I'm Just Sayin'…#64

Before we get started this week, I feel obligated to say something about Michael Jackson, who died two days ago in California. A lot has and will be said about him, and that includes me. The day he was acquitted of child molestation charges, I had an audition for the Comic Strip, and opened with the following remarks: I thought he was going to jail this time. I really did. The only thing I can figure must’ve happened in that jury room is that in 2005, if you have NO problem letting your child spend a night in Michael Jackson’s bedroom…you ARE up to something. (directed at the LA Disctrict Attorney’s Office:) Johnnie Cochran’s DEAD, what’s your excuse now?

In all seriousness though, because I enjoyed his music so much growing up and still do to this day, I’d like to believe the worst of the stories about him weren’t true. But this much we know for sure: as an entertainer he was like no other, and as a human being he desperately needed help.

Sadly, he didn’t get it. Michael lacked the awareness to get it himself, those closest to him weren’t interested in getting it for him, and far too many of the rest of us were too busy calling him a freak out of one corner of our mouths, and humming “Billie Jean” out the other.

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That said, we get back to business and we’re on for this week’s edition of…

As we speak I’m doing some last minute preparations for a weekend trip to Portsmouth, New Hampshire – such a nice area; if you like New England, you can’t go wrong here! – but I needed to get this out before we go, so let’s kick things off with a few comics that stood out for me this week.

THOR #602 came out this week, and once again J. Michael Straczynski gives us a great read, as Thor takes desperate measures to save his Lady Sif…

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…and the Asgardians on Latveria subplot continues to build – and a young man from Oklahoma may very well wind up playing a very crucial part in the explosion that is all but certain to come.

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I think my favorite part of this story involved a scene between Thor and a certain guest star that we all know Straczynski is very fond of writing, and the new dramatic wrinkle that he imparts upon our God of Thunder. Not only did it add a new element to a situation that I have seen at least twice in recent memory – the breaking of Mjolnir – but it also qualifies as a textbook example of how you close the door on a given dramatic development – Thor as Lord of Asgard, and keeper of the Odinpower – while opening a window to new plots to come. The man could teach us all a few things about putting genies back in bottles, that’s for certain.

In UNCANNY X-MEN #512 , the Beast and his “X-Club” travelled back to 1906 in search of crucial insight to the mutant boom of the modern age…

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…and probably the only disappointing thing about the story I found, was the fact that we probably won’t get to come back to it for a while, thankyouverymuchX-Men/DarkAvengers:UTOPIA! Not that UTOPIA wasn’t intriguing in its own right, but I’m just sayin’, the chemistry amongst the “X-Club” has got to be one of the most entertaining things Matt Fraction has thought up during this run so far. But I guess if it has to be interrupted by a summer event, let it be one that he’s got a big hand in as well.

This past Shipment Day I got caught up on a book recommended to me by my boy Ryan Brandt – writing collaborator, good friend, and eviscerator of all things related to Geoff Johns. He recently pointed me to a 5-part miniseries brought to us by IDW Publishing, writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Michael Cavallaro. And I gotta thank him for that, because he could not have been more right about THE LIFE & TIMES OF SAVIOR 28.

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Quoting Greg Burgas: The basic story is thus: The narrator, Dennis McNulty, is an old man looking back on the life of James Smith, who was transformed into Savior 28 by a strange mystical artifact implanted in his chest (he’s called that because the process failed with 27 prior candidates). McNulty, at one point, became his teenaged sidekick, and now he’s reviewing how Smith fell from grace.

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Smith ages very slowly, so he goes through what the United States went through from 1939 (the year he became Savior 28) to the present. Of course, this involves a gradual disillusionment with the government, the loss of loved ones (as they grow old and he doesn’t)…

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…and continual battles with his arch-nemesis, Savior 13 (who was the only other candidate to survive the process, but was driven insane by it).

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DeMatteis works the 9/11 terrorist attack into the story (although it’s September 12 in this book), an event that Savior 28 could have prevented had he not been unconscious in a drunken stupor. It’s no spoiler to say that Smith gets killed (McNulty does so for us on page 7, plus it’s on the cover), but DeMatteis does a nice job showing it three times, each time adding a layer of meaning to it. It ends with a nice surprise that sets up the rest of the series.

I think if I had anything to add based on what I read, I would put it this way: imagine if the writer/artist idolatry that we see in comics today, existed twenty or thirty years ago. Now, imagine if DC Comics hired Kurt Vonnegut to write a Superman arc. The dark wit and wry subtext that he made famous  is all over the three issues that have already come out, and if there were one scene in particular that struck me as particularly “Vonnegutian” (if this isn’t already a word, I call dibs!) was when Savior 28 enlisted in secret to fight in World War 2, and wound up on the squad that was sent to liberate Buchenwald.

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Immediately made me think of Vonnegut and Dresden...

You certainly cannot go wrong with this miniseries. Definitely check it out if you haven’t already.

I think that’s going to do it for us this week – I wanted to draw open the curtains to KNEE-JERK REACTION THEATRE on account of some other news out of Marvel, but I’ve run out of space. So what I think I’ll do is use this week’s signoff to serve as a personal reminder:

AND NOW, JUST CUZ I FEEL LIKE IT…

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Til next time everybody – I’m Greg Manuel and I’m just sayin’, is all…

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