Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What I Bought 10/14/2017

I found one of the two comics I needed from earlier this month last weekend. Better than none. And this was the one I really wanted, so that works out well.

Giant Days #31, by John Allison (writer), Max Sarin (penciler), Liz Fleming and Irene Flores (inker), Whitney Cogar and Kieran Quigley (colorists), Jim Campbell (letterer) - However that picture was put upon on the wall, I'm certain McGraw would have been appalled.

Daisy is staying at Ingrid's to avoid Esther and Susan, so they enlist McGraw to try and speak with her. He, in turn, enlists Ed to keep an eye out for the Spanish, who he thinks are after him for breaking Emilia's heart. Certainly her very large brother is after him, and finds him right as Daisy's pool sharking is about to solve the electric bill problem, by parting some stupid rugby fans of money they didn't deserve anyway. She had to abandon the game to save McGraw and Ed, so instead, the rugby lads will waste it on beer and foods which will guarantee their premature deaths of cholesterol in their early 40s. Works for me. And Susan sold her scooter to pay the bill, so that problem is resolved.

There is still the issue of Daisy's friends hating her girlfriend, which is going to have to be dealt with. I'm somewhat concerned Ingrid thinks there has to be a choice. I feel like there a few things she could do to be less annoying, and then they'd be fine with her. Susan and Esther don't want Daisy to be sad, but Ingrid is an extremely rude houseguest. That should probably involve Susan and Esther speaking to Ingrid directly, but ha ha, that's not happening.

Allison consistently fills this comic with good one-liners and gags that make me chuckle. Ed's 'He seemed very, very relaxed about injuring you.' Ingrid's demand to know about it if Daisy saw Esther and Susan kiss (I would also like to know about it). Most pages end on some sort of joke, and more of them land than not, ably complemented by the efforts of all the members of the art team.

Which is a little bigger this month, with an extra inker and colorist each. I think I can see a small shift in a couple of places. One, at the point when Daisy, McGraw and Ed concoct their pool hustling scheme. Something is just a little off from the surrounding pages. The lines surrounding McGraw's face are lighter than normal, the lines under his eyes are gone, the his coloration is lighter. The figurework is a little simpler, especially noticeable in his facial hair. It's not bad, the expressions and body language are still intact, the humor still works.  It's just one of those slight differences you notice sometimes.

The rugby bros trying to pump each other up to test themselves against Daisy again is good for a grin. That panel showing how McGraw broke things off with Kylie is, well, horrifying, but Sarin and I'm assuming Fleming and Cogar make it work. Although Kylie appears to be reacting more to McGraw's tighty whities than his twinkly mustache. Either way, it's funny and horrifying.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Kung-Fu Panda 3

Po has to save the day from yet another threat emerging from the past, but he'll need to master using chi to do it. That requires understanding who he is, something that maybe his birth father could help him with, since Po hasn't had any chance to learn what being a panda is about.

I can't help feeling bad for Po. All these enemies he's had to deal with were someone else's problem originally, and they've passed the buck down the line to him. When Oogway loses to Kai at the start of the film (enabling Kai to escape the Spirit Realm), he says it was never his destiny to defeat Kai, that he passed that to another. Meaning Po.

The idea comes up a few times that no one remembers Kai. It's been 500 years, and even though he was once the great Master Oogway's best friend, he's barely a footnote. And that frustrates him, pisses him off. I wondered about him as a forgotten piece of the past, showing up while Po tries to connect with a part of himself he'd thought lost forever. Po tries to learn new thing, grow and adapt, but Kai sticks to the same things he was doing when Oogway originally defeated him.

Although they kind of covered that ground in the last film, with Po and Shen each trying to deal with traumas of their past. Shen was focused on settling scores and was destroyed, Po ultimately accepted what he learned and moved forward.

Still, Po wound up with two dads, which was sweet. The whole subplot where Mr. Ping fears he'll be shoved aside now that the birth father has miraculously shown up was handled well. Li isn't portrayed as some bad guy out to split Po and Mr. Ping apart, he simply wants to reconnect with the son he thought was gone. And eventually the two dads come to an understanding over that.

It was probably the ads I saw in the lead-up to the release of the film, but I expected Mei-Mei to play a larger role in the film. But she shows up partway in, flirts with and confuses Po immediately, and nothing is really developed beyond that. I'm not asking for a full-on romance subplot, but I thought she would get a little more focus. She got about as much as the toddler panda that wouldn't stop following Tigress around.

Which is one of the things I noticed watching, there were certain parts that felt half-formed. The bit I mentioned with Mei-Mei, and there was a scene with Crane and Mantis I thought was going to build to something. I guess it was more about Kai's increasing threat, but it's been rare in these movies that the Furious Five get much screen time when Po isn't around to hog the character development, so I thought it might mean something. The movie is only 90 minutes, so it isn't as though it was overly stuffed.

Monday, October 16, 2017

What I Bought 10/12/2017 - Part 2

I haven't done nearly as much with my scanner as I intended so far. Just no time. Maybe next month, when this sketching project is over. Also, I have no new comics coming out this week. Bummer.

Ms. Marvel #23, by G. Willow Wilson (writer), Diego Olortegui (artist), Ian Herring (color artist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - Someday I should try hanging out on top of a moving train, see what that's like. Answer, probably terrifying.

So a train is slowly out of control, and Kamala is trying to figure out what to do about it. And she has some company. The Red Dagger, who she met on her trip back to Karachi in issue 12, showed up in town. As did Kareem, the friend-in-law she met during that trip. Kamala's still not sure about herself after  decent section of the locals revealed they blame her for things that go wrong, so she's a little on edge, but also kind of blase. Like, I get stopping a train is difficult to do safely, but it almost feels like she uses it as a chance to take a trip through the countryside.

I was initially distressed to see yet another new artist on the book, but I like Diego Olortegui's work.  It's very expressive, and he's quite good at the little bits of humor. Nakia reaching across the aisle to gently wrench Mike's swooning gaze away from Kareem. Also, now that Kamala's powers are moving more in the direction of Mr. Fantastic's, Olortegui gets to play with that. Drawing Kamala flattening out to go under the bridge, then showing her only partially reinflated as they emerge from the other end. Kamala and Aamir's happy faces on page 2 looked a little strange. That might just be that Aamir's face doesn't look quite right. He's usually drawn with a much longer, thinner face and larger nose, none of which he has here. That might be something to work on going forward, but for the most part, everyone is still on model.

As always, Herring's colors help to maintain a consistent feel to the book. Even as the style shifts from artist to artist, he has those warm tones, the yellows and oranges that help it always feel like you're reading the same book.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #25, by Ryan North (writer), Erica Henderson (artist), Rico Renzi (color artist), Travis Lanham (letterer) -  How about you? You ready to follow Squirrel Girl into the jaws of death? Like it says on the cover, clearly, the answer is no.

Doreen must keep Ultron occupied and save Kraven while Nancy and Stefan rally the other programmers to devise a program that will occupy all Ultron's memory so he can't do anything else and they can reset him. Keeping Ultron occupied is difficult but fortunately, Kraven trained the dinosaurs to come when you whistle. You know how to whistle right?

I'll be curious to see if Ultron reappears down the line as a benevolent plant android, whatever that might look like. I am not convinced planting it in Maureen's garden is such a good idea, given the high probability, based on past experience, that Ultron will still choose to be evil.

Overall, a solid storyarc. Didn't overstay it's welcome. Got some dinosaurs, got some Ultron, Nancy flirted with the idea of a romance, but she and Stefan opted against it. Doreen got to wear a ridiculous Savage Land outfit, as you are often required to do when visiting the Savage Land. Squirrel Girl got to use her rarely used - for entirely valid reasons, including hygiene and not being the sort of person who enjoys stabbing people - knuckle spikes. That's not how I would have pictured them. I had figured there was one for each finger, like pointy brass knuckles. That's OK.

The part where Nancy repeated Superman's "world of cardboard" speech from the end of Justice League Unlimited was a bridge too far. I get it's supposed to be funny that Squirrel Girl is gonna really cut loose, and that what that means is. . . knuckle spikes. But it still felt cheap just ripping the dialogue off like that.

The panel of the dinosaurs tearing Ultron apart, done in the classic Looney Tunes "big cloud of dust obscuring most of the fight" style was really good. I'm going to guess Erica Henderson enjoys drawing dinosaurs. At least, I hope she does or this was a horrible storyline for North to inflict upon her.

I'm disappointed we didn't get to see DINOSAUR ULTRON, but also with laser eyes, jet feet, chainsaw hands, and x-ray vision. Guess I know what I'd ask Erica Henderson to draw if I ever had the opportunity to commission a sketch from her.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

God, The Devil and Bob 1.7 - Bob Gets Committed

Plot: Bob is rescued from a night spent taking care of measles-ridden Andy by Donna, so that he can resume his planned trip to the strip club with Mike and Barry. But God is waiting in the parking lot with an assignment. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.

God asks Bob to deface a billboard by writing "SMILE" on it. The highway patrolman is surprisingly understanding, until the Devil uses a homunculus to make Bob assault the cop. Bob's arguing in the back of the patrol car with "the Devil" gets him a trip to Grassy Knoll Asylum. While Bob tries to devise an escape with the help of the other patients, the Devil assumes Bob's identity. Two things go wrong for the King of All the is Evil: One, Donna is entirely resistant to his attempts to charm, command, plead her into sex. Two, the Devil is apparently not immune to measles. And during the course of Donna caring for "Bob", the Devil falls for her.

How's Bob going to get the Devil out of his bed? Maybe with a little help from the musical library of Tony Orlando.

Quote of the Episode: Smeck - 'This is so cool. Why don't we do this more often?' Devil - 'Because it's cheap, Smeck. We're better than this.'

Smeck Smacks: 1 (20 overall).

Other: Smeck likes Stratego, which I remember seeing ads for in '90s Marvel comics, but have never played. The ads featured would-be alien invaders who think it is the key to Earth's defenses. The alien infiltrator was so proud he'd brought it back to his bosses. Boy, will his face be red when it turns out Earth's defense strategy is, "argue among ourselves, maybe throws some nukes at the problem."

One of the patients, named Fred, introduces himself to Bob while dressed up as a doctor. The orderly arrives swiftly to take back the clipboard and lab coat. And a fish-shaped Jell-O mold. I'm not clear on why Fred had that, but I'm also not clear on why they made him give it up. Maybe the thought of making Jell-O brings him joy. Let Fred have his joy!

God brought the Devil a ficus while he was sick, which ended up with the Devil grumbling about wanting a plumeria. He did take it with him back to Hell. I can't imagine it'll do well in that dry climate.

Andy saw through the Devil's disguise immediately, although he believed Megan when she said Dad was a pod person, so he wasn't quite in target. Splashing Bob with the bucket of water mixed with chemicals was a good try, though.

The Devil wound up being right that God making Bob deface that billboard was just the opening move in a larger plan. The balloon Bob stole had a smiley face on it, and it briefly lands right on top of the billboard. Which makes people stop and notice and be happy. I'm confused by this world where cars stopping on the freeway to gawk at something on the side of the road doesn't prompt angry honking and profanity from the vehicles behind them.

The patients end up taking the balloon back to the hospital, which is good, I guess? The show doesn't pretend like they just magically got over their troubles because Bob let them come with him. Or that they aren't aware of the fact they have a condition? I'm not sure what Bernie's was, although he understood immediately when said the Devil was after his family.

It was nice that Bob, having returned home and driven the Devil out, immediately got suspicious when Donna mentioned he'd been in bed a lot recently. 'Cause then he started trying to figure out if she and "Bob" got up to anything, and Donna got to make a few cutting remarks in the direction of his sexual prowess and intelligence. I'm sure she'd been consciously holding back while he was under the weather.

Friday, October 13, 2017

What I Bought 10/12/2017 - Part 1

Got four of the five comics that came out this week. Maybe I'll find the other and Giant Days from last week over the weekend. As it is, this constitutes almost all of the Marvel comics I'm getting this month. So let's start with two characters setting off on dubious new paths.

Despicable Deadpool #287, by Gerry Duggan (writer), Scott Koblish (artist), Nick Filardi (colorist), Joe Sabino (letterer) - Wade, that is no way to treat your action figures.

Deadpool is trying to kill Cable, with a chainsaw. Little low-tech, but OK, still a solid old-school murder weapon. The fight progresses to a hospital, and Wade isn't doing so good until Cable mentions Captain America. At which point Wade immobilizes Cable with an MRI, and cuts off his bionic arm. Before he can finish things, the Time Variance Authority arrives to arrest Cable for eventually becoming Stryfe. Leaving Wade with no recourse but to cut off his own arm, attach Cable's in its place, and use the time machine in it to chase after them.

I mean, I'm sure there were other ways to accomplish that, but the removing limbs approach was what Wade opted for. Pretty effective way to show he's not messing around. I mean, he cut his husband's arm off, that's severe.

I thought there'd be a little more reluctance on both sides, but Duggan plays them as less close friends than I was used to when Nicieza wrote them. Like they've both just been waiting for a chance to resume hostilities. Still, the moment where Cable wants to know why was telling. Once again, Deadpool has managed to surprise him, this time by deciding to try and kill him. That Cable even cares, that he doesn't just assume it's for money, has to mean something.

Filardi needs to brighten the colors up. Everything is murky, and combined with Koblish's tendency to get creative in how he transitions from panel to panel (or differentiates one panel from another), there were a few times I got lost halfway through a page. Had to stop, back up, figure out what was happening. I like the transitions, the ways Koblish leads the eye - he uses the chainsaw to point to the next panel as it's swatted from Wade's grasp at one point - but sometimes, it's a little much.

Anyway, I am still entirely on board with this arc, even if I figure it will go about as well as Deadpool's attempt to kill Sabretooth 25 issues ago went.

Unbelievable Gwenpool #21, by Christopher Hastings (writer), Irene Strychalski (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (color artist), Clayton Cowles (letterer) - That is an incredibly horrible costume for Trapster, I don't care how intentional it is.

Gwen wants to be an Avenger, and is out fighting villains. Who she then takes into that space between the panels, and dumps them into the void. Which seems a lot like killing them, which should not get you a place on the Avengers, but after Wolverine, Deadpool, Cable, whoever the fuck else these days, sure why not? But Gwen's after big game. She wants to take down Doom, ignoring the fact that a) she should understand that in the pecking order of the Marvel Universe, they ain't letting her kill Doom, and more importantly b) he's not a villain right now. Because things have kept happening in the Marvel Universe since Gwen arrived, and her knowledge is getting increasingly out of date.

I can't believe she did that to Paste-Pot Pete. We need villains who just come up with weird inventions to rob armored cars, Gwen! They're a vital break from all the mass murderers and world conquerors.

Sooner or later, Hastings was going to have to address that Gwen's knowledge of the Marvel U. is going to be less and less relevant the longer she's out of the loop. Which is perhaps why she's gained this new power to move through the gutters, the spaces between panels. Her old power was knowing everyone's secrets, but that's going to be less accurate going forward. This is her new thing, though she's still kinda of using it like a villain. Making people disappear into Limbo is not the action of a hero Gwen. Knives did that to people in Trigun, because he was a genocidal lunatic asshole. Don't be like Knives.

I was certain I'd seen Strychalski's art somewhere before, but I can't figure out where. So perhaps it's Rosenberg's coloring that makes it feel similar to some of the other artists that have worked on the book? There's not a lot of fighting to judge her action sequences by, but she has a knack for some expressive faces. The Doombot's barely contained eyeroll at her "incredible new moves" went really well with the dialogue in that panel. The look of terror on poor Pete's face. Farewell Pete. Now who will Deadpool trick/coerce into helping him?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Nothing But Explosions and Gun Fights. And Car Chases.

I'm going to step away from the 5-person team of fictional character approach somewhat this time around. Instead, we're going to take a bunch of gun-toting action stars and throw them up against each other. For the hell of it. One of those movies with a bunch of killers all running around trying to take out the same target and each other. Chaos ensues.

The Target: John Wick (Keanu Reeves, John Wick) - Who better these days to serve as the prize that brings everyone out? I still haven't seen the sequel, but I gather that John succeeded in pissing off still more people by the end of it. The kind of people who can find the very best and get them to come try to kill Mr. Wick.

I don't believe any of the people listed below will make the mistake of killing his dog, but we can't rule it out. In which case all bets are off as to how much stuff is going to get destroyed. But if he's being pursued by a relatively small number of experts, it might keep the body count down. Fewer hapless mooks being mowed down. I still expect many windows to be shot out and cars to be destroyed, naturally. It'll turn out the one who put the hit on Wick is a major store display window manufacturer.

A couple of the others could potentially be negotiated with, if Wick would provide information or simply stand down. I don't expect him to take that approach. At this stage, too many people have tried to kill him, and bothering to operate by any set of rules has only hamstrung him. So screw it, anybody who comes after him ends up in a bodybag if he's able to manage it.

The Reluctantly Unretired Hitman: Martin Blank (John Cusack, Grosse Pointe Blank) - Well, you had to figure somebody was going to object to Martin's actions at the end of the movie. The NSA, for killing their agents, some of the guys Grocer was getting together for his little consortium. Whoever wanted him to kill Minnie Driver's father. Point being, he wouldn't get to just walk away. They never do, right? So he can either try to protect his loved ones while going to war against his own faceless enemy with vast resources, or, he can go try and kill one really dangerous guy. I think he'd opt for the second choice. At least he has a clear picture of his target that way.

I expect Martin to try and kill Wick at a distance. Sniper rifles, maybe try dripping poison into his mouth while sleeping, though I can't see that working here. I would imagine Wick's a very light sleeper by this point. Maybe the classic remote controlled car packed with explosives trick. That's always a crowd pleaser, and good for prompting yet another chase sequence.

He won't be able to keep his distance forever, and we'll see what happens if Wick brings the fight up close and personal. Martin can be quite creative about using whatever is at hand. I would expect their fights to be silent. Martin isn't going to freely offer up an explanation to his target, and Wick isn't going to bother to ask. Martin is there to kill him, Wick is unwilling to die and is therefore going to try killing Martin instead. What's there to talk about, other than who they buy their suits from?

The Badass with a Past: Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White, Black Dynamite) - I'm admittedly struggling to decide how Black Dynamite ends up in this. Maybe the CIA approached him again, and convinced him Wick is a threat to the Community. Or maybe John passed through and had to fend off some attacks, and people were hurt or killed. I could see Black Dynamite starting with the cracker that brought that violence there, and using him as bait for the other people responsible.

Maybe he wants to chat with Wick because he thinks he has the inside scoop on some kung-fu treachery. Or I don't know, something, something, Jimmy Carter, handwave, peanuts, George Washington Carver's last will and testament, bullshit. It shouldn't be straightforward, but I do like the idea that Dynamite's not so much interested in killing John Wick (which he could of course do handily), as getting the people interested in Wick being dead. Black Dynamite is never satisfied with just beating up the low-level troublemakers, he's going to pursue the case all the way to the top.

So Dynamite keeps popping up to attack John, and John seemingly keeps making narrow escapes. But it's really a plan y Dynamite to run John into some other killer's trap, so Dynamite can get a clear shot at that guy instead. At some point, Wick's going to figure that out and try to turn things around. Which might only succeed in pissing Black Dynamite off. Which is bad news for everyone else. . .

The Unlucky Lawman: Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg, Hot Fuzz) - I considered John McClane, but that man deserves a break. According to the commentary on the DVD, Sgt. Angel got himself a taste for the high-octane, fire two guns while jumping through the air and going "Ahhhhh". Now he can have all of it he can handle. Pity they used up most of the arsenal they confiscated from that farmer.

Angel is going to spend much of the time reacting. Gunfights erupting in his town, him trying to find the responsible parties. Which wouldn't seem like much of a problem in a small English village, I would imagine these other guys would stand out, but they are professionals. Besides, he can't just go around arresting whatever scowling guy impeccably dressed all in black he sees. That would be profiling. Also, the funeral director would object, and they're probably going to need him,a s the mortality rate skyrockets. And Nicholas has to worry about protecting the community, which means not letting civilians get killed. Which limits his ability to go into hot pursuit.

I'm not sure how willing John will be to kill a cop, which might give Angel the chance to arrest him. Which is going to be the thing that really puts Angel at a disadvantage. The others won't be in this to take prisoners, but he will be, at least at the start. Also, relatively speaking, Nicolas Angel's a newbie when it comes to this stuff. All the others are old pros. Still, Wick is human, and if you can catch him when he's tired, or distracted, he can be captured. So Angel has a shot, if he can pick his spot. Of course, then he has to hold him, both keeping Wick from escaping, and any of the others from getting in at him.

The Wild Card: Chev Chelios (Jason Statham, Crank) - I guess it really has to be after Crank 2, since he was basically out commission/nearly dead in between the two. So he has his heart back, he doesn't have to electrocute himself periodically to keep the crappy artificial heart running. That's good news. But there's always got to be some sort of complication. Probably needs a lot of expensive meds after all this trauma and surgery and whatnot. Probably ordinary hits don't pay those bills fast enough. You need people who want John Wick's eyes or some freaky nonsense, and are willing to pay through the nose.

So Chelios might not need Wick dead. If John is willing to surrender his eyes, he can live. Or maybe he needs to capture him alive, at least long enough to remove the parts he needs. In the likely event Wick refuses to cooperate, Chelios is going to be the guy who gets a little wild. The guy who smashes a Brinks truck through a wall while John is in the midst of fighting some other killer and tries to run them both over. Hey, as long as the eyes are fine, the rest is irrelevant. If Black Dynamite tries that stunt with the helicopter with the magnet on it, Chev will probably just jump out of the truck and try to use John or the other killer as a cushion.

I figure Chev Chelios is not the sort of person who becomes more careful once they're aware of their mortality. Having survived what he has, having seemingly been dead at least twice, only to pop back to life, he just might not worry about it that much.

I wanted to throw Colonel Mortimer (Lee van Cleef, For a Few Dollars More) into the mix, but it felt like arguing he'd survived 150 years after the end of that movie was stretching things a bit. Though it's perhaps rude of me to tell the man he can't live a century and a half. Of course, you could toss any hardened killer or tough cop in that you wanted - I mean, this thing is devoid of Chow Yun Fat or Clint Eastwood - these were just the ones who came to mind for me.

And all this taking place in the English countryside would at least be a change of pace for most of these guys. They mostly operate in cities, the fresh air will do them good. Enjoy diving behind all those stone fences, and find all kind of secret passages inside of castles of manor houses. Then shoot at people from them.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sketchtober Update

Made it through Day 10, which gets me through the Game Gear selections. Most of which went pretty well, although there is, as always, something that nags me about each one. An angle that's off, an appendage that isn't conveying what it needs to. The usual shit. Now it's on to the N64, where I have next to no idea what I'm going to do for most of these. Maybe I didn't think I'd make it this far.

The scanner showed up a week ahead of time, and I did say I would post some of the pieces. Day 1, Kirby's Adventure.

The Level 6 boss fight with Metal Knight. In retrospect, I regret two things. First, that I got too enamored of the game animation for Kirby's swing, which is that big crescent thing in the middle of the picture. A narrow arcing would have been better, and allowed for me to extend Metal Knight's sword to better convey the parry. Or, I could have been less hung up on the specifics of the fight and gone with my other idea, which was Kirby using the Mike power against him (basically, Kirby screeching into a microphone). That might have looked cooler. Maybe I'll try it later.

Days 2 and 3 didn't go as I hoped, so we're skipping to Day 4, Paperboy.

OK, that's not nearly enough obstacles for Thursday. It's more like Tuesday, Wednesday at worst. Scale is off, the Grim Reaper must be 20 feet tall compared to the guy with the jackhammer or the breakdancer. The Reaper not casting a shadow is intentional. I don't always remember to finish the shading, but it wasn't the case here. I thought it would emphasize its otherworldly nature. A looming shadow brought to life, not affected by the surrounding environment.

Day 5, Mega Man 4.

I don't know why the boss fight with Skull Man is the one I think of with this game. My success rate on even reaching him was maybe 60%. My winning percentage when I did get that far was considerably less than 60%. All because of that stupid skull force field he could produce. Guaranteed to turn any attack you launched into a harmlessly deflected bright orb. I made Mega Man's boots a little big, but I looked up stuff online and his upper legs are really small in comparison. I needed to finish shading on the legs. Well I need to do more shading on a lot of these. I really like how Skull Man turned out, but relative close-ups on face are one of the few things I can normally draw well.

I don't really have anything else to say, so until tomorrow.