Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Seventh Coming of Jim Roeg (Maybe)

In Uncategorized on June 2, 2009 at 12:51 pm

How many times do you have to die and be resurrected to qualify for Jean Grey status?

I peeked out of my burrow a few days ago and saw that Mike Sterling has Double Articulation listed as “retired” on his blogroll. My first thought was: wow, Mike Sterling is really organized. I should do that with dead blogs on my link list. Waitaminnit… I’m what?

Let’s call it semi-retired—the semi-retirement peculiar to new parents. Kid arrives, castle walls spring up, drawbridge retracts: fortress of solitude. Well, not from the inside, of course. Inside everything’s cake and ice cream. And like the Lady of Shallot’s garret, a little bit squirrely. But it’s okay, because you’re so in love that you don’t notice. Until someone reminds you that the world outside the castle thinks you died. “Retired.” Which, of course, you did. So, here I am again. Blame Mike Sterling!

And speaking of blame, it would be easy to blame the kid for my disappearing trick. He is, after all, my new excuse for everything. But that’s not the whole story. Looking at it now, I can’t tell whether my vague disenchantment with comics over the past year was an inevitable side-effect of parenthood or the result of a whole confluence of other things. Was I burnt out by the demands of work and family? You know it. Was this a particularly bad year for comics? I kind of think it was. At the very least the “event fatigue” I’d been fighting finally got the better of me. On the other hand, it was such a good year for me personally, how could the satisfactions of fanboy obsession do anything but pale in comparison? Perhaps I was just getting tired of generating all this chatter, the endless rehearsal of my by now all-too-predictable “opinions.” Is there a blogger out there who doesn’t confront that particular nausea at some point? And let’s be real: Double Articulation had been clawing and gasping its way across the desert with prey-birds circling for at least a year before this most recent “hiatus.”

So, what now?

To be honest, I’m not sure. I’m feeling contemplative but lazy and not particularly fanboyish these days, though that may change I suppose.

I’m buying far fewer comics than I once did. Nostalgia acts, mostly. Titans. Outsiders. They’re not particularly good, but 1983 is a harsh mistress and, in any case, I’m not so much reading as clinging to them—in a “these fragments I have shored against my ruins” kind of way, you understand. Green Lantern does a better job than either of these titles at capturing the sense of richness that I, rightly or wrongly, associate with the DC universe of that earlier era, so it has become the “cornerstone” book for me of late. Like many, I admired but did not particularly enjoy Final Crisis and need a break from Morrison’s exhausting delirium. Green Lantern is the cotton candy version of the same thing, so of course I’m wolfing it down. I’m still mostly off Marvel, though I tried the new (old) New Mutants, predictably. Eh. I don’t know. I’ve been rereading Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo’s magnificent Batman and the Outsiders—what ever happened to comics like THAT?

God, I’m grumpy this morning. Back into the burrow, Roeg!

DCU: State of the Nation

In Uncategorized on June 22, 2008 at 4:33 pm

Well, the bloom is off the rose.

Like the rumors about Joe Quesada’s probable axing following Civil War and One More Day, the recent rumblings about Didio’s post-Countdown firing are no doubt so much hot air.

Still, there are plenty of reasons to hate on DC these days. Countdown was, without a doubt, the most self-destructive example of corporate greed and editorial incompetence that comicbookland has seen in quite some time. It tore down—week-by-week, with striking symmetry and efficiency—all the good will and fuzzy feelings that 52 had built up. So, post-Countdown, DC was in effect starting from scratch—at least as far as its weekly series was concerned.

The good news is that Trinity rocks. Hard. It’s exactly what I want from a weekly series. Busiek is on his game: the plot is intriguing and clearly going somewhere. The characterization and dialogue are tops. And Mark Bagley’s art is fantastic. I think that this might actually the be the best work I’ve ever seen him do—so energized and polished. The “back-up” stories (though this is the wrong word for what these stories actually are) are effectively interwoven with the main story and yet still feel like a bonus—what a great way of sharing the creative burden of the weekly book without making the art in the main story seem like a jigsaw puzzle for readers. I really like this. Simply put: Trinity is great comics.

Final Crisis. Well, huh. Looks like Morrison’s series got royally screwed over by DC editorial. Is anyone steering this ship? I say we follow Morrison’s advice and just treat Final Crisis as an extension of Seven Soldiers and 52 and forget that Countdown and Death of the New Gods ever happened. What a pathetic spectacle; if this were the real world and not the comics industry, someone would actually be fired for this mess.

Something else I’d like to forget ever happened is the utterly incompetent relaunch of the Wolfman-Perez Titans by Winick, Churchill, and Benitez. I won’t beat this dead, rancid, decomposing horse’s carcass any more than I already have except to say that DC should cancel this shit RIGHT NOW and give all of us 35-year-old fanboys a chance to get the awful stink out of our noses before trying, once again, to rekindle the old magic at some far off point in the future—hopefully with a creative team that has some idea what they’re doing. Dropped.

The other notable ongoing screw-up at DC is the handling of its flagship superhero team. Justice League of America is a truly awful comic from start to finish. Just everything about it is wrong—starting with the fact that nothing happens (where are the adventures?) and what little does happen always feels underdeveloped or stupid or is just plain confusing. I’ve tried to give this book the benefit of the doubt and have stuck with it for twenty-two issues—much longer than it deserves. As I’ve mentioned before, Dwayne McDuffie (who is good on other things) is at his worst here—though certainly DC’s use of this series to pimp its various other projects has not made McDuffie’ job easy. Thankfully, I don’t need to review the current issue to back up my case because Comic Book Resources’ Timothy Callaghan has already provided the definitive diagnosis of this terminally bad series. Dropped.

On a smaller scale, but equally aggravating is the fact that awesome former-Batman and the Outsiders scribe Chuck Dixon “is no longer employed by DC in any capacity.” I don’t know anything about Dixon as a personality, so who’s to know quite how to take his (totally delicious) innuendo-laden internet posts about “Jim Shooter.” Talk about a sour-candy treat for fans who are already disgruntled by TPTB at DC. Whether or not Dan Didio is an editorial ogre, it’s the readers who really lost out on this one. Dixon’s departure from BATO has me in the dumps, because, as you know, I was loving his take on the relaunch. Drat. I’ll stick with the series for now and hope for the best.

Of course, all is not terrible. DC continues to publish some fantastic books, though god help them if Geoff Johns decides to jump ship. Action Comics, Green Lantern, Booster Gold, and Justice Society of America are some of my favorite DC books at the moment—all penned or supervised by the boy wonder. Wonder Woman is also excellent again, finally. All-Star Superman is in a class by itself. The much-missed Manhunter is back. And Nightwing is still being given a satisfying star treatment by Tomasi, Rags, and Kramer. I’m enjoying Shooter’s Legion of Superheroes too.

Morrison’s Batman still has me a bit puzzled, but I’m enjoying it more now that R.I.P. has finally begun. Green Lantern Corps is pretty good as a military adventure book. Tony Bedard’s Birds of Prey is also okay, but that title is still having trouble soaring beyond the heights it achieved under Simone’s tenure. Speaking of thankless jobs, Bruce Jones’s Checkmate is…nothing at all like Rucka’s. It’s passably entertaining so far, I guess, but I certainly wouldn’t be buying it if I wasn’t still being carried forward by the momentum of Rucka’s superb run. Jones had better dazzle soon, or this series is toast. People seem to be accepting Mike Norton’s replacement of Cliff Chiang on Green Arrow/Black Canary, but for me, the change in artists just highlights how little-invested I am in Ollie and Dinah’s quest to find Connor. I’m think I’m done with this one. I’m also done with the awful Rann-Thanagar Holy War. Just, ugh.

Fortunately, there are at least a few things on the horizon to look forward to. I’m psyched about Simone’s new Secret Six series, obviously. Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds looks amazing. I’m optimistic about Reign in Hell, primarily because of the creative team, not the concept, which doesn’t do much for me. Perhaps, most importantly, there’s Ambush Bug. After the last year, this series will no doubt be profoundly cathartic.

I (Heart) Hergé

In Uncategorized on June 18, 2008 at 10:21 pm

Sorry to have disappeared there for a time, dear readers. I’m totally immersed in “real life” these days–work, family, you know the drill. I have, however, recently written a little piece about Tintin for Blog@Newsarama’s summer feature, “I (Heart) Comics!” The essay, which begins to describe my infatuation with Tintin, is called I (Heart) Hergé.

More new content soon.

On Reading Out of Time

In Uncategorized on May 6, 2008 at 9:49 pm

So, I was sitting in Tim Horton’s this morning reading a paperback copy of Mordecai Richler’s Cocksure.

It was a new Tim Horton’s for me, in a different part of the city, because I had taken the kid for a long walk to let his mother sleep. I like Tim Horton’s, whatever one might say about the coffee. And–if you’re a self-involved, slightly full-of-himself new dad on the a.m. stroller circuit who expects the entire world to fall on its knees to pay homage to the kid as you pass because, obviously, it’s never seen a grown man with a baby before–Tim Horton’s is a fun place to go. The counter staff always seem genuinely interested in checking the kid for cuteness, unlike Starbucks, where 90% of the employees look grim, or too cool for this shiz, and won’t even smile at you, much less at your carriage.

So, yes, I’m sitting in Tim Horton’s, reading Cocksure, enjoying hot black coffee in a paper cup, with the kid (my kid!) beside me, aware that I will probably only make it through about two of Richler’s very short chapters before his nibs tires of the beautiful expensive baby toy that was a gift from his grandparents and needs me to furnish him a rice cookie or a bottle or a funny face, any of which–all of which–I would and do, willingly, immediately, gratefully. And that’s how many chapters I get though, too. Exactly two–the first two–on this beautiful perfect sundazzled morning.

And, while I’m putting my book away, in the diaper bag, and pulling out a package of Baby Mum-Mums that I opened yesterday, in a different coffee shop, somewhere else in the city, because it still has half a cookie in it, and handing it to this little boy who is sitting in the stroller beside me, his arms taut and quivering with excitement about the rice cookie that I’m placing in his hands, I think: this is the most fun I’ve had reading a book in quite a long while.

It isn’t that Cocksure is such a great novel. It’s entertaining. It does the Richler thing, but with a little extra weirdness, which I appreciate. The reason I enjoyed those two chapters so thoroughly had more to do with the snug fit between that particular book and the little fatherly reverie I had going in Tim Horton’s there. It mattered, it occurred to me, that I was reading an old paperback copy of the novel. This one:

The third printing of the Bantam Edition (1969, twice; 1976) of a novel originally published in 1968. Just look at that cover. And those puffs! This isn’t a book, it’s a time machine. I loved it before I even cracked the spine. The page edges are yellow of course. You know how they smell. And the size. It’s literally a “pocket” book–which is the size that all fiction should be. Little wonder that, reading a book published shortly before I was born, in an edition published shortly after I was born, in a coffee shop with an attitude that feels like 1972, sitting now with my son, soaking it all in, I would find so much pleasure in the old, dirty pocketbook. This is what it feels like to dwell, for a little while, out of time.

And on my way home, after the kid had been fed, and cuddled, and cooed over (this last, by the ladies behind the counter), I got to thinking. When, exactly, did the old pocketbook die?

Whoever masterminded the publishing industry’s shift from pocketbooks to trade paperbacks has a lot to answer for. Why on earth would I want to read an ugly oversized copy of a novel and pay twice the price for my trouble? McClelland & Stewart’s New Canadian Library–which for years has been one of the holdouts, publishing attractive, cheap, pocketbook-sized editions of classic Canadian works–has just this year begun to shift into publishing trade-sized books and charging double what they used to.

Yes, yes, I know why it happened–or some version of the story, anyway. No one was buying books, the internets attacked, or videogames did, or tv, or something, and how could the industry save itself except by charging us double and turning every paperback on the shelves into a dreary-looking Oprah’s Book Club clone with a photo cover of daisies, or food, or a soft focus picture of a human figure running through a field?

Sometimes, when I’m desperate, or forget how it is, I walk into Coles and just stare at the wall of fiction, searching vainly for something that I won’t feel embarassed to pick up, something that doesn’t look like it’s been processed by Martha Stewart’s marketing hacks. And, yes, I realize that there is a terribly gendered dichotomy emerging in my little rant, here, which makes it doubly atrocious that Cocksure is my example of the lost greatness of the pocket paperback.

But it’s too late to go back and start over now. Sometimes, the chips just have to fall where they fall, and if that means running a “shocking, disgusting, scatological, dirty, clever, near-pornographic, funny, embarrassing, nauseating, bewildering, cynical, uninhibited, unruly, unabashed, and very interesting” bit of macho late-sixties provocation up the flagpole to flip the bird to the crummy state of today’s precious trade-dress for popular fiction, well, sometimes that’s just what it means, true believers.

Alpha Flight: The Movie

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Here I was, all ready to get some real work done, and then, who comes along, but that insidious tempter and ne’er-do-well plok!

Never one to back down from a challenge, I’ve assembled the players (all have signed on for three films, ‘natch). Yes, there was some arm-twisting involved, but Canucks Fillion and Polley were gung-ho and gave a hard-sell to some of the holdouts (you can guess who they were). The first film would obviously be some radically abbreviated version of Byrne’s first twelve or fifteen issues, culminating in Mac’s death and hinting at Heather’s assumption of his role as team leader. Because there are so many characters to introduce and assemble, and so much conflict internal to the team already, the villainy in the first film would have to be minimal, and probably linked in some way to nefarious doings at Department H. (Tundra: the government’s secret plan to transform the fabled Canadian wilderness into a megaweapon to protect Canadian interests in the north?) The second and third films… Well, there’s a lot to play with in this toybox, isn’t there?

Guardian (James Hudson) – Nathan Fillion

Who else? Already a Captain, my Captain. And dig the red scarf!

Heather McNeil – Sarah Polley

The most difficult role to cast, since she must be both sexy and nerdy, a background player and also a lead. Yoiks! Polley could do it, though.

Sasquatch (Walter Langkowski) – Russell Crowe

Crowe has already played the brainy/hunky scientist role with aplomb. Bonus: no special effects needed for the Sasquatch “transformation.” His romance with Liv Tyler’s Aurora would rival the Jackman/Janssen chemistry in the X-Men films.

Snowbird (Narya/Anne McKenzie) – Tilda Swinton

To my mind, the only other actor in the running is Uma Thurman, but I like Swinton’s unearthly beauty better for Inuit demi-goddess, Snowbird.

Puck (Eugene Judd) – Peter Dinklage

Dinklage broke out in The Station Agent; as Puck, he’d become a household name. And an action figure.

Shaman (Michael Twoyoungmen) – Michael Spears

This Dances With Wolves actor certainly has the look of a First Nations superhero. A bit young to be Talisman’s father, but hey…it’s the movies.

Talisman (Elizabeth Twoyoungmen) – Q’Orianka Kilcher

The New World star Kilcher (she played Pocahontas opposite Colin Farrell) would make a great Talisman, I think. Only a minor role in this film, but would become a bigger player in future installments of the series.

Northstar (Jean-Paul Beaubier) – Gaspard Ulliel

My criteria were: French pretty-boy who looks like an elf. Success, no?

Aurora (Jeanne-Marie Beaubier) – Liv Tyler

Okay, so she’s not French, but she’s gorgeous enough to fake it. Picture her as the stern Jeanne-Marie, hair up in a bun, librarian glasses. Then… Um, moving on.

Marrina (Marrina Smallwood) – Christina Ricci

I was really stumped by Marrina until I found this picture of Ricci. The round face and big eyes have it, I think. A little yellow-tinting and CGI’d gills, and there you have it.


Duh. And how could I forget? Special appearance by…

Wolverine – Hugh Jackman

Carey’s X-Men, Claremont’s Legacy

In Uncategorized on May 2, 2008 at 3:12 pm

Is it wrong to be enjoying X:Men: Legacy so much? Mike Carey is doing a great job of capturing the classic (good) Claremont feel of the X-Men, minus the mannered dialogue. Scot Eaton is a good regular penciler for the series. And if you squint, you can imagine what those supplementary pages by Gred Land would look like if they had been drawn by, say, John Romita Jr. Two outta three ain’t bad, folks!

Sure, X-Men: Legacy #3 was a bit thin on story from one perspective, but Xavier’s defeat (or escape from) Exodus’s psychic guilt-trip hit all the right buttons–especially on that last page where Xavier walks away from Eric and Karima (and us) speaking with melancholy optimism about failure and second chances–a moral which felt like it had been beamed directly out of Claremont’s brain sometime in the mid-eighties.

And then, for a treat, Carey gives us two epilogues–an ominous one featuring the Hellfire Club and another featuring Rogue, riding into the Australian desert. Why is it that the X-Men always head for the desert? And why does it feel so good when they do? Something about frontiers and outlaws, I suppose. The wonderful thing about the X-Men, when it’s good, is how generically malleable it is. It plays as a Western–it really does. And as science fiction. And as Regency Gothic, etc. I’m dying to see where this book goes and hoping, fervently, that it sticks with its premise of examining the interconnections of X-past and X-present for a long time to come.

Now, can we please just dispense with Greg Land and his writhing, airbrushed ladies?

Massachusetts Academy: The X-Men/American Idol Mash-Up Continues

In Uncategorized on May 1, 2008 at 2:48 am

God help me, there’s more.

In honor of what may just be the most hilarious fuck up in reality TV history this past Tuesday, I humbly present the retrograde FOX TV series that picks up where American Idol’s Young X-Men film leaves off and stars the bottom six of the singing competition’s top twelve.

Delirious over the hit film, but starved for a concept, FOX executives scoured the network’s vaults for failed projects and half-remembered pilots that could be dusted off and polished up anew. And then they found this.

Almost overnight, Massachusetts Academy: The Series was rushed into production, helmed by 90210 wizard Darren Star and a mass of jelly in a mineral bath rumored to be the cloned brain of Joss Whedon, grown by FOX’s ultrasecret Superscience Division from DNA left behind after the Firefly debacle.

This is what we know: Following the near-victory of Apocalypse and his four horsemen over the neophyte Young X-Men in the Fox-Marvel film, a mysterious rival group of young mutants gathers at the elite Massachusetts Academy, now run by the last living representative of a previous generation of X-Men: the X-Man known as…

Amanda Overmyer – Rogue

Escaping from Skrull captivity in the early days of the Secret Invasion, Rogue tracked down and killed her Skrull impersonator. Then, fed up with the angst and turmoil of life with the X-Men, she revved up her Harley and made for the open road. In the wake of the recent Apocalypse fiasco, which was badly bungled by the Young X-Men, she reappeared as Headmistress of the Massachusetts Academy, hoping to train a new, more disciplined generation of mutant superheroes. How? By putting her New Hellions through mutant boot-camp from hell… You think you know pain, Shu-gah? Honey-chile, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!

Chikezie – Cloak

Son of the original Cloak and Dagger and field leader of the New Hellions, Cloak’s mutant connection to the Darkforce Dimension is both a blessing and a curse. A brooding presence, Cloak is haunted by the tragic ending of his parents’ partnership and obsessed with finding his own Dagger. Despite a flirtation with team member Jubilee, Cloak also nurses a secret crush on the Young X-Man Dazzler, whose light-based powers exert a similar attraction.

Kristy Lee Cook – Husk

Tough, serious, and smart, Paige Guthrie II is the youngest of the Guthries’ seventeen children. She is named after her older sister—a former X-Man and member of Generation X who perished giving birth to Young X-Man, Angel. (Although they are nearly the same age, Angel is Husk’s nephew.) Like her older sister, country girl Husk is able to shed her skin at will, revealing a second skin, composed of entirely new material underneath: iron, flint, steel, adamantium, you name it. Recently plagued by excruciating headaches and visions of riding a winged horse in the realm of Norse gods, Husk begins to fear that she has been marked, like former New Mutant Danielle Moonstar, to become an Asgardian Valkyrie.

Ramiele Malubay – Jubilee

Unrelated to the original Jubilee, this mischievous firecracker and karaoke machine hog is a time-lost X-Man from another reality who spent most of her adolescence shopping and dimension-hopping with the New Exiles until Sabretooth “accidentally” left her behind in this reality—literally dropping her on Rogue’s doorstep. Flirts with all the boys, and humors Cloak, but has a major crush on Young X-Man, Wolverine. Like, OMG…!!! MAJOR!!!

David Hernandez – Rictor

The party animal of the group, Rictor is the genetic son of gay parents: the original Rictor and his partner Shatterstar, a neat trick made possible thanks to the genetic manipulations of Mojo‘s minion Spiral and her Body Shoppe. Unbeknownst to him, Spiral is planning a coup and plans to use young Rictor to achieve her victory over the villainous alien television executive Mojo by activating cybernetic controls that she implanted in Rictor’s body when he was just an infant.

Michael Johns – Chamber

A being of pure psionic energy who cannot age because he is no longer really mortal, Chamber was a member of the original Generation X and remains as embittered as ever about the mutant power that destroyed his face from within. At present he is attempting to make contact with Mojo to strike a devil’s bargain. In exchange for betraying the New Hellions and selling them into slavery for the Mojoverse’s televised gladiatorial contests, he hopes to receive a rebuilt version of his original body designed by Mojo’s minion and genetic artist Spiral. Little does he realize just how large the stakes of his betrayal will become when Civil War errupts in the Mojoverse…and within the halls of the Massechusetts Academy…

Because You Demanded It!

In Uncategorized on April 26, 2008 at 7:26 pm

And Better Still…

In Uncategorized on April 26, 2008 at 11:59 am

For Mike Sterling

Final Crisis Shaping Up To Be Even Better Than Expected

In Uncategorized on April 26, 2008 at 10:52 am