These things really happen.

*Walking out of King Kong. The whole family went. A wide variety of reactions. My younger sister was seeing it for the second time. My mother grudgingly admitted that it wasn't quite as horrible as The Fellowship of the Ring. And my dear great auntie, oh she liked it. Five stars! Ten out of ten! And then, driving away:

"So... who was the fellow in the gorilla suit?"

My hand is on my heart.

*Superb examination of Grant Morrison’s use of literary allusion in All Star Superman, now up at Jim Roeg’s, covering everything from the infamous Willy Wonka jacket to the characterization of the title character, including a lengthy examination of the Ray Bradbury story The Golden Apples of the Sun (not to mention the full text of the story itself!), which strides mightily across Morrison’s field of reference. Plus: bonus chat on New X-Men, and citation of a few among artist Frank Quitely’s fine art inspirations. There’s no excuse for not reading this - it’s thoughtful, genuinely enlightening work. (Found at Comics Should Be Good)

*Film Dept: As regular readers of this site know, I really enjoyed Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man. Actually, I’m fairly sure it’s going to wind up being the best thing I saw in a theater this year, although I’m at least going to try and fit Syriana in too before time runs out.

So naturally, I’m stoked about this, the teaser for Herzog’s newest film, Rescue Dawn, his first foray into non-documentary work since 2001's Invincible. It’s not too far removed though - the film is actually a dramatization of events chronicled in Herzog’s own documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly, from 1997. Christian Bale stars as Dieter, a POW in Vietnam for six months - the film presumably tracks his wartime experiences. Just seeing Herzog shooting jungle footage kind of inflates my hopes; too much history behind that. It’s not a great teaser, but I’m really looking forward to the film. If only Klaus Kinski were around for this...

Seven Soldiers - Bulleteer #2 (of 4)

Oh me oh my. I wonder what this issue might look like to somebody who isn’t fully immersed in this project - I take it they’d pick up on some semblance of a continuation of the ‘DIY superhero’ theme, with focus fairly well-thrown onto the less spectacular motivations driving those in the metahuman bush leagues. But man:

It’s one big picture. Look.”

I mean, it’s pretty tough for me not to see this issue as an admission on writer Grant Morrison’s part that this project is best taken as exactly that: a single project. I have no idea if it was planned this way from the very beginning and Morrison was simply toying with everyone via interview, or if he somehow managed to sense the emerging lack of modular self-sufficiency among the project’s titles mid-stream (mid-scripting? quick additions late in the process?); hey, maybe he really does think that this thing is working on a miniseries-specific structural level, but in that case I dare say this issue belies some sort of subconscious doubt on the writer’s part. It’s all about tying up threads in this one, searching through disparate strands of information to grasp that big picture. There’s ludicrous coincidences, but since the project has already revealed itself as madly self-aware, perhaps we’re only glimpsing a more tangible (though not the most tangible - that's in Zatanna #4) manifestation of the author’s (authors’?) hand(s).

For those of you perturbed that Mister Miracle didn’t serve up many megastory connections last time out, good god does this book seek to compensate you. I found myself spreading out my copies of Seven Soldiers #0 (which quite marvelously manages to take on additional meanings with each additionally informed reading), Klarion #3 and Shining Knight (all of ‘em) to cross-reference seemingly half the issue. And unlike with the fumbly Shining Knight/Zatanna intersections, this one goes down rather smooth (when someone mentions something being tucked away in a location featured in Klarion #3, you can search the backgrounds of that particular book and - yep - there it is). There’s only one jarring continuity boo-boo, relatively speaking - one of Boy Blue’s lines in Seven Soldiers #0 is missing a word (‘machine’ rather than ‘a machine’); aside from that, the gaffes are either totally inconsequential (by this time, the fact that Neh-Buh-Loh has a slightly different character design every time he appears in a new series is a fully-fledged character trait) or even plainly intentional - we’re quite clearly supposed to be scratching our heads over why Tom Dalt has been appearing in temporally impossible places. And more than any other issue thus far, this one informs our understanding of earlier events; I was particularly drawn to Tom’s Seven Soldiers #0 declaration of “I think I made a big mistake” after muttering about his brother - the line now very much may have a double meaning. Indeed, for those closely following the action, readers of this issue will realize that Morrison has pulled off quite a neat fake-out regarding what really went down at Miracle Mesa, playing with reader expectations as per the book’s timeline.

Hell, we even find out who the Seventh Soldier was, and not only is it perfectly fitting to the megastory, it slides right in with the milieu of career uncertainty this miniseries has been presenting. Even more pronounced in this particular series, however, is the presence of base human concerns afflicting the superhero-saturated landscape of the DCU. Last issue, you’ll recall, was suffused with lust, the lecherous gaze permanently fixed on the main character as an extension of one man’s unhealthy fixation. Now we’re confronted with a similarly familiar issue: racism. Naturally, in Morrison’s hands, bigotry (or the perception of such) takes on strange forms in a metahuman world, or at least becomes prone to curious misdirections. But ultimately it’s painfully human faults that suffer mutation in a more-than-human world; even though the title heroine largely sticks to the role of observer here (shades of Guardian #4), she’s tightly connected to the story through her doubt, and her desire to do something good with her situation in a less-than-glamorous slice of a world of magnificence.

So pronounced are these elements, and so infectious is Morrison’s sense of play, that this chapter handily overcomes its occasional flaw in presentation. I momentarily became confused as to the fairly tangled web of allegiances woven here, especially regarding a certain character at the chapel (oh yeah - did I mention there’s a great variation on the old ‘stop the wedding!’ climax?). When you think about it, the big plan at the prison really doesn’t require a costumed superhero at all, at least from what I can see. And maybe it’s just me, but I always feel a bit wary around plots that openly embrace wild coincidences (and there’s a whopper in this one) as an explicit element of their make-up; the whole thing always smacks of narrative cheating, even though I ought to reiterate that the project has set up such things for use a while ago, and has as good a claim to the technique as any - it’s just I’m not a huge fan of the technique itself.

Still, even then, there’s those great little details. Dynamite Dan having just finished hosing down his dog before his picture is taken. Alix having to remove her helmet before driving a car, because it’s too big and pointy to fit. The revisiting of the milkshake aside from Shining Knight issue #3, which highlights Agent Helligan’s purity of heart. Well, ok - you won’t get that detail at all if you haven’t read Shining Knight. But hey:

Uh... what milkshake?”

That Morrison. He’s rubbing our noses in it.