Sunday, May 24, 2015

Zorro 1.16 - Slaves of the Eagle


Plot: The tax collector and his nephew are on their way to Los Angeles, when they are waylaid by Jack Elam and a friend. They try to flee unsuccessfully, and the taxman is divested of his official papers, and his nephew, then sent to wait for them to contact him at the mission, but to tell no one what has happened. As he limps away, it turns out his nephew is part of the scheme. The next day, Elam’s pal has set up in the town square, levying new, extremely harsh taxes against the peasants. While all this is going on, Diego is busy teaching Bernardo how to fence and ride horses, so that he can pose as Zorro if need be. After much practice trying to get on a horse in unusual ways, they take a break by visiting the inn, just as Maria’s brother, Eusebio, is arrested because he can’t pay his tax. Diego keeps Maria from assaulting Sergeant Garcia by promising to do something. Over at the cuartel, he sees Eusebio is hardly the only one who couldn’t pay. The jail is full to the point Garcia actually tries standing up to an official of the King, stating he won’t jail anyone else (though “stating” may be too strong a word). Diego attempts to pay the tax for all the prisoners, only to be rejected, as the collector insists these people need to learn a lesson.

As it turns out, this order was given by the Magistrado, who is setting up an arrangement with one Senor Vazquez, a “labor contractor” who runs mines in Sonora. He is planning to buy all the prisoners to use them as slave labor in his mines. Unaware of this, the prisoners sing songs of Zorro, to Garcia’s barely concealed delight. Unfortunately for them, Zorro fights only against unjust acts, not legal ones of his government, and this is apparently legal. That argument doesn’t hold much water with Bernardo, and this seems to prompt Diego to consider whether the taxman is who he claims to be. So he follows him to the inn, to protest the taxes his family is paying. During the course of this conversation, he brandishes one of the eagle feathers he’s collected, and sure enough, the man waives the de la Vega taxes for this term. Which cinches it, and so it is Zorro time. Problem being, Diego isn’t the only one with that idea. Garcia has sent all his soldiers to bed save Corporal Reyes, who has pretty much agreed he will not shoot at any movement he sees in the shadows. Zorro observes Garcia (dressed as Zorro) climbing over the wall of the cuartel, and decides to leave him to it. Unfortunately, the Magistrado spots Garcia and calls out the soldiers. Garcia is able to fast talk his way out of any trouble, but the entire garrison is put on alert, so no rescue tonight.

Back in his lair, Diego is extremely frustrated, but resolves to try again, somehow, tomorrow. By then, the prisoners are being marched over the hills to the mines, but Zorro is able to draw some of the guards into pursuing him, only to leave them chasing Bernardo. Then Zorro doubles back, and, with some aid from the prisoners, defeats the fake taxman, the nephew, and Jack Elam, who are left in the prisoners chains. So Senor Vazquez takes them instead, so he doesn’t go home empty handed. But it isn’t all smiles and sunshine, because now Zorro knows whoever is behind these acts is out to strike at the people of California, not just the military. And they still have no idea who that is.

Quote of the Episode: Diego – ‘Still, money is money, and I have yet to see the tax collector who can refuse it.’

Times Zorro marks a “Z”: 0 (9 overall)

Other: It’s curious to me that Zorro would fight so hard against Monastario, who was probably only slightly stretching his authority, but he just shrugs his shoulders when someone levies an unjust tax and starts throwing the peasants in jail. He specifically tells Bernardo that he fights against evil and tyranny, and I would say that qualified whether the taxman was legit or not. Enforcing a tax you know a great majority of the population can’t pay so you can sell them into slavery? How is that not tyrannical? But it wasn’t until he learns it’s really the work of the mysterious eagle feather aficionado he gets involved. Boy, will his face be red if this all turns out to be some plot by the King. Let’s face it, kings have a long history of behaving like total assholes towards their people, so this would hardly be the first time.

And then he gets angry at Garcia for screwing up on the rescue attempt, thus preventing Zorro from making his own try. Well Zorro, you were the one who decided it was worth a chuckle to let Garcia try. You could have dashed up while he was climbing the ladder and let him know that wasn’t necessary. He only went for it because he didn’t think Zorro was going to show. Next time, maybe you’ll remember to focus on the task at hand before you decide to start screwing around. All in all, not one of Zorro’s better nights.

Though, how the hell did the Magistrado spot Garcia? He was in a carriage, so he must have been out in the town square. Surely the cuartel gates would be closed at night. He couldn’t have seen over them and the walls to the roof of the stable, where Garcia was attempting entry.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Possibly The Most Successful Grail Quest In Film History

I’m not sure what I was expecting going into The Fisher King. I’d been wanting to watch it since reading at least a couple of career retrospectives on Robin Williams after his suicide last August. They’d mentioned it as an impressive performance, but I’m not sure I’d even heard of it before. I found it in a store the same weekend I found Mother Aegypt, so I grabbed it. Like I said, being in a house with 15 other people was taking a psychic toll, I needed some small success.
                                                              
I wasn’t expecting Jeff Bridges to look so much like Val Kilmer, that’s for sure. It’s probably that he’s mostly clean-shaven, and a bit thinner in the face.  Also, he had long hair almost entirely slicked back, except for one long strand hanging down in his face, which reminded me of Kilmer in, I don’t know, probably Heat or something. Anyway, Bridges plays Jack, a loudmouth radio personality who falls apart after one of his regular callers takes him too seriously and goes on a shooting spree. Three years on, he’s working in a video store, and is in a relationship with Anne (Mercedes Ruehl), the owner, but mostly he’s in a relationship with booze and self-pity. He opts to end it all by jumping in the river with cinder blocks around his feet, only to be interrupted by a couple of yuppie punks who don’t like homeless bums cluttering up their fine neighborhoods. Even though he’s standing among refuse under a bridge at the time. So they’re going to douse him in gasoline and immolate him. Because burning corpses are so pleasant. I didn’t say they were smart yuppies.

It’s at this point Williams enters, behaving like a knight, who is also homeless. He says his name is Parry, and Jack was sent to help him on his quest, which is to recover the Holy Grail from some wealthy guy’s library. The little cherubs told him so. Jack wants nothing to do with it, until he learns he is somewhat responsible for Parry’s fate, at which point he struggles between genuine compassion for the guy, and a desire to find the quickest, easiest route to assuage his guilt, and move on with life. When offering him money fails to solve the moral crisis, and Jack balks at robbery, he instead turns to helping Parry with matters of the heart. I wasn’t sure what to feel there. It’s a little creepy, Parry following Lydia (Amanda Plummer) around and knowing so much about her, and Jack and Anne helping maneuver the two together. But once they are together, they hit it off so well. They both seem to enjoy each other’s company, and Parry doesn’t really try to hide his personality, so I don’t know. I’m going to lean toward sweet.

So it is an interesting performance for Williams. The manic humor and strange tangents are there, and they are a defense mechanism, but it’s not one he’s in control of. His brain made a choice to forget, to go this route instead, but it’s not one he entirely accepts. So it’s mostly sad, because I can’t decide whether he’s better off remembering and trying to deal with the trauma, or if he shouldn’t just do the best he can to forge a happy life as he is now. The presence of the Red Knight argues in favor of the former, I think, because he has to deal with it before he could even try for the latter.

I did like that Jack doesn’t seem to experience any huge personality shift for most of the movie. He’s an egotistical ass at the start of the film, always looking to have more, to date someone he thinks is befitting his stature. And as soon as he feels ready to return to radio, he goes right back to being that guy. It doesn’t fit as well, because he is changed – his radio personality seems less incendiary – but he’s still looking for the quickest, easiest way to discharge any obligations he has. If the easiest solution is to ignore the problem, he’ll jump at it. If he can drag his feet enough the other person gets fed up and leaves, that works, too. Anything so he can have a clear conscience by telling himself he didn’t do anything wrong. They ended things, not him. A lot of his actions are motivated by the fact this increasingly stops working, and he still feels guilty, and takes action out of frustration, and impatience. Why must people make connections with him, so that he feels obligated to help them, or at least not cause them pain, he wails? Maybe that hits a little too close to home.

I also got the feeling Terry Gilliam had a few problems with the social safety net for the mentally ill. It’s not exactly an encouraging picture, the staff being vastly outnumbered, and often indifferent. There was this one shot, when Jack is screaming at an unconscious Parry, and all the other patients are just looking on. There was one with his hand pressed to the side of his head, and he was bleeding. I think he did it to himself, out of a compulsion, maybe, but there was no orderly or nurse, no one treating it or trying to see what was wrong, which seems kind of frightening. I’m already spooked of the idea of ending up in a mental institution just by other people deciding I ought to be there, whether I should be or not. This film did not ease my concerns about what that would be like.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Norby Chronicles - Janet and Isaac Asimov

I’d never heard of this before I saw it in the bookstore a few weeks ago, which was reason enough to buy it. It’s two short (80-100 pages each) stories about a young space cadet named Jeff Wells, and his barrel-shaped robot, Norby. Jeff came across Norby in his search for a cheap robot that could teach him Martian Colony Swahili, which he had failed miserably in his previous semester at the Academy.

As it turns out, while Norby is quite good a teaching languages, he has quite a few other abilities as well, most of which he attributes to modifications a previous owner, a lone interplanetary explorer named Mac, made to him with parts he found in a spaceship they found crashed onto some asteroid. Norby has antigravity abilities, in a world where that hasn’t been perfected for anything smaller than a six-passenger vehicle. He can travel through hyperspace (and carry passengers), and nothing else in the Solar System can do that.

Unfortunately, Norby’s a bit mixed up. He does these things, but doesn’t know how. He’s drawn to a strange planet with miniature talking dinosaurs named Jamya, but doesn’t know why. But he’s a bit petulant when it’s pointed out he’s a little mixed up, and he’s not really keen on the idea of being a robot who obediently follows orders. Mostly though, he’s just confused about his past, and lonely, because all his owners after Mac didn’t take a shine to his personality. He’s a whinier, less maliciously-inclined version of Bender from Futurama. Or what you’d get if you mixed Bender with Dr. Zoidberg, which would get old in a hurry.

In the first story, Jeff and Norby are quickly thrown into the struggle to keep Ing and his Ingrates from taking over the Solar System, though really, Jeff’s brother, Fargo Wells, and a lady cop named Albany do much of the work. Norby’s not terribly brave, and so those two tend to end up well out of the fray for long periods of time. The second story, Norby’s at risk from a rogue group called the Inventor’s Union, and Space Command, both of whom who like to take him apart to unlock his secrets. The stories are light and silly, Jeff and Norby are constantly stumbling into trouble, but rarely in any true danger. It’s a bit like a Saturday morning cartoon in that way. The story may advance in some respects, but there’s a certain status quo you can tell resets itself. Jeff and Norby are friends. Norby will try to help, screw up, and blame it on someone else. Fargo will be able to charm most any female, regardless of age or species. Admiral Yobo will be thwarted in his attempts to get a big meal. It was fluff, very tongue in cheek, but amusing.

‘Fargo wasn’t paying attention to him. His eyes were shining with excitement. He liked fights and running and risks and danger, while Jeff did not especially like them. He wouldn’t avoid them, but he didn’t like them. In fact, he would avoid them if he could, whereas Fargo usually went out of his way to get into trouble. Jeff wondered again, as he often had, whether it was worth being related to Fargo. All in all, though, he always decided it was.’

Thursday, May 21, 2015

What I Bought 5/9/2015 - Part 4

One of these books is actually from last week, and so was not technically bought on the 9th. I’m including it anyway, because it was the only comic I had come out last week, and it’s my blog, so I can do what I like. I wrote that into the constitution before we adopted a legislative branch. This sort of renders the legislative branch moot, which is good, because they’re ineffective dolts.

Descender #3, by Jeff Lemire (writer), Dustin Nguyen (illustrator), Steve Wands (letterer and designer) – Gotta love the light pink background for an image of a child android lying dead on the ground. It’s like his transmission fluid stained the floor.

TIM’s body is still on Dirishu, but his mind has landed somewhere else. A place full of other robots that were destroyed in the past (all as a result of the fear and hatred of humans after the Harvesters’ attacks, so far as we know). They expect TIM to find them and save them, somehow, though he doesn’t receive any explanation as to how to do either. While all that had been happening a shuttle from the UGC had arrived, carrying a Captain Telsa and her subordinate, Tullis. And the other passenger is Dr. Quon, the man who created TIM, looking much the worse for wear compared to TIM’s memories of him last issue. They find TIM, after fending off Driller, and Dr. Quon is able to fix TIM enough to revive him. Thus, TIM didn’t learn everything he needed to. He also didn’t learn he probably shouldn’t talk about strange places full of damaged, desperate robots he visited in his dreams. I have a feeling that’s something the UGC is going to be very concerned about. Personally, my hunch is the minds of the robots are all in the old servers Quon mentioned, forgotten in some dusty corner.

I like the look of the place TIM visited. Not in the sense it looks like a happy place, but it’s kind of cool. The ambient red glow that doesn’t seem to come from anywhere in particular. A landscape that looks mostly like a rocky canyon, not all that different from what you’d find out west, but there are all those cables/veins/wires running across the surface. It makes things creepier, if a seemingly deserted wasteland that is abruptly full of robots wasn’t creepy enough. It gives that implication that they’re moving within a massive, living organism, we’re just too close to grasp the size of it. Which can be unnerving, that sense you’re dealing with something on a scale you can’t comprehend. It makes one feel pretty small, and a bit lost.

Also, and I don’t know why, but the close-up on Telsa’s face in panel 5 on page 7 keeps grabbing my attention. Maybe because of how none of the other panels get that close. We drift around the conversation up to that point, then zoom in at the moment she makes her threat and/or accusation. Nguyen’s color choices for her play a role. The red of her hair really sets off that pale blue of her skin, but it’s the fact her eyes are black, with the pupils a barely visible lighter shade. It’s hard to read those, to see what she’s feeling as she talks, and the set of her mouth doesn’t give much away, either. There’s no thin smile like in the second panel, suggesting it’s gallows humor, or that she’s enjoying scaring him. But there’s no visible anger. From all appearances, she’s just stating a fact, laying things out for him. Which makes Quon’s obviously frightened and surprised reaction all the more effective right on the other side of that panel border.

Ms. Marvel #15, by G. Willow Wilson (writer), Takeshi Miyazawa (art), Ian Herring (color art), Joe Carmagna (lettering) – Kamala, that is an exceptionally bad job of hiding your costume. And Kris Anka drew Kamran looking entirely too clean cut and wholesome.

I don’t read Inhuman, so I don’t know the deal with Lineage, but it’s apparent enough he’s bad news. Fair enough. He wants her to join up with him, with the usual honeyed words of great power, and not letting others dictate what she does with them (except for him, of course). In the meantime, she dialed Bruno, and he charges out of school to rescue her. Doesn’t exactly work out, since he gets grabbed by a couple of Lineage’s goons the second he hits New Attilan, and Kamala has to rescue him, after trapping Kaboom and kicking Kamran’s ass. By turning his stupid, Gambit-ripoff power against him, which I quite enjoyed. But hey, at least Bruno got them some transportation so they don’t have to swim home! That counts as help, right?

I made the comment about Anka drawing Kamran looking very presentable up above. Now that I think about it, Miyazawa has had him drifting more into James Dean territory over the course of this arc, with the leather jackets and hair swept up in that bad spit curl or whatever the hell you call it. What does it say about the guy who claims humans are inferior and different, that he can’t pick a better fashion statement than a 60+ year old human expression of directionless rebellion? That he’s a rebel, a rebel without a cause. Just like the boy in that popular movie. Next he’ll be telling us no one can stop the Cobras. Or was it the Hell’s Satans?

I thought it was interesting how when Kamala accuses Kamran of abducting her – which he did – he tries to turn it around to make it her fault. She got in his car willingly, he says, so no one will believe she didn’t come here willingly. It ignores the fact I’m pretty sure Bruno and her brother both heard him offer her a ride to school, but he’s just trying to weaken her resolve, so what does he care about facts? So he uses the same sort of victim-blaming tactics you see people use against rape victims. Oh, you dressed in a way that asked for it. You accepted a drink from him, a ride from her, it’s your fault. It’s bullshit, but that doesn’t stop people from doing it, and I highly doubt it’s a coincidence Wilson chose that dialogue, or that Kamala refutes it. When Lineage says he had her brought in good faith for an opportunity, Kamala doesn’t accept that, or say she made a mistake. She says she was tricked and kidnapped, which puts the blame on Lineage and Kamran, which is where it belongs.

Then the confrontation in the hallway between her and Kamran, the way Miyazwa draws her with this startled, spooked expression when he first appears behind her as this looming, dark-eyed guy with fists already clenched. He advances, and he’s already turned his powers on, while she’s still backing up against a wall. And what’s he talking about the whole time? How she embarrassed him, because she wouldn’t just do what he wanted, and so he has to hit her now. He keeps trying to make it her fault, and Kamala refuses to accept that. She made a mistake believing he was a good guy, but just because he fooled her, doesn’t mean she deserves any of what’s happened, and certainly doesn’t mean she deserves to get hit. It’s only then she uses her powers, embiggens her fists, and even then, she doesn’t go all out on him. She beats him enough to get an opening to get away, and that’s enough. She doesn’t go spine-breaking, Frank Miller Batman on him out of revenge. She recognizes the situation is dangerous far beyond this idiot, poser ass who doesn’t even know how to fight, and gets gone.

It’s a nice touch, too, that in the moments when she fights back, the hallways shift from that cold grey and blue to a bright yellow, more similar to the color of the lightning bolt on her costume. When Kamran tries his Gambit move, the background shifts to a dark green and black, closer to his colors, but back to yellow again when she turns it around on him. So, fine work all around, creative team.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

31 Days of Scans - Favorite Elseworld/Multiverse

I guess I could have picked GrimJack. It’s set in a pan-dimensional city where all realities phase in eventually, which sure sounds like a multiverse. But since I think they meant an alternate universe, there really is only one choice.

I know it isn’t really a Spider-Girl world, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. It’s a generally upbeat world, certainly by Marvel standards. Bigotry and crime haven’t been wiped out, but giant robots haven’t herded all mutants into death camps, there’s nary an Apocalypse in sight, no Badoon or Martians invading. A new generation of heroes stepped up, and things are doing pretty well. Peter Parker did not make a deal with Mephisto. He may have hung up the webs, but he still helps people as a forensic scientist. Which doesn’t mean he won’t still bust some heads.

Peter and Mary Jane are together, and each is the other’s rock. Whatever problems one is having, the other shares the burden. Astoundingly, being married hasn’t made their life perfect. I don’t know how that could be, as I was assured by many fine people at Marvel that once you get married, all your problems are over, and the drama departs from your existence. Mary Jane has a health scare, Peter struggles from time to time with not being Spider-Man anymore (mid-life crisis). They both worry about their teenage daughter, the risks she faces, the choices she makes. MJ is there to help blunt some of Peter’s bluster, and provide a supportive ear for Mayday when she needs that.

Peter is there to offer the benefit of his years of experience as a superhero, and maybe lend a hand once in awhile. That issue actually highlighted something else I liked about that universe: Spider-Man is liked and respected by the new generation of heroes. Mayday’s teammates on the Avengers were ecstatic at the chance to actually meet the Spider-Man, much to her surprise.

Mayday herself is a generally decent kid, trying to do the right thing in her way. Wanting to give people the benefit of the doubt, and getting frustrated when they take advantage of that. She questions her own judgment, but generally recognizes she can only do her best, and other people have to make their own choices and accept responsibility for them. By and large, she continues to believe she can make a difference, and she keeps trying. Because she enjoys it, and because she wants to help.

It also doesn’t hurt Defalco, Olliffee, and Frenz gave her a pretty wide cast of acquaintances, and actually spent time developing them as characters. Davida, Courtney, JJ, they have their own likes and dislikes, their own plot threads, and those don’t freeze in place waiting until Mayday is unoccupied with Normie Osborn’s latest breakdown. Things progress while she’s not around, and that feeds into the conflict between her civilian and superhero life. Which isn’t a new thing obviously, but Spider-Girl always did it well, I thought.

It’s a world where the heroes mostly work together rather than fighting each other, and they mostly beat the bad guys, protect the innocent, and save the day, though not always without cost. It’s an optimistic world, where redemption is possible if you make the effort, and the current generation learns from the mistakes and experiences of the one before it, rather than ignoring them. That makes it a nice place to turn to when either real life or the current approach of a lot of other comics wears me down.

Images from Spider-Girl #44 (MJ calls Pete on his nonsense), by Tom DeFalco and Pat Olliffe (script, plot, pencils), Al Williamson (inker), John E. Workman (letterer), Christie Scheele and Heroic Age (colorists). Spider-Girl #81 (MJ putting the blanket over the father/daughter pair), by Defalco and Ron Frenz (script, plot, breakdowns), Sal Buscema (finished art), Dave Sharpe (letters), Gotham (colors). Spider-Girl #8 (Pete showing he’s still got it), by DeFalco (writer), Olliffe (pencils), Williamson (inks), Janice Chang (letterer), Christie Scheele (colors). Spider-Girl #100 (the page I lead off with), by DeFalco and Frenz (plot, script, pencils), Buscema (art finishes), Sharpe (letters), Gotham (colors).

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I Wouldn't Consider It A Realistic Flight Simulator

Let’s talk about a flight combat game that isn’t historically based, SkyDrift. It’s a racing game, the sort where you can grab power-ups to help yourself or attack the other fliers. Mario Kart in the sky, or maybe Fatal Inertia except you fly close to the ground by choice. All the planes are prop planes, though they do have boosters, so there’s a certain resemblance in design to Crimson Skies. More than a couple of pusher-prop designs involved.

The game suffers a bit from lack of variety. There are only about a half-dozen different tracks, and 3 race modes: Power Race, which is the basic type, with power-ups. Speed, with no power-ups, but there are rings that boost speed if you fly through them. Survivor, which does have power-ups, but every 20 to 30 seconds whichever plane is in last place is eliminated. There are 7 levels of races (not counting the Tutorial), though Level 7 is a single race, which combines the other 3 modes into one. The game only has two planes available to start, and the others are unlocked by finishing in at least the top 3 on all races at a particular level. Except for the last plane, which requires winning an online match. I guess I won’t be getting that plane.

You get boost by flying close to the ground, performing barrel rolls, or destroying other planes. In a pinch, you can convert a power-up to boost, though how much you get depends on what position you’re in at the time, and doesn’t take into account how close you might actually be to first. If I’m in second place, I get the same amount whether I’m a half-second behind, or a dozen seconds behind. This is a problem, because on the higher levels, one plane has a tendency to somehow get out way ahead of the pack, and there’s basically no catching up. I should be grateful the game clearly doesn’t have the same elastic AI that drove me nuts with Burnout 3, but it’s frustrating as hell doing everything I can to catch them and making no headway, while all the other planes seem intent on killing me, rather than, you know, catching up to the guy in first place.

The planes are generally nicely varied in their strengths and weaknesses. I tend to favor the ones with the best combination of maneuverability and stability. There are certain planes that handle like rocks, and others that are too loose, where it’s easy to get out of control. I need something that can make the tight turns – because I don’t seem to handle those as well as the computer – but doesn’t set me twisting out of control (the Panther seems too responsive, for example). The planes are all very bright and colorful, and most of them tend to have contrails that are different colors. No, you can’t use the contrails as a smoke screen to make rivals crash into mountains. In the Speed races, it’s possible to break the speed of sound if you get through enough rings in a row. It’s not any big deal, outside the obvious fact it means you’re going fast in a race where that’s critical, but there is a nice distortion effect around the plane when you do it. I haven’t seen any evidence the sonic boom damages other planes nearby, which is just as well. I’d probably keep getting shoved into walls and hate the game for it.

One aspect of gameplay that bears mentioning is, there’s very little penalty for crashing or being killed. You respawn in seconds, with whatever power-ups and boost you had before. There are times I blow up a plane well ahead of me, and it respawns before I could catch up and pass it. Which seems ridiculous, but I’m sure it’s saved me in a few races. SkyDrift is fun for what it is, but a little limited in options.

Monday, May 18, 2015

What I Bought 5/9/2015 - Part 3

Allergies are a terrible thing.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4 and 5, by Ryan North (writer), Erica Henderson (artist, color artist on #5), Chris Giarrusso (trading card artist), Rico Renzi (color artist), Clayton Cowles (letterer) – Maybe I should have wanted Squirrel Girl as a playable character in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 instead of Rocket.

Squirrel Girl defeats Galactus! You need more than that? Fine, she tries punching his foot, when that proves ineffective, she tries confusing him with discussion of linguistics, then friendship. When all that fails, she uses his computer to find a world populated with nothing but acorns, and convinces him to go eat the world instead. Hunger sated, Galactus leaves, after giving Squirrel Girl a present. She returns to Earth, only misses half of her class, and learns her roommate Nancy has already figured out she’s Squirrel Girl. Issue 5 involves Nancy being trapped inside the Statue of Liberty with some other civilians while Squirrel Girl and various other heroes fight the cast of Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics (I think, I’ve never read it, but I know it has a green T-Rex, and there’s one of those here, sooooooo). As it turns out, all of these people believe they have heard of Squirrel Girl, but they all have bizarre conceptions of her. 1940s patriotic hero, Frank Miller’s Batman, MacFarlane’s Spider-Man, teller of horrible jokes about nuts. OK, that one’s accurate.

And there’s one kid who knows all about her from the Internet, who has to be young Dan Slott, because his story about Squirrel Girl traveling her from the future to save the world from an army of 1 Million Doombots, by enlisting the assistance of Squirrel Girls from other realities, sounds an awful lot like Spider-Verse. Except better, because Doombots are a much better enemy than Morlun and his stupid family could hope to be.

Of the two, I much preferred issue 4, since there felt like there was more of a story. I suppose it’s kind of clever they took the old storytelling trope of having different people describe their versions of the character, and turned it on its head. Normally, the different versions are accurate to a certain extent. When the kids did it in that episode of Batman, they used versions of Batman that had existed previously (‘50s giant prop warehouse Batman, Dark Knight Returns, etc.) In this case, none of these versions of Squirrel Girl have existed. Still, I didn’t find most of them particularly funny, Brainwashed Captain America’s “Totalitarianism is Totalitarily Great!” shirt aside.

The Galactus issue had a lot I enjoyed. Squirrel Girl’s, ‘We’re here to kick butts and eat nuts, and you can’t eat nuts in space, ‘ and Galactus’ rejoinder a couple pages later: ‘I did not come here to discuss linguistics, I came here to kick butts and feed on life energy. And I can do both whenever I want. Because I’m Galactus.’ Galactus mocking Squirrel Girl’s attempts to beat him up, the two of them laughing about her beating Thanos (and it wasn’t a clone, robot, or simulacrum, so take that, Jim Starlin!) Tippy complimenting Galactus on his plan to attack Earth without sending a herald to warn everyone. I mean, you could argue Galactus is supposed to be this godlike force mortals can barely comprehend, but I think that went out the window with the number of times writers have him whine about how he’s only doing what he must, and how he understands what it is like to be mortal, and he can still feel, and blah, blah, blah. You know, if I’m about to have a hamburger, I don’t go up to the cow and tell it all about how bad I have it.

I’m not sure where Squirrel Girl got her space suit, and I’m also not sure how she fit the ‘50s style bubble helmet inside her Iron Man armor (although I guess if it could accommodate her tail, a helmet is no big deal), but it a snazzy outfit. I’m not much of a fan of green, but it works surprisingly well on a character that doesn’t normally wear it. Also, she has her little fake ears sitting on the helmet, which is a nice touch. The full page splash of her, Tippy, and Galactus looking at the Earth was nice. It provides a pause that the reader can draw out as long as they like, to enforce the idea the trio has bonded. Which makes Galactus’ decision to go ahead and eat Earth half a page later a nice turn of events. It’s effective comic timing. They’re almost entirely in black, with just a few lines of color on Galactus to suggest his shape and outfit. I would imagine a fair share of the credit for that goes to Rico Renzi, so excellent work. Also, Nancy’s illustration of Doreen in the squirrel suit, beating up the bank robbers, was pretty great. I mean other than Tippy, you can tell she’s covered in squirrels, but that’s OK. I expected the robbers would look more distraught, perhaps they would have dialogue where they lament their poor career choice, or apologize for keeping innocent people from getting falafels.