I’ve discovered that I’m much less productive on a) days when I miss my morning work-out, b) following a sleepless night spent cleaning up after a nauseous French bulldog, c) when I’m distracted by chores such as laundry, taking my dog to the vet, and planting those herb plants my wife bought for me that have been sitting behind the kitchen sink for almost a week, and d)after eating an enormous bowl of Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Tracks and Haagen Daz’s Dulce de Leche ice cream. So suffice it to say today was most unproductive.
From a writing standpoint anyway. I did get the laundry done, plant those herb plants, drop off Lulu at the vet (They suspect kennel cough which may or may not explain her inability to keep anything down but want to keep her overnight for observation.), and babysat Brie (the other, tinier French bulldog) for the day.
And did some reading. As I work my way through the vast multitude of comic book titles out there, dropping the many that fail to capture my interest, continuing with the few that do, I’m noticing a bit of a trend. Of the 19 books that have interested me enough to pick up subsequent issues, 14 are Marvel, 4 are DC, and 1 is Other. After today, make that Marvel 17, DC 4, and Other 2.
Dark Avengers #1-4 – Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Art: Mike Deodato
I’ve always been a big fan of villains (my office décor is “supervillain chic”), so I suppose it shouldn’t be all that surprising how much I’m enjoying Dark Avengers. Former Spiderman nemesis Norman Osborn, riding a vast wave of public support following the events of the Skrull Invasion, has disbanded S.H.I.E.L.D. (the Marvel Universe’s long-standing international intelligence agency once headed by Nick Fury) and replaced it with his own organization, H.A.M.M.E.R. In addition, he has refashioned The Avengers, filling the team roster with killers and kooks and appointing himself leader (after appropriating one of Tony Stark’s Iron Man suits and becoming The Iron Patriot). Of course, mercenaries and lunatics do not make the best of heroes, to say nothing of dependable teammates, so a lot of the fun in Dark Avengers comes from the personality clashes and various fish out of water scenarios as these self-serving sorts attempt to, at the very least, put on a good public show. Their trial by fire first op felt more a convenient canvas upon which Bendis paints some deeply rich and textured characters (always his forte). Sure, I suppose the action is important to the average comic book fan but, for me, the success of this title rests entirely in Bendis’s ability to expertly juggle his players. I’m hooked.
Daredevil #116-118 – Writer: Ed Brubaker, Penciler: David Aja (#116), Michael Lark & Stefano Guadiano (#117), Michael Lark, John Lucas, & Stefano Guadiano (#118)
If one were looking for comparable heroes in the DC/Marvel universes, one would be hard-pressed to find two more like comic book icons than Batman and Daredevil. Both are, at their core, regular human beings who have made the most of the bad hand life has dealt them, relying on their brains and physical prowess to give them the edge in their ongoing battle against the city’s criminal elements. And, unlike the rogues gallery of other heroes, Batman and Daredevil’s foes tend not to be super powered but, like them, extraordinary individuals. Gotham and Hell’s Kitchen are as dark and brooding as the heroes who protect them and thus the stories in both books tend toward the noir and the gritty. But whereas Batman’s multiple titles embrace the big event, crossing and criss-crossing storylines to test the patience of all but the hardiest of hardcore fans, Daredevil is a comparatively cleaner read, tenacious and tightly structured. Writer Ed Brubaker strikes an effective balance in his narrative, often sparing his prose in favor of allowing the art tell the story. In this latest adventure, long-time underworld figure The Kingpin is forced out of retirement and returns to the big city in search of revenge. His target: the mystical cabal of assassins known as The Hand. But a potential complication presents itself in the form of his old enemy Daredevil. Will the city’s protector stand in the way of The Kingpin’s retribution, or is this a case of “My enemy’s enemy is my friend”? The answer may surprise.
I’m enjoying this title so much that I’ve hit my local comic book stores in a bid to amass Brubaker’s Daredevil-run-to-date in collected form.
Frank Castle The Punisher #66-69 – Writer: Duane Swierczynski, Artist:Michael Lacombe
Of all the characters in the Marvel stable, The Punisher is, in my opinion, the easiest one to get wrong. All too often, writers fall in love with the vigilante persona, reveling in the over-the-top violence to such a degree that the character is transformed into a caricature, the stories silly and simple vignettes leeched of any real drama. But in this incarnation, writer Duane Swierczynski does right by The Punisher, weaving a D.O.A.-inspired tale that highlights a surprisingly sympathetic but still-scary-as-hell Frank Castle. Yes, it’s shocking, and, yes, it’s violent, but it never feels gratuitous, helping to tell the story rather than becoming it.
The Punisher is kidnapped. He awakens to learn he has been injected with a deadly toxin. In order to earn the antidote, he’ll have to kill someone. He doesn’t have a choice in the matter. Well, actually – and much to the horror of those who set it up – he does…
Irredeemable #1 – Writer: Mark Waid, Artist: Peter Krause
Well, whaddya know. I happen to mention Mark Waid in my last comic round-up and – lo and behold! – here he is again, this time as the writer of Irredeemable from publisher Boom Studios (where Waid presides as Editor-in-Chief). The author of Kingdom Come (one of my Top 5 graphic novels) is back at it, deconstructing superhero archetypes in compelling fashion. Square-jawed ultra-hero The Plutonian has gone darkside and his former teammates need to find out why before he comes after them. Twists and turns abound.
StevenG writes: “What kind of art style are you looking for for your pitch?”
Answer: It’ll be a verbal phone pitch covering the basic series premise and first (or first couple) of issues. No visuals necessary, but thanks anyway.
JJ writes: “I assume that SGU crew wouldn’t take a long break in the mid-production, because SG1 and SGA movie will may both start producing this fall, right?”
Answer: The production always takes a mid-season summer hiatus. It gives the cast and crew the chance to recharge, the writers to finish up some more scripts, and the Art and Construction departments to build some new sets.
Ultracurious writes: “1. In various episodes (Paradise Lost, for example) he has noticed the sounds of Elk calling in the background. Is this a happy accident of nature where the episode was shot, or added later to sound more ‘alien-y’?
2. Please, please, please! settle this argument once and for all. Why don’t the Goa’uld use Jaffa as hosts?”
Answers: 1. The background animal noises are added later in post-production. By the way, that wasn’t an elk your husband heard but a “space elk”. I can understand the confusion though.
2. Simply put, the Goa’uld don’t see the Jaffa that way. They are their warriors and incubators. That is their role.
Delynn writes: “In the episode “1969″ Teal’c says that if they don’t get back to the future and are forced to remain in the past, eventually his goa’uld will mature and take him as a host.”
Answer: Which was an improvisation on Chris’s part that really doesn’t jibe with the show mythology. But, oh well…
Jennie writes: “In the Atlantis movie, is there any chance for a romantic partner for Sheppard?”
Answer: Oh, sure, nothing is impossible.
Montrealer writes: “You got any Lobo items in your comic collectibles collection?”
Answer: Not a one. Not a fan.
Platschu writes: “1. Can you tell us the name of the 9th episode, if “Justice” became the 10th episode?
2. Can we expect other exotic shooting locations next to New Mexico in the second half of this season? Is it cheaper than building a set or make it in green screen?
3. Will any Atlantis actor make a cameo in SG:U? I will accept a simple yes or no, so if you want to keep the information as a surprise, than don’t say the name of the actor!
4. Do MGM and the writers plan to make a second Atlantis and fourth SG-1 movie next year after the shooting of the second season of SG:U at autumn-winter, or do you have to DVD sales number of the second wave?
5. Have you seen the recut version of Children of the gods? Will it be released really as a three disc set? Can you tell us when?
6. Which actor or actess has surprised you with his or her acting skill after the audition? Has ever happened that a shooted scene became even better as you imagined it on script?
7. You mentioned the SG:U team won’t be international. Was this creative decision influenced by Atlantis, or do the writers support character moments in SG:U rather than different nationalities? Will SG:U deal with different religions, environment protection, not sexual or ethnic minorities or other actual problems?
8. Is it true that SyFy and MGM have ordered season 2 too? There were rumors on the net about it and it would calm down every fan that SG:U is in no danger.
9. How do you expect to reach bigger rating, if the nuber of DVR is still growing? I mean you can make the best SG series ever, but I fear significantly more viewer won’t pay and watch SyFy only for SG:U.
10. Do you miss the “Budapest” restaurant and Hungarian foods?”
Answers: 1. Sure. Life.
2. Traveling all the way to New Mexico to shoot is definitely NOT the cheaper option.
3. It’s possible.
4. It’s way too early to tell. As of now, we’re only concentrating on the two movies on deck.
5. I haven’t. I have no idea what the plans are for its release.
6. The entire cast has surprised us in one great way or another over the past few months.
7. They won’t be international because they weren’t intended to be part of any expedition. They’re the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time.
8. Nope. I don’t expect to hear about a season two pick-up until this winter.
9. Nielsen ratings are down across the board, but that doesn’t mean networks should stop broadcasting shows. It’s simple become necessary to take other factors (like DVR) into consideration when judging a show’s performance.
10. I do but the owners have apparently opened up a new European restaurant close to the studio. Haven’t tried it yet though.
Trekkiegirlt writes: “Arggg! Joe you’re going to practically be in my back yard! I live in Dallas and my family and I go to the White Sands every year and sled down the dunes!
I feel and powerful force pulling me towards the gate!
So how would fans who showed up be treated??? “
Answer: Considering the location is a good dozen miles from civilization in the middle of nowhere, they’d probably think you were nuts and run for their lives.
Major D. Davis writes: “Do you enjoy me commenting regularly at your blog or should i leave?”
Answer: Feel free to stick around. Trust me, I’ll let you know what gets annoying.
Ytimyona writes: “ Any chance we’ll get to see what gets left on the cutting room floor on this blog instead???”
Answer: It’s more than likely that MGM would put it up on their site.
Dankriss writes: “Only one comment why did the guys change the ‘old’ sets…”
Answer: We have a limited amount of stage space and it doesn’t make sense to pay rent on a stage holding a set we may or may not use.
I Need Coffee writes: “Now that both SGU and SGA are “off-air”, are there any plans to publish any of the scripts of the series?”
Answer: I’m unaware of any plans to do so. Sorry.