Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Decompression Project without Orange and Purple Armour

I've managed to read the Ultimate Spider-man collection starring Silver Sable.  I have to say I'm kind of disappointed with the update.  I thought she was a fine enough character and all but where was the ridiculous hair and the purple and orange jumpsuited Wild Pack?  Really, without the gaudy armor it's not The Wild Pack.  Otherwise this was more or less a decent story that didn't try to be something more than just a random encounter in Peter Parker's life as Spider-man.


There's some fun dialogue with the bumbling Wild Pack, a bit of mistaken identity as Peter gets tracked to his school and a great issue that allowed the creative team to do something a bit different when summing up the lives of the triumvirate at the centre of the story.  The little break was well executed and appreciated even if it didn't completely flow with the story – the Ultimate Spider-man epic to this point has more or less followed a similar pattern so anything slightly different is extremely noticeable.  That's not a bad or good thing really, just noticeable in and of itself.


So this was a neat story of how difficult it would be to track down an anonymous superhero.  It won't change your life or explain the world in a new way, but you'll be engaged from start to end and really, there are much worse things in the world.
*sent via e-mail

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

That was Unfortunate

Last night the Ottawa Senators lost for the third straight time in the NHL playoffs and while that has very little to do with comics there was this odd connection. It was the home opener of the playoff series last night and if you don't know anything about hockey or this team in particular you should know that their logo is this Roman Centurion.

Skip ahead to last night and the opening ceremonies for the home run was one of the weirdest things I've ever seen. It was one of those moments where me and my wife watching at home both got embarrassed watching this thing. There was this video of the hockey players watching this centurion guy walking out and then there's this guy in a 300 Halloween costume with a wonky microphone trying to yell something. It didn't really sound like any language I've heard and well, I felt bad enough for the actor. I'm guessing he was probably some local wrestling entertainer but he really looked like he was trying out for the porno version of 300. It was ridiculous to the point of insulting Frank Miller.

I guess if this happened last year, or whenever the movie came out, it would have helped a bit by being slightly more current but I don't think that idiocy could have been saved no matter what. And he was still better than the performance put on by the team.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Comics and Hockey

Sorry for the crappy html hyperlink text, but this was on CBC and I found it incredibly poignant for my two current interests.
I really hope Ottawa wins tonight but I won't be holding my breath.  I've always liked Pigpen.
*Sent via e-mail.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Decompression Project: Warriors

Oh right.  I also managed to read the Ultimate Spider-man version of professional wrestling's Royal Rumble - "Warriors."


This collection is just a huge bust up as Hammerhead decides to move in on Kingpin's turf.  Add Spider-man, Black Cat, Iron Fist, Shang Chi, Elektra, Moon Knight and the Kingpin's three thugs I can never remember the name of.  It'll come to me after I e-mail in this post I'm sure.


Well, it's a fun little story arc full of over the top fisticuffs.  And in the end, I should have seen it coming, there is a reveal that removes the one single good thing I was seeing develop in Peter Parker's life.  Other than Black Cat, and there is some great developments in that relationship as well.


My only real complaint is that even though heroes and villains get stabbed – one even in the back of the skull – they all end up in comas, which just feels like a huge cheat.  Yes, I know it's a superhero comic.


I'll also get to the Avengers collection at some point.  I seem to have been reading that thing forever.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Corto Maltese: Tango

I've been sitting on this book for quite some time for quite a few reasons.  Well, three really: New job, the book is in French and I had the flu.  Add to that, other outside time commitments and the Ottawa Senators sucking in the lead up to the NHL playoffs my mind wasn't exactly in a frame to read something in my second language.  


Well, I've persevered and I'm always glad I did whenever I read some Bandes Designes.  I'm such a genre whore when it comes to comic books that whenever I read something non-North American it feels like a revelation because it isn't about superheroes.  Not that that's all I read, but it's a fairly substantial amount.  Heck these days it's mostly just Ultimate Spiderman trades at that.  Anyway, having a straight up adventure serial to read is gloriously refreshing from the over-exuberance of superheroics.  This is like the cultured European cousin that just inherently has more style, knows it, and is quietly confident in what s/he is.  There is a bigger size format to the thing which sort of announces to the world what you are reading, but it's artistic enough content wise that you don't look like you're reading about super-boobies.  


Ever since my first random Corto Maltese purchase during my lean years living in South London I've felt that Hugo Pratt has created the comic book equivalent of the Indiana Jones movies.  He's a scruffily handsome man that can take care of himself and moves around the world with a swagger and confidence that verges on cockiness but is never so blatant that people are put off by him.  Yes, the major differences are that Corto is a sailor and Indy is a treasure hunting archeologist but the core characteristics are quite similar.


I guess the two sentence movie pitch is that Corto Maltese is Tintin as an adult (without the dog and with Cpt. Haddock's job).  He's entirely more laconic than Tintin but just as able to give and take a punch when the need arises.  Also, Hugo Pratt was Italian so there are lots of lovely women characters as well.  In that respect I'm reminded a bit of Eisner's Spirit work with lots of strong, sexy women who aren't all the same character in different costumes.


As for this volume in particular, I kind of just picked it up at random because I was at the library one day and the idea of reading more Corto Maltese books popped into my head and well, there was this one and another one I'm now reading.  I really should have read them in the opposite order because Tango is one of the last collections.  Heck, some of the characters that Corto visits in this book are introduced for the first time in the collection I'm reading at the moment, so that's slightly annoying when trying to make sense of what's what.  Also, the French doesn't help.


What drew me in initially was the massive text introductions.  They're all about the history of prostitution in Argentina, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  As for the story itself, I was mostly lost I'll admit, because shockingly it's not just super hero comics that require a slight continuity obsession to keep everything straight.  The story here is about Corto trying to find a long lost friend who was kidnapped (I believe) by a prostitution ring.  In his searches for her he runs into a bunch of characters from his older adventures which you don't really need to have read to understand this story but it did feel confusing.  Almost like you were invited out with someone you knew from work who proceeds to only make in-jokes with his or her friends all night long.  Universal themes will come through but you'll be lost on the details.


And I think it's the timing of when this book was created that speaks a lot towards how I felt towards most aspects.  It was later in Pratt's career and it felt a bit like he was taking a few things for granted, almost cutting corners.  The art is, for the most part beautiful as I've come to expect, but the action in the panels is not as dynamic as other Corto Maltese stories.  There are only a few poses and expressions used, and while there may be some unbelievable artwork when he's drawing a car chase sequence the inking process seems to be a bit thick, almost as if an edged marker was used in places (mostly on noses too, which is just odd looking).  It all makes the action seem somewhat less dynamic than it should be, and with a story that isn't exactly action packed that is somewhat unfortunate.


I still think Pratt's style is one of the best but in comparison to his other work this one just isn't as good, in my opinion.  There is a lot of research text prefacing this book, and a lot of potential (and while I'm sure I missed a lot because of my language barrier) so it was disappointing to have the story and art let me down.


This is a story of corruption on multiple levels in a location that I know next to nothing about and really, if I can stay engaged in a story written in a foreign language I can mostly read then it's doing something right.  It was an unfortunate choice of texts to get back into Corto Maltese with, but it's out of the way and I'm reading an earlier volume that is making up all the ground this book let down on.



Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I've not abandonned the blog just yet

I'm just exceptionally busy at my new job and suffering from some kind of evil virus which makes me not really want to think because it hurts my sinuses.

I will say that reading the first volume of Essential Avengers while not feeling the best is a real treat. I'm shocked at how bad I feel for Hank Pym for being married to Jan and her very obvious lust for pretty much every other man. I know it was a different time and I'm probably seeing it totally out of context but holy moly talk about your troubled marriage. I don't think it's bad for her to be open about her sexuality or desires but right next to your husband?

And then there's the way they chair their meetings and pass motions that only serve to put words to what is going on anyway. Like when Iron Man is missing and they can't reach him at all they vote to give him a leave of absence. Coming from my history with the Green Party, I have to say that The Avengers, even in their absurd manner, manage to conduct board meetings better than that political party.

And finally I noticed that the major shift between Kirby and Heck on art is that Don Heck seems to lay out his pages in a much more vertical aspect.