Friday, November 7, 2008

A few thoughts

1. If Final Crisis #4 were a Pretty Things song, it would be "What's the Use." Finally got to read it tonight (DCBS shipment arrived Election Day), and I really kind of struggled just to get through it. Read like a run of the mill crossover, with just enough gratuitous cameos by b- and c-list characters to wear down my enthusiasm to where it's mostly hypothetical now. I should like this comic; I liked the first three issues, I like Grant Morrison, and I generally like JG Jones. But Jones and Morrison both seem kind of uninspired here. Especially Jones, who (dead giant dalmatian scene aside) seemed like just another artist this issue. And there was at least one confusing sequence which reminded me of the debate over Morrison's storytelling deficiencies from earlier this year. The Turpin-into-Darkseid stuff was good, but that's about all there is for non-Flash fetishists. I could understand the comic veering into train wreck territory, but it's hard to forgive it for becoming a typical bullshit event book. Since I've already paid for the next couple of issues, I have good reason to hope that this is just a plate setting issue and not Civil War-style entropy.

2. I guess it's possible that Final Crisis just seems shoddy compared to the other stuff I've been reading in the last couple of days: Popeye, Black Jack, Or Else #5. Not a fair comparison, to be sure. Segar and Tezuka aren't merely all-time greats; they're the sorts of cartoonists who make other all-time greats look weak by comparison. And Huizenga, while certainly not as accomplished as Segar or Tezuka, is probably one of the five best cartoonists active today. So no, not a fair comparison. But I've got so much unread stuff of comparable quality laying around that it's hard to make myself read the last couple of issues of Uncanny X-Men.* Don't know if this means that I'm ready to abandon superhero comics or what. But when you've got new stuff by Yuichi Yokoyama and Lewis Trondheim in the to-read stack, it's a little hard to muster up enthusiasm for the latest issue of Captain America.

*Needless to say, Greg Land's art doesn't much help.

3. I also passed on watching an episode of Justice League Unlimited I'd never seen before the other day. I liked that series even back when I wasn't reading comics a few years ago. Maybe I really do need a vacation from the cape and tights stuff. It's not like I expect Captain America to measure up to Trondheim, but I'm not even enjoying superhero comics on their own terms like I used to.

(FWIW, I think I ended up watching one of those ultra-meta NFL films things, like where Steve Sabol waxes nostalgic about the follies compilations of yore and makes fun of the sweaters he wore in the 80s. Can't get enough of the meta!)

4. I mostly played Saints Row 2 with music saved to our XBox 360 hard drive (see here for partial playlist), so I only rarely heard the music from the radio stations. But when I did.... I occasionally feel guilty for not keeping up with contemporary music, and I realize that it's no more fair to judge it by listening to middle-of-the-road emo than it would be to judge early 90s indie rock by listening to something like Collective Soul or Candlebox. But holy shit, is there ever some terrible music in that game. I don't know that I was ever going to read The Umbrella Academy, but I don't know if I could ever bring myself to do so after hearing "Teenagers."

5. On a more positive note (sort of), I can't get over how much I like the music from Life on Mars. There's a little too much Simon and Garfunkel for my taste, but I can't deny the pleasure of hearing tracks from Muswell Hillbillies on a network show. I'm not convinced that Life on Mars isn't a waste of my time yet--it mostly still seems like a dumb cop show at heart. And the bit with Jim Croce last week was Quantum Leap-grade idiocy. So yeah, I guess the soundtrack has successfully pandered to me, cause I'm not so sure why else I'm watching. Here's hoping we hear some Pink Fairies before the show gets canceled or I lose interest.

6. The internet is right about the awesomeness of Takehiko Inoue. More on this later.


Sandy said...

You wrote, "I've got so much unread stuff of comparable quality laying around that it's hard to make myself read the last couple of issues of Uncanny X-Men."

I've found myself confronting a similar issue recently. For me, it's less a matter of desire and more a matter of time. I still enjoy the superhero stuff, but there is SO much other good work out there right now that it's hard to justify spending my limited amount of comic book reading time on relatively mindless action fluff.

Matthew J. Brady said...

Ha ha, yeah! I feel downright influential, what with the abandonment of superheroes. I know that's silly, since people have been ignoring superheroes for years (decades!), but it's a good choice these days, since there is so much other, better material out there.

And I must say, I highly anticipate anything you've got to say about Inoue. He is awesome. I'll be reading Real volume 2 very soon, and I can't wait.

The Estate of Tim O'Neil said...

I actually think, in terms of mainstream post-emo glam rock, My Chemical Romance are quite good. Considering I listen to almost no other hard rock currently being released, they are a nice change of pace. They aren't so aggressively stupid as their immediate peers.

The Fortress Keeper said...

I, too, agree with the whole super-hero vs. other stuff out there debate. I'm having a hard time justifying $3.99 for something fun like Secret Six when I feel I should be saving up my dough for something like Breakdowns or Tamara Drewe.

Plus, the Bat-Manga book blows Grant Morrison's RIP out of the water.

Maybe I should finally admit that the super-hero stuff I like best are the stories from my youth and buy other types of comics from now on ...

Dick Hyacinth said...

I guess I'm somewhere in between Sandy and Fortress Keeper in my (possibly temporary) antipathy to superhero comics. They don't seem like a good use of time OR money. And that's even with the discount from DCBS.

It really did seem pretty clear reading the first volume of Slam Dunk--why exactly would anybody choose three issues of Green Lantern or Fantastic Four or whatever to this digest-size package of wonder?

Tim, I'm not absolutely sure I've even heard anything else by My Chemical Romance. I probably have, but I couldn't identify anything other than "Teenagers," which sounds more like Ugly Kid Joe than I thought possible in the 21st century.

James Kang said...

I totally agree with you about My Chemical Romance. I mean, I like Gerard Way as a person and I'm happy about the strong positive response he's received from the comics community, but his music is outrageously annoying.

Jog said...

Man, I wasn't huge on Real, but Slam Dunk was almost startlingly good, like 'oh my god, I know exactly how this became one of the defining megahits of the 1990s and volume 1 is barely over' good... which is good.

Tucker Stone said...

I still have some love for the super-hero stuff, but after I made it through the 70 page fight sequence in Parasyte 5, I couldn't help but think "god, why can't there be an american action comic that can do this?" Hell, if they're going to do everything for the trade, why not put two of those six issues aside for some balls out punching and kicking? Parasyte was just two dudes, and it was flat out fantastic. I spent a whole day with that thing.

Dick Hyacinth said...

I bought the second volume of Parasyte the other day, Tucker, so maybe in a few months we'll finally be able to talk about the series. If you want extended, epic fight scenes, I might recommend Hunter x Hunter, which I wrote about here maybe about a year ago. Unfortunately, the first four or five volumes are a little weak in comparison, but it's definitely worth flipping through at the store.

D. Peace said...

Sure you COULD take a break from superhero comics, and yes, it would be the better thing to do considering the awful state that most DC and Marvel books are in these days. In fact, it might be well-advised to avoid that scene entirely.

But you won't. Neither will Tucker and neither will Noah. Because superhero comics are too front and foremost in the comic book industry and because bitching about them continuously is too integral to your blogs. The comic book criticism community (particularly the "arts-first" contingent) has relatively few tricks up its sleeve... if you can't count on DC and Marvel superhero books being there to slag on, your key target will be gone. At best, you'll miss the sweet headrush that comes with intellectual condescension. You can't snark without something to snark at.

I do, however, predict that you'll consider quitting superhero comics five more times within the next year.

FINAL CRISIS #5 is coming first week of December. See you then.

Dick Hyacinth said...

Actually, I won't have a copy of Final Crisis #5 until late December because I'm still too cheap to choose a shipping option more expensive than once a month from DCBS.

BTW, lest you confuse my purchasing habits with those of the more liberal Tucker Stone, I'm only reading five superhero comics right now, and one of them only has three more issues. I would occasionally pick up something I didn't think I would like, but never exclusively for the sake of mocking it here. I was genuinely curious about the direction Loeb and whatshisname would take the Ultimates, honest!

Anyway, now that I have to soberly consider my purchases two months in advance, I'm less likely to make these kinds of impulse purchases.

But who cares about all that because COMIC BLOG CULTURE WAR~!!!

kenny said...

I'm tired of people defending superhero comics as something worth reading or talking about. I mean, I *try* to enjoy them on their own merits, but besides Millar's work or Ellis's occasional exercises, I can't find anything that doesn't make me want to gouge my eyes out. On the other hand, I always get a broad smile every time I read any amount of One Piece or Bleach. I'm not even going to get into the high-art stuff, even the commercial stuff from outside of the superhero realm is better than even the best of the superhero stuff.

Dave said...

I have this horrible habit of grabbing on to second-string threads of smart bloggers and running with them.

Let me try to correct the problem: I agree with you. Superhero comics are not really worth talking about, and there are certainly more interesting things to engage oneself with.

So, now I'm gonna talk about Final Crisis. To my great surprise, I really liked FC#4. It was transparently meant as the "hope spot" in the battle against cosmic evil, and actually succeeded at selling the struggle to me as a jaded, skeptical reader. I guess it was the scene where Mister Miracle got shot that did it for me.

I know, I'm a terrible sucker. It's a paint-by-numbers echo of what the author did in Seven Soldiers, but it worked for me and had me playing the mark. I admire that Morrison pulled that off in a few panels while successfully developing the Turpin-as-Darkseid, which I also found surprisingly satisfying. You are welcome to mock me, but I swear that was the first sign of real craft I have seen in Final Crisis thus far.

Um, yeah. I, fanboy. Go ahead -- point and laugh.