Oh kindly night, drowning the distraction of the day...

*I don’t know what sort of sleeping-related image Tom Spurgeon is going to have posted tomorrow, but whoever is in it will most certainly have the right idea. I’m going to collapse. Nobody wake me.

*Superman Returns is the cover story of a particularly comics-soaked Entertainment Weekly (#883), notable for covering several different areas of concern in one go. First, there’s the obvious movie feature, accompanied by a timeline as to the various attempts at getting the project off the ground and stuffed with quotes and comments by everyone involved. Apparently, after factoring in marketing costs and payment due to former directors McG and Brett Ratner, it’s believed that the project’s budget could clear the $350 million mark, though that honestly might be so much ‘biggest movie of the summer’ studio hype. Also, did you know that there is not much gay subtext in this film? Director Bryan Singer tells us so again!

Elsewhere in the issue, the looming specter of Batwoman is duly noted without context - the readership is deemed sufficiently in-the-know as to the details to abrogate the need for much explanation as the jokes pour forth. Newsarama is named one of the magazine’s 100 Sites to Bookmark Now, complete with brief comments from Matt Brady (who plugs Scott Tipton’s Comics 101). And actual comics are reviewed in the Books section: Get a Life, Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness, Scrublands, and Kings in Disguise, all of them raising nary an unkind word (save for Kings, as artist Dan Burr's work is dubbed "brittle and static" - it still gets a 'B+').

Hell, there's even a teeny tiny taste of Robert Crumb art, on the cover of the new The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of old-timey music set. Too bad Civil War #2 didn't make the cut; we might have gotten a whole news feature out of Cap taking his... no, wait, that was John Ney Rieber in 2002. I think it was Iron Man... no no, that was a while ago too. Give me a minute, I haven't read that thing... someone taking off their... holy shit, did Nick Fury take off his eyepatch? What was underneath?!

*Not too much else going on recently. I watched Yoshikazu Yasuhiko's 1989 feature The Venus Wars, which offers the always-interesting display of a manga artist directing an anime adaptation of their own material. Katsuhiro Otomo did the same the year prior with Akira, though he proved to be far more deft with translating a sprawling comics saga to the confines of a single feature; Yasuhiko's film just seems like yet another in a line of theatrical anime that try to absorb far too much of the source material into one movie. The pacing is totally off, characters drift in and out of the film to little effect and reappear later without warning, only the most superficial outline of a grander plot can be glimpsed as we bounce from setting to setting - you get the feeling that highlights are being hit, and that's all anyone seems concerned with.

Oh, I can't be sure of that, since I haven't read the entire manga - Dark Horse brought over some of it in the early '90s as a pair of pamphlet-format miniseries, though only the first was compiled into a trade. The same happened, oddly enough, with Dark Horse's release of the Otomo-written The Legend of Mother Sarah, which saw a trade to account for the first of three miniseries (I don't believe the series ever finished in Japan, actually, though several books were produced beyond what was seen in English). Still, I suppose it's better than the Dark Horse manga that never saw collection at all, like Yukinobu Hoshino's adaptation of the James P. Hogan novel The Two Faces of Tomorrow, or the Mamoru Oshii-written Hellhounds: Panzer Cops.

Still, as it usually goes with these things, the animation is often lovely, with some really nice use of live-action backgrounds in certain scenes. A few interesting themes drift by in the beginning, as burned-out youths wander around a city on Mars recently taken over by an occupying military force. Characters cry over all the good stores being blown up, and everyone resorts to sci-fi guerilla attacks with racing bikes. But it often feels like a really lavish advertisement for the manga, so skittery is its vision. It makes me appreciate how much Otomo was willing to think in terms of film, despite his attachment to his then still unfinished manga...