Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Nightcrawler ! Mein Gott !

After the last post which introduced me a little I wanted to get to the comics I´ve been reading lately. Nothing tells more about a comic reader than what he reads. So as a spanish comic reader reading american comics in Germany there is no way to miss Nightcrawler.

Because if you read Nightcrawler you just have to read the original version. It kind of stands out if all the x-guys talk like " Fastball Special. " and " End of the line, bub. " and suddenly Kurt goes " Ach du lieber..." That´s like a little piece of good old Germany right there.

It´s not the same in the german translation. There´s nothing special if Kurt goes " Ach du lieber..." and Logan says " Gott im Himmel, ich brauch ein Bier. " No. That´s somehow not right. Kurt is the only one who speaks german, dammit ! It´s what makes him special.

I know, some say it´s a bit of a cliche' that Nightcrawler says things like " Mein Gott..." or " Ach du lieber..." or " Unglaublich ! ". Or that Gambit always says " Mon chere ". that I think of it maybe that´s not so much of a stretch. Gambit being the sleaze that he is always tries to impress the ladies. So I can totally believe he´s dropping french words every two sentences hoping to score. I bet even his little french accent is fake and if he wanted he could speak as accentless as any guy who has lived in the United States as long as he has. But back to Nightcrawler. Of course it´s a crutch for the writers and it makes it much easier. Maybe it´s not very realistic but it sure as hell scores a lot of points with the german readership. So maybe it´s not so much a question of realistic writing then it is of keping in mind the comicsales overseas. I´m cool with that. No, the problem for me is not so much in that he uses german is more in what phrases he uses. Being raised in Bavaria and growing up in the region of the black forest it´s a little strange that he speaks perfect german and not the dialect of that particular region. It´s much more probable that Kurt would say things like " Zefix, ihr Saupreissn !!! " or " Ozapft ist ! " . And if he´s really angry he could shout " Herrgottsakrament ! ".

Okay, maybe being the religious person that he is he would not curse as much. But coming from the region of Bavaria he should at least speak the dialect. And before any of you start and say that maybe you don´t have to speak the dialect......Sorry, but no cigar.

I know from personal experience that if you are in Bavaria you sure as hell learn to speak like all the others or you won´t even get Pretzels at the bakery, mein Freund. I did my military service down there in the wonderful town of Munich ( which by the way had the first REAL comic shop I ever saw ) and either you learn to adapt or you bite the dust. I was only there for nine months but I learned to speak the dialect fluently. Not as good as the natives but good enough to understand most of it and communicate with the people on the street. So it´s a bit hard to swallow that Kurt speaks perfect german. You could make the argument that being in the circus and traveling a lot Nightcrawler was exposed to a lot of different german dialects. It´s totally thinkable that as a result of that it was not possible for any particular dialect to gain a big influence on him.

But it´s more reasonable that it would be really difficult for other people to know for certain what region of Germany Kurt comes from....if they are foreigners. Because there is always a little of the original dialect underlying the normal language. For a person coming from Germany with a good knowledge of the different german dialects it would be child´s play to guess if a certain person was raised in Munich, Stuttgart, Hessen or Pfalz. But I understand if that is to specific and to difficult for the writers to know. It´s not as Nightcrawler is the number one X-Man. The writer also has to write Wolverine and Gambit and Rogue and Storm.

And also you have to keep in mind that the comics are mostly written for the american audience and not for the readers overseas or in Germany. So sometimes you get perfect german dialogue like in Major Bummer.

Who could ever forget the words " Hauptmann, was ist das ? " - " Das ? Das ist Schnitzel ! "which may be the funniest german joke in a non-german comicbook. On the other side of the spectrum you get words like the infamous " Lebengebrochennacht " which probabely sounds really cool and ominous for the american readership full of Sturm und Drang. For the german readers it just sounds horrible and not only is it bad german but it surely is the main reason why the third Reich fell. I mean how could any military dictatorship ever think of having a chance to conquer the world if they use words like " Lebengebrochennacht " ? Take that, you Ratzkis !

But I´m already going too much into the specifics and have not written one word about the comic I actually read. And going into this posting I was afraid that I had not much I could write about. But before we come to that part I only wanted to mention that I think it´s no coincidence that Nightcrawler looks like he does. Come on, he´s the german guy on the team. Canada has the übermacho with Logan who is just slightly taller than Yoda, Africa got the goddess with Ororo, Ireland got the fighting drunk Sean, Russia got the iron worker ( because of the iron curtain ) with Pjotr, the native americans got Warbird ( who did not last that maybe he was worse of than Nightcrawler )...and what did Germany get ? A blue furred freak who looks like the devil's pet demon, a cross between papa smurf and Mephisto with the soul of a saint.

Which is how Germany may appear to foreigners : ugly and cold on the outside. But once you get to know it a little better it´s full of warmth and beautiful things. Except Dortmund.

Having said that it´s time to finally talk about the comic I read. The Nightcrawler miniseries or maxiseries ( how a twelve-issue series was called in the eighthies ) written by Roberto Aguirre Sacasa and drawn by Darick Robertson. This is one of the series that from time to time flies under my radar. Sometimes there are just too many series coming out in one month so I decide to put the most interesting ones on my pull list while I have to think twice about the not so interesting ones. And then I forget that I wanted to decide if I add one series or the other. Issue two or three comes out and then I remember that I was thinking about reading it but it is already too late.

It´s not like I have unlimited amounts of money to spend on comics as an unemployed person in Germany. So new series have a hard time getting on my pull list especially if it is a spin-off series of X-Men. Why ? Because there must be only two dozen X-Men related series being published by Marvel right now. Maybe that´s what the 198 really stands for. This year we´re going to publish 198 X-Men spin-off series. Anyway, Nightcrawler did not land on my pull list. I´m a big fan of Darick Robertson but I had not read very much written by Roberto Aguirre Sacasa. The only thing I knew about him was that he had written the Marvel Knights series about the Fantastic Four. And that in the first story arc the Fantastic Four are broke ( for like the hundreth time ) which I could accept....kind of.

The reall unbelievable part for me was that the team members had trouble to get jobs to earn money. Four indiyviduals with powers far beyond mortal man having trouble getting a job. As a normal person without superpowers looking for a job I really can´t see that happening.

It´s not like anyone could use a superstrong and indestructible bodyguard like the Thing. Yeah, right. Or a supergenius as an advisor for any computer / technology firm on the planet like Mr. Fantastic. I mean, it´s not like Bill Gates would kill for an opportunity like that in real life ( and he probably would get away with it, too ). Nobody needs a fireproof explorer like the Human Torch. Or an invisible security chief with her own forcefield like the Invisible Woman. Come on, people, let´s be realistic ! So, I never read MK 4 and the Nightcrawler series didn´t score any points on that front when the PREVIEWS came around.

But life often gives you a second chance. Sometimes even more chances because I remember standing in my comic shop with the Nightcrawler trade in my hand and thinking about buying it for the 3rd or 4th time. And putting it back on the shelf. Of course by the time I had finally had read some good critiques and was determined to buy it they had already sold out. And every time I tried to order it at amazon or blackdog ever since it was sold out. Naturally when the second trade was released the same vicious circle began again. This time with the difference that I didn´t buy the second trade before I got the first one. Until one day I decided to take a page out of Data´s book and took a leap of faith. I went and bought the second one, put it on my desk and did not read it till the first one I ordered via the internet arrived. And it all worked out.
So, was it worth the money ? Definitely yes. The artwork is of course excellent although it seems rushed on a few of the pages. Nevertheless it is very consistent what otherwise can be a weak point of short series.

Darick Robertson delivers solid, dynamic and capturing artwork. I never expected anything less. Not sure if he used reference material for the german villages or the black forrest but it looks like I remembered it ( yes, I have been to the black forrest once on a field trip with the school ) . I was pleasantly surprised with the writing. Roberto Aguirre Sacasa writes an interesting story with good charaterisation that really grabbed me. I could not put the first trade down before I reached the end and had to force myself to wait with the second one till the next day. Luckily I waited with my comments on the series till I had read both trades. Because after reading the first one there were some minor story points which bugged me a little. But when I read the second one everything clicked and made perfect sense. Two more things I really like about the series ( besides the artwork by Darick Robertson - or did I already mention that ? ) are that a. ) the writer made his homework and worked with the continuity and not against it. Hopefully more writers start to do it at Marvel. And b.) it was really refreshing to read a story that is not a simple superhero story and gravitates more to a crime fiction / ghost / supernatural thriller story.

Not that I don´t like superheroes - nothing could be farther from the truth. But even though I am a huge superhero reader not every comic I read has to be in that genre. Pizza and burger may be fine but every once in a while I like to enjoy a nice salad.

So we are almost finished. Almost. There is only one point left on the list and that is the product quality. No problems on that front. The trades are printed on a nice, glossy paper with no printing errors. There is a small crack after the first interior page but that happens on most new trades not only the ones from Marvel. There are not much extras added like a introduction or something but it´s not like this is a watershed comics event for Marvel and nothing will ever be the same for Nightcrawler. In the second trade there is a page where both the artist and the writer tell a little bit about their work and what the character of Nightcrawler meant for them. All things considered this is a damn good comic I did not regret buying and which hopefully will be continued in the future.

If you are still not sure what to think about the series here are some links to preview pages : Issue 7 / Issue 11 / Issue 12

I try to find some previews for all the comics I will be writing about because it sure helps me decide what to think of a comic. And I always did it on the forum I have been writing. I know that you can also go and search them for yourself. But why waste time ? It´s much quicker this way.

That´s it for today. Hopefully I will add more than one picture tomorrow since this posting has gotten a little longer than I expected.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest


Anonymous said...

Hi there! Do you use Twitter? I'd like to follow you if that would be okay.

I'm undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward
to new posts.

SUBZERO said...

Sorry, in the forseeable future there are no plans for the Twitter. I´m just too busy. I am on facebook and I don´t even have time to post regular updates there.

But don´t worry, I don´t post that much so you won´t miss any posts.