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CSBG Archive

Random Thoughts! (November 29, 2011)

Random Thoughts! Finally, Haunt #19 arrives this week! It’s Random Thoughts time! Get excited!

Link Thought! GraphiContent for comics. butterbeatleblog for popculture. 411mania for wrestling reviews and the occasional CD review.

Random Thought! Sorry for the absence last week. Part of it was that I went shopping in Detroit last Tuesday (yes, before the big sales) and part of it was that I didn’t want anything to do with comics for a few days. It’s been pretty obvious that these posts have tilted towards the negative lately and, after a week of reviewing comics for CBR where the best comic I wrote about was 2.5 stars (which isn’t negative, it’s right in the middle), I just wanted to step back and not think about comics for a little bit. (One thing I learned, though: you don’t fuck with the Batbooks. I didn’t even realise that I’d signed up to review three Batbooks until I did those reviews and watched as I became the most hated guy on the Batman forums on CBR’s forums… So, remember that: NEVER FUCK WITH THE BATBOOKS.) Not that it’s going to be all sunshine and rainbows here, either. I wanted to step back for a few days and I did. That’s about it.

Random Thought! I’m a sucker for comics that work off a grid foundation and play around with it. Secret Avengers #19 worked the nine-panel grid with ease it seems. I absolutely love the Steve Rogers fistfight in the street, the way that it’s two pages of nine panels before BOOM! TWO PAGE KNOCKOUT PUNCH! Fuck yeah.

Random Thought! I got Clint #12 in the mail last week from Titan. It’s the first issue that will be released in the UK and North America at the same time — and has an interview with Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons about Secret Service — so they’re pushing it a bit. I’ve got to say that the overall product has improved since the last issue they sent me. The articles have been phased out mostly — the interview, a backpage piece, and a page about “Red Royd” were the only non-comics stuff basically. The diversity of the comics has grown, too, it seems. Two Millar bits, Who is Jake Ellis? #5, “Rex Royd,” and the beginning of Graveyard of Empires. A pretty nice package and I love that the comics are presented at ‘magazine size.’

Random Thought! I made some wrestling DVDs purchases lately. I got the best of 2007 and 2008 for CHIKARA since Michelle loves the best of 2009 and 2010 stuff we’ve been making our way through. Seriously, if you want to watch wrestling with your girlfriend/wife, CHIKARA is the stuff to get the job done. It’s energetic, flashy, and fun. They’re not afraid to work in comedy spots and shift between dead seriousness and absurd hilarity. (Honestly, I’m surprised that Benjamin Birdie isn’t CHIKARA fanboy #1, because it seems right up his alley.) On Sunday night, we watched most of the second disc of the 2010 set and, goddamn, there’s a string of three matches featuring Tim Donst that put him over huge as a guy who knows how to entertain as a heel. He’s not the best in-ring worker, but he’s got the storytelling and personality stuff down.

While in Detroit, I picked up that Randy Orton DVD set and the documentary feature on it is rather good. It basically tells two stories: the build to his match against CM Punk at WrestleMania XXVII and his journey from cocky asshole to family man and responsible adult. They really get across what a douchebag younger Orton was and how he basically made it this far because he’s so talented. What was really surprising was him talking about his stint in the marines, because it does not portray the military in a positive light and that seems antithetical to the image the WWE likes to present. My one big disappointment is how much the set relies on PPV matches. I prefer to see a nice mix of TV and PPV since PPVs are all available on DVD already. And, on Friday, I got a 13-PPV set of WWE DVDs at Costco for $75. It runs from TLC 2009 through to Survivor Series 2010 (and the WrestleMania XXVI set is the three-disc one!). I have no idea why it starts with the last show of 2009 instead of simply presenting 2010 in its entirety… nor why the package says it contains shows from 2010 and 2011. But, at $75, it’s a pretty great deal. So, I’m definitely set for wrestling to watch right now.

Random Thought! I’m pretty much done my Christmas shopping. A few minor things to pick up, but all of the major stuff is done. And I did it all last Tuesday, because I am a shopping god.

Random Thought! God bless Marvel and their ‘we’re being assholes and letting stuff go out of print, but here it is for cheap’ policy. I got Avengers/Defenders War and Marvel Visionaries: Steve Dikto both in hardcover for half off the US cover price over the past couple of weeks (limiting myself to one ‘big’ purchase each week at the shop). They still have a few more of those Marvel Visionaries hardcovers (or, they did when I was there this past week), so maybe I’ll pick them up at some point. I’ve been tempted to get the big hardcover collection of Ed Brubaker’s first year on Uncanny X-Men just because. So far, I’ve resisted, but I can’t promise anything as their stock gets smaller… I am ‘safe’ for the next couple of weeks since Doc Bizarre MD comes out this week and, then, the trade paperback of the first Jack Kirby’s Fourth World omnibus is out next week.

Random Thought! Avengers #19 was a recruitment-centric comic that worked for me in a way that New Avengers #18 failed. I should sit down and examine exactly why the former was successful and the latter was not. I think part of it is something I mentioned last time: there are infinite reasons for a hero to do something and only one, usually, for a villain. Heroic motivations are more interesting than that of villains.

Random Thought! I finally got the first Uncanny X-Force trade and it’s an entertaining little comic. Very direct in the way it skips over a lot of exposition and just gets to it. The art is gorgeous and the story mostly serves the art. I’m looking forward to future collections.

Random Thought! My new issue of Rolling Stone arrived wet because it’s raining and postal workers suck at keeping things dry.

Random Thought! Goddamn, I really do love Almost a Full Moon by Hawksley Workman. It captures the feeling of the winter season (holidays and beyond) so well. The rerecorded Almost a Full Moon Eleven doesn’t quite have the same energy, but is a good listen as well.

Random Thought! I flat-out hated Fear Itself #7.2 for its sheer emptiness, but Matt Fraction pulled it off in The Mighty Thor #8. The issue was a little too busy in places, but I like the effort he’s making to push forward from changes he’s made to the characters and their world. I’m curious to see how Asgardia shapes up and is different from Asgard.

Random Thought! This is looking like a fantastic week for comics: Batman: Odyssey, Daredevil, Doc Bizarre MD, Haunt, Spaceman, Ultimates, Uncanny X-Men, and Vertigo Resurrected: Sgt. Rock – Between Hell and a Hard Place. I’m also getting Avengers Origins: Thor because I like Thor and to review it. Awesome week. Dare I say that I’m excited?

Random Thought! I’m sort of falling love with those Star Trek: Fan Collective DVD sets from a few years back. I got the Q one earlier this year and, recently, the Captain’s Log one where each disc is dedicated to each captain from the five shows (one episode is the pick of the actor, and, then, two fan choices). Considering how goddamn expensive the DVDs for the shows are (I’m sorry, but if you complete series set costs $180 when it’s 60+% off, then you’re charging too much fucking money), it’s a nice way to get some quality episodes. The Sisko disc of this set has two of my favourite television episodes period: “Far Beyond the Stars” and “In the Pale Moonlight.” I am surprised that the Enterprise finale was a fan’s choice for the Archer disc since I thought everyone hated that episode. Of the sets I don’t have, the alternate realities one seems like the best. The Borg one is really just appealing for “The Best of Both Worlds” and would involve putting up with a lot of Voyager crap. The Klingon set could be interesting, same with the time travel one. Still, I really like the concept of these sets, especially since they do go across the shows. I’m generally not a fan of ‘theme DVDs’ for single shows, but the Star Trek shows offer a wider range of episodes, so it works out nicely.

Random Thought! In a better world, Annihilators: Earthfall would have been the big Marvel event this year. The Magus comes to Earth, the Annihilators must stop him, a mix up ensues, friends are made, the Magus takes over a third of the US, more fighting… nice, basic story that offers the potential for a lot of expansion, side plots, and, well, Magnus-fied superpeople fighting against the Avengers and Annihilators. There isn’t anything amazing about it, but it’s so solid and strong that I don’t think anyone would complain. Except for haters. How I hate haters!

Random Thought! I’m genuinely surprised that Captain America & Bucky will continue once Winter Soldier launches. Maybe it will only be for an issue or two to finish up some plot stuff. Otherwise, who thinks that three Captain America titles is remotely possible for an extended period of time? Bucky starring in his own books works because Ed Brubaker has done a fantastic job of making that character one that a lot of people like and want to read about. That’s still impresses me. He brought back Bucky and made it not only work but made the character into one that many like more than Steve Rogers.

Random Thought! I understand the negative reactions to Marvel double-shipping books, but my first reaction was “YAY! More comics that I like to read!” Unusual for a guy like me, I know. Also, I like that Avengers and New Avengers are double-shipping, basically making their crossover a weekly story for a bit. That seems appropriate.

Random Thought! If you’re going to made the effort to send off shitty one-line e-mails that basically say “You suck!” then have the goddamn balls to reply to my extremly literal responses, you chickenshit cowardly fucks. (Seriously, who does that? Are you an adult?)

Random Thought! I voted for married Spider-Man, by the way. Mostly because the whining about how limiting the character is while married kind of annoyed me. It was Marvel basically saying “We’re not good enough! We need a crutch to help us write interesting comics!” That’s not a slight against the writers who joined the title after the marriage was erased, that was the message I got from editorial heading into that decision.

Random Thought! I would read Cable MAX by David Lapham and Kyle Baker.

Random Thought! Rereading some novels by Paul Auster. I skipped over City of Glass in favour of Ghosts and The Locked Room, both of which I like more. City of Glass gets a lot of attention because it was first, it was new, it was original, and the following books continued on from what it began. But, like most new and original things, City of Glass is the weakest of the bunch. Ghosts is much more focused and direct in what it tries to say, while The Locked Room is bigger and more alive. You don’t get those two without City of Glass, but they’re also better.

Random Thought! Avengers/Defenders War isn’t an amazing comic. It’s an entertaining one, though. Like many, I’m a sucker for those times where heroes could fight one another. I remember a pair of Avengers and Avengers West Coast (or was it West Coast Avengers?) annuals where the teams were pitted against one another by the Gamemaster. I loved that shit as a kid. That’s something that’s missing today, I think. Understandably so, because the characters have been around so long and know one another so well that it’s hard to come up with reasons for dumb fights and contests. I think my one ‘dream project’ is an Avengers annual where the team puts on a charity wrestling show… characters fighting one another with some wrestling-influenced action… it doesn’t even need a writer. Just hire a bunch of great artists, give them a match to draw and let them go. Ever since I got back into wrestling, I’ve become secretly (or maybe not as secretly as I think) obsessed with how bad superhero comics fights are and how much they would benefit from more wrestling-influenced stuff. And I had a point in there somewhere, I think.

***

Random Comments! Going back two weeks!

Jeff Holland said: I know this was a typo but it’s also a word that perfectly expresses my frustration with so many comics. And movies. And TV.

People seemed to love the type ‘infodumb’ and I kind of love it, too.

Greg Burgas said: I’m sure “infodumb” was a typo, but I hope not, because it’s my new favorite word (I was going to call it a portmanteau word, because that’s a great term, but I don’t think it is). It’s informative and snide, just like you!

See? Greg is the voice of the voiceless here on Comics Should be Good, so I trust that, when he likes something, thirty thousand mute readers like it too.

DrewT said: What exactly do you do?

I answered this briefly in the comments section, but I’ll answer it again here: I work at a customs broker. My job title right now is an across clerk, which means that I spend my days clearing shipments entering Canada. The team I work on specifically clears produce for a grocery chain in Canada along with a few other smaller produce-based clients. Right now, I work Mondays and Wednesday 10am-6 and Saturday and Sunday 8am-8pm. I’ve been with the company since last October, originally through a job agency and just working the weekend shifts, but was hired on full time in February. I enjoy the job. It’s a job I’m good at and I actually love the weekend shift. But, I also haven’t had a weekend off in over a year, so that’s a little annoying — but Christmas is coming up and it looks like I may have almost a week off (although that could change). As well, I just started a course to become a licensed customs broker that will last until October of 2012.

Christopher said: I never thought there would come a day I’d add a Prophet comic to my pull list. Yet here we are. I’m nearly intriuged enough to go get a run of the first two series just so I can have all 20 preceeding issues when this comes out. I know it’s a bad idea, but I can’t help myself.

Don’t. From what I can tell, this is basically a full-on reboot and what came before doesn’t matter at all.

Travis Pelkie said: Dean White is an awesome colorist because he contains all the colors, obviously.

And Travis wins the comments this week!

What you’re saying about not needing all the gaps filled in is what I’ve been clumsily trying to say when I rail against the supposed Watchmen prequels. I think with that book, everything you NEED to know about these characters and that world is there in the 12 issues, and anything else is extraneous and won’t add anything to the story. (In fact, if the books are any good, they’ll actually risk adding TOO MUCH to the book, in that Watchmen is so structured that to overexplain any one part will make it so the rest of the book changes in its meaning.)

Ah, but there are actual stories to tell there. Presumably, those comics wouldn’t exist JUST to ‘fill in the gaps.’ If Bendis had made the recruitment scenes more worthwhile then I wouldn’t have complained. It’s not that filling in the gaps is bad inherently, it’s that if that’s ALL you’re doing then it’s pointless.

Dan said: I definitely think you’d make a great Andy Rooney. Though I don’t know how you feel about junk mail…

I like deals… and the promise of deals.

Seth T. Hahne said: Also, Chad, did you want to punch the dust jacket designer for 1Q84 as much as I do? It’s too loose, too flimsy, and too perishable. It wrinkles and crinkles and slips and slides while I read. 5% of my reading time is spent adjusting the jacket.

I don’t like it. But, I also don’t keep the dust jackets on hardcover books while I’m reading them, so it wasn’t a constant annoyance for me either.

Enrique said: Where do you place the line between the fans asking too much story and the company delivering and the story being worth telling? For example, in past random comments you have mentioned you like the Babylon 5 novels. What happens in the novels can mostly be inferred from watching the last episode of season 4 and the last episode of season 5, so what made them different?

They were actual stories. That’s the big difference. They added depth to characters, told entire plots that you could MAYBE see in broad strokes, but were much more complex in execution. Take the Centauri Prime trilogy by Peter David: it added new characters, showed the rise of Vir and how he developed into a man who could become Emperor, the actual story with David Sheridan, etc. Yes, it filled in gaps, but it filled them in with a lot of story that was entertaining and stands on its own beyond its role of connecting the dots. Does that make sense?

That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading. Later.

18 Comments

My reaction to that double-splash in Secret Avengers was, “That’s kinda gratuitous, but it’s so awesome I don’t care.”

I think Ellis’s little run on this comic is one of my favorite runs on anything in years.

By “extremly literal”, do you mean “extremely literate”?

I didn’t write any emails and I don’t think you suck. Just thought it was funny.

I received the star trek TNG box set last christmas after years of begging. A few months later they were all streaming on Netflix. It’s still the best DVD set I own. So good.

If I am wrong about literal vs literate then I admit I am a snarky idiot (but I did enjoy the column)

” because I am a shopping god” — sooooo you weren’t the female impersonator who pepper-sprayed some folks over at Wal-mart in L.A.?

Customs broker: Sooooo you’re the reason why my e-bay purchases take so damn long to get to Winnipeg!!!
Bastard! ;-)

I also think that the Star Trek DVDs are way overpriced. I’ve had my eye on DS9 for quite a while, but I just don’t want to pay so much. I also think the Battlestar Galactica blu-ray is overpriced. Especially since I could finish these shows in a month or two if I paid for Netflix.

I voted married for Spidey for no other reason than a “divorce by the devil” is a pretty rotten way to end a marriage. It reeked of shock value and no long term planning. Thank Jebus that Dan Slott, Mark Waid, Fred Van Lente, and the host of rotating artists and creators have just about erased that from our short-term memories.

Warren Ellis should get 6 issue runs all around the Marvel Universe with the freedom Grant Morrison had on X-Men. Talk about shaking up your product….

Just like Doomwar 1-5 (I have erased 6 from my memory for obvious reasons) was a better event than Siege and both Annihilations were better than Civil War and Secret Invasion, Earthfall continues the tradition by owning Fear Itself on almost every level. I am just dreading next year when Bendis rewrites A:Conquest (and to a lesser extant Ultron Imperative) to suit his return of Ultron. And the masses will eat it up so I’m hating in the wind….

My only problem with Avengers/Defenders War and most of the Marvel Visionaries books I got was that it was in the era of cheap binding and fell apart on me with multiple readings… Same with my Heroes Return… A retroactive “Way to take the cheap way out Marvel”

As a wrestling fan, Chikara is a guilty pleasure but quite fun. And I will be attending the JoshiMania show here in Manhattan on Sunday. Should be bananas with their members, along with DragonGate and RoH tearing down the house…

I know we all have our opinions and biases in regard of comics but why go straight to personal attacks when a critic or commenter has a differing opinion regarding a character or book? I thought the internet was supposed to help enrich and open up our ways of thinking?

*gets handed note and reads*

“The internet is for hate and porn. You should know this Hater..”

Ah I see…My bad Chad.. Sorry I brought that up….

Joe, I meant literal.

An e-mail I received: “You’re an Idiot who has no idea how to review comics.”

My response: “That’s a pretty vague criticism. In what way do I not know how to review comics? Were my sentences structured wrong, full of misspellings while breaking the rules of grammar? Did I go off on an unrelated tangent? Did I fail to state my OPINION clearly? In what way was my review written that reveals myself to not be up to the task aside from the obvious: you and I disagree about the comic in question? Please consider your words before sending out e-mails like this in the future as they do not reflect warmly upon you as a critic or a reader of reviews.”

Was the Avengers/Defenders War the first big epic comics crossover? That’s my memory, but I could be wrong. I know that at the time it blew my fragile little mind.

Considering you’re a guy who has said “Superman sucks” on this very column before, you’d think vague criticism wouldn’t bother you so much.

I love the idea of a comic free for all in wrestling style. I mean, the Thing had his wrestling career back in Marvel Two in One days but that doesn’t really count. You would think there would be more of a crossover between the two. CHIKARA aside of course. Also, all wrestling comics have been shit. WWE Heroes for example.
Chad, with your skill at getting deals what do you think of Thwipster? If they don’t ship to Canada, apologies for my ignorance.

Annihilators: Earthfall would have been a much better crossover than Fear Itself. But then again the process of making it into a major crossover might have made it a worse comic. Although then it would have at least gotten a better artist. I really dislike Huat’s art, and between this, the previous Annihilators mini, and Remender’s run on the Punisher he has severely brought down 3 really good storylines.

The thing that’s always bothered me about the ‘limiting’ stance in regards to the Spider-Marriage is that it seems like the only stories/sub-plots that have changed as a result are the ones that specifically involve Peter and/or MJ and/or their relations with other people. I don’t think Keemia’s Castle would have changed even slightly if Spider-Man was still married. Nor do I think it would have prevent the Daily Bugle/DB takeover. Or affect J.J.J., Jr. becoming the mayor. Or the snow in April during those first months. I feel like they all just as easily could have happened with or without a ring on the two characters fingers.

This leaves (or at least in my opinion) only the various dating/relationships/flirtations since then that have shown what happens with a less limited Spider-Man. We’ve seen MJ dating Bobby Carr (Who? Exactly.), Spider-Man with Black Cat (In the Frank “We keep our masks On” Miller tradition), various degrees of flirtation with other characters (Norah Winters, Jackpot) and of course the big one: Peter dating Carlie, who I consider…well, if Amazing Spider-Man was Arrested Development, Carlie Cooper would be its Ann Veal. It legitimately took me years to remember her name without looking it up every single time (the Mysterio arc during The Gauntlet was when I finally started getting it). Oddly enough, the only kind of possible relationship I was actually interested in was swept under the rug fairly quickly: Ms. Marvel. Putting Spider-Man with someone who has greater power (at least in sheer strength) than he does is something I’m pretty sure we’ve never seen before. So naturally we don’t get that.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed much of the stories during Brand New Day. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE what Dan Slott has been doing with Big Time since he took over full time. But I just don’t feel like I’ve seen much that required any continuity-changing stories.

As for whether or not there should be a marriage? My opinion has changed a little in the following years but I believe ultimately in two things: 1) I don’t know if I care if Peter and MJ are married or not, but I do know that I care that they are together. Whether it’s Carlie or Black Cat or Gwen Stacy, I just don’t think anyone other than MJ will hold my attention for long. And 2) I care about good stories at the end of the day. And since then, we’ve had quite a fair share of good stories. But I’d personally argue that some of the weakest elements we’ve seen since ultimately lead back to that pact.

Either way, Amazing Spider-Man is pretty amazing these days regardless of what happened (and didn’t happen) in the past. And I guess that’s all that really matters.

I WON THE COMMENTS!!! WOO!!!

What’d I win, what’d I win?

Oh look, 2 things, Jack and Squat. yay?

Kirby’s Fourth World omnis are in TP now? Cool. How much are they?

That Vertigo Resurrected: Sgt Rock thing has got to be at least 2 volumes, right? I’ve got the trade and it’s at least 120 pages, I think. Maybe more. It’s pretty good, but to split it into multiple volumes is kinda dumb, since I believe Joe Kubert’s intent with the book was to have it be a Sgt Rock “novel”. I’d also complain if it is all in one and it’s way cheaper now, but I did get my copy for free (whistles innocently….).

Ever get emails like: “Your a bad comics reviewer. If I got paid off by company A, I’d slag book’s by company B to.”?

Are those Auster books the “New York Trilogy”? I think I picked up a version with all 3 in one volume at a library book sale, just haven’t gotten around to reading it (as I said on Hatcher’s column, shelf of shame nothin’, I’ve got a ROOM of shame. But I’m working on sorting it. Although I’m frustrated because I can’t find a certain comic, and it’s bugging the hell out of me. Arrgh!)

God help us all if Burgas is the voice of the voiceless.

I, uh, have a shipment of “lettuce” that I need to get over the US/Canadian border. Can you help me out? Help yourself to several “heads” of “lettuce” for your trouble.

Actually, if you do encounter anything of Tom’s ever, make sure you hassle with it. It’s probably illegal anyway :)

Man, I realize that I’m still arguing the Watchmen prequel thing, and we STILL haven’t heard yea or nay on if it’s true. So I will stop beating this horse (for now) and agree to disagree with you, Chad. @$$#o!3 (whistles innocently yet again….)

And since you brought up wrestling, my little idea was that the “wrestling is scripted” has a vague comics analogue. From what I understand of wrestling, the matches and storylines are scripted in the sense that plot points are hammered out, certain events must happen, and so on. Getting from point A to point B is, to a degree, up to the wrestlers.

So in other words, it’s the Mighty Marvel Method. The wrestling scripters are Stan working with Jack or Steve on the overall plot, Jack and Steve bring the noise in the ring by showing the action, and then the dialogue is provided by the wrestling announcers and stuff.

Mind you, I haven’t watched wrestling since right before it got big when Stone Cold started getting popular, but I doubt certain things have changed, though.

These are the pathways my brain takes….

@ Travis Pelkie: But I NEED my black leather lingerie!!! (All good things are illegal, anyway)

BTW, wrestling IS scripted. Just check out Aronsky’s film “The Wrestler”. It’s the last word on what’s goes on in the violent world of wrestling. Plus, I’m reminded of that scene by the Coen Bros, Barton Fink, where he says to detectives, “We wrestled!”

Ed (A Different One)

November 30, 2011 at 7:54 am

Wow, this is the first time I’ve heard that Ellis’s run on Secret Avengers is only 6 issues *sad*. I wonder if that was an editorial decision or Ellis just wanting to move on and do something else. If the latter, then it at least means we’re getting some more Ellis goodness coming up in a different package. If the former, then BOOOOO I say. BOOOOOOOOO.

To be honest, at this point, I’m just about ready to drop all of the Avengers titles. Secret Avengers was keeping me on board, but after Ellis leaves, what point is there?

Ellis only signed on for a 6 issue run. 6 issues, 6 different artists.

The Remender Uncanny X-Force is a vast improvement over its predecessor. While the previous WolverTeam comic took itself way too seriously, Remender allows enough ironic distance from the ridiculous bloodshed to make the overall book enjoyable, with the dramatic moments actually having meaning when they arrive.

@Tom: I wouldn’t have thought I could vomit that much….UGH!

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