Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Summer Reading

I just caught up with Brian Azzarello's Joker and if you missed it, like I did, you might want to grab a copy. Chris Nolan and Heath Ledger must have been leaning on this pretty heavily for Dark Knight (either that, or they came to surprisingly similar interpretations of the character on their own) and it's great stuff. First-rank comic book writing.

On a different plane is Chris Caldwell's Reflections on the Revolution in Europe which is a stunningly smart, and detailed, look at the intersection of Europe, immigration, and Islam. I can't say enough about the book. Total hotness on every page.

Update: For those who don't understand how the comic book world works, a long graphic novel has an enormous lead time, often years. DC's parent company rode herd over both properties. And while I was trying to be polite, here's Azzarello talking less politely about the similarities between Joker and The Dark Knight:

Wizard: I know you and Lee came up with this almost out of Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, now that's way before "The Dark Knight" movie, and yet, this Joker that you've crafted and the story, fits so seamlessly into that "Dark Knight" interpretation. It's kind of eerie. What do you think of that?

AZZARELLO: Gosh, I don't know. You think someone might have saw the script or Lee's art? I don't know. Look, it's Batman. I can't be proprietary about that stuff. It's happened to me before. It seems like whenever I touch these company-owned characters, for some reason something that I do ends up somewhere else. It's the nature of the beast.


Alexander K. said...

Now that we got the timely "summer reading" post out of the way, we're eagerly awaiting a post updating us on whether it is still true that "The Age of Federer is Over"... Will JVL recant yet? I'm tingling with anticipation!

Jonathan V. Last said...

I'm confused, which part don't you understand Alex? Here's what I wrote about "the age of Federer":

"He'll hang around near the top for the next 18 months. He'll be a regular in the semis and finals of the slams, but absent him getting some help (injuries to other players, a draw with lots of upsets) I don't think it's certain he will win another big one."

Isn't that kind of exactly what's happened? Fed has been a regular in the finals and has gotten loads of help in the form of Nadal getting a serious injury, Djokovic imploding (because he decided to switch racquets just as his career was taking off), and incredibly favorable draws.

When Fed has faced top-five talent this year, he's gotten crushed--Murray at Doha and Indian Wells, Nadal at the Australian, Djokovic at Key Bisquayne and Rome.

At Wimbledon he only saw one top 10 player (Roddick) and nobody from the top 5. Same thing at the French, except that his one high seed opponent (Del Potro) was the 5 seed.

Contrast this with, say, the 2007 U.S. Open where he had to march through Djokovic (#3), Davydenko (#4), and Roddick (#5).

Fed has gotten all the help in the world. If that stops happening--if Nadal comes back healthy or he faces the top talent during course of a run, I still don't think he has enough in the tank to win majors.

On the other hand, if he keeps facing the Brad Soderling's of the world in Grand Slam finals, he'll keep winning Slams. I think that's unlikely, but you never know.

Jonathan V. Last said...

Or the Robin Soderling's of the world.

If Fed plays guys named "Brad Soderling," I'm pretty sure he can win until he's 90.

Alexander K. said...

Jeez, touchy, touchy! But your defense is about what I thought it would be - winning majors doesn't count unless he also beats rafts of top-5 guys along the way.

So, let me see if I understand how we test if The Age Of Federer really is over. Beating Soderling, Haas, and Roddick isn't enough for Wimbledon to count (nobody in the top 5). Beating Haas, Monfils, del Potro and Soderling at the French isn't enough for the French to count (only one guy in the top 5). Beating Soderling, Blake, Roddick, del Potro and Nadal at the Madrid isn't enough for that to count (beating #12, 17, 6, 5 and 1 doesn't count if not in a major). Being in final match of 16 of the last 17 Grand Slams doesn't matter. Being in the semis of 21 straight Grand Slams doesn't matter. The only way we could possibly know that The Age Of Federer is not in fact over is if Federer wins another Grand Slam (is one enough, or will he need more?) AND he beats Nadal (at full strength) in the process AND/OR he beats several other top-5 players (not scrubs like #6 Roddick) along the way.

I've got to say, your defintion of an "Age" in tennis seems to me to be pretty narrow! Was there an "Age" of any other tennis player ever?

In any event, no need to get huffy from a little tweaking from the the peanut gallery!

Jonathan V. Last said...

I never said that these wins "don't count" for Fed. What I said is that he would need a certain narrow set of circumstances to win future majors. Those narrow circumstances which I stipulated he would need have all come to pass. And good for him! I take a backseat to no one in my man-love for The Swiss.

Look, maybe you're just stuck on the idea of the "age of Federer." Surely, though, you understand that these things are somewhat elastic?

I think most people would call the period of 1982-1990 the age of Lendl. But in 1988, Wilander won three of the four majors. I love me some Mats and would have paid full price to see him in concert with McEnroe doing their own version of rock-n-roll tennis. But we don't talk about '88 as the "age of Wilander," do we?

None of this is meant to come across as huffy or anything. But just so we're clear: You're not "tweaking" anyone. You're trying to be a dick.

So you'll be treated accordingly.

Alexander K. said...

"trying to be a dick"

Most assuredly not, but, hey, if you don't take the the Federer comments in the sprit they were offered, I won't post them anymore.

Ralphie said...

Er, uh, if I may... seems that the Joker graphic novel came out after Dark Knight was released...

Jonathan V. Last said...

See the update.

Believe it or not, I actually do know a little bit about the subjects I write about.

Ralphie said...

Dude. Sorry I don't have your extensive behind-the-scenes comics background. No need for rudeness. It's not like I care about tennis.

Jacob said...

You come at the king, you'd best not miss. When you correct someone else on and you're wrong then you can't whine about someone correcting your correction.