Spider-Man: One More Day (J. Michael Straczynski and Joe Quesada, Kindle eBook)
As much as I link to the I-Mockery article on this story, I'd never actually read it myself. Well, one day Amazon had it on sale so I figured what the hell, and to my surprise, it's not as gross as that I-Mockery made it out to be.
It's even grosser. Reading about Spider-Man throwing temper tantrums over his dying aunt, blowing off everyone who tries to make him understand the importance of life and love and the inevitability of death, and finally selling his marriage and unborn daughter to the devil just doesn't compare to seeing it for yourself. And I'm not even a fan of Spider-Man; I can only imagine how insulting this retcon is to people who grew up on the twenty years of canon this story shits all over. And this hardly compares to the atrocity of the story, but the artwork's also pretty lousy.
Half a Skitty is actually being generous, and I'm only giving it that because Mephisto's lecture to Peter when he first appears as the lady in red is almost interesting, and Straczynski makes it clear that Peter's choice was fucking, fucking, fucking, stupid, stupid, stupid, and only happened because the editor in chief is a moron.
Shambling Towards Hiroshima (James Morrow, Kindle eBook)
I think "confused" is the most accurate one-word summary of Shambling Towards Hiroshima. The premise is that it's World War II and America is breeding giant fire-breathing lizards to unleash on Japan, and they want B-movie actor Syms Thorley to dress up as one of the beasts and smash a fake city in hopes of scaring the Japanese into surrendering. It's like Morrow noticed Japan's fascination with giant monsters and thought, hey, I could write a story about a Godzilla parody that's also metaphor for the horrors of the atomic bomb! Except Godzilla was already a metaphor for the horrors of the atomic bomb, so I'm not sure if the notion was misguided or just redundant.
Then for the last chapter, both the comedy and the revisionist history aspects get tossed out the window and it suddenly turns into Barefoot Gen when America drops the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki anyway, and Syms tries to educate his fans on the atomic bomb and the hibakusha (the women burned by radiation from the bombs) while lamenting the Japanese emperor whose pride led to two cities getting wiped out. This sudden change in tone left me unsure if the final pages were intended to be comical or soul-crushing.
Thor Vol. 1 (J. Michael Straczynski and Oliver Coipel, Kindle eBook)
Okay, new rule for the quickies: no more of these first six issues of a series collections. I'll still review complete stories like One More Day, Hulk Gray, and World Eaters, and series where I read a few years worth of material like I did with the Merged Hulk, but the problem with these introduction volumes is there isn't enough space for anything to actually happen in them. Here we've got six issues of Thor seeking out the other Asgardians and drawing them from their human counterparts, plus a bone thrown to Civil War critics when Thor beats the hell out of Iron Man.
By the way, is Thor's girlfriend Jane Foster, or Lady Sif? Or does he alternate between them, like Superman jumping between Lois Lane and Wonder Woman?
The Simpsons: Season Thirteen (TV DVD)
As of writing this, The Simpsons just went into its 27th season, even though it stopped being good around season 8 or 9. It hadn't become total shit by season 13 (far as I'm concerned, that corner was turned with the felinicide episode), and there are a few gems like the Internet classic "Old man yells at cloud" and Stan Lee's mildly amusing guest appearance, but the show manages to feel tired and hyperactive at the same time.
As an example, one episode starts with genetically modified vegetables prompting Marge to start her own garden. Then the crows accept Homer as their king when he destroys Marge's scarecrow. Then the crows attack Homer and Dr. Hibbert puts him on medicinal marijuana for his eyes, and most of the episode is about the marijuana controversy. And finally it ends with a Weekend at Bernie's parody, and as Mr. Smithers was using Mr. Burns' body as a puppet in front of an audience of investors, all I could think was "How did we get here again?" And another episode has Homer recalling a traumatic memory from his childhood and starts screaming uncontrollably, but after the source of his trauma is discovered the episode turns into a murder mystery and the trauma itself is swept under the rug.
Even when the episodes have an attention span, they're only tolerable at best. This season has the episode where Lisa converts to Buddhism, which is basically a retelling of the episode where she becomes a vegetarian. Except in the vegetarian episode, Lisa started rubbing her philosophy in other people's faces and calling them savages for eating animals, and had to get a lesson in tolerance from Apu, Paul McCartney, and his wife. Here, it's all the other residents of Springfield that start calling her a devil child whose opinion ruined Christmas for everyone, and things only calm down when the other Buddhists tell her it's okay for her to celebrate Christmas, completely forgetting that Lisa wasn't being the bigot this time. And I can't put my finger on what's specifically wrong with the episode where Bart meets the retired Western actor, but it plays out like a bad fanfic despite being written by one of the series' most prolific writers. Oh, and those lumps popping out of Homer's neck when he gets mad in the Stan Lee episode was just gross.