Friday, June 26, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
One of the other major challenges facings a writer coming to a new series is that he quickly needs to make his reader care about a character they might have never come across before, and thankfully Rucka knows the routine. He allows his characters as much personal page space that can be allowed in a comic, while still setting up a plot line to keep people coming back. While it's difficult to judge correct characterization and smart plotting with so little so go on, it seems that Batwoman is going to excel, and if Gotham Central is any indication of Rucka's ability to write meaningful characters, I expect Kate will a personal favorite soon enough.
J.H. Williams is an outstanding artist, and the book's colorist, Dave Stuart, seems to be doing wonders for the book as well. There are a number of pages, particularly the two-page spreads, that are simply breathtaking. The panel layout, while at first jarring, is a welcome deviation from the normal that isn't ever difficult to follow. Curiously, one of the scenes in the comic is much less striking than all the others, notably on the often artist hated "talking head" scenes. The proportions seem the slightest bit off in places, and Kate never quite looks right. It's a small blip in an otherwise visually stunning comic.
A note on co-features: It may be remembered that a short while ago, I was voicing my support for the DC co-feature, as it prevented characters from falling into obscurity, justified DC raising their prices to match Marvel's, and provided a bit more precious work in the comic industry. Seeing the co-feature in action is an odd thing. Because it's only a short eight pages, the story has to move quickly. This means, almost certainly, that readers are unlikely to see very many touching character scenes, but for what things are it seems a small price to pay. The co-features read like well-written Sunday comics of more appropriate length. They give more than a taste, but less than a meal-- the result is something that will take getting used to.
As for the Question, the story is only just taking off the ground, but as of now has more of a real-world kind of super-heroics to it. So far the story only promises a gang leader for a villain, and it's going to prove challenging for Rucka to keep audience interest up. There are dozens of generic crime lord/bosses that have graced comic pages, each of them around for usually one story in which they're violent temperamental pushovers. Rucka is going to have to work for readers to care, but at least it gives a slight throw back to the fact that Renee was only a cop not too long ago, and her villains maybe shouldn't be too grandiose.
RATING: 7 out of 10
The series seems to be on the right track, and should be an entertaining read. As promised, Rucka doesn't overblow his character's sexuality, and seems to be working hard to make them mean something to readers. Not a stunning first round, but more than adequate. I suggest you jump on this title now if you're going to read it.
Does this format work for books with co-features? Do you think there is a better approach to reviewing them I could take up?
Sunday, June 21, 2009
In general, they do not have much sympathy for alienated antiheroes; they are more focused on distinguishing themselves in society as it is presently constituted than in trying to change it.I believe that this quote speaks directly to the major flaws of generation Y: an obsessive interest in money, fame and overall self-centered concerns. I don't hold myself above it, and I see it quite frequently all around me. Bleeding heart emo music has risen to prominence, I suspect, for those same reasons. It is in this way that the modern response to Caulfield forks. There are those who I believe layer him in 'emo' clothing and relate to him in that way and those that reject him because of the culture's over-saturation of self-concern, or their own inflated self-concern. Ironically, I think the misunderstood youth of Holden Caulfield is now most misunderstood by those of his very age.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
It appears that a Swedish author-- with the rather pretentious pen-name of J.D. California, pictured above-- has a first "serious" novel coming out in the U.S. soon entitled 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye. The book has already been released in the U.K. It focuses on two main characters; J.D. Salinger and a shamelessly undisguised Holden Caufield renamed Mr. C. In the book, Salinger-- actually intended to be the author-- is trying to kill his character before his own soon and inevitable death. In addition, the book begins with Mr. C leaving a retirement home (note the 60 years later in the title) and experiencing a series of events similar to those in Salinger's famous work.
Notable about Salinger, in addition to his literary accomplishments and reclusive nature, is that he has always kept a tight reign on his work. He has saw to it that none of his work has ever been adapted for stage or screen, despite that he has had whopping offers come in from everyone as high up as Steven Spielberg. In addition, Salinger has always keep a tight watch on his private life. Salinger tried to block publication of a biography featuring his letters, and expressed dissatisfaction about the publication of memoirs by both his ex-wife and daughter. In short-- Salinger comes out of his shell only when he or his work is threatened, and sues accordingly.
Apparently this well known fact escaped Mr. California (I refuse to call him by his real name. If he wants to look like a jackass, let him) because when asked for comment remarked that he was very surprised, issuing the rather imbecilic comic statement "In Sweden we don't sue people," California's surprise amounts to one of two things-- either he never researched Mr. Salinger for his book (in which, I repeat, he is a character) or he knew well what was going to happen and this entire court case is a stunt to sell copies-- which I frankly think is immediately evident upon hearing the synopsis for the novel. It would be difficult to conjure up a safer bet for a lawsuit, and publicity.
I have read all of Salinger's work in available print -- save those only available in the New Yorker's pricey digital fiction collection, and Slight Rebellion of Madison, included in an anthology entitled Wonderful Town: New York Stories from the New Yorker -- and he is one of my favorite writers. Naturally I take offence to this development on a number of levels. First of all, Salinger is a frail ninety year old at this point, with a number of heath problems. His passing in not so far off that publication of such a work couldn't wait, and excitement and emotion surrounding the court cast is only going to expedite matters. As a fan of his work with the small hope that Salinger's unpublished fiction will see the light of day at the time of his passing, I'm in no rush to see him pass on should it mean the incompletion of a novel or story. Considering that Salinger's work focuses so on childhood, is there anyone with a respect for it that isn't interested in his insights into old age?
If that concern and hope weren't enough to hate this book from the onset there is also the simple fact that it reeks of a money grubbing scheme, desperate to take hold of Salinger's coat tales. J.D. California's name didn't given you enough indication of his character, this fiasco certainly does. The man undoubtably has no earnest respect for the book or the author whose back he's using to reach the first rungs on the latter of success. If he did, he wouldn't have written the work in Salinger's lifetime-- he certainly has time himself, being a writerly-young 33-- and he it wouldn't be such a slap in the face on top of things.
I thoroughly believe that Mr. J.D. California should be ashamed of himself, and his book being barred from publication isn't punishment enough. When one calls himself or herself an author by profession, I believe you are bound to respect the art form defining work that came before you. It doesn't have to be liked, but it must be appreciated. Those that have gumption to take such notable work for the basis as their own should only do so with the purist of artist interests in mind. Commercialism in fine in its own right, but not at the expense of slapping the great authors and writers in the face. On that note, kudos to Seth Gram-Smith for his success with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Maybe I'll read it when I've finally gotten around to the unrevised version.
Do you have any feelings about this court case? Do you think California is just doing this for publicity, or do you think he has a legitiment creative work?
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Written by Gail Simone
Pencils by Nicola Scott
After two issues of "quiet" stand-alone stories, the six finally have a new gig; They've been hired to protect a mysterious large slab-looking thing (Han Solo in carbonate!) by a sketchy trio of slave drivers. Bane continues to struggle with his reawakened venom addiction, and Deadshot and Jeannette continue to flirt (in Ireland!). To complicate matters even further, the trio claim that their employer is none other than Mockingbird-- the shadowy figure who united the six in the first place.
After a brutal, and stunning opening gambit-- for some reason is seems to be a developing motif that the six's employers will inevitably become their enemies-- Simone turns her attention to the small character moments that make Six such a great comic to read. It is inevitably what makes the issues of six such a pleasure to read, so much so that you almost wish that six wasn't about a vicious mercenary group, and rather just a comic about the crazy adventures of a group of mismatched friends (frankly, it almost is already). That desire has never been more apparent than in reading the pages of this issue.
Simone is at her best when she's writing the brutal, the blackly comic and the sincere-- an odd combination to be sure, but none the less the truth of it. Simone knows her characters, and she knows what's funny but at some point in this issue she falls flat. The opening gambit is gripping, the characters moments are captivating, but with the meeting of the new employers and the six, things begin to get long winded and uninteresting. The characters make light of this later in the issue-- but it doesn't excuse the sluggishness of the scenes, and the difficulty they have grabbing an audience.
The end of the issue is something flat and not entirely gripping-- this isn't so much of a problem, it's significance will likely play into the events of the story arc-- but new readers certainly wouldn't come back after something so seemingly empty and if Secret Six needs anything, it's certainly more readers (Read it!). In addition, the characters have a strange, unsurprised response to finding out that their employer is the notorious Mockingbird. Given their association with him (I'm being careful not to reveal any spoilers from Villains United).
The fact is that Simone is a dynamite writer, at least for these characters, and they're damn good characters in addition to that (scoff at Catman if you like but he's come a long way under Simone's watchful eye). Her plots have been solid, and the solicitations for this particular arc seem very promising. Despite all of the complaints above, they're really only a light sprinkle on an otherwise perfect day. While this issue may not be the best of the run by any means, it's solid, and that's a critique I given when I didn't even feel like reading my comics this week.
RATING: 7 out of 10.
If you want to hook up with Simone's Six (please do! Marvel has already canned Captain Britain-- DC can't be too far away from scrapping six) you can start reading with this very issue, or it likely wouldn't be too difficult to find the entire 10 issues out already!