The Subtle Life

July 26, 2008

THIS WEEK: The Wishlist AND What I actually ordered

“These in part taught me what graphic novels could be, along with Kingdom Come, Frank Miller’s Dark Knight and Moore’s own League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series. But more on those respective stories later.”

As Dougal’s Rabbit graph once displayed on Father Ted, dreams and reality are far far apart., and one must live the subtle life between them *ANGST WARNING*

The Wishlist:

1. Superman Red Son – Mark Millar

> An Elseworlds tarradiddle of the DC Universe.

To explain: I am very anal retentive about my reading; I like my stories to have a beginning, middle and an end. Oh, by no means does a character or plot arch have to be confined to one text without sequel, but I do like any one issue/episode/book/film to have some sort of ending in an of itself, even if if it is predicated upon its conclusion in a sequel.

As such, I’ve never really been au fait with reading the mainstream comics, with thousands of issues, hundreds of the different writers and artists, and many, many reboots of continuity. Brief archs are ok, but overall it somewhat goes over my head.

Therefore, I like characters (when reading illustrated texts) that are one shots; that have that unity of action where they can be killed, or maimed, or crazed, or finished, without seeing it changed back next week. I want that capacity of the development of a multi-million dollar property like Superman, Batman, etc., and the security of a one-shot’s conclusion.

Also, I find its much, much cheaper.

DC’s Elseworlds is therefore my dream come true: Steampunk Batman, Green Lantern Batman, Vampire Batman, Superman but raised as Batman, Supergirl as Superman . . . even a series based on the films of 1920’s German Expressionist Cinema.

Red Son is one such series – Baby Superman lands in Stalin’s Russia rather than Kennedy’s America. Tipping those international scales, the impact is interesting as it is shocking. I’d read about, heard it recommended, and it seems like a good way to start an Elseworlds adventure.

*Successfully Ordered!

2. Hellboy Vol 1: Seed of Destruction – Mike Mignola

This essentially is the first Hellboy film’s basis in the comic. With the Golden Army imminent, and the awesome of the first movie, I thought I’d read up on it. The first film was by no means a strict adaptation, but apparently Mignola approves del Toro’s work so I think I can give it a try.

My particular attractions here are: Overtones of Lovecraft, John Constantine, Rasputin, alternate history and evil fish frog people in the british aristocracy. I’ve seen the artwork before, and it does indeed seem to be artwork, so hopefully it fufils on the whole, as the showgirl said to the vicar.

*Successfully Ordered!

And here is where it all goes wrong . . .

3. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen : The Black Dossier – Alan Moore

As my glomping on this series in earlier rants should indicate, I do love a little Alan Moore in general and The L of EG in specific.  The Black Dossier isn’t necessarily a strict succession to the first two volumes, but also a way to showcase the Black Dossier of the title, which recounts various league adventures of the past to the present day, with that usual omnivorous mix of fact, fiction and myth that Moore has so mae his own in this series. A Tijuana Bible, a Wodehouse style adventure with the Elder Gods, Woolf’s Orlando recounting his/her 3,000 year history . . . . ‘ Tis the stuff of book nerd dreams. There was 12 pages of this type of stuff at the end of Vol. 2, and it just made my mouth water for more.

Alas, however, its not available for retail here.

You see, the first 2 volumes heavily referenced works by authors whose copyright had expired – H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, etc. However, the Black Dossier uses much more recent and copyright relevant authors like George Orewell, Virginia Woolf, H.P. Lovecraft and so on. As such, while available in America, its not available here in Europe.

*NOT Successfully Ordered!

4. Eagle: The Making of an Asian American Presidency.

A fascinating, short manga series about an Asian American senator’s fictional run for the American Presidency against what appears to be Bill Clinton. Apparently its a smart, political take on this concept, with West Wing style views of the next President’s campaign and reign.

Not that I wouldn’t want Bill Clinton to win an American Presidency again, or Hillary to win the next one: I’d prefer either Clintons to either of the George Bushes. I say this as someone who has no residency or vote in America nor much care for its affairs except for the Big Red Button. In this capacity Ifear the Bushes: People who believe God tells them what to do, believe they are right with God, act in his name and fear none but him, these are the people that can willfully bring about Armageddeon. No, I want the man whose screwing around and wants to put off Judgement Day as long as possible, or the woman sufficiently patient to stick by her husband in the face of national scandal to stay with her own political aims.

All props to Obama of course. Only one American personality of sufficient weight could decide between an African American President and a female president, and Oprah did make her choice wisely.

Alas, it too is not available here.

This however is just the slow process of manga filtering in to the Irish market. Perhaps, one day, I will fulfil my dream of humming Turning Japanese while reading an American-Political drama.

*NOT Successfully Ordered!

5. Emma – Kaoru Mori

Emma is a manga set in Victorian England. Not Steampunk England, not Victorian style Future-England, not dancing robot-pretend Victorian England. Why therefore is it a manga? Thats right – Emma is a maid. In love with the son of a rising trade family, hopelessly so due to there ambitions for his marital opportunities, Mori has crafted a heartwarming plot in a setting of intricate detail to the period.

As those of you who picked on my Jane Austen comments may guess, I likes my Victorian England marriage plots and to see one presented so unusually in format is so very interesting to me. That, and I like maids. Not in a weird, whips and leashes type way, but more maids with guns, nurses with knives, catgirlswith three-inch steel claws and bunnygirls with so much articulated kick in that bent back leg to separate ribs. I like juxtaposition of formats and themes, characters and situations, and the sound of a Victorian manga maid makes me feel theres a social revolution I’m missing somewhere.

Alas, it is of indeterminate status. Published by CMX manga here, unlike Eagle its far more likely to be avaialable, but seems to exist on an eerie orderable but not necessarily receivable netherworld on my retailer’s order list.

*NOT Successfully Ordered?

Next Week: The Dark Knight review you all deserve. Briefly: AWESOME! More on that story later.

His Dark Reading Materials

July 20, 2008

With a birhday coming up (21, a magic number) I have been reviewing the state of my literary acquisitions of recent decades and deciding how exactly I wish to expand my little collection.

Current ranks include:

1. Almost all the works of Terry Pratchett ( except for the UnAdulterated Cat).

->No real room for expansion here as Nation (his first non-Discworld novel in a while) and I Shall Wear Midnight (A Tiffany Aching novel) and Raising Taxes ( A Moist Von Lipwig novel) (the last two completing his trilogies of Aching and Lipwig) won’t be out for a while.

2. Quite a few works of Robert Rankin, Including the Brentford Trilogy (of Seven Parts so far ), the Armageddeon Trilogy, The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse, The Garden of Uneathly Delights, A Dog Called Demolition, Apocalypso,  Fandom of the Operator and The Witches of Chiswick.

->Terribly tempting to expand here by a book or two here, but I think I’ll leave it till Christmas.

3. Basilisk Manga vols 1-5

->Series complete, quite good, based on an original novel. Like Romeo and Juliet, but with Ninjas.

4. Negima Magister Magi Manga vols 1-6.

->Given that the series has hit 20+ volumes and shows no sign of stopping, I think I’ll leave it till it does. Highly enjoyable though, and really concentrates on its characters. It sets out in vol 1 to get to know over 30 characters, and is doing so quite impressively. ART IS BEAUTIFUL.

5. Harry Potter series.

->Complete. With the comic relief books.

6. His Dark Materials.

->Complete. Never got my hands on Lyra’s Oxford though.

7. Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, the Silmarillion.

->Contrary to appearances, I am not one of those people who learn Vulcan or Elvish, Orc or Klingon, so these are more than enough Tolkien for me.

8. The works of Stephen King, including some of The Dark Tower series, and many of his short story / novella collections.

->I generally don’t order these as much as I pooch about 2nd hand bookshops for his stuff, which I adore but is quite expensive when new and very cheap and populous when used.

9. The Complete Work of Jane Austen.

-> Well…. its complete.

->This begs question as to why I have it; the excuse is that I had a course on her last year. However, this falls down when revealed that I :

(a) already had it and read it at this point and,

(b) the course was elective and I chose it for my interest in her.

Would this make a guy question his masculinity? Hell no!

What would make a guy question his masculinity is the fact that out of two classes of thirty, he was the only guy, apart from the lecturer.

And then that masculinity is completely reaffirmed when the lecturer opens by comparing the impact of the French Revolution onto the Brit lit scene with the ovapositor alien from Alien.

10. Farewell to Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber.

->Have read the rest of the Lankmar series, but would buy them anyway for their quotient of distilled awesome. However, v. hard to find in print, similarly with Conjure Wife and Our Lady of Darkness.

11. Dune Series by Frank Herbert.

->Ah, my beloved Dune. Have it up to God Emperor, and what I’ve read after by Frank is fairly good.

This is in contrast to the series completion and prelude his son brian and kevin j. anderson put out, which lacks a lot of his vivacity of character, my key attraction, and though they do occassionally use his notes to fillin the occassional blank, it was generally a disappointing read.

12. Bored of the Rings series

-> I occassionally forget why I have this.

13. Alan Moore, including V for Vendetta and Watchmen.

-> These in part taught me what graphic novels could be, along with Kingdom Come, Frank Miler’s Dark Knight and Moore’s own League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series. But more on those respective stories later.

14. The works of Douglas Adams

->Everthing but his Last Chance to See with Mark Cawardine.


Thats about it, without going into individuals. (Kurt Vonnegut, Austin Grossman, Daniel Keyes, Larry Niven, etc. – not to mention various podiobooks).

If you think, from the above, that there is something I might like, please recommend away.

NEXT WEEK: What I intend to buy.

Doctor Who – Journey’s End – Spoilers

July 6, 2008

Well howdy.

I’m simply not going to touch it. You love it, you hate it, you express the desire to kill David Tennant – all three of them – or you express the desire to deify Donna Noble.  Whatever.

Martha Jones will probably end up joining Torchwood now, to replace the deceased Eoin Harper. Mickey Smith may replace the deceased Toshiko Sato for a time, but come the full season 5, he’ll be the new Doctor’s Companion. They both have lost alot, and they are both proceeding regardless. I’ll like it.

I think I’d have preferred it if the Daleks had been trapped in Slo-Time envelope a la the Krikkit Warriors of Douglas Adams (which he originally intended for a Doctor Who script) and being released in the wake of the end of the universe in the wake of the year one trillion. The universe is empty but the Daleks are gone – everybody’s happy.

Not because I like the Daleks you understand, but because narrative causality won’t let them all die. Theyll turn up again, and again, and again. I’d prefer to know they were somewhere they could escape from, rather than yet another escapee from the Time War.

As for the return of the Cybermen – I really, really, really, really, really, really, really want them to be Steampunk Cybermen. Do that and don’t care how they are brought back – flotsam and jetsam of the rift, parallel evolution, robo-pandas – Whatever.

Just make them Steampunk.

I’m trusting you on this Moffat.

I’m not even vaguely interested in the politics and practicalities of the writer change on Doctor Who, because I doubt it will ever be clear. I just really want Steampunk Cybermen. The alternate universe they came from was steampunk so technically they are but I want to swush-click of steam servos and crum-cruck of rail guns.

As for the Human-Doctor : I wouldn’t mind a Doctor-lite episode, say, where we think we’re following our Doctor and it turns out to be him, living his life in this other world. But I’m kinda hoping the walls between universes are up and staying up.

As for that new season; The Master, no doubt, unless he turns up in one of the three specials. Probably the crazy wife and that Lazarus ring of his. Very Sauron. Very Ming the Merciless.

Abientot, Alonzi, Alonzo, Aufiederschen.