Random Thoughts! (May 8, 2012)
Random Thought! It’s obviously the “Snarky Bitch Bitch Bitch Age.” It’s Random Thoughts time! Get excited!
Random Thought! Last week, I continued to the ride the gravy train and discussed how Marvel is using the lessons of Civil War in Avengers vs. X-Men. Because, well, the only other solutions are that there’s an in-story reason for Captain America’s behaviour or that it’s just bad writing. (Though the other two ideas don’t preclude ‘bad writing’ necessarily…)
Random Thought! I reread the Bendis/Maleev Moon Knight series last week for the next Direct Message discussion with Alec Berry and one thing I noticed (and others may have noticed): Bendis screws up the assistant’s name mix-up joke in the final issue. Through the series, Marc Spector calls his assistant at his TV show ‘Amy.’ In one issue, she leaves a message on his phone where she identifies herself as ‘Annie.’ In the final issue, Marc calls her ‘Annie’ and she reveals that her name is actually ‘Amy,’ implying that he’s been calling her the wrong name the entire time. Except that doesn’t make any sense. I never noticed before, because I never noticed that she had a name.
Random Thought! At no time during “Knightfall,” after getting his back broken and giving Azrael the cowl, does Bruce Wayne ever seem to care what sort of job he’s doing as Batman. Some people are so fucking self-involved.
Random Thought! David Brothers’s negative words about reviews on CBR are not wrong. Discussing art is something I struggled with during my time there, often falling back on the ‘easier’ habit of talking mostly about the concept of the book, the plot — the writing. I tried to do better and, sometimes, I pulled it off. But, he’s not wrong. I do think he overlooks the challenges of doing four to six reviews every week, which isn’t an excuse for not doing a better job, merely a reason. I wasn’t lying when I said that reviewing comics every week is tough, especially when it comes to not falling into familiar routines and finding new things to say. But, David isn’t wrong.
Random Thought! Part of me feels sorry for the Lex Luthor of Earth 23. I mean, we know that he hates Superman because of the same reasons that the regular Lex Luthor hates Superman, but, on his world, people attach a racial component to it because their Superman is black. Granted, Luthor is actually a racist in the sense of hating Superman because he’s an alien… so, wait, I guess I don’t feel sorry for the racist.
Random Thought! This year’s Celebrity Apprentice has been disappointing on the whole. The final four (now three) was definitely the weakest I’ve seen (I didn’t have the first season, but have seen the rest). I don’t really want any of them to win. Arsenio Hall is the best choice of those that remain, but still… weak crop.
Random Thought! Well, judging by Exiled #1, unless this week’s issue of Journey into Mystery is amazing, I won’t bother with the New Mutants half of the crossover and just ride this month out…
Random Thought! I don’t know what to make of Green Arrow. The first issue of Ann Nocenti’s run had a weird energy that swept me along and, then, it’s just become a bizarre mix of things I don’t quite get and stuff I don’t care about. And, yet, I can’t look away.
Random Thought! Oddly, the pre-order price of Warren Ellis’s upcoming second novel Gun Machine is cheaper on Amazon.ca than it is on Amazon.com. Now, I wish the Amazon.ca price was the same as the Amazon.com one so I could just pre-order it now, get guaranteed free shipping, and forget all about it until it ships. (In other news, The Mutineer, Hunter Thompson’s planned third collection of letters, is once again available for pre-order on Amazon.ca with a release date of March 2014. I placed an order, because that’s what I do. I think this is the fifth time I’ve ordered the book. I doubt that this order will be fulfilled.)
Random Thought! Poor Hughie. He did most of it to himself. Still, poor Hughie. (Also, Garth Ennis’s commentary on The Boys #66 is one of the first creator commentaries for comics I’ve seen online that’s actually insightful and worth reading.)
Random Thought! The Barenaked Ladies rarities album Stop Us if You’ve Heard this One Before came out today. I only noticed that it was finally coming out last week and was a little disappointed by the track listing. One b-side, one remix, one live cover, one live song from a studio album, one live song that’s never been recorded, two completely unreleased songs, and five demos/early recorded versions of songs available on albums… It seems like the second collection of this sort that they would release after one that contains all of the other b-sides and demos they had in the archives. That’s not to say that it’s an awful line-up of songs, just a little underwhelming (that it isn’t a disc that uses all 80 minutes adds to that since these sort of collections usually fill up the disc since pacing/cohesion isn’t a concern like it is on an actual album). I’m listening to it now and it’s fine. So far, the Maroon recording of “Half a Heart” isn’t really much different from that on Barenaked Ladies are Men, so there’s that. The demo of “Old Apartment” is very stripped down — just Steven Page and an acoustic guitar it sounds like. Though, the love cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Shake Your Rump” is timed appropriately…
Random Thought! It seems like lots of stuff is coming out around now. Jack White’s solo album was a couple of weeks back, the BNL compilation today, new Tenacious D next week, new Neil Young at the beginning of June… WrestleMania XXVIII on DVD today, Breaking Bad season four on DVD at the beginning of June… Essential Black Panther and Silver Surfer: Parable tomorrow after Batman: Knightfall Vol. 1 a couple of weeks ago and volume two at the end of the month.
Random Thought! Shorter edition this week as I find I have little to say about comics this week. It happens. Sorry.
Random Joe Casey Question! How do you view your time on Cable now? Do you remember it fondly, with embarrassment over early work, or some other way?
Random Joe Casey Answer! I’m not that nostalgic a person, in general, so I don’t think much about it. Not to mention, it seems like a completely different person wrote that series. I thought I could take on the world then, but realizing how much I’ve learned about writing comicbooks since then — just by doing them consistently for the past 15 years — gives me no choice but to look back on CABLE with a slight degree of embarrassment. I think, if there’s anything I could look back on with both pride and relief, it’s the fact that Ladronn was the artist on the book when I got the gig. I’m so fucking grateful that my first major foray into mainstream comicbooks was on a book with a visionary artist that demanded attention from what I considered important segments of both the readership and the fan press. That immediately put me on a level that might’ve taken me a lot longer to get to, had I not worked with Ladronn right away. His skill level and his commitment to telling stories using the language of comicbooks gave me license to push myself and strive to do better work.
And I guess the fact that the character had a slightly negative connotation to him — that he was perceived as an example of the rampant vapidity of early 90’s superhero comics — gave me a chance to make a decent impression, because until James Robinson came on as the writer before me, no one expected CABLE to be a particularly good comicbook. They expected it to sell well, but that’s different from actually being good. And whether or not we succeeded in that is a completely subjective opinion, but I know we wanted it to be good. The interesting thing is that, as early 90’s comics nostalgia is back in a big, bad way, our take on Cable is probably as out of fashion now as it was back then.
Random Comments! Sometimes, I can tell which of my Random Thoughts will get the most attention. Sometimes, I’m surprised. Last week, I wasn’t surprised… you cheap bastards.
Jesse said: I’ve thought about the movie and price thing before. I pretty much refuse to see a movie that’s less than 90 mins in theaters.
Yeah, why bother seeing any movies under 90 minutes in theatres. They all suck. Especially the ones by that Woody Allen guy… doesn’t he know that you can make movies that last longer? A lot of the time, apparently not…
Gavin Bell said: I’m the other way round – I won’t see anything over 3 hours, and in fact I’m of the opinion that almost no movie has an excuse to exceed 2 hours.
And, at the other ridiculous extreme… Arbitrary limitations or judgements are so goddamn stupid and will simply mean excluding a lot of great things for reasons that aren’t actually reasons.
Mecha-Shiva said: I think about price/length when it comes to DVDs of TV seasons. Like HBO used to want $70-80 for a season of Deadwood or the Sopranos, even though they were ~13 episode seasons, and you could get a network series of 20+ episodes for $35 or so at the time. Granted, the HBO shows went over 50 minutes an episode, while the network ones run in the low 40s, but you were still getting less content for a lot more money. Deadwood eventually got cheaper, but since the show just ended leaving me hanging, I never felt the urge to get around to buying the discs. Though I could go for an expletive-filled Ian McShane rant about now.
That argument presumes that all of the shows are equal in quality so quantity could be a determining factor when that’s clearly not the case.
Jeremy said: I know a lot of hardcore video game players question their purchases when they hear about the length of an average playthrough. I know, I know, quality > quantity, but $60 bucks for a game you can beat in a few hours, with little reason to replay it any time soon? That’s a big investment. We’re informerd consumers. We have so much entertainment choices out there, and at the end of the day its $3.99 for 20 pages of story you’ll breeze through in 5-10 minutes. Prices have gone up, actual content has gone down, and sales are lower then ever. I’m sure they don’t relate in any meaningful way, of course.
Raising the topic of ‘replay value’ is where this conversation becomes more interesting to me, because that doesn’t seem to come up as much with regards to comics. It’s not just that they cost X per issue, but what about the ability to reread? For me, that’s a big part of what I buy and sticking with certain things over others. Bendis’s Avengers books, for example, are something that I have an interest in beyond just that initial reading. It seems like so much emphasis is placed upon the short-term view.
T. said: I don’t know about the movie analogy, but as someone who reads a lot of Amazon reviews, I have seen plenty of reviews complain that although a nonfiction book was well-written, enjoyable, clearly written, or full of ideas, it was too few pages for the price.
Those people are morons. Disregard them as such.
Michael said: In terms of trades and prices being more expensive… I guess the feeling is that the “payment” for the convenience is not reading it when it comes out, rather than having an actual tangible value? If it costs more than the single issues /and/ it’s coming out 6 months after the last issue that’s in it shipped, it feels like being hit double. I suspect if the trade came out the same week that the last issue did, or a week or two later – within the same sort of timeframe – then people would be alright with paying a bit more.
Why does when it is released matter? I read Hellblazer in trades only and DC is good about releasing them at a regular interval. I never feel like I’m ‘behind,’ because the wait between trades is roughly the same every time. I’m disconnected from the serial releases. If DC were three years behind instead of roughly 6-9 months, it wouldn’t change my experience.
Joe H said: Also, comparing the price of movies to boxed-sets has really put a stop to buying individual movies for me. Why pay $20 for a dvd of one 90 minute movie when I can buy a 5-disk box set of a television show I enjoy just as much that has at least seven times the run-time for only a $30 or $40 price tag?
Because it’s a great movie that you will enjoy quite a bit and possibly watch many times over the years, eventually forgetting how much it cost because that money was spent long ago, leaving only the movie itself, something you are glad you have?
Rob said: I am surprised there was no comment about Battlescars #6. I was more excited about the debut of Phil Coulson in the regular MU rather than Samuel L Fury.
If you don’t even know your own legal birth name, I doubt your ability to be a superspy.
sandwich eater said: I wait for trades because they are cheaper. I expect them to cost a third to half the cost of the original issues.
What an odd expectation. That mystifies me.
Basara said: Probably the better TV series analogy to page count gripes would be the CN Adult swim series and some of the midnight anime that are 15 minutes long, with seasons 13 or episodes long (or 2 half-seasons). Some were even shorter (FLCL, for example). To me, the only show that has worked for me in that format has been Robot Chicken, and that’s because it’s skit/anthology, and stop-motion to boot (which, given an appreciation for how long SM takes, even with computer help, a season’s worth of 15-minute shows is actually something to applaud – let alone multiple seasons).
I rather enjoy Aqua Teen Hunger Force myself. It really made that 11-minute episode format its own and developed its approach and style accordingly. Frisky Dingo also used it to create a compelling large narrative that is fantastic to watch in one go.
AverageJoeEveryman said: I think the Austin one was a bit longer may be because there is just more to his story. He went from territories to WCW to ECW to WWF mid carder to Biggest star since 80?s Hogan. Whereas Rock went from playing football to developmental right to WWF.
That doesn’t really have anything to do with including a fourth disc of promo material, though.
Speaking of the recent WWE dvd’s I would greatly recommend the Blu Ray versions. I am in no way a tech snob or care greatly about how much clearer the Blu Rays are but well they are and also the extras on all of them are very nice. More matches and for instance on the Edge one there is a 5-10 minute long extra about the Edge and Christian with Comissioner Foley stuff which, granted, should have been on the main part of the doc but wasnt. But all of the new ones have been great: Edge, Rock, Austin, HBK vs Bret, even the Randy Orton one was way better than I would have thought.
From what I’ve read of the Blu Ray exclusive content, the WWE is doing a good job of putting stuff on there that’s very appealing (arguably ‘essential’ in the case of the Survivor Series Hart/Michaels match). I don’t have a Blu Ray player, so I don’t buy the Blu Rays.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading. Later.