I'm Just Sayin'…#33
by Greg Manuel on October 30, 2008

Okay – before we get down to it this week, I wanted to mention a coupla things – so I’m checking my mail, and I get a “pingback” – this is how we know when someone’s commented on something we’ve written, or if we’ve been quoted by another site. And this is just plain unbelievable to me, but I’ve been quoted by Red 5 Comics! If you scroll down a few lines and read the reviews on ATOMIC ROBO: DOGS OF WAR #2, you’ll find my comments on the issue from my 28th column!

I’m stunned, I really am. I just started writing this column to get a few things off my chest and maybe have a little fun, but…first Duane Swierczynski commented on my column, and now this – how freaking COOL is that??

And then last Saturday, I was in a Barnes & Noble and just happened to find a copy of the memoirs of one of my favorite professional wrestlers of all time…

So I flip through it (I jumped straight to 1995-96, natch), and soon did I realize that I could not put this thing down…so I says to myself, forget putting this on the X-Mas list, I’m getting it now!

I bought it on a Saturday, and I couldn’t put it down until I finished it late Thursday night.

Now, I’ve never had much interest in reading a wrestling memoir before, and I’ll tell you – I don’t think I NEED to read another one, because Bret Hart may very well have written the be-all and end-all of the genre. The road stories, the way he doesn’t hold back on his fellow wrestlers, the people he’s worked for, his family, even himself…it’s an amazing read.

If there’s any reason for the literary industry to start considering printing “Author’s Cuts” of books, Bret’s is the prime example. Word is the original manuscript was some thousand pages long, shaved down to five hundred plus. I want those other five hundred pages – I wouldn’t have been able to stop reading if I TRIED.

I realize I’m supposed to be talking about comics, but I try to promote a good read wherever I may find it, so even if you’re not a wrestling fan per se but want to read about a fascinating life journey, check this one out. And if you are a wrestling fan and you don’t have this book yet, well…you have no excuse, go out and get it NOW.

And with that, we get our comic on!

So ACTION COMICS #870 has come and gone, and it looks as though the real story is just beginning…

…and the albeit-telegraphed loss of Pa Kent is only a part of an equation that also includes the sudden influx of long-lost Kryptonians, including the arrivals of Supergirl and Krypto in recent years.  Going forward, the question put forward shall be: Superman minus Jonathan Kent plus New Kandor on Earth equals…what?

While on the one hand I can see how this might appear to be evidence of a movement to re-establish Pre-Crisis elements to DC’s characters, I can at least appreciate that Geoff Johns and company have done so within the continuity. It should prove very intriguing to see just how it will affect Superman’s sense of identity - especially a Post-Crisis Superman, who has always seen himself as a Kansas farmboy first and an alien from outer space second - when the Clark Kent/Kal-El dynamic takes this big of a shift in the opposite direction. So I’m gonna give you this one, Mr. Johns – perhaps there is some method to this heavily foreshadowed madness after all.

Still doesn’t mean I’m sold on THE FLASH: REBIRTH though, so let’s not bust out the touchdown dance yet, ‘kay?

Meanwhile, over at Marvel so many villains have gender-switched of late, that now it’s spilling over into the heroes column:

First zombies, then monkeys, then Skrulls…I guess this is definitely Marvel’s next trend du jour. What do you think, Lady Bullseye?

Hm. That’s what you call gourmet level irony.

Even when it comes to stories I don’t support, if they’re big enough, and they have the potential to contain details that I should be aware of for my own creative goals, I make a point of at least flipping through that story to keep myself in the loop. And apparently SECRET INVASION #7 came out last week, and you know…I completely forgot to even look for it. How bad is that?

But sure enough, a certain individual at The Savage Critic that goes by Abhay was happy to offer his two cents on it, and there was one quote that got me thinking:

A number of people are enjoying SECRET INVASION, and that’s great. Last time… you know, last time I might have gotten a little mean, and I don’t like that because my starting place for this series of essays was a very genuine affection for CIVIL WAR, for the recent Marvel crossovers, for old Marvel comics, and for the current crop of Marvel creators. I like the writer, artist and characters, but you know: everything isn’t for everybody.

So, let me try to be less snotty about it, and just say: look, it’s not what I wanted. We can all be angry people and throw around hurtful words like “mediocre” or “horrible” or “terrible” or “padded” or ‘slow” or “snail-paced” or “perfunctory” or “generic” or “unoriginal” or “vapid” or “empty” or “boring” or “dreary” or “unimaginative” or “shallow”. Where does that get us? SECRET INVASION, it’s just not what I wanted; that’s all. Someone else, it’s what they wanted, and good for them. And sure, we can throw around words like “bad” or “uninspired” or “uninteresting” or “un-good” or “stinky” or “dregs” or “dispiriting” or “illogical” or “malignant” or “poo” or “doo-doo” or “ugh” or “blech” or “yuck” or “nauseating” or “brain-dead” or “witless” or “deficient” or “laughable” or “undercooked” or “half-baked” or “pointless” or “aloha” or “swill” or “pablum” or “crappy” or “shitty” or “shit-for-brains” or “shit-from-an-ass” or “fart-faced” or “rotten” or “decrepit” or “thesaurus.” But– what’s, that’s not, you know– instead, let’s, uh… let’s not.

What I took away from this quote is that, it’s all a matter of perspective, and even at our most certain, it’s important not to forget that; what we say in these lines boil down to simply opinions. Even if we think this storyarc is complete and total crap, someone else will consider it Manna from the gods, and it’s important that we don’t fault each other for that.

Take Mark Millar’s FANTASTIC FOUR. Please. (rimshot!)

I mean, with every issue, Millar continues to prove to me his gross misunderstanding of the tapestry he’s working with and the characters he claims to love – case in point…

Every fiber of my being wants to scream out…REED WOULDN’T DO THAT! I mean, seriously – it’s like you have to whap the guy in the face with a rolled-up newspaper! And by the way…is it just me or does issue 561 feel a little late?

BUUUUUT…it’s important that we don’t lose perspective. At the end of the day, at the very end of the day, they’re still just comic books, this is all subjective, and this rendition of the Fantastic Four does speak to people the way previous runs spoke to me. I may not understand it, but I do respect it.

Anyway, Abhay’s quote got me thinking about THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, specifically the hopes I had for the storyline NEW WAYS TO DIE to somehow justify the BRAND NEW DAY direction, and maybe prove that there is a point to it all. People had been saying good things about this story, after all. This is classic Spider-Man, they’ve said. This will take the bad taste of ONE MORE DAY out of your mouths!

Maybe with the election coming down to the wire, I just don’t have the energy to articulate my disappointment in the ways I’ve been known to do when it comes to the directions Spider-Man has been taken. Maybe I’m still buzzing on how good of a read Bret Hart’s book was. Maybe this, much like Abhay’s example of SECRET INVASION #7, is just not what I wanted. Your guess is as good as mine, but if I had to shave away the hyperbole and vitriol and just lay it down in as few words as possible, I think perhaps NEW WAYS TO DIE will serve to define the current Spider-quo fairly well, except not in the way Marvel might prefer. Because when I look at this beautiful cover, courtesy of John Romita, Junior…

…the only thing that crosses my mind? What. A. Waste.

But of course, that’s just my opinion.

Til next time, I’m Greg Manuel, and…



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