John C. Kirk (johnckirk) wrote,
John C. Kirk

I've just finished watching "Tru Calling" on DVD, which I thought was very good. Season 1 had a tendency to be a bit formulaic, but season 2 really kicked up into a higher gear. Basically, having Jack as the opposition makes things a lot more interesting, especially since he actually won sometimes. That meant that even up until the very end of an episode, I was never quite sure whether Tru would actually save the day, whereas previously it was a case of "I know she will, and we just need to see how she does it". I also liked the way that Jack wasn't portrayed as an out-and-out villain; while I side with Tru, some of his views are quite similar to mine ("everyone has to die sometime").

It's a pity it was cancelled, and I'd certainly like to read any novels that continued the storyline. Interestingly, one of the writers from the series has a LiveJournal, so she's posted a few entries about what would have happened in future episodes:

Meanwhile, speaking about things I've enjoyed, I've recently been reading the "Ultimate Fantastic Four" TPBs, which were surprisingly good. I'd say that they're almost more SF than superhero stories, and they play with some interesting ideas, e.g. "What happens if Reed eats a hamburger and then reshapes his body to be 1cm thick?" In particular, "Crossover" (the 5th TPB) was very well done, although I can't give any more specific descriptions without spoiling it.

I also picked up the "Superman Family" Showcase edition (black and white reprints). Like Marvel's "Essential" reprints, the Showcase books are pretty good value for money, since you get 30 comics for about 12 quid. The trade-off is that some of the stories are a bit clunky by modern standards. Looking at the DC ones, I liked the "Green Lantern" book, which was quite fun. It's a bit of a cliche that 60s comics tended to have redundant descriptions, e.g. you'd have a picture of Superman flying through space, and the caption above it would say "Meanwhile, Superman flies through space", and his thought bubble would say "Here I am, flying through space!" However, in the case of the Green Lantern reprints, that works out quite well, because a lot of them hinge around the fact that his power ring can't affect anything yellow; since I can't tell what colour things are, it's handy to have him saying "Oh no, I'm surrounded by yellow!" One interesting story had GL in some tiny European country, where he decided to help out his friend (a stamp collector) by getting a stamp from that country. To save time, he decided that he'd just read the nearest person's mind rather than asking for directions to the post office. Dude! I'm sure that this was only intended as a plot contrivance, to help him learn about the Evil Plan, but looking at it in retrospect I have to wonder whether this was an early warning sign about him being corrupted by power (leading to his unfortunate "destroying the universe" incident later on).

I then got the first JLA book, but I've been rather less impressed by that, so I'm still only about half way through after a few months. The odd thing about that is that the creative team put Batman and Superman in the team, but then go out of their way to avoid using them! Lots of the issues don't include those characters at all (possibly with a vague mention of them being busy elsewhere), and others just send them away on a flimsy premise. The most blatant example was when the JLA had to protect a bunch of potential targets from robbery, one of which was a whale. So, who's the best person to go deep underwater? Aquaman? No, no, that would be silly - send Aquaman to a museum and then send Superman into the ocean... Meh.

Anyway, the "Superman Family" book has the first set of Jimmy Olsen stories, and I gather that future volumes will include Lois Lane stories too. The first few were ok, but nothing special; however, now that I've got into the right mindset, they really are fun. You don't get comics like that nowadays, but they do have a lot of charm. If you've seen the Superdickery website, these are the type of covers that turn up a lot there, e.g. "The King of Marbles!". There were also a few Jimmy Olsen/Lois Lane issues reprinted in DC's Greatest Imaginary Stories, which is worth reading. (I didn't think so much of the later Jack Kirby issues though, since they were a bit more serious/plodding.) It does seem that Superman had a lot of spare time in those days, since he'd spend all day playing jokes on his friends rather than actually stopping crime or whatever, but hey.
Tags: comics, tv

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