Saturday, May 28, 2011

Comics Roundup for 5/25/11

Last week of the month is a busy one, as usual. I'll try to keep these short.

The Mighty Thor #2 - As much as I like Olivier Copiel's artwork, and as much as I like Norse Mythology, I just can't get into this series. It's strange, because I like the Norse stuff that Matt Fraction is doing in Fear Itself, but I just can't seem to get into this. The Silver Surfer comes down and says that Galactus has his eyes on Asgard. I would think that would be exciting, but I'm kind of yawning my way through this. I can't think of anything objectively bad about it; it's just that it's not doing anything for me.

Kirby Genesis #0 - This was recommended to me, and it was only a dollar. It's pretty interesting, as you have Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross using up a lot of Jack Kirby's ideas that he didn't get around to developing into full comic book stories. It also plays upon a piece of artwork that Jack Kirby drew that was actually launched into space on a satellite. It's hard to assess exactly what's going on here, but I'm curious enough with this to at least check out the first issue.

Wolverine #9 - Jason Aaron is doing a nice job of continuously upping the stakes on this series. So, Wolverine finally battles his way out of hell and regains control over his own mind and body. Now he's going after the one he believes is responsible - but it turns out that there are some nasty bad guys behind the scenes, and he's just playing right into their hands.

FF #4 - I don't know if I'm going to stick with this one too much longer either. Adding Spider-Man to the team really doesn't do much, especially since the team has the kids of Reed and Sue and a bunch of other kids from some previous storyline that I don't know much about. It's getting too far away from what the FF is all about as far as I'm concerned.

Secret Avengers $13 - This felt like a fill-in issue, probably because that's what it is. Still, it was a pretty compelling read. I especially like the Lincoln Memorial smashing a Nazi robot. It was also nice to see one of the other Avengers, namely The Beast, taking center stage.

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #6 (of 6) - Usually when you get these limited series, they start off strong and end a little bit weak. That's what I was worried about with last issue, but I have to say that this one ended really well. These two characters have been building a friendship for some time now, and it's nice to see this series finally address it. It will definitely be worth it to sit down and re-read this entire series.

The Amazing Spider-Man #662 - Speaking of fill-ins, this wasn't as strong of an entry as the last issue, but it was a good read despite the corny ending. It looks like there's a pretty big storyline coming up next issue - here's hoping it's good.

Detective Comics #877 - This continues to be a solid read, and it continues to prove that Dick Grayson is a perfectly viable Batman.

Captain America #618 - Nothing too special happened here, but it continues along with a story that's compelling enough to keep me reading.

Green Lantern #66, Green Lantern Corps #60, and Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #10 - The War of the Green Lanterns story marches along. It's not as engaging as Blackest Night was, but I don't mind reading some extra comics to see what's going on. It looks like it's all going to wrap up in the next issue of the main book, and I'm curious to see what the new status quo is.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The cynicism of doomsday

It looks like another End of the World came and went without the world actually coming to an end. While I haven't had a chance to write about the whole Harold Camping brouhaha, I have been making many snide comments on my Facebook status updates about it though. Still, I thought that since I had a chance today, I'd write down some of my feelings now that it's all over - at least, until 2012.

These "end of the world" predictions tend to rile me up more so than a lot of other religious nonsense does. I think that the reason why is that much of my childhood was influenced by the beliefs of the Jehovah's Witnesses, and those crackpots are obsessed with Armageddon. They even made several specific predictions for the Apocalypse during their first century of existence, but then they finally wised up and decided to go with the vague "it's soon" prophecy instead.

Camping is, of course, easy enough to laugh at. In fact, of all the Christians I know, not one of them seemed to take his prediction all that seriously. (Or maybe they didn't want to listen to the crap that I'd give them if they admitted that they believed him.) However, I wished that their reasoning was a bit better, as many of them pointed out to how The Bible says that nobody knows the date. They even cite a specific passage for this. Of course, Camping had Bible verses too, but he had to do a lot of jumping around through various books and passages in order to come to his conclusion. Naturally, my Christian friends dismissed his interpretation, but I couldn't help notice that Camping essentially did the same sort of thing that a lot of Christians do when you bring up a very unambiguous Bible passage about how it's okay to own and beat your slaves or some other Biblical commandment that they want to pretend isn't there.

What was also depressing was seeing some of the comments where some Christians didn't believe it was going to happen, but they were wishing that it would. For them, going up to heaven while the majority of the world's population suffers in the Tribulation is a good thing and an act of a kind, loving deity. And what's in store for you in heaven? Eternal bliss as you praise MacYahweh - kind of like being in North Korea while on a permanent morphine drip.

How come none of them asks the sort of question they'd ask if they were watching a movie with a major plot hole? Why don't they say, "Hey! It's been 2000 years! How long is DA JEEBUS gonna take? Shoot, maybe after 100 years we should have figured that maybe it's not going to happen. Maybe if he didn't have enough motivation after the invasion of the Huns, the Black Plague, the Holocaust, the dropping of the atomic bomb, that "Friday" song, etcetera, then there isn't going to be a return at all. Ya know what? Maybe believing that a carpenter who was the son of God and died so God could forgive us is kind of silly!"

The thing is, I've had a few Christians refer to me as being "cynical" for my lack of belief. I guess it might seem like that when I'm using a mocking tone for my religious critiques. However, I don't consider myself a cynic at all. I mention things like the Black Plague, The Holocaust, and other atrocities of the past because I truly think that the world is still full of hope and promise and that if we overcame THOSE horrors, then we will perservere. When I read that the majority of Americans are now supporting gay marriage, in what is probably one of the fastest turnarounds in any civil rights movement in history, I start to feel like my son is going to live in a world that's more tolerant than previous ones. When I see that crime rates are still lower than they were a few decades ago, I think that things can still get better. Shoot, I'm even enough of a non-cynic to think that things will get better in The Middle East with the revolutions that have just started there. And in the interest of being fair and balanced, I'm hopeful that more Christians will focus on helping people like Jesus wanted them to rather than when the world is going to end. I personally don't care whether they do it in the name of Jesus, Buddha, or Bigfoot - so long as the mission is to help more so than preach, it's a good one.

If you want to really talk about who's a cynic, I'd say it's the people who think that things are only going to get progressively worse - that humanity doesn't have the potential to make things better on its own (all evidence to the contrary). It's cynical to think that the only way things will be made better is if our big imaginary friend takes care of it for us. And it's this type of cynicism that makes me sad for these people.

Oh, and another thing to make me optimistic about the future? Religion is fading away in much of the world. No doubt nutjobs like Harold Camping have done their part to speed that along, so I guess he's not totally useless. See, I can even find something positive to say about a guy like that!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Comics Roundup for 5/18/11

Not much this week. But how did I manage to spend so much money then? Maybe because two of them are compilations. I haven't read those yet, as I have a bunch of stuff to read first. Here's the regular stuff though:

Avengers #12 - This Fear Itself crossover didn't do a whole lot to add to the overall narrative of the crossover. Basically we got a lot of talking followed by the revelation that Hawkeye wants to make some whoopee with Spider-Woman. That should be interesting, but I'm still unclear on when and how he broke up with Mockingbird.

The Amazing Spider-Man #661 - This was a fill-in issue by Christos Gage, but it was a good read and fit in nicely with what's been going on in the series lately. We get to see Spidey try to educate the young heroes of The Avengers Academy. There's some generation gap issues going on, and Gage plays it to good effect.

Batman and Robin #23 - The Red Hood/Jason Todd is back by the man who brought him back in the first place, Judd Winick. This feels so straightforward after his last appearance by Grant Morrison, but Winick is picking up the reigns nicely while still maintaining his more clear storytelling style.

The Rocketeer Adventures #1 - This anthology/tribute features stories from a variety of artists. The best one of this issue? The lead-in by John Cassaday. I have all the original Dave Stevens stuff (well, reprints, that is) and it's sad that such a talented artist was taken while still in his prime. I would have liked to see more Rocketeer, or at the very least some more comics by Stevens. This series is a pretty nice tribute though.

Ultimate Spider-Man: Volume 2 - I really liked the first volume of this "new" series, so I anticipate that I'll like this as well.

Walt Disney Treasury: Donald Duck Volume 1 - This reprints the works of Don Rosa. I got it because I enjoyed his The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck so much. Am I the only one wondering why Marvel isn't doing all these Disney reprints? Maybe the contracts for all this stuff was signed before Disney bought Marvel.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Comics Roundup for 5/11/11

This Roundup includes my selections from Free Comic Book Day, so I'll start with those:

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse - This was the big surprise for me this year. I've picked up various Disney comics before, and I've always liked them, but this one impressed me even more than they usually do. Basically this issue is a preview for the big hardcover collection of Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse newspaper strips. I had never heard of Gottfredson before, but after reading a bit online about these strips, it got my curiosity up enough to at least pick up a free comic. I was already aware of the upcoming collection of Carl Barks Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics, and I'm already planning on getting those, but I hadn't heard about this collection until just recently.

Anyway, the thing that impressed me was how modern these strips felt. Oftentimes, when reading comics from the 1930s, there's often something that feels somewhat stilted and awkward about them - at least, in my experience anyway. Perhaps that's because the art form was still relatively new at that point.

This is the kind of comic that I hope to share with my son someday. Mickey's a fun, feisty character with a strong moral center. It's definitely the sort of thing you could hand to a little kid for them to read, but it's not the sort of thing that talks down to them. I could easily see myself eating something like this up when I was little. Shoot, I found myself eating it up now, and I can't wait for the hardcover collection.

Green Lantern: Special Edition - The folks at Flying Colors Comics handed this one out to everybody in line. I'm glad, because I was planning on having it be one of the three comics of my choice. Little did I realize that it's mostly a reprint of a comic that I already own.

The Amazing Spider-Man - They did a nice job with this one, as it's reader friendly and still fits in with the current continuity for us regular readers. Basically, it dealt with the problem that Spidey's facing now that his spider-sense is on the fritz. His whole style of fighting was based on that extra sense, and the only thing he has going for him now is his strength and agility. What he needs is to learn how to use them effectively.

Baltimore - This is a horror comic from Mike Mignola, the creator of Hellboy. I enjoyed it, and I might even pick up the collected edition of the series on a slow week. I also liked the Criminal Macabre backup story, which was a cross between horror and noir.

Fear Itself #2 (of 7) - I guess they brought back The Hulk's wife, Betty, some time ago and made her the Red She-Hulk. Anyway, that's hardly a revelation to anybody who's been reading the Hulk books lately though, I suppose. Anyway, I don't have much to say other than I think this is a fun series. I understand that something major is going to happen to the Bucky Captain America next issue.

Moon Knight #1 - I figured I'd give this new series a shot considering the creative team of Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev. It was okay, and I might at least check out the second issue. The surprise ending felt a bit gimmicky though, so we'll see.

Hellboy: Being Human - We get the return (although in flashback) of Roger, the Homonculus, in this issue. I always thought he was interesting, so it was nice to see him back. This was a pretty satisfying one-shot with Richard Corben's art adding to the overall creepy feel.

Batman Incorporated #6 - This is shaping up to be one of my favorite series. This really is a version of Batman that we haven't seen before - at least, we haven't seen all these versions of Batman lumped together into one version before. Grant Morrison is doing an effective job of combining all of the elements of the various Batman stories over the decades and fusing them into one character.

The New Avengers #12 - While I'd rather keep up with what's going on with the present-day team, the flashback story of the 1950s team is interesting enough. I'm still trying to figure out the connection between the two stories, but then again, maybe I missed it and need to re-read the issues that started this story.

Flashpoint #1 (of 5) - This begins DC's newest event, and even though it's a solid read, it doesn't feel like anything I haven't seen before. (Basically something has happened that altered reality, getting rid of most of the superheroes.) I guess the only thing that makes it stand out is that it provides some emotional conflict for the main character, The Flash.

The Amazing Spider-Man #660 - This was nothing too special, as it wrapped up the storyline involving the Freedom Foundation versus The Sinister Six. Also, it resolved Peter's current crisis with his girlfriend, Carlie.

FF #3 - Why is Spider-Man on this team again? He didn't do too much. Other than that, this is a pretty good series, with a loopy plot that would make Grant Morrison jealous.

The Flash #12 - This is the last issue of this series. Seems kind of abrupt to me, but maybe they wanted to end it if Geoff Johns was going to leave the character. I wonder what they'll do with Barry Allen once Flashpoint is over.