Monday, September 18, 2017

What I Bought 9/13/2017 - Part 2

Decided to group the two books from last week that were wrapping up storylines, so here they are.

Ms. Marvel #22, by G. Willow Wilson (writer), Marco Failla (artist), Ian Herring (color artist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - Oh that's adorable Marvel's putting ads for their Inhumans TV show that is apparently complete garbage. When will they learn?

Josh lets Kamala escape and may be realizing he's actually a bad guy. Congratulations Josh, you're only about three times slower on the uptake than Deadpool, a man whose brain has had to literally regrow holes punched in it by bullets, multiple times. While Tyesha and Nakia confront Lockdown's goons with the combined force of a court order and the cops, Lockjaw reappears (about damn time) and helps Kamala refuel for the big fight, which ends with Lockdown in cuffs and Josh. . . I'm not sure. Lockdown says he snuck away to avoid arrest, but in the last panel he's standing in the middle of the street, watching Kamala and Lockjaw walk away. Presumably someone will notice and arrest him? Hopefully? Pretty please.

That wasn't a bad ending. I doubt this is the end of HYDRA's efforts in Jersey City. They'll try again; Lockdown's too stupid to quit, and the people who blame Ms. Marvel for the stuff happening in town aren't going to get any less convinced of that. We'll see how that goes. Hopefully Lockjaw is going to stick around. He's wasted on all those Inhumans titles no one reads.

I'm not so sure about Josh's sorta face turn once he learns Kamala is Ms. Marvel. Like he goes from mocking her when he's hurting her to talking about how he's not gonna shoot the hero who never kills in the back? But once I thought about it, it's just the, 'I didn't care until it affected ME' attitude. I encounter it all the time, so I shouldn't be surprised.

Herring continues to use yellow to represent resistance, or things turning in favor of the heroes. There's almost no yellow in the first several pages, right up to the point Tyesha point outs the cops are on her side, not K.I.N.D.'s. But after that, it starts to pop up more and more. The Mayor comes rushing from her office, hustling to get down there, and she's emerging from a room colored bright yellow. When Lockjaw appears, he's backlit by yellow. Most of the moments of Lockdown and her schmoes get punched are set against solid yellow backgrounds. It's a nice visual cue that Herring uses. At the end, it's more of an orange, which is a little gentler, the fight is over for the moment.

The Unbelievable Gwenpool #20, by Christopher Hastings (writer), Guruhiru (artists), Clayton Cowles (letterer) - C'mon denizens of the Marvel Universe, a girl with a gun and a sword leaping from a void in the sky is hardly cause for alarm. At least it isn't the Hulk, or Iron Man on a bender.

Evil Future Gwen tries to teach Gwen how to use her powers, while realizing her own past is being retconned by the interference of the other time travelers. The time travelers gradually realize trying to kill Present Gwen is only making her more aligned with Future Gwen but then they get killed, by Future Gwen, as a point she's trying to make. That Gwen is no longer a tourist, she is a character in the Marvel Universe, and she's subject to some of its laws. One of which Future Gwen has interpreted as trying to push Gwen to be evil. So she went with it. Present Gwen decides that is Not Cool, and resolves to not break bad. Which will probably get her killed in the background of a throwaway panel in a Big Event in a year or two, but kudos, anyway.

Well, this explains those solicitations for the next few issues a little better. And it was an interesting story. It addressed the fact Gwen has been gleefully committing a lot of murders since she got here, and hopefully she'll cut back on that going ahead. Which ought to be enough to go hero. Wolverine didn't even cut down on the number of people he killed, and he got to be an Avenger (still one of only two characters I will not accept as an Avenger, and they were both put on there by Bendis). Hastings brought her brother into the picture, as someone for Gwen to try and seek out and it'll be interesting to see what steps he takes going forward. There's the question of whether Gwen could even get back to her universe if she wanted to at this point. The question of if, assuming there is an editorial force that shoves her in the direction of villainy, she can actually resist that? Or at least get it retconned away later as mind control so she can go back to being good?

I love the visual representation of editorial diktat. "Gwenpool Can't Kill Spider-Man," indeed. A cyclone is about right for Marvel Editorial. Some shit gets destroyed, some escapes unscathed. How is it determined which is which? Who the fuck knows. Also, Evil Gwen diving outside the panels to reappear at the bottom of the cliff to save Present Gwen. Guruhiru just did an excellent job with showing Gwen using this power to hop outside the pages. It was very enjoyable and it makes for a memorable visual. Hopefully future artists can do as well with it.

Kind of a strange arc, but not a bad one.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

God, The Devil, and Bob 1.3 - Date From Hell

Plot: While God tries to lift the spirits of the community with various cheesy acts like double rainbows and unseasonably pleasant weather, the Devil stews over Bob's lack of fear and respect for him. The final straw comes when Bob dismisses him as annoying and kicks him out of the car. The Devil's revenge comes in the form of Jordon, a 13 year old boy at Megan's school she's interested in. As it turns out, Jordon is the Devil in disguise, something only Bob is aware of. Which makes all his attempts to keep Megan from dating him come off as either a) crazy, or b) typical Dad not being able to accept his little girl growing up stuff. As it is, Bob is no match for Megan by herself, let alone with Donna running interference.

Ultimately, the Devil abandons his hopes of getting Megan to surrender her soul to Evil in the face of the reality that 13 year old girls are too depressing for even the Prince of Darkness to deal with. And so Megan deals with her first time being dumped, and with her dad tackling a different boy and stuffing garlic down his throat in front of everyone. Ah well, I'm sure her therapist will be able to help her out in 30 years or so.

Quote of the Episode: God - 'The trick is to inspire without being too heavy-handed. That way the atheists don't feel left out.' Aw gee God, you're the swellest.

Smeck Smacks: 0 (7 overall).

Other: At one point, Bob asks God the question I imagine most people would get around to at some point: Why is there evil in the world? God's response is apparently deeply moving, but we don't hear it because a train goes by at the moment at drowns out everything except '. . . like a cork circling the drain.' Extrapolate from that what you will.

The most disturbing part of the episode is when God, while discussing how he wanted beings in this universe to have free will, casually mentions he originally made a universe of puppets. Then he got bored with it, and it collects dust under his bed. That's kind of terrifying. Imagine being the group of multiversal explorers who stumble into that world. Full of people sitting there, dead to the world, waiting for someone to manipulate them. Well, I know what's going to be in my nightmares for awhile.

One of God's gifts to Detroit was for one day, service at the DMV was both swift and friendly. I don't think I've really had bad experiences at the DMV. The lady who did my driver's test was kind of harsh, deducted points for some real petty bullshit, and as my dad noted, she wore her dark cop sunglasses for the test on a cloudy day, so definitely taking herself too seriously, but I passed, so I guess she can gets her kicks however she wants. But other than that, I haven't experienced worse service there than at most any other understaffed government building.

Anyway, the point was the DMV had a mascot called Mr. Motor, which was David Caruso. Which means this was after he inexplicably left NYPD Blue thinking he'd be a big movie star, but before he bounced back by removing sunglasses as he uttered ridiculous lines on CSI Miami. But I remember a lot of people making jokes about him back in the day. Kyle on South Park shouting to Ike, 'Do your David Caruso impression!' and Ike jumps out of a spaceship and plummets to the Earth.

Last week, I discussed the weird poster Andy had of the car with him standing in front of it. Megan, on the other hand, has herself a Nietzsche poster. That could mean a lot of things I suppose. What did he say about self-justification? Doing terrible things but it's OK because you did them, while it's not OK when someone else does them? I think the breaking point for the Devil was when she was going on about someone talking about her behind her back, but that person was only doing so because Megan had been talking about her, but oh Megan had to say those things.

It's amazing any teenager survives to adulthood without being murdered by their parents.

Friday, September 15, 2017

What I Bought 9/13/2017 - Part 1

My allergies have been unusually bad this fall. I usually don't have much of an issue with watery eyes, but I've had two days in the last week where it's almost been too bad to see, even after taking some medication. The sinus drainage has been a piece of cake in comparison. Anyway, by some miracle, four comics I wanted came out this week, and the store had all four of them.

Deadpool #36, by Gerry Duggan (writer), Matteo Lolli (penciler), Christian Dalla Vecchia (inker), Ruth Redmond (colorist), Joe Sabino (letterer) - Well, with a cover of Deadpool walking away from a burning city, I can only imagine everything is going great for Wade Wilson!

Everything is going horribly for Wade Wilson. He turned against HYDRA Cap too late, he's a wanted man, everyone, up to and including his daughter, hate his guts. Oh, and Stryfe is calling in his favor from Wade, and the first person he wants killed is Cable. Which is pretty unsurprising. I was hoping Stryfe would throw more of a curveball at Wade. Pick someone Stryfe doesn't even need killed, he's just making Wade do it to get some jollies.

So Wade's attempt to try and be a hero has crashed and burned, and he's embracing the freefall. Or so it seems. We'll see how far he's really fallen once it comes to actually killing Cable. So far he beat up a couple of cops and killed a HYDRA guy, and promised to kill both HYDRA Cap and the other, nice Captain America. I mean, he actually initially told Stryfe he wouldn't kill Cable. Not feelin' this heel turn, Wade. Of course, the thing is Wade is doing this because he does care. Because he's accepted that he is a disastrous presence to have around the people he cares about. So he can't be around them.

This advice Sabretooth gave Deadpool is presented in flashback differently from how it actually happened. Victor told him all that stuff at the very end, as he was getting ready to leave, not when they were disemboweling each other in front of a school bus. I don't know if Duggan and Lolli just wanted to emphasize that Wade's idea of a "marvelous team-up" is different from most people, or Wade actually remembers it wrong, so it's tangled up with the violence, rather than the sort-of reconciliation.

There are a lot of silent panels, especially considering this is Deadpool. And a bunch more where the dialogue is limited to Wade's internal monologue. His thoughts are extremely ordered, no tangents. He's focused, which is worrying.

Lolli's not my favorite artist that works on this book, but he's very good with Wade in these darker moments. Vecchia knows when to go heavy on the inks to add to the weight on Wade, or make him look more intimidating. Wade's walking slowly for most of the issue, shoulders slumped. He's beaten and resigned. The panel where he tells Stryfe he'll do that "errand", because Stryfe is calling him from last Christmas while in the kitchen with Eleanor, Deadpool has a vacant stare, and you can hear the controlled monotone he's delivering that line in. Because he realizes he's entirely boxed in, that even when his loved ones hate him and want nothing to do with him, people can still use them against him. He allows himself one panel of anger, and then calmly sets about burning the house down.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #24, by Ryan North (writer), Erica Henderson (artist), Alan Smithee (trading card artist), Rico Renzi (color artist), Travis Lanham (letterer) - When I read that Alan Smithee credit for the trading card I thought, why would they not want credit? Having seen it, I understand now. I could have done a better Ultron than that. If you gave me five months.

Doreen and Antonio the Doombot try to fight DINOSAUR ULTRON, who doesn't remember much about himself until Squirrel Girl reads some facts off his trading card. Then he remembers, and keeps adapting the attacks used against him to his advantage. And wrecking all the machinery that controls the Savage Land. And he ate Kraven! This sure seems like a bad situation for our heroes!

Always takes a little while to adjust to North's approach to characters. His Ultron was a little too glib, but it still boils down to an overall contempt for organic lifeforms, so I can roll with it. His T-Rex roar needs work. Not feelin' it, Ultron. Need to get a little more bass in there, have some reverberation to it. Make people feel it in their bones, man. Someone tell Travis Lanham to add some vibrating effects to his lettering on the "RARRGGGHH!"s next issue!

What the hell am I going about?

Lot of black backgrounds in this issue. Almost nothing but featureless background, actually. Is the schedule starting to tax Henderson? I wouldn't be surprised; she's drawn almost every issue of this series since it started, while keeping in on a monthly schedule. Which by current standards is an impressive level of consistency. Or, they know she's going to have to draw a lot of jungle scenes with dinosaurs next issue and so they're giving her time to get ready. I do enjoy how DINOSAUR ULTRON designed his head so that viewed from directly ahead, it looks like his typical face. All those panels in the darkness, it's like the cover to #19 of the Busiek/Perez Avengers run.

Actually, Henderson's art helps sell me on the personality of this Ultron. He's kind of a kid, or a smartass teenage version. Still learning what he can do, certain of his invincibility. The pause to realize he can electricity from his tiny arms, or the certainty that causing a volcanic eruption won't harm him and is therefore a great idea (that panel of him going 'Nah.').

I'm sure computer science will somehow save the day. Or maybe befriending actual dinosaurs to use against a robot android dinosaur.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Railroad Tigers

Jackie Chan stars in this movie about a small group of train station workers in Japanese-occupied China. The workers have been pulling off small heists of equipment from Japanese Army supply trains for some time, but all the young men in the group keep asking Ma Yuan (Chan) when they're going to do something big. This is a refrain uttered more than once, not just by the others in the group, but by other people around town, since apparently all the locals know what they're up to.

A failed attack on a bridge by the Eighth Route Army brings the group into contact with a wounded soldier. Through him they learn the bridge needs to be destroyed in four days, but their attempt to get him safely back to his unit is cut short. Since they don't know how to contact the Eighth Route Army, they'll have to destroy the bridge themselves.

The film is not played entirely seriously. Most of the Tigers can't remember how to draw the symbol of their group. Their initial attempt to acquire explosives, ends with them only getting one pack, and then having to use that to make good their escape. Sakamoto, a Captain of the Japanese Military police, gets drugged at one point, and spends the next few scenes after that being clumsy and addled as he tries to shake off the effects. A Japanese soldier tries to commit seppuku, but fails because he cuts his hand on the sword he's supposed to use. The film is upfront with this from the start, so it isn't as though it's a big surprise, but I went in unsure whether it would be a serious film or not. And when it does need to get serious to convey how dire a situation has become, it's able to do so.

The amount of CGI increases at the end, when crazy things start happening involving trains and tanks. It gets distracting at times, but overall the final battle is entertaining. There's a back-and-forth to it, as the sides trade the advantage between them on several fronts at once. Plus there's some unconventional uses of military hardware in there.

Chan plays Ma Yuan as mostly quiet, keeping a lot of pain locked inside. He's trying to fight the Japanese, but without getting any of these people helping him killed. He's lost a lot, and doesn't want to lose more people. Whenever the Japanese are around, especially Sakamoto, he adopts this slightly hunched over posture, plasters this big vacant grin on his face, and nods a lot. Playing dumb, basically. Sakamoto already regards all the locals as hicks that he can easily outsmart and anticipate, and so it plays to his expectations and uses it against them.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Maybe I Should Just Tear The Cover Off

I haven't done a tpb review in a few months.

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Tonci Zonjic's Marvel Divas mini-series was one of those occasional, stuttering steps Marvel makes towards what they think will to get more women to buy their comics. I have no idea if it works or not, they never commit long enough. This particular series was described as like Sex in the City, but with superheroes, which is not typically something I'd be into, but Sacasa and Zonjic have both done work I enjoyed, and it had Felicia Hardy and Patsy Walker in it.

Of course, the trade paperback has that J. Scott Campbell cover that "graced" the first issue. Yeesh. Either the Patch Zircher cover for issue 3 (seen at the left) or the Jelena Djurdjevic cover for issue 2 would have been vast improvements. One step forward, one step back as always, Marvel.

The four of them all happened to try the same speed dating event and decided to start hanging out, and now they do best friends stuff together. Which is nice. In this story, best friend stuff involves a lot of discussing guy problems and dealing with dissatisfaction about how things are going in their lives. Felicia's trying to get an investigative agency up and running, and while she doesn't have the money herself, she's also not going to let her boyfriend pay for it for her. Monica's trying to decide if she wants a relationship with Doctor Voodoo. I feel like Monica got short changed compared to the others in terms of being the focus, but maybe that means she has her act together the most of the four.

Patsy's published a book about her life (it's at least her second, because I know she wrote one when she came back to life), which has brought Daimon Hellstrom back into the picture, because he's miffed he didn't get a mention. Such a dramatic boy. Unfortunately, Firestar's developed cancer, which gives Daimon something to use as leverage against Patsy.

Having never watched Sex in the City, I can't speak to whether this is at all like that, but overall, I enjoyed it. They're an odd quartet, though I was hard pressed to think of another heroine that any of them would consider a friend that was still alive*. But I bought in to the idea they enjoyed just hanging out, shootin' the breeze or watching movies. And this extends to helping each other out with problems, whether it's moral support or charging half-cocked into Hell on a rescue mission. I like friendship stories. There are some decent one-liners, a couple of funny lines I chuckled at. There are a couple of jokes about how Doctor Voodoo tries letting a lady know he's interested, but those work on the basis of Zonjic's art.

Zonjic has a minimalist style, gets a lot done as far as expressions with relatively few lines. Each character has their own distinctive style and body type, which isn't revolutionary, but you and I know a lot of artists who would fail that criteria. I wouldn't say the art is drawn with a female gaze, but Zonjic makes the effort to make the main male characters at least attempt to look attractive. A lot guys walking around with the top button or two of their shirts undone. Except Doctor Voodoo, who rarely bothers wearing a shirt.

The body language Zonjic gives Daimon is outstanding. He keeps popping up around Patsy, obviously obsessing over her, but he's always trying to look casual. Lounging against a bookcase, leaning on a couple of racks of clothes, stretched out across some chairs. But he still looks sleazy, in that way Gambit does, where he's trying for charmingly unkempt, but it doesn't land. Really conveys how for all that he's trying to act cool and in control, he's just barely avoiding a tantrum. Oh Patsy, what the hell were you thinking?

One thing I enjoy with reading these types of mini-series years after they were published is the snapshot they provide of moments in the fictional universe's history. Those glimpses or references to other editorial directions that have since been abandoned or forgotten. Felicia is dating Thomas Fireheart, aka the Puma (which I believe Aguirre-Sacasa started in Sensational Spider-Man), and mentions her stint working for Heroes for Hire. Monica's NextWave stint isn't too far in the rearview mirror, along with the story where she helps the Black Panther fight vampires in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina from Hudlin's Black Panther book. Hank Pym appears briefly, in the costume he wore when he was going with the codename "Wasp" to honor Jan. Doctor Voodoo is Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange is not, and Stephen's hanging out with Night Nurse a lot. Patsy's stint as Alaska's only super-hero gets mentioned. All those little stories or changes to the status quo that don't stick, either getting reversed or simply ignored and fading away.

* She-Hulk would be an exception, but I get the impression most people get along with her, like how most people get along with Ben Grimm or Nightcrawler. She's not really anyone's exclusive best pal, you know? I figure one of Patsy's oldest costumed set friends was Valkyrie, and I can't remember if she was alive when this came out. With Firestar I'd figure Namorita, but I'm almost positive she was still dead (or recently alive and still in deep space in the pages of Nova). And I have no idea who Monica was particularly close with. Would she consider Elsa Bloodstone or Boom-Boom "friends"?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

2061: Odyssey Three - Arthur C. Clarke

Rolling onward with the series, we pick up about 50 years since the Monolith cause Jupiter to collapse in upon itself and formed a minisun to warm Europa's oceans, to see if perhaps the life there could advance. But even the minds behind a project of that scope didn't account for every possibility. Like a chunk of Jupiter's core being ejected into space and crashing into Europa's surface. Or that people would want that chunk of rock badly enough to risk trying to land.

The rescue ends up in the hands of a ship that was busy landing on Halley's Comet, and which counts Heywood Floyd (who was in each of the previous two books) as one of its passengers. Their ship makes a clever move to refuel more quickly and cut out a major detour in their voyage, cutting months off the trip. But when Jupiter was transformed, there was a message warning humanity to stay off Europa. Nothing had happened to the first ship, but there's no guarantee a second ship will be allowed to visit.

Something Clarke mentions in the foreword for these editions is that the books don't necessarily take place in the same timeline. They're more closely parallel universes, with certain differences. Which probably explains how either ship was able to reach Europa's surface, considering the end of 2010 stated any probe or ship humans sent towards Europa was destroyed by an unseen force. So the books are a bit like Leone's three films with Clint Eastwood: The characters may look very similar, but they're as different or unfamiliar with each other as the story demands. Not a criticism necessarily, just something I had to remind myself of every so often while reading.

There's one scene in the book that made me laugh hysterically. Fastidiousness taken to an absurd extreme. Clarke had established that particular character trait previously, and later had the character try to justify the action, but none of that mattered. I just found it silly, and maybe because of reasons separate from the book, I cracked up.

Three books in, though, I still feel I'm waiting for something. While Clarke can be quite thoughtful and descriptive in his writing, and apparently, funny, there's a lack of tension. Perhaps because he's taking a reasoned, measured approach to space travel. The shortcut the rescue ship takes isn't done half-cocked; the person who proposed it thought it over thoroughly ahead of time, and the course is mapped out, checked, double-checked, etc. There's a trip through the asteroid belt, but the story dismisses the possibility of a collision, because space is still mostly empty, and the odds are strongly against it.

There are moments when it feels like Clarke could inject some suspense, and he opts not to. If he's trying to convey some sense I should be concerned about the fate of the crew stuck on Europa, it doesn't reach its destination. One book left; we'll see if it happens there.

'"Personally," he had told the scientist, "I would regard it as a slightly unfriendly act to have a ton of armor-piercing hardware dropped on me at a thousand kilometers an hour. I'm quite surprised the World Council have you permission."

Dr. Anderson was also a little surprised, though he might have been had he known that the project was the last item on a long agenda of a Science Subcommittee late on a Friday afternoon. Of such trifles History is made.'

Monday, September 11, 2017

I Try To Understand My Sense of Humor

I wouldn't say "So Many Birthdays" is my favorite Steven Universe episode. It's probably in the top 10, but beyond that, I couldn't say. It is, however, the episode that makes me laugh the most. Maybe it's futile to try and talk about why I find something funny, but what the hell.

It has a lot of great lines in it, but still, this is an episode where Steven's attempt to throw birthday parties for the Gems (who don't really age, and therefore don't understand the point) causes him to become aware that he's growing older. He gets hung up on not acting childish, and his gem reacts, aging him out of control until he nearly dies, while the Gems argue helplessly among themselves. A lot of it seems to come from presenting something familiar to us, to characters who aren't familiar with it. Making the audience step back a little and think about how it looks from a different perspective.

The first half, the unsuccessful parties, shows us Steven doesn't grasp what it means the Gems don't age, or place any particular emphasis on the passage of time with regards to their growth. Gems are supposed to emerge fully-formed and with a specific function they're ready to perform. They are capable of growth and change, but it isn't related to aging. These parties to celebrate that, especially the particular activities Steven chooses, we see how strange it all is to them*. If Steven had candy for Amethyst, why hide if in a paper donkey? Why is Steven wearing a wig and makeup, and why did he hit himself in the face with a pie**? What's the deal with cars that could only be driven by babies ('Which way to the Baby War?') So we watch the Gems go from trying to humor Steven, to trying to hurry things along, to finally just outright telling him they don't get what he's trying to accomplish here, but it isn't working.

The second half, as Steven begins to age out of control, is seeing Steven's perception of what growing up means. The humor is in the hopefully mistaken impressions he has. His responses are those of a kid who has a notion of what getting older entails, but only vaguely. He thinks you get jobs by picking a t-shirt with a title on it ('Love Doctor? I'm too squeamish.') That basically, you can't enjoy anything, certainly can't allow anyone to see you enjoying anything. That growing up is a dull, flavorless existence devoid of joy or friends ('I'll have to eat nothing but oatmeal, and it'll be sugar-free! Sugar-free!'), as you await the cold embrace of Death. Which, I'm not going to say I haven't found my thoughts traveling similar lines at times, but it doesn't have to be the case.

Maybe I laugh at that part as a way of whistling past the graveyard.

The whole sequence with Lars and Sadie plays off what we understand versus what they know. We know this strange old man is Steven, having an existential crisis. They think he's just some random old man ('I'm! Old! Yeah, and nuts!') who seems to know them and asks them to help him into his Birthday Suit. And so they react with caution, concern, and then Sadie chases him out while brandishing a stool.

The episode concludes with a decrepit Steven being brought to the Gems, who have no idea how to help him. They try reminding him of things from the parties, but they still don't get what the parties represented, so it doesn't do anything. Well, Pearl trying to reenact the pie in the face gag, only to burst into tears made me laugh (Amethyst's outraged, 'Are you trying to kill him faster?!' puts it over the top), but it doesn't help Steven.

Even the normally calm and composed Garnet loses it, resorting to shaking Steven frantically ('I thought. . . violence would be the answer.'), as though he's stuck and that'll jar him loose into his normal form. That part plays more upon audience expectations, I think. We haven't seen Garnet really rattled up to this point, so to see her reduced to that makes me laugh, even if she's losing her cool because Steven looks seconds away from reenacting Donovan's death in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Which is a dire situation, the main character's impending death, and yet, I was laughing. It's serious in the context of the plot, but in terms of Garnet's character, it's more silly.

The episode ultimately takes a common fear people have, puts Steven as far through it as he can go and still come back, and uses a lot of misunderstanding and exaggeration to good effect. As an audience we can laugh at the Gems bewilderment at these parties, identify with Steven's fears about aging, while still laughing at his level of overreaction to the whole thing. 

* It's a pretty time-tested approach to comedy. Yotsuba! as one example, does this as well, although it leans more toward "Look how cool and/or beautiful this thing is."

** In the Gems' defense, Steven forgot the rule Krusty the Clown taught long ago. People want to see a person with dignity get a pie in the face, not a schlub begging to be hit.