May 4, 1999
by Chuck Miller
It might surprise you to learn, after the terrible things I said about HULK #1 a couple of weeks ago, that I went ahead and bought issue #2. Well, I had read all my GOOD books for the week, I was in the drugstore to get a prescription filled, and I just picked the thing up on the way out. You know how it is.
I got home and read it. Whew! Now, listen to this. Guess what happened in 20-some-odd pages of story and art. The Hulk picked up a truck, threw it into a barn, followed it over there, threatened to hit a little girl and her father, and changed back into Bruce Banner. That's it! This "action" was accompanied by plenty of excruciating prose (not quite purple, but certainly a nice shade of lavender) by John Byrne. Why? What's the point? I just don't get it. Pull the plug! As far as I'm concerned, the Hulk no longer exists. Peter David did everything that could possibly be done with the character, then bowed out.
Remember when Alan Moore left SWAMP THING? He effectively wrapped up the story of our favorite plant-that-walked-like-a-man and said goodbye. But the title limped on for several years, under a variety of creative teams. Some of the stuff was good, some wasn't. The point is, the character had been totally wrung out by Moore. Mark Millar, whose work on the title I found interesting (good word, that, for a critic to use-- it means almost nothing), seemed to be trying to top what Moore had done-- and took the whole thing to ridiculous lengths in his attempt.
And what's left of the Hulk is even less promising than what Moore left when he quit SWAMP THING. Now we're back to a savage, inarticulate Hulk (of whom I got SO sick during the 70s) and a homeless, wandering Bruce Banner. Byrne has stooped to lifting gimmicks from a third-rate TV show! My God! Let it go! Beating a dead horse? It goes way beyond that. It's more like Neil Gaiman said in reference to something-or-other: "It's like beating the stain on the pavement where the dead horse used to be."
Well, now that Stan Lee has been cut loose from Marvel, it looks as though the Spider- Man movie may finally be underway. Is there a connection? I don't know-- but I'm reminded of a rather unkind, but very funny, comment I once saw posted on the net about Smilin' Stan, who was at the time head of Marvel's TV and movie unit: "What does the Marvel Productions office consist of? A lawn chair in Stan's front yard and a cooler full of Miller Lite tallboys?" Anyhow, some kind of vague, nebulous deal is underway. Will James Cameron direct? Or is the "King of the World" too much of a big shot now to do a funnybook movie? Time will tell.
I would love to see a good Spider-Man movie. I need something to cleanse my palate of the old live-action TV show, the memory of which still haunts me. Now, I saw a commercial the other day for some theme park somewhere-- Universal Studios, I think it was. They were promoting one of their rides, which apparently features a Spider-Man section. Anyhow, there was a little sequence, maybe 30 seconds or less, of what appeared to be a mix of live-action and computer animation with Spidey and Doctor Octopus battling on the wing of an airplane. And it looked really, really GOOD! It actually gave me chills. If somebody could do that for an hour and a half, I'd be very pleased indeed. Unfortunately, no matter how good the special effects, there's still the little matter of a plot to be dealt with, and the plots of superhero movies are usually not all that great. I more or less enjoyed "Batman Returns," but just what the hell was supposed to be going on? And, this being Spidey's first flick, we'll probably have to go through the whole origin thing. I say, just cut that stuff. We all know the story! Let's see some action! About half of the first Superman movie was devoted to a sequence of events we all know by heart. I was squirming in my seat, waiting for something to HAPPEN. And, my God, was Marlon Brando really necessary? (But now I'm beating that spot on the pavement. Sorry.)
Too much negativity is bad. It can rot your mind and soul. It's like the Dark Side of the Force. And, since I don't want to wind up a gnarled old weasel like Emperor Palpatine, I want to use the remainder of my space here to say nice things.
I like SPIDER-GIRL. Really, no kidding.
I really enjoyed BATMAN: THE JOKER'S APPRENTICE.
I like the new ANARKY series by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle. Even if the story wasn't any good (and it IS good-- Grant is one of the most intelligent, articulate writers working in comics today), it would be worth the price just to enjoy Breyfogle's art again. I really miss him on BATMAN.
I love Peter Bagge's work. I'm not sure if HATE is still coming out-- I suppose I could do a little research and find out, but that would take time and effort-- HA! But I know he recently put out an issue of THE BRADLEYS, which was totally hilarious, as is all his stuff.
BATMAN: GOTHAM ADVENTURES. If you read only one comic book based on the WB Network Batman cartoon series, let it be this one.
Check out TOM STRONG, written by Alan Moore, from America's Best Comics. With this and LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, Moore is on a roll again.
FUTURAMA is not as funny as THE SIMPSONS, but you don't have to be as funny as THE SIMPSONS to still be pretty doggone funny. And FUTURAMA is that. FAMILY GUY, on the other hand, is not. It stinks. But that is negative talk, which I'm not supposed to be doing. So, for a positive spin, let me say that whatever else is on any other channel while FAMILY GUY is on is very good. Like JUDGE WAPNER'S ANIMAL COURT or MATCH GAME'77. Fine shows!
Fans of the great 70s TV show KOLCHAK:THE NIGHT STALKER are urged to go here: http://members.aol.com/MSKolchak/ichh.html. This is the address for "...it couldn't happen here...," a neat website devoted to the doings of everyone's favorite badly-dressed, vampire- busting reporter. The site is by Mark A. Schultz, who also puts out a quarterly KOLCHAK newsletter which I highly recommend. It features news, plot synopses, unused scenes from some of the shows, original KOLCHAK fiction and more. A quarterly subscription is $12 and may be ordered from "...it couldn't happen here..." P.O. Box 4000, Center Line, MI 48015.
...I feel like doing this week. See you again soon.
Do you like comics? Wanna talk about 'em with somebody who UNDERSTANDS? E- mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Harbinger will be going away for a while, but you can still enjoy my weekly blatherings on the Captain Comics website: http://www.captaincomics.net/. Drop in some time! It's a really groovy site, with all kinds of stuff besides me! Have a great summer!