New Comic Books For March 11, 2009

DC COMICS

ACTION COMICS #875
BATMAN BATTLE FOR THE COWL #1
BOOSTER GOLD #18
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #34
REBELS #2
TRINITY #41

DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT

MAN WITH NO NAME #8

MARVEL COMICS

GUARDIANS OF GALAXY #11
IMMORTAL IRON FIST #23
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #11
X-MEN NOIR #4

All right, before we dive into this week’s comic books, let’s talk a bit about The Watchmen movie. Did the movie have its share of defects? Yes. What is it as good as the graphic novel? No. But, it was not that bad. I gave it 7 Night Girls out of 10. I liked the way the film looked. I know that some people did not like some of the costumes stating that they looked cheap or from the Tick television show. I did not mind it because it gave the movie a more realistic look. Odds are that if super heroes really existed and did wear such outrageous costumes that they probably would look a little cheap just like they did in the Watchmen movie.

I thought the setting of The Watchmen movie was fantastic. This movie looked as if Dave Gibbons’ artwork had sprung to life. Snyder managed to perfectly capture Gibbons’ look and feel of the Watchmen’s world. The action scenes were all well done and exciting. However, I do think that at some points we were getting gore for purely prurient reasons rather than to actually further the story. The most chilling scene was one where we actually did not see anything at all. And that was the scene where Rorschach corners Big Figure in the bathroom and kills him.

The movie was well cast as each actor/actress looked exactly like their graphic novel counter-part. The only actor who looked terrible was the one who played President Nixon. That fake nose was just awful and cheap.

I thought the actors all did a fine job. This was a solidly acted film. And does it make me a bad person that I found the Comedian to be the most interesting character in this movie?  I just could not get enough of his character.  Jeffery Morgan did an excellent job with that role.

The movie was slavishly loyal to the graphic novel. And this was probably one of its greatest weaknesses. The problem is that Alan Moore wrote the Watchmen as a twelve issue max-series. And by faithfully reproducing every single issue in the exact same order as in the graphic novel the movie had a very choppy and segmented feel to it. I think that veering away from the source material and trying to streamline and move around some of the scenes might have been a wise idea.

The soundtrack was a miss for me. I understand that Snyder chose songs from the end of some of the Watchmen issues where Moore would end the issue with a quote from a particular song. But, the problem is that it just clashed with a movie that Snyder went to great lengths to set in 1985. If you are going to be committed to doing a period piece then the soundtrack should probably reflect that time period.

The only scene that I found just flat out awful was the sex scene onboard Nite-Owl’s ship. The music was terribly over the top and this entire scene had the crowd in my theater chuckling and snickering. And I do not think that Snyder was playing for laughs with that scene.

I did not mind the tweaking to the ending with replacing the fake squid alien with Dr. Manhattan. What I did have a problem with was that the entire ending felt incredibly rushed. And Snyder did not do as good of a job conveying the pointlessness of Ozymandias’ actions like Moore did in the graphic novel. The graphic novel was much bleaker and really drove home the point that it is natural for mankind to destroy itself and that Ozymandias merely stopped this one crisis, but that there will certainly be more in the future. That there is never an “end.”

But, the best part of The Watchmen movie had nothing at all to do with what we saw on the screen for the three hours that we sat in the theater. The best part of this movie was that it spurred so many people, including non-comic book readers, to go to their local comic book shop or bookstore and purchase Alan Moore’s graphic novel. Anything that encourages people to pick up and read the greatest graphic novel ever written can only be a good thing.

I came across a wonderful March 9, 2009 interview with Alan Moore over on Slate.com. You can check it out here. This is a nice lengthy and detailed review that is quite a good read. Now, I just finished reading the Absolute Edition of The Watchmen last week. I felt that I had to re-read the graphic novel before I saw the movie.

One of the many things that impressed me so much about The Watchmen was how Moore gave us a right-wing conspiracy theory nutjob in Rorschach who wants to expose Ozymandias despite the fact that in telling the truth Rorschach might damn the world to nuclear holocaust. And then we have Ozymandias, a left-wing environmentalist who simply wants to end war across the globe even if it means that he has to kill millions of innocent people to do so.

I thought to myself that you just do not get those types of characters or that type of writing anymore. Honestly, go back and read some of Rorschach’s rants about society and politics and think about how many current heroes espouse those types of views. And most people love Rorschach and view him to be the “hero” of the story. I do not know if Marvel or DC would even publish a current comic centered on a “hero” that had Rorschach’s views on politics and society.

And in this interview, Moore touches on this fact when he says:

“I think that the end of The Watchmen where you’ve got the whole fate of the world basically being left in the hands of a semi-literate copy boy … I believe the ending quote is “I leave that entirely in your hands,” which I think was me talking to the reader. Because I don’t think that it is the purpose of fiction to actually dictate a political/moral reality. I feel really uneasy about that. I think that’s why I introduced a lot of the moral ambiguities into “V for Vendetta” in the first place. Some of the fascists are sympathetic and some of V’s actions are very, very questionable. It’s not my job to tell people what to think. If I can actually in some way help the readers’ own creative thinking, then that’s got to be to everybody’s benefit.”

Moore never tells the reader what to think in The Watchmen. Moore never preaches to the reader. Moore simply presents a complex and dense story full of moral ambiguities and lets the reader come to their own conclusion. This is something that seems to have become completely lost in modern comic books.

It seems as if current writers are much more interested in giving us issues that are simply sycophantic handjobs to whichever political candidate that they worship. Many comic books read more like propaganda where the writer simply uses the comic book as a platform to preach to the reader and try and indoctrinate the reader into the writer’s political and moral beliefs. And worst of all, it seems that most current writers have the same views and are preaching the same sermon.

It seems that current writers would rather tell the reader what to think rather than challenge the reader’s mind. It does not seem that writers seem interested in present several different viewpoints and then allowing the reader to make their own decisions and conclusions. And if writers aren’t preaching to the reader, then all they are doing is presenting the reader with heroes that all have the same bland PC personality and view of life.

And it is a shame. I look to writers to be true rebels and revolutionaries. I look to writers to strip away the façade of the political machine and society in general and then try and burn the world down. I look to writers to present the reader with characters and themes that make the reader uncomfortable.

Instead, it seems that most comic book writers are just shills for whatever political group or societal faction that they have aligned themselves with. And that is the difference between creating true art like the Watchmen and propaganda that pushes a specific ideal like many of the comics currently being published.

So, if anyone has any suggestions for comic books or graphic novels that are more in line with what Moore is talking about in his quote then let me know and I will check them out and give them a review.

All right, let’s take a look at the new comic books for this week. We are getting a fairly average sized week with 11 comic books.

Which DC comic book am I most looking forward to reading? I am interested in checking out Action Comics #875. Rucka plans on revealing the identities of Flamebird and Nightwing in this issue so that we can move on with the actual story he has planned for the reader. Hopefully, Rucka can deliver a solid read with the new direction of this title.

Tomasi is one of my favorite writers so, obviously, I am looking forward to Green Lantern Corps #34. This title keeps getting better and better. I expect another action packed issue.

However, the DC comic book that I am most looking forward to reading is REBELS #2. I loved Bedard’s debut issue for this title. Vril Dox is a complete dick and that is why he is such a compelling character. I am sure that REBELS #2 will give us another highly entertaining read.

Which DC comic book am I least looking forward to reading? That would be Batman: Battle for the Cowl #1. I have extremely low expectations for this title. I have a feeling that this event is an editorial mandated event and that Daniel may not be able to do much with this title. Maybe DC will surprise me with a great read with this title. But, I am not going to hold my breath.

Which Marvel comic book am I most looking forward to reading? That would be Guardians of the Galaxy #11. This title is always a dependable read and things should be heating up on this title since War of Kings is now officially underway.

Which Marvel comic book am I least looking forward to reading? That would be Invincible Iron Man #11. This title has yet to make a positive impression on me. My favorite Marvel character has certainly seen better days.

5 Comments

  1. The watchmen movie was exactly as good/bad as I expected it to be. i enjoyed it for the most part, but I will start with the bad so that I leave the good news freshest in your memory.
    The soundtrack could have been better, both sex scenes were not done very well at all and Dr. Ms giant dong was a little distracting. I mean really, either make it normal sized like in the comic, or just have it covered with the shorts, otherwise people are gonna be asking ‘what the fuck?’ The first “sex” scene was played out to be funny in the movie when in reality it was supposed to be anything but. The second sex scene was a really good softcore porno but did it have a place in the movie? i dont really think so. Silk Spectre killing those thugs didnt sit well with me either. Malin Akerman, although a physical match for Laurie, gave a performance that I thought was rather stiff. I also didnt really like Matthew Goode as Ozymandias. Now, although I was alive when the original book came out, I think I was six or seven months old, so I had the ending ruined for me before I read it. Because of this, the fact that it was obvious that Ozymandias was the villian from the beginning did not bother me as much as it should have. For those of you who felt it should have been a suprise, I can see how the movie would have some serious defects.
    Now, on to the positive stuff:
    It was a good movie, the 9.50 was well spent. Acting for the most part was very good, Billy Crudup, Jackie Earle Haley and Jeffery Dean Morgan all gave marvelous performances as Dr. M, Rorschach and the comedian respectively. When Rorschach rips off his mask and said ‘do it, kill me.’ despite knowing that it would come to that eventuality, I still almost crapped my pants. I honestly thought that the changed ending made WAY more sense with respect to the plot than the original ending with the squid. When I read the ending to the novel, i was kind of left with the impression of “what the hell was the deal with the squid?” Also, Dans reaction to Rorschachs death was also a neccessary addition in my opinion. As for Zach Snyder, outside of Martin Scorcese, Christopher Nolan and maybe James Cameron or David Fincher, I dont think they could have picked a better director for this movie. None of those directors could have been afforded while keeping the special effects budget (with the exception of Cameron, because studios know what kind of budget they can expect from Cameron) Also, none of these directors would be as true to the source material as Snyder was, and all of you would be flaming them for changing things too much. All in all, despite a few shortcomings, Snyder made as good a movie as we all could have hoped for. All in all;
    *** out of ****
    -hobosk8er

  2. As for graphic novels that come close to watchmen. Maus I and II are two that transcend the genre as well.

    p.s. look, i finally got a blogspot account!

  3. Why does everyone keep saying Dr. Manhattan’s penis was too large? Must just be a question of what they’re used to seeing; seeing myself in the mirror as often as I do, I was completely unfazed. 😉

    The movie’s pros and cons:

    Good: The visuals truly sprang from the comic, glorious and faithful. Rorschach, Comedian, and arguably Dr. Manhattan (I actually always heard a deep, otherwordly voice in my head, but I entirely get the soft voice approach taken here) were extremely well-cast. The fight sequences were well-done, most effective among them the Comedian’s fight with Ozymandias. The opening credits montage was awesome (as everyone says). For the first 15 minutes, I was convinced we had a cinematic masterpiece on our hands.

    Bad: The movie had major pacing problems (which was really to be expected, for reasons others have mentioned), with some scenes badly-edited (due no doubt to time constraints) so that they failed to resonate as they should’ve, and occasionally scenes that just failed and failed badly (the oft-mentioned laughable sex scene to “Hallejulah”). I expected an imperfect movie; I didn’t expect to actually be very bored sometimes, and my brother (who’s never read the comic) told me he was so non-plussed by the whole deal he wanted to leave, an extreme rarity for him.

    Sometimes Zack Snyder, in his recreation of great scenes from the comics, seemed to entirely miss the point of them. Rokk mentioned the scene where Rorschach kills Big Figure as chilling… but it was better the way it was written, as a comedic moment. We know R. is killing Big Figure in the bathroom, but Spectre and Nite-Owl believe he’s truly peeing and talk about similar experiences they’ve had while they wait.

    The woman who plays Silk Spectre is a dead-ringer in likeness but an awful actress, as pretty much every critic has noted.

    The gore was indeed occasionally, ridiculously excessive. Why did we need to see that bone burst out of that guy’s arm?

    Finally, the music: Not only was it occasionally just badly-chosen (though sometimes I enjoyed it), at times it was extremely jarringly-placed. The best example is when Spectre and Nite-Owl glare at Ozymandias before leaving his arctic fortress at the end. Right when they do, a brief burst of a gothic choir music rings out – and then is gone just as quickly.

    So it goes.

  4. Another Recommendation: Have you read Eric Shanower’s Age of Bronze from Image Comics?

    It’s one of the best things I’ve read in a long time, and the source material (Trojan War/Iliad) is full of moral ambiguities and thought-provoking stuff.

    Definitely check it out, even if you aren’t into Swords and Sandals genre.

  5. Big thanks for linking the interview. Wouldn’t have found it myself, and it was quite the read.

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