|Pop Culture Gadabout|
Saturday, September 22, 2007 |
( 9/22/2007 04:32:00 AM ) Bill S.
SYMPATHY FOR THE PARENTS: Spent most of Friday doing a moving sale. Among the items we attempted to unload: I grabbed four long boxes of comics that I'd classed as more trouble than it's worth to move. Thing is, once the sale commenced and I saw some of the titles that were going for a dime apiece, I realized that one of my "keeper" boxes had mistakenly been lugged out by to the sale. Oh well, I told myself as a young woman bought nineteen bucks worth of comics: one less short box to carry.
Like most longtime comics readers, I have the "my parents threw out my comics" story from my youth. In this case, it was a thousand mile move from Vernon, Connecticut, to Arlington Heights, Illinois, which prompted the big discard: all early Marvels and Silver Age DCs, all loudly mourned by me whenever the topic came up at family get-togethers. Well, this week, lemme tell ya, I take back every piece of aggrieved snark that I aimed in my parents' direction. Relocating and collecting do not go well together – especially when you're doing much of the frigging carting yourself . . .
Friday, September 21, 2007
( 9/21/2007 10:07:00 AM ) Bill S.
WEEKEND PET PIC: Portrait of Moving Angst: Cedar Dawg nervously surveys the piles of cartons and plastic cabinets that've been recently brought downstairs from the second floor.
THE USUAL NOTE: For more companion animals, check out Modulator's "Friday Ark."
Thursday, September 20, 2007
( 9/20/2007 06:49:00 AM ) Bill S.
"THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A CLEAN KILL WHEN YOU CAN'T VERIFY IT." Remember that bad-ass villain at the end of the first season of 24? The one played by Dennis Hopper with his trademark pissedness and a not entirely convincing Euroscum accent? Ever wonder why the guy had it in for Jack and his loved ones? Well, the recently collected graphic novel, 24: Nightfall (IDW), purports to fill in the blanks. Set "two years to the day prior to Senator David Palmer's victory in the California primary," it depicts a disastrous mission led by Jack into the former Yugloslavia to assassinate not-so-lovable ethnic cleanser Victor Drazen. We know the assignment can't succeed, of course, otherwise the entire first season of 24 wouldn't have taken place. So we read through the 112-page graphic novel, wondering about and anticipating that delicious moment when our hero earns Drazen's eternal enmity.
Jack and a largely indistinguishable crew of fellow CTU agents have parachuted into the war-torn country to hook with a brother-&-sister team who are supposed to help them target Drazen. But things quickly start to go sour when one member of the team parachutes into an active minefield, taking the Serbian military band radio with him. Meanwhile, back in the states, future presidential candidate Palmer and his loyal advisor Mike Novick ineffably attempt to keep tabs on the mission, but, of course, someone else in Washington is feeding information to Drazen about the mission. Hovering in the background is Macbethian wife Sherry Palmer, but she doesn't really get to do much except nag her hubby to keep his eye on the presidential prize.
Like the teevee series, Nightfall attempts to convey the illusion that its events are occurring within a fixed 24-hour timeframe, but this storytelling gimmick doesn't really work in the comic book format. Writers Mark Haynes and J.C. Vaughn, originally writing for a five-issue mini-series, devoted the first four issues to four hours of story time apiece, then crammed the remaining eight hours into the last issue. Though they regularly ensure that captions digitally establishing both Eastern and local time are stategically placed within the panels, they still can't establish the teleseries' level of tension as time keeps on ticking/ticking/ticking into the future. It ain't easy to establish "real time" when your storytelling reality is broken into panels, but comic artists like Will Eisner have shown that it can be done more convincingly than this - even if it's only for the duration of an eight-page story.
With any comic book property based on a beloved movie or teleseries, the other big question is whether the book's art captures those characters who we know so well as actors. On this score, artist Jean Diaz does best with Drazen and weakest with Sherry Palmer, whose head doesn't always seem to fit on her body, but I generally accepted his dour-faced Jack Bauer. An actioner like this also rises and falls on the strength of its battle sequences, but Diaz doesn't always make these scenes as clear as they could be. I had to stop and reread one page where a truck is blown over by a bazooka, for example, because the writers and artist kept the action on the preceding page inside the truck, then pulled so far away from the actual explosion that I wasn't immediately sure what I was seeing. In more than one panel, we're given big explosions where you never once believe that the stiff silhouettes being framed by the flames are actual human beings. If you can't give a big-assed fireball its props, then perhaps you should be doing the GN version of Men in Trees instead.
The bulk of Nightfall is devoted to our hero dodging Drazen's soldiers as he attempts to uncover the bad guy's location so a bombing mission can take him out. Through the course of the mission we get the usual big betrayal, but since the character who does this is the only who on the team besides Jack who comes across the least bit distinctly, it's not much of a surprise. That moment we've been waiting for – when Jack and his target come face-to-face, cementing the antagonism that'll fuel Drazen's evil schemes in the show's first year - never occurs, so tough luck if you were waiting for that particular pay-off. Perhaps that takes place in a second prequel set one year "to the day of Senator David Palmer's victory in the California primary"?
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
( 9/19/2007 05:19:00 AM ) Bill S.
MID-WEEK MUSIC VID: Barely have time to sit down at the keyboard this week (and next week promises to be even sparer), but let's make some for quick bit of YouTubing, okay? Here's a classic piece of anime-ted power pop from good ol' Matthew Sweet:
Monday, September 17, 2007
( 9/17/2007 11:33:00 AM ) Bill S.
ANOTHER OF LIFE'S LESSONS RELEARNED: Only an idiot wears a black tee-shirt while dealing with a office filled with dusty books and papers.
( 9/17/2007 05:21:00 AM ) Bill S.
A LONG WAY BACK TO GERMANY: With the teevee in the background yesterday, I listened to and occasionally peaked up from packing to catch a glimpse of Too Tough to Die, a Rhino documentary and memorial concert tribute to the late Johnny Ramone which aired on Starz Cinema. Though the focus of the doc's interviews and reminiscences was on the band's pugnacious guitarist, listening to the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Henry Rollins only half successfully work their way through Joey's vocals made it absolutely clear just how remarkable and widely ranged a singer the group's skinny frontman was. Yup, I still really really miss that band . . .
Sunday, September 16, 2007
( 9/16/2007 06:56:00 AM ) Bill S.
TOO HOT NOT TO COOL DOWN: Back when I had time and energy to frequent 'em, I remember reading a post by Tom Spurgeon on one of The Comics Journal web boards where he stated that when he was TCJ's editor, he used to dream about adding music reviews to the mag - just so they could receive the free music stuff. Reading Tom's Not Comics posting on his "Five Favorite Albums," it strikes me that it's really too bad the guy didn't follow up on his idle scheme. Though there's not a single album on his list that would overlap with mine, his justification and description of each one is so finely and convincingly done that I wanna hear each one today - even Tom Waits, who typically leaves me cold . . .
( 9/16/2007 06:55:00 AM ) Bill S.
STATING THE OBVIOUS FOR THE THOUSANDTH TIME THIS WEEK: I have way too much shit.