Posts from 2012

26
Oct 12

The House Always Wins

FT4 comments • 6,043 views

This essay contains enormous spoilers for the 2010s run of the Marvel comic Journey Into Mystery. If you haven’t read it – the Kieron Gillen run, at least – and you have any interest in doing so, don’t read this first. Seriously.

1.

A theme of Sean Howe’s Marvel: The Untold Story – unavoidably, since it’s a theme of most superhero comics storytelling over the last 30-40 years – is “the illusion of change”. This is Stan Lee’s formula for what readers want – dramatic developments which are always reversible, and it’s what Marvel has always been so very good at.

But it gets harder and harder to do. The readers are wise to it, after all. Certainly death doesn’t work any more – so how about defeat? Marvel’s most recent kink is to have its heroes turn on one another – if the outcome of a hero versus villain battle is predestined, then the only battles its heroes can really lose are against other characters with their own books and fans.

Even here the arc of Marvel comics storytelling bends towards the status quo. And their emotional arcs reflect that too. In the House Of Ideas, change first brings disruption, excitement, thrilling uncertainty. Then a second act of steepening peril, and then – crescendo! – the return of the familiar once again. But renewed, cleansed through ordeal: there’s something almost mythic about it, isn’t there? Or “iconic”, to use a word comics writers began to lay claim to in the 90s, when the transparency of this cycle started to become apparent. The iconic Captain America has returned. The iconic Thor.

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25
Oct 12

What Have They Got In Their Pocketses?

Do You See + FT2 comments • 421 views

What secrets could lie within?You may or may not be aware that Peter Jackson’s Hobbits 1 is soon to grace our screens in the UK.

Here at Freaky Trigger we often find it difficult to keep track of all the recurring Character Actors in these epic films with large casts, especially under layers of prosthetics and make up.

Luckily for us then, that last night a group of dedicated FT correspondents stumbled across a handy cast list, written in P Jackson’s Actual Handwriting (see picture). So to save you multiple trips to IMDB to figure out who is playing 3rd Warg On The Left, here is that list in full:

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21
Oct 12

Barlow Is A Feeling

FT/5 comments • 496 views

X-Factor 2012 Live Shows, Week 3

“Club Classics” week – but what could this mean, in the land of the X-Factor? If you guessed maximum rave alert, go to the back of the class. If, however, you guessed ballads and acoustic guitars, you win, and your prize is the approval of BARLOW, whose benedictions this week were in exact proportion to how unlikely you were ever to hear the music in an actual club.

We’re still in the “shaking out the no-hopers” phase of the proceedings here: it doesn’t, in the show’s narrative, matter in which order District3, MK1, Christopher, Rylan et al get the push, but drama there must be and so drama there will be.

To the disco!

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17
Oct 12

Secret Wars

FT9 comments • 1,820 views

Seven thoughts on Marvel: The Untold Story by Sean Howe

1. It’s a miracle any good comics ever get published by big companies. The book paints a picture of an industry where at a certain power level or higher almost everyone involved despises the product. This is dysfunctional even by media standards: obviously dealmaking and money count for more than art at the top of the film and music industries but you can still basically imagine label and studio bosses getting some level of enjoyment from a film or album. Not so in comics (though the situation may have changed – understandably, we don’t get the optics on the current Disney ownership we do on anything else). A closer parallel – from fans to owners – might be English football.

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14
Oct 12

guess my x theory

FT1 comment • 251 views

12
Oct 12

MARIAH CAREY – “Without You”

FT + Popular51 comments • 5,456 views

#702, 19th February 1994

The problem with the phrase “vocal gymnastics” – if used as a pan – is that plainly gymnastics are awesome. Their poise, control, grace, swiftness and fluidity – why wouldn’t these be things you’d aspire to in pop, why wouldn’t you expect applause? But these are manifestations of technique*, and pop thought ran aground on technique years ago, setting up a series of straw oppositions to deny it. Technique versus emotion. Technique versus passion. Technique versus excitement. Why not have them all? Mariah could, and sometimes did – if you could do the giddy things she does with her voice on “Emotions”, say, why wouldn’t you?

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7
Oct 12

Taking The Positives

FT/11 comments • 632 views

X-Factor 2012 Live Shows, Week 1

Last year I managed only two weeks of this before the faffery and tedium of the AGE OF BARLOW drove me away. So let’s see what happens this time. As usual I haven’t watched a second of the auditions, judges’ houses, etc – this is my first encounter with all the contestants.

The narrative around the X-Factor this year is one of decline – the show’s losing viewers, the format (apparently) feels tired. Also, while it’s the biggest entertainment TV draw in the UK just about, like Premiership football it took a bit of a moral hiding this year from sanctimonious Olympics-inspired columnists, keen to elevate people who run and jump over people who sing and dance. (Big secret: you can like both). Against the Real Role Models Of Sport the show ranges its usual parade of worthies and wasters – perhaps fewer of the latter this time, though. It also converts “Heroes Week” into “Heroes Week (Inspired By The Olympics)” though nobody does “Bonkers” so it’s no Olympics *I* remember.

So what happened?

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1
Oct 12

Departing From The Script

FT//12 comments • 898 views

It’s time for my quarterly listen to THE UK TOP 40. Actually it was time a week or so ago but I didn’t write it up until a plane journey yesterday. So this is the Top 40 from 2 weeks ago (when our New Gangnam Overlords had only just entered at #37). As before, tracks are listed from best to worst order. No appeals allowed!

I think the number of records I liked is around the same this time as 3 months ago, but the chart feels more interesting – the grip of EDM is loosening, and it’s one of those charts which has a sense of nobody quite knowing where to go next or what’s going to work. Some of the variety is post-Olympics hang-abouts, though. Over to the countdown:

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30
Sep 12

DREDD 3D, Punkpunk and the Aggro Style

Do You See/////1 comment • 825 views

(Crossposted from my tumblr.)

Right – I think it’s about time to share my thoughts on DREDD 3D. SPOILERS below the cut if you’ve not seen it, but then again, why haven’t you? Maybe a spoiler is what you need to make your mind up.

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21
Sep 12

D:REAM – “Things Can Only Get Better”

Popular57 comments • 6,078 views

#701, 22nd January 1994

A song of many lives: we’re catching it at the end of its first, after a failed release in 1993 and a bounce around the charts. In three years time it’ll be changed for good, the soundtrack to Tony Blair’s first election win. From then on its critical fortunes are linked to its grinning patron’s, and at some point in the early 00s it stops being a naff take on real optimism and becomes a different kind of reflection: brittle, shallow, endlessly on-message.

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