Saturday, December 16, 2006
We're getting older but we're acting younger, we should be smarter, it seems we're getting dumber:
I had a choice to make at 14 years old, faced with a fixed income and no chance for another year at working papers: records or comic books. For as long as I could remember, comic books had been with me, from the Peter David run of the Incredible Hulk to the excellent early Shooter-Lapham days at Valiant to anything Grendel-related to Cerebus. I waited 28 long days for another 22 pages of Sandman, right as people were starting to think there was something about this Neil Gaiman fella. You get the idea. There was a new sheriff in town, and it was punk rock. Crunch the numbers any way you want, but you still have to choose between the Blanks 77 picture 7" and the latest Hellblazer. I chose the records.

Now, however, I make my own living. And I can afford both hardcore records and comic books. Were you to ask me a year ago if I would eagerly give my paycheck over to Profane Existence and Fantom Comics, I would dismissively say you should check with my 18-year old self. Now I'm asking myself if I really need that Behind Enemy Lines record on CD -- so it can easily be imported to my iPod -- or on vinyl, the form that punk rock was meant to be heard on. (I take that back. Punk rock is meant to be heard on a fourth-generation cassette, and I don't know how you kids will make do now that you have no cassettes. Vinyl is the ideal form for album artwork. Imagine the Crass Feeding of the 5000 without the massive poster.) Now I'm arguing with the guys at Big Monkey about when exactly you could have redeemed the career of Rob Liefeld. Now I'm a vastly bigger nerd -- as Kate observed when Kriston and I got home from the comic store -- than I ever was.

And I say: fuck it. Embrace nerdiness if nerdiness is the brilliant new record from Tragedy, Nerve Damage. Jesus tapdancing Christ, now that's some serious hardcore. It helps, I think, to have stepped out of the scene for seven years, so the intermediate steps hardcore took to yield up the perfected incarnation of Tragedy are completely unfamiliar. This is hardcore as it was intended to be: stripped down, furious, intelligent, DIY and, above all -- this one's for you, Sam -- brutal.

Also embrace nerdiness if nerdiness is the Ultimate Marvel Universe. (As it surely is.) Basically, for those who, like me, had no idea what this was until a few months ago, Marvel created an alternate universe where writers -- principally the brilliant Mark Millar -- could re-start Marvel characters from year zero. The Fantastic Four could be teenagers. Nick Fury could look like Samuel L. Jackson, and S.H.I.E.L.D could function as a supremely powerful military juggernaut. Thor could be an anti-globalization activist. Beast could be a character that doesn't suck. You get the idea. Ultimate Galactus is a form of comic book perfection plucked right from the essence of Jack Kirby. A lust for these books has inspired a long argument between myself, Kriston and Yglesias about whether Iron Man could in fact take out the X-Men. (The caveat being no Jean Grey and no Professor Xavier.) This later became a somewhat inappropriate consideration of which of our ex-girlfriends could beat up which of our other ex-girlfriends. For Catherine, a house filled with exclamations of "oh, dude! Wolverine and Jean finally hook up?!!" must be a living hell. But this is a joy forgotten in the onset of (an apparently temporary) maturity.
--Spencer Ackerman
What? No way! Jean & Wolverine finally hook up?

[sniff] It's enough to end my (temporary) cynicism.
Blogger Raf Noboa | 10:46 AM

You must be joking. It's fun to see these characters reimagined in kind of a modern way, but Ultimate Galactus was aweful, and in the end, this reimagination is just a pile pf pandering shit for fanboys. There are so many better comics to read.
Blogger Robert Boyd | 12:26 PM

That is "awful", not "aweful" (kind of a Freudian slip, there...).
Blogger Robert Boyd | 12:26 PM

I can tell you aren't really into Civil War - you know, the stuff in the normal Marvel Universe.

As for me, I've read a few of the Ultimate 'Verse stuff, and, yeah, they all seem a bit too fanboyish for me to like. They've taken the purpose out of the characters and teams. Not to mention I don't really like the art.

I prefer the MC2 universe (Spider-Girl, Avengers-Next) if I want something silly. But for the only American comic book I really like, it's probably Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane (you can recommend it to Catherine if she likes stories about mushy teenage crushes with really prettily drawn characters).

And for cartoons, I almost always prefer the Paul Dini inspired DC universe - Batman, Superman, Justice League. Hell, I ever like the animeish Teen Titans.
Blogger Dan the Man | 12:21 AM

People in this house are mostly DC people. I don't get it. The Green Lantern is cool; you can't front on Batman; but whenever I see an Avengers/JLA team-up book lying around, I wonder how DC could have conspired to make, say, Hawkeye seem cool by comparison.

We're strong on Civil War. If the enthusiasm doesn't seem there from the blog, it's because CW is still out in loose books & the hardest-core comic readers cop them before we get a chance. As a result, we're reading out of sequence, or it's hard to find the corresponding Frontline book, etc.

Also, finally, the basic problem with CW is that Cap's position is so senseless it's hard to believe that he would actually take it. Are the cops or the firefighters or the military similarly corrupted because they have to ultimately answer to civilian political authority?

I have to admit I'm a bit surprised that Robert and Dan are unimpressed by the Ultimate universe. Of course it's fanboyish -- that's its great appeal; the stories you might have wanted to see told are being told. (That said, the Ultimate Phoenix story in Ultimate X-Men is so weak it makes the one in X3 look strong.)
Blogger spencerackerman | 8:15 AM