Pop Culture Happy Hour: On Trainwreck, Ant-Man, Wilco And More

Trainwreck. (Courtesy of Universal Pictures)
Trainwreck. (Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Once again, for a second week in a row, I had the pleasure of appearing as the “fourth chair” guest on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. In this episode, we discuss the new Amy Schumer comedy Trainwreck, directed by Judd Apatow. Then the latest Marvel superhero movie, Ant-Man — a palette-cleansing heist comedy with Paul Rudd. And, what what was making me happy this week? Star Wars — no, not THAT Star Wars — the new surprise record from Wilco. Plus, the PCHH gang talks about stuff, and they’re great, so take a listen.

The Six Best Comics I Read In 2012

So I’ve never written about comics, but lately I’ve become a fairly regular reader. And this year I’ve found to be one of the strongest years I can remember. Here’s an unranked round-up of some of my favorites that I look forward to. I cannot say I read everything out there — you’ll notice no DC books because I don’t read those — and I sort of pick and choose based on what others are talking about. So really, this is not a comprehensive Best of 2012 list. It’s just a bit of a recommendation of things to try out.

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Comics Review: Marvel Now Point One


by: Nick Spencer, Luke Ross / Brian Michael Bendis, Steve McNiven / Jeph Loeb, Ed McGuinness / Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie / Matt Fraction, Mike Allred / Dennis Hopeless, Gabriel Hernandez Walta

As far as introduction teaser anthologies go, Marvel Now Point One succeeds at building excitement for Marvel’s latest initiative. It’s clear that moving around writers (namely Bendis, Fraction, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman) and artists to new projects and different characters after many years on a book has reinvigorated the stories. While the old guard’s runs were hugely successful and built the foundation for nearly a decade worth of stories, it’s nice to see new blood on properties and writers jazzed to begin their own epic runs.

Point One succeeds by not just proving the first few pages of a new book, but creating short stories that tease the tone and feel of what’s on tap with books like Guardians Of The Galaxy, Nova, FF, Young Avengers, Cable And X-Force, and Secret Avengers.

Among those that look the most enticing would be the new FF series and Young Avengers, both of which bring a mod pop art look and superb design sense to the characters, the panel layout and colors that catch the eye. The tone of both series seems to be a ton of fun, and not your typical superhero book. These look to be modernist, deconstructionalist, but ultimately family-friendly takes that take advantage of the tropes of superhero comics but also feel like indie books with a lot of quirks and distinctive feel.

The others — Cable and X-Force, Guardians, Nova, and Secret Avengers — show promise as well. There seems to be a push towards diversity, even within the superhero format, proving that many of these books coming down the line in this new initiative will be worth trying out, sampling the kinds of books you’re looking for. There’s a lot to be excited about and there’s certainly something in this batch for you.