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Comics: The Commentary Track for the February 23rd Buy Pile

Posted in 104, awesomeness, bad ideas, blame society, buy pile, comics reviews on February 24th, 2011 by Hannibal Tabu
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Every week I do a column full of comic book reviews as I’ve done since March 2003 and currently published at Comic Book Resources. Then, after the reviews post, I try to come over to my blog and expand on the thoughts and ideas listed there. Sometimes it’s profound, sometimes it’s gibberish, but it’s always about comics … let’s see what we get this week!

What? This week’s reviews

OUR BLACK, SHINING PRINCE: I’m very upset by a number of things. I’m very upset that Dwayne McDuffie is dead — his wisdom is gone from the world, his talent is gone, his stories are gone. That’s no good.

I’m upset that I didn’t really realize what a presence he had, nor how important he was to me, until after he was gone because I didn’t have any conception that he might be a finite property. I recently wrote a lot of things that I should have said when he was alive, and I’m a douche commander for not doing that.

This has been a big part of my social networking this week — I told this great story about Scotland that Dwayne told me some years ago and I’ve been non stop on tweets and Facebook about it. I believe I’ve explained my reasons well enough, but I’ll do one last story, and close it down.

Dwayne McDuffie loved the show Sports Night. As did I — we believed that our common love for it doomed its chances on network television. Any show we both loved that fervently had to die — the world wasn’t built to make us happy that way. We once talked about TV shows we’d loved, and hit about an 80 percent rate of common themes.

Now he’s been cancelled by a faulty ticker, and I’m staring at the screen again. Upsetting stuff.

WEIRD COINCIDENCES: I also note that today, Thursday February 24th, is the anniversary of Octavia Butler’s death. She dies on the 24th, McDuffie on the 21st … Black writers should just be freaking careful in late February, y’all. Take an extra step. Slow down in traffic. Just saying.

TONY STARK IS A JERK: During the Civil War, I thought Tony Stark — billionaire heir and entitlement complex poster boy — was about as perfect as a super villain as anybody could get. The difference between him and Victor Von Doom was so paper thin that it’d make Kate Moss look like Roseanne Barr.

The idea that his drunken disses would make a subtle enemy of Otto Octavius (who’s 1. nuttier than a weekend with Chip & Dale and 2. has a hair trigger that makes Namor look calm and reasoned) is easy enough to believe, but it almost begs the question of why more people aren’t gunning for him. Weapons dealers he put out of business. Super villains that Rhodey tangled with like the Advisor.

Also: how many alternate futures have shown Iron Man as an iron fisted futuristic totalitarian? Three? Four? Finally, what’s up with the fact that one generation created such a huge number of super geniuses (Stark, T’Challa, Reed Richards, Hank Pym, Bruce Banner, Victor Von Doom … all of whom went to the same college by the way … and Stephen Strange is only a few years older) and the only comparable brains since then are Amadeus Cho (who, to be fair, hasn’t done much) and Ezekiel Stane? What was in the water back then?

I’m just saying that the numbers add up for Stark (and Banner, honestly … and honestly probably Pym … and if the Ultimate universe is to believed, maybe … well, that’d be a spoiler, but never mind) to “set aside all pretense and sham and anoint themselves masters.” They’re already comfortable being “Illuminati.” I’m just saying …

THAT’S THE NEWS, AND I AM OUTTA HERE: Screw this noise, I’m getting some sleep. See ya.

Watching (Hulu): The Colbert Report for February 15, 2011.

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Commentary Track for the September 1st Buy Pile

Posted in 104, awesomeness, bad ideas, blame society, buy pile, comics, comics reviews, dc, failure, g.i. joe, marvel, review, star wars, whimsy on September 2nd, 2010 by Hannibal Tabu
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Every week I do a column full of comic book reviews as I’ve done since March 2003 and currently published at Comic Book Resources. Then, after the reviews post, I try to come over to my blog and expand on the thoughts and ideas listed there. Sometimes it’s profound, sometimes it’s gibberish, but it’s always about comics … let’s see what we get this week!

What? This week’s reviews

A MURDERER’S HALF DOZEN: I really think Secret Six has gotten so good that it needs to be adapted as a TV show. Due to the murder and blood and what not, it’d have to be on, like, Showtime or AMC, but wow. Floyd Lawton is really a breakout character, like Michael Rosenbaum used to be, or like David Anders as Julian Sark used to be. Catman … has there ever been a comeback story like him? Jeanette is also my favorite mystery, while Bane makes a surprisingly effective leader. Really happy to have this series in my life.

A BRIEF WORD ABOUT KURT BUSIEK: Wow. Astro City, man. This issue had an ending almost as good as that Alan Moore Majestic story where Spartan became a huge mass of stellar golden filament and the universe froze in complete entropy. “There really should be light,” indeed. Deeply emotional, rewarding on rereads, a true treasure I’ll enjoy sharing with my kids in some years. Thank you, Kurt Busiek, for what retailer Steve LeClaire called “a real labor of love.” It shows — this is so geometrically better than the work for hire that you do that it’s scary.

IT’S STILL GOOD! IT’S JUST A LITTLE AIRBORNE! Even when they’re near misses, I’m still thinking about One Month To Live (which would have fit well as a Heroes storyline if they weren’t so caught up in conspiracies) and Hawkeye and Mockingbird (which is also almost TV-ready). Childhood-me is happy to see the continuation in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero despite the drastic differences in my politics, but I’d love for it to go more Special Missions and concentrate on small groups of Joes … with a lot less ninjas. I’m so worn out on ninjas. Sorry, Daredevil (whose Anakin turn could use some beefing up, especially with the out they seem to have written in with the Ghost Rider angle).

MEANWHILE, ON OVERLAND: The shop was particularly entertaining this week, as we used a syllogism and got a lawyer involved in settling an argument over whether in fact all the kills from stormtroopers could technically be credited to Jango Fett. We ended up lumping in Boba’s kills too, and silently I wondered, “how does Dark Horse not sell more Star Wars comics to just the people in this room?”

Store owner Steve LeClaire has come to hate the new creator-owned comic Scarlet. He recommended that a customer named Jeff not buy issue one, Jeff ignored him and came back this week repentant, discussing its awfulness. I compared it to having a dental procedure performed through one’s anus. Then they showed me Crossed, and I was like, “well, okay, it’s not apocalypse murder porn.” That book is just not right in any remote way. I’m glad I was able to stay ignorant of it for so long, due to the fact that I may have developed an allergy to Jeebus some years ago.

Steve needed to prove his point on how much he hated Scarlet,, which ended up looking like this …

a destroyed issue of Brian Michael Bendis' Scarlet
You’re not hallucinating — you’re seeing that right

Steve actually ripped up a comic he paid for. Now he can’t sell it. He didn’t care. He said the creators of the book should know how bad it is (I think he’s taking a bath on how many he ordered). He placed one of the torn pieces on Jeff’s head as ringing up occurred. The last book to get such a treatment was the all-world standard for bad comics, The Monarchy. This ain’t that bad, but it’s surely indicative of something to create such a sense of retailer hatred.

WELL, WE’VE AVOIDED THIS LONG ENOUGH: This week was rough to get through. I ended up skipping a lot — a new Fathom book and I just realized I blanked on getting the Boom titles and probably an IDW one. I missed Incredible Hulks (which I’m told is a blessing). I just ran out of time at the store, and that seems to happen more often now.

That said … what I read was a grind to get through. The more bad books there are, the worse the “meh” books seem. Like, really, Freedom Fighters? Who “demanded” that?

ARE YOU MY DADDY? Finally, I wanted to talk about a disturbing trend I’m seeing, and I’m sorry if the following includes SPOILERS.

Let’s wait a sec for people to clear out.

*yawn*

Ready yet?

A little more?

Okay …

*twiddle thumbs*

All right …

The trend of characters being either deadbeat dads or being accused of it that I’ve seen this year … Black Manta (the way to get a Black Aqualad, it seems), everybody in the Bastards of Evil, Batman and his psycho scion, even Johnny Storm had a pregnancy scare this year. Bruce Banner’s suddenly a father of two and barely qualified to parent. We get it. Writers are thinking about these characters getting it on.

Here’s where it goes wrong. You’re the Leader. What kind of woman is gonna have her legs up in the air, staring at that dome? Exactly — virtually none. “They’re powerful,” some would claim. “Mind control! Money! Influence! Plus Johnny Storm’s ‘attractive,’ Bruce Wayne’s awesome and Bruce Banner charmed Betty and Caiera!”

Okay. Some of that I can see. However, if you’re looking up at Samuel Sterns’ monster noggin rhythmically bobbing back and forth while he’s giving you the business … I can’t see getting up and walking away from that. There aren’t enough showers, not enough soap. I can’t see how that works. On the other hand, I don’t get how Janet Jackson looked up at Jermaine Dupri’s cockroach looking self for as long as she did, but whadda ya gonna do, you know?

That was just my problem with it. We’ll see if Jonah Hex or MODOK come up with some little ankle biters to really weird us out.

Speaking of, Tabu out.

Playing (Music): “K.I.M.” by EPMD

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Commentary Track for the August 25th Buy Pile

Posted in 104, bad ideas, blame society, buy pile, comics, comics reviews, dc, failure, marvel, music, n900, politics, snark, star wars on August 26th, 2010 by Hannibal Tabu
buy pile commentary track header image

Every week I do a column full of comic book reviews as I’ve done since March 2003 and currently published at Comic Book Resources. Then, after the reviews post, I try to come over to my blog and expand on the thoughts and ideas listed there. Sometimes it’s profound, sometimes it’s gibberish, but it’s always about comics … let’s see what we get this week!

What? This week’s reviews

SERIOUSLY, DIAMOND, GET IT TOGETHER: If you’ve read my reviews and this blog for a while, you’ll likely know that I am a fan of Amadeus Cho. This week, there was a new comic featuring him battling Agamemnon from the Pantheon (now called Vali Halfling, which is way more boring, and blond hair is weirder on him than the sandy brown mop I remember) in a quest to achieve divinity for different reasons (Vali wants to be a bigger jerk than he is, Amadeus wants to save his friend).

Likewise, I’ve been enjoying the working class magic of Gravel, which was building up to a plot point involving a rival for the King of English Magic (yes, I am fascinated to see the King of, say, Ecuadorian Magic too).

However, despite having cash in hand, despite being ready to buy it, my retailer was unable to sell these comics to me. Why? Because Diamond short shipped or screwed up shipping on something like thirty freaking comic books. Do they have any mention of this on their website? No. Is this reported by the “comics press?” No (as of this writing, neither my home site of CBR, Newsarama nor The Beat had any mention of it — hence no need to link to ‘em).

Why? Because this has become such a regular occurrence that it’s not even seen as odd anymore. Screwing up massively has become the standard operating procedure. What can anybody do about it? Switch to Haven Distributors? Not if you wanna make any money — the Big Four (Marvel-Disney, DC-Time Warner, Dark Horse, Image) are all Diamond-exclusive, and nobody else (not Bongo, not Top Shelf, not Archie, not Slave Labor Graphics, not Moonstone, not Arcana, nobody) is big enough to make a significant sales impact for a retail store owner to make up for the absence of the world’s most recognizable illustrated characters. If you’re gonna be in the comics business (which is very different from just being “into comics”) then you have to do business with Diamond and accept that, fairly regularly, they’re gonna tap you on the shoulder and point to something you can bend over, never once even considering to offer you some lube, ask about your day or cuddle afterwards.

This isn’t news, but the Bush-era Department of Justice shut down a Clinton-era antitrust investigation, saying, “yes, you’re a greedy, heartless and possibly incompetent monopoly, but whatever, keep it up, gang!”

So, every once in a while, my retailer Steve LeClaire has to tell people who want to give him money, “I’m sorry, I can’t take it and don’t know when I can.” Where else would such a thing become so normal, so passe that the people who cover the industry don’t even freaking pay attention when it happens?

I didn’t even plan to write about this, but it gets me so freaking worked up, grrrr!

UH … SO, WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON? Random hits, quickly as I have other things to do …

  • Yes, I’m surprised to see Justice League: Generation Lost crawling on its bloody stumps towards almost being good.
  • Yes, I’m surprised to see that Jonathan Hickman — a man I heralded as an unparalleled genius based on Pax Romana, The Nightly News and Transhuman — is turning in some of the crappiest Fantastic Four comics that I have ever even heard of — yes, past Sue in fetish gear as Malice (I liked the usage of her powers in that issue).
  • Admittedly, his best work for the Mouse House of Ideas remains Secret Warriors, which would benefit from not being chopped into 22-page increments. Sure, you can write a novel on Twitter, but it ain’t easy and it’s a choppy experience for many, many people. It’s still not as good as his creator owned stuff, but it’s at least readable. Just so people don’t think I’m picking on the guy — I’m picking on one aspect of his work.
  • I haven’t been as interested in the property Captain America in my whole life. I’m even over the idea that I can’t use “Bucky dead” as a phrase anymore, because Steve Rogers remains defined by those events. “Buck” is great at it, and “Commander Rogers” is even better, even though the core element of the characters (tactically-minded bruisers who have to work hard in order to think through some things) hasn’t changed at all. That’s why seeing a labyrinthine plot like Zemo’s (who, really, should know better after Thunderbolts) makes me wonder. Brubaker is likewise confounding — I can prove he’s a genius, I have Criminal and the even better Sleeper. What the hell, dude?
  • It’s really unacceptable how long this same Simon Stagg/Metamorpho thing has gone on with the exact same dynamic. It makes Batman/Joker look reasonable by comparison. Also, it ceased to carry any dramatic gravitas, oh, probably fifteen or twenty years ago. Seriously. To try and use that as the opening gambit for Outsiders (also: Freight Train is inescapably lame) … it’s like, “yeah, I want you to run this race, but I’m gonna tie this rope around your leg and tie the other end to the bumper of an AMC Pacer.”
  • You have no idea how excited seeing the title Star Wars Blood Ties: A Tale of Jango and Boba Fett made me … and to be let down by such a drab book that didn’t even give the parental relationship as much snap as Destro’s family spotlight (the four rules, remember?) … not cool, dude. I remember reading that Warren Ellis once said having the Star Wars license should be like having a license to print money, yet — to my knowledge — there’s never been a Star Wars book to crack the top of the sales charts in the modern era (warning: I haven’t looked that up, it’s based on what I’ve been told, but it’s probably right) despite the fact that virtually every person who buys the top 20 comics is statistically going to be a Star Wars fan too. I take it back to Infinities (oh, SPOILER), because when you hijack the Death Star to ram it into Coruscant just to kill Palpatine, and that image isn’t indelibly seared across my Star Wars loving mind … that’s just poor storytelling. I have a clearer memory of Galen Marek bringing down a Star Destroyer. What’s up with that?

That’ll do.

ANYTHING ELSE? Well …

Aight. Tabu out.

Playing (Music): “Erase Me” by Kid CuDi feat. Kanye West

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