Random Thoughts! (July 3, 2012)
Random Thought! We’re now taking requests here on Comics Should be Good on this fine Tuesday afternoon. Who has a request? Any requests? I have a request! I request Random Thoughts! It’s Random Thoughts time! Get excited!
Random Thought! Riding the Gravy Train 13 features me talking about the idea that the Avengers are now the good guys again in Avengers vs. X-Men, but that means little. Not a terribly original post for this series, I’ll admit…
Random Thought! For some reason, May was my second-largest month for hits since blogger started tracking that stuff for me automatically. When it happened, people suggested that maybe the lack of CBR review posts helped along with my posts on Avengers vs. X-Men. But, then, June was back to regular numbers, so… what was so special about May? It baffles me.
Random Thought! Joe Keatinge has one fatal flaw when it comes to Thanos: Son of Titan: his name isn’t Jim Starlin. Unfair, I know.
Random Thought! The Hives concert on Wednesday was fantastic. It was at Clutch Cargo’s in Pontiac and the venue was pretty good. Decent size, plenty of places to buy drinks, not too hot inside… Not much else I need. Because I am old and lazy, I always lament the lack of chairs at concerts like this, especially when you have to wait around and wait through opening acts. The first one, the Flesh Lights, was pretty good, while the second one (I never caught the name) failed to impress Michelle or I. It didn’t help that they set up their gear and, then, didn’t return to the stage for about 20 minutes. Because we need to build anticipation for the second opening act. The Hives, though, were amazing. I’ve seen clips online as well as live performances on DVD, so I had some idea of what to expect. Michelle hasn’t seen anything. She’s slowly become a fan over the last few weeks after showing some initial hesitation to wanting to go to this show. She was going to come anyway, but she wasn’t EXCITED. That changed slowly as she heard their albums a bit. But, she still didn’t know exactly what she was getting with a band that excels at putting on live shows. They played nine out of twelve songs from Lex Hives along with two or three songs from each of their three previous albums. The amount of energy that Howlin’ Pelle puts out there as a frontman is hard to explain. From the funny comments to the microphone tricks that he perfected to the part in a song (I forget which one) where he messed up a verse, starting it with the words of a previous one and seeming so disappointed in himself for a moment before recovering… he was never boring. He understands that, as a guy whose job is to sing, he needs to do more than just stand there — he needs to be engaging and win everyone over and he did that by the second song. And, what’s even better: the whole band does that. Plus, their road crew are ninjas. I don’t know, it’s hard to put into words exactly. Quite possibly the best live show I’ve attended. We didn’t put on any music in the car on the way home, because that seemed like the wrong thing to do after a concert that great.
Random Thought! So, obviously, the Tragically Hip have their work cut out for them on Thursday night. The Hives just swooped in and stole it.
Random Thought! Would people support a Kickstarter for an OGN by me if 98% of the expense was art school tuition?
Random Thought! And today seems to be the day that various news about Marvel’s apparent relaunch effort “Marvel Now” is breaking. Jonathan Hickman on a biweekly Avengers title is something I’m interested in. The Brian Michael Bendis All New X-Men has a rather dumb premise (one that seems like it works, at best, for a single story), but I’ll probably give it a look. Uncanny Avengers has some potential, especially if John Cassaday is, in fact, doing some interior work for it. The idea of relaunching one book every week for a few months is also a much more manageable way to roll this out. I like the gradual shift rather than a fullstop relaunch.
Random Thought! The more I think about it, the more Superman #75 seems like the most important superhero comic released during my lifetime.
Random Thought! Unlike Greg, I’m not really sold on the end of the latest issue of The Manhattan Projects. Evil twin Oppenheimer was surprisingly — evil alternate reality Einstein seems like a retread.
Random Thought! For some reason, I’m oddly on board with these WWE ‘Superstars Collection’ DVDs despite the Zack Ryder and John Cena ones featuring uninspiring line-ups. I’m hoping that the Sheamus and Daniel Bryan ones in August are better.
Random Thought! In case you missed it: Chris Eckert’s “The Thrilling Adventures of the Absolutist Spider-Man.”
Random Thought! Also: Tom Spurgeon writing about comics from the ’80s is some damn good reading. He’s very good at summing up the feeling of a book in short paragraphs.
Random Thought! I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how I feel about The Ultimates #12 and Reed Richards being taken down like he was. As I said on my blog, we all knew that it would happen, but it still feels wrong. It feels very typical in a series that’s done a very good job of not being typical. The status quo of everyone living in the shadow of Reed Richards and the Children of Tomorrow was damn interesting and wasn’t really explored. Not so much living in peace, but living with the knowledge that, yes, there is a superior force (civilisation) on the planet and all it asks is that you leave it alone or it will crush you with ease. That’s a very new approach to a title like this and it’s unfortunate that that wasn’t allowed to grow. Now, that’s my desire, obviously, and it’s not entirely fair to hold Hickman and Sam Humphries up to that standard. Just because I love the idea of the Ultimates and Western society coming to grips with losing big time a few times to the Children of Tomorrow and, then, trying to live their lives, doesn’t mean that that’s the story that’s being told. Of course, that raises the obvious question: why isn’t it? I guess this is just another in a long line of superhero comics from Marvel and DC that raise ideas that are new and far more interesting than anything else they’re doing only for those ideas to be brushed aside in favour of the same old same old. Some would say that if I’m so frustrated by that happening again and again that, maybe, I should give them up, but that ignores something: I wouldn’t get to see those moments where that new idea is raised and I love those moments. It doesn’t matter to me if The Ultimates #12 was a let down, because I was thrilled with the series for the first, what, nine issues? It’s been a slow decline since then, but that’s still nine issues that I loved reading. Why would I want to give that up?
Random Thought! What looks good for September’s new releases: Hellblazer: The Devil’s Trench Coat (because I buy Hellblazer in trades), Happy! (because it’s Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson), Nexus Omnibus Vol. 1 (because I’ve heard many good things), and Building Stories (because it’s Chris fucking Ware).
Random Thought! After much consideration, I think that Phantom Power is my favourite Tragically Hip album. Tyrannosaurus Hives is my favourite Hives album.
Random Thought! I think that Tom Brevoort (though Graeme McMillan) raises a good point about people demanding too much immediately from the comics that they read. People seem to want everything now or pick out problems that they wouldn’t have even ten years ago. I always honed in on this when people would read a random issue of a comic and complain that it’s not ‘new reader friendly’ because it didn’t explain everything — neither did any of the comics I randomly picked up a kid. But, you know what I did? I paid attention to what I could follow, pick up hints at what I was missing, and either filled in the gaps as best I could or recognised that, yeah, reading a random issue of a comic will leave you with some gaps of knowledge. What the fuck did you expect? That’s also why I tend to get pissed off when people assume that my not liking a random issue of a comic is because I ‘don’t get it’ since I haven’t read every other issue of the comic — it’s a skill I’ve been working on since I began reading comics.
Random Thought! What Brevoort doesn’t address, though, are those instances where comics released in the same month, seemingly telling the same story, shows events in two (or more!) different ways that don’t make any sense when put next to one another. Avengers vs. X-Men has been fairly bad at telling a consistent story across all of the tie-ins and I imagine that those inconsistencies will never be addressed — and, I’m sorry, but telling readers to reconcile that you can’t seem to tell factually consistent shared universe stories isn’t a fair (or professional) thing to do. “Sorry that we didn’t do our jobs right, but that’s on you now!”
Random Thought! Spider-Men #2 certainly was a good first issue of that seri… oh wait.
Random Thought! I’m surprisingly excited for an all-Len Wein-penned Before Watchmen comic this week with the first issue of Ozymandias. Also: Jae Lee art (just when you thought they couldn’t find a new way to deliver a Before Watchmen comic that looks nothing like Dave Gibbons’s art…).
Random Thought! I need to buy Cerebus.
Random List! Because I sometimes did this in the past and Tim doing it for his column made me feel like it… the top ten comics of 2012 so far with a sentence or two why…
10. “The Curse of the Crimson Corsair” — Only eight pages long so far, but surprisingly entertaining and engaging for a two-pages-at-a-time pirate comic.
9. Wonder Woman — Hey, I like wordplay.
8. Wolverine and the X-Men — A great balance of heart and light humor, even during the current Avengers vs. X-Men event.
7. The Manhattan Projects — I have a lot of fun reading this comic.
6. Fury MAX — Only three issues in and every single one a winner. Ennis doing what he does best with great art by Goran Parlov.
5. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century: 2009 — A little early to tell where this will fall, but I really enjoyed this conclusion to the three-book story. The character work, in particular, really got to me.
4. Spaceman — Azzarello and Risso doing their thing; the most recent issue was fantastic.
3. Prophet — Every issue is a surprise in story and art. Told with startling confidence and able to communicate a fully formed world/universe so easily.
2. The Boys — The concluding battle with the Homelander in the White House is where most people would have ended this comic aside from an epilogue issue. Instead, Ennis is spending the final arc tearing everything apart for reasons not entirely clear yet.
1. Scalped — A mad dash to the end with a conclusion to the penultimate arc that was stunning and a surprising, insane final story with only one issue to go.
Random Joe Casey Question! I recently picked up the big Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes trade that collects both minis and it got me wondering about those minis you did for Marvel where you would either tell a story in between early issues of various Marvel series or string together the plots of early issues into a coherent narrative. What’s the appeal of projects like that? Also, how do you approach them compared to other work you do that isn’t dictated by what has happened — for example, how do you approach a series like Earth’s Mightiest Heroes where you need to tell one story out of the pieces of many stories that weren’t meant to tell a cohesive narrative?
Random Joe Casey Answer! I’ve never hid my obsessive comicbook fan side — it’s been a part of my psyche since I was a pre-teenager, reading superhero comicbooks and loving the minutiae of them — and doing those “historical” projects has been the best way to scratch that itch, to tap into that part of my DNA that obviously exists. And when I say “obsessive”, I’m not exaggerating. I’ve done countless hours of fairly meticulous research on these projects, starting with X-MEN: COTA back in ’99, to make sure that everything fits in a way that satisfies that fan side of me. On a pure “brain teaser” level, there’s also something to the notion of making… everything… fit. It’s like solving a meaningless equation… it has no real significance but it gives your brain a helluva workout. I feel lucky that I’ve gotten to do a fair amount of those projects at Marvel, most of them using my favorite characters in their classic incarnations.
In some ways, it’s easier to cling to the scaffolding of Marvel continuity, as whacked out as it is, because it means you’re not starting from a completely blank piece of paper. That’s always the hurdle when developing my creator-owned stuff… I’ve got to get to that point where it’s developed enough so it feels, to me, like it always existed. I’m the one building the scaffolding, but then I try to act like I didn’t, so I feel like I have the freedom to play around with it, to not be too precious about it. It’s kind of a mind game I play with myself to get to the next step of the creative process.
That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading. Later.