So a little nerd talk today…
Just watched the last episode of the latest Avengers cartoon series that Marvel has put out (thank you Netflix Instant watch). All told, I think it’s one of the better cartoon series that Marvel has put out. They didn’t stay true to comic book cannon, but I think even most diehard fans have to admit that trying to do so is a fool’s errand. After all with a comic like the Avengers where would you start? Back in the 70’s at the beginning? That wouldn’t pull in the mainstream, heck there are comic fans that would have trouble with that. No, they did a very good job in my opinion of staying true to the characters and the themes of the Avengers and even adapting stories from the comics into a different format. They told a few origin stories, and just as that was starting to become a drag, they assembled the team, in a manner very similar to how the original Avengers team formed. In fact I quickly realized that they used the exact original team roster for their starting cast and was very pleased by that. I’ve always been frustrated by the X-Men cartoons for never even trying to honor that piece of cannon, especially when it would have been so much easier to do so. They made the team form in the modern era which was perfectly OK with me. And they used bits and pieces from the movies, specifically the Iron Man movies (like a black Nick Fury). They also haven’t been afraid to play with the team roster, subtracting and adding new members. That was something they did well with X-Men Evolution, but that the original X-Men cartoon series always drove me nuts with. That is bringing in team members from the comics for just one or two episodes as a guest start, but never having them join the team or stick around for long. I could never understand that in a cartoon where voice actors are relatively cheap compared to adding a cast member to a live action series, but I’m sure there was some weird business reason for it. The entire process of watching this Avengers cartoon has even got me going back to read some comics again via my Xoom.
Also, over at ThinkGeek I found this DVD of every Star Trek comic book released from 1967-2002 stored in PDF. It makes me ask the question, why isn’t every comic book company doing this with their franchises? For a long time I’ve referred to myself as a recovering comic book addict. In my teens I collected a lot, and read every issue and loved comics. When it became time to pay rent, go to school, work, and all around support myself as an adult, I stopped having time to read comics and so I couldn’t really justify the expense anymore. I still have my entire collection, stored in Rubbermaid containers in my closet. I’ve considered getting back into the hobby multiple times, but I’m the sort of collector that would feel the need to gather up every back issue in between now and when I first quit, or at least graphic novels of the major story arcs. That’s a major and daunting investment, and a high barrier of re-entry for me. I know that much of the information is out there to figure out what happened in the interim, Wikipedia is actually fairly helpful for that. Aside from the expense of getting back into the hobby, comics take up an insane amount of space, and I just don’t have anymore room for them in my physical life. But I think the DVD containing digital copies of the comics is absolute genius. I’m told that Marvel has much of their issues available via a digital subscription package, but they haven’t built an app for the Android OS yet, and the only way I see digital copies working for me is if I can read them on my Xoom. The screen is actually perfect for that purpose. So for the time being, I’ll use less legitimate sources…. shhhhh don’t tell anyone.
And if you’re curious, I started reading an old Avengers mini series from a few years ago titled Avengers Forever, and loving it so far. I plan to move on to some of the other major Marvel Universe story events afterwards, like Civil War and House of M. Or go back and actually read Age of Apocalypse and/or Onslaught in their entirety. I haven’t decided yet.
Elsewhere, I received an email from Netflix yesterday, as did the rest of their subscribers I guess concerning their new membership plans. My morning news told me that Twitter and Facebook are all abuzz, mostly with outrage over the plan, and I can’t entirely see why. I’m paying $10 a month right now for unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs (1 at a time). I never really use the DVD features though, if it’s not available on instant watch then I usually just don’t watch it, or I go see if it’s on OnDemand on my cable box. I’ve only ever gotten 1 DVD from them, I never opened it and haven’t sent it back yet. So their new plan makes perfect sense for me. I’ll change over to unlimited streaming only and save $2 a month, thank you Netflix. I imagine there are other people out there with Netflix subscriptions that never use their streaming and only want DVDs, they can also save some cash. This is only a price increase for those that use (or want) both features, and I guess I can understand their consternation, because this is pretty much a 50% rate jump and they’re not getting anything new. But who isn’t raising their prices these days? At least they’re offering an option that allows some of us to safe a little cash, they didn’t have to do that. They could have left the “stand alone” packages at $10 a month and jacked the combined package up to $15 still and told us all tough cookies. Seriously, who else offers a service like Netflix and offers it as good as they do? No one. Blockbuster has a DVD mail service, and I imagine they have some sort of streaming, but I don’t know for certain. Other places offer purely streaming services but most of them you have to pay-per-view (Apple and Amazon I’m looking at you). Netflix just does it better, and they have to make a profit still. Ultimately, I hope this will let them demonstrate to the movie companies that their subscribers really want Instant Watch and don’t care about the physical DVDs as much and we can get new releases when they’re actually new. That’s where this is all heading after all.
I’m most of the way through the Game of Thrones audiobook. Maybe I haven’t discussed it here, but I do most of my “reading” via audiobook these days. I find I want to consume all these stories, but I don’t have a tremendous amount of time to just sit and read. Comics are easy to pick up and put down, but generally I want to spend more time with a book. Right now I save my “book reading” energy for two series of novels The Dresden Files, which the newest book is coming out later this month (FINALLY!) and the Emberverse books (see my books page) which the newest will be out this fall. Otherwise I generally listen to audiobooks. I listen while I’m in the car especially since I spend over 2 hours every work day commuting (round trip) and usually as I’m falling asleep at night, or at the gym, or doing chores around the house if there’s nothing on TV. A well produced audiobook is a pleasure to enjoy. And Game of Thrones has been especially great after watching the first season of the HBO series. To my surprise and delight, I’ve found that the series is a tremendously accurate rendition of the book. Some people seem to think that the best compliment to a book is that they turn it into a movie. That’s just not true. So many books are too big for a movie, and Game of Thrones is a perfect example. Doing a short 10 episode season of TV allows for a far better translation of a complex book onto a screen. I just wish more people in Hollywood had figured this out sooner. There are many scenes that are practically torn from the pages, and even exact dialogue put straight into the actors mouths. Now that I’m almost done with the audiobook and the series is awaiting the 2nd season, I’m torn with a dilemma. Do I carry on with the audiobooks and listen to the rest of the series? Or do I wait for season 2 to come out entirely and then listen to the audiobook? Either way, I’ll be technically “spoiling the story” of one format for the other since they’ve stayed so true. A problem I haven’t faced with a similar series like True Blood since the book and TV show, which I both enjoy, are just different enough from one another to let me enjoy them independently.
I’ll have to consider this further.