Thursday, May 31, 2007

Comics Out May 31, 2007

Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo's Hellboy: Darkness Calls #2. I never care about the story -- Hellboy always stands around while things happen to him, then he makes a Whedonesque quip. I love the design on the character and the world, however -- for me The Art of Hellboy is the only indispensable Mignola work. Duncan Fegredo is doing a good job keeping me hooked on this one though, so I will continue to pick it up.

Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham's Justice Society of America #6. There are literally more main character heroes in this issue than there are pages, and I don't know most of them. It is all sort of fun in the way Infinite Crisis was fun -- I am a sucker for superhero insanity just smashed together and to hell with anyone who does not know all these guys. But this issue seemed like filler: the Legion distracts the JLA and the JSA with some nonsense threat so they can complete their secret mission, but they are really distracting the reader from the fact that this is a four issue plot and not a five issue plot.

David Peterson's Mouse Guard Hard Cover Graphic Novel. I have not read this yet, but I wanted to try something new. It had mice with little tiny swords. It looked fun.

Nothing in the news jumped out at me. Review, recommend and discuss this week's comics and comics news.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Grant Morrison's New X-Men 149

[This post is part of a series of posts looking issue by issue at Grant Morrison's New X-Men run -- for more of the same click the New X-Men label at the bottom of this post].

Magneto rejects the comparison between the Nazi's who killed his family and his own plan to lead humanity into a crematoria. The Beak points out that Magneto's plan is nothing new, which is Morrison's point about Magneto, but that does not make for good storytelling. It just gives us a one-dimensional Magneto. Later we will learn that Sublime is behind Magneto's insanity, but Morrison gives us a detail that I find frustrating: Magneto wrote an article that humans do not feel pain like mutants do. That is an absurd racist cliche -- and, again, that is Morrison's point -- but I have a very hard time seeing this version of Magneto sitting down to write something like that. I have a harder time believing that these students, with their fart jokes, would find it and read it -- he did not give it to them, since one student had to tell the others.

This all becomes much more pathetic as Beak objects that every living thing feels pain, even dogs and carrots, at which point there is a debate over whether the carrot is a fruit or a vegetable -- Magneto ends the conversation by declaring it a vegetable and hitting Beak in the face. Then he kills Basilisk over a fart joke. Morrison does a great job here at creating at atmosphere of total horror -- people are getting killed over nothing, but it is frustrating as a reader that this is the Big Bad for this arc, and not some idiot bully lackey. Again, Beak calling him a bully -- which is Morrison's point -- does not save this aspect of the story.

In the last post I asked how the special class could stand tall with psycho-Magneto. In this issue it turns out that Esme was influencing everyone's minds with Martha's super-brain. Again, frustrating. This has replaced any need for Morrison to characterize the special class, just as the Sublime reveal will allow his Magneto to not require characterization either -- no one acts like human beings, not because Morrison is a lazy writer in these issues, but because everyone is being controlled by someone else. The Martha reveal feels tacked on, in part, because there is no explanation as to why it has stopped working just now, for the rally back. It is a bit like Harry's convenient amnesia in Spiderman 3 -- it made the lives of the screenwriters easier.

Esme asks why Magneto is taking so long to switch the poles of the earth -- is he waiting for the X-Men to stop him? In this issue he also tells the comatose Xavier that he misses their struggles. That is actually good writing I think -- I like the idea that there is something in a villain like the Freud's death drive, a desire to be captured.

Ernst calls Magneto boring and old-fashioned at the end of this issue, and she says no one likes what he is doing and it is all coming to an end. This is the third such complaint in the issue, and -- again -- Morrison's point. Thematically this should make sense: the NEW X-Men versus OLD Magneto. But attacking old-fashioned monsters like Magneto to restore the status quo makes the X-Men the oldest and most traditional kind of superhero, not an inch away from Uncanny X-Men number one from 1963. Morrison's vision of a post-human outpost from the future in the here and now -- of a team who only called themselves superheroes because it was something the world could understand -- cannot sink lower.

At least Morrison has a great ending to his run prepared.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

From Bill Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words 8 (Commonplace Book)

Pyrrhic victory is not, as is sometimes thought, a hollow triumph. It is one won at a huge cost to the victor.

Razed (to the ground). The ground is the only place that a building can be raised, and so the phrase is redundant. [By the way, just to show what kind of a dork I am, raze is one of my favorite words in English because its antonym is also its homonym].

Reason... is because. This is a redundant construction. "The reason she left New York is because..." would be better written "She left New York because...".

Replica is an exact copy built to the same scale and with the same materials, so you cannot say things such as "the exhibit contained a replica of the Taj Mahal made entirely out of toothpicks". Model, miniature or copy is often better. Exact replica is also redundant.

Respite. Brief respite and temporary respite are redundant, since respite contains the meaning of brief. Also respite rhymes with cesspit, not with despite.

Revert back: redundant; delete back.

Shakespeare: the Oxford English Dictionary, perversely and charmingly, but unhelpfully (Bryson's phrasing), insists on spelling the name Shakspere, a decision it bases on one of the six spellings Shakespeare himself used. It does acknowledge that Shakespeare is "perhaps" the commonest spelling now used.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Grant Morrison's New X-Men 148

[This post is part of a series of posts looking issue by issue at Grant Morrison's New X-Men run; for more of the same click the New X-Men label at the bottom of this post.]

Wolverine opens this issue by noting that he did not even smell Magneto till now. I think that is a metaphor, but what about its literal since? Why didn't he, with all his fancy hyper senses, detect that Xorn was Magneto? Morrison's twist just raises more questions than it answers. Magneto tells Ernst -- who misses Xorn, which is terribly sweet -- that he created Xorn with help from supporters in China. Well, I think I am going to need a little more than that -- did he create Xorn with help of undetectable supporters in China who can rig things to fool the most powerful psychics on Earth, and Wolverine?

When Magneto's speeches fail, Toad tells him that the crowd wants sound-bytes not Shakespeare. At first it appears Morrison wants to attack Magneto for being old-fashioned and un-imaginative -- for re-using old ideas like switching the poles of the earth -- but Morrison also seems to be making a claim that everyone has degenerated, including the people of New York. We never really get to see them here, which is unfortunate.

Magneto's "special class" seems surprised that he wants to exterminate humanity, but what kind of guy did they think he was -- they were posing with him like rock-stars after he destroyed Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. This story is hard to like because its main characters are written badly -- we do not understand them as people -- we do not understand how they got from the Special Class to here -- so when Morrison calls on us to sympathize with them, it fails.

The sequence with Jean and Wolverine, trapped on a rock in space heading into the sun, on the other hand, is great. Jimenez does a wonderful Jean in these issues -- realistically beautiful with her ponytail and sweat, and perfectly normal bra (in stark contrast to the embarrassing super-boobs he gave her in "Murder at the Mansion"). Morrison's writing for the two of them is spot on as well. The Phoenix Force burns away what does not work -- which is wonderfully Emersonian, and my favorite description of the Phoenix force. Wolverine tells a story about surviving without food by eating chunks of off his own arm, which grew back thanks to his healing factor, a great story that shows a great understanding of this character. Finally Wolverine kills Jean to activate the Phoenix Force moments before we see them both die. This is one of the most powerful images in the run, and thankfully we are given a full five pages -- the final three completely silent -- to absorb it. We need the time and we get the time, and it works.

This kind of swerve between bad writing and great writing is what makes this run so maddening, and worse, in some ways, than something consistently badly written. You keep seeing what Morrison can do, and then you have pages and pages of him simply not doing it. It would be a mistake to drop a book with so much good, but it still feels like a mistake to keep buying it when so much of it is so bad.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Announcement: Possible LOST Book in 2010

I have been approached by a publisher (can't say which one yet) about putting together a book on LOST whose release will coincide with the end of the show in Spring 2010; we are working out details now, including word count, and format. It is really too early to announce this, but everyone is talking about LOST right now, and there won't be any new episodes until January, so I thought I would let people know about this while it was still a hot topic. As soon as I know more, you guys will know more.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Lost Finale (Spoilers)

Everyone has been talking about the stunning Lost finale, whose final twist has left those who love the show very satisfied, and gave those who felt the show had been spinning its wheels confidence that there is a clear plan, and a strong new direction. Spoilers ahead.

The thing about serial narrative, especially one that centers around mystery, is How do you keep the mystery interesting over a long period of time: explain too much and your mystery disappears; explain too little and people get frustrated and walk away. One device is a variation on the screenwriting principle that the end of an act must resolve one conflict, but that that resolution must introduce a new conflict: Spiderman may reject the simbiote, but it will then find a new host he will battle. Lost answers the mystery of what is in the hatch, but what is in the hatch turns just opens up more mysteries.

The Season 3 Finale does that to a certain extent, but it does something else too – the twist has more to do with format and story structure, than it does with content. This episode is like a great magic trick, proving that the creators are geniuses: you learn no secrets about the mysterious island and its properties, no secrets about the smoke monster, no secrets about Dharma or the Others, no secrets about the numbers, no secrets about Richard or Jacob or Ben or any of the characters, and yet you walk away satisfied because the creators have changed the status of the flashbacks. I have been saying for a while that the point of Lost is the stories about the characters rather than the mysteries of the island – the creators just wrangled characters into the spotlight again, by leaving the island behind and doing what stories are supposed to do: focus on characters. Just as a side-note, people have been calling the Jack “flashback” a flash-forward, but that is not what it is at all: it is that, in earlier episodes, the island was the present and the non-island scenes were past-time; the twist is that you think the Jack story is past-time but it turns out, not to be the future, but to be a new present – it is the story of the island that has become a flashback for Jack.

The show is not without flaws: Why doesn’t Charlie just lock the door behind him as it floods, since it seems he has time? People have said it is because he wants Desmond’s prediction to come true but this raises the same post hoc ergo propter hoc problem that the episode in which they discovered Naomi did: it is not clear that there is any cause and effect relationship between the detail that Charlie dies and the rescue (as there is with flipping the switch). Also it seems like much of the two hour running time was used to lengthen pauses, and Lock appears in the finale for little over two minutes total. But Sawyer killing Tom. Hurley saving the day, and Said snapping that guy’s neck with his feet, and Rousseau’s gentle caress of her long lost daughter’s hair followed immediately by the ridiculous “help me tie him up”: that’s why I watch Lost. It’s all about the characters.

Someone once said Milton could have said everything he had to say about God in a pamphlet of some two or three pages, and thus concluded that it is the poetry rather than the content that is important; Lost could release a memo detailing the mysteries of the island. It is the storytelling that is important. And the formal twist at the end of Season three could not have emphasized that more.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Free Form Comments

Talk about whatever you want to here -- random ideas, thoughts, suggestions, questions, recommendations, criticisms, demands (to be added to the blog-roll), self-promotions (what are you doing on your blog, for example), introductions (if you are a lurker, tell us who you are and what your thing is), surveys (Mitch once put a survey on your top ten fictional crushes, which was fun), and updates on your life. Don't forget you can talk to each other, as well as to me.

On my end, two quick things.

1. After three months of waiting, Oxford has sent out formal requests to my examiners to examine my thesis. They have unofficially said yes, so all that stands between me and a D.Phil is them sending in a formal acceptance, reading the thesis that will be sent to them upon formal acceptance, and finding a date on which to examine me (at which point I will fly to Oxford, do the examination, and if I pass, receive my degree; the dissertation defence is largely pro forma, and I am not worried about not passing).

2. Everyone is welcome to talk about the stunning LOST finale, which has imbued everyone -- even those who felt it lost its way -- with a sense that this show is an uninhibited work of television genius, and that the next three seasons will be awesome. I am going to put my review up tomorrow, though I am not sure how much I have to add to what has already been said.

By the way I did not see Studio 60 last night. I was out and there was no one to record it, and I decided I did not care that much. I will grab it online or something later. I paid my dues with that show -- I watched it out of loyalty to West Wing, Sports Night, and A Few Good Men, but after howevermany unwatchable episodes I owe Sorkin nothing now. He does not owe me -- I will call it even -- but I am not in a rush to see this.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fraction-Klock Comic Geek Speak podcast UP NOW

We are episode 256 -- if you are reading this post today just go to

(If you are reading this days later go to and click on episode 256)

If you want to read the responce to the podcast on the Geek Speak Forum, go to

The thing clocks in at like 2 hours. It was a big conversation, possibly because Fraction and I started talking too much about fetish porn and 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.

Matt Fraction's blog is over at

Go buy the Casanova hardcover.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Comics Out May 23, 2007

MATT FRACTION AND GABRIEL BA'S CASANOVA: LUXURIA, collecting issues 1-7. If you heard me freak out about the original issues, but missed the boat and could not find them, now is your chance to get them all in one of the best-looking collected hardcover editions I have ever seen. It is oversized, but not too oversized; it is a beautiful object in its own right, but it is slim and not so big or nice you feel like you are going to fuck it up just by turning the pages (I am thinking of my Absolute Authority here). Besides the fantastic content, the size and the cover design make you think if French graphic novels, if you have every seen any: The whole book was designed for this book, if you see what I mean -- it was not assembled according to some generic template, as it would have been at Marvel or DC (e.g. the gold-spined Marvel hardcovers such as Phoenix Endsong). It has some noteworthy dedicatory material, as well as three gems for epigraphs to the collection and some interesting back matter by Ba, thumbnails and such. The only thing that is missing is the back matter from the original issues, but that is a little gift I think for people who bought the originals -- Fraction was never, as he said, writing for the trade. Don't let that stop you from getting this book. You can wait for the softcover, which will be out soon, but I say jump in and get this thing if you can afford it. Here I go again: after years and years of reading comic books this is MY FAVORITE COMIC BOOK OF ALL TIME. Tonight I record the Comic Geek Speak appearance with Fraction talking about the book -- I want to talk about the dedication and the epigraphs especially -- and that will be out tomorrow or the next day.

Sean McKeever and Takeshi Miyazawa's Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane vol 3: My Secret Life. I have not gotten around to reading this yet but the earlier volumes are lovely. This is very much the anti-Casanova, all simplicity and heart. I need both in my life. Reading Spider-Man loves Mary Jane makes you a good person, probably, somehow.

Mike Carey and Chris Bachalo's X-Men 199. Bachalo art. Bachalo art is awesome. In particular I like the scritchy effects around Cable -- they look like they were done afterward, just with a marker or something. It is nice to see something that simple, like Graffiti. Plus the story is kinda fun, I guess. Next time this series is on issue 200. The second comic book I ever owned was X-Men 23. How did that happen?

Newsarama has Joss Whedon interviewing Bryan Hitch, which is quite fun (and long), and an interview up with Ed Brubaker. They also have some nonsense about a Mary Jane statue and a promo image of the Joker or Two Face or something from the upcoming Batman movie. I do not want to talk about those last two subjects -- it all looks perfectly horrible -- but you are welcome to.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

From Bill Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words 7 (Commonplace Book)

Precipitant, precipitate, precipitous: All three come from the same root, the Latin praecipitare ("to throw headlong"). Precipitous means steep, like a cliff. It should no be used, as it often is, to describe actions (e.g. "precipitous departure"), as it can only describe physical characteristics. Precipitant and precipitate both indicate a headlong rush and are almost indistinguishable, but the first tends to emphasize abruptness, and the second rashness.

Precondition, preplanning, prerecorded, etc. Almost always redundant; "pre-" adds nothing and should be deleted.

Prescribe, proscribe. The first means to set down as a rule or guide; the second means to denounce or prohibit. If you get bronchitis your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and proscribe smoking.

Pristine. Does not mean simply sparkling or tidy, but pure and unchanged from an original condition.

Prodigal. Does not mean wandering or given to running away, a sense often wrongly inferred from the biblical story of the prodigal son; It means recklessly wasteful or extravagant.

Prone, prostrate, recumbent, supine. Supine means lying face upward. Most, but not all, agree that prone and prostrate mean lying face downward (a few say it can also mean face-up). Prostrate should mean throwing oneself down, in submission or for protection, and should not be used to describe someone sleeping, for example. Recumbent means lying flat in any position and indicates ease and comfort.

Prototype is a word for an original that serves as a model for later products of its type. Most qualifying descriptions -- first prototype, experimental prototype, and so on -- are redundant.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Comments on the Matt Fraction - Geoff Klock Comic Geek Speak Event

I told Sara I was surprised that no one commented on the post announcing the Matt Fraction Comic Geek Speak episode next week that I will be a part of. Today, she noticed I accidentally disabled comments on that post. Sorry. If you wanted to say something about it -- including letting me know anything you would like to hear us talk about -- say it in the comments here.

Grant Morrison's New X-Men 147

[This post is part of a series of posts looking issue by issue at Grant Morrison's New X-Men. For more of the same hit the New X-Men label at the bottom of this post.]

This issue has a nice structure -- We jump head to Magneto at his headquarters, and we learn in brief page-spread single-image flashbacks that he took over Manhattan island and destroyed Xavier's mansion in one day. We don't really need to see Magneto being a terrorist -- we have seen this before, and that is one of Morrison's points here. Jimenez does a great job with the art in these spreads. The only thing that bothers me here is the destruction of the mansion -- did he kill all the students?

In his triumph Magneto says to his new brotherhood "I have turned the world on its head for you. The lowest are now the highest." The image shows a bizarre lineup: Martha (the brain in the jar), Ernst (the old woman little girl), Basilisk (the giant one eyed guy, in street clothes), Esme (of the Cookoos, looking like an 80s idea of a tramp), Toad (in street clothes), Beak and Angel (both in X-Men jackets, which is odd) and Angel's weird babies (in diapers, with huge black eyes and gossamer wings). It is an odd image, especially in the context of the Morrison's "cool" manifesto. The weirdos have taken over, but given Morrison's treatment of them -- we have no idea why they would side with Magneto here at all, or stand tall with him after he wrecked New York -- it is not very persuasive, especially since Ernst does not understand that Xorn was not real. What was she thinking in the first place? If we knew that, if we understood these characters better, we could care more. Morrison is skipping over some important information.

The X-Men team appear in head-shots under superimposed Xs -- Xavier is listed as "missing" and everyone else is "missing in action". In a minute this will become a plot point -- Esme says it seems like Magneto wants the X-Men to come and get him, or he would make sure they are all dead. For now we have the same problem as last issue, and in the Riot: Morrison wants to show that Magneto is lame, but making your villain lame does not make for very interesting storytelling.

The sentimental radio message that appeared in Morrison's September 11th tribute turns out now to have been a virus to disable the world's technology. This is a very weird detail, and seems tacked on to me -- I doubt Morrison had that in mind when he wrote that issue, in which he seemed to be really aiming for the sentimental.

Morrison wants to make a joke about Magneto being too old fashioned: Magneto addresses the masses, and they do not react as he wants them too; Toad remarks that no one is sure what is going on, the speakers are distorting his voice, and no one can tell who he really is. What doesn't make the scene make sense is the question of why Magneto would think they could tell who he was all the way up on top of a skyscraper. The crowd has a short attention span, and so Magneto turns to Kick to make he powers more dramatic. He says lamely "just one more time..." Again, interesting interpreting, bad storytelling.

And here we see Morrison's Magneto emerge: he just destroys New York City landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty, because he is a petty horrible man out for attention. Morrison wants Magneto to be very unsympathetic, and he succeeds, but it is a Phyrric victory, as his story is no fun as a result. I have written elsewhere about why Morrison's Magneto does not work -- go to the archives for July 30, 2006.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

TV Week in Review (LOST)

LOST: this episode was more of a prologue to the season finale, and no island mysteries were unlocked, but, for me, this is a good example of why the show is great. I do not even like Charlie that much but I got genuinely choked up watching this episode. Mysteries aside, Lost tells good stories, which creates a phenomenal amount of sympathy for its main characters. Desmond's premonitions allow a story like this; right there is an often forgotten about virtue of science fiction -- as in Solaris, sci-fi is better with this human scope. And heading into finale territory I expected to be bored by the obligatory flashback, a flashback not revealing secrets; but the "Greatest Hits" thing -- using flashbacks for single memories rather than for telling a story -- really made the device feel fresh (not an easy thing to do three seasons in).

No one every talks about other shows in the comments, but you are welcome to.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Matt Fraction / Geoff Klock Crossover Event!

Wednesday May 23, 2007 should be a good day -- LOST season 3 ends, the hardcover collection of Casanova comes out, and Matt Fraction and I are teaming up for an appearance on Comic Geek Speak. If you don't know Fraction he is doing Iron Fist (with Ed Brubaker and David Aja), Punisher War Journal (with Ariel Olivetti), and Casanova (with Gabriel Ba). We are going to talk about 100 things I am sure -- I am going to chase him around about what he said about Kill Bill on his last CGS appearance, for one. But mostly we are going to PROMOTE THE FUCK out of Casanova, which is, as you may have heard me say, THE BEST COMIC BOOK EVER. (Click here for my GutterGeek review).

Fraction has been kind enough to talk to me over the phone and give me access to advance pages, scripts, and knowledge about the upcoming second arc (drawn by Fabio Moon). It is no contradiction to say that the best comic book ever is going to get BETTER.

The podcast should be up Thursday or Friday. Be there. It is going to ROCK. Or RAWK, as Fraction puts it.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Free Form Comments

Free form comments: introduce yourself if you are a lurker or a new person, post random thoughts, questions (not just questions for me), ideas, suggestions, recommendations, promote what you are doing on your blog or in your life, make personal attacks on me or someone else, request to be added to the blog-roll -- whatever.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Grant Morrison's New X-Men 146

[This post is part of a series of posts looking at Grant Morrison's New X-Men run issue by issue. For more in this series click the New X-Men link below.]

Xavier, responding to the satellite explosion from the last issue, screams out "X-MEN EMERGENCY!" in a single page image, with huge letters -- The first line of dialogue is also the issue's title, I think. Perhaps I am being cynical and tired, but it seems like an overreaction. You have a hard time imagining him freaking out every time something like this happens, since it happens so often. But that is probably just me being mean.

Scott and Fantomex, escaping from the satellite, crash into the Pacific Ocean shortly after. Henry and Emma's jet explodes trying to rescue them. The following issues will make a thematic point out of Magneto's lack of imagination, but I will renew my objection to this device: in criticizing something lame you are also giving us something lame -- I would rather see Morrison come up with something more clever than blowing up Wolverine on a satellite, blowing up Scott and Fantomex on a plane, blowing up another plane with Hank and Emma on their way to rescue them, then blowing up Jean and Wolverine moments after she rescues him. (I have mentioned 9-11 with Morrison here -- is this another allusion to that? Crummy terrorists with their bombs and lack of imagination?). More lack of imagination will follow with an eeeeevil upside down map, and an eeeeevil bolt lock that locks itself -- a very poor way to build to the reveal of the Master of Magnetism; in a superhero universe, you have to feel the bolt lock is going to be a minor obstacle, even if Xavier is crippled again and there are no superheroes around.

One nice detail that got a bit buried here is that Scott has reported there is a traitor in the mansion, and then Magneto is revealed to have been Xorn the whole time. But of course the traitor Scott is talking about is Weapon 14, whose identity will not be revealed until the next arc. THAT is an example of clever plotting that I want to see more of. My general complaint with New X-Men is not that it is bad but that it is uneven.

Elsewhere we see Xorn addressing the special class. It seems he has just finished his "pitch" and is now asking for a response from Dust. Given the reaction of everyone in the room, they agree with whatever it is Xorn just said. Given what happens in the next issue, this skipped over moment seems crucial -- it is hard to imagine drugged up Magneto, who everyone will hate in ten minutes, saying something persuasive to this group. I want to see what it is that made them want to follow him. It would make what follows much easier to swallow. This should have been set up long ago.

Dust's response is to run to Xavier, then panic when Xorn follows her; in her panic she will destroy Cerebra. Then we never hear from her again. This is the third and final appearance of what would have been an interesting character. It is a shame that Morrison had no better plans for her than this. This lack of imagination has nothing to do with the upcoming attack on Magneto for a lack of imagination -- the fact that this is in the same issue with the explosions tells me the problem is a problem Morrison is having, and not and intentional part of the theme of the story.

And the big reveal is here -- that Magneto has been Xorn the whole time. We have gone over the evidence on this blog issue by issue, and my conclusion is this: in order for this moment to have any impact it has to have been set up very well, and it was not. The nano-sentinels allowing Xavier to walk was a very nice detail, as was Xorn healing everyone by killing Nova's Nano sentinels; though the coincidence factor on that second one is very high -- Magneto pretends to be a healer and lucky him there is an easy way to pretend to be a healer that works perfectly with his powers. But I have too many questions about how Xorn could have been Magneto the whole time to have the Wow reaction Morrison must be looking for, and I have aired those complaints in earlier posts. We had a theory back when Scott picked up Xorn to help in the Nova fight that the Xorn in the annual was really Xorn, and Magneto replaced him between the annual and when Scott comes to get him (that would explain how Magneto was able to fool the psychics with a fake history) -- in this issue Magneto says There never was a Feng-Tu prison, it was all invented for the occasion. He may be lying, but my problem stands -- for a twist like this to work you have to lay the groundwork that makes it both inevitable and surprising. This is surprising, but hardly as inevitable as Morrison wants to to be when Magneto mocks Charles with "A man in an iron prison. A star for a brain? I kept thinking it was too obvious, but still you missed it." Well there was a lot of evidence that Xorn was real, and you did not explain why I should not have been fooled by it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Comics Out May 16 2007

Frank Miller and Jim Lee's All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #5.

I just finished my revision of an essay for a BenBella book on Batman that argues that Miller's All Star Batman is brilliant. You can read how I got from hating the first three issues to loving the series by clicking on the Frank Miller tab at the bottom of this post (which will also bring up me on Miller's Spawn/Batman and DKSA). This issue continues in the vein I described in that post: insane, but fun if you can see it at the right angle. If you can learn to love the absurd first line of dialogue in this issue, as I love it, you can learn to love Miller's All Star Batman. Go with the crazy. Live in the crazy. Trust Frank Miller's crazy. And leave gender politics at the door, cause Miller learned his from Micky Spilane.

Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's Ultimates #13. Gatefold insanity. This series wrapped up a lot like the last one -- a few issues ago I lost interest, having seen it before. They go for big, but the gatefold is the only thing that stays with me, and even that is just a gimmick.

Brad Meltzer and Ed Benes Justice League of America #9. Monkeys riding on dinosaurs. Awesome. An an allusion from the visitors from the 31st century to having just arrived after the "Middle Crisis" is audacious, and I admire audacity. Red Arrow has a nice moment standing in for the audience, who expect the inevitable conflict, and in the last page, we get what I think is a nice swerve from expectations. But basically I do not know who these people are. The bad guys are revealed in such a way that I am supposed to recognize who they are but I don't. I could not figure out what happened with the girl with the wings -- she had them? or didn't? and then it turned out to be someone else maybe? and then the real one showed up? or something? I don't know who they are saving. It is sort of fun -- I feel like I did when I first got into comics and had no idea who anyone was, but I could use some footnotes or a who's who.

Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert's Batman #665. Morrison continues to invoke the (almost literally) ghosts of Batmen past -- Miller's Batman being the main antagonist (the hookers are out of Sin City). Morrison is trying to demonstrate that his Batman is the one true Batman. It ain't really workin.

Hey, and my comic book store was giving away free flash drives with the LuthorCorp logo on them. This is my new flash drive.

Plus: Something big is coming Thursday or Friday. Stay tuned.

Review, recommend, and discuss this weeks comic books and comic book news.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sara Reiss and the Awesome New Blog Design

Thanks to Sara Reiss, my fiancee, for the fancy-fication of New banner on top and my books for sale on the right. Next up, videoblogging (still in the works, be patient).

From Bill Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words 6 (Commonplace Book)

New. Nearly always the sense of newness is implicit and the word can be deleted without loss. For example "Spiderman 3 aims to set new records at the box office" -- well it was hardly going to aim to set old ones.

Noisome has nothing to do with noise; it means offensive or objectionable.

Obviate does not mean to reduce or make more acceptable; it means to make unnecessary.

Optimum does not mean greatest or fastest or biggest, as is sometimes thought. It describes the point at which conflicting considerations are reconciled. The optimum flying speed of an aircraft is the speed at which all the many variables that must be taken into account in flying -- safety, comfort, fuel -- are most nearly in harmony.

Past. Often a space waster that can be deleted without loss. Past records, past history, past 30 years, past experience, past achievement and past precedents are all tautological.

Pedant, pedagogue. Synonyms. In both cases the pejorative sense has driven out the older meaning of teacher.

Plan ahead. Always tautological. Would you plan behind?

Plethora is not merely a lot, it is an excessive amount.

Position. Often a pointer for verbosity. "They now find themselves in a position where they have to make a choice" would be better as "They now have to make a choice."

Grant Morrison's New X-Men 145

[This post is part of a series of posts looking at Grant Morrison's New X-Men run issue by issue. For more posts on the same subject, click the New X-Men label below. For more on issues 142-145, click on the link in the issue 142 post and read part 6 of my online essay for Reconstruction.]

Each issue Assault on Weapon Plus takes a foot for the subject of its opening panel. I have no idea why that is but I think Bachalo has a quirky and fun sense of humor, and I like it.

Again, Bachalo has a great use of empty space here, as Weapon 15 travels through literally empty space.

Dr. Sublime is introduced as the man behind the Weapon Plus program, and thus the man behind Weapon Plus. We only see him on a monitor; we have never seen him before and will not see him again in Morrison's run. This guy is a link in the chain that leads to the big reveal at the end of the series, but we never get to spend time with him -- this actually feels like a last ditch attempt to link this arc with the arc of the series. It is ok here -- this arc is still perfect -- but it seems ill set up in terms of the run.

We get a great little reveal here -- there is a mole inside Xavier's. It looks like Magneto for a moment (as long as you don't stop to think about it), but it turns out to be someone very surprising, even though the identity of Weapon 15's predecessor will not be revealed for 150 narrative years.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Advert: Neptune Noir

I have an essay in the Benbella book Neptune Noir -- a book dedicated to the television show Veronica Mars. It's on the value of understanding screenplay structure and focuses on the season finale. The whole thing is edited by Rob Thomas, the show's creator, and it includes essays by Heather Havrilesky ( and John Ramos (Television Without Pity). The hyperlink will take you to the page -- go buy a copy.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

TV Week in Review (LOST)

LOST: Given the content of this week's episode (a surprising subject for a flashback and a major character reveal), I expected season finale material. But the flashback gave me less than I wanted, and the scene in the cabin -- though it involved a twist on a cliche -- still had such a classic cliche I got a little frustrated.

Then Sara pointed me to It was at that point that I realized that I was not paying enough attention and that this episode, except for two mistakes (or what looked to my eyes like mistakes), was great, and delivered exactly what I wanted. The show is now in answer mode -- and we got some HUGE answers in this episode. We got the arc for the rest of the show. I will go into spoiler detail in the first comment to this post.

In other Lost news, after season three ends on May 23rd there will be 48 more episodes until the series ends. This is two seasons of material (24 episodes per season), but they will be spread out over three 16 episode seasons. That is kind of lame -- they are really giving us less for our investment of time, which is what people have been accusing Lost of for a while now, but it is probably a good compromise. The network probably wanted three more seasons, these guys had two, and this is what they came up with. You have to admit this is better than keeping the show on for 24 episode more than it needs (a la X-Files, which had at least 48 more than it needed).

Satacracy 88 Episode 8 part 3

The third part of the eighth episode of Satacracy 88 is up at It's extra short (1:35) but it features a fight scene (choreographed by Brad, his first extended one), between two beautiful girls in the hallway of a mini-storage. I don't think that kind of situation requires little footnotes, but it does require me to alert people to its general awesomeness. Go there, and don't forget to vote.

(EDIT [6:17pm same day]: this post was edited because, re-reading it, I found the original construction a little vague).

Friday, May 11, 2007

Free Form Comments

Random thoughts, ideas, suggestions, questions go here -- and don't forget you can talk to other commenters, not just me. Also introduce yourself if you have not commented before, request to be added to the blog-roll, and shamelessly self promote anything going on with you. Heck, a while ago we heard about an engagement -- feel free to update us on your life in general.

On my end I want more people here. If you know folks that are not reading this thing, get them involved.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Grant Morrison's New X-Men 144

[This post is part of a series of posts looking at Grant Morrison's New X-Men run issue by issue. For more posts on the same subject, click the New X-Men label below. For more on issues 142-145, click on the link in the issue 142 post and read part 6 of my online essay for Reconstruction.]

Just a few very quick notes.

Frozen time within the fortress of the World is shown with washed out color, which is nice. When time starts up again characters cough up blood, which is the right detail for seeing something so unnatural.

Morrison has them confront a gigantic shambling security robot that Fantomex describes as what happens when you put a whale's brain under the hood of a truck, which is a great bit of surrealism.

Weapon 15 talks like a poet-philosopher, and I think it is pretty well written. In the hands of a lesser writer this kind of monologuing can become quickly cringe-worthy.

I keep talking about this, but Bachalo's layouts are just fantastic: the talk down an uninterrupted spiral staircase, the white background Wolverine-Weapon 15 fight, the twelve grid Cyclops Weapon 15 fight (in which Cyclops says it is like Weapon 15 is running a program -- hence the symmetry of the panels), the tall panels for flying, the two page spread to communicate the freedom of no more walls, the circular panel for the space station (like looking through a telescope).

I know these are brief, but I did say most of what I had to say about these issues in the online essay.

Comics Out May 9, 2007

I got three issues today.

Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, and David Aja's The Immortal Iron Fist #5. This series just gets better and better. As Fraction put it in his Comic Geek Speak interview a while back, "Kung-Fu billionaire. How is this concept not on issue 600 by now?" [That's a paraphrase]. The story is rich, and new levels open up with every issue -- here the cosmic. Aja is equally brilliant with action sequences and setting the panels for maximum comic timing. These guys are lucky to have someone who does both wonderfully.

Matt Fraction and Ariel Olivetti's Punisher War Journal #7. This book is growing on me, a lot. Hate-Monger was what was needed from the beginning -- he really encapsulates why we need a a Punisher book set in the Marvel Universe. I want to watch Frank Castle shoot this guy in the face. Not want, need.

Robert Kirkman and Sean Phillips's Marvel Zombies: Dead Days One Shot. Fine. This book is fine. But it is just a cash in on a popular book, an unnecessary prequal. Only get it if you wish Marvel Zombies had more pages of superheroes getting eaten.

In the news:

Newsarama has an "Exit Interview" with Grant Morrison about 52. It ends with these words:

NRAMA: Finally Grant, could you ever see yourself doing something like this again?

GM: No. It's a bit like having sex with a jellyfish: once might an interesting experiment, twice would be perversion!

Not my favorite joke, but it is really there only to soften the initial one word answer. Nuff said, I think.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

From Bill Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words 5 (Commonplace Book)

More geekery from Bill Bryson.

Languid, Limpid. Often confused. The first means limp or listless. The second means clear, calm, untroubled. [EDIT: I WROTE THIS BACKWARDS AT FIRST AND HAVE NOW FIXED IT.]

Libel, Slander. Although almost all dictionaries define libel as merely as a statement that defames another person or damages his reputation, it is worth remembering that it must do so unreasonably or inaccurately. It is the wrongness of a contention that makes it libelous, not the harshness or hostility of it. Libel must be published (usually written, but drawings can also constitute libel); libel comes from the Latin libellus, meaning "little book". Slander is used when remarks are merely spoken.

Like, As. This rule will cover you most of the time: as and as if are always followed by a verb (he played as if his life depended on it"); like never is ("He played like an expert").

Meticulous: correctly used, this word has a pejorative tone.

Minute detail: tautological.

Moribund: this word does not mean sluggish or troubled or struggling. It means dying. To be moribund is to be critically -- irreversibly -- ill.

Mutual exchange: tautological.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Spiderman 3 (MAJOR SPOILERS)

[We can have a debate about spoilers on Friday if you like. For now I want to talk about this movie freely while it still matters to people, and before my energy for this subject fades. Major spoilers follow.]

Though we love Romeo and Juliet today, it was considered a bad tragedy for hundreds of years. The point of tragedy, as it was originally conceived, is that there should be something inevitable about the fall of the hero; something intrinsic in his nature is his downfall. Centuries ago people objected that it is just dumb luck that Romeo does not find out about the potion Juliet takes, and so believes she is really dead and kills himself.

Those people would have hated Spiderman 3. At the beginning of the film Marko says "I am not a bad man. I have just had bad luck." At the end Peter gives him the moral: we have choices and we have to make the right ones-- we cannot let luck run our lives. But the film gives the lie to his moral, as the entire plot is driven by the most absurd luck. It is a coincidence that the asteroid lands right next to Peter. That is just bad writing: surely you have the asteroid land, Peter the science nerd goes to the teacher's lab to see it, and it bonds to him because it is attracted to his super-powers; the film suggests it could have just as easily have created a dark Mary Jane. It is a coincidence that Uncle Ben's killer runs into a particle physics experiment just as they fire up the machines. It is a coincidence that Brock is in the church at the exact moment Peter rejects the symbiote; we are lucky it was not Aunt May praying, or she would have been Venom. It is a coincidence Harry gets amnesia until his character is needed for the finale. It is a coincidence that Stacy is Brock's girlfriend, the daughter of the police commissioner, a genius girl in Peter's class AND a supermodel who happens to be in danger from the swinging crane so Spiderman can save her. The proximity of the church bell and and the aluminum rods are a coincidence. Luck may be realistic -- sometimes life just has dumb luck -- but in a film it is just lazy writing.

Because this movie had as much that I liked as I did not like, as much A and B material as D and F material, I think it deserves a C, the mid point between an A and an F. Here is what I am talking about:

Good: That scene with the Sandman forming himself is hauntingly beautiful -- a lesser director would have had him rise like a god; Rami has him rise and crumble, rise and crumble. A pool of sand lit by sunlight. Simple. Lovely.

Bad: Venom needs more screen time -- he should be the center point of the film, not the fourth man in a four man smashup. Obviously the film is overlong and has too many bad guys, which means less time with all the characters. Comparisons to Batman 3 and 4 have been made; it is not that bad, but it is still a big mistake. Peter attempts to kill one early on; that should have stuck. Then you would not have needed amnesia to delay the plot of the other one until you are ready to deal with it.

Good: Parker becomes a jerk on the street. Parker is the perennial loser, the schlemiel; even when he goes bad he is an idiot kind of bad (rather than an evil kind of bad) all black jeans and finger guns. Women look at him like, "Who is this schmuck?" Poor Peter, you have to love him, even when he goes bad.

Bad: But then in the jazz club it all changes; now the audience loves him and you have ruined your tone. Also, Peter Parker does. not. play. piano. He does not know on his own (he is a science guy and a nerd; musicians are cool); Venom did not teach him (because that would be too stupid by half).

Good: Since Peter Parker is the perennial loser, you have to do something different the third time around, so the film addresses the dangers of the opposite, becoming popular. He was well on his way to being a jerk before Venom found him. Mary Jane is right when she accuses him of betraying their moment (the upside-down kiss) for a photo op. The symbiote only exacerbated the existing conflict. We see internal conflict through external conflict. Nice. Also nice were the parallels between Brock and Peter, which work well with the dark side theme.

Bad: Peter and Mary were on their way to a break-up. What on earth is the point of having Harry force it. Just have him overhear and use what he overheard. Stupid.

Good: Flint Marko's little girl is BB from Kill Bill!

Bad: You cannot introduce a dying little girl and then not resolve her plot in the film. Have Peter help her, get money for the operation, SOMETHING. Sand blowing away is not an ending. (Thank you Brad for emphasizing what a mistake this is).

Good: Topher Grace is always fun, and Kirsten Dunst is always a cutie. When she got hit, my whole audience was stunned. Powerful.

Bad: Movies are artificial. Rami used real friends, family, contest winners, boy-scout troops, and fanboys as extras. These felt shoehorned in, badly edited and wrong -- real people such as the kids who say "Cool" "Wicked Cool" and the girl who sells J.J. Jameson a camera (a Rami family member) stand out badly and break the tone.

Good: Making the ring the emotional center of the first fight was wonderful. As an audience member I am PRAYING he does not lose that ring.

Bad: The old people. Stan Lee is dumb, the Village Voice noted that Aunt May sounds more and more like Yoda as the years go by, and Harry has a very convenient butler.

Good: Bruce Campbell as a waiter and the gag with JJ Jameson taking his pills were very funny I thought. Silly, but I laughed all the way through. Spot on fun. Brad noted that what makes Bruce Cambell so funny is that he is such a big cartoon -- he is just bursting at the seams as the waiter and you can feel the pent up energy.

Bad: Flashing back to the bells at the end. I just saw that. I do not need a reminder. I am not addle minded.

Good: Topher Grace praying for the death of Peter Parker. You get his character right there. Also, in my favorite moment in the film, the symbiote arches Topher Grace's eyebrow for him, so he looks extra evil. Hilarious and fun. (Sara pointed this out. Also, she would like to add that Topher needed more screen time.)

Bad: no information about this symbiote beyond, "it came from outer space." If you had less bad guys you would have more time to learn about them, and thus care more.

Good: They fixed the problem from Spiderman 1 and kept the masks off as much as possible.

Bad: Not one but two musical numbers. And a dance number.

Good: The ghost of Harry' father returns to spur his son's revenge of his death with the word's "remember me." I am teaching Hamlet this semester, and cannot wait to see if my students noticed that those words, which I lecture on as a key moment in act one, are the same words that the ghost of Hamlet's father uses before sending his son to revenge his death.

See how I started and ended with Shakespeare.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Imaginary Biographies: Misreading the Lives of the Poets

My second book, Imaginary Biographies: Misreading the Lives of the Poets is out in the UK (it will be out in the US in 6 weeks). It is a 60 quid library harcover; obviously I do not expect any person to pay 60 quid (120 US dollars) for the book, but I would appreciate it if you would go to a library you can get to, college or otherwise, and request that they order it; that is what they have budgets for, and believe it or not this is a normal price for a book like this. If you are in the UK, take the information below down, and go to the reception desk of your library; tell them you want them to order one, or two, in case someone wants to read it more than once. I will put up an American counterpart to this post in a few weeks.

The book, by the way, is awesome.

* Title: Imaginary Biographies: Misreading the Lives of the Poets
* Author: Geoff Klock
* Hardcover: 288 pages
* Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.
* Language English
* ISBN-10: 0826428029
* ISBN-13: 978-0826428028

Saturday, May 05, 2007

TV Week in Review

LOST: just as, in season two, the writers played with one of the fan theories (LOST is all in someone's head, Hurley's), now they are playing with another, the purgatory theory. Characters are now considering whether they are in some kind of weird afterlife together. I am sure it is just some kind of crazy red herring -- it does not really explain anything after all: why would Hell or Purgatory have a smoke monster for example, or a hatch (as Brad put it to me)? But one of the things that suggests this theory so strongly is the screenplay idea of character arcs -- characters must change and learn; but when they do, often their arc is over, and so they die. On LOST characters often but not always die when they learn a lesson -- Eko confronts his past, Ana Lucia learns not to kill -- and so it feels like they are leaving purgatory having cleansed their sins or whatever. It is all a fun lovable mess, and I cannot wait to see next week's episode, which looks like a big one. Without spoiling anything it looks like major season finale material; I am very surprised, and intrigued, that they are going to give us this big deal episode, and then two more, before the season is out.

By the way, we talked Bible references in the series, but there are some big Wizard of Oz ones as well: Henry Gale is the name of Dorothy's uncle, the show's Henry Gale flew in on a hot air balloon (a major image in the film), and next week's episode is called "The Man Behind the Curtain."

In other news Studio 60 will be back: the final six episodes start airing May 24. No one expects it will be renewed. Am I really going to watch this? Didn't I pay my dues with this show? Like an idiot, I probably will watch, and like a curmudgeon I will get on here and complain about it.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Free Form Comments

Hey its Free Form Comments: say whatever you want to say here: introduce yourself, make your first comment if you are a lurker, voice any random or off-topic thought, suggestion, comment, recommendation, question from the past week, or whenever, and shamelessly promote your blog or accomplishments.

With Spiderman 3 I am all for using this space to review the film. I am going to try to see it Saturday, but the mixed reviews have me worried.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Grant Morrison's New X-Men 143

[This post is part of a series of posts looking at Grant Morrison's New X-Men run issue by issue; for more of the same click the New X-Men label at the bottom of this post].

As I said last time, much of what I have to say about this arc I said in an online essay -- the post for issue 142 will give you the link; only part six of the essay is about issues 142-145. Here I will give only stray notes.

In the headquarters of The World there is a place called the Euthanasium, where old experiments are killed. Grant Morrison is always very good at naming things.

Weapon 15 is a religious monster prone to monologuing: "What if there is no joyful reward in the fire," a mode Morrison also writes very well.

Some of Bachalo's most beautiful layouts are in this issue -- a full page panel of a building with smaller panels superimposed to show guys climbing, for example. Bachalo gives some amazing glamour shots of the three leads, including a Wolverine Attacks image in which the background has been removed -- only white remains -- to make it uber-iconic.

a series of identical small panels, like film reel, of Fantomex just shooting his gun over and over; in one of my favorite Morrison lines he says, in the first panel "I come in peace" then says in the last panel "Did I say peace?" -- this is why Fantomex is my favorite comic book character of all time. One of my other favorite New X-Men lines is in the issue: Fantomex remarks of shooting a guy with an old fashioned AIM uniform "AIM helmet. Design classic. I could clean up on eBay. But now I'm thinking... Would bullet holes make it more collectible or less?"

And Bachalo always has a sense of humor -- one guy is so freaked out his hair has turned white. Bachalo makes a point of giving him dramatic orange glasses so when his hair color changes, you know it is the same guy. Bachalo is cluttered and chaotic -- along with Geof Darrow, Bachalo is great at drawing debris -- but he always puts these little details in to make his art clear if you take the time to look past the mess, if you take the time to figure it out. Whether he should be asking the audience to take that time is up for debate, but I have always found it rewarding, especially on Steampunk.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Brad Winderbaum's Satacracy 88 Episode 8 Part 2

The second part of episode 8 of Satacracy 88 is up at, and they just won a people's choice Webby award, which is quite cool.

With the episode we are firmly back in Quentin Tarantino territory, as the warrior women gear up for their uber-battle as we learn about their past in a series of flashbacks (both aspects of Kill Bill), and a guy is shot in the back-seat of the car (which happens in both Resivoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction). The victim? Director Brad Winderbaum. Tarantino 's Resivoir Dogs character dies, as does his character in From Dusk Till Dawn which he wrote (that film was directed by his friend Robert Rodriguez); in Rodriguez films Tarantino plays characters who get killed in Desperado and Planet Terror. All of those Tarantino deaths involve getting shot, if I remember correctly (though the guns are useless in the vampire movie and the zombie movie).

Comics Out May 2, 2007

It's a Joss Whedon extravaganza today, with no less than three books out today:

Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's Astonishing X-Men #21. Whedon and Cassaday continue to fire on all cylinders. Lots of great art and lots of big melodrama, twists and turns, and lots of big jokes including a joke on the first page about the amount of time that has passed since the last issue. Joss Whedon is always fun, and this is my favorite comic book by him. But that could be because I am a sucker for all things X-Men.

Joss Whedon and Michael Ryan's Runaways #26. One perhaps fair complaint you could make about Whedon is that all of his books sound like Whedon. He could not, like Grant Morrison, do All Star Superman AND the Filth -- Whedon only has the one tone. Still, Runaways is fun, and the next issue looks like a blast.

Joss Whedon and Georges Jeanty's Buffy the Vampire Slayer #3. Yeah, this is why people either love or hate Whedon. He is the same on every book so if you don't like his thing, it will make you nuts, especially three times this week. Buffy is reminding me of the current JLA-JSA team up -- you just better remember who all these people he keeps bringing back are, or off you go to Wikipedia. I do remember, so it is OK for me, but it is not my favorite storytelling mode. This is a book for people that have seen all seven seasons, and I am not at all sure that is a good thing. There is a picture of Whedon in Buffy's dreamscape and one of the girls is reading Fray; Very insider baseball, if that is the expression. Still, it is fun to read, jokes, melodrama and so on -- just like on X-Men, just like on Runaways. The art is a little dodgy in places, but it is pretty good. On Buffy, on Angel, and on Firefly, and on all three comics this week, Whedon always nails that big hook for act breaks, episode breaks (if it is a cliffhanger), and issue breaks. Just throw something out of left field, and bam, you are done. Fun if you like that kind of thing. Annoying if you don't. I think this guy is a good storyteller, but I would not call Runaways or Buffy necessary reading.


Mike Mignola and Ducan Fegredo's Hellboy: Darkness Calls #1. Mignola is no longer drawing. The new guy does not suck, but I always thought Hellboy was a great design and had great art but not so great stories. The new guy is fine, but the Mignola art was always the point for me.


Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca's Sensational Spiderman Annual 2007. A Spiderman story. A sweet romantic little story, about the pleasures of marriage, with its ups and downs. Fraction must be very happy at home, and his wife must be happy with him.

Plus the last issue of 52. I am very angry at Matt Fraction right now. He wrote a whole thing on his website today, praising 52 in a way that made me want to read all of 52. I love the Matt Fraction, Matt Fraction loves 52, and he said the only thing anyone could say to get me to buy the book, which is that he was unimpressed with the first dozen or so issues but it turned around for him. I read the first dozen or so issues and then bailed, just like he did, so I was not around for this mysterious epiphany. So now I am going to have to get the trades. Ugh.

Nothing in the news jumped out at me, but you may disagree: review, recommend, discuss.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

From Bill Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words 4 (Commonplace Book)

More annoying words from Bryson:

Factious, Factitious: Factious applies to factions and thus refers to something that promotes internal bickering. Factitious applies to that which is artificial, such as applause for a despotic ruler. Neither should be confused with fractious, a terms for something disorderly or unruly.

Feasible does not mean probable or plausible, as is sometimes thought, but rather capable of being done. An action can be feasible without being either desirable or likely.

Flammable and Inflammable mean the same thing; the root of inflammable is "inflame"; flammable was invented in the 20th century because too many people thought they "in" meant "not" as in incombustible (something that WON'T burn).

Fulsome is one of the most frequently misapplied words in English. The sense that is usually applied to it -- that of being abundant or unstinting -- is almost the opposite of the word's historic meaning. Fulsome is related to foul and means odious or overfull, offensively insincere.

Habits: customary habits, or usual habits are redundant phrases.

Home, Hone: Hone means to sharpen, home means to seek out a target.

Iterate, reiterate: because reiterate means to repeat, many people assume iterate means simply to state; in fact iterate also meas to repeat. On another point again is always redundant with re- words (reaffirm, repeat) and should be deleted.