Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Well, That Was Better Than I Expected...
Doug: Today we thought we'd give our readers an opportunity to expound on some media you've recently enjoyed that was perhaps better than you had previously known or anticipated. One of the books that Karen and I have both been enjoying is the recently-released monster-sized (ha...) trade paperback Monster of Frankenstein.
The massive tome reprints all things Monster from the eponymous series of the early Bronze Age through the B&W mags and up to the two-parter in Marvel Team-Up.If memory serves, I was aware of the solo book but really had no interest in it. This trade has been an epiphany for me, one so strong that I feel like face palming like "what was I thinking (when I was 8 years old)??"
Karen: I was really looking forward to this collection of Frankenstein comics, not just because I am a big Frankenstein fan, but because I had only a few of these issues as a kid, and none of the Ploog ones! I've now read a little more than halfway through the collection -- into the Monsters Unleashed stories -- and I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised. The first six issues by Ploog are far superior to anything else in the book. Ploog's artwork here is is eerily beautiful and richly atmospheric. I've always loved his work on Werewolf By Night and Ghost Rider (and anything else), but I almost feel like this is the best I have ever seen by him. He inks himself on issues 1-3 and 6 (John Verpoorten inks issues 4 and 5) and he does a wonderful job. There's a lushness to his pen work. The story is solid, a continuation of the Shelley story for the most part, with the Monster as presented in the novel: literate, thoughtful, but a vengeful creature who has killed in his never-ending hatred of his creator, who abandoned him.
Doug: I have to confess to our readers that Karen and I had discussed (about a month ago) readying a couple reviews from the book for the days preceding Halloween. Obviously that didn't happen (no, instead busy life happened for both of us). Funny thing was, I was going to suggest the Marvel Team-Up with the Monster, which led into the conclusion that headlined Man-Wolf. To be quite honest, those stories along with the Monster's appearance in the "Celestial Madonna" epic was my only exposure to the character when I was a child.
Karen: I felt the quality of both the story and art dropped off once Ploog left, with issue 7. I never thought I'd complain about the art on a book that was picked up by John Buscema, but I don't think this was his finest work -- not bad at all, but it was, by his standards, rather pedestrian. Storywise, although Gary Friedrich stayed on for much of the run (as I said, I'm only halfway through) the shift into modern times, and the decision to have the Monster become mute, sapped a lot of the energy out of the story for me. I'll continue on with it, but so far, it is the first six issues that really gave this collection value for me. And I'm still happy I bought it, even if the rest of the book turns out to be a big blah!
Doug: I think I'm a few issues behind you (I've just finished the Dracula 2-parter in Monster of Frankenstein #s 8-9). I'm really looking forward to the reprints from the B&W magazines. As I've remarked in previous discussions, those seemed like sort of a forbidden fruit back in the day -- I never asked my mom to buy any for me at the grocery store. I don't know how she would have responded; I think I was just aware that they were much pricier than comics. I'm not sure what level of enjoyment the rest of the book will hold (I am looking forward to some of the stories inked by Syd Shores -- thanks, PFG!), but like you I am glad I own this now. As Karen says, the Ploog issues are visually magnificent. I have to concur with everything she says above and you'd have my highest recommendation for both the pictures but also the words for these stories. The books are wordy, but Gary Friedrich's dialogue is strong and the level of detail is in no way a bore. Strong, strong graphic literature.
Karen: Another thing I am happily surprised by is the new TV show Ash Vs. Evil Dead. I've now seen three episodes and each time I have had a good laugh. If you liked the Evil Dead films or Army of Darkness you should like this series. I have to admit, I wasn't a huge fan of the Evil Dead films but I did like Army of Darkness a lot. This show takes the Ash character from those but the connection to them -the continuity - is sort of loose. It doesn't matter though; all you need to know is Ash is his usual brilliantly stupid self and has released the Deadites on Earth again. Now he has a couple of young partners helping him try to stop the end of the world. The episodes are only a half hour long, which is the perfect amount of time for this kind of goofy mayhem. I have to tip my hat to Bruce Campbell, who somehow makes Ash likable and eminently watchable.
Doug: My wife and I have been watching NBC's Blindspot since its premiere earlier this fall. My personal jury is out on it -- it's OK, but it raises questions for me plot-wise each week. And I'm not usually one to get too deep into a script. Both of us are generally sit-back-and-be-entertained viewers, but this show has me thinking it could be better. We still enjoy reruns of the first 4-5 seasons of ABC's Castle, although I am finding the current season to be a slog. Perhaps eight is indeed enough. So neither show gets a ringing endorsement from me, unless you DVR the old Castles shown on TNT.
Karen: Surprisingly, I have been disappointed by the Supergirl TV show. I just find it too formulaic. It's so much like every other super-hero TV show we already have. Super-secret organization involved? Check. Team of friends helping the hero? Check. Freak of the week whose origin is connected back to the hero? Check. It's just too much like Flash, Agents of SHIELD, heck, even Smallville. I was hoping we'd get something new and exciting with a female lead -- and the actress is engaging -- but so far it has done nothing for me.
Doug: I'll agree -- I've tried to come back to Supergirl but just haven't felt like investing the commitment. I totally agree that Melissa Benoist is quite charming in the lead role, but the show didn't seem to take many risks... what I've seen of it that is. I am hoping that today William will be along to state some of the criticisms he holds of the show and did not divulge when we ran this as a topic a couple of weeks ago.
Doug: So there you have it, kids. Today let's get some thoughts on media with which you've recently engaged that surpassed your expectations, and some that fell short and/or left you cold.