of bumps and Jim Lee-designed bruises, it's the one we keep coming back to, the one where the stories we love have happened.

2.  Earth-51
It's the Jack Kirby Kamandi Earth!  Sort of.  We've got a couple of fun changes here like a Ben Boxer/O.M.A.C. mashup called biOMAC and the New Gods hanging out (question: maybe I missed something, but why are the New Gods hanging around this earth in particular?  Do the New Gods exist outside of the 52 Earths, or are there 52 versions of the New Gods?).  My favorite little redesigns here are Mr. Miracle's new extra chain and Highfather's Mark Mcgwire forearms.  Grant Morrison loves working with Kirby concepts, and it's always pretty fun to watch him try to recapture that Kirby energy, something that maybe no one will ever fully be able to do while working with Kirby's own creations, but you know, shoot for the moon and all that.

1.  Earth-16
This one's at the top because The Just was my favorite of the Multiversity issues so far.  (Sidenote: is The Just a little dig at Mark Millar's Jupiter's Legacy?  Maybe some one upmanship?  Or maybe it's just another superheroes as celebrities thing, I really can't tell.)  The Just, I think, takes the concept of DC's preoccupation with legacy and pushes it forward.  Not only do we see the future versions of the children of our heroes, but we see our current heroes aging and unable to move on from their past.  Perhaps the older heroes, caught up in their historical reenactments, are a stand-in for older superhero fans unable to move past the glory days of when comics were exciting and fun for them, and the children of the heroes are the new generation of readers born into this world where it's all been done.   I think the concept of superheroes being bored celebrities is pretty well-tread at this point (my favorite being Milligan & Allred's X-Force and X-Statix), but I always find it interesting because it seems like one of the most realistic outcomes of superheroes existing in our world (the other outcome in my opinion being straight up fear/fascism).  It's fun and trashy, playing up the triviality of these superhero comics by so closely paralleling celebrity gossip magazine story lines.  This take on superheroes really just leans into that more voyeuristic hunger/dependency of fan culture.  It's shameful, but we're all guilty of it, and it's interesting to see that reflected back to us in the context of our beloved superhero genre.  It's a fun concept for me because it doesn't entirely boil down to "Stay positive, don't let the cynicism of the world/industry twist you" message that has been present in Morrison's corporate superhero work lately.  Don't get me wrong, I think he does that well, and I don't mean to reduce his output of late to that single theme, but it's nice to know that he still has at least some interest in adding some shades of gray and layers of critique to that message.

NEXT TIME: MULTIVERSITY'S BOTTOM 10 EARTHS

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Daredevil Tonight! (Today!) 207

Daredevil #207
Marvel Comics
Denny O'Neil, William Johnson, Danny Bulanadi & Mel Candido, Julianna Ferriter, Joe Rosen, cover by William Johnson & Bill Sienkiewicz


Friday, February 6, 2015

Some pages I liked from Wolverine

I just read Chris Claremont & Frank Miller's Wolverine, do you know it?  You probably do.  For those of you who aren't familiar (and for those of you who already are and are ready to nod along sagely to impress. . . ah, whoever is watching you. . . read. . . this article?), it was a miniseries made in 1982, back when Wolverine's past was shrouded in mystery and Kitty Pryde was the only mutant to think of him as a cool, gruff dad.  I might be mistaken, but I believe this was one of the first times we get a look into Wolverine's past ties to Japan?  Probably a pretty exciting treat for people clamoring for more of Wolverine's past back then, but really now more of a historical novelty for those of us alive and well in 2015, a time when Wolverine is neither alive nor well.  (Although I just did some quick googling and 1982 was also the year that movies like Blade Runner, Poltergeist, Tron, Star Trek II, and MOTHER FUCKING CONAN THE BARBARIAN were coming out, so now I'm starting to wonder where it ended up on the list of priorities of nerds in 1982.)

The story is mostly concerned with Wolverine's romantic pains told through the lens of a Japanese crime underworld story.  I don't really want to get into it here, so real quick: it read like a fairly typical work from Claremont in the 80s, and that's just fine by me, but the real stand out here is Frank Miller's art and Glynis Wein's colors.  Check it out, this RULES:









Saturday, January 31, 2015

Daredevil Tonight! (Today!) 206

Daredevil #206
Marvel Comics
Denny O'Neil, David Mazzucchelli, Danny Bulanadi, Christie Scheele, Joe Rosen, cover by Ed Hannigan & Klaus Janson


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Her

Her (2013) Spike Jonze


There's this part in Her where Joaquin Phoenix's character Theodore talks about how sometimes he gets scared thinking about how he thinks that maybe he's felt all there is to feel and that everything he feels now is a lesser sensation that is going to continue diminishing until he dies.  Or something to that effect.

I think this is how I feel about Spike Jonze movies.

Monday, January 26, 2015

First Year Healthy

First Year Healthy
Drawn and Quarterly
Michael DeForge
This one's the latest from Michael DeForge, but by the time you've finished reading this sentence, I'm sure that statement will no longer be correct.  Quick note: A quick google search for "michael deforge prolific" gives up about 23,200 results.

First Year Healthy is about a young woman who is trying to get back to living a normal life after an often-alluded to but never explained outburst that resulted in her being hospitalized.  She gets involved with a man with a career in organized crime, and she tries to take care of the man's son from another woman who died recently.  It is also ostensibly about living and dealing with mental illness.  It's a fairly straightforward and lean book, told with sparse prose and full page illustrations.

What I think I found most interesting about this book was its actual format and presentation.  The book itself has the size and feel of the kind of book you would read aloud and then open up to show off the bright funny pictures to a child, and for the most part the book feels less a comic and more an illustrated prose story.  I don't want to get into a "but is it comics?" discussion because I find those to be pretty tedious, but whatever you want to classify it as, it works and it's a good story.

I think that the illustrated prose style really works with DeForge's storytelling tendencies.  Oftentimes you can spot a really detached tone in his stories, like a documentary narrator telling a strange story.    It works particularly well in First Year Healthy because we get a very matter-of-fact, reportage-style narrator, but because that narrator is also the main character, the events she tells us about are more personal, and that takes that documentary-style detachment and kind of warps it into a confident telling of an old folk story or one of those stories your grandma tells you from when her mother was a young girl in the old country.  This old country/folktale vibe really works well with the big full page illustrations coupled with short prose bits.  It's one of those great achievements where the story and its format really work to complement each other.

First Year Healthy is pretty typical of DeForge's work.  If you already know his work, you know what you're getting into.  It's good.  It's strange.  It's funny.  The artwork is alive and vibrant and creepy and funny.  There's depression.  There's crime. There's weird sex stuff.  There's strange jobs and tasks.  There's some violence, implied and explicit.  This one has kind of a folktale element in play.  It's fine, y'know?  It's a DeForge story.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Daredevil Tonight! (Today!) 205

Daredevil #205
Marvel Comics
Denny O'Neil, William Johnson, Danny Bulanadi, George Roussos, Joe Rosen


Friday, January 23, 2015

Crossed Plus 100 #2

Crossed Plus 100 #2
Avatar Comics
Alan Moore & Gabriel Andrade

Two issues in and this series is already feeling very much like a grocery list of survival comics, but like the grocery list that you make for yourself after the new year, when you're still pretty committed to only buying healthy food.  There's lots of veggies that you just kind of stare at, hoping that at some point you'll take a bite out of that spinach salad and it'll taste like a plate of ribs.  Or actually, maybe it's more like when you eat vegan "ribs."  It's not that bad on its own, removed from context, but you wish that it didn't have the misguided audacity to call itself "ribs."

This is the kind of comic where you appreciate the thought and the craft that must have gone into the making of it, but in the end you put up your hand and politely decline.  The art is pretty typical of an Avatar comic, which is to say the storytelling is clear enough, but it's just so so ugly, but that's actually not so bad seeing as how you probably expect everything in the world of Crossed to look like it has a layer of filth over it anyway.  The best ideas in here – survival and social dynamics 100 years after The Crossed plague, future dialects, climate change – are interesting, but not in that viscerally exciting way that you'd really want from a comic that was released with like four different covers boasting some kind of extreme violence or some foreboding poses with guns.  This is the kind of interesting that I imagine someone who's into hard sci-fi nodding along to, but even then that hard sci-fi fan is only going through the motions.  It's got the ingredients of a violent survival horror comic, but it's lacking that suspense, that big sigh of relief when the characters manage to get themselves out of danger.  Instead of suspense, the connective tissue of this comic is more in line with anthropological/sociological inquiry, which is interesting in its own right, but not interesting enough to keep me excited about checking it out every month.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Daredevil Tonight! (Today!) 204

I started doing these #DaredevilTonight bits on twitter where I take a look at old Daredevil comics and highlight some choice panels, and I figured I'd put them up here as well.  Hope you like them!
Oh, and if you're interested in more #DaredevilTonight you can follow me on twitter, I'm @gwarrenl.

Daredevil #204
Marvel Comics
Denny O'Neil, Luke McDonnell, Danny Bulandi, Bob Sharen, Joe Rosen, cover by Bill Sienkiewicz

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

All the movies I saw in 2014

Here's a list of all the movies I saw in 2014. Some are listed more than once because I saw them more than once (duh):

The Apartment (1960) Billy Wilder
Drug War (2013, North America) Johnnie To
Spider-Man (2002) Sam Raimi
Hannibal (2001) Ridley Scott
Manhunter (1986) Michael Mann
Only God Forgives (2013) Nicolas Winding Refn
Virtuosity (1995) Brett Leonard
Red Dragon (2002) Brett Rattner
Melancholia (2011) Lars Von Trier
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) Anthony Minghella
Behind The Candleabra (2013) Steven Soderbergh
Undefeated (2011) Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin
Brokeback Mountain (2005) Ang Lee
Romeo + Juliet (1996) Baz Luhrmann
Scanners (1981) David Cronenberg
The Canyons (2013) Paul Schrader
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) Martin Scorcese
The Bling Ring (2013) Sofia Coppola
Argento’s Dracula (2012) Dario Argento
Spirited Away (2001) Hayao Miyazaki
Cry-Baby (1990) John Waters
Battlefield Earth (2000) Roger Christian
The Jerk (1979) Carl Reiner
Bernie (2011) Richard Linklater
Airplane! (1980) Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011) Sean Durkin
The Addams Family (1991) Barry Sonnenfeld
D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994) Sam Weisman
She-Devil (1989) Susan Seidelman
Kung-Fu Panda (2008) John Stevenson, Mark Osborne
Now You See Me (2013) Louis Leterrier
Magic Mike (2012) Steven Soderberg
Jawbreaker (1999) Darren Stein
Thelma and Louise (1991) Ridley Scott
Rollerball (1975) Norman Jewison
Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) Francis Lawrence
Gattaca (1997) Andrew Niccol
Slapshot (1977) George Roy Hill
Rear Window (1954) Alfred Hitchcock
Nurse 3D (2013) Douglas Aarniokoski
Jobs (2013) Joshua Michael Stern
Coming to America (1988) John Landis
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) Stephen Sommers
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) Wes Anderson
Sin City (2005) Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller
Paris is Burning (1990) Jennie Livingston
Dick (1999) Andrew Fleming
The Shining (1980) Stanley Kubrick
Center Stage (2000) Nicholas Hytner
Blackfish (2013) Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Fight Club (1999) David Fincher
Short Term 12 (2013) Destin Daniel Cretton
Don Jon (2013) Joseph Gordon-Levitt
21 Jump Street (2012) Chris Miller, Phil Lord
She's The Man (2006) Andy Fickman
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Thor: The Dark World (2013) Alan Taylor
Josie and the Pussycats (2001) Harry Elfont, Deborah Kaplan
Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001) Stacy Peralta
Single White Female (1992) Barbet Schroeder
Backdraft (1991) Ron Howard
Party Monster (2003) Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato
Pain and Gain (2013) Michael Bay
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) Bryan Singer
The Purge (2013) James DeMonaco
Lords of Dogtown (2005) Catherine Hardwicke
Magic Camp (2012) Judd Ehrlich
Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) J.J. Abrams
The Countess (2009) Julie Delpy
Grease (1978) Randal Kleiser
Les Misérables (2012) Tom Hooper
Mission: Impossible (1996) Brian De Palma
Jaws (1975) Steven Spielberg
Wet Hot American Summer (2001) David Wain
Dirty Dancing (1987) Emile Ardolino
Grand Piano (2013) Eugenio Mira
Blue Crush (2002) John Stockwell
The Great Muppet Caper (1981) Jim Henson
The Godfather (1972) Francis Ford Coppola
A League of Their Own (1992) Penny Marshall
Pumping Iron (1977) Robert Fiore, George Butler
Wish Upon A Star (1996) Blair Treu
13 Going On 30 (2004) Gary Winick
The Raid 2 (2014) Gareth Evans
The Fast Furious and the Furious (2001) Rob Cohen
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) John Singleton
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) Justin Lin
Fast and Furious (2009) Justin Lin
Fast Five (2011) Justin Lin
Fast and Furious 6 (2013) Justin Lin
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) Matt Reeves
Jodorowsky’s Dune (2014) Frank Pavich
The Conjuring (2013) James Wan
Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) Michael Bay
Super Mario Bros. (1993) Rocky Morton, Annabel Jankel
The Triplets of Belleville (2003) Sylvain Chomet
Batman Begins (2005) Christopher Nolan
The Dark Knight (2008) Christopher Nolan
The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Christopher Nolan
The Haunting (1963) Robert Wise
The Raid: Redemption (2012) Gareth Evans
The Purge: Anarchy (2014) James DeMonaco
Manhunter (1986) Michael Mann
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) James Gunn
You’re Next (2013) Adam Wingard
The Lion King (1994) Rob Minkoff, Roger Allers
Scream (1996) Wes Craven
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) Chuck Russell
Miami Vice (2006) Michael Mann
Noah (2014) Darren Aronofsky
The Watcher (2000) Joe Charbanic
Whip It (2009) Drew Barrymore
Moonstruck (1987) Norman Jewison
The Goonies (1985) Richard Donner
Snowpiercer (2014) Bong Joon-ho
Spice World (1998) Bob Spiers
Orca (1977) Michael Anderson
Frances Ha (2013) Noah Baumbach
The Valley of the Dolls (1967) Mark Robson
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) Stephen Herek
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) Philip Kaufman
Poltergeist (1982) Tobe Hooper
Dirty Dancing Havana Nights (2004) Guy Ferland
Gone Girl (2014) David Fincher
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) Wes Craven
The Terminator (1984) James Cameron
Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1987) Sam Raimi
Rosemary’s Baby (1968) Roman Polanski
The Exorcist (1973) William Friedkin
Heathers (1988) Michael Lehmann
Zoolander (2001) Ben Stiller
Pee Wee's Big Adventure (1985) Tim Burton
Wayne's World (1992) Penelope Spheeris
Scream 2 (1997) Wes Craven
Housebound (2014) Gerard Johnstone
Taken (2008) Pierre Morel
The Descent (2005) Neil Marshall
An American Werewolf in London (1981) John Landis
Premium Rush (2012) David Koepp
Black Swan (2010) Darren Aronofsky
Point Break (1991) Kathryn Bigelow
John Wick (2014) David Leitch, Chad Stahelski
Under The Skin (2014) Jonathan Glazer
They Came Together (2014) David Wain
A Knight’s Tale (2001) Brian Helgeland
Sabotage (2014) David Ayer
Maleficent (2014) Robert Stromberg
Obvious Child (2014) Gillian Robespierre
A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) Brian Henson
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Henry Selick
That Thing You Do (1996) Tom Hanks
Elf (2003) Jon Favreau
Thrashin' (1986) David Winters
The Comedy (2012) Rick Alverson
Inglorious Basterds (2009) Quentin Tarantino
Inherent Vice (2014) Paul Thomas Anderson
Die Hard (1988) John McTiernan
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) Shane Black
Mockingjay part 1 (2014) Francis Lawrence
Christmas with a Capital C (2011) Helmut Schleppi
It's a Wonderful Life (1946) Frank Capra
A Christmas Story (1983) Bob Clark
Magic Mike (2012) Steven Soderbergh
The Trip to Italy (2014) Michael Winterbottom
Velvet Goldmine (1998) Todd Haynes
Make Believe (2010) J. Clay Tweel
Dumb and Dumber (1994) Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly
Inherent Vice (2014) Paul Thomas Anderson
Almost Famous (2000) Cameron Crowe
Point Break (1991) Kathryn Bigelow

I started out 2014 wanting to write about every movie I saw, but I got overwhelmed when I realized as I was putting this list together that I watch a lot of movies. I didn't think I did, but this list shut me up pretty quick. I don't know what I wanted to do with all of this, but I was keeping track all year so I feel like I had to put it up somewhere.