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Joe Rice Media Review 4/2/07

Hey, guess what!  As an elementary school teacher, guess who has the next week-plus off!  It’s me!  I do!  Who’s still sitting in his PJs without a care in the world?  Also me!  Who has a gigantic stack of comics to review?  That one is not me.  I have a few, though, and even a movie!  And this week, 66% fewer potshots at Greg Burgas–GUARANTEED!

DMZ wrapped up its latest storyline in a manner I found more satisfying than I’d anticipated.  I didn’t see a whole lot of ways out, and this overall ending was unexpected.  At times the art changed from the European cartooning style to an almost Mike-Zeckian hyper-romantic thing, and, if this was purposeful (I believe it was) it was used effectively.  Roth, our protagonist, goes from skinny journalist trying to find his friends to larger and larger, almost heroic-proportions.  His actions take him over, and Burchelli turns him into a more typical American action comics figure.  But when the danger is over and Roth’s situation is deflated, so is he.  He again is smaller, skinny, and literally needs the support of his friends.  And it’s the smaller, more personal scenes at the end that really make this story work, and they showcase Wood’s considerable strengths as a writer of human beings.

I wish Andy Kubert’s dad inked the inside of Batman, too.  He might have made his son stage the action in more understandable ways.  But Grant Morrison’s writing is at least fun in this installment.  Morrison’s seemed to have more trouble making a good Batman comic than anyone other than his most dunder-headed detractors would have predicted.  So far the Morrison run has been half-good, half-eh and one issue (the previous) of just plain awful.  This issue is more of a “straight-up” Batman story, with some nice Bruce Wayne action, a fey Andre 3000-as-pimp, mysterious fears of a “black casebook” and a pumped-up Bane/Batman hybrid with too much testosterone.  Hm–a sudden thought.  Is Morrison writing his Batman run to parallel the publishing history of Batman?  (Violent beginning; some treading of water; a gimmicky, visual-gag-ridden time; adventure around the world; psychological horror; pumped up imitation Batmen . . .) It’s something to look into for people better-versed in said history.  That said, it was an entertaining, well-crafted issue with sadly few marks of the author.

I believe with the last issue of Ultimate Fantastic Four I had expressed doubts as to whether the art was going to drive me away from what might be a fun story.  Well, as of this issue it has.  I’ve never been fond of Kolins’ work, but it’s sadly the stronger half of this issue.  Mark Brooks’ work is a bland combination of artists I don’t like to begin with with a horrible design sense but, I’ll admit, decent storytelling.  Maybe if I found this story a bit more interesting I’d find it worthwhile, but I do believe I’ll wait until Ferry returns for the Silver Surfer arc.  (He is coming back, right?  Please?)

And, lo, there did come a new issue of Optic Nerve.  The third and final part of Adrian Tomine’s first multi-issue story arrived at Rocketship and I just finished reading it.  It’s going to take a while to completely unpack it.  It’s dense, it’s difficult, and it’s achingly real.  Tomine’s sense of humor never disappears, even during the most heart-wrenching of moments there’s enough self-mockery to keep the book from self-indulgence.  Interracial relationships are the heart of the issue, along with how one projects his or her shortcomings on the rest of the world.  My sister dated someone like the white guy in this book for a while, so I found him extra-entertaining.  But this really was a great demonstration of Tomine’s talents, as a satirist, as a revealer of human conditions, and as a fantastic cartoonist.  Every line (of pen or dialogue) is expertly crafted for the express purpose of expressing Tomine’s purpose.    If you haven’t followed this story, you can probably pick up all three issues still.  Optic Nerve really is a vital part of today’s comics and well-worth your time.  Don’t make the beginner’s mistake of thinking Tomine approves of his characters behavior all the time.  He’s often ridiculing it and exorcising it from himself.

My wife and I went to see The Host on Friday.  If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a Korean-import monster film that’s really getting a lot of buzz.  I went in ready for a fun genre romp, but it really went beyond that while still being a fun genre romp.  The story involves an accidentally-created big slug/leech/something monster that lives in the Han River in South Korea.  It goes nuts and attacks a bunch of people.  Our perspective is centered around a disfunctional family and their efforts to save themselves and each other from the beast.  I can’t recall a movie that so effectively used horror, humor, and actual human emotions and blended them in such a seemless way.  It’s really remarkable, honestly, and only Children of Men in the past year or two has really bested it in terms of overall movie quality.  Check it out.

19 Comments

Big deal. I’ve been off for six months!

Oh, wait. That’s because I’m unemployed…

(I saw a trailer for The Host in front of… something, I don’t remember what. It looked pretty cool. And it’s not like there’s anything else on between now and Spidey.)

I honestly look forward to Blades of Glory with hopeful trepidation.

Yeah, you keep on doing that.

The Host trailer is awesome. One of the best trailers I’ve ever seen.

I have to disagree with Joe’s assessment of the film, though. It was a bit more than a ‘fun genre romp,’ but not much more. Putting next to Children of Men is absurd. It was cute and, yes, filled with real emotion and a lot of genuinely funny moments. But it starts to fall apart after the first half-hour and became progressively harder for me to care about, especially by the climactic battle. The epilogue was nice, though.

And it’s not like there’s anything else on between now and Spidey

There’s Hot Fuzz, which I am anticipating more hotly than Spidey. And it keeps getting pushed back. But… April 20th. April 20th… I can make it…

And there’s Grindhouse, which looks fun, though I probably won’t go see it in the theater.

Host isn’t as good as Children of Men, not even close . . .but it’s better than the others I’ve seen since and before. It’s really excellent, I think. The melding of tonalities is so seemless and effortless I’m just amazed at the craft of it.

“It’s really remarkable, honestly, and only Children of Men in the past year or two has really bested it in terms of overall movie quality. Check it out.”

Disagree. ‘The Host’ was a much, much better movie with three-dimensional characters that actually discussed larger themes, instead of just pointing at them and then shying away. And it didn’t even completely fall apart at the end!

The fact that it was also funnier *and* more emotional is icing on the cake.

“There’s Hot Fuzz, which I am anticipating more hotly than Spidey. And it keeps getting pushed back. But… April 20th. April 20th… I can make it…”

No way! It came out here about a month ago. Funnily enough it was filmed in Wells about 10 miles from where I live. It’s really good, so don’t worry.

I saw The Host last week with my girlfriend, and we both really like it too. One of those great moments that had a little bit of everything, including political jabs. It’s one of the few movies I’ve ever thought that it seemed long in a good way. The movie felt like it had an endless supply of layering and character moments it kept pulling from. Also, that monster looked awesome.

And, lo, there did come a new issue of Optic Nerve.

And wouldn’t you know, my shop didn’t have it in. They told me it had been pushed back for release.

I am pissed.

Sorry, I’m still getting the hang of this format.

This is really trippy.

I don’t get it. What’s trippy, Dan?

How did Children of Men ‘completely fall apart at the end?’ I was glued to the screen from start to finish.

I hope that works.

Yeah, I don’t see Children of Men as falling apart either. I thought its examination of issues more subtle and its acting more vibrant and real. And the cinematography! Oy!

I think that worked . . .

The trippiness was due to everything retroactively becoming a quote.

I think Joe fixed it, though.

My programmer is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses. But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using WordPress on a variety of websites for about a year and am nervous about switching to another platform. I have heard very good things about blogengine.net. Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it? Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

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