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Random Thoughts!… with Bill Reed!? (June 7, 2011)

Random Hijack! Yes, I am stealing Chad Nevett’s bit for a week whilst he takes a hiatus from this column. Yes, this is all Travis Pelkie’s fault. It’s Random Thoughts time! Get excited! (Or don’t. It’s really up to you. This is a free country.)

Link Thought! CSBG for comics. Idle of Millions for… well, not much else.

Random Thought! Speaking of my own blog that I rarely update, I did just post the 52 first issues I would publish were I DC. The ones I’d most want to write myself are, as you may be able to guess, Jimmy Olsen, Aquaman, Blackhawk, and Swing with Scooter. (Call me, DC.)

Random Thought! Since I’m linking to things I wrote on my other blog, why don’t you check out this excerpt from a steamy romance novel I’m (not actually) writing?

Random Thought! So Graeme McMillion$ asked which director should reboot Batman next. My answer was thus:

Wes Anderson: A wry, modern reclamation of the 1966 TV series, Anderson’s Batman (Sam Rockwell) is a guy in the throes of a midlife crisis, who has built himself a family from the ground up, with Robin (Jason Schwartzman), Batgirl (Ellen Page), and his trusty butler, Alfred (Michael Gambon)– plus Aunt Harriet (also Michael Gambon), who is starting to think Bruce and Dick’s relationship might not be so platonic. Meanwhile, he continues his harried caped crusade against his enemies, including a Joker who’s forgotten how to laugh (Bill Murray), a Catwoman who’s becoming more cougar than sex kitten (Gwyneth Paltrow), a Penguin who’s just been diagnosed with lung cancer (Bud Cort), and a Riddler who has seemingly mellowed out thanks to prescription medication (Willem Dafoe).

Also, every villain’s henchmen are played by the same three guys– Luke, Owen, and Andrew Wilson.

Random Question! Should I join Twitter? And send scandalous pictures of myself to you, my dear readers?

Random Thought! Whenever I’m logged into WordPress/this blog, the spam filter eats my comments. What the what?

Random Thought! When I sketched this post out this morning, I intended to say “Of DC’s 34 or so announced series, I plan to buy… none of them.” But then DC had to go and announce today’s titles, a few of which sound very tempting. I’ll probably give Frankenstein! a go, at the very least, and maybe even Demon Knights and Swamp Thing (I’m sure that made Mike Sterling happy).

Random Thought! If I was gonna pick a random late-90s DC comic to bring back, however, I would have chosen Young Heroes in Love.

Random Thought! If DC announces PREZ and/or THE GREEN TEAM tomorrow, they get all my money.

Random Thought! Once Ruse wraps up, I won’t be buying any Marvel comics at all, unless I decide to pick up Mystic (the art looks lovely). I do plan to get Journey Into Mystery and Ellis’ Secret Avengers in collected format, however, and quite possibly Fraction’s Thor, despite the word of mouth from the blogosphere.

Random Thought! I bought the latest Lady Gaga album on mp3 from Amazon when they had the whole shebang on sale for 99 cents. I will never, ever listen to it, but I couldn’t resist such a good deal.

Random Thought! Chad would write about wrestling in this space, but I will write about Doctor Who instead (no spoilers, BBC America viewers). Steven Moffat has been writing his episodes like Grant Morrison writes his comics– he barrels along and cuts out the slow bits to fit in more stuff. He expects the viewer to keep up. He rewards rewatching.

Random Thought! I’d love to see Grant Morrison or Warren Ellis pen a Doctor Who episode. If not, I’ll settle for a return engagement from Neil Gaiman. His episode was quite good.

Random Thought! If they remade Doctor Who in the United States, I can think of but one American capable of playing the title role: Alan Tudyk.

Random Thought! If you’re a Doctor Who fan you should be reading Frank Collins’ Cathode Ray Tube and Phil Sandifer’s TARDIS Eruditorum. Those guys are good.

Random Thought! So I watched the newish Green Hornet movie. I dug all the stuff with Jay Chou (Kato), but Seth Rogen brought the whole thing down. Yes, it’s a fairly bold move to make the hero a screw-up and a jerk and to keep him that way for the full run time, having the “sidekick” be the competent one, but the execution doesn’t work to make Rogen’s character even slightly palatable; it’s Superbad with fight scenes. The climax of the movie brings it into full-on Observe & Report territory. I much prefer the TV series with Van Williams.

Random Thought! Also, I finally saw the Thor movie, in glorious 2D. It certainly is a movie about Thor. Hemsworth and Hiddleston do great work with what they’re given, but Thor’s character arc/transformation isn’t fully earned. Loki lies to him, he drinks some beer, he cooks breakfast, and suddenly, he learns his lesson. Meanwhile, the romance with Jane Foster seems based more on lust than character. I get that Thor has more characters and more pieces of story to set up, but while Tony Stark and Peter Parker learn responsibility by the end of Act One and work to fulfill that responsibility over the course of the next two acts, Thor’s turnaround comes at the tail end of Act Two, and his “fulfillment” is immediate. Still, I liked the movie just fine– not as much as Iron Man, but more than Iron Man 2. But I’m a big Thor fan– I guess I’m simultaneously harsher, and more lenient. Any movie with a Walt Simonson cameo has to be good, though. Right?

Not-So-Random Thought! My favorite character in the Thor movie was Idris Elba’s Heimdall, who always gets the shaft in the comics. Here, he’s a consummate badass. Take that, racists.

Deliberate Follow-Up Thought! Thor nitpicks? Not enough winged helmet, and the Destroyer gets chumped (Chad would probably say “jobbed,” because he is a wrestling fan, and then he would say “eh,” because he is Canadian.)

Random Thought! I probably won’t get around to writing actual reviews this month, so I just want to say: Xombi #3 is the best issue yet, with thrilling, beautiful, creepy scenes. What happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object? We find out. Please buy this comic. (I could do without the Super 8 insert).

Random Thought! I’d like to see John Rozum and Frazer Irving tackle Batman, Doom Patrol, or even Swing with Scooter– I think they’d be terrific. (Frankenstein! is already taken, alas.)

Random Thought! I think Brian Clevinger has started writing Atomic Robo just for me. To wit, here’s a panel from the Free Comic Book Day special:

This is what the inside of my brain looks like.

Random Thought! On Batman Inc. #6: Chris Burnham’s art is extraordinary, seemingly combining influences from Frank Quitely and Cameron Stewart, two of Morrison’s best collaborators. I’m very pleased he’s the artist for BATMAN INC: LEVIATHAN or whatever they’re calling it.

Random Thought! On Detective Comics #877: I am enjoying Scott Snyder’s run on this book, but the pacing is too slow. It reminds me of the early-90s Bat-stuff I adore, but the Grant/Breyfogle team could fit three Snyder/Jock issues into one. Take this splash page with the Batboat, por ejemplo:

Knight Boat!

In a film, this shot would look awesome, for it is neatly composed, but it would only take up three to five seconds of real estate. In a comic, it takes up one-twentieth of the available pages– five whole percent– and it’s one of three splash pages in the book. Note how about half of the page imparts no visual or textual information whatsoever. That’s wasting space. (This is the kind of thing Colin Smith writes novellas about!)

Random Thought! That said, I wish John Workman would letter this series, because his and Jock’s mutual love for negative space would mesh well.

Random Thought! By removing Dick Grayson and adding Greg Capullo, DC is doing its damndest to dissuade me from buying Scott Snyder’s Bat-run.

Random Thought! Not that I’ll be buying Nightwing, either. Dick Grayson only interests me when he wears a Batman suit.

Random Thought! Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth #3 is one of the best single issues I’ve ever read. Ethan Nicolle’s art combines the cluttered-but-clear stylings of George Perez with the nervous cartoon energy of Doug TenNapel. There’s a game-changing plot twist every two pages, and it boasts the greatest ending in the history of fiction. This will be only the second comic I buy in multiple formats– the first being Jack Kirby’s New Gods. That’s good company; that’s how much I love Axe Cop.

45 toy lines are created and destroyed within the pages of this comic.

Random Thought! Dilemma: I buy the comics I love the most– Morrison’s stuff and Atomic Robo, basically, though Axe Cop and Xombi have joined their ranks– in single issues, because I want to support sales at their base level and I can’t bear to wait for the trade. But these are also the comics I’d most like to have in a sturdier format, like, say, a collected edition that can sit on a shelf. But I’m very cheap, and I hate buying stuff twice– unless, you know, it’s New Gods or Bad Guy Earth, apparently. What do I do?

Random Thought! Dilemma the second: I’ve been invited to vote in The Hooded Utilitarian’s Best Comics Poll, but I am having trouble coming up with the best ten entries I can. #1 and 2 are easy; it’s everything else! (I think Daytripper, despite being pretty damn new, makes the cut. It’s that good.)

Random Thought! So Kyoto Seika University is launching a Ph.D program in manga. My dream of obtaining a doctorate in comics isn’t even a dream anymore. It’s just me being lazy. Dammit.

Random Thought! What the hell, here’s a link to a massive Dan Harmon interview on the AV Club (part one of four!). Dan Harmon is the creator and showrunner of Community. Community is the best TV show on American television.

Random Thought! Since this is Random Thoughts, I must talk about the Barenaked Ladies, so here goes: Gordon is a much better album than I’d remembered. Maybe You Should Drive is still my favorite. (It’s a young man’s doomed romance album– you can plot the maturation of band members by the content or themes of the albums.)

Random Thought! So Dunkin Donuts is selling any size of iced coffee for 99 cents. I bought a large. A large iced coffee is too much iced coffee for a human being of my height and weight– it took me two hours to drink, and I was wired for hours– wired enough to write 95% of this post out by hand. Now, at the time of typing/revising/posting, I can barely keep my eyes open.

Random Thought! I really didn’t think I’d have enough thoughts to fill a column.

35 Comments

Travis Pelkie

June 7, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Woo hoo, I shamed Bill into more columns! I HAVE THE POWER!!!

I won’t even go into the typos…

OK, later I will.

And yes, that FCBD Atomic Robo kicked ass. Best of the FCBD issues, which unfortunately are all I’ve read.

More thoughts later.

And no Twit picks, with “Reed” there are too many puns similar to that other twit-pic-er in the news. Ugh.

There is no better way to get me to stop listening to you than to start talking about fictional characters “jobbing.” My doctor could be explaining to me what that thing the size of a grapefruit growing from my neck is, and if he even mentioned the word, I would immediately tune him out.

Travis Pelkie

June 7, 2011 at 5:50 pm

It depends on the word right before “jobbing”.

wakkawakkawakka

I was totally planning on doing 52 titles, but I will clog up CSBG space, damn it! I will have creative teams, as well! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

“I was totally planning on doing 52 titles AS WELL,” I should have written. And I would give Ethan Nicolle a DC book, because he’s damned good. See? I can be nice to Axe Cop!

“Steven Moffat has been writing his episodes like Grant Morrison writes his comics– he barrels along and cuts out the slow bits to fit in more stuff. He expects the viewer to keep up. He rewards rewatching.”

Is that why I’m loving Doctor Who so much now? I think it might be.

I recently read Brubaker’s Prez comic from like 94. They should re-release it, the social commentary is especially relevant right now. At least I thought so.

Wasting a dollar isn’t getting a deal…

And Community is so far from being the best. It’s a pretty typical sitcom that puts a lot of effort into disguising itself as something wry and irreverent. Like Parks and Rec. But the characters are predictable and thin, the acting’s superficial, and the plots are so obvious and cliched it hurts. Even a middle tier show like Modern Family is a whole lot better, because it’s not constantly trying to show how much cooler it is than other shows.

Alan Tudyk would actually get me to give a crap about Dr. Who for the first time ever.

Bill! I love random thoughts!

What to do with all those floppies you dig so much and can’t NOT buy (Atomic Robo/Xombi/Kirby New Gods and Axe Cop) but want to keep in a sturdier format?!

Random Obvious Thought! You have them bound into 20-ish issue comic runs! In any order you want! It’s an assemble-it-yourself-HC program. You already own the content, just tell the binder what order they go in!

Read more here! Drink more iced coffee if you get sleepy!

http://marvelmasterworksfansite.yuku.com/forums/2/Uncollected-Editions-The-Homegrown-Hardcovers-Binding-Forum#.Te7SNs04S-Y

Random Booyah!

Actually, now that I think about it, Community is kind of the Lady Gaga of TV shows. They both think they’re being so innovative and provocative, but they’re actually just generic and tame.

Travis Pelkie

June 7, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I wanted to like more Lady Gaga, but ugh on the new stuff. I liked the videos and songs she was doing before the new one (The Fame Monster stuff, basically), but this new recycled Madonna stuff is ugh.

Although I will say this, watch the beginning of the “Born This Way” video. The very opening shot is similar to that build it yourself thing on the cover of OMAC 1, and the “Mother Monster” creation myth she narrates sounds like something that Kirby could have come up with.

Seriously, I just compared Lady Gaga and Jack Kirby. No, I’m not high.

Grant Morrison on Doctor Who would be great for me, but everyone would whine and complain that his episode makes no sense, even though it would probably be one of the best episodes of the new series.

I think if Warren Ellis wrote an episode, it should be something like blink where the doctor isn’t the main focus, but instead a group of other characters.

I really want Lady Gaga to fulfill her potential and become the love child of David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, but she just hasn’t made it there.

Community is brilliant. It’s like American TV’s answer to Spaced, at last.

(Yes, the spam filter ate this comment. I have to go in and approve my own comments for posting. What a world.)

Travis Pelkie

June 7, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Yeah, your comment didn’t show up in my email. The same thing happens to Kelly’s comments.

The scary thing is that there probably really IS a love child of Bowie and Freddie out there, somehow, somewhere.

I’m now picturing Gaga with a big ol’ Freddie mustache. It is amusing.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 7, 2011 at 7:30 pm

If they remade Doctor Who in the United States, I can think of but one American capable of playing the title role: Alan Tudyk.

They already did, and it was Paul McGann who played him!

But Doctors only last 3 seasons or so these days – you’ll need to find a replacement doctor or two!

And Community is so far from being the best

The first season showed a lot of promise, but with the second season – holy shit did it bomb.
They decided to shift to almost non-stop ‘theme episodes’, and then seemingly ran out of ideas for them.
Was anyone asking for, or even enjoy watching, the Dinner With Andre/Pulp Fiction themed episode?
The best episode of the season was the one where Shirley gave birth – it was just a character driven episode, that really worked (also, having all the background characters talk throughout about how much they hate the main characters was a nice touch).

I really want Lady Gaga to fulfill her potential and become the love child of David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, but she just hasn’t made it there.

I’ve heard a few people mention this idea of her potential to be Bowie, and I’m really curious as to what people are basing it on.
Wearing costumes is the best I can figure, and that seems a pretty thin thread.
His first hit was Space Oddity, hers was Poker Face… thus I find it hard to believe it’s based on quality of song writing.
So where does this comparison come from?
I’ve seen little to convince me she’s not just Britney Spears, coming at it from a slightly altered angle.

You could get your comics library bound. You remove the staples and send it in to a company and they bind into a sturdier book, so you’d have a trade with covers and ads. It usually costs about 20 bucks.

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 7, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Quit blaming Travis Pelkie and give him a damn column to write/vent about already!!!!!!

Maybe that’ll SHUT him up!!!!!! hah! likely not! ;-)

(Sometimes I outdo myself)

As usual, Bill, we are pretty much right on the same page. In particular, I’d be all over a Lois Lane, Investigative Reporter series, as well as a Jimmy Olsen book that’s keeping with Nick Spencer’s awesome little run.

And *hell yes* Community is the best show on American TV. To those who watch “The Big Bang Theory” on Thursday nights instead, I ask… WHY!?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 7, 2011 at 8:28 pm

And *hell yes* Community is the best show on American TV.

Wow, I thought we were talking best network sitcom, which seemed a stretch to me.

Best Tv show?

At a time when 30 Rock, Eastbound And Down, Bored To Death, A Game Of Thrones, Mad Men, and Boardwalk Empire are on the air, or are between seasons, you think Community is the best of the best?

Each to his own, but I just don’t think it holds up against others in it’s own genre, let alone when you take other genres into account.

To those who watch “The Big Bang Theory” on Thursday nights instead, I ask… WHY!?

Season two of Community left me wondering if I’d bother with it anymore… but if it was a choice between Community and Big Bang Theory, that’s no choice at all.

Mike Loughlin

June 7, 2011 at 8:33 pm

I like Community a great deal. It’s one of the few shows I watch with any regularity. I don’t think either season has been completely even, but at its best Community can make me laugh more than anything else on t.v. these days.

Lady Gaga’s stealing from Kirby now? If she scores the next George Lucas film, Kirby’s ghost will rise from the grave and seek his righteous vengeance. Too bad my kids like her music; I think going through life without hearing anymore of her music would be bliss.

Whoops – I meant to write best American *comedy* show. (But that, I truly believe.)

Travis Pelkie

June 7, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Mike, I don’t know if Gaga is stealing from Kirby, but he came to mind when I saw that video.

I think (speaking for myself and universalizing it with no evidence) those of us who want Gaga to do better music (or live up to her potential, like Bill sez) don’t normally like her kind of music, but find her stuff catchy. So we want it to be better because otherwise, what’s wrong with us for liking it?

Plus, I tend to give a pass to Gaga, Britney, Xtina, Katy Perry et al if I find them purty. (Ok, not Katy’s “music”, but you get the drift).

and Tom, I’d tell you to shut up if your idea wasn’t so good. Tell Brian!

Yep, a Blackhawk or Challengers of the Unknown series would be about the only way I’d get a DC series. (And I blame that almost entirely on Darwyn Cooke.)

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 8, 2011 at 5:27 am

@ Mr. B.C.: Maybe it’s time to give TP here a blog to terrorize us all with his opinions. ;-)

Community’s first season was fairly brilliant, but the second season was dreadful due to the obsession with trying top “Modern Warfare” and the complete abandonment of meaningful character dynamics. I agree with Apodaca that it is at this point a typical (maybe even mediocre) sitcom that is trying really hard to prove that it is something “different.”

Where I part ways with Apodaca, however, is on the idea that Parks and Recreation is cut from the same cloth. Parks and Rec does not depend on gimmicks, themes or anything beyond solid writing and likable characters. Something 30 Rock used to have in abundance before it too abandoned all sense of character and turned itself into a shallower, less funnier version of Family Guy.

Ed (A Different One)

June 8, 2011 at 5:58 am

The Lady Gaga phenomenon continues to fascinate me, but not in a good way. I’m sure they’ll be many who disagree, but to me, she’s just a failed Tori Amos-styled piano songstress who figured “what the hell, I’ll just act as ridiculous as I can in the most obvious way possible, pass it off as “artistry”, and see how gullible the public is.” She then goes on to borrow some of the most obvious elements from Madonna and Marilyn Manson, mish-mashes them together, and poof – sales through the roof, a music industry success. She then looks at everything she’s accomplished thus far and wonders, “how far can I push this ridiculousness and how long will the music-buying pulbic continue to eat it up”. She then recycles the mid-90′s Madonna motif with a few meat-dress type twists and poof – Oh look how innovative she is!

Don’t get me wrong, she’s a success story and a lot smarter than people give her credit for. I think she’s doing this all very deliberately just to see how far she can continue to dupe the public into mistaking schlock for artistry (and let’s face it, music has a long and celebrated history of doing exactly that). It’s almost getting “meta” at this point. She’s a master salesperson, but at the end of the day, the emporer just doesn’t have any clothes.

[...] Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Resources Posted in new additions, Uncategorized | Tags: [...]

I’ve given Parks and Rec a lot of chances because people whose taste I normally agree with keep saying how great it is. But on the most recent episode I watched, for example, they used the tired plot device of people accidentally getting way too drunk and revealing character traits or conflicts that the writers couldn’t reach organically. Poehler’s character is totally unlikely, and instead of reaching any kind of meaningful resolution to her conflict with Rashida Jones, she just got her way and they acted like it was a compromise. And if Aziz Ansari isn’t the most annoying man on TV, I’m afraid to know who is. That show doesn’t earn any of its emotional beats and the jokes are really weak. They’re too dependent on the characters being funny in any given scenario, and whether it’s due to writing, acting, or direction, it’s just not there.

“Unlikely” should be “unlikeable”.

It took me quite a few tries to warm up to Parks and Recreation, but I think I finally, legitimately enjoy the show. But, you know, it’s no Community.

daniel the demon cleaner

June 9, 2011 at 1:14 am

I really want Lady Gaga to fulfill her potential and become the love child of David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, but she just hasn’t made it there.

Yeah, slim chances on that.

Honestly, I’m ok with Gaga, but people should really think twice before they compare her to Bowie or even Freddie.

It’s almost getting “meta” at this point.

I think she was intentionally “meta” from the beginning or close to it. Her whole thing is to combine her image and her videos with music (that’s basically pumped-up eurodisco and Madonna) to comment on the decline of mainstream pop. Not very orignal, but a good artist could make it work. My personal problem with her approach is that it comes off as “mainstream pop sucks and the only thing it’s good for is showing how much it sucks”. Her true crime, however, is giving the world RedOne, her producer. Ever since she became big, that guy Gagafied some perfectly fine pop stars and, contrary to what some may believe, that is not a good thing.

Travis Pelkie

June 9, 2011 at 1:56 am

Oh, on the Gaga/Freddie bit — from what I read, Brian May does a solo on a song on the new Gaga album. So maybe you DO wanna give a listen, Bill.

And somewhat abrupt segue:

FLAAAAAASSSHHHH

PO-OINNNNNTTTTTT

It’ll change every one of us!

FLAAAAAAASSSSHHHH

PO-OINNNNTTTTTTT

despoiler of the universe!!!!

FLASSHHHHHSHSHHHHHH

PO-OINNNTTTTTTT

(cue cool ass solo)(and poundy piano key bit)

(should that be “rebooter” of the universe?)

FunkyGreenJerusalem

June 9, 2011 at 4:53 pm

God bless Travis.
I’ve got my Flashpoint books to read tonight, and now I know what my soundtrack will be!

Travis Pelkie

June 10, 2011 at 7:59 am

You’re quite welcome, funky.

Did you like the Lemire title? I’m looking forward to the rest of this mini, and the new series. I think Lemire will do a nice job with Hellboy.

Oh, wait, that was Frankenstein, never mind.

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