Monthly Archives: September 2012

Action Brickbats! Issue #0

Keen Gear: I’m inclined to list Top Gear as a guilty pleasure on my Earth Prime blog. It’s the kind of show that can be very entertaining (the British version, not the American one), but if you tell someone to watch it and see what you mean, it’ll probably be a dull episode. Most of the time, it’s just three middle-aged men reviewing cars – usually giving the big thumbs up to the models that burn the most petrol and screw up the environment. But then again, there are episodes where their intelligence is put to the test in a series of challanges – that’s when it becomes a show about three middle-aged men falling over. That’s when it gets interesting. Check the episode where the three try building original designs for motorhomes, or the one where they build their own amphibious cars. That’s when the show starts to look like a Monty Python sketch (a friend of mine asked me if the show had anything to do with Python when I mentioned that I watch it). I can imagine memebers of  the troupe from that show as the cast of Top Gear: Graham Chapman as Jeremy Clarkson, Eric Idle as James May, Michael Palin as Richard Hammond, John Cleese as “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car”, Terry Jones as Michael Gambon and Terry Gilliam as The Stig – the show’s mascot.

So, yes, do watch Top Gear. Just check the descriptions on your tv guide to be sure it’s not about reviewing cars…except the one where Jeremy reviews how a Ford Fiesta would handle while chased by drug dealers in a shopping center.

And He Adjusts His Bowtie – It used to be that I could discuss Doctor Who spoilers because I was watching episodes a year or two after they originally aired – who writes “Spoilers” for old stuff? But it looks like the season finale is coming up…I actually find the Matt Smith years to be a remake/reset of the Eccleston/Tennant years – only with a lower budget, slightly wittier scripts, a younger cast and fewer spaceships crashing into volcanoes. In other words, I don’t hate it. I just wish it was as hip as it’s promoted to be, then it wouldn’t seem like a guilty pleasure. I am looking forward to Jenna Louisa Coleman as Oswin – that script for Asylum of The Daleks was Moffats best one since Blink.

 Zero Hours –I find this month’s DC Comics #0 issue gimmick a bit of “eh”. It’s all setup for other crossovers or retcon stuff featuring minor characters engage in conspiratorial nonsense. It wouldn’t really be bad if it didn’t seem like they’re already planning another crossover after the “Trinity War” that’s for next year. There’s no such thing as stopping and smelling the roses – last week’s comic is stored in a box in your basement/garage/storage bin/closet/ex-wife’s attic/whatever, this week’s comic is sure to go to the same place. Before Watchmen – old news. Batgirl out of the wheelchair – old news (I would think that would be a bigger event than anything else going on – why isn’t she in the Justice League? They’re making room for Vibe?)

These brickbats? Old news.

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Grown-Up Stuff – Paradise Lost

In 2010, I remember walking in lower Manhattan around 14th street on the west side and seeing a grown-up video store advertise Kim Kardashian’s grown-up video with R.J. Norwood – on sale. Three months later, I decided, “I’m going to buy that.” I couldn’t find or remember the location of that store to save my life. I kept thinking, “Why did I wait so long? Why wasn’t my mind made up?”

The answer is pretty simple: she’s dull most of the time, so she might be  pretty dull there, too. There’s not much talk out there devoted to feats of awesomeness (the Pamela and Tommy Lee video springs to mind), so this wasn’t exactly something to go hunting after.

This fruitless search brought up a pet peeve about these sorts of places: like a crappy comic shop, you won’t find what you’re looking for. There will be no nights in Paris, no Chyna & X-Pac, no Rebecca Gayheart and what’s-his-face, no Danielle Staub or Dustin Diamond (was that really supposed to be a comeback? A comeback to what?) and no Shakira video, either. Pamela and Tommy Lee? Not even on the discount shelf.

So what is there to be had? Rows and rows of generic exotic babes posing for bland DVD cover photos, showcasing their skill at Pilates, really. There’s not even a grownup-famous celebrity, like Lisa Ann (Nailin’ Palin) or Jenna Jameson or Kelli McCarty or a few that I can’t remember right now (gee, this is not the most well-researched blog entry you’ll read here, but maybe that’s a good thing).

How about those parodies? I really wanted the Batman video, but they don’t have that, nor the Saved By the Bell one (I’m just assuming they did that, it seems so obvious). Over at http://www.comicbookrehab.blogspot.com – Earth Prime, I tended to nag about crappy comic shops, but Jeez, when you’re willing to walk into a grown-up video store, you can’t help but expect to get exactly what you want out of the experience and not leave empty-handed. So Comic Shops – do me a favor, just do me a favor: don’t follow the business model of a grown-up video store. We’re reserve the right to walk out empty-handed, but we don’t really want to.

I apologize if there are grown-up stores outside NYC that don’t follow this example and actually do cater to the needs of the consumer. Bless you, noble shopkeepers, bless you.

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Post Number #0, Earth Pi Edition

It’s kind of neat when a comic book company revisits an old gimmick. DC is offering #0 issues this month. That means all the comics that didn’t get a #0 issue (or just weren’t around to get one) in the 1990s will get their chance. Batgirl will get a #0! Batwing will get a #0! A more appealing incarnation of The Justice League will get a 2nd#0! Nightwing will get a #0! Blue Beetle will get a #0! Batman Inc. will get a #0! Green Arrow will get a 2nd#0! Superman will get a 2nd #0! OMAC – was canceled. Before Watchmen…won’t get #0s, but, gee, you would figure if they were going to screw Alan Moore, they would at least stick it all the way in there and finish the job. Enough with the foreplay.

The #0 gimmick has a lot to do with the desire to have a #1 issue of a comic that’s been around long before you were born. It’s a form of compensation. In many cases, companies would use it as a preview of the upcoming #1 issue (some #0’s were bagged with issues of Wizard Magazine – and they would come up with the Issue 1 1/2 mail-order exclusive gimmick). I used to have a #0 issue of Sonic the Hedgehog. DC used the gimmick as part of a company crossover event called Zero Hour, which was an attempt to explain away discrepancies/inconsistencies/garbage (the histories of the Legion of Super Heroes, the Justice League, Superboy, and a possible return of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl) and the fallout from a previous crossover, Crisis on Infinite Earths (it didn’t work). Some of the issues offered retellings of origin stories, others offered new takes on familiar events. Much of the suspense from the event was whether Barbara would return as Batgirl after being left in a wheelchair after the events of “The Killing Joke”. It would take another decade and a half before she did. A lot of fans either wish she had stayed in the chair and a lot of fans are happy to see her back in the Batgirl costume – it’s just one or the other.

One gimmick at a time, here – #0 issues ran their course as a gimmick. The next was relaunches with new #1 issues, particularly comics that never technically had a #1 issue (a lot of the Marvel comics characters – Thor, the Hulk, Ant Man, Doctor Strange, Captain America, Iron Man) appeared as feature in anthology titles that were spun off into their own series with the issue numbering continuing uninterrupted, the Hulk in particular. His new #1 by John Bryne and Ron Garney was collectible for a while, until people realized it was his 2nd. That’s another story.

And then there’s the curious phenomena regarding #2 issues. It turns out the comic shops would order more copies of #1 issues, then order a more conservative (less) number of #2 issues. To muddy the waters further, Marvel was trying a gimmick to make #2 issues of their relaunch titles more appealing by offering variant covers. This lasted through 1998. You see what happens when you order a #1, find it boring, skip out on #2, then learn that that was the hot one to own? What a mess! Oh, and 1 1/2 issues went out after a few years when Wizard stopped offering them. Those books usually offered a short comic and some sketchbook material from the artist, sometimes with a short interview. On one occasion, Wizard offered a future edition – Witchblade #500.This cynical gimmick did not catch on – partly because a lot of people questioned if most comic books would ever exist near #500, given the number of cancellations, relaunches, etc. Remember Crossgen? That was a thing.

O.K. – DC is offering #0s again. Does this mean you get to pick and choose to keep which zero issue of a title that already had a #0 issue? There’s no 2nd “0” on a calculator…

Say, if you’re bored, take two #8 issues of any recent DC Comic from the New52 relaunch, two of the new #0 issues and one #5. Line them up together a hand of cards and fan them out. Make sure the issue numbers are lying next to each other when you spell “80085“. I don’t think you need to look at them upside down to get this joke.

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10 Facts About Doctor Who’s TARDIS

10 Facts About Doctor Who’s TARDIS. The Tardis also has altermate console rooms and is techno-organic and … wait, I’ll let him speak. 🙂

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Brickbats!

I just felt like dropping a few bricks to make this new alternate Earth Pi universe more homey…:

I can change my mind: Back on Earth 1, I had written an entry titled, Batman Deux, in which I felt indifferent and apathetic after reading issue #2 of the relaunched Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Well, the library had the hardcover collected edition of the first six issues. I’m happy to say that while the second issue was still dull to me, I enjoyed all the other installments and look forward to following the second half when it is released in hardcover, as well as Snyder’s upcoming Joker storyline (teaser ads hint that the Joker seems to be losing face – more likely literally than figuratively). In the meantime, that Batgirl tie-in issue I read a few months back makes more sense now to me. I wish I hadn’t thrown it out.

A guilty pleasure bites the dust – hope it wasn’t my fault:  In an installment of “It’s Been a Pleasure”, in which I list my guilty pleasures in the world of pop culture, I mentioned I enjoy watching the teen comedy Victorious, mostly for Daniella Monet as the egotistical, delusional but hilarious minx-in-hot-pants Trina Vega.  Well, Nickolodeon cancelled the show this month. 15 episodes have yet to air, which makes the total number of episodes 52. Fans online seem more upset about how they won’t get regular exposure doses of their favorite cast members rather than the demise of the show itself, with Elizabeth Giles and Ariana Grande getting the most attention, though Daniella has a large fanbase on twitter (she’s campaigning to be on Dancing With The Stars in the Spring – she does have a dancer’s legs). As for the show, producer Dan Schneider has a pilot for a spinoff planned called Sam & Cat, in which Grande is paired with Jeanette MacCurdy’s character from iCarly as they form a babysitting service. Next, Schneider tweeted a cryptic tweet (is there such a thing as cryptic tweets?) in which he thought that, yeah, Daniella Monet should get a spinoff/show of her own, too! And this is a step up from comics fandom? … It’s the Christopher Lloyd effect – You see an actor give a great performance that you can’t compare with what came before it. Playing Doc Brown was Christopher Lloyd’s breakthrough performance, playing Trina was Daniella’s.

…hopefully her dancing partner will be Derek or Mark – they’re the only good male trainers..and Maksim, but he’s a lunatic.

The Joseph Adorno Adventures?:  I just got through watching most of seasons 4 and 5 of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the Doctor Who spinoff in which the late Elisabeth Sladen reprised her role as Sarah Jane Smith, a freelance reporter who investigates possible alien invasions with help from her adopted son, his two friends from school, a supercomputer named Mr. Smith and (occasionally) robot dog K9. It’s not bad, but no great shakes. Here’s why I have trouble really getting into it: the most interesting characters are Sarah Jane, Mr. Smith and K9. The kids are not. They’re presented as if they are everykids, characters that the target demographic is supposed to identify with. They’re about as smart and imaginative as the intended target audience is perceived to be, they make clichéd, action movie hero-style jokes about action movie hero clichés, they have concerns about school, family, homework, etc.., real life stuff  and points of social issues and order in between investigating the latest plot by the Slitheen, the Grassk, the Trickster, the Sontarans, etc… and they eat up a lot of screen time. I wish they were more interesting. They should be. Instead, they’re Sarah’s apprentices – if they ever do anything interesting, it’s like the writers were obligated to give them something to do, as opposed to it being a matter of course. There are hints that they were just beginning to resolve this when Sladen’s death resulted in the abrupt end of the series. As it is, there was no desire expressed to follow-up on the adventures of Luke, Clyde and Rani, but then again, our  we can just go on imagining that Sarah Jane is still alive and well in the Doctor Who universe. I’m still curious about K9, a separate spin-off series starring the robot dog and using the same format, but with a different design and supporting cast. The series was aired was aired everywhere but the U.S..

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Earth Pi

Yes, that’s right, I’m posting on wordpress,too. For many good reasons. I’m going to alternate between here and Blogger, so all you Blogger fans, don’t worry, I won’t leave that house empty. In the meantime, the twitter thread is still @comicbookrehab and the heello thread (for my fans in the southern hemisphere) is still @comicbookrehab.

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