Sunday, July 24, 2005

Looking To The Stars: Random Thoughts at 2 AM.

Salutations, gentle readers! May I deliver my apologies once again for the rather sporadic rate at which my usual ranting have been released. Would that I had the excuse of some of my colleagues of having spend that last few weeks partying down in San Diego.

Sadly, real life is being even more difficult at the moment than I had feared it would be when I embarked upon the mad course to finish all my Masters degree studies over the summer. Between that, a full time job, looking for a new job for once I get my degree, financial difficulties stemming from class fees and some other personal business that I shan’t go into here… I’m swamped. It has gotten to the point that I’ve canceled my comic subscription.

Yes, I know. The Seventh Seal has broken and the end is nigh!

Don’t worry. I’m still picking up a few titles. I just no longer feel the need to reserve anything for myself, save Red Sonja and Fables. And that’s mostly so my girlfriend can have a copy, those being the two books she reads. The fact of the matter is I have precious little time to read lately.

And honestly? The vast majority of what is published today holds little thrill for me. I’ve already written off Marvel Comics completely, as far too many of their books possess the same dull tone. And this was before everyone was dragged into the long-drawn out abyss that is House of M. DC is somewhat better, though they have far too many books promising tie-ins to Villains United or some other mini-series but failing to deliver. Still, the quality level on the writing is still high for the most part and so long as Gail Simone and Geoff Johns continue to write their respective titles, I’ll still have the occasional DC title gracing my hand.

More and more, I find myself reading more independent works. The gamer in me continues to revel in Dork Tower and Knights of the Dinner Table, as well as the new Dr. Blink: Superhero Shrink. Hellblazer, Lucifer, Fables and any Sandman-based Vertigo title are also sure to be snatched up. Ex Machina continues to be the best book published today, because of Brian Vaughan’s writing and Tony Harris’s pencils. And I continue to pick up Conan and Red Sonja; devout Robert E. Howard fan that I am.

On a side note, I recommend that all fans of the fantasy comics head down to your local bookstore and pick up a copy of “The Coming of Conan”. All of the original Howard Conan stories, uncut and unabridged with no rewrites or additions as often happened in some of the reprints of his work.

And of course; my favorite web comics continue to give me a little amusement a few times a week. I may not be able to pick up a book every week now, but I can always click a bookmark. I’ve sung the praises of all these titles before, but because I need to do this every once in a while for the new readers who don’t check the archives, here’s links to every web-based comic I think is worth reading.

Something Positive
Midnight Macabre
New Gold Dreams
Queen of Wands
8-Bit Theater
Penny Arcade
The Order Of The Stick
Punks and Nerds
Nice Hair

And finally, I’d like to do a very special recommendation for Halloween-Man. Long published as an independent title through a number of smaller companies (most recently through Across the Pond), Halloweenman. With grotesque, monstrous heroes and even more disturbing villains, this title is a screaming love-letter to the good ol’ days of Lee and Kirby. There’s a little something for everyone; humor, monsters, superheroes, romance. The whole gamut of the human condition, in other words. And, for those who care about such things, a whole lot of social commentary that is hidden behind damned engaging action stories.

I’ve been a fan ever since I met writer and creator Drew Edwards at a Con a while back. And I think you’ll all be fans too if you give it a shot. You can see a few sample comics at and order more from the on-line store. I highly recommend the latest ash-can: Raw Meat. It is worth picking up, if only for the story involving the elemental spirit of Fandom. It must be read to be believed.

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Looking To The Stars: The Words Of Doom - A Review of The Fantastic Four Movie

Good day to you all, if indeed it can ever be considered “good” when you do not live under the watchful eye of Doom! Yes readers; it is I! Victor Von Doom. Here to deliver a special address.

No doubt some of you are wondering what happened to the “Looking to the Stars” column that usually runs upon Mondays in this digital periodical. Though most might wonder why you could think of anything else when one could read the writings of Doom, I will answer this query. For it amuses Doom to do so!

You see, the American who usually has his “writings” published in this magazine is currently busy with his studies for a Masters Degree. While Doom would normally commend the attempt of anyone to better themselves, Doom must scorn his seeking enlightenment from a University…particularly, an American University. The American Collegiate system is full of small, petty minds devoted to stifling individual achievement. T’would be better to find enlightenment on one’s own terms, as Doom did! But Doom digresses.

Many of you also are no doubt wondering why Doom would consent (some might say descend) to having his words of wisdom published in such a piece of “low literature”. A fair question; easily answered. Doom’s thoughts are high and heavy ones, but on occasion Doom sees fit to try and educate the great masses of the Earth in the hopes that general intelligence may gradually rise within the populace.

Of course it would be much faster for Doom to construct a device to instantly increase the intelligence of every human on Earth. But Doom knows well that the sudden shock of such enlightenment would prove far too disturbing for many of your feeble minds to handle. For now Doom must content himself with a slower, more gradual method of informing the world of Doom’s thoughts, bringing about slow changes until more are ready to embrace the changes that Doom has to offer.

With that said, we come to the purpose of Doom’s missive this day; the new “Fantastic Four” movie. To be exact, Doom wishes to discuss Doom’s portrayal in it!

Now, it should surprise no follower of Doom’s exploits that Doom felt this film was destined for failure as surely as if it were one of the accursed Reed Richard’s experiments! With the notorious short attention span of the American public coupled with the anti-Latverian slant of the American media, there seemed little doubt that this film would fail in capturing the awesome splendor that is Doom. Still, having obtained a preview screening of the film through bargains with demonic powers bearing names best not spoken by knowlessmen, Doom can say that even he was shocked at how badly the mark was missed. I give you then the following points.

1. The Origin Story

In the film, Doom is portrayed as a successful businessman whom the incompetent and desperately poor Reed Richards is forced to beg for help in order to test his theories. What few hopes Doom had were dashed within these first five minutes. For while it amused Doom greatly to think of Richards begging him for work… even as Doom reminisced of the many times Richards had begged for his life at Doom’s hands… the idea that Doom would ever consent to work with Richards, even with Richards as an underling… absurd!

To say nothing of Doom limiting himself as the head of a corporation and not striving to become the world leader it is Doom’s destiny to be! And the accident which granted Richards and his family their powers occurs upon Doom’s space station. Preposterous! Any space station of Doom’s design would have adequate shielding to protect against any form of theoretical radiation- unlike certain other scientists Doom could mention. And while a token mention is made of Doom’s glorious homeland of Latveria, the actor portraying Doom does not possess even the slightest hint of an accent. He also possessed a high, reedy voice… not the booming baritone that has made Doom famous as a public speaker!

2. The Power of Doom

Rather than being a self-made man of science and sorcery in this film, Doom acquires super-human powers through exposure to radiation. While Doom might have found this somewhat acceptable were the powers used as a substitute for Doom’s magical might – Doom understanding well the superstitious nature of Americans when confronted with magic and how many of your “educated” spiritual leaders go aflutter at the mention of a certain bespectacled teenager with a lighting-bolt scar – there is no mention made at all of Doom’s prowess as an inventor, master of robotics and creator of brilliant weaponry. Indeed, the film Doom is content to use simple heat-seeking missiles and liquid hydrogen pumps rather than, say, fitting the entire Baxter building with rockets and blasting it into the sun! And do not get Doom started upon the decision to portray Doom with metallic skin rather than his skillfully-created armor. Doom already has special plans for Warren Ellis, who fumbled up that “inspired” retelling.

3. The Love of Doom

There is a sub-plot to this film where the film Doom is romantically interested in Susan Storm. This is nearly as big a flight of fancy as Susan Storm being portrayed as a brilliant genetic engineer in Doom’s employ and not the glorified hausfrau of limited intelligence she truly is. Honestly, what woman possessing any degree of intelligence would stand by the foolish Richards? Doom would be a more stable father and a better provider. And those of you who thought just now of how Richards’ ability to stretch his body might hold the key to explaining why his marriage has lasted so long… be thankful Doom has yet to find time to finish building the device that can deliver electric shocks to the dirty-minded telepathically.

Remarkably, they did get the “Fantastic Four” themselves correct. Grimm is well portrayed as a simple common man, thrown to the winds by Richards’ incompetence. Jonathan’s character is very well acted, being shown off for the short-sighted and weak-willed hedonist that he is. Richards is portrayed as a helpless, hapless pretender, entirely dependent upon his team for protection. And as for Susan Storm…Doom finds that those who protest Jessica Alba’s portraying Susan Storm on the grounds of a Hispanic actress playing a decidedly Anglo-Saxon female are missing the bigger picture. There are many other non-racial reasons why Jessica Alba should not play the role of Susan Storm or indeed ANY role that does not require wild pelvic gyrations to loud music.

In short, this “Fantastic Four” film is unsurprisingly inept in capturing the truth and essence behind the glory that is Doom! Still, it would serve as a harmless diversion for two hours entertainment far better than this new “War of the Worlds” film. And to think I had once pondered bringing Steven Spielberg to Latveria in order to film a TRUE film about the life of Doom!

Alas, now I shall have to rebuild my time platform and procure Stanley Kubrick in order to obtain a suitable visionary to capture the essence of all that is Doom. In fact, I shall depart to do so this very moment! Fare well, people of the world. Know that the iron fist of Doom shall soon protect you all!

All the preceding thoughts were those of Dr. Victor Von Doom and to not necessarily reflect those of the staff of Comics Nexus. They especially do not reflect the opinions of “Starman” Matt Morrison, who rather liked the Fantastic Four movie and thought Jessica Alba did a good job.