Yep. This was another weird week for me. Again, in year's past I would be blitzing through horror films at the point, building towards an epic marathon of classics on Halloween night. This year, The Wife & I celebrated Samhain with Cloud Atlas & a sushi dinner. Now Cloud Atlas provided some horror of its own, but more on that later. Mostly this week was about comic books and Deep Space Nine...The Wife even came to the realization that her life is just a series of moments between episodes of DS9! To hear her make such a revelation brought great gobs of joy into my life. I truly have created a monster. Now if we could only convince Matt that Sisko is the 2nd Greatest Federation Captain (numero uno, of course, is James T. Kirk).
Star Trek - Deep Space Nine Season 4: Those pesky Founders! Just a few months after discovering his people, Odo discovers new ways of self loathing as The Changlings puppet master a war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Enter The Next Generations's Lt. Commander Worf. Michael Dorn is a welcome addition to the cast, and thanks to great camaraderie with old pal Miles Obrien and the Klingon obsessed Jadzia Dax, Worf is put to far better use on DS9 than he ever was aboard the Enterprise. Season 4 is also where I start my adoration with Quark's Ferringhi family. No longer just cheap Jewish stereotypes; Quark battles the Federation assimilation of his soul via Root Beer and Roswellian time travel. Season 4 still isn't the long arc storytelling I want (there are far too many unnecessary one shots), but we're one step close to the great Dominion War.
Daredevil by Mark Waid Volumes 1 & 2: I finally gave in. After months and months of fellow comic book nerds chastising me for not reading the current Mark Waid run on Daredevil, I dove in head first with the purchase of these two hardcovers. Personally, this stuff still doesn't hold a candle to Brian Michael Bendis & Alex Maleev's epic run on the series, but as he proves each month with The Rocketeer, Mark Waid knows how to have fun with super heroics. But is "fun" what I want out of ol' Horn Head? No. I prefer Matt Murdock brooding and emotionally devastated. Waid's take on the character reminds me a little of Grant Morrison's Silver Age obsessed Batman. The writer pulls out all the lame-o characters from yesteryear (The Spot! The Klaw! The Mole Man!) and pits them absurdly against the Hell's Kitchen lawyer. These are whackjob weirdo characters and its fun to explore the insanity behind their characters, but unlike Morrison, Waid fails to elevate these shenanigans to high art melodrama. Funny books. Good enough.
Cloud Atlas: I appreciate the ambition. I really do. But the film never connected with me on an emotional level. Sure, there were certain stories that I found absolutely captivating - Jim Broadbent's heroic quest to free himself from Hugo Weaving's Nurse Ratchet is seriously thrilling & Ben Whishaw's doomed composition is exceptional melodrama - but during the rest of the stories I just found myself anticipating the next makeup job rather than the narrative direction. And at the end of the day, all this change-o-character new age mumbo jumbo feels like Hollywood community theater rather than actual storyteller payoff. Still, Tom Hanks as cockney balcony shot putter is worth the price of admission. So is Keith David's badass Shaft getup for that matter.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #16.1: Ignore the mopey Miles Morales on the cover, this book is all about Betty Brant and her Daily Bugle investigation into the man behind Spidey's mask. Don't want to say anymore than that, but Bendis continues to write the best Spider-Man book on the stands. And the final page is quite a promise to long time readers.
BPRD #100 - Return of the Master Part 3: Wow. 100 issues. How can that be? Bravo to Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, Scott Allie, Guy Davis, Tyler Cook and all the men & women who've cranked away on this brilliant status quo smashing series. The 100th issue might not seem like the catastrophic ground breaker you'd expect, but the bureau is just moments away from the Mignolaverse's big bad Rasputin returning to the earthly plane. Just when you think this literal Hell on Earth can't get any worse, a trip into Hellboy's storm & the fury proves there are still plenty of monsters to thrust upon the good folks over at the BPRD. CAN NOT WAIT to see where this latest chapter ends. No where good, that's for sure.
Fatale #9: The second arc in Ed Brubaker's Lovecraftian Noir is winding down, and it looks like 1970s Hollywood is going to barely scrape through this exploration of the abyss (you've escaped this time, Burt Reynolds). The Method Church gets one step close to the mystical snuff film, Josephine stretches her mental man eater muscles, and poor Miles steps closer to his inevitable annihilation...but at the hands of who? I'm voting for some friendly fire.
Happy #2: I really wasn't so sure about the first issue, but I friggin' loved this latest trip into the foul mouthed excursion through the looking glass. Hitman Nick Sax attempts to discern if Happy the Horse is just a figment of his seriously f'ed up cranium or a legitimate immaginary friend of a kidnapped girl. Whatever the case, Happy knows how to navigate the gritty realities of mob hospitals and Santa Claus serial killers. At the point, I'm sad at the thought of just a four issue mini. Come on boys, I know you could stretch this wonderful filth into a 60 issue epic.
The Rocketeer - Cargo of Doom #3: Remember that tiny panel from last issue depicting the madman's plan to strap rockets atop dinosaurs? Well, issue three sees that dream come to fruition as The Rocketeer must take to the skies to battle jet packing T-Rexes. Utterly gonzo and beautifully pulp, Mark Waid's Cargo of Doom is one of the most enjoyable bits of silly on the stands today. Can't wait to see what hijinks Cliff gets himself into next issue. At least he's got that nifty ray gun now.
Flight: After 12 years of uncanny valleys, director Robert Zemeckis returns to the realm of live action. The result is a dramatic if tired melodrama revolving around heroism and substance abuse. Denzel Washington does his thing; it's impossible not to get wrapped up in his cocaine & alcohol fueled destruction, but the narrative strings are so played out that anyone not able to guess the climax is either an infant or recently freed from a cold war era bomb shelter (so you Blast From The Pasting Brendan Frasers out there get a pass). Zemeckis doesn't even seem that interested in his usual camera trickery, with the exception of a couple nose candy zoom dollies and a little CG manipulation, Flight is handled with a rather boring steady hand. Is this really the man who shot Who Framed Roger Rabbit and What Lies Beneath?
The Man With The Iron Fists: Hey, it's a fun movie. The Rza steps in front and behind the camera for this joyously silly homage to violent chop socky. The Blacksmith's Jungle Village is invaded by a couple of metallic douche bag Lions and one bloated beastly Russell Crowe. I mean, wow. Crowe packs on the weight, dunks deeply into the sexual pleasures of Lucy Liu's whore house, and your eyes will never be clean again. The Rza certainly has a long way to go as director, but he set out to make a goofy neo grindhouse flick and he succeeded. The acting is all over the place (Silver Lion, your hair is not nearly as amazing as your screechy smile) and the violence is delightfully spouty (KNB does what it does best). Maybe not the ultimate expression of the genre, but The Man With The Iron Fists is a perfectly acceptable entry.
BPRD - Plague of Frogs Hardcover Volume 1: After having just consumed Mike Mignola's entire run of Hellboy and the 100th issue, I had a serious compulsion to reach back to the beginning and start afresh. The deluxe edition collects the first three trades of the series, and even if the first two volumes are perfectly enjoyable, it's not until Guy Davis takes over the art duties in the third volume where this series really comes into its own. Plague of Frogs picks up the three frog creatures from Hellboy's first adventure and spins a catastrophic saga that will crack the very crust of the Earth. I've said it before,but it bears worth repeating, in BPRD there is no going back. This is not the Marvel Universe; the world can not be turned on its axis and go back to business as usual after six issues. No. When Nebraska goes up in flames, green grass will not grow back again. In fact, it's just the beginning of worldwide devastation. And Hellboy sidekick, Abe Sapien takes center stage as team captain. But it proves much harder for him now that big red has vanished into his Beast of the Apocalypse destiny. And Abe don't just dream of fish anymore; his origin begins to darken his mind and it provides great fodder for fanboys.