And it goes something like this.
Hell's teeth, I thought last week was slow!
Well, I suppose it's a good thing.
(See how quickly this pervasive violence has not only desensitized me, but has also actually given me an insatiable lust for super hero blood. I must resist!)
Really only notable for having it's bloodiest moment on the cover where, completely out of context, Batman is beating the snot out of a police officer. The bloody, thick, plentiful snot.
But really, putting this issue in - an issue where Morrison shows some return to form after last month's dire prose piece - is an excuse to showcase Batman's new Bat-policeboots. You would think that even if Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art graduate Andy Kubert hadn't picked up that compositional error in the pencils, his dad - Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art founder Joe Kubert - might have while he was inking it. Who knows, perhaps it's his sly tribute to Mick McMahon. Anyway, I digress. Look at the blood!
Pretty restrained headshot here, but what the hell is up with Marvel writers at the moment? Do they have some kind of "brain matter" editorial dictate?
MARVEL EDITOR: Ed, Ed, I'm lovin' this baby. But listen, listen. How about...wait...*snff*...how about we talk about some brains, yeah? Hittin' the floor, splatterin' on DD's face. Maybe call 'em something cool, okay? Like cranial jelly or whatever. Shit, I don't know. Whatever works baby. Hey, you're the writer, right? Right? You know what to do baby. *snff*
ED BRUBAKER: ...
Yes, in the world of my head, Marvel editors all talk like coked up Hollywood agents. But they're still good to their mothers, and donate heavily to charity.
Thank God for Wolvie. As you are no doubt aware, Wolverine has always been an odd choice for kids comics. A guy with claws prone to a berserk bloodlust, and who can have any amount of physical damage inflicted on him. Not a recipe for a Christmas hit, but still one of the most popular characters out there.
How his violent premise translates in the comics varies wildly depending on the creator: from the ridiculous "he doesn't kill anybody" approach (now largely abandoned), through the "offscreen maiming/killing" school (still used often), to the logical "fuck heroic ethics, I'm slicing you to pieces" approach (as first seen, I believe, in Havok/Wolverine: Meltdown). Observe:
When asked if he's going a little far, Wolvie replies that he's done this before, and we're treated to a flashback. If it's worth doing once...
The observant among you will notice that Sabretooth screams with one more "R" in his "YARRRGHHH" (say that three times fast) last time around. I presume this means either he was more sensitive to the whole "hand chopped off" thing back then, or Wolverine just makes a cleaner cut these days.
You probably also notice that he has the hand in the present-day panel, despite what happened in the commemorative plate edition. That's because, like Wolvie, he heals. So then, if you have a character who can't really be hurt, does violence against them count as real violence?
There you go, you once again live in a world of moral absolutes. Glad to be of service.
Anyway, in keeping with modern comics violence not only do we get the money shot, but we get the linger shot too, bathing in the glory of some sheared bones.
Which kind of lessens the shock of the initial violence, no? Makes it feel a little more humdrum? No? Just me? Oh, and would it kill him to buy a shirt?
LOOK! PREHISTORIC WOLVERINE BEHEADING A FURRY!
Friday, March 30, 2007
And it goes something like this.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Have you heard the new single by Good Charlotte?
Now, I'm not sure why I even feel compelled to point this out given how little I give a damn about Good Charlotte, but....ever heard Cake at all?
Okay, so it's a bit of a stretch to have a go at someone for mimicking a vocal style, but such a distinctive one? I guess it should be seen as a compliment...
As a bonus, how great is this video! Talk about your brilliant concepts.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Sooo, what the hell happened to the weather?
For those not London based, a week ago we had seen near on two weeks worth of gorgeous weather. Spring was well and truly in effect. Bright, blue skies, and temperatures starting to rise into the late teens. Trees a-budding. Squirrels a-foraging. Rough sleepers a-rough sleeping.
And then this week it all went to hell. Snow, rain, and zero degrees! Trees a-shivering. Squirrels a-shivering. Rough sleepers a-presumably sleeping somewhere a little more sheltered-ering.
You know the drill!
So, I must admit the offerings this week are pretty pale. Not that that's a bad thing of course, because if it were that would totally negate the point of what I was doing, and imply in some fashion that I gain a sort of perverse pleasure out of presenting this. As though I am in fact in some way amused and entertained by just how inappropriate this stuff is. Which of course I am not.
And, I'm happy to say, it would seem that the lack of gore in mainstream superhero comics over the last two weeks would indicate that my one man campaign against this terrible misappropriation of our youth's icons is having some effect. Marvel and DC editors are doubtless trembling in their cubicles, praying my finger of moral justice will not point next in their direction. They've seen their colleagues sent packing, careers ruined, lives destroyed, and all from my debut column alone. At this rate I'll be able to retire within the month!
Okay, on with the show...
Yeesh...once again 52 lets me down. Maybe Geoff Johns went on holiday? Anyway, Black Adam's rampage comes to an end when he storms the Isle of Mad Scientists who brought about the death of his family. And how do they beat him? This is how:
Well, I for one am disappointe========overjoyed with the restrained manner in which this was dealt with. Also, Pat Oliffe: what happened to you man? You used to be beautiful...
Flash: The Fastest Man Alive #10
Fastest at dropping readers maybe.
Anyway, Solomon Grundy is feeling the love for a little FWAT action.
In theory that is, as Flash goes a bit CSI. Hey, may as well rip off something popular to get people interested!
Here's a curious one. Despite this obviously red-blooded shooting:
And, in the following panel, a caption that mentions "brains leaking onto the sidewalk", they've gone for the black-blood approach: a classic comics method of getting around gore. Some restraint at least.
Amazing Spider-Man #539
You know Spidey! Happy-go-lucky Spidey, who gets on with things and does the best he can despite facing the kinds of problems we can all identity with and respond to. Money, relationships, work, school, hired assassins accidentally shooting your aunt in the belly and putting her in a coma which the doctors say she will almost certainly not pull out of. All the normal stuff. But wait! What's all-ages rated Spidey up to now?
I understand...sometimes I get so frustrated by assassins taking pot-shots at my family that I also slam my fist down on my hamburger, sending tomato sauce spraying everywhere! Oh, I feel so silly afterward!
Actually, what I love the most about this is that the caption somehow implies that if his aunt wasn't lying in a coma due to a gun trafficked by this man, he would be happy that he had crushed the guy's hand beyond the point of rehabilitation. And even with May at death's door, maybe later once he's calmed down he might sit back with a brew and have a little secret smile:
"What are you smiling about?"
"Oh, nothing MJ...nothing..."
Funny, I never saw THAT on The Electric Company!
Oh, I should say that the art in this issue is superb. Ron Garney has really gotten his act together again lately, delivering on the promise he first showed back on his and Waid's initial Captain America run.
X-23 Target X #4
I've a couple of confessions to make about this next one. Firstly, it's actually not a bad read. The art is quite a nice clean-lined style, and the writing by the team of Kyle & Yost (who also write the highly entertaining New X-Men) is pretty good for what it is. Don't get me wrong, X-23 is a rubbish character (and more than a little ripped off from the latest Batgirl), but they do the best with what they're given. Secondly, like last week's Moon Knight, this is labelled "Parental Advisory".
You can see it, can't you? Plain as day. Right there above the bar code. In the world's most unreadable font.
Add to that the mainstream superhero-friendly artwork, and the character's relevance to Marvel's X-Men universe (including her role in the "New X-Men" title), and actually, now that you mention it, I feel totally justified in bringing this title to task. So let's do it!
I'll give artist Mike Choi this: he does great spattering blood trail.
And that's that for another week! Join us next week, when you'll hear Batman say:
"Get on your knees you fucking punk, or I'll blow your muthafucking brains out!"
Thursday, March 22, 2007
A new movie called Pathfinder, starring New Zealand's own Karl Urban?
He stars as a Viking child left behind by a raiding party in North America 600 years before Columbus, you say?
Raised by Native Americans?
Stands alone against the returning Viking hordes?
And what do you have there? Is that the poster art?
And would I be interested in getting loaded and purchasing a ticket for such a thing?
*And studies prove that 4 out of 5 Viking ships are more "metal" with the addition of large spikes.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Greetings ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the inaugural Gore Watch! Here I, Andrew Salmond, longtime purveyor of comic books to your youth, will chronicle the weekly descent of mainstream comics into gory, splatter filled hell. *
To explain, I will be taking the finest examples of what I feel to be inappropriate gore each week from the new mainstream superhero comic releases. Inappropriate is a slightly vague term (about as vague as slightly), so I should explain: I will grab panels of bloody splatter from comics which operate under the US Comics Moral Standard
Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to the idea of mature superhero comics, but endlessly grim parades of violence posing as adult storytelling have just started to grate. Like a teenager trying to convince you of their maturity.
Anyway, my intro may not be brief, but the shots will be. Here we go! ***
Unfortunately, after a banner week last week, this week has seriously underperformed. Pickings so thin that I'm forced to start with something from last week I just read. Something that made me spit tea out my nose.
CIVIL WAR: THE INITIATIVE
SEE the horror of Ms Marvel's ass mercilessly savaged by her costume as Spider-Woman's leg spontaneously breaks from the shock of it all. And I think her back is going next...
Who says mainstream comics can't have mass appeal? Look at the strong female leads!
MOON KNIGHT #8
I feel a bit bad about this. Moon Knight is obscurely labelled with "Parental Advisory", but the gore level in this grim-as-hell title is so dependable that I can't resist. And also, this is a character who inhabits the same world as Spider-Man and Captain America, both of whom have guest-starred in its pages, so I feel okay bringing it to task. Plus, it's shit.
Now THAT'S justice! And from the same issue...a curious page which begs a few questions...
Look at this closer....where does the bloody on that baton come from? I'm not even going to question the physics of the rebound, but that's a pretty serious spread of blood down that thing.
GHOST RIDER #9
Special media tie-in! I'm 13 years old and I enjoyed the movie. Now I want more! So I pick up the latest issue, despite it's responsible "T+" age rating. Oh no! Could this be my first step into moral decay?
Hardly. I can't even SAY $#%&!
NEW AVENGERS #28
Phew...totally in the clear on this one! A comic featuring prominent Marvel licensees such as Spider-Man, Wolverine and of course the ever-popular Ronin. Clearly marked with the unambiguous "A" rating. Granny can give this to little Billy at Christmas without any fears. But wait!
It's a gusher!
(Haha Spider-Woman...they can say "bitch" over in Moon Knight and Ghost Rider...but not ca-ca...)
Finally, I'm disappointed. This was supposed to be the showcase of my first post. The comic that last issue featured a teenage boy being eaten alive by a crocodile man in bloody, red-panelled glory was now going to feature Black Adam's rampage of revenge. Burst heads! Disembowelments! Limb-from-limb rendings! I was practically salivating! And what did I get? One silhouetted head-bursting, and an unintentionally hilarious homage to Miracleman #15.
*I should state that if I were 15 years old I would adore (and indeed did when they were available) comics steeped in gory, splatter filled hell. But it is my prerogative as an adult to operate a cruel double-standard as to what I feel is suitable reading material for young people. Tough shit, young people. **
**Just kidding. Hell, barely any young people read these things anyway. I'm more annoyed that all the fun is being drained from the genre. Sure, make it grim every now and then, but mix it up!
***All formats and rules subject to weekly change.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
So my recent forays into the world of the Bruce Dickinson Rock Show (still a thrill for me to hear a show DJ-ed by him, even if he makes terrible embarrassing dad jokes) had me checking out a few new (to me) acts based on the songs he played.
(Kiwis may be interested to note that he recently played the classic Shihad track "Screwtop" during a Jaz Coleman-themed segment)
First, and surely the least impressive, are Kentucky rockers Black Stone Cherry.
Anyway, this may sound harsh, but if you've ever heard a Chris Cornell project - be it Soundgarden, his solo stuff, or Audioslave - then you've heard all that Black Stone Cherry has to offer. Which is not to say they're bad, but there's nothing really new going on, and just like Cornell an albums worth starts to feel like too much. In their defence, they sound like the kind of band who are probably fantastic live but just can't capture that when they go into a studio. Which isn't helped by the slick production on their eponymous album. Couple of standout tracks, but just a bit dull I'm afraid. Oh...and lyrics?
When the weight comes down
Watch for foreign soldiers
They'll try to break your neck
And I just wanna break your heart
Well...quite. Not going to win any prizes then.
Next up, Virginia rock outfit Alabama Thunderpussy!
I said ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY!
Oh shit yeah!
Okay, so big points for the name. How can you not be charmed by that? And you have to admire their staunchly retro album art (check out their discography) which really lets you know where they're coming from out the gate. But are they any good?
Well, they could be. Which is to say, with a little tightening around the edges, they could be great. Their music has an unfortunate tendency toward the instrumental bloat of stoner rock, which for bands like Kyuss is fine, but when these guys break down it all sounds a bit Battle of the Bands. A little fat-trimming would serve them well.
But there's a lot to like in a trashy 70's American rock sorta way, and they do have some great tracks, including "Words of the Dying Man"- the one that perked my ears in the first place. The new album "Open Fire" has a new lead singer, and it's a definite improvement on the old stuff. Plus, he brings to the table lyrics like:
Hag women cackling,
Acknowledging their fate.
Waiting for just a taste,
From Lord Satan's plate.
So, off to a good start then!
And the last band I've been checking out? The mighty Volbeat!
Nice young chaps.
Volbeat (AKA My New Favourite Band) are a Danish outfit fronted by an Elvis-sounding frontman (or a slightly more melodic Danzig if you prefer) who dabble in country and rock'n'roll melodies mixed in with metal riffs. And they have been played pretty much non-stop on my ipod since I got the album ("Rock the Rebel / Metal the Devil"). Great vocals, hook-ish tunes, occasional Danish lyrics I can't understand...it's got it all.
Tons'a'fun. And lyrics?
Left my mama and papa's nest
I got the fever rambling my bones
Papa said : my boy, take my Johnny Cash vinyls and go
Well i got my pocket full of real tales, and a broken guitar mode
And the story keep on rollin', out from a sad man's tongue
Well...it is their second language....
Look! A video!
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Not that I wish to pimp the services of Lloyds TSB (though they have been a very reasonable bank with me, and trust me when I say that is no small thing), but they've introduced a great little scheme.
Called "Save The Change", the idea is that whenever you use your debit card, the amount required to round the expenditure up to the nearest pound will be automatically transferred to a nominated Lloyds savings account. Great way of saving a little here and there if you're a heavy card user. And throughout March they will match the amount you save through the scheme.
Plus, I strongly approve of their move to adopt a firebreathing Unicorn/Pegasus-cross to replace their dull old "running horse" motif. Statistics prove that 9 out of 10 slightly weird and obsessive fantasy fans (and Jon Chandler) prefer a unicorn!
I can't begin to describe how much I'm looking forward to this:
I was going to put the streaming trailer on here, but the damn thing is so outrageously spoilerish that I couldn't bring myself to. Not as bad as quirky comedy drama Tortilla Heaven though. There's a lesson in how to reduce an entire feature to 2 minutes 4 seconds.
Anyway, in Sunshine these people
are on a mission to reignite this
hence preventing the extinction of this
but of course things all go a little like this
The sharp eyed among you may spot some familar faces in the crowd above. Cillian Murphy, Michelle Yeoh, Benedict Wong, Chris Evans (the Human Torch one) and New Zealand's own Cliff Curtis, among others. It's written by Alex "I have a following but I'm a bit inconsistent" Garland and directed by Danny "Me too, but when I'm good I'm really good" Boyle, both of whom I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt. And only a month to wait!
I can't stop thinking about The Fountain.
In no small part due to the soundtrack by Clint Mansell (which gets high rotation on my ipod), this film has sat in my head since I saw it, its imagery burned into my mind in a way that hasn't happened in quite some time. I'm chomping at the bit to see this again, and I'm hoping as many of you as possible get the chance to see it. It's a great piece of classical science fiction, a stunning work of cinema, and a beautiful love story.
By the way...the soundtrack will break your heart, but the graphic novel is rubbish.