Sunday, October 3, 2010

6 Things Ben Got Into This Year

Following in Kiel’s mighty footsteps, I wanted to also endorse a half dozen neat things I discovered and found to be rad over these past 12 months as part of our two-year blogiversary. I don’t think any of these will come as any great surprise—or perhaps I am indeed an enigma wrapped in a mystery more than I believe—but maybe my endorsement this time around gives somebody that last little push to give something cool a shot.

Silver Age Marvel has always been a big gap in my comic book reading repertoire until quite recently. One reason is simply that I didn’t have access to the material—even at Wizard our Marvel library started a lot later than our DC stuff—and the other was that I’d sampled old school X-Men and Avengers comics as those were my primary franchises and didn’t really fall in love with them (ditto early Justice League). However, over the last couple years over at Marvel we’ve been re-releasing the Masterworks series in paperback, and thus I’ve had the opportunity to sample the classics. This will shock nobody, but wow, those original Amazing Spider-Man and Fantastic Four runs got their reputations for a reason; the fertility of incredible characters and ideas as well as the frankly stunning Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko art is just jaw-dropping. I also really took a shine to the Stan Lee/John Buscema Silver Surfer series and was a bit surprised at how much I enjoyed the Captain America series from Tales of Suspense. Next up for me is giving Doctor Strange a try as well as continuing to wait patiently for the Warlock stuff to come around.
I wasn’t sure what to make of this show when it came on—Rickey loves the original movie but I don’t remember it that well—but it has rapidly become one of my absolute favorites on TV. I’m a sucker for family dramedies with talented big-ass casts, in part because I have a very entertaining extended family myself, and since “Brothers and Sisters” has been running out of steam a bit, this came along at the perfect time. I’m happy to see Peter Krause on a good show (since I suffered through the unevenness of “Dirty Sexy Money”), I’m loving seeing what all the fuss was about in regards to Lauren Graham, I’m shocked at how much I enjoy Dax Shephard’s work, and it’s always nice to see Craig T. Nelson on television. That’s just scratching the surface of the great group of actors on this show, and not even getting into brilliant scripting, the clear improvisation, the heartstring-tugging stuff, and the dynamite chemistry—just a pleasure.

I’ve spent a good bit of blogging real estate this year talking up Daytripper, but now that the series has wrapped, I think it warrants at least one more solid praising. Credit where credit is due: this book wasn’t on my radar at all, but Ryan Penagos recommended it to me after the first issue came out, I borrowed from Rickey (I believe) and then bought the rest of the series, seriously eagerly anticipating each installment. Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba created something really beautiful here that I feel like is going to be a timeless work and something I personally look forward to putting on my shelf. Death is a very hard subject for me to deal with or even think about, yet these guys had me devoting time to doing just that every month, and ultimately I do believe I made a little bit of peace with how much living a full life and really appreciating those you love ultimately matters more than anything in the end; can’t speak highly enough of this book.

I’ve never stopped watching pro wrestling, but prior to 2010, I think it had been about seven years since I’d been to a live show. My buddy “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels has tried to remedy this fact in recent years, but I always indisposed whenever he came to town. Finally, back in May, I not only had the fun of Chris joining myself and Megan for lunch at the Saddle Brook Diner, that night I went and saw him perform at Ring of Honor’s Supercard of Honor V at the Manhattan Center in New York City. There and then again on September 11 for Glory By Honor IX, I had a real blast rediscovering how awesome live wrestling can be via the great product ROH puts on. There’s just something real cool about watching guys who are awesome at what they do and pretty damn fearless put on an incredible show while surrounded by passionate and vocal fans who are totally into it. Getting to hang with the boys after the shows was really a dream come true for me as well, as I’ve always been totally fascinated by this bizarre fraternity that is pro wrestling, and love getting to be even a fringe part of it every few months.

I’ve been pretty openly complimentary to Thor: The Mighty Avenger in particular recently, but that’s really just the crown jewel in the awesome all-ages empire of titles Nate Cosby and his band of miscreants have carved out at Marvel. I’ll admit I used to chuck away the bulk of my Marvel Adventures books in my comps, but once Paul Tobin took over MA Super Heroes with that killer regular Avengers line-up of Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Invisible Woman, Black Widow, Vision and Nova, I was hooked and started gobbling it up. When that got re-launched alongside MA Spider-Man, I gave that a shot as well and it’s more great stuff. Those are seriously three of the most enjoyable comic books on the market right now, and I don’t think it matters how old you are as far as digging them; “all-ages” really does mean for all ages in this case. Beyond that, you’ve got Pet Avengers, Power Pack and so on—all great stuff. Roger Langridge, Paul Tobin, Chris Eliopoulos, Chris Samnee, Ronan Cliquet and the rest of the talented crew Nate has assembled are hard-working dudes (and ladies) who love to have a good time and the fruits of their enthusiasm are some of comics’ true gems right now.

As a guy who gave up pizza about five years ago when I learned I was lactose intolerant and has suffered without it ever since, I cannot thank whoever Amy is enough for this glorious creation.

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