Wednesday, April 24, 2019

'Tis The Season For Random Mini-Series

So what's coming out in July? 

Jonathan Hickman's writing at Marvel again, this time with a couple of X-Men mini-series, which will probably lead into him writing an ongoing series for the X-Men, just as soon as Marvel cancels Uncanny X-Men again, which they only restarted late last year.

Mark Waid's writing an Invisible Woman mini-series, which tells us she was involved in an espionage mission before she went into space and got bombarded with cosmic rays. Sure, whatever. There's a Death's Head mini-series, by Trini Howard and Kei Zama. I don't know anything about either of their work, so I can't say whether it'll be any good or not, but if you're a fan of Death's Head, something to keep an eye out for.

There are also several random one-shots. Blade fighting Wolverine (in his black and grey X-Force costume, based on the cover). The Punisher fighting the Brood Queen in outer space (with Jonah Jameson along for the ride?!) Ms. Marvel's getting an Annual (not by her current creative team or the previous one) where she fights Super-Skrull, who is Skrull Emperor now. When did that happen?

Squirrel Girl is still trying to finish its War of Realms tie-in, even though War of Realms will be over by then. Barring delays. So it probably won't be over by then.

DC, the only thing I noted that wasn't me being sarcastic was that Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber and doing a 12-issue Jimmy Olsen mini-series. Oh, and they're releasing the second volume of Orion by Walt Simonson. I don't really care about the Fourth World stuff, outside of preferring to have Scott Free and Barda running around being a cute crime-fighting married couple, but I know a lot of folks swear by Simonson's Orion.

I didn't see anything from Dark Horse or Image that interested me. IDW may have the last (or at least the 4th) issue of something called Ghost Tree. The first issue is supposed to be out this week, and the description sounded interesting enough I may buy it. Whether I'll still be buying it in July is another matter.  In other news involving books that are already out that I'm just becoming aware of, the 4th issue of Bronze Age Boogie, which is about combining a bunch of different popular '70s genres into one story will be out, by Stuart Moore and Tyrone Finch. If barbarians and martial artists against Martians sounds fun, there you go.

The fifth story of Infinity 8 starts in July, as a zombie outbreak on the ship spreads to the mass space graveyard, rather than the other way around. Smooth Criminals was absent from the Boom! solicits again, but Giant Days is there, so that's the important thing.

I'm going to be so depressed when that book ends.

Michael Jan Friedman and Caio Cacau have a graphic novel called Empty Space coming out, about a guy who wakes up on a starship that seems like the one he knows, but not quite. So there's a mystery afoot. Calbier Entertainment has a collection of Live Die Reload, but Andrea Armenta and Stefano Cardoselli. I don't really know how to summarize the description, other than it seems like a bit of a noir book, but with some mysticism or supernatural elements.

At least I found a few promising items for mid-summer.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Casa de mi Padre

I remember the reviews for this not being encouraging, but it's barely 80 minutes long, so if it was bad, at least it's short.

Will Ferrell tries to do a spoof of a Spanish or Mexican drama. He plays the son of a rancher. His brother is involved in a drug war with a rival, and Armando doesn't know what to do. The rival has the Mexican police in his pocket, and the DEA just wants the gangs to kill each other. Hey, why should Americans have all the fun killing each other?

The movie does a lot of gags playing up the idea of having a limited budget. Really obvious stuffed animals or mannequins used in place of live ones. Obvious continuity errors from one moment to the next. A moment where the movie pauses to explain that they can't show the scene they were about to because it was illegal and ill-advised in a lot of ways.

Oh, I wasn't supposed to tell you that. Well, they said don't tell my friends, but you guys are my readers. Totally different, right?

I didn't laugh very much. Maybe I don't know enough about what it's spoofing to get some of the jokes, but I think for it to work it still needs to hold together as a story, on a basic level. Airplane and Black Dynamite spoof genres too, but they put a lot more effort into it than this does. Plus, this leans really heavily on Will Ferrell playing his usual clueless manchild. There isn't really a second funny co-star or supporting actor to help carry the load. So if Ferrell's stuff isn't landing, the movie has nothing else to fall back on.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Why Take A Step Down On The Ladder

Why did Wilson Fisk become Mayor of New York? I know he had a groundswell of popular support because he did. . . something when the city was stuck in the Darkforce Dimension during Secret Empire.

That's the "how". I'm not clear what he gains from it. He already had political power, via bribes, threats, extortion, whatever. They guy has had politicians and even generals in his pocket. For the most part, he can get what he wants in those avenues, without exposing himself to the public.

That's what confuses me. Fisk becoming mayor puts him out there on the public stage all the time. When he was just a successful "import-export businessman", he could pick and choose his spots. A charity fundraiser. Some gala for the upper crust of New York society. Places where could spin that philanthropic image of himself, before receding into the shadows where he resumes having people murdered for one reason of another. Even in today's world, there are a lot of successful businessmen who could walk around unrecognized by the general public. Perhaps a bit trickier in Fisk's case, being an enormous fellow who favors canes with giant diamonds on the end, but he also lives in a city with a big orange rock monster. The bar for being notable is a little higher there.

As a politician, he's theoretically beholden to the populace he allegedly serves. In practice, Fisk is beholden to no one but himself, but since there supposedly rules he has to follow to get things done now, he has to be aware of public opinion. More people are going to recognize Mayor Fisk. More people are going to accost him in public to complain about how he isn't doing more to keep rents from being increased unfairly, how lousy the garbage collectors are, or the general disaster that is the subway system (I'm assuming Marvel NYC's subway isn't any better than ours is, based on what I read online).

Fisk can't simply take them into a nearby alley and break their necks. He can have someone do it later, I guess, but even that might be a little dicey, and if he has every New Yorker that yells at him killed, he'll be mayor of a ghost town before long. He's in a position where he has to make public appearances whether he wants to or not, and with the cameras on him, can be put in awkward positions he doesn't want to deal with. Fisk didn't care about those Under Yorkers planning to abduct a mother and her kids, he would have been fine with letting it happen and maintaining the status quo. But he had to make an appearance, and that left him open to manipulation by Spider-Man.

I understood Jonah Jameson becoming mayor, because it was an ego trip for him. Like Doom, Jameson really thinks he's hot stuff and was going to show everybody. I'm not going to argue Fisk doesn't have an ego, he calls himself The Kingpin, but I always figured what the larger populace thought of him was irrelevant. He didn't need their respect or adoration because to him, they don't matter. They're insignificant. That he can order a general to send an attack helicopter and a pill-popping super-soldier to burn Hell's Kitchen to the ground, and it happens, that matters. That other so-called made men and mobsters come at his beck and call, that mattered. But the kind of people who would discuss whether he was a good mayor or not, who cares about them?

All I can figure is, he wants to burnish his legacy. A bit like Odin in Thor: Ragnarok. They both did a lot of ugly crap in the (not-so) distant past, and now they want to rewrite the record. Portray themselves as some benevolent, kindly leaders

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sunday Splash Page #62

"Never Go Home," in Annihilators #3, by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (writers), Timothy Green II (artist), Nathan Fairbairn (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer)

After the conclusion of Thanos Imperative, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning weren't quite done with Cosmic Marvel yet, and so there were two Annihilators mini-series. The main story (with artist Tan Eng Huat) revolved around Cosmo carrying out Star-Lord's at the time dying wish to form a team with the power to truly guard the galaxy. That was OK, although Huat's art is not suited at all for big cosmic action, but the real show for me was the back-up stories, which revolved around Rocket Raccoon and Groot.

The first story found Rocket living as an office mail delivery boy, having given up on heroing out of guilt over losing his friend Peter Quill. An attack by a homicidal clown made of living wood prompts him to seek out Groot, and the two eventually end up back on Rocket's home of Halfworld, which he's mostly forgotten.

There's a real manic energy to this story as it shifts from Rocket's day job, to Planet X, to Halfworld. The threats keep shifting, from the clowns, to the true rulers of Planet X, back to the clowns, to the staff of Halfworld, and ultimately one of the patients/inmates.

Green's artwork is much looser here than it was on the Annihilation: Conquest - Star-Lord mini-series, but tighter and more consistent than it would be on Avengers Undercover. Maybe he's one of those artists that does better when he doesn't draw humans. It's all aliens, talking animals, and assorted other weird shit in this story. The clowns look extremely sinister, you could question if they're too sinister for their alleged purpose of keeping the more violent patients calm, but the clowns weren't exactly cheerful-looking in the Mignola/Mantlo mini-series back in the '80s.

There weren't any splash pages in the story in Annihilators: Earthfall, since the back-up was reduced to 5 pages per issues. It was an OK story about Rocket and Groot being trapped by Mojo and put through a series of constantly shifting perilous situations for his financial benefit.

Friday, April 19, 2019

What I Bought 4/13/2019 - Part 2

It's the end of another week. I got a wedding to attend tomorrow. Hopefully the weather will be nice. Anyway, here's the other book I picked up last weekend, a mini-series moving towards some sort of conclusion.

Atomic Robo: Dawn of a New Era #4, by Brian Clevinger (writer), Scott Wegener (artist), Shannon Murphy (colorist), Jeff Powell (letterer) - I hope Jenkins is remembering to let them take regular breaks for hydration.

Things are not going so well at Tesladyne. Jenkins is nearly hospitalizing the new students in an attempt to prepare them for a war against the Vampire Dimension. Robo thinks he's going too far, and did these kids even sign up for a vampire war? That friction is nothing compared to what happens when Lang goes to borrow a book for her and Vik's vacation (take 2), only to learn Robo has been raising ALAN in secret. Which leads to a meeting with lots of yelling, and Lang essentially turning it into an "organics vs. synthetics" argument. Even Jenkins had the decency to look embarrassed by that one.

Also, Bernard has achieved something deep in the earth, and is going to collect the heartstones of the great beasts which existed before the earth was in its present state. He knows how to "phasewalk" and "psirend" now.

Did I step into a mid-Nineties Image comic?
I laughed at the two panels where Lang discovers ALAN, and is yelling at Robo while ALAN stands behind Robo with a big digital smile and waving hello. The purple coloring on Lang, like she's so shocked she's beyond screaming until blue in the face and gone straight to purple. And you don't see that kind of lettering effect often in Atomic Robo, so it's very effective.

ALAN's such a good boy. Which makes the fact there was no expression visible as he watched the argument about his existence potentially worrying. Even when Foley is arguing that they should go along with Robo's plan, she's doing so from the point of view that it improves humanity's chances. Which is understandable, but you'd hope someone other than Robo would make the, "He's a living being and deserves a chance," argument. I know, easy to say from out here, where a personality that evolved from the same algorithm network as this ALAN didn't plan to wipe out all life on earth in the process of building an interstellar spacecraft for itself.

This does not feel like a mini-series that will have any sort of conclusion, unless it's Bernard's plotline. The whole thing with ALAN feels like it needs to play out over a long time. Unless he decides he can't stay and goes on the run (which Jenkins will no doubt insist proves that ALAN's up to no good, as opposed to being afraid for his continued existence).

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Rover

Eric (Guy Pearce) pursues three robbers across Australia because they stole his car. As they left behind their car and he grabbed it, the question is what's so important about the car. Along the way, he encounters Rey (Robert Pattinson), who was the fourth member of the gang, left behind when he was wounded and presumed dead. He wants to reunite with his brother, Eric wants to kill said brother. What a mismatched pair!

This is set 10 years after "The Collapse", which is some sort of economic disaster. It's not a full-on apocalypse. There are still people running businesses here and there (although they insist on U.S. dollars), but a lot of people have left. Looking for jobs, or something else. Mines have closed, towns are almost fully deserted. There are soldiers rolling around in Humvees, doing something, but it could hardly be considered maintaining law and order. They're more concerned with doing anything that proves they should still draw a paycheck. At one point we see a train hauling freight, with men in body armor and machine guns riding on it. But they're also wearing jorts and t-shirts rather than combat fatigues. Playing soldier-for-hire, I guess. I wondered if they even knew what they were guarding, or who the heck they were guarding it from in the Outback. Emus?

There's a lot of people talking past each other deliberately, mostly Eric. He will demand his car, or to know if it passed by, or why it's going the direction it is, and the other person will ask him something else. Which he will ignore in favor of repeating his question. Sometimes this goes nowhere, like with the middle-aged lady knitting, other times, he gets at least some information. Everyone has their own interests, and nobody really cares what anyone else is interested in. Certainly Eric gives no shits about anyone else, a fact he does his best to make clear by growling threats and various depressing statements to everyone. Pearce feels like he's trying too hard in those scenes, to the point the lines come out as almost laughable. I wait for someone to make a wanking motion and respond, "OK Captain Bringdown."

I'd suspect that was deliberate, that he's trying to convince himself he believes all this, but given his actions through the film, the casual cruelty and violence he inflicts on even people who helped him, Eric really thinks he's on to something. It's also possible he's just trying to get himself killed, for lack of more appealing options.

Rey is so stupid at times that when he manages to do something competent I have a hard time believing it. He's probably most a dumb young man trying to be the tough guy everyone says he has to be, and mostly failing miserably. He's not cut out for that sort of thing.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

What I Bought 4/13/2019 - Part 1

The comics, they just keep coming. Which is good, gives us something to chat about. Otherwise, we might have to discuss the current state of our respective lives and nobody wants that, right? Right. Here's two Marvel comics from last week.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #5, Tom Taylor (writer), Yildiray Cinar (artist), Nolan Woodward (color artist), Travis Lanham (letterer) - This week, Spider-Man tries to pay the rent by taking Pym Particles and selling himself as a drive-in movie screen.

Aunt May is going in for chemo. Peter handles this by going out to swing around the city and not think about it. He finds a young kid stealing a car to escape his mom's abusive boyfriend, and then helps the kid escape the police (after losing control and breaking the kid's wrist). Takes kid to Dr. Strange for some medical help, gets the picture that Strange will not be helping with May's issue, and makes sure to be waiting for her at the hospital.

I actually really liked this issue. The Aunt May health crisis thing is old hat, but hell, she's been through a lot of shit, she should have all kinds of health issues by now. Her blood pressure is probably ridiculous. And the previous arc made a big deal about the underground city, but I didn't feel like it did much with it to justify it. It felt like it threw in a lot of elements that weren't really necessary. This issue is a little more focused, bad news, Peter trying to work through it by ultimately helping someone else. The story feels like it has only as many elements as it needs.
New artist, Yildiray Cinar. His style is closer to a more conventional superhero look. Peter's face is a little more square-jawed than with Juann Cabal, who drew him with a rounder face. More muscular build also, closer to a John Romita Sr. body type, where as Cabal was somewhere between Ditko's stringbean and Bagley's skinny but cut style. Woodward also toned down the brightness on his colors compared to the first four issues. There weren't any giant lava oceans in this issue, or even any parts where the spider-sense went off to see if Woodward was going to keep using that intense blue, but even Strange's ghost dog was a more muted shade of green. I'm curious whether that was a one-time thing, given the somber tone of the issue, or if that's something that will continue as long as Cinar is artist on the book.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #43, by Ryan North (writer), Derek Charm (artist), Rico Renzi (color artist), Travis Lanham (letterer) - Thor carrying two hammers still looks silly to me. I guess he is the God of Hammers.

Doreen's visit to the Negative Zone is interrupted by someone teleporting her back to Earth and Loki. Loki tells her the War of the Realms is on and Earth is going to fall. I assume the rest of the universe will be fine. Until Thanos pops up again, but whatever. If Doreen goes to Canada and destroys the Frost Giants' secret base, then maybe the counterattack can begin. Doreen goes to Canada, has some trouble with some Frost Giants, but after some help from special surprise vegetation and a chat with the parents, evil Norse squirrel Ratatoskr shows up with a bone to pick.

Loki insists the heroes don't realize they've already lost. I would argue that, as a former (current?) villain who has often thought he had triumphed, Loki is not the best judge of when the heroes have actually been defeated. How many times has Loki cackled, "Mine accursed brother will ne'er escape this trap!" only for Thor to, you know, escape the trap and cave Loki's head in? A lot, that's how many times.
The winter weather alternate costume is pretty cool, although that looks like a holster on the hip and I can't see Squirrel Girl carrying a firearm. Unless it's some sort of grappling line gun. Could come in handy for dealing with Frost Giants, if you want to do the old snowspeeders on Planet Hoth maneuver. Otherwise I'd expect a lot of belt pouches, full of acorns for squirrel friends, and maybe a handkerchief, or some lip balm. Practical, everyday stuff, spare cellphone or whatever.