Mike Gold: Cold Ennui
Here’s a sucky way to spend one’s birthday: voiceless with a serious summer head cold. Bitch, bitch; moan, moan. Okay, I had a great day-before-my-birthday in Manhattan lunching with Danny Fingeroth and dinnering with fellow ComicMixer Martha Thomases. Nine hours of fantastic conversation in the best thing in life with your clothes on.
Sadly, as the overly-breaded but otherwise tasty General Tzu’s was being presented to me at our Greenwich Village dungeon of culinary delight, I was starting to sound like a frog in a blender. By the time I was on the subway back to Grand Central Terminal, I was grateful somebody bothered to invent texting. The gifted Miss Adriane picked me up and dragged me home. That was birthday-eve.
On birthday day, we first had to ransom my car back from the shop – I can’t complain; 100,000 miles on one battery is pretty damn good and I guess you really do need functioning breaks. After a quick stop at Walgreens to clean them out of toxic chemicals and chocolate Twizzlers, we returned home. As Miss Adriane procured the prerequisite chicken soup, I retired to celebrate the anniversary of my mother’s major inconvenience in a time-honored way: I picked up my stack of comic books (e-comics; I’m nothing if not hip and trendy in my dotage) and commenced to read.
As luck would have it, there wasn’t a winner in the bunch. Only one or two sucked; the rest were poignantly mediocre. This is not to say that I hadn’t read some worthy stuff while on the train to Manhattan – I consumed all the good stuff as a matter of fate and ill-planning. But you’d think that out of a dozen or so hand-picked titles, there’d be at least one that reaffirmed my fannish enthusiasm. Let us remember: I was under the weather, and my cockles needed to be warmed.
There were three New 52 titles in the electronic pile. All 12th issues. None motivated me to pick up the 13th, two months hence. There are a number of New 52ers I really enjoy: Batgirl, Batwoman, All-Star Western, and everything with the words “written by James Robinson” on the credits page. These weren’t them. The most enjoyable of the DC books was, oddly, the only Before Watchman mini I’m reading: Night Owl, and that’s because I’d read prescription warning labels if Joe Kubert drew them. Reading Kubert, for me, is a lot like drinking chicken soup. You might have to be Ashkenazi to fully grok that.
The Marvel titles were okay; slightly better in that none chased me away. But, damn, why is it that each and every good Marvel “event” series has four times as many issues as necessary? Okay, we know the answer to that one. Still, the Avengers Vs. X-Men series was established to put Marvel on a somewhat different course for a while and it’s doing its job. It’s not a reboot, it’s just your standard dramatic shuffling of the Marvel deck. But it should have been over by now.
The so-called indies were all over the map as they are supposed to be, so my luck of the draw was simply a bad hand. No, not bad. Just mediocre. Too many unnecessary middle-issues in overly long story arcs. I regret the day publishers decided to put six solid pages of story in each 24-page issue, and I look forward to our next GrimJack series to once again prove you can actually put 28 pages of story into a 24-page issue… without being Stan Freberg, and, yes, that was just to see if Mark Evanier’s paying attention.
Okay, all that sucked. On the other side of the scale, I got more than 200 emails and Facebook shout-outs from friends old and new. That’s great anytime, but after a speechless day of aches and not-breathing and a dozen mediocre comics, all that made be feel on top of the world. And not in the Cody Jarrett sense, either. To one and all, my deepest thanks.
Daughter Adriane and I finished the day watching Paul, a genuinely funny and essentially heartwarming movie written by and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. I’m a sucker for anything with Jane Lynch that doesn’t involve high schoolers spontaneously combusting into song, and Pegg and Frost have never disappointed me.
Moral of the story: when you’re feeling low, reach for something positive and funny. Tomorrow is… another day.
Thursday: Dennis O’Neil… Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing?