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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Comics comments


I bought five comics this week. Let's see what I think of them:

Secret Six #4 -- vs. the Doom Patrol! Apparently in the post Infinite Crisis DCU, the Doom Patrol never sacrificed themselves to save that small town in New England from the Brotherhood of Evil. I guess that's nice. But wait -- where's Ironsides? Okay, I don't know who some of these guys are. I guess that's okay. Oh, look, the Secret Six won because they're sneaky. I guess that's cool. Oh, the chick from Apokolips is screwing Deadshot behind her lesbian lover's back. I guess this is written by Gail Simone. Hey, they need to do a new Mad Hatter HeroClix fig, if he's THIS powerful. That would be cool.

Teen Titans #39 -- Kid Zatara? Zatanna has a cousin? Who're his parents? Why is Robin wearing that stupid ass red costume? There's a teen age Martian Manhunter? Why is Vic Stone's bicep bigger than his head? Isn't Cassie evil? No? Isn't Deathstroke's daughter evil? No? Crazy, then? Who the fuck is Kid Devil? Who the fuck is Bombshell? Where did all these idiotic teenage characters come from? The dumbass Superboy is still dead, though, right? He is? Whew.

Justice League of America #3 -- They stole Vixen's magic totem! Yay! Oooh, Black Lightning's gonna die. Yay! Hal, Dinah, and Roy are in big trouble... bummer. (Still, one EMP arrow and they should be fine.) Just how long are the Big Three going to sit around in a cave looking at pictures, anyway? OhmyGod, it's the Parasite. Shoulda seen THAT coming. Red Tornado's new human body is falling to pieces... I did see THAT coming. Who are they going to give Booster Gold's costume to? Me? That would be cool.

52 #21 -- Wow. Lex Luthor is a dick. I mean, I knew that. But... Lex Luthor is a dick. Makes perfect sense he'd never come up with a way to give people super powers if he couldn't turn them off too, though. And I really like the fact that his new team of super toadies are calling themselves Infinity Inc., because he bought the rights from the Pemberton estate. But I acknowledge, actual fans of Infinity Inc. will probably hate that. But I don't care.

Birds of Prey #97 -- Hey, there's no new Batgirl! That's totally cool. Who's this Blackhawk chick? Okay, I don't care. Wasn't Black Alice the little girl in Shadowpact? I don't care. Why is she dressed up like Dark Wonder Woman? I don't care. Oooh, the dad punched Talia right in the mouth! R'as al Ghul is gonna kick his ass. Hey, the little girl threw them all out of Dayton. They shouldn't care.

Oh, yeah, and we saw The Black Dahlia last night. Without a doubt the most misogynist film I have ever seen -- the climactic moment of heroism for the film's protagonist comes when he shoots down an unarmed woman. There isn't a single likable character in the entire movie -- it is, in fact, completely populated with emotional grotesques. But by far the most demeaning, degraded, despicable characters are the women. Two of them exist only to be victimized by the despicable men around them; the other two are sociopathic killers. Yay, women!

I enjoyed it, more or less absently, since I generally do like film noir period pieces. About halfway through, though, I abruptly realized that all the potential the various characters had was simply going to remain as potential, and they were never going to go through any kind of arc more profound than 'yay, my best friend died, now I can schtupp Scarlett Johanssen', and that, indeed, as Brian dePalma has become more and more competent at exactly recreating various scenes from various Alfred Hitchcock movies, he has sacrificed on that altar every other iota of directorial acumen he ever had, including any ability he may have once had for establishing and then developing characterization.

Dreadful, dreadful film. I really should learn. I mean, when was the last time DePalma did anything worth watching? Was it THE UNTOUCHABLES? Was it that long ago?

Anyway. That's my week in entertainment.

8 Comments:

At 2:30 AM , Anonymous S.M. Stirling said...

Well, you can always read my stuff instead... 8-).

Incidentally, I rather liked "The Black Dahlia" too -- tho' I agree it had serious flaws.

The book is somewhat better.

 
At 9:18 AM , Blogger Highlander said...

S.M.,

Yeah, I am reading CORVALLIS. Reading time around here, with three kids hurtling around like various high velocity orbital bodies, has to be stolen at odd moments. So far, I like it a great deal, but not much has happened as yet... in fact, the Rangers just showed up in Corvallis with their prisoner, and Mathilda was just told her mom would be showing up soon.

I'm still thinking that (whether you reveal it or not) what's going on here is, Nantucket was thrown back to the Bronze Age, while the rest of the modern day world was thrown back considerably further... maybe as much as 50,000 years... and the timeline from our 'present' onward has been replaced by whatever is created from the Island years forward.

This way, the events of the current series will lay the foundations of the mythology that the various native Bronze Agers will still be talking about when the Islanders come along.

It's a neat circle, although I don't know if you'll ever actually be able to confirm it within the books themselves.

I'd expect an Ellroy book to be better than any movie adaptation, although I did like the movie L.A. CONFIDENTIAL quite well, up through the final, obviously test audience and/or studio mandated ten minutes.

I generally stop watching my copy of it right at the moment where the police cars are pulling up outside the old motel, and Ecksley is doing as Dudley advised, and holding up his badge to show he's a cop. At that point, all the character arcs are finished, the morality play is fully resolved with everyone getting what they deserve, all the plotlines are tied up, and the movie is over. The rest of it is just crap.

 
At 12:23 PM , Blogger MJ Norton said...

Four of the five comics on your list are ones I just received late Saturday but haven't gotten to, so I'm saving your comments on those until after I've read them and gotten down some thoughts on them.

The Black Dahlia isn't on my list of movies to see this side of cable, if then, not having much interest in the original case nor confidence in any modern movie to do something very interesting with it.

We're much more likely to get out to see Scorsese's The Departed sometime next weekend. Sure, it's been since '95s Casino when I last really enjoyed Scorsese's work, though so much of what he's been doing since then has been documentaries, and I've yet to see The Aviator. The most recent sampling for me was Gangs of New York, and that failed to hold my interest; the subject matter deserved much better than it received.

 
At 12:43 PM , Blogger CalvinPitt said...

I know the previous Teen Titans story arc involved the Doom Patrol, and it made it clear the Brotherhood did try to blow them up on an island, and at the very least they killed Elasti-Girl (with Caulder bringing her back, somehow).

Of course, there also seem to be hints that Caulder caused the accidents that made most of the orignal Doom patrol, which is apparently something from Grant Morrison's tenure with the characters.

Kid Devil is some former kid sidekick of Blue Devil that has had 'meta-human gene manipulation' (direct quote from Niles Caulder from the aforementioned storyline).

As for all these teenage versions of characters, I don't know what's going on. The simplest explanation is that it's "New Earth", and so anything goes. Frankly, I've got little use for any of them, although Kid Devil's earnest desire to be a hero - to be a Titan - when nobody really seems to want to be is kind of endearing.

As for Cassie, I guess she's straightened herself out since 52. As for Robin's costume, well it's like the one he wore on one of the Batman cartoons, plus the darker colors probably signify that he's becoming more like Batman, which is pretty funny when you consider he's said repeatedly since before Identity Crisis that he didn't want to become Batman. But DC went ahead and made him an orphan for Wayne to adopt, so I guess he's sunk. And I want to know how Deathstroke's daughter gets to be a hero, but Cassandra Cain is now like a more evil version of the Punisher, to the point she tried to kill Robin when he tried to stop her from killing her master assassin father. I feel physically ill now.

And yeah, Superboy is still dead, although Robin is trying to make another through a cloning experiment. Where Robin picked up that expertise, I don't know.

 
At 1:32 PM , Blogger Tony Collett said...

I haven't read this week's 52 yet, but I thought the same thing after reading the latest Amazing Spider-Man, since Tony Stark gave Peter that ugly-ass Iron Spider costume.
As for The Black Dahlia, I knew Tammy wanted to see it, and I hate when I read a bad review of a film I look forward to seeing, so I kept quiet. It seems like a good summary of the film would end with "oh yeah, they found this dead body cut in half in a field." Also, as you alluded to, DePalma is once again trying to be Hitchcock, which to paraphase a scene in Black Adder Goes Forth:
DePalma "I love film, and want to direct like Alfred Hitchcock so badly."
Blackadder "Well, Brian, you've certainly succeeded. Directing like Hitchcock hasn't been done so badly since Gus VanSant in redoing Psycho shot for shot, thought 'why don't I add a scene of Norman Bates masturbating?'"
(the weird thing is the above analogy is true. Usually Blackadder's analogies are humorous speculation ie. in the quote I cribbed from he said "There hasn't been a war fought so badly since Baron Von Richtofften ordered battle helmets with the pointy tops on the inside")
I was curious about what you thought of the usage of Conrad Veidt's The Man Who Laughs, especially since legend has it that was the inspiration for the Joker?

 
At 4:39 PM , Blogger Highlander said...

Mike,

Yeah, I probably should have put a 'spoilers' tag on the comics stuff. I don't think I discussed too many actual plot details, though.

I do want to see THE DEPARTED, but, well, I'm afraid I will re-learn the exact same lesson as I just re-learned about DePalma. Still, Nicholson looks interesting in the movie.

Calvin,

I believe in INFINITE CRISIS, or one of the tie ins, it was established that somehow, Rita Farr had now never died in the new timeline. Garr was very surprised by it. As to the Teen Titans, if they'd just dump Cyborg and stop searching for Raven, I'd enjoy the book wholeheartedly.

Tony --

Yeah, dePalma has mastered the style, but has no grasp on the substance underlying it. Early on in his career, he had some ability to do characterization, but he's long since jettisoned all of that so he can focus more and more and more on being able to dress, light, and block a shot EXACTLY the way Hitch did. I suppose in a way it's like a strange sympathetic magic ritual -- he figures, if he can just duplicate the forms, then he'll get the function and his movies will be just as good as the master's. But it don't work like that... unfortunately for all of us.

 
At 1:08 PM , Anonymous The always esteemed Scott said...

Dreadful, dreadful film. I really should learn. I mean, when was the last time DePalma did anything worth watching? Was it THE UNTOUCHABLES? Was it that long ago?

I dunno, FEMME FATALE wasn't terrible.
I would agree with most everything you said regarding BLACK DAHLIA. I would just add that DePalma doesn't help his cause with his absolutely *atrocious* casting.
Josh Hartnett's idea of emoting is to press his lips together really hard, and excuse me, but *Hilary Swank* as a femme fatale is simply absurd. There's a reason her best roles were as a cross dresser and a female boxer.

Oh, the chick from Apokolips is screwing Deadshot behind her lesbian lover's back.

Damn, comics have changed a bit since I was a regular reader. I am now officially old. :(

 
At 12:38 PM , Blogger Highlander said...

Scott,

I dunno, FEMME FATALE wasn't terrible.

Well, no... just pointless, once you realize that the bulk of the film was a split second delusion.

I would agree with most everything you said regarding BLACK DAHLIA. I would just add that DePalma doesn't help his cause with his absolutely *atrocious* casting.
Josh Hartnett's idea of emoting is to press his lips together really hard, and excuse me, but *Hilary Swank* as a femme fatale is simply absurd. There's a reason her best roles were as a cross dresser and a female boxer.


Hilary can be a babe. I actually regard her best role as being the second Karate Kid. And I think her very angular features worked well for the more or less androgynous character she was playing.

>>Oh, the chick from Apokolips is screwing Deadshot behind her lesbian lover's back.

Damn, comics have changed a bit since I was a regular reader. I am now officially old. :(

Yes, they have. And yes, you are. ;)

 

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