Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Monday, May 28, 2007
Like a fist to the jugular: Gore Watch!
What can I say? I got nothing.
No kidding. I knew it was a pretty quiet week, but I wasn't expecting this. Honest to god, there was nothing.
No beheadings, no face-tearings, only one, subtle broken arm, and not an exploding body in sight. Oh sure, Daredevil had someone's throat being ripped out, but even that was understated.
What does this mean then for the future of Gore Watch? Fear not, fellow watchdogs, for I will stand ever vigilant at the walls of decency, ready to mobilise at the slightest bloody splash.
But it would seem, at least for now, that my work is done. Sleep well, my children, secure in knowledge that I, Andrew Salmond, am here for you. Perhaps outside your window as you read these very words...
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
Hither and thither, the tiptoe of Gore Watch!
Okay, okay...so I missed another week. No defence really. I was just too caught up in my deer-skinning night class. So I'm a little behind, but I can gut a 14-point stag in seconds.
COUNTDOWN #51 & 50
This is the new weekly followup to 52, cleverly numbering itself...guess how? Anyway, before getting into any actual gore, let's pop by the secret layer of wacky Flash rogues Weather Wizard, Pied Piper, Heat Wave, Trickster and Mirror Master (and yes, they pretty much do what it says on the box). Bunch of crrrazy guys in their colourful costumes, no doubt pulling off some nutty caper or other.
Oh...or maybe hanging out with prostitutes, snorting cocaine. Like any good city banker I suppose. As an aside, click on this to blow it up and check out the lovingly rendered pimples and bruises on the legs of the girl on the couch. Nice one DC. Always looking to pull in that future generation of readers. Anyway, where is that rascally Mirror Master?
Oh MM! Always the joker!
Meanwhile, the week before in Countdown #51:
No, I don't know what the hell he's doing either, but I'm sure it gives him job satisfaction.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #540
Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can.
"C'mere Alvin, I'm gonna break your arm, like Spidey does!"
Okay, so we don't see the bone bursting through, or blood pumping out, or even an actual clear shot of the break. I credit that to Ron Garney, who I think is a fine artist and who often shows a great deal of restraint with violence. In a way I should be advocating panels like the one above if this kind of thing absolutely has to be in pages of a comic about one of the world's most recognisable (and kiddie-appealing) comic characters. But, y'know what? This kind of thing doesn't need to be in pages of a comic about one of the world's most recognisable (and kiddie-appealing) comic characters.
Oh, and speaking of broken arms,
ALL STAR BATMAN & ROBIN #5
I'm from the school of thought that All Star Batman & Robin is a special kind of genius. There are very few comics out there that make me laugh this much, and yes, I do believe Miller is doing it intentionally. But Mary McDuff of Perthshire, bringing home a copy for little Dougal, might not be expecting this:
Nice bloody broken arm going on there. Meanwhile, dumpster-eater is left looking like something out of Watership Down.
Nice one Bats!
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #9
Actually, what I find funny about this is that they just couldn't resist that little spurt of blood. This could be done in a fairly restrained manner in this kind of profile shot, but at some point the decision has been made to get some brain sauce a-squirtin'.
Ahh, I for one am glad that they used the whole Infinite Crisis thing as an excuse to lighten up the DC universe and add a bit of fun back into Batman. Because nothing spells F.U.N. like a dead prostitute!
As a matter of fact, what the hell is up with all the prostitutes showing up in DC books? Is there some kind of editorial hate-on for sex-workers?
Magic Eightball says: Yes!
Seriously though, I know this is the bad guy, and we're supposed to hate him and all, but really, do we need to see him smashing the broken and battered body of some poor dead woman into a wall? Especially in a book that would never dream in a million years of showing a healthy, happy woman's nipple*.
NEW AVENGERS #30
Damn! You would think Wolverine would get a kevlar polo-neck or something!
Rated "A" for All, folks! Unlike the following...
MOON KNIGHT #10
Ah, Moonie, Gore Watch would be half the watch it is without you. What's been going on this week, under Marvel's dubious "Parental Guidance" label? Well, how about this:
and some of this:
(Let me help you out on that one: SHHRRRRIP!)
Look! A special guest appearance by the Punisher! Will they battle and then come to an understanding to fight the real villain? Or perhaps Moon Knight will just sit around and watch while the Punisher dispenses some Street Justice. Maybe have a little conversation about how appropriate it is.
"Really, Frank? Oh well, I'm not sure I totally agree. I mean, it could be argued that until we address the problems underlying this kind of thing, then we really are just fighting a losing battle."
<Wait--did he just say 'culling the herd'? This guy is nuts.>
"Nice shot, Frank! Of course it could be said that crime is a completely normal a part of society which will naturally fluctuate over time. You may be interested to know that violent crime has actually, in the bigger picture, continued a downward trend throughout the history of recorded crime statistics. Not that we can ever totally eliminate crime. Wherever there are laws, after all, there will always be criminals."
"And I must say, Frank, in the words of Nietzsche: 'Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster and if you gaze --Oh my God! You just totally blew the top off that guy's head! HIGH FIVE!"
Okay, so I rag on Moon Knight. I do always come fairly close to giving it a pass; it's clearly not meant for kids, and does after all carry a (barely distinguishable on the cover) Parental Advisory label. But then it never fails to do something to make me think: bull####. Yes, I said "####". Because guess what? Moon Knight can show us people's brains spilling onto the street, but not a "ca-ca" in sight.
What the fuck kind of sound does a motherfucking cunt of a symbol like # make anyway? Shit, fucked if I know. I'm just glad I don't have to explain it to my son.
Honestly Marvel, if you want to do this kind of book, make it a Max title. Because the only thing that makes this any different from virtually any issue of the Punisher Max (other than the fact that this is rubbish and that is one of the best titles on the market) is the language. Because the violence is easily on a par. Wake up!
Oh, also, are they really calling it "the 'Raq" now? Has anyone heard that used anywhere else?
Phew...I need to go sit down with a cool drink. Back next week. Promise!
*Head over to Iron Man for that kind of action!
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Oops, been a bit quiet of late. Not that there's been nothing going on, I just haven't been putting fingers to keys on it. I aim to remedy that over the next few days, starting with a new Gore Watch tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled! In the meantime, a little round-up.
Over on my flickr account you may just spy some photos of the recent wedding of glamour mavens Claudia and Morgan.
A thoroughly enjoyable affair, all very civilised and low key. Actually, it really did occur to me that a small, intimate wedding is actually much nicer in a way than the usual big, raucous celebration. I've always been puzzled by the amount of anguish wedding planning causes people. Okay, so you want a special day, but is it worth all the grief? Anyway, check them photos to see the final acknowledgement from Morgan and Claudia that, yes, they are actually a couple.
And speaking of celebrations, we also moseyed along to add goodwill to Andrea's turn to the Brit side. Yes, my Singaporean pal is now my British pal. I didn't make the ceremony itself, but Alex went to administer hugs, and took a few photos besides.
We all met at moored boat/bar The English Maid before heading back to Andrea's for British foods. Needless to say I ate too much machine-recovered meat and wound up feeling the worse for wear. Nice evening though.
Also, as mentioned earlier I went to the Bristol convention for work.
On the whole a much more enjoyable experience than I thought it would be. Helped by the fact that the boss paid for everything over the weekend. Hell, even offered to pay us back for money we spent on drinks on the Saturday night. That felt a bit much like taking the piss, but I still spent virtually nothing over the weekend. Met a bunch of people (including a comic-creator studded dinner), sold a bunch of graphic novels, and drunk less than I would have hoped. Man, the service in the bar at the Ramada sucked.
On the viewing front, I'm currently working my way through Nigel Kneale's old ATV series Beasts.
The cover image, by the way, is from the story "Dummy", where a man who plays a rubber-suit Godzilla clone goes barmy. I do love these old British talky horror shows. At their best (and Kneale is one of the best) they offer a masterclass in psychological unease through dialogue, sound, and minimal practical effects. "During Barty's Party", for example, in which a couple are besieged by rats.
At no point do we see a rat. Rather, as the story develops, the sound of the rats beneath the floor of the house gets louder and progressively layered. Scratching, gnawing sounds, small at first, but ultimately deafening. Particularly unsettling is the moment the couple realise that they are being followed around the house, indicated by a rustling hiss of rat bodies chasing their footsteps. Great stuff.
And finally, I've been whiling away all my oodles of spare time on Lord of the Rings Online.
Indefensible in the face of all the things I should be doing, but I'm enjoying it a great deal.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Bully your way to the top. And by "top", I mean fucking some spineless idiot in the toilets.
Also, this video - by way of quick edits and medium shots - showcases the need to hide Avril's inability to dance. Take THAT ya big bully!
Saturday, May 05, 2007
"What the hell!" you scream, "Where have you been Gore Watch?"
Well, gentle folk, just last week as I sat down at my PC to begin another searing exposé of the comics world, there was a knock at my door. Two men in suits awaited me, subpoenas and cease-and-desist letters clutched in their sweaty, regulated palms. Well, they saw I was made of sterner stuff and broke down right there on my doorstep, begging and pleading with me to stop. Stop my weekly brain-soaked exploration of the darker side of popular graphic entertainment. It seems that I, Andrew Salmond, have brought the mighty publishers to their knees. Unable now to freely propagate their gory wares as substitute for good old fashioned storytelling, they were hitting a dead end. They had, it seems, forgotten what good old fashioned storytelling even was. They offered me every enticement, every incentive to stop. Money. Power. Space tourism. But it wasn't enough*. So, after giving them a week to think they were safe in their blood-stained ivory towers, I'm back.
That story may or may not be true.
Two of my top keyword searches for the blog yesterday were "beheading sound" and "broke his leg".
That story is true.
Anyway, enough blurb. On with the show!
Moral crusade.....I meant moral crusade....
I've said it before and I'll say it again: a vague "Parental Guidance" warning on the cover does not compensate for the fact that this is Wolverine, one of Marvel's most popular characters. And it certainly doesn't cover lingering, tube-y severed heads.
What the @#$% kind of guidance does that require?
I almost cherry-picked the following page, but then I figured it sits better in all it's blood-on-every-panel glory. Slashed chest! Injury to eye! Impaling!
And finally, a lingering shot of the sword resting in Sabretooth's cushion-y bosom.
CONNOR HAWKE: DRAGON'S BLOOD #6
To be fair, it seems a little silly to pick out anything in an issue where a large amount of time is spent with Connor Hawke (son of the Green Arrow) fighting a guy in nappies in a gigantic pool of blood. For example, any given page may look a little like this:
But I think the following sequence qualifies, with the son of Green Arrow taking the arrow which has pierced his hand, shoving it the chest of his enemy, and then (click on this for a closer look) giving it a little encouragement to really get things gushing.
Holy shik! Now that's super-heroic!
ALL NEW ATOM #11
Again with the whole zombie cheat in the Atom, but the last time I saw a poorly drawn shovel get planted in a living person's head it looked exactly like this.
What will little Timmy Bellbottoms think when Granny brings that home?
"Daddy, do good guys kill people with shovels?"
DC IN-HOUSE ADVERTISING: SINESTRO CORPS
So DC go line-wide with some gore this week, getting a bit of bony meat-hook action on the Green Lantern Corps. You know Green Lantern. He's in a team with Superman. He makes giant tractors and colossal cash registers out of green stuff. His nemesis, Sinestro, does the same thing, only it's made out of yellow stuff. And he probably makes giant pelicans. And shovels.
Oh, and makes bloody kebabs of his enemies.
Catwoman is actually a pretty decent read. Will Pfeiffer juggles a nice varied cast of characters, and he writes women well. And, to be honest, I don't expect this title to end up here.
Oops. Maybe Will's been having a few drinks with Geoff Johns. Y'know, when I was a kid that kind of action would gotten you an R18 rating. Now it's a full page splash in a comic starring a mainstream, recognisable super(anti)hero. Well, I guess I shouldn't...pfftt....LOSE MY HEAD!
IRON MAN #17
Remember Iron Man? Last month, All Ages rated Iron Man gave us an autopsy, a popped head, and a nipple. This month, rated "A" for All Iron Man gives us.....
At least that's the sound it should have made. Just imagine if they'd done this in 52! What do you think? Answers in the comments below.
A couple of points about Iron Man:
a) It's actually a pretty decent read at the moment.
b) It's written by the father/son team of Daniel and Charles Knauf. Daniel was responsible for HBO's excellent and lamented Carnivale, which I bought the first box set of a couple of weeks back, and which you should watch.
Move on, people! Move on! Nothing to see here!
*Not quite enough.
Friday, May 04, 2007
So I went and saw Spider-Man 3 today.
I must admit, I was a bit concerned beforehand. From the trailers I had seen it all smacked of being over-stuffed. Sandman, the introduction of the black costume through to the creation of Venom, and the continuation of the Harry/Goblin storyline? Not to mention throwing in something to try and make the Peter/MJ relationship still of interest? Too much! So I was expecting to be disappointed.
And I was.
I love the first two Spidey films. The first was quite flawed, but they got so much right about the Peter Parker character that I couldn't help but love it. Shit, at the risk of my hard-as-nails image you all no doubt have of me, I even got misty eyed when Uncle Ben died.
And the second time around, it just got nailed. Doc Ock was a brilliantly realised bad guy and his interaction with Harry to bring down Spider-Man felt like a natural progression. Not to mention the genius set-pieces (the first action sequence is Peter trying to deliver a pizza, fer chrissake!) and seamless effects.
So when the black costume is introduced by way of a rather unimpressive meteor falling close to where Pete and MJ are web-canoodling, I knew trouble was coming.
I'm not going to give anything away, but the film lurches from one plot strand to the next, and when they do cross it feels clumsy and artificial. Characters disappear for extended periods and their motivations range from murky and underdeveloped to nonsensical. Even the action (when it actually happens) isn't up to much, the earliest sequence holding up as the best. Even the effects actually feel like a step backwards.
Most importantly though, this character played by a largely disinterested Tobey Maguire doesn't actually ring true to me as Peter Parker. The essence of the character, so well captured in the first two films, just seems lost here.
Which is not to say that it's all bad. There are some things to like. Thomas Hayden Church's introduction as the Sandman is nicely played. His "escaped con" bit feels weirdly retro, and the scene in which he tries to reform his body for the first time (the best fx work in the flick) is breathtaking and quite moving. The first action scene is also good, as is Spidey's rescue of Gwen Stacey after a crane goes amok (you didn't misread that). His weird flirtatious relationship with his landlord's daughter is back (what the hell is up with that?) and she gives another fun performance, and JK Simmons' J Jonah Jameson is always good for a laugh. There are actually a number of effective comedy moments, and I even liked the totally goofy sequence in which Peter comes under the influence of the costume and goes all Saturday Night Fever.
But on the whole? Let me put it this way: at around the 2 hour mark, I suddenly realised that I was spending more time making excuses for the film than I was actually enjoying it.
Time to give ol' Spidey a rest, maybe?
(By the way Brits, them clips are from the OTHER big Children's Television Workshop show The Electric Company, which featured the likes of Rita Moreno, Morgan Freeman, Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder, and even some Bill Cosby. Weirdly, I always thought Hector Elizondo was in there, but apparently not!)
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Dear God and baby Jesus....
As Spring rears it's pretty head, something is happening in my nose.
The ubiquitous plane trees of London are dropping their villainous load by barrowfull, reducing me to a snivelling mess.
I feel as though my nose has been attacked by a vicious coalition of crocodiles and spiders.
As they scratch and burrow their way toward my brain, their rough, textured exteriors scraping my mangled nasal flesh in their wake, I become a engine of mucous production and explosive sneezing.
Anyway, been a little quiet lately. Even Gore Watch has fallen behind. I'm hoping to get up to speed over the week.
In other news:
Off to Spider-Man on Friday. In fact, I'm thinking I haven't done a whole day at the flicks in some time and may well rectify that.
(Incidentally, if you are doing a Google image search using the word "movies", don't do it with kids around. Really.)
I'm off today trying to get as much done on a VHS-DVD project that I promised to do for a friend of mine. About a year ago.
I'm also trying to get my notes and such together for a project that young master Tonyhype and I are looking at doing together. If you're reading this Anthony, I haven't forgotten you.
Having lost a card game to Alex a couple of weeks ago, I also need to get the windows cleaned. The games are friendly, but the stakes are high. I'm thinking of applying this method of job allocation to my management style.
Going to Bristol in a couple of weeks for the convention there. Not all that fussed about going, but it's for work. Should be fine. Just another day at the office.
That is all.