marlowe1: (Spinning Tardis)
76.All New Captain America: Fear Him by Dennis Hopeless, Rick Remender & Mast & Geoffo - In the 80s, superhero comics found their adolescence. So many heroes were angsty and trying to do the right thing and living in a world with very clear messages. The messages seemed pretty deep if you were a teenager but were pretty blatant is you weren't. By the 90s superheroes regressed into the power fantasies with way too many damn mutants all over the place and Superman running out of stories so they decided to kill him. Somewhere in the last couple decades, they finally grew up and started telling stories that went beyond the power fantasies.

Ok. I'm still a little surprised that I like superhero comics again. Who knew what a little character development could do?

So anyhow, this one has Sam Wilson fighting a supremely silly villain who might as well be a clone of the Scarecrow villain from Batman. He even has the silly mask and the freakout juice. The heart of the comic though is Sam and Steve's son (who is Nomad, I guess) running around the sewer systems and finding a colony of runaway kids. The part where Sam agrees to leave them alone while tripping balls on the fear juice is quite great.

77. One Punch Man 10 by Yusuke Murata - There's a joy in One Punch Man fucking around with the narrative tropes of the genre. No matter how dangerous or nasty the villain becomes, the ending is right there in the title. This is the first one I've read and I immediately put the rest of the series on hold at the library. Sadly, they don't have them past this collection yet so I will have to wait awhile to find out how our hero fares in the big martial arts contest where he's in disguise. But the first part where Garo is the monster who is beating all other heroes is the best setup until he just runs into our hero at a grocery store and Saitama goes "what are you bothering me for" and knocks him out as if it's no big thing. This joke might get old but not yet.

78. Powers: Gods - One of the insights into Raymond Chandler is that his mysteries are often not mysteries at all. No matter how much corruption Philip Marlowe digs up, the answer the to mystery is often just the client or the daughter of the client. The world is still a mess but the mystery itself is simple. Most of the Powers stories fall into these patterns. There's someone dead at the beginning, a lot of investigation that hints at a huge world of corruption and conspiracy, and then the killer is just some guy. Sometimes there's a big world changing event (like the Superman character killing a bunch of towns) but mostly it's a simple solution to a mystery with complex implications. The first few series were about superheroes as rock stars (including one where it turns out that the superhero just had a heart attack while fucking a groupie) but after the series went to Marvel the rock star metaphor went to a straight detective story.

So this one is totally a Raymond Chandler type with the background of superheroes who are powerful enough to be Greek gods, or at least they claim. Damocles is dead and the rest of the gods are not forthcoming. Hades is fucked up and Hecate is living in a church. There's a lot of talk about how gods can be superheroes as this is a takeoff on the Marvel titles. Artemis dies and who the fuck knows what's going on. And then a couple of humans who took the superhero juice that makes them crazy were super pumped and killed the rest of the gods. For revenge. For a rape. And a cover-up.

The epilogue seems more like an afterthought to lead to Bureau than an actual ending. Everything is done and then the last goddess alive in the pantheon gets pissed and tries to flood Chicago. All the big heroes disappear and the cops become FBI agents.

79.Captain Marvel: Rise of Alpha Flight by Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters - I just looked up the writers and found out that they were the producers on Agent Carter. They also wrote Dollhouse episodes. This was still pretty dead. I don't really like Captain America that much and putting her on a spaceship to negotiate with a kill spaceship that recognizes her as Kree because of her symbol and then gets all genocidal is too Babylon 5 for my taste. Interesting to see Alpha Flight but they got boring since I was reading the John Byrne run.

80. Ms. Marvel: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson and Jacob Wyatt - Kamala Khan is the best. Actually Ms. Marvel is why I am trying to read Captain Marvel and being bored all over again the Carol Danvers. Maybe Ms. Marvel is why I don't like Captain Marvel because damnit Captain Marvel screwed up as a mentor. This continues the Inventor/Mr Edison who is half-bird and also using millennials as batteries there are plenty who think that they are useless (political points tend to be obvious in the comic just because they are still looking for teenage audience). But the sight gags are great. The part where she gets Lockjaw to protect her and she's hugging him for her parents is adorable. And how many superheroes run into Wolverine and start talking about their Wolverine fan fiction?
marlowe1: (Spinning Tardis)
Youtube's automatic next video feature combined with the fact that I can play youtube on my television (whether or not it is on) means that I can play Youtube Telephone where I just let the site lead me through dozens of videos just to see where they lead. I will play a Lorde video and it will end up on a Korean pop group in 24 hours. I will play an episode of Boogiepop Phantom and end up at a douchebag judging the videos by how many upskirt illustrations are in them (it's not always a winner). So when I started with a Bad Writing Advice video (videos that mock crappy books with advice like "make sure that your dystopia has a love triangle") I ended up on other videos with serious writing advice. Like the person who made the videos went through a lot of thought to come up with a weekly "vlog" about writing and how to create compelling characters or ramp up tension. She was actually better in the early ones I saw where she talked about bad female characters, etc. The writing advice was either very basic or very specific to her writing style.

The only thing I learned about writing advice is that it's good for some things but you cannot take it as a gospel because writing advice can be contradictory for a major reason. Everyone writes differently. And often their writing advice reveals their weaknesses. Stephen King says to just write without an outline and you can see how this plays out in his books. On one hand the plot does feel like it comes organically from the characters instead of a need to pigeonhole them into a plot and yet he rarely ends a book in a satisfactory manner. The longer the book, the more likely there will be an explosion that kills off most of the secondary characters.

Also amateur writers are the ones more likely to give writing advice. It's like how people who can't stay with their boyfriends or girlfriends more than a month are just full of relationship advice. In the case of this youtube channel, the woman has a self-published book with mixed reviews. It's like she thought of the success of being asked about her process without fine tuning her process.

But then this leads to the youtube debate over whether youtubers should write books. There are two themes that I noticed in the youtube videos entitled "Should Youtubers write books?" (go on google it). First, there was some woman who got a publishing contract and then a ghost writer for her book. Second, the videos are fucking painful. Like the people who are doing them can't be bothered to write down a script or even rehearse. So they just go around the subject and never get to the fucking point. They also think of exceptions to their statements as soon as they make them. Probably when they are making them. Sometimes they mention John Green but then kind of say that he doesn't count because he was already writing books or something. Anyhow, they probably aspire to be John Green who writes pretty good YA books and has a well produced set of videos.

The part that fascinates me is the fact that it's obvious that almost every single one of these youtube "personalities" (I'm sure they have fans) would love to make money in the book writing business. After all, book writing actually pays better than patreons if the books are bestsellers (big if) but they are probably just as bad as writing books as they are at speaking clearly with purpose when the camera is on. Only they can't write one and they are jealous of those youtube "personalities" who do get book contracts, citing the anonymous youtube personality (why the fuck doesn't anyone name her) who got a ghost writer. So they try to say that writing a book when you have a youtube channel is unfair, like you are jumping in front of the line or you are taking focus away from legitimate book writers. Of course, there are plenty of celebrities who write books so the "it's unfair" debate is pretty moot.

THere are also youtube channels where teenagers review books. It's actually kind of weird to see them want to talk about a book but take forever to get to it. It's even worse in the 10 Most Hated Books when you find out that the first book is a Twilight book.

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Tim Lieder

September 2017

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