Friday, January 18, 2013

funnybook of the week: January 9, 2013

Title gets axed. Another title makes it to the top for the first time. It's the circle of life.

12 - Avengers Arena #3 (last issue - 12 out of 18 books)

The lack of a central character or anything beyond the basic premise linking these books together is just crippling when the focus character of an issue isn’t all that likable. Three issues is longer than I thought this would last, but I need a better story than is being told even if I did like the character pieces in the first two issues.

11 - Walking Dead #106 (last issue - 8 out of 9 books)

Negan spends more time torturing Carl with “what am I going to do with you?” We see a little more of his cartoon kingdom, as well.

In the meantime, we’re also given an odd beat with townsfolk describing Rick’s newfound playalong even as we see him go to break that game (only not?). Nothing really clicked in this issue for me, the beats were like they were for different stories. The teaser at the end, though? That might get me to the next issue.

10 - Wolverine & the X-Men #23 (last issue - 17 out of 18 books)

Well, this story is over. When even the characters seem aware that “character repurposing” is well-worn territory, we’ve maybe landed in the wrong direction. The Young Frankenstein’s journey over the last two issues was actually quite interesting and fun, but all this noise in the background was just kind of unnecessary. But we get to move on now.

9 - Detective Comics #16 (last issue - 8 out of 8 books)

The Joker makes people crazy. Or attracts them. Batman is paranoid and has been anticipating this kind of nonsense. This was a fine Batman story that hit all the right notes, but the backup featuring the Emperor Penguin taking advantage of this all was far more interesting.

Overall, though, I feel like we’re waiting to get to the other side of the crossover, which is never a good feeling to have.

8 - Ghost #3 (last issue - 8 out of 10 books)

Origin issues can be rough. This was kind of a Clarissa Explains it all if Clarissa is the discarded favorite of the demons in this world and “it all” is how the bad guys came to be and who exactly our poor heroine (barely in this issue) might be.

There are still some strong points. The jilted sidekick angle, the previous relationship to Ghost and the big bad, and the cliffhanger (curiously before the flashback) were good, just not good enough to make this issue a stand-alone must-have.

7 - Thunderbolts #3 (last issue - 14 out of 18 books)

Still onto something - enough to get me to the next issue - but still missing something I can’t quite put my finger on. Way is using Deadpool in an interesting way here, making him the loudmouth conscience of the group in a characterization fitting right in with where he was left in Uncanny X-Force.

There’s still some solid characterization missing for Venom and Elektra barely gets any panel time (but that’s according to Ross’ chessmatch, so Rulk - and by extension Way - may be saving some big stuff for her). And I’m not finding the plotting to be the tightest in the world.

But man, that last page is hilarious.

6 - Animal Man #16 (last issue - 6 out of 8 books)

There’s a real heightening here, after being fooled into thinking that the good guys were finally making some headway. Lemire keeps finding ways to make the lowest point even lower and finally bottoms out here before next issue’s “final battle.” I mean that in the best possible way. It looks really bleak for all involved, save Maxine’s undying faith.

Broken record: the past Buddy left behind is more interesting than the future. I’m honestly ready for this book to get back to smaller stories about Buddy and his family.

5 - Superior Spider-Man #1 (last issue - n/a)

Slott writing Ockter-Man is going to be an entertaining ride. The working in of the villainous dialogue as Spider-Man facing the Sinister Six combined with Stegman's great poses and facial expressions for Peter Parker for just the most unlikely amount of fun you could imagine. That's the good news.

The bad news is the hook. The thing that's going to bring you back to the book. The way you're going to get around the obstacle of having to root for Otto Octavius. It's almost entirely what I was afraid of, something that will always remind you of Peter Parker without letting you start to slowly root for the guy moving the body to finally get it.

It can go well, and it's an intriguing hook, but I do wonder what it means for the long-term sustainability of the book.

4 - Scarlet Spider #13 (last issue 13 out of 18 books)

It’s one thing to have a reluctant hero, but Yost adds a newer and even more tragic dimension to Kaine when he shows the reluctant hero trying to stop an unstoppable line of evil against every facet of his better judgement. Kaine’s every movement seems to come with the question “why?” even when he knows the answer.

In this fashion, Kaine who was Peter Parker is a far more interesting hero than Peter Parker who is Otto Octavius. Kaine is a fallen Peter trying to become the man he never truly was rather than Otto trying to fill the shoes of a man he still sees as inferior. Point Kaine.

Now if we could clean up the unnecessary “knows too much” aspect of the villains, we’d be onto something golden.

3 - Transformers: Regeneration One #87 (last issue - 4 out of 8 books)

Robot biology. Seriously. And it’s kind of a neat idea. Grimlock’s deal with the devil comes with some new allies who are less inclined towards feelings of guilt. Speaking of feelings of guilt, we’re left without a Prime again as he decides against the people of Earth’s wishes and hangs out. Which is a good thing because Galvatron and mute Starscream are still afoot, and found something huge. The leadership gap is to be filled by Hot Rod, who’s off on a Matrix quest of sorts while deserting the Autobots to be vulnerable to Grimlock’s deal with the devil.

This is good comics.

2 - Supurbia #3 (last issue - 4 out of 9 books)

Grace Randolph is telling several really interesting stories here (why am I always a sucker for crazy Lois Lane analogues when I don’t really like Superman that much?), bringing several of Hela’s conflicting interests to a head. This is our first real glimpse at her at her best and worst when they’re placed side-by-side, and it’s great.

The Batu story is starting to bleed into the larger title while keeping its own momentum, and the soap opera of the love triangle gets a confusing twist - still away from the rest of the action, though. There’s a really engaging read in here, and I don’t know if I’m really digging the characters (pretty sure I am) or just the soap opera aspect (which I’m definitely a little embarrassingly into). Maybe both?

1 - Thor: God of Thunder #4 (last issue - 6 out of 18 books)

The supporting cast is non-existent. When characters share time with Thor, it’s to give him someone to talk to for the sake of exposition. That is all. The action between the protagonist and antagonist takes on mostly the form of posturing. There’s unexplained time travel.

And yet I love this book. The god butcher’s ultimate revenge on King Thor, his trap for present-day Thor, and the edge he has on Young Thor are all pitch perfect. It’s not that it soars as a book in spite of these problems, it’s that those problems all contribute to a thoroughly entertaining bit of comics.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

it may come as a shock to you, but i hate the 24-hour news cycle

As a proud liberal/progressive/fascistcommiewhosupportscrazysocialistthingslikepeoplebeinghealthy, it's always easy for me to say that the discourse in this country is full of crap and then point to Fox News as an example. But really, they aren't the only ones. This was actually on TV:

CNN, a news network, was fact-checking Saturday Night Live, a comedy show. I find it odd they they take the time to bring in non-partisan fact-checkers when a comedy show runs with what an emerging perception of the President is, but go ahead and just rebroadcast and debate talking points like "death panels" as if they were somehow valid.

I get that CNN has 24 hours to fill. I get that they're being spanked by more sensationalist and less news-oriented competitors. So they want to jazz it up a little bit. I even understand that what's happening with the political sketches on SNL is usually a pretty good indicator of what's resonating with the American people. I'll even support a little analysis in the 24-hour period about what those sketches may mean in terms of where public opinion is. CNN is still in the business of attracting viewers.

Still, I'd rather you interview a fact checker when an elected official makes a baseless claim about what health care reform is and then let Screamy McOpinion and Yelly McViewpoint go after each other about whether or not the cold opening on SNL is indicative of the actual job President Obama is doing.

When you do it this way around though, you're holding comedy shows to a higher standard of truthfulness than you are Congresspeople or even your own reporters. I stopped wondering why the American people seemed so ill-informed a long time ago.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

big american nfl preview '09: NFC North

Look, I get to this division each year and have to pick with either my brain or my...whatever it is that causes me to love and overestimate the Bears' chances each year. So last year, I went with my brain and that didn't work out so hot. Guess where I'm going this year...

4. Detroit - They're starting a rookie at quarterback. They're still the team that went 0-fer last season, and even with a new front office and pretty capable running back they're not going to have a Dolphin-like turnaround. Sorry Lions. I'll watch you on Thanksgiving.

3. Green Bay - The Rogers kid went ahead and lit some teams up last season, making himself a fantasy darling. Too bad there was no running game. And very little defense to speak of. The Packers did basically nothing to address these problems, so there's not a lot to like except for a guy who will probably have 4,000 more passing yards in an otherwise fruitless season.

2. Minnesota - When the Favre experiment goes wrong, and it will (after looking really good for a few weeks), you'll have Rosenfels and Jackson waiting in the wings after the Vikings went out of their way to say that they'd rather have a ghost behind center than either of them. Adrian Peterson and the defensive line are still going to be beastly, but I don't have faith in a team coached by a guy who spent the entire off-season ignoring his team to flirt with an overrated, past his prime, interception machine.

1. Chicago - Okay. Hear me out. The team's biggest strength has always been its defense. The core group of that defense can probably feel the window shutting for them. I think they have one more great season in them before they fade as a group. They know how much the Bears mortgaged the future to get Jay Cutler now. They will step up one more time. I worry more about the secondary, which will be young and unproven. On the other side of the ball, they improved the offensive line to go with their bona fide quarterback and one of the best rushers in football (who is also a credible threat as a receiver). There isn't a lot to speak of where the wideouts are concerned, but Olson is still a phenomenal tight end and Devin Hester can still run fast enough to make teams sweat (if the Devin Hester experiment fails with Cutler at QB, we have no one to blame but Devin Hester). Call me crazy, but I like the Bears' chances.

big american nfl preview '09: NFC East

If it doesn't get done this morning, I'll never make my deadline. So let's hit the NFC East. These teams all have plenty going for them, but some pretty solid negatives as well. All I know for sure is that the defenses will be fun to watch.

4. Washington - I hate picking the Redskins to notch last place here. Albert Haynesworth can't carry the defense by himself, though. And if I'm going to let the way the Cardinals finished the season be good news for Arizona, then the 2-6 limp to the finish for the Redskins probably doesn't bode well for Washington.

3. Dallas - Defense will be stifling, but their offensive line is old. That might leave Romo in some trouble (especially with the "2" part of the 1-2 punch running game having skipped town), and I just don't buy him as that good a quarterback. Roy Williams is not T.O., as much as I don't like to admit that any team would ever miss that guy. The offense won't have to go far, or score much to win games. I think the Cowboys will be very good. Possibly a playoff team. All said, though, the rest of this division is better.

2. Philadelphia - The Eagles are going to be better where they need to be. They shored up the O-line, will have some good (if young) receivers, potentially have some schemes that will make defensive coordinators' heads explode with the addition of Vick, and will boast a pretty strong defensive line. There are some questions in the secondary, but nothing to make me start a playoff prediction without including the Eagles.

1. New York - So they didn't replace the threat that Plaxico "Boom Boom" Burress posed to other teams at wideout. They're still the nasty team that had a strong 2008 before a playoff flameout, only with some additions that will make the defense even more intimidating. The team has proven that they're winners, and I'm not going against them here.