Friday, November 2, 2012

Brad's Week in Dork! (10/14/12-10/20/12)

First, a word on the new format...

I'm going to try something new with the Week In Dork.  If you don't like it, please let me know.  Rather than separate this post out with TV OF THE WEEK, MOVIES OF THE WEEK, COMICS OF THE WEEK, etc I'm just going to jump right into the programming from Sunday to Saturday.  If I started the week off with a comic, the column will start off with a comic.  If I started with an episode of TV, the column will start off with that episode.  Basically, I'm just trying to recreate my Dorky Ass life for you the reader as best as possible.

And, man, this has been one of my absolute favorite Weeks In Dork that I've ever had...that is, one that does not contain a San Diego Comic Con or a Stephen King book signing.

Last week, I started ploughing through my Hellboy Library editions in preparation for the 5th Meeting of my wife's Ultimate Justice League of Extraordinary Book Club.  Since we would be discussing one of my all time favorite trades, The Chained Coffin & Others, I wanted to go into it fully prepared.  And that resulted in me reading nearly 20 years of comics in just over a week.  And it was seriously thrilling as well as (maybe-not-so-shocking) emotional...but more on that later.

The Week really started with some itunes catchup on the current season of...

Fringe Season 5 - Episode 3 "The Recordist":  It was just a few weeks ago that I was ranting and raving about how freaking amazing I found season 4 to be, but now we're just a few eps into this Days of Future Past business (I just can't get that X-Men reference out of my head) and I'm still a little nervous about this final arc.  Right now, I'm just not feeling it.  Walter & Astrid?  They're spot on and I love them dearly.  But Peter & Olivia & Henrietta?  Something feels wrong about how they're behaving.  Maybe it's just me throwing a tantrum of where these writers plopped this family, but it also feels like a bit of a manipulative cheat to drive a wedge between them so soon after the uproarious victory of last year.  Anyway, I'm still waiting for my love of Fringe to return - I have faith that these guys are going to pull something special outta their rabbit hat.  This episode specifically deals with a group of outcasts hiding in the woods, free from the eyes of the observers.  They see themselves as recorders of history and there is a nice bit involving a boy and his Fringe comic book.  But I don't really see this playing into the grande scheme of things either.

Prometheus:  Watched my new blu.  And yeah.  Third viewing and I almost immediately felt myself drifting as Noomi Rapace's scientist drones on about faith and the evolution of man.  This is a really beautiful looking movie and the blu ray is just stunning.  But dammit!  Why isn't the film about Michael Fassbender!?!?!  His character is sossss much more interesting and if the narrative had only switched to his side half way through then there could have been something incredibly thoughtful here - David is the evolution of man.  He should be the focus.  Unfortunately, it's a horror film climax with the Frankenstein Engineer stomping and smashing his way through the ship.  Human Bad!  Me Kill!  Whatever.  By the time the medical tests are performed and the Big Giant Head starts popping, I found myself reaching for a couple of graphic novels, and I read them as the film played in the background.  Not a glowing review, that's for sure.

Powers - The 25 Coolest Dead Superheroes Of All Time:  I've been away from Brian Michael Bendis' Powers for what seems like a very long time.  My problem with this comic is that once it reached the mindbendingly awesome Forever storyarc - where the mythology was expanded into centuries past and the stakes seemed to increase into the territory of Earth Shattering - the very next arc brought the characters back to the precinct and stayed there.  Another crime, another was just a routine Law & Order when it should have transformed into an epic.  And with the sporadic shipping my interest faded.  Still, I really do love Walker & Pilgrim.  Hell, I own original art from Forever - so I want to stay in love.  With a new trade paperback released, I thought it was time to dive back in.

Picking up where I left off, Deena Pilgrim is still an outlaw.  Infected with the Powers virus, she's Prime Suspect Numero Uno for a string of murders spreading through the city's nightlife.  Imagine Al Pacino's Crusing with capes & cowls and you'll get some idea.  But like most of the murder cases, the character stuff is much more interesting than the plotting.  I dig the intro of Walker's new partner, Sunrise.  I dig that Walker's hiding Powers too.  I dig that Deena is loosing her freaking mind.  But I don't dig the impending return (i.e. doom) of the status quo.

Powers - Z:  I certainly appreciate this arc's attempt to investigate the dark past of Detective Walker.  Some time ago, Walker was a member of a Las Vegas Rat Pack - Post World War II heroes throwing their weight around and making a boat load of scratch in the process.  When one of these Rat Packers turns up a corpse it's up to Detectives Walker & Sunrise to get to the bottom of a sordid love affair.  The Vegas stuff is fun, but is never fully explored - the Powers mythology is always a taste, not a full meal. And again, the murder investigation is not all that thrilling but at least Bendis is clever enough to solve The Who quickly and make The Why the focus.

Powers - Gods:  Well, I hated this.  The latest trade focuses on the death of an actual God...or is it just another cape pretending to be a god.  Frankly, I scratch my head at this notion.  Loosely connected to the Olympia case from the start of the series, it seems a little late in the game to bring religion into the context and all this godspeak nonsense does is muddy the water.  And it sends a signal to this reader that Bendis is scraping the barrel for new homicides to investigate.  However, there is potential in the climax.  There comes an Ultimatum moment...or a BPRD Hell On Earth kinda event...and I don't think you can go back to just investigating SVUs in the next arc...but I've thought that before and I'm afraid the next volume of Powers (Bureau) will be more of the same.

Blow Out:  After last week's wonderful screening of Phantom of the Paradise, I was craving more whacky Brian De Palma and this quenched that particular thirst perfectly.  Blow Out is Brian De Palma at his most pure fanboy; clinically aping Hitchcock & Argento, De Palma delivers a gorgeous, dark-hearted thriller with John Travolta's best performance battling John Lithgow's greatest psychopath.  And Nancy Allen is brilliantly sad as the child-like prostitute in distress, climaxing the film with a beautiful blanket of sad.

Hellboy Library Edition Volume 3:  The Chained Coffin introduced me to the wonderfully mad world of Hellboy, but the Conqueror Worm sealed the deal.  This is the ultimate Nazi Smasher book.  Raiders of the Lost Ark & Conqueror Worm - it don't get better than that.  Big Red & Roger the Homunculus travel to Hunte Castle in an effort to prevent some long dead nazi scientists from returning a Lovecraftian space seed to earth.  But to succeed they're gonna need some serious spectral help from pulp adventurer Lobster Johnson.  Conqueror Worm is also where Mignola's art solidifies into the supreme masterwork we know and love today.  Then you have Strange Places, the book that nearly broke Hellboy...or Mike Mignola anyway.  "The Third Wish", the first half, is a creepy fun tale pitting Hellboy against the fishy Bog Roosh in a battle over his Crown of the Apocalypse destiny.  It's a solid action tale that reminds the reader of the doom & gloom behind the punch 'em up.  But for me, this volume is all about "The Island" back half.  Here, we finally get the origin of The Dragon, Ogdru Jahad.  Sure, it's a whole mess load of exposition but Hellboy fanboys will eat it up.

Hellboy Library Edition Volume 4:  The Crooked Man & The Troll Witch.  There are several really fun short stories in this collection but none of them match the power of the tales found in the previous three Library Editions.  Artist Richard Corben joins the Hellboy family and he's a welcome addition.  "The Crooked Man" is a fun Satan tale set in the icky Appalachian backwoods, but I really love love love love his Makoma story.  It's a fun African folktale that takes on a beautiful dreamlike quality, but again...there's a nice undercurrent of Hellboy brooding.  And that's really what this volume is about - the dread that is Hellboy's existence.  Mignola draws six short-shorts and each one a grim reminder of his Beast of the Apocalypse job title.

Rock of Ages:  Well, I can't really say that this is a good flick but I certainly had a lot of fun watching this goofball movie.  We all know what a crazed Tom Cruise fan I am and the more people seem to hate him the more I seem to love him.  And he's bonkers terrible here as the drunk, monkey loving rocker Stacee Jaxx, but you can also sense he's having a blast in the part.  Especially when he's belting out "I Want To Know What Love Is" into Malin Akerman's vagina.  Sure, Catherine Zeta-Jones is cringe-inducing with her scream singing, and Paul Giamatti is just cashing another paycheck.  And, yeah, Juliane Hough & Diego Boneta are a couple of drones.  But it gave me 90 minutes worth of a good time.  Sue me.

Dark Shadows:  Another nail in the coffin of Tim Burton's career...buried atop a suffocating Johnny Depp.  And seriously, who thought a comedic adaptation of the wonky 60s gothic soap opera was a good idea?  No one was screaming for more Barnabas Collins.  And if there were some Dark Shadows nerd crawling out from under a rock than they would be fairly pissed at this offensive offering.  Even if there is a ridiculously silly WTF Alice Cooper cameo.

The Walking Dead Season 3 - Episode 1 "Seed":  Off to a good start.  Rick & his crew finally reach the prison with Hershel's Farm thankfully behind them.  Lots of zombie slaughter and a couple of human surprises.  We also get a couple of glimpses of Andrea & the Samurai Michonne but not enough to get geeky excited.  And you know what?  Even though I want to love this show, each episode is just another reminder at how superior the comic book actually is and no amount of Greg Nicotero gore can mask that fact.

BPRD - 1946:  More Hellboy crack.  Exploring the vampire subplot from Wake The Devil, 1946 sees Trevor Bruttenholm in post-war Berlin partnering up with supernatural commies and battling it out with one of Hellboy's greatest bottled bad guy.  With this trade, the Mignolaverse is greatly expanded making fanboys like myself giddy with geeky glee.  And Joshua Dysart lends everything some dirty, crumbly bombed-out gloom.

BPRD - 1947:  With the horrors of the Nazi vampire program seemingly laid to rest (uh, again, see Wake The Devil) the newly formed BPRD continues their investigation of the blood sucker menace.  1947 is another fine example of Mignola connecting mythology by mixing the vampire lore with the black goddess Hecate.  Essential reading for Hellboy fans, this latest dip into the past also introduces a couple of fascinating G.I.s that will no doubt play a larger role in upcoming story arcs.  Plus, we get Ota the Exorcist and a young Hellboy discovering the pleasures of catch.

BPRD - 1948 #1:  Hmmmm...too early to tell just yet where this latest chapter in the BPRD backstory will take both characters and readers alike, but it appears we're gonna see more of Russia's demon doll and some good ol' fashioned atomic fear...with the added bonus of space born beasties.  1948 continues to follow the vampire plagued GI as he teaches Hellboy the joys of smoking while ignoring the presence trapped in his haunted noggin.

Marvel Now Point One:  I kinda hate these Event Anthologies.  This 6 dollar comic gives you a glimpse at a couple of upcoming Marvel Now! relaunches framed around a Nick Fury Jr. interrogation that confused more than intrigued.  I could not care less about the Cable book.  Not gonna buy it.  Guardians of the Galaxy will probably be enjoyable given the writing team, but there's not much here to excite.  Young Avengers...Loki brings some super teens together.  Nova fights some diamond headed monstrosity in the desert.  If there was one short that actually peeked my interest it was the Matt Fraction/Mike Allred FF short showing off Scott Lang's abilities as Ant Man.  Fun.  But with a serious bit of anger motivating the small fry.  But one solid short for 6 bucks?  Yeah, not really worth it.  Another notch in the hype machine.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #16:  This is probably my least favorite issue since the Miles Morales era began.  Spidey continues to try and prove himself to Captain America by battling it out with Hydra soldiers.  Other than that, not much happens.  Get him on The Ultimates already.  And I want to see more Jessica Drew interaction.

Hawkeye #3:  Ok.  So I enjoyed the first two issues.  But this?  I friggin' loved this.  Matt Fraction centers the issue around Hawkeye's ridiculous trick arrows as he & Kate Bishop work their way through his satchel while taking on the tracksuit Bro army.  Laugh out loud funny with the singe greatest use of Clint's costume ever.  If, for whatever hater reason, you are not reading this series than you really need to give it a try.  You will be shocked at how much fun this book truly is.  And Aja's art is freaking perfect.

Godzilla - Half Century War #3:  Coming in at a close second as my favorite single issue of the week, The Half Century War goes full on Kaiju crazy this month.  Ghana, 1975.  Not only is Godzilla on a rampage, but we also get some monster clashes with Megalon, Mothra, Ebirah, Battra, Rodan, and the big puddle smog monster Hedorah.  Even if you're not a Godzilla fanatic, you'll find plenty to enjoy with Stokoe's beautiful rampaging art.

The Sixth Gun #26:  Drake tells Becky the story of his first encounter with the Wendigo while hiding out in a shack.  Solid horror stuff, but I'm starting to feel that this Winter Wolves story will read much better in trade...or at least that's what I'm hoping.  There are some great grisly images here (the stag with its severed head antlers) but I'm losing the plot reading this month to month.

Billy The Kid's Old Timey Oddities and the Orm of Loch Ness #1:  I love The Goon as much as the next person and I really want to love Eric Powell's other oddball creation but I don't think I'm going to continue on beyond the first issue.  Billy The Kid is alive and well; hanging out with some puddle jumping circus freaks.  Looks like we're going to get some Loch Ness mythology mixing with some Universal Monster horror but Kyle Hotz's art is just a bit too much Kelley Jones for me to get excited.

X-O Manowar #6:  So, yeah.  I think it was a mistake to introduce Ninjak in the first six issues.  A) Ninjak is purple, 90s, and lame.  B)  The presence of a purple suited ninja assassin distracts from the already insane world of insect alien conspiracies and religious iron man armor.  It's funny, but I never would have guessed that X-O Manowar would quickly turn into my least favorite Valiant book - seriously, Bloodshot is better.  Crazy world we live in.

Star Trek - Deep Space Nine Season 3:  After several weeks of catching episodes here and there, The Wife and I finally completed the first truly kick ass season of the show.  Odo finds his people.  The Dominion War is nearly upon us.  William Riker guest stars...or does he?  Dick Miller is an A-Hole 21st Century rent-a-cop.  And Ben Sisko gets his goatee.  If you mildly enjoyed the first two seasons of DS9 than you'll start to love it by the third season.  But the Gamma Quadrant conflict trickles where it should rush and things won't really go to pot until the Klingons reappear next season.

The Devil's Rejects:  Much, much better than House of 1000 Corpses.  Rob Zombie is still chucking everything & the kitchen sink at the screen but it's focused through a singular obsession with 70s exploitation cinema.  Frankly this feels less like a horror film and more of a Badlands/Natural Born Killers terror picture.  Bill Mosley, Sheri Moon Zombie, and Sid Haig are deplorable monsters murdering their way through hapless country musicians and hillbilly sluts.  They may be charismatic, but don't fool yourself - these are big bad scumbags.  But maybe not as scary as William Forsythe's unhinged psychopath sherif and yep, he totally steals the show.  The actor has never been better and the climactic staple gun showdown is as thrilling as it is cringing.  Bad people doing bad stuff to each other.  Not entertainment for everyone, but the sicko pervert in me enjoys it enough.  Especially when performed by vintage genre stars.

Hellboy Library Edition Volume 5:  Duncan Fegredo has taken over the art duties (and that does take some getting used to), but Mike Mignola's saga has never been better.  Years upon years of storytelling have all been building to this epic trilogy of stories (to be concluded in Library Edition Volume 6 presumably but for now you can settle on the TPB below).  Darkness Calls is The Wrath of Khan of Hellboy stories.  Not only do you have the sad pig fairy Gruagach seeking retribution against Big Red for his humiliation in "The Corpse" (see The Chained Coffin), but you've also got the big bad Baba Yaga looking to cash in an eye for an eye.  The instruments of destruction are a couple of nifty villains from both history and mythology:  Witchfinder General Henry Hood and Koschei the Deathless.  Like all good Hellboy villains, they're just as sad & pathetic as they are deadly.  Part 1 is mostly beast on beast bashing, but it opens the mythos to the fairy tale crazy of The Wild Hunt.  In Part II, Hellboy joins the Osiris Club on their hunt for rampaging Giants but is quickly betrayed for his increasingly bloodthirsty punch 'em ups.  The Wild Hunt ties Hellboy's lineage to England itself, and we get the best understanding of his origin yet.  

Hellboy - The Storm and the Fury:  Hellboy gets both an ending and a bold new beginning.  The Fate of the World (not just England) hangs in the balance as Hellboy goes up against Nimue, the Queen of Blood.  The pig Gruagach finally sees the fairy folk of yore rise above man and the river of blood that results damns his soul.  This is some seriously heavy stuff, and if you've been reading Hellboy from the beginning than you'll be shocked at the emotions it creates within.  Hellboy has always been a fun bit genre mashing, but it's also always been wrapped in a blanket of gloom - if not all out sadness.  As the impending doom gets closer with every turn of the page, I found myself dreading its conclusion.  There's a moment where Hellboy sits in a ghost pub; he remembers a childhood conversation with Professor Bruttenholm in which he fears a personal connection to Frankenstein's Monster or possibly pulp hero Lobster Johnson.  The memory leaves Hellboy crestfallen, but he must move forward.  Hellboy can no longer bury his head in the sand, he must face who & what he is...or does not want to be.  The Storm & The Fury concludes one of my all time favorite arcs in comics.

Hellboy & Hellboy II - The Golden Army:  After finishing the latest chapter in Hellboy comics I wanted to give the films another shake.  I love, love, love Guillermo Del Toro.  The man is every fanboy's dream.  A geek done good.  The Devil's Backbone is one of my all time favorite films, Blade 2 is one of my favorite action films of the last fifteen years, and I'm beyond excited to see next year's Pacific Rim, his Kaiju Smackdown film.  But the Hellboy films have always bugged me.  Del Toro's films seem more interested in the workmanlike attitude that Hellboy brings to monster bashing and less interested in the brooding sense of doom that The Beast of the Apocalypse title lends to all Hellboy comics.  The first film gets more right than wrong.  The opening WWII sequence makes the whole proceedings worth it frankly, and John Hurt's Professor Broom brings more weight to that character than ever before.  But the romance between Liz & HB distracts.  And the introduction of Myers is such an annoying Hollywood convention.  The Golden Army though is straight up infuriating.  It's soooooo jokey.  And the relationship between Liz & HB has devolved into a bickering sitcom couple.  It's a beautiful flick, and it contains some of the most impressive practical & CG effects blending I've ever encountered.  But when Barry Manilow gets involved, I check out.

Hellboy - The Bride of Hell:  Probably the weakest collection of short stories we've had so far, The Bride of Hell still has a couple of gems.  Richard Corben's Hellboy en Mexico is a real delight, partnering a drunk Hellboy with a couple of vampire hunting luchadores.  There's a demon turkey that's absolutely terrifying.  And I'm shocked at how much I enjoyed Kevin Nowlan's Buster Oakley Gets His Wish - UFOs just don't seem like they belong in the Mignolaverse but they make it work.  The Cowboy!  Still, this just feels like filler until we get Hellboy in Hell at the end of the year.

The Girl:  The Wife & I completed the week with a trip down to Williamsburg.  While staying in a hotel I caught the premiere of HBO's competing Hitchcock docudrama.  Smartly focusing on Hitch's apparent obsession with Tippi Hedren during the filming of both The Birds & Marnie, The Girl paints the master director as a psychopathic rapist-in-the-making.  Toby Jones's whackjob is genuinely scary despite the mimicry performance.  The Girl makes the fanboy in me rather uncomfortable, I don't like looking at Hitch in this pervo light.  It might be true, but I think I'll prefer the goofier undoubtedly less pathetic and more fantastical interpretation of Anthony Hopkins' Psycho-maker come this November.

Bram Stoker's Dracula Original Comics Adaptation #1 & #4:  Down in Williamsburg I scored a couple of issues from Mike Mignola's Dracula adaptation.  This is very much a straight panel for panel adaptation of the Francis Ford Coppola film, but Mignola's art is a perfect fit for the film's theatrical style.  And the best thing about reading this comic is not suffering Keanu Reeve's horrendous English accent.  Now if I can only track down the two middle issues I'll be set.


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