Monday, March 30, 2009

My "Scott & Jean": "Trust Me!"

The fine folks over at Alert Nerd have decided to take an off hand comment made by one of the fine folks I follow on Twitter and turn it into a meme. When discussing something Batman related, Dan Faust made a comment that the subject in question was his"Scott & Jean", meaning a subject in which a person's passion/geekiness/**** veers from rationality and becomes something that you simply cannot talk about without swearing repeatedly and eventually having to either fold up in the fetal position or drink heavily (and quite possibly both). Let's face it, we all have one, even if it's not a geek related thing, be it about sports (anytime a person mentions the Cubs' "curse" I want to break something...or them), soap operas (Days without John & Marlena just ain't Days...) or whatever else we choose to obsess about, everyone has a breaking point.

As a true nerd, I'm sure I have several, but really there's one that so seemingly minor to most people, but it just sets me on edge, and of course it's all George Lucas's fault. Now, let's all face facts here people, the prequels just weren't made for us children of the 70's, and I've come to grips with that. But I still bitch about them from time to time, hell, I even got yelled at by Church a few weeks ago because I was complaining about how much Attack of the Clones sucked. But ultimately, I've let go of any residual anger about those movies and have even started enjoying them on their own merits (as long as you fast-forward through any of Hayden Christiansen's painful attempts at "acting"). No, my issues lie with the Special Edition re-releases of the original trilogy. Now when these were coming out, we all thought they were an excellent idea, new special effects, new scenes, how could this go wrong? Well, it did, the new effects, though state-of -the-art looked pretty cartoonish when compared to the 25 year-old effects of the original (hell, just look at Jabba in A New Hope SE, that is some bad-looking CGI). But you know, I rolled with it, under that polished veneer, the movies that had shaped my childhood were still there, but then I got to Return of the Jedi and I lost my shit. It was all due to this (go to 4:03 on the video):

Now,if you're wondering what's wrong with that, the original scene* was:

Lando: "Wait, I thought you were blind!"

Han: "Trust me!"

Now, Han's line has been replaced with:

Han: "It's allright, I can see a lot better!"

What the fuck Lucas Why the hell would you change such a perfect line that not only is so fucking Han Solo it's also Airwolf and it also hearkens to Indiana Jones. Why? Well, according to an interview I saw (can't remember if it was with Lucas or one of his lackeys) it was because they had a better audio track for this particular line reading than the old one so they went with it instead. So wait, with everything they have at their disposal, they can't loop one fucking line they can't clean up the audio. What the fuck is wrong with you people? This ultimately confirmed the thing I fear most about Lucas, he's no longer an artist, if he ever was one to begin with, he's now just a technician. A very good one, perhaps one of the best working today in movies, but he's lost the ability to create art he can only create bells and whistles that are certainly pretty and neat, they just don't have any life in them (once again, see the performances in the prequels), and that's what kills me, that's what makes me crazy and that, dear reader, is my Scott & Jean.

*FYI, I did mean to throw up the original scene, but the internets have failed me and it's not on youtube. I did give it the old college try at getting it on youtube myself, but I just couldn't do it, as I ama technological moron.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Big Box O' Love: March (Part 1)

Oh hey there, I guess I have a blog! Should get around to that "content" thing the kids are all talking about. Anyway, DCBS dropped this month's box off at my doorstep Friday, and here's a run-down of what I got.

Starman Omnibus Volume 2: I've made no secret that Starman is probably my favorite series ever, and this volume (and its place on the NYT best-seller list) just proves that it's worthy of my love.

Continuing on the first volume's collection of the entire series in chronological order, along with some stuff I didn't know existed (namely some Shade stories put out in the showcase books DC put out in the 90's), his book is just amazing. Though some of the coloring is a little dated, other than that, this is just a time-less book and I can't wait till I have the remaining four volumes in my hot little hands. By the way, anyone want to buy the first five trades of the series, cheap?

The Invincible Iron Man Volume 1: Finally, the first collection of Matt Fraction's take on Iron Man hits paperback and it's some good stuff. Though it does pay some lip-service to Tony Stark's post-Civil War place in the Marvel Universe as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., this book feels more like the thematic sequel to Warren Ellis's Extremis story-line,, Stark dealing with the technology he designed as a weapon and trying to make it positively benefit the world. Being Fraction, he manages this actually better than Ellis did, having a much more decompressed story that's a much more satisfying read. Bringing back Zeke Stane, who he introduced in his tragically short-lived series The Order to plague Stark, Fraction tells a good story, though I never really got Stane's motivations, or maybe he just had too many (Daddy-issues, inferiority complex, terminal asshole-itis). Salvador Larocca's art was very good, reminiscent of Adi Granov's work on the previously mentioned Extremis arc, but it had a little more life to it, probably because it was drawn instead of CG. Overall, a solid, well-done book.

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1: Another book I've been waiting for in soft-cover for freaking ever, this collects the first six issues. Really, this book is a lot of fun, spinning out of Annihilation Conquest, Peter Quill and his cohorts (including Rocket Raccoon, who is, for some bizarre reason, one of my favorite characters, ever) are on a rather ill-defined mission to seal space-time fissures throughout the cosmos. Using Knowhere, the hollowed-out head of a dead Celestial that hangs on the event horizon of the (literal) end of the universe, as their home-base, the team deals with religious extremists, their own inter-group squabbles and the creeping tendrils of the Secret Invasion. I actually dropped collecting this book monthly when they got sucked into Secret Invasion, but I shouldn't have been so hasty seeing how they ultimately dealt with the situation, which was pretty ingenious on the part of the writers (Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, two writers who are no strangers to cosmic scale superheroics). Once again, Paul Pelletier puts in some very good work, it's a shame that his art doesn't get talked about more, between his work here, on Nova and on Fantastic Four he's proved he's got some serious chops.

So that's the first part, let's see if I can actually get through the other two books I got and get a Part 2 up tomorrow.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Sorcerer Supreme You Can Believe In

It has come to our attention here at Phoning It In Industries (NYSE: PI3) that The Bendis has decried that the Marvel Universe's current Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange, is to be laid off replaced with what the young ruffians are currently referring to as the "new hotness". Now some people have made some hay of who the choices are and have thrown their considerable (mostly panda-based) weight behind, what we think to be, a lesser candidate.

While our distinguished colleagues in blogging would gladly hand of the title of Sorcerer Supreme over to a young lady who has done well for herself in both the worlds of modeling and super-heroics (though slightly less-so in the world of marriage), young Miss Walker, though lucky in some of her magical dealing, is just not fully prepared for the responsibility of dealing with magical threats to the earthly plane, that's why we here at Phoning It In are throwing our support behind:


Quite simply Miss Bloodstone has been preparing all her life for the mantle of being Earth's Sorcerer Supreme. Trained from childhood by her (rather deranged) father, Ulysses Bloodstone, first by defeating the Blight Beast with nothing but a spoon as a baby to circumcising the hideous felch-monster of Bihar Province with the same (now rather worse-for-the-wear) spoon moments later.* She proved herself in a mini-series that no one has read. She proved herself by defeating (along with her team, NextWave) the forces of H.A.T.E. I mean, has Miss Walker defeated the combined forces of a Baby M.O.D.O.K. and Devil Dinosaur? We think not. Plus, she's English, they're totally classier that your lame-ass Alaskan chicks.

Vote for Elsa Bloodstone to be your Sorcerer Supreme, she's your only hope (at least until Dr. Strange comes back sometime next year).

*Come to think of it, I really hope they threw that spoon out.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Battlestar Galatcica: Happy Endings

I'm coming to the realization that Battlestar Galactica could very well be my favorite TV series, ever and it's making me wonder why I've been feeling more and more ambivalent as the last few episodes have been unspooling. They've certainly been good, and I'm sure part of it is that while they're giving call-backs to past episodes and kind of reveling in the idea that, "well, we're not going to be in this corridor ever again, we might was well give it a send-off" we all just want to know how it ends. The biggest thing is that we want someone, anyone in this Olympics of Despair to have a happy ending. That's what this show has been about since the first nuke exploded over Caprica, a happy ending for the human race, and short of the ONE TRUE GOD coming down, that's not going to happen for most of the cast we've come to love, let's give a quick run-down:

President Roslin: They might as well be wheeling her around in a coffin for the next three episodes.

Adama: Will not survive. Because letting him live after both* of his true loves are gone is too much for the Old Man to bear. Speaking of his other true love....

Col. Tigh: Is it me or has this whole series been about Tigh? It' like he's the very definition of human fallibility and also of our nobility. Just an amazing character...which kinda sucks because the dude is screwed. There's no way he can have a happy ending, because his two loves are going to be eternally in conflict and other than Adama his other love....

Ellen Tigh: Has been set up as the fall guy lady for the whom all of Man's/Cylon's sins will eventually rest. Ellen will eventually do something noble, but she's fucked (as is most everyone else...keep going).

Boomer: Effectively damned herself with her abduction of Hera, unless she and Tyrol can somehow end up boxed together in the Barbie-dream-house she imagined for them. Speaking of...

Galen Tyrol: Yeah, without Boomer, dudes just a fat, single dad who can fix the hell outta a Viper. That's no happy ending.

Baltar: Let's face it, if this dude gets a happy ending, it's no happy ending for us. I like Baltar, the flashes of brilliance he used to get himself out of tight scrapes are just amazing at times, but eventually, he's going to be made to pay.

Tori: She was once really hot, then she got all Cylon and bitchy. Go happy ending for you.

Hot Dog: Who the fuck cares about Hot Dog?

Anders: Well, it doesn't look good, figuring dude's got a bullet lodged in his brain and he's a Speak n' Spell right now, but, obviously he's going to have a major part to play coming up in the end seeing as how he's married to...

Starbuck: who is obviously the crux who the whole thing is revolving around (though I've never found her that interesting). However, no matter what she is, no matter what happens to her, she's probably not going to be happy, since she love both Anders and....

Lee Adama: Who has shown himself to be both bad-ass and milquetoast throughout the series. Hopefully our man will get a chance to shine in the next two weeks, but I just don't see him settling down with Starbuck and having little cigar-chomping, lawyers with her. He's dooooommmmedddddd.

Helo, Athena & Little Hera: They're it. These three are the only ones with a chance of redemption at the end, the only ones who have not betrayed their friends, whose trespasses are forgivable, who have kept the faith. At the end of the series, humanity/cylonity will rest upon this family and they are all we have.

Well, them and the hopes of a scene featuring Adama and Roslin going to work on Cavill with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch. But that's probably too much to hope for. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Batman: Battle for the Cowl

Picked up a bunch of books this week, but I think I'll split the ones I want to talk about into a few posts. Anyhoo, up first is Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1:

So Batman's dead, or stuck int he past, or trapped on an alternate Earth....whatever, dude's not around so the shit is hitting the fan in Gotham City. The criminal element has felt the absence of Batman and is taking full advantage. Nightwing has pulled in all of the reserves to cover the crisis and they're holding, barely. But a new Batman is appearing on the scene, brutally bringing down criminals, leading Robin to believe that someone from the inner circle has to take up the mantle.

I've gotta say, Tony Daniel really does a good job with this book. After reading his workman-like art during Grant Morrison's run on Batman, I was doubtful that his writing would be much batter, but he has seemed to really nail the characters (with one reservation). Robin narrates the whole story, and his voice is very well done. The art is serviceable, not bad, but still a little sketchy in places.

The only real issue I had was Damien's characterization. While Daniel gets the spoiled rich kid thing with him, I always saw him as being much more unflappable. The kids too much of a dick to let his opponents see fear on him, plus the little fucker's lethal. It just seems like the plot required him to behave that way, and thus, he did.

Anyway, it was pretty darn good, and after all of the Final Crisis stuff, astonishingly straight-forward. I'm looking forward to the next two issues, hopefully they'll come out at a reasonable clip.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Fantastic Four: World' Greatest

"It's such a fine line between clever and stupid" - Ian St. Hubbins (Michael McKean)

Mark Millar's been bugging me for a couple of years now. Not really his writing (which has been both good and bad of late), but his public persona, constantly schilling his stuff and explaining to anyone who will listen how rich he is and how much of genius he is. It's pretty much turned me off from picking up any of his latest stuff. However, I had a free trade coming from the shop this week, and with his latest collaboration with Brian Hitch hitting stands, I figured that I'd give it a whirl. Following their collaboration on The Ultimates, a book that I liked a lot though I felt it kind of fell apart towards the end of part two), Millar and Hitch signed on for 16 issues of Fantatic Four and this collects the first eight of them.

Overall, it's a fun little read, playing to their strengths with big action set-pieces and lots of big crazy-science ideas, but, as Sir St. Hubbins says above, in his quest to be really clever with his story, Millar falls onto the stupid side of the thin line. The overall conceit of the book is that the Earth is dying and the only way to save its population is to move them all to the under-construction Nu-Earth (no umlaut?). Of course, the construction is being led by Reed's ex-girlfriend Alyssa Moy (think Reed in Tomb Raider's body), who we're supposed to think is constantly tempting Reed with her feminine wiles, despite acting like a woman I can't see anyone standing for more than ten minutes. That's probably my biggest problem with the book is the characterizations. The only character that I really felt that Millar "nailed" was Reed, with his absent-minded-professor schitck. Ben just kind of stands around and makes wise-cracks, Sue's just there to be the loving wife and stand by Reed, and his Johnny is an irresponsible jackass. That characterization of Johny would have been fine five or six years ago, but during Mark Waid & Mike Wieringo's run* they actually grew him up a bit and it's a shame that no one is contiuing that, it just seems lazy, like he couldn't be bothered to draw any nuance but the broad strokes.

From there we get the patented Millar/Hitch big action scene featuring the entire Marvel U going up against Nu-Earth's out of control security (giant) robot. The arc wraps up with the FF being challenged by a team of refugee superheroes from Earth's apocalyptic future (which adds up to how many apocalyptic futures for the Marvel Universe now? ).

Hitch's art is very good for the most part, but seems in some areas very sketchy. like they colored directly from his pencils in order to save time, which is a shame. If you hire Hitch, you have to deal with the delays and not bother rushing him. He also doesn't seem to get Reed's face/head right. He's pretty spot-on with everyone else, by Reed just always looks rather mis-shapen. Also, he relies upon photo reference for a few too many of the women's facial expressions. I mean, how many do you know who talk while sticking their tongues out? Apparently Bryan Hitch (and Greg Land) know a lot of them. My last issue with the art is that there's a few places where it's obvious they had meant to do a double-page spread of an action scene, but for some reason decided not to. It makes the action in those pages seem rather compressed and loses a lot of its impact (I noticed this towards the end of Ultimates 2 a well).

Overall, I liked the book in it's turn-off-your-brain, action movie kind of way, but it's certainly not something I'll hold up to people as vital work on the FF.

*Probably my favorite run on the title.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Movie Review: Watchmen

"George, you can write this shit, but you can't say it." - Harrison Ford to George Lucas

The quote above pretty much embodies a lot of my feelings towards the movie adaptation of Alan Moore & Dave Gibbon's graphic novel Watchmen. I absolutely love the book,but when comic book dialogue is taken off of the page and put on screen, coming out of the mouths of real people, it just sounds stupid.

But let's back track. I did think the movie as a whole was pretty good, Zack Snyder took what I thought to be an un-filmable book and managed to tame it into a pretty brisk 2 hour 45 minute movie. Some of the performances were excellent, some (one in particular) were not so good. So we'll start with the good. The movie really begins excellently right off with a credits sequence set to Bob Dylan's "The Times, They Are A-Changin'" illustrating the "golden age" of the movie's world to the present with key scenes, including the formation of the Minutemen, the assassination of JFK, and the sad end of the Silhouette. It really sucks you into the world that Moore & Gibbons created and serves as a great Cliff's Notes to the new viewer to understand what 1985 of the Watchmen's world is like. From there we get the first two issues of the series pretty much word-for-word, and done well. Jackie Earl Haley is very good as Rorschach , managing to pull off his voice very well and give his journal readings some heft. Though Jeffrey Dean Morgan gives it a good try, The Comedian's dialogue is the most ridiculous, when not given a brush-up for the screen. This is most obvious during his scene with the Nite Owl while quelling the pre-Keene Act riots. I love how it reads off the page, but when it comes out of his mouth, it just doesn't work. It's in this instance that the filmmakers' slavish devotion to the source material hamstrings them. I'm sure they could have pulled this off much better if they'd rewritten some of it.

The movie proceeds pretty much along the lines of the book, excising some characters (the News Vendor, the boy reading the comic book) and combining some scenes (the psychiatrist now has just one scene with Rorschach). The biggest change is the tweak to the ending, which really didn't bother me, though the idea that Dan & Laurie continued on as superheroes after the end did, as it kind of misses the point. I always thought was one of the ideas of the book was that dressing up in these idiotic costumes was damaging to the individual, for them to continue to be costumed adventurers, to me, shows that they haven't changed despite the events of the story.

Easily the worst part of the film was Malin Ackerman's (Laurie Jupiter/Silk Spectre II) acting. It was as if she was reading cue-cards just out of scene. When I read Michael Phillip's review for the Chicago Tribune and he referred to her as "possibly the worst actress in Hollywood at the moment", I thought he was just being an asshole (because the rest of his review is pretty asshole-ish too), but I do have to agree, she's really bad, distractingly so.

Other issues were Zack Snyders' use of his fast-slooooowww-fast style of action scenes, a style that was old before 300 was over. It's odd, because that's the only way he asserts any directorial style into the picture, other than that it's purely what's on the page, put up on the screen. I would much rather have seen a different director put his own stamp on the material ad take chances with it. While Watchmen is not as bad as 300 or Sin City in my mind, both of those movies to me were so slavishly devoted to their source-material that they ceased to be anything more to me than technical exercises in taking pictured from the page and adapting them exactly for the screen; the equivalent of taking a photo of a girl and photoshopping it so that it looks exactly like the Mona Lisa, that's not art, just good photoshopping.

Anyway, I may sound like I'm coming down on the movie, but I did enjoy myself and may even see it another time (I'll certainly see it on video). At no point was I looking at my watch thinking, "get on with it!" I do wish that I could have come into this movie cold, without the weight of having known this story so well for the past 20 years, I think that's why Roger Ebert's review is so laudatory, he had not read the book, so all of this was new to him, as this was just a re-telling of one of my favorites. Overall, they took a great book and made a pretty good movie out of it.

Friday, March 06, 2009



This awesome panel (along with so, so may others) is brought to you by: Shazam Family Archives Vol. 1.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

What I Got - 3.4.09

So I guess I should make an attempt to put up some content on this here blog-thingy, so here's a quick rundown of what I picked up this week, I haven't gotten a chance to read everything, but at least here are some first impressions:

Secret Six#7: The first arc of this book comes to an end and I'm rather enjoying Gail Simone's take on this team of quasi-villains. It just seems like it's missing something, if it weren't for the fact that I have a feeling that the book needs every purchase that it can get, I would probably wait for trade. I suspect that it would read better that way.

Gotham Gazette: Batman Dead?: My sole reason for picking this book up was to see the Gotham MCU back in action and it's OK. It just seems like one of those preview books that DC puts out occasionally, featuring four 6-page previews of new books coming out,this time featuring Vicki Vale, Stephanie Brown, Leslie Thompkins and Harvey Bullock as they deal with the aftermath of Batman's "death". However, I guess that the stories in this book are meant to be wrapped up in another Gotham Gazette book in May? I liked this, but I don't like waiting 2 months for the ends of stories that weren't long enough to be that memorable.

Hellboy: The Wild Hunt #4: It's Hellboy. There's really nothing else to say about that.

Secret Warriors #2: I got the hard sell on this book from a fellow customer at the shop, and, since I've always love Nick Fury I figured I'd give it a shot. Well, I did and I'm out. The whole "everything you know is wrong!" reveal of the last issue just rubbed me the wrong way, and this issue did nothing to make me feel like anything actually interesting is going to happen. Part of the problem is that both issues have featured people sitting around have not-particularly interesting conversations. Plus the art is rather pedestrian. I'll look in on it again when the trade comes out. Kind of disappointed as I was hoping for more from co-writer Jonathan Hickman (as I loved The Nightly News).

Best of the Week

Agents of Atlas #2: Jeff Parker is easily my favorite comics-writer right now and his original Agents of Atlas mini-series is a large reason why. Taking a disparate group of Marvel's golden age characters and fashioning them into team that seeks to save the world while operating as an underground criminal organization, this book is pretty much everything people want in a comic. Smart, fun and full of action, I just love this book so much.


North World Vol. 2: I didn't even know this book was coming out until this morning and I was very happy to see it was coming out. Lars Brown story of Conrad, a heroic adventurer who decided, after the event of volume 1 that he'd rather settle down and be an accountant with his Dad that chase monsters is an enjoyable little story about a man facing the dawning of his adulthood, while fending off giant bears and random street-thugs. I'm only about half-way through this new volume, but it's of the same quality as the first.

Fantastic Four: World's Greatest: I hadn't planned on getting this first volume of Mark Millar and Brian Hitch's run on the title, but I had a free trade coming at the shop, so I figured I'd take a shot. I think I might actually try to review this one in full, once I read it.

So there you go, what did you all pick up this week?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

ONE MORE! And Then There Was The Time...

And then there was the time when Power Pack teamed up with The Punisher and Dakota North to bring the Three Stooges to justice...

This fever-dream brought to you by Power Pack #46 by Jo Duffy and Whilce Portacio. And with this one, I promise I'll stop stealing Church's shtick.