Invasion of the Body Switchers

Avatar is back in theaters with extra footage, exclusively in 3D. I saw it a couple of weeks into its original release and have been waiting for just such an opportunity to re-publish my thoughts here.

Human and Na'vi faces, both shaded blue, in the sky above Pandora landscape

Most of the talk when the lights went up at my screening, positive and negative, was about the technology behind the film. And one has to wonder if that fact alone doesn't make the movie something of a failure by James Cameron's standards.

Red Letter

The bloody good news is that I was house-sitting this past week and caught up with
the current season of True Blood via HBO On Demand.

Young vampire Jessica looking offscreen as she records video diary

I'd just recently finished Season Two on DVD, and I was really bummed about having
to wait for a whole year to see where things went in Season Three (dodging spoilers all the while). As I've mentioned here before, True Blood is a pulpy kick.

Hero Subs

Composite shot of Captain America from 1940s serial with stand-ins for Thor and Iron Man from other period films

I praised the inventive "premake" trailers of Ivan Guerrero six months ago, but have neglected to keep up with his work. My friend Stefan Blitz, proprietor of Forces of Geek, luckily keeps up with dad-gum near everything — so when I'm able to peruse that site I find gems like Guererro's trailer for The Avengers (1952).

I Want to Punch Blogger in the Face

So I've been trying to finish laying out a post from Tuesday for hours now. When Comcast deigns to let me get online, Blogger does its best to screw up my text and fail to load my graphics, either crashing Safari or simply not responding in Chrome. You would think that Picasa, Blogger, and Chrome would communicate well, all being part of the Google empire, and you would be wrong.

Betty's Here; Veronica, Too

This post is currently down for maintenance.

Great Scott

Bryan Lee O'Malley's Scott Pilgrim graphic novels started up during my unfortunate disconnect from the comics world. I still have yet to read even the first volume, despite strong recommendations, and so was part of the vast majority of the audience coming to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as just a movie.

Scott Pilgrim, with arms folded in front of Ramona Flowers, images of her seven exes fanned out behind them

It's a hell of a movie.

Scott Pilgrim, played by Michael Cera of Juno and Superbad, is a hipster slacker in
his early 20s — or maybe an anti-hipster slacker, if that better evokes the attitude of being cool by rejecting what's cool — who must do combat with his new object of affection's "seven evil exes". There's plenty of inertial ennui in Scott's life as he plays with a band that he doesn't want to get big, shares a one-bedroom flat in Toronto with his gay best friend, and deals poorly with having been dumped a year ago by a now successful rocker known as Envy. But the title of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World isn't simply philosophical: Fight scenes abound. Our hero doesn't have a colorful costumed identity, merely an insanely awesome dimension to his quirkily banal existence; his everyday life is adorned with visible sound effects and other graphics even before things kick into high gear. SPVTW is one of those films that, to crib a phrase I've often heard from Roger Ebert, isn't notable so much for what it's about as for how it's about it.

A Wing and a Prayer

I may have scared off most readers, understandably ignorant of and disinterested in
the intricacies of DC Universe continuity, with yesterday’s post on Batman’s status quo. Which I'm loathe to do when recommending accessible graphic novels to civilians — but I wanted to properly set the backdrop for my review of Neil Gaiman and friends’ Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?. Since I don’t really consider the tales contained therein accessible, though, I suppose it’s all good.

Batman, apparently dead, lying in an open coffin with his arms crossed over his chest and cape swaddled around his feet

The book’s title story isn’t nearly as dependent on knowledge of recent comics as the likes of Final Crisis or Blackest Night, and in fact requires no familiarity with Grant Morrison's ambitious tapestry of the past few years. I just don't think the material reprinted in the collection, published by DC as a $14.99 trade paperback [ISBN 978-1-4012-2724-1] last month in the wake of a $24.99 hardcover [ISBN 978-1-4012-2303-8] last year, will be rewarding to newcomers to the Dark Knight mythos.

Dead Bat Dad

Batman rising up, cape swirling, with only his mask/head, cloak, and insignia visible
Alex Ross cover to Batman #676 [digital] © 2008 DC Comics.

Last May brought the 70th anniversary of Batman's debut in Detective Comics #27,
as I wrote around the time of the actual event. DC marked the occasion by killing him, during a storyline called RIP, not terribly long after introducing his son.

Or did it?

The 70th anniversary wasn't really marked. I'm a far more casual reader of comics these days, true, as opposed to the die-hard fan turned would-be scholar and journalist that I was for a good 15-20 of my almost 40 years of life. So it's possible that at conventions and via industry magazines DC was promoting writer Grant Morrison's run, which has included the latest passing of the mantle from Bruce Wayne to Dick Grayson, as explicitly celebrating the character's seven decades of existence — Morrison has been referencing Batman history right and left, as did Neil Gaiman in his coda to RIP. One could argue too that 70 isn't as ballyhooed a birthday as golden or diamond jubilees when it comes to pop-culture properties. Yet DC failed to capitalize on the 50th anniversary of its marquee band of superheroes, the Justice League of America, earlier this year. It also let several months lapse after the 75th anniversary of the very first proto-DC publication before addressing the issue (no pun intended) with a designer icon and merchandise.

Plus, Bruce Wayne didn’t die during RIP — the storyline that ran in DC's primary Batman series and had its logo branded upon affiliated monthlies (Robin, Detective, Nightwing) — but instead in the pages of Final Crisis, a line-wide DC Universe crossover also written by Morrison.