I used to have a running schoolyard debate with a friend of mine over who would win in a fight: Phoenix or Silver Surfer. I think the answer is/was pretty obvious, but for some reason he rode with the Surfer. Shrugs. Kids are stupid.
I’m still friends with dude but the debate is long dead. Still, there’s enough spark to that memory that this video of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has me wanting to send him an email like, “YO. SEE? SEEEE??”
“Ennui” is a word that is hard to pull off because it sounds so full of shit, but it looks great and sounds great if you can nail it and it has one of the illest definitions:
“a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest”
You eat enough planets, and things just get mundane, I guess.
From: Deadpool #21
Artist: Carlo Barberi
Writer: Daniel Way
Anyone remember that awful Wu Tang comic book? I think it was called The Nine Rings of Wu Tang. It’s one of those great failures of the universe that we never got a kick-ass comic adaptation of the Wu brand. Pop culture just refuses to follow through sometimes; Jack Nicholson never played Wolverine and Hitchcock never got his pudgy hands on Naomi Watts. Etcetera. Oh well.
This Wu Massacre cover is a nice consolation; Chris Bachalo — full of idiosyncrasies, dynamic, able to tell a damned story — is one of my favourite artists of all time. The indie kids will recognize his style from “Death: The High Cost of Living”, the fanboys from work on “X-Men.” But don’t sleep on his pet project “Steampunk”, where his pencils go absolutely INSANE. Like, Wu-Tang insane.
This beast was recently discovered and some people are speculating it’s the legendary chupacabra, even though it looks like nothing like Taylor Lautner. Well ok it looks a LITTLE like Taylor Lautner. Chupacabra, by the way, translates to “goat sucker”, which is highly disappointing as far as monster names go. I don’t want to get into it, but that also means I am technically a chupacabra. Just joking, sort of.
Monsters have been on my mind recently because I finally read that copy of “The Island of Dr. Moreau” that has been on my bookshelf for a decade or so. H.G. Wells’ tale is a little hard to get through because the basic story has been re-done a million times and his prose isn’t tasty enough to get you through a meal you’ve already had but with more gravy. I know this is kind of blasphemous, but I couldn’t read “Moreau” without picturing that episode of the Batman cartoon, where Bats chases after Catwoman to an island of beast-men and befriends the Man-Beast and it all ends with a reading of Blake’s “The Tiger”:
What IS dope about the book (besides the obvious glee Wells gets from describing stupid slow things) is that I had no idea the original island-scientist-creates-horrible-man-monsters narrative was so clearly about religion, and humanity’s use (in Wells’ eyes) of faith to keep us from realizing our beastly natures. Most times I’ve encountered it, as in the Batman episode, it has been re-molded as a cautionary tale about science and playing-God (which while somewhat related to Wells’ intent isn’t nearly the same thing), or it’s been made to be about tolerance and animal cruelty.
In other news, that likewise I was not cool enough to discover on my own, check out this Wikipedia list of monsters. I am happy that such a thing exists.
And yes, this is how I return to my personal blog, which I have missed. Even though I will be disappearing again on vacay next week, so don’t call it a comeback. (This post has been brought to you by a Half-baked New Year’s Resolution.)
Paul Pope is a a comic book artist with alt-tendencies and a freaky-deaky sense of composition who combines elements of Euro strips and Japanese manga. He once did a story about a German Batman on the cusp of World War II who fights to keep an Austrian engineer’s valuable work from being co-opted by the Nazis. And that’s some of his mainstream work.
Anyway, Pope’s work is featured in a recent fashion spread in Complex Magazine combining his art with live models, and the result is pop trash goodness. Complex’s design director is a dude named Tim Leong, who comic heads will remember as editor-in-chief of the now defunct Comic Foundry magazine. Leong’s CF mag was a breath of fresh air for the comics community that combined mainstream and indie coverage and wrapped it all in a lifestyle package. It was a comic mag with fashion spreads, fer crissakes, and it was all actually quite dope while it lasted.
Anyway, I’m sure Leong had everything to do with Pope doing a fashion spread for Complex, and I hope the spirit of CF continues to pop up in Complex as it has in the past (they had a special comics issue awhile back as well). A mag that covers hip-hop and comics and has a multi-culti vision of sexy will always be close to my heart. Even if the writing isn’t that great. (Hint hint, call me.)
Last week’s episode of Batman: the Brave and the Bold was both a subtle kick in the nuts to militant fanboys who decry the cartoon’s playfulness and want a return to the tortured-soul Batman and also a dead-on tribute to classic Warners Brother’s animation. There’s a bunch of in-jokes for animation heads, comics fanboys and general casual cartoon watchers and, depending on where you’re coming from, the episode works on several different levels. Mainly though it’s great fun and it really shows how far cartoons have fallen off in recent years. Watch along after the jump.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a prequel of sorts, a flashbacked spin-off, that shows us the beginnings of the X-Men’s Logan/Wolverine as reprised by Hugh Jackman, who has played the character in three previous X-Men films. Here, Jackman takes the front-and-centre spotlight and continues his subtle variation on the massively popular and influential Marvel Comics character, taking us into Wolverine’s storied past and answering questions raised about his shadowy past.
Long story short (and it is the film that does this quickly, not me): Logan is actually named Jimmy, who as a young Canadian circa late 1800’s manifests his mutant power while killing his father’s murderer only to discover, by way of really bad dialogue, that the murderer was his real father all along. Logan’s brother is apparently a mutant as well, a snarling, snot-nosed bastard of one, and they run off to protect each other from a world that won’t understand them. They enlist in the army together, get stationed together and fight by each other’s side; not just in one army but in many over the years, fighting in many wars, as the brothers seem as immortal as they are inseparable.
If the Incredible Hulk isn’t a better film than Ang Lee’s The Hulk (which, for the record, I enjoyed), it certainly is more satisfying. In this latest iteration we finally get to see Hulk smash with aplomb; there are many, smart easter eggs for fanboys to find that also don’t get in the way of average viewers’ enjoyment; and Edward Norton is just an all-around better actor than Eric Bana, and more appropriately cast as well.
Norton’s Bruce Banner here is an inversion of his unamed character in Fight Club. Whereas in Fight Club, his character released his male frustrations through one-on-one combat and weird sex both as himself and through an alter-ego (Tyler Durden/Brad Pitt), in The Incredible Hulk, Norton as Banner spends the movie learning to avoid both the fight and the sex, and it seems the alter-ego (HULK!) is the only one capable of doing either.
Both versions of Hulk infantilize Banner to some degree, but I’d say Incredible Hulk does it better — more effectively and with less hammers hitting our heads. Ang Lee’s version was heavy with Oedipal father issues and featured a mesomorph Banner riding a small bike with a stupid safety helmet. This new one places a skinny Banner in clothes many sizes too big for him and unfashionable even if they did fit. Functionally, this is so he’ll still be wearing pants should he Hulk-out, but in effect it renders him as a little boy in ill-fitting hand-me-downs. There’s a great little moment where Betty Ross/Liv Tyler adjusts his cap and Norton mutters “too tight, huh?” It wonderfully recalls a first day at school, taking place on a University campus as Ross is reluctantly sending Banner away into the world.
The (non) sex scene with Ross is the most recognizable instance of this, which I see as infantilizing rather than desexualizing (as I’ve noticed it’s being labelled on some blogs). It’s not a scene of impotence, as Banner can clearly be excited and is desireable to the opposite sex. Rather, he is afraid of being TOO excited and the problems this will cause. You could say he’s afraid of the power of his phallus (which would make Hulk his big angry penis), but really, I think this scene is ultimately just a nod to fanboy speculation the likes of “Dude! How does Superman fuck Lois without KILLING HER?”
It’s ultimately a mistake. Banner’s Hulk-outs were about anger. True, the comics have featured many versions of the Hulk and what causes the Hulk, but at the core of the character’s mythology was always the anger issue. That’s where Ang Lee got it right, even if he didn’t construct the best movie around it.
This new film says Banner Hulks-out over excitement of any kind. It’s a matter of mastering your adrenaline which, though it leads to some exciting chase sequences where the obstacles are Banner’s heartrate and breathing patterns as much as they are cars and balconies, is ultimately a shallow concept. Banner lives life like any old dude with a heart problem, instead of a forever-repressed beast-within-all-of-us. I should concede that the film’s opening martial arts sequences are a great depiction of Banner’s repression issues, but it is not much later that we realize it’s not about not losing your temper, it’s about keeping your heartrate low.
The film uses two neat devices to measure and communicate the importance of Banner’s pulse: a watch that he wears to track his heartrate, and a title card that tracks the “days without incident”, i.e. how many days since the Hulk took over Banner’s body. I love both of these devices in the way they shape viewer expectations and add suspense, and also because they are both somewhat hokey and perfect for an elevated B-movie.
While it’s un-rewarding as a concept, Norton as an actor makes these heart-rate scenes shine. When the martial arts instructor teaches Banner to breathe and then slaps him across the face and instructs him to stay cool, Norton’s facial expression is in wonderful conflict. You see clearly both the rage and the suppresion of the rage. Simultaneously, Norton is a dude with tempermental problems and also a Zen master. I don’t know how he does it, but he does it consistently throughout the movie.
Unfortunately, Norton’s strengths highlights the supporting cast’s weaknesses; Liv Tyler’s reliance on merely whispering to convey affection and to position her on the balancing scale opposite Hulk; Tim Roth’s exaggerated, and very un-military like, swagger; William Hurt’s lack of any nuance; Tim Blake Nelson’s Bat-villain level manic mannerisms (the film is also Blake Nelson’s origin as a villain for, I guess, the franchise’s next installment). They aren’t bad performances, but they aren’t the level they could be, especially given the pedigree of Roth and Hurt.
The film works very well overall but its parts work against each other. It’s a Big Picture movie — it successfully erases Ang Lee, restarts the franchise, gives us a star who shines, deftly sets up several plots for possible sequels and other Marvel movies (Super Soldier serum! “Canadian hunters”! Dr. Sampson! The Leader!) and excitingly positions Hulk to play a part in Marvel’s building movie universe (The Avengers!). It doesn’t work as cohesively as Iron Man did, isn’t as thematically rewarding as Ang Lee’s version, but in the end, The Incredible Hulk serves all its goals and does a bang-up job of it. I ain’t mad at it.
You wouldn’t like me if I was mad at it.