Thursday 20 June 2013

God help me, I think you people are horrible


Jor-El is a spaceman who lives on an advanced alien planet of interstellar explorers, and this is why he does not have a car, he has a dragon.  Does it poop when it flies?  I mean, does it drop this half ton dookie on people as Jor-El is going off to a space-science meeting?  It just seems very impractical to me to have a space dragon instead of maybe a flying motorcycle or a jetpack - there's not even a safety railing on a flying dragon, doesn't that worry people?
Anyway, Jor-El and Zod have a falling-out over the fact that Zod is a murderer and eugenics-obsessed space Nazi, so Jor-El - who you will recall is a space scientist - proceeds to beat up Zod - a trained warrior from birth - in a fair fight, so Zod stabs him with Robocop's brain-stabbing USB jack (from that time in Robocop 1 when Boddicker went AAH because he'd just been stabbed in the brain with a spike) and Superman's rocketship takes off because obviously Krypton is not out of resources or anything so Jor-El can lay his hands on enough solid fuel to allow a vessel to escape Krypton's massive gravity which is in no way being increased further by the planet's core imploding.  I mean, haha, it's not like the movie has gone out of its way to establish stuff like there's no fuel and gravity on Krypton is really strong, is it?
With Superman-El on his way to Earth to - as far as I can tell - star in a string of soft-focus tv advertisements, Zod swears revenge and that he will recover the Space McGuffin shortly before he is punished for trying to overthrow the Romulan Council by being locked up inside a steel dildo which is then thrust into a "black hole" via a spaceship that has corridors made of vaginas.
I have not made any of that up.
Flashforward 33 years and Superman is a humble fisherman - there will be more such references to him being Jesus so let's acknowledge it and move on* - and in flashback we see his adoptive father giving him advice like "never use your powers to help people even if it means you have to let them die", "don't be yourself", "be afraid of the government", "people are not inherently good", "trust no-one", and "hide who and what you are" and many other valuable lessons that we associate with Superman.  At some point they're out driving and instead of driving to where they meant to go they drive to a tornado instead, and Superman's dad dies to prove that he's right about something, the movie suggesting this is an important lesson about Superman trusting his dad because his dad is always right, but the impact is lessened by the slightly problematic fact that his dad is a small-minded tool with conservative values rooted in xenophobia and parochialism that are ultimately destructive to the point that they drive Superman into a 16-year walkabout to grow a beard and express himself only through anonymous acts of terrifying vandalism disproportionate to perceived slights.
During one of his many odd jobs under false names, he's working on an impenetrable top-secret excavation site with top-notch security just as they discover a 20 000 year old Kryptonian spaceship buried under the Canadian ice that attracts the attention of Lois Lane.  To answer your question, no, the movie does not explain why he is there at this exact time.  He just is.
Meeting the holographic version of his dead dad after shooting a laser into Lois (not a euphimism), Clark is told that Jor-El had a dream that Kryptonian children would no longer have to do jobs that are assigned to them before they're even born, and that Superman is going to put on a costume and help him realise this dream as it's the reason Jor-El concieved his son in the first place.  YES I KNOW.
Meanwhile, Lois' boss reasons that people would not want to know about the presence of an invincible alien demigod hiding among humans (really, he actually says this onscreen) so Lois should stop writing stories with news in them and go back into the office and... well, the movie doesn't clarify what else she should be doing that is more important than revealing that an invincible alien demigod walks the Earth among us, but there's probably office stuff that needed sorting out, like someone had a birthday coming up and things needed organising for that, like strippers and drugs.
However, instead of going back to organising the office orgy, Lois takes roughly 90 seconds to discover that Superman is really Clark Kent from Smallville.  She tricks Clark's mum into revealing this by asking if her son is a flying alien demigod and Clark's mum says that he is.  Lois waits at Superman's human dad's grave until Superman shows up and tells her that he doesn't feel like explaining himself and his dad said to hide from the world and try not to murder anyone, so Lois gives up on her story, possibly because she realises that IT IS MEANDERING ALL OVER THE PLACE.
Zod shows up demanding Superman surrender to him, so after a scene where Superman tells Lois that on his planet - which would be Earth - "s" stands for "hope" they both get taken up to Zod's spaceship where Krypton's atmosphere takes away Superman's powers so he can be tortured while Lois escapes and then gets rescued when Superman floats out into space with his arms out like he's Jesus and saves her from an escape pod which lands just down the road from the house of Clark's parents, which seems to be the one spot on Earth where all single-seat spaceships crash for some reason, and Zod and Lady Zod show up at the house and fighting happens.
In between the pauses for Lady Zod to deliver a Bad Guy Lecture to Superman, it's basically that fight from the Thor movie, only with lots of rubbery CGI humans, and then Lois has a car load of cops give her a lift to Clark's house where he's standing around in his Superman costume talking to his mum on the front lawn and the cops are looking right at all this and that's how you know Clark doesn't have a secret identity or anything.  They call the army who come to the farm and pick up the rocket that carried Superman to Earth from its hiding place in the barn (for some reason, Superman doesn't just carry it to them) and they make a plan to turn the rocket into a bomb that will create a black hole in the center of Metropolis.  Superman can't carry the bomb to the target himself because that would mean sacrificing himself for humanity and it's not like the movie wants to draw parallels between Superman and Jesus or anything so he doesn't do that, he goes off to the other side of the planet to be fondled by tentacles for twenty minutes (again, I am not making this up) before hitting on the novel idea of stopping a giant robot spider by punching it.
Zod's master plan, meanwhile, is to turn Earth into a planet that will rob him and all his invincible super-soldiers of their powers, because he's trying to save the Kryptonian race from extinction and the way to best ensure this is to make sure that under no circumstances are the remaining members of this race completely invulnerable to harm.  Superman's rocket is bashed into Zod's spaceship and a black hole happens, so Superman catches Lois from falling again and flies out of the black hole going GRRR and then they make out in the rubble that used to be Metropolis but is now the dusty grave of 8 million people.  Zod climbs out of somewhere and they have the fight from the end of Matrix 3, and at the end of it Zod tries to kill these people with his heat vision, only Zod's heat ray eyes obviously hit whatever he's looking at, right?  But the beams take forever to cross this one foot or so of wall while Superman is going "no, don't burn that family of four to death" so I guess in the fight he broke his eyeball muscles so he couldn't just look at the people he wants to kill by swiveling his eyes around in their sockets, he has to turn his actual head towards whatever he wants to look at, only Superman won't let him because he would rather people not be killed, so he snaps Zod's neck.
Flash forward to "later" and Superman wrecks a drone and throws it in front of a general and tells him that the military - who came to his home and got his rocketship, remember - shouldn't try to find out where his home - that they had already come to - might be.  Then he goes to the Daily Planet in a pair of glasses but with the exact same hair style and - possibly more of a clue here - being about seven feet tall and built like a brick shithouse compared to everyone else in the room, and everyone acts like they don't know who it is because - and I'll admit I'm guessing - it's a seven foot tall invincible alien demigod who snaps people's necks and wrecks entire cities and kills millions of people and there's not a damn thing man nor god can do to stop him and if he tells you he's a mild-mannered reporter and not an alien murderer with laserbeam eyes, you nod and say "yes, Clark" and Lois simpers and says the line "welcome to THE PLANET" and Amy Adams to her credit does stop herself winking at the camera as she delivers the line, so you may fare better than I did and not actually vomit.

I did not think much of this film.
It was very derivative of other films, inevitably the Marvel stuff like Thor (Krypton/Asguard is a no-brainer visual lift), but it also borrows heavily from videogames, particularly the Final Fantasy series to the point that I felt like a lot of the action scenes were just the elaborate summons animations from FF7 and FF8, with a fight between Zod and Superman at the end that's a direct lift of the Cloud/Sephiroth showdown from the finale of CGI movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children - it's one thing after another that I've seen elsewhere, even down to the shakycam pan/zoom/zoom again CGI spaceship shots that are lifted from Firefly/Serenity and Battlestar Galactica.  The direction is technically inept, too, with shakycam in contextually inappropriate scenes - by which I mean all of them -underlining that it isn't an actual narrative or visual technique, it's just being copied from other places because everyone else is doing it, even videogame cutscene directors, and it is used here without any purpose or meaning beyond itself.  Superman also is odd.  His costume has a belt buckle despite being a one-piece unitard with no belt, feeding my suspicion that the film was made by people who thought that as long as Superman wasn't wearing underpants on the outside, people would take him seriously, because it's underpants on the outside that make him silly and/or unbelievable.  He looks exactly like Tom Welling from the tv show Smallville, and the story itself is a mish-mash of ideas and images from various Superman things over the years like the lengthy Krypton-based prologue about Superman's dad coming directly from the 1990s Superman cartoon pilot episode, the World Engine lifted from Mark Waid's superfluous-but-good Birthright, the robot spider fight from the many, many treatments for the never-made Superman Lives from which we also get a shot of a polar bear and Superman's gay robot butler in the Fortress of Solitude, and obviously the fearful conservative version of the Johnathan Kent character from the tv series Smallville who pops his clogs to give Clark's story more pathos or something, though myself, I would have prefered to see the kind-hearted and worldly-minded yokel of the Lois and Clark tv series instead - some parental figure who would steer the character towards a sense of responsibility to his fellow man and the notion that we're all in this together rather than the idea that some people were meant for better things that seems to be the main thrust of Man Of Steel, with the little people dying in their millions just to give background colour to the posturing of an elitist snob who adopts an "us and them" worldview after a three minute conversation with his holodad.  This guy has no roots, I have literally no idea what investment he has in people to the point he could care one way or the other if we all died, he has no reason to be good to us - quite the opposite, in fact, as all that's actually proved in his journey to become Superman is that Earthly law doesn't apply to him, so he needn't even fear the reprisals his father warned him might come if he ever revealed himself.  Oh dang, now I wished I'd referred to his dads as Gladiator and The Postman for some reason, but I can't be bothered editing all that crap up there so let's just say this is a really stupid, inconsistent and cowardly movie and leave it there.

*  Before anyone says my boy Big J was a carpenter, I refer you to the learned Mr Cohen.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

You know the concept of time confuses me

I have to admit, while Nightwing generally doesn't seem to be the kind of comic I'd normally like to read, it has a good inverse-sexism policy going on with the artwork that I approve of heartily.  By which I mean the artist really likes to draw man ass.

 Nice one, DC!  About time a major publisher took this step, though I don't suppose it means anything to anyone outside Northern Ireland that the himbo lead of Nightwing is a dead ringer for Spunky from Mal Coney's gay superhero comic Major Power And Spunky., but I throw it out there anyway.  I don't think this means Dick Grayson in the comics is gay because he's been with ladies - all of them, as far as I can tell - so he's probably just bisexual now - which I imagine is what happens when you run out of ladies but want to keep going.
As for the rest of the comic - the texty bits with story and words, I mean - I think Nightwing is supposed to be Spider-Man now or something like that.  He doesn't seem to get on well with the only woman in the book - hmmm... - and then a man in latex slaps him around and locks him up in a dungeon and forces him to strip on camera... you know, this is going to sound super-weird, but I am pretty sure the aforementioned Major Power and Spunky covered ground like this.

Saturday 15 June 2013

I have never seen a woman eat ribs like that in my life except in caveman drawings

Playing The Last of Us, it's kind of like Enslaved but with the main character from Uncharted.  If that analogy isn't vague enough for you, then it's what I Am Alive would be if it wasn't a terminally broken playing experience.  Otherwise I am trying with limited success to draw old-school 2000ad dinosaurs with limited reference and my memory is not the best for this kind of thing.  I haven't had a drink in 5 days and I'm having a sensible night tonight... if I make it to the end of the weekend and stay dry, I suspect this may be me getting my arse on track at last.

Thursday 13 June 2013

Start your revengines

Been listening to Jpop today, because basically I am an awful human being.  I struggle with trying to recommend any of it to those who haven't built up a resistance over time (my own tolerance coming via exposure to anime and toku since the early 1990s) so I usually just throw GO!GO!7188 out there and hopefully move on before someone clicks a link to Kyary Pamyu or 4Minute, but have always thought that the platitude often offered that "Japanese pop music is the worst in the world" comes from people clearly not paying attention to the UK charts, which feature music much, much worse because you can actually understand the lyrics.  Japan's offerings (at least until you grasp basic Japanese phrases and terms) might still be the pop lyrics equivalent of the Odyssey for all you know - until it sinks in most words in the chorus are English, at any rate.
The last few years, though, my main exposure to UK music has been through the music channels on the tvs in my local gym, and in some kind of karmic retribution it seems the UK charts have morphed into a carbon copy of what Japan's been doing for years, right down to shrill and garish idol acts like Katy Perry and barely-pubescent talent show winners.
Buckle up and enjoy, my friends, because it'll all be like this sooner or later:

Tuesday 11 June 2013

It's called "being nice" dammit

Smash wrapped up its second and final season in good form - if you haven't been to Smash, it is basically Glee meets Fame, with roughly 60 percent of the songs being created for the show by Broadway composers, with the odd MOR cover to keep the lovers of wordless montages of the cast happy.  It started well before it trailed off a bit towards the end of the first season to the point I don't think I watched the last few episodes, then got a second wind in the latter half of season two when it became less about the quest for fame and the struggle to put on a show that dominated the first 1.5 seasons and more about straight-up bitching and backstabbing behind the scenes of multiple stage musicals and became Dynasty with big band songs and wailing that sounds like it could be a Glee cover of something except that it's actually an original composition.  I wouldn't have missed the show if it had been cancelled at the end of the first season, but like I say, by the end there it was good stuff and I think I now probably prefer the cast version of Under Pressure performed at the opening of the series finale to the real thing - sacrilege to some, I'm sure, but the cast of Smash to my knowledge didn't break a trade boycott with an oppressive racist regime to line their own pockets, so I feel justified in making the admittance.
Speaking of which, I see Brian May is still trying to repay that karmic debt:

Saturday 8 June 2013

I'm a hungry man who's made a few mistakes

Been reading a bit more Marshall Law today - specifically the last three chapters of Fear And Loathing - and only just noticed that the big red design on his face is an inverted crucifix.  I'm slow, but I get there in the end.
My main takeaway from the material is that Pat Mills is most entertaining when he's furious at something in particular, and you can tell he's furious at superheroes and their dated endorsement of the myths of American frontier values by his singular focus on this to the exclusion of other American sacred cows - sure, there's some broadsides at Western machismo and US foreign policy towards foreign types making their own versions of US WMDs in there among the cape-bashing, but Mills steers clear of other big issues like race relations, gun control and poverty and zeroes in on his big bugbear of superpeople and their warped version of reality.  I can't remember the last time I read something where Mills' fury shone through in the material quite so brightly and wonder if it was deliberately meant at the time as a swipe at so many of British comics' writing talent pool jumping ship from UK comics and buggering off to America to take the superhero dollar, eventually influencing the US comics scene so much that it largely resembles what Pat was doing all those decades ago as satire on the genre's excesses.  Depressing to think it, but what he did as a warning seems to have been taken as a playbook in the intervening years.

Thursday 6 June 2013

We were taking a vote when the ground came up and hit us

There's a campaign - run by dyke feminists, women in trousers and killjoy liberals, no doubt - to end the presence of Lads' mags on shelves, and as a man, I agree with the campaign because I'm tired of being objectified as a knuckle-dragging fuckwit led around every life decision by my cock.  I am a rational creature, and I don't need someone who failed to get a job in real journalism trying to tell me that Hollyoaks actresses in their underwear are the epitome of desire rather than everything that is wrong with Western society.
Also I hate Hollyoaks with a passion that borders on irrational.  If I could focus that passion into something constructive, I might have written a play or a novel by now, but as I have mentioned on the blog, the only thing I've ever written was that Batman story where the Joker ties Batman and Robin upside down in spacesuits after dosing them with laxatives in an attempt to make them drown themselves in their own diarrhea, but DC sent that back pretty quick.  They said there were too many ethnic and female characters in it, but apart from that it was apparently just what they were after for the Nu52 reboot.  As anyone who works with me will attest, I can't take any kind of constructive criticism or editing direction as I see this as capitulation and weakness, so rather than make minor changes and get a guaranteed payday, I tried rewriting it with original characters and submitting it to Image, only Erik Larsen said he'd already killed off several major characters in Savage Dragon in this exact manner twenty years ago - it's true what they say: there's no new ideas anymore.

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Just because I'm not fat doesn't mean I'm not American

 It has been pointed out that my picks for Forbidden Planet's Desert Island Comics feature are all British-made comics - pure coincidence, but I'll roll with it.
In the interests of fairness, I do actually recall lots of great US comics from my youth, but they probably don't count because they were chosen for reprint as they were tonally more in line with British comics' readers' tastes, and also because they were reformatted from the US standard of 22-page monthlies to 5-6 page weekly installments - stuff like Transformers and Power Pack, but there were other entertaining strips like Ghost Rider and Deathlok showing up in short-lived anthologies aimed at the UK market like Havok, Meltdown, and even the rather lovely Strip (the Marvel UK anthology, not to be confused with the contemporary independent UK anthology - if only because the Marvel version managed to actually come out).  I found all but one issues of Strip recently during an attic clearout and there's some great stuff in there, from the original Marshall Law miniseries, Jean Van Hamme's Thorgal, Don Lawrence's Storm, Wagner, Grant and Gibson's Gengis Grimtoad, and Furman and Senior's The Body In Question, which finally gave a (slightly retconned) origin for mechanoid bounty hunter Death's Head.  Great stuff, very European in flavor and much missed from a marketplace currently dominated by 2000ad and seemingly endless US superhero reprint titles.  This trip down memory lane sure does make me hope that The Phoenix lasts more than its scheduled two years.