True story: the doorbell rings at my brother’s place (where we’re watching the Oscars). It’s the pizza guy. As my brother walks in front of the tv to answer the door, Ellen announces that her pizza was here (she ordered one on the show). She then hands out pizza to the audience. Perfect timing Ellen, perfect timing.
I hate this book.
It hurts to say it, but I do. It was entertaining to read, but I hate it all the same. I enjoyed Mockingjay in the same way that I enjoys binge drinking: the night starts out fun with familiar things appearing novel under a differently hughed light, but quickly and steadily it devolves into a pile of puke, foul breath and hurty temples. Mockingjay makes me sick to my stomach, and genuinely pisses me off.
I know the overall message of the series is supposed to be some political, “no one gets out of a corrupt State unscathed” message, but I saw The Dark Knight. It was fantastic. In that film, Batman took the fall because it was the only way to guarantee that justice and order could prevail. However, the subtext and narrative of that story allowed the reader to see that Batman was really a hero, and we collectively lamented the tragic cost of his victory. Not Mockingjay. In the Hunger Games series, we’re given a hero to root for who was able to initiate true systemic change through her direct, brave actions. However, Katniss, the admirable hero, gets dragged through the mud and stomped on, never to recovers her glorious flame once it dies. She, the girl on fire, literally gets burned, but is never born again. I mean, there’s a phoenix on the cover of book! What was the use of establishing metaphors if you weren’t going to use them, Suzanne Collins?
Let me start at the beginning. Hunger Games rocked. I didn’t want to like it in the beginning, but it’s one of those tales that is so good you have no choice but to like it. We readers found the book so liberating and empowering because our protagonist, Katniss, is trapped in a seemingly impenetrable system, yet she manages to escape. Awesome. Lady Gaga makes the claim, but Katniss actually demonstrates, that you can harm my body, but you can never own my mind. Again, awesome. FUCK YOU CAPITAL! This is Kat Town!
When the story moves forward, we shift our focus from the smaller impenetrable system, the Games, to the larger political system ruling Panem. Since one is a subsystem of the other, it’s natural that the fire lit in the smaller will grow to burn the larger. Except as this larger blaze grows, we learn that Katniss really has no part in the burn. By acting as the spokesperson of the rebellion, we see her playing a small roll in inspiring the troops, but we all know that her real value, and her strength for leadership and true influence, comes from her skill as a soldier. Except that this new system, the Rebellion, turns out to have a plan for Katniss’s body just as the Capital did. It was obvious about a ⅓ of the way into Catching Fire that there are two teams playing this game, and neither has the interests of Katniss (nor the people she represents) in mind. It was frustrating to watch her play this game again (and that was before she stepped into the area a second time). I despised what was being done to her, and hated even more when it was revealed at the conclusion of Catching Fire that the REVOLUTION WAS ALREADY IN MOTION. Katniss was completely useless as a protagonist: she didn’t make a single decision of consequence and was nothing but a petal caught in a roaring current. Which is bullshit because that’s not the character I was introduced to in the beginning of this series. But Catching Fire did not upset me, because it was only the second book in the series. The Empire Strikes Back left our heroes with the same sense of defeat and hopelessness, and knowing that this was a trilogy allowed me to sleep the night I finished Catching Fire.
Aaaaaand thennnnn… I read Mockingjay. I was waiting for My Jedi Strikes Back, where Katniss reclaims her body, defeat the evil Empire, has a grand victory, then dances the evening away in the company of jubilant Ewoks. Obviously that didn’t happen. I recognize that the book was probably not supposed to have a happy ending (it would probably be inappropriate, given that the focal attraction of the series is the murder of 23 youth), however there should be some sense of resolution to the character arc. Yes, I also recognize that revenge or retribution is not always the answer to injustice or violation. As an example (thematic spoiler alert), in the movie Hound Dog, the protagonist was horribly violated. The resolution at the end of the film is that the protagonist is able to overcome the damage and regain control of her life. That, in itself was her victory over the antagonist: to reclaim her mind. In Mockingjay, Katniss is physically defeated and scarred. Worse, her reputation as the hero of the rebellion is destroyed. So she’s defeated in mind and body. The upside is that she ultimately triumphs over both Snow and Coin, guaranteeing their deaths.
So, we’re left with the story told in The Dark Knight: the hero destroys himself to defeat his enemy. The hero doesn’t win, but then neither does the bad guy, and thus ends in tragedy. Hunger Games was ultimately a tragedy as well, in that Katniss makes the same sacrifice. Except that this wasn’t the story that Suzanne Collins started telling at the beginning of the tale!! The Dark Knight gave us all kinds of imagery and symbolism that told us viewers that we were watching a tragedy and that everything would come tumbling down in the end: we had the story of the forest burning down, we had thematic language of Dark and White knights and falling. The film opened by showing us the detrimental effects of Bruce Wayne’s decision to take up the Batman mantle. From the beginning, we’re told that Batman will ultimately fall. In Hunger Games, we’re told the opposite. Katniss is initially victorious in the smaller arena (literally an arena), and walks away as a hero and inspiration. Thus, in the end we need some type of thematic victory and we need to be told, if even through the subtext and/or narrative, that Katniss is still an inspiration and someone that we can admire. Except it doesn’t happen. Her name is shamed and she’s first turned into a criminal, and even worse, INSANE. As far as her public image is concerned, her mind was taken from her. Her mind. That was supposed to be the one thing that she wasn’t supposed to let anyone take from her! There was an opportunity for Collins to redeem Katniss that I honestly expected her to take: I was hoping that Katniss would leave a record of the way that she was exploited, abused, and abandoned by the system so that future generations could avoid her tragedy (leaving her the ultimate victor over time and simultaneously redeeming her reputation throughout recorded history). Nope. Instead of giving us the renewed phoenix that we were promised, Collins gives us a smoldering pile of ash.
I’m not sure how cool I am with the issues of gender and empowerment that are presented by the series’ end, either. Empowerment is a big theme in this series, and Katniss is the embodiment of that. We find out at the end of the second book t
Dear Charles Pease (assuming that is your real name, you coward ass-hat),
I just read New Mutants (volume 1) #92. I found in a back-issue bin a few years ago and I just read the book today. I saw your letter in the letter column of the issue, and seeing as how this issue was released 23 years ago I don’t think it would do me any good to write in to the Marvel in hopes of getting my rebutel to your letter published, so I did the next best thing that I could think of: I wrote to the Internet. Other letter writers in the letter column left their addresses because they have testicles or ovaries. Unlike you, you yellow piece of elitist trash. And by yellow I mean chicken, not asian. Asians aren’t even really yellow. But your sorry ass is. If you would have left an address I would be mailing this letter directly to you in the hopes that your mom or a great aunt or someone who still knows you lives in that house 23 years later and can forward this missive to you.
So Charles, in your letter you say, “Sabertooth has sworn to kill the remaining Morlocks — great!”
‘the fuck is wrong with you son. Or dad (you’re probably mad old by now). The Morlocks are a group of misfit outcasts who were already rejected by human society. Then, their people were massacred by their own kind? Humans didn’t want them around because they were too ugly and mutants didn’t want them alive for the same reason. And you think it’s great that Sabertooth is on a mission to kill the survivors? You know that he’s a bad guy, right? Is that would you would love to do, Charles Pease of New Mutants fandom circa 1990? Kill off the remnants of a culture? I sure hope no one ever explained what American Indians were to you, because I fear for their communities should you ever find out. Anyway, I hope you’re old and crinkly by now and have kids that are so ugly Sabertooth would come after them too.
While I’m responding to the letter, I’d like to send a big suck-an-ass-crack out to Louise Simonson and Bob Harras for killing Doug, and then bragging about the deep years later in the letter column. Doug Ramsey (aka Cypher) was the best New Mutant because his power was an intellectual one and not a fighting skill. This added to his character, and gave someone who roots for underdogs a person to root for. But I guess that was too much for Bob and Louise to have a character that didn’t carry big guns or could evicerate someone with a knife or fingernail or whatever. So to Bob and Louise, eat dog puke and die. Well don’t die, but gag a little. A lot.
This isn’t a “great jumping on point”. This isn’t even a “bold new direction”. This is the closest possible thing that a book can have to a new number one without actually starting over.
With Savage Dragon #193, Erik Larsen successfully transitions the main character! Instead of the Dragon staring in the title, his son, Malcolm, is the new star. Now, this is impressive because Malcolm first appeared in the book almost 17 years ago. In the issue he was born(!).
The thing with Savage Dragon is that unlike most comic books, the characters age in real time. So Malcolm is today a high school junior. It’s been weird watching him grow up on panel (Mr. Larsen’s own children are roughly the same age), and when little Malcolm first joined the book people used to joke that one day he’ll take over the book. Well this past Wednesday, he did.
For almost 200 issues Erik has been writing and drawing (doing both the pencils and inks) this book. He’s 2/3rds of the way to breaking David Sim’s record (300) that he set in the 90′s doing the epic Cerebus. In addition to doing the art and writing chores, at one time Erik even colored and letter the book. While this is all cool trivia, I’m sure you’re wondering why you should give the book a try.
The quick and dirty answer is: because it’s fun.
It’s as simple as that. This is the book that pro’s read. Savage Dragon is the essence of a guilty pleasure: easy to read, digestible art and a quick pace. Almost every issue ends “too early”, as you are always dying to find out what happens next. If you have ever read anything written by Robert “the Walking Dead” Kirkman (or even if you enjoy that show) then you are familiar with Erik’s writing style. After all, Erik is the one who influenced Kirkman and got him into writing comics. There are tons of subplots fading in an out of the backgrounds, loads of new and creative villains, and an entire universe of characters (Erik’s been building this world since he was a kid). On top of it all, it has what every good story has: lots of surprises and it’s funny! There really is no way to predict what will happen next with this book. Anything, literally anything, can happen. In the past, major characters have died unexpectedly during a casual battle. Once, the entire world blew up and an alternate time-line began. There’s not even a guarantee that the main character will stay alive! Since other characters carry the “Dragon” name, there always seems to be a few on handle that can take over the title if the current star dies. As Malcolm did this week (take over the title, that is. He’s still alive for now).
Artistically, Erik’s art style is bright, bold, and easy to follow. He’s excellent at composition, and his panels are filled with energy. Don’t expect any photo-referenced characters here: Dragon and his crew are stylized and dynamic. Dragon is not for the faint of heart, either. This book isn’t for kids, and the brutality can be intense.
I can’t recommend this book enough. I’m super thrilled for the new direction and the cast change. It’s an Image book, so you know it’s quality! If you’ve ever been curious about this book, now is the time to start picking it up. If you’ve never heard of it before, now is the time to start picking it up. I should almost mention that it’s available digitally (with no DMR) at Image’s own website: ImageComics.com Have fun reading!
For those wanting to jump on the Quicksilver bandwagon, this issue is a great place to learn about Marvel’s premier speedster (or to catch up on what he’s doing lately). Fans of Uncanny Avengers will also want to pick up this book, as it features an important cameo by Havok (aka Alex Summers, the brother of Cyclops; for those non-X-fans).
If you don’t have a comic store near you (or would never get caught dead entering one), you can buy the digital version of the issue HERE to read on your iPad. The art, which was astoundingly awesome in the first two issues, is even better in the third issue! Storywise, a lot happens.
The last two issues sold out at the distributor level and have gone back to press. You need to find out what all the buzz is about!
All-New X-Factor #3 on Comixology.com
All of the fans seems to be pissed at Quicksilver’s new costume (that will appear in X-Men: Days of Future Past), and the non-fans just laugh at it. The truth is, that costume is actually from the comics. It first appeared in X-Factor (vol. 1) #93. See…?
It’s so appropriate, you can’t fabricate something better.
Art by Terry Shoemaker, dialogue by J.M. Dematteis. Scanned by me.
After such a dismal reception at the American Music Awards recently, it was nice to see the industry give some love to the Digial Duo. Album of the Year? Record of the Year? I didn’t see those coming. I thought they might take home the Electronic Music category like they did at the AMAs (which makes little sense, as this album was almost entriely disco and R&B. But no: they won something they deserved.
Daft Punk had three things working against them:
ONE. They’re French. Americans can be fickle with the foreigners we choose to acknowledge. And we tend to prefer the Brits or Latinos.
TWO. They wear helmets to hide their identities. In America, we love our celebrities. We want to know who you are so that we can fall in love with you (instead of your music), then live vicariously through your tabloided expliots. We care more about the things celebrities do in their professional lives than their professional work. Robin Thicke had the biggest commercial hit this year because he’s tall, handsome and is… um.. Thicke. His song was catchy, but he admittedly had his production crew immitate Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give It Up. Pherell and T.I. were on the track too, which helped. But there is a reason he was up there singing with Miley at the AMAs: he, as a character, was popular.
THREE. They don’t sing. People tend to get confused when the “person whose song this is” isn’t the one front and center holding a mic. I’m sure many of these kids new to pop music thought ‘Daft Punk’ was the black guy in the glittery jacket holding the mic. No, that gentleman’s name is Pharell Williams, and as talented as he is, the primary creative force on this particular track are those robots. We’re so used to doing the reverse: giving credit to the singer for the producer, writer and performers’ work. When Justin Timberlake released his latest album, I had friends on Facebook talking about how much his music keeps getting better. I had to remind them that Justin doesn’t make the music- Timbaland produced it. Justin IS getting better at singing it, but they were admiring the song, not the vocal performance. I heard another teen stating that Katy Perry’s music was so deep that it felt like Katy was talking to her with her songs. I wanted to punch myself. Does anyone know who many lyric writng crdits Ms. Perry has? I’ll bet a weeks wage that I have an equal number of lyric writing credits, and I’ve never written a song.
So despite it all, the Robots got the recognition they have worked to hard for. They are officially a mainstream group now, and all the underground fan boys can cry about how they used to like Daft Punk before they sold out. Well I was a fan back them and I’m still a fan today. The music they make is not the same as the gritty synth beats they released in yesteryears, but like anything that improves, changes rides along.
I was checking out movie trailers looking for a flick to watch weekend when I clicked on one to watch on Apple’s iTunes trailer site. To my disappointment, none of the trailers were available to watch in full-screen. And this is not new.
In the early days of multi-media on the web, Apple’s Quicktime player had the reputation as the worst of all the media players (e.g. RealPlayer, Windows Media Player) because it couldn’t play video in full screen. Technically it was able to, but it was a paid feature. Which was stupid, because no one was going to pay for a feature that was available on every other player out there. So Apple lost out and looked crummy in the process.
The same thing happened with their operating system. Even as a die-hard Mac user/lover, my favorite part of the Windows experience was full-screen apps. Sure it’s useful to not have your word processor take up the entire screen when you’re coping text from a web browser or notepad, but Mac OS didn’t even have the option to go full screen if you wanted to. And without full-screen, non-Mac users (and even Mac users) got confused as hell once a window was close but the app remained open.
“Where’s the Internet? Where’d the internet go?” People would ask me. “I want to use Microsoft Word, where did it go?”
“It’s right there. You’re in in now. Just open a new window.”
“But I can’t see anything.”
“It’s like using sunscreen: you can’t see it, but trust me it’s there.”
It looked like Apple was starting to learn their lesson: Quicktime 7 or 8 (I’m not sure which; I just pulled the version number from my ass. My knowledge is like using sunscreen: even though you can’t see it, it’s there”.) featured free full screen viewing of videos. Even the latest version of OS X features full screened apps now as a result of iOS’s success. A lot of damage was done to their reputation in the past, and thanks to the popularity of iOS, it’s been undone. But Apple’s facing a lot of competition in the near future, now that Android is available on every cheap nickel and dime phone under the Asian sun and people are starting to use non-iPad tablets. So it’s critical that they do not give users an excuse to switch (ha ha ha ha ha ha aa ah ha a a… I’m lame).
But even now, when it looks like they are finally getting a clue regarding full-screen: they pull a NO. I went to Youtube to watch the trailer. And I hate Youtube. What’s that tell you, Apple?
Ya, these issues are over two years old, but there’s a reason I read them recently. Green Arrow was ranked #57 on CBR’s Top 100 Comics of 2013, and I was curious to see what someone could do to make a character as bland as the Green Arrow interesting. Stupid me, I didn’t realize that the creative team who put the book on the list, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, started their run on issue #17.
So I picked up #1-#3 (the first story arc) expecting to be blown away, and what I found was blinding mediocrity. Like really. This was so uninteresting and flat that it hurt to look at. I’m not saying that it was bad, or that it sucked (as both creators are seasoned vets who do a fine job at their craft). The problem was that it felt like both were going through the paces. And when you are expecting to see something exciting to life you off your seat, the same ol’ same ol’ feels incredibly heavy.
The theme of the story actually bugged me in a major way. It was about technology, and how it turns the users into monsters, blah blah blah. The problem is that J.T. Krule clearly knows nothing about it! For example, there is one part where one of the characters is talking about how Internet users “swipe music and videos from torrent sites”. First off, no young character (and the character was intended to be young, hip and techno savvy) uses the word “swipe”. Kids pirate and download, but they never swipe. Swiping is what Rob Liefeld and Roger Cruz doe when they traces other people’s drawing, not grabbing bootlegged swag. Second, anyone familiar with the torrenting process describes what what’s done as “torrenting”, not downloading from a “torrent site”. You don’t get the media from the site, you get it from other torrenters. And yes, it may seem like I’m being petty, but remember that these nuances are littered throughout the entire story. A story that is about technology.
Finally, the worst offense committed by the story and the topic is the way that it depicts Internet users. Yes, there are a few cretins who inhabit the deep nethers of the Internet, but they are not the vast majority. A live stream, such as the one shown in the comic, would attract millions of viewers as it did in the book. However, I would guess that less than the majority would be watching to root for the bad guy. Many would want to see Green Arrow escape. Look, for example, at all of the real world help that large online communities such as Reddit have provided. There is a collective sense of justice that arises from that community and others like it. Anonymous is another example. Regardless of whether you agree with their politics or not, the organization does what they do because they are trying to promote justice in a world where they don’t see it. It seems that J.T. Krul’s framiliarity with the web extends to immature YouTube commenters and not the greater majority of it’s denizens. Furthermore, the immaturity promoted by Internet anonymity would drive the viewers of the video stream (in the book) to root for the more powerful side. When it was obvious that the tide was turning and Queen started kicking ass, people IRL would root for Queen to crush and demolish his opponents, not boo him.
Another thing that bugged me is that story missed opportunities for strong character work. An example of a potentially rewarding set up was when Green Arrow saved the villain from dying in a fire he caused. Why was this heroic act not explored? Why were we not shown the reactions of the audience watching the streaming? Why did none of the other villains have a visible reaction? This was the only strong character decision that Queen made during the entire story and it was completely brushed off! It should have been the focal point of the battle, and the thing which turned the tide. Instead, Queen won by putting some random plot device on the end of an arrow and shot it at Rush (the main villain). His speech was intended to be climatic and dramatic, but seeing as it was about the evils of technology that were ineffectively presented in the story, it had no impact. Super lame.
In the end, I imagine that we have DC editorial to blame. The whole point of the New 52 was to appeal to young readers instead of the 40+ year olds that were their previous audience. It seems to me that they asked J.T. Krul to make the book hip and relevant to tweens. Seeing as the new slant on Green Arrow for the New 52 was to give him tons of cool tech, Internet technology was a smart place to go for the first storyline. But why give an assignment to a writer who has so little understanding of the subject? To be fair to DC editorial, I am going to assume that they quickly corrected their problem and put Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens immediately on writing duties (as they tackle the next storyline).
Or maybe Krul left out of frustration with editorial demands to write about stuff he doesn’t know or could care less about. I don’t know. All I know is that I am excited to pick up Green Arrow #17 and see what all the CBR fuss was about.
Overall rating: 4/10