May 25, 2009

Y: The Last Man, Vol. 2

Initial thoughts:

Not as good as Vol. 1, but then again, Vol. 1 counts as one of the best graphic novels I have ever read, and you can't always hit a home run. Those first ten issues soared on account of Vaughan's sharp character work and quick pace. The story bounded forward, while still juggling it's myriad subplots expertly.

My biggest issue with Vol. 2 is the pacing, which has started to slow down, and at times, drag a little. You can tell Vaughan knows where he's going, but he doesn't want to get there too quickly. His characters have been trying to reach San Fransisco since issue #5, but by #23 they're only in Arizona. The smaller arcs have also started to feel formulaic - Yorick, 355 and Dr. Mann show up in a new location, have a violent encounter with the locals, someone dies, Yorick learns something about himself, someone reveals a secret and then they leave. Yorick himself acknowledges this pattern in a moment that reads as if Vaughan realized the story's repetitive nature too late.

Other issues: where is Hero? Vol. 1 featured a lot of Yorick's older, impressionable sister - over the course of those ten issues I invested a lot in her character, while here, she makes a mere last page cameo. I really enjoyed her previous storyline, so I was disappointed to see her dropped. I also didn't buy the explanation for Alter's motives. She wants to bring Yorick to Israel in order to start international war and thereby maintain internal peace? Really? And lastly, I wish Vaughan had spent more time with 355 and Dr. Mann (Dr. Mann gets a few, bloody moments in the last arc). I know it's in both of their best interests to be secretive, but I'd rather unravel their stories than read two issues about a traveling theater group and some new, ninja lady.

That said, when the story clicks, it really clicks. The "Safeword" arc was fantastically fucked up; the revelation that Yorick's rash behavior serves to mask his death wish makes perfect sense when you think about it. Yorick's journey from boy to man functions as the emotional core of the series; any time Vaughan dares to delve into Yorick's psyche we're rewarded in spades.

Final analysis:

Still a great series, with absolutely awesome artwork from Pia Guerra (the other artists in this volume pale in comparison). The story may have started to tread water, but Vaughan includes enough earned character moments and satisfying plot twists to maintain reader interest. I'll definitely pick up Vol. 3, but the pace needs to quicken if I'm going to stick around any longer.

The "Glee" pilot.

Initial thoughts:

Good, not great. At times very good, but at other times clumsy and rushed. Ryan Murphy and company pack a lot of material into these first 44 minutes, so much so that characters complete dramatic arcs that on other shows would take a good half-season.

I enjoyed the adults more than the teens. The writers seem to have a solid grasp on Will, Emma, Terri and Sue more so than Rachel and Finn. I had problems with Finn in particular; for the amount of time devoted to his decision to stick with the Glee Club, I still don't have a strong sense of who he is. He seems like a nice enough guy, I guess, but I don't understand what led him to become a Football Jock Asshole in the first place.

Lea Michele (Rachel) has a phenomenal voice. I agree, however, with everyone who's said she needs to work on her acting. The writers gave her some good material, but she didn't quite pull off the more nuanced/tender moments. That said, she'll be kicking major ass by the end of the season.

Final analysis:

Good, not great, but the good was good enough that I'll definitely be back. Now that he's established his world, I'm really interested to see where Murphy goes from here. And let's be honest, I'd probably be back for the music alone. There's a reason the cast recording of "Don't Stop Believin" has been in the iTunes Top 10 since it debuted.

May 24, 2009

So, that happened.

Goodbye, college. You were fun, and sometimes hard. Most of all, I'll remember you as the place where I became the Wade I always wanted to be. Thanks, for that.

May 9, 2009

I can't wait . . .

. . . to watch this show:

They had me at: "You're very talented. I should know, I'm very talented too."

The Gathering

So, I finished Anne Enright's The Gathering last night. I wasn't sure how I felt about it until the final paragraph:

"Gatwick airport is not the best place to be gripped by a fear of flying. But it seems that this is what is happening to me now; because you are up so high, in those things, and there is such a long way to fall. Then again, I have been falling for months. I have been falling into my own life, for months. And I am about to hit it now."

Haven't we all felt like that? Of course, the entire novel is very well written. Enright plays masterfully with notions of truth and memory, Veronica's memories slipping through our hands like water. She struggles to distinguish fact from fiction just as much as we do.

But it's that moment at the end that did it, that moment when Veronica realizes that whether she likes it or not, she has to step out of her head and back into the real world - that moment stuck with me. She's been watching her life, distancing herself from her children, her husband; now that life demands her attention. I just really loved that ending. It (and this book) caught me pleasantly by surprise.

May 6, 2009

Why not, right?

I could/should be studying for my American Film final (my last exam as an undergraduate), but this felt like a much better way to spend the last half hour.

I'll probably use this space to comment on what I'm listening to/reading/watching (view the sidebar), but who knows? For now, I'll just say that "U.R.A. Fever" has rocketed to the top of my playlist, and that the last April episode of In Treatment rocked the house in a devastatingly wonderful way.

I hope to update regularly, and will continue to play around with the formatting. If anyone even reads this, let me know what you think.