Monday, February 23, 2009

The comic-iest Oscars ever!

I'm using the fact that Hugh "Wolverine" Jackman hosted the Oscars as an excuse to write about them in this comic book blog.

Mr Jackman was delightful, I thought, and I especially loved his opening number with the big "I'm Wolverine!" finisher. He was very funny and charming, but I still don't think he's the sexiest anything, let alone man alive. I'm looking forward to a big musical number in Wolverine.

I loved the set, and having the orchestra out of the pit. And I really liked that Danny Boyle made a point of mentioning how great the set was, and thanking the people responsible. Classy! I don't know how "toned down" the whole works looked, especially with that giant crystal curtain, but who wants to see a low-budget Oscars?

Bill Maher really came off as a douche, eh? Awkward, awkward jokes and very predictable "MY documentary wasn't nominated!" remarks. And then he almost opened the envelope before reading the nominees because he was too busy thinking about how much smarter he is than everyone else. From now on, only delightful, charming people at the Oscars please.

Speaking of looking like a douche: Peter Gabriel. I mean, whatever, I know that cutting the songs off at one minute or whatever seems disrespectful, but when I was watching the performance of the medley of nominated songs, the slots for each one seemed long enough. And poor John Legend (who maybe had laryngitis or maybe was trying to sound more like Peter Gabriel?) had to step in at the last minute and sing those ridiculous lyrics while Gabriel sat a few rows away. What if that song had won? Awk-ward.

Also a douche: Zac Efron for leaving presenting partner Alicia Keyes in his dust when he strode out onto the stage.

And...that kid from Twilight for rocking that ridiculous vampire stare the whole time. Lift your head, son. Stand up straight.

I think the best dress was Marisa Tomei's.

And I think the worst dress was, sadly, the one that Queen Latifah was wearing during her song. Was the dress a tribute to something? It kinda looked like a crazy prom dress that I would have designed when I was seven, and only had one crayon left. Too bad because her red carpet dress was lovely.

I liked that little Pineapple Express bit with Janusz Kaminski, especially when they were watching Milk.

When the first acting award was given out using that five presenters format, I was worried that the show was going to be ten hours long. Cut to Robert Downey Jr in the audience, and I could tell he was thinking the same thing. But y'know what? I really liked it. I thought it was really nice for those past winners to be sharing such kind, and seemingly unscripted at times, words with the nominees. Plus it was exciting to see five amazing actors on the stage at a time ( lead actress was given out without much reaction from the audience, but when they brought out the five male actors to give out that award, there was a standing ovation. Women: booooooooo! Men: yaaaaaaaaaay!). I think that they should have used the same format for best director. And, as Matt and I were joking, for best movie. They could just have five things, like "Please welcome The Godfather, Citizen Kane, Ben-Hur, Lawrence of Arabia and the Titanic!"

I have always found it amusing that there is such a huge difference in speeches from when actors win, or when anyone else wins. Actors are always overwhelmed and crying and hyperventilating talking about fainting, but when a sound editor or someone wins they are just like "Thanks. This means a lot." They worked just as hard or harder on the exact same movie, and have also just won the highest honour that they can receive in their industry, but they manage to hold it together.

I was really surprised that Mickey Rourke didn't win, but happy that Sean Penn won. I really liked Milk a lot, and was hoping that it might win best picture. Oh well. Slumdog Millionaire was pretty good too.

And, of course, Heath Ledger's win was both sad and exciting. Exciting because it's the highest honour a comic-based movie has ever won at the Oscars. I still think Christopher Nolan deserved a nomination, but oh well. He'll just have to make the next Batman movie even better.

And finally, yay for the guy from Man on Wire for doing a coin trick at the podium, and then balancing the Oscar on his chin. We need more of that at the Oscars for sure.

Friday, February 20, 2009

This Week's Haul: These Birds Have Flown

Just a quick one this week. Focusing on getting new site up. Talking like Rorschach.

Hey, here's something neat! My old post on Batman: Year Two has been translated into Spanish for a Peruvian comics blog! Check it out. Thanks to blog author Giancarlo Roman for doing that! I have no idea what it says! I am especially happy about it because that has always been one of my favourite posts.

Robin #183/ Birds of Prey #127

This was the last issue of Robin, one of several DC titles to come to an end this month. It's bittersweet to be losing all these titles because, while I enjoy them and have been reading them for a long time, it's been awhile since an issue has done anything for me. Which is probably why they are being canceled. Of Nightwing, Robin and Birds of Prey, Robin was the strongest title, I think, at least at the time of cancellation. Tim Drake is a great character, and can almost carry his own title. Almost. I actually would have liked to see a Robins title (um, maybe not called that) featuring Dick, Tim and Jason, especially now that Batman is out of the picture for awhile. Why battle for the cowl when you could have three perfectly capable guys (well, two) holding down the fort?

Anyway, as I was saying, this was the last issue of Robin. And, unlike the final issues of Nightwing and Birds of Prey, this was actually a pretty good ending. As far as I'm concerned, Will Pfeifer set the bar pretty high for ending a Gotham-based comic with Catwoman #82. That was a great comic. Robin wasn't that good, but it tied up some things, opened up new possibilities, and kept the soul-searching and personal reflection on a career in crimefighting to a reasonable level. There was a running interior monologue throughout the issue, but it wasn't way over the top like, say, last week's issue of Nightwing.

Birds of Prey, on the other hand, went out with a whimper. Man, I like Tony Bedard, but this really felt like the comic had been punched in the gut and was trying desperately to crawl out of the room unnoticed. A completely unmemorable ending to a fairly significant, and at one time beloved, comic series.

Next week: the final issue of Blue Beetle (sob!). Of all the titles getting canned this month, I am the most disappointed about this one. The rest come as a bit of a relief because I can really reduce my pull list. I actually expect to make a lot of cuts over the next few months, but hopefully I'll be able to replace some of them with exciting new series. Like Jeff Parker's highly entertaining Mysterius, which was also out this week (#2), and Jersey Gods, the first issue of which hit stores a couple of weeks ago. It will definitely satisfy your New Gods cravings.

Holy crap guys! The Watchmen movie is, like, soon!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Comic Art Auction Announcement


A group of comics professionals, including Darwyn, Cameron Stewart, and Adam Hughes, are trying to help out a friend with some hefty medical bills and are selling some artwork and other special items on ebay. Anything raised above what's needed will be donated to the HERO Initiative charity.

You can check out the goods here, but here's a taste:

Saturday, February 14, 2009

This Week's Haul: I Bumped my Brain!

Well, these reviews were pretty much ready to post on Friday morning, but then I got in a car accident on the way to work. Nothing too bad, but I got a slight concussion according to the doctor. Anyway, I forgot to post these yesterday, so here they are today.

Batman #686

Neil Gaiman + Andy Kubert = $$$$

I think this was really awesome. I like to make fun of Gaiman fans because they are annoying, but this really was great. The dude can write a comic (as long as it doesn't set Marvel characters in 1602). Plus, Kubert's art looked great.

Aaaand...a Catwoman-centric story? That will always win me over. Especially one where she ties Batman up for any reason.

When I was reading Alfred's story in this issue I was wondering how many casual Batman fans who are picking up this comic will be confused and take Alfred's word as bond re: The Joker. But I think the comic was pretty clear that nothing happening in it should be taken as canon.

Calling the story "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader" is a bit risky, as it compares it to one of the greatest comics ever written, but y'know...confidence in your product, I guess. It was a really entertaining read and I am looking forward to the next issue. Worth the extra dollar!

Plus I liked that line "I don't think Death is a person, Batman." Cute, Gaiman. Cute.

Amazing Spider-Man #586

For some reason I always save Spider-Man for the end of my comic reading each week. This week I put it near the beginning. It was the only Marvel title I picked up this week, so I kinda felt sorry for it.

I know that I have mentioned this before, particularly in my Best of 2008 post, but I am just so frigging impressed by how great Spider-Man has been since the relaunch at the beginning of last year. And the fact that it is coming out three times a month makes it that much more impressive. I think that Marvel has actually found the perfect formula for creating comic books: have a rotating team who are all in on the same story-line, but are all telling their own short stories within the larger arc. Brilliant! The way they have it set up, it avoids several problems that plague almost every title on the stands today:

1. There are no "fill-in" issues because there is no one single creative team.
2. The comics come out on time.
3. Because it's a continually rotating team, the larger story is very fluid, and doesn't change drastically when a new creative team comes on board. For most comics, when a new team takes over a book they pretty much start over with the character and story, taking the elements that they liked from the last team's efforts, and dropping the rest. Many things never get resolved, or are just forgotten.

This issue, which follows-up last week's big reveal of who the mysterious new villain, Menace, really is, is a perfect example of what Spider-Man is doing right. Menace has been showing up in Spider-Man comics since the relaunch. There were many issues that the character wasn't there, but Menace was never forgotten about. Typically, the identity of a villain like Menace would be revealed within a 6-issue story arc in most comic series. The Spider-Man format allows for this long-lasting story to exist while lots of other stories are happening. And the Menace storyline is only one of many larger storylines existing in the Spider-Man world. It's great stuff, and it really creates a more complex and vibrant universe for Spider-Man. There's a lot going on, but the writers have a great handle on it all. I never expected the title to be this well-managed when they first announced that it would be coming out so frequently. Well done, Marvel!

Booster Gold #17

How are the sales on this title? Good, I hope because I really love it and don't want it to go away. When Geoff Johns left the title I didn't think I would still be into it, but I still look forward to it ever month.

Nightwing #153

This was the final issue of Nightwing, and it was terrible.

Batman Confidential #26

This, on the other hand, was fantastic. Really, really great. It's the antidote to all this crazy, arthouse Batman that we have been getting lately. It's a straightforward story where a bizarre theme-based villain is terrorizing Gotham and Batman teams up with Jim Gordon to figure it out. Awesome right? Well add to that some AMAZING art by, wait for it, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and inked by Kevin Nowlan! Sometimes you just need a shot of Batman, straight up with no chaser. This is that comic.

Mini-Marvels: Secret Invasion

New Mini Marvels digest!!! Everyone should buy three of these.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Scott Pilgrim Contest Winner!

I have randomly drawn a winner from all who entered the Scott Pilgrim contest. The winner is Andrew Townsend, and I swear it was random and had nothing to do with the fact that The Stolen Minks are on his ultimate Scott Pilgrim playlist.

Here is his list:

Young Leaves--Attack in Black
Super Soaked--Be Your Own Pet
Little Garcon, Little Fille--Born Ruffians
Hot Tips--The D'urbervilles
Burn 2 Ash-- Chad VanGaalen
Sugar Laced Soul--The Diableros
She Don't Use Jelly--The Flaming Lips
I Know a Place--Jay Reatard
Lay Your Head Down--Keren Ann
Secrets Aren't So Bad--Magneta Land
I'm Easy--The Meligrove Band
Shake It Off--Ninja High School
Bring It--The Stolen Minks
I Want To Be The Boy To Warm Your Mother's Heart--The White Stripes

Congrats Andrew! Send me an email with your contact info so I can get that Scott Pilgrim special to you (rachellegoguen at gmail dot com). Thanks for entering everyone! I enjoyed reading your lists!

In other news...

I am working hard on getting the new and improved Living Between Wednesdays up and running. I can't post too much here because I am out of room. The plan is to have the new site up by the end of the month. I hope you will all follow me over there. Daily posts are the plan for the new site! For reals this time!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Scott Pilgrim Contest!

The fifth installment of the beloved Scott Pilgrim series is released today. I haven't read it yet because I don't get advance copies like some bloggers, but I do have a pretty nifty prize to give out! 

I have a fairly rare, not-available-in-stores Oni Press collection of miscellaneous Scott Pilgrim stories (see photo). These stories showed up in Free Comic Book Day comics and such and have now been collected in one handy comic book! And it's in FULL COLOUR! 

To get your hands on one of these babies, post your ultimate Scott Pilgrim soundtrack playlist in the comment thread. I'll draw a winner randomly from everyone who enters!