Weekend business ahead!

*New column up, featuring more thoughts on gaming and comics. I can still picture the special cubes of ice they had at that old roller skating place...

*Trailer up for the Robert Altman/P.T. Anderson/Garrison Keillor filmic extravaganza, A Prairie Home Companion. The average episode of the radio program is about 70% good, but I’ve still listened to it enough to recognize a bunch of little ‘bits’ as seen in this film. According to a few internet people who’ve already seen this, several scenes bear a pretty definite Anderson stamp, despite his understandable absence from the credits as seen in this trailer. Apparently the production design is quite resplendent. Maybe it’s the movie I’m most looking forward to at the moment, just to see what happens. I might want to see Inside Man this weekend, though - lots of really positive buzz surrounding that. I’ve pretty much decided not to see V for Vendetta - even the positive reviews indicate that I’m probably not going to like it.

I clearly recall one time walking into a gaming-heavy comics store, on what looked to me like a fairly hectic back-room dice rolling evening, and the radio in that place was blasting A Prairie Home Companion. I appreciated the dissonance. Maybe the news from Lake Wobegone gets folks pumped up?

Hawkgirl #50

Howard Chaykin! Walter Simonson! Introductions! It’s a year later! And in case you forget it’s One Year Later, and you don’t want to refer to the special logo on the front cover, don’t worry - there’s several mentions as to the temporal status of this book provided via dialogue, including one right after the book’s superhero costume quota is filled in the first five pages. For the rest of this issue, Kendra (Our Heroine) walks around exploring things in plain clothes, or at least as plain as clothes get when Howard Chaykin is adoringly filling in every last disparate pattern of lace in her top. There’s also an awesome pair of checkerboard-patterned shoes, but I’d hate to spoil all the surprises right up front.

I’ll confess to knowing next to nothing about Hawkpeople; it’s the creative team that drew me to this one, a nice pairing of old friends who still know how to support one another’s strengths. Most obviously, Chaykin keeps his layouts a bit more airy and simplified than usual, accommodating Simonson’s more traditional narrative style. There’s plenty of real live thought bubbles in this book, complete with the lead character politely explaining her powers to us while she’s doing miraculous deeds; it's the kind of stylistic flourish I can still handle when it comes to superhero comics, though I did find myself distracted when Simonson would have Kendra simply talking to herself in order to deliver exposition, sometimes drifting from dialogue balloons to thought bubbles for no apparent reason. It's not a huge deal, but I do tend to stumble over these things (even though I talk to myself in the car sometimes too).

Regarding the plot, it's pretty much all introduction save for the costumed dream sequence that opens the issue; Kendra is working as a museum administrator down in St. Roch, Louisiana, Hawkman is missing, there's mysterious killings going on that the cops just can't stop, and maybe someone's trying to kill Our Heroine. And in true Lucio Fulci style, there's something old and evil in the swampy basement. As far as introductions go, I was fairly interested and never confused. I don't know how this fits into the DCU at large, but it didn't stop me fron understanding Hawkgirl's position and her capacity for hawk-related adventures. Sometimes these new first issues just kind of have to float on the goodwill engendered by the new team, more a success of potential energy than anything.

I think I was most taken by Simonson's smooth integration of contemporary political concerns into the storyline, something I'd also have expected had Chaykin been writing - we've got Hawkgirl wandering around a barely-recovered city in Louisana, flooded after a hurricane, there's a lot of distrust regarding the effectiveness of authority and media, and the generally controlled heroine has been having bad dreams since getting home from the war. Sure, it's the Rann/Thanagar War, and I got the feeling that the hurricane is Hurricane Gloria from Seven Soldiers (I don't know if it's been mentioned in other books), but there's a clever, quiet injection of current concerns into the project that makes these greetings and overviews go down a bit more easily.