Random Thoughts! (April 28, 2009)

We've had two of these posts so far and, with each, a massive discussion about some small aspect of DC's storytelling practices has been explored in such depth that I just don't care about either anymore. Let's say we do that again this week, eh? It's random thought time! Get excited! (Why, yes, sir, that is this feature's catchphrase!)

Random Thought! Crank: High Voltage is the standard by which all movies in 2009 will be measured. Brilliant movie. One of the best works to take advantage of the medium its produced in that I've come across in a while. In discussing it with The Girlfriend while returning to her place, we branched into a larger discussion of art and I realised that my favourite works of art (in whatever medium) usually come from those expressing what they want without a care for what anyone else will think. Not going out of their way to alienate anyone, just not caring if anyone likes it. If they do, great; if they don't, there's the door. That's the way to go, I tell ya.

Random Thought! If Ed Brubaker wants to bring Steve Rogers back, then I say let Ed Brubaker bring Steve Rogers back. Anyone who's been reading Captain America and doesn't trust Brubaker obviously hasn't been reading Captain America properly.

Random Thought! I like The Dark Knight Strikes Again and All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder more than The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One. Insane Frank Miller is the Frank Miller for me.

Random Thought! Digital comics may be the future, but, I will tell you this: I hate reading comics via .pdf. I don't care that they're advance review copies and I should feel special for getting to read them before others (and it's amost always JUST whatever comic I'm reviewing for CBR), reading them on a computer screen sucks. If the artist doesn't stick to a strict grid or tier layout, it's a hassle to scroll up and down, you can't see the whole picture AND read the words at the same time, and, yeah, it sucks. That, and I've yet to see one that could match the look of a printed comic.

Random Thought! While there are many things that are obviously dumb about Marvel Divas, the one that immediately jumped out at me is the choice of the four women to star in the book: Black Cat, Hell Cat, Firestar, and Photon. Have these four characters ever appeared in a comic book together? Seriously? They seem like such a random grouping, as if the people behind the book were sitting around, wondering who they could use and simply picked four characters who aren't being used right now. If you look at part of the text announcing it, you'll see that Marvel even agrees: "In the series, they’re an unlikely foursome of friends–Black Cat, Hell Cat, Firestar, and Photon–with TWO things in common: They’re all leading double-lives and they’re all having romantic trouble." Notice that Marvel admits that the group is unlikely and that they don't even have a single issue where they all appeared together as a third commonality. But, now, they're all BFFs.

Random Thought! Like everyone else, I really enjoyed Mark Waid's recent interview on Ain't It Cool. Waid is one of the more enjoyable/interesting people to hear talk about comics, so I also recommend the 15 Minutes with Waid podcast that he does. Seven episodes so far, him discussing stuff with Dafna Pleban. My editor at CBR, Augie (who you all know as the guy who does Pipeline for the site) kept talking it up in his own podcast (which you should also listen to) and, yeah, it's very, very good. Not so much a thought as a "Hey, you should check this out!" (Oh, and for another one of my favourite Waid interviews, go read the two part interview Warren Ellis did with Waid for his old Come in Alone column on CBR! Part one and part two.)

Random Thought! Like a few others I've seen online, my guess for the infamous issue of 52 that Waid references in his interview as being rewritten by Dan DiDio and Keith Giffen is #50, the "World War III" issue.

Random Thought! I've been enjoying Jog and Tucker Stone's look at the DC/Humanoids releases quite a bit, but one thing that comes up a few times is the cost of buying these books now. Stories about certain releases going for huge sums online, like The Nikopol Trilogy by Enki Bilal, which is currently on sale through Amazon.com Market Place for $181.68. Whenever I see used books on sale for such huge prices, my first question is always, "Who would pay so much? Is someone that fucking insane?" My favourite example of this (in that it's the one I've dealt with the most in my own way) is actually Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami. Murakami's first two books are not available in English outside of a printing in Japan in a line of books aimed at Japanese learning English (the books have an appendix where it goes through the book and gives translations for certain English terms and phrases). Murakami hasn't allowed either book to be translated in English outside of Japan because he doesn't think his first two novels are all that good. His first novel, Hear the Wind Sing can be gotten for cheap (I paid around $10 plus shipping on eBay when I bought it), but the aforementioned Pinball, 1973 is much more rare, so it's much more expensive. I don't think I've seen it available for less than $200. Currently, on eBay, there is one copy of the translated version on sale with the "buy it now" price set at $457.66. Are people actually buying these books at these prices? We're talking about an early work that the author doesn't consider good enough to put back in print (and, in Murakami's case, I'm certain that his US publisher would be happy to release his first two novels in North America)... there's being a completist and then there's being stupid. But, my point really is, do these marked up books ever sell for the prices they're listed at or are people just trying to charge that much? And, if they are selling, who are the morons buying them? I love books, I love comics and, yes, I'll pay large amounts of money for deluxe editions of favourite works (Absolute Watchmen is a good example), but grossly inflated prices for regular works that just happen to be scarce? Doesn't make sense to me.

Random Thought! No, I will not be seeing X-Men Origins Wolverine.

Random Thought! I own more Hellblazer comics (through trades) than any other series. John Constantine seems to be the one character whose story I will follow no matter what. Not something I think about in a conscious way except when I look at the giant stack of Hellblazer trades I have (something like 19 or 20 of them). What is it about Constantine that makes me willing to follow him through so many writers? And what is it about him that the majority of those books are pretty damn good? And I haven't even gotten to the Delano stuff yet... (I will, so don't tell me I should.)

Random Thought! Ever notice how fans of Grant Morrison (myself included) bitch about companies ignoring his ideas and characters, but then complaining every time they do use them, because they fuck them up? (And for the goddamn record, Noh-Varr was never called "Marvel Boy" in Marvel Boy. That was just the name of the goddamn comic. Like there being no "Watchmen" in Watchmen. In Marvel Boy's case, it's a reference to the mishmash of Marvel history Morrison threw together in that series, giving a condensed, remixed version of the MU in six issues. You know, the concept of "Ultimate Marvel" done with some creativity and imagination rather than simple updates of old ideas. The title of the comic is in reference to that and Noh-Varr's place at the centre of the story... his name is simply Noh-Varr. GAH!)

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