Tuesday, July 05, 2011

National parks and superheroes

I recently made a list of all of the 58 national parks in the United States, and determined that I've only been to 9 of them. And of those 9, two probably shouldn't count, as I didn't spend enough time there to really say that I explored them in any depth. I basically drove in, looked around at a sight or two, and then left. The nine that I've seen are Arches, Big Bend, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Carlsbad Caverns, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Theodore Roosevelt, and Yosemite.

I've also had "close encounters" with about nine or ten more; where I've driven right by the park and looked at a lot of scenery in the same area, but never actually entered the park itself.

Clearly, I've got a lot of work to do to see the rest of them. *sigh*

Meanwhile, my temporary infatuation with superheroes, an infatuation that may flare at times, but which never completely goes away, continues. I read some recentish Hulk stuff recently, including some stuff with the Red Hulk, World War Hulk, Planet Hulk, Fall of the Hulks, etc. I finished watching Wolverine and the X-men, a show that very sadly will only get the one season. I started watching X-Men: Evolution via streaming Netflix. And, of course, the new Captain America movie is due in less than three weeks. Saw a new trailer for it at Transformers 3 and I continue to be excited about that movie. So, when I've got free time, I sometimes stop and think about the Marvel Universe, my own personal favorite superhero stable, and by far the one I'm the most familiar with.

Although I don't keep up to date exactly, one thing that's an interesting development for comic book likers (as opposed to comic book lovers) is that shortly after a story arc is done in the magazines themselves, they're collected in a trade paperback, or other omnibus type collection, and released in regular bookstores to relative success. Also; public libraries have been picking up these collections as well. Between my own public library and interlibrary loan, I've found I can read an awful lot of slightly older, but still not that old comic book stories in a great format without spending any money whatsoever. Consequently, I'm reading more comic books now than I am when I was actually collecting several titles regularly. Oh, the irony.

Of course, I also find that my library collections come with inherent holes, and I have to either accept that I can't read those stories, or break down and buy them if I can get them cheap enough. But still, I'm finding that I'm more up to date about what's going on in comics than ever before, having read all kinds of stories--although I tend to lag at least a year or two behind "current events." But what with Wikipedia, I can even stay in the loop there with new developments.

One that I think is interesting is Marvel's recent re-branding, "The Heroic Age." After the better part of an entire decade being given over to very dark storylines and characters (Civil War, Dark Reign, Secret Invasion, Seige, etc.) Marvel wants to get back, at least somewhat, to the lighter, more swashbuckling superheroic feel of the Silver Age... presumably with the more sophisticated storytelling and art developments that have happened since. Not a bad idea.

Not sure exactly what I personally think of it, as I liked the dark stuff well enough (although I still have yet to read several of those storylines).

And the X-books are also having yet another alternative reality event, Age of X. Look, Days of Future Past is considered a classic and was quite interesting. Age of Apocalypse was also well done, well recieved, and quite an interesting idea. Other than that... the X-books are simply way too fond of alternate realities, time traveling paradoxes, time traveling characters in general, and other such weirdness. Not only that, I'm still not sure that I like the consequences of the House of M alternative reality, which had huge effects on the "regular" comic book reality. Those effects will probably all mostly be undone (well, except for things like the death of Unus, the Untouchable... nobody'll miss him) but it'll be years before it happens.

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