Saturday, December 17, 2005

Friday, December 16, 2005

Okay, earlier today, I was thinking I should applaud the Senate for growing a fucking spine and preventing the patriot Act (lower case deliberate) from being made permanent unconditionally. For not just being a rubber stamp for the administration.

But I'm not going to applaud. Because this is the way the system is supposed to work. And it shouldn't be so remarkable when that happens. So sad when it does, though, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Was having an okay day, then came home to find a message from the body shop that took too long to fix my car. Apparently, they're having trouble getting paid by Titan Insurance, so they need my help, and tell me--on the message--that I need to file a claim with my insurance company so they can get paid. This would be over three months since the accident, and over one month since I got my car back, having been told that they had it in writing from Titan that they would be paying for the repairs that Desert Collision Center had done.

So either the guy at Desert Collision lied and didn't have the guarantee in writing that he said he had, or he's so bad at his job that he couldn't tell whether he had the guarantee that he was supposed to get or not. And either way, I still have this message letting me know that this is somehow my problem.

So, not in such a good mood any more.

Monday, December 12, 2005

If you're so proud of your twin girls, wouldn't you want to advertise that on a safer car?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

SCIFI.COM | Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King

SciFi had been running commercials for this during The Triangle, and I had no idea what it was. Exccept that it looked very much like a show whose vision exceeded its budget. According to their site, it stars Alicia Witt (who I like), Kristanna Loken (from Terminator 3, who is hot), and someone I've never heard of named Benno Furmann.

Then, on Zeta Minor, I learn that a British DVD of something called Sword of Xanten is coming out, with the same cast, and is based on the Ring of the Nibelung Norse myths. So I google the title, and according to the reviews I found, it's a crappy, low-budget German/South African TV miniseries that had a theatrical release in the UK, and is crap. (Oh, I said that already, didn't I?) And that means that the really poor CGI dragon featured in the commercial doesn't look bad because it's unfinished, but because it's cheap and crappy.

So, not something to look forward to quite as much, perhaps. Although... Alicia Witt...
Finished watching the SciFi miniseries The Triangle this morning. It has received mixed reviews, but I enjoyed it. Part of the problem it faced, I think, is that previous SciFi miniseries like Dune, Taken, and Battlestar Galactica have set the bar pretty high, and this doesn't quite live up to those expectations. But it's also way better than the typical made-for-SciFi movie, like Mansquito, which is probably much more representative of their output.

And the miniseries dragged in a couple of places, but I'm not sure if it could have lost a whole episode's worth of material without seeming rushed, so it's a tough call to make. (On HBO, it could have run any length it needed to, but on commercial television, they're pretty much stuck with 30-minute blocks of time...) Considering I had expected the whole thing would take place on a boat, it managed to defy my expectations just by not doing that. And I've pretty much gotten out of the habit of trying to second-guess movies and stuff, so I didn't predict the ending. It was fun, it held my attention, and Catherine Bell is still incredibly hot. (JAG on DVD next year, hopefully!) So, worth my time.

But it's no Doctor Who.
Kung Fu Monkey: BB model sheets 2

So there's ths new Blue Beetle comic coming out, written by Keith Giffen (who I've been a fan of since his work on Legion of Super-Heroes alongside Paul Levitz, who I already talked about in the previous post) and screenwriter John Rogers, who wrote the excellent Global Frequency pilot and is given credit for some crappy movies like Catwoman and American Outlaws, I think. And it's drawn by Cully Hamner, who I like. But taking a look at the costume... I don't know; it just looks completely unappealing, in a way I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe because there's nothing particularly distinctive about it, except for the big mandibles sticking up out of the bug backpack, which just look silly?
Comics post ahead (first of a couple, probably...)

Is it already time for my next Previews order? Thanks to a mailng problem, I only just got my Previews the other day, and I already have to let my guy know what comics I want...

So, for my comics-reading friends who read this, here's the list of new series and books that caught my eye:

From Dark Horse Comics:

Hellboy: Makoma #1
Actually, this has a longer, pulpier sounding subtitle, but I don't have the catalog next to me right now. Certainly it would be easy enough to just say that I've bought every issue of Hellboy since the first one, and haven't been disappointed, so I'm not about to stop now. But this one also features art by '70s underground comics legend Richard Corben. Not too long ago, I heard some folks at my local comics store talking about his art in the then-recent Punisher: The End one-shot, and one of the staff guys described it as looking too "old-fashioned" or something. One of the other staff guys immediately told him off, and let's face it, Corben is a genuine great who shouldn't be dismissed because he doesn't draw like Jim Lee. It's weird seeing him doing mainstream superhero stuff these days (I have a Hulk miniseries by him, a Luke Cage miniseries, and the aforementioned Punisher one-shot), but it was also nice seeing some more personal-looking stuff in his recent issue of Solo from DC. The sample page from this issue of Hellboy shows that his style will fit perfectly in with the tone of this series, as well.

Concrete: Killer Smile Trade Paperback
At one point, I had all the issues of Concrete, including all his short-story appearances. And it's always been a favorite series, so the opportunity to have them all in a format I can keep on my bookshelf is one I can't pass up. Paul Chadwick's art is always gorgeous, and his writing has an emotional depth that so few comics even attempt. So, no, I won't be content until I have the whole library.

From DC Comics

Batman: Year One Hundred #1
I've talked before about how the regular Batman books just weren't doing it for me, so I decided to give them up in favor of the miniseries. That's been a mixed bag as well: I'm loving Batman and the Monstermen, Long Day's Journey into Knight isn't really making any sort of impression, and I've been disappointed by Gotham County Line. I had high hopes for that last one, because I really like the writer and artist, but it just feels like they're not trying, perhaps because it's Batman and not something they have a stake in.

So why, then, take a chance on this new miniseries by Paul Pope, a highly idiosyncratic creator? Because even when he's doing stories with DC superheroes (as seen in his issue of Solo and stories in Batman Chronicles), they still feel like Paul Pope stories, that's why. And so I have the same expectations here.

Rann-Thanagar War Infinite Crisis Special and Infinite Crisis Secret Files 2006
I'm going to lump these two together to save time. I've expounded at length about my love-hate relationship with Infinite Crisis and everything related to it, so I won't go over all that again. But while I'm not so completely sold on the series to be willing to buy every crossover and tie-in issue of comics I wouldn't otherwise ordinarily read, I am enjoying it enough to buy the one-shot comics that "enhance" the story. (Particularly after seeing how reading some of the OMAC Project crossover stories would have enhanced my enjoyment by allowing me to read key plot points that weren't shown in the actual story... But there I go again.) Plus, the Secret Files book is written by veteran writer (and writer of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths) Marv Wolfman, and that's enough to get my attention right there. (Although not enough to get me to buy the issues of Teen Titans he's co-writing with non-writer Geoff Johns. Presumably there, he's contributing ideas that aren't 100% reliant on previously published stories by other writers.)

But, really, I want this to be the last time I buy a comic called "Rann-Thanagar War." You hear me, DC?

Showcase Presents House of Mystery Vol 1 Trade Paperback
Loving the Showcase format of 500 or so pages of old comics in black and white. And I love the tone of the 70s DC horror comics. They're not quite as hard-edged as the ECs, maybe a little more influenced by 30s and 40s pulp writers. And the art is great. Sold.

JSA #82
Yes, planning on buying six issues of JSA. Because Geoff Johns isn't non-writing it for six months. Instead, we get a six-issue fill in story by Paul Levitz, drawn by George Perez and Rags Morales, featuring the Gentleman Ghost. When I was a kid, Levitz's Legion of Super-Heroes was one of my absolute favorite books (along with Wolfman & Perez's New Teen Titans), and he's been away from writing for too long. (He's also President of DC Comics, so he's busy.) Perez is a longtime favorite artist, and Morales is a new favorite. And I've always liked the Gentleman Ghost character, ever since he was used so well by Tony Isabella in his Shadow War of Hawkman miniseries and follow-up series. Plus, since it's not non-written by Johns means there's a better-than-average chance that the story won't be entirely dependent on tying together old plot points from 20 year old comics, without actually bringing anything new to the story, just the illusion of something new. (You are now seeing the "hate" side of the love/hate relationship with Infinite Crisis. Sorry.)

Of course, this story does apparently tie-in to Infinite Crisis, but all the other factors make it something I want to read, so I'm not just getting it because I feel forced to read a crossover story.

Warlord #1
There's a whole other entry percolating in the back of my brain about this, but it boils down to some highly mixed feelings: I love the original Mike Grell series, and am not entirely comfortable with the idea of anyone else redoing it. But I like the character and concept enough that I can't entirely turn my back on it, either. So I'm going to try it out.

Elfquest: The Grand Quest Vol 13 Trade Paperback
By this point, we're well into Elfquest stories I never read the first time around. Thank you, DC.

American Way #1
I really enjoyed John Ridley's superhero novel, Those Who Hunt in Darkness, which is apparently in the works as a pilot for a SciFi TV series. And while that didn't interest me enough to pick up his work on established Wildstorm characters like the Authority or (God help us) Warblade, I am definitely picking up another creator-owned superhero story from him, this time in comics form.

Thunderbolt Jaxon #1
No history with these old British IPC characters that Wildstorm is reviving in the slow-to-appear, plotted-by-Alan-Moore Albion miniseries. But this one sounds kind of neat, and it's written by Dave Gibbons (and not company-dictated plot-wise like Rann-Thanagar War) and drawn by John Higgins, so I want to read it.

From Image Comics:

Rocketo Vol 1 Journey to the Hidden Sea Trade Paperback
I've seen sample pages of Rocketo and read interviews with the creator (animator Frank Espinosa, I think) that make it sound like a cool Flash-Gordon-y sci-fi adventure series with really nice art. But I had missed the first few issues. So here's my chance to get caught up. (I've read mixed reviews about the story, but do I really need to explain how I feel about comic book web site reviews? Where "confusing" is just shorthand for "couldn't bother to pay attention as I read?" Didn't think so.)

From Marvel Comics:

Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius: Everybody Loves Franklin
I read the first one-shot by Chris Eliopolous (whose work on Desperate Times I always liked and BGSU alum Mark Sumerak. And, as expected from the two of them, it's cute and funny. And very entertaining, and well worth the cover price. And since that's pretty much what I want from a comic, when presented with a second one-shot, there's not really a reason to pass it up, is there?

Oh, added a couple of Marvel titles from last month at the last minute:

Generally, Warren Ellis's Marvel superhero stuff hasn't really excited me the way his creator-owned stuff has, so I've not made it a priority. And that's why I skipped Nextwave on the first pass, figuring I'd buy it when it's collected. But thinking about what he's said about it, and looking at the ads and preview art and everything, I just couldn't get it out of my head. And he and I seem sympatico on so many things that if he's saying that he's writing the sort of superhero comic he'd want to read, I have to suspect it may be the the sort of one I'd want to read, as well.

But what really sold it for me were the two promotional images, one with the tagline, "Saving the world by blowing things up," and the other reading, "Good. Bad. Monkey. Nextwave doesn't know the difference." And that suggests sort of the freewheeling, anarchic action tone I want from a Marvel superhero comic right now. Because--in that specific subgenre--I want less people sitting around and talking and more people blowing stuff up. So I decided to get the comic as a monthly after all.

Daughters of the Dragon
Ordinarily, I'd wait for this to be collected, because it's a Marvel miniseries. But the more interviews I've read lately with Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey about it, and the more sample pages I've seen, the more I wanted to read it. It looks like a fun, high-energy story about a couple of normal-people bounty hunters in the Marvel universe. And Palmiotti and Grey have proven that they've got that down-on-their-luck, wrong-side-of-the-tracks characters who have led hard lives but still have their sense of humor voice down cold. And, as time passed, I felt like if Marvel was finally going to publish a comic I found myself getting excited about, I should demonstrate approval by buying the thing as it came out.

Marvel Romance Trade Paperback
Call me a girl, but I like romance comics. This month, Marvel has four "romance" one-shots focusing on romances within the superheroes and supervillains of their superhero universe. And I just don't care, because if every freaking issue of Spider-Man touches on Peter Parker's marriage with Mary Jane, then what's so special about a one-shot comic that does exactly the same thing? Superhero comics have already internalized the romance element as part of their subplotting structure, so I can't get excited about four issues that bring that to the fore. Similarly, I'm not interested in Marvel's miniseries of rescripted old romance comics, because it would be every bit as easy to rewrite an issue of Spider-Man to make it seem silly. Or Watchmen, for that matter.

But this book collects the genuine article, and allows some of comics' great artists to tell stories about normal people, without costumes, masks, or action sequences. The plots may seem corny and dated--I don't know, haven't read them before, but some Romance comics hold up better than others--but I'd still rather read the genuine article than some bastardized version of the format.

Essential Moon Knight Vol 1 trade paperback
500 pages of Moon Knight stories for a reasonable price, including work by Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz. I've always been interested in the Moon Knight character, and now I can read the early stories I never had a chance to. It's just such a cool costume, plus the multiple-secret-identies schtick he's got going on. Plus, Bill Sienkiewicz, doing the work that put him on the map.

From Archaia Press
Mouse Guard #1
Sold on the strength of the preview pages.

Okay, not sure of the publisher of this one, but...

McCandless & Company Crime Scenes Trade Paperback
I read a one-shot in this series I don't know how long ago. This is a longer graphic novel drawn by Gene Gonzales, who isn't a big name, but whose work I know and like. The first one-shot was just fine, and I like private eye comics, so I'll continue to support this one. As long as it comes out, because it seems like they're better at soliciting issues of this comic than actually putting them out...

From Dynamite Entertainment

Painkiller Jane #1
Not interested because of last night's SciFi movie, which I haven't watched yet. And I don't think I actually read any of her previous appearances. But I'm getting this, partly because it marks Lee Moder's return to comics art, and partly because it's written by Jimmy Palmiotti, whose praises I sang above. Now that I'm a bigger fan of his, I feel like I ought to get his creator-owned work, even more so than his company-owned stuff.

From Scholastic Graphix, whose web site I don't feel like looking up right now...

Bone Vol 3 Eyes of the Storm Color Edition
It's not like I have the entire Bone series in paperback already--I'm missing a couple of books--and these look so nice in color...

From IDW Publishing (Again, just tired of looking up web sites...)

Spike vs Dracula #1
I like Spike, from the Angel TV series just fine, and this is written by Peter David, who I also like just fine. So... There you go. (Although, as I type this, if any of this month's purchases feel like an obligation rather than something that excites me...)

You know what? I think I just may have talked myself out of buying this... At least I'm having second thoughts now...

Supermarket #1
No question about this one, though, since it's a new miniseries by Brian Wood.

From Moonstone Press:

Pat Novak for Hire Graphic Novel
A fairly inexpensive private eye one-shot in black and white, written by great writer (and frequent visitor to my library) Steven Grant and drawn by fantastic artist Tom Mandrake. Sold.

From Oni Press

Gray Horses Graphic Novel
I tend to like Oni's graphic novels quite a bit, at least the quieter, character-driven ones, which this seems to be. And... Well, it's just an impulse purchase, really.

Queen & Country Declassified Vol 2 trade paperback
Less than ten dollars, written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Rick Burchett, I've been waiting for this one. I may no longer be particularly impressed by Rucka's superhero work--although I may end up buying his new Checkmate series from DC--but his work on this series, which is completely his creation, never fails to please.

From Papercutz:
Zorro Vol 3
I liked the first book. Haven't read the second one yet, but again, three comics worth of stories, under ten bucks.

From Rebellion:

Judge Dredd Compete Case Files Vol 2
Take what I said two months ago about Volume 1 (love Dredd, looking forward to reading all these early stories in order, yadda yadda) and apply it here as well.

Caballistics Inc Vol 1 Going Underground Trade Paperback
Caballistics Inc is probably my favorite new 2000AD series of recent vintage, so I look forward to rereading those stories in a more convenient, permanent collection.

And that's it.
Yes, I changed my Blog design. I was tired of the huge amount of space showing up at the top of the page every time I looked at it, and the only way I could figure out how to get rid of it was to change the template. Lazy me, I just wanted to use one of Blogger's premade templates, and sadly, they didn't have one with cats on it any more. Still need to go back in and add links to friends' blogs, obviously. But this looks a little nicer, I think.

Although I now see that blogger has flagged my blog as a potential "spam blog," so now I have to enter a word verification when I post. Hope this isn't a permanent thing...