August 2009

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BG Cv1 VAR.qxp

Well, they revealed Batgirl’s identity in the first issue, which is good.  And I have to take back my bitching and moaning about the idea of trying to drag it out.  Officially, thank you DC for not dragging it out.  Unfortunately…

SPOILER

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But no, I can’t tell you when, because though Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim has released a preview trailer for Season 4 of The Venture Brothers, there is still no official premiere date.  Check out the trailer though – it’s awesome.

Venture Brothers

If you don’t know about The Venture Brothers then this trailer will only confuse the hell out of you…well, even if you know The Venture Brothers it might confuse the hell out of you, but you’ll be used to it, because you’re used to the random awesome magic of…The Venture Brothers.  Nice circle logic I did there, huh?  If you watch until the end of the trailer you’ll automatically go into the next video which is The Venture Brothers creators talking at the San Diego Comic-Con Panel…and it’s pretty funny in its own right.

On thing to note, that panel is looking very man heavy…it sure looks like you guys could use some strong female writers…and um, just so you know…yes, I’m available.  :)

There are also some great stills from Season 4 (among other awesome posts) on Jackson Publick’s blog Publick Nuisance - check it out.

batgirlforbatgirl

thanks to pasrimonia for the awesome ‘batgirl for batgirl’ poster image.

All signs point to the new Batgirl not being Cass.  And the most recent hints suggest it is either Steph (The Spoiler) or a combination of two or three women (possibilities that seem to include : Cass, Steph, Babs, or Misfit) taking up the cowl together…which is an interesting idea, but I admit I’m not really on board, mostly because I just don’t understand why it’s not Cass straight up and with no ‘battle for the cowl’ bullshit.

I feel like the fans really love her and have long embraced her, but DC just somehow never has, and I don’t know why.

I guess the only thing I’m truly glad about is that it doesn’t LOOK like the plan is for it to be Barbara – which I would hate.  There’s speculation that because of dropped hints that they wanted to bring her back as Batgirl and changed their minds.  I would love if this was true, because it suggests that they do listen to fans (everyone loves Barbara, but almost nobody wants her back in the Batgirl uniform) or at least to themselves when they realize something isn’t right.  The bottom line is that Barbara has so evolved beyond being just Batgirl.  Barbara is so much more as Oracle and she can’t go backwards in time…which is what it would be for her to put on the Batgirl uniform again.

Anyway, let’s be all scientific like and look at the hints:

There were the three images released as Batgirl teasters, and each of them are basically different costumes, and thus suggests different women…which I guess is where we’re all getting idea that it will either be a team up of multiple women donning the cowl, or at least a battle to be the one and only.

The first (and my favorite of course) is pure Cass (although a bit heavy om the boobage).

Batgirl 1

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32Stories.indd

32 Stories: The Complete Optic Nerve Mini-Comics Box Set.  Adrian Tomine (Writer/Artist).  Comic Books/Graphic Novels.

I’m a huge fan of Adrian Tomine’s later works – Summer Blonde, Shortcomings, every New Yorker cover he does – but I largely missed out on his early Optic Nerve mini-comics, so I was delighted to see Drawn & Quarterly release this gorgeous box set of his original mini-comics (Optic Nerve #1 – # 7).

I dug into them this past week, and it was such a great experience, I doubt I can accurately explain how much I enjoyed it.  Reading them seemed somehow both progressive and also like a total throwback to when comics used to really genuinely make me happy.  It’s also great, as I’ve discussed before in relation to reading Alison Bechdel’sDykes To Watch Out For collected , to be able to see the evolution of a writer/artist in one sitting like that.  Tomine’s drawing, inking, lettering, his very style evolves before your eyes and it’s a wonderful thing to behold – to see an evolution captured like that.  Not that issue #7 is better than issue #1 – just different.  There was a real rawness and almost sloppiness to the early issues that I loved.  But it was amazing to see Tomine’s drawing slowly evolve more into the style that I’m familiar with today.

Optic Nerve

As I said there’s a real gritty and honest style to Tomine’s early work and when I realized that the first four issues of Optic Nerve were self-published by Tomine before he even graduated from high school I almost fell out of my chair.  Even with the rawness of it, this is an incredible accomplishment and really underscores the talent Tomine possesses.

Some of my favorite stories in this collection are: Back Break in #2; Rodney in #3; Adrian Quits His Job in #3; All Choked Up in #4; Haircut in #5; Mike The Mod in #5; My Appearance On The Jane Pratt Show in #6; Leather Jacket in #6; Allergic in #6; Smoke in #6 (#6 was my favorite issue); and Happy Anniversary in #7.

Adrian Tomine

I also really enjoyed the additions to the Box Set in the form of another book with an introduction and some special features including a handful of unpublished sketches and strips.  The best of this to me was Tomine’s discussion in ‘A Note on this Edition’ of another writer/artist having gotten a copy of his high school yearbook years ago and posting his high school picture on a heavily trafficked web forum.  Tomine talks honestly and frankly about how he felt about this (badly), how he dealt with it (badly) and how he feels about it today (not so badly – and to prove it that same high school photo is the cover of the introduction book).  But it really gives you some perspective – that no matter how talented and amazing we are (I will never in my life come remotely close to touching the badass-ness that is Adrian Tomine) we are all vulnerable and sometimes vain…but that ‘this too shall pass’ is something that really is true, and if we can remember it and laugh it off, we’d all be better off.

4.0 Stars.

the hunter cover

Man, I want to get my hands on this SO bad.  No luck last night at the comic shop.  Will keep trying.  SO pretty.

Check out the 18 page preview on IDW.

Tell me that doesn’t make you sing deep down into your toes.

A commenter mentioned the other day, that his favorite Catwoman cover was #74 by Adam Hughes.  And I’m inclined to agree that it’s a beautiful cover – quite frankly you’d be hard pressed to find a cover of Hughes that isn’t stunning.

Catwoman 74 published

However, the primary reason Catwoman #74 did not make my list, is because of unnecessary boobage – which I’m sure you can imagine – I encountered a lot in my search – and by no means was Hughes the only offender.  But what’s interesting about Catwoman #74 is that in my searches I came across an unpublished sketch version of the same cover – but without the excessive totally unnecessary pornstar cleavage.

Catwoman 74 Unpublished

As someone who is very well endowed myself (TMI!), I speak from personal experience that the last thing you want are those babies hanging out while you jump from rooftop to rooftop…not that I jump rooftops…but really anything remotely athletic?  You want those babies zipped up and contained!  So it’s just silly looking to me.  And that zipper must have superpowers of its own to stay RIGHT THERE.  The laws of physics do not apply to that zipper!  Additionally, though Selina’s expression is gorgeous in both drawings, I much prefer the sketch version where her eye is on the safe behind the mirror (her true goal) and not on herself in the mirror apparently approving of how hot she looks.

If Hughes had executed the sketch version of this cover, I would likely have included it in my list, as it’s a great concept and Hughes pretty much always delivers on execution – but as the pornstar version is the one that found its way to our comic book stores, it just never had a chance on a list made by me.

But the real question is…was it Hughes choice to unzip the front of Selina’s costume…or was it DC’s suggestion…?

Also of note on the Adam Hughes front is that a surprising number of people have complained about no Hughes Wonder Woman covers being included in my list.  I did have several I was considering, but in the end, though all beautiful, it’s the boob factor that inevitably got them booted from the list too.  Officially, I don’t approve, and where better to make myself heard than here?  That said, I feel confident that Adam Hughes is really well represented (perhaps too much) as he has four covers on this list already.

Also, I like Catwoman way more than Wonder Woman (I try to love WW, I really do, but she makes it SO hard).

Update:  A reader sent me a copy of this even further developed sketch from this issue.  I still love the way this looks and prefer it to the boobage one, however I think the expression here is less powerful.

Catwoman 74 solicitation

*I guess, TECHNICALLY Catwoman is a villain, not a superhero, but we all know it’s more complicated than that…right?

thewalkingdead #48

Wow.  It’s really happening. AMC has bought the rights to Robert Kirkman’s series The Walking Dead.  My favorite comic book of all time (even though I think Kirkman’s been phoning it in a bit over the last year).

Man, I can’t remember the last time I thought

“pleasedon’tfuckthisuppleasedon’tfuckthisuppleasedontfuckthisup” so hard.

AMC has been knocking it out of the park with Mad Men and Breaking Bad, so here’s hoping they’ve got at least one more home run in them.

So I saw this first poster for Whiteout LONG ago, and thought it looked pretty badass. It got my hopes up a bit that they might not botch the translation to film.

Whiteout Teaser Poster

Then I saw the trailer and thought it looked pretty “eh”

Then I realized they recast the other lead female role to be a man and I said “F U Hollywood.  Why you messing with awesome shit that already WORKS!?!”

THEN, just yesterday I saw a NEW poster for the film and my heart when all pitter pat, pitter pat.  They did SUCH a good job emulating the badass Frank Miller Whiteout TPB cover. Check it out:

frank miller whiteout cover

Whiteout Poster #2

Nice – right?!

Man, I’m such a sucker for things that look good.

There’s also this poster, which I think is mostly great.  It’d be better if you could tell the figure is a woman – although that’s tough to do in a parka…

Pretty Good Whiteout Poster

And then there’s this new one, which is mostly blech.  I mean, it’s very pretty (Kate Beckinsale IS very pretty – it’s hard to hide that kind of prettiness) and the effect of the ice is nice – but it so doesn’t speak to the strong visuals that already exist for this book – and it doesn’t really give you any clue what the movie is about – so why make something so ordinary and non-impactful…? I guess just because we’ve learned that people respond to pretty?  Bah.  I’m so bored with pretty.

Eh Whiteout Poster

Anyway, I don’t know if I’ll actually see this in the theater – so far as I can tell the score is dead even 3 points for, 3 points against.  Anyone care to push me one direction or another?

ben-lyons

At The Movies, once a “must see” for Adam and me, has finally (after a year) retconned the show back to what will hopefully be something closer to the ‘old show’ and is dumping its terrible new hosts as step one.

I feel bad for Ben Mankiewicz, who there was really nothing wrong with, but jammed into the ridiculous new format, and partnered with moron of the moment Ben Lyons, couldn’t possibly win. The good news is that I think Mankiewicz’s reputation will remain unscathed…we all know, and many articles and blogs have made it publicly clear, that he’s not the reason this went bad.

I was never a huge fan of frequent co-hoster of the old show, Michael Phillips (chalk it up to personal taste) but the guys knows films, which is what is required here.  And A.O. Scott is great – both fun to watch and incredibly well informed when it comes to film.  I’m excited to start TIVOing this show again…beginning September 5th.

As many of you know I railed against the new format, and especially the disgusting casting choice of Ben Lyons, as an actual film critic when he’s really just a sound bite shill for the machine.  And while from go there was no chance I was going to watch this show with Lyons masquerading as an “expert” I felt the need to blog about this and actively oppose it when Lyons had the gall to list the Twilight TRAILER as his “Three To See” pick in an early episode.  Yes, the man suggested that instead of seeing a real film, that people go view a highly publicized TRAILER online.  What a brainless dickbag.  Anyway…

Wouldn’t it be great if this small step signaled a change in the world at large?  The move towards using informed qualified talent rather than “attractive”* connected hacks?  It’s almost enough to make me have some faith in the world…almost.

Thanks to all you other fans, writers, etc., that both called this out for what it was – and most importantly refused to watch it and sent a message via the ratings, so that we could put a stop to this.  One small step for man…one giant leap for mankind I say.

*I use attractive in quotes because I find few things more reprehensible than looking at Ben Lyons face, but by “traditional beauty standards” I suppose he is considered technically more attractive than the rest of these guys.

coldsouls poster

Cold Souls.  Sophie Barthes (writer/director).  Film.

I had the privliedge of seeing this movie way in advance last spring at the New Directors/New Films Film Festival in NYC.  We saw it at Walter Reade Theater (one of my favorite theaters in the city) and it was one of those kind of perfect movie experiences.  Seeing something in advance of everyone else is always pretty cool…but seeing something really good in advance of everyone is WAY cool.  I didn’t originally plan to write a review of this film as I rarely do film reviews on this blog, but as its release date came closer I realized I wanted to write about it – if only to help it (not like this tiny blog actually gets any people out to the movies) but it makes me feel like I’m helping – and that’s almost as important (not really).

[Mild Spoilers - in plot summary]

The Good: Paul Giamatti playing Paul Giamatti works as brilliantly here as it did when John Malkovich played himself in Being John Malkovich.  And this film borrows lightly from Being John Malkovich in the sense that the sensibility is the same – a dark funny offbeat comedy set in a very real world, with one very interesting twist.  In Being John Malkovich that was obviously that you could go through a hole in a wall and be inside John Malkovich, in Cold Souls it’s that the soul of a person can be removed and stored and replaced later (if the person so desires) and that you can even try on other souls for size.

I think writer/director Sophie Barthes’ brilliance here is that her concept is totally original and wonderfully executed, but that she never takes her concept too seriously.  The soul, as Giamatti quickly finds out, is a troublesome little thing, that though it can weigh you down, life is pretty not good without one.  And so Giamatti returns to have his soul, well, returned.  Unfortunately his soul has been lost/stolen and the hunt begins for him to get it back.  Cold Souls fully explores this slightly fictional world and with interesting results.

The wonderful Dina Korzun (Forty Shades Of Blue) plays Nina, a soul trafficking mule, that tries to help Giamatti get his soul back, while also dealing with her own complicated life and the harsh ramifications of trafficking in souls.  Giamatti’s soul has been taken by the gorgeous but horrible Sveta, the girlfriend of the head honcho on the Russian side of the soul removal operation.  Sveta (played wonderfully by Katheryn Winnick) is a Russian soap actress that has been told Giamatti’s actor soul is actually the actor soul of Al Pacino, and once she has it, she’s not inclined to give it back, liking the way it feels, and believing that it will strengthen her acting chops.

Smaller performances by powerhouses Emily Watson as Giamatti’s wife Claire; David Strathairn as apologetic Dr. Flintstein; and Lauren Ambrose as lab assistant Stephanie, only gives extra weight to an already fantastic cast full of beautiful character performances led masterfully by Paul Giamatti.

The movie is full of surprises – both in how it all plays out – and in how darkly funny it is, while still managing to tackle thought provoking ideas.

The Bad: I honestly can’t think of anything.  I suppose it’s possible that there are small nitpicky things that I didn’t like when I saw this months ago, but in retrospect I can’t recall anything but the good stuff…which speaks well for the film in the end.

The Ugly: Nothing.  I love the way this movie looks and feels.  It’s beautifully shot and actually feels cold throughout and to good effect – from the sorrow in Giamatti (pre and post soul removal); to the clinical futuristic offices and labs; to the stunning Russian landscapes and the poverty and plight of some of its citizens forced to sell their souls on the black market.

4.5 Stars

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