Saturday, June 18, 2005

Batman Begins -- My wife and I took our kids to see Batman Begins last night, after trying a new Chinese/Japanese/Hibachi restaurant that opened in Lake George.

I think it was telling that at the end of the evening, my wife mentioned that her favourite part of the night was the restaurant -- we sat at a Hibachi table and watched our scallops, shrimp and filet mignon being prepared in front of us by a witty, talented chef. And the food was extraordinarily good. How could the show at the movie theater hope to compare?

But, we did go. My biggest comlaint about the movie had nothing to do with the movie -- it was just too goddamned loud. Every sabre clash, every spray of automatic weapons fire against a metal surface, Jesus, the assault on my ears was unbelievable. So, my enjoyment of the movie was diminished by that.

I don't know, Roger Ebert gave the movie four stars and Mark Millar says it's perfect -- I hate to be the voice of dissent, especially because I was really prepared to love this movie. And I did like some parts of it, but I can't really say I loved it.

Visually, it looked great -- the shots of Gotham City, Wayne Manor, the Batmobile rooftop chase, all pretty spectacular. The only visual letdown, to me, was the Batman costume. Perhaps they were trying to capture the look of the earliest iteration of the outfit, but, the closeups of Batman had me longing for the costumers from Batman: Dead End. On the other hand, the nightmare visions of The Scarecrow occasionally ventured into Hannibal Lecter-level creepy, and that's an accomplishment for a sooperhero movie.

Michael Caine was terrific as Alfred, and Gary Oldman was note-perfect as the Miller/Mazzucchelli Gordon from Year One, except they didn't give him enough of an internal life to really bring him to life as James Gordon. I had hoped that the presence of Flass and the whole corrupt police force subplot would allow that Gordon to emerge -- the flawed idealist who doscovers his own -- and Batman's -- inner reserves in his darkest hours. But with so little material to work with, Oldman just became a pale echo of the powerful presence -- the main character, in some ways -- from Year One.

And clearly Batman: Year One is the comic this movie most wanted to be. Unfortunately, having the guy behind the Blade movies onboard for the script insured that the subtlety and grace of Year One would be supplanted by testosterone-fueled battles and, yes, sabre-clashing. Not to say that that isn't a valid way to tell a Batman story -- but with so much resonance with Year One, perhaps a more nuanced approach would have had me raving much more about a movie, ultimately, that I am not that excited about.

Oh, and Katie Holmes? Substantial as a fart. I'm sure she's a nice person and was charming when she wasn't grating on Dawson's Creek, but she had no place in this story. Having a weird way of curling up your lip -- as disturbing in its way as that weird thing with Shannon Doherty's eye -- is no substitute for being a woman of substance and integrity who is worthy of Bruce Wayne. For the first time we see an actor convincingly portray Bruce as heterosexual, but he is (mis-) matched with an actress who was pushing the very limits of her acting skills by portraying the emotional dilemma of choosing between Dawson and Pacey.

I don't mean to be all down on Batman Begins. If the sound had been at a human level, I might have been more immersed in its charms. Certainly it was more entertaining and involving than Daredevil or The Punisher. But when all is said and done, I don't think it was better than Tim Burton's 1989 Batman. It might, in a way, have been about equally as good, although for different reasons. But Batman Begins was pretty severely wounded by the presence of Katie Holmes and a script lacking in complexity and subtlety. If this were a review, I'd probably give it a 3.5 out of 5.


Friday, June 17, 2005

Last Call! -- It was a damned busy week here at THE NEW COMIC BOOK GALAXY, and what better way to relax and reflect on the week that was with a cool beverage at Johnny Bacardi's? His LAST CALL is the new weekly Friday column here at The Galaxy, and starting next Friday he'll be joined every week by Chris Allen's BREAKDOWNS, so, two of the very best writers about comics, right here on Friday to help you wind down from the week with some entertaining and informative chat. I think that's pretty cool. To check out the premiere edition of LAST CALL, click over to the main page and start reading!

So, how'd we do this week? Over a dozen columns and reviews, and more on the way every week from here on out. Not to mention that some of the regular columns we'll be featuring haven't even been mentioned yet, as they are still in various stages of preparation. We're also looking at a couple of minor tweaks to make the site design even more useful and attractive, too.

I hope you like what we've done here -- everyone is extremely excited about the possibilities that lie ahead, and grateful for the positive reaction we've been receiving. I hope if you like what we're doing, you'll drop a line to a friend who likes comics, and let them know about all the changes here at The Galaxy -- not to mention, the chance to win everything AiT/PlanetLar has ever published.

Thanks for stopping by, remember to check out JB's LAST CALL, and if there's any other of our new reviews or columns you haven't had a chance to read yet, well, when you get some downtime this weekend between barbeques (I've got two on tap, one today at work on our lunch break and one at a friend's tomorrow in Lake George, woo hoo!) and going to see Batman Begins (I'm going tonight, convinced by Roger Ebert's review), maybe stop by back here and browse through the content from the past week, or dip even deeper into the archives of the past five years of COMIC BOOK GALAXY.

It's almost enough to get me excited about our anniversary this September 1st...hmm, we should do something special for that...


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A Special Thank You -- I was thrilled to see the kind words about THE NEW COMIC BOOK GALAXY that Steven Grant has today in his column. The guy pulls no punches, so his comments really make me feel like we might be on the right track. My thanks to Grant, and everyone who's taken the time and effort to mention the new incarnation of the site -- if you have a blog or column or message board habit, I'd appreciate you helping to spread the word.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Day Two! -- Thanks for helping to make the debut yesterday of THE NEW COMIC BOOK GALAXY our most-visited day ever. Thanks especially to everyone that linked to our efforts on their blogs, sites and message boards. Much appreciated!

Here's what's going on today:

* Chris Allen's BREAKDOWNS goes weekly with reviews and commentary

* Johnny Bacardi reviews the EC Comics retrospective FOUL PLAY

* Ian Brill reviews F-STOP

So click on over to the main page and start reading!


Monday, June 13, 2005

A Note from James Kochalka -- And good news it is, too!

After 2 1/2 months out of comission, is back and fully
operational. I can now take subscribers again.

Thought you might like to know.

-- James Kochalka

I can't urge everybody strongly enough to go and subscribe. James makes his living on the subscriber base for American Elf, and for the price of just one shitty corporate comic, you get beautiful, full-colour daily diary strips every day of the month that will literally make your life better. Quite a bargain for three bucks. Go sign up now.

The Black Diamond Sparkles -- Larry Young (you might know him as the brilliant madman behind Comic Book Galaxy's biggest contest ever) sent me a preview of The Black Diamond, a beautiful, full-colour monthly comic written by Larry and with the best art I've ever seen by Jon Proctor. The near-future sci-fi premise -- revolving around fast cars and a brutal solution to mass transportation -- is so much fun it's amazing no one ever thought of it before.

Testosterone-driven action comics don't often do it for me, but this one looks to be done right, with energy and smarts to spare, and the colouring is terrific, hyper-real and not quite like any comic I've seen before.

Coming on the heels of Demo, I think The Black Diamond will be a genuine pleasure to pick up every month, very different from AiT's last monthly series, but looking to be equally as entertaining, and a good piece of fiction to spend your summer escaping inside.

Learn more at Newsarama.

The New Comic Book Galaxy -- It's happening. Go read it.

Oh, here's the press release:

Today marks the debut of THE NEW COMIC BOOK GALAXY at .

This is a re-launch of the criticism and commentary website that will celebrate its Fifth Anniversary on September 1st, 2005. The site boasts a brand new look, but will continue to feature all the writers and columns readers have long enjoyed.


Today readers can view the following:

Ed Cunard's TOM SPURGEON INTERVIEW looks at Tom's time at The Comics Journal, his new site The Comics Reporter, and more

Larry Young says TAKE IT ALL! in our biggest contest ever, giving away one copy of every comic and graphic novel they've ever published

Mike Sterling's BEHIND THE COUNTER looks behind the scenes at comics retailing

Logan Polk's LOOSE STAPLES features reviews and commentary

Joe Rice's MAKE-BELIEVE WAR launches

Shawn Hoke's SIZE MATTERS features a weekly look at the best in mini-comics

Marc Sobel's CRACK SHOTS features reviews of new comics and graphic novels

...and there's even more new features in store!


For the past half-decade, readers have come to count on Comic Book Galaxy for the very best reviews of the very best comics and graphic novels, and beginning today, Monday, June 13th, 2005, THE NEW COMIC BOOK GALAXY will push comics -- and itself -- forward into the next phase in online comics criticism and commentary. We hope you'll join us on this exciting journey!


Sunday, June 12, 2005

It's Ready -- I can't even begin to wrap my brain around it, but I think we're ready to go tomorrow morning with THE NEW COMIC BOOK GALAXY. Waiting to hear back from our tech guys about some last-second tweaks, but content-wise, we're a go.

What else? I've hardly done anything else all weekend, which originally was not how I thought this weekend would go, but for the good of the site, it's probably just as well. I did get a late-night e-mail last night that will make the new version of the site even better, which from where I am sitting is a pretty astonishing thing. But for some reason, the enthusiasm and energy I feel for this enterprise right now seems to be spreading like wildfire among Galaxy contributors new and old. If you like this site as it is now, if you liked it five years ago, you are going to very much like what we have in store for you in the week ahead, and thereafter.

One strong recommendation from me, because I have no time to write the review it deserves: Buy Ice Haven by Dan Clowes. The new hardcover, a reconfiguring of the brilliant Eightball #22 (still the greatest single issue of any comics series ever published), is absolutely fantastic and a must-read for both newcomers to Clowes and/or comics, or for hardcore Clowes fanatics. I can see a possible middle-ground of casual Clowes readers who might not get the thrill out of this recontextualization of the cartoonist's best work, but everything from the design to the reworked pages and additonal material, Ice Haven is just a wonderful ramping up of what was already one of the greatest works ever created in comics. Do pick it up.

Now, come back here tomorrow, and hopefully we'll get this crazy new era off the ground!


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