Friday, June 29, 2007

Friday Night Fights

Sweet $%*&$^# Christmas!

Bahlactus shows how it's done.

What I Got - 6.27.07

Yipes, it's been a long week, and I was on vacation for most of it. At least the Cubs are on a winning streak. While I didn't think there was going to be much this week, it actually turned out pretty great on the comics front, here's what I got:

Immortal Iron Fist #6

Holy shit is this great. On the first page alone there's a reference to the "Lost Drinking Games of Me-lao" and later we get Luke Cage screaming "Sweet #@$%&*@ Christmas" as he caves in a Hyrda-Goon's jaw. If this was a movie, every single college-age male would own the DVD and throw it on when they got home from the bars at 4am and watch it with the sound off so they could quote the dialogue. Brubaker & Fraction are doing the Lord's work.

Sinestro Corps Special #1

I've always liked Sinestro as a villain. Probably because he was the only member of the Legion of Doom from the Superfriends that seemed remotely cool. Even with that, I wasn't going to pick up this special until I read the freaking out on Kevin's forum about it. They were right. This is easily the best set up for an event that the big two have done in a while. It feels epic and better than that, it feels perfectly logical. The villains joining together have a good common cause and are all very threatening. Also, they manage to make what they do to Kyle Rayner seem like more than the usual "Hey, we need to torture someone? Let's use Rayner, no one likes him anyway" excuse. It seems like a good idea. Now mind you, things that "seem" like good ideas can go to shit from time to time, but at least they're off to a good start.

X-Factor #21

Damn, in any other week, I would've probably considered this the book of the week. But, unfortunately for this forgotten X-title, it's sits behind the above two. Irregardless, the "X-Cell" arc comes to a pretty satisfying conclusion. Some have remarked that the art has been pretty bad lately, but I kind of enjoy this sketchy style, though some of the body-language seems a bit off sometimes.

Not too much to say, essentially, everyone figures out that Quicksilver is a dick and gets pissed at him, and we see some 90's style mutants get written out, which I applaud. I can only hope that Peter David can keep his book at this high of quality through the next X-debacle that's starting soon. I have faith since he managed to keep the wheels on the ground through House of M and Civil War. I just wish they would stop fucking with him and allow him to tell his own story with these characters.

Criminal #7

Hmmmmm....after the great first issue of this arc, this issue comes off as mostly set-up. We do get to see what happened to Leo after the last issue of the Coward story, so that's nice. But this is mostly about putting the pieces into place for the big heist and laying some back story for Tracey.

That's not to say it isn't very, very good, but not a lot happens.

So that's what I got, now onto some cards tomorrow night, yay, free money from my friends!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tag - I'm It!

Crap! Calvin tagged me with a meme. Granted, it's always cool when you get accepted into the cool-kids group that is the comics bloggohedron, but shit, all of my other internet friends have been tagged already. Anyway, here's what it means:

- I have to post these rules before I start.
- I have to tell you eight facts about myself.
- I have to tag eight people to participate.
- I'm supposed to leave a comment telling them they're tagged and to read my blog.
- And the tagees need to write their own blog post, telling us eight things and posting the rules.

All right, here are eight facts (though, not necessarily truths):

1. I have two sons, ages 4 and 18 months and they awesome. Actually, if you look up "awesome" in a dictionary, you will see their manically-grinning faces staring at you. THIS IS A FACT.

2. I was an all-state swimmer in High School. Though this is a fact, no one will ever believe me since the very thought of this body in a speedo is enough to cause blindness in lab mice. That and I can't dive worth a shit.

3. I enjoy watching crappy movies, not because I think they're good, but because I derive enjoyment from them being awful.

4. I cry at Roy Batty's death in Blade Runner and when the Millennium Falcon comes flying out of the sun in Star Wars as well. EVERY DAMN TIME.

5. All of my friends from college call me "Skip". There is no reason behind this nick-name other than the fact that there were four "Jason's" on my dorm-wing my freshmen year and they needed to give me a nick-name.

6. Zombies scare the living shit out of me. No other movie monster causes the same visceral reaction in me. Just blogging about this will probably give me nightmares.

7. I am a Cubs fan. I don't really know why since I grew up on the South-Side of Chicago and the sadness to joy ratio my fandom has brought me is sorely out of whack.

8. I hate the song "God Bless America". Don't get me wrong. I love America, I'm not even against God blessing it (as long as He blesses the countries that need it more as well; see pretty much the only good part of Chris Rock's Head of State), the song is just so cloying and arrogant. I'd much prefer that they sing "This Land is Your Land" at baseball games instead, or, do as the Cubs do and just sing a song that's actually about baseball. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm a huge Liberal.

So there you go, I guess I'm supposed to tag some other people, but it looks everyone else already got it. Shit, I'll get Spencer since it looks like he's hasn't got hit yet. Hey, 1 out of 8 ain't bad, is it?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sticky: High Traffic Weekend

Hey all, just wanted to tell you that, between getting tagged by Calvin, reading an ass-load of comics this week, fighting, and in general finding interesting things on the web, we will be seeing an unprecedented amount of posting to this here blog this weekend. So feel free to keep scrolling down as you come by, because there's a lot of new stuff here.....and this means I'll probably get too busy to post anything else for a few weeks.

What's that, David from Phonogram, you want to say something?

Yes David, we all do....

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Night Fights!

Figured I'd get in on this eventually. And now a public service announcement:

Always Remember

Click to fight-size

There are places where even Greg Dulli can't protect you, gents.

Thank Bahlactus for giving us meaning.

Phonogram - Rue Britannia

I went to college from 92-96 and after graduation spent 6 months in London at an internship, so I was right in the wheel-house to enjoy the Bit-Pop experience, and I did. The music for the most part was very, very good and drama involved was amusing, especially because I never really cared about a lot of the personalities involved. Who cares if Blur & Oasis hated each other and were constantly playing little one-upsmanship games on the charts and in the press. I liked both of their music, so I didn't care to choose sides, aren't rock/pop stars supposed to be assholes anyway? They certainly thought so. And as for Richie Manic, well, I never really thought their stuff was much to write home about so, his disappearance certainly had no effect upon me.

ANYWAY, to the review at hand. Phonogram is essentially an " alternate world" take on the after-effects of brit-pop. In the world of the book, music is magic and in England, brit-pop was quite the revolution. David Kohl is our hero, or at least protagonist, since he's quite a dick. He's one of the last phonomancer's (ie. magicians) whose being is tied to brit-pop. After wandering into the wrong club he's forced into looking into what's going on with Britannia, the dead goddess of brit-pop. It seems someone's fucking around with her and it's up to him to see what the heck is going on. It's in his best interest since his "aspect" is still tied to hers, so if she is changed, so will his entire personality (as noted by his growing enjoyment of late-period-crap brit-pop bands).

The book reads pretty much like a music centered arc of Hellblazer, and after thinking about it, David Kohl isn't far from John Constantine in character traits. He's the asshole hero who is still wracked with guilt about all of the people he's fucked over (but he still keeps fucking people over because it's his nature) and while doing a job, he realizes that he's not quite as big of a dick as he thought. The only thing missing was him shooting the audience the finger over his shoulder in the last panel (and let's face it, if they'd done that in the Constantine movie, we'd all have liked it a lot better).

Overall, it's very well-written and though you don't have to know the music to enjoy it, the kibble for brit-pop lovers out there is very nice.

A few last things about the trade collection of this series. First, they do provide a fun reference section in the back, giving info about each of the bands referenced and what some of the references in the book are, it also displays the jaundiced opinions of the authors, which are quite funny. Lastly, unfortunately, they did not reprint the original covers in color, as they were really cool. Each one was an homage to a brit-pop record. Here's my favorite:

I realize that Black Grape really wasn't that good, but they played an incredible show at the Metro my senior year in college and that first album always takes me back.

Recommended Related Reading/Listening/Watching:

The Brit Box: This just announced box from Rhino sounds really good. It pretty much gives you the history of brit-pop from it's rise out of Shoegazing to its inglorious end at the hands of Northern Uproar and Kula Shaker. Yes, there are some omissions and they do include some of the unfortunate later bands, but if you're going to tell the history, you need the good with the bad. I'll be picking it up as I have a quasi-OCD love of greatest hits packages and compilations anyway.

24 Hour Party People: Though this movie isn't about brit-pop per se (it documents the Madchester scene of the 80's), it is crucial for understanding a lot of the insanity that was British music in the late-20th century. That, and it's a hell of a lot of fun.

Britpop - Live Forever: I had already gone over this BBC America documentary on Brit-pop here, but I felt I needed to mention it again. Though it is very self-important (but so was all of brit-pop), it's a very interesting document of the period and there's a lot of cool videos excerpted and will make you run to YouTube to relive the past.

Phongram #1: The first issue is available on-line at Image Comics's web site. Check it out!

I (Heart) Roger Ebert

I have long loved Roger Ebert not just as a movie reviewer, but as a writer in general. During his review for "A Mighty Heart" this week, he uncorked this quote:

The Americans who complain about "negative" news are the ideological cousins of those who shoot at CNN crews. The news is the news, good or bad, and those who resent being informed of it are pitiful. More Americans are well-informed about current sports and auto-racing statistics, I sometimes think, than anything else.

I realize that part of my enjoyment of his writing is that his politics so often mirror my own, but when he so dead-on articulates something I believe to be the truth, I feel I have to share.

Anyway, I'm done...enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What I Got - 6.20.07

Hey there, been up to a lot of late. Saw Changes, The Walkmen and Smoking Popes at the Taste of Randolph street last week and saw Patton Oswalt and Janeane Garofalo last night. Nothing like good live rock and funny, I must say. I'll complete the trifecta of live-entertainment by catching some Cubs-Sox action on Sunday. Too bad I have to go to the strip-mall that is US Cellular Field. SHIT, Sammy Sosa JUST hit his 600th. I don't really hate the guy that much, but still, couldn't he have waited until the Cubs were out of town? I will say, dude's lost a lot of weight since he was on the Cubs....just sayin'.

Anyway, it was a pretty heavy week, so here's what I got:

Nova #3

I know this came out a few weeks ago, but I just remembered to pick it up. Nova continues trying to figure out what the hell has happened to Earth while he was out saving the rest of the Galaxy. Pretty much he seems to sum up the feelings of a lot of Marvel fans currently, "wait a minute, The Thunderbolts, a bunch of sociopaths, are heroes; Speedball is now some type of S&M hero and Captain America was the bad guy for standing up for Civil Liberties?" I totally understand why he decided to ditch this dirt ball for the rest of the cosmos. Could be worse though, George W. Bush could be president there too, but that just might be too much for the readers to swallow.

Captain America #27

Brubaker's excellent book gets back on schedule now that he doesn't have to wait for Marvel's event machinery to allow him to tell his story. It's going to be interesting how long this book can keep going now that the title character is dead. I really don't care as long as the book is this good.

It looks that the story line will now follow Winter Soldier/Bucky as he tries to get revenge for Cap on Tony Stark. We also get treated to some nice retro-active continuity as it appears that not only did WS help train Black Widow in her Soviet spy days, but they had a little thing going. I thought they had previously ret-conned BW's cold war days out of her backstory, making her more of a glasnost-era Russian, but apparently she's also led a much longer life than it looks. Once again, the story is told well enough that I'll allow it (you know, if they ask). Irregardless, this book is great and I think it may go down as the best take on Cap since Kirby.

Brave & The Bold #4

More old-school super-heroing from Mark Waid and George Perez. While this was another good issue, it felt like it slowed down the momentum as we get Lobo and Supergirl bickering their way across the cosmos as she buys a ride from him to Rann and, on the way, they run into Destiny who explains to them the macguffin they're chasing.

While this did slow down the so-far break-neck pacing of the series, we did get some very funny characterization of Supergirl, who is a character I've never really warmed up to, but here she's fun (and gets a great dig in on Lobo).

We do get some fun pages dealing with Cyborg-Batman, looks like we'll have to wait 'till next issue to get some more on that.

The Spirit #7
Note: This is not the cover for this month

So The Spirit hit its Summer Fun Special and Darwyn Cooke takes a break. Instead we are given three short stories that are all good, but I think only one really rose above to be really good. Oddly enough, it was the story by the team whose work I didn't think I'd like, Jimmy Palmiotti & Jordi Bernet. Their story is essentially an extended chase scene of The Spirit running down a small-time thief through a tenement building (which echos Will Eisner's Dropsie Avenue tenements). All of the residents of the building have their own hard-luck story and the Spirit gives each of them a solution without even realizing it. We do get some cheesecake, but hey, it is a Summer Special.

The other two stories, by Walter Simonson & Chris Sprouse and Kyler Baker are nice and fun, but they both seem to lose a little something by being so short. Baker's especially seems to want to force a 22-page story into his 7 or 8. It just doesn't work, hey DC, give the guy a whole issue for chrissakes, he'd be great. The other thing about Baker's story was that he used a scratchier linework more than his normal more cartoony look, and while that may be closer to Eisner's work, I would've liked to see the cartoony style on the Spirit. But that's my damage. Irregardless, good stuff all-around, let's just hope Cooke used the month to re-charge his batteries and get back to the excellence of the first four issues of this run.

Marvel Adventures: Avengers Vol. 3

Allright, if you like fun superheroing and you're not reading this book, well, you're hurting yourself. There's so much insanity between the pages of this digest, I can't believe that this is an all-ages book. This volume in particular includes one of the best uses of MODOK in years and the Hulk telling an amorous living planet that Earth "only wants to be friends" while beating on it. Damn is this awesome.

Anyway, this is probably the best volume yet and I really can't say anymore about it before just leading to string of expletives, which just aren't apropos for an all-ages book. Just buy it, and then send Marvel e-mails and letters requesting a "Karl: Inept Agent of AIM" mini-series.

So that's a lot of stuff. I also picked up the Phonogram trade, but hopefully I can get into a more in-depth look at that over the weekend. Have a good one and go Cubs!

Friday, June 15, 2007

What I Got 6.13.07's been how many weeks since I posted at anything resembling a regular rate? Hell, Summer is kicking my ass. Anyway, here's what I got:

World War Hulk #1

I gotta say, this is pretty much exactly what I expected/wanted out of this book. That's a very good thing since Marvel has pretty much underwhelmed for such a long time with their "event" titles.

Basically, the Hulk has a mad-on against the Illuminati (Mr. Fantastic, Iron Man, Black Bolt & Dr. Strange) and he's prepared to destroy the planet to get to them. First up is Black Bolt and Iron Man and neither fares very well. Good times....

Countdown #46
A demon made out of still-born babies!?!?!? I really didn't need to see that and it pretty much killed this pretty good issue for me. Don't know if I'm going to follow through on picking up another issue of this next week. We'll see.

Books I Didn't Pay For
(but I got from the library)

I really wanted to like this tale of a 3000 year-old mummy falling in love in Victorian England, but there was something missing. Maybe it just felt too rushed, or with it's dry English humor it didn't feel like the story carried the correct "weight" (there's a lot of death in this book). I think what they were trying to go for was something like a Grimm's Fairy Tale.

Overall, there are some very, very funny bits, some beautiful artwork and an overwhelming air of sweetness, but I was just left with the feeling that this was a good book that could've been great.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Clip Show!

The Pips sing an ode to the dashing young man in the Wedding Present t-shirt.
Pic from pitchfork

So after getting sufficiently rocked last night at the Pipettes show (in the rock n' roll way, not the alcoholic way), I'm left a shell of a man after dancing my ass off and rolling into bed at 1:30 am. I'll say this for the girls, if they come to your town, you MUST go see them. They are, quite simply, a perfect pop group and I'll be dumbfounded if they don't blow up huge. Bill and I have already vowed to drag all of our friends to their next show in Chicago.

Anyway, since I am completely spent, here's a lazy post with some YouTube clips that I've enhjoyed recently:

Here's a Bud commercial that Kevin recently posted. While I don't share his opinion of this fine lager from St. Louis, I do share his opinion that this is comedy genius (quasi-NSFW):

I'm going to see Patton Oswalt and Janeane Garofalo in a few weeks (Happy Father's Day to me!). I've come to regard Mr. Oswalt as one of the funniest men in America, here's an amusing appeariance on Conan a few months ago:

And here's 29 seconds of one of the most rocking 80's movies ever (NSFW):

Axe to the balls! Ha!

I'm starting to catch my second wind, so it's time for:

Bonus Reviews

Black Summer #0

This is a very nice lead-in to Warren Ellis's new Avatar mini-series. Don't let the issue-0 numbering fool you, this is actually a brief first-issue laying out the basic plot fore the series. John Horus (this book's Superman-analogue) walks into the White House briefing room covered in blood. He announces that he's just murdered the President, VP and most of the Cabinet. He believes that the President has lied the country's way into Iraq and specifically sent all of the super-heroes out of the country on 9/11 to allow the attacks to happen. He gives America one day to think about freedom and then begin prepartions for new elections. Come back in August for the shit to hit the fan in issue #1.

I've gotta say, I'm intrigued by this set-up and in his essay in the back of the book, Ellis admits that he's mined this area before in Stormwatch and The Authority and is looking to go in a new direction. Overall, this is great package, 16 pages of story, plus two pages of essay and some sketches and preview art for $.99. It's a great way to pull me into series that I would've otherwise would've skipped.

Coutdown #47

I had read the first two issues of this on mySpace Comics and was unimpressed, since I had nothing else to buy this week, I picked this up on a whim. While I remain slightly unimpressed, I'm interested enough by this to give it two more issues to suck me in before punting to trade (if critical reaction warrants).

In we get a couple of quick hits on the main players, plus the entry of a new one:

-Jimmy Olsen has a wierd dream about the source wall

-Holly (of Batman: YO and Catwoman) returns to Gotham

-Black Adam meets with Mary Marvel and gives her his powers

-The Monitors decide to be dicks about keeping the multiple earths separate

So far the Monitor arc looks to be the most interesting, but the execution seems to be a bit lacking. Check back to see if it picks up!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Positively Giddy

So yeah, I'm going to see The Pipettes tonight and I'm freaking ecstatic. Their perfectly written and executed pop music cuts right through my rough, indie-rock exterior to my true, sappy core. The fact that they're smokin' and English is pure gravy.

I was able to pick up their album on e-music last year, but since they've signed with Interscope in the US, anyone who missed out will have to wait until their album physically drops in July or August. To tide people over, the Your Kisses are Wasted on Me EP just came out and it's very nice. Here's some B-Side action:

The Pipettes - Guess Who Ran Off With the Milkman?

Here's a fun video too:

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What I'm Reading

I'd recently heard an interview with the author of this book on NPR and was very intrigued by his trip. Guy Delisle is a French-Canadian animator that went to North Korea in 2001 to supervise the animation of a kid's TV series there. While there he kept a diary and took sketches and they morphed into this book. North Korea is a fascinating country right now because it's people are so insulated from the rest of the world and hear only what their "Glorious Leader" Kim Jong-Il wants to tell them. Every single pop song on their one radio station sings their Leader's praises and they are taught that America will attack them any minute.

Delisle also serves as a great narrator for this story since he doesn't want to offend, but he still wants to challenge all of the bullshit that is slung at him. It's interesting to see how far you can go when you're visiting a dictatorship that desperately wants and needs the money your company is supplying the country. Unfortunately, Deliesle is unable to pry and significant candor out of his contacts, but you're left to wonder if they have any knowledge about how much they're being lied to. At one point Guy takes notice that he hasn't seen anyone in a wheel-chair during his trip and he asks his guide why that is. His guide's answer is simple, there are no handicapped people in North Korea, all children of North Korea are born strong and healthy. I'm afraid of what type of existential crisis this country faces when it's government inevitable collapses and they are exposed to the world that they have been shielded from since 1953?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Is It July 4th YET?

Is it a sign of the apocalypse that I'm getting THIS excited about a Michael Bay film?

If it's that fucking cool on grainy YouTube, imagine it on the big screen.

Friday, June 01, 2007

June Swoon Starts Right on Time

Cub's Baseball, feel the excitement!

Hey Lou! How should I feel about all this?


Friday Rawk!!!

In lieu of actual content, here's some rawk for the weekend:

Maximo Park - Our Velocity

If you like what you hear, DB's got more over at his blog.

Reviews return tomorrow.