Monday, August 16, 2010

A Little Update

Thanks for hanging in there the last couple of weeks through my Top Fifty Albums list. It gave me a much-needed break from silly, self-imposed deadlines to build up another stockpile of material. I hope you guys enjoyed my album round-up as much as I did. I haven’t read it since I posted it and still agree with pretty much the whole thing.
I realize Needless Things has been overly music-oriented lately. That’s just how things worked out. For those of you that don’t enjoy music… well, what’s wrong with you? But hang in there because I’ve got one more musical number: my experience at the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Music Festival. That’ll be up tomorrow.
For now, a few things have happened since my last fresh update and I’d like to address them now.


Item 1: DC has announced that Kate Kane (Batwoman) will be getting her long-awaited monthly series in February, with a “Zero” issue coming out in November to bridge the gap between this new series and the already legendary (by my standards, anyway) run in Detective Comics. Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III managed to take Kate Kane – a character I had deemed a gimmick to attract the attention of the liberal media who would certainly be killed off once said attention drifted elsewhere – and crafted her into a character who was not a lesbian who happened to be a superhero or even a superhero who happened to be a lesbian. They treated her as a person. It didn’t matter so much what gender she was boinking or even what kind of costume she put on at night – Williams and Rucka gave her a personality, motivation and strong character. This was a Batwoman that we could care about and that – in the right hands – could truly endure among DC’s legacy characters.
And then Rucka left DC and it seemed yet another brilliant character in her infancy was going to be lost. The grand story arc that had captured us all would never be completed (for now).
Shortly after Rucka left, though, DC announced that at some point Batwoman would be getting her own ongoing title and that it would be helmed by none other than J.H. Williams III. I don’t know if Williams has written before, but at least he was a critical part of the genesis of Kate Kane. He knows and understands the character and I have faith that he will guide her in the right direction. Also, his art is some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. To see Batwoman rendered in a lesser fashion would have been hugely disappointing.
And that’s exactly what we’re getting. Sort of. While Williams will still be handling an as-yet-vague amount of art duty on the title, Amy Reeder will be handling what sounds to be an equal if not greater amount. The words and picture accompanying the article in which I read this announcement describe her style as “Manga-influenced” and that is just about the worst news I could have gotten regarding this title.
First let me say that I am still going to buy at least the first few issues. It is possible that the art isn’t as bland and assembly line-looking as the phrase insinuates. It’s also possible that the writing will just be so damned good that I can overlook “Manga-influenced” art, like I do on Ultimate Spider-Man.
But the only thing I hate more than Manga is American comic books in a Manga style. I just don’t feel that the Japanese cookie-cutter “art” has any place in mainstream superhero comics. Go ahead and do a mini-series of Supermanga or X-Manga. I don’t care because I won’t buy it. I’m sure lots of pimply teenagers and basement dwellers will. More power to all of you. But don’t ask me to accept that style in my regular titles. Nothing brings a long, impactful storyline down quicker than a few issues that look like fucking cartoons all of a sudden. X-Men crossovers have been plagued by this for years. There is a place for your Joe Madureiras and Humberto Ramoses, but it isn’t alongside the likes of Bryan Hitch or John Romita (either of them).
I guess I sound like a dick here, but I just really hate Manga and am disappointed that it might sour a title I have been anticipating more than any title since The Gunslinger Born. I hope all this bile is for nothing.
I looked up some of Amy Reeder’s art after I wrote all of this (maybe I should have taken a minute to do it before getting all worked up) and some of it seems overly “Manga-influenced”, some of it does not. Not to the extent that I would describe it that way. It leans a bit to the cartoony side, but has much more character and structure than any Manga I’ve ever seen. The not-so-Manga work is somewhat akin to George Jeanty, but with more artistry. Maybe everything’s gonna be okay.

Item 2: Hot Tub Time Machine. We watched it the other night and it was funny. Not as funny as I was expecting – mainly due to the awkward mixture of mature, adult storytelling and toilet humor – but it made me laugh out loud a lot. I just don’t think you can mix the ridiculous concept of the movie with that much gravitas successfully. Funny People had sort of the same tone, but it worked because they weren’t travelling through fucking time thanks to spilling an energy drink on a hot tub. I read somewhere that Chevy Chase’s role in this revitalized his career. He wasn’t bad or anything, but really? The entire impact of his character was, “Oh, look! It’s Chevy Chase!” I do have a whole new respect for Rob Cordry now and could buy him as a lead.

Item 3: Comic books are fucking great right now. Hack/Slash is finally back on track. Ultimate Spidey continues to be riveting. Matt Fraction's Iron Man is unfolding in great ways. Grant Morrison continues to write fun, amazing Batman stories. The Walking Dead is fresh and new every issue, constantly surprising me with the places Robert Kirkman is willing to take his characters. X-Men versus vampires seems pretty promising. The Green Lantern books are still awesome, The Flash is fascinating even though I have never really been into that character and Deadman is the main character in DC’s flagship title (Brightest Day).

Item 4: Firefly. I have tried to watch Firefly three times in the past. Once when it was on television and twice from the first episode on the DVD set. It didn’t do anything for me any of those times. I don’t know which episode I tried to watch during its original run, but I didn’t get it. That pilot in the DVD set is amazing, though. After you get past the first twenty minutes, which is where I had always stalled out before.
I think the key this time around was a combination of several things:
Seeing Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog
Alan Tudyk on Dollhouse (and seeing him in Knocked Up when I rewatched it recently)
Summer Glau on Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles (and Dollhouse)
Finding out Ron Glass was in it (I saw him in a panel on Dragon*Con TV last year and ended up watching the whole thing despite not being familiar with his work)
So when I saw that Netflix was offering it I put it in my queue and determined that I was going to sit down and watch that whole first episode through no matter what. I ended up watching five episodes that night. Once you get past that convoluted intro (which would have been so much easier to take if they had just put the Nathan Fillion narrated intro that accompanied every other episode at the beginning) you quickly realize that everybody on the show is a minor deity of some sort. I’ve watched all fourteen episodes now and will have watched Serenity by the time you read this.
I always felt like such a bad Whedon fan for not having watched this hugely adored show, and now I’ve rectified that. Now I just have to feel bad about not being entirely sure he’s right for The Avengers (I hope he is, though!). I’ve got a whole lot to say about Firefly (that’s probably all been said many times in the eight years since it aired), but that’s a whole other article.

Item 5: Blu-Rays are too fucking expensive. I’d like to start buying movies again, Hollywood bitches. Let’s get those price points down to twenty, can we? I used to buy movies every single week. The last thing I bought new was Crisis On Two Earths. I’m just not spending over twenty bucks for a movie, especially as lacking as special features have been lately. The HD disc formats were supposed to blow special features wide open, but it seems like we just get a bunch of filler now. To this day the only Blu-Ray I own that really feels like an advance over DVD any way but visually is Star Trek. Get your shit together, people.

Item 6: Where are the fucking Dragon*Con schedules, already!?! 

Item 7: Star Wars is coming out on Blu-Ray next Fall and everybody seems to have forgotten the prequels. When I read this, my assumption was that Lucas intended to release all six as a set. As somebody who enjoys the prequels significantly more than a lot of people, I feel that’s how it should be. They are all part of one story. As a matter of fact, if I was the Hollywood douchebag in charge of the whole operation I would release a fantastic set of all six films that was whatever version Lucas deemed appropriate at the time; plus every bonus feature available that wasn’t an actual alternate version of one of the movies (like the sandstorm on Tatooine or the Wampa attack). The following year I would release a box set that included the Original Trilogy Special Editions and Theatrical versions and nothing else. Except maybe a Greedo figure.
But anyway, the general opinion seems to be that this will be only the Original Trilogy. I guess we’ll find out when Amazon lists it (or when IGN posts their coverage of the story). Yep. It’s all six. I can feel the nerd anger building now!
Just so you know, the only things that truly bother me about post-1983 Star Wars are Greedo shooting first, Jar-Jar Binks and substituting Hayden Christensen in as Anakin’s Force-ghost. Why would he be a kid again? He was old when he died. And don’t give me any shit about how his soul died when he became Vader or something because that negates the redemption aspect of the story. That was the worst.

Item 8: If you visit this site during the day, you will get some interesting observations about our media-driven society and probably have a good laugh about paranoid conspiracy nuts. If you visit this site at night you will be scared out of your fucking mind. Regardless of whether or not a shadowy minority Elite is guiding the fate of the world, the things on this site are exactly what are happening right now. This may well warrant a full article. A big not-thank-you to Carlito for sharing this one with me.

I think that pretty much covers it. I’ve got some toy reviews lined up, as well as some toy not-reviews. My Dragon*Con build-up will start next Monday, though I will do a preview before then if we – God forbid – get schedules. Starting on the 23rd, Needless Things will be all-Dragon*Con all-the-time right up through Labor Day. I am going to attempt live updates all weekend long starting on Thursday, September 2nd. Also, you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook if you are so inclined. I would imagine things are going to get pretty retarded after around 9 PM most nights.

Until next time, stay creepy

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