blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
So, in just a quick follow-up to my last rant, I've entirely stopped reading any DC comics! I've been tipping back heavily towards Marvel stuff for years now but there's always been something keeping me connected, like an umbilical cord, to DC. But Morrison finished Batman, Johns finished Green Lantern, Williams 3 and Blackman got kicked off of Batwoman and though I looked nothing else really appealed. I liked Snyder's Zero Year story on Batman but the constant return to the poisoned well that is the Joker and each writer's belief that they can tell the ultimate Joker story is boring. At the moment DC feels tired and lacking in either ideas or the courage to strike out and try something new even though this is at a time when they've 'killed off' Bruce Wayne. Their idea of trying something new is to repeat something Morrison did five years ago and other writers over a decade before that? Wow, brave. Bring me Superman's severed head and an affidavit from God that we're never getting his soul back in this or any other universe and then we'll talk.

But in case you think I'm only going to moan about things I don't like, let's talk about Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Emma Rios. This was an absolute bugger to read in individual issues so it was nice to get the trade and read it all in one morning. This was the first thing I'd read by either creator, I think. Since then I've followed Kelly Sue to 'Bitch Planet' which I've also enjoyed, not least for its more linear plot. This book is in the category of 'Weird Western', involving as it does Death, Death's daughter and a cast of… others. It gets problematic in that Deconnick is trying to tell what is a fairly straightforward story in as roundabout a way as she can. Meanwhile, Rios's pencils are great for suggesting action and tight scenes of little or no movement but somewhere in between and it can get a bit muddled. The pages are quite tight, compressed artwork to tell an uncompressed story. There are nice touches, Death has a bunny's skull for a head for no real reason. In the end it's quite a nice spin on fairly standard Western tropes, it's sad that the fact that it has a number of female main characters is something that still feels noteworthy in this day and age. I'm interested to see where this series goes in future but this was a four issue story stretched to five in order to fill out a trade, hopefully there will be more meat in future.

One Soul by Ray Fawkes is a deceptively simple idea, take eighteen characters from eighteen different time periods (from our earliest hunter gatherer forebears through the Middle Ages up to the present day) and take us through their lives from before birth (we don't see anything start to form until page eight) through their adolescence up to their deaths and beyond. So we have two sets of nine panel grids with each character getting a panel we see them progress through life. There's the Roman girl who becomes a priestess of Artemis, the Japanese weaver who just wants to work on her art, the soldier from America's war of independence and the punk with her poetry and spiralling drug addiction and that's just four of them. Even their, in some cases, untimely deaths don't end their contributions, the panels go black but the story continues. the panels complement one another, such as one side of a double page spread with close-ups of the right eyes of the first nine characters on the left and the left eyes of the second nine characters on the right or where one character is struck by an arrow another has a heart attack. It's reminiscent of the chapters of From Hell dealing with Sir William Gull and the Victorian ideas of time travel. Beautifully executed and well worth seeking out.
blahflowers: (Flowers)
Second-Hand Singer Sewing Machine, Brixton Hill

Tancre's Observation Device and Calculator by John 'Major Tinker' Naylor, 'Longitude Punk'd', Royal Observatory Greenwich


Earlier this year I took a strange and powerful dislike to walking places where I had been before. Maybe it was some lingering remnant from the several years I spent walking London's streets, then I could pretty much guarantee that even if the area I was walking through was not particularly pretty it would at least be somewhere I had not seen before. This led to some strange expeditions such as walking from Peckham to Brockwell Park, then to Brixton Hill and eventually onwards to Tooting Bec Common, after doing a circuit of which I came home via Balham station which meant I went past the Bedford, somewhere I had visited many times but only to be part of the audience for recordings of the Mark Thomas Comedy Product in the very late 90s. The top photo was taken outside a junk shop on Brixton Hill. I have no idea whether this machine actually worked but if it did then I hope the shopkeeper took enough care of it and that it came to find another home.

Yeah, it's a cheat but for my second photo from this month I'm going back to Longitude Punk'd and would direct anyone interested to my previous review. Later in the year I went to the National Maritime Museum down the hill which was doing a 'proper' exhibition on longitude which I much preferred.
blahflowers: (Doctor/Jack)
Wow, I mean wow. I've seen episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus that had more narrative cohesion than that. I accept that you could write an eighty-minute episode of a television programme using the 'cut-up' technique but I never thought you'd be allowed to broadcast it in prime time. When did I meet Steven Moffat? Because surely I must have met him, we got drunk, and I challenged him to make every episode of Doctor Who more wretched, stupid and full of loathing for everybody than the last. I re-watched last Christmas's episode a few days ago just to reassure myself that it was as terrible as I remembered. Oh for those carefree halcyon days when the Doctor could destroy a Dalek fleet by regenerating. We were so happy then. Tonight's episode didn't just ignore what makes a good Doctor Who story, it ignored making a good story period. The two things that remained constant was that it was set in the Victorian erathat the Doctor now seems to go to every other episode and that every actor played the same role all the way through the episode, clearly they are waiting for episode four before having Peter Capaldi play Emmanuelle and Jenna Coleman played Pontius Pilate while the Doctor is played by a box of tissues, because The Man doesn't get to tell Moffat how to write a script Godsdamnit!

I don't really want to summarise the plot because doing so would require me spending more time thinking about it than Moffat did. Also, there is just the vaguest possibility that I have been pranked and shown something completely different to what the rest of the world saw. What I saw was a dinosaur appearing in Victorian London and coughing up the Tardis. Victorians aren't particularly alarmed by the appearance of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, they're probably blasé after that Christmas when the giant robot trampled half of London. Indeed no one tries to do anything to remove the dinosaur despite the fact it stalks around Westminster for at least half a day presumably eating people and shifting everywhere. It then catches on fire and dies. We will later find out this is due to robots that want to use part of its eyes to repair their spaceship. Of course, one might point out that if you set fire to something that you run the risk of destroying whatever it is you're after but as we know Steven Moffat writes these scripts based entirely on the visuals and his clever dialogue and everything else is for those spotty virgins he hates that are called 'fans'. Clara, meanwhile, is for some reason having immense difficulty getting to grips with the idea that the Doctor has regenerated into an older body. Let's ignore the fact that three episodes ago she took a ride in the Doctor's lifestream and saw every incarnation of him and hung out with the War Doctor for a while as well. Let's ignore this because Moffat certainly is. If you want to have a character express surprise that the doctor is now an 'old man' then in Victorian London you've got the choice of three characters who could be the audience surrogate for that story point: Vastra, Jenny or Strax, don't have it be the woman who in the previous episode saw the Doctor as an old man. He still has some of the more annoying habits of his previous incarnation such as the delusion that he can understand what non-verbal lifeforms are saying, the Eleventh Doctor claimed that babies were capable of having conversations much more advanced than ten-year-olds, the Twelfth Doctor can apparently talk to the animals, or at least understand them. Yes, it turns out that 'The Name of the Doctor' is actually Doolittle.

Anyway, Vastra takes the Doctor and Clara in while he recovers only for him to escape and live on the streets as the Tramp for a bit. Clara is a bit put out by this but doesn't really do anything to find him because clearly the Doctor's not in any danger at all in a confused and amnesiac state in Victorian London. They finally come together in a restaurant, both thinking the other has placed a newspaper ad to attract them, clearly the 'Bad Wolf' of this season. This restaurant is full of robots similar to the clockwork robots from the Madame de Pompadour episode except for the small difference of being completely different. We know that in recent years the show has had to reuse sets and costumes to save money, this is the first time that I'm aware of a show reusing the same story, especially considering the way Steven Moffat repeatedly draws attention to this as though he wants to win a BAFTA for recycling. The robots have been stuck on earth for millennia replacing worn out parts with human limbs because if you're a robot with access to metals then clearly you ignore that in favour of human flesh which, even if you have the means to keep it in good working order when separated from its original owner, still only has a working life of a couple of decades. I'd say that Moffat started writing a Jack the Ripper story and then realised late in the day that he'd already had Vastra dispose of Jack and changed it to except that was series and series ago and we know what Moffat thinks about continuity.

The Doctor and Clara dick around for an unedifying amount of time, everyone fights robots that only attack them if they breathe, the Doctor goes for a flight with the head robot in a balloon seemingly made of human skin, persuades the robot to kill itself which for some reason kills all the others and then goes off in the Tardis before coming back for Clara. That summarises the last twenty-five minutes or so, it's odd that Moffat has been given extra time for this episode when he clearly doesn't need it and has to resort to an awful lot of padding. The robot is doing what it's doing in order to fulfil a confused desire to reach the promised land. After the Doctor persuades it to kill itself it wakes up in a garden with a mysterious woman who tells it that it's in heaven. Whether this is whimsy, it's killed enough people that it somehow has developed a human soul and gets to go to heaven despite, you know, killing loads of people, or whether this is a more material place we may find out in a future episode but I really don't care. We have a final scene in Glasgow where Clara finally reconciles herself to the new Doctor by talking on the phone to the old one before he regenerated and that is the one genuinely interesting and emotional part of the episode where Clara and the Doctor open up to one another and it is far, far too brief.

As I suspect might have been hinted by the above I hated this. And I hated it pretty much entirely for the writing. The lazy, self-congratulatory writing. I can't believe that if Steven Moffat wasn't in charge of Doctor Who that the scripts he turns in would be considered acceptable. He has written nothing of the quality of what he wrote in the Russell T. Davies era and each week approaches the show as a collage of interesting images rather than a story. There's an interesting tale to tell each week but he seems absolutely uninterested in telling it. The actors tried very hard, the Victorian team are great as ever but Jenna Coleman was never particularly interesting beyond the mystery of Clara and Peter Capaldi, just like David Tennant, is sidelined in his first episode so we don't get a chance to see him shine. Next week is apparently 'Daleks killing lots of people' week, so the recycling of episodes hasn't stopped yet.
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
I did prepare a review last weekend of 'Guardians of the Galaxy' but after I'd finished it Ronan the Accuser destroyed it before I could post it to the Internet, I can't be bothered to recreate it so in brief: go see it, it's very very good.

'Batman- Secret City' )
'Hip Hop Family Tree' )
'No Straight Lines' )
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
'The Encyclopedia of Early Earth' )

'Blue is the Warmest Color' )

'Lighter Than my Shadow' )

The TL:DR version? Read 'Lighter Than My Shadow', possibly read 'Blue is the Warmest Color', avoid 'The Encyclopedia of Early Earth'.
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
At some point the bumper for Bryan Singer's production company 'Bad Hat Harry' has changed from two comic characters to being one based on 'The Usual Suspects'. It makes sense, if you try and subliminally remind people of your one good film maybe they'll think the film they are about to see is as good as that one. Oh boy oh boy, 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' is not a good film.

(Spoilers, although strictly speaking this is such a linear film that you will know exactly what happens before the Fox logo fades away at the start) )

Still, the X-Franchise limps on, showing that when it comes to development of the property those behind the film show no signs of either evolution or intelligent design. And we've got Guardians of the Galaxy in a short while, hopefully showing how comics movies should be made, if we're lucky.
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
Full disclosure: I have never seen 'Watership Down'. The prospect of it bored the pants off me. I quite liked 'The Wind in the Willows' as a child and, if it's hot badger action you're after, then William Horwood's Duncton books are worth looking out for. But on the whole, talking animal stories are not my thing. So 'Beasts of Burden- Animal Rites' by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson really doesn't impress.

'Beasts of Burden' )

'Neurocomic' )

'Bandette Volume 1- Presto!' )

'Stitches' )
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
Okay, truth be told I don't dislike Steampunk. I quite like the aesthetic but maybe inside the subculture it's not the fetishism of fashion in order to justify ignoring British colonialism of the 18th and 19th century. Maybe that's just how it looks from the outside. When I expressed this view to a friend of mine yesterday whilst at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, an indignant lady dressed all in black with requisite top hat felt it necessary to interject into the conversation that she didn't feel Steampunk was anything like that and that she spoke as a colonial. She had an Australian accent. She was white.

Gown by Karen 'Lady Elsie' Grover, 'Longitude Punk'd', Royal Observatory Greenwich Celatone by Matthew Dockrey, 'Longitude Punk'd', Royal Observatory Greenwich Tancre's Observation Device and Calculator by John 'Major Tinker' Naylor, 'Longitude Punk'd', Royal Observatory Greenwich Orrery Gown by Jema 'Emilly Ladybird' Hewitt, 'Longitude Punk'd', Royal Observatory Greenwich Clockwork Chelengk by Jema 'Emilly Ladybird' Hewitt, 'Longitude Punk'd', Royal Observatory Greenwich

So I went to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich yesterday. I seem to remember that I went there once before, but I can't remember exactly when it was or why. This time it was mainly to see a new exhibition called Longitude Punked. The minimal information on the website says it
"celebrates the creations of wacky inventors, stargazing scientists and extremely elegant explorers of the 18th century. Royal Museums Greenwich has commissioned 8 UK Steampunk artists to create works inspired by the technical inventions that were presented to the board of longitude between 1714 and 1828."
This seemed fun and interesting and so I made my way there. Because I have no memory of visiting the part of the Observatory that had this display I don't know what it's usually like. What it looked like was that normally there would be a display of things to do with navigation at sea. It would be informative and, to the best of anyone's knowledge, accurate. What it was now was half a display of things to do with navigation at sea that was deliberately captioned with humorous and entirely inaccurate signs provided by Robert Rankin. I have nothing against Rankin, I quite like his books even though they all have basically the one plot which never manages to last the entirety of the story. But I think it's sad that, in what they feel is an important anniversary year, the Observatory have basically said "we're not going to bother with any of that boring" < airquotes >"history" < airquotes > "malarkey, no we're going a hundred percent fictional! And we're going to do it with steampunk! Because that's what all the cool kids are into these days, what with their i-telephones and their addiction to snuff." So from a design point of view this exhibition was lovely, I'm just not sure why they did it this way. I don't think the Natural History Museum would replace its animatronic dinosaurs with My Little Ponys with new horns designed by China Mieville. I'm uneasy about a science institution inventing history, after all, when Ken Ham does this we rip the piss. It's not that they put up false information, it's that they appear to have taken the correct information down as well.

The clothes on display are fantastic and I wish I had both the gowns and the figure to show them off to their best. The inventions are chrome and metal which seems to be what something has to be made out of to be Steampunk so... well done? The exhibition is at least free once you have paid to get in and the Observatory is a nice small venue to visit if you're in the area.

But to finish with just a quick rant about the place. )
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
Brighton: The Graphic Novel.
By Various

Twenty-eight writers and artists tell stories set between 1728 and 2013. Some are historical, some are personal, a few are fantastical, a couple aim for realism. We see beginnings, we see endings, we see life. We often see Brighton as it perhaps is rather than as it would like to be seen, a city supposedly noted for its liberality and creativity, as long as you're rich and white and don't want to rock the boat. If there is a theme that runs through the disparate and self-contained stories in this collection it is often one of façades being torn down, sometimes this is literal, such as with Henry Phillips's Anthaeum in the 19th century, sometimes it's more figurative when the truth behind a murder is exposed. Of course when each chapter is written and drawn by different people you sometimes have great stories badly illustrated and sometimes great artists wasted on inferior scripts. I'd be interested to know how much collaboration there was between the writers and artists on this work when this was an open call for scripts.

It's not terrible but really such faint praise is all I have to offer. Despite getting the nod from Bryan 'Alice in Sunderland' Talbot it cannot hope to compare, that was a focused and singular vision, this is just a bunch of stories. I generally prefer the historical stories (in this case I mean everything pre-1945) as they are mostly telling stories about the construction of Brighton. The post WW2 stories are largely personal stories that could be set anywhere that has a seafront and a pier. 'Brighton's Angels' by Glenn Stevens, Emelie Marjarian and Collette Tarbuck and 'Beside the Seaside' by Tom Harrop and Iain Buchanan inadvertently distil Brightons queer culture into drag queens and 70s homophobia while the latter story and 'Jonas Tindale: Night Man' by Jon Sapsed and Pete Katz are the only two stories with non-white characters. The blurb from the publishers suggests that the content of the stories was left up to the writers, all of whom from their bio pics are all white so what could QueenSpark Books do?

My favourite story is probably 'Short Back & Sides' by Mark Pembrey and Adam Moore about a local barber of the 70s and 80s. I love the artwork of 'The Sea Swimmer' by Ottilie Hainsworth and Salka (one of only a couple of the stories that address the sea that Brighton borders) and 'One Step Into the Future, One Step Into the Past' by Robin Tulley and Kathryn Miller which has Talbot-like qualities.

Getting hold of this outside of Brighton might be tricky. I got it from my local library and they had fun purchasing a copy. So why not try contacting the publishers or Dave's Comics in Brighton if you want a copy? Even if not entirely successful it's still a laudable project and, in the end, what could be more Brighton than that?
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
SPRING motherfuckers!

Oh, it just feels like it, even though it's a month early, but to be able to slink through Mother London and it to be bruise-bright and not raining? We take our gifts even as they cut our hearts.

Only Lovers Left Alive )

The soundtrack, which is available here is also extraordinary, mixing Motown classics with a more modern wall of textured feedback and guitar sound. But you really should go and see this movie, it's just the thing for a cold winter's afternoon.
blahflowers: (Baby Squid)
Or was that Joss Whedon's 'Wants to Sell You His House'?

How much alcohol was drunk in that film? Seriously, almost every scene has at least one glass of something being drunk. They should have made it continuous so that by the end everyone is sailing three sheets to the Tony Stark...

LEONATO

So-so-so-so- wha' wos I sayin'?
so are the prince-guy and fuckin' Claudio, who accuserated her
abou' all the stuff you heard:
Madge wos in some messing all up in this
Although she is a hottie so screw it,
In de true course o' alllllll the question.

ANTONIO

I fuckin' love you all guys, come 'ere, big hug...

The one thing this does, which the few other adaptations I've seen of this don't do, is explicitly say that Benedick and Beatrice had some sort of relationship before he went off to war. It's only in the silent pre-credit scene, the sticking close to the text doesn't allow any other elaboration on what it is, so it's not clear about whether WesleyBenedick and FredBeatrice were having a one-night I-may-die-tomorrow hey-nonny-nonny or whether Benedick was using going to war to get out of a relationship that he was too immature to commit to. Either way I don't like this as it gives an unpleasant edge to Beatrice's attacks on Benedick, this time it's personal. In other versions their relationship plays as the 'love-masquerading-as-dislike' whereas here it's all about how that man done did her wrong. And why would she accept him at the end, he's charmed his way into her bed before, what proof has she got that he isn't just doing it again?

Amy Acker's pratfall down the stairs when she hears the maid and Hero discuss Benedick's love for her is beautiful.

So, Nathan Fillion's turn as Dogberry was a great shame. It just didn't work for me. I saw the film in a nearly empty theatre but while the scenes where Benedick and Beatrice run around listening to the others talking about them got laughs the scenes with Dogberry were received in silence. Admittedly he wasn't as annoying as Michael Keaton's weird grotesque in Kenneth Branagh's wonderful film but it just fell flat. Maybe light relief needs to done to an audience (John Ramm's Dogberry in the staged version with David Tennant and Catherine Tate was fantastic) but there was something in the delivery of the lines that it's not really clear to the audience that he's talking nonsense and dropping malapropisms all over the place. It's only really the moments of physical comedy with Tom Lenk as Verges that really work.

Something that's always disturbed me about the play is the bit where Beatrice and Benedick admit their feelings for one another and then Beatrice gets Benedick to swear to challenge Claudio to a duel to the death for his treatment of Hero. I mean, what the hell? At this point she is one of the very few that know that Hero is not dead and that the friar has some sort of plan but while I can understand that she feels extremely upset and even angry at Claudio for his behaviour and words towards her kinswoman wanting to actually kill him seems a little extreme. I can understand her wanting to pretend to be really angry in order to continue the masquerade but to go from that to "If you really loved me you'd bring me Claudio's still beating heart" is rather odd. What's her motivation, a final scene where she gets to announce "the good news is the bride isn't actually dead. The bad news is that Benedick killed the groom"? I can only assume that when writing it Shakespeare started that scene thinking he needed to give the other actors a chance to do costume changes and the like, got distracted half way through and went to the pub, came home drunk and dashed that half of the scene off, went to bed, woke up the next morning and went "what the hell did I write last night?" and forgot to rewrite it before the script went to the printers.

Otherwise it's a nice little film from Team Whedon.
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
The Fantastic Four are much like DC's Wonder Woman; horribly dated, much better when they are guests in other people's titles than in their own, still being published due to the cloying conservative nostalgia of the comic genre and no-one can ever remember any of their stories. Except that time they fought Galactus. Every other issue, no-one can remember any of the stories. People claim they can remember stories but you'll find they are probably on drugs. Or having too much promiscuous sex. Mmmm, promiscuous sexy drugs....

Anyway, say you wake up one morning with an unaccountable desire to read some Fantastic Four comics and, what's worse, you want to read good Fantastic Four comics. Where on earth would you go to find such things? Luckily, it does indeed exist. Jonathan Hickman's run on Fantastic Four finished last year and was extremely good. Luckily, most of the important issues are in trades. Hickman makes the sensible choice that the two things that are key to the Fantastic Four is that they are a family and there are never four of them. Oh, and huge space opera. OK, three things... The important storyline opens and closes on a scene between a father and a son. The first time it's the young Reed Richards with his father Nathaniel in the past, the second it's present day Reed and his son Franklin. And the lesson being taught? Well, that's what the story is all about.

Hickman's run started with Fantastic Four: Dark Reign. The series dips in and out of then current events in the Marvel universe. The variety and importance of these vary, but especially as events march towards the climax, keep your internet on standby to help explain things. Anyway, by the time of Dark Reign Reed has had something of a crisis of faith in his intelligence and the team's ability to stop bad things from happening in the Marvel Universe, such as the Green Goblin becoming the most powerful man in America because the public and President Obama are massive dicks. So he builds a universe-skipping machine to try and see how future actions he might or might not take will play out. It's a rather throwaway book that can be ignored but it does lead nicely into his run on the title, which starts properly with the issues contained in Fantastic Four Volume 1. Reed is contacted by a Council comprising of Reed Richards from other universes who have banded together to do good for all creation. Problems with famine? One Reed Richards cultivates entire planets of all the food you could want? Galactus wanting to eat you? There's a Reed for that. And they want Reed, they want Reed as a new recruit. Unfortunately barely have they made the offer before everything starts going wrong.

The early volumes do contain some weak stories, there are several issues to do with something called 'Nu-World' which some writer previous to Hickman was obviously very pleased with but which is such an incomprehensible mess that I couldn't even summon the enthusiasm to go look at the internet to try and make sense of it. Hickman is moving so many dominoes in to place that at one point he blatantly gives up all pretence of showing and just tells the reader important facts in the form of an essay that the Richards children, Franklin and Valeria, super-geniuses both, are writing. But Hickman never loses sight of characterisation, volume 4 contains issue #587, where one of the main cast dies and the Fantastic Four are changed FOREVERS!!1! Even though we know that the character would be back, even though we know that the title, about to become 'FF #1', would also return, Hickman manages to sell us on the 'death' as being a big thing, the final chapter, issue #588, being an issue of grief and mourning for this loss, comes off as exceptionally well-crafted even when we genre-savvy cynical readers know it'll all be undone in a year It's done entirely without dialogue and is one of the times the art, in this case by Nick Dragotta, rises above the average.

The Fantastic Four become the 'Future Foundation', not so much a superhero team as, um, a superhero team with a youth wing attached. Spider-man joins them, because heaven knows he's not over-exposed in the Marvel Universe already, and also lots of junior characters, both those created by Hickman in the course of his run and also existing MU beings like Dragon-Man and Alex Powers from Power Pack. The volumes of FF run on their own for volumes 1 and 2 before, in volume 3, becoming a companion book to the returned Fantastic Four as Hickman starts drawing threads together for the epic conclusion to his main story. FF volume 1 contains some of my favourite writing of Hickman's entire run. Two issues are devoted to a summit of villains that, through contrivances of plot, Doctor Doom gets to hold at the Four's HQ on the subject of how to defeat Reed Richards. He is forced to chair a meeting where a number of his foes bitch and argue with each other on how they would defeat him while Sue Richards and Spider-man wait outside. When Spidey asks her why she's not worried about this she coolly points out she has no reason to be afraid, she has personally defeated every villain in that room more times than she can count, she knows it and they know it.

So, we have a story of mad Gods, a pissed-off Galactus, the dangers of unchecked intellect and how to handle it if your brother might grow up to be the most powerful being in the universe. You do have to be patient as, like I said, there is often a lot of build-up and in places the ongoing story pauses for several issues to explain some other point of back-story, though this is less annoying if you're reading several collections than when you had to wait another thirty days for a comic only to find it was more stuff about Black Bolt and the history of the Kree Empire. The art ranges from workmanlike to decent, some of the other species of alien or mutant look unfortunately goofy but then I've been introduced today to the WTF, Evolution? tumblr so I suppose real-life is sometimes no better. The sub-plot with the Future Foundation curing the Thing of his rocky ever-loving appearance adds some drama and the conclusion of the story is genuinely tense and full of 'fuck yeah!' air punching moments.

Hickman did continue to write both Fantastic Four and FF for a year or so after the main story finished but, while some of them do address dangling plot threads, although they may well be collected they aren't vitally important, the key stuff is available now. Go get it!
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
'Model' by Antony Gormley, White Cube Bermondsey

Seriously. What was wrong with me taking this picture? This being 'Model', the largest piece of work at the White Cube Bermondsey which currently has a show of sculptures by Antony Gormley. As the White Cube favour a rather minimalist approach to showing it will probably be enjoyed by Gormley fans and/or those that are unsure. What I don't understand is why photography isn't allowed, both here and at other art galleries. Does excessive flash photography bleach steel? Is there a concern that through photography the soul of an artwork is lost?

I wouldn't mind so much if the galleries weren't such hypocrites over the whole issue. They are quite happy to let the press take photos of course. They don't stop people taking photos of the Gormley piece outside in their courtyard but I stood and watched as someone who had taken photographs came inside, walked up to the first piece they saw, raised their camera and were told they weren't allowed to take photos. Why?

The funniest time I remember was years ago when I was told by a guard at Tate Britain that I couldn't take photographs of a piece of sculpture, the piece in question being a painstaking recreation of the anti-Government display by the peace campaigner Brian Haw, who was at that time camped about a quarter mile along the road.

I can see how there is an issue that excessive flash photography may bleach old paintings but we live in a world now where we don't have to use our flashes for every photograph we take indoors, indeed the flash on my camera doesn't seem to be a very good one so frequently photos in poor light manage to come out better than those with the flash.

As it was, I was disappointed by 'Model', it wasn't interesting to the touch, like a Richard Serra or Anthony Caro. Clambering about inside it was also rather dull, there was the brief excitement of whether your head might meet an excitingly sharp corner and start bleeding, but other than a few little cubbyholes to crawl around in it was a bit meh. The rest of the models, all variations on figures standing, sitting or lying down and doing yoga poses, were a lot more interesting, right up to the one item which was a copy of another, simply inverted in the vertical.
'Model' by Antony Gormley, White Cube Bermondsey
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
Good things then.

Brave )
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012 Designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei

It has been open less than twenty-four hours and someone had already thrown some money in the fountain. A ten pence piece. An austerity offering. Maybe it was Jeremy Hunt, dashing out from behind one of the many trees to make a desperate wish to keep his job.

Despite being drawn back here every year I've tended not to be impressed by the Pavilions the Serpentine Gallery displays by it's side for the Summer months, they've tended towards the anonymous and blocklike (last year) or the self-conscious and wacky (2006's offering), the kipper tie as architectural statement.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012 Designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei
But I have to say I did like this year's offering. Partially submerged but supported by a cushion of guff from the Gallery and the architects wittering on about 'excavating the previous galleries that stood there' like the worst episode of Time Team ever it's an art pillbox, waiting malevolently for those approaching from all directions. "Aah, Emin and Hirst! For you ze art war iz ovah!"

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012 Designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei
With my usual talent for going on a day when it was overcast and cool there was no way to judge how it will deal with the heat (the Sun is obviously a Republican, it's currently due to rain on Sunday) but there are a variety of different places for people to perch including some little toadstools that felt like they might be cork. If someone doesn't post pictures using them for a game of skittles before the end of the summer than I will have obviously overestimated the skill of Londoners.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2012 Designed by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei
Herzog and de Meuron I don't know from a different hole in the ground but Ai Weiwei is everyone's favourite Chinese import at the moment despite his less than impressive Tate Modern installation from 2010 where everyone carefully ignored how the millions of seeds were manufactured in conditions that looked not only suspiciously sweatshoppy but also that might cause any number of respiratory conditions in his workers from all the dust that it was judged Tate visitors mustn't inhale. He wasn't let out of the country to attend the opening apparently. No doubt the central committee took one look at the price list at the Pavilion Cafe Booth and were too busy laughing at the imminent collapse of Western Capitalism to sign the form to let him leave.
blahflowers: (Queenie)
Having finished The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the book that supposedly all the other self-obsessed girls are reading right now I have to say I was a little disappointed. I can forgive Katniss Everdeen most of her sins (apart from her silly name), she is after all sixteen years old and her tenure in the School of Life has put a lot of emphasis on practical skills and not so much on emotional maturity but hey, she'd know that love does not equal a sparkly ponce molesting you for your own good. The main problem I find is that I find the world of The Hunger Games extremely interesting but not The Hunger Games themselves. It's not so much that it's a PG-13 Battle Royale and it's quite refreshing to have a book that takes it as a given that most children are vicious little bastards rather than God's gift but it's a big disappointment that this vastly advanced society seems to find it's cutting edge entertainment in the form of 'what if we gave a cubs troop too much Sunny Delight and the keys to the 'sharp things' cupboard?'. Where are the giant robots, where are the technoresponsive landscapes? I can't help but notice that, in a show that supposedly thrives on forcing all the teens to fight with one another that Katniss and Peeta get left alone for best part of a week to give them vital healing and snuggling time. By contrast the book is at it's strongest when Katniss-from-the-Block talks about her travel to the big city, or after the games are all over. Most of the other Tributes remain unencumbered by things like personalities as Collins knows full well that they aren't making it to the final page of the book.

Still, not a terrible book but I'm not sure about whether I care enough to read the other two. Has anyone else?
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
2000 AD is a magazine with a strong pedigree in this country. Started sometime in the late eleventh century it's first story was a satirical retelling of the defeat of King Harold by the forces of William the Bastard and ended with Judge Dredd firing an arrow into the former's eye and saying "Prithee get the pointe, creep!" 2000 AD's main role is to be a venue for aspiring British comics creators to showcase ideas and create work, before being snapped up by American companies to produce stuff that isn't shit. After a few years in America whoever owns 2000 AD will put out collections of their juvenilia to try and cash in, presumably to try and embarrass them. To be fair, Garth Ennis's Judge Dredd stuff isn't that bad, mainly because he's such a monumentally dumb character that all you can do is turn the crazy up to 11, something that Ennis has never had a problem with. But while Hewligan's Haircut is young, dumb but full of fun, most of the time a creator's 2000 AD work is as cool as your Mam turning up on Cribs to show everyone your baby photos.

Someone has decided that Alan Grant is big enough to make it worth trying to get some money out of his old stuff and so Mazeworld has been shat out into an uncaring world. Arthur Ranson's art is generally above par for a work like this, but Alan Grant's script is awful balls. Adam Cadman is due to be hung for a crime he did commit, but every time his life in this world hangs by a thread he finds himself transported to the alien Mazeworld and the identity of The Hooded Man, where he comes to be a hero of the rebellion of the oppressed people against their corrupt rulers and Gods.

The page restrictions of 2000 AD means Grant doesn't have the space for things like characterisation so it's all straight by the numbers sword-and-sorcery nonsense. If at any point anything in this surprises you then please turn in your reader's card. But it is worth a glance at for Ranson's often lovely work, this is a man who should be doing more work.

The spine of Who is Jake Ellis? by Nathan Edmondson and Tonci Zonjic has a '1' as though this the first book in a series but I think it's a self-contained story. Freelance mercenary Jon Moore is constantly advised by Jake Ellis, smarter than him and more invisible, he is able to scope out scenes in an instant and tell Moore what to do in any situation. But Moore was once subjected to a horrific series of medical experiments and his former captors are after him, forcing him to confront the issue of what Jake is, his own superenhanced abilities, a ghost or something else. Zonjic's uncluttered artwork compliments Edmondson's Nu-noir script, often washing pages in a limited pallet of colours and the eponymous Ellis a black and grey ghost. It's published by Image so it's obviously a promotion for 'Who is Jake Ellis?' the movie, but that would be a film worth watching. The story jumps continents like James Bond as Moore closes in on the truth behind his life and can be read in less time than it takes to watch 'The World is Not Enough'.

Supergods is a collection of random thoughts that escaped from the word processor of Grant Morrison when he wasn't concentrating. Jumping topics like a fourteen year old on two cans of Red Bull the book is occasionally a partial history of comics, sometimes a partial history of Mister Grant Morrison and sometimes whatever he was thinking about at the time. On his own personal history Morrison is most interesting, but on discussing culture he is a blunt tool when compared to the non-fiction work of someone like Warren Ellis. What's most annoying is that as he progresses through his own career he's voluble on the 2000AD days but gets progressively briefer on his DC/Vertigo work. He writes about Flex Mentallo but on The Invisibles he concentrates on the much-put-about story of the alien abduction that came to inform it's cosmology and The Filth is pretty much ignored. Perhaps he wants the work that's easy for people to access to stand for itself but it's annoying that he passes talking about them for chapters about the actors who have played Superman or Batman on the small and silver screens.

Red Wing. No. That is all.

If you are within spitting distance of the capital then Tired of London, Tired of Life should be one of your regular reads. A daily suggestion of somewhere to go, something to see or somewhere to eat and drink, it has been reproduced in book form suggesting something for every day of the year, though from what I've seen so far the majority of them are not particularly date specific so don't feel you're missing out if you buy a copy next December. But you should buy it now.

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