WLG #367: Media-deprived Stack

A column article by: Chris Murman

I must begin this week with a full-disclosure apology: due to an amazing two weeks of vacation with my family I have a mountain of print and digital media to catch up on. I’m at least a week behind on my television watching and two weeks behind on comics. Of course, you faithful few come to this space expecting the opposite, so I’ll do my best to bridge the gap and still give you a heads up on what I think looks good this week.

Of course, media deprivation brings up the old interesting conversation of how much we really need to consume and how little information we really need to have a fulfilled, happy life. Some would argue that in the ever-advancing Information Age it’s a horrible thing to not be up to speed on everything going on around us. Granted, making sure I know what Michael Weston has been up to is not quite the same as keeping up with the same-sex marriage election in New York, but you get my drift. There are some things we need to know in life, but that category is not the same as wanting to know.

I guess knowing how to balance that and keeping a healthy perspective of the difference is what separates the men from the boys (so to speak, it’s just a figure of speech).

For example, fellow WLG scribe PB McCoy invited me into the discussion we have going on at CB regarding season two of the fantastic show Luther. In order to do so, I need to watch another episode and spend a considerable time ruminating on the thoughts he and Greenie had on the latest Shot for Shot. They raise a few valid and interesting points and I look forward to debating them on some. These activities, however, don’t do anything to advance the evolution of my relationships with God, my wife, my daughter or my paycheck (and those are just the essentials). Part of getting older, I suppose, is learning how to do both in the proper percentages. Those numbers differ for each contributor we have on this site. I think the differences make us an incredibly diverse and interesting group to discuss all the various media we cover.

Then again, you would expect me to say as much, but you get my drift.

My view of media, comic books in particular, changes nearly every day. I’ve enjoyed letting that discussion spill out onto this server over the last five years, and hopefully one day when my time here is up I can look back and see a few loops closed and have a good body of work.

Okay, have I lost enough of you yet with this high-level garbage? Awesome, then let’s move on to this week’s list. Hopefully by now you all remember my rating system so I will spare you the same cut-and-paste description. Here’s what I think looks good this week.

THINK: Captain America: Rebirth #1 (Karl Kesel and Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/Marvel)

Part of me thinks it’s a cop out to look forward to this collected reprint of Tales of Suspense, and even more so trying to tie this into a movie I’m not sure I’m going to like. However, the names alone associated with this story of Cap and the Red Skull tangoing are worth the purchase if you don’t own it already.

I’m still trying to figure out what makes the relationship between the two characters so intriguing to regular Marvel readers. From my limited exposure, it seems as if Cap is the muscle verses the brains of RS much like Supes and Luthor. Certain writers have tweaked those aspects a little over the years, but it’s an age old good versus evil debate. Granted, Red Skull never seemed to have the gravitas or panache that Lex has, but I am admittedly biased.

Maybe going back in time to with an all-star creative team will help illuminate what makes these two characters so special together.

KNOW: Daredevil: Yellow TPB (Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale/Marvel)

Of course, no matter moving from Lee and Kirby to Loeb and Sale changes things altogether, don’t they?

It’s an easy joke to make, and I poke fun at Mr. Loeb every week I publish this article with the lowest of ratings bearing his name, but this time I get to be the bearer of praise. This collected run of stories harkens back to a day when the writer concentrated on grounded, focused story-telling as opposed to the absurdities he has been responsible for the last decade or so.

Narrative devices are a fickle mistress for writers. There is really no in-between, they are either an incredibly hokey ploy to cover up a lack of talent in regards to writing dialogue or an ingenious method of moving the story forward while keeping the characters separate from expository language. Loeb has seen both sides of that coin, but I am of the mind that this six-issue run is the latter.

Having an inexpensive collection of this take on Matt Murdock is a good way of remembering better days for this creative team.

Sale did some of his best work on the color-named Marvel stories; it almost seems as if his style was made for classic tales from this publisher (no offense to his Batman work, which is also stellar).

I for one am excited about this buy.

LOEB: Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #11 (Peter J. Tomasi/Fernando Pasarin and Cam Smith/DC)

Somehow, I made it almost the entire way through War of the Green Lanterns without completely ripping it to shreds. Part of me wonders if I’m getting soft in my old age, but I’d rather think this series has done just enough to keep me from seeing red over the last couple of months.

The status quo changing yet again in the Green Lantern U doesn’t really interest or concern me at all. Geoff Johns doesn’t really have a concept of that anyway so it’s no big deal. Even if I had a problem, it’s going to change in a few months again anyway.

Having a new set of Guardians was introduced during Blackest Night, and with Johns at the helm I have wanted to do away with the Oans, so this really interests me. From what we can tell, the Earth-based Lanterns seem to be involved in this shakeup. I don’t know how I feel about it yet; let’s just see how things shake out before I start poking too many holes.

THINK: Flashpoint: Project Superman #1 (Scott Snyder and Lowell Francis/Gene Ha/DC)

I mentioned this in my previous entry, but I’m not even remotely interested in what’s going on in the parent title of this series.

The tie-ins are what I think is cool about Flashpoint for the same reasons I love DC’s Elseworlds prints; I get to see alternate versions of characters I love. The Abin Sur one-shot was a great take on a character we still don’t know enough about in my opinion, for example. With this three issue run, I expect yet another alternate take on Superman and how he came to be in our world.

Is it getting a bit tired to see this story told again and again in new ways? Absolutely not!

This character has survived for 75 years. Some of the reasons surrounding that survival don’t have to do with valid or logical reasons, but nevertheless there are always more inventive ways of keeping this character fresh.

Some people have changed his suit, others his origin and one fateful person decided to change Clark’s hair.

Short runs like this allow for compact stories that, if well executed, can be interesting reads. I think a few of these tie-in series could turn into great ongoings. Of course, sales will push everything.

THINK: Suits (Season 1/Episode 2/USA Network)

I know it’s a drum I keep banging, but summer television programming is the best season there is. That said, I thought I would focus on a few shows I am looking forward to on the USA network. These aren’t the only two decent watches (Cover Affairs and Necessary Roughness also seem fairly appealing), but they are the best of the bunch.

Having been a fan of Gabriel Macht’s work in movies, I think his work in this role could be the deciding factor of this entry into the lawyer genre of TV show. While it will take a monster effort to supplant Franklin and Bash as my current favorite, I have heard nothing but good things about the pilot. Watching it back to back with this week’s episode should make for a good two hours of my week.

The wild card will be Patrick J. Adams and the role he plays as protégé to Macht’s mentor role. As a genius who never attended law school but passed the bar on a dare, Adams get to “shake up the system” and show he’s “the only lawyer with a real heart for his clients”.

Of course, many may be turned off by those clichés being expressed. As we all know, it’s the execution of those clichés that will show the mettle of this production team.

KNOW: Burn Notice (Season 5/Episode2/USA)

Said mettle has already been proven by this crew responsible for giving the world Michael Weston, so we need not question them anymore. This show has continued to evolve at the correct pace and bring Jeffrey Donovan’s character full circle. Weston is still a burned spy, but as an independent consultant for the CIA he is part of the family again.

There will be plenty of moments where we get tired of the banter between Michael and Fiona or Sam because of this development in the plot.

As I’m typing I have the season premiere playing and halfway through one episode I’m already tiring of it. However, it will provide nuance and keep the show fresh. Weston is still a man on a mission, but he’s not as off the grid as he used to.

The more he becomes legit, the more interesting I think things will get. I expect great things from this season.

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