Random Thoughts! (March 20, 2012)

Random Thought! I partly expected there to be a 'More You Know' one-pager at the end of last week's Avengers issue where the heroes decry 'bad touching' given the way they beat Norman Osborn. It's Random Thoughts time! Get excited!

Link Thought! GraphiContent for comics. butterbeatleblog for popculture. 411mania for wrestling reviews and the occasional CD review.

Random Thought! I honestly cannot get the three panels where Norman Osborn goes from awesome to falling apart and defeated out of my head. Daniel Acuña did an amazing job on them. They almost make the anti-climactic ending work. Just three perfect panels that show his move from triumphant confidence to totally fucked.

Random Thought! I found it interesting the effects inking had on two DC issues I bought last week: Batwoman #7 and Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE #7. Rob Hunter inked Amy Reeder's pencils in Batwoman and I've never been a fan of his inking ever since I took notice of it when Jim Starlin was doing work at DC a few years ago. Never had I seen Starlin's art look so scratchy, unfinished, and goddamn ugly. The same thing happened in Batwoman. Horrible inking. Walden Wong's inking over Alberto Ponticelli's pencils in Frankenstein wasn't bad -- I just think that he took a lot of the rough, manic edge out of Ponticelli's art. I've really enjoyed his approach to the art in that title and to see a glossier, cleaner version of it didn't appeal to me as much. I can see how some would like it better, though. Batwoman, though... I honestly cannot think of a reason to keep buying that comic until JH Williams returns on art.

Random Thought! I demand every creator be credited for the work they do on characters. Bryan Hitch did the new Hawkeye costume -- how about the new Thor costume? How about the Protector's costume and personality that are so far removed from Grant Morrison and JG Jones's Noh-Varr that the character is basically a new one? How about Warren Ellis's new and improved Machine Man personality from Nextwave? And what about the gruff Frank Miller Batman? Marvel has opened the floodgates and, now, every bit of character detail must be credited! "Sue Storm's hairdo designed by..." Make it happen...

Random Thought! It's weird to hear "Heartbreaker" by Led Zeppelin and not hear "Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)" immediately following it. It sounds wrong. And I'm not really a fan of "Living Loving Maid (She's Just a Woman)." Still.

Random Thought! The only Wondercon announcement that really caught my attention was Brian Wood taking over Ultimate X-Men and X-Men, more the former than the latter. Given his work on Generation X and Demo, I'm curous to see what he can do with Ultimate X-Men.

Random Thought! Because why not... About Alan Moore saying that, if you buy Before Watchmen, he doesn't want you buying his work. I appreciate and understand his reasoning for that. But, it doesn't particularly matter. I don't usually allow the personal feelings of writers, artists, whoever... to dictate what art I choose to support or enjoy. Quite frankly, the personal lives of those people don't concern me. They just don't. If I allowed that to be my guide for what books and comics I read, what movies and TV shows I watched, and what music I listened to, I probably wouldn't have much of any of those things to enjoy. I'm sorry, but you don't get to choose who buys your work based on personal preference any more than we get to choose who writes great comics (or books or movies, etc.) based on personal preference.

Random Thought! The best part of Avengers Assemble #1: "I am Cancer."

Random Thought! The cover to Haunt #22 is pretty awesome.

Random Thought! Yesterday, I ordered Ring of Honor's Summer of Punk DVD set thanks to their current 20% off deal. I know there are wrestling fans that read this and would be remiss if I didn't point out the opportunity to save four bucks on what looks like a fantastic DVD set (and only released six months too late...).

Random Thought! Marvel, you know you're releasing too many fucking Avengers books every week when the people at my shop can't find the order code for that "Oral History of the Avengers" book. When people who earn their living off ordering books have trouble finding a specific book of yours thanks to 38 other books with nearly the same title, you've pumping too much shit out.

Random Thought! I'm enjoying Captain America, but it feels so out of place. It reminds me of comics I read as a kid. Kind of entertaining and light... utterly inconsequential... I like it, but forget all about it when I'm not reading it.

Random Thought! What I hate most about the sudden heat wave is how everyone is buying Slurpees at 7-Eleven all of a sudden. That means shortages of straws, the entire Slurpee station is a complete fucking mess because people are too goddamn stupid to know how to not spill, and people who take five minutes to fill a small cup getting in my way. I miss winter. In winter, few people buy Slurpees and the station is always clean with no piles of Slurpee under the nozels or discarded straw wrappers all over the place... Basically, these people are disgusting slobs. Goddamn.

Random Thought! I'm still not entirely sure what to make of The Unwritten #35. It reminded me that Tom Taylor is an annoying protagonist and sort of did away with the Cabal in a manner that felt anticlimactic. The whole stuff with Leviathan didn't make a whole lot of sense really. The best thing about it was that it left the book in a place where there's no clear direction. I guess trying to kill Leviathan somehow? I don't know...

Random Thought! This week is a small week. The end of Avengers: X-Sanction, the penultimate issue of Batman: Odyssey plus the latest issues of Batman, Prophet, Uncanny X-Men, and Wonder Woman. And, then, of course, next week is double this one in size...

Random Thought! One thing I really like about Tucker Stone's "Comics of the Weak is the integration of older books. It captures the reading experience better since few people just read new comics. They reread old stuff or even read old stuff for the first time. It's something that I always find frustrating about review sites -- but it's also something that crosses over to movies, music, and TV reviews, so it's not exactly a comics-specific problem. Oddly, it's not as much of a problem in wrestling reviewing.


Random Joe Casey Question! What went wrong with your Uncanny X-Men run? Why did it never quite 'click' like your work usually does?

Random Joe Casey Answer! I have to say, thinking back on that gig (which I rarely do, unless asked), I don’t necessarily feel like things “went wrong” so much as they just… didn’t go right. There’s a difference, y’know. But, taking your question at face value, there are really three answers, and people can put them in whatever order of importance they choose… the A-B-C’s of why it didn’t “click”…

A) The art. There was no consistent artistic vision to my stint on the book, which -- even in that bygone era of “Writer-driven” comics -- makes a big goddamn difference. Besides which, here are the artists I specifically brought to the X-party: Sean Phillips, Ashley Wood, Eddie Campbell, Javier Pulido. Compare that list to the artists that editors teamed me up with, without my input: Ian Churchill, Ron Garney, Aaron Lopestri. To me, those two lists are as stylistically different as night and day. Now, you can argue that the editors had more “mainstream” tastes and that I had more “alternative” tastes, but I know which type of artist I work better with. I didn’t stand up for myself the way I’ve learned to since then, and the book suffered because of it. Obviously, they're all skilled artists, but it’s rare that I’ll have that real, lasting, creative chemistry with artists that editors hook me up with (even when I get along with them, personally). Another lesson I learned the hard way.

B) Grant Morrison writing the other book. The guy is such a tremendous creative force, there was no one who was going to either compete with or even compliment him when it came to the level of ideas and enthusiasm that he was delivering on his book. In retrospect, I don’t even know why Marvel attempted to have two “core” books, or why Grant simply didn’t write both of them. The fact that he had guys like Frank Quitely, Phil Jimenez, Chris Bachalo and Marc Silvestri drawing his stuff was like a double-whammy of “clicky-ness”. Conceptually, he was just operating on a whole other level -- to which the entire Internet responds with a resounding chorus of, "NO SHIT!" -- and even then, I went out of my way not to inadvertently fuck with anything he was doing, because I was also reading it as a fan. That probably made me a little gun shy, which again is all on me. Grant couldn’t have been more gracious or more generous while we were in the X-trenches together. And having said all that, my friendship with Grant was definitely the best thing to come out of my experience on that job.

C) Okay, for me, this is really the most important reason: I simply had no strong vision for the book. Nor did I have any particular love for those characters. Grant had both, when he started. Oh, I had a few scattered ideas, some of which I developed later (and to greater effect) in WILDCATS VERSION 3.0, but I really didn’t have that unique “X-Men mojo”, certainly not enough to make good on the promise to readers that a writer of that franchise should always strive to make good on. You gotta want it, deep down in the dark depths of your soul. Writing UNCANNY was mainly a career move on my part -- as I believe it has been for practically every writer that’s come after me on that book -- and while it did have some career benefits, in the ten years since then, I’ve learned never to take a WFH comicbook gig because it might be “good for my career”. My comicbook career is just fine, thanks very much.

And, finally, for a true “The More You Know…”-moment, if you really want to read more of me waxing quixotic about my rocky relationship with the X-Men, check this out: http://www.smartpopbooks.com/playing-god-and-discovering-my-own-mutanity/


Random Comments! Kind of like an interview, except not really at all. Yes, I basically said nothing right there. But, it filled space, much like this feature.

Jeremy said: Did you know this September they’re collecting Bendis New Avengers? 1200 pages of decompressed stories with the Avengers fighting Xorneto and tie-in to crossovers. I know that for whatever reason you are a big Bendis fan, so maybe something you’re interested in if you’re tired of those TPBs you already have?

Thanks for pointing that out. I'm not a big omnibus fan usually, especially when I own all of those issues already plus non-New Avengers stuff that relates to it and I have in a specific reading order that I find more appealing than simple chronological ordering like Marvel would do. Now, if Marvel did all of Bendis's Avengers stuff, including things like House of M and Secret Invasion and presented it all in an order that made sense... maybe I'd want to give it a look then.

Speaking of wrestling, how do you feel about the upcoming Wrestlemania? Honestly, just looking at the card, it SHOULD be fantastic, but you never know with the WWE these days. Either way, I’ll be there. Gotta see Jericho beat CM Punk with a beer bottle or whatever.

I like the card so far. There are a couple of matches I'm not impressed with (the Divas, the big tag match), but the 'big' matches are all strong. My only concern about Punk/Jericho is that we possibly have an Edge/Jericho repeat on our hands: high expectations and a good match that doesn't meet them. Jericho tends to be at his best when it's his third or fourth match in a series with a guy, because he's so good at building on what they've already done and avoiding the same spots... I kind of wish this was the culmination of their feud in that respect. But, no, I'm looking forward to the event, especially Triple H and Undertaker's Hell in a Cell match.

Kevin Hellions said: Question now that you’re excited about comics again. Does this excitement transcend into your other interests now as well? Are you now also more excited for certain books, comics, DVDs, etc? I ask because I am suddenly excited for wrestling again and it is spreading into a renewed excitement for comics, novels and a ton of new DVDs I just picked up.

Not really. My interest in different media is pretty segregated. Which means being excited about comics doesn't make me more excited about books or TV -- but it also means my lack of enthusiasm for something won't dampen my enthusiasm for anything else. If anything, the various things I enjoy help me get through those periods where something specific isn't rocking my world as much.

jjc said: Carolla was hosed.

The entire men's team was hosed. This week, it became very apparent that the women's team is pretty much the worst team that's ever been on this show -- at least with respect to morale. They're not entertaining to watch anymore. I wasn't surprised that Tia seemed to just want to leave. Who would actually fight to remain in that environment? I'm almost convinced that Aubrey will win solely because people would rather walk away than listen to the constant stream of dumb shit that spills out of her mouth.

cich said: Thanks for suggestions, Chad! I’m not really afraid of Wildstorm continuity, but the volume 2 trades seem to be out of print.

No problem. The trades being out of print isn't surprising, sadly -- and that's a problem that made me rethink any of my Marvel suggestions I had since they're so bad at keeping books in print. That's a problem with Casey's body of work: it's full of uncollected work and most of what's collected is out of print by now. You pretty much have to go longbox diving.

That's it for this week. Thanks for reading. Later.

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