Thursday, December 28, 2006

Comic (and other) Reviews with minimal spoilers -- December 27th, 2006

Last reviews of 2006, how exciting! I hope everyone had a great Christmas. It was extra special in the Ferguson household this year but I'll leave it at that. ;) So only two comics to review this week, Astonishing X-Men #19 and The Great and Secret Show #8. On top of that I'll be adding a review of Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud and the "movie" An Inconvenient Truth (*gasp* I touch on something beyond on comics???).

Astonishing X-Men #19 -- It's getting harder and harder to review this series. It's great. Issue after issue I just love the work of Whedon and Cassaday. There may be points where I might linger over a panel and say "This isn't Cassaday's best panel" or kinda get taken out of the story by a glitch in the story or dialogue. Was I the only one who found it weird that Colossus was speaking in very broken English at times? I haven't seen anyone write him like that in a long time. Then again, I didn't really follow the X-Men too much. But despite any shortcomings the book may have, I still love every issue. All I can say is give me more!

The Great and Secret Show #8 -- Yeah, it seems like I've been repeating myself over and over on this series as well. Still solid art. Still the same quality of writing. That's a great thing for this comic as both have been well done but it's harder for the reviewer (ie. me). Some things still remain a problem for me like trying to keep track of things from month to month (especially if particular characters happen to go missing for an issue or two due to the story) but at this point, what can you do? Once the series is over I'll probably re-read it before delving into the sequel that Clive Barker wrote. So any Clive Barker fans may want to look up the TPB when it's out (I think the first 6 issues were already collected).

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud -- Yeah, it only took me 13 years to get around to reviewing it. :) Warning: This book is only for the comic enthusiast. Those who are currently content to just sit back and enjoy comics for what they are would be better off avoiding this. Those interested in creating comics on the other hand or those who are borderline obsessed with them, this should probably be a must read. The appreciation you get for comics, their history, and their future would be a blessing. Though you do need an open mind and maybe a little patience through some parts. But I think each chapter has a wealth of hidden tidbits that would help out any aspiring comic book creator and give enthusiasts a little bit more to chew on. You might find yourself having your brain open up to new ideas. Like me for instance, I've never been fond of most non-North American comics but as McCloud mentions ideas that came to North America from Japanese comics I had to admit my ignorance. And as he discusses some rationale behind cartoony characters existing along side more realistic ones and objects depicted as cartoony in one panel and realistic the next, it started to make a bit more sense to me. I still don't think I'll be rushing out to read more but at least my eyes and mind are a little more open now. It was definitely worth the time and money as this will stick with me for a long time. I can't wait to read the more recent "Making Comics" by McCloud.

An Inconvenient Truth -- Although I wanted to see this I never got around to seeing it in the theatre. For those that don't know about the movie/documentary, it's Al Gore talking about global warming. He has been travelling the world doing a talk about global warming and one day they decided to shoot it. But just to keep things interesting they intertwine the talk with little asides about Gore's childhood and why he's so interested in this topic. And in case anyone was wondering, I asked for this as a Christmas gift, it wasn't given to me by someone who felt I "really needed to see it". Avoiding the "controversial" message for a moment, as a documentary this movie is put together really well. The shifting from slide show to Al's personal life keeps the viewer invested in both the presentation and Mr Gore himself. And Gore comes across as an incredible public speaker, though it doesn't hurt that he really displays a passion for this. There was something that made me wince slightly though. I had thought that this documentary was advertised as something that didn't attack any US administration, past or present, yet there were a few times where I felt it did go after the current Bush administration. The problem being though that the current Bush administration opened the door with it's attacks on global warming. I only worry that once the mud-slinging begins the message is lost. And as for the message, I have to admit, I do believe the "current scientific consensus on climate change" which according to Wikipedia is " recent warming indicates a fairly stable long-term trend, that the trend is largely human caused, and that serious damage may result at some future date if steps are not taken to halt the trend." Though I also believe that even if that consensus is wrong that taking measures to curb green house gas emissions and pollution just makes sense and also wouldn't lead to the economic crisis that some would have you believe. So having said that, this movie moved me. I do take some steps already such as replacing light bulbs with more energy efficient ones and trying to keep the temperature in my condo cooler in the winter, warmer in the summer and I'll continue to do so with even more vigor. So the message appealed to me but I know it won't for a large number of people out there. I only hope that it continues to get people talking about global warming and maybe one day, we will actually start listening to each other as well. Because I feel that only then will we be able to do anything.

Oh yeah, for those who did see the movie in theatres the DVD has 30 extra minutes where Al Gore talks about more up to date publications, data, and events. If you enjoyed the movie then it's worth checking out. I guess the only problem is that just like all areas of research, our knowledge continues to grow. So like Gore needs to keep updating his slides, we probably need to keep updating this DVD.

In conclusion, if you had any inkling of seeing this film then I recommend you do so. If you're already preparing a scathing response to this review then it's probably not for you. And in the end, don't let it be the end all of the story. Keep an open mind, take the time to listen and better educate yourself, and never dismiss an idea.

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