Monday, November 24, 2014

What I Bought 11/15/2014 - Part 5

So I have seen commercials for a Grumpy Cat Christmas Special? Damn it, people. I blame all of you on the Internet, with your love of cat pictures, and your cat memes.

Ms. Marvel #8 and 9, by G. Willow Wilson (writer), Adrian Alphona (art), Ian Herring (color art), Joe Caramagna (lettering) - I like these McKelvie covers fine, but I'm curious what Alphona would come up with given the chance.

Medusa sent Lockjaw to keep an eye on Kamala, and Kamala somehow convinces her family to let her keep the huge dog with a tuning fork on his head, though he's supposed to stay outside. Yeah, that doesn't work with a teleporting dog. On the other hand, a teleporting dog is quite useful when you're trying to find a mad inventor based on the social media of a recently found teen, and it leads to a abandoned power plant. Abandoned, save for a giant robot, powered somehow by that guy Vick Kamala had to fight to rescue Bruno's brother. Oddly, Vick is not happy to be rescued, but Kamala gets him to a hospital and is only a little late for class. Then a giant robot attacks the school, because the last giant robot snuck  a tracking bug on her. And for some reason, Kamala can't change her appearance, which makes fighting a robot in her school with no costume kind of dicey.

But Lockjaw's a good doggie, so he creates a distraction, Kamala beats the robot, passes out, and is brought to New Attilan, and learns that she's not a mutant, she's Inhuman, which is maybe not a lot better for making her feel less isolated. Medusa would like Kamala to stay, but the Inventor is still out there, so after dealing with her parents, she's off to check out the first lair she found. She beats a third giant robot, but finds out all these kids are helping the Inventor by choice, not by coercion. Which is gonna present a problem for Kamala to sort out.

I did not realize that a dog would be considered impure, and not allowed inside a house in the Muslim faith. I no pork is a no-go as far as eating them, but not even having a dog in the house? Learn something new every day.

For a while there, She-Hulk was smashing at least one robot every issue. Then Soule and Pulido stopped that. So now Wilson and Alphona have picked up the ball and run with it. Three giant robots in two issues, not too shabby.

That panel of Kamala giving Lockjaw a big hug when she first meets him was adorable. It's the huge grin Alphona gives him, combined with the little sign around his neck proclaiming 'I like hugs' that really makes it work. And it's a nice snapshot of Kamala. All these other people see Lockjaw and run for their lives, Kamala sees him and gets really excited and happy. I like Wilson showing us how Kamala is trying to track down the Inventor, and the limitations she has. She might be able to find a likely location from a the missing girl's social information, but getting there was going to be a problem. Even with Lockjaw's help, she still runs afoul of her first period teacher.

Wilson's doing a good job of capturing that Peter Parker-style conflict between the civilian and costumed sides of Kamala's life, but updated and fit to a different character's circumstances. Kamala doesn't have to worry about helping to pay bills, or make web fluid, and she has both her parents. But she still feels like in outsider, in ways different from Peter. And having two healthy, protective parents, presents its own challenges. Plus now she knows Medusa's got an eye on her, and it's likely she wants Kamala to eventually move to New Attilan. And setting aside what her parents would say to that, there's the question of whether Kamala wants any part of it. I'll be interested to see if she weighs the pros and cons of it over the next few issues, since she really hasn't had time yet to let the implications sink in. I'm also curious to see when she tells her parents the truth, and how Wilson handles that. Objections from Kamala's mother are almost a certainty, but we'll see.

As much as I enjoy Alphona's artwork, and I do, he did draw Kamala going for the two-fist smash with the fingers interlocked. I've been told that's actually a good way to break your fingers, so it's really not a smart way to hit people. To be fair, practically every artist I can think of draws people using that, and at least Kamala has the excuse she's a rookie crimefighter, and doesn't have any experience fighting in general. The nifty ways she uses her powers in a fight are still very cool. Making her head swell for a headbutt, or when she sprang into the first giant robot, but rather than leaping, she pushed off the ground with one leg, and stretched it out, so she could put more force behind the tackle. It's a smart move.

I enjoy this book so much.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Invisible Man 2.12 - The Choice

Plot: Darien reaches the Official's office, but no one's there. It's then the Post-it on his hand that says, "archives" becomes clear in its meaning. The Official has tried to convene a meeting there because they've located another one Chrysalis' abducted kids camps, and he doesn't want Alex to know, since it's personal for her and all. This fails utterly as Alex crashes the meeting and threatens to slit the Fat Man's throat with a pen if he tries to keep her out of the loop. However, she apologizes when the Official says that talk isn't constructive, and he relents. Then they very easily swipe a bunch of babies from the camp with Alex posing as a Chrysalis person warning of an Agency raid. The Official even rounded up some fast helicopters to spook them.

Back at the Agency, Claire's runs the babies' something. It can't be DNA, because while she can verify one of the babies is Alex' son, genetically he is the offspring of Jarod Stark and his wife. Alex doesn't care, she carried the boy to term, James is hers, and she won't be returning him. Interestingly, the Official accepts this without argument and declares it to be the Agency's position on all the babies. They will be returned to the women who birthed them, and the Chrysalis DNA donors can go screw. Then Alex declares she's taking maternity leave, and while the Official doesn't object, he does tell Fawkes to keep an eye on her. A wise plan, as she has barely changed James' diaper back at her place before 4 guys barge in and try to abduct him, though I doubt they'd have thought to look for the baby in a panic box. This development convinces Alex to bring him back to the Agency, but she also figures that won't protect him. So she immediately goes to Chrysalis headquarters and tries to kill Stark, but he gets himself behind a Plexglas barrier, and tells her either he gets Brandon back, or the boy dies with her. Also, he specifically chose her as the mother to carry his boy based on her genetic potential, and describes her as an incubator.

Back at the Agency, the Official is irritated with Alex' solo act, but we can hardly get into a lecture before Hobbes' barges into Alex' office and hurls her water cooler out the window. he was warned it was rigged to blow by a woman in the lobby, one Eleanor Stark. Yep, James' other mommy has decided she doesn't want her son killed, and has decided to turn on Chrysalis, telling all about how they're a techno-worshiping group, funded by a consortium of countries that hate the U.S., and she has a bunch of files she stole the Agency could use to put the hurt on Chrysalis. Darien protects her from a two-man attack when she goes to retrieve the files, but the real tension is Alex watching how easily James responds to Eleanor, and how readily Eleanor understands what every little thing the baby does means. Which makes Alex feel out of place as a mom, and she decides James/Brandon will accompany Eleanor into witness security. Which they manage, seemingly without incident, other than Alex' tearful good-bye to her son. Which leaves two things. One, Alex is staying at the Agency, because she likes the unstructured way things work, and the missions are interesting. Two, Eleanor didn't turn on her husband, but only pretended to do so to get their child back. All the stuff she told the Agency about Chrysalis was a crock.

Quote of the Episode:  Alex - 'Brandon. His name is Brandon.'

The "oh crap" count: 0 (22 overall).

Who's getting quoted this week? Margaret Thatcher, who said it's the female of the species who defends when attacked. Also, he quoted Allianora's warning from Season 1, about how they had enemies they didn't know existed. Then Hobbes went and tried to correct him, which is pretty uncouth, Bobby.

Times Fawkes Goes Into Quicksilver Madness: 0 (5 overall).

Other: Apparently the Agency is no longer under Health and Human Services. Which might explain why the door to their building said something about the Department of Weights and Measures last week. Would that be Department of Agriculture?

Alex' story to James, with herself as a warrior princess out to reclaim her son, with the help of a poor kingdom. Run by a grumpy old king. But she called Darien an invisible knight, Claire was a powerful sorcerer, and even Hobbes got to be a brave dwarf. Poor Ebert was reduced to the king's hamster. But at least there was genuine fondness in her voice as she related the tale. Well, except for Eberts, he was an afterthought, the poor guy. But I did find the fact she described Darien as a knight intriguing, since I would have expected "a surprising rogue" to be a more apt description. Darien's not exactly honorable a lot of the time, too much scheming and wheedling. So the fact Alex calls him that, must say something about how she sees him. I guess as far as recovering James was concerned, Darien's been dedicated and brave, with all those trips he made into the first camp, and getting Stark to order the kids to stand down and all.

When Alex got to her place, and started calling out for Fawkes, I got really worried. I guess she was just anticipating that Darien tagged along, but I was sure she was picking up on something, a sound or an air current, and that it was really Arnaud. I'm glad I was wrong. That would be a real waste of the reveal Arnaud was working with Chrysalis.

In retrospect, it should have been obvious to me Eleanor wasn't genuine in her claim of wanting to defect. Why would the guys who attacked her not have thermal goggles? Stark would know she'd gone to the Agency, and he would know Darien would shadow her? He wouldn't send that beefy agent that always kicks Fawkes' ass? That should have been a total giveaway. But I was fooled by her apparent love for the baby that isn't really hers.

There were a lot of good quotes this week, funny ones, but that one I picked, in context, is just heartbreaking. The whole episode, she's insisted that he is James, after her father, and this is the moment where she's truly trying to let go, accept that she can't raise him. Her life is too dangerous, and she would still be learning to be a mom, while, in Alex' eyes at least, Eleanor already has it figured out. Which is junk, because one thing I've seen repeated endlessly in fiction and real-life accounts is that being a mother (or a father, for that matter) is a constant learning process. Eleanor has it figured out now, until the next new development in Brandon's life. Then she has to start learning again. But I don't think Alex can stand not being perfect at it right away. And she probably wasn't wrong that it would be seriously dangerous for James to be around her. I don't see her quitting her job and going into witness security, and Stark wasn't going to stop. So until she could kill him, it wasn't going to be safe.

I'm really hoping Stark ends up eating a bullet, preferably from Alex. I might want to see her shoot him - and Eleanor, for that matter - even more than I want to see Fawkes get Arnaud. I mean, at least I admire Arnaud's style, even while thinking he's a total weaselly heel. Stark's just an ass in a suit. A condescending ass in a suit. He called Alex an incubator to her face (though with bulletproof Plexiglas between them, so he's not an idiot). That's quite impressive dickery.

It was interesting to see Alex behave differently towards the rest of the team. She apologized for using the word freak around Darien. She apologized for threatening to slit throats. She felt bad about explaining to Hobbes he could go along on the infiltration into the camp because he couldn't pass for 30. Apparently none of these Chrysalis kids age past 30? And I like the "it was her, not me" motions Darien made behind her back when she said it. She was nice to everyone, and the Official was remarkably understanding. I mean, Alex kept basically doing whatever she wanted without clearing it with him, and he kept going with it. He didn't object when she went on maternity leave, just told Eberts to make a note approving maternity leave for her. Maybe it's everyone trying to be supportive, or maybe he was still worried about getting his throat slit. I did think it was nice how firmly he accepted Alex' declaration she wouldn't surrender James, and then decided it would the Agency's policy across the board.

I did find it disingenuous of Claire at the end to claim she liked Alex' cheekiness, when she was saying just a few episodes ago that Alex' character was as fake as her hair color. This show doesn't always do the best job of building its emotional connections in a sensible fashion. Sometimes Claire and Alex get along quite well (they seemed like a friendly enough pair in "Going Postal, albeit in an Odd Couple, bickering way), the next week Claire seems to despise her. But what the heck, Alex has been a little nicer the last couple of weeks - she was working to keep the CDC from killing everyone last week, and seemed to be getting along with Bobby - so maybe Claire was reassessing thing while she was puking.

I still don't quite understand what Alex's genetic profile meant if the child isn't genetically hers. Was Stark just assessing how likely she was to give birth to a healthy kid? He figures out she's a top-notch field agent and thinks to himself, "she's strong and healthy, our son ought to come out fine"?

Oh, we can't end this without a moment of silence for Ebert's hatchback, blown up when Hobbes threw that water cooler out the window. And of course, the greatest tragedy of all, Eberts' turtle Alonzo was in there. Though quite why Eberts would bring his turtle to work, then leave him in the car, I don't know. Regardless, a moment of silence.

. . .

OK, we're good.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Problem With Colonies Is All The Other People

I didn't catch all of The Colony when it aired a few days ago. I was flipping back and forth between it and Lakers/Rockets, but I got the gist of it.

The Earth is in a new Ice Age, and we're focused on this one outpost, Colony 7, holed up in some large complex, with Briggs (Laurence Fishburne) running the show. They lose contact with one of the other outpost, and so Fishburne heads out to investigate, along with two other people, including a young man named Sam (Kevin Zegers). Once they get there, they find everyone in the complex has been killed by a different group, a bunch of roving cannibals. Though for awhile, I think the movie tries to play ambiguous about whether they're still human or not. None of them really say anything, just scream, and chase, and kill, and eat.

As it turns out, the now devastated outpost had picked up some radio transmission from a different outpost, one where they had managed to use a radio dish, or microwave emitter or something to force a break in the clouds over their home. The permafrost had melted, and they could grow crops, of they had seeds. This colony had sent people to investigate, they hadn't found anything, and the cannibals found them and followed them back. When the lone survivor relates this story, I wasn't clear on whether "didn't find anything" meant they literally couldn't find the place, or they got there and everyone is dead. Considering Sam was able to make it back to Colony 7, and use their hookup to a satellite to find the location, my guess is the other colony's search team got there and found no survivors, because the cannibals found it first. Then followed the search team back home.

Despite Briggs' best efforts, the cannibals eventually find Colony 7, which is busy with its own internal strife. Briggs' had placed Sam's girlfriend, Kai, in charge, but in their absence, Briggs' old pal from their soldier days, Mason (Bill Paxton), has taken over and become dictatorial. He refuses to believe the cannibals are coming, refuses to believe there could be a place where the sun shines, and is generally showing no mercy to anyone who comes down with an illness. He spends a lot more time threatening Sam and Kai than he does effectively fighting the cannibals, who are pretty clever. I guess they have a lot of experience breaking into these outposts, because they do pretty well for having no guns, or really any weapons. They mostly just charge at people screaming and hit them and bite them. Anyway, fights, explosions, possible hope for the future.

Sam ends up in a fight with the Boss Cannibal, who Sam had winged with a shot in their first encounter, and it's one of those things where the good guy has to get really brutal to win, and you wonder if the film is trying to make some kind of point. Like in 28 Days Later, when Cillian Murphy's character starts killing all the soldiers, and by the time he gets to the last guy, the movie is really playing up that from an outsider's perspective, you couldn't tell the difference between him and one of the Infected. In Sam's case, he hits the lead guy in the head with a pipe at least 10 times. Then when the guy is somehow still not dead, or even unconscious, or even dazed, grabs some sort of large blade and basically cuts the guy's head off from above the lower jaw.

It's pretty brutal, but Sam isn't planning to eat the guy, and he didn't go looking for a fight, so there isn't really an equivalence to me. Maybe it was a point about lengths people go to survive. The boss does utter one word during the fight, when Sam asks what he's after: 'More'. So maybe it's a cathartic thing of watching a greedy asshole get his comeuppance, since it's a safe bet greedy assholes will persist through any cataclysm that doesn't exterminate all of humanity. Or maybe they just wanted a brutal fight scene.

The movie - the parts I saw, anyway - has some good bits. Ignoring the fact that these people look a lot cleaner than I would expect (their hair especially, seems too neat), the movie does seem to recognize the difficulties there'd be in cramming a bunch of people into an underground complex together. One of the reasons Mason starts just executing sick people is because he's gotten concerned that Briggs is being too slow to quarantine and test them for serious contagious diseases. Which would be a problem for a bunch of people living together in a perpetual winter, in a place that looks like it used to be an old foundry or factory or something. It's not the cleanest place, is what I'm saying.

The part where Briggs, Sam, and the other fellow first reach the other colony was appropriately spooky. It's a big place, there aren't many lights, so there's a ton of shadows. There's a pounding noise coming from somewhere, and some occasional howls or screams. It reminds me of some of the early levels of certain scary video games - Singularity came to mind, maybe because of the cold - where you know there's something out there, but you don't know what, or when you're going to find out. So you don't know if you're prepared for it. Of course, then you see what's lurking, and in a game at least, you can usually deal with it. Kill it, most likely, elude it if you can't. Eventually the game has to start throwing more and more of the same thing at you, or bigger and better versions, and maybe that works, and maybe it doesn't. For me, those sorts of games tend to get less scary overall as they progress.

In a movie, there isn't technically any such guarantee. Though yeah, you can probably figure at least one of the main characters is going to survive, and they'll win out ultimately. But maybe not, depends on how dark the filmmakers want to go. Even so, the thing didn't seem quite as scary once I saw who was actually responsible. That initial moment where Sam and Briggs find the cannibals and their makeshift butcher shop was pretty horrifying, but then Sam shoots one in the head, he falls down, and it's like, oh, they're not invincible killing machines. I shouldn't have switched back to the game during their escape from the outpost, though. I feel that could have been pretty well done, the two of them scrambling to find their way back out from these narrow, dark passageways, the sound of pursuit echoing crazily around them. No idea if that's how it played out, but it could have been.

The end battle was kind of lackluster. Felt paint-by-the-numbers, the beats coming in the progression you've seen plenty of times in these sorts of "last stand" scenarios in films. It might have been clever to have the cannibals never make it to Colony 7. Briggs managed to destroy the bridge, and while I'm sure the river below was more than solid enough to walk on, it looked like a pretty steep drop on either side. Have the cannibal bunch die trying to find a way around. They didn't seem terribly bright or resourceful when they weren't laying siege to a place, and it would play up how utterly indifferent the planet is to all the stupid crap people do to each other. There's no big final conflict between civilization and savagery because nature gives zero fucks about your denouement.

Or, that conflict will come when Sam makes it back and has to convince Mason they should travel to the place the sun shines. And then it's a struggle between the side that wants to take a chance they can move forward and rebuild, and the side that isn't willing to take the chance, that wants to huddle in the decaying corpse of the last civilization for as long as they can manage.

Friday, November 21, 2014

What I Bought 11/15/2014 - Part 4

I've kept forgetting to mention it, but Monday's post was my 3000th here. It's the 3001st overall, because Papafred posted that picture of Batman kicking that dude with the ice cream cone that one time.

Klarion #1, by Ann Nocenti (writer), Trevor McCarthy (artist), Guy Major (colorist), Pat Brousseau (letters) - The way that creepy guy's face is surrounded by the blue aura, he looks like the ugliest Metroid ever. Or a Pac-Man ghost.

Klarion has left his home of Limbotown. He wants to practice magic his way, to learn new things, to not feel restrained by people less talented. Also, he killed his teacher. He gets a ride from Beelzebub, which brings him tan extremely magical section of New York City. There's the Moody Museum, which seems like a home from magic-wielding orphans. And there's the Necropolitan Club, which wants to attract some of those magic-wielders as well. Klarion takes a job as an assistant chef at the Museum, but ends up going to a show at the club with a girl he meets at the museum named Zell. And by the end of the issue, he's fighting with the first person he met in NYC, a technomage named Rasp, who is probably already on board with what the Club is offering.

You can't say Nocenti and McCarthy didn't throw a lot at us, which is one of the things I've appreciated about Nocenti's DC work. Whatever other problems it might have, it isn't decompressed. Klarion's going to be an interesting character. One of the Museum's owners/staff notes that he's only concerned with whatever gets him where he wants to go. Which seems to be wherever he can learn and explore magic without feeling held back. Of course, there's no guarantee he'll read things right in that regard when presented with a choice, and I don't imagine every problem he'll face with involve that decision. Making friends with Zell and Rasp seemed more about being lonely than anything else, and his fight with Rasp started because he was concerned his new friend was out of control, and well, Rasp is out of control. I expect Klarion to make some bad choices, but I'm not sure what kind.

Beelzebub makes a comment I find interesting on Page 3. He tells Klarion all roads lead to the same place - yourself. But that where he (Beelzebub) is going, it's chaos. But he's driving a car there, thus he's on a road. So if Klarion is going with him, isn't he just going to find himself again, if that's where all roads lead? Unless that's the point. Klarion is chaos, and he doesn't realize it, because he's only looking at what he wants, and not the ripple effects of his actions.

One problem I've had with the books Nocenti's written for DC has been the artists not being up to the job. I don't think that's a problem I'll have with McCarthy. He does a lot of cool stuff with panel layouts, and borders. Pages 2 and 3 have these sort of eye-shaped panels that move in a counter-clockwise arc across the page as Klarion thinks back over his recent past, but they stop at the point he stops reminiscing, then resume after, when they move in for a close-up of his conversation with Beelzebub. The next two pages, the panels are this series of loops running diagonally across the page, with a yellow line and some dots separating the top half of the page from the bottom. That one doesn't work quite as well, because if you follow the loops it seems like you ought to read the top left panel first, then follow the road to the bottom left, then up and to the right, then down, and so on, rather than going straight across the top, then straight across the bottom. Still, it isn't that hard to follow, everything within the panels is clear and easy to read, and I appreciate the effort to do something cool.

Major's colors help. A lot of deep blacks that seem irregularly shaped, making the shadows seem ominous. They help Klarion's blue stand out, or the sickly green that's all over the Necropolitan Club. The eerie deep reddish-purple of the sky over the Moody Museum. The colors give the book the right sort of atmosphere, vaguely threatening and a little off-kilter. I still don't expect the book to last long, but I'm all in with it right now.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What I Bought 11/15/2014 - Part 3

I was getting gas a couple of days ago. While I'm at the pump, this old woman pulls up right behind me and just sits there. None of the other pumps were occupied, but she just sits there and waits until I'm finished. What the heck?

Hawkeye #20, by Matt Fraction and Annie Wu (storytellers), Matt Hollingsworth (color art), Chris Eliopoulos (lettering) - I still can't shake the feeling all these Aja covers with the hexagons are meant to fit together into some big collage. Perhaps I should cut up the covers to find out?

The plot jumps all over the place time wise, as Kate is relating recent events to a pair of people that turn out to be Maria Hill and Agent Coulson. Does SHIELD even have any other agents these days? Kate gets hauled in as a suspect in Harold's death, what with her arrow in his chest and all, but she has a good alibi. Also, Harold isn't dead. Masque has some deal where she provides the wealthy with essentially, LMDs to download their minds into, and Harold's got the same deal. In his case, it's so Masque can kill him when she wants, but still bring him back to torment further later. Anyway, Kate finds out the flower shop guy can give her an inn to Masque's headquarters through some creepy party, and she uses Clint's USB arrow to download a bunch of incriminating files, which unfortunately, also incriminate her father. Then she burns down Masque's house, gets beat up by her goon squad, saved by SHIELD, and then Hill takes the USB arrow for their own purposes. Which I'm pretty sure is theft, but hey, it's OK if BIG INTERNATIONAL ESPIONAGE AGENCY does it, right Marvel?

I really can't decide whether Marvel wants me to like Maria Hill or hate her. I still lean towards "hate", though. Once a lady who orders SHIELD agents to attack Captain America, always a lady who does that thing I wrote.

Anyway, Kate's out of jail, she got the nice gay couple she helped have their orchid for their marriage to front her two grand for a Trans Am, and she's on her way back to New York. Why not just get a damn plane ticket? Surely she could transport Pizza Dog by air. Or if she can find a Trans freaking Am for a couple grand, she ought to have been able to find something less gaudy for less money. Common sense isn't much of a Hawkeye trait, anyway.

As much as Kate irritates the hell out of me, with her (unmerited in my opinion) arrogance, with her stealing Clint's dog, and apparently his trick arrows, I did feel bad for her. She really was just trying to help people, and it went mostly horribly. She let some people down (the old ladies whose trailer was burned down), and Harold snookered her. Let's pause for a moment to admire that spell check does not recognize "Hawkeye", but it does recognize "snookered". Was all this meant to be some lesson for Kate, about not judging Clint so harshly for being mopey after he screwed up? She thought it was so obvious and easy, and now she's finding out how tricky things really are? Her dad's a crook, the victim she thought was working with her just used her, the other good ostensible good guys took all her hard work and put it towards their own purposes without a thought about helping with hers.

Or was it about not running from problems? She bailed on Clint, but not only did that leave him with only his morally questionable brother for backup, it meant she was on her own against Masque. Clint, for all his bullheadedness, has often extolled the virtues of teamwork (he did it a lot during his time with the Thunderbolts), and that you don't have to do things alone (even if he often tries to do things alone).

OK, I decided that we're supposed to hate Hill. If you recall, Clint sort of pissed off most of these crime bosses when he stole back that fake tape of him killing a prominent terrorist, along with a lot of their money (and a boat). That was also when Kate got on Masque's wrong side, so really, this is all Hill's fault for being incompetent enough to lose the damn tape in the first place. She really ought to be putting a little more effort into helping the Hawkeyes. Maria Hill's not the worst character created in the last 15 years (the Sentry, everyone!), but she's the worst in terms of being a lousy person, for certain.

So I guess this is it for Annie Wu on Hawkeye, unless Marvel asks her to draw the last two issues just so the damn book can actually finish before all the polar ice melts and drowns humanity. It's a good issue to end on, at any rate. I like that second page, the one with just the two panels of Kate getting her mugshot taken. Don't know why, exactly, there's so much blank space, but it forces me to regard Kate, see just how tore up she is, and the way she can only maintain the cheeky attitude for the first picture. In the second one, she just looks tired. I also like the panels where she's telling the story from whatever room she was in. The way she's nearly enveloped by the shadows, how dark the circles around her eyes are in the panel where we're standing behind Hill and Coulson as Hill holds the arrow (though we don't know that's who they are yet). It plays up the fatigue, the wear and tear, and how completely isolated she is, nothing around that gives a damn about her. Also, I don't know what this meant, but the panel of Masque and Harold looking out the window Kate escaped through. One of Masque's eyes in obscured by a shard of glass, and so it's just shadows, no pupil or anything visible. Don't know if that was supposed to mean anything - maybe the inhumanity of Masque, hiding in some fake body - or if Wu and Hollingsworth just though it looked cool. It's certainly does, at any rate.

I will say I prefer to think the real Masque is hidden somewhere, and these are just bio-duplicates she sends out to do her bidding. That was the direction Busiek and Perez went with her in that Avengers story, and while this Masque doesn't have to be that paranoid, it would make sense to keep her real self well away from exploding arrows and send excellent copies out in her stead. So now we wait for the finale. And wait. And wait.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

That Darn Cat! Er, Flerken

Before we continue with the reviews, I wanted to step back and explore something in some more depth, if possible. Carol Danvers' cat/Flerken, Chewie.

Based on what we learned over these last two issues, Chewie was the last known Flerken in the universe, prior to giving birth to a whole bunch of baby Flerkens. So why did Chewie end up with Carol Danvers?

The fact that Rocket was sure the Flerkens had a language that could be translated and understood, combined with certain of Chewie's actions, suggests Flerkens have some level of intelligence. Chewie understood Carol was leaving her behind, and that Tic didn't want to be left behind either, and was able to transport the two of them safely onto Carol's ship, even as it was starting to move. Which suggests a certain level of comprehension and memory. All of which makes me believe the Flerken sought Carol out. Because this is a superhero comic and there's no such thing as coincidence in an fictional universe where even the concept of Chaos has a personification known as "Master Chaos". How can chaos have a master?

As near I can tell, Chewie and Carol met during House of M, when Carol defeated someone named Warren Traveler by literally throwing a cat at him. Traveler showed up after House of M ended, in the Brian Reed-written Ms. Marvel, and attacked Carol again, but she eventually beat him with an assist from Dr. Strange. The cat actually showed up right before Traveler launched that second attack, and Carol apparently just decided to keep her.

So Carol first met Chewie during a fight with a powerful magician in an altered version of her timeline. I think we're meant to read it as Traveler took the cat with him wherever he vanished to at the end of that fight, and then brought it with him as a warning to Carol. Except why not kill the cat? He's a crazy bad guy. No really, he was kind of nuts because he had melted down the Wand of Watoomb and turned it into a false eye, which had a predictably bad effect on his sanity. If the cat cost him the win, and he's back for revenge, why spare the cat? Unless the cat is actually an intelligent alien species that was able to counter or avoid his attacks - by using dimensional portals to either dodge or divert the magic - until it could find a way back to Carol, presenting itself as a warning to her of the imminent threat.

This still raises the question of why Chewie would care. Why did Chewie, when thrown at Traveler, actually attack him, rather than just running? Why warn Carol? Why stay with Carol after? For that matter, why would there only be one Flerken left in the universe? Given the Flerken's dimensional pocket abilities, it hardly seems like the sort of thing people would drive to extinction. Rather, you would expect interested parties to raise Flerkens, like they raise horses. Breed them to access larger pockets, until they can transport entire starships, or to be able to traverse galaxies, or to not cover the things the store in pink slime. Unless that made them too dangerous. A creature that could transport a small, but powerful bomb anywhere in the universe would be a great equalizer for outgunned factions or planets. Maybe the dominant empires didn't want Flerkens around to shift the balance of power.

Or maybe the Flerkens perceived how they were going to be exploited and ran like hell. Maybe Chewie wasn't the last of the species, just the last one that stuck around in this universe. All the others high-tailed it to some safer universe where they would be looked at like a resource to exploit. Chewie might even have been doing the same, but got knocked off-kilter by Wanda's reality-altering. During House of M, perhaps Chewie was just an ordinary cat, because that world's rules were everyone gets their fondest desire, and maybe Chewie's was to not be hunted.

So Chewie becomes just an everyday cat, nothing special, but that means she can't access her abilities to get where all her friends went. Carol is sort of nice to her (though she also throws Chewie at a crazy sorcerer), and so when things snap back to normal, Chewie seeks Carol out again. Carol can shield Chewie from danger, and by hanging around someone who flies and shoots zappy bolts, Chewie won't stand out as much. Just a cat, on a world that's never heard of Flerkens. A world full of other crazy stuff, that most of the major interstellar species give a wide berth to, because it's so crazy and dangerous. Even if someone learned there was a Flerken on Earth, they might not want to go after it and risk fighting the Fantastic Four, or the X-Men or whoever. Maybe Chewie wasn't initially looking for Carol specifically, she was just the first person Chewie happened upon who seemed like a good person to hang out with.

Of course, that brings it back to a coincidence, at least as far as it being Carol and not say, Nightcrawler or She-Hulk, but it sort of makes sense that way. I can't figure why Chewie would seek Carol Danvers out specifically. What would an alien that can hop dimensions want with Carol? Is it something to do with those "white holes" she draws power from to become Binary? Those lead to another universe on the other end, maybe the one the Flerken fled to. Maybe Chewie can't make it across on her own any longer, and will ultimately need Carol's assistance (just as soon as they learn how to communicate complex concepts to each other). At the time Chewie found her, Carol hadn't been out in space for quite awhile, so I don't know that would be much of a factor. Unless the Flerkens are natural foes of the Brood. The Brood try to lay eggs in people, the Flerkens could just transport the eggs out in space, or store them somewhere until they aren't viable. Which would make Flerken unpopular with the Brood, and Carol hates the Brood, so. . .

* I tried using my old reviews to pin this down, but failed. Fortunately, a person on the Internet had cataloged basically every appearance Chewie had made prior to the current series. It's here, if you're curious.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What I Bought 11/15/2014 - Part 2

I saw David Brothers' post today that 4thletter's being mothballed, which was a bummer. Reading the explanation though, I can understand the reason. I can't fault someone for feeling they've got other things they need or want to spend their time on. I always wonder what's happened when people just stop posting. Are they OK? Did they just get tired? Are they sick, did they move? At least we know in this case. I've debated whether I should set up some post for this blog, just in case, set for a few weeks ahead, and just keep rescheduling it as needed. That would be more in the event of my untimely death - given the current wind chill, the mostly likely cause will be insufficient layers when I go running - rather than my getting tired of blogging.

Daredevil #8 and 9, by Chris Samnee and Mark Waid (storytellers), Matthew Wilson (colorist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - Grand Comics Database didn't have issue 9's cover up yet, or I'd have gone with the creepy kids walking Matt off a ledge made of their dad's face. You'll just have to be content with a picture of creepy kids staring at you. Look at them. LOOK AT THEM!

Looking at the credits, I was confused for a moment to not see Javier Rodriguez' name for color art. Then I remembered he's drawing that Hobgoblin mini-series, so he's busy. To Wilson's credit, I couldn't tell a difference in the color work. It's the usual excellent work we expect on this book. Was it Wilson or Caramagna who colored the text purple when someone is giving a command. I'm guessing Caramagna, couldn't be that hard for him to use a different color ink (font?), but I could be wrong. I like it, though, just as a visual shorthand for how there must be something noticeably different in the tone in those circumstances. A measure of command, or something just being wrong. It's also interesting to see when the kids seem to use it on each other, and raises the question of how much conscious command they actually have.

The Purple Man, mind-controlling creep, has fathered a bunch of kids over the years with women he made forget all about him after. Now he's rounding them up, expecting them to love him by choice, unlike all the people he's forced to love him over the years. Except the kids don't care about some dad they've never known, and they make him walk himself in front of a train. Which still isn't enough to kill him, because he put the mental whammy on himself that it wasn't.

Contrasted with all this, Matt and Kirsten are apparently back to being a couple. I wasn't sure up to this point - she could have simply decided partnering with Matt would be good for business, an assumption that appears to be wrong - but he's getting to meet her parents, as awkward as they turns out to be. Kirsten isn't a big fan of her stepmom, and her dad is trying to pitch Matt on selling his life story for a book deal. Worth 8 million dollars. Matt isn't certain whether to take the offer or not, and Foggy, out to breakfast with them in a fat suit, is worried reliving all his tragedy will wreck the attitude Matt's tried to cultivate. Matt dismisses this, but his run-in with Purple Man's kids has perhaps disabused him of that notion, since it left him curled up in the fetid stuff that runs through a diversion channel.

Well I'm certainly glad to be past Original Sin. Not that the previous two issues were bad, but they did feel awkwardly shoehorned in. I'm a little concerned about the use of the Purple Man, because he's one of those villains with powers that really lend themselves to creepy uses. But for as long as I can recall, he's been portrayed as using them in creepy and sexually assaulting ways, so I guess it's just part of his character at this point. I do like that Waid and Samnee have the kids seemingly eliminate Killgrave at the end of one issue, figuring our sympathies will lie the kids, heck we'll probably even cheer them on. Then we find out having five kids with the same powers, and no compunction about using them, because they're kids, really isn't any better. Killgrave didn't care about anyone's desires or wishes but his own, neither do the kids, but they aren't even bothering to stay off the radar, or consider the consequences of what they're doing, which means they'll probably cause even more widespread damage.

Samnee used the after image thing in one panel in issue 9, which is one of my favorite comic techniques, so that's always a plus. I also like the body language on the 5 kids in the panel at the bottom of that same page (page 16). The way the littlest has his hands folded across his body, the eldest boy with his fists clenched, the girl in-between with one hand in a coat pocket, and the other arm hanging loose at the side, which strikes me as more nonchalant. It's nice. Plus, since it's Matt's radar sense, we don't have any clue as to the kids' expressions, which makes them seem more alien and menacing. Five faceless figures advancing steadily towards him.