Friday, September 26, 2008

Final Crisis - remember that?

I think it's safe to say that Final Crisis has lost its momentum. Only one FC-related title was released in September (Requiem), and the next issue of FC proper won't be out until October 22 (according to the current schedule). The last issue came out when, 2006? Seems like it.

The decision by DC to minimize the FC tie-ins within its ongoing titles (instead confining them to dedicated miniseries such as Requiem, Rogues' Revenge, etc.) certainly seemed like an admirable goal at the time (to the readers, as well as to the DC brass). But in actuality, it contributed to the current stalled feeling. If you aren't reading any of the official FC books (and ignored the house ads), you would have no idea that evil has won. At least in the good ol' days of Crisis on Infinite Earths, you had the infamous "red skies" in the ubitiquitous crossover books. The books may not have had much to do with COIE, but you couldn't miss the fact that some major sh*t was going down.

On the other hand, Secret Invasion seems to be striking the balance perfectly (not to mention that the main SI title ships very regularly). The main story is contained in SI, with backstory given in New Avengers and Mighty Avengers, and several tie-in miniseries (SI: X-Men, SI: Fantastic Four, etc., plus Front Line) emphasize the pervasiveness of the Skrull threat. And there is a scattered SI presence in other books as well, such as Ms. Marvel and (very recently) Iron Man Director of SHIELD. A few books are completely immune, such as the rest of the X-Men books, Captain America, Daredevil, and The Immortal Iron Fist, but overall it's hard to ignore or forget that the Skrulls are definitely here (and they're... uh... green).

Hopefully, Final Crisis will pick up again in October, when approximately 207 FC-related books are released (and that's just on October 15). But in trying to have a relatively self-contained event, which at the same time doesn't ship regularly (or even have a FC title released every week, or at least every other week), I think DC has minimized the feeling of a multiverse-wide threat that FC was presumably meant to have.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Metallica's Death Magnetic impressions (off-topic)

Just wanted to share my impressions of the new Metallica album, Death Magnetic, which was released last Friday, and to which I finally had a chance to listen today. (Besides comics, I'm a huge metal and jazz fan, so I may occasionally comment on these things as well.)

I have seriously mixed feelings about this album.

First off, it is Loads better than the last three albums. It is definitely metal, and some of it is even thrash (more on that later).

The CD is recorded wonderfully - drums sound great, guitars sound great, bass was almost there, even James gets his old sneer back once in a while.

But it just doesn't sound like Metallica to me. The first and last tracks are definitely the best, and reminded me of the old Metallica, especially the last track. Songs #2 and #8 were also very good (I wasn't paying attention to the songtitles while in the car). So the album starts and ends well, and it goes a bit off in the middle.

I tried to imagine this being the follow-up to the "Black Album" instead of Load. I think people would have been disappointed, but not betrayed as with Load. I think it would have given the impression of a tired band, which ironically may have eased the way for Load, in the spirit of trying something new. But as it is, it is definitely a step in the right direction - after I heard the last song, I thought they should have scrapped the first nine songs, and wrote nine new ones in the spirit of #10 (pretending, of course, that the songs were written and recorded in the running order).

It's actually very similar to the recent "return to form" albums by Megadeth (The World Needs a Hero) and Slayer (Christ Illusion), neither of which were great, but assured metal fans that the bands were back, and would (hopefully) get better. Megadeth did with The System Has Failed and United Abominations, and Slayer has yet to record a follow-up. But both of these albums were more consistently close to the respective bands' classic styles, while Death Magnetic is up and down in that respect.