Our Busy Internet.

*First things first. The December Image solicitations are here. The event of the month is described within.


A brand-new quarterly series, starting on December 29th. Featuring such old favorites as Sponge Boy and the Flying Dead Dog, plus plenty of new century flavor. If your interest was piqued by that 4-pager in the recent A1 Issue #0, you’ll want to hop on board just in time to celebrate 20 long years of horseplay!

*Hmmm. Avatar is putting out a trade for their Alan Moore miscellany series “Yuggoth Cultures” with an additional 50 pages of extra stuff (essays, obscure interviews, and additional art, mostly). And the latest adaptation of Moore material from another medium “Hypothetical Lizard” launches. A four-issue miniseries this time. Ooooh. “Nightjar” sees the release of issue #5, which is creatively dubbed (4 of 4) at the bottom. I’ve yet to see a copy of issue #2 myself.

*Let’s skip around the Internet a bit.

*The Onion AV Club has a rather curious review of “In the Shadow of No Towers” out today; it’s certainly the first review I’ve read that claims the inclusion of the bonus vintage strips actually detracts from the book as a whole, indicating they “hijack [the book], making it less personal and more craft-focused, the equivalent of a coffee-table art book reproducing famous paintings alongside contemporary imitations.” Considering that later in the same paragraph Spiegelman’s technical skill is described as “masterful”, I guess he’s really great at providing contemporary imitations.

I think I understand what reviewer Tasha Robinson is getting at, that the inclusion of such influences drag the enterprise down to the level of mere visual homage (I suppose there’s a risk in McCay and the like eclipsing Spiegelman’s own skill as a cartoonist, which could create something of a struggle of style between the halves of the book, thus tying the reading to a perception of visual one-upmanship), but I’d argue that the bonus strips do have personal impact, since they’re explicitly cited in the text as being the works Spiegelman immersed himself in immediately following his experiences. And the strips also work (in an admittedly obvious fashion given the emphasis on cartoon NYC destruction) as a simultaneously wistful and ominous peek at the formidable popular entertainment of an earlier time (not really more innocent - that newspaper headline does scream about the President’s shooting after all). Ms. Robinson seems to read the inclusion of the material on a craft-centered level, but I saw it as more emotional a presence than that. I agree with her summary of the main work as “like a state of mind, portrayed in complicated detail” however.

And at least the book fared better than Mamoru Oshii’s “Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence” which Robinson slams elsewhere in the update (I'm holding out hope, but the word is growing less positive with each new review). Plus, she conducts a nice interview with Oshii himself, where the director analogizes the use of recurring symbolic images throughout his filmography to a dog pissing on a pole, urges young fans not to go into animation, and concludes the chat by musing “Well, I don‘t care whether I have any friends.” It’s well worth a look.

*Meanwhile, Moriarty of Ain’t It Cool News reviews the Fantastic Four movie script, and he’s not too enthusiastic about the handling of Dr. Doom, who apparently experiences the most thorough ‘mainstreaming’ for Big Summer consumption. Not a lot of detail (but definitely some spoilers) and hints at a few “epic miscalculations”…

*Which leads us right into Marvel’s solicitations. Analyzing solicitations is the national sport of blogging, and I often feel like a bench-warmer given how little I have to say about everything. It just seems like a typical month for Marvel.

Well, all those “What If” books are shipping. Seven of them. I was delighted to see that one of the stories in the 'funny' issue is indeed “What If Kevin Smith Finished His Books?” just like I (and doubtlessly several thousand other fandom jackanapes) remarked, although I suspect the joke will be a bit easier to take from a bunch of readers as compared to the company itself that charged everyone money for stories that never got finished. Unless the solicitation itself was just joking; I’d hate to be robbed of good “Identity Crisis” gags. I also noticed that Bendis is now officially co-writing Kevin Smith’s issue of the ‘serious’ “What If” run. And there’s a “What If Classic” trade, so it's quite a month for pondering the implications of alternate plot developments.

Lots of new initial six-issue arcs for re-launched books, popping up like rows of corn. Maybe I’ll look at Ellis’ “Iron Man” but I’m waiting for the trades on his two “Ultimate Fantastic Four” arcs.

Wow. A fresh re-issue of the “Maximum Carnage” trade. That brings me back. Fourteen long issues of nondescript villains slaughtering hundreds of people (BUT WITHIN THE BOUNDRIES OF GOOD TASTE OF COURSE!), while Spidey teamed up with the likes of Iron Fist and Morbius to bobble around for 300 pages before wrapping things up. Venom was in there too, just entering his semi-hero overexposure state. At the time, I thought it was the most rocking Spider-Man family mega-adventure ever. I was 11 and I also thought hologram covers were really pretty.

But the Super-Nintendo game! Now that was an event. Green Jelly soundtrack. Final Fight style action. I never could beat the damned thing. It even had an advertisement in movie theaters, before the trailers. That was wild. Now there’s 17 solid hours of cola ads before every movie in America, but does Madison Avenue stop to tip their fancy urban high-brim hats to poor old Cletus Kasady? Certainly not, the pigs.

Maximum Carnage the comic did have one thing going for it: the unspeakable pleasure of the Spider-Clone epic was only a year in the future. And just as a black hole absorbs all matter, the Spider-Clone infamy cycle managed to attract much of the negative vibes surrounding that era in Spider-History. The evil thoughts and frowny faces are clutched tightly to Ben Reilly’s bosom now, and Maximum Carnage can’t help but emerge smelling just a smidge sweeter. And if you haven’t gotten intimate with the Spider-Clone years, you ought to. There's a lot of beautiful Spider-Mistakes ahead of you!