I woke up in a strange place

By Marc Heiden, since 1997.
See also: a novel about a monkey.

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May 31, 2002

That last entry was, I think, my first written with impaired faculties and no memory the next day. (I was sick, and it was 3 or 4 a.m. Why I felt compelled right then to write something and upload it, I don't know.) As a result, I did not give much thought to the Ottoman Empire war veterans on Memorial Day. Sorry. I am thinking about them now. Are there any left? Are they allowed to get together with veterans of wars fought by other defunct countries? This world can be lonely sometimes.

Today is my last day as the Ombudsman. It has been a blistering week and I have not enjoyed it. Everybody's a goddam insult comic fresh off a week at the Catskills, man, and I'm handcuffed to say a word in response. My self-discipline is good, but I wasn't planning to waste it on this.

Here is about half of my recent reading list. I'll do the other half later.

Ultimate Spider-Man, Vols. 1 and 2
Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Bagley

Ace re-telling of Spider-Man's origin and beginnings, rebooting events to begin in more or less present times. (As a rule, even the hippest of comic book writers are about two years behind the curve when they work pop culture into their stories, and attempts to use hip youth lingo tend to make the baby Jesus cry.) Great as the Spider-Man movie was, this has an even tighter and more effective plotline for introducing all the major players and bringing them all together. Mark Bagley is a good artist and looks like my uncle Joe, so I have nothing but positive feelings for that guy. If you liked the movie and want more Spidey, these are what to get. (Vol. 1 runs parallel to the movie, more or less. Vol. 2 is uncharted territory. It features, in an encounter between Spider-Man and the Kingpin, one of the single greatest jokes in the history of the medium.)

Revenge of the Green Goblin
Roger Stern, Ron Frenz

Fairly useless story in which the Green Goblin, having escaped death through the aid of some hooded acolytes, strikes at Spider-Man where he is most vulnerable, through his toothpaste. Not bad or anything, but unremarkable and vaguely irritating. (Uses the original Spider-Man continuity, wherein all of the issues published since his first appearance in the 60s are part of his history - essentially, this is the older, experienced Spider-Man.)

Amazing Spider-Man: Coming Home
J. Michael Straczynski, John Romita Jr.

Pretty good story in which an unbeatable vampire dickhead hunts Spider-Man, who is depressed because his wife recently left him. Am I the only person who remembers Kraven? The unbeatable vampire dickhead reminded me of Kraven. Anyway, Straczynski was the creator of Babylon 5, which I have never seen, and writes a good fight scene. John Romita Jr. is a great guy, and does some lovely things with page layouts. Peter spends a fair amount of time reflecting on his youth (when he's not getting beaten up by the vampire dickhead), and it's not heavily wrapped up in past issues (other than the basic fact that Peter was dumped), so it serves as a nice ten-years-on from the movie.

Superman: No Limits!

Fairly good collection, with a few really good stories and a couple of bland ones, though it's hampered by moronic sequencing of the individual issues - the most interesting subplot gets put on hold for 48 pages at a time because it was running in Action Comics but not Superman or The Adventures of Superman, issues from all of which are included here. And there's a bizarre Superman Does Beowulf in Virtual Reality With Wonder Woman For Eighty Years story that throws everything off. For the most part, though, it's a solid choice if you just want to read some Superman, because it isn't overly steeped in plot details from older issues. (Although Superman For All Seasons, occasionally available in proper bookstores, is the shit as far as Superman goes.)

Green Arrow: Quiver
Kevin Smith, Phil Hester

Kevin Smith's comics writing is better than his film writing. Not a single one of the criticisms usually leveled against his films can be legitimately applied to his comics, and every one of the films' strengths remains present in them. He's not terribly prolific, but for a few years, he has been going from character to character, spending 8-10 issues on him, and effortlessly making the character cool again. Which is quite nice of him to do. His work on Green Arrow rates a notch below Daredevil, his other major project, because Daredevil is from Marvel Comics, and Green Arrow is from DC, and while I am a DC loyalist at heart, DC has spent much of the last decade fucking up most of their characters with convoluted plotlines and cynical attempts to recreate the surge of publicity they got for (temporarily) killing Robin and Superman by killing, in 'shocking' fashion, almost all of other ex-Super Friends. (A new low was reached when they killed Aquaman last year. Surprisingly enough, CNN was not on the scene.) Smith, therefore, had to undo several years worth of shitty stories to make Green Arrow useable again. (The difference is that the stories preceding his on Daredevil were just flat - he could focus on telling his own story right from the start.) He pulled it off, though, and managed the impressive task of making the untangling of bad stories into a good one, so he deserves all respect. And, like the brief appearance of Spider-Man in Daredevil, Smith writes a short Batman and Superman pairing that, in a word, rules.

N.B. Some readers may have noticed that I am omitting the names of the inkers on the various comics I have been mentioning. This is because I am hoping to lure an angry letter out of an inker.

Brian Azzarello, Richard Corben

Competently written but basically unremarkable story that doesn't do much other than to announce This Is How We're Doing The Hulk Now. It's not his origin, but not much seems to have happened since then, so it doesn't require much prior knowledge other than who Doc Samson is. (He's this guy.) The faintly Robert Crumb-esque art is an odd choice and doesn't catch the raw power of the Hulk very well. I've always been fond of Dale Keown's Hulk for that.

I'm glad that's been settled. Y'all was probably freaking out. Why y'all be bugging? One of the great mysteries of the world.

I woke up in a strange place is the work of Marc Heiden, born in 1978, author of two books (Chicago, Hiroshima) and some plays, and an occasional photographer.

Often discussed:

Antarctica, Beelzetron, Books, Chicago, College, Communism, Food, Internet, Japan, Manute Bol, Monkeys and Apes, North Korea, Oregon Trail, Outer Space, Panda Porn, Politics, RabbiTech, Shakespeare, Sports, Texas.


January 2012, December 2011, January 2011, September 2010, August 2010, June 2010, March 2010, October 2009, February 2009, January 2009, September 2008, August 2008, March 2008, February 2008, October 2007, July 2007, June 2007, January 2007, September 2006, July 2006, June 2006, January 2006, December 2005, September 2005, August 2005, July 2005, June 2005, May 2005, March 2005, February 2005, January 2005, December 2004, October 2004, July 2004, June 2004, May 2004, April 2004, February 2004, January 2004, December 2003, November 2003, October 2003, September 2003, August 2003, July 2003, June 2003, May 2003, April 2003, March 2003, February 2003, January 2003, December 2002, November 2002, October 2002, September 2002, August 2002, July 2002, June 2002, May 2002, April 2002, March 2002, February 2002, January 2002, December 2001, November 2001, October 2001, September 2001, August 2001, July 2001, December 1999, November 1999, October 1999, May 1999, February 1999, January 1999, December 1998, November 1998, October 1998, June 1998, May 1998, April 1998, March 1998, February 1998, December 1997, November 1997, October 1997, September 1997, and the uncategorised wilderness of the Beelzetron era: 010622 - 010619, 010615 - 010611, 010608 - 010604, 010601 - 010529, 010525 - 010521, 010518 - 010514, 010511 - 010507, 010504 - 010430, 010427 - 010423, 010420 - 010416, 010413 - 010409, 010406 - 010402, 010330 - 010326, 010323 - 010319, 010316 - 010312, 010309 - 010307, 019223 - 010219, 010216 - 010212, 010209 - 010205, 010202 - 010109, 010126 - 010122, 010119 - 010115, 010112 - 010108, 010105 - 010102, 001229 - 001224, 001222 - 001218, 001215 - 001211, 001208 - 001204, 001201 - 001124, 001124 - 001120, 001117 - 001113, 001110 - 001106, 001103 - 001030, 001027 - 001023, 001020 - 001016, 001013 - 001010, 001006 - 000927.

Written by Marc Heiden, 1997-2011.