I hadn't actually intended to put out a comics column this week, since my pull list included a mere two titles (neither Stephen King related), but I've found in the past that if I let these things go a week or two, then when I finally get around to catching up they seem damn near unmanageable. So, a new resolution: to blog about my new comics every single week, regardless of the content.
And to think, I once envisioned this as a monthly column. Hah!
However, I had a genius idea today: combine "Bryant Has Issues" with "News From the Kingdom" (my King-news column) and just get it posted! Yes, dear readers, THAT is what passes for genius in the Burnette household.
Let's start with the news, so that those of you who don't give a tin shit about my comics can bail out way before we get to that point. Leading off, here are some brand-spankin'-new photos of Carrie and Margaret White from the new version of Carrie:
Looks pretty nifty to me, folks.
In less cheery movie news, Variety reported earlier this week that Warner Bros. had officially passed on Ron Howard's ambitious Dark Tower series. This is a real shame, given that it seemed likely the television component of Howard's epic would have landed on the Warner-owned HBO.
Ah, but hope remains, it seems! Soon after the news of Warner passing on the project broke, Deadline reported on the possibility of Media Rights Capital -- which has had a massive worldwide smash hit this summer in Seth MacFarlane's Ted -- stepping in to finance the project. Word is that one of MRC's major players is a big fan of the novels, and is also eager to use an ambitious franchise like this one could potentially be to leapfrog into the next level of playerdom in Hollywood.
So for now, at least one beam on this Tower still stands. What's clear is that if the project ever manages to make it to screens, there will be plenty of material to make an excellent behind-the-scenes documentary about how much effort it took just to get a greenlight.
Tim Burton's new movie, Frankenweenie, comes out in October, and it looks like a hoot. The original short film from the mid-eighties is fun, but modest; this new animated version looks as if it might be a perfected version of the story.
Time will tell, but the reason this is of interest to Stephen King fans is that the soundtrack will include, among other things, a cover version of the Ramones song "Pet Sematary." The cover version will be by Plain White T's, who I have heard of but am not familiar with. A quick visit to YouTube gives me no particular reason to change that, sadly.
My assumption is that they won't do even close to as great a job as the Ramones did, but hey, I've been wrong about such things before.
Know who this guy is?
That's Richard Bachman.
No, silly, not Richard Bachman, author of The Long Walk; he's dead. Nope, that is Dallas Stars goaltender Richard Bachman.
This Richard Bachman has apparently custom-designed a mask for next season that has images from The Shining on it!
That's almost enough to make me a hockey fan, there.
Now, for a bit of King family news. Owen King's novel Double Feature (his first) comes out next March, and it now has a cover:
Simon and Schuster has a plot description on the book's pre-order page, but I'll save you the trouble of visiting:
Filmmaker Sam Dolan has a difficult relationship with his father, B-movie actor Booth Dolan—a boisterous, opinionated, lying lothario whose screen legacy falls somewhere between cult hero and pathetic. Allie, Sam’s dearly departed mother, was a woman whose only fault, in Sam’s eyes, was her eternal affection for his father. Also included in the cast of indelible characters: a precocious, frequently violent half-sister; a conspiracy-theorist second wife; an Internet-famous roommate; a family friend and contractor who can’t stop expanding his house; a happy-go-lucky college girlfriend and her husband, a retired Yankees catcher; the morose producer of a true crime show; and a slouching indie film legend. Not to mention a tragic sex monster.
Sounds pretty cool to me. Owen King is a literate, witty writer, and I'm looking forward to seeing how he fares at novel-length.
Final bit of news (which is only news to me): did you know Robert McCammon's website has a page where you can go to read twelve of his still-uncollected short stories (plus other goodies)?
Well, it does, and here it is.
McCammon is a great writer, and if you aren't familiar with his work, this would probably be a good (and inexpensive) way to start. Two of those stories are Stoker Award winners, so it seems likely that they are well worth your time.
Thanks to Hunter, McCammon's webmaster, for bringing this to my attention!
Go check 'em out!
Moving along, let's have a brief look at this week's comics.
I am really up my own ass when it comes to these Before Watchmen comics. Evey week it seems as though when I review one, I just can't help but note that I'm conflicted about them and how I kinda enjoy them but kinda hate them too, and I don't really seem to be saying anything new on the subject; I'm just wanking about it.
To be fair, it's hard not to. A reader sent me a link to this excellent piece by Robert Loss, wherein he does a more eloquent job than I am capable of in terms of expressing the reasons why Before Watchmen is a bad thing. Agree or disagree with what he's saying, but it's a solid piece, and well worth checking out if you have any interest in these comics, or in Watchmen itself, or in the notion of comics creators getting butt-fucked by the big companies. It's a lamentable trend; not a new one, and not one that seems in danger of going away.
I couldn't help but have thoughts like that in mind while I was reading the first issue of "Dr. Manhattan." Of all the Before Watchmen titles, this was the one that seemed like it was most fraught with peril in terms of how badly it could fail. Having J. Michael Straczynski onboard either helps or hurts, depending on your feelings about him, but he was a good choice in terms of being a somewhat philosophically-focused writer.
The end result? Let me get back to you on that. Based on a single issue, I simple can't tell. What I'll say is that Straczynski has a solid handle on how to write Doc's dialogue, and he also hints at a few interesting directions the story could go. Whether it actually goes there or not is another matter; the ending of this issue, which I won't reveal, hints that it just might.
On the whole, though, I was frustrated by the issue. It, like several other issues of Before Watchmen have done, revisits scenes from Watchmen; here, entire chunks of dialogue are seemingly replicated. If it is a slap at Alan Moore to have done Before Watchmen at all, then lifting whole bits of his dialogue uncredited is a kick to the crotch; it's borderline unforgivable. That said, Straczynski weaves in and out of these sections fairly well, and matches Moore's tone and dialogue more capably than I might have expected. Adam Hughes' art is also good, though it lacks the seemingly-simple elegance of Dave Gibbons' original work.
The problem, though, is that - so far, at least -- Before Watchmen lacks the weight of Watchmen. Watchmen is great (and important) because it is a summation as much as it is a story; it is, in fact, a series of summations, on comics, and on superheroes, and on eighties politics and atomic fears and gang fears and the fear of violent crime and racism. It is a work that genuinely matters, because it is not empty; it is purposeful, and the talent of Moore and Gibbons was sufficient to meet that purpose.
Thus far, Before Watchmen is not even shooting for those heights, possibly because it was a foregone conclusion that it couldn't reach them. This is okay in theory, and in the issues that have settled merely for trying to be exceptionally entertaining -- The Minutemen and Silk Spectre -- it has worked; but it leaves me wondering what, exactly, the point of it all is.
I don't have an answer so far, and I'm not sure anyone who is actually associated with the books does, either.
The people behind Spike: A Dark Place #1, on the other hand, seem to have understood precisely what the point was in creating a Buffy spinoff in which a vampire and a spaceship full of human-size sentient bugs go and live on the dark side of the moon: fun, fun, fun. And the first issue is a rousing success on that score.
First off, it's a cool-as-hell idea to have a vampire go and live on the dark side of the moon, where sunlight never shines. How is it possible nobody ever thought of that prior to 2012? It's almost like somebody was listening to Pink Floyd one day and said, "!!!!!" to themselves, and the next thing you know, that's where Spike lives. If so, then what a lovely moment that must have been; either way, Pink Floyd is indeed references, as you'd expect.
The story involves Spike going to the moon to mope over his failed relationship with Buffy. His crew of bug-people, who are cool, decide to cheer him up, and this leads somehow to the ship being attacked by a giant moon toad. And then more things happen, including a climactic plot development that threatens to turn this into an outright space opera. That'll be weird territory for a Buffy spinoff, but I have to say, I'll be totally okay with it.
I was very skeptical of this issue, and in fact did not plan to buy it at first. But I figured that if I'm going to continue to feed by Buffy fandom by buying these Whedon-produced spinoff comics, I'd be a fool to only collect some of them. This is one of those buy-all-or-buy-none situations.
Happily, in this instance, the result has been a good one.
And that's it for the giant-size crossover!