5 April

Spent weekend reading things.

If anyone is keeping track of this, I read comics on Marvel Unlimited, so what I perceive as “new” comics are about a year old.

Enjoying Dan Slott’s Fantastic Four semi-reboot. The Fantastic Four largely sat out the artistic changes that the Marvel Universe underwent to bring it into line with the movies. which makes them feel something of an anachronism. They are no longer the center point of the Marvel Universe, that role has very definitely been taken over by the Avengers. Dan Slott plays this up sloghtly. He has entertainingly relocated the F.F’s headquarters to Yancy Steet (which was only a name in the ild comics, but is now decidedly a place). This puts them slightly more in touch with ordinary folk. The perpetual Toddler Franklin is now a teenager who sulks because he used to be allowed to create universes but now isn’t even allowed to drive the Fantasticar. It isn’t a new discovery that the F.F is a story about a family; although it is something which both movie versions complete missed. And there is a level of self conscious over the top silliness about the actual threats. Doctor Doom deliberately tempts Galactid to come back to earth so he can steal his powers and use him as a fuel source. We can see which classic stories this is riffing on, but there is still a sense of Doom being a a rather minor figure who is over his head and out of his league. Enjoyed this a lot.

Also enjoyed Danny Cates 2019 Silver Surfer series. The Surfer is sent back through time into ancient history and finds, among other things, the proto-Galactus buried in the body of Ego the living planet. Yeah. Despite fulsome praise in the text section about how the Surfer was the greatest character the late great Stan Lee created out of his head with no help from anyone else, the comic is pretty much just an excuse for artist Trad Moore to take us through lots of very Kirby-esque cosmic landscapes.

I know it has been canon for like 50 years. But the idea that Galactus used to be a human space traveller just doesn’t work for me, particualrly once you buy into the idea — introduced by John Byrne, I think — that he is also is a force of nature, part of the way the universe works, and has to work. And I certainly don’t buy Reed Richards and the Surfer sometimes addressing him as “Galen”.

On a somewhat lower intellectual plane I mostly reread Alasdair Gray’s Lanark, which I found quite a page turner, but frankly rather slight for something so big and so important. (SUMMARIZE PROUST COMPETITION: One half of the book is about a writer/artist growing up in post war Glasgow, who goes to art school, masturbates a lot, and either does or doesn’t murder his girlfriend. The other half is a surreal magical realist thang set in a a cyberpunk afterlife. There are lots of clever structural games, like the prologue coming in the middle). Like everyone I found the portrait of the artist stuff a loy more persuasive than the Unthank stuff, although I think Alasdair Gray’s latter career tended mostly towards the surreal.

Watched an old movie called Citizen Kane. Hot take: it is very good. Question: What were the precedents in terms of non-linesr narratives?

Surprised that the film is as early as 1941: the clip of Kane on a balcony with Hitler, and the promise that “there’ll be no war” were made when the US involvement in World War II was uncertain.

Literally no idea what happened in the final episode of American Gods, or indeed the second season. May perhaps have to reread the book at some point.

Started on The Mandalorian, a TV show based on a movie I remember from my childhood. I will doubtless have a lot more to say about this later.

I heard Julie Felix perform four times. She was a serious pagan, and said that every day she asked the Goddess for “just a few more years”. Unusually, she was both a fine song writer and a fine interpreter of other people’s songs. Her second halves would name check old friends like “Bob” “Pete” and above all “Leonard”. (Asked by the compere of her 80th birthday show of she had been to the Isle of Wight festival by herself, she replied “No, I went with George.”) Her cover of Mr Tambourine Man is one of the best reinventions of a song I think I have ever heard. And she had the cheek to turn Blowin’ in the Wind into a commentary on itself

“I’ve been singing this song
Since I was just a girl
Now I sing it in the autumn of my my years
When I think about what’s happened since then
It seems to be an expression of our fears...
The answer my friends
Is up to you and me
The answer is up to you and me”.

She also sang (increasingly reluctantly) a Tom Paxton song about a day trip to a menagerie. Her shows were always “happenings” and I wish I could have heard her again.

The plague continues. L and I are still fine.

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