Podcast Episode 108: Nightwing #9

Direct Download (46:59)

I enjoyed Nightwing #9 so much, I wanted to talk through it with you!

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Courtney Crumrin: The Night Things

Courtney Crumrin: The Night Things by Ted Naifeh (writer/illustrator), Warren Wucinich (colorist), James Lucas Jones and Jill Beaton (editors), and Keith Wood (designer).

I first experienced Courtney Crumrin in a Free Comic Book Day offering from a few years ago. Based on that brief encounter, I resolved to read more, and I quickly added all of the Courtney Crumrin books to my Want List. Then, last Christmas, my wife bought The Night Things for me for Christmas. What a delight!

Courtney is a teenage girl who has been moved by her parents to live in her great, great uncle’s home so that the parents can “care” for him. Courtney quickly learns that her uncle is more than he appears, and embarks on a few adventures involving magic and magical, usually dangerous, creatures.  Given the art style, the comic is deceptively cute, but with an undercurrent of menace. Naifeh uses big, round eyes on most characters, especially the children, as well as angular features, which is an odd mix, but one that works in this magical world. Courtney is also drawn with no nose, which is an interesting choice given how different it is from how everyone else is portrayed, but I suppose it serves as the obvious metaphor. Normally this kind of heavy-handed narrative choice grates on me, and perhaps it did at first, but I grew very quickly to like it in part because Mr. Neifeh is skilled enough to portray all kinds of emotions on Courtney’s face, despite the lack of a nose. If the art sounds a bit too “cute” or manga-esque, know that it’s offset by some of the dark turns that happen, such as when one of the children is eaten by a werewolf. Think more Grimm and less Disney with this supernatural world.

I did not care for, however, the way the adults (excepting the uncle, though, we don’t really see him that much) were portrayed so one-dimensionally (and many of the children). Courtney’s parents come across as so self-centered and uncaring, but I suppose that’s to be indicative of how Courtney feels about them? Or maybe they truly are just awful people (the uncle says as much, too). The lack of a relationship developing over the course of the volume between Courtney and her great-uncle also grated on me, but perhaps I’m missing the point. Perhaps Naifeh took some narrative shortcuts precisely because we already know these things, or he didn’t have the room in the comic to fully develop those aspects. I usually hate that, but I forgive Naifeh because Courtney is so much fun. Yes, she’s grumpy, dour, and petulant at times, but she’s also affectionate, curious, and a bit fearless. That last trait was especially spotlighted in the third act of the book, which is literally about conquering a personal demon.

Now that I’ve read volume one, I can’t wait to read the other volumes in the series and share them with my kids. If you read this book, what did you think?

The Rise and Fall of Axiom

The Rise and Fall of Axiom is by Mark Waid (writer), Ed Benes (penciler), Dinei Ribeiro (colorist), Dezi Sienty (letterer), Nicolas Sienty (pre-press and production), John J. Hill (book and logo designer), Greg Tumbarello (editor), and created by Thomas Tull.

I saw this book in Previews some months back, but I hadn’t heard about it before then, which was a bit odd to me because I try to keep an eye and ear out for anything that Mark Waid does. Given that he was writing it, and despite the fact that Ed Benes was doing the art, I took a chance and ordered the book blind (meaning that I did not research what it was about). I thought the worst it could be is a rip off of Waid’s own Irredeemable (which is what I was reminded of when I read the solicitation text), but I hoped it would be more. I was wrong (spoilers commencing).

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Thoughts about Doctor Strange

I was able to see Doctor Strange opening weekend, and while I expected Benedict Cumberbatch to be good as the titular character, I didn’t expect to enjoy the film as a whole as much as I did.

Yes, we get an origin story, but considering that it’s Doctor Strange, I’m okay with that because, well, it’s Doctor Strange. I’ve been reading comics for over 35 years and I don’t know that much about his back story, so what do the plebes out there going to know? :) Cumberbatch does a good job at riding that fine line of arrogance–not too much to turn us off, but enough to show that he’s brilliant at what he does. It doesn’t hurt that he’s partnered with Rachel McAdams’s Christine Palmer. While she had about as much to do (maybe a little more) as Natalie Portman in the Thor movies, she definitely helps to humanize Strange (I actually wished we had more scenes with her). However, I did walk out of the movie thinking that Marvel needs to do better by its female characters, supporting or not.

The other characters were played by strong talents, too. There’s mentor then sidekick Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo, Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One (apparently a Celt in the MCU), and Benedict Wong as Wong, in a hilarious take of the character that I hadn’t seen in the comics before (one library scene had me and the rest of the theatre LOLing). Mads Mikkelsen was fine as the antagonist, and he had a bit more motivation to be the bad guy than those in other MCU movies. And it has to be said that Strange’s cape should receive special recognition as a supporting character.

For a story about a guy who loses the one thing that he’s great at and then finds that there is this other world (or worlds, as we discover) that’s just out of his reach (at least for 2/3 of the film), it was also surprisingly funny, thus continuing Marvel’s penchant for strong enough plot with some laughs to entertain us for a few hours. Also, the warping building special effects, while looking way too much like that from Inception, was still a visual treat compared to other Marvel and DC superhero films. I especially liked the Dark Dimension, which looked like something out of a Steve Ditko Doctor Strange comic. I also liked how Strange “defeated” the ultimate bad guy, even if was a bit too easily done.

All in all, I really enjoyed the focus on character and the strong, if predictable, plot. Considering what was shown in the mid and post-credit scenes, I’m looking forward to seeing more of Doctor Stephen Strange. But don’t just take my words for it—what are your thoughts about Doctor Strange?

The Gutters: Current Mood

The Gutters are audio posts expressing thoughts about life outside the panels and pages of comic books, from my perspective.

Previous The Gutters posts: https://longboxreview.com/tag/gutters/