Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Some thoughts on recent comics-related stuff

I finally caught up on Green Lantern, which meant reading 2/3 of "War of the Green Lanterns" (I didn't subscribe to "Emerald Warriors"). Not entirely surprisingly, I was able to follow the story just fine. Overall, I thought it was pretty decent, and as crossovers go I'd much prefer these small, relatively confined ones (see also: "Reign of Doomsday(s)") than sweeping universe-wide ones.

As to the status quo changes for the GLs, it was nice to see some acknowledgement of John Stewart's architecture background (brief though it may have been) and generally compassionate nature (even if the cover was completely at odds with that). I'm curious to see how this all shakes out in September, but I can't say I'm terribly interested in Sinestro-as-GL, especially since the solicits say that he's the GL for sector 2814, which makes no sense, and Geoff Johns' chapters in the crossover were generally the weakest (largely because his response to decreased page count has apparently been to increase the number of unnecessary two-page spreads). "Green Lantern" is one of those on-the-cusp titles for me, and since I'm quite happy only buying two GL comics each month, it's entirely possible that the flagship book will be the one to get the axe in October.

Speaking of crossovers, how about "Flashpoint"? Issue #3 was the first one that felt like anything happened in, and that might just be because of my well-known Superman bias. I'm kind of disappointed that Johns didn't decide to go in the more interesting direction I speculated after issue two, with Batman working to re-create a better world that he never knew and would never see, but I can't say I was surprised that Geoff Johns did something conventional and cliché.

And I hate saying that, because Johns used to be one of my favorite writers in comics, but I think a combination of being stretched-too-thin and having no one to check and/or balance him has turned him into a bucket of clichés.

In short, I generally agree with what Chris Sims had to say about things. Flashpoint has been largely pointless, and where it has had any point or plot, it's been exactly what you'd expect, and nothing that you haven't seen before.

That "more interesting direction" keeps popping into my head, and it really has me interested in writing that series. We've all seen the alternate timeline stories where one lone hero knows the way the world is supposed to be and will stop at nothing to set things right. In a lot of those stories, the characters of the alternate universe just go along with the protagonist, either because her world sounds so much better than the current one, or because she just seems so sincere.

And yet, I have to imagine that if someone came to me and said the world was all wrong, and he needed to set things right so that the world as I knew it never actually happened...I'd think that person was nuts. If I were a superhero, I might hear that person out (weirder things happen in superheroes' lives, after all), but it seems like skepticism would be awfully warranted. Moreover, what's to say that this hero isn't actually a villain in disguise, trying to create--or recreate--a world where he's in charge?

It makes me think that there'd be a lot of traction in a decent "Triumph" series. Triumph's whole schtick was that he was lost in time after a time-altering event that wiped him from his rightful place in the timestream, but as far as I know, he didn't do a whole lot of the "I must set things right" plot, more the "I must adapt to this strange new world" plot. A series where he was working to put things "right," but the other heroes either saw him as a self-aggrandizing egotist who can't stand to be out of the spotlight, or a giant kook with enough power to make him dangerous, would be worth a read, I think.

I am however enjoying some of the miniseries, which is not entirely surprising. "Batman: Knight of Vengeance" and "Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown" are the best of the bunch, also not entirely surprising. I generally like that they aren't tied too closely to the main plot of Flashpoint, but are instead exploring the rest of the alternate universe--which is really what alternate timeline stories are good for anyway.

The other tie-ins I'm buying are "Kid Flash Lost," "Lois Lane and the Resistance," "Project Superman," "Wonder Woman and the Furies," and "Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager." The latter two started mostly as impulse buys--Abnett and Lanning are good enough for me to check out regardless, and Deathstroke as a pirate was a crazy enough high concept for me to check it out. They're all decent enough, but I suspect one or two of them might end up on eBay in September.

The last time I subscribed to a "Daredevil" comic, he was wearing armor and calling himself "Jack Batlin." It's not that I don't like Daredevil, I just let the subscription lapse (as this was in those olden days when I was getting my regular comics through the mail). I've obviously heard good things about "Daredevil" comics since then, but I've never really gotten around to checking them out. But last week I decided to give Mark Waid's new, lighter-toned Daredevil a shot, and it was fantastic. The buzz the book has been getting is totally deserved, and it made a Daredevil subscriber out of me for the first time since 1993. Check it out

You know what I enjoyed? That Joe Johnston-directed superhero movie set in the WWII era, where the Nazi-fighting protagonist is outfitted with advanced technology by a billionaire pilot-slash-inventor named Howard.

Seriously, though, I watched both "Rocketeer" and "Captain America: The First Avenger" in the last few days, and quite enjoyed them both. I hadn't seen the former since at least the era of VHS, and while the story and action is the sort of excellent swashbuckling action-adventure fun that I've been craving lately, it would probably benefit from some more modern special effects. "Captain America" was great through and through, except with the opposite problem that there was just a little too much obvious CGI in the "Cap and the Howling Commandos bust up a bunch of Hydra bases" montage sequence.

One of the things I most appreciated about the film was the color palette. They did a good job with soft beiges and sepia tones in the training and bunker scenes, but once Cap was really on the scene, it started looking more and more like technicolor. The colors really popped, something I noticed especially when the Red Skull was standing in front of his flying-wing airplane. It was a very welcome change from the teal and orange palette of so many modern movies.

I would love to see more "Captain America"-style superhero movies, and I hope that "Man of Steel" is that good.

That'll do for now. Keeps the blog from getting too dusty. More to come later. Hurm.

No comments: