Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bryant Has Issues #54

Just a trio of titles to look at this week, but they're solid ones, beginning with:
Don't stare at that cover for too long; it might freak you out.
One thing the above image is missing is a price.  Now, I may as well level with you, kids: that image came from a torrent.  Yes, I torrented Saga #23.  Guess what?  It was only so I didn't have to scan the entire issue.  Scanning an entire issue of a comic takes way longer than it seems like it should, and I have only so much patience for things of that nature.  So, yeah, sometimes I take the easy way out.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bryant Has Issues #53

Bryant here, back again with another look at some comics I couldn't squeeze into the previous post.
It's a simple two-fer this week, beginning with:
That cover is by Eric Powell, who is also the writer of this particular series.  He's credited as the writer, and also has a co-story credit alongside (and behind) John Carpenter himself.  Your guess is as good as mine as to how much involvement Carpenter has here; my guess is that he's occasionally speaking to his agent, who checks the bank statements to make sure the payments from Boom! are being deposited on time.  Apart from that, my guess is that Carpenter's involvement is nil.
But what do I know?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Under the Dome 2.13: "Go Now"

Another season of Under the Dome has come and gone, and if you thought the second couldn't possibly be worse than the first, then you, sir, are a rank optimist.
stolen from:
Not only was the second season worse, it was worse by a considerable margin.  There were times this summer, over the course of these thirteen episodes, when the series showed glimmers of potential; but that potential was, by the end of tonight's episode, so utterly squandered that thinking about the amount of time I spent watching -- and then blogging about -- this second season makes me feel more than a bit embarrassed.  All told, we're looking at thirteen hours for the initial watches, and then close to another thirteen rewatching the episodes (I missed out on rewatching a few of them), plus -- let's be extremely conservative -- another thirteen or so writing the posts.

That's a minimum of thirty-six hours.  A day and a half of my life, gone; never to return, just . . . gone.
And, in and of itself, that's fine.  I'm devoted to the concept of being a Stephen King fan, and also of being a sort of amateur chronicler of the boundaries of that fandom.  So in that sense, it isn't wasted time.
It sure does feel like wasted time, though.
I don't have the heart to spend much more of it tonight, either; if I let myself do it, I could spend the next six hours enumerating the ways in which this specific episode assaulted me with its stupidity.  Illogical, ridiculous, ham-fisted dreck; nothing worthwhile happened the entire episode, apart from what could feasibly be said to be a few good moments of acting from Dean Norris.
The show's ratings declined during its second year, but unfortunately, they didn't decline enough to actually put the series in danger of being canceled.  I'm sure we'll all be back for a third year of the same old bullshit in 2015, and the idea just kind of makes my shoulders slump a bit.  I'm committed to my Stephen King fandom, and that is because it generally rewards me.  This "adaptation" of Under the Dome is dispiriting, though.  It depresses me a bit to think that there are millions of people potentially watching this and walking away from it thinking that it is actually indicative of Stephen King's work.  I recently reread Needful Things (about which I hope to have some posts in the near future), and while that is generally considered to be a somewhat weak King novel, it is, in terms of its quality, SO superior to the television version of Under the Dome that comparison seems ridiculous.  The one is competent and engaging storytelling at its worst; the other is mildly engaging shlock at its best.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Review of Marvel's "The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three -- The Prisoner" #2 (aka Bryant Has Issues #52)

It's only been two short weeks since we returned to the universe of Marvel's Dark Tower series, but thanks to some good, old-fashioned Marvel-style double-shipping, we're already getting The Drawing of the Three: The Prisoner #2.

I enjoyed the first issue of this new series quite a lot, and while I enjoyed the second one as well, I have some serious reservations about it.  We'll get to those in a bit, but first, I feel the need to point out something which I've mentioned before in Bryant Has Issues: that cover.  Damn that cover!

It's a good cover; the art by Julian Totino Tedesco is excellent.  Thing is, at no point during this comic do Eddie and Henry encounter a taheen.  So, in that sense, the cover is a complete lie.  This is nothing new; comic have been doing that for years.  The end result is often a good piece of standalone art, which theoretically means that I'm okay with it.  Still . . . dagnabbit, fellers: couldn't you create a good piece of art that actually had something to do with the content of the comic?!?

No point in worrying about it overmuch, though, as it's an aspect of the comics industry which is unlikely to ever go away.

Instead, let's dive in to the issue itself and pick it apart.  Spoilers ahead; clear out now if that is a problem for you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Haven 5.01: "See No Evil"

The new season of Haven began last Thursday night, and while the idea of reviewing the episodes weekly appeals to me, I'm not sure I can actually pull it off.  See, the thing is this: I work every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, which means that bloggin' time is at a minimum for me during the few days after the episodes are premiering.  I didn't even find time to watch the season-opener until early Tuesday morning.
What I'm getting at is that blogging about Haven, in terms of the way the schedule falls, is not conducive to me not feeling as if it's something hanging over my head rather than something enjoyable to which to look forward.
So, will there be weekly reviews?  Ehhh . . . don't know for sure yet, but I'm leaning toward no.
A few words about the season premiere seemed in order, though, so here they come in the form of screencaps with random thoughts attached to them:
This is Molly Dunsworth, who plays Vickie, the coroner's intern.  She's been in a few episodes of the series, and I'll be honest with you (as almost always): I'd never have known this if not for IMDb.  But I'll also say this: she's a good actress, and she's the daughter of John "Dave Teagues" Dunsworth, and she seems as if she ought to have a solid career in front of her.
The episode opens with Vickie and Gloria (the coroner, played by the redoubtable Jayne Eastwood) sitting in a gazebo, while the latter tries to comfort the baby she was left by the events of the previous season.  Before long, the lighthouse collapses in a fairly good use of television CGI.  The various characters who were present in the lighthouse at the end of last season find themselves mysteriously dispersed: Dwight and Duke on rocks near the shore, Vince and Dave in the woods, Nathan and Audrey Mara in a different spot in the woods, and Jennifer . . . well, Jennifer is nowhere to be found.  More on that in a bit.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Under the Dome 2.12: "Turn"

Luik . . . I cannae lie to yeh, laddie; ahm no gonnae be in a pairfect pasition tae revue thahs wake's aipisode o Onder the Dohm.  I dozed mah way thru a greht choonk oov it, ya ken?
Oops.  Sorry about that.  I watched two episode of Outlander today, as well as one Doctor Who (with the very Scottish Peter Capaldi as The Doctor), so about half of my thoughts since have been thought in a mental Scottish accent.  Whether that's more of a Groundskeeper Willie or a Sean Connery I leave to your imagination.  (Spoiler: it's neither.  It's Begbie from Trainspotting, ya doss cunt!)  
[Is that the first c-bomb in this blog's history?  I suspect so; I've got no aversion to being a potty-mouth, but I know that particular swear is a bridge too far for a lot of people.  I'm paraphrasing Begbie, though, so I figure it's permissible.  
Quick side note about the word "cunt": my mom would not let my dad take me to see Predator when it came out in 1987, so my dad bought me a copy of the novelization instead.  It contained many utterances of the word "cunt," which I had never seen.  I thought it was a Spanish word, and decided to ask one of my parents what it meant.  Happily for all concerned, some voice in the back of my mind spoke up and said, "DO NOT DO THAT!!!" in time to prevent me from following through on the question.]
Anyways, we're not here to talk about Begbie, or about any other Scottish concern; unless they are huge Under the Dome fans in the highlands.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Under the Dome 2.11: "Black Ice"

Pop quiz time, kids:
"Black Ice," the eleventh episode of the second season of Under the Dome, is: 
(A)  A pretty good episode of the series
(B)  An average episode of the series
(C)  An even-worse-than-normal episode of the series
(D)  All of above
(E)  None of the above
Don't look to me for guidance; I honestly don't know how to answer the question.  If you put a gun to my head and demanded that I answer, and answer truthfully, I'd probably end up bidding adieu to life.  This scenario hinges on you having a Lying Cat like in Saga, the excellent comic book from Dome alumnus Brian K. Vaughan.
I don't know that I could accurately answer the question for myself, which means that I'd probably be toast.
Anyways, what sort of weirdo goes around executing people based on whether they know what to make of "Black Ice" or not?  You've got issues, pal.
So do I.  And right at this very moment, the foremost among them is that I just don't have anything cogent to say about this episode.  It's debatable as to whether I ever have anything cogent to say about Under the Dome, but it's a damn certainty that I haven't this week.
With that in mind, we are going to simply do this: I'm gonna rewatch the episode, screencap whatever I feel like screencapping, and talk about whatever crosses my mind.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Bryant Has Issues #51

It's only been a couple of days since we last did this, but I had some stuff I couldn't fit into the last post; so here ya, go, leftovers!
Let's take a sideways step from the wide world of Stephen King into the somewhat less-wide (but steadily growing) world of Joe Hill, where we've got three hardbacks I want to mention.  The first is:
This lovely 136-page book serves as a showcase for the covers created for the series by artist Gabriel Rodriguez.  There are covers, variant covers, pencil sketches, ink sketches, and so forth.  
I suspect that most Locke & Key fans would probably be interested in this.  To sweeten the deal ever so slightly, Joe Hill has provided a two-page introduction.  And a good one it is, too; it reminds me more than a bit of some of the better introductions Hill's father Steve King has written, and if you ever needed a forceful reminder that Joe is his father's son, then this intro ought to do the trick.  More than that, though, it is a lovely reminder of what a comic artist's work must sometimes mean to the writer.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Review of Marvel's "The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three -- The Prisoner" #1 (aka Bryant Has Issues #50)

It always feels special when Bryant Has Issues gets to actually cover something by or adapted from Stephen King, and so it is today, which brings the resumption (see what I did there?) of Marvel Comics' Dark Tower adaptation, the first issue in their take on The Drawing of the Three.
This cover art by Julian Totino Tedesco is terrific, and the preview images I've seen of his covers for the next three issues are great, too.  It's very strong work, especially given how lackadaisical Marvel's attitude toward Dark Tower covers has been for the past few years.
There is a lot to discuss here, and I'll start by issuing a spoiler warning.  Not necessarily one which applies only to the comics, either.  My typical approach to these comic-book reviews is to be a bit on the spoiler-phobic side and speak only in generalities.  My rationale for that is that since comics are so much more a specialty item, fewer people will have taken the opportunity to read them, as opposed to reading the novels or seeing the movie.  It's beginning to feel to me as if that approach is a failure, though, so I'm not going to continue it; if you want to avoid spoilers, you're on your own recognizance.
So in this review, I'm going to talk about the issue in its entirety, and that is almost certain to lead me down avenues where I'll going to talk about the novel specifically and the Dark Tower series generally.  So, be forewarned: if you've not read the series, you'll be spoiled by reading this post.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Movie Review: "Graveyard Shift" (1990)

Before we even get going, let me establish one thing: Graveyard Shift is not a good movie.  When last I ranked all of the King-based films, it came in at #54 out of 83, behind The Lawnmower Man, Children of the Corn, and (why, Bryant?) Dolan's Cadillac but just ahead of Children of the Corn IV and the first two seasons of Haven.
Lists like that are highly subjective, of course, and I find when I make them that they depend as much upon my mood of the moment as they do upon any idea of critical objectivity I might be nursing.  And in fact, it probably outweighs that critical objectivity more often than not.
Here's what I had to say about the movie at that time, a bit less than a year ago:
I kinda love it.  It's a terrible movie, but for whatever reason, I have an affection for it.  So sue me.
Some of the acting is ludicrously bad, but I like Stephen Macht as the villain, and I thoroughly like Brad Dourif in his small role.  He plays an exterminator who takes his job so seriously that you get the feeling he would be better off in a lineup of other dudes who are applying for a job with Darth Vader to locate and detain the Millennium Falcon.  Dude: chill; they're just rats. 
So, do I stand by those words now?
Yeah, sort of.  Especially the last two sentences.  Here's the thing, Graveyard Shift IS a bad movie, but despite that, I've got some affection for it.  I cannot explain why that is.  I didn't see it until I was an adult, so there's no nostalgia factor at play.  The best I can figure is that it . . .
Sorry, I've got nothing.  I just typed the first part of that sentence, assuming the sentence's resolution would present itself to me (that's how these things usually work), but then I sat there just staring at the screen for what must have been a solid sixty seconds.  End result: I've got nothing.
So let's dive into the actual review and see if I can figure it out along the way.
The first idea that presents itself is that the screenplay by John Esposito, while being sloppy and illogical, is at least somewhat faithful to the short story.  I'm judging the screenplay in terms of how it is represented in the final product, of course; I've not read it in isolation from the film.  So, to be fair, I am making assumptions about it.  For all I know, it may be a masterpiece that was ruined by the production.  Somehow I doubt it.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Sudden Premonition of a Strange Thing Coming: A Review of "Graveyard Shift"

This blogging stuff is, among other things, a self-reflexive process of discovery.  As such, it stands to reason that I would occasionally be surprised by how I react to things when I put them under the (somewhat) cold and analytical microscope of these reviews.
Such is the case today, because if you'd asked me if "Graveyard Shift" was a great story prior to me rereading it for the purposes of this review, I'd have said it was.  In the process of analyzing it, though, I have concluded that it is instead a rather seriously flawed story, albeit one with some memorable moments.  So: good, yes; great, no.  Not in my opinion.
The story first appeared in the October 1970 issue of Cavalier, beginning a decade-long association with that skin mag for budding young author Stephen King.  It was also his first post-graduation professional sale, and in some ways it marks the beginning of King's career as an authentic pro writer.  I, of course, do not have a copy of this original magazine appearance, as it goes for about $125 on the secondhand market; so I'm reviewing the story as it appeared in 1978's Night Shift.  As always, wealthy readers of this blog -- who almost certainly do not exist -- are encouraged to purchase a copy for me and send it my way.  Their reward: my immense gratitude, plus an autographed copy of this blog post that I shall print out, sign, and mail to them.  It will never be worth anything; in fact, when things that are lame become negatively valued after the New World Order takes over, you might have to pay some sort of tax to hang onto it.

So maybe we'll just settle for my immense gratitude.  (I might be able to hook you up with a genuine theatre-quality movie poster from some upcoming movie you fancy, but we'd have to keep that on the down-low.  But things can be arranged, is what I'm sayin' to you...)

Moving on:

This image comes from the August 1974 issue of Cavalier, which included "Night Surf" and a self-interview by King, as well as thumbnail images from some of his previous stories for the magazine.

Running a bit less than twenty pages, "Graveyard Shift" is a relatively simple tale that focuses primarily on the conflict between a mill-worker and his foreman.  The mill is infested with rats, and the lower you descend into its sub-levels, the bigger the rats get.  That's essentially all the setup you need.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Under the Dome 2.10: "The Fall"

I was strongly tempted to have this week's Under the Dome review consist of a single sentence:
Fuck this show.
But, no, let's power through it and see if we can find something a bit more illustrative than that to say.  We'll begin by acknowledging something: I sent in some comments to the podcast Under The Dome Radio last week, comments which more or less echoed the sentiments I expressed in my review post about how I thought that "The Red Door" might have been the best episode of the series and how it might point the way toward a new sophistication for the series.  And so forth.
Listening to their discussion about my comments, I got the feeling that Wayne and Troy sort of felt I was off my rocker.  And they might not be too off-base there.  I stand by what I said about "The Red Door," but I would have to say that "The Fall" refutes -- or, at the very least, delays -- the idea of Under the Dome developing any sort of newly-sophisticated feel.
"The Fall" was a lousy episode through and through, one which will almost certainly -- albeit without your knowledge -- reward those of you who decided to stop watching after the end of the first season.  Your lack of faith has been rewarded.  Darth Vader does not find it the least bit disturbing; he gives you a thumbs-up and, in a beautifully basso-profundo voice, tells you that you have chosen well.
Me?  Not so much.  I am rewarded for my several-weeks' growing interest with a runny turd of an hour of television that not only fails to work on its own merits, but also seemingly closes the series off from some of the promising developments we'd seen in recent episodes.
Anyways, I just can't bear to put much more thought into this, so let's go into screencaps-with-commentary mode:
Were you intrigued by the final scene of last week's episode, in which Big Jim sees Pauline?  Me too.  Know ye, then, that this week's episode tries to do something with that idea, but mostly fails at it.  Even Dean Norris isn't very good; he mostly just makes Jim-face a lot and then goes off to do other things.