Friday, January 30, 2009

TV and Comics This Week (Final Crisis, LOST, BSG, 24)

FInal Crisis 7. Grant Morrison has been pissing me off lately, with the messy art in Final Crisis 6, and the ambiguous (and I have argued not in a good way) chose-your-own-ending to Batman RIP. And as much as I love his earlier work, I do HATE fill in artists. People were always telling me that messy inconsistent artistic chaos was great because it matched the theme of the book -- intentionally in Invisibles, unintentionally in New X-Men. I don't deny that it matches thematically; I just deny that that particular way of expressing the theme leads to bad storytelling. People need to stop praising ambiguity and chaos as good things in and of themselves -- it is how it is handled by the writer that makes it work or fail, and I call FAIL on BATMAN RIP and the INVISIBLES. That said I LOVED Final Crisis 7 in all its ambiguous messy glory -- Morrison can stick hell of a landing, even on a messy book (New X-Men, Invisibles). Batman RIP promised a reveal of the Black Glove through a series of red herrings, then failed to deliver anything. Final Crisis 7 promised to celebrate the insanity of the multiverse and superhero comics generally and could not have delivered more thoroughly -- Supermen from the multiverse team up to use solar powers on a cosmic vampire, while the Green Lanterns show up to collectively stake the thing; the army of god arrives with them at the same time Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew show up -- and you realize this is what superhero comics do that nothing else can. I am amazed that Morrison was able to play with Obama joking that he was Superman by opening with the black president of the United States who was also the Superman of his world. Morrison will often talk about creating a new kind of storytelling mode, and sometimes this seems an empty boast, as it did when he described 52 as genuinely different. The most important thing about Final Crisis 7 is that is DOES seem like a new kind of way to tell a mainstream superhero story. I talked about Morrison's elliptical style in the first two issue of Final Crisis and said it was not fully figured out yet, but it seemed like a good idea -- he really figures it out here. The thing reads more like some crazy John Ashbery poem than anything else, and I absolutely love it. Every panel was fun even when I was not sure what was going on. (Did Hawkman die?)

LOST 5.3. I liked LOST this week, more than the first two episodes, though I am not sure how much I have to say about it. I really like the island skipping though time as a way to tell all those stories that have only been alluded to and I love how quickly we made it all the way back to 1954 to get a key detail -- Widmore was an Other in his youth. I am really excited to hear about the "Adam and Eve" bodies in the caves from season one (which, because of time travel could be characters we know), the Pirate Ship landing, Rousseau's crew, the Dharma people and the war between the Dharma people and the Others, and that four toed statue. I never saw Cane but I heard it was good -- in any case I am glad it got cancelled so that Richard can be in all the island flashbacks. And, at some point, will the end of in the future? Also that new girl Other is totally Faraday's Mom, who is totally Mrs Hawking -- check the hair and the first name and the timeframe.

BSG. Several people got upset because with only nine episodes to go they felt BSG should be going mythology episodes all the time, but BSG has always been about stories centered on people. Mary McDonnell owned the episode with here scene in the hallway arguing that her and Adama deserve a break. It was not perfect -- the opening scene with the Ultrasound had some nice camera work hanging on the image for a long time, but it was very strange to see Tigh and Six acting like a happy family so suddenly. Starbuck's cripple jokes were really lame and that scene lacked the acting chops it needed -- Starbuck needs something to DO. I am still on the fence about Gaeda as Ahab. The other complaint was Callie, who already morphed quickly into a shrew willing to kill her baby, now revealed as unfaithful as well. It had to happen. Clearly the writers decided on the final five late in the game -- and at no point during the first half of season 4 did anyone mention the fact that Callie's baby was a cylon human hybrid and thus as important as Hera. I figured that baby was going out the airlock with Callie, but this is how they wanted to keep Hera uniquely important. One detail that fails , however, is it made a lot more sense that Callie wanted to kill her baby when she planned to kill herself if she thought the baby was half cylon. Now she just seems really mean. A rare instance of poor plotting on the part of the writers gave her a very unfortunate -- and I am sure some will argue misogynistic -- character arc.

24. 24 was good and action packed this week -- better than it has been for a bit. But it is still pretty foolish. This show needs a new gimick.


Andy said...

I'm a Morrison fan, a Morrison apologist and I commend him for always trying different storytelling to push the medium of sequential art forward. That being said, I didn't enjoy issue 7 and really the whole series. I don't think the "channel flipping" method of writing worked for me and it never felt like the full DCU was involved. Moments with characters were too fleeting...until we get to Superman. I enjoyed the Superman moments ("to be continued as his epitath, killing Darkseid with a song,wishing for a happy ending) but I feel like Morrison covered this ground very recently in All-Star Superman. The plotting just didn't feel right in my head. Superman sits out the entire series performing in Legion of 3 worlds and Superman Beyond and then comes to save the day. Darkseid has been built up to be the major antagonist in this series for 6 issues and then it's revealed that the vampire Monitor is the villain. I read Superman Beyond so I knew Mandraak but what about those who didn't? And what about those who don't know the DCU? This is DC's major event and it's as much baffling as Secret Invasion was boring. I can't give this to my girlfriend, or a coworker. I love DC's rich history but the minutia Morrison's been getting into with Batman RIP and Superman- it's becoming a bit too much. I had high hopes for this series and it didn't deliver for me. As a side note - why isn't Newsarama or anyone conducting an interview with JG Jones? This was a fairly large professional failure on his part. Does he care? Does the industry look at him as unreliable?

LOST still sits on my DVR....

Geoff Klock said...

Andy -- I think we should dismiss the idea that these kinds of books are for new people. I think you are right that you cant just hand this to someone on the street, but that doesnt necessarily make it a defect. DC also only gave morrison 7 issues so he had to move some stuff to a side series, which does not seem to me to be outlandish.

sara d. reiss said...

i fell asleep during 24. shouldn't that tell you something?

Jake said...

"Superman sits out the entire series performing in Legion of 3 worlds and Superman Beyond and then comes to save the day."

He's SUPERMAN! That's what he does. I love Morrison's Superman. He saved shit three times in one day.

jennifer said...

that blonde other chick was driving me crazy! she was overacting a bad script.
my player was stopping & starting & the audio track wasn't quite synched to the video. so it was really hard to watch. i hope i just caught them at a bad time.i was basically planning on watching it online when you're working.
but i always like the desmond centric episodes & i didn't expect the widmore reveal.

Mikey said...

One reason I like Jones is that he comes across as refreshingly insolent towards superhero fan worship/entitlement and didn't feel the need to pander to anyone - he freely admitted to not knowing who half the DC canon he was drawing were (and didn't bother claiming he cared), and when the replacement artists were announced he dismissed it all by saying: "the final issue will be drawn by Doug Mahnke, who probably should've been drawing it from the beginning."

I applaud him.

Andy said...

Mikey - I wasn't referring to superhero fan worship/entitlement, I'm referring to fulfilling your obligation as a freelance artist. I do freelance Flash and graphic design on the side and if I can't deliver a project in on time, then I'm out money and my reputation is diminished severely. Maybe it's different @ DC and Marvel, but you burn enough clients then your phone stops ringing.

Geoff, I suggest you listen to the CGS podcast on Final Crisis 7. They do a call in show where people are giving their opinions in a civil manner. A caller makes a point that this book was marketed at DC's main summer event book and from Infinite Crisis you know this is where DC wants to bring in new readers. They want you reading this, not Secret Invasion. I agree this does not make the book a defect and really my displeasure has shifted form Morrison to DC. This should never have been titled, or marketed as Final Crisis. This should have been handled the way 7 Soldiers was. A Morrison event story in the DC universe. By making it a 'Crisis" people had expectations that we're not met. You can tell Morrison has no desire to write a Crisis event book. He ignored the preceding Countdown to Final Crisis series. He brought back Barry Allen, but think about Barry's role in the series. Everything he did, he did with Wally by his side. Why not just have Wally outrun the Black Racer and let Geoff bring Barry back in Flash Rebirth? Morrison admits Didio asked for a death of Batman in Final Crisis. So Grant put it in, but had him resurrected by the series end. That deflates a lot of tension in the upcoming Battle for the Cowl miniseries. The superfluous crossovers Morrison basically told us weren't necessary. Rage of the Red Lanterns CLEARLY should have been an numbered issue of Green Lantern. Crisis Revelations is Rucka wrapping up his characters. Rouge's Revenge is Johns having some fun with his old Flash villains. The bottom line is this is just a poor fit for Grant and better handled by Geoff Johns.

I do take issue with Morrison's exit interview quote
"All of those characters are there because I wanted to set up the Super Young Team with him and Shilo Norman as another potential series.

The way they fade out of the story is also a pointed comment on how I actually imagine they’ll fare as characters in the DC Universe!"

That's a cop out. Write a series with those kids like Aztec and get people interested in them to give them life in the DCU