There's A Darkness

05 April 2015

Mad Thoughts 7.08

Mad Men 7.08: "Severence"
written by Matt Weiner
directed by Scott Hornbacher

"Is that all there is?"

One thing AMC has come to excel at is making their original series feel like events. From The Walking Dead dominating, Better Call Saul exceeding fairly high expectations and the excellent "Chemistry is the study of transformation" promo from Breaking Bad's last run, AMC has come a long way from taking a chance on a 1960s period piece.Their latest promo  that no doubt runs x times a day is a recap of the years of Mad Men where we see just how far we've come. And now, there isn't much left to go before the journey ends.

The man living the double life revealed late in the pilot is openly telling a Dick Whitman story in front of one of Don Draper's closest friends associates within ten minutes of the season premiere. One of the women who was an early link in the long chain of Don Draper's love life has met her demise. Peggy Olson knows to make someone wait if you want to try and make it last. And the big bad McCann is now the patron of the agency and isn't afraid to throw its weight around.

But no matter how much has changed in a decade, things remain the same. Don is still lost despite having what many people think you need. Women are still nothing but things to be fucked or joked about. Joan and Peggy are still locked in opposing forces no matter that the world they inhabit is against them.  And no matter what you do, someone will come along and overturn the table because they can. Leaving you to ask "Is that all there is?"

Quick Notes:
  • "You've missed your flight." Chills.
  • "I want to burn this place to the ground."
  • Was Robert Morse in the credits?
  • Every brunette looks familiar to Don.

30 March 2015

Wrestlemania 31 Thoughts

Wrestlemania XXXI was the least anticipated supercard wrestling event in recent memory. People paid to report on professional wrestling sounded nearly defeated talking about the show. Fans were lackadaisical at best. After the go home show on last week's Raw, I told myself it was time to take a hiatus from something I've followed along with for 16 years... after watching the Grand Daddy of 'Em All of course. But over the week, my excitement started to build. 

Brock Lesnar, the reigning WWE world heavyweight champion, former UFC fighter and all around freak athlete, announced he re-signed with WWE after rumored intense contract negotions. Saturday night's Hall of Fame saw a share of laughs and tears between the inductions of the surprisingly entertaining Bushwackers,  Macho Man Randy Savage and Connor "The Crusher" Michalek, an eight year old fan who passed away after fighting pediatric brain cancer. That Hall of Fame show reminded me that wrestling is important, damn it, and even though it's not good a lot of the time, even flat out bad on occasion, when it is good it is great. So I went into Sunday's show excited.

And they didn't disappoint.

An Intercontinental Championship ladder match ended with its best participant Daniel Bryan winning the championship and, with luck, beginning a march to restore prestige to one of the best belts in professional wrestling.

A clash between two athletes, Seth Rollins, WWE's go-to bad guy for the last year, the other now nearly beloved by most and known as Da Gawd ended with a move that made my jaw drop.

A match that seemed bizarre in its build as a "dream match" between Triple H and 56 year old Sting proved that Sting could still go when it mattered. WWE pulled out everything possible from its bag of tricks with interference from HHH's D-Generation X cohorts and Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to help the match. The one head scratcher was the big bad Triple H taking the win in Sting's first WWE match in his 30 year career. Sting had been the lone hold out of heroes from one of professional wrestling's boom eras. It only proved that when you make a deal with a devil, no matter how good, the devil still wins.

The women's tag match which showcased a division that has suffered greatly on the main WWE shows while consistently being a highlight in the developmental program showed promise for the year to come.

The US Championship match between WWE institution John Cena and Rusev, the Russian Federation's hero, won me over as soon as Rusev entered on a tank while a Russian army marched and the Russian national anthem blared throughout Levi Stadium. Cena winning only builds hope that WWE will work to build the reputation of a championship that's been little more than a joke for years.

Stephanie McMahon proved that she's one of the best performers in today's sideshow by talking shit to The Rock and UFC champion Ronda Rousey only to flee. If this isn't followed up on, WWE is losing guaranteed money.
The showdown between the WWE's "faces of fear" in Max Cady - stumbles through Carcosa cult leader Bray Wyatt and universally known dead man The Undertaker may have been the low point of the show. But considering how the previous Wrestlemania saw the Undertaker both defeated in ring and seemingly knocked out of the game, the 50 year old showed there was still a bit of life in him.

But all of the defeated outlook on the event rested on the seemingly inevitable coronation of Roman Reigns in the main event. Reigns had been rejected during the three month build. While some felt he didn't deserve it, I was more angry with those behind the curtain who seemed bullheaded enough to shove a hero down the crowd's throat that they had vocally and repeatedly let known they didn't want. Would a show that had been thus far enjoyable turn sour with the expected groan of the night? 

The moment he started his entrance through the crowd, Reigns was rejected. The champion Brock Lesnar entered to cheers which seemed nearly impossible the year before after defeating the previously mentioned Undertaker. He was a monster and a bully who was in the game for the money. Yet here he was making a hero's entrance. He quickly went to work destroying the challenger with the crowd calling out the number of suplexes he threw. Here was a legitimate athlete in a fictional world; an asskicker who wasn't above taking a lick while dishing them out. Once Reigns made a couple desperate maneuvers and busted open the beast, my stomach started to sink. Hitting his trademark moves only made the feeling worse. But Lesnar took the beating and kicked out.

Then arguably the best possible outcome was set in motion. WWE's go-to heel Seth Rollins came out with his guaranteed championship match contract and cashed it in. He pinned Reigns in the middle of the ring. The man who had suffered loss earlier in the night stood  tall and laughed as the event went off the air. 

WWE laid open the next year with Lesnar looking to gain back the championship he never lost, Reigns hunting his former friend for robbing him of the title, Randy Orton looking to continue his feud with Rollins and Daniel Bryan and John Cena rebuilding the prestige of championships that had seemed lost. 

Just when I think I'm out...they pull me back in.

25 March 2015

2014 in Books

Books 2014
Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.
Angela's Ashes
Born Standing Up
‘Salem’s Lot
Fight Club
The Death of Santini
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal
The Squared Circle: Life, Death and Professional Wrestling
Dark Places

A Contract With God
Gotham Central: Soft Targets
The Fifth Beatle
Captain America: Winter Soldier
Secret Warriors
The Strange Deaths of Batman
Andre The Giant
Collected Legends of the Dark Knight
The Immortal Iron Fist
Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography
Black Science Volume One
Batman: Year 100
Thor/Loki: Blood Brothers
Sex Criminals Volume One
Down Set Fight
Nixon’s Pals
Graphic Ink: The DC Art of Frank Quitely
Fraction’s The Defenders
The Score
Captain America: Man Out of Time
Fury MAX: My War Gone By
Green Arrow: Year One
New X-Men: Riot at Xavier’s
Dr. Strange & Dr. Doom: Triumph and Torment
Moon Knight: From The Dead
Superior Foes of Spider-Man: Getting The Band Back Together

“I keep going to a lot of places and ending up somewhere I’ve already been.”

Shut the door. Have a seat.

31 December 2013

The 2013 Book List

God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
Batman: Knightfall
Fortunately, The Milk
Pet Sematary
Superman: Miracle Monday

Young Avengers: Sidekicks
Batman: Year Two
Fun House
Crossover Classics: The Marvel/DC Collection
Fury: My War Gone By
The Books of Magic
Batman Incorporated
Hawkeye: My Life As A Weapon
Batman: The Alan Davis Collection
Superman: Birthright
Superman: Secret Identity
Seven Soldiers
The Immortal Iron Fist: The Last Iron Fist Story
Capote in Kansas
Batman: Dark Knight, Dark City
Batman: Jekyll and Hyde
Officer Downe
Batman: Mad Love and Other Stories
Fury: My War Gone By Volume Two
The Five Fists of Science
Punisher: Army of One
Punisher: Confederacy of Dunces
Something Terrible
Punisher Max: Frank
Punisher Max: Homeless
Sin Titulo
Thor, The Mighty Avenger
Black Beetle: No Way Out
Batman: Death of the Family
Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Gray
Batman: Arkham Reborn
The Red Wing

01 August 2013

Mark Waid in 2006

"The good news is, and I guarantee you this, when we’re on the other side of [Infinite Crisis], those days are GONE. Just gone. We’re sick to death of heroes who are not heroes, we’re sick to death of darkness. Not that there’s no room, not that Batman should act like Adam West, but that won’t be the overall feeling. After all this stuff, after everything shakes down, we’re done with heroes being dicks. No more “we screwed each other and now we must pay the consequences.” No, we’re super-heroes and that’s what we do. Batman’s broken. Through no ONE person’s fault, but he’s a dick now. And we’ve been told we can fix that."

Batman Incorporated #13 Thoughts

Written by Grant Morrison
Pencilled and Inked by Chris Burnham
Colored by Nathan Fairbairn
Lettered by Steve Wands and Travis Lanham

It's over. Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham deliver a beautiful postmortem of Morrison's nearly seven year run on the Bat books which ends where it started: Commissioner Gordon looking through his lenses and the introduction of those claiming to be the son of Batman. 

The story of a man and woman who simultaneously love and hate each other so much that the world around them will suffer for the relationship is a grand one. The woman who criticizes a man for becoming something ridiculous to combat his own demons builds a ridiculous army to destroy his world. The man who sees the ridiculousness around him yet soldiers on because that's what he has to do no matter what... Man that strikes a cord. But by the time this high stakes lovers' quarrel is over, Batman remains.

Chris Burnham has been Morrison's strongest and longest collaborator on a run filled with great artists like Frank Quitely, J.H. Williams III and Cameron Stewart. One of the true treats of Batman Inc. has been watching his work evolve from a handful of pages in the last Morrison scribed Batman and Robin to this beautiful issue. Action shots of masses fighting, a deadly kiss, a recreation of classic canon and two men talking over a cup of coffee. Beautiful. While I'm sad Batman Inc has come to an end, I look forward to seeing what he has lined up in the future.

As for the writing end, the ouroboros is a fitting end for continually published character that's been around for nearly 75 years. Everything that's old is new again. Morrison has already been moved around a bit as Scott Snyder drives the character's blockbuster book. Morrison's idea of Batman living all these years as a super adaptable man has now become a Batman around for only six years in this New 52. But everything that dies someday'll come back.  Great last issue.

Quick Thoughts:
  • The good cop brings coffee.
  • Burnham's panel of Gordon and a young Bruce Wayne at the scene of Crime Alley...Man.
  • My favorite members of Inc. Man of Bats and Raven Red punching out a masked soldier of Custer's army. Fan-fucking-tastic.
  • That title page (see above) should put Burnham's kid through a semester of college.
  • Talia's trigger doesn't work....see last July.
  • "Batman never dies. It never ends. It probably never will."
  • Dead is better.

16 June 2013

Bob As Lex On Man Of Steel

The Northampton Wizard/Scottish Sorcerer Feud Continues

"...More lately there have been attempts to mitigate the industry’s offence with an appeal to half-baked mysticism and postmodernism, maintaining that Superman and the commercial children’s comic characters which followed him are all in some sense archetypes that hover in the ether, waiting to be plucked by any lucky idiot who passes by. Ingeniously, this sidesteps the whole Siegel and Shuster problem by insisting that creators in the superhero field aren’t actually creators after all, but merely the recipients of some kind of transcendent windfall fruit that should be freely shared around. Even if this were true, it’s difficult to see exactly how it justifies a perhaps gangster-founded company of fruiterers (just to continue the analogy) declaring that these profitable magic apples all belong to them in perpetuity...." - Alan Moore, discussing Superman while really discussing someone else. More can be found here.

13 June 2013

Superman Unchained #1 Thoughts

Superman Unchained #1
Written by Scott Snyder
Pencilled by Jim Lee
Backup Pencils by Dustin Nguyen

With Man of Steel looking to make some serious cash this weekend, DC looks to capitalize on the attention with a new Superman #1 written by their best selling writer Scott Snyder and drawn by superstar artist and co-publisher Jim Lee. And, all in all, it's a solid start.

With Jim Lee having over 20 years in the industry, you've got a decent idea of what he's going to bring to the table. And over the last three years or so, Scott Snyder has built a brand of blockbuster stories with carefully composed inner monologues which I've found appealing. Between Snyder's use of history and prose like monologues and a giant 8 page foldout showcasing Lee's pencils, the team clearly puts their brand on the book.

The story itself is a strong prologue to the run setting up a handful of mysteries and also serves as a quick introduction for whomever comes to this fresh to the central characters of Metropolis in Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White and Lex Luthor. The opening set in 1945 Nagasaki and then the proper intro to Superman in action stand out as my favorite moments and the interaction between Jimmy and Clark is the best handling of the characters since All-Star Superman. By the time you reach the conclusion, there's clearly something this story is about rather than a mere cash grab. Between the use of drones in the War on Terror and ongoing NSA saga, Superman vs the Military-Industrial Complex is a story for these times and this reader.

The one downfall of the book is the five dollar price point for a book that's 22 pages and a pullout poster of new content. The poster itself is a part of the story and is somewhat sloppily glued with the book but hey, it's a Jim Lee comic. I've reached the point of realizing and occasionally accepting a very Jim Lee gimmick. But it factors into knocking the grade down slightly. If you walk out of the theater and feel like reading a Superman book, grab All-Star. And if you've got an extra five bucks, give this a shot.


15 April 2013


Patton Oswalt says it better than I ever could.

29 March 2013

Wednesday On Friday (Repost)

The ravens arrived and proceeded to feast on the unbeliever's eyes. Then one turned and cocked its head to the dying man hanging in the middle. "We bring a message. 'Three hours? Try nine days, boy.'" The clouds rumbled in response and the ravens fled.

Then the great silence set in.