Friday, October 27, 2006

Official Handbook of the Katy Universe:
Katy came into my office tonight and asked if we could make a new superhero. So we used HeroMachine and came up with this one, that she named Arrow:

At this rate, she'll have her own superteam in the next couple of weeks. She's been calling Butterfly Wing by the name Gold Butterfly Wing or Butterfly Gold, and she has told me that there's a bad Butterfly Gold, inspired by my having bought the Justice Lords action figures in the Justice League Unlimited line.

She can also name Aquaman, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Atom, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Green Lantern, Lex Luthor and a few more, and asked to have superhero pictures put up in her room so she could look at them. So I put up my Justice League poster, with the season one roster on it. She also quite enjoys those oversized Paul Dini/Alex Ross books, especially Wonder Woman and the Justice League ones. So yeah, my daughter's already a superhero fan. I take full responsibility.
Weekly Comics to Come - October 31, 2006:

American Virgin #8 (After re-reading the first trade, I find myself more in love with this title than ever)
Beyond #5 (Dwayne McDuffie and Scott Kolins close in on the finale of their B-lister war in space tale)
Criminal #2 (Brubaker and Phillips follow up the strongest debut issue of 2006)
Local #7 (This one's in Tempe, Arizona... this is in my top three series running right now, alongside Fables and Escapists)
Other Side #2 (Another strong first issue, can't wait to see the second)

Agents Of Atlas #4 (Modern conspiracy, Golden Age characters, great art... a fun diversion from Marvel that not enough people are reading)
Ex Machina #24 (More of New York politics, the firefighter rapist, drug dealers and more)
Irredeemable Ant-Man #2 (Fun first issue, great art by Phil Hester, curious to see where this one is going)
Justice League Of America #3 (This one has some weaknesses, including Benes's Turner-esque artwork, but it has some strong moments and a good lineup... if Meltzer would ever put the damn team together)
Killer #1 (New action/crime thriller from Archaia Studios)
Midnighter #1 (Probably just Garth Ennis on autopilot again, but Chris Sprouse's art will be nice)
Mouse Guard #5 (Archaia's unusual fantasy series races toward the conclusion of its first miniseries arc)
Mystery In Space #3 (Basically solid entertainment, although The Weird backup does nothing for me)
Pirate Tales #1 (Boom! anthology focused on pirates)
Superman Confidential #1 (Darwyn Cooke writes, Tim Sale draws, Randy reads)
Uncanny X-Men #480 (Brubaker and Tan hooked me good with the last issue, I'm digging this book)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

My Daughter Made Her First Superhero:
This is Butterfly Wing, and she can fly. She doesn't have any other super-powers, but Katy has a lot more when she has her super-powers, like using her bracelets to turn things into gold and wearing a crown that protects her from bad animals.

Created using HeroMachine.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - October 25, 2006:

American Virgin Head TP (This is a weird, beautifully drawn book that I really enjoy)
Godland #13 (Hooray! More Kirby/crazy Godland! I just read Vol. 2, so I'm very much in the mood for this)
Marvel Comics Encyclopedia HC (The DC Encyclopedia was fantastic, I expect great things from the Marvel one as well)
Scout Vol 1 TP (At last, some of Tim Truman's post-apocalyptic Apache epic is collected)
Supermarket TP (Great crime/sci-fi action from Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson)

Captain America #23 (Still good, despite Civil War, a tribute to the talented creative team)
Conan & The Songs Of The Dead #4 (The wrap-up of the Lansdale/Truman Conan)
Daredevil #90 (Good Ed Brubaker week, and the first part of DD's Paris adventure was great)
Deathblow #1 (Vaguely interested in Brian Azzarello's take on spec op Deathblow)
Hawaiian Dick Vol 2 Last Resort TP (The previous trade was a great collection, I hope this one lives up to it)
Impaler #1 (Solid horror outing with a new take on Dracula)
Jack Of Fables #4 (Just as good as the main Fables book)
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man Vol 1 HC (Big week, or else I'd be picking up this oversized hardcover of all-ages Spidey... another time, perhaps)
Meathaus Vol. 8 SC (Indy anthology with some impessive names attached)
Planetary #26 (That rare beast, an issue of Planetary, is spotted in the wild!)
Previews #26.11 (Down the Line coming next week, looks like)
Seven Soldiers #1 (Finally, the conclusion that determines whether or not I'll be buying the four trades or not)
Spider-man Loves Mary Jane #11 (Continues to delight and entertain)
Uncle Sam And The Freedom Fighters #4 (Third issue was weaker, but I liked enough in the first three issues to keep reading)

Monday, October 16, 2006

More TV Thoughts:

Battlestar Galactica - Well, it's official. Three episodes in, and season three is far and away my favorite season of Battlestar Galactica yet. Some great moral ambiguity, even for the cylons, a tension-filled situation as we wonder how on Earth the humans are going to get off the planet and what kind of plan Adama could have and plenty of questions about what's going to happen next. Along with great writing, great acting and a nice guest turn by Amanda Plummer (that was unexpected).

Studio 60 - I have to admit, while I'm still loving the show, the people complaining about the lameness of the sketch comedy aren't wrong. It's *painfully* unfunny, and they probably shouldn't spend any time showing it if they can avoid it. Because the backstage stuff is great, and I'm really loving the romance between Matt and Harriet, because it really does seem legitimately impossible. They may have great chemistry, but it seems like they don't belong together, and that's an interesting thing. Jordan McDeere is the TV president equivalent of Jed Bartlett... I don't for a minute believe that someone that principled, smart and witty could rise to that position, but I sure wish they could, and I sure love the wish fulfilment of it. How great would it be if someone at network television actually had the principles to pass on a "toxic" reality show like the one pitched tonight? Did seem like Sorkin was talking to his audience a little with the reporter's speech about why it's an important story for Vanity Fair, answering the criticisms of Studio 60 being about "just TV." But I agree with all the points made, so I'm onboard with it.

Heroes - A noticeable uptick in quality, almost a quantum leap forward, as Bryan Fuller (Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me) steps in to write his first episode. The writing was so much sharper, all the character bits seemed stronger and I loved seeing some of the connections being made. Oh, and that ending... totally superhero genre, and I loved it. Fun to see that Hiro's heroic destiny (at least in one world) isn't just as comic relief. And Nathan's character became a whole lot more interesting with the revleation of a wife and kids and his interaction with Niki, just as Niki's subplot continues to intrigue, as we see her other personality for the first time. I was on the verge of dropping this show last week... now I'm anxious to see what happens next. A more consistent level of writing would help a lot, but it's good to know that Fuller's voice isn't entirely lost, as his is the one I trust the most amongst the various producer/writers on the show.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - October 18, 2006:
Batman And The Mad Monk #3 (Matt Wagner's Batman is still the best Batman being published right now)
Fables 1001 Nights Of Snowfall HC (Got a glimpse of this in San Diego, and it looks gorgeous. Can't wait to read this)
Omega Men #1 (The pitch for this one, featuring space adventure and topical events like religious extremism and terrorism, sounded interesting)
Runaways #21 (I'm just as excited about this book as ever, hope Vaughan brings things to a good conclusion of sorts in a few issues)
Shadowpact #6 (The last two issues of this book have been great, it's becoming a new favorite)

Authority #1 (Most of my enthusiasm for the Wildstorm relaunch is gone, now that Morrison's two titles are shipping)
Birds Of Prey #99 (This one is waning for me a little, but the upcoming roster change is intriguing)
Birds Of Prey The Battle Within Tp (Definitely still onboard for this trade, though, which had some great stuff)
Casanova #5 (The book is losing me a little, as it doesn't offer much in the way of a coherent story... might read better in trade)
Conan #33 (Tim Truman's run on the character begins here)
Damned #1 (Pretty solid prohibition gangster/Hellblazer-style demon wars comic with great Hurtt art)
Elephantmen #4 (Beautifully illustrated sci-fi book, glad this is coming out more frequently than annually)
Hellcity Vol 1 GN (Really dug Rotting in Dirtville, so I'm looking forward to seeing this new release from Gigantic Graphic Novels)
Hellstorm Son Of Satan #1 (Looks potentially fun, based on preview pages)
Lone Ranger #2 (First issue was surprisingly solid)
Marvel Adventures Avengers #6 (I'll give Bedard another chance to impress after a weak #5)
Marvel Adventures Avengers Vol 1 Heroes Assembled Tp (The four issues collected here, though, are all great)
Naoki Urasawas Monster Vol 5 (The thriller manga continues)
Noble Causes #24 (More on the war between Blackthornes and Nobles)
Seven Sons Gn (AIT/Planet Lar's re-telling of an old Chinese fable, looked interesting in Previews)
Union Jack #2 (Looking forward to the second issue of this international ensemble action book)
Wasteland #4 (More of Oni's post-apocalyptic buzz book)
Wildcats #1 (See my comments on Authority, plus I'm a bigger fan of Gene Ha's art than Jim Lee's)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The New Fall Season - The Continuing Adventures of Randy's Tivo:

Wow, it's amazing how fast optimism and joy can turn to bitterness and spite. The rapid-fire cancellation of two of my favorite shows, Kidnapped and Smith, not to mention underperforming ratings for the other new shows I'm really enjoying (Studio 60 and The Nine) have me convinced that all the great new TV I loved won't even live out the month, let alone the season. Kidnapped is at least getting closure, but it's moved to Saturdays, and it looks like it won't air this week, as there's some sort of special or sports on in its timeslot. I'd probably be better off just waiting on the inevitable DVD release, but I really want to see more of it now.

Studio 60: The latest episode was not as strong as the rest, but it's still the best new show of the season, especially with the only other contender for the title (Smith) was unceremoniously dumped by CBS. CBS has been unceremoniously dumped by me. It doesn't even exist as a network anymore as far as my Tivo is concerned. I'm hoping that the show's declining ratings won't mean a cancellation or "hiatus," but at this point I just keep expecting the other shoe to drop.

Heroes: Weak. There are some things I like, including Hiro's story and the neat little twist of having Sylar, the villain, have all of the heroes' powers, including the psycho personality that Nikki has. I'm guessing here, but I think it's pretty clear that's where they're going. But really, I think the producers think it's like Lost, when really it's not even in The 4400's class yet. Too many characters, only half of them interesting, a boring serial killer villain and hazy science and origins... it needs to get more focused, and fast. Actually, I guess it doesn't, as it's the breakout hit of the season. But I won't watch something just because it's genre, and Heroes may wind up on the same "dead to me" pile as Smallville soon.

Veronica Mars: I don't know how the second episode was because Time Warner killed one of the two channels carrying CW programming, with no warning. So I had an hour-long block of text about how Time Warner couldn't carry the program instead of Veronica Mars on my Tivo. It's not available on iTunes or streamed on the CW site, either. I'll find some way to watch it, though, I'm sure.

Lost: Fantastic. I love the mysteries, really intrigued by the various new characters, and every week I turn it off wanting to watch the next episode immediately. If I could time travel into the future, I'd bring back newspapers, stock reports and as many DVD box sets of Lost as there were available. Which then wouldn't play on my antiquated old technology DVD player, of course. There's always a trick with time travel, you know.

The Nine: Still interested, although the lower ratings have me worried that this will be yet another serialized show that doesn't pay off with anything but cancellation and unsolved questions. Great cast, though, and I like the mysteries. It's not in the same class as Kidnapped, Smith or Studio 60 for me, but it's very watchable.

30 Rock: Really weak. If it weren't for Alec Baldwin, it might be unwatchable. But Baldwin is *so* good that he elevates the entire show when he's on. Hopefully the rest of the show will rise to his level.

Battlestar Galactica: Amazing two-hour opener. I haven't been as on-board this series as my friends, it's been in my "like it, don't love it" box for a long time... but this was a phenomenal opener. Battlestar Galactica is officially in my top five shows at the moment. Which brings me to the updated list:

1. Studio 60 on Sunset (NBC)
2. Lost (ABC)
3. Battlestar Galactica (SCIFI)
4. Veronica Mars (CW)
5. The Nine (ABC)
6. The Office (NBC)
7. Doctor Who (SCIFI)
8. My Name is Earl (NBC)

I don't have two more. I'm watching Heroes and 30 Rock, but they're on probation for me.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

CBS Can Go To Hell:
At least Kidnapped is getting to finish out its story. CBS is cancelling Smith, which is probably my second favorite show behind Studio 60, and they're cutting it off without any warning, right before they go into the big heist next week.

This also probably means not enough episodes to even get a DVD release. Which really sucks. Not too surprising... Smith had a great cast, sharp writing and edgy subject matter. It's really only the kind of thing that's going to succeed on HBO. Which is where more and more of my viewing is going. I've also learned an important lesson, that it doesn't pay to invest any time in CBS's serials, since they're likely to pull them without any consideration for viewer payoff. Since the only other thing I'm watching on CBS is (or was) The Unit and Shark, I won't have any particular trouble just letting the network go entirely.

Studio 60 and The Nine are now the only new shows I'm excited about that remain on the air. It looks like Heroes is the big success story of the season, a shame since it's the one show that disappointed me after a promising start. Hopefully it'll start getting a lot better, fast, because it's most likely to be the show that sticks around. I'm also hoping that NBC and ABC will be smarter about letting their new shows build an audience, but after Kidnapped got a quick cancellation, I'm not holding my breath.

Then again, Kidnapped *really* had low ratings, and at least NBC did give the show's producers 10 more episodes to wrap up, which is forward-thinking in terms of promoting future serials. CBS just cut their best new shows out at the knees, and I'll remember that next year and the year after that at least when figuring out which new shows to try.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Weekly Comics to Come - October 11, 2006:

DMZ #12 (After the strength of last issue, I'm doubly looking forward to the new issue of this one)
Dork #11 (Finally! At long last, a new issue of Dorkin's always interesting solo anthology book)
Escapists #4 (Runs neck and neck with Fables as the most anticipated read of the month for me)
Fables #54 (This latest visit to the Homelands has been every bit as engaging as the last, as we get some insight into the bad guys)
Twelve Reasons Why I Love Her GN (Fantastic romantic drama/comedy graphic novel. Review HERE)

Gen 13 #1 (On the plus side, it's Gail Simone... but I'm generally not crazy about the characters or the artist. Still, I'll give it a shot)
Pirates Of Coney Island #1 (This one looks like crazy fun, I'm looking forward to checking it out)
Side Scrollers GN (I've had a preview copy of this sitting around for a month or so, and I liked Loux's work on F-Stop, so I guess it's finally time to make time to read this)
Star Wars Legacy #4 (Needs to get a lot more focused and fast, because it's the first Ostrander book on the verge of losing me)
Steady Beat Vol 2 (Rivkah's long-awaited second volume in her Austin-based manga series)
Uncanny X-Men #479 (Continuing Brubaker and Tan's 12-issue story arc)
Worldstorm #1 (As I recall, this is mostly a preview book, but I'm curious to get more of a sense of Wildstorm's new relaunch)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

One Down:
'Kidnapped' Headed for Early End

The bad news is, they're cancelling Kidnapped. The good news is, they're giving the producers the remaining 10 episodes to wrap it up, so hopefully it won't be another intended for long run serial that never gets an ending. Sure, the ending will probably be a little rushed, but 13 episodes isn't a bad amount of time to tell this story, and I'll stick with it through to the end.

Bummer, though. NBC being this quick on the draw with a good show sort of crushes any of my hopes that they might take a longer view, and probably spells the doom for my other favorite show this season, Studio 60.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

30 Rock:

I was enjoying it based on Alec Baldwin's performance, and thinking "I'll give this a shot." Then I got to the last 10 seconds, with Tracy Morgan's performance, and I about died laughing. This one definitely goes on the viewing schedule.
New Fall Season - The Nine, Lost and more

I continue to be pleased and impressed with the new TV season. Now if only more people were. The mind boggles at what is getting big ratings (Deal or No Deal? Really? Isn't that just Millionaire, which nobody even *remembers* anymore, with hotter girls and a bald Howie Mandel?) and what isn't (if NBC cuts Studio 60 short, I'm gonna be pissed... mostly at the vast number of viewers who weren't tuning in but who spend their time watching Survivor: Race War or whatever godawful sitcom is running against it). The only downside of this season, which has thus far presented more great TV than I've seen in about three years, is that nobody seems to be watching all this great TV. It seems entirely likely that after a great development season, we could see all these promising shows cut down by low ratings, only to be replaced by worse shows next year.

How is Heroes (which I'm already getting bored with, two episodes in, and I'm a *superhero genre fan*) getting bigger ratings than Studio 60 (which continues to be great with each episode)? How does CSI, a dull procedural, beat out Smith, a clever and stylish show about the other side of the law? I'm not trying to say everybody should love what I love, but I sure as hell wish more people did, because it would stop all the entertainment I love from going away before I'm done with it. Selfish? Well, yeah. I'll admit that.

At any rate, tonight and Tuesday featured the premiere of some new stuff. In fact, I'm still catching up, since I don't watch TV on Tuesday nights, so I haven't watched the latest episodes of Kidnapped (another low-rated favorite), The Unit (which I can take or leave at this point) or Smith (which I'm planning on watching next). What I did watch tonight:

Lost - Tons more questions, and I'm dying to know more about The Others now. I'm actually pretty much OK with the rate at which the creators are doling out answers, as they offer up some hints but always raise more questions. The quality of the writing is such that I'm always pulled in. My only complaints about the season opener are twofold: 1) I really would have liked to see more of the rest of the cast, besides Jack, Sawyer and Kate, who are the most over-exposed and often-times least interesting members of the show and 2) I was kinda bored with Jack's flashback. It wasn't bad, by any means, always watchable, but I was never on the edge of my seat. Jack suffers from the "Cyclops" syndrome... he's the stable leader type, and so a lot of writers can do one of two modes. Either he's in full-on control, which is boring but noble, or he's on the verge of losing it from the pressure, which often comes off as whiny or self-indulgent. Jack is an interesting character, it's just that he's got a lot less interesting demons than most of the rest of the cast.

Oh, and I really would have liked a two-hour season opener, which probably could have answered both of my complaints, featuring more of the ensemble cast. Still... easily in my top five shows on TV, still.

The Nine - A new one, the follow-up to Lost, and all the buzz is definitely warranted. We've all seen the hostage drama and even some of these character archetypes before, but a talented cast, a clever twist in flipping the timeline so that the show basically starts a week after the robbery and some tricks learned from shows like 24 and Lost makes for a gripping drama with lots of mysteries. I worry about how they're going to sustain those mysteries without feeling like they're dragging them out, but as with Lost, it seems the core of the show is strong characters and strong writing, and seeing how people pick up their lives *after* a traumatic event like a hostage crisis is something we haven't really seen a lot of before. It's also perfect for serialization on TV, as opposed to the 2-hour movie format, which is pretty much perfect for the hostage drama itself.

Like I say, I wonder how this can sustain more than a season, maybe two, based on the premise, and remain satisfying. But I also wondered that about how anyone could sustain a story about a bunch of survivors crashed on an island, and that's working out quite well so far.

Veronica Mars - Lost and Battlestar Galactica both had recap shows to catch viewers up on what had gone before, but Veronica Mars is the one that really needed it, especially given it's uber-complicated season and finale last year. Still great, and Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars is one of the most watchable characters on TV, but I felt like a fresh viewing of season two would have clicked me into the show harder. It's definitely a continuation of the series, rather than a fresh start, and while I love that as a fan, I wonder if they might not have gone a slightly more accessible route for the hopefully large new fanbase they'll be getting from their new post-Gilmore Girls timeslot.

Here's hoping for big ratings, though, because I still love the show.

Revised Top 5, now that I've seen everything (except Battlestar Galactica, which starts Friday, and 30 Rock, which I'm now kind of curious about, which starts next Wednesday):

1. Studio 60 on Sunset
2. The Nine
3. Kidnapped
4. Smith
5. Heroes, but it's on the verge of being a top 4

1. Studio 60 on Sunset
2. Lost
3. The Nine
4. Kidnapped
5. Smith
6. Veronica Mars
7. The Office

And no doubt Battlestar Galactica will fit somewhere after it premieres. If I had to go to 10, I'd probably slot in Doctor Who, My Name is Earl or The Unit, but while I enjoy all of those shows, any one of them could disappear and I wouldn't much care. Everything else on my Top 10, I'll be sad to see it go. And I'll be surprised if at least half of them don't get killed by networks unwilling to let a show build its audience. My guess would be that we'll lose Studio 60, Kidnapped and probably Smith. I can't guess at Veronica Mars or The Nine until we see ratings.

Thankfully, even if the networks fuck it all up by losing all these good shows, in January we'll have nonstop Lost, nonstop 24 and new Shield, and that's all good.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Blog Template Update for September
This is the latest monthly update to the left column of the blog, updating my favorite comics and TV for the previous month. The listings are alphabetical, not by rank of how much I liked them in comparison. My criteria for what makes the list is when I read them, not necessarily when they were published.

September was a decompression month, in a lot of ways. The 20th anniversary celebration of Dragon's Lair was over, so that was a ton of stress gone, and basically things calmed down a bit. Of course, then we started having people in to remodel the kitchens and bathrooms, and organization for STAPLE! '07 started up, we launched Comic Pants and started planning for Wizard World Texas, and... OK, it was a decompression week and a half. At any rate, though, it was a good month, plenty of good comics, lots of good TV and a good first month for the new site.

Pretty solid, if unspectacular, month for comics in September. There weren't a ton of books that got cut to make my top 20, but there were a few. There weren't a lot of new first issues, but The Goon Noir, the first issue of True Story Swear to God at Image and Union Jack #1 were all solid openers.

Television, though, is really looking up. This was the best new Fall season in years, and I've got four new shows that I really like added to my viewing habits. I'm hoping that Kidnapped's relatively low ratings don't spell doom, as it's probably my second favorite show of the new season, right behind Studio 60. Smith is right behind that, and Heroes right behind that. And The Nine hasn't even started yet, and has been getting good buzz. I also finally discovered how funny The Office is - I'm almost through watching the second season DVDs, and the third season's first two episodes were great. I'm watching five NBC shows this year, six if you count Scrubs, which hasn't officially started yet. No FOX shows, since too much TV means Family Guy and Bones get cut due to time, and no ABC shows until Lost starts up. If The Nine is good, ABC and CBS are tied for second in my viewing, with two shows each. CBS has The Unit and Smith. CW has Veronica Mars. What's kind of amazing is that there's so much else I would watch, if I had unlimited time. Bones, Shark, the two CSIs I've seen (original flavor and Miami), Without A Trace, these are all solidly-produced, well-acted procedurals. If I wasn't more interested in serials, or if I had an eighth day of the week set aside just for TV, I'd probably watch them as well.

And that's not counting cable. Weeds season two on Showtime is great, I love Professional Poker Tour on Travel channel, Doctor Who just restarted on SciFi and Battlestar Galactica restarts this Friday. I'm about two months' behind on Daily Show and Colbert Report, and those may have to get cut from my regular viewing as well, not because I love them any less but because a four-day a week hourlong is just too much time commitment to watch. Might be time to switch to Youtube "Best Of" viewing like my buddy Dave Martindale.

Throw in 24 and The Shield starting early next year, and it's just a great time to be a TV fan. Probably the best level of quality of all the entertainment mediums I follow with what some might call an obsessive style. Certainly a better average than you get in either comics or movies these days. If only Arrested Development could have lived to see it.

For those who care, I've converted my RSS links into regular site links. I've also updated them according to what's in my actual newsreader feed at the moment, and I'll add and subtract each month as I keep discovering new artists and others with webpages. By the way, I know Will Pfeifer isn't an artist, but he's the only writer I keep up with at the moment, blog-wise, so for now he goes in with that group.