A revelation: Some days, I am just not in the mood to write about John Adams. I came into work today and knew that at some point during the course of the day, in between students dropping by to chat about Life or Coursework, I’d write about the John Adams biography I recently read for my tutorial. Yet, here I am staring at the John Adams book, and noticing that, really, I won’t do it justice right now. I lack the seriousness of intent and intensity of concentration to ruminate upon John Adams. So, he is being pushed aside, and looking at the pile of books awaiting review, it is not contest what sort of review fits my current mood. Writing is much like reading. Some days I am in the mood for weighty substantial fare; others for light-hearted fare. Not terribly surprising, I know, and yet, I have this conversation with students all the time (earlier today in fact)—it is OK to not always be in the mood to enjoy reading Plato—sometimes, Homer is just more fun—and sometimes Herge beats out both of them. And so today is the Comic Book Roundup.
1. DC Universe vs Masters of the Universe
A Christmas Gift. A curious read. As a straight story it was good enough to be enjoyable. Some fun bits. The whole clash of two different lineups was clever in a way. I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I had ever seen an episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. I never watched that cartoon; it was after my time. So, this was the first time I met anyone in that universe—I knew about He-man and Skeletor—well, I knew their names and what they looked like, I knew nothing about their personalities other than He-Man: Good; Skeletor: Bad. So, this book was like uncovering a whole new universe which was interesting, but not so interesting I would rush out to read more about the Masters of the Universe. In the end—if you have a copy of this on your shelf, it is worth reading. If you don’t own a copy, not worth rushing out to buy a copy.
An odd addendum. As noted above, in case your memory is so short you can’t remember what you read in the last paragraph, I have never seen the cartoon about He-Man nor ever read a comic book about him. But, when I was in college I had a He-Man Action Figure on my desk. Why? I cannot recall. I have no memory of where I got said Action Figure—a Christmas gift from my brother, maybe—and I have no idea why having received said Action Figure, I thought it would be a great addition to the desk in my dorm room, but there he was, brandishing his sword. I wonder what happened to him. I wonder if he is in the attic. Oddly, I sort of miss my He-Man Action Figure right now. We went through a lot together, me and He-Man. He is like my fake friend I never really cared about and didn’t miss at all whenever he left my life, but now, after reading a comic book about the guy who was the model for my fake friend, I get to wondering where my fake friend ever went. Maybe I will look for him this weekend and if I find him I can put him on my nightstand and say goodnight to him. Oh, never mind. I just realized that Janet would see He-Man and say in a very disdainful voice, “Where did you dig that up?” Janet never liked my He-Man Action Figure. Oh my. It just occurred to me. Did Janet get rid of my He-Man Action Figure? Was she jealous of him and destroyed him when I wasn't looking? Is my wife a closet murderer of Action Figures? Now I will stare at her all night wondering about the Darkness which might just lie in her past.
2. Fantastic Four: Original Sin
Some comic books are so good they transcend the genre and one can recommend them to anyone as books worth reading. This isn’t one of those. Some comic books are fun to read and can be recommended to anyone who likes comic books. This isn’t one of those. Some comic books are decent enough that if you had a copy and an idle evening, it isn’t a bad way to spend your time. This isn’t one of those. Some comic books are so awful you just hope that nobody ever sees them because they would be a prime example of the stereotype that comic books are fit only for people with extraordinarily feeble intellects and absolutely no idea that there are books out there written for 2 year olds with more literary merit. This is one of those.
I thought about relating the plot, but trust me, you don’t want to know.
3. Herge, Flight 714 to Sydney
Coming off the disaster of Fantastic Four: Original Sin I needed something I was certain would not depress me. Enter Tintin. I’ve read all the Tintin books, so I knew exactly what I was getting. This one is Tintin at his best—but, then there are numerous titles which are Tintin at his best. It has everything you want—Tintin is daring and bold and courageous; Haddock and Calculus and Snowy are funny; evil villains have a dastardly plan. I was so cheerful after reading it.
4. Trudeau, But This War Had Such Promise
I never know: is a collection of comic strips a comic book? Really, this question has long puzzled me. I cannot decide. On the one hand, Comic Strip and Comic Book do have the same word in the description. Some Comic strips have story lines which persist over the space of many days. But, Comic strips have a formula that are absent in the Comic Book Proper. These are the sorts of philosophical questions which keep me up at night.
I have liked Doonesbury since I was in high school. I know conservatives like me are supposed to hate Doonesbury, but I think it is fun, and I like the characters. At a library book sale in October, imagine my pleasant surprise to see a nearly complete set of all the pre-reboot Doonesbury collections ever published. At 50 cents each, I bought them all. I have been enjoying rereading them—I read most of these decades ago. In this one B.D., whom I always liked (well, until recently—Trudeau has really destroyed his characters of late—but I guess that is what happens when you write a comic strip for 50 years) heads off to Vietnam. And he meets Phred. And Zonker and Mark are up to their usual shenanigans. Bernie—whatever happened to Bernie?—is in his lab. The Reverend Scot Sloan makes his appearance. And, of course there is poor Mike himself, bumbling through life.
Truth be told, even in college I liked Doonesbury more than I liked He-Man. But, I didn’t have a Duke Action Figure. (Much to my surprise, I just found out such a thing exists. $225 on Ebay. A bit out of my price range. I would have paid $2.25). In the run of books I am reading, Duke hasn’t shown up yet—he was always my favorite.