Thursday, June 30, 2005

Comics review for week of June 29

Really need to update this thing some more.

No Homoerotica Friday this week -- Franny and I will be away from our respective computers for the holiday weekend. I'll try to put up something gay on Monday.

As for this week's comic haul... well, let's take a look. I'll try to be as non-spoilery as I can.

Batman: I don't know why, but this issue didn't do anything for me. Maybe I'm just burnt out over the whole Jason Todd thing, but this was a "take-it-or-leave-it" issue for me. It wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination -- indeed, the bit in the cave at the end was very nice -- but I'm just kind of bored already with the Rebirth of Robin II.

Batman Allies Secret Files and Origins: I think I liked the Batman Villains issue better, but that's just because Black Mask scares the bejeezus out of me. But I really did enjoy this one. The first story was heavy-handed and a little clunky -- and it reminded me of Tim Burton's Batman more than anything. The Commissioner Akins story was spot-on, though. Speaking as someone who doesn't know him very well, this characterized his relationship with the Bat quickly and cleanly. And the Cass/Tim interactions in the third story are great. And lo and behold! A cliffhanger ending that actually makes me want to read the upcoming comics!

Flash: Oh. Oh oh damn. Now there's a "family reunion" that's got me on edge.

Green Lantern: Okay, the woman pilot so felt Hal up. Oh sure, you may say it's gratuitous -- but admit it, you'd try it too if you were there. For me, the gratuitous bit is the scene with the superior officer. I may not know a hell of a whole lot about the military, but my bullshit alarm went into Red Alert mode when I saw that one. It doesn't seem like the kind of incident where you can just say, "Golly, sir, I'm awful sorry... Can I have a plane again now?" And the Jack-Jordan-dying-one-year-ago thing makes my brain hurt. The Spectre series told us Hal's older brother bought it in the Coast City explosion -- if you're trying to tell me that the last 10 years of real time happened in one year of comics, you're out of your fucking mind. One more instance of Geoff Johns insisting that the whole Spectre series Didn't Happen, I guess. But. I nitpick and bitch as an act of love. I'm really enjoying the hell out of this series so far.

Justice League America - Classified: Now, I'm a big fan of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, and I've got to say I was really disappointed with these last two issues. If it weren't for the fact that the ending for issue #7 was so horribly sad, I would say they should have ended it right there. This feels like they had a four-issue story, but were commissioned for six. It just felt like they were trying too hard to be funny in this one, rather than let the funny bubble up naturally as a result of upbeat witty banter and self-aware pokes at the comics industry itself. And the final page -- seeing Ralph and Sue Dibny getting excited over trying for a baby and Ted Kord and Maxwell Lord grinning at the camera leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Despite the closing panel, Giffen's League does not live "Bwa-ha-happily ever after," and nothing's going to change that. Instead of reveling in their status as a wildly-out-of-current-continuity story, the ending feels like one last attempt to cram I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League into the main DCU storyline, and the less said about that, the better.

I'll stay with this title to see what Warren Ellis does with it -- from the previews, it looks like more OMG IDENTITY CRISIS THE JLA IS SO DARK RAWR!!! stuff. We'll see if the lord of Transmetropolitan can make the angst more interesting.

OMAC: When a book asks you to buy more comics with a cliffhanger ending, it had better be good. (Like, say, the bit I mention above.) This ending didn't do anything for me. Then again, I've never been a big Superman fan. I think I'll skip the tie-in crossover, but I'll stick around to watch the remaining members of Giffen's Justice League take the stage. But grim n' gritty bullshit that doesn't suit that team at all, and if #4 is as dark as I think it's going to be, I might end up dropping this miniseries.

Outsiders: One more name for the Women in Refrigerators list. What a waste.

Young Avengers: I order one book from DC's noble competition. (Well, I've also been reading Franny's copies of House of M, but I don't have a lot of emotional investment in it. Hell of a lot easier on a newbie fan than DC's mega-crossover, though.) I've got to say, for a story that hinges off of Avengers: Disassembled and a metric fuckton of time travel issues, it's pretty accessible to a fan of the Distinguished Competition. And it's got one of the last remaining letters columns in comics, mostly talking about this "are they or aren't they?" business. Frankly, I don't see what the big deal is. There's a hell of a lot slashier teams that I can name than this title right now (Outsiders and Teen Titans come to mind right off the bat). But it's still quite cute, clever, and again -- there's a way to do a cliff-hanger ending well. I'd recommend this series to anyone, even if you've never touched the other side of the comics shop in your life.

Well, I'm out of here for the weekend. Hope all my American readers have a nice Fourth... I'll see you all on Monday.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Paying my dues to the Gay Blogger's Union

So fellow Gay Blogger's Union member Scipio recently posted an homage to the Golden Age Black Condor, one of the most flaming heroes ever to be graced by four colors.

And you silly kids thought Spider-Man made you gay. Tsk, tsk.

In the comments, an anonymous poster brought up Hit Comics and the gaygaygay Stormy Foster.

But looking at Stormy dry-hump a Nazi on the cover of Hit Comics 24, I couldn't help but notice that I've seen that pose before...

...I saw it earlier this week in the previews for September DC comics, on the cover to Villains United #5.




There it is, kids. Catman humping Deadshot in full glorious color. Post-Crisis, post-Code, post-OhGodIThoughtYouPeopleKnewBetterByNow.

And that's following up the incredibly homoerotic "Eh, I don't want to kill you, let me cook you some eggs" scene in Villains United #2.



And people thought the Hulking/Asgardian hand-holding thing on the cover of Young Avengers was revolutionary.

I'm too much of a slash fan to say I mind the idea of Catman/Deadshot subtext, but God damn, man. Even I have limits.

I'd also like to say that "Homoerotica Friday" will be a regular feature here at So So Silver Age. The title comes from Nate Ebig, a guy from my drama club back in high school. His days of the week went as follows: Shitty Monday, Crazy Tuesday, Hump-day Wednesday, Naked Thursday, Homoerotica Friday and Lesbian Saturday. (The answer to the inevitable question of "Well, what about Sunday?" is, of course, "Sunday? Why, that's the Lord's Day!"

Monday, June 20, 2005

Green is the new black, or: Why Geoff Johns is one of my favorite people ever

For those of you out there that don't pay attention to comic sales numbers, you may have missed something that makes me smile a great deal.

DC outsold Marvel for the month of May, both in market share numbers and the number one single issue.

Why you should care: this hasn't happened to DC in about a half decade.

So yeah, I'm excited. But that's not the real reason why I'm smiling.

The number one selling single for May?

Green Lantern #1.

Green Lantern: Rebirth #6 is number three.

Apparently giving one of DC's most infamously rabid set of fans exactly what they want is also highly profitable.

Who'd've thunk it?

Although I'm tempted to, I don't think you can put this surge in sales squarely on Hal Jordan's shoulders -- although perhaps Geoff Johns deserves a raise, especially given how well the minis spinning out of Identity Crisis are doing.

Villains United, OMAC Project and Rann-Thanagar War also make the top ten, in that order. Day of Vengeance doesn't show quite so well at #22, but I think DoV #3 is the best of the bunch so far -- don't count that mini out just yet.

And we'll have to see how fans react to the new Green Lantern series (especially how they handle Johns eventually leaving the book) before anyone can declare a comeback.

But the numbers for Green Lantern make it damn difficult to not smile, nod sagely, and say: If you rebuild it, they will come.

Friday, June 17, 2005

I am the Red-headed Stepchild of the Old School.

So I was in Waldenbooks the other day, poking around their graphic novel/role-playing section (which isn't terribly large -- stores like Barnes and Noble have really hit them hard) and I saw something I haven't seen in a long time.

A spinner rack.

An honest-to-goodness spinner rack.

I haven't seen a spinner rack in years. I hadn't realized how much I miss them.

After all, I started my journey into comic book fandom in a 7-11, not a comic shop. I may have married the long box, but it's the spinner rack that was my childhood sweetheart.

It got me thinking -- you know, those melancholy thoughts that start with phrases like back in the day... when I realized the "old school" of my memory is still post-Crisis, which in the grand scheme of things isn't old school by anyone's definition.

Pre-Crisis. It's a little like asking your parents what they were doing when Kennedy was shot, or how they felt when we landed on the Moon. You can read about it, you can learn all the trivia and all the facts and dig through all the archives, but if you weren't there, you'll never be able to recreate what it was like when all of it was happening. You'll never know how it felt when it was new.

It made me sad, suddenly. I guess it was because I was suddenly hit with the realization: I missed out on Composite Superman when he was new and interesting, and we'll never see stories that glorious and ridiculous and spectacular again. Not ever.

You can't tell stories like that anymore. Not when we're so immersed in a world where superheroes have to always have one foot in the real, in flesh and blood and broken bones and human drama.

The Green Lantern Corps seemed to be the last remainder of that boundless-creativity style of storytelling; that's why I wept so bitterly and for so long over its destruction, and why I tremble just a little at the thought of its return.

I love the Silver Age. But I love it out of a childish jealousy, out of the fact that I missed out on it when it was here. It makes me sad to hear modern fans call Silver Age stories crack. Even though I myself have tossed around the term -- that is, any story that is utterly ridiculous, over-the-top, so out-there it generates Stupid Superhero Quotes or contains a critical mass of unintentionally homoerotic images. But I have never spoken the word in mockery. And they do. And that hurts.

So I don't fit in with the new breed of comic fans, that point and laugh at the Silver Age. But at the same time, I don't fit in with the older fans, the ones that bought and read the stories way back when. I don't know Snapper Carr as well as I should -- I get Earth-D and Earth-S mixed up all the time. I do a pretty good imitation of an old-school fan, but sooner or later I betray myself as a poser.

My love of the Silver Age is tied intimately to my love of aviation and the space program. Every so often, I'm hit with the awful, awful sadness that the great age of the test pilot was dead for a quarter century before I knew what an airplane was. So now all I can do is look at these beautiful, fantastic machines in museums and wonder: Why in God's name did we ever stop going to the Moon?

What happened to comics? What happened to all the stories about Superman being turned into pistachio pudding by alien invaders? What happened to Hal Jordan's adventures in the 58th century? What ever happened to Starro the fucking Conqueror?

Why did we stop going to the Moon?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Batman Begins: worth the price of a new seat

I shall first get the fanwankery out of my system:

BARGLEFLARGLEChristianbaleBATBATBATBATBATcapeBOIOIOIOIOIOING.

That said, my review:

Batman Begins was everything I had hoped it to be: a terrifically well-directed, mostly well-cast, dark, angsty movie about a seriously messed up guy who finds a new identity in fighting crime.

I knew Christian Bale would be a great Batman from the start. I have had faith in him--I was right. I think about ten thousand people owe me five bucks.

Cillian Murphy, who originally tried out to be Batman but came in as such a strong runner-up that he got to be the bad guy (much like James Franco in the Spiderman movies), accomplished the daunting task of being scarily pretty and having maggots crawling on his face. You can see his beautiful blue eyes through the maggot mask. It's a nice effect.

Speaking of effects, Christopher Nolan was a very successful man-behind-the-curtain. He uses a lot of the fast cutting that fresh-out-of-indie filmmakers seem to be relying on lately (Aronofsky anyone? Not that I don't like Aronofsky...) but he does it well. Not letting the audience even see Batman for more than a split second when he first appears provided so much tension that I actually broke my seat. I'm kind of a big girl to be bouncing up and down with excitement.

Actually, the place I broke my seat at was when Bruce called his partygoers "phonies". I don't know if that was intentional, but all of us out there trying to grab the brass ring sure enjoyed it.

My main problem: Rachel Dawes. At first, I thought it was watching Joey from Dawson's Creek bob her head up and down in the WB Television school of acting style, but then I realized that that wasn't really the problem. My beef is that her character really doesn't have anything to do but act lawful good and look pretty-yet-slightly-less-pretty-than-Batman-as-to-not-be-distracting. She's just not very interesting. The Batman love interests that keep people's attention have to have tension--either "Oh my God, I'm in love with a convicted felon" or "Oh my God, your dad wants to destroy humanity". "Oh my God, you...knew me as a kid and are extremely wholesome" just doesn't cut it.

But Talia would have been too much to expect. The movie is good enough as it is.

Finally, I would like to note that while I maintained my composure (except for breaking the seat...) Amy wept openly. And dammit, if she didn't mention that in her post, I sure as hell am.

The obligatory Batman Begins post.

As a (supposedly) grown-up comic fan, you tell yourself, "I will not freak out and collect everything with my favorite character on it. I will not blindly adore everything in a book (or movie, or what have you) just because some bits in it were very, very cool. I will exercise some discretion in my purchases. I will see the places where a story could be better, even if I loved it overall. I will critique as an act of love.

"But above all: I will not become a squealing fanboy."

A movie like Batman Begins makes it damn hard to abide by that standard.

Really. I could go on about how Ra's should never, ever rhyme with Häagen-Dazs or Katie Holmes's complete inability TO STOP TWITCHING LIKE A FREAKING BOBBLEHEAD EVERY TIME SHE SPEAKS.

Okay, maybe the Katie Holmes thing really did irritate me.

But Batman Begins is a solid film all around. It's been a long time since we've had a decent Batman movie, so I think that explains the kids who are going to howl with glee on forums as if it's the Second Coming. But I really think it can stand up to the hype.

Cillian Murphy as Jonathan Crane? Disturbingly, unnervingly pretty.

Gary Oldman is James Gordon. Oh God, it makes me yearn for a Year One movie -- with just Gordon's scenes.

The Ra's al Ghul we see here felt right to me. While he wasn't the environmentalist he's been written as, he seemed motivated by the same goals as his comic book version -- whatever means necessary for The Greater Good.

The Batumbler really makes me want to see a Dark Knight Returns adaptation. Come on, Miller! You've got the cinema bug now! Starring Mickey Rourke, too -- DKR Batman is Hartigan's brain in Marv's body wrapped up in a Batsuit anyway. And you know you can imagine Rourke saying, "rubber bullets... honest."

Ok, maybe I am freaking out like a fangirl here. I can tell, I'm abusing italics. That's never a good sign.

I've heard interview rumbles about sequels -- specifically, R-rated sequels. This makes my toes curl with glee. The Joker? There's a man who deserves an R-rated Batman movie, I tell you what.

Post-Franny edit: Ok, I admit it. I know I lose butch points or something, but the thing choked me up in some bits. But come on -- if geeks are allowed to get teary for the end of Wrath of Khan, you're allowed to snuffle a bit over poor, wounded Bruce and how perfect it is when Gordon comforts him OH GOD

Thursday, June 09, 2005

I'm not a hater, but that doesn't mean I have to like her.

Devin Grayson is up for a Lulu of the Year Award for "work [that] best exemplifies Friends of Lulu's mission of promoting diversity in comics."

I have no idea how to feel about that.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

So, whose side am I on? Mine.

So. If I have a comic blog, I've got to pick sides in the Rann/Thanagar War.

Even if it is kind of sad that the Rann/Thanagar war in the comics blogs is more interesting than the one in the comics themselves.

OK, fellas, make your case.

Adam Strange: Why bother? It's clear you're going to support Rann.

Why's that?

Adam Strange: Dude! Ray guns! Jet packs! You've got a huge hard-on for all that Silver Age sci-fi crap!

This is true... even if you are a Flash Gordon rip-off.

Adam Strange: And I had an ongoing spot in the back pages of Green Lantern for a while. And Hal Jordan and I even had a two-issue adventure in the '90s series before he went Batshit Fucking Loco. He thought I was cool. And smart. And resourceful.

I seem to recall Hal got captured by Quardians in those issues.

Adam Strange: Well, yes, but --

And tied to a cross.

Adam Strange: But--

TIED. TO. A. CROSS.

Adam Strange: Well, I saved him, didn't I?

No, you didn't. You got your psychically-jacked-up 4-year-old daughter to save him. I don't recall you doing much at all.

Adam Strange: Well, at least I didn't need a 4-year-old to save my ass!

Not the way to get on my good side, ray-gun boy.

Hawkman: All the more reason to support Thanagar!

But you're... so... Republican.

Hawkman: You're going to base how you feel about an entire race on how you feel about one man?!

I didn't see you complaining about me judging Rann based on Adam Strange. And he's not even from Rann.

Hawkgirl: OK, so Hawkman's a tool. But you like me.

Yeah, but that's in the animated universe. The animated universe can even make a schmuck like John Stewart look cool.

Franny: THIS BLACK MAN LETS IT ALL HANG OUT!

John Stewart: GODDAMMIT I DID NOT SAY THAT!

Boy, don't make me get out the back issues.

Hawkgirl: Come on... deep down, you know a woman swinging a giant mace is pretty awesome.

Point.

Hawkgirl: And we invented TiVo. And nearly every comics blog you read daily supports us. You know we're going to win.

Rationally, yes. I know Rann is going to get its collective ass kicked. But just because I know you're going to easily beat the piss out of a people doesn't mean I have to be behind that. And the latest issue of The Rann/Thanagar War convinced me of that. "New Thanagar?" Screw that. I don't care if you don't have a homeland. That doesn't give you the right to invade someone else's planet, dammit.

Hawkgirl: But Adam Strange is still useless. You've got to admit that.

How about this: we just shoot Adam Strange and end the whole bloody business.

Adam Strange: NOW WAIT JUST A DAMN MINUTE --

Friday, June 03, 2005

Youthful Ward Love

Welcome to So So Silver Age, a fanboi/grrl comic book blog belonging to Amy Payne and Franny Howes.

Amy: I have an irrational love of Green Lanterns in general and Hal Jordan in particular. I love all things Silver Age, even though the Multiverse died before I learned to read. Also, I swear too much.

Franny waits for the trade, Amy reads serials. Together, we fight crime!