Thursday, October 26, 2006

New comics 10/25/06

More detailed thoughts on Action Comics #844 (written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner, drawn by Adam Kubert) are over at this week’s Grumpy Old Fan. In a nutshell: a solid first issue, but a little more restrained than I would have expected from the director who almost blew up Lois Lane and most of Paris. Also, the father/son motif wasn’t very subtle.

I liked the fact that I could follow Planetary #26 (written by Warren Ellis, drawn by John Cassaday) without having read an issue for a few months. (Seems like I did read most of the series late in the summer.) It was a decent, understated wrap-up to the overarching plot, and I think the series will really be made by next issue’s epilogue. I did like the fact that the returning character is a pastiche of a particular kind of comic-book innocence.

Another penultimate issue is Secret Six #5 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Brad Walker, inked by Jimmy Palmiotti). By picking up right from last issue’s bedroom-centered cliffhanger, it puts #4's fight with the Doom Patrol in a better context of the overall story. #5 also explains just what is going on with the Mad Hatter, and it’s kind of creepy. This means a return to Naked Hatter, but this time (in other parts of the issue) most of the rest of the cast is naked too. Oh, and they fight Vandal Savage’s men, and Dr. Psycho, but after they put some clothes on. Looking forward to the conclusion.

52 #25 (written and drawn by a whole lot of people) presents more supervillain cannibalism (see also Secret Six #4), and a couple of puzzling questions -- like, how did D-list villain Magpie get to be a Gotham mob boss (Mobbess?); and why kill Kite-Man? Otherwise, it’s Halloween on DC-Earth, so the Black Marvel Family shoves Mary and Junior out of the way to take down Sabbac, and Ralph Dibny learns not to cross Neron like poor Felix Faust did. I particularly enjoyed the origin of Nightwing, by Mark Waid and George Pérez, and it just confirms for me that Dick should be the star of Waid and Pérez’s Brave and the Bold relaunch.

Speaking of Nightwing, Captain America #23 (written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Mike Perkins) focuses on the Winter Soldier, a/k/a Bucky Barnes, now pretty lucid and interacting with the holographic Nick Fury. (I’m not up on Nick’s current status -- is he broadcasting from the secret undisclosed spider-hole, or is he one with the Force?) Anyway, the more I see of Bucky, the more I wish DC would get its act together on Nightwing and Robin. Of course, Brubaker has the advantage of seeing what DC’s done with Nightwing and Robin ... but I digress. Another good issue, in which Bucky and Obi-Nick talk politics while blowing things up and hurting people. Also, a very exciting Special Guest Villain joins the Red Skull to take advantage of the Civil War fallout.

Nextwave #9 (written by Warren Ellis, drawn by Stuart Immonen) features the secret origins of ... well, it’s kind of like when Dan Slott did that Hostess Fruit Pie ad in the middle of the Spider-Man/Human Torch miniseries. Really funny, as always, but thanks to low sales and Ultimate Spider-Man, there are only three more issues before it shuffles off to occasional miniseries limbo. At least there’s the "occasional" part.

However, the best of the week is the very Nextwave-esque Superman/Batman Annual #1 (written by Joe Kelly, pencilled by Ed McGuinness, Carlos Meglia, and some others), a very over-the-top look at how the World’s Finest learned each other’s secret identities. Usually when DC tries to be wacky -- and especially in this title, as with Jeph Loeb and "Batzarro" -- it ends up being painfully unfunny, but not here, no sir. In fact, this almost parodies Loeb’s last storyline, what with its visitors from parallel universes and all. I was really not expecting this issue to be so good, and I hope this turns into an "annual" (sorry) tradition.
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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New comics 10/18/06

Four No. 1s this week, so let's get going:

Somewhere I actually have a copy of What If #105, the issue that introduced May "Spider-Girl" Parker, but I never read the character again until Amazing Spider-Girl #1 (written by Tom DeFalco, pencilled by Ron Frenz, co-plotted by them, and inked by Sal Buscema). It's not hard to figure out what's going on, although there is the usual alt-future game of "where are they now?" In this case the future takes off from the standard Spider-Man setup, so there's not too much of a learning curve. I like Ron Frenz well enough, but here his figures and faces seem a little more angular and skinny, and it's a little distracting. Also, I halfway expected a more traditional done-in-one approach to this first issue, and while ASG #1 isn't decompressed, it still doesn't feel quite whole. Not sure if I'm coming back next month.

A lot of bloggers seem frustrated with The Authority #1 (written by Grant Morrison, drawn by Gene Ha), but I kind of liked it. It reminded me of Morrison's JLA Classified #1, which similarly spent most of its pages on something other than the Justice League. I've read the first couple of Authority paperbacks, so I'm a bit more familiar with the book, but didn't have much of an expectation going into this issue, and that might have helped. A good cliffhanger has me eager for #2, assuming I won't have lost interest in two months.

WildCats #1 (written by Grant Morrison, pencilled by Jim Lee, inked by Scott Williams) was about as busy and plugged-in as The Authority was disconnected, and honestly, it was a little disorienting. I don't mind massive infodumps generally, but this felt like I was missing a layer of references. Again, I'm moderately familiar with these characters, but not that much. I might get the paperback.

The Omega Men #1 (written by Andersen Gabrych, drawn by Henry Flint) did the most to get me looking forward to issue #2. It set up the threat, introduced the characters, put them in trouble, and left me hanging. It did take me a few pages to figure out that the flaming figure was Ryand'r and not Auron, and the choreography of the last big action sequence wasn't as clear as it could have been, but maybe I just read too quickly.

Back in the land of higher numbers, 52 #24 (written by Four Non Blondes, breakdowns by Keith Giffen, pencils by Phil Jiminez, inks by Andy Lanning) was spoiled somewhat by the revelation in Firestorm that his new JLA wouldn't get very far. Evil Skeets and his army of pirates and cyborgs was the kind of crazy I like, though. If this were my first issue of 52, I'd want to see the rest pronto. Also, Ambush Bug's room-service call was worth the $2.50.

Secret Six #4 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Brad Walker, inked by Jimmy Palmiotti) was a couple of weeks late getting to me, but it does get me ready for #5 coming out tomorrow. Most of it is the big fight with the Doom Patrol, which is what got me to pick up this series to begin with, but in context I'm not quite sure what purpose it served. The main plot focuses on the relationship between Scandal and her dad, and that's creepy enough -- especially the opening dinner, which (yes) I read while eating. Thanks, DC!

Like it or not, I think I'm committed to Flash: Fastest Man Alive (#5 written by Danny Bilson & Paul DeMeo, pencilled by Ron Adrian, inked by Alex Lei and Rob Lea) through the first twelve issues, or at least long enough to confirm that Bart will, indeed, be the long-term Flash. Jay Garrick's in danger, but DC won't kill him, so that's hardly suspenseful. This issue also brings back Inertia, apparently Impulse's evil twin, whose relationshp to Bart could have more ramifications for that long-term situation. That assumes Bilson & DeMeo have a plan, though. If they do, that could redeem what has been very lackluster execution so far.

Birds Of Prey #99 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by James Raiz, inked by Robin Riggs) finishes up the Batgirl/weird Turkish assassin story from last issue (and probably before, although I only read last issue) and sets up the big changes in issue #100. With Black Canary's departure (for the JLA, I presume) capping off this issue, I get the feeling that more of a history with this book would have produced the desired emotional response. Still, I did like the interplay between the principals, and I'm eager to see #100's changes. After that, who knows?

Checkmate #7 (written by Greg Rucka, Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir, pencilled by Cliff Richards, inked by Bob Wiacek & Dan Green) finishes the Suicide Squad story and, apparently, the first paperback. I think the best byproduct of this story is the firm re-establishment of Amanda Waller as her old manipulative self. The rest, including one villain's flexible approach to her late husband's memory, is just gravy. Overall, a very attractive issue, with the art being a little better defined. This creative team tends to work together a lot, and I wouldn't mind seeing it in these pages more regularly.

1602: Fantastick Four #2 (written by Peter David, pencilled by Pascal Alixe, inked by Livesay) gets the action going in earnest, bringing the Four together and setting them against Doom. The art reminds me of Keith Giffen, with its thin lines and "puffy" (for lack of a better term) figures, and that's not bad. David has a bit of fun with the 17th-century setting, as you'd expect. He turns Johnny Storm into Dorrie Evans' stalker and Doom into a Shakespeare fanboy, even going so far as to have Doom adopt a Shakespearean pun-laden speaking style.

Finally, Batman and the Mad Monk #3 (by Matt Wagner) was definitely the best of the week. As Julie Madison gets sucked into Dala and the Monk's clutches, Batman gets to be just as spooky and intimidating. Wagner does a lot with just the characters' eyes -- the Monk's are penetrating and eerie, Julie's are wide and anxious, Bruce's are thoughtful, and Batman's are blank and menacing. I can't quite see how Wagner will work the Batplane into this (it was introduced in the original story), but that's about the only negative this miniseries seems to have.
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Thursday, October 19, 2006

A to Z with the Justice League

Inspired by Scott (but not nearly as funny), here's an A-B-C for the Justice League.

A is for Aztek, Grant Morrison's fave;
B for Big Barda, Apokolips babe;
C is for Crimson Fox, sexy French twins;
D is for Doctor Fate, both her and him;
E is for stretchy Elongated Man;
F is for Fire, who's Bra-zil-i-an;
G is for Gypsy, the camouflaged teen;
H is for Hawkman -- his hist'ry's unclean;
I is for Ice (Maiden), killed in a stunt;
J is for J'Onn J'Onnz, he of the manhunt;
KooeyKooeyKooey gives our list its K;
L is for Max Lord -- who knew that he'd stray?
M is for Maxima, just like the car;
N is for Nuklon's unfortunate hair;
O is for Oracle, smarter than you;
P is for Power Girl, from Krypton-2;
Q's for The Question, conspiracy-mad;
R is for Rocket Red, husband and dad;
Superman's coming -- look up in the sky!
T is for Triumph, whose fame was denied;
U is for Ultraa, alone on Earth-Prime;
V is for Vibe, who gave up gangs and crime;
W is Wonder Woman, symbol of hope;
X is for Xotar, a time-trav'ling dope;
Y for the Yazz -- it's too bad that he's gone;
and Z's for Zatanna: won ym s'meop enod!
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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

New comics 10/11/06

I really liked 52 #23 (written by Them!, breakdowns by It!, pencilled by Drew Johnson, inked by Ray Snyder). I liked the island of mad scientists, I liked the Cult of Cain, and I especially liked the fakeout perpetrated by the cover. This is not to say I don't think Isis will make it to Week 53 alive, but at least for now everybody's happy. I had also missed Drew Johnson since he vanished from the pages of Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman a while back -- he's a good, solid artist, and he'd be a fine addition to 52's rotation.

Unlike last week, when Atom's spotlight on the digestive system put me off my salad, somehow I knew not to read Tales of the Unexpected #1 while eating. The Spectre lead (written by David Lapham, pencilled by Eric Battle, inked by Prentis Rollins) was sufficiently gory and filled with ironic punishments, but it seemed to take a while to get to the point and it wasn't as philosophical -- even indirectly -- as the recent miniseries. On the other hand, the Dr. Thirteen story (written by Brian Azzarello, drawn by Cliff Chiang) was a neat start to what looks like an enjoyable little arc. Yes, the schtick of a guy who doesn't believe in any of the fantastic things happening all around him strains credulity (appropriately enough), but this story was funny and I'd like to see more.

I think I may have mentioned my difficulties distinguishing between the two warring sides in the latest JLA Classified arc (#28 written by Howard Chaykin, pencilled by Kilian Plunkett, inked by Tom Nguyen), but I'm not that concerned about it. The zippy Chaykin dialogue really propels this story, driving home the point that the JLA needs to lie low and keep out of what can't be a good situation. Of course, the plot keeps entangling the League more and more, so that by the end of the issue, everybody's in some kind of costume, even if they're not very colorful. I have to wonder too if Superman's disguise is meant to reference Neo explicitly....

Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #30 (written by Stuart Moore, pencilled by Jamal Igle and Stephen Sadowski, inked by Keith Champagne) finds part of our happy little band attempting to infiltrate Hewitt Industries, while Jason and Gehenna check out a Hewitt lab out in the jungle. However, it all starts with a One Year Earlier prologue featuring Lorraine's announcement that she's running for Congress, and it made me wonder -- will her unabashed liberalism spark a flurry of angry letters to the editor ("Keep your politics out of my funnybook!"), or does it have so few readers that they wouldn't do anything to jeopardize its health? Anyway, that only lasts for a few pages, and the rest is some genial skullduggery on the part of Lorraine, Martin, and Mikhail, compared to some sweet-but-slightly-creepy flirting between Jason (who's 19) and Gehenna (who has the body and mind of a 17-year-old but who's chronologically only 6). I don't see this book on DC's January schedule, and I hope it's just a temporary hiatus.

Green Lantern Corps #5 (written and pencilled by Dave Gibbons, inked by Michael Bair) focuses on Guy's shore-leave misadventure, but takes an abrupt turn away from it to put Guy in the middle of another assignment, on a living-city planetoid with a newbie Lantern. The issue also catches up with some other ongoing subplots, including Soranik Natu getting some closure thanks to Mogo. That last contains an unfortunate visual transition from Mogo's globe to Soranik's ... globe. It could have been just a Watchmen-inspired pun, but it's still disturbing. Anyway, I'm interested to see how, or even whether, Gibbons will draw these threads together. I was looking forward to Guy pounding on Bolphunga once he got his ring back, and I got something else entirely.

Finally, it's a few weeks late (for me, at least), but She-Hulk #12 (written by Dan Slott, pencilled by Rick Burchett, inked by Cliff Rathburn) was pretty good. If you've read it, you know about the climactic revelation, so I'll just say that Slott and Burchett (and Rathburn too) are very complementary, much like Slott and Ty Templeton were on Spider-Man/Human Torch. Also, the revelation was explained so well that even I, the casual Marvel reader, could appreciate it.
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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New comics 10/4/06

Yeah, yeah, I should have done these over the weekend, but 1) most of my family came to visit, and 2) TEN INCHES OF RAIN on Friday and Saturday.

I did like 52 #22 (written by You-Know-Who, breakdowns by Him Again?, pencils by Eddy Barrows, inks by Rob Stull) and its focus on Doc Magnus doing science-fu to get away from the bad guys. The Luthor/Supernova bit at the beginning was okay, I suppose, but I'm getting a little bored with the mini-mysteries. Also, whither Batwoman?

Actually, she does warrant a mention in this week's Detective Comics (#824 written by Paul Dini, pencilled by Don Kramer, inked by Wayne Faucher), featuring the return of the Penguin. Add in the Riddler, Zatanna, and Lois Lane, and it's practically a Marvel book, or maybe a Jeph Loeb one. It's a cute story overall, and I guess with the Penguin it's hard not to be cute on some level. Kramer and Faucher are fine Bat-artists -- nothing flashy, which again fits the story's attitude. I did wonder if Zatanna had dislocated her hip in a couple of panels, though.

The (All-New) Atom #4 (written by Gail Simone, inked by Trevor Scott) welcomes new penciller Eddy Barrows for a transitional story between last issue's Giganta cliffhanger and a new direction about how Ray Palmer's quantum experiments turned Ivy Town into a weirdness factory. I liked this issue well enough, but I will say that in light of its emphasis on Giganta's digestive system, reading it while eating dinner was a mistake. Still, Ryan Choi gets to do some traditionally Atom-style heroics, and the bit about Ivy Town's different neighborhoods should be good for several months' worth of stories. Art was fine -- Barrows, like Don Kramer above, isn't too flashy, and I agree with other bloggers who see a certain "DC house style" developing. Barrows is no John Byrne, but neither is he *John Byrne!*, if you know what I mean.

I picked up Nightwing #125 for Marv Wolfman's big return to the character (with Dan Jurgens pencilling and Norm Rapmund inking), and got a perfectly serviceable superhero story about ... really, a guy who flips and swings around Manhattan fighting a flying bad guy in battle armor, and then having to explain his bruises to the hott women throwing themselves at him. Typing that out makes it sound like an old-school Daredevil issue, and really, it maybe could have been. Except for some bits about Bruce Wayne and an intriguing meta notion that Dick should have died in Infinite Crisis, nothing about this seemed unique to Nightwing. More to the point, it didn't feel like Marv Wolfman telling us readers why we should see Nightwing as more than a Daredevil knockoff. I'm going to give Marv a chance, but come on -- for years the book was I Don't Want To Be Batman and now it's Generic Acrobatic Guy? There's gotta be a happy medium.

So, Marvel still publishes Fantastic Four, huh? FF #540 (written by J. Michael Straczynski, drawn by Mike McKone) apparently fills in some Civil War gaps to chronicle the no-takebacks breakup of the Richards' marriage, and also Reed's misguided attempts to set Peter Parker on the right law-abiding path. If you're reading the rest of CW, maybe it means something, but like last issue's crossover, it just leaves me a little cold. I don't feel like JMS has laid the groundwork for the breakup sufficiently in this book, so that although the senses-shattering events of CW might have blindsided the team, they still should be understandable to the readers. Also, I'm sure I'm not the first person to point this out, but this is the guy who stole a rocketship all those years ago, now lecturing his colleagues on the importance of the Rule of Law? I can see Reed's current point, and the guilt backing it up, but I think he'd find it easier to live in a world where sometimes you gotta steal the rocketship.

Beyond! (#4 written by Dwayne McDuffie, drawn by Scott Kolins) and Agents of Atlas (#3 written by Jeff Parker, pencilled by Leonard Kirk, inked by Kris Justice) both continue to be bewilderingly fun comics. I'm sure they are more enjoyable the more Marvel knowledge you have, but I like them just the same. I'm reserving more comment until I have more time to read them all in a lump.

Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man #20 (written by Peter David, pencilled by Mike Norton, inked by Norman Lee) is the big Hawkeye/Frankenstein Halloween issue, and it works out about as well as you'd expect. I don't remember any "Hawkeye is dead" jokes, which tells me that the book really is intended for the continuity-challenged. It's all a bunch of smartaleck comments and "hey, nice costume!" gags instead, and it comes together pretty well.

Finally, I picked up Criminal #1 (written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Sean Phillips), and I really don't think I devoted enough time to it. I liked it well enough, although hard-boiled noir is not exactly my most favorite genre. I found the beginning a little hard to get into (specifically, trying to see if the narration was supposed to match the pictures) but maybe I was trying too hard. Still, I like Brubaker and Phillips, and I liked Sleeper, so we'll see. It certainly seems like it will reward multiple readings.
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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New comics 9/28/06

Picking up a spare from last week, here's Checkmate #6 (written by Greg Rucka, Nunzio DeFilippis, and Christina Weir, pencilled by Cliff Richards, inked by Dan Green), the first part of a Suicide Squad reunion. To my eternal shame, I have read exactly two Squad stories -- the JLI crossover, and the "What About Ray Palmer?" arc -- so that probably dulled some of the emotional impact for me. Yes, I know it was the height of badassery. Filled with shame, remember? Still, even I thought this was a pretty decent comic. It juggled the book's ongoing subplots, brought readers up to speed on the Squad, and wove the two together with the aftermath of Villains United. That's pretty ambitious, but the book keeps it all straight for the most part. The same isn't true for the art and coloring, which are still a bit muddy. With all the sneaking around and fighting, the choreography gets a bit confused. It's a bit hard to work up sympathy for a group of fairly unrepentant villains, so I suppose we're supposed to be concerned about whether the Squadders will sink Waller.

Justice League of America #2 (written by Brad Meltzer, pencilled by Ed Benes, inked by Sandra Hope) was frustratingly good. I enjoyed it overall, but some parts creeped me out (Red Tornado sex?!?) or didn't make sense. The latter includes an exchange about how former Leaguer Dr. Light, who shares a name and costume with a rapist the League mindwiped, would "scare" criminals. There's an innocuous explanation, apparently, but it involves knowing these characters' shared history, which I didn't, and which I especially wouldn't expect the new readers sucked in by Meltzer's novelist cred to know. The other bit of "huh?" is the continuing fantasy-football draft the Big Three are holding in the Batcave while, apparently, the rest of the putative League is assembling itself.

Superman is, of course, intimately involved in the assemblage of a rag-tag bunch of combat-happy Joes over in Action Comics #843 (written by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, drawn by Pete Woods). Once I got past the unfortunate use of slang on the cover, which is charming in the manner of a well-meaning mistranslation, I enjoyed the inside. Busiek's hero-worship stories are mostly effective, albeit unsubtle, but with Superman it seems appropriate. Besides, it's not just making people feel better about Superman -- as we're often reminded, Superman is supposed to uplift everyone else as well. Accordingly, hugs all around, or at least a laurel and hearty handshake from POTUS. Now, on to Geoff Johns and Richard Donner.

Hugs are in short supply in Batman #657 (written by Grant Morrison, pencilled by Andy Kubert, inked by Jesse Delperdang), which recovers nicely from a somewhat disorienting opening -- didn't we end last issue with Batman captured by Talia? -- to tell a very fun story about Damien's competition with Robin. The cynic in me doesn't expect Damien to stick around past next issue, and that's a shame, because the kid carries a lot of insight into his dad's childhood. This includes the notion, advanced countless times in the past twenty years, that Bruce became Batman the moment his parents were murdered. Granted, Damien is more a teenage Azrael than a teenage Batman at this point, but Morrison has crafted a very pulpy adventure infused with darkly funny sitcommish moments. By showing that Batman can turn his "scary face" off and on at will, Morrison gets to what I think is one of the great unexplored elements of the character's personality -- the concept of "Batman" itself as posturing, even theater. The phrase "created a monster" seems especially apt....

And that's a good segue into 52 #21 (written by GGGM, breakdowns by Keith Giffen, pencilled by Joe Bennett, inked by Jack Jadson), showcasing Lex Luthor's new team of homegrown heroes. I'm not sure I got a lot out of this issue beyond also wanting Trajectory to be the new Kid Flash, and enjoying Ralph and the Fate-Helmet's trip into Lovecraft-Ditko land. It was well-executed, but it just kind of left me cold.

Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #21 (written by Mark Waid and Tony Bedard, pencilled by Barry Kitson and Adam DeKraker, inked by Rob Stull) was fun, showing Karate Kid's strategery at romance. A subplot with Sun Boy's new team against a Super-Skru-- er, Super-Dominator looks promising too.

And speaking of fun, Batman and the Mad Monk #2 (written and drawn by Matt Wagner) was just as good as I'd hoped. Mix lurid cult activity with schoolgirl outfits and it's not just a recipe for increased Google traffic, it's a roadmap to a p.o.'ed Batman when Dala and her boss get their claws into Julie Madison in a couple of issues. Batman spends most of this issue detecting and having foreshadowing conversations with Harvey Dent, but the last page promises a beatdown. I'll definitely be there when it arrives.

Looking at the human-sacrifice pages of Mad Monk made me wonder how Howard Chaykin would have handled that story, and I'm not just saying that to transition into Hawkgirl #56 (written by Walter Simonson, drawn by Chaykin). It's Chaykin's last issue, so it wraps up the oddly-sexualized-villain plot that's been meandering through the book since this team took over. Basically Hawkgirl flies around fighting said villains and trying to save the Steve Trevor-figure from being eaten by them. I think I finally get Simonson and Chaykin's over-the-top take on this book, so I'm giving next month a chance, mainly because both of them together produced a dissonance that they wouldn't have separately. In other words, with a less flashy artist, I think Simonson's pulpish tendencies would be complementary.

Finally, Captain America #22 (written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Mike Perkins) does a lot of good with its Civil War setup. Basically Sharon Carter has to choose between her loyalty to SHIELD and her lurve for Cap, and while that might sound rather tired, it's handled well. It's the focus of this issue, but one senses it's not the point of this little CW-related arc, especially with the Red Skull still lurking. Also, Cap and Sharon have a "serious talk" that begins with them on a rooftop and ends with clothes being put back on, which as it turns out completed this week's trifecta of superhero sex (creepy fleshy Tornado sex in JLA and Bat-Sex implied in this month's Mad Monk). Unfortunately, Cap doesn't get to then fight SHIELD troopers in faux-Iron Man armor. Maybe next issue.
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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Night of the Living Book Meme

This is an old meme, but Plok got tagged in August while he was on vacation, so he didn't tag me until last week. Also, just for the heck of it, I'm sticking to print-only books. Enjoy the nostalgia!

One book that changed your life:

Honestly, the Bible -- and if you want to hear more about that, let me know -- but on a less macro level, it's a tie. Both Michael Fleisher's Encyclopedia of Comic-Book Heroes, Volume 1: Batman and David Gerrold's The World Of Star Trek examine, in different ways, the effects of details on a serial work. (Kind of like a Bible commentary, come to think of it....) I devoured both at an early age, when my brain was eager to make sense of all sorts of things. With the combination of Gerrold's intellectualism and the Fleisher book's nitpicking, in hindsight it was inevitable I'd be on a site like this talking about these books.

One book you've read more than once:

The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe. Man, I love this book, from its epic sweep to its use of language and its undeniable wit. I probably read it every other year, and it never loses any of its power.

One book you would want on a desert island:

I'm probably cheating by counting The Lord of the Rings as one book, but that's how it was written, right? (The Hobbit would be pushing it, and The Silmarillion would be right out.) Please forgive the nerdiness of this choice. It's dense enough to withstand multiple readings and back-to-front analyses, so it'd keep me busy whiile I fought off polar bears and looked for that stupid hatch....

One book that made you laugh:

Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In, by John "Joe Bob Briggs" Bloom. I feel certain that most folks reading this are familiar with Joe Bob's particular brand of redneck criticism, but it was never as potent as in this first book. Blending B-movie reviews with satire, a lurid personal life, and people who just didn't get the joke, Joe Bob showed that sometimes all you want to know is the amount of boobs, blood, and twitching dead bodies. I don't know if it's still in print, but it's worth the search just for the Terminator review. Tom says check it out.

One book that made you cry:

Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillenbrand. It's a sappy story, but at the same time Hillenbrand tells it with convincing vigor. Even the high points carry with them the creeping dread of tragedy just around the corner. Those tragic parts didn't make me misty, though -- it was the end. Knowing that the players endured so much, and achieved so much, and feeling their joys and pains, I was sorry to see them just fade away. At the same time, I was glad to have shared, however indirectly, in their amazing stories.

One book you wish you had written:

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon. Actually, I want to write the Silver Age account of K&C's lives. Chabon did such a great job fitting their stories to the arc of the Golden Age, I was waiting for the return of the Flash and the birth of the Fantastic Four to breathe new life into their comics careers.

One book you wish had never been written:

I'm not really a hater, so this was not an easy as you'd think. I guess it would be The Bridges Of Madison County, by Robert James Waller. Had it never been written, I would never have been tempted to read it, in a so-bad-it-must-be-good mindset. Actually, this booby prize should probably go to its wretched follow-up, Slow Waltz in Cedar Bend, which I was sure had to be so bad, etc. No, it was just bad.

One book you are currently reading:

Thunderball, by Ian Fleming. To prepare for every new Bond film, I watch all the existing ones in order; but since Casino Royale is the last Fleming book to be "officially" adapted, I decided to re-read all the Fleming novels (and short story collections) as well. Thunderball is also a kind of nexus of literary and filmed Bond, being (I think) the last book published before the movies hit.

One book you have been meaning to read:

For about ten years I've been meaning to finish Godel, Escher, Bach, by Douglas R. Hofstadter. It's a meditation on (probably grossly oversimplifying this) repetitive structures and how they relate to Bach fugues, Escher drawings, computers, and Lewis Carroll. Maybe next vacation, if The Right Stuff doesn't tempt me first.

I feel like everyone else has been tagged by this point, so if Carla, Marc, Johnny, Vincent, and Iamza are interested (and apologies if you've already done it), knock yourselves out!

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