Patton Oswalt is one of my favorite working standup comedians. He’s one of the few I haven’t had a chance to see live but I hope to remedy that when he manages to drag his shebs down to Houston for a show. I think that Mr. Oswalt is one of the most refreshingly honest comedians working the stage these days, with Dave Attel, Louis C.K. and a few others riding alongside him like a sort of comedic Magnificent Seven, saying the things nobody wants to but doing it anyway.
So when I heard he was putting out a book I obviously had to pick it up. I felt I owed it to him in a sort of gesture showing that the time he spent putting this together was worth it in the end. So if nothing else he can feel validated that someone read his book and felt that it was worth doing so. Though partially I must admit that reading this is my penance for reading Olivia Munn’s book last year because after seeing a few episodes of Perfect Couples on NBC I have come to be certain that she is a serpent from the depths of hell sent forth to vex me in between good shows on Thursday night. I’m sure she’s a lovely person and if she’d like to come to Houston and spend a night on the town convincing me that she is not a derivative of Satan’s plan I would love to accompany for a few hours.
Anyhow, Patton’s book. I guess I should talk about it insofar as how it works as an actual entity shouldn’t I? I think I need to clear up that this is a biography in almost no way whatsoever. This is a disjointed standup act cobbled together and thrown in between the covers. The structure doesn’t seem to follow any narrative pattern and there are whole chapters thrown in that are just comedic musings on general themes that do seem a bit awkward at times but their placement makes the comedic gems contained within pack more of a surprise punch because of their ability to slice through your confusion and make the guy sitting next to you wonder why you’ve suddenly starting chuckling like a fool when you were previously looking at your book the way that Sarah Palin looks at a monosyllabic word.
The best parts of the book are truly found in the biographical sections and I can’t help but wish there were more of them in the book. The people who populate Patton’s world are like frightening creatures pulled from some dystopian indie film and yet somehow more realistic and sad than they have any right to be. Patton’s story about his time spent in Canada doing standup in a suburb of Vancouver which mirrors a sort of dark purgatory that you wouldn’t wish upon one of your enemies is simultaneously infuriating and hilarious. His chapter explaining his theories on the categorization of man into either the Zombie, Spaceship or Wasteland niche groups is oddly insightful considering the sort of madness that precedes it.
I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever looked at someone on the street and felt a twinge of anger for no discernible reason but had their gut instinct rewarded when that person turned out to be an animal abuser who also owns more than one Nickelback album. This is a book for the rightfully frustrated. I count myself among that number.
Ladies and gentlemen, I drank a 1/2 gallon of Gatorade yesterday. I am more hydrated than I have been in my entire life and I’m pretty sure my brain is suffering because of it. So small talk be damned, it’s review time.
AVENGERS PRIME #1 (OF 5) HA 3.99
FRANKEN-CASTLE #17 2.99
HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD #1 HA 3.99
IZOMBIE #2 (MR) 2.99
JONAH HEX NO WAY BACK HC 19.99
JSA ALL STARS #7 3.99
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #39 2.99
SERENITY FLOAT OUT ONE SHOT #1 FRANK STOCKTON CVR 3.5
THANOS IMPERATIVE #1 (OF 6) 3.99
Stand back, I’m prepared to do criticism!
I wasn’t going to pick this one up at all but got suckered into it by Alan Davis’ pretty pretty drawerings. I don’t have much to say about the writing, because it’s typical Bendis fare; but it’s good Bendis fare, as we get some good cathartic character interaction between Tony and Steve that really needed to happen before the whole Heroic Age could take off. While the book seems to be heralded as the reunited Avengers back together for the first time since the Disassembled disaster, they actually spend most of the book’s length separated, which works in establishing what this series will focus on, as it’s definitely tied heavier to Thor than either of the other big three.
I don’t think that this book is truly in any way essential, other than the character interactions between Steve and Tony which could have easily been done in the opening pages of the mainline Avengers book. This is mostly an exercise in capitalism. It’s a cash grab, honestly. But it’s a well written and superbly drawn cashgrab, which is more than I can say for some other recent attempts.
I will be honest and say that I don’t know too much about Hawkeye and Mockingbird’s backstory. The entirety of my knowlege is made up by what was presented in this introductory issue. I enjoyed what was presented but I don’t have the emotional attachment to these characters the way some people do. I will say that from what I saw on the page, this series could be an interesting one as the dynamic and the setup is different from just about every other Marvel b0ok out there right now. It’s a team book without being a team book. The group of specialists that Hawkeye and Mockingbird run with in this book, including none other than Dominic Fortune, give off a dynamic not unlike Birds of Prey, which doesn’t bode well for the inevitable Green Arrow/Black Canary comparisons that are bound to stick with the book despite being much better written than that book ever could have hoped as well as establishing itself as a lynchpin in the Avengers universe.
Hawkeye, despite the fact that I haven’t had much exposure to him, is central to the Avengers dynamic. He’s as attached to Steve Rogers at this point as the Falcon is, and they play on that well in this issue. I think that this series will serve as a nice companion piece to the new Avengers-centric Marvel Universe. I just hope it doesn’t get hamstrung by the fact that Hawkeye is, let’s be honest, a 2nd tier character and series built around those tend to have fairly limited runs. Like Hawkeye’s own series that lasted about twelve issues before getting shut down so he could die in Avengers Dissassembled.
I stopped following the monthly exploits of Jonah Hex about twelve issues back. I just had to find some room to trim on the pull list and I switched it over to trades. But when this came along I had to pick it up because I’m a sucker for original graphic novels. This one is very well done, and feels like the monthly series but with the dial turned up to eleven. Honestly, this feels like what the movie should be. It’s a taut western tale that adheres to and embraces alot of the western tropes and devices, while seeming decidedly modern in it’s raw narrative structure and effectively blunt depictions of violence in the old west.
I’ll say that if you wanted mass market appeal for the character in the weeks leading up to his theatrical debut, you could have gone with an artist that is more easily palatable to the everyday reader, but Tony DeZuniga’s sketchy style fits the character well. He’s done some amazing work on some of my favorite characters, and while I think his style is a good fit for the narrative, some complaints about his artwork are bound to arise.
What I liked most about this book was really how it appeals to any and all Jonah Hex readers. Newbies get a pseudo-origin story and can jump right into the action with no real trouble at all, while old fans will undoubtedly love it for how well it stays in line with what’s come before. It hits all the notes it needs to and then some.
And that’s it for this week. I’m going to focus my attention on these scrumtious extra crispy strips from KFC that I’ve picked up for lunch. They are just aces, and they won’t immediately put you into a death coma like a DoubleDown will. So, that’s just a check in the plus column.