Friday Favorites: A little Wakka-Cha-Wakka with your web-slinging.

Okay, yeah, the 1970s Spider-Man TV series starring Nicholas Hammond had its issues, but friends, the theme song wasn't one of 'em':

Oh man, the bass line on that thing. And when the saxophone kicks in... damn, that's some good crime fighting tunesmithing right there. It's like the best possible offspring of music from a cop show and an adult film.

And whether the show was good or bad, I still have a lot of affection for it from watching the movies strung together from reruns as a kid. I really wish they'd release this on DVD one of these days.

Readin' - Supplemental

Action Comics #894 - Just go and buy this. Seriously. Right now. You'll be glad you did.


Some quick reactions to recently read comics. Maybe some SPOILERS, so read with caution.

Action Comics #s 890-893 - I was disappointed that Superman was going to be sent on walkabout and therefore unable to be used by Paul Cornell for this run, but now I'm actually kind of glad, because this storyline about Lex Luthor's world tour (of EVIL!) in search of Black Lantern rings might be the best thing DC has going right now. Brilliant, even Maggin-esque characterization of Lex, a great supporting cast (especially his surprising for so many reasons right-hand woman), and some truly interesting clashes with some of the DCU's best baddies (I thought it would be hard to top Mr. Mind, but Gorilla Grodd and his battle spoon takes the cake). And this Jimmy Olsen back-up running right now... very much looking forward to seeing where that goes, and I already hope they really do plan on giving it a proper ending somehow, somewhere when the co-features go bye bye in January.

Thor the Mighty Avenger #s 1-5 - As much of a mythology junkie as I was when I was a kid, I never really warmed up to Thor that much. I liked individual stories here and there, sure, especially during the Simonson run, but I never liked the series or the character enough to follow along regularly. This book, though, is fantastic, and significantly more charming that I was prepared for. Roger Langridge writes a Thor story that seems, you know, Vikingy enough for the traditionalists, but fills it with a lot more heart than I'm used to seeing in the character and his universe, too, and it's all the better for it. I'm loving his takes on other Marvel characters, too, particularly Giant-Man, Wasp, and Captain Britain. And as for the art of Chris Samnee, man... I know he has his share of fans now, but if this guy isn't positively HUGE in a few years time, than there's no justice in the comic book industry. He is a major, major talent. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Marvel Adventures Spider-Man: Amazing tpb/digest - I've said it before, I'll say it again: Paul Tobin writes what is probably my favorite Spider-Man ever. Fun stories, compelling ongoing plotline, and a terrific supporting cast - it's everything you've always loved about Spider-Man, while still enough of its own thing to feel like it's not just revisiting well-tred territory. Also, Sophia "Chat" Sanduval, the mutant who can talk to animals, is my favorite Parker love-interest of all time. Gwen who? Mary Jane what now? Fun comics as you like 'em.

The grass doesn't grow on the places where we stop and stand... RIVERBOTTOM NIGHTMARE BAND!

Couldn't find the original on YouTube, sadly, but just hearing the song certainly scratched the itch it needed to.

I need to pick up the Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas DVD this year. It's been far too long.

Same Bat-Time, New Bat-Channel

So there's that new network co-owned by Discovery and Hasbro called The Hub, set up to replace Discovery Kids. Most of the programming is either learny-type edutainment of the sort that Discovery Kids aired (Tutenstein, Kenny the Shark), stuff based on Hasbro properties (GI Joe, Transformers, various board games incorporated into a game show called Family Game Night), or family friendly 80s reruns (Family Ties, Doogie Howser, Wonder Years) but none of that matters.

11:30 pm weeknights and, IIRC, rerunning 5:30 am? That's when you want to watch and/or DVR. Because that's when the one, true Batman is on.

If the Powers That Be are going to continue to stand in the way of this show coming out on DVD, then the least someone can do is make sure it's always on the air somewhere. Thank you, The Hub. You've just justified your entire existence to me.

Pretty Sketchy: Such a Sub.

It's Night Girl, one of the few members of the Legion of Substitute Heroes to actually have a pretty useful power (she was super strong in the dark... decades later, someone finally had the sense to team her up with Shadow Lass), as rendered, I think appropriately enough, in greyscale by Stephanie Gabborin of Angry Gnome Comics. Thanks, Stephanie!

Some "Hey, I'm Still Alive Over Here" Link Blogging

Because it never hurts to remind people, you know? Anyhoo...

(Batman) Beginning Again

I've recently had the opportunity to rewatch both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. My first time through both movies, they left me rather cold. Technically sound, certainly, and each movie had its share of scenes and performances I enjoyed - for instance, I can't imagine a better Jim Gordon than Gary Oldman, and while I've never been a big Joker fan, let's face it, Heath Ledger pretty much redefined that character forever - but I just didn't see The Big Deal. And for A Certain Type of Fan (a very large, vocal number of the Certain Type of Fan Brigade, actually), these movies were very much the Biggest of Big Deals. The Christopher Nolan Bat-movies were more than just Really Good Batman Movies, they claimed, but masterpieces of modern filmmaking, the sort of films that revolutionized the art of cinema, cured cancer, ended hunger, and kicked a whole lot of ass.

Those are some lofty expectations for any movies to live up to, especially when you don't see them on DVD. See, Batman Begins was released the day before my son was born, and seeing as the wife was so very, very pregnant at the time, we weren't really willing to risk the trip to the theater in case labor kicked in partway through the movie (hey, those tickets are expensive). And The Dark Knight, well, we found the time to get to the movies maybe twice that summer, neither of those times at a point when the movie was actually playing, and because of that, it just never became a priority. So both movies had to wait until several months later when the Netflix stork left the red envelope in our mailbox. And by that time, of course, the movies had so much hype surrounding them that there's no way they could hope to live up to it.

I suppose I could've ignored the hype, but for one, I'm not really wired that way, and also, I think even the Amish knew about all the hubbub surrounding these movies, so there was no real way of escaping it. And hype leads to expectations, and expectations are where everything falls apart. A friend of mine refuses to listen to recommendations of any kind for just this reason. He wants to approach everything fresh, and the second someone recommends something, he expects too much, and the product is inevitably ruined. I should really take a page from his book, because in so many cases - these movies being big ones - the product doesn't live up to the expectation.

So cut to a few years later, the hype as receded to manageable levels, and I'm willing to get over my expectations (and anger at Nerd-dom Collected for ruining the films for me before I could even see them) and give them another shot. And this time around, I had to admit, they were pretty damn good. The film genre wasn't changed forever, cancer certainly wasn't cured, but they were, indeed, great Batman movies. Not perfect, they still had their share of problems. The Dark Knight could use two or three fewer subplots, I think, and while I see why they pushed Two-Face in the film, I still wish they'd have held him off for movie #3. Bale's Batman voice is, of course, too silly to take seriously. But mostly, I don't like that they seem to have forgotten the detective aspect of the character. They nailed the whole urban ninja thing, but I really dislike that the bulk of the intellectual heavy lifting is handled by Lucius Fox and Alfred. All kinds of heroes kick ass, but one of the big things that separates Batman from, say, Wolverine, is that detective skill. Maybe this will play a bigger role in the third movie, since we're still very much seeing a Batman in training.

I'm looking forward to seeing that third movie now. A year ago, I wouldn't have been able to say that. But in the end, I still prefer a Batman of another variety.