Three guys talking about comic books, sports, movies, TV shows and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Teebore's Tidbits

Batman and the Monster Men: A well-crafted "year one" style Batman story, the concept of this story, the first of several such by writer/artist Matt Wagner, is to expand on an existing Golden Age Batman story. I've never loved Wagner's art as much as some people, but it's not bad. The story itself is fun, and it's especially fun to see a more human, rookie Batman struggle against savage, super-strong Monster Men that would likely be little trouble for his modern self. The transition from villainy in Gotham caused by the the mob to the "freaks" of Batman's rogues gallery is also featured, something I always enjoy reading about. Plus, Julie Madison, one of Batman's earliest underutilized girlfriends, is a featured character, and she's interesting enough to make the struggle between being Batman and being Bruce Wayne more enjoyable than it usually is.

Amazing Spider-Man: Brand New Day vol. 1: Longtime readers will remember that I swore off "Amazing Spider-Man" after the "One More Day"/Spidey sells his marriage to the Devil fiasco. A friend of mine (who loves Spidey like I love the X-Men, so one prone to be more forgiving of stupid storylines due to a love of the characters) insisted that "Brand New Day" (as the post-marriage retcon stories are collectively known) was at least worth a look, so look I did (it certainly helped that I was able to get a hardcover collection of the first few stories used with my employee discount, so I paid significantly less than had I purchased these issues individually as they were published). The stories weren't bad, but they weren't all that good either (and I realize such a declaration isn't exactly breaking new ground in terms of "Brand New Day" criticism).

If anything, I was struck at how terribly desperate the creators were to establish that the new post-demonic divorce status quo was just like the swinging Spidey stories of the seventies that all the older fans grew up reading and loving. Harry Osborn is back. Peter's looking for a job. A criminal steals one of his webshooters. Later, the police accuse Spider-Man of murder because a thug he put a spider-tracer on shows up dead. He spends the second story without web-fluid because he can't afford to buy the ingredients to make more. And so on. Again, these weren't bad stories, but they weren't terribly original either. Most importantly, absolutely nothing that happened in them couldn't have happened if Spider-Man was still married. Still, they were good enough to make me want to pick up the next volume (at half price, and discounted, of course). Hopefully the stench of desperation will be gone, and they'll do something that couldn't be done with a married Spider-Man in an attempt to at least try to justify the "One More Day" debacle.

The Stand by Stephen King: I recently finished re-reading this, and apparently, it's been awhile since I last read it, as I'd forgotten large swaths of the book such that certain parts read like new to me (and last time I also read the expanded edition, so that's not the explanation). As before, the first third of the book (detailing the release of the apocalyptic 'Captain Trips' superflu plague and the resultant breakdown of society) and the last third (chronicling the survivors attempts to create a post-apocalyptic society leading up to the titular stand against evil) remain my favorites, while I was still significantly less interested in the middle third (focusing on the main characters immediate reactions to the death of 99.9% of the population and chronicling their various wanderings as they come together). The ending was still as anti-climatic as I found it before, though I appreciated the thematic elements and the craft involved more this time around. And I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the final chapters of the novel, detailing in vivid detail Stu and Tom's hazardous winter return to Boulder, especially considering that, for all intents and purposes, the main conflict of the novel was resolved before they even set out.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: This show was such a slow-burner that it was tough to get real excited about any one episode, and that (combined with its Friday night timeslot) led to it languishing on my DVR for awhile, so I only recently finished the show despite it being off the air since early April. Which means that, for the most part, I was watching the latter half of its second season knowing it wouldn't be getting a third, and it's a shame. The slow-burn may not have always been exciting but it was unique, and it served the characters (the show's real strength) well. Brian Austin Green's Derek Reese, in particular, has become one of my favorite TV characters and a worthy addition to the "Terminator" franchise. The last half dozen or so episodes were particularly strong, and if I was saddened by the show's cancellation before watching it, then the finale really rammed it home. While it did manage to answer most of the major lingering questions, a few smaller one remain (what was the deal with Derek and that creepy Terminator basement in the future, exactly?). More importantly, while the finale didn't exactly end on a cliffhanger, it did introduce an intriguing new status quo for the show that makes me wish it was coming back even more to see how it would have played out.

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