Comics, the “So” album and me

This is, without doubt, my favourite song of all time.

Like many others back in the late 80’s, I had bought Peter Gabriel’s “SO” Album for the incredibly catchy “Sledgehammer”.  The video had plasticine stop motion and was quite unlike anything else I had ever seen.  When I got home, I placed the vinyl carefully on my little record player, set the correct RPM and lowered the stylus onto the starting grooves.

The above song is the first thing on that album and as the opening played through my tinny speakers, I was sitting reading the lyrics on the sleeve.  There was something about the whole musical atmosphere that the song had created that captivated me.  Not long before I had picked up a whole heap of old 2000Ad comics at a bring and buy sale.  Having not read it in years, I had devoured the stories that were contained within.  For those that know these things (and are interested) most of the issues were from the apocalypse war storyline of Dredd.  A pretty good place to start and it gave me a love of Dredd that continues to this day (and contributed to my arguing with an Ex about the merits of the Stallone Dredd film….it has none if you were wondering!!).

Also in that stack of issues I had got (20 comics for 5p) were various parts of the Rogue Trooper strip.  I was struck by how harrowing some of these stories were.  The chem clouds that had devastated Nu Earth and the pointless war that the Norts and the Southers were fighting.  It was whilst reading these stories that something happened.  I had been playing both sides of “SO” on almost constant repeat for days and as “Red Rain” started, it somehow became entangled in my mind as relating to Rogue Trooper.  I would change the words in my head as it played

“Chem rain is coming down, all over me”.

Well it is the sort of thing that teenagers do, so I make no apologies.

Even today, when that song is playing, there is that part of me that will forever be a teenager that is smiling, changing the words and thinking himself clever and remembering how good Rogue Trooper was.

As for Dredd and the Apocalypse War, well that became entangled with “Don’t give up” on the same album and still brings back memories of that story.  That is how powerful music can be.

So why is it my favourite song ever?  To be honest I cannot give a definitive answer.  There are other songs that are close to taking that title, like this one , this one and this one but they are all relating to specific moments in my life.  There is just something about Red Rain that gets me every time.  That is all I have.

To be honest, that is all that is needed.

Comic Characters I miss

I really miss Wally West

The real one, not whoever they have given his name to in the New52 and the Tv show.

His was the first series that I collected the first 150 issues of.  Started at issue 18 (I think,…it had Wally hiding behind a gravestone while a helicopter shot at him) and then spent a while tracking down the back issues.

I even ended up with two Issue 1’s….because I am a Scotsman.  I was at a London Comic Convention (I think it was 89) and having just been asked directions to the dealers room by the one and only Jonathan Ross, I was in a  bit of a starstruck tizz,  I saw issue 1 at a dealers stand.  It was £3.50.  I bought it without hesitation.  I finally had issue 1…I was happy.  Browsing my way around the rest of the dealers room, I found another issue 1.

This one was the same condition and yet was only 80p.  I had to buy it.  In my mind I thought I could sell the other one for a lot of money in the near future.  Indeed I was sure that I could make a tidy sum from my comics in the future.

To date I have never sold any of my comics….I have given away loads though.  Eventually the piles of boxes and folders become too much and they have to go.

Not my Flash run though – although I have lost many of them over the years due to moves, moves and moves.

I digress

Anyway Scans Daly had a post about Wally and it made me nostalgic

I would like to share it with you

http://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/4985463.html#cutid1

So I watched Gotham and…..

It was ok. Not great and not awful but somewhere in between (Derek Smalls position in Spinal Tap I suppose).

There was lots I did not like though, lots and lots and lots.
But let us concentrate on what I did like. Beware there be spoilers ahead

– Sean Pertwee as Alfred – Best lines, best acting and best potential for a spin off series…ok maybe not the last one.
– Montoya and Allen being onscreen, albeit not for long. Plus not sure what Montoya and Gordons wife/girlfriend scene was about. They were obviously hinted as being ex lovers but I don’t think it was made clear enough.
– Bullock looked like he should do. Acted a bit too corrupt for my liking but overall it was good to see Harv.
– The penguin. Looked the part and acted almost as I would imagine he would have. Interesting twist at the end.
– Bruce himself was well cast. Liked the kid in Touch/Touched and here I can believe he is young Bruce. Still I hope he is not in the show very often. Gotham needs to be about the people of the city and not just one person.
– The scene with Falcone and Gordon was really well written. Did not see enough of Falcone to make a proper judgement on the casting. Gordon was ok. Not brilliant acting and I wish he had a tache.

That was really all I liked.

Stuff I didn’t
– Fish Mooney was ok but there must be hundreds of characters from the comics that could have been used instead.
– The Ivy character was awful and smacked of some excitable writer thinking that it was a “cool thing”. It wasn’t.
– Either was Nigma…..oh god no. Please no more of him.
– The stand up comic who may be the Joker was awful too. The joke telling was ok but the whole standing watching as Mooney accused and then attacked Cobblepot was amatuer hour and totally unecessary.
– Selina….I can see TV execs right now going “Lets have a love interest for Bruce”. I would like to say to those execs
DONT
That is all.
– Finally…Gordon and Wayne. The chats were kinda nice except for the whole “I am saying words for no reason. The writers think it is because I am subconsciously making you Batman. however what is actually happening is that I am just saying words and you are reacting”
I have a horrible feeling that this will be a weekly occurrence.
Gordon – “Dont worry Bruce, I have read that the Thorgal ritual is exactly what a person needs when they have suffered a bereavement. Just like I did”
Wayne – “Have you met my new friend Richard Grayson. He is an acrobat…oh he’s been captured….can you save him Mister…please?”
Gordon – “Sure Bruce…now let us go to Zur En ArrH avenue where we will work as a team and rescue your friend Jason.”
Wayne – “Richard. His name is Richard.”
Gordon – “Yeah I know….I’m just throwing out an easter egg to the fans.”
Wayne – “It’s October!”
Gordon – “Lets go get Tim.”
and so on and so on etc etc etc.

Little errors that annoyed me.
– Why was the milk almost empty when Selina was feeding the cat, when she had just taken it from a bag of shopping.
– Why would Marthas pearl necklace break when she unclasped it and handed it over?
That bit really annoyed me. The pearls falling is such a powerful image but having it there, without a reason why it happens, was just lazy.

Overall I will watch the next episode. Still not sure where all the Buzz is coming from for this show. Maybe next week will clear that up for me.

Leaping from the page and occasionally stumbling onto the screen

So Constantine is coming up. Bleeding cool review the first episode here
Now from what I read there (and there are spoilers ahoy) I am more confident that this will not be awful.
Of course it may not be good either but at least it sounds like they have an idea what makes the character so well loved. From what I have seen of trailers etc, the guy playing John seems to be almost perfect. I personally would have cast Paul Bettany but that is just me.

So while Constantine is sounding promising, DC has other TV shows coming out. I have gone into depth in the past about how much I love Arrow (and how I was convinced beforehand that it was going to be awful). Also being a big Batman fan, you would imagine I am looking forward to Gotham?

You would be wrong.

Very wrong.

Now I am writing this without having seen the show. Episode 1 was on channel 5 last night here in Scotland, so I will watch that at some point. However the concept of the show is what bothers me.
Everyone knows Batmans origin…everyone. They are likely to remember that the police chief is Jim Gordon and that the city Batman works in is called Gotham.
So with those things in place, I thought that Gotham may be a Tv adaptation of the mostly excellent Gotham Central comic. A police procedure crime show that just happens to be set in Gotham.
What we seem to be getting is a strange mish mash of the above, jammed together with showing how all of Batmans villians came to be.
I may be old school with this but to me, Batmans villians come about because of Batman. The appearance of a masked man, inspires the criminals to become just as bizarre to stand against him. In the case of the Joker, he could not exist without Batman.

The show has hinted that in every episode there will be someone who could be the Joker. I wish they wouldn’t do that. The whole mystery surrounding the Joker is that no-one knows who he is and (more importantly) No-one should ever know.

Anyway the show has had good word of mouth but I remain to be convinced.
Excellent casting of Alfred though, I will give them that.

Then we have The Flash. I hold no love for Barry Allen as he is by far the least interesting person to have ever taken that name. Much like Hal Jordan is the least interesting Green Lantern, Barry will always be that clean cut boy from the sixties, no matter how many times the comics try to make him relevant.

Ok here is where I confess that Wally West was the first Flash comic I bought and the first series I collected….yep I am biased.

However the buzz for the series has been mostly positive. I have seen the pics of the fight with the Reverse Flash and I have to say that the costume is looking good.

I am less happy about Wally West being cast as a black kid, both in the TV show and in the new 52 reboot. Why they did not just make him a new original character who becomes Kid Flash I still don’t get. Hell even have Wally have the metabolism disease again that prevents him using his speed. Then he could mentor the new guy.
But that would have been too sensible I guess.

Final Crisis as a guide to Depression and beating it?

Final Crisis is one of my Favourite stories.  I know that it can be overwhelming and far too complex at times but despite all that, I really enjoyed it.  It was probably the first Hardback Trade I ever bought (despite owning all the issues!).

Also long time readers will know that I suffer from depression. So to find someone who links the two of them together makes me happy.

http://www.reddit.com/r/comicbooks/comments/1othfu/explain_the_final_crisis_to_me_like_i_am_five/

 

Worth a read and if you know the comic at all, it makes a lot of sense.

Anyway thought it worth sharing

 

I’m a mile out of Hell and I feel like I’m coming home

http://youtu.be/uPE2oBnzROY

The Constantine TV series trailer was released yesterday.  The above is a link to it (since I struggle to embed things recently!!)

Before I give my thoughts on it, let me just explain my relationship with John Constantine

pronunciation

I REALLY HOPE THEY DO THIS IN THE SHOW – or even better, just pronounce it correctly from the beginning!

I first saw John in Alan Moores run on Swamp Thing.  I had bought a couple of old Titan Reprint trades (Black and White interior art) and got hooked.  When John turned up, all swagger and menace, I was hooked again.  The introduction spoke of him looking like Sting and while the artwork did not really get that across perfectly, he definately looked like he meant business.

I even bought a couple of Titan reprints of the Hellblazer series (Again interior Black and White art) and occasionally dipped into the monthly comic.  I always got the feeling I was missing something from the individual issues.  They were enjoyable but I think they work better as part of the whole run.

Then the Keanu version came out.  Now apart from the hair colour and nationality, it was a not bad version of the character.  kinda like a cover version of a song you love.  the cover version is not that good but you can tell there was good intentions in there and as a result, it gains a special place in your heart.

When money permitted, I went and bought the Hellblazer trades from the beginning.  One of the advantages of coming into a comic series late is that you can pick up the whole story at a pace you want and not have to wait for the next issue.  I did this with Preacher, The Invisibles, Doom Patrol and Transmetropolitan and am so glad I did.

Currently I have just finished Trade 4, so I have not read any of  Garth Ennis’s run as yet.  The complexity and depth of the stories in the first four trades just amazes me.

As the powers that be at DC decide that old JC needed to be brought into the mainstream universe, just in time for them to all New 52 it all.  I wanted to give the new version a chance.  He was good in patches in Justice League Dark but overall it was not enough for me to enjoy.

 

So having got that all out of the way, let me give you my thoughts on the TV version.

Firstly, he looks like Constantine.  that is good.

He sounds like a weird welsh/scouse mix.  I always thought of him speaking with a hard Cockney accent (despite Liverpool being the city of his birth) but my Local Comic Shop owner (they very awesome Asylum Books and Games) once told me that he just thought that Constantine sounded like Mike Carey.

The effects look great.  Now if they can keep that level across the series (I refuse to use season as I am Scottish) then it may have a chance to attract fans of Supernatural and the like.

They seem to have kept Ravenscar and they mention the Newcastle incident, so hopefully this bodes well for using the best of the Hellblazer stories.  Now just a shot of a Mucous Membrane poster in his pad and I will be a happy fanboy.

Overall I liked the trailer.  It made me not worry as much as the initial announcement of the TV series did.

HOWEVER

Where is the Fag???? (cigarette for my non British readers)

John Constantine smokes….like a LOT!! It has been integral to several stories (pre New52 Heckblazer anyway).  It may seem like a small thing but it is little nuances like this that make the character so strong.  The smoking, the haunting by former friends, his politics, the attitude, playing both sides off against each other…all of these and more make up that character and to remove any of them, takes the risk of not portraying him as he should be.  Hell even Keanu smoked, even if the ending of that film he reached for chewing gum instead of cigarettes as he did in the comic (so the internet told me).

 

So there you have it.  John Constantine makes it to TV.  I wonder that if this is a success, that the Preacher TV series will be allowed to be close to the comics.

Just a thought

 

For those that are interested….the title of this post is from the Bruce Springsteen song “Better Days”.  not relevant at all but I was listening to it as I typed!