Saturday, March 31, 2007



Written by Frank Miller, directed, evidently, by Leni Riefenstahl. Good God, this thing is horrendous on soooo many levels. Without exagerration, I can say that it is about as close to Nazi (not just fascist) propaganda as you will ever see from a major motion picture studio. From King Xerxes as an inexplicably 10 1/2 foot tall, body-pierced, mincing black queen, to the unsubtle message that dark-skinned people, Democrats and the "genetically impure" all deserve to die, the message is pounded home with the subtlety of a battle-axe. And history? Oh Lord, forget history. Here, the Persian Army is composed of armored rhinoceroses, elephants, cave trolls and ninja (wearing identical silver kabuki masks) and sixty-five million orcs. Leonidas, who in reality was King of a Sparta that enslaved 8 out of 10 of his subjects, fights for "freedom" and "reason" against the forces of multi-culturalism, gay rights, sniveling peace-niks (in the form of Theron as John Kerry) and cowardly untrustworthy allies. Don't get me wrong; Thermopylae was an important battle. And we're lucky the Greeks ultimately won, since otherwise democracy would have died in its infancy. But this? This is nothing but Birth of a Nation for neo-cons. Just...horrible. Really, really horrible.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007



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Monday, March 19, 2007


Recent Comics I Have Read

52 #41: Space, blah, blah; Rene Montoya IS THE NEW QUESTION!! Get it? See? See? Blah, blah. Ralph Dibny is now just another grim n gritty obsessive jerk. Oh, and more space stuff.

New Avengers #27: A one-shot character you never-really cared about who is really another B-List supporting character you never cared about is dead. Or possibly not. Also, Elektra.

Batman Confidential #3: Because you can't get enough tales of Batman's early adventures. Bad art. Uninteresting story.

Civil War #7: The BIG CONFLICT. Which wasn't all that great. And this--this--is how it ends? Cap notices that superhero battles tear up real estate (surely a surprise to him after THE LAST FORTY YEARS), bursts into tears and surrenders? Invisible Woman vs. Taskmaster was about the only highlight. And why is that the Texas Avengers consists ENTIRELY of lame stereotypes? Plus Hank Pym. Wheee. In the end, I found this series to be an incomprehensible mish-mash, with characters behave completely out of character, and a political motive that started out strong (or at least semi-coherent) but went insanely over-the-top. If there was supposed to be a political message in this, a sort of post 9-11 cautionary tale, it was lost in the murk.

Detective Comics #829: The start of what looks like another good story-arc, focusing again on Robin. "Mister Wayne, your son is here," was a poignant line. Not sure yet if I like the Andy Clarke art; seems a little too bright for the Batman.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #39: Ultimate Diablo, well-presented. The Thing's mother is cool. Hadrian's arch as star-gate also cool. Not a fan of the Scott Kolins art, though the gimmick here is that they have Mark Brooks (who is much better) doing the scenes with Diablo.

Frontline #11: So...we hate Cap because...he...isn't on MySpace? Hwah? So, what, Britney Spears should be the new Captain America? And Tony Stark did all this to make money? Or he started a war with Atlantis to...get a new prison? Or something? Gah.

Green Arrow #71: Red Hood (whom I despise with the fiery passion of a thousand red-hot suns) vs. Green Arrow; Brick vs. the Batman. Speedy gets clocked off-panel? Speedy, the girl hostage. Heh. You hated that.

Justice League of America #6: The end of the occasionally entertaining but mostly ponderous Red Tornado saga with an extremely graphic, stomach-churning battle. Vixen is handled well; and the true extent of her power is awesome to behold. Not to mention her Golem-esque fixation on the totem that controls it.

Justice Society of America #3: Cyclone has a ludicrously insipid costume and is apparently going commando on the cover. Quick! The Blockade Boy Signal! And more grotesque over-the-top massacres of innocent women and children. Do we really need that? Wildcat interacting with his son was handled very well, understated and not maudlin. And I like the new look for Sand(man) immensely.

Powers #23: Okay, I was really liking the back-to-basics approach, but now he was frickin' Satan involved and the whole "eternal powers" bit that I really didn't care for, and now Christian is back in the Green Lantern (er, I mean, Millennium Guard) union suit. Feh.

Red Prophet #5: Never read the books, but I found this comic so intriguing I went out and bought the first one. An extremely accurate and thoughtful presentation of Native Americans, though a little on the "Indian Elf" side. Still, it makes me want to read more, and I'm not really much of an Orson Scott Card fan, his politics notwithstanding.

Superman/Batman #32: Superman vs. Batman, it's now been done so many times it's hard to make it that interesting. Gee, do ya think Batman has a trick from up the sleeve? And then it goes Silver Age, with a super-Batman. And, of course, the Lois ex machina. That, plus the iffy art, just really didn't do it for me.

Superman Confidential #2: Not sure why I like Tim Sale's artwork (Lois looks about 14 and Jimmy Olson somewhere around 10), but I do. I'm a little confused as to where this series fits in the new time line, but the story angle on the limits to Superman's powers was intriguing.

Wonder Woman #3: Jerk-ules is more like it. Still, good fight scene. Not really sure what I think about the whole Wonder Woman going Nomad theme, but Diana Prince (Agent of SHIELD) seems to know what she's doing philosophically. Pretty good art.

X-Men #193: Positively impenetrable, just like the good ol' days. A secret society with non-superhero-ey names bent on world domination? Check. Team that can't trust one another? Check. Romantic attachment betwixt villain and hero? Check. Flying, uh, supertanker? Okay, well, that was just weird.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007


Thieves World: Sanctuary by Lynn Abbey

When I was in high school, several of my friends swore by the Thieves' World series. I never really got into it, but having read Lynn Abbey's sequel I regret it. This is a great book. For starters, it is finely-crafted, with enough description and details of Sanctuary to really make the legendary city come alive. The setting, a sort of late Antiquity right around the fall of the Western Roman Empire, is nicely evoked, as "civillization" gives way to the "barbarians." The characters are treated respectfully and their personalities are individualized and quirky, seen mainly through the prism of the main character, Cauvin the "sheep-shite stupid" stonecutter's apprentice. The pacing is brisk enough to keep the reader from bogging down in 533 pages; surprising, given that the action all happens over the course of only a few days. I'm sure I missed many of the homages to previous Thieves' World characters and situations. The plot is fairly standard for a fantasy work: an old gruff wizard and his reluctant apprentice. But given that just about every possible fantasy plot has already been done (and most of them by Tolkien), Abbey can be forgiven. It revolves around an assassination plot against the aging priest and political power behind the throne, Lord Torchholder, and his efforts to manipulate events one more time to find an heir and solve his own murder. His unwitting and extremely reluctant agent is Cauvin, who has a background and an agenda of his own. This being Sanctuary, of course, he faces betrayal and intrigue as he pushed and prodded along a course he does not understand and does not want to accept. Another detail I appreciated: magick here is both subtle and powerful. And used sparingly enough that when it happens, it's clearly something important and makes an impression on the reader. A minor quibble would be the ending, which felt somewhat hurried and does feature a somewhat annoying deus ex machina. All in all, a great read and I am now motivated to seek out some of the early books in the series as well as any further sequels.

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