Comics, TV, and a movie, after the jump.
Comics, first? OK with me!
FUCK ALAN MOORE BEFORE WATCHMEN: MOLOCH #1: Much like MINUTEMEN, this would be one of the FAMBW books that I was at least curious about -- we don't really know a lot about Moloch, and he's arguably a principal... well, "catalyst", at least, if not "character". And I was hopeful because, hell, Eduardo Risso is drawing it, and that cat can fuckin' draw, y'know? Sadly, though, it has all the subtlety of any other comic that J. Michael Straczynski has written recently, that is: slim-to-none, and the result is just a cliched horrible mess -- Moloch's bad because he's ugly (no explanation for the bat ears is given), and because all women are horrible predatory whores. Yay!
Even Better is how this was hastily solicited to fill in a massive scheduling hole, where, suddenly, they seem to have lost an entire month's worth of
FAMBW titles -- going from weekly to skipping five week's worth of issues is a kick in the gut on momentum on this series which was pretty strongly selling to a specific group of customers who are buying the entire project (not specific minis, like I thought in advance) -- well, damn, it makes DC suddenly look like Marvel in terms of schedule.
Either way, I know this isn't aimed at me, but we continue with "Exceptionally pretty, but emotionally bankrupt", which the closest on the Critic scale is, I think, EH.
DEADPOOL #1: Brian Posehn (!), Gerry Duggan, and Tony Moore do the Marvel NOW! relaunch of "the Merc with the mouth", and he's pretty much a character that I've never really cared one teensy bit about ever -- to the point where I don't believe (from the tags) that we've ever once reviewed a straight Deadpool comic on the site ever! -- and, hey, guess what, I thought it was reasonably entertaining! I can't say I'd personally add it to my monthly reading stack, but there was some charm and wisecracking, and an imaginatively funny series of antagonists, and it's almost certainly modestly GOOD.
What's funny for me, as a retailer guy, is just how much better this is selling right now then the next book (about 250% of that figure), as well as outselling it's previous incarnation, handily (for now at least) -- I went long on this #1, chasing that fat 70% discount, and I'm confident they'll eventually go (week 15, or 16, I'm guessing), while the next book I can already tell I'll never ever sell them all. *sigh*
IRON MAN #1: is that next book, and, in many significant ways for this retailer, my real litmus test for the commercial viability of MarvelNOW! as a branding exercise for Marvel.
I'm sure that in a month or two I'll write a post-mortum on the launches for TILTING AT WINDMILLS, but going into this my feeling was that Marvel comics are a significantly more popular "brand" than DC, and have a MUCH larger number of "lapsed" readers. The "New 52" launch succeeded by any dream of avarice I might have had, where even books where it was clear that they WOULD be cancelled within a year (HAWK & DOVE, anyone?) still sold 70-80% more copies than I ever thought they possibly could have, and the "big books" totally dominated fourth quarter sales charts.
Now, to me, IRON MAN is the modern quintessential Marvel comic -- two hit movies, lead role in the AVENGERS film, can't HELP but benefit from a big wide "push". DC reboots sold like 500%+ their previous issues, I didn't feel at all shaky going 300% of "current" IM sales, scored the extra discount on the first issue, at least (as I did with most, but not all, NOW! books)
So far? I've sold precisely one FEWER copy of #1 than I have of #522 in the same time period (day #6). Uh? What? The? Fuck? Again: I'm sure that will pick up eventually, but, damn, that's the exact opposite of what was supposed to happen.
The big problem is that I can't actually push the comic very hard on the strength of its contents -- I'm no real fan of Greg Land's stiff-and-lightboxed art, and Kieron Gillan's script, despite being one of the "Yeah, that makes sense!" names attached to NOW!, gives us a story whose premise is essentially that of "Armor Wars". I've read "Armor Wars". God help me, I've even read "Armor Wars II", this isn't what I want to read as the Big Relaunch.
I mean, it isn't terrible, or anything, but it's also not much better than OK, and for a $4 asking price, am I really going to suggest people buy this over, say, STUMPTOWN or even the next book, this week? Yeah, didn't think so.
This week is going to be the real test of it, I think (with 6 NOW! books), but I'm starting to feel like MarvelNOW! is going to be as big of a miss as New52 was a hit, and that's truly terrifying if that's playing out in the rest of the world the same way.
DIAL H #6: A beautiful, beautiful done-in-one story essentially ruminating on the stupidity and banality of some characters, and just how hard it is to "fight crime", and the real selling point for me was that the issue was drawn by David Lapham, who, of course, isn't even cover billed. Yeah, this was a truly great issue of this series -- I thought it was VERY GOOD.
How about some TV? Sure, can do!
ARROW: much to my disconcertion and surprise, I thought this was kind of non-shitty. I was expecting more "Smallville" (ew), but instead it's kind of about as close to "Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters" (well, or more properly, the monthly book by Grell & Hannigan just AFTER that mini-series) as you're likely to find -- there's a structured mystery, and plan, and it seems like it is playing out alright, and while it's a version of Green Arrow from Earth-TV (Speedy is his sister, Deathstroke is some sort of army torturer, or something, the probably-some-day Black Canary is named "Laurel", rather than "Dinah", so on, so forth) it has an interesting continuing flashback structure -- yeah, I don't love it (I'd never have watched it if I didn't own a comic book store), but I like it very fine. Marc Guggenheim has managed to make a very solid little weekly vigilante TV show.
Two notes: first: man, the budget on this thing seems loooooow, to me -- they're constantly setting scenes in "night clubs" which are fairly clearly a soundstage, with a curtain hanging in the background with colored lights playing against it, and like two silhouettes dancing behind it -- yet they sell it pretty damn well.
Second: this Arrow (oddly called "hood" by most characters IN the show) is a STRAIGHT-UP killer. Some episodes the body counts top a score. And it's all very kind of sub-rosa -- I mean, yes, the cops are after him, but one gets the sense it's more from being a vigilante, rather than being a KILLER vigilante. You'd think that "Laurel", as written, would be appalled by Arrow's actions, but, yeah, kind of not. It is odd.
Anyway, I think this show is watchable, and surprisingly OK.
THE WALKING DEAD: So far, season 3 has been going swimmingly (I'm a week behind, I think?) -- this has been going breakneck speed, and shock follows shock pretty much every week. What I'm liking the best is that all of the same pieces are in play from the comic, but things come in different order, at different times that you can't really second guess it much. I mean, clearly, we have the prison, we have the Governor, but other than that, "anything can happen". I'm finding this a real thrill this season, and some of the acting this go round is getting downright good -- especially a recent reaction to something that happened involving Rick -- that was some raw-ass human emotion there. This really has been VERY GOOD, with only memories of the first "half" of Season 2 keeping me from wholly embracing it.
What, and a film, too? Sure! (though this has to go faster than I thought, since I just got the call that the truck with this week's comics will be here in a few minutes!)
SKYFALL: The latest James bond film was, I thought, one of the better ones -- it's actually ABOUT something, and when viewed with CASINO ROYALE (skip out on QUANTUM OF SOLACE, I think), it really projects a lot of new possibilities for the character -- but the last act of the film, while emotionally connective, was almost terrifyingly "small" in scope and range for a Bond movie, where you expect it to get bigger and bigger and ludicrous. There's a crazy villain, however, and bi-sexual flirting (!), and a surprising denouement there at the end, and it even had what I thought were the best credit sequence of the entire series (seriously, it was almost entirely nude woman free, AND relevant to the actual movie, for once). You have to go far to beat MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN in my heart (and SPY WHO LOVED ME / MOONRAKER in my memory, though, watching those again with Ben, I didn't care for either much), and this didn't beat those heights, but, yeah, I thought it was terrific and thoughtful in most ways. It's a very strong GOOD.
Whew! Gotta bounce! How about you? What did YOU think?