A Comic Nerd's Hurricane Diary- Reviews, Chris Sims Obession, Comic Con Dissing, And General Trivialization Of A Natural Disaster

I gotta come clean; I wanted to do a play on words on this title, but even I found that in poor taste.

Not in the least because the damage to my town wasn't really substantial, and the effects on me less so. Surrounding towns were hit much worse, especially Spring Break hot spot South Padre Island, but since I'm selfish I kind of don't care. There was a fair amount of wind damage, we lost power for a few days, but since my house and I'm not living out of a trailer, I think we came out okay. The worst thing that happened to me was that my Xbox 360 died, but those stupid things crap out if you look at them sideways, so it's not like I didn't see that coming.

Still, I want to capitalize on this force of nature that wound up being only a slight inconvenience on me in some way that generates content for my favorite Irish Comics Android, so here we are, with my comics nerd hurricane diary:

Wednesday- The storm hit on new comics day. Have to get that out of the way, especially because it becomes important later.

Once all of the prep was done, all there was left to do was wait for the thing to hit. After I'd cooked all the frozen food I wanted to eat (spinach and mushroom pizza and chicken fried rice for breakfast), I had to consume my time and nervous energy over the impending natural disaster somehow.

So, I polished off Phonogram. As you might have heard, it's pretty good. I couldn't care less about Britpop, with some exceptions when it overlaps in to my other interests. So this fits the bill.

One thing I didn't see anyone (well, Burgas or Chris Sims) mention in reviews; this is basically an early Vertigo book. The Hellblazer similarities, everyone had to bring up by law, but all the goddess stuff reminded me of Sandman (well, that and Britannia looks a bit like Morpheus's long lost cousin), and the metaphysics could be out of Morrison comic (what's the over/under on someone mentioning Jonestown in relation to this post). If anything in there at all had reminded me of Milligan, Gillen would have reminded me of all their original stable. It goes without saying but bears mentioning that Jamie McKelvie's art is better than anyone who worked on those early titles. Or for Vertigo ever. Beautiful stuff in the black and white.

Power went out around noon, so nothing else comic related happened until the 3 in the morning. I woke up in the middle of the night and needed to go to the bathroom. I had to use a little plastic lantern to see anything on my way there. It was green. You probably know where this is going; I recited the Green Lantern oath in my head when I picked up the damn thing. Even I was kind of embarssed by that. Not as much by the fact that reading New Frontier #6 by lantern light on a beach was the closest thing I've had to a drug trip/religious experience in my life, but close.

Thursday- In between marathon sessions of The World Ends With You, I read a fair bit of the O.M.A.C. Omnibus*. In spite of the hurricane and the fact that I was broiling in my own juices due to my lack of air conditioning, I was quite happy to be living there in the moment, in a world where a deluxe hardcover collecting all eight issues of OMAC exists; a world where I can place said hardcover next to my similar hardcover collection of Devil Dinosaur and, soon, the Demon, the Losers, and everything else Jack Kirby ever did that can fit in a big fat book.

Sunday- Watched the animated adaptation of one of my favorite mangas ever**, Tekkonkinkreet/Black and White on my PSP. It's by the studio that did the Animatrix, so it's as beautiful and kinetic as you'd expect while still retaining a lot of the angular, dirty charm of Taiyo Matsumoto's art. The story's pretty much a direct adaptation of the comics; as much as it could be considering it's 500+ page story. But they adapted the strongest bits, and all of the stuff that worked on the comic page worked here; the duality of street urchins Black, an ultraviolent punk who can fly and whose only humanity comes from his relationship with White, his innocent/retarded brother/companion. They live in (and pretty much run) Treasure Town, a city that appears to be entirely composed of junk while still looking as oppresively large as all Japanese cities seem to, going by pop culture depictions of them.

The story touches on all sorts of things, from the idea of the city as a living organism, its soul changing as it's gentrified by a nasty (and really effiminate; and boy, that would go over well with some corners of the blogosphere) religious zealot (I missed that bit in the original). But, you know, I consider subtext a side issue at best, so it's the relationship between Black and White that carries the thing for me. It's still heart wrenching here, although the climax can't but come off as trying too hard to tug on the heart strings in a near Disney style compared to the book, despite the fact that it's directly adapted. I don't have a problem with sentimentality; hell, I lap the stuff up. But it did strike me that way.

All that said, everyone should read the book and watch the movie. Especially since it won an Eisner over the weekend.

Monday- Speaking of the Eisners, and Comic Con and general. Got my power back Monday, and eventually got around to finding out all about the goings on in San Diego via G4. It reinforced my general feeling of not being too put out by not having power and net access while it was going on. I don't begrudge it this, but the Con is really not about comics hardly at all, especially the way Nerd Fox News covers it.

Even Blair Butler, their comic book expert (and Comics Foundry cover girl; you can see her face!), all but says "Yeah, that's great and all Joe Quesada, but I swear if even a minor TV or Film celebrity walks by, I will shove you out of the way to talk to them."

It's not that I expect comics to be the focus. The actual print industry is a niche market; comics are source material to be used in legitimate mediums like film, which are the focus at San Diego. I can live with that, especially because the announcements that came from the publishers out of San Diego? Not that interesting to me, and I'm a comics first guy. I can live with comics diminished place in the world's biggest comics convention. That doesn't make me any less bemused by the con as a whole. Especially because the supposedly jaded nerd contingent all of these movie studios have to court so agrresively at the Con will turn in to butter over a four minute Terminator trailer.

That said, Neil Gaiman on Batman? That's something. Even if I can't really say I've liked anything Gaiman's written outside of one off Sandman issues; it is something, however.

The LCS was open on Monday after having been down post storm. I made a joke in passing to the guy working there about where he was on New Comics Day, because I came by expecting new books. He said they were there, having a hurricane party. He has no discernible sense of humor, so I think he was serious. Picked up a re-order copy of Jonah Hex, Uncanny X-Men #500, and the new Iron Fist and Incredible Herc issues.

Hex was drawn by Darwyn Cooke and colored by Dave Stewart, so it overcame a script that probably would have bored my superflous nipples off in places otherwise. I found the accents particularly irksome, although the narration worked pretty well. But Cooke's art has such a hold on me that it can overcome medicore writing, even his own, which is why I buy anything he draws, and Stewart's coloring can make anything better.

Uncanny was a fun debut issue for the Frubaker team, bringing the Brubaction I expecteted off their Iron Fist run. It's the first X-Men comic I've bought since I gave up on Whedon and Cassady's run sometime when it was coming out every once in a while. I've avoided dabbling in the X-Books again since, despite liking the writers on the main X-Men books a lot. It helped that Mike Carey's book had my two least favorite artists in all of comicdom and is now a continuity wonk thing, and Brubaker kept his team in space for a friggin' year. But the team that made me enjoy an Iron Fist comic on my favorite superhero franchise? Screw you, Marvel, you got me.

The first issue's set up, but it's very good set up, with all the fan service I demand in an X-Men comic. Which is pretty much entirely one fastball special in to a Sentinel and Nightcrawler talking in pigeon German. I do have to wonder how they're going to balance having all the remaining mutants on the roster, but that's something every X-Men writer has to deal with, especially with Astonishing being a vanity book and X-Men: Legacy being the aforementioned continuity wonk. The art is from Terry Dodson and Greg Land. I like Dodson a fair amount and can tolerate Land. At any rate, I dealt with a revolving door art team on Iron Fist, so I think I can handle that here, if they keep alternating between the two. It's nice that even Dodson can look down on Land's objectification of women; or vice versa. I'm not sure how that works.

As for the book that these guys made a hit, the first issue of the new Iron Fist run was solid. It was pretty refreshing to see Duane Swierczynski's first issue follow Fraction's fairwell. Mainstream comics runs of any length and popularity or so personal these days that it's weird to see something that old school happen. Even #16 was all set up for the oncoming creative team, I still wondered if Swierczyski (who is apparently trying one up Bill Sienkiewicz on hardest name to spell in comics) would actually use all of that set up for his run.

He did, and it's good to see, since it's a very interesting status quo he's got to work with. Danny Rand is anticipating his own mortality while trying to be a kung fu philanthropist. Throwing in some genuine Iron Fist Killers adds to that. Swierczyski keeps the flash backs that added weight to the Frubaker run. That Russ Heath draws them is icing on the cake.

Travel Foreman does the rest of the interiors. They're kind of rough and scratchy in places, nowhere near as fluid and smooth as his work on the Ares mini, which I quite liked. That said, he tells a solid story, especially when the kicking happens. If nothing else, he's miles above whoever drew #15. Over all, story and art, it's as seemless a transition as you can get from a great, popular run in mainstream comics these days. I'm interested in seeing what guy with too many random vowels in his name does with the book.

Herc is what Pak and Van Lente have been bringing to the table on this book as long as I've been reading it. I wasn't as in to this issue as the others in this arc (or the one where Herc uses Ares as a baseball bat on some missles that sold me on the series), but it was solid; nice to see the Skrull reveal wasn't dragged out. And hey, I was just happy to be able to buy comics and read them in my lit, air conditioned home.

That about covers it. I read some comics before and after a hurricane hit my immediate geographic area. That would be the main bullet point of the post, as the Pirate from Family Guy might say. Since I view these things more as a cathartic exercise than a dialogue, I've done my part. Commentors, time to do yours! First person to compare Cronin to Pol Pot because he's a big Roger Stern fan but doesn't care for certain Jim Shooter comics wins a trophy!***

*-I'd link to Sims on that one, too, but it's both redundant, since he's the OMAC guy and too creepy, even considering my fixation on him, to link to him twice in one sentence).

**-That's a pretty shallow pool, though; the only other serious competitor is 4/12s of Death Note. At least if we define manga as "Japanese comics". Not sure where your Scott Pilgrims and King Citys fit in if you include OEL or Amerimanga or Turning Japanese comics, or whatever the kids call them. Damn kids. Get off my lawn! I am 25.

***- That trophy will be the Iron Lungfish Memorial Douchebag of the Year Award, mind you, but I actually want to see someone do that. Also, I'm not entirely sure Lungfish isn't still bumping around here (I did see him being his usual gregarious self at Tim O'Neil's blog recently).

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