Sunday, October 9, 2011

Getting Ready for New York Comic Con

Greetings Internet! You look fantastic. Have you changed your hair? No? Well, it's good to see you. Between various Jewish holidays and a complete internet access meltdown (Goodbye Verizon, Hello TimeWarner Cable, 'nuff said) I haven't seen you in over two weeks.  O, the things we have missed.

But regrets are for bags of shoes and horse grenades, if I recall the phrase correctly, and I'm pretty sure I do (I want a horse grenade) so while we take a little time today to look at what I have so shamefully missed, we shall also be looking ahead. To what? you ask. You complete reprobate, I answer, don't you know what week it is?

My friends, this week is New York Comic Con.  And your non-elected, marginally-followed Captain Elias, representative of gay Jewish conservative comic book nerds everywhere, will be in attendance. I will bring you exclusive news as well as differently worded news that you've already read on Comics Alliance. I will bring you digital pictures of crazy cosplayers who allow their photos to be taken. I will detail the swag I blow my money on. And I will even get an interview or two with famous writers and artists, providing the Valium alters my neurochemistry in time.

The future is bright. And the recent past ain't too shabby either. Hit the jump for a recap.


Of the considerably large group of new shows released this fall, only a few are actually worth watching. Miserable failures that induce actual pain upon viewing, in my opinion, include: Up All Night, 2 Broke Girls, Whitney, New Girl, Charlie's Angels and Prime Suspect, to name just a few. The last two I had some hopes for, being a sucker for the whole strong-female-lead thing, but Drew Barrymore's unwillingness to drop the franchise has led to a campy, ridiculous, boring hour of television, and Maria Bello is embarrassing in her complete lack of femininity, charm, and competence. If you're going to fill shoes last worn by Helen Mirren you might try and develop your character beyond "has some strange facial ticks, horrible clothes, and is pretty much a total bitch to everyone she encounters."

There are however a few of the freshman that deserve some more time. Ringer, naturally, I am reluctant to let go of. Despite occasions of awkward cheesiness, there are moments of entertainment, times when SMG gets endearingly emotional. Now that her supporting cast is starting to get fleshed out, the overriding mystery, which was starting to feel slow, picks up the pace with some well-timed revelations. There are missteps, such as when Siobhan tries to be seductive, and times when SMG just reminds me way too much of Buffy, which honestly I don't know whether it's a bad thing, taking me out of this new world, or just a rare glimpse into the past that warms my devoted heart. If it continues to improve, this show could be really great by the end of the first season.

Revenge is another solid new addition to the small screen. By all accounts a guilty pleasure, there is something engrossing about Emily VanCamp, who has proven worthy of carrying a show. So far the other characters have been interesting as well, though the matriarch that is her adversary is getting a bit over the top. (How many times can we see her creepily staring at Emily from her balcony?) Still, the quality of the show, production value and all that, is high, and Amanda/Emily's plot for vengeance is relentless in its momentum. I don't yet see how they'll continue the show for more than one year, but I believe it will give us a very strong, fun season.

Regardless, the best stuff on TV are the returning favorites. Comedies like Parks and Rec, Modern Family and Community continue to be hilarious, week in week out. Somehow It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia manages to be fantastically funny even after 7 seasons, and Archer is always worth watching. Fringe continues to be awesome, in its own semi-plodding way, skillfully creating an entirely new world almost every week and teasing us with the Peter Bishop mystery. On the other hand, shows like Dexter just feel done to me, and Glee has become nearly unwatchable; I find myself fast-forwarding about 60% of each new episode.

By far the greatest show on air now is Downton Abbey, which has mercifully returned for a second season. After its well deserved Emmy win, Abbey continues to be wonderful. Now in the midst of World War I, we see the changing times affect the family and servants of Downton; the horrors of trench warfare that Michael Crawley endures fade to the back of his mind when he visits the home he loves, the three daughters begin to find new roles in a world where women with a conscience cannot continue to live posh, useless lives, and the servants endeavor to maintain their own roles while a new familiarity between the classes envelops the entire household. The war is effecting everybody, regardless of station, and Julian Fellowes has taken full advantage of the drama inherent in times of massive upheaval. The personal drama of Bates and Anna feels a bit forced and unnecessary, but it certainly gives Anna some great acting moments of strength and sorrow, while the once conniving and villainous O'Brien has become...well, still conniving, but now she's practically altruistic, motivated by the extreme guilt of her actions last season. The production values, the acting, the writing, all combine to make a truly beautiful and unique show, and I heartily recommend it to anyone who hasn't yet seen it.


For some reason, I don't have a whole lot to say about the last couple weeks of comics. So far, I've been terribly disappointed by the DCnU. Teen Titans, the only comic featuring my favorite hero Tim Drake/Red Robin was lame, Morrison's Action Comics hasn't done anything to foster a new love for Superman, and any Batman title that isn't written by Scott Snyder has felt massively unoriginal. For the most part the "New DC" feels like the trashy '90s comics you find in bargain bins. The only thing the reboot has done for me so far is increase the lead Marvel already had in my weekly Pull List. They cut their best titles (Batgirl, Red Robin,) started releasing dozens of incredibly uninteresting comics about heroes few people care about (Voodoo, Mr. Terrific,) destroying heroes who were previously cherished (Starfire, Catwoman, Oracle,) and hiring old school writers who clearly don't have a grasp on the newer audiences. They either need a big universe-wide event soon, to tie together all these disparate, failing threads, or find a way to gracefully return to the state DC was in 3 months ago.

As for Marvel, they're taking pretty good care of their franchises. The X-Men are having some big moments; Schism, though the ending was a bit of a fizzle for me (I was hoping to see more of the mutants picking their sides) was an ambitious, original, fun miniseries, and I can't wait for Regenesis (the NYCC panel for which I will be most definitely attending) and the subsequent new team books. Mike Carey's swan song on X-Men Legacy, featuring Rogue finding and aiding the lost X-Men/Starjammers has been very good--not his best stuff, but as usual steeped in continuity while giving us new ideas and growing relationships. I'll be sad to see that go.

The Avengers have continued to be an enjoyable read, though Secret Avengers is still a clunker of a book despite being a great premise, their Fear Itself tie-ins are far superior to the main Fear Itself event, which fortunately ends soon but unfortunately seems to have an infinite number of epilogues coming out.  Annihilators: Earthfall did not start out very strongly, but I still have faith in Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (despite the decline of Heroes for Hire) and will reserve judgment for now.

But far and away the best title out their, despite the incredibly long wait between issues, is Avengers: Children's Crusade. Having Wanda back, the X-Men fighting the Avengers, X-Factor in the mix, Rictor getting his power restored, and the dubious goals of Doom, all presented through the eyes of our fresh, intrepid next generation of heroes has been profoundly enjoyable. The art is stunning and the story is everything a fan boy would want. I only hope, once it's done, the payoff will be felt throughout the Marvel universe.

As for the Buffyverse, the first issue of Buffy was quite good and refreshingly familiar, while Angel and Faith has been surprisingly well done, though it's hard not to expect good things from Christos Gage. He's clearly a fan, and treating our characters well. If all goes well, I'll even have the opportunity to ask him and Rebekah Isaacs a few questions at NYCC.

So now it's time to begin my Comic Con prep: charging the digital camera, picking out my panels (do I go to Buffyverse panel or the Avengers one??) preparing some emergency questions, and practicing my waiting-in-line skills by scheduling random appointments at the Apple Store's Genius Bar.

So keep coming back, gentle readers, and get ready for next weekend. It's gonna be a good one.

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