Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Chronic Summit Meeting!

Mike and I got together on Monday night for a Chronic Insomnia Summit Meeting.  It was time to check in and see where our energy levels were at and how we felt about the show.  We discussed the things we've been doing well, things that could be done better, things we might like to try in the future.

I can't speak for my podcast partner, but I think it went very well.

I will not get into specifics on changes to format and content, and we're not ready to set a target date for our inevitable return.  I can tell you that after Monday's Summit, Chronic Insomnia will be coming back in a form that will be recognizable to those who have been listening.  We've got some prep work to do, and some more self-indulgent lazing about to accomplish first.  But it's coming.  Soon.  For better or for worse.

And in the meantime.....comics!

Detective Comics # 881
DC Comics
Script:     Scott Snyder
Pencils:   Francesco Francavilla

I've gone on record multiple times saying that I think it's a bit of a shame and a tactical error to reboot this franchise.  But if you're going to go out...what a way to go out.

Scott Snyder's run on Detective Comics is the finest work done on the character since Dark Knight Returns.  It hasn't been flawlessly executed, but the feel of it is so satisfying.  Dick is his own man, Detective tells actual Detective stories, the plot lines are suitably dark and sophisticated, and the character work is superb.

James Gordon, Jr. is now one of the great Bat-Villains, and this issue clinched it.  All of Snyder's main threads are sewn up by the end of the issue, emotionally and mechanically.  The payoff is an absolute jackpot, because the double size issue gives the drama a chance to breathe.  In the hands of a different writer, I think this issue would read a little clunky and little too expository.  Because Snyder has such a chillingly good grasp on the sociopathic mind, though, you spend every panel gritting your teeth and hanging on every word.

So yeah, not only is this a very fitting end to the arc and this era of Detective, but it also plants the seeds for what should be some outstanding fruit further down the road.  I'm not going to spoil it.  I'm just going to tell you for the thousandth time - if you haven't been reading Scott Snyder's Detective...shame on you.

Spider-Island:  Cloak & Dagger # 1 (of 3)
Marvel Comics
Script:     Nick Spencer
Pencils:    Emma Rios

There are so many things not to like about this.  Let's see - it's yet another retread, for starters.  It's getting kind of embarrassing at the House of Ideas, frankly.  They don't have one success story in the last five years to point to, (and I'm being conservative and generous with that five year mark) yet they still keep trotting out these "golden oldies" and further dilute the power of an already spent tactic.  Just off the top of my head: Moon Knight, Ghost Rider, Alpha Flight, and Heroes for Hire.  Every book is somebody's favorite, but none of these are economically viable.

We don't actually need a Cloak & Dagger book, and if we did, now is probably the worst time in the world to test it out.  We need to contract, pull back, tighten up, and put out the best of the best in this market, not throw another fish at the wall and see if it sticks.

Then there's the "Spider-Island" factor, or more appropriately, the lack of a Spider-Island factor.  I'm not reading Amazing Spider-Man right now, (it's $3.99 and it's usually pencilled by Humberto Ramos, so that's a double no-go for me) but I don't have to be reading it to tell you that this Cloak & Dagger installment adds NOTHING to it.  Absolutely nothing.

This comic mentions that Spider-Island is happening, and even spends a few pages mindlessly mixing it up with the victims.  But that element is so muted, dull, and non-integral that Dagger literally stops fighting mid-swing to go to her community college class.  You think I'm kidding.  I'm not. 

And this is the sort of thing that I really love about Nick Spencer, but I gotta tell you - if I bought this book specifically to get more on Spider Island?  I'm PISSED.

Lots to loathe about this comic.  And yet, I do have a soft spot in my heart for these characters, I am mildly interested in what Spencer is doing with them, and Osborn taught me to adore the pencils of Emma Rios.  It looks like Spencer is interested in exploring Cloak & Dagger as a loving relationship, not a romantic one, and I think that's probably a good idea.  I think it's infinitely more interesting to let those feelings stay subtle, tense and dramatic.  ( a la the best of Moonlighting and Castle, as an example)

Spencer's take on the pair dynamic is to make them polar and dichotomous, which is obvious... but also makes sense.  Dagger wants a sense of normalcy and the mundane, Cloak seems to yearn for excellence and the extraordinary.  That's an odd couple theme that can work.

Spencer also seems able to address racial issues with a scalpel instead of the 4 pound maul everyone else is interested in wielding in 2011.  When the Avengers come calling for assistance with the rioting Spider-Folks, Cloak wonders why they always feel the need to address Dagger.  When he gets a real conversation, he gets it from Luke Cage.  Now that felt real to me.  That felt like a real thing, and I didn't feel preached at.  Maybe it's just because I'm hopelessly white, and so is Nick Spencer.  God help me, I'm actually curious to know what Hannibal Tabu's thoughts on this issue will be.


- Ryan

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