Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Mystique is pregnant

I'm really loving how the internet is allowing upstarts like Funny or Die to let actual stars do actually funny comedy on their own terms.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Comics waning

As the year closes out I am faced with the possibility that I will soon stop reading comics.

Not altogether, of course. With Beanworld returning, I couldn't do that. But since Beanworld will now mostly come out in graphic novel form (after the previous series have been reprinted), I might find myself wandering into the comic shops with less frequency.

The truth is, visiting what has become the Bendis Sandbox has become tiresome. He breaks everybody's toys, for one. And while I pooh-poohed the idea that Joss Whedon was a misogynist, I have to actually wonder about Bendis. Let's see:

  1. He made the Scarlet Witch go crazy and de-power most mutants (not that you can really tell from the proliferation of titles still out there) and then sent her off to Genosha or Salami or some other weird place nobody cares about.
  2. Killed The Wasp by using her as a weapon of mass destruction.
  3. Killed The Ultimate Wasp by having The Blob eat her entrails. ("Tastes like chicken?" Really, Bendis? That's the wittiest you can come up with? What about "Where's the beef" or "Pardon me, do you happen to have any Grey Poupon?")

Okay, well that's only three. But they're big characters, and Marvel doesn't really have that many iconic female heroes. You're not going to convince me She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, or Spider-Woman are "big heroes." Plus, the whole inane concept of Secret Invasion, now that it's over, is mind-bogglingly thin. After an incredible kickoff, plot threads were left to dangle until they just fell off with no consequences. What was the point of the ship full of Skrull heroes? I mean, it was just a distraction right? Not a distraction for our real heroes, but a distraction for us, the reader, so we wouldn't notice the lack of story.

For what, four issues, pretty much nothing happened. Just heroes looking at Skrulls saying "Oh yeah? Well.... come over HERE and say that!" Which of course they never did. Because God loves his Skrulls.

Oh and just let me talk about that scene with Spider-Woman Skrull. Who, I might remind you, is a shape-shifter. Remember that, they can take other forms. But apparently an arrow through the jaw is enough to knock her off her snickerdoodle so that she couldn't even push her jaw back into place.

A shapeshifter.

And Bendis, please, can you please stop trying to make us care about characters nobody gives a shit about? There's a reason The Hood's series got canceled. Nobody cared. And if you simply MUST revive people nobody cares about and you do try to make them interesting, please stick with your plot point... you can't do a reveal that The Hood's hood is possessed by Dormammu and put "to be continued" at the bottom of the page and then not continue it.

DC has had, if you can imagine, an even worse couple of misfires. While able to put out quality books like All-Star Superman and Ex Machina, they've stunk up their continuity with drudge like Final Crisis and that pointless series that led up to it. I don't even want to talk about Batman RIP. What a way to fake out your readers once again... who will take up the cowl with Batman gone? Until he comes back?

I should point out that I think the idea behind Batman RIP was an interesting one: Batman, sometime in the past, creates a backup personality in case he is ever driven insane by one of his enemies. Or something like that. Anyway, it's the kind of fucked up shit that Grant Morrison is known for. If you've never seen an interview with GM, I call your attention to Disinfo TV. It's a DVD available from the folks at, a site of lots of fringe ideas that at times are very interesting and other times are total whackjobs. Morrison appears talking at a seminar on the special features of the DVD set, and guess which one he comes off sounding like: interesting or whackjob.

Take a cookie if you chose the latter. Seriously, it sounded like Deepak Chopra witnessing for The Secret during a showing of What the Bleep Do We Know, Anyway? But usually, even being nuttier than squirrel shit, Morrison can weave a story that interests me. With Batman RIP, every issue just seemed like a waste of my money.

Luckily, DC has Blackest Night looming on the horizon, and if you ask me this should have been the Final Crisis story, not this Let's-Kill-Kirby's-New-Gods story, which I still fail to see having anything to do with DC's Crisis events. Green Lantern has been stellar of late, which is good because I fear the movie they have in production will turn out to be a tad silly, and may kill off the character for a while. But the whole Sinestro Corps War more than made up for the Final Crisis misfire, especially with the revelation of the whole Spectrum of power rings.

Speaking of horses of a different color: I'm over the Red Hulk. And no, I will not call him by his nickname. This has drawn out far too long, and it is no longer a mystery and is merely annoying, no matter how much Arthur Adams art we get out of it. I mean, are people forgetting that The Hulk just tried to destroy New York? Shouldn't Banner be in chains sedated into a coma or something? I admit the first few issues were interesting, but the interest has reached it's peak, and if the main point of the next year's stories are going to be new batch of heroes fight Red Hulk, who is he, oooh we don't know, it's so mysteious... I'm sorry. Bruce Jones did that Hulk-as-an-X-Files-mystery joint a few years back, and let the bait dangle too long on the hook. I'm not going for it a second time.

But my point is, I hope TPTB don't look at the new Spectrum War thingy happening in Green Lantern and think that if three different colored Hulks were cool, what if we do the whole box of Crayolas? Can you imagine how stupid that would be?

Anyway. So my comic book days may be waning. There are still a few I'm interested in, and I'm sure I'll check out a few more as time goes on, but I notice already that I skip two, three weeks between going to the store now. It's not long until I've moved on, I guess.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A letter to Forry:

Dear Mr. Ackerman,

I will not preface this with condolences about your condition, as I'm sure others have done that far more eloquently than I could. Find the one that touched you, perhaps, second most, and pretend that I signed in in good honor as well, because I'm sure I feel the same way. But I do feel that I should express what you meant to me growing up. And it meant much, much more than I ever thought it might have.

I first encountered Famous Monsters at my cousins' place. They frequently stayed with my aunt/their grandmother, partly because of the messy divorce their parents had to go through and also because they liked visiting with my brothers and I. We all had the same interests; comics, science fiction, monsters, horror movies, and the like. We'd often have sleepovers if the UHF station WXIX in Cincinnati (Channel 19... get it?) was showing 50s monster movies on Friday nights. Granted, 19's reception was sketchy because we lived two hours away and didn't have that great an antenna, but once in a while, especially during thunderstorms for some reason, it would slowly lose it's snowy picture and we'd be able to watch 20 minutes of a great old movie before the snow returned.

(I should mention that I know now that this shouldn't have happened, now that I work in the telecommunications business; UHF signals aren't supposed to be affected by the weather are they? And yet, it seemed the best Friday nights to sleep over were during thunderstorms.)

I think the first FM issue my cousin Jeff showed me was the red one with the Zombi story on the cover. Late bloomer, yes, but I was intrigued. He let me borrow it, and he never saw it again. To be honest, I didn't care about zombies at the time, but there were monsters; there was Star Wars; there was the catalog in the back, where I'd pretend I'd order from one day to get all these cool monster-based things.

I was so intrigued by this magazine that I ignored Jeff feeding his python a lab rat while playing Alice Cooper's Welcome To My Nightmare on his LP. I took it home and read it until it literally fell apart one day. Jeff let me know that he'd bought that issue recently, at the Convenient store near the airport.

(Note: "Convenient" was the actual name of the chain at the time, but it was a convenience store. The airport shouldn't be noted as impressive except for the fact that we had one; it was a small affair only for small planes. Our city only had 5000 residents. I should consider myself lucky they even stocked FM at that store.)

I began begging my father to take me there on days when FM was being released. I took the release dates in the back of the book as religious days at first, but learned quickly that nobody else in my town was interested in the magazine, so if I had to wait a week or so to pick up my magazine, I could. Dad indulged my behavior, for a while.

One day Mom's leg blew up, and everything changed after that.

Long story short: blod clot. They did surgery, put her on painkillers she was allergic to. Took her off those medications, and put her on ones that she was more allergic to. She had a nervous breakdown, and for a few years we were left without a mother. Oh, and since Dad didn't have any health insurance, we also lost our store, and went from lower-middle class to below poverty level.

It was not fun times.

One of the things that kept me going through it was FM. Oh sure, now I had to gather pop bottles, cans, take them to be recycled, mow lawns around the neighborhood, but I was always able to afford my FM magazine. Of course, Dad refused to drive me to the Convenient store anymore, which was the only place that sold FM at the time. Which was fifteen miles away. However, I was glad to walk there and back myself. FM was my escape; I couldn't afford to go see One Dark Night at the drive-in, or Sleepaway Camp, or any of those movies. I lived through FM's reporting. I would never see Heartbeeps; I would never see Dragonslayer; I would never see Empire Strikes Back, at least, not until I got older. FM was the only thing that kept me up to date on these things in that pre-internet era.

I remember my disappointment when FM stopped coming out. I had no way to find out what happened until many years later. But by then I was entering puberty in full blast, and other things were grabbing my attention. But still, all these years, I missed FM, and your writing.

I was nearly knocked over with shock when I saw FM reappear in Walgreen's many years later. But I'll not talk about that; it wasn't the same, and the story behind it doesn't need to be recounted. I bought one issue; that was all I needed.

All I want to do is tell you how much your magazine meant to me growing up. I remember seeing that special Toho Monsters issue in the back issue orders for such an unattainable price. For years I dreamed of owning it, as I was a kaiju freak. Last year I found it on an auction on eBay, and snagged it for just twenty bucks. It's been read and is framed now, in my living room, in a place of honor.

Thank you so much for keeping the wonder of monsters and aliens and science fiction and horror alive through my youth, and allowing me to springboard it into my life as I grew into an adult. I wish I'd been able to come visit your house and your collection before now. I wish you as well as can be, and thank you for keeping the kid alive in me all these years.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Secret Invasion #8

So first I'm watching William Shatner's Raw Nerve on the Bio Channel right now. He's grilling Valerie Bertinelli like she's a well-seasoned T-bone steak. So, the idea of William Shatner using his sometimes abrasive and often obnoxious personality to interview celebrities is, of course, a hypnotic idea. But it's Valerie Bertinelli!

That's kind of what's making it so interesting to watch. I kind of say at points, "Um, Bill, see you next Tuesday..." if you get my meaning. And other times I think he's getting answers from Valerie that only his abrupt, interrupting style could draw out. It's interesting. I'm setting it up for a Season Pass.

There's a fly buzzing around in my house right now. It's December, aren't they supposed to be dead?

Tomorrow Secret Invasion #8 comes out. I think, and I hesitate to say this, but I think it's going to decide exactly how much I'm going to care about comic books in my life from now on. Brian Michael Bendis has pissed me off a lot over the years... abandoning ALIAS, one of the best-written comics ever, for the lame idea of The Pulse... House of M... Avengers series that didn't star the Avengers (the current roster, I'm talking about... not any classic line-up)... and then Secret Invasion comes along, and at first it's great. The first issue punched me in the gut and made me scream NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO like a newly-born Darth Vader with sand in his vagina-respirator. And a few more issues that did the same...

...and then there were issues where I'd close the final page and go, "Um... did I just read a comic? Why didn't anything happen?" It's like the heroes and the villains took two steps forward and one back, puffing out their chests like the Power Pack boys in that one issue I'm referencing that nobody else will get but if they do they'll laugh.

And then there was the House of M, again. Oh God. Please strike me dead if I have to go through that whole debacle again. And Civil War? Well, I guess it was good, but I hate that one of the lynch-pins of that story was Peter Parker unveiling himself as Spider-Man, which was completely overturned when he made a deal with the fucking devil. Yeah, with great power responsibility blah blah and all that. Sure Satan, let's make a deal! I'll take door number two.

So basiclaly Marvel has been fucking up their shit for a while, and I'm losing interest in pretty much every Marvel series I'm reading, and it's really coming down to whether or not Secret Invasion #8 can pull off a big Holy Shit moment that actually does, yes, change everything about the universe we're reading about.

I can't read it until like five tomorrow. I'm interested.


Meanwhile, DC still has me hooked, despite the moronic Grant Morrison whipping out his flaccid dick to piss all over Batman (Batman: RIP) and the New Gods (Final Crisis). Seriously, FC is about the most inane and uninteresting story I've ever read. Makes more sense than Batman: RIP but then again it'd really have to work at it not to.

But DC has Blackest Night waiting in the wings, which is basically DC Zombies, and I'm hyped for that. So perhaps I'll just lose interest in Marvel for a while, then they'll do something to catch my eye again later. I guess it all depends on how tomorrow goes. I'll make sure to make a report, here.