July 3, 2015

The things I have seen

Here's what I've poured into the brain of late...
  • The One I Love - Interesting premise of a married couple working through romantic struggles are recommended by their therapist to take a weekend away at a specific countryside villa. The couple find the the villa's guest house has a surprise in store for them, a surprise that at first seems positive but then turns darker, threatening their marriage and even their lives.

    The secret of the villa is never revealed - some suggestions of both magic and technology are suggested - and the rules of the game aren't always consistent making the twist a little less acceptable to me. The actors did a fine job with their parts, each changing their character just enough to fit well with the villa's secrets, but the film felt largely predictable and never paid up on its promise. Good, not great...
  • Wet Hot American Summer - With the decidedly NSFW preview of Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp making its appearance this week, I thought it time to give the original a try. I started by reading "The Ultimate Oral History of Wet Hot American Summer" from Details magazine and finding out some entertaining tidbits - particularly that the weather was awful for almost the entire shoot and that the cast often found nonsensical ways to move from one scene to the next (simply walking off piers, handing trophies off-screen). The movie, however, was a disappointment. It certainly has a cast with enough comedy chops to produce something glorious - and I'm still hopeful that the sequel can be glorious - but that promise never comes together to provide more than a few chucklesome moments. This is clearly the work of sketch comics who were learning to write beyond the sketches but hadn't yet found a way to write a complete film.
  • Irredeemable vol 7 & 8 - Thankfully PLCH didn't pick up the last two volumes to finish collecting this series, especially since volume 9 collected only two frickin' issues. The story continues to get darker with every opportunity for hope ending with another few million people dead as the Plutonian (a Superman archetype) kills more people to definitively remind people not to mess with him. Don't spend as much time with this series as I did.
  • Batgirl vol 5: Deadline - Meh...there are some redeeming qualities to this version of Batgirl: her reliance on family, her intelligence, her red hair. But the continuingly incestuous nature of her storylines (brother's a serial killer, ex-roommate is a secret agent trying to recruit Batgirl, a schoolmate being the Big Bad of this story arc) has become tiresome. The writers need to stop looking inward, trying to apparently tie the entire Gordon clan into one big Gordian knot. I'm hoping that Batgirl of Bensonhurst can redeem some of the good but clear the rest.
  • Batman/Superman: Game Over - Eight issues collected from two series (Batman/Superman and World's Finest) and apparently drawn by a half dozen different artists makes for a very jumbled read, the constant art changes drawing a reader abruptly out of the story, which is sad because some of the stories are actually interesting reads. Batman and Superman are threatened by a Toyman-created video game augmented by Mongul's interference, Mongul's son appears to avenge his father's defeat, and Powergirl and Huntress (both from Earth 2, something that I thought wasn't going to exist in the New 52 universe) come to the Batman/Superman pair seeking help. Even more egregious than the use of frequent artist changes (sometimes even in the middle of a story arc) is the use of horizontal pagination for two issues. Seriously, they made me turn my whole comic 90 degrees sideways to read two of the issues - for no reason that I could understand. Meh...oh, and weirdly, I kind of like how Jai Lee draws his characters, but I cannot stand that he doesn't ever draw backgrounds. His people just float in smoggy/smokey/hazey multicolored clouds.
  • Batman Beyond: 10,000 Clowns - Seriously, does every new supervillian have to be an estranged brother (or sister or ex-roommate or childhood friend) of the hero? Yeah, here the Big Bad is the hero's girlfriend's brother, but it's still too tightly wound for my tastes. I really like the Terry McGinnis version of Batman with Max and Bruce as his technological helpers. The television series was incredibly well made, and most of the comics I've read in this run have been as well. This volume, too is well written and drawn, but I do tire of the incestuous battles that all of the heroes seem to perpetually face.
  • Wonder Woman: vol 3 Iron and vol 4 War - And yet, I dig the familial ties throughout this run of Wonder Woman. Here we have Diana winding her way through her Olympian family trying to recover and protect their newest member, baby Zeke, about whom a prophesy has vaguely foretold dire events to come for the Olympians. Diana is forced to ally herself with Olympians who may or may not be trustworthy - and whose allegiances seem to shift from moment to moment. The center - Wonder Woman, herself - always seems to hold, however, and that keeps her motley band together...barely. And now Wonder Woman has the power and responsibilities of the God of War imbuing her. Where do we go from here?
  • Fantastic Four: Island of Death - Welcome to sunny - and deadly - Puerto Rico. This volume collects four stories of the FF in and around the island nation. In fact, the island's beauty and charm are so much at the forefront of the stories (and of the natives' words) that I'm curious whether this was produced in conjunction with the Puerto Rica board of tourism. In all, the stories and art are entertaining enough, though, that I don't really care. It's fluff, but it's fun fluff. Interesting, too, that the comic was also released in Spanish.
  • Suicide Squad: Kicked in the Teeth - blech...just blech...nasty, nasty blech
  • Harley Quinn: Hot in the City - I'm going to quote from Collected Edition's review of this volume to start...
    Conner and Palmiotti's Harley Quinn series is not uproariously funny, but it is entertaining and goofy. Most appealing about the book is its bizarre range -- ultra-violent battles with ludicrous assassins we maybe expect, but it's wondrously confusing when the audience suddenly finds themselves, in the midst of it all, with Harley watching a burlesque, competing in roller derby, or holding a rooftop party for the tenants of her new apartment building (a trick Palmiotti pulled in Superboy, too). To some extent the new Harley Quinn series doesn't know what it is, except that it's not superhero comics as usual, and that may be its biggest selling point.
    That's about right. It's fun but it isn't brilliant fun. The first issue, however, is well worth finding and reading as Harley destroys the fourth wall auditioning various artists for her first solo book, each artist getting a couple of pages to showcase how he or she (I didn't actually pay enough attention to see if there was actually a female artist included anywhere). The rest of the volume never lives up to that excellence, but at least it's a fun read.
  • Batwoman: World's Finest - Here we get more gorgeous Batwoman artwork from JH Williams and a continuation of the previous two volumes' ever growing and tightening noose of conspiracy centered around the apparent crime organization Medusa - until we find that Medusa is The Medusa, the Gorgon, the sister of Greek mythology - which requires Batwoman to step up her game and team up with Wonder Woman, with whom she stands side by side, holding her own every red-booted step of the way. This is a fascinating Bat-family title in that is almost never overlaps with Batman, Robin, or even Batgirl, and I think that makes for a stronger character, one who doesn't need to be part of the Family in order to be successful. And there's the character-developing plot of her relationship with Maggie Sawyer as a well-written bonus. Check this one out, for certain.

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