Random Thought! This week will be easier than last week. It's Random Thoughts time! Get excited!
Link Thought! GraphiContent for comics. butterbeatleblog for popculture. 411mania for wrestling reviews and the occasional CD review. My Twitter account for random thoughts as they happen in real time.
Random Thought! The latest Riding the Gravy Train post where I continue to discuss the idea that Scott Summers is the true hero of Avengers vs. X-Men. Also, my mini-reviews and star ratings were EXCLUSIVE! to Comics Should be Good this week. That would be more impressive if they ever ran on any other sites than this one and my blog.
Random Thought! The moment where Avengers vs. X-Men turned the corner and made Summers into the potential hero of the story was when his faith in the Phoenix was rewarded. Up until that moment, he was a crazy man putting the entire planet in danger. But, once it arrived and Iron Man split it in five (kind of), Scott Summers was no longer a crazy man -- and, since then, he's the only one who wasn't corrupted by the power. He will ultimately be an example of failed heroism/potential sacrificed up to the status quo. As I said in this week's Riding the Gravy Tain (and others have said elsewhere), if a newspaper article hadn't told me that Cyclops killed Professor X in Avengers vs. X-Men #11, I wouldn't have known it. It was pisspoor visual storytelling in a issue that had quite a bit of pisspoor storytelling, visual or otherwise. Olivier Coipel has a nasty habit of going for layouts (specifically two-page layouts) that work against standard concepts of 'page flow' for no reason that I've been able to figure out. He's the only artist working in mainstream superhero comics that consistently makes me stop and figure out which panel I'm supposed to read next. And there's no upside to that. Nor am I a poor reader. I can follow JH Williams III's layouts without any problems -- and his layouts are genuinely inventive in the way that they direct the eye from panel to panel while also working as a piece of art at the page level. His art works on the micro and the macro. I look at Coipel's pages sometimes and wonder what he was thinking. What was he trying to accomplish? Does no one ever ask him? Editors? Writers? Someone? I'm partly convinced that this death 'warranted' a newspaper article for the sole reason that someone in the PR department saw the comic and didn't know which character died after being told that it's a 'big' issue with an 'important' death. And, hey, let's not leave the writing out while we're at it. There's the opening scene where Captain America bends over and kisses the Hulk's ass in a way that I have only seen before in porn and it is a scene that means nothing. It is a meaningless, empty, bullshit scene. One of many. It's also almost impossible to read Charles Xavier saying shit like "I love him. And I love you. I love all of you," after years of Marvel doing its best to show Xavier as a weak hypocrite of a fool. There's a reason why he's not in Utopia, why he's not close with Scott -- and that's because Scott (and the rest of the X-Men) had enough of his bullshit. And now he loves everyone -- he is the mutant love messiah! He will fight fire with love...! What's sad is that Bendis wrote Xavier very well in New Avengers #29. This isn't the same character -- or, he's not written in the same way. That was a man who was struggling with the choices he's made and this is some droopy-eyed sleaze that seems at home in basking in the adoration of his followers. If anything, it seems like the message of this series is that mutants just want to follow some cultish figure. They flit from leader to leader, never questioning the leader until he does something mean and, then, it's off to the next leader! Anything to keep from thinking! Anything to keep from actually taking responsibility for their actions!
...what was my point again?
Random Thought! And remember, kids, authorial intent is bullshit. It's a starting point at best. If it's in the work, it's in the work. And all of that is in the work. That is the story Marvel is telling to me. Shit like this is why Samuel Richardson did numerous editions of Pamela. Authorial intent is bullshit; reader interpretation is evil.
Random Thought! 2012 is a hell of a year for many reasons, but the one that's sticking out for me right now: new albums from Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young (and Crazy Horse)! Hell, two from Young! All we need is some new Lou Reed in there and it would be a full crowd. Also, when did Dylan's voice become rougher than Cohen's? That's the world we live in now. Tempest is good stuff. I spent Thursday evening listening to it a couple of times while reading 100% by Paul Pope. That was a pleasant evening. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Random Thought! I read DMZ this weekend. Still thinking it through, but it holds up against some of the other 'big' Vertigo books. A bit uneven at times -- willing to jump over points at its convenience. But, also unafraid to go to some really nasty, dark places. Unlike a lot of other large stories/series, I didn't enjoy the one-off issues that much. I was more more interested in the view of the DMZ through a singular perspective. I've found, actually, that I've grown more and more into that desire. It's more effective, ultimately -- for me, at least. Obviously, that wasn't the story Wood was trying to tell. It was much more of an ensemble piece with the city playing a big role. However, staying inside Matty at some crucial times really paid off. The more you're inside him, the more you understand/agree with his decisions... and the bigger the shock when he (and you) realise exactly how far he's gone, how much he's fucked up. Wood does that well in some places. I look forward to seeing what I think as I reread it over the years. It's worth that.
Random Thought! Apparently, "The Dark Angel Saga" loses something when transitioning from serial release to collection, because it didn't do much for me. It was an entertaining little story with some great art once Jerome Opena returned to the title, but... that's it... I find Uncanny X-Force entertaining enough to stick with the trades until the end, but, like Secret Avengers, there's just a level of disconnect between myself and the writing. It slides right off me and my sole enjoyable is from the brief moment when it's in front of my eyes.
Random Thought! I watched Captured Ghosts: Warren Ellis on Saturday night. It's a packed 1.25 hours and revealed quite a bit about Ellis that I didn't know before. I know his work very well, but not his personal life that much (and that's purposeful on his part -- he is one of the people most skilled at having a large online presence while keeping much of his private life private). I've seen him speak before in person at a convention in Toronto and he's a really engaging speaker. There's a relaxed nature to his performance that draws you in. The supporting interviews were revealing in places and, usually, best used for comedic purposes -- like the wonderful montage of them saying nice things about Ellis while he threatens them all for it. Some spots didn't work quite as well for me (like the use of actors portraying his characters), but the throughline about Ellis's relationship with 'the future' held things together nicely.
Random Thought! Thanos does not respect Elders.
Random Thought! "This is what Jean felt like..." seems like a perfect set up for Logan to go "Yeah, and then she killed herself, Slim."
Random Thought! What I find most laughable about DC claiming the first appearances of characters in nu52 titles is that no one -- and I repeat NO ONE -- would have wanted a Frankenstein series without Grant Morrison's pre-nu52 work on the character. And that applies for a lot of other titles and characters. Hell, what about titles that basically continued from where they were? And, well, because it amuses me, Shane Hagadorn pointing out that editing is an art, not a science and that DC always had a plan.
Random Thought! Luke Cage is the man.
Random Thought! An example of what I was talking about last week: Michelle asked me about the way I play air guitar to songs and everything I do in response to a song seems like the only 'correct' way to do it.
Random Thought! Wrestling fans have spent years trashing Jerry Lawler. Just laying into his commentary abilities. And, yet, this past Monday night (and since), I've yet to see any fans really say anything about the man except for positive things. It was behaviour that was damned near the most civilised and kindest I've ever come across from a large group of fandom normally known for being just below 'fucking assholes' on any objective standard of behaviour. Comics fandom could learn a thing or two from that.
Random Joe Casey Question! You've done comics, a movie, TV series, music... any interest in other media beyond the ones you've worked in already (prose, poetry, plays, etc)?
Random Joe Casey Answer! Ah, I dunno. To be honest, not really. Part of my brain is a little occupied with what kind of storytelling media hasn't been invented yet. Because I know they're coming. So, when that next thing shows up, whatever it is, I might be interested in exploring that. But I really don't think anything is going to top the buzz I get from making comicbooks. I can't imagine it, anyway. And, having worked in all those media you mentioned, many of them quite extensively now, I also know which one has the most artistic autonomy... and, big surprise, it's comicbooks, hands down. And artistic autonomy is what it's all about.
That's it for this week. Thanks for reading. Later.