Monday, August 31, 2009

Captain Complainy, Away!

I came late to the 'party' known as 'All-Star Batman and Robin' by Frank Miller and Jim Lee. So everyone on the interwebs has already heard this rant, probably 4 years ago. God willing, this comic is still on hiatus. DO NOT READ IT. Now, that said, I should point out that I couldn't STOP reading it once I started in on the trade. I found that dark place in myself that cannot stop staring at a terrible train wreck. There is nothing wrong with Jim Lee's art, I'll say that first. Some perfectly acceptable fanservice here. The rest of it is designed to make people like me, who just BARELY tolerate Batman in the first place, go absolutely nuts.
You know my favorite Batman? Diedrich Bader's just-this-side of ENJOYING HIS LIFE Batman in the 'Batman the Brave and the Bold' cartoon. It happens to be my favorite currently airing cartoon.
Frank Miller's 'Goddamn Batman' is THAT Batman's polar opposite. I should mention for anyone lucky enough to have avoided it that that's what Miller's psycho cop-killing Batman calls himself. "I love being the goddamn Batman!' he chortles. Soon it's what all the other characters start calling him as well. Goddamn Batman. Like the Spectacular Spider-Man. It should probably have just been the title of the comic so readers like me would know what to expect.
And I should have known! After all, I sat through the bizarre, tonally confused and just plain awful piece of unwatchable garbage called 'The Spirit'. Watch it with a friend if you have to, because you'll NEED to mock it to survive it.
In the overwrought world of the Goddamn Batman, 12 year-old orphan Dick Grayson is abducted by a nutjob who refers to him as brat, snot, etc., slaps him around, starves him in a cave, and brings him tied up villains to torture. The nutcase? G.D. Batman himself. Alfred feeds the kid out of pity. And brought me to the second item that had me snorting with derision (I'll get to the first in a second, it's about 'Wonder Woman'). Proto-Robin hears the butler speak and thinks to himself 'English Accent. Upper class. Probably South Kensington.'
Where in the holy hell is a traumatized 12 year old AMERICAN boy getting this kind of insight? He's got no detective training. He's living on rats in a cave. How, I beg you, is he supposed to be able to tell a South Kensington accent from his own butt?
Everyone in this comic is insane. I know, I know, that might not seem like anything other than business as usual in fair Gotham, but trust me, it's MUCH worse than usual.
And why does everyone, from the G.D. Batman to Commissioner Gordon to the rapist-murder Joker INSIST on referring to Gotham city as a woman? A whore, a mother, bladda-bladda-blather-blah! 'My city is a woman who NEEDS me.' For the last time: CITIES AREN'T GIRLS! The Spirit was the last time I put up with that sort of thing. These inner monologues are cuckoo-nutty fruit loops! I half expect the G.D. Batman to start tongue-kissing brick walls and humping rain gutters.
As a fine example of the kind of loving attitude the comic shows to women: Black Canary is a vigilante loony-tune bartender who apparently just decided to Flip Out one day, crippling the men who taunt and proposition her, then just as quickly falling down under G.D. Batman ON THE DOCK where they meet FOR THE FIRST TIME for some kissage.
Oh, but she's not as badly distorted as the G.D. Wonder Woman! The first words out of HER mouth in this comic, I shit you not: 'Out of my way, Sperm Bank.'
It took 3 pages for me to determine that this was meant to BE Wonder Woman and not someone dressed as Wonder Woman. I couldn't believe this cold, openly unapologetic, murderous creature was supposed to be Diana!
But she's hanging with a lunkheaded Superman and a Green Lantern who G.D. Batman refers to as 'retarded'- and they bear this assesment out! For the purposes of this story, a child abusing crankcase has to look like the best option out there, so by default Supes and Hal become muscle-bound and brain-damaged.
Case in point: Hal is defeated and nearly murdered by G.D. Bats and G.D. Robin (for some insane reason I can't expound on here) because they painted themselves and their entire surroundings yellow, then taunted Green Lantern with lemonade. 'Damn you and your lemonade!' declares Hal. It's one of the most surreal scenes I've seen this side of the Silver Age.
All-Star Batman, in my colleague Ron's terms, is only just possibly enjoyable as 'conscious self-parody' He added: 'There isn't a grain of salt big enough to take with this. It's appalling.'
It's as though the excellent All-Star Superman by Morrison and Quitely had to have a terrible sucky yang to its delightful yin.
Which brings me back to my problems with Batman generally. The reason why I own NO solo Batman comics and have SUCH a hard time liking the character. It's because there's a Miller G.D. Batman out there for every 'The Choice' by Dennis O'Neil. Which I read last week in a collection called Robin the Teen Wonder.
'The Choice' is a perfectly glorious orgin story for Robin, mostly because it is straightforward and sensible. The story of Bruce and Dick's first encounter is played as an ADOPTION, not an ABDUCTION. It is a recruitment into a FAMILY, not into some mad war. And I believed in O'Neil's characters as PEOPLE, not as foaming-mad caricatures.
There's room for every interpretation, of course, but SERIOUSLY! The reader should WANT to be a billionaire genius scientist with mad skills and plenty of friends and dates and cars and freaking jets and boats and jet-boats. I, probably fortunately, don't know ANYONE who genuinely wants to be an unshaven, child-beating sadist dancing in and out of psychosis who will always be miserable day or night for the rest of eternity because his parents are dead.
Plenty of escapist fantasy BEGINS with 'My parents are dead, whatever fantastic things will I GET up to now?' It's sick, I know. But that's the way the fantasy goes: an imaginary escape from the constraints placed on us by our parents. Reality is never so simple. But, and I hate to harp on this- superhero comics are not supposed to BE real, only SEEM real. You must FOOL me, the reader, into believing in your writing and your implausible realm!
Because for me personally, good superhero comics come down to either morality or escapism. Usually both. This story has neither. Not only would I not want to trade places with the G.D. Batman or his pitiable protege, I think I'll have to escape from Frank Miller himself in the future.
And if the realization came to me four years too late it's only because I didn't read any warning blogs! Heed my words! Save yourselves! And, if possible, save me too!
Damn you and your lemonade!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Perfect Panel Project #1

Hi y'all. I found a fine inaugural example of bite-size brilliance to share. Possibly because I have an enormous man-crush on Dan Slott, this comes from his 'She-Hulk Single Green Female' Trade paperback, illustrated by Juan Bobillo. The context: Jennifer 'She-Hulk' Walters has been asked by Captain America to move out of the Avengers mansion due to the physical and mental strain her partying caused Butler Jarvis and the building itself. Her friend Ben Grimm helps her carting her stuff into her new apartment, and Ben attempts to play matchmaker for Jen and her strapping neighbour, Gus. She is none too pleased with the situation, but Ben has some thoughts for her.

This is just spectacular.
It might just be the best Ben-Jen moment I've ever read. Better than Marvel 2in1 Vol.1,#88, JUN 1982's "Disaster At Diablo Reactor" by David Kraft, featuring their first encounter with She-Hulk rather shamelessly flirting and Ben embarrassed. Or drinking together in Byrne's 1984 Thing #8. Or his awkward substitution of her to the Fantastic Four when he doesn't return from the Secret Wars. Or the more awkward still FF#277 when he returns and finds Johnny's dating Ben's girl Alicia. (So they all think.) FF#299, Ben drunkenly flirts with Jen at possibly his most miserable after the Johnny-'Alicia' wedding. Ben is fun in SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK VOL.2,#39 MAY, 1992 "Date Worse than Death" also by Byrne. And they make a good team in THING & SHE-HULK: THE LONG NIGHT VOL.1,#1, MAY 2002 by Todd Dezago. There are probably loads of great examples but this one works best for me today.
I think what's so fun about this, apart from the simple but splendid art, is that it's a great role reversal. Generally, Ben is the Curmudgeon, while Jen is the Cheerleader. It puts a smile on my face to see the reverse can also be true.
Plus it's a great sentiment, no matter how cynically one snarks it: Life IS a great big adventure.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Five Best Grown-Up Comics Superheroes

At the request of BookMonkey, (one of my most devoted blog followers!) hereinafter doth I decree a post of his choosing, and in honor of his upcoming birthday, and which quite engaged my imagination and assessment facilities.
I think the previous sentence proves that I've had too much sugar tonight.
Nevertheless, onward! My personal Five Favorite comic-book superheroes who are grown-ups, i.e. over thirty. I've given it some thought. It's no easy task. Spidey was nearly thirty when JMS wrote him, but not now. Quesada the Skrull says he's even younger than the 28 dictated by the logic of 'got his powers at 15' and '12 or 13 years since the FF got their powers'. But 30-ness is a state of mind, and anyone who'd sell their marriage to the devil doesn't deserve to be called 'a grown-up'.
Similarly, my great affection for the Legion, the Titans, Invincible, etc. does not win them a spot here, due to their perpetual youth. Booster Gold and Kyle "Green Lantern" Rayner are actually trying to be 30 lately, but probably still not grown-ups. More responsible, more stable, good progress, boys, but not quite.
Ben "The Thing" Grimm is, by my reckoning, 47, and yet despite all that Dan Slott did, Mark Millar just last month had Ben throw a sulk and leave his fiance at the altar 'for her own safety'. And bachelors-in-mourning Spidey, Namor, Daredevil, and Hulk all nodded solemnly and said they empathized with Ben's commitment cowardice. Of course, I had no affection for Debbie 'Invented Just to be Jilted' Green anyway, what with her NOT being Alicia Masters, but still. If Ben has any maturity in him it's not to be found recently. Perhaps new writer John Hickman will BRING BACK ALICIA BROAD HINT HIDDEN IN THE GIANT CAPITAL LETTERS.
So, without further ado, my favorite grown-up superheroes.

5- Clark "Superman" Kent- Beating out 51 year old sage Dr. Stephen Strange (the once arrogant but repentant Sorceror Supreme) is relative newcomer Superman. Few have heard of this mild-mannered landed immigrant from Metropolis with his funny cape and tights, but obscurity does nothing to dampen my enthusiasm for a good-hearted, honourable, young husband with a steady job, many good and loyal friends, and semi-limitless alien powers. Good is the right word for him, and boy scout, too. He loves his wife and his parents, lives to be helpful, and generally flies on the sunny side of the street. Kind, unerringly brave, trustworthy, inspiring. And bearing up under a crushing loneliness by immersing himself in his adopted world with a smile and a thankful heart. I could do worse than Superman. But I don't. Siegel and Shuster's 1939 creation does DC proud, and with all apology to Bud Collyer, George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain, John Newton, Gerard Christopher, Tom Welling, and Brendon Routh I will probably always hear Tim Daly's voice when I read Superman.

4- Reed "Mister Fantastic" Richards- Central City, California lost a favored son when Reed moved to Earth-616 New York to start the first superhero group of the Mighty Marvel age of comics. Equal parts wise leader, loving husband, doting father and best friend, this stretchy stringbean scientist can't be beat- he's too springy and resilient. Expanding his mind even more than his rubbery limbs and body, I can't help but admire him for his smarts- and everyone in the Marvel Universe seems to agree. Except Doom, of course, but a man can be judged by his enemies as well as his splendid friends. Stan and Jack made a winner in 1961, brought to life by Mike Road, Beau Weaver, Hiro Kanagawa, and notably Ioan Gruffudd whose name I may have spelt right for the first time today. He's about 46 these days, but he was a grown-up even before he got his powers at 33. Responsible, methodical, conscientious, a man of science and familial devotion whose family is the family of man- and indeed the whole multiverse.

3- Patrick "Plastic Man" O'Brian aka Eel- Protecting the grimy streets of Gotham City is a legend, more myth than man, a detective with a dark secret past, a childlike sidekick, and... a groovy theme song by the Kinks? Created by Jack Cole in 1941, voiced in cartoon form by Michael Bell and Tom Kenny, 'Plas' is far more than he appears. DC's kooky shapeshifter, acquired from Quality comics, is best known for his playful antics, skirt-chasing, witty banter, money-grubbing... wait, was this a list of heroes? Of course it is. O'Brian may have started out a thief, a cad, and a bounder, but a gunshot and a vat of acid changed him forever. I find it illuminating that a very similar accident could have made a monster like the Joker, but the same painful circumstances helped 'Eel' turn his life around for the better. He masks an important trait with his frivolity- he's DEVOTED to his friends and family. He's over 3000 years old because he spent CENTURIES as crumbs on the ocean floor saving Aquaman. And though marriage has never seemed to be in the cards for Plastic Man, his Offspring is a flake off the old silly putty and I just have to give props to a good father.

2- Arthur- He lives in The City. He lives with the Tick. His super-hero name is the same as his given name. He's Arthur. Created by Ben Edlund in 1989, voiced by Mickey Dolenz and Rob Paulsen, performed in gleaming white Moth-Suit for too short a time by TV's David Burke, Arthur is just about the best sort of superhero a regular guy can be. Intelligent, sensible, kind, and flinchingly brave, (His battle-cry is 'NOT IN THE FACE!') I love Arthur. He's fiscally responsible, he conquers his own crippling shyness with girls and super-villains alike, and perhaps most importantly, he follows his dreams. Even the crime-fighting dreams that could result in having to have a machine to poop. And The Tick can't function without him- everyone needs a friend who's on a first name basis with Lucidity. I Arthur.

1- Jennifer "She-Hulk" Walters- I know, right? What a freaking surprise. Mike likes She-Hulk? I've never had an inkling of this. First two-dimensional crush, gateway super-hero, call her what you will, this mid-thirties lady lawyer and jade giantess is my fantasy-land number one. Conceived by Stan Lee and John Buscema (and probably Benny Hill) in 1979, it was hard to see her as anything but the glaringly obvious- She's the Hulk with Boobs. She was part of a trend of creative dearth: "Hey, anybody ever notice what a sausage-fest superhero comics are? How about a Girl Thor? A Spider-Chick? Anyone for Iron Woman?" Few people know what to do with Shulkie, how to write for her, how to get past the awful name, how to draw her looking like a female. John Byrne, Dan Slott, and a choice few others have found a way to the lovely, utterly endearing, wellspring of brilliance, wonder and joy. They found the answer for a character who could NOT be taken seriously. Just DON'T! This is not a character who can stand on the rooftop in the rain watching her humanity ebb away. This is feisty-ness. This is indomitability. This is the sensational. She's mockery, conscience, willful parody. She's all business, she's down-and-dirty, she's the heart of fun and the life of the party. She is woman, hear her laugh. And make Frank Cho draw her more.

For whatever reason, there AREN'T that many grown-ups in superhero comics. (The Justice Society notwithstanding) One way or another, the traits that make a man-child into a grown man (or green woman) are hard to uncover. Possibly no one who is buying such comics wants to get beyond the 'I'm a miserable mutant and I'm the only one who understands my pain and everything everyone everywhere sucks' stage. Or possibly the writers and editors THINK that's all we want. I've slogged through so many mediocre comics on my way to the terrible ones that I forget sometimes why I ever loved them. But projects like this one can reinforce my faith. Super-Heroes can show us the best parts of ourselves, and be something to aspire to. Thanks, BookMonkey. Perhaps you are a grown-up superhero, too. Happy Birthday.

Evocative Marvel Moments Part One

In this possible series of posts, honoring 70 years of Marvel Comics (sort of) I hope to elaborate on Marvel comics' finest, and/or most cringeworthy moments. This was inspired by reading Marvel's 70th Anniversary Collection, a trade paperback which, while pretty good, failed to include so many things (and The Thing) which I loved, even in their honorable mentions. I saw nothing about Mark Waid, Dan Slott, Jeph Loeb, Judd Winnick, Tom DeFalco, Brian Reed, Mike Weiringo, Matt Fraction, Spider-Girl, Franklin Richards Son of A Genius, Young Avengers, Runaways, the Great Lakes Avengers... oh, how the list goes on. No 1980's Byrne FF or 1990's She-Hulk? How do McFarlane, Liefeld and Jim Lee get honorable mentions? Yes, they were comic rockstars and they have enough money between them to buy and sell me a jillion times, but THE BEST OF THE DECADE? I'd buy representative, but not BEST. At least they reprinted Busiek's Marvels instead of X-Force #1. An honorable mention for the CLONE SAGA? And TWO Mark Millar shout outs and none for J. Michael Strazynski?

Well, maybe I have to start my own thing. In theory, it would list the most evocative moments of Marvel Superhero comics. That's anything that transcended the malaise and the middling. Moments of horror. The deepest miseries. The greatest triumphs. The tragedies. Joy, anger, creepiness, pathos, action sequences, absurdity, humanity, shock, sorrow, rage, greed, fear, willpower, hope, compassion, love. Whether it made me bust a gut or bust a nut. If it evoked an emotion, well, I wanna praise it. And sometimes condemn it. Cringing and wailing about something is an emotion, too.
I also hope to find THE PERFECT PAGE or THE PERFECT PANEL. Something that encapsulates a character or concept in a manner that approaches the sublime. I'll try it with DC and others also. Marvel's just happen to be the comics I feel most qualified to explore first.
And as my friend Ron pointed out, if I wait until I've assembled enough of them to be comprehensive I'll never do any of them.
And perhaps it goes without saying that such a post would, by it's very nature, be chock full of spoilers. So, you're warned.
That said, here's a warning from Doreen Green aka Squirrel Girl. This was the moment I realized I loved the Squirrel Girl and, through her, writer Dan Slott. (Illustrated by Paul Pelletier and Wholly Owned Batman! by Marvel Comics, it's Great Lakes Avengers Misassembled #2 from July 2005)

Doreen's warning consisted of a reminder from her pet squirrel Monkey Joe that uploading or downloading Marvel stories without their consent would allow them to sue me blind.
I'm banking on the fact that I have nothing, thus Marvel can hardly take it away.
Also perhaps on the notion that THE PERFECT PAGE or PERFECT PANEL is designed to PROMOTE their product and encourage others to want to buy them like little ol' me.
Of course, I could be wrong. And often am.

Squirrel Girl is completely in line with my opinions on this matter. Dark and moody dominate Marvel Comics in the 1970's, the 1990's and, well, now. So if I focus on the positive it's not because they don't have miseries (Sue Richard's miscarriage) or gore (zombie Bruce Banner's stomach distended with human bones the Hulk ate whole) or tragedies (the school explosion in Stamford). I hope that if such a moment affected me in any way that I will give it a moment in the sun.
Were you shocked when Byrne blew up MJ's plane?
Did you, like me, shiver to the very bones with the creepiness and the agonizing cliffhanger in Kevin Smith's 'Spider-Man/Black Cat:The Evil That Men Do' with Felicia helplessly facing an impending rape and... you know, I'm STILL worried about that! I NEVER finished reading that one! She's alive in Heroes for Hire, so I guess she got away, but- GEEZ! That wasn't a hold-your breath for a month cliffhanger. That was just AWFUL!
I think I'll still be shaking my impotent fist for years at the SHEER WRONGNESS of Genis-Vell, snapping his son's neck in his crib to stop him becoming a space tyrant. This was CAPTAIN BLOODY MARVEL! KILLING HIS OWN BABY! AFTER PLANNING IT FOR YEARS! He could have had a vasectomy! I... ARRRGH! And then surprise, surprise, it's tough to sympathize with a HERO LIKE THAT!
I thrilled to the kick-ass action sequences and dizzyingly good art in Avengers Disassembled.
I was horrified when Genosha was nuked.
I'm still chuckling to myself at the name Awesome Andy. It's been, like, six years now!
Civil War made Reed Richards a fascist and his wife Sue a moron. Livid with the red bile of hate pretty much covers my feelings about that.
And the clear, cool relief of somebody like Dwayne McDuffie who pens the words that set Reed and Sue to rights.
How many ambiguous ways can I feel about a guy like Hank Pym when everybody wrote him with a different agenda? Stan Lee's industrious, work-fixated but loveable shrinking lunkhead! Roy Thomas's hallucinating, gassed self-loathing nutjob? John Byrne's 'Let's Pretend I DIDN'T Hit My Wife BUT LOOK I'm still cool, I'm like Macguyver Ant-Man'? Kurt Busiek's repentant seeker on a spiritual journey of inner redemption. He actually GOT HANK AND JAN BACK TOGETHER! Chuck Austen's 'Fuck Redemption, Jan should bonk Hawkeye!'. Bendis's 'It might have all been Wanda's fault... nah, Hank and Jan are flawed people even when reality ISN'T being distorted'. Slott's current Hank- he's a nutjob all his own. Grieving madman, wildly creative, sensitive and appealing, but using his dead wife's name and robot double to keep him going. I wish I didn't care about Hank Pym. I wish he'd just gone supervillain or gotten killed or both. But every second writer tried to make him appealing. It's exhausting even trying to decide how to feel.
Waid's FF power swap, Whedon's Mutant Cure- concepts clever enough to steal for movies that should have been written by Whedon or Waid.
Can you even stand human garbage like Kirkman's Eric O'Grady?
Peter Parker and Jonah Jameson, yes, they're wearing chicken suits.
Look out, Ohio, here's Asgardian waste disposal at it's most neolithic.
I'll just shout Spider-Mobile until I turn red, then blue, then have dark webby veins like the cursed vehicle itself.
Marvel has a million moments and more to intrigue you (like a Ms. Marvel pin-up), tempt you (like Mephisto tempts Norrin Radd), and inspire you (like a Ms. Marvel pin-up).
Make Mine Marvel.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This Line's Mostly Filler

I like Kirk's blog at Wisdom of Bookmonkey. I shall follow it from now on.
I began brainstorming a blog post today thanks to reading Marvel's 70th Anniversary Collection- a graphic novel reprint collection in celebration of 70 years of Marvel (even though they were called Timely and Atlas for a lot of those years). I liked most of the chosen stories, it's true, but it seemed to have been created by suits and shut-ins who appreciate stories for the money they made and whether Wolverine is scowling on the cover. My brainstorming was to create a list more suited to me involving best Marvel superhero comics year by year or more likely a list of the most emotionally evocative comics moments, whichever suited my fancy... BUT, it's not done.
So I'll post it when I figure out what it will be.
Meanwhile, please accept this list of a centuries' worth of my favorite movies by year, as I already have it mostly completed. It's a fascinating but misleading drawback in this technique that Frankenstein (1931) which I saw last night, is on the list while Bride of Frankenstein (1935) which I also saw last night, is not. Even though I liked Bride better, it wasn't competing against its predecessor, it had to compete against other 1935 movies.
Plus BETTER is extremely subjective. Oh, well, you get what you pay for.
I haven't seen anything in 1900 or 1901.
1902- A Trip to the Moon
1903- The Great Train Robbery (this fails to represent the idea that I have no special affection for this movie. It is the only movie I have seen made this year)
1904-1913- As far as I know, I have seen nothing from this period. Go figure.
1914- Gertie the Dinosaur (a placeholder because it is only a cartoon short. But it's cute.)
1915-1919- Another complete blank. (See how easy this is?)
1920- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (thank you Film Studies 101. Chiaroscuro!)
1921- Never Weaken (The Harold Lloyd short)
1922- Nosferatu (Thanks, Kirk!)
1923- Anybody recommend anything?
1924- Sherlock Jr.
1925- Seven Chances (Buster Keaton vs spur of the moment marriage)
1926- For Heaven's Sake (Harold Lloyd again)
1927- Should be Metropolis for the sci-fi fan, but doggone it if Buster the Great Stone Face doesn't win me over again in The General
1928- Chaplin's The Circus is the only film I've seen this year, but I don't like it, so I'll say the short Steamnoat Willie
1929- The Laurel & Hardy short Big Business is the placeholder
1930- Not a Sausage (this, sadly, is not the name of a movie)
1931- Frankenstein (thanks, Ron)
1932- Horsefeathers (I oughtta horsewhip you. Get me a horse.)
1933- King Kong
1934- Maybe they watched Kong again, I dunno
1935- A Night at the Opera edges out Bride of Frankenstein & the Band Concert (my favorite Disney short: chaos theory in music form)
1936- Laurel and Hardy's Our Relations is more intentionally funny than Reefer Madness
1937- Way Out West
1938- The Adventures of Robin Hood
1939- The Wizard of Oz (see how misleading this is? I like Return to Oz better, but you'd never know it from this list. Oh, now you do.)
1940- Fantasia edges out depressing Dumbo
1941- How Green Was My Valley
1942- Bambi
1943- Casablanca
1944- To Have and Have Not
1945- The Lost Weekend
1946- Song of the South
1947- Miracle on 34th Street
1948- The Three Muskateers
1949- The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad
1950- Cinderella
1951- The Day the Earth Stood Still (oh, Keanu, whatever possessed you?)
1952- High Noon
1953- Peter Pan
1954- Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
1955- Guys and Dolls
1956- Forbidden Planet
1957- Bridge on the River Kwai
1958- Carry on Nurse (thanks to my wife's mother for these comic gems)
1959- Journey to the Center of the Earth
1960- The Time Machine
1961- The Absent-Minded Professor
1962- Carry On Cruising
1963- It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World
1964- Carry On Cleo
1965- The Great Race
1966- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
1967- Barefoot in the Park
1968- Barbarella (Psychadella, has a chitinous umbrella)
1969- The Love God (thanks, Daryl)
1970- MASH
1971- THX 1138
1972- Slaughterhouse Five
1973- Disney's Robin Hood
1974- Young Frankenstein
1975- Monty Python & The Holy Grail
1976- Logan's Run
1977- Star Wars (no, Damnation Alley! What could best freakin' Star Wars?)
1978- Superman
1979- Alien (honorable mention- The Muppet Movie)
1980- The Empire Strikes Back
1981- Superman II (hon. men.- The Great Muppet Caper)
1982- TRON (somehow still edging out Wrath of Khan and Bladerunner)
1983- Return of the Jedi (trumps The Dark Crystal)
1984- Ghostbusters (the 1980s are a bitch for me in the exact opposite of the years before 1950: I can think of more honorable mentions in these years than the entire century before I was born. I had to eliminate Dune, The Muppets Take Manhatten, 2010, Star Trek III, Gremlins, Terminator and the Last Starfighter at enormous personal suffering to arrive at that winner. I hope you appreciate my sacrifice of time and mental health.)
1985- Back to the Future (honorable mention Enemy Mine. This is hard, damnit!)
1986- Star Trek IV (sorry Howard the Duck, Aliens, Short Circuit, Labyrinth)
1987- The Princess Bride (better luck next never Robocop)
1988- Alien Nation
1989- UHF
1990- Back To the Future III
1991- Defending Your Life (more like defending your list, am I right Operation Condor?)
1992- Disney's Aladdin
1993- Demolition Man (I don't have to justify myself to you, Groundhog Day)
1994- Star Trek: Generations (I saw it 10 more times than the Lion King. No, I'm not proud.)
1995- Toy Story (sorry Mallrats)
1996- Star Trek: First Contact (hon. men. Mars Attacks & Multiplicity)
1997- The Fifth Element (hon. men. Starship Troopers & Disney's Hercules. They have to put guys like me on a special government list.)
1998- Dark City edges out Ant Z (which I prefer be pronounced like, and is more enjoyable than, Citizen Kane)
1999- Galaxy Quest is ahead of Bicentennial Man (and, sorry, Phantom Menace, Matrix, Toy Story 2, Dogma, and Iron Giant)
2000- Red Planet (hon. men. Titan A.E.)
2001- Shrek (hon. men. Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back)
2002- Lilo & Stitch (hon. men. Attack of the Clones & Spider-Man)
2003- Finding Nemo (hon. men. Daredevil)
2004- The Incredibles (hon. men. Spider-Man 2, Shaun of the Dead)
2005- Revenge of the Sith (hon. men. Serenity)
2006- Clerks II
2007- Meet the Robinsons
2008- Wall-E
2009- It's neck and neck but let's say Star Trek (hon. men. Watchmen)

What's terrifying is I can't muster the energy to write my own comedy novel but I can spend hours on fluff like this. All I have to manage is the energy to point my thumb up or down.
Anyhoo, thanks to my wife and the universe itself for a happy 33rd birthday!
Here's to the next century of picking films and picking my nose!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Boppin' Through the Wild Blue

I do a lot of complaining. How 'bout some stuff I like lately?
It's nice to be writing again. Progress is slow. It's harder work than I remember. Seems like when I wrote before I was doing it for fun, now it's a real effort. But again, this is complaining, so in the interest of the glass being half full- it's nice to be writing again.
Boppin' along on my bike ride to work is the ipod my lovely wife gave me. So while I can't read on the bus when I'm not taking it, I have my music.
I made my first ebay sale. For two bucks plus 32.74 shipping I sent away my 1983 Kenner Jabba the Hutt with his 1990's special edition slave Leia and jester Salacious Crumb. To a guy named Sean in New Zealand. He seemed excited- I am out of pocket for the shipping and eagerly awaiting the PayPal transfer. Donation of toys may be the more rewarding choice in future. There's no money involved but there's no effort or money risk either.
I have a wife and a mortgage! This is far better than I ever expected. We are both rather lazy and fairly poor. I tend to like it that way.
Torchwood's second season was less unrelentingly dour, and third was, as my friend Anthony put it "Slit-Your-Wrists Fun". If I crapped too hard on Torchwood in the past I make my apologies. But I do not forgive Cyberwoman. That was shite.
Speaking of television that is awesome: I nominate Defying Gravity to run for seven seasons! In this day and age that would be a miracle, but if anything on right now deserves it, I say this does.
OPTIMISM! SPACE! How I've missed you. BSG is all well and good, and the finale was beautiful, moving and haunting. But how long since SF was PLEASANT? Doctor Who, Star Trek, Stargate. Worthy programs all. Defying Gravity has some of that spirit, and although there is mystery too I feel less likely to be betrayed by premise and less, well, LOST than I did when I was grudgingly watching Lost. DG is funny, sexy, and very much my thing. Oddly, my wife even liked it a bit. So, of course, if you're reading this in 2010 and thinking "Defying What?" it will be a tragedy of television failure, and also par for the course lately.
Maybe we all have too much else to do? Certainly we have loads of choices. And I know (though I'll never understand) that people like different things than me? And that it costs a lot to make tv and keep things on the air if nobody's watching. Anyway, what I'm saying is, if you like SF even a tiny bit, or you like adventure or human interaction or mystery or romance, I suggest you watch and then make noise about Defying Gravity.
What else is really cool lately? I like Linkara's ATOP THE FOURTH WALL video blog on that guy with the glasses dot com. That guy is just glorious. He has me HOWLING at his scathing reviews of terrible comics. Thanks to my friend Kirk for pointing him out.
I'm enjoying the read on my latest Hugo winning novel: To Say Nothing Of the Dog by Connie Willis. A FUNNY Hugo winner is something of a rarity, and all the better for having read Jerome K Jerome's Three Men In A Boat. Again I must credit Kirk. He told me he's reading my blog: so I have to have some shout outs. DUDE! Like that.
I liked playing Neverwinter Nights Gold from BioWare on my PC, thanks to Devin. Reading the instruction manual was kind of a chore: 175 pages of mathematically derived methods of stabbing people until the gold falls out of them and no pages of kissing? Didn't seem like my thing.
Still, it's very playable, even for a guy who has no idea what he's doing. My pre-made elf wizard character didn't even make it out of the local 'Hogwarts' before she managed to impale herself on a trap I think I may have unwittingly set myself. But the picture and sound are very good. The game is like seven years old, I wonder what they've done since?
What I mean is, I wonder if they'd like my help being paid to write dialog for whatever they're doing now. My incomplete resume requires I build a game module with the NWN toolset and the first environment I tried to assemble gave me an error message and shut down.
Have I mentioned that for a nerd I have almost no savvy with computers?
Shame to be a nerd AND have no techhie traits.
I'm one of those daydreamy nerds, leaving the hands-on stuff to other, wiser heads.
And I love comics. I don't buy many of them (see mortgage) but I like reading them. The Blackest Night story in Green Lantern is SO CREEPY AND COOL! Booster Gold is probably on the verge of cancellation because I like it a lot. Spider-Man and Hulk had their 600th issues and both were very good. Dan Slott and Jeph Loeb and all the others deserve mucho praise. The Legion of Three Worlds story from DC was great, but I never met a Legion of Super-Heroes I didn't like, so all three at once and much much more was a freakin' dream come true!
So much did I enjoy it that I bought the follow-up new series' first issue Adventure comics #1 (or #504, if you prefer to pretend it's the same series as the old one) with a Superboy main feature and a LOSH back-up feature.
And I have to beg to differ with Linkara: Superboy Prime is MUCH more than a strawman fanboy paradigm (I'm paraphrasing here, I can't remember exactly what he called him) He's a great villain because I understand him very well: nothing is ever as good as he remembers it from when he was a kid, he's usually lonely, frustrated and angry and miserable because of his own actions and (thankfully this part is not that much like me or hopefully most of the readers) he tries to kill everything that frustrates him. Don't get me wrong, Linkara's Countdown putdown is entirely on the nose, that series blows. But don't throw the Superbaby out with the bathwater. With Geoff Johns writing that guy, I understand him entirely, even as I cannot condone him and I desperately hope never to be crazy enough to emulate him. But THAT'S why he's a great villain. Because I can ALMOST see myself in his pissed off red shoes.
That's a good reason to blog periodically about stuff I like. After GL:First Flight (I STILL haven't gotten all my bile out on that one!) I wanted to remember the wonderful things.
And I haven't touched on nearly enough of them. Louis C.K.'s airplane sketch about ingratitude keeps coming back to my mind: 'how quickly the world owes you something you didn't know existed 5 minutes ago!'
I am far too ungrateful, selfish, lazy, ignorant to deserve a world of such wonders as this. I hope for the future. I hope to be a better husband to my wife. I hope to read many wonderful things, watch many wonderful things, and write many wonderful things.
Also my father-in-law and mother-in-law are giving me a trip to the Netherlands.
How dope is that?
They rock.
Also things went quite well sitting in and being funny with the 404s at Animethon. Not least because my interest is peaked in the sci-fi and comedy that anime has to offer.
So, all in all, my life is 'Pretty spankin'.
Which reminds me, cartoons are fun too. Yeah, Kim Possible!
And yeah, George Carlin! Yeah John Hughes! Yeah Scrubs! Yeah Futurama! Yeah Fringe! Yeah My Friends! Yeah My Family! Yeah My FABULOUS Wife!
And Yeah me.