Monday, October 24, 2016

What I Bought 10/12/2016 - Part 3

I kind of hate holidays which dominate all the channels that show movies. Halloween and Christmas are the two biggest offenders. Judging by some of the tumblr sites I see this may qualify as heresy, but I don't want to see nothing but scary movies all October.

Ms. Marvel #11, by G. Willow Wilson (writer), Adrian Alphona and Takeshi Miyazawa (artists), Ian Herring (colorist), Joe Caramanga (letterer) - So we've progressed from defacing posters to smashing, um, emblems. Durn disrespectful teen heroes.

So Hijinx makes a fake threat to blow up a salvage yard to draw out Becky, who Kamala fights until Danvers shows up. At which point Kamala tries to make her case for predictive justice being stupid bullshit, except a) she mentions Rhodey, and b) she invites Tony Stark. Because when you're trying to have a reasonable conversation, bringing condescending cocky asshole Tony Stark along is a perfect idea. So everyone goes away angry, but Bruno is awake, so surely there will be good news. No, Bruno is thoroughly pissed and planning to go to Wakanda, which is where the only engineering college left open to him is. So everything is awful.

Not that I'm sorry to see Becky in jail, but I question arresting her for impersonating an officer. She was part of an officially sanctioned team, and Danvers had no problem with her imprisoning people up until the moment after she fired her, sorry court-martialed her. Which seems like it should be under an entirely different jurisdiction from the police.

Danvers is mad at Kamala, Bruno is mad at her. I can't wait to see who reads her the riot act next, he said sarcastically. I feel I should have more to say, and once we see the remainder of the fallout I will hopefully have some sort of reaction, but I can't avoid feeling tired of this tie-in. Because Civil War II is stupid as hell. Wasn't rooting for a big event to come along and trash all the things I liked about this book. I do enjoy the Canadian ninjas, and their attack method of throwing random crap at people. No wonder the Maple Leafs can't win a Stanley Cup. Something I didn't notice until now: When Kamala rushes to the hospital at the end of the issue, she's wearing one rubber boot, and one red sneaker. I feel I should make some joke about that one Tom Hanks movie, but I don't know the movie well enough. Something something, Jim Belushi going crazy over vanishing corpses.

Darkwing Duck #5, by Aaron Sparrow and James Silvani (storytellers), Paul Little (colorist), DC Hopkins (letterer) - I'm not going to question the cat holding an anvil on the basis of physical strength, but I do question it's ability to grip without thumbs.

Out of the case files, Darkwing tries to track down a missing cat from an experiment, the theft of which may be connected to many other mysterious thefts. As it turns out, the experiment made the cat, Fluffy, super-smart, and it's co-opted dozens of other cats into an army of thieves for it. Which Darkwing defeats by virtue of a passing street sweeper. Fluffy is the Hannibal Lecter-like criminal that was able to escape the prison with Mortimer's help in the first story arc, and the two are currently building themselves some sort of suit.

Reading this, I kept having a feeling of deja vu. Especially when Darkwing's attempt to disguise himself as a street vendor ended with some bulldog knocking his block off while calling him a, 'vicious and contemptible beast.' And again when he bursts into a hotel room to apprehend what he thinks are the foes behind the thefts, and finds a bunch of his arch-enemies all chipped in on pay-per-view for a beauty pageant. And then in the backmatter, it was explained this story originally appeared in the second issue of Disney Adventures magazine (though not presented as a flashback) in 1992. A magazine I happened to have (I think I got Disney Adventures for at least three or four years).

Can't quite tell if I feel ripped off or not. Isn't like the story was etched firmly into my memory prior to this. And Silvani had some fun with it, judging by the ridiculous face he gave Launchpad while he whispers, 'so cuuuute'. Or the glower DW gives him when he thinks Launchpad is messing with him. And there were a couple of gags in there that, if they weren't new, I'd completely forgotten, so that's a plus.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Foyle's War 2.3 - War Games

Plot: Sir Reginald runs Empire & European Foods, and is ecstatic at the news his son Simon brings from Switzerland, that the company will have all sorts of contracts to supply various fats on the continent, no matter who wins the war. Not everyone is so happy, including Sir Reginald's secretary Agnes, but she can barely make a mysterious phone call before she goes plummeting out the window. Before long, a barrister named Beck visits the cottage of a pair of siblings, Lucy and Harry. They're hard up for money, and Beck leverages that to get Harry to break into Sir Reginald's house. Harry makes it into the safe, but can only make off with a shiny silver box before he has to run, with a load of buckshot in his shoulder as a parting gift from Simon.

So now Harry's got all sorts of problems. Sir Reginald and Simon are looking for the thief. Foyle and Milner are looking for the thief, and Harry's the only ace safecracker in the area. He's hidden the box somewhere, which has got Beck trying to threaten him. And by pulling that job, Harry broke his word to a couple of old partners, Mike and Albert, and they want their cut (for something they had nothing to do with). So it's not terribly surprising when Harry, while taking part in a war game exercise as part of the local Home Guard, winds up dead, shot in the head at point blank range, but only on the third shot.

Foyle's got other problems. Not playing referee for the war game; that was easy. But the British Army unit playing the invaders is lead by a Captain Devlin, who was Foyle's sergeant before Milner. Devlin has some history with Harry Markham as well, and wasn't too happy to see him out of prison. And a squad of tow-headed troublemakers are stealing anything that isn't nailed down for salvage, leading Foyle to put them under Sam's command just to get them off his back.

Foyle is able to learn from Lucy that Mr. Beck came to visit Harry. Beck eventually spills the beans on what he's after, and it involves the forced rapid departure from Germany by Beck and his wife, who has since died. Sir Reginald's family was involved, and Beck wanted to bring them down before the mysterious Ms. Pierce insists he embark on a mission. Maybe some chocolate-crazy kids can lend a hand.

Quote of the Episode: Foyle - 'This is the second salvage collection I've missed. They've got me down as a fifth columnist.'

Does Foyle go fishing? No, his greatest recreation was watching the Home Guard get thoroughly humiliated.

What Sam can do: Justify her and the kids helping themselves to the snacks for the war games. Though, given how quickly the Home Guard got rolled, I'm not certain what they learned, keeping up the strength of salvage-seekers may be more vital.

Other: There's a whole subplot about Sir Reginald's unhappy marriage to his second wife. She's not privy to all this mess going on with her husband and his son, and when she tries to ask, he keeps telling her it doesn't concern her. She ultimately leaves, at least in part because there's no room for her in this house. Good timing, as it turns out.

So Foyle is pretty standoffish towards Devlin, and not in his typical way, where he isn't someone who easily gets jovial with people. It ultimately turns out that Harry was out of prison because Devlin tried planting evidence, and it was painfully obvious, so Foyle was forced to drop the burglary charge, and Harry was only guilty of breaking and entering or something like that. All this comes out with Foyle finally holding forth after Devlin continues to not admit what he did. Foyle has this great, "Really?!" expression at times like this, where he's weary and incredulous all at once. Just can't believe this guy who worked with him for however long is going to try and play dumb with him.

Gotta love Mike and Albert, expecting a cut of a heist they weren't involved in, claiming 'all for one' when they hung Harry out to dry on that last job that landed him in prison. Couple of real winners there.

Emily Blunt, who starred in that movie Sicario I think, plays Lucy Markham. Not a huge role, but as the one person Harry would sort of confide in, Lucy does prove key. And she gets to fend off Simon's creepy, piss-poor attempts to first bribe, then charm, finally intimidate her into helping him find what he wants.

This is the first appearance of Ellie Haddington as Ms. Pierce, but it won't be the last. She's involved in intelligence and espionage, and as a result of the dirty dealings frequently resorted to, she and Foyle will cross paths again. I like Pierce. For one thing, when she walks outdoors, she has this deliberate thing she does with an umbrella she uses like a cane. It's an affectation, but a stylish one, which counts for something. Beyond that, Pierce is kind of like Amanda Waller. She can play dirty, but she has some principles. They sometimes match Foyle's, and sometimes they don't. So they can be allies, or antagonists. Pierce will use Foyle for her purposes, and sometimes he can get her to help.

Recurring theme of people trying to hide their pasts. Devlin and Sir Reginald most prominently. Neither one exactly thinks they did anything wrong, but neither wants the hassle of explaining it to others. Harry isn't trying to hide it so much as half-heartedly run from it. Simon is going along with his father, but just barely, because he's a true believer, rather than an opportunist. Beck doesn't ignore his past, and doesn't want Sir Reginald to be able to either, but he tries hard to conceal it from everyone else.

Reginald has this quote where he tells Foyle about how business is bigger than war, and will go on after it. Foyle's response is an excellently delivered, 'Well, thank you for that fascinating insight.' Which is more polite than "fuck you," but translates to roughly the same thing.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Maybe I'll Get Back To Heroclix Soon

Normally in mid-September I do a post looking at what DC-themed sets of Heroclix came out in the last year, and whether any of the unclixed characters I'd like to get were made. Then I repeat it with Marvel a month later. I missed last month's post, but given it's been years since I played the game regularly with anyone, it hardly seemed a big loss. But, as mentioned earlier this week, maybe that could change in the near future. Possibly, but what the hell. Let's do a twofer.


DC hasn't had a set since February, but there was a Superman/Wonder Woman set last fall, with a lot of Fourth World characters as a subtheme, as well as a decent number of Wonder Woman villains. Then in February, in rapid succession there was a Worlds' Finest set, followed a couple of weeks later with Batman vs. Superman. The movie-themed one doesn't interest me, but Worlds' Finest at least had Doom patrol and Metal Men subthemes, among others. Got our first Ragman since 2006, and Negative Man got made for the first time ever (Doom Patrol fans have been screaming for him for years. They made Negative Woman back in 2007, in the Origins set, I think). So, at least some updated versions of characters I like, but what about the ones still awaiting their turn? Let's check my list:

1. Sand
2. Terra (Atlee)
3. Enemy Ace
4. The Unknown Soldier
5. Grace

Swing and a miss. Not really a surprise, although I thought maybe Grace, as a member of the Outsiders, would make it in Worlds' Finest. I feel like Atlee being positioned as a friend to both Power Girl and Starfire ought to get her a shot here eventually, but who knows. Given the Justice Society is largely on the outs at DC these days, not much reason to expect old Sandy the Golden Boy any time soon.


Let's start with the list, just to take care of that:

1. Silhouette
2. Stacy X
3. SHIELD Agent Derek Khanata
4. Umm, shoot, I really should have refreshed my list after Rage and Triathlon got crossed off last year.

Marvelwise, there was a Captain America: Civil War set, an Uncanny X-Men set, a Superior Foes of Spider-Man set, and some "storyline organized play" set arranged around the comic book Civil War. That last one produced Silhouette, so I can't complain too much. The X-Men set was more '80s focused, so no Stacy X. Plenty of Marauders and members of Freedom Force, if you were the person dying for Super Sabre and Stonewall. I know, I'm one to talk.

The Superior Foes set really filled out the Serpent Society, which wasn't something I was exactly pining for, but I can appreciate it. The ability to field an army of moderately priced, snake-themed villains is appealing. Plus they did their first new Boomerang since the very first Marvel set, which was like 15 years ago. They even made a Nightwatch heroclix. Nightwatch being the kind-of a Spwan rip-off they put into the Spider-Man books for a hot minute in the '90s. Definitely not something I was asking for, but credit for digging deep.

So, characters to add to the list. They made a Devil Dinosaur in the last year, they could make a Moon Girl to go with him. If Jennifer Walters' assistant Angie (and her partner Hei Hei's) power were better defined, I'd say throw them in. Oh, let's get a Madcap, or a Slapstick. or both. They could go ahead and make a new Stingray. I know I wasn't a fan of the Mercs for Money, but that was because Duggan failed to give me any reason to care, not because I necessarily think they're worthless characters.

Except Solo, but they already gave him a Heroclix, so too late to close that barn door.

Or Negasonic Teenage Warhead. They brought her back to the comics after the Deadpool movie, so I assume it's just a matter of time. Or the Ghost of Ben Franklin.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

No Margin for Error - Dwight R. Messimer

In the mid-1920s, General Billy Mitchell was pushing for the Navy's air arm to be folded into a single, independent air arm. The Navy didn't want this, and were desperate for some public relations coup to prove how great their air service was. They settled on a nonstop flight from California to Hawaii, and then the trouble starts.

The seaplanes they plan to use aren't certain to have sufficient range, but they add some new carburetors that are supposed to improve fuel efficiency, but the project is in such a rush they don't have time to actually test the modifications to see if that's true. Or, rather, they don't take the time. But they're all sure they'll have a 20-30 knot tailwind, so that'll make up the difference, right? As long as it materializes. They can barely get the three seaplanes in the air for test flights, and find all sorts of mechanical issues.

So the flight is a pretty serious failure, with one plane never getting in the air, one having to emergency land, and the third runs out of gas over 400 miles short of its goal. And because the radio operator on the nearest observation ship was an incompetent dope, the search party is looking in entirely the wrong place. So the second half of the story is the crew on PN9-1 trying to survive while they either figure some way to communicate with the ships or else steer their seaplane to the island of Kauai.

Messimer argues the total failure, combined with the crash of the airship Shenandoah on a flight across the country at the same time, actually helped save the Navy's air service. It brings things to a head, where President Coolidge appoints a board to decide whether all aviation should be under a single independent government heading or not. The conclusion is "not", which was for the best, but it seems curious for the Navy to benefit for such a cock-up that was brought on by placing a desire for headlines above common sense and proper preperation.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What I Bought 10/12/2016 - Part 2

Nothing like having a question about some movie we're watching and not wanting to ask because I know my dad will launch into some overly long, ten-minute dissertation on the thing.

Blue Beetle #1, Keith Giffen (story and script), Scott Kolins (story and artist), Romulo Fajardo Jr. (colorist), Josh Reed (letterer) - Seems like more of a Spider-Man pose there than one for a character that can fly.

Curious issue. Jaime relates a dream he had to Brenda of Dr. Fate fighting a giant beetle. Brenda is extremely acerbic and not helpful. Then Ted ropes Jaime into investigating a tip from a super-powered street gang, concerning a bunch of missing kids. One of whom Jaime runs into, and the kid now has shadow-melting powers. Jaime fights him off, but then the aforementioned super-powered street gang shows up.

For some reason, Giffen and Kolins are writing this so no one gives Jaime any sort of straight answer. Brenda is unhelpful, Ted's assistant and Ted both ignore any questions he ask, not to mention any objections he has. Overall, it makes Jaime look like a dope that's letting everyone herd him around. Like, refuse to keep going along with Ted until he produces some concrete answers.

The high point was probably Ted making a brief allusion to knowing Nightshade (as an example of someone with shadow powers) from his own time as a superhero. I had thought this Ted was a superhero wannabe, but it sounds like he was the Blue Beetle at some point. Which improves the chances of Booster showing up sometime soon, which ought to be good.

I like the designs for the Posse, especially the vibrating reddish guy, and the purple, Candlejack looking guy with the glowing weapon thing. We'll see if it translates once they get into action, but they make for interesting visuals, at least. I don't entirely like how he draws Blue Beetle, his lines make the suit look odd somehow, like the elements don't fit. I do like how the suit morphs, expands, gets more sharp as the situation grows more desperate. Plays into that dream, with a giant beetle monster fighting Dr. Fate.

The potential is there for me to enjoy this book, but toning down the antagonism between the characters that are supposed to be friends would be a help.

Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1, by Sarah Vaughn (writer), Lan Medina (illustrator), Jose Villarubia (color artist), Janice Chiang (letterer) - That's not really good attire to be roaming through a massive yard at night with a candelabra.

Glencourt Manor is the "dark mansion" in question. It has the ghost of a young woman named Adelia Ruskin in it, as well as something else, an oozing dark shadow. Berenice is living there with Nathan, who is trying to get some novel written. But Nathan's health isn't great, and Berenice sees ghosts, so this isn't the best place for either of them. And into all this flied Boston Brand, only to find himself on unfamliar ground. Berenice can see him, not that she wants to. The house has trapped him, where he can't escape, and sometimes can't pass through objects. There's also Berenice's friend, Sam, who Boston can't possess for some reason. And by the end of the issue, Boston and Adelia vanish together, leaving a confused Berenice alone.

So there are a lot of mysteries in here, which is fine with me. Gives me something to mull over, whether they're interconnected or not, coming up with strange theories. I don't know if the book is meant as a Gothic horror story, or Gothic romance, or both. Nathan seems like the soulful, deeply troubled pretty boy, and Berenice the kind, but shy and uncertain heroine. Except Berenice is shy at least in part because she tries to shut out the spirits she can see around her. Not sure how Sam or Boston fit in, but we're up against the limits of what I understand of the genre.

Most of the colors Villarubia uses are fairly muted, kind of mundane. Which makes the parts where he steps outside that all the more effective. The bright yellow when Boston meets resistance to his passing through something. The pitch black shadow. I think Adelia is drawn in by Lan Medina, then not colored in, similar to what Declan Shalvey did in Moon Knight. Makes her seem disconnected from the whole thing in a way none of the other characters are. Which is interesting, since you'd think she'd be distinctly connected to the place she's haunting.

Medina does a solid job with the figure work. There are a few places characters seem a little stiff, but overall, the expressions are good, and when Medina gets a chance to draw more of the house, and use it to create a sense of looming threat, he does it well. The panel of her helping Nathan down the hall of doors, with the hall curving out of sight at the end, that one worked really well. Not sure why, some sense of the hall extending on forever, and endless string of identical doors that Berenice could see if she only went around the bend a little further.

And I like how for the first half of the book, written from Berenice's perspective, we see Boston flying around the manor, testing the place, and she has no idea what's going on. We understand why Boston Brand would show up, but she doesn't know him, and the issue shows him a lot with Berenice watching him from a distance. Even though he might be close to us, it helps put the reader in the mindset of seeing it how she is. Bizarre, something she can't understand, and doesn't want to get close enough to that she could.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Clearing

I stumbled across The Clearing when there was nothing else on one night. Willem Dafoe kidnaps a wealthy businessman, played by Robert Redford, to hold him for ransom. The movie alternates between scenes of Dafoe marching Redford through the woods at gunpoint, and what Redford's family are up to.

Most of the family scenes involve Helen Mirren, who is playing Redford's wife. She has called in the FBI, but the decision on whether to follow their advice keeps mostly resting with her. Demand to hear from Redford or not, stall for time or not, while also trying to keep anyone in the family from losing it.

Redford's character has a reputation for remembering everyone's names and faces, which makes them feel special when they deal with him. And he tries being personable with Dafoe, but it's somewhat hindered because they had met previously, and Redford doesn't remember him. Even so, they chat a bit, compare lives, but when it doesn't get Redford anywhere, he finally loses patience and tears into Dafoe verbally. It's hard to blame him, but it does feel a bit like the man with everything criticizing someone for not being as determined as skilled as him (Redford even pulls out the, "Nobody ever helped me/I did everything myself" line, which I tend to always suspect as bullshit). But credit for not developing Stockholm Syndrome.

On the home front, Mirren takes the approach of trying to keep things pretty much business as usual. There aren't any hysterics, no outbursts, even when she figures out her husband had not broken off an affair he was having. She seems to have resolved to maintain composure, probably for herself as much as her children. She has to continue as if he will return. They even celebrate the grandchild's first birthday as planned. It's impressive, if a little sad, because I can't quite tell what kind of toll holding that in takes on her. Maybe it's the best way for her, to focus on how she feels about him, versus what she fears may have happened.

Monday, October 17, 2016

What I Bought 10/12/2016 - Part 1

I might, here in the next month, actually be able to resume weekly comic reviews. Maybe. It won't go back to the early days, when I'd cram like 5 shitty reviews into one post, but I would like to get back to it being a more regular feature again.

Deadpool #19 and 20, by Gerry Duggan (writer), Scott Koblish (artist, #19), Matteo Lolli (artist, #20), Guru eFX (colorist, #20), Nick Filardi (colorist, #19), Joe Sabino (letterer) - When I first saw that cover as a preview, the girl's blue-tinted hair made me think Wade was hanging out with a ghost. Old Ben Franklin sent someone to keep an eye on him or something. But no.

Issue 19 is a return to 2099. The first round between the Daughters of Deadpool ends inconclusively, Warda successfully escaping, but Ellie having rescued Wade and Preston. Warda still has one of her mother's WMDs, an Elder Beast sealed within one of those glass coffins, and demands her mother or else she'll unleash it on an unsuspecting populace. Wade gives Ellie the location her buried Shiklah, and goes looking for back-up, in the form of what I'm assuming is an extremely old-ass Danny Rand. I guess it could be his successor, there's enough time between now and 2099 for that person to be a wizened geezer too.

So a set-up issue. Lots of talking around things we haven't seen yet, which gets frustrating. The scene where Ellie is reunited with Preston and Wade was sweet, even if she still won't call him "dad". I feel like Koblish's design for Wade's outfit, the coat with the really high collar, is a lot like the one Flint Henry used in the Jim Twilley issues of GrimJack, which involved catching up with the character after a jump of a couple of centuries. Could be a coincidence, though. I like how Koblish is doing page layouts. He uses a lot of small panels swinding their way between two or three larger ones. Allows for a lot of close-up panels for reaction shots, but also establishing setting or allowing for action shots. I feel like the smaller panels are supposed to give a sense of rapid-fire pace, before hitting the larger ones and pausing for a moment to take it in, but honestly, I always feel like I'm bullshitting when I talk about how page layouts effect pacing. I see a lot of people mention it in reviews, but I've never noticed it much myself. It's like a series of notes at a frequency I can't hear. But it's probably there. Plus, all the small panels made turning to that full-page spread reunion shot more effective for how much space it gets.

Issue 20 returns to the present, with Wade wanting to mope on the ruins of his home, only to find a young woman named Danielle preparing to end her life. Which puts Wade in the position of trying to keep her from doing that. So he opts to bring her along with him as he does some pro bono charity work. Meaning he beats the shit out of crappy people he'd received letters about doing crappy stuff. Geez Wade, Captain America had an entire hotline back in the '80s, and you're still relying on snail mail?

This does temporarily raise her mood, eventually, and then Wade brings her to the hospital to try and receive help. Because Wade is at least aware enough to recognize he isn't a trained medical professional. Wade has several lines here that are probably not things he should say, which makes them kind of hilarious? Telling Danielle she should probably go a few blocks down to Parker Industries if she wants to fling herself to death, or that he was bitten by a sad, radioactive clown. Telling her not to be presumptuous because he doesn't care yet, or that she's terrible at knowing what people are going to say next. Booing her for doing a poor job kicking a guy who steals from his elderly neighbors. And the fact that anytime he's going to bust through a door, he knocks first and yells, "Sexy maids!"

Hey, that would get me to come to the door to see what's happening.

Matteo Lolli takes over art chores for this arc. His strongest point is probably the expressions he gives Wade. The exaggerated frown as he relates his sad clown, or the big toothy grin as he admits people say he makes them uncomfortable. That grin would definitely make me uncomfortable. Lolli doesn't get to draw much fighting, but he does well with what he does. Though I wanted to see those hackers actually get a chance to attack Wade with a keyboard, just to see how that worked out for them. I mean, I know it would have ended horribly, but the specifics would have been fun. Although I think when Wade breaks the arm of a guy with a gun, he breaks the left one, but in the panel before, the guy was holding the gun in his right. Little thing, but noticeable.