Friday, October 17, 2014

5 Things on a Friday: with the Cool Kids

It's been an interesting week in Albany, but I'm more than ready to go home.  I know some folks don't mind traveling for work, but I personally hate it.  Seriously, I don't know how some of you guys do it.

The mainstream news is mostly filled with the #EbolaApocalypse, so I'm gonna spend some time this week talking about comic book stuff.  I'm betting we'll still be alive in the next few years to see the stuff that got announced this week at the New York Comic Con.
Perhaps the biggest news to come out of the NYC Comic Con was the announcement that Captain America 3 will be called "Captain America: Civil War", and that it will star Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man.  This will let Marvel launch its movie and TV shows in an entirely new direction after Avengers 3, giving us a chance to see not only The Death of Captain America on the big screen but also Brian Michael Bendis's New Avengers mega-arch.

Luke Cage headlined the
New Avengers even though
Spider-Man and Wolverine
were also on the team.
The New Avengers is important because it's the book that revitalized the value of Luke Cage.  Given that Cage looks to have a major role in Marvel's new Netflix series, this makes sense.  Bendis also wrote a lot of the material that appears to have inspired the new Daredevil series on Netflix, so I can't say that I'm surprised to see his stuff connected to some of the follow-up work as well.  Whether you like Bendis or hate him, his stuff was all connected on a single through-line, and that's the direction Marvel's headed with its movies and TV shows.  Personally, I think Bendis is terrific on small-team and individually titled books--his run on Daredevil continues to be my favorite comic run of all time--but with the exception of New Avengers, his stuff tends to fall apart with the larger teams.  However, New Avengers was great, especially in the way it dealt with the superhero community's reaction to Captain America's death and with Cage's subsequent turn as leader of the Avengers when they became an underground group of heroes on the run from government registration.

On the comic side, Marvel's rebooting Civil War in 2015 to support the direction of its movie universe, using Jonathan Hickman's run on the Avengers and New Avengers as a launching point.  This then leads to another reboot, this time of the first "event" of all, Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars.

Promotional art for the new Secret Wars.
I would groan at this, but I really liked Hickman's Infinity event.
My daughter Emma and I both have an abiding love for the original, 1980s-era version of Secret Wars, so I hope the new one is at least done in the same comic-crazy spirit.  It doesn't look like it's going to be, though.  Instead, it looks more like a DC-style Crisis on Infinite Earths kind of thing.  As long as it's fun, I guess I won't care.

I would, however, prefer new storyarcs to rebooted events from the past.

2.  Big Green Tractor
We were making dinner on Monday night when Pandora started spitting out country songs.  At first I was annoyed because I do not like country music.  But Sally does.  She's kind of a closet country fan, but still...

This song came on, and it's been in my head ever since.

Needless to say, I'll be happy to get home this afternoon.

"What’s the point of an iPad? Who needs a tablet in this era of big phones and ultraportable laptops? And even if you do want a tablet, do you really need the premium tablets Apple is making — devices that sell for a couple of hundred dollars more than the pretty capable tablets made by Amazon, Google and many other rivals?"

If you have to ask the question, I think you must already know the answer.  

Tablets just aren't as practical as people want them to be.  It stuck me last time I was in the Apple Store exactly how unwieldy they are.  Apple has all of its sales personnel decked out with iPad Minis, and the damned things are terribly inconvenient.  The sales people have to type in all of your information using the tablets, and it's like watching some kind of new age dance when they try to do it.  The tablet is exactly the wrong size for easy typing.  I wanted to tell the guy who helped me to do us both a favor and just set the tablet down, so he could type more effectively, but of course, that would have demonstrated the utter uselessness of the device he was using.

Don't get me wrong--I like my tablet.  I have a Nexus 7, and it's great.  But it's a distinctly limited device, which is why I'm glad that it was cheap.  I could say the same about my laptop.  But then, I'm not the one arguing that one device should be able to do everything for you.  I've always been a "right tool for the job" kind of guy.

4.  Echosmith: Cool Kids

I like that song a lot, but I don't know that I would have dressed the singer in that dress for this video.  I mean, she's obviously one of the cool kids herself.  I don't think the irony is intentional.

I like this one better, mostly because of the Breakfast Club homage.

I may have to get this album.

5.  Late Surge of Money Buoys Republicans in Races That Will Decide Control of Senate (NY Times)
"Re­pub­li­can can­di­dates and 'su­per PACs' are now splurg­ing on ex­pen­sive last-minute ad­ver­tis­ing, at a time when polling shows Re­pub­li­cans in­creas­ing­ly more like­ly to win con­trol of the Sen­ate."

Off-year voting is always tricky, but I am not a believer in the current, bifurcated structure of the GOP.  I'll be astonished if they actually win in November, and even if they do, it seems impossible that their victory will make any difference.  What do these Republicans even want?  Nothing.  They literally want nothing at all, and that's not a formula that will inspire the American people.

After this election cycle, the President will be a lame duck, and that by itself will leave the Republican Party without a platform.  For six years, these guys have been the party of anti-Obama.  After he's gone, all that hate is going to collapse in on itself like an abandoned farmhouse forgotten by time.  What then?  Will they inspire, offer hope, give a message that makes coherent sense and leads towards a positive future?  Somehow I doubt it.  They come across too angry for that.

I supported Huntsman in the last
election cycle.  This leaves me
without a party now.
Obama won in 2008 because he offered hope and change.  I grant you that his version of hope was a lot of hot air.  We've heard a lot of talk in six years but seen little leadership.  I am not arguing that this president has done a good job.  Still, his message inspired.

What we need now is some kind of positive vision for the future, a strategy that actually leads somewhere.  The politics of fear and smaller government won't get us there.  The GOP used to be a party that offered a vision of the future--open markets, free trade, powerful international alliances... these were core Republican ideals--but now they just want to dismantle the government in order to avoid paying their share of taxes in a time of war.  Not only is that disgraceful at a personal level, it's downright weird out of a bunch of guys who want to work in government.

Am I the only one who sees that?

Alright.  Enough soapbox.  It's not like I have all the answers.  But seriously, ever since they threw John Huntsman out of the GOP, there hasn't been room in the party for me, either.  Make of that what you will.


  1. What I always liked about Marvel was that most stuff that I read years ago, is technically still in continuity. Very little gets ret-conned, most sort of gets glossed over to blur the passage of real time. So the idea of re-doing Civil War, Secret Wars (and I just saw Armor Wars coming for 2015 on Facebook) doesn't sit well with me, since it smacks of DC-style reboots. If they are new events with themes revisited, that's fine.

    I know Bendis has his detractors (and I'm aware of his flaws), but I think his work on Daredevil was excellent (if part of the norm where DD gets ground into the dirt by circumstance - which is what makes Mark Waid's lighter tone so refreshing) and I always enjoyed the banter on New Avengers - it was like watching an episode of friends only with Wolverine and Spider-Man rather than Ross and Chandler.

    1. I agree with that completely.

      What I've read is that the new Civil War is coming directly out of Jonathan Hickman's run on Avengers and New Avengers, which makes a certain amount of sense. Hickman's run has been notable for the fact that it is one VERY LONG single story arc with many pieces. It actually opens with Tony Stark and Steve Rogers talking about how they need to put the past--the original Civil War and Secret Invasion--behind them and reform the Avengers for the good of the planet. But events continue to pull them apart.

      In the end, the New Avengers (aka the Illuminati) create a kind of doomsday weapon to protect our version of reality from extradimensional threats, and it reads very like the kind of thing AIM or Hydra would have done back in the day. They know immediately that Steve Rodgers won't go for their solution, so they brainwash him to forget what they did, and off we go...

      What's not gotten much press is that all of this is supposed to tie into another major arc, Rage of Ultron, also by Hickman. Considering that it's all coming from the same author, one assumes it will make narrative sense, but... Who knows.