Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Reversals of Fortune Abound

Clever Adolescent Panda (CAP): Come on, Calvin, let's go do something!

Calvin: *slouched in chair* {Eh, I don't feel like it.}

CAP: We should at least get ready for UnCalvin. You know she'll be here sometime in the next few days.

Calvin: {I know, but I just don't have the energy for it. Besides, we've got time.}

*Door flies open. UnCalvin stands there, smiling broadly, rocking the pirates boots and cape like a boss.*

UnCalvin: How are you hapless cretins doing?!

CAP: UnCalvin?! What are you doing here, on time?

UnCalvin: *very chipper* I've been exceptionally productive lately, and I was able to clear my schedule!

CAP: Congratulations?

Calvin: {Yeah, just like my dad, once every 7 years you manage to get somewhere on time. *twirls index finger in the air lazily* Whoo.}

UnCalvin: Ignoring that! I considered the possibility you would attempt another preemptive strike, so I thought I would bring an old friend to see you!

CAP: *wary* An old friend?

Calvin: {Oh come on, nobody was actually clamoring for the return of Sgt. Johansson from the okra farm. Wait, you didn't abduct Makes Brakes Fail Lass did you? She just started that job in Utah!}

UnCalvin: No, of course I didn't abduct anyone. Yet. *big smile* Just kidding! No abductions at all!

Calvin: {But miniature American flags for all!}

CAP: Booooo.

UnCalvin: *forced laugh* Haha, yes, very droll. Now be quiet, I'm trying to show you the Blender Furby!

CAP: Gasp, Blender Furby?! Hooray, you're OK!

Blender Furby: Hello friend, how are you today? Lovely weather we're having!

CAP: It seems different.

Blender Furby: Cut the crap, verdammt idiot, I'm the same happenin' dude as always.

Calvin: {Sounds alright to me.}

UnCalvin: I told you I wouldn't remove what it picked up from you and Calvin.

Blender Furby: There's two kinds of people: Those who enjoy milkshakes, and those who get kicked in THE FACE!

Calvin: {Good thing I like milkshakes, then.}

CAP: It doesn't really have any legs to kick you with, though.

UnCalvin: Ah, but that's where you're wrong. *UnCalvin whistles, and a large, headless body wearing a sweater enters the room. UnCalvin puts the Blender Furby on its broad shoulders and gives a slight twist. There's a gentle click as it locks into place.*

Blender Furby: Now, who wants fruit smoothies? *flexes*

CAP: That's the Predator Drone's body!

Calvin: {What happened to the milkshakes we were promised?}

UnCalvin: I had to do something with that body after the head was destroyed. And our research indicated people who exercise would appreciate a drink maker that can travel with them while they work out. And the fact the Drone's body was in excellent shape means it can carry all the drink ingredients itself, so they don't have to.

Calvin: {Unless they want to, of course. Many people use sacks of oranges in lieu of weighted training clothes.}

CAP: No, they don't.

Calvin: {Well they should.}

UnCalvin: It's irrelevant, but seriously, no, they don't. Now let's all have smoothies! *tosses lots of fruit and ice into the Blender Furby* Can someone get some glasses?

Calvin: *shrugs* {I'm not really in a "getting up" mood.}

CAP: *sighs* I'll do it.

Blender Furby: *vibrating* Y-y-y-y-ouuuuu c-c-c-ca-n-n-n-n d-ooooo it! J-usst a fewwwwww m-ooo-re laps, iffffff yo-uuuu feeeel like it!

UnCalvin: We taught it various supportive phrases.

Calvin: {Ditching the abusive appliance market?}

UnCalvin: The Sarcastic Coffeepot didn't test well, as you know.

CAP: *returning from kitchen* I hated that thing, it was so mean. But how did you know we didn't like it?

Calvin: {I filled out the online survey they mentioned on the receipt.}

UnCalvin: And we appreciated that feedback.

Calvin: {Then why do you keep sending me junk e-mails?}

UnCalvin: *through a perfect, toothy smile, which is completely insincere* We're just trying to keep you apprised of our latest product lines!

Calvin: {How are you such a bad liar? I'm not that good at it!}

CAP: I don't know. You convinced Alex you had a split personality named Nigel once.

Calvin: {Oh yeah, ha. I'd forgotten about that.}

UnCalvin: Yes, haha, let's drink to your remarkable skills of deceitfulness! *pours smoothies*

CAP: You are bad at lying.

UnCalvin: Shut up and drink!

Calvin: {That's OK, I'm not really into smoothies. Thanks, though.}

UnCalvin: What? No nonono, you, you have to drink. Come on, it's a toast!

Calvin: {Well that's not suspicious. Blender Furby, is there a reason UnCalvin wants us to drink?}

Blender Furby: The fruit was grown in Smile Time Labs, and is specially formulated so the citric acid turns to thermite when I sing "Alabama Song". Poly wolly doodle all day!

CAP: *spits out smoothie, levels finger at UnCalvin* You fiend!

UnCalvin: *gobsmacked* What are you doing?

Calvin: *still slouched in chair* {I taught the Blender Furby profanity, sports trivia, and Leone movie quotes, it's true. The panda impressed upon it the need to be truthful with others.}

CAP: *proud* Yep, I guess that was something else you didn't wipe when you left in all the stuff Calvin taught it.

UnCalvin: Wait, are you saying you took advantage of my compassion to ensure the seeds of future defeats? How could you?

CAP: *taps fingers together nervously* Noooo, not exactly. I didn't know what you were going to do with Blender Furby, and I really thought teaching it to be honest was a good idea. And I was right. The fact it thwarts you is just a bonus.

Calvin: {I'll admit, I had my doubts, but watching UnCalvin's stomps and shouts, it's safe to say, it all worked out.}

CAP: Did, did you just try to speak in rhyme?

Calvin: {Yeah.}

CAP: It was awful. Don't ever do that again.

UnCalvin: Indeed. And for what you've done to the English language, you must die! *Grabs remainder of smoothie in the blender, hurls it at CAP and Calvin* Now, sing the song!

Blender Furby: Oh, if, we don't get, to the, next whiskey bar - I tell you we must die, I tell you we must die.

CAP: Duck and cover! *tackles Calvin, knocking him and his chair over. The smoothie thermite splashes against the chair, and begins to melt it. Is that how thermite works? Why not, it's how fruit-based thermite behaves. It is so decreed.*

Calvin: {Hey! My butt enjoyed sitting there! Now I don't feel sorry at all for sending Deadpool to trash your offices!}

UnCalvin: You didn't.

Calvin: {Of course I did. Unlike some people, I always plan ahead.}

*At the offices of Smile Time Solutions, Deadpool has long since finished destroying property, and is now sitting in the remains of the lab, drinking with the scientists*

Deadpool: [So you guys aren't working on hoverboards? At all?]

Researcher: No sir, there's enough other people working in the Back to the Future nostalgia market. We are working on cold fusion, though. As kind of a side project.

Deadpool: [Fusion? Pfft, who cares about a nearly limitless source of energy]

Researcher: Well, we're also working on food that cooks itself.

Deadpool: [Now you're talking! Lead the way! Say, don't I know you from somewhere?]

Researcher: Um, you demonstrated, what did you call it, pants-dropping solidarity, with me at a party here last year.

Deadpool: [Of course, I didn't recognize you from this end! How're you doing?]

Researcher: Oh, you know, working with mad science. Counting my lucky stars I didn't get fired for dropping my pants in front of my bosses.

Deadpool: [I drop my pants in front of employers all the time, and they almost never get sore about it. Well, except for Logan. And Cable. And Cyclops. And. . .]

*Back at Calvin's place*

UnCalvin: Curse you, Calvin! I'll get you for this! *turns to flee*

CAP: Oh no you don't! Nobody tries to kill me with false offerings of beverages and gets away without a righteous beating!

UnCalvin: Blender Furby, unleash defense protocol 7-Z!

Blender Furby: *speaking in a familiar, sinister monotone* So, funny story, all the defense protocols are the same thing. We just use different titles to sound like we have a lot of plans.

CAP: Oh no. *groans, clutches ears, falls to ground*

Blender Furby: So, funny story, turns out the security cameras recorded the Predator Drone's talking, and I got to spend hour after hour, after hour, watching it. Until I could mimic his voice perfectly. The big empty space of the blender lets my voice reverberate perfectly.

Calvin: {That. . . that doesn't sound very funny. That sounds like a horrible experience. *collapses*}

Blender Furby: You might be right, but it got me this sweet body *poses with one arm stretched out, pointing to the sky, the other flexed near its head* so it can't be all bad.

CAP: Blender Furby. . . don't. . .be evil.

Blender Furby: So, funny story, I don't know what I'll be yet. *follows UnCalvin out the door*

CAP: Ugh, did UnCalvin win that one, or am I crazy?

Calvin: {He destroyed my chair, so I'm going with yes. It's fine. I mean, I liked that chair, but UnCalvin needs a win every so often. Besides being in control of a corporation with decent profit margins and having good fashion sense.}

CAP: That's a good way to look at things. *pause* I shouldn't have left Blender Furby with her, though.

Calvin: {Yeah, but how could you know leaving an essentially infant sentience in UnCalvin's control would be as bad an idea as leaving it with me would have been (just for different reasons)?}

CAP: You're not helping me feel better!

Calvin: *sighs* {Here, have some oatmeal raisin cookies while I go get some tools so we can at least repair this hole in the floor. Don't want to lose the security deposit.}

CAP: OK. Munch, munch, munch. Wait, these cookies aren't made out of love, are they?

Calvin: {Only in the metaphorical sense.}

CAP: Oh, well that's perfectly acceptable. Munch, munch, munch.

Calvin: {Hey, save some for me!}

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What I Bought 3/24/2015 - Part 4

For some reason, actors Karl Urban and Gerard Butler are mixed up in my head. I see one of them, and always assign him the wrong name. Don't know why, but it happens without fail.

Ant-Man #1-3, by Nick Spencer (writer), Ramon Rosanas (artist), Jordan Boyd (colorist), Travis Lanham (letterer), Idette Winecoor (designer) - OK, what the heck does "designer" mean? Also, between the first and second issues, Boyd went from "colorist" to "color artist". Just pick a job description!

Scott's trying to put his life back together, trying to get gainfully employed and be a good dad for his recently back from the dead daughter, Cassie (really glad they brought her back). He tries applying to be Stark's security consultant, and even gets the job. By breaking into Stark's apartment and hacking into his Iron Man helmet, but that's what Stark wanted anyway (and it's bigger jerk than normal "Superior" Iron Man, so whatever). Then Scott learns his ex-wife is moving with Cassie to Miami to get away from hero stuff, so Scott ditches the job and moves to Miami. Family first!

Once there, he tries to get a loan from a bank to set up his own security consulting company, but bank turns him down. Because banks are run by jerks. Jerks who hide a Nazi robot that turns things into gold in their vault, which Scott recaptures, because it was kind of his fault it got free in the first place. Upside, the head of the bank finds him interesting enough she invested in his company. Downside, Taskmaster's got him in his crosshairs, but not before he shatters Scott's illusions that they're arch-foes. Really though, he's just keeping Scott busy while the head of Cross Enterprises abducts Cassie. Cross' father was the guy who abducted Dr. Sondheim to perform a heart transplant and save his life, only Cassie need the good doctor for an operation of her own, prompting Scott to steal the Ant-Man outfit in the first place. Anyway, the son wants his dad back, and I'm guessing it'll be Cassie's heart he's going to use.

Oh, and the lamewad villain Crossfire is the son's uncle? Jeez, I hate that guy. Such a loser. You'd think he'd have learned his lesson after that time he tried killing Hawkeye with his own bow, only Crossfire was too weak to pull back the string and only succeeded in knocking himself unconscious with a concussion arrow. Some dudes aren't meant to be villains, because they suck.

Speaking of embarrassing defeats, Taskmaster might want to watch the ridicule. I haven't forgotten the time Rick Jones got the drop on him (it was in Busiek's Avengers run, and hey, Scott was there for that too!) That said, Scott, do not diss Taskmaster's outfit. I love the pirate boots and the cape. I do not have any idea how Taskmaster made paperclips form into a giant sword just by pushing a button. I assume magnets were involved, but how are they manipulating the whole thing? Unless Tasky has learned to imitate Magneto. No, I didn't think so either. Oh, and what the hell is he doing calling someone else "rip off"? Taskmaster's whole shtick is he copies other people's moves. There isn't an original bone in his body! Oh Tasky, there's a reason I enjoy watching you get punched so much.

I'm pretty pleased with the book so far. Scott's likeable enough, but he still shows just enough unscrupulous behavior I can see things blowing up in his face. He tries to be a smooth talker, but he's not really good at it (his attempts at sales pitches are consistently awful), and he does lack of commitment. Unfortunately, I don't think Stark was wrong about Scott looking for the quickest route. But I'm looking forward to seeing Scott and Cassie hang out together, and the Grizzly could make an interesting sidekick.

Rosanas's artwork and Boyd's colors work fairly well together. It's not a dark book, but it's not a wild and crazy one either, so the colors are muted without being murky, and the art is fairly realistic. I like the way size-changing is portrayed, with the progressively smaller, creamsicle colored outlines. It's a nice shorthand for the process that's going on with the Pym Particles. The facial expressions aren't always great. There are a couple of consecutive panels of Cassie where I'm not clear what emotion we're supposed to see. Based on the dialogue, I'd figure concern, maybe trepidation, but there's really no expression. For the most part, though Rosanas does well. The mass of ants looked good, and he draws paperclips that appear giant really well. I also like how, when Tasky pushes that button to control the paperclips, the concentric circles of the signal/pulse extend into the panels below, where the paperclips are starting to move. Nice touch.

Monday, March 30, 2015

What I Bought 3/24/2015 - Part 3

So let's look at a couple of books that only have one issue each. One of them is wrapping up, and I might be dropping the other one. It could go either way.

Secret Six #2, by Gail Simone (writer), Ken Lashley (penciller, inker), Drew Geraci (inker), Jason Wright (Colorist), Carlos M. Mangual (letterer) - That's a really nice cover by Eaglesham and Wright. The design for the spears, the contrasting light and dark, and everything draws you to Catman, cornered and under fire.

So 18 months ago, someone captured Catman and locked him in a cell for a year. Someone with a very Joker-like smile, but it's hard to tell with the coloring what the guy's coloring is. He did let Catman out after a year, and Blake vowed to find and kill him. The guy said Blake owed a debt, and these people who locked our cast in a coffin at the bottom of the sea mentions a woman was killed 2 years ago, so is that the issue? Hard to say, but the old lady with the ventriloquist dummy is a telekinetic, so she raises the coffin to the surface, Porcelain weakens its walls, and Blake tears through, because he has cybernetic claw things, I think. Anyway, now the group seems to committed to finding the people who locked them up and killing them. We'll see how that goes, 'cause I have no clue who they should be looking for. Someone amoral with money, I guess.

The art on this shifts a lot depending on who inks it. With Geraci's inks, it's almost like he's doing a charcoal drawing. Much heavier on the black, deeper, thicker, wider shadows, and it seems to simplify the art considerably. It's an extremely notable transition for when Lashley inks his own stuff, is what I'm saying. Wright goes heavy on the blues in this issue, which does make the occasional red or green shaded panel more noticeable, but it's a murky feel most of the time. Appropriate considering both plot threads involve someone locked in a dank box.

At least we're starting to see the outlines of the character relationships. The big guy is going to be kind of paternal towards Alice, though I've got a hunch he won't last long. He seems a little out of his depth. The old lady is kind of Ragdoll, with a little of Jeanette in her, and I have a hunch Catman's going to form a friendship with this Strix person. Not sure why, I just have a hunch Blake will appreciate someone who doesn't talk, but prefers to just kill things. Still not sure whether I'll buy the next issue, but at least I have until June to decide. Maybe by then they can get the book back on schedule.

She-Hulk #12, by Charles Soule (writer), Javier Pulido (storyteller), Muntsa Vicente (color artist), Clayton Cowles (letterer) - I went with one of the variant covers, since there wasn't a difference in price. I just like this one more than the main cover. It says "final issue" to me more than the other did.

So, Nighteater - when did he become Nighteater? - hired Dr. Druid, Vibro, and Shocker to help him cast this spell, which sacrificed every in Divide County, except George Saywitz (the source of the Blue File), because Jen got him out in time. The purpose of the spell was to make everyone remember Nighteater as Nightwatch, a now-retired hero. Not a great one, just an OK hero who would be respected and remembered well. Trench has Jen under his control because of a spell he set when he appeared back in issue 5 and 6, and he seems to be about to tie up all the loose ends, but Angie called Shocker and told him what happened, and Hermann isn't happy. Why didn't he get to be a hero too? That disrupts Trench's concentration long enough for Angie to dispel his control of Jen, and she whups his butt. After, Angie appears ready to move on, bu Patsy convinces her to stay by pointing out things will fall into total disarray without Angie. Because Patsy sure as heck isn't doing any filing. And we end with Jen preparing to defend The Inhumans against a case being prosecuted by the firm Jen left at the start of the series.

There's a recurring theme in this run of people trying to blame others for their mistakes, or wanting to be redeemed/forgiven without actually repenting. I think it's something to explore further later, because I'm not quite sure how it relates to Jennifer yet. Is Soule saying something about lawyers, that by representing the law, or taking part in the judicial process, they're helping to ensure power is used responsibly? Or is it something about Jen being a Hulk, having all that power, even if the source of it has caused a lot of destruction? I'm not at all sure.

I'm also not sure about Trench. So did Soule just rewrite Trench's entire history? Is he saying the guy was never a hero, he just cast a spell to make people think that? So he didn't actually try to help Spider-Man during Maximum Carnage? He might have been on Carnage's side, or more likely, wasn't within a 1000 miles of the thing at all? That's. . . I'm not sure how I feel about that. It's the sort of giant, retroactive thing I tend to hate. Like trying to make the Sentry the most important guy ever in the Marvel Universe, except this is the character trying to do it for themselves. It's not that I have any fondness for Nightwatch, but there might be someone who does, and who knows how they feel about it.

That aside, it's a good last issue. Wraps up the Blue File thread, leaves a useable status quo for future writers. I don't know what Pulido's moving on to next - I have a vague feeling he's lined up to do something for DC? - but hopefully it's something good. Soule's already writing like 15 books, he doesn't need anything else extra.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Zorro 1.8 - Zorro's Ride Into Terror

Plot: Monastario is combing the countryside looking for Alejandro de la Vega, but Zorro successfully gets the old man to his lair. He tells Alejandro he'll get word to Diego and have him come provide care, then slips upstairs into the hacienda. But Monastario's brought his men there to search, and Diego is overheard by Sergeant Garcia before he can sneak back into the secret passage. Diego manages to distract the Sergeant by offering the use of his bed, but then Monastario barges in and jabs Garcia in the butt with the point of his sword. Diego spares Garcia from anything worse by claiming he had laid out some wine with a sleeping potion in it last night, but forgot about it and offered the wine to the sergeant. For a moment, Monastario seems to see through Diego, but then it turns out he's just ranting about the Dons and what he feels is their duplicitous nature.

Monastario leaves to continue the search, but leaves Garcia and two other lancers to keep an eye on Diego. He also tells Garcia he will be shot if he loses Diego, having already threatened to have him executed for sleeping on duty. Diego promptly convinces them to retire downstairs, and orders Bernardo to bring out 5 more bottles of wine. Which is all the encouragement those lancers need to start drinking and for Garcia to start singing tavern songs about a soldier's life. So nobody notices when Diego slips out with those supplies for his dad. Except Alejandro has regained consciousness sufficiently that he can get up and stagger out of the cave, still determined to kill Monastario. The lancers find him soon enough, and the Capitan decides to have himself some fun with the 'wild boar', but Zorro arrives and quickly knocks Monastario off his horse, grabs his rather and rides away.

As they flee, the come across a wagon with Don Nacho Torres in it, surrounded by soldiers. These men, led by a Sergeant Espinoza, are under orders from the governor to guarantee Torres safe conduct back to Monterey, and to Monastario's dismay, he finds this will apply to anyone with Torres. Like Alejandro, who Zorro quickly hands to Torres. Zorro then rides off, and eludes Monastario again, though it looked like he'd trapped himself on a rock pedestal for a second. Furious, the Captian returns to the hacienda to find Garcia and the lancers will into their cups and, having run out of friends to toast, are toasting their enemies, starting with the Comandante. Oh, but a different Comandante, and old one, from back in Spain. Somehow, Diego sneaks back in through the front window and makes it appear he'd fallen asleep behind a couch, which at least spares Garcia one of those painful deaths.

Quote of the Episode: Monastario - 'Does His Excellency the Governor also protect the outlaw Zorro?' Sgt. Espinoza - 'From what I have heard, Senor Zorro does not need protection.'

Times Zorro Marks a "Z": 0 (5 overall)

Other: Sergeant Garcia has some good pipes on him. Maybe he missed his calling as a tavern singer, or a minstrel. He could help young men whose voices haven't finished changing by singing from the shadows for them. The sons of wealthy aristocrats probably pay better than service in the King's Army.

I still don't understand how Diego made it back into the main room through the front window. Monastario had just marched through there with six lancers behind, who he left outside when he barged in on Garcia. When he leaves a few minutes later, all six are waiting by the gate. How did none of them notice Diego come down the stairs and then through a window?

I like that Espinoza. He wasn't cocky about standing up to Monastario, just very confident because he knows he got his orders from someone higher up the chain. So long as he's outwardly respectful, there isn't jack shit Monastario can do to him. I can't decide whether the line of his I quoted above was strictly a comment on Zorro's skill, or a dig at Monastario's.

Monastario reminds me a bit of Dr. Doom, in that he has a certain appearance of honor or fair play, but only insofar as it feeds his ego. But it helps undo him. He didn't need to take Zorro's bait and start jousting with him. He could have ordered all the lancers to keep Zorro busy while he finished off Alejandro. But he thought he'd appear sporting (while it's really just supposed to ego boost himself when he defeats Zorro, ha), and it backfires. He gets humiliated, even laughed at by his own men, Zorro not only gets himself and Alejandro away, he gets Alejandro to someone who can provide actual medical care for him. It's a good thing Monastario isn't completely ruthless.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

I've Heard Location Is Important For The Just Starting Out Entrepreneur

Let's say you were going to be a bad guy, or just a crook in the DC Universe, and you're trying to pick one of the cities to set up shop in, after you've decided what kind of bad guy to be (I'm going for cat burglar/master thief, naturally). Which one do you pick? 

Gotham's out. I'm not getting my kneecaps busted by Batman, nor am I going to run the risk of dealing with his whackjob enemies because I made the mistake of trying to swipe that statue that was partially disfigured in a fire on the 2nd day of the month, same as Two-Face. And even beyond that, there's Gotham's notoriously crooked cops to worry about. They'll shoot me, hide my loot somewhere, tell their bosses they never found it, then sell it themselves later. No thanks.

Metropolis is a nice, shiny city full of nice, shiny things, but 1) Superman's maybe a little too much of a challenge, 2) every nice thing in town probably belongs to Luthor, and I'm not that crazy, and 3) too high a probability of being squished by a random giant robot attack.

I have a feeling the Rogues guard their turf against interlopers pretty fiercely, so Central City's out. Again, I'm looking to avoid death, so Hawkman's home turf (whatever that is this week) is a no-go. Death from above with extremely pointy medieval weaponry is not high on my list of career goals.

I figure there's three pretty good options. One, Coast City, because Hal is hardly ever there any more, and even if he is, I'm pretty sure I can outsmart Hal Jordan. Just distract him with a skin mag and drop a convenient light fixture on his head.

Two, Star City. Admittedly, Green Arrow's presence would seem to trigger the "fear of death by pointy medieval weapons" clause, but I'm going to be stealing from wealthy people, so I'll promise to donate over 50% of my proceeds to soup kitchens, or children's literacy funds, or something. More money for no-kill shelters, whatever. That should work.

Third, Opal City. I'll get around to reading Starman one of these days, but Opal City generally sounds pretty cool. The heroes that live there aren't too crazy or violent, though having the Dibnys in town to investigate my crimes might be a problem. Ralph would sniff me out before too long I imagine, unless I'm Black Cat-good at stealing. Which sure, why not?

I know the simplest answer would be to avoid cities with superheroes entirely, but come on, the cities with superheroes have all the best stuff to take.

Friday, March 27, 2015

What I Bought 3/24/2015 - Part 2

Typing this on Thursday. They say we have a chance of snow tonight. I can't imagine it'll stick if it does happen, since it's going to be sunny and at least in the 40s most of the day. But I've seen snow in Missouri in mid-April, so I guess we'll see.

Klarion #5 and 6, by Ann Nocenti (writer), Trevor McCarthy and Szymon Kudranski (artists), Guy Major (colorist), Pat Brosseau (letters) - So McCarthy stuck around until the end. I didn't expect that. I figured they'd move him to some other project since this book was basically dead on arrival. Hopefully he gets something that'll last for his next project.

Klarion eats Swag's nanobot, which boosts his power enough to get everyone out of his "pocket", although there's an ancient monster he'd angered in the past hot on their heels. Back in the world, Klarion tries ditching everyone for awhile, but Zell and her nanotech-based Buddydog track him down, just in time for his Buddybot to emerge from his hand. It has his face and hair, but also insect limbs growing out of her back, and Klarion wants nothing to do with her. He'd rather go fight Coal and his swarm of nanobots, and he beats him, and even shows some concern for his new "Daughter" when she showed up (mostly to yell at him for abandoning her). Then everyone has to work together to banish the thing that followed them from Klarion's pocket, which was some ancient beast from Jack Kirby's Demon series.

I'm not even going to try and claim I understand everything here. Coal was beaten, and it seems to have served as some representation of the public's struggle with the questions of what it means to be human raised by the Buddybots, since the public turned against them. But Coal's not finished entirely, he's just coming back with something new. Technology marches forward, and the questions can't be put off. Also the idea that we frequently implement something new without having a firm grasp of the implications. What we've created, how it reflects us, what its relationship is to us (Rasp was distinctly uncomfortable when it was pointed out Contessa was either his sister or daughter, considering he'd been wanting to mack with her).

I'm also not sure what to make of Klarion. Maybe that's the point, he's still a kid, he's still prone to mood swings, and even he isn't sure what he wants. Does he want to be part of the gang at the Moody Museum? Well maybe, it's nice to have people who care, but it would mean caring about other people, taking their needs and desires into account, and I'm not sure he wants to do that. He likes Zell, but he's afraid she's bound him to her in some way, and naturally, that she used magic for it. Better explanation than that he's developed feelings for her. He's confident in his power, but not confident enough to let that speak for itself. He's like those young hotshots in Westerns that think they have to challenge everyone to prove how good they are, when the ones who are the best don't feel the need to prove it. They know how good they are, and that's enough. Klarion isn't there yet.

I think he's also repeating past mistakes. He said his teacher would break his fingers if they were out of place during a spell, and eventually whatever it was about that guy that drew Klarion to him, it soured and the kid killed him. When he's confronted by his Buddybot, Klarwitch, he abandons it, and when it finds him, he smacks it away. Then he tries to teach it magic, but when it doesn't grasp it immediately, he knocks it off its broom and casts the spell himself. He seems to develop some concern for Klarwitch after that, but the damage may have been done. Klarion's already made himself look pretty bad.

McCarthy and Kudranski are a little awkward on their figurework - there are pages where Piper and Noah are almost unrecognizable, and Klarwitch never really comes together as a design - but the page layouts are pretty good. The double spread of them being ejected from the pocket, as the ancient beast comes charging in from the left in pursuit, that was pretty cool. The pages where the panel borders form the creature's mouth, so the interior of the border is ringed with teeth, also pretty cool. Guy Major helps, because his color work is nifty. I especially like at the beginning of issue 6, Coal's swarm (which has formed into a giant spider) has the same green glow letters and numbers get coming off computer screens. You know, the shade of green they used in the Matrix films? It contrasts with Klarion's blues nicely, but it does work as a good shorthand for technology.

So that does it for Klarion. Not sure it accomplished what it set out to do, it certainly didn't if keeping going for any extended period of time was the goal. As far as Nocenti's recent DC work, I'd rank it ahead of Green Arrow (McCarthy's a significantly stronger artist than what she had on that book), but behind Katana (which I think had a stronger central premise, and had a little more time to deal with it, rather than being rushed).

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What I Bought 3/24/2015 - Part 1

Well, Former Comic Guy never did get around to sending the last batch of books, so I ordered them from a store online. And here they are!

Harley Quinn #14 and 15, by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti (writers), Chad Hardin (artist), John Timms (artist #15, pgs. 10-12 and 15), Alex Sinclair (colorist), Paul Mounts (colorist #15, pgs. 10-12 and 15), John J. Hill (letters) - Looks like Harley's going crazy. That really shouldn't be much of a stretch for her.

This is point where all the different balls Harley's trying to juggle start to be too much for her. Her workload at the hospital is increasing, she's missing Skate Club engagements, the hot water heater in her building broke, and she missed her date with Mason, the guy who broke out of prison a few issues ago, which made both him and his mom kind of sore at her. Plus, she's still trying to help the helpless, but there are a whole lot of helpless to help. She's tired, frazzled, and depressed, but that's when friends can help the most. And here's Ivy, to talk her through her problems, and to offer a good suggestion: get an assistant. Being Harley, she posts an ad online for 12 assistants, which makes sense, considering she's going to have them fighting crime with/for her. Fortunately, there's no shortage of take-no-shit ladies looking for a challenge.

Two questions: Where is she getting the money for all this? She took two jobs originally because the rent from her tenants wasn't anywhere near enough to cover the bills on her place. How the heck can she afford all the food, all the repairs, all the assistants? Especially since she isn't even making it to Skate Club on time? That's half her income.

Second question is, will this outbreak of violence and chaos end up having a root cause that Harley can deal with, or are Palmiotti and Conner just giving a realistic idea of how much crime there can be in a city that size? I feel like there were too many references in the book to just how much is going wrong for it to be a coincidence.

So this could be ill-advised. I'm not convinced having that many assistants is actually going to simplify or streamline Harley's life. If anything, having that many employees would seem like it'll add more complications. And when you specifically cite "insubordinance" as a desired quality, then you're going to have to expect them to be insubordinate. Which is another complication.

I think Hardin's getting more confident on the book. His work is a bit smoother, less busy, especially around Harley's face. Which works for me, and I think he can still loosen up some more, exaggerate more still at times. Harley's reaction to Mason ripping his shirt up to use as a bandage was good. It's a little comical, but it still gets across what you need to know.

I noticed that after Shona whupped those cheapskate, racist douchebag customers, every other customer we see in the restaurant is smiling. I'm going to choose to interpret that as they all agree those jerk got what they deserved, and that when the cops arrive (assuming the jerks carry out their threat), there will be a lot of people who didn't see nuthin'. Yeah, this Legion of Harleys thing could be really interesting, though I'm not sure the creative team will actually stick with it long enough.