Doldrums

Just Another Update

“Laughing” by The Guess Who keeps playing in my head. Before the Joker reveal last week, I only ever heard the song once or twice. Now it’s a goddamn earworm because it works so well with the Joker story. Especially if this origin flick is loosely tied to the Alan Moore graphic novel, The Killing Joke. Here, listen to it:

Shaun spent the night at Jeanna’s last night. This marked the first night in almost two months that he wasn’t with me. These last two months have been strange, foreign, surreal. I’ll get around to talking about it at some point.

I knew there’d come a time when Shaun wouldn’t be living with me full time. Thought I’d be more prepared for this, but habits begin to grow. He’s ruled my home life for several weeks now that going to bed late last night felt unnatural for me. And rather filling my time doing things I normally can’t do when he’s here, I spent most of my time wondering what time he’ll be getting home. It’s strange to say the least.

Last night, Virginia and I had our movie night. We watched Tag and afterward had our usual movie discussion (you can see why I like her, right? Because she’s nerdy enough to hold movie discussions with me rather than just treat a movie as a movie. I mean, how could you not like this girl?). And during those brief pauses of our conversation, all I kept asking myself was, “Is this it? Is this the moment?”

Nothing happened, because I’m the fool in the movie of my life. The sort of character audience yell “Just kiss her already!” at the screen, but nothing comes of it. There’s too much hesitation on my part. I don’t know what’s holding me back. Fear? Ugh. It’s annoying as piss.

Also, my cough isn’t the most attractive quality about me right now. While it’s not due to sickness or anything she can catch, it still screams, “Don’t kiss this dude!”

Who the fuck knows anymore.

Anyway, I’m working on new things. New poetry—well, lyric essays, will begin appearing shortly. I put on “The Letters of Resignation” project on hold due to circumstances (the world shifted, fell over on its side, and left me clinging on to whatever stability that I can), so you’ll get to read the first letter maybe by Spring 2019. There’s also the possibility of working on a radio drama that I’ll post somewhere (I’m still learning about these things especially perfecting my editing, plus distribution, etc.). It might be an adaptation of a skeleton story I have (really bare bones rough draft) or be a wholly new story (who knows, I don’t!). There’s also that, by the way. I’m working on an anthology speculative fiction tale. It’s a trilogy spread across three short stories, novelettes, or novellas. I don’t know what the format will be, but I’m thinking of publishing either on here (zero money for me) or try to find a fan base else where (still zero money for me, but hopefully I build a following that could lead to some money — not really holding my breath there, but one could dream). And I’ll start writing book reviews again, starting with a review of Siphon by A.A. Medina (you should definitely check out the Audible audiobook narrated by the great Ted Brooks — I recognized his voice from somewhere, but I can’t pinpoint where, but I love it and  he’s creepy as fuck!). Great things are coming. I promise that I’ll try.

Books

Before Watchmen

A few years ago, DC Comics tried to strike a deal with Alan Moore. They were willing to revert the rights to Watchmen back to its creator if Moore agreed to write “some dopey prequels and sequels.” Moore, of course, declined the offer. DC Comics went ahead with the dopey prequels, dubbing the titles Before Watchmen.

Anyone who’s read Watchmen should be familiar with the characters featured in the Before Watchmen series. The goal seems to rehash the flashbacks presented in Alan Moore’s graphic novel with more depth. However, if the goal is to achieve storytelling on the same level… Well, that differs from title to title.

 Ozymandias/Crimson Corsair
Ozymandias

It’s no secret that Ozymandias is an important character in the Watchmen story. He is, after all, the mastermind that solved the world’s conflict in the form of an intergalactic squid. While reading Watchmen, I didn’t find myself wondering his origin story. How did Adrian Veidt rise to heroism and, eventually, a twisted form of heroism? What inspired him to “save the world” in the way he did? None of that mattered during Watchmen. What mattered was that he stood in the center of his perfectly crafted plan and not a single member of his former team could stop him.

Writer Len Wein attempts an origin story in the pages of Ozymandias. Adrian Alexander Veidt decides to share his tale minutes before putting his plan into motion. There’s no doubt that Wein’s writing abilities are nothing outside wonderful. His story is well crafted, though at times, it feels like there’s a forcefulness to it. When Ozymandias meets The Comedian for the first time, it leaves a sour taste in a reader’s mouth. Really? The foreshadowing of an event we already know happens in the future? Seeing Adrian’s plan brought to life, does answer some unnecessary questions. In the end, the story has a Star Wars prequel feel to it. Only we know that, unlike Anakin Skywalker, Veidt doesn’t redeem himself at the end of the story.

Jae Lee’s artwork, however, is something that needs praising. His renditions of characters Dave Gibbons brought to life so long ago are spectacular. It gives the air that is worthy of an Ozymandias tale.

Crimson Corsair

“Crimson Corsair” is clearly a rip off inspired of “Tales of the Black Freighter.” As Jacob M. Held put it in Watchmen and Philosophy:

You don’t have to think too hard to see the connection between Rorschach and the Black Freighter, as our castaway feeds on “raw shark,” becoming darker and more sinister with every bite, his quest to give what is owed to the demon ship. He himself becomes a demon. His mission is no longer about his love for his family and his desire to protect them but merely about wreaking vengeance on the demon ship; revenge pure and simple, blood lust. [p. 21]

Alan Moore admitted that “Black Freighter” isn’t exclusively about Rorschach. He stated that the story is Ozymandias’ tale. It’s also nods towards Dr. Manhattan. So it’s questionable how “Crimson Corsair” links to Before Watchmen—except for the obvious comic within a comic book angle.

There is not much difference in Len Wein’s story. While his ability to capture a Moore-esque writing style is superb—haunting, even—it’s unnecessary. It’s almost as if Wein ignored what Alan Moore wrote in his Writing for Comics book:

Above all, I don’t want to produce anything that smacks even remotely of “How to Write Comics the Alan Moore Way.” Teaching a generation of emergent artists or writers how to copy the generation that came before was a stupid ideas when Marvel introduced their “How to Draw…” book and it would be equally irresponsible of me to instruct up-and-coming writers on how to write sickly extravagant captions like “Dawn transformed the sky into an abattoir” or whatever. John Buscema is a fine artist, but the industry doesn’t need 50 people who draw like him any more than it needs people who write like me. [pp. 1-2]

There’s nothing worthwhile about the tale. Much like “Black Freighter,” the story introduces a noble character who finds himself in a terrible situation. And like that character, Gordon McClachlan faces a test that he cannot pass. If this relates to any or all characters in the Before Watchmen is yet to be seen.

While not as gritty as “Black Freighter,” Steve Rude’s macabre style of artwork makes the story worth the read. Even when the predictable ending is revealed, his talent redeemed the book.

Dollar Bill

Remember Rorschach’s journal entry in the first issue of Watchmen? Where he lists several masks from the past? He mentions that a hero by the name of Dollar Bill was shot. The film adaptation even shows his death. That should have been enough, right? Nope. DC felt that we just needed to know more about the fallen hero.

In a one-shot issue found at the end of this volume, Len Wein gives a nod to Frank Miller’s Sin City by using a narrator speaking from the grave. The story is mediocre, though well written. And Steve Rude’s artwork is reminiscent of the early years of comic books. However, it isn’t enough to carry the story. I even found myself wondering why I bothered reading it at all.

Minutemen/Silk Spectre
Minutemen

I had my doubts about the Minutemen story. While I wanted to know more about them in the past, I learned to accept that they’re existence was to pave the way to the Keene Act. And to paint the illusion that masks had been policing the street since the early 1900s. I formed the opinion that should anyone tell the story of first hero team in the Watchmen universe, it should be the creator, Alan Moore. However, writer and artist Darwyn Cooke does a pretty damn good job.

His ability to shine light on characters long dead at the beginning of Watchmen filled me with glee. The way he created the chemistry (no matter how platonic it was) between Silhouette and Hollis was melted my cold heart to the idea of a prequel. And the case that led up to her murder? Let’s not forget the story shrouded in mystery—the vanishing of Hooded Justice.

Set in the time where homophobia ran rampant, the story is a perfect contrast to the harrowing tale Alan Moore presented, while not denying its darkness. And the early Superman/Batman artwork appeals greatly to the setting of the story. Even Comedian, who is the antithesis of Robin, glows with boy wonder illumination.

Silk Spectre

Because who didn’t fall in love with Laurie’s Silk Spectre II throughout the pages of Watchmen? I know I did. However, how essential is a heroine’s coming of heroism age story really important? I suppose if you throw her during the reign of free love and nonconformity, a writer and artist can throw in some naked bosoms. And a penis. And random acts of sex. But as long as it makes the story flow, right?

And flow it did. Though at times, the mimicry of the original Watchmen set up seemed insulting rather than a nod toward the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons creation. And Frank Sinatra—excuse me, The Chairman—as the arc villain seemed cheesy with a side of Cheez Wiz. However, where Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner’s story failed, the latter’s artwork excelled.

With the cheesiness of the second story aside, this book excelled where the first book I read failed. All around, nothing about this book felt ripped off or repeated.

Nite Owl/Dr. Manhattan
Nite Owl

J. Michael Straczynski creates a slight Batman/Catwoman backdrop in his Nite Owl tale. With Andy Kubert artwork, this idea comes to fruition. However, the cat and mouse—cat and bird?—tale is overused and fails to keep a reader motivated to continue onward with the story. Nite Owl II’s origin of being just a wimp in school who idolizes Hollis Mason’s original reeks of a Catcher in the Rye reading bromance tale. This one with a slightly better ending.

It’s a sad betrayal of the character. While he isn’t Hollis Mason, Rorschach, or even the Comedian, Nite Owl needed to remain the guiding light of the Watchmen. Of them all, he’s the most human character in Alan Moore’s world. This story failed in providing him a proper backstory. His light of morality, left burned out at the end of Watchmen never seemed to exist in this story. Mostly because it wasn’t touched upon.

Dr. Manhattan

After reading Watchmen, I often imagine that Dr. Manhattan embodied Superman if he were real. The alien creature in an alien world observing the creatures around him with a bit of bemused interest. There isn’t much of a backstory needed for his character to make sense in Watchmen. And Alan Moore made sure to cover that pesky seeing the future trait in the graphic novel, as well. That wasn’t enough for Straczynski as he needed to create a Flashpoint arc of his own for the limited series.

Adam Huges’ artwork does its best to keep the story flowing without annoying the reader. However, it’s not enough.

Moloch

Why Moloch? Possibly because he’s the only villain in the Alan Moore tale that played a part in Watchmen. I wouldn’t call it a key role, but Straczynski sure as hell believed it was. Even made him Christlike, using artist Eduardo Risso to juxtapose the savior on the cross with Moloch as he searches for redemption. Nothing worthwhile. Nothing worth remembering. Just tucked in at the end of a his volume.

Comedian/Rorschach
Comedian

I saved the best for last. Or so I thought. The Comedian is dead throughout the pages of Watchmen. He only appears through flashbacks, filling the reader with little information about the character whose death sparks the story. Brian Azzarello takes upon himself to give the corpse an identity. And Comedian is just the Joker without the accident. Human qualities are given to the brute when the rest of the books ignore them. Why? No idea. Most of these stories intersect with each other, so there’s no plot holes. Edward is friends with the Kennedy boys? Really? He’s not the one behind the trigger when JFK was taken down? Really? He betrays Bobby’s trust in the end? That’s actually the only thing that makes sense. Half the time, while reading, I waited for Edward to joke about his origin— “Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another…”

 J.G. Jones loans the artwork to this tale, giving the Comedian a much deserved clean-cut world. Something tells me DC left the nitty gritty for Rorschach.

Rorschach

Look at that. I’m correct in my assumption. Not quite though. Rorschach’s Journal carries throughout the pages of Watchmen—it is his journal, after all, that might unravel the injustice in the end. So it makes sense that Azzarello would use that. Rorschach is the sort to always carry a journal, after all. A serial killer stalks the night. An interesting tale for Rorschach indeed. Only, that’s not who he’s after. A group of thugs putting drugs on the street. Something that falls flat. Still, Rorschach. C’mon. This has to be good, right? Oh wait. A love interest? Lemme guess. The Bard (the serial killer) will go after her and that will make Rorschach bitter, right? Hurm. Nothing too original here.

Had it not been for Lee Bermejo’s artwork, this story wouldn’t have been worth the read. Sure. I’ll give you that much, DC.

All in all, the series is as entertaining and necessary as the Star Wars prequels. And if you feel that’s a good thing, then maybe you’re part of the problem. Here’s to watching DC create unnecessary sequels. Maybe Rorschach and Comedian aren’t really dead? Until next time, keep on hunting.

Books

Three short reviews & a book

A few years ago, I bought a book published by Angry Robot. That’s how I learned about the Angry Robot Army. Joining their “army” allowed readers to gain access to advance copies of their upcoming novels. This included both printed copies and e-books. From this offering, I only gained one novel (a disappointing novel, at that). After that, I stopped visiting the page. I could blame apathy or just my usual forgetfulness. Whatever the case, it wasn’t until last year that I paid the website another visit only to learn things had changed. They were no longer offering their eARCs through the page. They jumped ships and joined the NetGalley bandwagon (is it a bandwagon?). That meant another account that I would forget in the end. And I did. Right after I opened it, I never visited it again. That is until a few nights ago when an e-mail appeared on my phone. Honored, someone chose me to read The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon. I say someone because I haven’t a clue who decides which books go to which reviewers. I sent a copy to my Galaxy Tab 3‘s Android Kindle App and started it after I finished The Walking Dead novel.

I should add that The Word Exchange is not published by Angry Robot Books. You know, just to clear up any confusion as that was the subject opener. You can preorder at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Preorder for your Kindle or Nook now.

barbooks

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman & Jay Bonansinga

Zombies is where it’s at. Thanks to a lot of things, they’re thrust into the foreground. And people are riding the waves until they crash. None more than Robert Kirkman whose comic book and TV series of the same name are excelling. Now with the fourth and final book of the Governor trilogy on shelves, I decided to pick up the first one. (Just a note, I dislike series books because of the wait, so I usually wait until it concludes.)

The Internet spoiled the ending of the first book, so I won’t add to it. Still, I knew what to expect before I got there. What I didn’t know were the events that lead to the rise of the most hated (yet, beloved) bastard in the zombie apocalypse.

Much like the comic series, the book didn’t attract me at first. This being the second time I tried to read it, by the way. Something about Robert Kirkman’s style distracts me from the story. Caveat, though, for those of you who never picked up an issue: This is not the same universe as the TV series. Do not expect to see the same mild temper—yes, mild tempered—Governor of TV fame. The events that happen are not for the weak of heart or those who don’t like chauvinistic plot devices. I may write more about that later.

Over all, the book is worth the read.

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. An e-book edition is available for Kindle and Nook.

Night of the Living Deadpool by Cullen Bunn (writer) and Ramon Rosanas (artist)

Now Marvel is no stranger to zombies. So when I saw Night of the Living Deadpool, I grimaced . That’s what we needed, another Marvel Zombies story arc. Only, this isn’t that. Deadpool awakes from a food coma to find that he’s the last living superhero alive in the world. A world taken by a plague. A world ravaged by bloodthirsty, flesh-hungry zombies. Zombies that still have thought. The story is marvelous. It’s hilarious. It’s everything you expect from a Deadpool comic book plus zombies. And the art? Well, let’s just say it’s printed in fabulous black and white and red.

Zombie fiends and Dead(pool) Heads will love it. The four-part series will hit trade form later this year. You can pre-order now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore (writer) and Brian Bolland

As I mentioned in the previous post, I started working on Angela’s comic book education. Starting with three Batman stories, I’m introducing her to the great writers Frank Miller and Alan Moore. It’s Moore’s book that I managed to read for the second time. The first time I picked up The Killing Joke, I didn’t pick up at all. I downloaded a copy online and read it off the computer.

Having it in my library for the first time reminded me just how different the story art pops. How it aids in the story telling. The book sent chills down my back. And while I know better, I still like to think that I understand the ending in the sense of Internet rumors go. No spoilers, I promise.

The Killing Joke is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. A digital edition is also available for Kindle and Nook.

That’s all for now. Until next time, keep on huntin’.

Doldrums

New Comics, Ideas, King of the Nerds & the (Comic) Education of Angela (May Contain Spoilers)

I sit here before laptop as I watch the season finale of King of the Nerds. And I’m pouting. Neither Brian or Katie made it to the final-two showdown. The only two contestants that sparked my interest this season, and neither of them were nerdy enough. So here I sit, pouting. Tears streaming down my face. I care for neither Kayla or Jack (even though he defeated Zack). I can’t let this little slip up ruin my day. I won’t let it. Nope. Moving on.

My Purchases
My Purchases

Yesterday (being Wednesday) was new comic book day. Much to my disappointment, I found myself at work rather at the new comic book table. But I closed with Angela and I prefer closing with Angela than closing without Angela. Something occurred to me during our few hours alone together. (If you can consider a library filled with kids basking in Spring Break glory alone together.) She doesn’t get a lot of my references because they’re comic book related. Angela doesn’t read comic books. In the spirit of evil mastermind, I swiveled in my chair. “I’m going to make you a list,” I said. “A list of the essential comic story arcs you need to have read. It’s okay. I can lend you a lot of these.” I’m starting her off with Batman. I’m starting her off with Year One, The Killing Joke, and The Dark Knight Returns. However, my library lacks two of those titles. Lucky for Angela (and me), Barnes and Noble had both titles. I bought them without a second guess. I took a gander at Knightfall (also on my list), but opted I’m better off not spending the extra $30. (Trades are expensive, yo!) Maybe next week, after I find it for less online.

This is the picture
This is the picture

To make up for missing new comic book day, I ventured out with my family (Shaun in tow) to Myth Adventures. This wasn’t before stopping at some thrift store near by the house first. Now this place bought out the late local comic book store (I forget its name), which closed a while ago. So the comic books I expected to see here were from my youth. And I was right. It broke my heart to see the mishandling of these books. In all fairness, these are books from the 90s. Most of these haven’t risen past cover price in worth. Still, the manhandling of these issues appalled me. Several issues shoved in a single bag. Some lacked proper boarding. And their only copy of The Uncanny X-Men: Day of Future Past (see photo) brought a tear to my eye. The owner further smashed my hopes of owning this book by stating that it wasn’t for sale. “I don’t know how it got there to begin with,” he muttered as he snatched it from my grip. That motherfucker. That mook. That schlump. I did walk out with X-Men issue #80 and Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man issue #1. If worth anything, the nicks and dings diminish their value. Jay’s Discounter Emporium (not its real name, well, not the last word anyway) lost a costumer with me.

Skipping ahead, I took my niece to Myth Adventures to buy her first comic book. After much attempts to sway her vote toward The Powerpuff Girls, she chose a SpongeBob Square Pants comic. Me? I left with a killing. From IDW, I purchased The X-Files Conspiracy: The Crow, The Crow: Pestilence, and Monster & Madman. From Marvel Now, The Superior Spider-Man #29, Captain Marvel, Avengers Undercover and Secret Avengers. And the lone Antarctic Press book, Steampunk Red Riding Hood. Afterward, we went to Barnes & Noble where I bought The Killing Joke and Year One (the titles missing from my library).

My return to comic books is proving that I need another job. Or rather, a full-time job. Although, the past few days and idea has crawled into my head. Wouldn’t it be nice to open a business of my own? In fact, why not a business that amalgamated the things I treasure the most? An establishment that acts as a safe place for nerd, creative, and book fiend. It’s something that needs some looking into.

I finished Night of the Living Deadpool last night. But I surpassed seven hundred words already and I can feel your eyes growing heavy. Besides, I’m disappointed with the King of the Nerds finale. Not that I disliked the winner (no spoilers here, folks!), it’s neither Katie nor Brian (fuck, that’s a spoiler!). Until tomorrow.

I typed and edited this post with the Hemingway App.

Doldrums

“If we shadows have offended”

Conspiracy theorists are a lot alike religious nut jobs in the sense they’re fucking annoying. Nothing pleases these people, nothing real anyway. Any evidence thrown their way is automatically tossed aside and chalked up to lizard people meddling in to blind us from the truth. Meanwhile, the truth is biting them in the ass and they can’t explain the itch. Instead, it’s the government pulling the strings. And not the government government, but a secret, shadow government sitting beneath the earth in a DC comic book hideout plotting the end of our world.

I think Alan Moore says it best (and I’m borrowing this image from The Polymath’s Dilemma) when he said:

Exhibit A: Alan fuckin' Moore
Exhibit A: Alan fuckin’ Moore

When did logic and reason cease being enough for people that we had to create myths and monsters to explain the ugly and beauty of this world? And when did we start believing every fucking thing that we read on the Internet? That’s their main argument: “The evidence is all over there Internet!

This blog stems from a Facebook post (I know, I know) a friend made where the denies that a couple of student-aged terrorists could pull off the Boston Marathon bombings. You know, because there’s no such thing as brainwashing children. There’s also no such thing as a child soldier or a terrorist camps.

But explain this to me, conspiracy theorists: Why Russian? If the government was setting us up, why not North Korean? Because while Russian and the USA are seemingly at odds, the big bad of the day isn’t Russia. It’s not even Al Qaeda anymore. It’s North Korea.

For all you “Awake” people our there, I know you’re gonna say something in the sense of “Nuh uh!” or state that I’m too brainwashed to understand because I watch mainstream media. But whatever. You can be “awake” all you want. The truth is, you’re just so scared of the truth that you have to bury it deeply and live in a fantasy. And to debunk your mainstream media myth, I don’t watch it.