Circus daze and 8/16 by Hibbs

So, we took Ben to the Circus on Saturday afternoon. 2 is the perfect age for the Circus, really -- old enough to appreciate the spectacle, young enough not to see the strings. I sorta think the Circus is a scam -- the $13 programs, the $18 toys (which I firmly said no to), the $5 bag of stale-ish popcorn. In fact, when Grandmother Michele bought the tickets, I had asked for good seats, but not the top-line ones. Somehow, she was told the $60 seats were sold out, so being a very VERY cool Grandmother, she opted for the super-expensive seats. But when we got to the Oakland Coliseum, it was clear there were plenty of $60 unsold. I felt like I had "rube" stapled to my forehead.

On the other hand, the seats she bought were "Circus Celebrity" passes, and, 'round about the half-way point of the show, they ushered us Celebrities out onto the circus floor, and put us in a trolley, where we were right in the middle of the show for about 15 minutes. The cars had a drum built into them, and Ben had a blast pounding on the drums while acrobats and clowns and Cossacks swirled around us.

The Circus has changed a lot since I was a kid. I was, dunno, eight maybe, the last time I went to the Circus (at Madison Square Garden), and that was a proper three-ring event. Our Circus was just one ring, boo. Plus, no Big Cats. Double boo!

The A#1 weirdest thing, and I have to think this is because of Cirque Du Soliel and the like, is that the Circus now has a PLOT.

As the show opens, they bring in a "lucky family" to star in the show -- "Dad" becomes the ringmaster, Mom a trapeze artist, and the Daughter a dancer. But the Son doesn't know what he wants to be, so the rest of the show becomes "What can 'Dan' be at the Circus?"

Between every act, they go back to the story -- sometimes with songs, sometimes with video -- and I'd have to say that at least 10% of the performance was this stupid meta-story about "Dan"

A lot of this was pre-recorded, and there was an awful lot of terrible lip-synching going on. And badly animated elephants talking all "street", ow.

One of the things I wondered about the most was just how pre-set and pre-recorded a lot of it was. Yes, there was spectacle and explosions and wonderment, but I wonder how they pull that off night after night in venues that are probably different sizes and shapes every leg of the trip. You know what I mean? How do you hit marks, or lay out the props and the safety equipment correctly when the venue is a different size on each stop?

Doing quick and sloppy math in my head, with the number of performers involved (though many did double and triple duty), the transportation costs, the venue and insurance costs, and so on, I really wonder if they can even break-even on attendance alone. Plus, our matinee performance was, maybe, 2/3 full (at best) -- makes that $5 popcorn make a little more sense.

But, at the end of the day, only one thing mattered, and that was Ben had a GREAT time, his eyes as wide as saucers for most of the show. Circuses are really for two-year olds, and that's OK.

Now, how about some of them thar comical books?

52 WEEK 15: I always liked Booster Gold as a concept -- someone who came to heroism for all the wrong reasons, and in all the wrong ways (remember: he was a thief). So, I'll shed a tear for Booster. Booster Gold is dead, but long live Michael Carter, whom, I assume we'll find out is in the "Supernova" costume. A solidly OK issue, leaning upwards again.

CATWOMAN #58: The problem here is there just isn't any drama in Angle Man or Film Freak knowing anything -- they're strictly D-list adversaries. And I don't really buy that Zatanna would do any more mind-wiping, and I'm getting frustrated by Magic in the DCU. We're told the rules have changed, but everything seems to work out exactly the same. AWFUL.

CHECKMATE #5: I've still yet to find any character here I have any affection for, or, frankly, interest in. The cast and scope of this is too large to not have a POV character we can root for. Can't swing more than an OK.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #3: Sorta the same issue here, really, with the understanding I like the core idea better. But I find the execution to be lazy ("building a corps" would have been a better direction), so EH.

SHADOWPACT #4: DC is publishing way WAY too many third-string titles at once. You should see my DC rack, all one-quarter cover at best. Adding 20 new titles (or whatever it is) all at once -- especially when so few of them seem like they have long-term goals or ideas -- just fragments the audience. We sold 40 copies of SHADOWPACT #1, 33 of #2, 30 of #3, and we're down to 19 in the first week of #4. If there were not 19 other #1s in the last 6 months, maybe this would have held its audience. Nor does it help this is pretty EH.

PHONOGRAM #1: HELLBLAZER meets SCOOTER GIRL, right? And I thought it worked really well, at that. We'll see if it continues to live up to the promise of this first issue, but I will go with a tentative GOOD.

CIVIL WAR X-MEN #2: Sure, I believe the government is going to make thier sentinels look more like Gundam robot suits! Always nice to see the original team in action, though. OK

CLAWS #1: About 4 pages in, I became convinced that Linser stopped drawing this, and Amanda Connor stepped in. I can't imagine that people who like Linser for DAWN are going to care for this bigfoot cartooning one tiny bit. I found the style appealing, but frustratingly light for a $3.99 cover price. EH.

STAR TREK THE MANGA v1: You know they have no idea what they're doing when the first story is about how K&S inadvertently helped create The Borg. Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew! It also doesn't help when it appears half of the artists have never seen the show, and have no idea what the sets and costumes look like. CRAP. What I can (sorta) recommend to scratch that "Classic Trek" itch is, a fan film site where they appear to be trying to do the 4th and 5th seasons of the original show. The sets and costumes and props and generally "feel" is pretty impeccable, even if the acting needs a bit of work. Apparently the next episode will have a DC Fontana script, and a appearance by Walter Koenig. And I was horribly disturbed by th Comedy Central Roast of Shatner. Wow, that Farrah Fawcet sure is scary, ain't she? And I thought it was supposed to be about Shatner, but most of the thing was comedians I've never heard of insulting OTHER comedians I've never heard of. Seemed like under 10% of it had anything to do with Shat.

WASTELAND #2: I liked this much better than the first issue -- probably because there's more forward motion, an antagonist, and less world-building needed. A solid GOOD.


THE BOYS #1: What's funny is that "Boys" ships the same week as "Girls". Sadly, that was really the only thing funny here -- this is pretty rote by-the-numbers-for-Garth stuff, and Darick's art, while lovely, really bugged me every time that Shaun of the Dead guy appeared. Its conceptual that this could end up some place very fun, but for now, I think I have to go with an AWFUL.

Meh, that's all I have to say this week. I'm tired, after covering Rob's birthday (and giving him an extra day on top of that, since o0ne day off in the middle of a work week is no fun at all)

PICK OF THE WEEK: Either PHONOGRAM #1 or WASTELAND #2 are well worth your hard-earned comics dollars.


TP/GN OF THE WEEK: There's no contest, because Eric Shanower's ADVENTURES IN OZ is lovely, fun, entertaining and great for kids. The $75 HC is even nicer, with a REALLY extensive "behind the scenes" section that rival's any "ABSOLUTE" edition. Great stuff!

I also enjoyed the PLASTIC MAN ARCHIVES v8 HC, and portions of the JUSTICE SOCIETY (1970s) TP -- those couple of issue by Wally Wood are just eye-poppingly lovely, even when buried by the inks. What I just don't understand is why not one of these individual stories had credits, nor was there any title page laying them out? What's up with that?

What did YOU think?