Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shazam! A Comics n' Literature Update

(This entry will mention which member of the Fantastic Four died this week, so if you're one of the few readers who care and don't want to know, best not to click on the "Read more" button below.) 

After a total of about three months of not blogging on my old usual topics (for various simultaneous yet mostly unrelated reasons), I had ten pent-up thoughts about rock and politics to disgorge yesterday, so you won't be surprised to see ten items about comics and sci-fi today:

1.  In combo superheroic/rock news, I notice Michael Rosenbaum from Smallville created a SyFy comedy series about has-been sci-fi actors, called Saved by Zeroes -- making it a quasi-sci-fi show with a presumably Fixx-inspired title.  That's good nerdery. 

(Side note: singer Cy Curnin was reportedly unhappy about the Fixx song "Saved by Zero" being used in a Toyota ad, which is not surprising given that he's a Luddite socialist who believes we should all simplify our lives -- get back to zero -- and eliminate unnecessary material trappings such as cars, though presumably not electric guitars and synthesizers.)

2.  Bane is reportedly one of the villains in next year's The Dark Knight Rises.  Bane is the villain who, in the comics, broke Batman's back in a storyline called "Knightfall."  Thus -- you heard it here first -- I predict a publicity-stunt title switch at the eleventh hour from The Dark Knight Rises to The Dark Knight Falls, a la the last-minute switch from Revenge of the Jedi to Return of the Jedi back in 1983 (to which the Episode III title Revenge of the Sith was an homage).  I also predict that Anne Hathaway as Catwoman will appear quite genuinely insane. 

3.  And that logically brings us back to the subject of my day in a women's prison, which Gerard Perry asked about.  I actually found the thick cell doors and constant-lockdown feel of a maximum security facility rather reassuring and would probably feel safer there -- or in solitary confinement -- than more readily mixed in with the general prison population.  If I lived in Gotham, I certainly would not plead insanity for fear of ending up in Arkham Asylum, though the odds of breaking out of that place would certainly be pretty good, if past trends hold. 

And I share Gerard's alarm at all the kids who now go to They Might Be Giants shows, of whom I was largely unaware until the band members whipped out some talking broom puppet from their recent TV appearances.  Then again, I always said they'd work well with Muppets, and that's to be admired. 

As for whether Firefly is good art, which Gerard also asked about: of course, and we nerds have taken over the commanding heights of respectable popular culture generally, from the indie rock to the high-concept sci-fi films.  It is good to be alive.  Some of us foresaw this day back when there were just occasional cyberpunk references in Chris Claremont's X-Men comics and a few bands obsessed with synthesizers. 

Indeed, tonight, the brainy and nerdy and yet hip Literary Death Match event at Le Poisson Rouge, which I plan to attend, will feature none other than cartoonist Roz Chast among the participants.  Roz Chast is art. 

4. Before seeing that, I must buy one -- just one -- comic book today.  Yeah, I know, but I've been clean for like a year and a half and don't plan to start up again.  It's just that the Shazam! one-shot out today might fix some of the weird cliffhangers that the Marvel Family has been left with over the past several years, various members being turned into statues, insane, powerless, what have you. 

One weird aspect of those characters -- who generally speaking transform by saying "Shazam!" or some variant -- is that at least a couple are kids who transform into adults, and one of them, Mary Marvel, has by my count been rendered comatose or corrupted (and even turned into a sex-starved killer wearing black leather) by something like six different characters now, by my count: Spectre, Black Adam, Eclipso, Darkseid, Desaad (ahem), Black Adam again, and in the one-shot probably the demoness named Blaze.  Has Mary no integrity?  Or is she not really the twisted one in all this? 

5.  Speaking of corrupting the youth, it seems only yesterday that it was still a novelty to
say "Comics aren't just for kids," yet now there seem to be almost no kids at all reading them, and I wouldn't be surprised to see an ad campaign saying "Comics aren't just for adults -- really!"  (I am, as the industry fears, part of the "final" cohort of comics readers, the death cohort as it were, with the intellectual content of the old comics moving on to Hollywood these days -- and me not even reading them anymore, except for today.)

Marvel even decided to cancel its fledgling kids-oriented Captain America series after one issue -- and that's with a Cap movie coming out this year!  But again, the films are really where the superhero action is now, with 2010 bringing not only Cap but Thor, X-Men, and Green Lantern -- and more Avengers, Spider-Man, Batman, and Superman on the way next year.

After that, Bilbo should about do it for 2013, and then this nerd may call it a rest on the nerd movies.

6.  Comics aficionados have their ways of recognizing greatness, but the Kirby Awards technically existed for only three years before splitting into the Harvey Awards and the Eisners, so there were only three years in which Kirby Awards were given out for "Best Finite Series," and ironically the winner twice was the miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths.

7.  Speaking of multiple realities: through Sunday, a play called Immortal: The Gilgamesh Variations, featuring multiple playwrights' short variations on the ancient tale, is being performed in Bushwick.  This reminds me of Ali Kokmen's pronouncement that most action adventures "are all Gilgamesh and Enkidu."  The premise of the oldest story known to Western civilization, you will recall, is that two guys fight and then team up against a common foe.

8.  Ali also notes this pleasing yet disturbing octopus-chair, which would be great furniture for the Sub-Mariner, evil Hydra leader Baron von Strucker, or just a high priest of Cthulhu.  It would also be kind of meta and creepy if they gave one to Paul, the "psychic" octopus who was used to make World Cup predictions.

9.  Flame over!  Human Torch dies in the comics today (at least for now), and when I heard they were killing a member of the Fantastic Four, I swear I predicted it would be him, for the simple reason that they've been using the old World War II (android) Human Torch in the present day in recent stories, and you don't want to have too many redundant characters walking around -- or so I thought before Grant Morrison started blanketing the Earth with Batmen and Geoff Johns started depicting three guys walking around calling themselves the Flash all at the same time.  Shouldn't they at least change the title of the main series from The Flash to A Flash?

10.  Speaking of heroism, though I may be declaring February "Month of Lovers" on this blog, it will also be mighty heroism-filled, since there'll be more Rand than you can shake a stick at, inspired not only by the impending low-budget Atlas Shrugged movie (April 15) but my own partly Rand-themed theatre performance the afternoon of February 6th.  More details on that soon (but plan now to be at Momenta Art in Williamsburg at 3pm that day).

No comments: