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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Long Drinking Coincidence Comic Day

Being a public school teacher, one of life's great rewards is the summer vacation. And one of summer vacation's great rewards is the All-Day-Drink-Fest. All-Day-Drink-Fest '05 started today around eleven o'clock and it was one of those days. You know those kickass days where things fall right into place? I don't know about you, but about 80% of my life is lived by luck and coincidence and this day was a prime example.

Soon after breakfast at Absolute Bagel (best bagels in Manhattan, bar none, and that's not counting the cutie little indie rocker behind the counter), I began my drinking day. On bar number 2, Yogi's, I sat with a PBR in one hand and a Maker's in the other. (Don't worry, this eventually gets to comics.) So I'm sitting there, enjoying myself when a fella comes from the back and talks to the bartender. "Holy shit, that looks like Roger," I say to myself. Then it sounds like him, too. I ask the girl and, yes, it's Roger.

Roger, you see, is one of those folks that have taken on mythical significance in my life. He ran a bar called 9C, best goddam bar I've ever known. Bluegrass jams every Sunday, cowpunk and gospel otherwise. Great place, cheap drinks, and the best goddam Bloody Mary's known to man. Well, for a while I was seeing a girl that didn't like me drinking, so I didn't. (Never do that, it's dumb.) Well, by the time that shit was over, I went and took a big group of my friends there and POOF it was closed. Never thought I'd see Roger again but I did today. We shot the shit and talked about how 9C wouldn't be able to be what it was these days, with all the well-meaning think-they're-leftists-but-are-actually-rule-loving-rightists fucking everything up in NY.

Good stuff, I can already tell this'll be a good day. So I go about my business, drink in a few more bars, eat dinner, drink, and head to a comic shop. I get some comics that I'll tell you about in a bit. Run into random Mousy Introvert from college, don't remember her name. Give drunk train guy advice to incoming art school students. And then, as I'm reading Battle Pope, these two black guys start talking to me about Hellboy and shit before singing for change on the train.

The best goddam part is the one guy saying, "You know who I liked? Orion, the New God." That's some obscure shit for random train dudes. "There was this baby trade, right? He and this other guy traded places. He was a good guy, but he was crazy. When he'd start fighting, all his friends even would step back, cause they knew he was crazy. He wasn't as big as the Hulk, but he could really fight."

That right there is fucking awesome. I love you, New York.

As for Battle Pope? Honestly, I love Kirkman's stuff. But this seemed a little tired. Perhaps it's the Christian in me, but I think it's a little too easy to make fun of Christianity for it to be very funny. There were good parts, don't get me wrong. But this was no Invincible or Walking Dead. As humor comics go, it was pretty good. Hell, it brought me an awesome encounter on the train, so maybe you should all read it, too.

Justice League Unlimited continued to be What Superhero Comics Would Be if Grown-Up Nerds Didn't Want Superporn. Nothing groundbreaking, but a good 3 act structure, where folks take turns rescuing each other and the plot and characters make sense and are likeable. Devon over and Seven Hells! was posting about how he wished DC had a comic that was like the JLU cartoon. Um, well, they do. It's just that it doesn't have enough murder or tits for comic nerds to care.

Speaking of which, Marvel Team Up is basically the "JLU cartoon" concept set in the Marvel Universe. Rather, it's "Robert Kirkman, here's the Marvel Universe. Do what you want." Consequently, it's fun stuff. Heroes run into each other, their interactions make sense, and generally fun things happen. The art . . .I'm not Kolins fan, but it doesn't get in the way of the fun. Come on, how can you not like a book with lines like, "Friggin' DAREDEVIL? Do you have a villain-getting-the-upper-hand sense or what?!" or "I swear, if you tell me it was the Vulture I will punch you in the face." Fun, folks. There's not that much around in the big two, so enjoy it.

Daredevil and Punisher both show up in MTU, but they also show up (surprisingly) in David Lapham's Daredevil Vs. Punisher. Stray Bullets this isn't (so far). Ennis' Punisher, this isn't (so far). But there are strong building blocks here for a tight story. That's really all I have to say about it right now.

Speaking of not having much to say about something, there's nothing wrong with Son of Vulcan other than creepy Bigboob Woman. Actually MARKETING the book towards kids that might give a shit would be a nice step, though.

And Nat Turner reminds you that as funny as Kyle Baker is, he's first and foremost a top-shelf cartoonist. Mostly "silent" but always expressive and meaningful, this is good comics. As much as I like Plastic Man (WHICH IS A LOT), this is his real work. Enjoy it, think about it.

And enjoy your coindicences, folks. Follow them when you can. Talk to the familiar face and drink that one more beer. Ya never know.

16 Love Letters:

Blogger T. said...

My problem lately is that Dwayne McDuffie, mainstream comic writer, has taken control of the JLU cartoon this season and has turned it into a slightly toned-down version of the mainstream DC comics. No rape, but plenty of bickering grim superheroes fighting each other and acting like dicks.

Real shame.

4:27 PM

 
Blogger Chris Hunter said...

Shut your trap, dude. JLU has been great, way better than the comic has been in recent months. Seriously.

Don't you open your dirty mouth again!

1:34 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think JLU could use a little more murder. Perhaps Maxwell Lord should blow someone's head off. I mean, it's for kids and we have a responsiblity to teach kids about the real world, and in the real world there is a good chance your friend/employer might shoot you in the brain.

5:53 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whew! Mr. Rice, I thought you were losing your hipster edge, but then you redeemed yourself by pointing out that you now drink PBR. Huzzah! Saved by the name drop!

7:35 AM

 
Blogger Joe Rice said...

Word to the wise: Shaefer is the new PBR.

11:23 AM

 
Blogger Chris Hunter said...

"...and in the real world there is a good chance your friend/employer might shoot you in the brain."

It's true. I've seen it happen many a'time...

9:33 PM

 
Blogger T. said...

JLU is heading down the road of the comics, dude. It's totally no fun anymore, it's just a grim episode of "24" combined with endless fanboy continuity masturbation moments. A million obscure DC characters appear that no one but a hardcore comics fan could recognize or appreciate, and their names and powers and significance are never explained. This is a sign they're falling into the same trap as the mainstream comics, catering to a cult audience through an impenetrable continuity and cast rather than appealing to a broader, uninitiated audience by remaining accessible. Nonstop government intrigue, plot points taken from Jeph Loeb comics, depressing storylines, humans that fear and mistrust the heroes and superheroes that fight each other more than they fight villains. Sure it's better written than the stuff Johnuckanick writes, but it's in the same depressing spirit as the comics. It's technically very well-done but its totally tense, depressing and devoid of any fun.

These are superheroes for Pete's sake, they should be escapist and fun, not dour. Some of the non-McDuffie/Cadmus episodes like Gail SImone's were good, but I've been pretty disappointed overall.

10:47 AM

 
Blogger T. said...

"I think JLU could use a little more murder. Perhaps Maxwell Lord should blow someone's head off. I mean, it's for kids and we have a responsiblity to teach kids about the real world, and in the real world there is a good chance your friend/employer might shoot you in the brain."

Joke now, but if they keep on their current path we'll soon be there.

10:48 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A million obscure DC characters appear that no one but a hardcore comics fan could recognize or appreciate, and their names and powers and significance are never explained."

Wait. Now you are expecting me to believe that the average 6 year old sitting down on Saturday morning to watch JLU wouldn't already be very farmiliar with Vibe or Nemesis?

8:37 AM

 
Blogger T. said...

I'm 31 and have been reading comics for decades and even I don't know who those (and a couple dozen others on the show) are! The show's just become an overly serious drama with some "Where's Waldo" moments for people who like C-list DC characters.

11:48 AM

 
Blogger Brad Curran said...

I dunno. I get the feeling that kids would like seeing all of those superheroes. It's not like knowing who most of the bit players are is key to understanding the stories. It may be because I'm partial to the idea of the Justice League being massive, though, and since I am part of the cult audience (although the part that isn't enamored with Identity Crisis and the like), I can't speak for the audience it's intended for beyond grown supehero nerds.

I have noticed the bits that are similar to the current-DCU (the Superman/Captain Marvel episode and Dr. Hamilton's rationale for turning on Supes being the most glaring things in that regard), but I still like the show.

9:27 PM

 
Blogger Joe Rice said...

As a former kid, a kid-like man, and a teacher of many kids, I can pretty definitively say that Kids Love Lots of Superheroes.

10:06 PM

 
Blogger T. said...

Hey Joe,
Just curious, can your kids follow the government intrigue and campaign plotline, or do they just not care about all the continuity and enjoy the action? I've been wondering about whether kids were getting turned off by the adult aspects of the script. It felt too much to me like McDuffie was doing a spec script for "24" or the "West Wing" using JLU characters, but maybe I'm wrong. Be interested to hear your experiences.

10:34 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I mean are kids going to care who Amanda Waller is? Or are they going to think that Superman fighting Doomsday in a volcano kicks ass?

Do they care about Oliver Queen's extreme liberal attitude? Or do they think its funny that Green Arrow has boxing glove arrows that hit robbers?

The kids get what they want, and the hardcord comic fans get to freak out because the Suicide Squad was on. I don't see the problem there.

2:38 AM

 
Blogger Joe Rice said...

I've only actually seen the episodes that are on that DVD, so I've never really talked too in-depth with the kids about the show. (Well, once one of them said, "Mr. Rice! Mr. Rice! I saw Captain Marvel this weekend! I saw your favorite!")

All's I know is that those that watch the show love it. I figure the extra nerd content is just a little bonus . . .like if you watch those old WB cartoons, Bugs Bunny has some jokes that I definitely didn't get as a kid, but there was plenty of stuff I did like.

9:36 AM

 
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3:59 AM

 

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