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Pop Culture

Edmonton was cool and rainy this week, perfect weather for sitting inside and giving oneself a little quality time with some stories. I managed to do a fair amount of that this week, even though I was trying to break through my couch potato tendencies. Here are two that managed to stand head and shoulders above the rest. * * * * * [caption id="attachment_14133" align="aligncenter" width="450"] Cover to Green Arrow #31 by Andrea Sorrentino & Mauro Cascioli.[/caption] Another week, another revisit of a DC New 52 title that I hadn't given the time of day. This time it's Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino's...

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This week was a little all over the place. There were things that I had expected to be terrible that were actually quite good, and there were things that I had expected to be terrible that were even worse than I had expected. Through thick and thin, though, I was generally pleased with my pop culture grazing, and present to the fine Variant Edition readers the best of the best (and also one terrible thing but that will be explained at the end).

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One of the few books that I loved from the post-Flashpoint DC relaunch was Batman by writer Scott Snyder and penciller Greg Capullo. However, when Batman: Zero Year was announced a little less than two years in, I stayed away from it.  I didn’t see the need for yet another origin for Batman. As an established reader I get so tired of the same plot points done over and over again to satisfy a the demands of a new audience. I understand that as a publishing company, DC needs to make things accessible to new readers, and that directing them to a 20- or 30-year-old story is not the way to go about it. Knowing nothing other than the fact that Zero year was a Batman origin, I figured that it was easily skippable, a decision that was seemingly confirmed for me when it was turned into an event with a dozen other DC Comics titles — only two of which I was still reading — crossing over with it. However, as there has been a lot of buzz about the new direction for the series (and the new issue that came out this week), I decided to catch up on my Batman, and that means reading the 12 issues that made up Zero Year.

To my delight, Zero Year is not an unnecessary story that re-hashes the same ground. It’s an important story that is part of an attempt to redefine the character for the current era. Beyond that, it’s a really good story.

August 28, 2015 would have been Jack Kirby’s 98th birthday. The man was a legend in American comics; no, not just American comics, but in the international world of comics, period. He created not just beloved characters who today anchor multi-billion-dollar movie franchises and whose images grace practically everything from pyjamas to purses to posters to yes, the occasional comic book. Earlier this week I was trying to figure out how to best explain the impact that Jack Kirby had on comic books to someone who was unfamiliar with the medium, and I realized that outside of comics, there’s really no-one to compare him to. The best that I could come up with was that he was like the movie director John Ford, a skilled craftsman and genius who worked hard and was interested in the bottom line almost as he was at making something creative. Except imagine that in addition to the 140 movies that John Ford actually made, he’d also made Citizen Kane, Casablanca, City Lights, Sunset Boulevard, Singin’ in the Rain, The Creature From the Black LagoonLawrence of Arabia, Bonnie and Clyde, and about a dozen more award-winners, as well as created the movie romance. Oh, and worked as director, writer, producer, cinematographer, key grip, and craft services for most of the movies.

It’s a clumsy analogy, but that’s because it’s hard to overstate the man’s impact on the comic book medium (and also because the clumsy analogy is practically one of my trademarks). Jack Kirby stands astride the comic book medium like a colossus, and though there are other creators who can boast of a prolific creative output, or an influential storytelling technique, or a dynamic visual style, none of them really rival Jack. It’s why he’s called The King, after all.

Well, that was a big gap. I thought for sure that I was going to take a two week break from the column while I was away on my trip to Ireland and Scotland, and then come back and get back into the writing habit. But somehow that extended into eight weeks. Eight weeks! Summer vacation brain, what can I say? There's a lot of stuff to catch up on, and there's really no way to effectively catch up on literally everything that I want to tell people about for the column. So instead of using this space to talk about two or...

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Hello and good Friday, pop culture fans! This has been one hectic week in the lead-up to the last few days of school, but I have still managed to plough my way through a varied assortment of comics and more. Some of them have been…let’s be kind and say underwhelming, but I’m tossing those ones aside and hunkering down with some of the best things that floated through my consciousness. Submitted for your approval, here they are in no particular order.

Greetings, pop culture lovers! In case anyone is wondering who I am or what I am doing here, I’ll start with a bit of an introduction. My name is Devin R. Bruce, and I’m a speech pathologist, a cappella singer, podcaster, writer, and pop culture fan. Since March of 2014 I have been writing This Column Has Seven Days, a pop culture roundup where I talk about the best or most interesting of my pop culture samplings of the week. When my friends at Variant Edition offered me the opportunity to write for their blog, I jumped at the chance; I packed up my bindle, swallowed my last spoonful of beans, hopped a train to set up shop over here.

In This Column Has Seven Days, I like to share the best of my pop culture week. However, this isn’t just going to be a comics column. In fact, there are probably going to be times where I don’t mention comics at all. I saturate myself in many different pop culture pools: comics, music, movies, books, television, standup comedy, podcasts, and sometimes games and even old time radio programs. If I turn one person on to something they might not have tried, then my efforts have all been worth it. If not…well, then I got to rant and rave about things that I like, so that’s also worth it, really. Now that I have the introductions out of the way: let’s get to the good stuff.