Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Webcomic Highlight: Dresden Codak

Dresden Codak does not work like other comics, or even other webcomics. It's in it's own little universe filled with theoretical science, high minded philosophy, and silly slapstick humor. In a big way, it's impossible to summarize, since before the current storyline, there was no emphasis on storylines, only concepts. So this Highlight is a quick hit because I don't know if I can do it justice. The writing is charming and intelligent, the art is attractive and expressive, the science is fun, and you really feel like you have a budding writer evolving as you read.
Another good reason to go read it now is the fact that the archives are short. It's been around for a while, but Codak himself is a student, and so there are often delays between comics; sometimes updates are a month apart. So keep it bookmarked, and check it every so often. It's a reading experience you won't regret.


Movie Trailer Madness: The Incredible Hulk

Is it bad that I can tell more or less the entire story from this trailer? Banner on the run, hating the Hulk inside him, society hating Hulk even more, Blonsky becomes the Abomination, people see how much worse Hulk could be, then Hulk saves them, and enjoys some popularity, and Banner accepts that the Hulk can be a force for good, and runs off at the end to continue to try to control it. They even got the license for the piano music from the T.V. show.
This isn't a criticism, though. The plotting of a Hulk story isn't where the depth comes from; it's the psychology and build-up, while the story mostly ends with Hulk hitting things and Banner running away. Also, they're obviously pulling some cool moments from all over Hulk continuity, like the Banner-into-Hulk air drop from The Ultimates. So I'm looking forward to it (it comes out the day before my birthday, and I always loved the Hulk), but I don't expect to be surprised.

Movie Trailer Madness: The Spirit

Frank Miller's Will Eisner's The Spirit. Damn it movie, what do you want from me? Yes I enjoyed Sin City, but that's because that's a faithful adaptation. No I don't want The Spirit to be Sin City 2, I can wait for that. Yes I like the casting you've got. No, I don't want them to all either be "badasses" or "whores" (Frank, you really need to work on this one). Yes I like the fact that The Spirit is having a resurgence, but a big part of that is Darwyn Cooke's version, which is true to Eisner's original vision. Oh, and it has colors. No, really. You can do that in a crime-based movie.
Now, I understand that Sin City was a gold mine, and 2 is in development hell due to actor disputes and schedule problems, but that's no excuse to take something that is an artistic work in its own right and make it into a "holdover" for something else by betraying the heart of the work. Now, I'll admit that this is a fairly abstract trailer, and the finished product might be something completely different. But I wouldn't put money on it. Not when I saw that all black "movie version" Spirit figure at NYCC.
Regardless, here's the trailer. Make your own decision.

Movie Trailer Madness: The Dark Knight

Now, it should be no surprise that I'm excited about the next Batman movie. While this time around Nolan doesn't have a comic to pull from (Begins was basically Year One: the backstory heavy edition), he is making some parallels to other films (he's referenced Heat as an inspiration in interviews). The fact that he said that brings up what I feel is an interesting point. Is it that different to make a superhero movie compared to any other kind? Now of course, with Batman, you can address the logical problems of superheroism by explaining his gadgets, but what about someone with powers, specifically ones that would not work in the real world? Could you base a Flash movie on some other film with no fantastic qualities? I'm not sure. Then again, I suppose it depends on the skill of the director and the quality of the script, not the conventions of the genre. What people expect is less important than delivering them a quality story.
Alright; I promised a trailer, so here it is. It's actually a brand new one, from some viral marketing event. The quality is iffy (I suspect camera phone), but the stuff's all there, and it's good.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Best Part

So. Con again. Want to know the best part? I got to meet two writers who are among my all-time favorites; personal heroes of mine for the last few years and probably a good few more. Hell, I even liked them on a social level. I'll tell the stories in chronological order.
I met Darwyn Cooke on Saturday, early afternoon. I had tried in the morning, but the line to meet and get a signature was constantly changing direction, and I have a fervent distaste for strangers touching me, so I left, dejected. When I returned, he was coming back from a lunch break, and I made sure that the newly-forming line was going my way. I jumped through hoops for the right to meet the author/artist of New Frontier, damn it, and I was going to tell him how much I enjoyed his work. When I got to him, some random person (who hadn't been in any line) jumped in ahead of me and began accosting Mr. Cooke about something some other artist had said about commissions. When I (and by the look on his face, Mr. Cooke) had had enough, I politely elbowed the man out of my way, and got one of the things I had literally gone to New York to get.
Meeting Grant Morrison was less annoying, but took longer. I'd attended his Spotlight panel, and waited in various lines for almost two hours, but I got to him. The guy who helped change my perception of comics. He can write a story that explores Hell from the perspective of a Golden Age character gone wrong, or he can do Batman in a self-reflective style that uses things that had been retconned out. He made a joke about Britney Spears. I got a picture of him with me and my girlfriend. And his signature is across my copy of Kid Eternity's cover. And for that, all of the hassles were worth it. Everything else at con was just a bonus.

Con's Great Lesson

So. Comic Con; three days of madness, fanboyism, capitalism, and one really nasty car trip. A ride so bad that by then end people who actually liked one another were so sick of the other's presence... I'm focusing on the wrong part of the story here. The point was the bits in the middle, not the shuttling across four or five states.
Point of fact, I learned very little about upcoming comics events that I didn't already know. I attended part of the Final Crisis panel, but since I'll be buying that only when it finally comes out in trade, I can't say I much care. I was hoping for a panel on the upcoming storylines in Green Lantern, but apparently they wouldn't let Geoff Johns have a room to himself for an hour or so.
Want to know what I did learn quite a bit about? Merchandise. I now know every toy, t-shirt, and video game that Marvel, DC, or Dark Horse will be putting out related to thier comics (Marvel), movies (DC), or both (Dark Horse). I'm not looking down on these companies for this, hell, it's good business (and I can't wait for some of this stuff to come out), but it's not really promoting anything other than the merch, and you can't buy any of it, even if they have a final product packaged and priced right there under glass. It's like they're reminding the fans that the companies have us by the sensitive bits when they feel like it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Aaah! Get Out of my Head Charles!

Okay, so here's how I balance out my massive wall of text from the last post. It's a song. This song has taken up residence in my brain, maybe forever. It's a J-Rock song that I think is the theme song to some anime or another, performed by a supergroup with six lead singers who all appear to be LARPing their D&D characters on stage. It's actually pretty good, and has an oddly epic feel to it, which is why I suppose it makes good theme music. At least it's not J-Pop; I'd have gone nuts by now if some of that were in my head.

Adrian Veidt: World's Greatest Hero?

Alright, so on Monday I may not have been clear. I definitely got a chance to speak my part, but I think I expressed the thought poorly. Simply enough, I actually think Adrian Veidt is actually the most consciously heroic person in the story. I think he's a great guy who uses his massive intellect to solve what was the greatest problem his world's ever seen. However, his logic was somewhat flawed. He assumed that the only way to achieve his goal was the one he used, based on the (true) premise that no one else who was willing to solve the problem was smart enough to do the job.
What he never considered was that intelligence might not be the only criteria for saving the world. As much as it pains me to say it, but sometimes the smartest one is not the best one. On the other hand, he also kind of assumed that the problem needed outside help to be solved. Our Cold War worked out fine, if you recall. Of course there were differences in society, but the end result could have very easily been worked out in less sudden methods; I'm sure someone like Veidt would have had some political leverage.
Of course, none of this is related to my original point. The simple fact is that Veidt had no ulterior motives for doing what he did; he simply thought it was the only way to save the world. He makes no money from this venture, in fact he loses quite a bit of his own. The way he's planned it, no one will even know he's done it; he'll be remembered as "Ozymandias, that one guy who was an okay hero and a decent businessman."
That fact right there is why I'm calling B.S. on the people who compare Veidt to Light from Death Note. If Light's plans succeed he'll be worshiped as Lord and Savior; Veidt wants to be recalled as a guy you wish you were friends with. Yes, they both had God complexes, but Viedt's was more like a surgeon, and Light's was like a fascist dictator.
I guess all I'm saying is that you can't call Veidt a villain. He did only what he thought was necessary to accomplish his goal (saving humanity from an actual threat, remember?), and all the loss of life was tragic to him. He feels more like the Classical tragic hero; did what needed to be done, but his flaws now condemn him to a life of sadness and pain.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Few Words on Secret Invasion

I feel that now would be a good time to explain the name of this blog, seeing as I've altered it again just now. Specifically, I jokingly say that my writings are not connected to the various hot comics "events" because I have come to the conclusion that I find them abhorrent. While the potential to make positive changes and draw in readers is there, these events have recently become a crutch used to excuse a lack of original thought. What's worse is that these things may be used to undo details or plot elements that a writer dislikes, regardless of the readers' opinions, and often end up only complicating continuity.

*This Section Contains Spoilers From an Internal Leak*

To use Secret Invasion as an example, there are indications that several super-powered individuals (hero and villain) have been replaced with Skrulls. What's more, those people have in fact been Skrulls since some point in the 70's. For these characters, this means undoing every single bit of growth they've had, since before that point, characters didn't evolve over time.
Luke Cage has become, over the last few years, a father, husband, and leader. He's gone from being quite literally a Blaxploitation character with low-key powers to a potential leading man for Marvel; powerful enough to warrant a place on the main stage and developed properly as a man who could lead the Avengers (which he has been). Nope! Not anymore, because Brian Michael Bendis really likes the old version! Ergo, we get stuck with a guy with no depth, and we're expected to swallow the fact that Iron Fist, Luke's best friend nearly since their debuts, had not noticed, and that the impostor had decided not acting like the guy he'd replaced would be the perfect cover (especially with the getting married part). It's just dumb, and it injures all the stories that feature Luke.
Short version: events like this all end up being one kid in the playpen messing with everyone's toys, and I for one wish that we could just have some time without all this nonsense. At least, I'd like it if Bendis would stop taking all the toys and making a huge messy pile.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Webcomic Highlight: Gunnerkrigg Court

Here's a quickie for you: Gunnerkrigg Court is a comic that is fantastic. It's got a sort of Harry Potter vibe, with a young kid growing up at a fantastic boarding school, but there are few spots where the comparison becomes unfair. Mostly, it's unfair to Harry Potter, because Gunnerkrigg blows HP away.
It's about Antimony Carver, who goes to live at the school/community Gunnerkrigg Court, which is a haven for super-science, yet surrounded by a magical forest (with some noteworthy supernatural elements in the Court as well). Also, they employ a dragonslayer as their gym teacher, and have a class for kids with psychic powers.
Now for some of the cool stuff; there's an epic story arc, but Antimony (and the reader) doesn't know what it is yet, so we only get glimpses of it. For the most part it's a sweet story about the kids that go to school in the Court.
Also, the art is quite nice and dreamy, giving this already surreal comic an even more ethereal aesthetic. It took me only two sittings to finish it, so you won't lose much time if you hate it. Which is highly unlikely.