Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Comic Blog

Wow! I'm only 8 posts away from hitting the landmark 500. I'll have to keep an eye on the numbers for the next few posts I make.

Anyway, the point of this post in particular is to chat about comic books. Every now and then, I find the funds, or the gumption, and just go out and splurge on a few comic books which then leaves me in the unenviable position of wanting to talk about them but having nobody in my immediate vicinity to do so with. It's always been my curse to enjoy certain areas of pop culture on my own with nary an intelligent discussion to be found.

I would turn to that tried and true institution of the Local Comic Shop, but in my area there are only two to choose from. Shopping at one of them is like being at The Gap (with the vacuous smiley faces and the retail zombie mantra, 'Can I help you find anything') and any discussion I get into at the other tends to revolve around cars and electronics (go figure!).

Anyway, if you've bothered to read this far, now's your chance to either bail out or brace yourself for some idle chatter.

To start off with, I'm really curious about the new Dr. Strange: The Oath mini-series by BKV and Martin. From what I've seen the darn thing looks really good. I'm not a huge Strange fan, but I've had some very good reading experiences with the character in the past. If handled right he can be a really interesting guy to explore and it's a corner of the Marvel U that is highly underutilized. Still, even though Vaughan (who has more-or-less proven himself in my eyes as a sure thing) is writing the thing, I still can't cough up the $3.75 (CAN) and just bring the damn comic book home to read, you know? My discretionary funds are pretty much depleted for the pay period and I'm feeling pretty gun-shy when I'm standing there at the shop.

If anybody out there has anything really good to say about this book, please post some comments. It's one of those situations where I need that extra little push to take the plunge. Any words in either direction (good or bad) would be appreciated.

Next up is X-Men: First Class. I wasn't looking forward to this book, then I was really looking forward to this book, now I'm feeling a little lukewarm after finally getting my hands on it. Jeff Parker is a name that generally draws me to any title it's associated with, and 9 times out of 10 it's a sure bet that what he's cooked up for you is something you're going to want to read. It took me a while to track this one down but I finally managed to find a copy of it today and read it in the Vue while waiting for my daughter to get out of Irish Dance.

With this first issue I found myself not quite getting into the whole groove of it (sorry, Jeff!). I was a bit surprised initially, especially since I can't really put my finger on what it was exactly, but after a single reading I just found that there was something that didn't fundamentally click the way it had on some of his other Marvel projects - his Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four run being a great example of that. I know it's not the simpler single-issue storytelling, nor is it the choice of characters. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe the lack of a recognizable villain kept me from engaging with the story (although I'd hate to chalk it up to something as lame as that). Maybe having Bobby Drake introducing the characters was a bit redundant for someone who has been reading these character's stories off and on for 20 years.

Bottom line is I'm going to try it again and see where I'm at after another swing at it. It's what I usually do in this kind of situation.

I should mention, however, that I am thrilled for the creative team that this thing is selling out all over. It's nice to see Jeff getting some major props and attention for books like this and his Agents of Atlas. They're being received very well by the comic book community at large, and attention like that can only mean more work and more stories from Jeff. I don't see a problem with that.

In the spirit of Halloween, and in an effort to keep my retailer from dumping my file, I picked up the copy of Where Monsters Dwell that's been collecting dust in my file for some months now. I originally set it aside because of the Giffen connection, and then subsequently ignored it because of its $5.75 price tag, but after picking up and reading this crazy gem of a comic book I have to say I'm an idiot for having waited this long.

The Bombu story that opens the book is an absolute hoot. Written and drawn by Keith Giffen and inked by Mike Allred, this story reminded me of Giffen's glory years in the '80s and '90s when you saw him doing tons of humourous little back-ups and vignettes appearing in various and sundry titles. This was followed by a decent little Hollywood rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-revenge tale as told by Peter David and Arnold Pander (never thought I would see those two names together, never minfd on a Marvel comic), and the book is capped off with a wonderfully campy tongue-in-cheek sci-fi story by Jeff Parker and Russell Braun - Monstrollo and Manoo being the 'monster' stars (monstars?) of the former and the latter.

After watching The Man With the Screaming Brain the other night, I decided to dig out my copies of the mini-series to see how the two compared. I know Bruce Campbell had commented a number of times in interviews that the comic book adaptation was a 'truer' version of the screenplay because of its limitless budget and scale. Moody and atmospheric night scenes remained night scenes whereas in the film they were forced to shoot the whole thing in daylight to save time and money. Some of the sci-fi and horror elements could be better realized and certain shots could be done the way they were originally intended. Nothing was changed due to on set difficulties.

That being said, I think the two worked better together than as seperate entities. Dialogue which flowed better in the film came off as stilted and unnatural in the comic adaptation. The performances by Stacey Keach and Ted Raimi, which steal the show everytime the appear on screen, could not be done the proper justice by the characters featured in the comic. It's a bit of push and pull where one version does certain elements better than the other, while the other version does certain things better than the first. Overall, I think Remender and Barta did a great job of bringing the film to another medium but, ultimately, I think it serves as more of a companion to the movie than as a book all its own.

There are more that I could list and talk about but I think I'm going to stop the monologue there for the night. I still have Agents of Atlas #'s 1-3 to read, Buckaroo Banzai #'s 1-2, somewhere I have some Battlestar Galactica comics I can comment on and I can't not talk about Death, Jr. at some point very, very soon.

As I stated earlier, feel free to leave comments. Discussion is always welcome.



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