Monthly Archives: March 2012

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man – Volume 1

Brian Michael Bendis has impressed me no small number of times over the past, what, four years? This probably isn’t the most impressive thing he’s managed, and it’s probably not the first time I’ve thought it might be. But you have to admit, winning me over on a new Spider-Man is pretty impressive!

It’s just, as I have certainly said before, I have a real attachment to Peter Parker. So, when he died as a part of the Ultimate Universe reboot of ought-ten, I was not, how you say, thrilled. But the editors and (in the case at least) the authors had earned enough street cred for me to accept that life is permitted to go on; so I’ve stuck around to see what happens next. And what happens next happened previously, too, as is only fair. (Bendis in particular has always played with flashbacks to fill in events that happened simultaneously with the meat of his stories, and rightly so. I had no need of knowing about Miles Morales’ unlikely rendezvous with an Oscorp spider when Spider-Man was alive and the direction it was going to go was still hidden from everyone, Miles most of all.)

So, here we have an implausibly young[1] mixed-descent kid from Brooklyn (I think), who gets bitten by a different spider and develops different powers, just in time to fill the impossibly large shoes of a hero. I can accept the coincidence because it’s a superhero world, where coincidence is dictated by fate. And I can accept Miles, at least provisionally, for, well, a lot of reasons. Different powers. Universal unhappiness at his initial attempts to fill the shoes of said really big hero. His own willingness to help and learn from Peter’s example.[2] And, perhaps oddly, perhaps as fittingly as it’s possible to be, Nick Fury’s reaction to his existence.

I still think this was a huge mistake, and I still think the Ultimate Universe has lost something critical, last year. But I also think that this subsequent story will be worth hearing, and I really wasn’t sure about that in 2011.

[1] Peter was 15 when he was bitten, and possibly as old as 17 when… later. Miles can’t be older than 14, and 13 seems more right.
[2] Seriously, I welled up again at his perspective of the climax of final last book of the original run. Which answers that Moiraine question, I suppose.

The Unwritten: Inside Man

To start with, yes, I will be reading more of The Unwritten. It is about literature on every level: in plot, in theme, in voice, and I’m sure more ways that I haven’t thought of yet, and by gum, I don’t have this degree in English Literature for nothing. It’s really smart, really convoluted, and I expect to know more things at the end than I knew at the beginning, about the psychology of readers and reading as much as about the creation and function of stories.

As for Inside Man, aside from being obviously good enough to win me over, I can say a few things I suppose. In addition to following Tommy Taylor into prison (for a crime he didn’t commit!, no less) and into Nazi Germany, it explores the psychological impact of stories. On children and adults. On the stories themselves. On (at, okay, a more metaphysical level) the very earth upon which they occur. And then, after reading five issues’ worth of storyline that seems like it was made specifically to accommodate my personal interests, it’s capped off with a cautionary allegory set in Carey’s parody of the Hundred Acre Woods. So it may be fair to say that the closer your (non-horror, non-cult-classic) tastes match mine, the more you will like this series.

But man, there sure is a lot of foreign language in it, enough that I end up not trying to translate it. (This complaint is probably properly directed at me, not the book.)

Best Worst Movie

mv5bmtq1nje1mjyznf5bml5banbnxkftztcwmdu0mdczmw-_v1_sy1000_cr006851000_al_It would behoove me, I suppose, to first say a few words about Troll 2. You’d think it was a sequel about trolls, but it’s actually an independent film about goblins! There’s a family, loosely portrayed by what I will call actors, who move into the town of Nilbog[1], only to discover a conspiracy to kill outsiders, and maybe eat them? Also, there’s a Transylvanian witch for some reason. It is, by my estimation, the worst movie not created by Ed Wood.

Which is in fact the topic of the documentary I’m actually here to review. It’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to watch a documentary about a terrible movie without having first seen the movie, but then again, it’s hard to imagine liking that movie in the first place, and I am speaking as someone who does. But maybe that’s the point, is that it kind of explains how anyone could like such a thing, and maybe you want to know that. Or maybe you want to see the people involved, from the implausibly likable dentist to the (at the time of filming, no less) mental patient to the utterly insane, albeit undiagnosed… well, I suppose that would be telling. And let’s not forget the hilarious writer and delusional director. But mainly, I think, the fans.

Because the truth is, even though I can’t explain to you what possible justification I have for liking Troll 2, I would probably try to get you to watch it.  And worse, I don’t even feel that bad about it!

[1] ….yep.

The Map of Time

You may or may not remember that I started reading The Map of Time on a plane in October, only to lose it on said plane due to a series of circumstances best blamed on myself. Tragically, it took an extremely long time before I admitted I wasn’t going to find another physical copy anytime soon and acquired a Kindle copy instead; and perhaps fittingly, the Kindle came to me in part to make fun of my having lost that very book. And it is one hundred percent fitting that there should be such a circular tale to my reading of the book when it is itself so very concerned with circular tales.

See, there’s this guy who had a prostitute girlfriend, only she was Jack the Ripper’s fifth and final victim, right before he got caught. And before you know it, first Murray’s Time Travel (offering scenic trips to the year 2000 to watch mankind’s final battle against his automaton overlords) and then famed author H.G. Wells are enlisted to help him travel back in time and stop the Ripper before poor Marie Kelly’s demise. And then there are two more stories after that, all set in the same several weeks long period of November, 1896, and with similar time travel plots. You have to watch out for Palma; he pulls so many fake-outs and double blinds within his characters’ time-travelling escapades that you’ll think you’re watching an episode of Lost. From the second season. Or possibly Back to the Future 2. But you know, mostly it’s a period piece, of which I suppose I’ve read quite a few lately, mostly written by Dan Simmons.

My thought? Totally worthwhile, go for it. And then let’s talk about it afterward, because I feel uncomfortable adding more details than I have, which may already be too many, but there’s a lot of stuff to tease out up in here.

Wanderlust (2012)

Wanderlust is really a pretty standard by the numbers married romantic comedy. (New relationship romantic comedies have different numbers.) Couple run into difficult situation, get frustrated with each other, end up in unrelated extreme fish out of water situation, determine how to integrate that into their relationship, inevitably growing closer in the long run but probably further apart first. Hmmm. Upon reflection, steps one and three can happen independently of each other, but one of them as well as steps two and four are mandatory.

So, why do you care about this particular one? Well, you may like Paul Rudd and/or Jennifer Aniston. Or, like me, you may have some small experience with the hippie commune that was the fish-out-of-water aspect of this particular romantic comedy. I’ve never lived in a permanent hippie commune, don’t get me wrong. But I’ve spent enough time in the temporary ones to immediately recognize that whoever wrote this movie understands the concept pretty darned well. So, I found it to be incredibly true and therefore incredibly funny.

Also, there are naked people. (In a hippie commune?? GASP.)