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Now in our sixth calendar year
PCR #255  (Vol. 6, No. 6)  This edition is for the week of February 6--13, 2005.

"Finding Neverland"
 by Mike Smith
Neil Gaiman's Return To Comics....Black History Month Notes....Numb3rs vs Murder in Suburbia....Super Bowled....And Now The Couch Potato Super Bowl Commercial Awards
 by Vinnie Blesi
Let's Review: I Killed The Maverick?....More on Mike....Check Your Pocket For Change
 by Brandon Jones
I'm Back....King Kong (Dark Horse Comics)...."The Boogeyman"....Creature Productions: "The Incredible Comic Book Murder" and Film Fest #1
 by John Lewis
Back On The Couch....Rondo Picks Up Steam.... Super Bowl Pooo-bahhh .... Welcomings
 by Matt Drinnenberg
Super Bowl Notes....School House Love....José It Ain't So....Welcome Back....Hello There, Ladies and Gentlemen....Passing On....Jaws: The Story, Part 5
 by Mike Smith
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Couch Potato Confessions by Vinnie B.

Couch Potato Confessions, Feb 2005 edition

Neil Gaiman’s return to comics
“Marvel 1602” originally came out last year as an eight issue mini-series comic. The collection has now been published as a hardbound graphic novel. The book is a quality package with beautiful colors on crisp slick paper in a hardbound book. There is still something about a hardbound book that makes it more tangible to me than a paperback.

“Marvel 1602” marked a return to comics by Neil Gaiman, best known for his Sandman comics, who has now gone on to become a respected novelist. I enjoyed his novel, “Neverwhere”, however I found his last novel, “American Gods”, a little too self-indulgent in its writing, i.e., could've used some editing. However, “American Gods” is interesting and readable unlike the really bloated self-indulgent mess “Cryptonomicon” by Neil Stephenson. Gaiman has also penned two children’s books that I recommend.

The premise for this story is unique and interesting, “what if the Marvel Universe happened in the 1600’s”. I found it thoroughly enjoyable to see Nick Fury, Dr. Strange, The X-Men and others in this strange time twist tale. The characters all fit into the historical period too, so there are no unbelievable heroes running around. For example, the Inquisition views the mutants as witch-breed.

The writing is top notch, as should be expected from Gaiman. In his Afterword Gaimen says that he originally envisioned 36 chapters, and this shows later in the series as the writing seems rushed to tie up the loose ends in just 8 chapters.

The artwork is by Andy Kubert, who at times reminds me more of Gil Kane than his father Joe Kubert. Thankfully, we are treated to a more conventional comic art styling rather than the dreadful Todd McFarlane Spawn style that has seemed to take over so many comics in the recent years. In the back of the book Kubert treats us to some pencil sketches. It brought back memories of when Mike Ploog did the “Planet of the Apes” comic magazines only in pencils. Sometimes inking can actually detract from the original shading and intent of the pencil artwork.

Richard Isanove did the vivid dynamic coloring on the computer adding a color dynamic that embellishes both the atmosphere of the art and story.

If you already have the original comics, this collection is probably not worth the extra money for the few extras it offers. However, if you missed it the first go around, and are itching for some old school type comics, I would suggest this collection.

Black History Month Notes
The website, Downhill Battle, has been busy trying to get the award winning film series about the civil rights movement, “Eyes on the Prize” out to the masses. Because of expired copyright licenses the film cannot be shown and has not been shown for 10 years. In an act of civil disobedience Downhill Battle made the first 3 episodes available for download before being shut down by the lawyers of the company that originally made the films. Downhill Battle has organized nationwide screenings of the film February 8th.

Apparently part of the licensing problem revolves around a scene of Martin Luther King Jr’s last birthday party and the singing of “Happy Birthday”. Yep, the next time you sing “Happy Birthday” you are violating copyright law and could be arrested.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has been exposed of having payed conservative Black commentator, Armstrong Williams, $240,000 to promote Bush’s “No child left behind” on his talk show. This news comes as Bush’s budget makes deep cuts into social and urban programs to pay for the war in Iraq.

Numb3rs vs Murder in Suburbia
From heavy hitters Ridley and Tony Scott comes “Numb3rs”, a new crime drama on the CSI network, CBS. Rob Morrow, in need of some heavy botox treatments on his forehead, plays a FBI agent whose brother is a math genius and uses his math geekiness to help solve crimes. The math genius character just happens to be heavily borrowed from the movie, “Pi”.

This show has the pre-requisite violence, explosions, and rapes that American audiences love to see. The only thing that makes this well-acted drama unique from a wad of other police dramas is the “geekiness” factor introduced when you start applying physics to the detective process. However the FBI comes off as especially inept, having to rely on the mathematical almost metaphysical stylings of a young math genius to solve crimes.

The cast is top notch, also featuring Judd Hirsch, David Krumholtz, and Sabrina Lloyd (Sliders and ED).

This show should appeal to the CSI crowd, unless the math aspect scares them off.

On the opposite side of the spectrum of police dramas, is “Murder in Suburbia” a BBC show currently being shown on Monday nights on the cable channel BBC America.

This show is a classic whodunit, with the twist being that the detectives are a pair of single young woman whose beat is the heart of suburbia. Being a British production, look for very little violence and no gunplay. The show gives a glimpse into the seedy and secret everyday lives of British upwardly mobile suburbanites.

Caroline Catz and Lisa Faulkner are entertaining and funny as the occasionally men-bashing single white female inspectors. A running joke is whether their hunky boss is straight or gay.

The stories play it close to the vest following a classic whodunit mystery formula. A crime is committed and then we are introduced to all the players who could be suspects. Still it is an enjoyable entry for mystery fans and BBC watchers.

Super Bowled
First off, my congratulations to Sir Paul McCartney for turning in a respectable and entertaining halftime performance. Too bad an Englishman had to be imported for one of America’s top sporting events to prevent controversy.

My hat is also off to the pre-game honoring of WWII veterans, even if the draft-dodger Bill Clinton was there (and I am a Clinton supporter).

And Now the Couch Potato Super Bowl Commercial Awards:
 Most violent and disturbing ads: Ameriquest for their robbery and cat slasher commercials.
 Most tired commercial idea: Quiznos, for bringing back Bob the talking baby.
 The saddest washed-up celebrity comeback attempt award: This one is a tie between MC Hammer for his Lays commercial, and Dennis Rodman for whatever the hell the commercial he was in where he was in the bathtub.
 Worst commercial: Pepsi showed a total lack of creativity with its music playing out Pepsi bottle commercials so they get the stick.
 Best commercial: Godaddy.com bucks the let's-play-it-safe trend, and makes a statement against broadcast censorship with their ad of a buxom female testifying before the Broadcast censorship committee. Sadly, Godaddy.com bought two commercial spots but the NFL persuaded Fox to pull the second showing of the spot. Hope they get a refund. http://www.godaddy.com/gdshop/superbowl05/landing.asp?isc=bpshdr001

Till next month, Keep the cathode ray Home Fires burning.

"Couch Potato Confessions" is ©2005 by Vinnie B.  Couch Potato main graphic by Vin Blesi and Nolan Canova.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.