Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


It's a new year, I guess

We change years today, according to the Western calendar (also known as, as was said on The Daily Show, "the calendar"), and it's resolution time. I have but one, since most are unreasonable:

Lose weight.

Since I have stopped working, I have gained a bunch o' pounds (and I wasn't svelte to begin with), and I have been trying to lose weight for a while with little success. Therefore, since I am posting for any and all to read, I will keep track of my weight on this blog, and that may shame me into losing weight. Every month I will post my progress. You people have to keep me honest. Today's weight: 234 pounds. Ugh. I'll let you know on February 1 how I'm doing.

I guess I could do a year-in-review kind of thing, since it's all the rage. I hardly ever go to the movies, so I have no top ten list of movies. I hardly ever listen to music (I'm old and my tastes have calcified, not unlike Homer Simpson, who claims rock achieved its apotheosis in 1974), so I'm not doing a top ten list of music. I read slowly and only occasionally brand-spankin' new books, so I won't do a top ten list of books (the one I'm currently reading was published in 1991). So what's left?

Well, comics and television, I suppose. Instead of doing a top ten for those, however, I'll just tell you some of my favorites.

I love The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I don't know why everyone isn't watching this show. Not only is it funny, but it actually gives you political knowledge you can use. Sure, he leans a bit to the left, but he often throws softballs at his guests, conservative or liberal, while still skewering them when they're in the news. He was very respectful of Rudy Giuliani when he interviewed him, but rips Hizzoner quite often at other times. It's brilliant television.

The Simpsons continues to be funny, although it's showing its age. After it on Sunday night comes Arrested Development, which is fabulous. After that comes Desperate Housewives, which isn't as good as everyone seems to think, but it's still excellent. Sunday night is a good night for television.

The only other show I watch regularly is Lost, which is unusual (like Desperate Housewives) in that it's on a major network yet is unafraid to shake up the status quo. Sure, it has its problems, like the hero (Jack) is often a big jerk, and Charlie (the hobbit) should be dead, but it's still a fine hour of entertainment.

Shows currently on hiatus that I like are 24, which returns in a couple of weeks; Carnivale, and Deadwood, which are both on HBO (and as good a reason to get HBO as The Sopranos). 24 is up and down sometimes, but still just fun television. Carnivale takes itself a little too seriously, and I dislike shows taking shots at organized religion, since it's too easy a target, but it's still interesting television. Deadwood also goes overboard sometimes, but it's worthwhile for the acting, which is brilliant, and the moral complexities of the characters, which are better developed than pretty much any show on television (yes, I count The Sopranos, which I don't watch all that often -- I'm just not into it). Anyway, that's television for me.

In terms of comics, it was kind of a blah year. Some good stuff, but more than bad stuff, just uninspiring stuff. The series I like the most are Rex Mundi (six issues in 2004, and now it's getting a new artist), Planetary (four issues in '04), Fallen Angel (which actually had 12 issues come out), Daredevil (13! issues in '04, but it's Bendis, who apparently never sleeps), Ex Machina (seven issues since it started in June), Fables (12 issues), Supreme Power (nine issues) and Human Target (12 issues). These, in my humble opinion, represent the best of comics right now, and only Daredevil (and, I suppose, Supreme Power) can be even remotely called a "superhero" comic. I'm disappointed that other reviewers keep going back to the well of superhero stuff and praising Superman/Batman or Teen Titans or (God forbid) Avengers. Superhero stuff is old and tired, and I wish publishers would give us more types of genres. Of all of these titles, only Rex Mundi is not published by one of the Big Two in one form or another, so they're willing to publish these things, they just don't have the balls. (Planetary and Ex Machina are Wildstorm, which is owned by DC, Fables and Human Target are Vertigo titles, Supreme Power is Marvel MAX, and Daredevil is Marvel Knights.) It's unfortunate, and with the success of Identity Crisis and Astonishing X-Men, it looks like superheroes are all the rage again. Sigh. Coming out too late in the year to be on this list are The Ballad of Sleeping Beauty, Small Gods, and Fade from Grace, all of which show lots of potential. We'll see if they survive next year.

2004 also saw a scad of good mini-series. In no particular order, Freaks of the Heartland, The New Frontier, Light Brigade (why no collected edition of that?), My Flesh is Cool, Strange Killings: Necromancer, Seaguy, Singularity 7, I am Legion (only one issue so far, but I assume more are forthcoming), Waterloo Sunset (unfinished), Black Widow (ditto), Hawaiian Dick: The Last Resort (ditto), We3 (ditto), 303 (d -- you know), Ocean (ibid.), JLA: Classified (ibid.), and Samurai: Heaven and Earth (one issue out so far) all are worthy reads or have a chance to be very good (I'll reserve judgment on the unfinished ones, but they're all good). Good mini-series might be the future of comics, even in the "ongoing" titles (Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee on Batman was basically a mini-series, even though it took place in the ongoing title). The future of the industry looks like trade paperbacks, so mini-series are the way to go. I wish they would simply release them as books instead of monthly pamphlets. If you missed something like Light Brigade, it's a shame. That book would have looked superb coming out as a stand-alone book, but DC missed the boat.

Lots of worthy titles bit the dust in 2004. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang took the James Bond idea and twisted it nicely, but fell victim to CrossGen's demise. El Cazador got me to read a pirate comic, but it was also published by CrossGen, so it's gone too. (Meanwhile, Sea of Red is coming out in March from Image. Kieron Dwyer on art. Give the pirate comic a look!) Wildcats Version 3.0 also went under, which was very unfortunate, since it was one of the smartest books around. Maybe The Intimates will last a while. X-Statix, one of the most subversive books ever published by a major company, ran its course.

Identity Crisis was published. Oh, the humanity. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, perhaps the single worst comic of the past decade. For sheer crapitude, however, you can't go wrong with Chuck Austen's run on Uncanny X-Men. I had bought every issue of Uncanny X-Men since about issue 251, and bought all the back issue back to #125. With issue 441, I stopped buying, and haven't been back. I endured Austen for a few years, but finally could not justify plunking down $2.25 for the drek he was spewing. I stopped buying X-Men when Morrison left, as well, and have not returned to the X-Universe, even for Astonishing X-Men. The X-Men remain my favorite comic book characters, but Marvel has killed the golden goose. It's a shame. (I still buy Ultimate X-Men, but it might go on my kill list soon, unless the next storyline, about Longshot, kicks ass.)

So that's comics for this year. Lots of good stuff if you know where to look, and lots of bad stuff that was shoved in our faces. Kind of depressing. Comics could be so much more, but the publishers (by which I mean Marvel and DC) don't care. They're too busy selling their souls to Hollywood. Oh well.

Have a great year everybody! Remember, yell at me about my weight often!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's no wonder you're 234 lbs, bungie... All you do is watch TV and read. :P
- frank frank

8/1/05 7:58 AM  

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