The Brown Wedge
4 December 2013
It’s the 13th issue of Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie’s run on Young Avengers tomorrow. Aside from a foreboding moment for triskaidekaphobic fans, it’s the start of the end of this season. A season I have miserably failed to live up to the initial commitment of writing about every issue of. For largely boring adult reasons like ‘needing to do the washing,’ ‘never seeming to get a minute to think,’ ‘being very stressed and tired’ and worst of all ‘not really being able to get away with writing at work.’ All of the responsibility and none of the capacity.
If I saw myself as a grown up, from the vantage point of some reality-trashing portal back to youth, I’d be thoroughly appalled. Where did all my conviction go? “No, shut up,” my older self would plead, “it’s incredibly complicated trying to remember to function like a normal human being” while my sullen, accusatory teenage self glared at me with all the anger and disappointment of discovering that ‘normal human being’ becomes the peak of her existential ambition. more »
Hazel in The Brown Wedge • 10 Comments
31 May 2013
A Brief History Of Teen Superhero Comics, Part 4
It’s probably the most famous panel in 60s Marvel history. A gag, a cliffhanger, a revolution. A young woman standing in a doorway, smiling, in total amused confidence, at the boggle-eyed kid she’s just been introduced to. “Face it, Tiger… you just hit the JACKPOT!”
It’s Amazing Spider-Man #42, a half-dozen issues into John Romita’s run on art. It’s the debut of Mary-Jane Watson, and a defining moment for the teen superhero comic. For the first three years of Spider-Man – under Steve Ditko – he’s been an awkward, put-upon nerd: teen frustration sometimes pushed into farcical territory. Then Romita replaced Ditko, long-running plot threads were put to rest, and Peter Parker could suddenly get a life. A love life. A complicated love life. more »
Tom in FT /The Brown Wedge • 7 Comments
30 May 2013
I love Miss America. She’s really fucking angry, she likes punching things and she’ll tolerate a great number of things for barbecued pork belly. She’s also sensible and intuitive and curious and has a fierce not-just-survivalist instinct that enjoys scraping through things but doesn’t want that to be the end achievement. She’s not out for fame and you couldn’t pay her to join the Avengers (according to Vengeance) and she likes dragging small chaos-oriented types around by their feet. She’s great; I love her, indeed, so much it briefly warped my brain into cosplaying her at ComiCon last week.
But she’s not Kate Bishop. And I love-love Kate Bishop. I love Kate Bishop to such a terrifying degree that the idea of attempting to cosplay her makes my palms go sweaty, not just because of the idea of all that lycra in a humid convention centre but because I would be panicking about attempting to both do her justice and convey all of my feelings about Kate Bishop As A Thing. Because I really truly relate to Miss America and I think she is the coolest but Kate is my favourite.
WARNING: There are some BIG SPOILERY SPOILERS in this for Young Avengers volume 1 and volume 2 through to #5. more »
Hazel in FT /The Brown Wedge • 3 Comments
17 May 2013
When the previews for Young Avengers #4 came out, there was quite a lot of hand-wringing from the Tumblr zone about Noh-Varr’s line in this panel.
I guess there was probably a lot of hand-wringing about his butt. But I probably glazed over during anything that followed the phrase ‘Noh-Varr’s butt.’ Just to get this out of the way: Jamie McKelvie is doing an extremely fine job of supplying some slightly-older-than-young-and-thus-ok-for-your-correspondent-to-goggle-at totty, here. Who knew the whole part-cockroach thing was attractive?
The question that appears to be being raised by the young people is: is Young Avengers cool enough? And indeed, if it is cool enough, is it also geeky enough? Are Billy and Teddy’s hairstyles preventing them being colossal dorks?
I don’t even want to get into the last question of that (although no, no of course they are not; they’re just vaguely dealing with being super greasy teenage boys for goodness’ sakes) but whether Young Avengers is too cool is a good question.
Y’see, Noh-Varr looks pretty cool. He’s a silver-haired alien boy for ladies in their twenties to mentally high-five Kate Bishop over. He’s got a spaceship and nega-bands and he’s been in the grown up Avengers and he’s totally done it, probably several times. more »
Hazel in The Brown Wedge • 8 Comments
9 May 2013
This week Avengers Assemble #15AU came out, by Al Ewing (yes relation) and Butch Guice. The comic is, as Hazel has pointed out, the most British thing ever published (at least by Marvel) and it is absolutely rammed with references – some obvious, some rather more obscure. Because Al is a pro, I reckon the comic is comprehensible without understanding all this stuff, but it’s safe to say there are parts of it many US readers won’t really get. There’s also parts of it which tap a knowledge of recent Marvel continuity, and we’ll explain that too.
So here’s an annotations post, which in the way of annotations posts will be updated with new information as you uncover it in the comments boxes. (And will also be updated with links and images!)
Contains, obviously, HEAVY SPOILERS for Avengers Assemble #15AU more »
Tom in FT /The Brown Wedge • 19 Comments
26 April 2013
New series! Recently I have been suffering from insomnia, and to give a sense of routine to my bedtime (which should help) I’m trying to read a short amount before I go to bed every night. To get me into the swing of things I’m reading one Canto per night of the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, in the Oxford World’s Classics Edition translated by CH Sisson.
Because I am a pie-eyed narcissist incapable of having an experience without wanting to blog about it, I’m going to write about this. The only rule is that I have to wait until the next day to do so, and I’m not allowed to check the book. So only the memorable impressions will get through. You can follow the individual posts on Tumblr but I’ll post “digest” versions here too – with comments! I already know I’ve got some completely wrong impressions about Dante and Beatrice (for instance) though I’ll get a chance to correct those.
And that ends the introduction. more »
Tom in FT /The Brown Wedge • 6 Comments
27 November 2012
At the weekend I finished reading The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe to my kids – audience L (almost 6) and D (3 1/2) liked it, or maybe they like the ritual of bedtime stories and found it tolerable content to fill said ritual, I dunno. My Dad thoughts follow.
This was never my favourite Narnia book as a kid – some of which was budding contrarianism and some of which was that it’s all over the place in terms of pace, plot, mood, you name it. Lewis has three stories here: the one he wants to tell, the one he insists on telling, and the one he fakes the reader out into thinking he’s telling. more »
Tom in The Brown Wedge • 24 Comments
28 October 2012
This is just a coda to Tom’s brilliant (but spoiler-y! Very spoiler-y!) piece on Journey into Mystery. This is less spoiler-y and much more ramble-y and nothing like as in-depth but Tom asked me to write it, so you have him to blame.
I am not a Western comics reader. I have read some and indeed, enjoyed them a lot but in a hobbyist way that didn’t make me feel like a fan, per se. Even for someone much enthused by enormous run of things, the unassailably enormous back history of Marvel or DC characters always felt like too much work in comparison to the apparent safety of manga, where I had done the groundwork to know where my incestuous reincarnated celestial beings were at. Or more accurately to the present day, CSI, in front of which I had found my adult self lounging and wondering if anything in the geek culture that raised me would ever interest me again.
‘So far so nylons and lipsticks,’ you might think; however, this doesn’t explain why I ended up in the pub last Friday, cursing at the Marvel app for its dysfunctional purchase downloading and burbling ‘Kid Loki is THE BEST why did no one TELL me that comics were GREAT?’ Tom enthused about how heartening it was that young people were reading Marvel again- ‘I’m twenty five!’ I protested, ‘that’s REALLY OLD’ and then proceeded to have some kind of showdown altercation with a table. Or maybe a door. Or a fellow patron. A grown up showdown, no doubt.
I was and still am absolutely livid that no one told me how great Journey into Mystery is before- my emotional core has been utterly destroyed by it but I want to curl around it and clutch it to myself as though it were my child. Finally, I totally get why people care so much about Marvel and superheroes- I’m reading the whole of Thor, as though this can somehow provide attrition for my years of ignorance but honestly, it’s the gateway drug that’s the masterwork. more »
Hazel in FT /The Brown Wedge • 1 Comment
9 February 2012
Part of the freshly exhumed ‘hauntography’ series. Read the original story, or read more about the series.
Anyone reading these stories in canonical order should by now have a good idea of how they tend to play out. An aged antiquary finds or hears of the existence of a peculiar ancient artefact and in the course of further investigation, prompted either by avarice or simple scholarly curiousity, unwittingly awakens some eldritch horror who torments him, often to the death, either as punishment for his greed or out of mere supernatural malice.
On first approach The Tractate Middoth seems like it’s going to follow this pattern nicely. The title obviously refers to the artefact which will cause all the trouble, and it’s nicely esoteric and sinister sounding. And on the very first line our antiquary is introduced, a Mr John Eldred, elderly and male of course and sporting a fine set of piccadilly weepers (a wonderful term whose meaning is surely apparent even if you’ve never come across it before) and indeed seeking after the titular Tractate. But he is unable to procure it for someone else has got there first, someone perhaps of sinister aspect. Has Mr Eldred already unwittingly set malevolent forces in motion? Is there a ghoul in waiting for him? more »
ledge in FT /The Brown Wedge • 6 Comments
10 May 2011
In January HMV announced that, due to it and Waterstones collectively flailing around in a mire of doom, it’s going to close 60 stores this year. Gossiping with a bookseller last weekend I discovered Waterstones have had their ordering near-frozen -I’m not surprised, it was close to that when I worked for them nearly three years ago and it’s a bad sign. And now it transpires Waterstones might be sold to a Russian millionaire for less than a premiership striker.
Well good riddance then- corporate bookselling and corporate record chains that squeezed out the independents being killed off by even bigger corporate things. Awesome, now we can all ponce around pretending to buy things in idiot vanity projects like Lutyen and Rubenstein’s shop or whatever’s left of the independent record stores, whilst actually shuffling them all off Amazon. Brilliant, that sounds like exactly the sort of thing everyone can look forward to.
I can’t even avoid being sarcastic in the above three sentences of course. You know what’s going to really suck? Not having any bookshops in most small towns. Not having any record shops most likely, either. “Oh but it is all online, look at my oogly Kindle thing” you say- well, maybe, maybe, in ten years time but realistically it’s only now that physical music product is going and that’s a lot less tactile in its consumption anyway. Not to mention Amazon and Apple’s iBooks are hardly bastions of ethics for either the offer they extend to writers whose work they sell or the care they take for the books or their content.
Besides (and this is the big point) you might say “oh yes but this will lead to a rise of independent book/record sellers, The Man has fallen” but guys, no it won’t. If a big chain with big corporate credit can’t afford to keep a store open in your town, how is someone going to do it alone? The existing ones may stay open but there isn’t going to suddenly be a big surge towards them, anymore than there was when Borders closed. Even more fundamentally, if Waterstones/HMV group goes under then publishers will have to stop printing a great number of books; whether that number will be big enough that they have to stop entirely is a scary question and one I don’t want to see the grand experimental answer to. Kindle is coming but not that fast.
Hazel in FT /The Brown Wedge • 10 Comments