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Random Thoughts! (November 16, 2010)

by  in Comic News Comment
Random Thoughts! (November 16, 2010)

Random Thought! It’s two pm on Tuesday. I guess I should write this, right? It’s random thoughts time! Get excited!

Link Thought! GraphiContent for comics. butterbeatleblog for popculture (despite it not being updated lately… at all).

Random Thought! You should really get the two Wildcats Version 3.0 trades that DC are putting out. I am bothered by the second one not including the “Coup D’Etat” tie-in special since it’s essential as far as I’m concerned. Then again, none of the trades of Wildcats volume two included the 2000 annual or the Ladytron special. But, those were also mistakes. Trust me, I’m the expert when it comes to this sort of thing. (That also means if you have the trades and don’t have those other comics, you need them, because your reading experience is incomplete and, therefore, unfulfilling.)

Random Thought! Despite his generally lacklustre comics work, Babylon 5 is still worthwhile J. Michael Straczynski writing. Someday, I’ll get Tim to watch it. And he’ll like love it.

Random Thought! But, you might ask yourself, what comes after “The War of the Green Lanterns?” How does he raise the stakes then?

Random Thought! I love Supertramp more than I love Superman. (Hey, I’ve never read a Superman comic as amazing as the piano in the song “Crime of the Century.” If you can compare such things.)

Random Thought! For the past few weeks, my shop has had a bunch of Marvel trades and hardcovers for 50% off. Extras from the company or distributor or something. I’ve avoided looking through them until now, but I got a big paycheque on Friday and can finally treat myself to some stuff. I’m hoping for two or three things I’ve been looking for, but we’ll see. With these things, it’s a crapshoot. Plus, who knows what will still be around after a few weeks of the sale.

Random Thought! I had a pretty regular weekend shift at work this weekend. I’m the only person in my section from 8am-8pm on Saturday and Sunday. It’s at a customs broker; I help clear shipments by sending the info to customs ahead of time. Up until now, I’ve had music via the phone (as offices often have the option to turn music on). Nice and low so as to not prevent me from hearing things — plus, the music disappears when I’m using the phone. But, the station of choice for my office switched to Christmas music and I’m not spending 24 hours each weekend listening to Christmas music from now until they decide to stop playing it sometime in January. So, brought in a small, portable stereo my girlfriend has and spent Sunday listening to the first Neil Young Archives box-set. Somehow, that didn’t last the entire day.

Random Thought! The new work schedule is weird. I saw that a local movie theatre was going to be showing The Maltese Falcon on Sunday at 7pm. I was a little annoyed that I wouldn’t get a chance to see it on the big screen, but decided to just watch it on DVD instead since Michelle hadn’t seen it. She enjoyed it and I just love it. But, then, I see that the theatre is showing it again on Wednesday! I don’t really want to see it again so soon, though. Apparently, this is the first in a series of showing older movies, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for more. Why couldn’t the listing show EVERY scheduled showing? (Plus, tickets are only five bucks, which is a nice incentive…)

Random Thought! I will no longer be buying Knight and Squire. It’s best for everyone that way.

Random Thought! While I’ve really enjoyed The Thanos Imperative, I’ve never been able to lose the lingering feeling that Abnett & Lanning’s Thanos is, somehow, fundamentally different from Starlin’s. Granted, I automatically see Starlin’s Thanos as being ‘real’ and everything else as being ‘fake,’ that doesn’t mean they’re actually different, I’m just putting them into different categories of canonical value based on who wrote the character, not how well the character was written. DnA’s Thanos is less calculating, more passionate, more of a thug, I find. More willing to get lunge at someone and beat them senseless. Starlin’s Thanos wasn’t afraid (or incapable) of physical violence, he usually used his brains a lot more. I haven’t studied the DnA Thanos with this problem in mind, but I may soon… there’s a blog post in there, I imagine. You’ll note, too, that I didn’t say I didn’t like the DnA Thanos, just that it’s different from the Starlin Thanos.

Random Thought! Seriously, put “Crime of the Century” on your headphones and turn it full blast. The instrumental with the piano, drums, etc. is amazing.

Random Thought! For the record: if anyone doesn’t like my one-line snarky bits or don’t like the way I’ll dismiss hard work in one sentences sometimes, you can’t like/appreciate the times I praise things with one sentence either. You can’t have it both ways. Either one-line statements of opinions are worthless and offensive, or they’re not.

Random Thought! I don’t know if I ever said it, but “Ultimate Avengers 4” turning out to be Ultimate Avengers vs. New Ultimates is what I figured would happen. Millar said that he was doing four six-issue arcs and the subplot of the first three have clearly pointed towards Nick Fury making an overt powerplay and that leading to the Ultimates and Avengers having to take one another on. Which is fine by me. Its involvement in a crossover with Bendis’s Ultimate Spider-Man, on the other hand, is problematic.

Random Thought! Astonishing Thor: yes or no? I was initially dismissive of the title, but I’ve really liked Robert Rodi’s writing on For Asgard. I do hate Mike Choi’s art and find it the wrong aesthetic for Thor, but I can look past that sort of thing. Maybe I’ll give the first issue a shot. Maybe keep my reviewing streak of almost every recent Thor book alive at the same time. (I think the only one I’ve missed is First Thunder. Otherwise, I believe I’ve reviewed the first issue of every other Thor title to come out in the past few months. Why? Because, that way, you can find all of those reviews and know which Thor books are worthwhile.)

Random Thought! Though, despite my positive review of the first Fraction/Ferry issue of Thor, that comic is close to getting dropped after two very unimpressive issues. The second was a repeat of the first, while last week’s 617 was… well, unless there’s a very, very good explanation for Thor bringing back Loki (and, no, because Fraction wanted the character back isn’t good enough), then that’s just bad writing. I’m not one that demands writers adhere to a strict characterisation, but Thor bringing Loki back ‘just because he wants to’ is, pretty much, in total opposition to his character. Thor is a comic that I stick with longer than others because of my fondness for the character, so I’m giving the new creative team six issues total to win me over. So, three more.

Random Thought! Now, whether or not I bother with that Thunderstrike mini… that is still open to debate.

Random Thought! Jeff Lester and Graeme McMillion$ delivered their best episode of Wait, What? with episode 16.1. Go listen, it’s fantastic.

Random Thought! Post-Hodgson Supertramp doesn’t exist. Just so you know.

Random Thought! I wanted to like the first issue of Halcyon more than I did, but it was a perfect example of not starting the story in the right place. The entire issue felt like a teaser for the real story: crime has disappeared, what do the superheroes do now? Great concept, but an entire issue of them figuring out that crime has dropped? Pretty dull. It’s not a great way to introduce the characters and it’s not how you grab readers right away. I don’t know why, but I’ve read a couple of first issues in the past month that I would have loved to edit to make better. The other was the first issue of Warriors Three where half of the issue is wasted on backstory and stuff AIM was doing when it could have started with the Warriors Three trying to figure it all out… like they begin to do near the end of the issue. It’s frustrating to see good ideas not presented as strongly as they could be — and in obvious ways. I love being an armchair quarterback.

Random Thought! The role of fate in the world of the Asgardians is a great idea to base a series on and I’m digging how For Asgard isn’t hitting the reader over the head with that element of the story. If Ragnarok is fate, why do they fight against it? It will happen… so why try to stop it?

Random Thought! I haven’t decided about doing “Dreadstar Decemember” yet, but I’m leaning in that direction. My plan would be to lead into the month with the final three days of November doing The Metamorphosis Odyssey, The Price, and Dreadstar: The Graphic Novel and, then, doing the first 31 issues of Dreadstar, one per day, for December. That would cover the main Starlin written/drawn stuff (he had someone draw an issue in the middle of that run somewhere…), while leaving the Starlin-written-but-not-drawn and Peter David-penned stuff for another time. I’d maybe do the rest of the Starlin run at the beginning of January depending on how much I cared. The big problem is that December is not a good month for these sorts of projects with holidays and such, and, usually, when I do these ‘one post a day’ projects, I like to write the posts on the day they’re put up. For this, I wouldn’t do that. I may pick a day a knock out a bunch of posts to get ahead. Just fair warning. I’ll make my decision by next week’s Random Thoughts.

***

Random Comments! I love your comments. Except for Tom Fitzpatrick’s. He’s just kind of annoying.

Brian Cronin said: If anyone’s been following this blog long enough, they’ll know that my biggest irritation in the world of comic book discussion online and, hell, one of the impetuses for creating this here blog, is the whole “you’re just saying that because ____” meme.

If someone wants to rip your reviews because they think you made a bad argument about the book, go for it. Rip away! Point out all the faulty logic you want.

But don’t ascribe motivation for the review, as that is a discussion-killer. You simply cannot have a real discussion about something when you open up with, “You’re not being intellectually honest.” It’s pointless. If you believe that the guy is being intellectually dishonest, why are you reading his reviews? Why are you responding to him? It’s just utterly ridiculous.

One of the reasons we started this blog was to get away from that noise (and, to everyone’s credit, they mostly have done exactly that – I rarely encounter it anymore), and I’m sorry that you’re getting it in response to your CBR reviews.

I don’t always mind that reaction. Some people can get away with telling me “you’re just saying that because _____” because they know me well enough. Tim can call me on that sort of behaviour without me getting upset, for example. Still, it’s annoying an presumptuous. I get it a lot over at 411mania with my wrestling writing where I’ll trash an episode of TNA Impact and the reaction is “You love the WWE and hate TNA, so you’re biased and not good!” (except include more insults and typos) when, on the same night, a lacklustre review of the latest episode of WWE Raw by me goes up and… no, I’m just a demanding critic that has higher standards than some. You can’t ascribe motivations to people like that unless you’ve paid enough attention to have a very good sense of what their approach and tics and biases are.

Joe H said: What so you guys AREN’T being paid off by the comic companies? I’d have more respect for some of you guys if you did. Brightest Day getting 4 stars indeed.
Ha ha yeah I went there. XD

I didn’t write that review, so… and, hey, say what you will about Doug’s reviews (and I honestly disagree more than I agree with him), he has his standards and he’s very consistent in applying them. He likes what he likes and stands by that.

Tom Fitzpatrick said: My kingdom, My kingdom, for more Kelly Thompson! There can NEVER be too much Kelly Thompson. BUT there can be too much Chad Nevett blogging on Dreadstar. I’m all for nostalgia, but even that’s flogging a dead horse there. Starlin’s not gonna do new stuff on Dreadstar, ‘less somebody know something that we don’t and that’s a whole different ballgame.

I’ll write about what I want to write about. No such thing as ‘too much’ discussion of a work… especially when I haven’t really discussed any of it in any depth.

Mario said: The fact that I know you’re a Thor fan is what made me think “Huh, mayve Iron Man/Thor #1 isn’t a great comic”. I was expecting to see a very positive review because it’s a Thor book and you reviewd it. It’s nice to know just because you’re a fan of a certain character it doesn’t automatically mean you’ve got a serious bias for said character. Furthermore, I love Green Arrow. Having said that, I can also say, without a doubt, the current Green Arrow series isn’t really worth your time. What do you know, the two CAN coexist!

My approach as a ‘fan’ is usually to apply higher standards (or, my own version of ‘higher standards’) to those works. I’m already inclined to like it, but will be incredibly hard on something that doesn’t measure up. Kind of a jerky way to behave. I’ve always thought there were two types of fans: those that let stuff slide out of loyalty and those that demand more. It’s a standard that I often apply to politics. You’ll see people of the same party/ideology defend someone who does something stupid out of that gang mentality, while I usually respond harsher than the other parties because that person is with me and their behaviour is a reflection on me. Like, I could never understand Republicans standing by some of the dumb shit Bush did, because it makes them look even dumber…

Carlos Futino said: Actually, I’ve grown to believe that reviewers are most likely to give negative reviews for characters/creator they’re fans of then on those they aren’t. I think it has something to do with expectations.

Pretty much the case with me. I try, with CBR reviews, to work against that bias/mentality… but, that’s where my gut reaction lies.

Rebis said: I imagine the problem with the people posting on the CBR boards about your comic reviews (aside from some of those posters simply being chuckleheads) is that many, many readers don’t pay any attention to bylines. Doesn’t matter if it’s online or in a newspaper or a magazine; unless you’re a columnist with a picture next to your byline, people tend to go from the headline to the text of the article, paying no heed to who wrote it. Which would explain why some folks might conflate your reviews with Tim C’s or Doug Z’s.

I see that all of the time at 411mania in the 4Rs where Jeremy Thomas posts the reviews, but each show is reviewed by a different person. Take a look at the latest edition and you’ll see four shows reviewed, each by a different reviewer. Yet, people in the comments section often attack Jeremy specifically for reviews he didn’t write or act like it’s the work of a single individual. Of course, not paying attention to a byline isn’t an excuse, it’s just another reason to think that person’s an idiot.

Louis Bright-Raven said: I typically don’t bother reading the reviews here at CBR, for a multitude of reasons. But your little tirade here made me decide to go see what you’re ranting about, Chad.

For a book that is “not a bad comic book per se”, you go on to shred the Iron Man/Thor book to bits, giving no note of any positive qualities it may possess, and you don’t demonstrably examine why this book is (in your opinion) so much lesser to the other Thor books you barely cite in the review, which would have strengthened your viewpoint tremendously. You’ve assumed your readership is familiar with what you’ve already reviewed when writing the review of this book (and in your defensive posturing rant here, you do so again – “Moving on from there, go take a look at my last couple of months of reviews… notice anything like a shitload of Thor-related reviews? And many of them positive? Hell, read the opening paragraph of my review of Iron Man/Thor #1 where I say that I’ve been enjoying the Thor books Marvel has been putting out.” )

Here’s the rub, Chad- just as every comic is some reader’s first, so too is your column. You can’t presume that your reader knows your past work at all. So you did yourself and the readers a disservice by not doing a comparison of the better Thor comics you liked prior as part of this review by saying something akin to, “Unlike some of Marvel’s other recent Thor related works, such as *insert title here – see my review [link]* , this book was rather dull and forgettable…” and then go on as to the whys and wherefores in a comparison / contrast.

Instead you basically have an underlying theme to your review – that this book is the poster child for why the movie related expansion of comics titles can be bad – which colors the whole perspective of this article and gives it an unintentional(?) tone of agenda, instead of being a review of the book in question. So I’d have to say this particular review article left a lot to be desired, Chad, and it’s not much of a surprise that parties came to wrongful conclusions about your views.

Food for thought.

See, I loved this comment — thoughtful feedback, positive or negative, is always appreciated. I’ll address one point first: it’s true that this could be the first review of mine that someone read, but, if that’s the case, to ascribe motives or make broad statements about what I ‘really’ think is about as lazy and ignorant response as you can have. Only a complete fool does that (and cue people finding examples where I did just that…).

Your other points touch on some things about writing reviews that I struggle with. I mentioned the other Thor titles to show that I’m not against releasing a bunch of comics in the lead-up to a movie, provided they’re good. It’s not hard to notice the flood of Thor books on the shelf and, for the most part, I’ve enjoyed them. So, if that’s the case, my not enjoying Iron Man/Thor #1 wouldn’t be a case of simple knee-jerk ‘pumping out comics before a movie is bad and all of those comics are bad’ argument. Maybe the review comes off as an argument that this book is the poster child of bad movie build-up/tie-in comics, but that wasn’t my intention (which has no bearing on how it comes off, I know). I don’t make many direct comparisons to the other Thor comics, because that would be going outside the book I was meant to focus on. CBR reviewers are a bit narrower and focused than other reviews I’d write elsewhere, and I make an effort to stay on point for the meat of the review, allowing a little broader focus to come out in the intro/conclusion. Maybe I shouldn’t have brought the other comics up at all…

The lack of positives is a case of my not doing a quick self-edit to make the review more consistent from beginning to end. That was sloppy. I often find that the writing of a review is me figuring out what I really think of a comic; thinking it through by writing about it. So, where I start a review and where I end a review can be two different places. Usually, I’m good about altering phrases and star ratings to reflect the overall tone of the review. This time, not so much. Please don’t take anything as an excuse for the faults of my review, just reasoning.

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

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