Work Suspended

That's not writing, it's typing.

Category: Interesting things

Marvel NOW Reviews [Some Spoilers]

Marvel NOW started a while ago, but I’ve only just caught up with nine of its titles, so I thought I might write a brief review for those wondering if it’s still worth it or not. There will be some spoilers going down.

1. Brilliant

I think only the New Avengers title has really impressed so far. Not a surprise for those who have followed the Hickman/Epting pairing through their excellent Fantastic Four/FF run, and this continues in a similar cosmic-epic vein. The Illuminati reforms, this time with Black Panther (who refused the last time), Captain America (who is now no longer on the roster) and Beast (in place of the dead Xavier). While the story is gripping, the really well-done part is the careful character shading: for example, Beast remaining in his seat after Strange mind-wipes Captain America, Reed’s strange chemistry with the Black Swan and Captain America’s principled but hopeful stance pit against everyone else’s prioritisation of survival. If there’s one title to pull in this bunch, the New Avengers is a prime choice.

New Avengers

2. Good

All-New X-Men is a pretty good X-men comic, partly because of the strength of the status quo AvX left us, and because of the rather insane idea of the original five being time-shifted into the present. That said, the writing and art is nothing to write home about, and I’d rather it hurry up with the Cyclops Rebellion storyline (or perhaps give them another book).

2707852-allnewxmencombinedx_02

The other three X-men books (Cable and X-Force, Uncanny X-Force, and X-men Legacy) are all the sort of team book that Marvel churns out regularly. They’re not bad at all (although Uncanny X-Force is still at #1), and they centre on interesting characters (Legion in X-Men Legacy, and the whole team in Cable and X-Force, Hope, Cable, Doctor Nemesis, Domino, Colossus and Forge, are pretty fun characters). Get them if you’re a big enough fan of the X-Men like I am.

The two Fantastic Four titles are a toss-up. They’re less ambitious than the Hickman titles, which is great for those who just want the sort of sci-fi adventure story that the Fantastic Four does so well. The FF is much slower (too slow in my opinion), but the art is good and the story is starting to get interesting, so I’ll recommend staying on it for now.

FF_1_Cover-1

3. Meh

Hickman’s Avengers is him at his worst in my opinion. He comes up with a distinctly unimpressive concept (an expandable Avengers roster), wraps it with a fancy graphic chart, and sends cosmic villains at them with no real purpose. It’s a book that is going nowhere, and it relies too much on some sort of mystical Avengers worship to work (I mean it is just some superhero team. Rogers needs to stop making it sound like some unbeatable bastion of humanity because it isn’t.) #5 that came out just this week is a rather run of the mill origin story, and next week Captain Universe gets her issue in the spotlight. Not worth the 4 dollars a fortnight.

4. Avoid

The Uncanny Avengers title is apparently the flagship title of Marvel NOW!, which I suppose explains why it is so terrible. Three X-Men and three Avengers are randomly tossed into a team, and then set to fight a ridiculous villain: Red Skull who becomes the world’s most potent telepath by having Xavier’s brain implanted into his. Lame. Thor especially. They need to stop randomly tossing Thor into titles just to have him beaten up by random villains.

Advertisements

New (comic review) blog!

Guys, I have a new blog. In it, I’ll be reviewing anything to do with comics, web-comic recommendations, issues, trade paperbacks, everything.

I have been reading comics for over a year now. At first, I was drawn to buying comics by my local library which had a pretty well-stocked comic book section. So, my first picks were flagship titles by DC and Marvel, stuff like Defenders #1, Avenging Spider-Man and the New 52 Batman and Wonder Woman.

Over time however, my tastes grew more eclectic, and I started pulling titles that fewer people at my store read, stuff put out by Image, Dark Horse, IDW, the smaller publishers. I noticed that these comics don’t really receive as much attention on comic book review sites like Comic Book Resources or Weekly Comic Book Reviews. That’s a shame because really, some of these titles are pretty incredible, while DC and Marvel often struggles to maintain a standard on all but a few titles. The comic book medium deserves more than to be monopolised by a few companies making money off male fantasy and fan service.

You can pop over here, and it will be updated more often than I do here. After all, nothing is happening in my life right now, so I occupy myself by being concerned about what happens in others’ (fictional ones).

Comics and Ballet

[What do the two have in common? Muscular men in tights.]

After a rather productive period of reading earlier this month, I have again become incredibly lazy, barely making it past a few chapters of Feyerabend everyday. I have mainly kept myself alive with comic books, which now takes up a fair bit of my monthly budget.

Below are some brief thoughts on some things I have read/heard/seen:

1. The State of the Art by Iain M. Banks
Banks is one of those authors I like, but can’t really finish. His writing is exciting, humorous and he is really good at thrilling sex scenes, but sometimes, like in Complicity, his plot becomes too obvious and hence a little draggy. All in all, a better writer than storyteller.
The State of the Art is also like that. It has a few good pieces, the eponymous novella being the best of them all, and some rather bewildering experimental ones, especially Scratch. My favourite short story is definitely Cleaning Up, possibly because I love stories with misanthropic undertones.

2. Hickman’s Fantastic Four and FF run

Hickman’s Fantastic Four run has stretched across three years and brought us many great ideas: the Council of Reeds, the return of Nathaniel Richards, the Future Foundation, Johnny Storm’s death, the rebirth of the Kree Supreme Intelligence, the Universal Inhumans, the Mad Celestials… Well, his work has simply been outstanding and any fan of Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben (also Franklin and Valeria and Nathaniel) should pick up his stuff. But start at the beginning because it’s all very confusing.

One of the really cool Doom covers.

Franklin Richards battles a Celestial

Right before "I have been a prideful and foolish man."

3. Wolverine and the X-Men and other X-Men titles

I’m picking up four X-Men titles-Wolverine and the X-Men, X-Men, Uncanny X-Men and Generation Hope (and the limited series Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha and Omega)- because I really like the X-men. Something, probably, about being born with power, which makes it all more deliciously existentialist than the Captain America bit.

Wolverine and the X-men has great artwork and good characters, but it hasn’t hit its stride with a really good arc. X-men and Uncanny X-men are good old-fashioned action titles, and I really love the vampiric Jubilee. Generation Hope started out pretty strong, but it plods along and can’t seem to get off the ground, but maybe the confrontation with Zero will speed things up.

5. The Manhattan Projects

My latest purchase has been the Manhattan Projects, also by Hickman and it features a badass robot-killing Einstein (Japanese death robots designed by Soichiro Honda and attacks through a portal powered by Buddhist monks). Extremely promising.

7. Swan Lake

I watched the SDT’s Swan Lake yesterday, mostly because I felt that I really needed to get back to wasting my money on plays and such. I remember being rather sleepy for bits, but once I got home, I couldn’t stop youtubing the dances again and again. I still think the most striking dance is the Cygnets’ Dance, but I enjoyed the Black Swan Pas de Deux.

How to be a dictator

A tutorial in dictatorship. I especially like these sentences; indeed, it makes more sense to look at how things work instead of throwing goodwill at hardcases: “It’s not possible to reform a system by imploring people to do the right thing. You have to know how it works. Dictators already know how to be dictators—they are very good at it. We want to point out how they do it so that it’s possible to think about reforms that can actually have meaningful consequences.”

Sentence of the day: 30 Dec

From the Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, a sentence I found very funny:

“She held herself very straight, like Audrey Hepburn, whom all women idolize and men never think about.”

Is it a compliment? An insult? Who knows?

Victorian heroes

I’ve been rereading Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (parts 1 and 2) and there is really nothing like a Victorian hero/antihero, is there? Part of the appeal probably comes from the fact that the era was known for being so morally and socially stiff. Nothing like fighting crime in a starched collar.

I have been thinking about how Hyde is represented physically. He has to be small in stature and seem slightly deformed. But he must also look evil and a quick google search seems to only produce goofy Hydes. Nothing that would plausibly bash somebody relentlessly to death for fun. The deformity must also be subtle, for the narrator noted that he could not pinpoint exactly how Hyde was deformed. So no obvious hunchback, bucked teeth etc. A rather hard character to represent accurately?

Wasp cake theory

Vic, who is so brainy that Igor will require two jars, has written this excellent article criticising Tin Pei Ling. Pei Ling, of course, is a candidate so vacuous that people don space suits just to get near her.

However, the PAP’s sheer idiocy in this matter gives one pause for thought. Can the PAP really be so utterly moronic as to believe that the ability to sign-up for facebook makes Pei Ling a viable candidate? (ans: yes) But I personally subscribe to the wasp cake theory:

Tin Pei Ling: humiliating gaffe or insidious plot?

Update: I realise that Tin Pei Ling might not be aware if the PAP is using her as a wasp cake! Oh the cruelty! Cynical, dastardly hypocrites using young, eager politicians as meat shields for their own incompetence!

Not Going Out

I have a recommendation, dear reader(s)! I’ve been engrossed by Lee Mack’s excellent sitcom Not Going Out recently, and you’ll be pleased to learn that it is a comedy and that it is excellent. It has a robust pace, features well-written scenes, and entertains with top notch, rapid-fire jokes from likeable characters.

I’ve recently finished the first season (6 episodes), and that was excellent. For some reason, having an American as the lead was very exciting, but Lucy is a welcome addition. While Miranda Hart (Barbara) is a wonderful comedic actress, her character seems a bit loss, her role ultimately less meaningful and more slapstick. There is something very workmanlike and slightly formulaic about each episode too, but for some reason, I’m reluctant to see it as a bad thing.

But why trust me? The first joke is already wonderful:

Btw, the theme song is great!

Sitcoms

I love the sitcom. It’s possibly my favourite comedy vehicle after sketch shows and stand-up shows, but I honestly can’t watch them without blenching at each embarrassing thing that happens to the main characters. They always have these situations that will invariably lead to disaster or at least humiliation, and as these instances come in sight, I cannot help but feel terribly embarrassed for them.

So I enjoy Miranda, Don’t Go Out and Peep Show as much as I can, but…

Paradox?

As I walked past Parliament today, I recalled a rather childish mocking document I wrote a while ago questioning the value of politicians. Approximately:

” Today, the PAP unveiled another set of candidates, most interesting of which was this twinkie in the city, the 27 year old wife of the 40 year old principal secretary to the prime minister. They don’t exactly make it difficult to be cynical about corruption do they?

 

The interesting thing about her was of course her age. She is 27, which means that she has only been working as a consultant for 4 years. She graduated with a BA in psychology, has no higher qualifications and 4 years of work experience. How does that make her qualified to be a politician? Does that not imply that, statistically speaking, loads of people are qualified to become politicians also? Another manifestation of this issue is the irritating rise of “I’m you” politicians. Why on earth would I want a politician who’s like me?

 

Which led me to wonder: what exactly do politicians do? If the drama of the US Congress and Senate and the UK House of Representatives and Lords is anything to go by, they spend time digesting arguments from various experts and decide on policies (legislate). Which raises the question: how well can these group of non-geniuses understand these issues in this limited time? Also, why don’t we get the experts to decide on these issues in the first place?

 

The best I can come up with is that politicians understand our political system which is to prevent abuse of power (irrelevant in a place without such strict checks), and provide some sort of moral leadership (link to interfluidity); raising the question, that is, what makes our politicians morally qualified to do this?

 

Another thing that I cannot stand about politicians besides their apparent uselessness is how they make a big shit of understanding the common people (the little people!). Are we paying them to understand? And if understanding is so important to policy-making, shouldn’t it be a required skill, unworthy of praise anyway? If understanding is not something they all have, it is clear that politicians are as mortal as you and me, just pompous enough to believe otherwise and stupid enough to advertise that fact.”

It occurs to me that in a democracy, one of the functions of a legislative council is to reconcile differences between parties and to expose as many view points to the debate as possible. Now, if a party aims to monopolise the political discourse, they will make themselves more redundant. If there is no serious divergence from the party line, just how important is this parliamentary pantomime?