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Originally published at my site. You can comment here or there.

Today’s happy-making thing is comics/TV author Brian K. Vaughan. Or, rather, Mr. Vaughan’s writings; while I have no doubt that his personal happy-making skills are considerable, I’ve never met the guy, so we’ll just stick with the stuff he’s written for now.I’ve never read any of BKV’s output that I haven’t at least liked, and most of it I’ve absolutely loved. As I told Timmy B. a few days ago, I’m pretty sure Vaughan could write a long-form comics series focusing on the trials and tribulations of a multi-generational clan of overly-flatulent mole rats and I’d dig the hell out of it. The man can almost do no wrong by me, and I say the “almost” only because there’s always a possibility he could write something that just didn’t hit me right. So far, though, that possibility remains theoretical.

I truly love the fact that if you boil most of Vaughan’s works down to the one-sentence high-concept pitch, they don’t necessarily sound like anything exceptional, and can even border on the trite — I love it because it’s proof that execution trumps concept (at least in his case), and that’s inspiring to me as a writer who doesn’t feel like his ideas are anything exceptional. C’mon… Y: The Last Man isn’t exactly the first “last man on Earth” story ever written, but what BKV has done with the story has been moving and compelling and exciting and generally most excellent. I’ll happily leave the “mad ideas” to the likes of Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis, but I’ll take Vaughan’s work over theirs most any day. [1]

Some selected highlights from the Vaughan Oeuvre:

Runaways. Six kids in L.A. discover that their parents are super-villains and, well, run away. Vaughan makes the personalities of each of these kids distinct and appealing in their own way (especially appealing: eleven-year-old mutant Molly). Sure, BKV frequently succumbs to Joss Whedon-esque Real Kids Don’t Talk This Way syndrome (Vaughan actually turned the writing of this book over to Whedon after thirty issues), but hey, what the dialogue lacks in realism it more than makes up for in entertainment value.

Y: The Last Man. As noted above, not the most original concept ever, but just a terrific batch of characters and situations. Y shows off one of the things Vaughan does best: thinking through the ramifications of his setup and of the actions of his characters. Almost every issue of Y features a moment of “Well, duh, of course that’s what would happen if suddenly all the men were gone.”

Pride of Baghdad. A graphic novel based on the true story of four lions who escaped from the ruins of the Baghdad Zoo after the U.S.’s initial attacks on the city in 2003. Disturbing, sad, haunting… and I mean that as a compliment.

Ex Machina. Not quite Runaways-good or Y-good, but still damn enjoyable. One-time superhero Mitchell Hundred uses the goodwill he generated after saving New York City to get himself elected mayor. Ex Machina boasts far more political intrigue than it does big superhero action (though it has a fair share of that, too). Vaughan tries hard to strike some balance and not let Hundred’s liberal tendencies turn this into a left-wing diatribe; Hundred’s idealistic liberalism gets regularly smashed by the realities of a less-than-ideal world. Also: the first issue of Ex Machina features one of the single most breathtaking final pages of any comic I’ve ever read.

Doctor Strange: The Oath. I just read this one last week — thanks, Timmy B! I’ve never cared all that much for Doctor Strange; I didn’t hate him, but neither the character nor the mystical corner of the Marvel Universe he inhabits eever interested me much. Vaughan, however, wrote a Doc Strange I’d be happy to read more about: arrogant without being assholish, fiercely loyal to his friends, charismatic, possessed of a biting sense of humor and immensely powerful.

Vaughan’s been scaling back on his comics work over the last year or so as he’s now a story editor for Lost, which makes me want to watch that show again (as does the presence of Buffy vet Drew Goddard on the writing staff). But as good as Vaughan would be at the TV game if he gets pulled farther in that direction — his episodic storytelling skills seem profoundly influenced by television — I hope he keeps several toes in the comics pool, as I’d truly miss reading his words.

(Cross-posted in a slightly altered form at Jimmy Olsen’s Blues.)

[1] Not knocking either Morrison or Ellis, both of whom consistently pump out entertaining and thought-provoking works of high quality; BKV’s just more to my taste.

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Originally published at my site. Please leave any comments there.

Edward Norton has been cast as Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk, the quasi-sequel to 2003’s near-disastrous Hulk. (I say quasi-sequel in that I believe they’ll be skipping over all of the origin hoo-hah and such, acknowledging that we’ve already seen those bits without referencing the first movie at all.) Norton’s actually an excellent choice to play Banner — Banner’s supposed to be a world-class scientific intellect, and Norton, one of my favorite actors, is one of the best of his generation at playing smart. [1] Plus, scared and/or angry and/or conflicted Banner? Norton will be all over that.

The Incredible Hulk will be directed by Louis Leterrier, director of the Transporter movies, so we know we’ll be getting far more of Angry Action Hulk than Angsty Emo Hulk, which suits me just fine. As much as I respect Ang Lee and what he wanted to do with Hulk, it just didn’t work well. Knowing that the next movie will have Edward Norton and much more in the way of “Hulk smash?” Oh yeah, I’m there.

Unfortunately, this new configuration means I’m doubting we’ll get any Jennifer Connelly in the next movie, and that saddens me, but it’s a tradeoff I can live with.

[1] Jessica Alba as a genetic engineer in Fantastic Four? Not so much. Now if they’d cast Leelee Sobieski… her I could’ve bought as a big-brain scientist.

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Originally published at my site. Please leave any comments there.

  • I’m willing to grant everyone involved with the production of the kinda stinky Ocean’s 12 an Official Do-Over and pretend like Ocean’s 13 is the direct sequel to Ocean’s 11.  The trailer for O13 sure makes it look like it’s going to have all of the same qualities which made the first one so much fun — qualities which Soderbergh, et al. apparently left in their other pants when making O12.  This one’s now gone toward the top of my Most Anticipated Movies of Summer 2007.  (Hmm, what’s that smell?  *snf snf*  Oh, yeah, I think that’s the smell of another blog post coming up!)
  • Hey, fans of Firefly:  Yahoo! TV has a four-minute video preview of Drive, the new show from Nathan Fillion and Tim Minear.  (The video’s on the right-hand side of the page.)  I was planning on watching this anyway just because of the presence of Fillion and Minear, but after watching the preview I’m actually interested in seeing Drive on its own merits.  OK, yeah, what little bit we saw of the battered wife was pretty cliche, but the scene with Fillion was intriguing.  Time to TiVo up!
  • Lee Iacocca has had enough from the current administration.   Yes, legendary industrialist Lee Iacocca expresses his outrage at the Republican White House — kinda says something, doesn’t it?  Iacocca rightly points out that the guys in office right now might be in charge, but they’re not showing a damn bit of leadership.  Big difference there.
  • At long, long last, the final issue of The Ultimates 2 has gone to the printer, and Marvel was kind enough to celebrate by offering a preview of Bryan Hitch’s stunning eight-page foldout spread from that issue.  I’m not sure that any comic has ever needed an interior eight-page foldout spread in it before, but I’d imagine this one does, and that Hitch artwork is simply jaw-dropping.  Personally, I’m just glad this comic’s finally coming out since that gets us that much closer to a hardcover collection, which means I can get that to go with my hardcover of the first Ultimates series.
  • The Inbox of Nardo Pace, The Empire’s Worst Engineer.
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Originally published at Please leave any comments there.

Time now to play a fun little game I call “Going Through My Referrer Logs To See Which Search Engine Phrases Brought Users To My Site In The Last Week.”  Honestly, though?  I think I need to come up with a better name for the game than that.  I like to feel that I’m doing a public service here, providing answers to those questions that Google seems to think I’m uniquely capable of answering.  It’s a responsibility I take very seriously, and I’ll do my best to help soothe the mental anguish and sleepless nights these answerless questions must be causing to the questioners.

opening band for adrenalize tour

This one came to me in several different forms, all from former metalheads like myself desperately yearning to know which band or bands opened up for Def Leppard on their Adrenalize tour in 1992.  Well, Google led you people to the right place.  I’m gonna give you the answer right now.  You ready, my fellow headbangers?  Here goes:

No one.  That’s why you’re having such trouble finding the answer.  Def Leppard didn’t have an opening act that time out…they played a three-plus hour set without any supporting bands on the bill.  You shelled out all of that money hard-earned by busing tables and selling pot for a 100%-all-damn-Lep set, bay-bee.  Did you wanna get rocked, the Lep asked you?  Oh yes, you answered.  You wanted your asses rocked into near cataonia by a three-hour syringe full of pure grade-A Leppard.

(This was the case for the American portions of their tour, anyway; it’s possible the answer’s different in other parts of the world.)

A Love Song for Bobby Long spoiler

You want a spoiler for the mostly-wretched movie A Love Song for Bobby Long?  OK, here goes:  John Travolta sucked mightily in it.  How’s that do you?  OK, fine, here’s a bonus spoiler for you:  yes, it’s true — you do get a nice side-shot of Scarlett Johansson’s boob.

give me a warm enema daddy

Um.  Sorry, can’t help you there.

“inflated boy” superhero

My best guess here is that someone was trying to find out some more information about Chuck “Bouncing Boy” Taine, storied member of the Legion of Super-Heroes (and nowadays featured on the cartoon about said futuristic teens) and role model for fat kids the world over.  Well, unknown person, now that you know his actual name (though I honestly don’t think “Inflated Boy” is any less ridiculous than “Bouncing Boy”), you can read up on his heroic legacy at the Wikipedia.  Always remember:  Chuck might have been the fat kid in the Legion, but he still ended up with a smokin’ hot wife…two of ‘em, technically.

layer cake+what is his name

Another one which came to me in a number of permutations, all of which wanted to know the name of Daniel Craig’s character in the excellent film Layer Cake.  I don’t think this is a spoiler, so I’m going to give you the answer:  we don’t know.  And not only don’t we know, we’re not supposed to know.  The character himself said as much:  “If you knew my name, you’d be as clever as me.”  Whatever the character’s real name was (he’s referred to in the credits only as “XXXX”), it wasn’t revealed within the movie itself or the novel on which the movie was based.  Any site which tries to tell you his name, unless it comes directly from J.J. Connelly, the novel’s author, is lying to you.  This particular bit of information is one you’re going to have to get used to not knowing.

fuzzy storytelling guy

Yup, that’s me!  (Though I hope the “fuzzy” refers more to my propensity for hirsuteness than to my storytelling techniques, else I’ve got a problem.)

actress who did not wear panties to the oscar

Can’t help you there, either, though I must admit I’m more than a little curious to know the answer myself.

im into fuzzy rabbits.  kind of smart i have a big

Ladies and gentlemen, this week’s winner for the Search Keyword Which Causes Me The Most Mental Discomfort Award!

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Originally published at Do Or Do Not.. You can comment here or there.

I might not have the love for Spider-Man that I do for Superman, but I’d be seriously remiss in my geeky duties if I didn’t let you people know that the first teaser trailer for Spider-Man 3 was released today. And while I’ve never been a fan of Venom, what they show of the alien symbiote does actually look pretty sweet… as does the black costume. And the Sandman.

It’s certainly not enough to distract much of my attention from the fact that I’ll be watching Superman Returns in <checks watch> 28 hours and seven minutes, but it’s nice to know that I’ve got what looks to be a kickin’ superhero epic to look forward to next summer.

Unlike, say, 2008’s Iron Man, which I have a feeling is going to suck hard enough to pull my stomach lining out through my mouth.


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March 2012

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