Saturday, 23 March 2013

Smallville: Zero

This is a good episode because:

there is no mention of meteors or meteoric powers;
the dead guy apparently alive again is just a double, not a ghost, zombie or metamorph;
the young Lex remains a self-sacrificing but calculating guy in the midst of darkness, death and deception;
the Talon opens;
Central City and Bludhaven are mentioned;
Chloe looks good;
she stays in character, digging into Clark's past, wanting to keep his friendship but saving the evidence that there is a mystery around his adoption;
Jonathan Kent spurns Lex's offer of financial help and Lex is clearly unhappy about this;
Clark uses X-ray vision a couple of times and super speed once and that is it with the powers;
there is good scenery around the Kent farm;
the Zero Club looks a bit like a place some of us from Lancaster go to in Preston.

Can it get any better than this with a retelling of Superman's early life?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Smallville: Kinetic

Chloe falls from an upper floor of the Luthor Mansion. We expect Clark to run downstairs at superspeed to break her fall and it is quite a shock when he doesn't. With other things happening, he had not realized quickly enough that she was in danger. She is hospitalized for most of the episode, with Lex bringing in the best doctors from Metropolis. Clark makes the mistake of apologising. This could generate suspicion that he has got powers of some sort. Lex warns him that he will wind up with a Messiah complex and a lot of enemies.

Lex, not yet involved in criminal activities, nevertheless confidently contends against those who are. Chloe asks about LuthorCorp Level 3. This was in a previous episode and apparently recurs in Chloe's own internet series.

Lana persuades Luthor to accept her business plan for the Talon. This is the start of a story line that continues in later episodes. Do Lex and Lana marry later? Whitney "loses his scholarship." I am not sure how?

The parts of the episode that I find worthy of comment do not include the meteor-powered supervillains of the week. The actors play these parts well but as usual I find that there is enough drama in the interactions between the regular cast members.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Current Alan Moore-Related Comics

Fashion Beast is not a comic written by Alan Moore. It is a comic written by Alan Johnston based on a film script written by Alan Moore. It does not read like an Alan Moore comic although, when the character Celestine identifies glamour with magic, we hear the voice of the Magician.

I think that there are too many silent panels. I am sure that, if Alan Moore had written the original script for a comic or had even just adapted his own film script as a comic, then it would have been different. Also, the range of things that Alan Moore can write or write about is immense - in different works, superheroes, science fiction, fantasy, advertising, political propaganda, comedy, horror, contemporary fiction, pornography; in this case, fashion. Thus, while loyal readers support whatever he does, they are not always equally interested in the subject matter.

On a first reading, Nemo: Heart Of Ice, a spin-off from The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, has not done a lot for me yet. The main obvious sources are Verne, Haggard and Lovecraft and there is a reference to Charlie Chaplin's parody of Hitler, Hynkel, who, we already know, exists instead of Hitler in the Extraordinary Gentlemen version of history. Why is Ayesha not veiled? We can learn about other characters, Reade, the Steam Man etc by googling. A glance at google informs me that Frank Reade's Steam Man was based on an earlier fictitious steam-powered robot which explains why Reade Jr here acknowledges that his father had adapted the original design.

The main Extraordinary Gentlemen series seems to be building towards a climax involving obscure superheroes and 2001 monoliths so I will continue to read it with interest.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Smallville Season Eleven 8, 9 and 10

So far, I have read Smallville Season Eleven nos 8, 9 and 10 somewhat cursorily because my attention has mainly been on other reading. I have not found these issues easy to follow, even when a new story starts in issue 9.

I gather that Lex has somehow lost his memory, therefore does not know that Clark is Supes, but a lot of others do seem to know it. Chloe is not Lois but Lois' cousin?

In issue 10, Clark, helping the super speedster Impulse, Bart Allen, says that they need to consult the original super speedster, the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. I get the impression from this and from what I have heard about later seasons of the TV series that the Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen, has simply been deleted from history? That seems inappropriate.

This comic seems to involve arbitrary rearrangements of character names and situations familiar from the mainstream continuity of recent years rather than the kind of interesting new presentation of the familiar story that had started to happen in the TV series. 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Smallville Season Eleven

Having driven my daughter and granddaughter to Liverpool for the day, I visited a vegetarian cafe with them, then, on my own, the Anglican Cathedral and two comics shops. One of the shops sold me Vicious Circle, a Felix Castor novel by Mike Carey (big comics writer, hence relevant here). The other sold me Smallville: Season Eleven comic books numbers 8, 9 and 10, cover dated Feb, Mar and Apr, this year.

Thus, I am sort of up to date with Smallville, even though my viewing of the TV series is still back in Season 1. And I am back to posting about comics again, at least for a while.

No 8, the end of a story line, is a bit difficult to follow. Clark and Bruce, helped by Lois and Barabara, are working together against Loomis and Fries. Lex has a sister. (I know this is generally known but I didn't know it yet.) Nos 9 and 10 are Parts One and Two of a story called "Haunted" so they might be easier to follow. But I am not reading them yet because I am drowning in Poul Anderson, Felix Castor and some important political reading.

There is an ad for a comic bridging the gap between two Batman: Arkham games. So comics characters have now been adapted not only to films, TV and novels but also to computer games and the various screened media feed back into comics. It is interesting to know that all this is going on even without getting involved in most of it.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Smallville: Leech

What happens in this episode?

Cadmus Labs are mentioned. They are important in the comics.

Clark temporarily loses his powers. This happens periodically in the comics so it has to happen here. It throws Lex off the scent about Clark but the journalist who has been working for Lex will persist.

A lightning strike is a potent symbol. See Shazam and Lest Darkness Fall.

Clark should be honest with Lex. The dishonesty and deceit of a superhero secret identity has to be harmful.

Chloe coins the term "Super Boy" for the guy who temporarily gains Clark's powers. Earlier versions of the story can be incorporated or referenced in different guises. When the powers were exchanged, both parties got what they wanted at the time.

We see Lex in Metropolis outwitting a business rival so the big city continues to be contrasted with the small farming town. By technological means, Lex converses with his father's disembodied voice: a powerful symbol of remote authority and of the unseen villain in some fictional works.

A small step is taken towards Lana refurbishing the Talon. 

What is important about Clark is not that he has powers but that he does not misuse them.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Grant Morrison's Action Comics

Chris Up Front, this guy in Lancaster, says he is enjoying Grant Morrison's Action Comics, and didn't yet know that Andy Diggle will be taking over soon. Apparently, someone in the fifth dimension, not Mxyzptlk, is messing with time in ways that recall earlier versions of Superman. It's like what Alan Moore did with Mxyzptlk but more so.

The problem I have with that is that it has all been done before. The only question now is whether it is being done well. Chris says it is and it should be with Grant Morrison although I found that The Invisibles became incoherent as it went on. So I will either have to borrow Chris's copies or read Morrison's run collected.

I did read issue 1 and had problems with the fact that it just seemed like an arbitrary changing around of the relationships between Supes, Lex and Sam Lane etc but, of course, the whole run can be judged as a story in its own right, instead of as just a break from what had gone before.

But I still think that a really powerful retelling of the Superman story waits to be told and that this will happen in graphic novels and feature films, not in monthly comic books.