Tuesday, May 3, 2011
The 7% Solution Vs. In Search Of Steve Ditko
* = Gawds Bless you Steve Ditko!
I contemplated bloggin’ yesterday, but I really didn’t do a whole hell of a lot this weekend. It was rainy, I have a cold, and the NFL Draft was wrapping up. I mean I did go out and rake a bit, but it was cold and snowing. I did run some errands with my lovely wife, but it wasn’t anything special. I just didn’t really get much done.
That being said yesterday I did get a couple of things ‘done’;
- The Outcast (**** out of 5) –
This little diddy is set in the Dark Sun world of D&D. Unfortunately, it’s also the first in a trilogy of books where I only have the first in hand currently. Simon Hawke does a good job of taking what is a bleak and harsh world and building upon it without over doing it. Sorak, the main character, is what’s known as a ‘Tribe Of One’, which basically means he’s a schizophrenic psion. Each of his personalities have different ‘abilities’. Oh and he might be a long lost prophesized Elven King. The thing is he’s an ‘Elfling’ meaning he’s the offspring of an Elf and a Halfling. Which in most D&D settings would be odd, but not that big a deal. However in the apocalyptic Dark Sun setting the Elves are sort of xenophobic opportunists and the Halflings are friggin’ cannibal pigmies, and the LOATH each other racially. So you have a character that has a lot going on. Add to that the political intriguing of him arriving in the only ‘free’ city on the continent looking for a hunted man and you have set the table for something that turned out to be a little more off beat than I had expected & a lot more fantastic than I could have hoped for. I now just need to find the other two books in the series.
- In Search Of Steve Ditko (Infinite *’s out of 5) –
I had read about this documentary but hadn’t had the chance to see it until last night. I was blown away. I’ve always dug on Ditko’s quirky art style, and wondered why he wasn’t more ‘popular’ or successful than he was. Well suffice to say after watching this I don’t think Mr. Ditko cares to be popular or successful, he just wants to ‘be’. The idea that the co-creator, and despite what Stan Lee would have you believe he IS the co-creator, has sort of been left out in the cold from a profession that he helped popularize is dumb-founding.
The stuff with Stan Lee really splashed cold water on my feelings toward him. Now don’t get me wrong, much like the documentarian, Stan Lee is almost impossible to dislike, but he makes a run at in his time on camera. He just can’t seem to bring himself to be honest about his role in the creation of the Marvel Pantheon. He is/was a co-creator with guys like Ditko & Kirby he did NOT solely create those characters. No matter how much he clings to this idea it doesn’t make it true. It is wonderful to hear other influential members of the industry talk about Ditko in such reverent tones, oh and you get to see Alan Moore be, well be Alan Moore, which is always a ‘treat’. The fact is Ditko’s art is transcendent, ever expanding, and a wonder to behold.
This is a gem of a documentary and I would invite anyone, whether you love comics or not, to check it if for no other reason than to see how a man’s artistic vision shaped pop culture.
- The Mindscapes Of Alan Moore (*** out of 5) –
Speaking of good ole’ Mr. Moore, I also spent time watching what really turned out to be an extended interview with some ‘artsy’ footage. The thing is Moore, much like a lot of his fellow British comic writers, is just so damn fascinating himself that you can’t help but be enthralled by this self-styled magician. As much as I personally feel that Alan Moore has turned into the old man in his front yard screaming ‘GET OFF MY LAWN' of comics he still is captivating. The why’s and wherefore’s of his writing, not to mention the philosophy and way he chooses not just to see the world but live his life are enthralling. In short, he’s an interesting cat. Now this isn’t for everyone. He’s got a lot, and I mean a LOT, to say and some of it is sort of pseudo-psycho babble and metaphysics, but he does so with such a raw intensity and creativity that it is an enjoyable documentary.
I also watched some interesting tidbits about Geoff Johns and Neal Adams thoughts on villainy, Sinestro in particular, & why villains ‘work’. I agree completely that for a villain to be more than one note he has to make sense, even if it’s just to himself, and he can’t see himself or herself as the bad guy. Sinestro sees himself as a man willing to damn himself for the future betterment of all. The problem is he’s a fascist.
That is his world, or more appropriately multiversial, view. Doctor Doom feels he was wronged by Reed Richards, Lex Luthor feels that Superman keeps mankind under his thumb, the Joker is obsessed with Batman and anarchy in general, Black Adam is from a time where he was a king and if you committed a crime you were killed, Magneto is simply ‘looking out for his people’, etc. THESE are the villains that are interesting; the ones who seem to have weight, and the ones you almost want to root for. They’re interesting and fleshed out. It’s always fascinating to listen to writers explain how the ‘Great & Secret Show’ works behind the curtain.
I also watched a bit on William Moulton Marston, the man who helped to give us Wonder Woman and the lie detector. It was a bit glossy on some of the more unsavory bits I’ve read regarding Marston’s view on bondage and domination, which seeped a bit into his work on Wonder Woman, but it was interesting to hear how his creation of this character was such a boon for feminism & women in general. Wonder Woman has almost always been an afterthought for me in the DC ‘Trinity’; Superman, Batman, & Wonder Woman. Superman is the ‘Strange Visitor’ from another world, an almost Christ like figure of redemption. Batman is a character built on the idea of vengeance and justice, to a degree an everyman who’s had everything taken from him. Wonder Woman was always hard for me to wrap my head around. She’s a Princess whose come to ‘Man’s World’ to teach us how to be peaceful, and yet she does it by punching us. She’s a warrior philosopher, a symbol of strength, and yet the pinnacle of femininity. In short she’s the contradiction.
She’s what we should strive to be, but at the same time represents what we are forced to become; Goddess, Secret Agent, Daughter, Leader, Sex Symbol, Wise Woman, Patriarch, etc. I think what I’ve taken away from my time with the ‘Princess Of Power’ is that while Superman and Batman can be somewhat of an one note archetype, Wonder Woman can be progressive and represents whatever the reader or the mode of the female archetype is of that day. That alone makes her pretty damn cool.
Got a little metaphysical there, oh well there’s always…
- I have about 52 minis waiting to be ‘finished’ aka ‘DIPed’. I really painted my ass off this weekend and got like 40 minis done. On the flip side I haven’t started a single mini this week. I’ve got some Lizardmen, both big and small, as well as a dinosaur picked out as what I’d like to try and take a stab at. I figure it would be nice to break up the monotony of human barbarians and heavily armored dudes with a bunch of wild colors. My plan is to go burgundy red as the base, then go to a lighter red, and finish with an orange. I want these guys to be a bit more garish than the pre-painted minis I have are, and not the same as the dark blue group I picked up off of Evil-Bay. Maybe I’ll take a stab at it tonight.
- If the weather holds I’ll finally be able to Grill tonight.
- I’m really eager to use the Fortune Cards in my D&D game as ‘boons’ or replacement treasure options. I think having these one-use cards, as options would break up the gold/weapon doldrums that sometimes can come with DMing. It’s not that treasure is a bad thing. I’m not a huge fan of handing out magic items all willy nilly, as I’m from the school of a magic item should MEAN something. It should have story resonance. On the other hand as a player I know how pissed I get when I survive a brutal encounter or combat only to get 25 Copper Pieces and a rusty long sword. So I think giving these Fortune Cards as sort of ‘power ups’ will help keep things interesting for the group & myself, it’ll help my treasure dilemma, and will make the tactics on the board even more diverse.
- We have to wait till next Sunday to get caught up on Doctor Who. The wait will be unbearable.
- I have my ‘Giant Frog’ now. That means that once I feel competent with the ‘Green Stuff’ I’ll be constructing my FROGHEMOTH! And I picked up a snail. I’m debating either Giant Snails, which is cool as hell, OR trying to construct a Flail Snail. Either way it’s Old School D&D goodness.
- I want GSP Vs. Anderson Silva by the end of the year.
- I give the Vikings a B- in their draft. It was by no means a great draft, as I feel they panicked and reached in the first round, and the rest of their picks were a bit non-descript. While the Vikes didn’t get significantly better, in my opinion, the rest of their division did. Green Bay filled some potential back-up roles and voids. The Bears, while they botched a trade in a really unprofessional way, did all right and addressed needs. And last but not least, the Lions picked up a lot of pieces that will help make them a credible threat this year. The idea of Vanden Bosch, Suh, & the addition of Fairly in the defensive front four is terrifying for opposing Quarterbacks. On the flip side I give the up & coming Chiefs a B+. If Baldwin can be descent he’ll take the pressure of Bowe, he open even more of the field for the two young Tight Ends, and it’ll keep teams from loading the box against the best running team in football. On top of that Mel Kiper has me intrigued by Ricky Stanzi, the late round draft Quarterback from Iowa. Kiper is convinced that in four years Stanzi will not only be a starter but a potential pro bowler. I’m not convinced, but I am intrigued. Matt Cassell is good, but he has yet to blow me away. I was a tad disappointed the Chiefs didn’t find another series threat at Outside Linebacker, as Mike Vrabel is getting old and likes to steak alcohol. The rest of the division got better, so it makes a repeat as champs a bit dicey.
- Joe K. is now my comic nerd padawan.
- Saturday in my basement I’m going to be holding AVENGERS ASSAMBLE-A-THON
as my fellow practitioners of Nerdery will be gathering to watch the last ten episodes of Avengers, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes season 1. It’s also going to be the perfect way to ‘break in’ the downstairs living room.
- All that and Bin Laden is dead...
Now if only the day would end…
“On the turning away
From the pale and downtrodden
And the words they say
Which we won't understand
Don't accept that what's happening
Is just a case of others' suffering
Or you'll find that you're joining in
The turning away
It's a sin that somehow
Light is changing to shadow
And casting it's shroud
Over all we have known
Unaware how the ranks have grown
Driven on by a heart of stone
We could find that we're all alone
In the dream of the proud
On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord
Using words you will find are strange
And mesmerized as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night
No more turning away
From the weak and the weary
No more turning away
From the coldness inside
Just a world that we all must share
It's not enough just to stand and stare
Is it only a dream that there'll be
No more turning away?”
* = Frightening how old Alan Moore looks like a skinny version of my dad...