Monday, November 23, 2009

Uber-literate post

A Themed Post?

If you ask any creator, the hardest task to undertake is the one man show. Writers write, artists pencil and inkers ink. They work as a team to create the comic. This collaboration of effort can help (and sometimes harm) the final product, but on the whole, having somebody watch your back only makes for a better project. But in the one man show, the only person you've got to rely on is yourself.

* I use the term "one man show" to refer to a single person responsible for content. This is in no way to slight women.

So why am I rambling on about "content" today? The answer is simple really. I'm going to compare and contrast Scott Kolins' Superman/Batman #66 and the one woman play "The Lady With All The Answers." And after you read this, I encourage your input. (And yes, plays do count as "pop-culture.")

Superman/Batman #66
Those of you that know me know that I am a Batman guy. My first Halloween costume as a kid, the first date with my would be wife and my first tattoo (not to mention lots of other things in my life) revolve around the Dark Knight.

So with that being said, I had high hopes for Superman/Batman as a title. Basically, it's World's Finest, but with a spiffy new logo. One of the nice/frustrating things about Superman/Batman is that DC has never fully decided if they want this title to be part of DC continuity or not. It seemed that they finally decided that these stories would not be part of current DC continuity as Bruce Wayne would still be Batman. Phew.

But then issue 66 came out. Oh look, it's a Blackest Night tie in. Evidently, the decision to slap the Blackest Night label on every title at DC is the current modus operandi. (I can't wait to see the Blackest Night issue of Tiny Titans, but I digress.) Better yet, this issue doesn't even have Superman or Batman in it. What are we saddled with? Solomon Grundy, Bizarro and Man-Bat. Don't get me wrong, I like these characters, but not one of them is Superman and/or Batman. (heck Composite Superman would be a better character - at least it's Superman AND Batman put together.)

The story, the art and the cover are all done by Scott Kolins. Scott has a very distinctive style to his art, but it is very inconsistent. Some of his panels are wonderfully drawn and other panels on the same page seem to have thrown in at the last second. His plot, while not a bad idea for a story by any means, seems out of place in this title. It almost seems as if he had an idea for a story, pitched it to DC and they dumped it in this title. Characters are introduced that seem to have no connection, and their motivations are confusing at best. (What is Frankenstein doing in this story? Somebody please tell me.) It's this inconsistency that robs this story of it's entertainment value.

One has to wonder what this issue would have been like if there had been an artist, writer, inker and editorial all collaborating on the project. Perhaps the result would have been better.

"The Lady With All The Answers" for a limited time at the Milwaukee Rep.

"The Lady With All The Answers" is a one woman play about Eppy Friedman, aka Ann Landers. The Milwaukee premiere of this play just opened, so there is plenty of chances to catch this fantastic show. With a print deadline looming, Ann Landers counsels her own broken marriage and heart.

This play, which is both funny and nostalgic, features the Rep's Laura Gordon as Ann Landers. Her performance is spot on. Laura's delivery is whip smart when it needs to be and shows the real vulnerability that underlines the human condition.

Many readers of this blog would never consider seeing a play, much less one about an advice columnist mulling her life in 1975. But here's where I urge you to step out of the comfort zone and try something new. Think of it as picking up a comic just by looking at the cover. You might very well be entertained and surprised at the same time.

Now, with no disrespect to the gymnasts, divers and figure skaters out there, a one man (or woman) show is the highest degree of difficulty that any one can attempt. The actor doesn't have anyone to work off of. There's no break in the show. It's just the actor and the audience. It's up to the actor to create the character, engage the audience and bring them along on the ride and Gordon is up to the task. Her performance is effortless and real, and should really be seen.

I guess the bottom line is this: one man shows are risky. Scott Kolins' Superman/Batman missed the mark. However, "The Lady With All The Answers" is incredibly entertaining and hits the bulleye.

Next week I'll post reviews of the latest Blackest Night, Green Lantern, Justice Society and other titles. (And I'll be far more entertaining, I promise.)

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