Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Focus, Dammit!

OK, now even I'm confused (shaddup!). And yes, this is about Iron Man.

There are, near as I can tell, 5 different Iron Men characters that Marvel is propagating around the pop culture landscape.

1) Ultimate Iron Man. As seen in the Ultimates, and in the Ultimate Avengers DVDs, this is Ultimate Tony Stark being all Ultimatey and stuff. Since nobody but me read Orson Scott Card's Ultimate Iron Man series, I can't really say that the fact that he's essentially a genetically engineered living brain (I'm not kidding) plays into the character as a whole (and it's certainly not mentioned anywhere outside that series, so there).

2) 616 Iron Man. I don't need to say more about this than I have already, except that if you've ever wanted to see Iron Man killing his friends, acting the government stooge, and being manipulated by public opinion into declaring war on Captain America and Spider-Man, then this is the Iron Man for you. Mind you, this is supposed to be a good guy, to hear Marvel tell it.

3) Marvel Adventures Iron Man. The all-ages comic portrays a "classic" Iron Man, mostly devoid of personality but gets enough of the heroics part right to feel not as off as the rest of these guys. Plus, he plays "FunStation" with Spider-Man, as opposed to trying to repulsor a hole through his chest. And you wonder why I read this comic.

4) The Invincible Iron Man, Marvel's latest animated movie, which looks more like Crouching Script, Hidden Budget than anything else. Go view the trailer here. I watched it, and all I know about it is that it'll probably have the Mandarin, lots of Chinese stuff, maybe some Fin Fang Foom, aNOTHER new origin for Tony, and camera angle from behind and beneath a pair of bare ladies' legs looking at Tony.

(The weird thing is that the trailer pauses on that leg shot and cuts the music; I guess the intended effect was to make you stop and say, "Whoa! Don't forget, the Iron Man, he likes the ladies!", but the actual effect was to make me say, "Damn, that's a little creepy and fetishistic. Is this safe for work?"

I don't think this is going to be very good.

5) The Iron Man movie, which allegedly has aNOTHER tweaked origin, and God knows how it's going to portray Ol' Shellhead. Although I'm probably stupidly optimistic.

So, I'm confused. Which version does Marvel want me to like? Do we need 5 versions of Iron Man running around? And why don't any of them feel right to me? Is it that hard to write Iron Man? Doesn't anybody at Marvel have any back issues? David Michelinie's phone number? Len Kaminski's e-mail address? It can't be this hard.

I know, I know, quit my bitching. I'm lucky they haven't killed him off ye--- oh, wait. We haven't seen Civil War #7 yet.

Sometimes I hate being an Iron Man fan.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Depressing Way To End Hiatus Week

Just when I was set and loaded with a humor piece to inflict on the blogosphere, I see that Dave Cockrum passed away.


Just.... damn.

Miss ya, Dave.

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hiatus Week Is Almost Over!

Rest easy, blogosphere. Unofficial Hiatus Week of 2006 for 2GBC is in its closing days, and we return with freshly picked content on Monday! (I know, typically we announce these things ahead of time, but I'm better at endings than beginnings.)

Until then, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

(Oh, and Civil War #5, while less actively offensive than Civil War #4, provides no reason to think that things are going to get better. I'm just sayin'.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Chris Reviews: Action Figure #1

I'm a little late to this party (I'm a little late to most parties), but Richard Marcej was nice enough to send along a copy of his new comic, so I'd damn well better review it! (My words, not his.)

Marcej has worked as an illustrator and designer for Hasbro (you know, that little mom-n'-pop company what makes the robot trucks and army dolls) and Hallmark (the scrappy little living-on-the margins purveyor of sentiment, hackneyed and otherwise).

Action Figure: From the Journals of Richard Marzelak #1 (quite the title, that) is a behind-the-scenes look at Richard's life in the aforementioned industry.

Richard posits a future where a couple at an estate sale uncover the journals of a man named Richard Marzelak. What follows is an under-the-curtain look at the office politics, personalities, camaraderie, and goals of someone who's dreaming of bigger and better things.

So, is it any good?

Yep. It is.

As a #1 issue, it sets up nicely the environment and people Richard deals with on a daily basis, from the frustration of office realpolitik (oh yeah, I went there) to the struggle to balance personal goals with the demands of holding down a job.

There's a sequence near the end of the issue that was particularly striking, where an exhausted Marzelak, knowing he has to get some sleep for a big job meeting tomorrow, can't pull himself away from his own pet project and has to ink "just one more page". Been there, buddy.

It's black-and-white with splashes of red, which I rather liked as well. The drawing, as you might expect from a professional illustrator, is outstanding. Also, the cover is damn near genius, and the whole thing's made with high-quality paper inside and outside, so you're getting some really good production for an indie comic. Additionally, it's a dense read, so you get a sizable chunk of story for your $3.50.

There are a few things I didn't care for --- the framing device, with journals and flashbacks and such, seems unnecessary, and it wasn't quite as funny as I was expecting. But these are minor compared to the overall quality, I think.

The fact is that this is a slice-of-life comic about a guy working in industries rife with potential for juicy stories, events, and personalities, and to me the parts that hit home are where he toils in the office half-dedicated to his job, half-trying to figure out how he can turn his talents to something he loves doing.

Sound familiar? Me too.

If that sounds interesting to you, Action Figure #1 is a good buy. Preview it here!

Good comic, Richard!

Monday, November 13, 2006

What Was Read Last Couple of Weeks

Greetings masses

Just wanted to throw a few bullet points up on what I've read the last few days. It has been a very light load the last couple of weeks. No ratings. Just some thoughts.

Jonah Hex: Origin Story
I was down on Jonah Hex the last couple of issues. It just hasn't really stirred me. I was actually thinking of not having it on my pull list any longer. But, I am too lazy to strike it from the record, so I keep getting it, and reading it. I liked the origin story, Part 1. I also actually like the rougher art look to it- it keeps to the historical purpose real well. A good read.

JLA #3
Looking forward to the team actually being in place. Loved the whole Black Lightning discussion. Vixen bores me to tears, as does Red Tornado. Enjoyed the Green Arrow Jr. , Black Canary, Green Lantern bits. Very entertained. Looks like Black Canary from Birds of Prey is carrying over to JLA. Did I mention Red Tornado bores me to sleep. I went through all of this with the Vision. I don't need to see this again.

Firestorm #31
The current creative team is leaving. I'll be sad. I've taken a liking to Igle's art, and I may even follow it over to Nightwing, though I have no interest in Nightwing. But I guess the hype looks pretty good for Wolfman/Igle, so I'll give it a try. Anyhow, this arc is wrapping up quite nicely. Maybe a little dragged out, but still getting a good bang for my buck...or three bucks.

Eternals #5/7
Loving this book. Too biased for a good opine here. Looking forward to their return to the regular Marvel U?

Devi #5
I don't have issues 2 or 3. So I'm pretty darned lost. Hoping I can find the back issues. Its a damn pretty book though.

Red Sonja #16
I like this story arc, though its really dang long. Very wordy actually, and if you don't follow all the wordiness, the story is going to lose you. Wait, an old-fashioned sword/sorcery book that's long winded? That can't be right.

Annihilation #4/6
A little filler issue, but it was a needed one. Last panel was kind of shocking, but we all know it'll twist out to something different. Lots of Thanos, Moondragon and Drax. Galactus will be making an appearance soon, at your local InterGalactic War, and its not going to be pretty. Giffen even managed to rope some Civil War chatter into this ish, and man, it was very well done. This is the series that everyone should be reading, not the silliness of Civil War.

Have a lovely day everyone

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Public Service Announcement From 2GBC

Here in the U.S. of A., it's voting day.

2GBC would like to remind our readers that live here that unless you've a really compelling reason on the order of, say, "Aliens have kidnapped me and I am stranded on a planet of robot pirate monkey ninjas", then dammit, vote.

(Side note: Are "Robot Pirate Monkey Ninjas" the perfect storm of comic villain archetypes? Is such a discussion even possible without dinosaurs, Nazis, bees, sharks, or Joe Quesada? Discuss.)

Seriously. It takes, like, an hour or two at most.

As if you needed more convincing, check out this George Tuska cover (click for larger view):

I think the meaning is clear: Uncle Sam? Will Mess. You. Up.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Random Thoughts + Readership Assistance Requested

Let's wander, shall we?

I am enjoying the living hell out of Mystery In Space. It's the noir-ish atmosphere, the crazy Hardcore Station (love that name), the main character who's still not quite sure what's supposed to be going on... everything about it hits the right buttons for me. The ongoing backup feature about The Weird is... well, weird. I'm not sure why I'm enjoying that, but I am. There's something to be said for Silver Age evolved cosmic particles dressed as pirates. (I don't know what it is exactly, but there's something.)

I'm conflicted about Captain America. Am I the only one who is ready to move on from the Red Skull at this point? I know Holmes needs his Moriarty, but I can't shake the feeling that Brubaker needs to put Skull back in the closet for awhile and move on to M.O.D.O.K., Batroc, or--- heck, anyone. It's not that I don't like the way he's written him, it's just that I think after twenty-something issues we need to be little less Skull-centric.

(Of course, the alternative is Civil War, so... let's just forget I said anything.)

Speaking of Brubaker, I read Criminal #1 (though not #2 yet), and I thought that was a good comic. It wasn't great, but it certainly was interesting and had nice art. Interesting to see it anointed in the comicsblogoweb as the next masterpiece this early. (Though I certainly hope it is --- we need more masterpieces in comics.)

News that Kurt Busiek is leaving Aquaman and Tad Williams is taking over (and taking Aquaman presumably back to standard superheroics, if the interviews are any indication) is a bit disheartening. Busiek's run has been alternately fascinating and muddled but never terrible. If it's suffered from anything (and it's not over for another 5 issues), it's failed to resolve the One Year Later questions quickly enough to get moving with adventures and story. I think that's hurt the overall attempts at characterization of the new Arthur Curry, and consequently it's not resonating with many people.

Every week that goes by, I'm happier that I stopped getting 52 after issue 4.

I bought Amazing Spider-Girl #1, and am very happy with it, though I'm not sure it works well for new readers as a Spider-Girl issue, mainly because she's not in costume in the issue. That said, Tom DeFalco hasn't lost a step here and hopefully more people will give Mayday Parker and her surprisingly well developed cast of characters and world a chance. You want positive and realistic depictions of family and teenagers in comics? Amazing Spider-Girl would be a good place to start. It's optimistic without sugarcoating, and edgy without going to extremes. It's also the only place we get to see Peter Parker: Father, and that's a good role for him and a fascinating take we never get to see in 616 continuity because Marvel's stupid like that. Check it out.

Seven Soldiers #1: hmmm. I still don't think I've had time to digest it fully. Every day my opinion changes on this one. I think the whole Seven Soldiers enterprise was probably the most ambitious thing I've seen in awhile, and like most uberambitious things (and Morrisonian), it's part triumphant victory and part spectacular mess. This'll be a series that rewards rereading, though.

I've given up on Morrison's Batman in favor of Dini's Detective. Feels more like Batman to me.

Fred Van Lente. MODOK's 11. Sold!

Speaking of Batman, I'm looking for an old record I had as a kid that had audio Batman stories, one on each side. One was a Joker story and one was a Riddler story as I recall, and I think one of the riddles was "gas", from which Batman realized that the target was a cargo ship, because "gas makes a car go". Also, I think one of the titles of the stories had something to do with music and food and death. Shut up. It was mine and I loved it and played it every night before bed, and I want it again, so if anyone can help out please point me in the right direction!

More this weekend.