Joe Rice Media Review 1/11/07

There's a lot of ones in this date.  I don't like it.  Today I will review some comic books and also some other stuff.  It's been a while since this was accurately titled as a media review.  I hope you comic folks don't mind the rest of the arts intruding upon your domicile on the internet.  I do not want you to be angry at me.

I somehow missed the second issue of Dwight T. Albatross's The Goon Noir.  And, no, it isn't as good as The Goon usually is.  But there's a nice Arcudi/Nowlan story, a cute Hilary Barta story, and Powell's bit is, of course, golden.  Eh, it's a lark and it's better than most anthologies just because of Powell's presence.

It's like every issue of Runaways is saying, "Hey, I bet you thought you knew what would happen next.  WELL YOU ARE STUPID FOR THINKING THAT BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED."  And it's that kind of abuse that I date, marry, and love to read.  The storytelling is sharp;the characters are well-formed, natural, and interesting; and the art is perfectly evocative.  A 6th grade student of mine loves this, I've been giving her the digest editions.  I'm hoping to get her written review up here soon.  Anyway, stuff happens in an unexpected manner, revelations are made, relationships are tested, and it's goddam compelling.  And Alphona's really come into his own as an artist.  I really anxiously await what he'll do next.

Ah, The Punisher.  Any writer should be this lucky to write this well, this quickly, this consistently.  The start of a new arc and it appears that "Punisher Widows" are planning some revenge.  Some interesting dynamics within that group, and another lady somehow connected with them with some serious . . .issues.  Most of the Frank appearances in this issue are flashbacks, but they're no less powerful for it.  How does Ennis do this so well so quickly?  Seriously, he's like a modern day pulp writer, except with more meaning than your average Doc Savage novel by about a hundred.  And no Mrs. Raymond on the cover . . .Bradstreet is no Land, thank Christ.

Agents of Atlas.  Now that was a fine ending to a fine little superhero mini-series.  Are nerds freaking out about the revelations contained herein?  Probably not.  The awfulest nerds most likely didn't read this.  Looking at numbers, not too many folks did.  That's a shame, as it was one hell of a rollicking adventure story with fun, danger, humor, romance, and evil Asians.  I'm not sure what else one would ask for in a book like this except maybe a shitawesome guitar solo that played automatically during guitar scenes.  (Someone get to work on that idea.)  Fu Manchu was mentioned!  It's a Wold Newton Crossover!  Rejoice, lit-nerds!  If you didn't read this mini, read the inevitable trade.  I won't cry if there's never a sequel, but I for sure will check out Parker's next project.

Way back in the day I enjoyed the first issue of the Thunderbolts.  That was quite a twist.  But like a lot of self-consciously "old-school" superhero rags, it got real boring real fast.  And "boring" is what Thunderbolts have been about for years.  There was the awesome little Arcudi run during the height of Jemas/Quesada's "Let's see if this workds" period that the ubersupernerds LOATHED.  But I found the examination of the seedier side of superhumanity interesting without being overly dark.  So I suppose I have a soft spot in my heart for things that makes Thunderbolts fans upset.  To me, nothing says "bland" like Grummet + Busiek/Nicieza.  Talented, yes, skilled, perhaps, but too in love with what's come before and too unwilling to really do something new or on their own.  Now Ellis' version isn't exactly new.  It's kind of a Con Air/Dirty Dozen thing but it's so far certainly done with style.  And I don't think it's just my joy at seeing Thunderbolts readers in a tizzy enjoying this book.  It's not great, by any means, but it is an entertaining action satire.  (Cronin, how can you say he's playing it straight?  The commercial and the news stuff was comedy gold!)  My only complaint is Deodato's art, especially the celebrity riffs.  I showed a page to my wife and she immediately asked what Gene Hackman and Tommy Lee Jones were doing.  It's silly, it's inconsistent, and it's distracting.  Just draw.

I finally got around to reading Gary Panter's Cola Madness.  It's not easy to explain this sort of dream-logic work, but I can tell you it's really, really good.  An absurdist frame and content bely quite a bit going on underneath.  One read of this and you'll immediately understand why he's considered such a master of the form.  It's the kind of insanity you think you can just throw on paper but you really can't.  Genius work, and I don't use that lightly.

So now on to movies so I can legitimize the title of the column.  I recently re-watched Talledaga Nights.  My first viewing left me with the feeling it was a well-done goofball comedy with some golden moments.  But further review really brings out the higher qualities of the film.  It's a pretty damn brilliant satire of flyover American idiocy.  By the end you have viewers and characters, rednecks all, cheering on Bush making out with a gay Frenchman, basically.  It's love.  And Gary Cole turns in a pretty frakkin spectacular performance, comedically and otherwise.  He'll get no nominations, I'm sure, but that was hot damn acting.

I remembered thinking Robot Jox was awesome when I was a kid.  My academic team in junior high took up the "crash and burn" mantra the year we became state champs (eat it, inferior nerds!) and that's honestly all I could remember about it.  So, yeah, a post-apocalyptic movie about giant robots fighting should equal pure awesome.  It doesn't.  What a lousy piece of crap movie.  Jesus H. Christ.  I was apparently retarded.

Sci-fi movies usually are pretty terrible.  But occasionally one comes out that transcends the genre, hokey as the cliche is.  Children of Men is one of those films.  SuPERBly acted, MASTERFULLY directed, and tightly written, this was one HELL of a good movie.  It's the best I've seen in the theater in a long, long time.  Each performance is almost virtuosic.  Owen owns the film, but everyone holds their own.  The war scenes are among the most riviting I've seen in any genre.  The humor works and occasionally eases the tension built up by the premise of the film.  I really cannnot recommend this film highly enough.  Go see it.  Now.  Put down your back issues of Thunderbolts for Christ's sake.  I'm sure the Beetle will be back some day.  But this movie needs the big screen.

EDIT: Seriously? Godland?  Takes all kinds I suppose.

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