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The Cruelest Month

Steven and I were talking about how we should probably be laughed out of the comics blogosphere because we go to the comics store maybe every other week and would only buy a floppy or two except that I feel so guilty spending under $20 that I always toss in some trade paperback or other, never the ones I’ve been longing for since they’re just not stocked. But we also don’t comment on what’s going to be available for purchase in a few months, and now I’m ready to make an exception to that general rule. DC’s April Solicits are available, and I feel a need to complain, although the complaint closest to my heart will go last because no one else cares. True to form, I think we’ll only be buying the titles by Grant Morrison, but I guess we’ll find out for sure when the time comes. Anyway, jumping in the game, here’s what stuck out to me.

The Fountain HC

Written by Darren Aronofsky, adapted by Kent Williams, art and cover by Williams.

Darren Aronofsky proved himself a filmmaker to watch with his provocative debut, Pi. His follow-up, Requiem for a Dream, continued the accolades, receiving Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations. His latest accomplishment, however, comes straight to comics in the form of The Fountain, a gorgeously painted, oversized original graphic novel about the timeless truths of life, love and death.

Working with acclaimed painter Kent Williams, The Fountain crisscrosses through three distinct time periods: in 1535, during an ancient Mayan war; the present day, following one doctor’s desperate search for the cure for cancer; and the far future, through the vast exotic reaches of space. Interweaving these three periods, The Fountain follows Tomas — warrior, doctor, explorer — as he feverishly tries to beat death and prolong the life of the woman he loves.

A story so grand, one medium couldn’t contain it, Aronofsky is also shooting a feature film version of the story for New Regency and Warner Bros. Pictures starring Tony award-winning actor Hugh Jackman and acclaimed actress Rachel Weisz. But before he did, the filmmaker wanted The Fountain to be realized in the unique storytelling power and artistic beauty of the graphic novel. Together, Aronofsky and Williams deliver what might be considered the ultimate director’s cut.

I’m sure being the person who has to write the solicitation text is no fun at all, and the over-the-top hype here is pretty much standard. However, this is about a guy who’s living in 1535, the present and the “far future” and yet working “feverishly” to beat death? Admittedly maybe it’s about time travel or something, but it seems to me that he’s had his 1000th birthday or something and should probably just stop being so piggy about living. And if “the woman he loves” has made it through all that time with him, maybe her life has been prolonged enough already. Plus, blah, curing cancer to save the life of the woman he loves, awwwww. We’ve never heard anything like that before. And how can it be about “the timeless truths of life, love and death” if it’s all about beating death (and time)? Steven thinks this is a bad explanation for what might be a good movie, but I’m afraid the problems may lie deeper, although this certainly seems like bafflingly bad advertising.

And then there’s Ex Machina, where New York’s mayor faces off against “the supernatural horror that’s been terrorizing the subways.” Was I confused when I thought this book was supposed to focus on government and about what it would be like to have a superhero in a world where super stuff doesn’t otherwise happen? But oops, apparently someone forgot to mention the Lovecraft Express. I’m glad we stopped reading this when the first (goofy and unsatisfying) storyarc ended.

I do like the solicit text for Wild Girl:

Did Rosa survive her encounter with the Crocodile? And if so, will she have enough energy left to face the Dog Man and save her family? Every question is answered in the stunning conclusion of this mini-series.

For one thing, if the answer to the first question is No, then every question asked is already answered, stunning conclusion or no. I guess that means it’s a pretty safe bet that this isn’t the answer, but I’d be very happy if it were.

And saving the best for last, Mnemovore! Crazy comics publishers, why must you torment me so? It’s so easy to make a bad name for a comic, but why didn’t anyone realize this was one? I hate hate hate hate hate so much when Greek and Latin are mixed in neologisms. It drives me nuts. (Can you tell?) I understand that we’re dealing with a memory-eater, but “mnemonic” is derived from Greek and “voracious” comes from Latin, as any schoolchild could tell DC. If this were a comic about a mnemophage I would probably buy it because of the cool name, but since it’s polluted with Latin I’ll pass it by (unless it turns out to be much, much better than it looks now). And if the book doesn’t take off, you’ll know why; it’s the miasma that comes from deliberately (and foolishly) mixing etymologies and incurring my wrath.


  1. Ed Cunard says:

    If it makes you feel any better, I only buy comics about once a month at this point. The whole “holy Wednesday” thing kind of frightens me, to be honest.

    — 20 January 2005 at 3:36 pm (Permalink)

  2. Rose says:

    Ed, I’d never actually done the Wednesday-new-comics thing until living with Steven (not that I blame him, but it gave us something to do on Wednesays sometimes) and I know we should switch to monthly DCBS shipments or something, but I think we’re both too apathetic about comics to change. Plus, that would require reading the solicits, which always makes me despair and laugh.

    — 20 January 2005 at 4:42 pm (Permalink)

  3. Ian Brill says:

    If you guys are going to get laughed out of comics then I’m going to be burned at the stake. I’m at an average of one or two books a week (sometimes none at all). Not to mention that school prevents me from coming into the store every Weds. I’m a starving student so purchasing comics is taking up less and less of my life.

    — 20 January 2005 at 5:06 pm (Permalink)

  4. Johnny Bacardi says:

    Gee, that’s funny- I feel bad when I do spend over $20! And I guess I’m a slave to that “holy Wednesday” thing, but sometimes if I don’t get there on Wednesday stuff gets sold out- stuff that’s not in my holds and I’m curious about- so I guess habits are hard to break. I’ve been seriously considering DCBS, ’cause I’m getting tired of no discount and having to drive across town to my shop, but I don’t really want to burden my already overtaxed credit card any further.

    And I guess I’m not as picky about my Latin & Greek ’cause I thought Mnemovore was a neat title at first- but since you set me straight I understand what you’re complaining about and the mixup is kinda annoying, isn’t it?

    — 20 January 2005 at 5:11 pm (Permalink)

  5. Rose says:

    Yeah, I was just kidding about the laughter. I’m sure people who want to mock me could find better reasons than that! Um, like that my cheapness is exceeded only by my tendency toward guilt, maybe. I’m sure if I shopped more often I’d feel fine spending $3/week (well, except that we don’t buy enough floppies to make that feasible), but it just makes me feel dorky and bad especially if we’re both there together to not be buying something a little bit substantial. I am not going to say any more, but if Steven is ever feeling mean he could give a pretty clear expose of what I can and cannot rationalize buying and how much it makes him laugh.

    And Johnny, this is what happens when Classics students have to work in the real world instead of just hanging out at school translating stuff. At least my job requires research where I can feel that I’m better at finding information because of the various languages I’ve studied, but basically it just means I’m a nerd all the time. And even though I knew I wanted to post about Mnemovore last night, I haven’t been able to come up with any other examples of words like this even though I know I grouse whenever I come across them. Probably the best counterexample I can think of is the Teknophage comic Neil Gaiman thought up for TEK Comics (which I know little about except that it abounds in quarter bins) where you’d expect “tek” to be “technological” or something except it’s from “teknos,” so the title means Baby-Eater AND sounds cool. As you noted on your own blog, Mnemovore is going to fail a lot of people’s “sounds cool” rule as well.

    — 20 January 2005 at 5:27 pm (Permalink)

  6. Bryan Lee O'Malley says:

    I think it would be hilarious to go through a comic store with you. Or PREVIEWS, for god’s sake.

    — 21 January 2005 at 3:09 am (Permalink)

  7. Rose says:

    Alas, I am pretty bitchy like this most of the time, but thought it best not to make the blog Rose’s Whining Place. Maybe I should do a Hate of the Day. Today’s would be the stupid ads for Monk on NPR every morning saying, “All new episodes! All new phobias!” Why would there be new phobias? Maybe there’s an explanation within the show, which I’ve never seen, but it’s a dumb and annoying tagline. Oh, wait, actually my hate of the day would probably be the inauguration speech. I don’t know whether I want a tshirt that says “shipwreck of Communism” or “the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry,” which is especially weird because it sets up this fake parallel structure that doesn’t work. Either both of them should have been goofily alliterative or neither. Or is it that “message” and “baggage” are sort of slant rhymes with doubled middle letters? Anyway, maybe yesterday should be my inauguration hate day.

    And I have another story, because I for whatever reason think it’s better to put them in the comments. When we saw The Aviator I was really annoyed by something in a preview or, more likely, in one of the ads before the previews (although it’s probably telling that I can no longer remember what it was) and said to Steven, loudly enough that he could hear me over the ridiculously loud movie theater sound system, “This is so dreadful it makes me want to just tear open my chest –” at which point a new preview started and the whole theater went quiet. But in case anyone was listening, I finished up a little more quietly, “and rip out my heart!” After that I was pretty much chagrined and sat quietly, although I am proud that I shhhed an old lady who was talking to her friend as the movie itself started. I’ve never had the guts to do that before, although it’s a step up from when I confronted a quartet of 50-somethings in the lobby after The Manchurian Candidate and told them that their constant chatter had been extremely distracting, after which I was so unnerved I practically vomited. This must mean I’m getting better at being harsh, which (to add to the cheap/guilty comments above) probably is related to the fact that prices keep going up.

    — 21 January 2005 at 1:31 pm (Permalink)

  8. Steven says:

    I don’t think we had any ads before the previews (except the horrible one for I’m pretty sure the movie that made you want to rip out your heart was Hostage. Although, now that I think about it, maybe it was something in Kingdom of Heaven.

    And you didn’t finish up “a little more quietly”—I bet everybody in the theater heard you!

    — 21 January 2005 at 3:28 pm (Permalink)

  9. Rose says:

    Oh, that is so not true! I was definitely a little more quiet, but I’m sure you’re right everyone heard me. I didn’t know what else to do!

    And you’re also right it was Kingdom of Heaven. I’m not going to rewatch the trailer, but it’s one of those awful ones with taglines like “In a time of trouble/ there is a man/ who can rise above it/ for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven” and I really, really hate that. I don’t remember what was bad about this one (probably something about infidels? Or how he wasn’t noble enough to win the princess?) but it must have been something that deserved my scorn. I’m sure I wouldn’t be hysterical in a movie theater for no reason, right?

    — 21 January 2005 at 3:34 pm (Permalink)

  10. Steven says:

    Maybe it was the part where the voiceover guy says that “a kingdom of conscience, peace instead of war, love instead of hate, where “you are not what you are born, but what you have it in yourself to be” will be the outcome of the Crusades. Or was it the Enya music that did you in?

    — 21 January 2005 at 3:55 pm (Permalink)

  11. Rose says:

    It was indeed all of the above. You win a prize! I suggest that it be skipping Kingdom of Heaven.

    — 21 January 2005 at 3:58 pm (Permalink)

  12. Bryan Lee O'Malley says:

    Do you guys communicate across the apartment with blog comments? Because that’s awesome.

    I didn’t mention this earlier but I was thinking it: my new dream of life is an incredibly irate monthly Previews Review- / Title Bout-style column with a round table of contributors, probably including myself. My god, you’ve never seen me comb through Previews. The shrieking!

    — 21 January 2005 at 4:09 pm (Permalink)

  13. Rose says:

    Mal, alas, I have to go to work all day. But we have done similarly dorky things (mostly emails) when in the same room and in this case did discuss it this morning before I left, since I couldn’t remember what had happened exactly and thought it might have been about Hostage. There’s definitely a lot of behind-the-scenes chatter going into the blog.

    I no longer read Previews because it costs money and makes me crazy, although it’s arguably an entertaining kind of crazy. Being irate is fun and I would definitely read a column like that, and I think it would be even better to read all the snarky things people would then write about the column.

    — 21 January 2005 at 5:47 pm (Permalink)