An interesting batch of books this week, and a healthy mix. Here’s this week’s noteworthy titles.
- COMP ALAN MOORE FUTURE SHOCKS TP – Interested in Alan Moore’s as-yet uncollected 2000AD work? If you’re like me, you’ve got Halo Jones and DR and Quinch, but aren’t quite willing to track down the short, random pieces of Moore’s work. And now you don’t have to.
- DAREDEVIL #6
- FF #12 – Even though I’ve been finding some issues of FF here and there, this has been the biggest misstep of my pull list experiment. I haven’t had the chance to read any of it since #1 is so hard to find. And yet, based on Hickman’s Fantastic Four, I have no regrets. I’ll fill in those holes eventually.
- HERC #10
- SPACEMAN #2 (OF 9) – Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s return to Vertigo. Though I could probably cheat and call this a Vertigo title, I’m going to throw this on the pull list and do it right.
- TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ONGOING #4
- THUNDERBOLTS #166
- WOLVERINE #19 – I’ve read the first arc and a half of Jason Aaron’s Wolverine title, and it’s been stellar. However, I’ve been a bit behind due to missing a couple issues here and there. Fortunately for me, Friend of the Blog Andrew put issues 17 and 18 in my hands and insisted I read them. And I’m SO glad he did. When I reviewed Aaron’s Wolvie mini “Manifest Destiny” a few months ago, I loved it but was a bit disappointed that Logan as the ruler of Chinatown would be one of those plots that would wind up just forgotten to the ages. And yet here we are 3 years later and Aaron is picking it back up again. It’s everything you could wish for and more, and features Ken Hale, the Agents of Atlas’ Gorilla Man. And if that isn’t enough to get you to pick up this book, I don’t know what possibly could. Highest recommendation!
Due to the holiday I haven’t dived into last week’s books yet, but expect more reviews next week. Other than that my running pull list has been updated. What looks good to you?
Under Cap’s shadow,
Could he maybe have greatness?
Does anyone care?
After thanks have been given and turkey has been eaten, there’s another longstanding American tradition of overconsumption: Black Friday! Yes, even our favorite heroes and villains can’t resist huge savings. Here’s what they’ll be standing in line all night to pick up.
Batman – 70% off batarangs when you buy 12 cases (144 batarangs per
case) at Costco
Grapnel Hut – trade in your grappling hook and get 300 ft of wire for $1!!!
Herbie Popnecker – In line for 6hrs Thanksgiving night to be the first to hit the sale on the rare cinnamon pops at Wal-Mart
The Joker – 3 for 1 squirting flowers and joy buzzers at The Jester’s Palace
Nick Fury – Saved an amazing 80% on eye-patches and cigars from the Patches and Smokes Boutique. He’s now stocked up through 2013.
Captain Marvel – 70% off Bosco when you buy a case
Penguin – Got 2 free cases of umbrella ammo when he purchased 4 or more umbrella guns.
Mr. Freeze – 60% off HVAC equipment when you buy two polar bears for your lair.
Captain Britain – is British. Doesn’t know WTF a “Black Friday” is.
If you couldn’t already tell, Jesse and I are huge fans of the Muppets. I can’t speak for Jesse on this, but in many ways the Muppet Show and the movies had a great influence on who I am today… namely the Chief Muppetologist for the state of Louisiana. If I had a nickle for every time I’ve seen “The Muppet Movie,” I’d have enough money for dinner for two at a mid-priced restaurant. I also have a comfortable sized collection of Muppet paraphernalia. It should therefore come as no surprise that I was first in the theater at a midnight showing of “The Muppets.” What follows is a quasi-review; I’ve tried to keep most of the rabid fanboy emotions at bay. The trick is that my editor (read: Jesse) is expecting a couple thousand words on the subject. That’s not an easy thing to do when you don’t want to write too many spoilers or sound to rantish.
Suffice it to say, I’ve been looking forward to the newest Muppet movie for a while. With any Muppet related news since the death of Jim Henson the enthusiasm is tempered with caution and trepidation. Athough “Muppet Christmas Carrol” came close, nothing since 1990 has fully captured the innocently insane essence of the Muppets.
“The Muppets” succeeds at capturing this spirit… for the most part. Segel and Stoller handle the muppet sensibility and variety of voices very well. And there are a ton of Muppets in this movie. The only noticable absences from the original show are Pops and Lips. The two screen writers know the Muppets and understand the characters and motivations. This goes a long way in making the movie watchable and enjoyable. There’s a lot for which to praise the duo; unfortunately, there are some criticism coming their way as well.
Praises first. While there are hues of the first Muppet movie throughout the plot, the tone leans more toward “The Great Muppet Caper.” The story is familiar and uncomplicated in the best ways possible. It balances the easy gag-laugh with a great deal of cleverness. Some of this cleverness stems from the characteristic breaking of the fourth wall through self-awareness; as always, the Muppets are blissfully self-aware. In addition to the characteristic destruction of the fourth wall, “The Muppets” has mostly inoffensive celebrity cameos spanning a wide and eclectic swath of Hollywood. It also has the characteristically non-villainous villain.
Chris Cooper’s Tex Richman isn’t as menacing and constant as Doc Hopper. His presence is reminiscent of Charles Grodin’s mustache twirling instead. The Moopets were also set up as villains. Though poorly utilized, they make hay with their time on screen with one of my favorite songs in the movie. Speaking of new characters, Walter works. Like Kermit in the original “Muppet Movie,” he is an innocent abroad, and he holds his own with the giants. We are essentially seeing these events unfold from Walter’s point of view. He presents everything as full of optimistic potential. It’s refreshing and sweet without being saccharine. I suspect Segal injected the best parts of himself into this character.
Equal praise should go to Bret McKenzie for the original songs in the movie. The song in the opening number and finale is eminently catch and Muppetesque. The lyrics are smartly funny when they need to be and heartwarming most of the time. The Moopet version of Rainbow Connection being among the strongest. In fairness though, if you’ve watched McKenzie’s Flight of the Conchords, some moments in several of the songs are going to sound highly reminiscent of that series. In addition to McKenzie’s orignal songs, are the outstanding interpretations of popular songs included during the Muppets’s telethon. The barbershop quartet especially would have fit nicely into the original show.
To the problems. The Walter/ Jason Segel dynamic is one of the biggest problems with the movie. As Michael Chabon so elegantly put it in Wonder Boys, writing is about making choices. Segel and Stoller were faced with several choices where they could have gone left or right with the story. Instead of doing either, they chose the weaker option to ride the middle passage. The first choice that the screenwriters faced was whether to set Walter or Segel’s character (Gary) as the protagonist. Because both are given the same A story (to decide who they want to be), Segel and Stoller cheat both characters out of any real deep connection to the audience or strong character arc. One or the other should have been the focus, choosing both seems ill conceived at best and self serving at worst.
The same issue arises in relation to the romantic B story. The romantic arc between Segel and Amy Adams is juxtaposed against a different sort of romantic arc between Kermit and Miss Piggy. I appreciate what was probably the intent and reasoning in doing this, but it didn’t work for me. That’s not to say that the romantic arcs in Muppet movies are typically deep and revelatory; both came off as the cheapest and weakest of low comedy.
The final problem is an overall symptom of the previous two. There is a noticeable emphasis on the Humans in this movie that we haven’t seen since the adaptation movies. It’s off putting that Segel and Adams dominate the first musical number and the first act. Adams has a song midway through the movie that she gracious shares (sort of) with Miss Piggy. Again there was an attempt to have the best of all worlds achieving the opposite.
All in all, these problems do not eclipse the care with which the Muppet voices were written orcleverness of both the script and the music. It is a good Muppet movie and probably on par with Christmas Carrol or Manhattan.
A VERY interesting batch of comics this week. Here are the noteworthy titles coming out on Wednesday.
- COMIC BOOK COMICS #6 (OF 6) – I wouldn’t have given this a second thought, but Comics Alliance mentioned this title the other day, by Action Philosophers team Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavy. So, despite it being the last issue of a miniseries I’m going to snag it.
- FANTASTIC FOUR #600 – And the original name and numbering of the FF’s title returns, as we all knew it would, to live alongside FF.
- GODZILLA KINGDOM OF MONSTERS #9 – This is make or break time for KoM, as diminishing returns move this from a must-read to a thing I’ve been reading. Make this a good one, IDW.
- INFINITE #4 – The Rob.
- MILK & CHEESE DAIRY PRODUCTS GONE BAD HC – Milk and Cheese — Evan Dorkin’s series about dairy products gone bad — was very much a product of it’s time. But that’s not to say there’s not some high-quality laffs in with all that mayhem. And now all the strips are collected in one hardcover! While I don’t recommend reading more than 2-3 at once (the gags tend to get repetitive), I do recommend this book.
- POGO COMP SYNDICATED STRIPS HC VOL 01 – I’ve been looking forward to Fantagraphics’ kickoff of Walt Kelly’s Pogo run for quite some time. They do such a great job with their other collections I expect nothing less than greatness here.
- SECRET AVENGERS #19
- TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ULT COLL HC VOL 01 – For $50 I doubt I’ll pick this up immediately, but if you’ve been looking for an Absolute edition of the original TMNT run, this is the book for you. I admit, I have been…
- WOLVERINE AND X-MEN #2 – By all accounts Jason Aaron’s new X-Title has been a revelation. Onto the pull list it goes.
It’s been remarkably difficult to sort out my feelings on Godzilla Legends #1. To a certain extent it feels like a cash-in. Without big-name creators like Eric Powell or John Layman, it seems a bit like a try-out book. We’re dumped in the middle of the story without any clue as to who the (human) characters are, what they do, or what this “G” logo everywhere is. In fact, writers Matt Frank and Jeff Prezenkowski spends more time establishing Anguirus as the Hank Pym of kaiju than anything else. Frank’s artwork is fine, but somewhat inconsistent in his depictions.
And yet…there are some really strong moments that won’t let me dismiss the book. I mean, the underdog thing really works for me, as they set up Anguirus as a monster who’s never won a battle and yet still fights as hard as he can. And for Frank’s lack of polish, there are some really nice layouts and panels that really make me see his vision. While I’m not sure how long I’ll want to stick with this one, there’s real potential here, and since Kingdom of Monsters is drifting somewhat aimlessly it’s nice to get a series of done-in-one stories.
But no matter what you think of the points I’ve made so far, this is indisputable:
Art Adams’ cover is INSANE.
Apparently proving that I’ll give anything recommended by Chris Sims a shot, I picked up Mudman #1. Paul Grist’s work on Kane and Jack Staff never really clicked for me, but I wanted to give his work another shot. Mudman seems to be more in the Grist style. That is, good, cartoony art and a somewhat scattered story. Like the protagonist, I spent most of the issues somewhat confused. And whether it was intentional or incidental the drifting between the real action and hallucination/dreaming wasn’t differentiated enough. I’ll give it another issue to decide for sure, but if you like Grist’s past work there’s no reason this will let you down.
That’s it for this week and I’ve updated my running pull list. What are YOU looking at?
It’s that time of year where TV execs look at new shows and see which ones are worth keeping and which ones should be replaced with something that the execs have been holding onto. Since DC is now running more in lines with the rest of the entertainment world, it only follows that some of the New 52 won’t make it another issue only to be replaced by something that might sell better. This week’s LIST asks, “What are DC’s mid-season replacements?”
Red Hood and the In-Laws – Red Hood and the Outlaws takes an exciting new direction in DC’s first foray into funny books in several years features a married Jason Todd and Starfire. The two cope with inter-species marriage, vigilante style justice, AND Starfire’s parents moving in with the newly weds! On top of all that, their whacky neighbor Arsenal is forever up to new hi-jinx.
Young Hawk and Dove – No tights, no fights! Follow the adventures of
Hank Hall and Dawn Granger as 15 year old kids, coming to grips with their opposing world views and struggling to make sense of Order and Chaos. Will they? Won’t they? We’ll explore the possibilities for (a guaranteed) 8 years. Expect teen angst (and not much else!) in mighty WB fashion! Written by Rob Liefeld’s Twitter feed. Art by Rob Liefeld’s 1988 sketchbooks.
Just Imagine Geoff Johns’s… – In a bold and innovative move, DC comics asks wunderkind Geoff Johns to reimagine the DCnU. Each month Johns, famous for reinvigorating properties such as Cyborg, Flash, and Green Lantern, will reinvent a different DC concept based solely on the name! In the first year Johns will take a fresh and exciting look at Dr. Fate, Crisis on Infinite Earths, The Hourman, and Kamandi: Last Boy on Earth. Art by clones of Jim Lee
Detective Comics – After Tony Daniels’ stellar four-issue run and invention of the character, Detective Comics relaunches with an ALL-NEW NUMBER ONE ISSUE! The first new #1 of this title since 2011! Written by Tony Daniels. Art by Tony Daniels.
Prezazzle! – Ninth grader Prezley Rickard has just been elected to the highest office in the land. How can she juggle world diplomacy, braces, totally redecorating the Lincoln Bedroom, term papers, and getting the attention of the super hot Chief Justice? With the help of Dolly Madison’s ghost, she’ll soon learn it’s all about checks and balances. Plots by Aaron Sorkin, script: Nick Spencer and art by Barbara Slate.
Space Cabbie – Exploring the forgotten corners of space, anything can happen! Eight-page Ultraa the Multi-Alien backup. By Garth Ennis and Kevin O’Neill.
Jim Lee Makes Marks on Paper– Part sketchbook, part text piece, ALL AWESOME. Each month DC Editors compile scraps of paper that Jim Lee has written, scribbled, or doodled on to create an experimental comic book in the vein of narratives by Alan Moore or Grant Morrison. Sure to be a huge commercial and critical success because of super-star creator JIM LEE! with Fumetti back-up story: “Chronicles of Jim Lee.”
Gorilla Grodd vs. The DCU – Gorilla Grodd fights heroes, villains, and other gorillas monthly. As Julie Schwartz said, gorillas sell. Expect monkey business, bad puns, and guest stars galore! Written by Brian Clevenger with art by Brett Booth.
The Magic of SHAZAM! – Alan Moore returns to mainstream comics with this exploration of the philosophies, histories, and cultural backgrounds of the different deities and characters that inspire and power Captain Marvel. Art by Melinda Gebbie.