Joe Rice Media Review 3/16/07

It's another Joe Rice Media Review and I'm actually going to earn the "media" part of the title this time.  Well, maybe not "earn" it but come closer than in recent weeks.  Months, really.  See, as a younger, singler man I often went out to plays, movies, concerts . . .and bought new albums, books, artwork . . .I was pretty active in this world.  But I'm married now, so I'm not allowed to do most of that with anything bordering on frequency.  I might see a movie every now and then, but between husbandly duties and early teacher bedtimes, I don't go see that much anymore.  Welcome to the saddest opening paragraph of a Joe Rice Media Review ever!

I'm going to lose my indie street cred but I got three Marvel superhero comics this week and enjoyed them all in some way.  The New Avengers continued on the positive path started in the last issue.  Charming dialogue-driven characterization, strong plotting, good jokes, good cliffhangers . . .I guess some people still hate this but I found it completely enjoyable.  And that Yu art . . .expressive and representational each when it needs to be and always full of either kinetic or potential energy.  The book dovetails nicely (or is dovetailed nicely by) The Confession.  Now, in theory, I should really hate this damn comic.  It's superheroes sitting around talking about old continuity points and their FEELINGS.  And it ends with a superhero crying.  That isn't really what I think superhero comics are good at.  But at least it does that well.  Tony Stark feels like a person with a soul and complications and emotions.  Dumb crossover aside, this was an excellent handling of something that has previously been handled very poorly.  Have I swallowed the Kool-Aid?  I've never enjoyed Bendis before, but he seems to be entertaining very well these days.  And Maleev gives an excellent example of how you can be representational without eliminating mood and storytelling.  I feel crazy giving a good review to a crossover comic book that's essentially a monologue with another crying superhero, but if you're going to do that, you could do it much worse than Bendis and Maleev did.

Thunderbolts was also a bit talky for my tastes in this genre.  But, again, at least the talk was interesting.  And Ellis does his best to make Steel Spider (really, he existed before?), some girl, and American Eagle interesting.  Maybe it was dumb of me, but I liked the American Eagle scene.  I had an internal "Oh hell yeah!"  The art is still very much not to my liking.  Wilford Brimley doesn't need to be in my superhero comics.  Pretty much ever.  But this is Ellis' character-work issue and it's well done.  Satire kind of goes to the back-burner while he tries to make us actually care about some of these sickos.  It's a well-done job.

The best comic of the week, though, was of course BPRD, as it started a new mini/arc, Garden of Souls.  It promises to be an exploration of the origins of Abe Sapien, but of course you get a creepy mummy unwrapping in the 19th century, a giant blonde dude in Indonesia, Captain Daimo getting some weird mystic sword acupuncture and hints at HIS past, and weird combination animals.  Generally, it's the wonderful, pulpy madness that Mignola, Arcudi, and Davis have been giving us since they teamed up.  Davis' art is a pleasure as usual, and he seems to occasionally dip into a smoother form of cartooning to perhaps contrast some scenes from the others.  These are great adventure comics with well-portrayed characters and wonderfully moody art.  And, hey, Mignola cover!  Worth the price of admission right there.

OK, my wife and I saw 300 this week.  First of all, I mostly enjoyed it while I sat in the theater and watched it.  It's easy to get caught up in the testosterone-laced rah-rah-rah but it really doesn't stick with you.  It's a very stupid film, sort of like Starship Troopers without the element of satire that redeemed that film from pure idiocy.  Yeah, there's a lot of fighting but it gets repetitive and dull after a while.  It's a very frat-house movie:  simultaneously homophobic and homoerotic.  As for the advancing of film technology, I suppose one day a real artist will make a movie with this method and create and unbelievable spectacle that will be a defining point of a generation.  Until then, we're going to be stuck with dumb Hollywood movies with video game backgrounds and no attention paid to the script.  This movie might be more fun on a drunken or stoned night with some friends, but it is by no means a good movie.

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