All-Star Superman

With a mythic weight to it that feels epic, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's All-Star Superman exceeded expectations.  I didn't know if I was going to be a fan of the artwork, but I've subsequently picked up other comics of Quitely's.  His art careens somewhere between sculpted beauty and the grotesque.

The series opens up with a space mission to the sun that goes awry (thanks to uber-villain Lex Luthor).  Superman, naturally, saves the day, but not before absorbing lethal amounts of solar energy.  It makes him stronger and more powerful than ever, and it will kill him.

Superman, his mortality virtually assured, proceeds to make a living will and resolve some of the things he's put off for so long.  From his engagements with Lois and Jimmy, to final confrontation with Luthor and Bizarro, the story feels urgent.  What it is to be Superman is translated directly for several of the characters, and the results are at times charming and grounding.

I haven't checked out the animated film, but that might be on my list.  The graphic novel series, however, is moving and a keeper in my collection.

(Kindle Fire version -- always handy!)

The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes

It wasn't until I had finished Neil Gaiman's first volume of The Sandman chronicles, Preludes and Nocturnes, that I realized that what I had read was a horror comic.  And, dumbly, what made me realize it was the post-script written by Gaiman himself when he described his book as horror.  And I thought, that makes sense because it was quite disturbing for a regular superhero comic.

Superhero doesn't really apply here.  The protagonist of the story is Dream, the immortal personification of dreams.  He's not a hero.  He's aloof and dismissive in his judgement, when applied, even as it appears brutal to us.  He's not on the side of "good".  He's the lord of dreams, and the stories presented present his re-emergence into the world from a long imprisonment.

Disturbing is always a matter of degrees, but Gaiman's writing is never the issue.  I don't frequent horror as a source of entertainment, but if I do, I really prefer those that have a depth.  In particular, the story "24 Hours"sticks with me as brilliant and particularly horrible.  Will be collecting the other volumes.

(Read on the Kindle Fire and the quality was excellent.)

The Hunger Games

I’m very used to irritating movie-going experiences these days.  The advent of cell phones has dramatically increased the ways in which an audience can break your concentration in a theater.  I fully expected, at the very least, some chatter in the full house viewing of TheHunger Games.  But, to my surprise, it was a very reverential crowd.  My guess is they had all read the book and were fans of the movie before it even rolled.

I’ve only seen it once, but here are my takeaways from the movie.  There was nothing eye-rolling in the dystopian fantasy, unlike the Twilight series.  But, in that comparison, there is a truth that it clearly comes from young adult source material.  I was expecting some more intrigue from the games themselves, but I should have known they would be handled in a rather straightforward, uncomplicated fashion.  This is not to say the scenes weren’t exciting, but the solutions were a little simplistic.

And the most common solution for Katniss’ (the main character) problems appears to have a black character solve them for her.  I counted three different, glaring instances where she is assisted.  I’m not one to look into racism in film, but it became a little obvious.  I haven’t read the books (and I don’t plan to), but I have heard that isn’t the case in the written form.

That said, there are some genuinely funny moments.  Woody Harrelson owns the film in a supporting role as a former Hunger Games winner.  And speaking of winning, I didn’t expect the game itself to be over so quickly.  With the amount of money this film has raked in already, it’s a mortal lock for the two other books to be made to film.  And quickly.  I’m not sure if I’ll hit the theater for the next two, but I’ll certainly rent them to see how this plays out.  Overall, it was a good film.