Casting Internets

I was on the now somewhat infamous Venom call with Rick Remender and Steve Wacker which resulted in this feature for Marvel.com. Fun stuff. That book sounds pretty rad. Remender’s a solid writer who has some great instincts when it comes to playing with superhero conventions.

Hey, check it out, Ron Marz read my post about Silver Surfer and Tweeted about it. It’s kind of surreal to have him reading me. Marz reading Dietsch just sounds completely backwards.

Ben Morse calls super speed as his super power of choice. I think I’d go with long range teleportation because I hate traveling but like going places. Super speed would be a close second if I could shut it off.

My buddy Jim Gibbons offers up his thoughts on Wizard’s closing.

Thanks to Whitney Matheson for bringing Amazon Studios to my attention. Looks like I’ve got an interesting place to submit my screenplays to.

A new Planet of the Apes comic from Boom? Oh snap. (via Bloody Disgusting)

I’d like to welcome my pal John aka Cybergeek to the wonderful world of blogging!

Check out F1sh‘s custom Deadpool in the costume he wore when he thought he was an X-Men. Man, that dude knows how to paint doesn’t he? (via Toyark)

You think you like Superman? Jason George has got you beat. I especially like the spinner of watches.

Check out this rad post with scans comparing Marvel characters to football players and their positions. Fun stuff. (via Tom Spurgeon)

And finally, some sad news. John Barry, who composed the James Bond theme along with plenty of other memorable tracks has passed away. RIP Mr. Barry. (via /Film)

Music Musings: The Vines

I’ve been thinking way too much about how best to write about music on the blog here. Every week, I move the “Music Musings” block further and further into the week on my calendar checklist, usually to wind up deleting it. It’s strange because, unlike movies and comics which I absorb and then write about, I feel the need to write about music while I’m listening to it. There’s so much going on on every CD that I find it hard to focus on things to write about, plus I worry that I’m just saying that same stuff that’s been said by others. I also have a different relationship with music than I do those other formats of entertainment. To me, movies and comics are an experience that I live through, meaning, I absorb them and then move on to something else, but I live with music. It stays with me and it’s more readily absorbable to me. I don’t know if that makes any sense. Anyway, I’ve decided to play Russian Roulette with my iPod to figure out my weekly music subject. This week it’s Australian retro rockers The Vines who made a big splash in the early 00s only to completely fade away from my personal memory. I picked up their first two records Highly Evolved and Winning Days and apparently my iPod wanted me to listen to them today, so that’s how it went down.

Like a lot of other people, I first heard The Vines thanks to their first big single “Get Free” which was all over the place in the summer of 2002. That was such a strange time in music because it seemed like rockers might actually be taking over pop music. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing someone talk about The Strokes (a band I never personally got into). Plus, bands like Jet and The Hives were getting some much deserved notice thanks to the surge of garage-influenced rock. Of course, it wouldn’t last, but some really interesting music came out of it. I remember purchasing the black plastic-covered CD while visiting the missus-to-be in New Hampshire, but the record didn’t make quite the impact on me I thought it would have. I think a combination of negative thoughts about the follow-up Winning Days and reading about lead singer Craig Nicholls losing his mind thanks to touring put me off to the record. Plus, you know how it is, there’s always more music out there to listen to, so unless something really smacks me in the face and demands my attention and devotion, I’m probably going to move on to something else.

With that in mind, I was a little skeptical about listening to Highly Evolved again, but that was all for naught because this is a pretty good record. The Vines did a great job in the early days (I can’t speak to their more recent albums because I haven’t listened to them) of combining some of the more psychedelic sounds of the 60s and 70s with the raw energy of punk rock and funneling all those obvious influences into something that sounded both modern and complimentary to their influences. The album starts strong with the title track, shows off its mellow side with “Autumn Shade,” a track that I probably didn’t like in my younger, more straight-up rock oriented state of mind but dig now and then kicks it back into high gear with “Outtathaway!” For me, the high point of the record is “Factory” with it’s bounciness and walking bass line.

There’s a few missteps, though. “In The Jungle” has some great musical ideas and riffs in it, but they don’t feel connected enough to be an actual song. This one really feels like several other song segments that were kind of mashed together without much of a through line which is too bad, because I think they could have been broken down and turned into even better songs than the last three tracks which are kind of boring to me. I dig 60s and 70s rock, but not so much the droning stuff. Anything that’s too repetitive gets on my nerves. I wouldn’t say tracks like “1969” and “Mary Jane” get to the annoying place, but they verge on it. Overall I was kind of surprised with how much I liked this record.

Unfortunately, Winning Days doesn’t seem to hold up nearly as well, even thought it starts pretty damn strong with a great rock song like “Ride.” This isn’t a bad record by any means, it’s just not the kind that I’m super interested in listening to over and over again. Like with their previous effort, the musical talent of The Vines–who I should mention are Nicholls on vocals and guitar, Ryan Griffiths on guitar, Brad Heald on bass and Hamish Rosser on drums–is very clear on this record, I’m just not sure if the place their at with their music is one that’s super interesting to me. They seem more intent on exploring slower, more melodic compositions, which is great for them as artists, but I’ll be honest, I want to rock! Instead of the psychedelic tinged rock songs I want to listen to, I’m getting alright explorations. I think the problem might be that the songs might be new ground to the band, but they’re not for me as a listener, so I kind of gloss over them in my head.

But how awesome is that video? The record is kind of a bummer because it’s bookended with such great songs. “Ride” very simply kicks ass and the final track “F.T.W.” which stands for what you think it does, is so much fun. It’s too bad the middle of the record is filled with stuff that isn’t super interesting. I found it interesting that the track “TV Pro” shares some of the same problems to my ear that “In The Jungle” did on the previous record: too much crammed into a small space with no through line. Again, there’s elements in there that could have made for a few different great songs. Instead we get one that’s uneven and other tracks that don’t really do much for me.

Even as I write this, I feel apprehensive about posting because writing about music is such a different animal to me. I didn’t take nearly as many notes while listening to Winning Days as I did to Highly Evolved. Was I being lazy or were there just fewer noteworthy elements to talk about? Am I being fair? Does any of it matter because I’m writing about six year old records that don’t seem to come up in regular music discussion? Those kinds of thoughts don’t really plague me when I’m writing about movies, but I do like writing about music, so I guess I better get used to it.

Comics Comics Comics Comics: Silver Surfer #54 (1991)

SILVER SURFER #54 (Marvel)
Written by Ron Marz, drawn by Ron Lim
While moving all our stuff from one storage unit to the other this week, I organized a bunch of the unread comics I’ve got and pulled out over a dozen Silver Surfer issues, thinking they might compliment all the Green Lantern comics I’ve been reading lately. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Since the issues were pretty spread out, I didn’t get much of an idea of the overarching story and also didn’t always care about the specifics of the issues. I’m getting to the point where I recognize the set-up for a specific kind of story and then just flip through to see if I’m right, which I tend to be. Things got better with the Ron Marz written issues, and, surprisingly enough, my favorite of the bunch was actually an Infinity Gauntlet tie-in.

Let’s all be honest, tie-ins have a tendency to suck because they’re very often foisted upon creative teams and feel like blatant cash grabs (like most of the Blackest Night tie-in issues). It takes a very special writer to take something like that and seamlessly combine the event with their ongoing story and Marz pulls that off beautifully in this issue, hooking you right from the beginning with a fight readers probably never thought they’d see. Rhino vs. Silver Surfer? Okay, I’ll bite.

As it turns out, the issue itself is a bit of a bait and switch. They get you in the door with the implied promise of a knock down drag out battle between two pretty tough though not nearly evenly matched opponents and turns it into a story about animal safety. But in a cool way. If you’re not familiar with Infinity Gauntlet, and even my memory’s a little rusty on the subject, there’s a part where Thanos kills half the universe for his lady Death. We’re on Earth after that as the heroes plan their attack. Not wanting to stand around and do nothing, the Surfer starts wandering around what looks like Central Park and comes across a tiger wandering around. After a little investigating, he finds that Rhino has been freeing the animals at the zoo so that they could spend the short time the universe still had free. It’s a pretty cool beat that shows some actual character for the bruiser. I’m not familiar with him outside of the 90s Spidey cartoon and some video games, but I got a pretty good feel for him in this appearance.

As you might expect, Rhino’s temper gets the best of him and he starts the fight with Silver Surfer. Like a drunk musclehead trying to fight a zen martial arts master, Silver handles him with kid gloves and the two finally stop after something happens to one of the freed animals. Realizing it might be better for the animals to get put back in their cages–for their own safety–the two work together and then part on pretty good terms. I really appreciate what Marz did by zooming in really far on some interesting character moments while this big giant threat to the entire universe was going on. You even get the fight promised on the cover, but that’s not what the comic is actually ABOUT. Actually, I’m not really sure what it’s about. Is there a message here about thinking things through and not being a hot head like Rhino? Is it that some people need imprisonment to keep them safe? I don’t really know, but I like that the comic made me think. I’ve also got to give credit to Ron Lim who has a great knack for drawing powerful looking and dynamic figures. Sure, the backgrounds could have been more detailed (there’s a lot of white in this book), but I like the look of the book.

So, if you’re digging through quarter boxes at your next comic con or have this issue deep in your collection somewhere, I recommend getting it and having some fun. Of the pile, this is the only issue of Silver Surfer I’ll be keeping, though I would be interested in reading more of Marz’s run on the book. Maybe they’ll get around to doing trades of that stuff soon.