Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Can't Let October End Without Discussing Heroclix

Here I was, worried I'd have enough things to post on until comics showed up (which should be this week), and I almost forget to do my yearly look at the Marvel side of Heroclix.

Hey, where are you all going?

Marvel had a busy year in terms of number of sets. There was Invincible Iron Man last winter, Deadpool in the spring, and Guardians of the Galaxy over the summer. There were also smaller sets for Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Days of Futures' Past (though in terms of character look, it more closely resembles the comics than the movie), and a different Guardians of the Galaxy set, based on the film. Generally speaking, I ignore the movie sets. They generally aren't the characters as I'm thinking of them.

So, the characters I was hoping to see were, in no particular order:

Ikon, Rage, Silhouette, Stacy X, Triathlon, and SHIELD Agent Derek Khanata. Past that, it would have been the other three members of the Slingers (Ricochet, Hornet, and Dusk). And of those we got. . . Ikon! Well, one is better than none, and the others were all longshots.

I can't complain too much. We did get a lot of new characters that hadn't been clixed before, and some new versions of characters whose previous versions were over 5 years old. We got the Grasshopper, so that's another member of the Great Lakes Avengers I hadn't even thought of. They gave us Agent X, the freaking Unicorn got a figure. Iron Man fans must have been in hog heaven. We got a new Silver Sable, a new Mantis, a nice Darkhawk, a lot of the classic Alpha Flight members. They gave us Colleen Wing and Misty Knight as separate characters, which was nice. I'm not sure we needed Iron Man in the Guardians of the Galaxy set after he had an entire set based around him barely 8 months earlier, but he was a member of the team, so it at least made sense.

Going forward, I don't see the odds of any of the characters I wanted showing up improving. I'm not sure what Marvel sets are coming down the pike (the only set I know of for sure is the Flash set coming in about 2 weeks), but I'm also not sure what kind of theme you'd need to get them out there. Maybe something about the Avengers Initiative/Academy/Undercover could get Rage or some of the Slingers out there. Possibly.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Multiverse Should Offer A Multitude Of Solutions

I was, for some reason, still thinking about Spider-Verse. This isn't about Spider-Girl, no real complaining here today.

Otto Spidey has Parker's memories, right? That's how he fools everyone. That and they were hit with the Idiot Stick before they started, but neither here nor there. Otto should remember how Peter beat Morlun the first time: Pump himself full of radiation and rely on it to block Morlun's ability to absorb the spider-totemic energy stuff.

Now obviously all these Spider-Folks don't want to get cancer like Peter did (or whatever it was he got from that which prompted The Other storyline), but see, this is a spot where Otto should actually be ahead of Peter. Parker's a biologist, Otto was the nuclear scientist. That was why he built the arms, to handle dangerous materials safely. He should be able to devise some method of replicating it that won't kill everyone sometime after it has saved all their lives.

Orrrrrrrr, they could just go find a Spider-Man who still has the Captain Universe powers he gained during Acts of Vengeance. You know, the powers that let him drop Graviton with one shot, punch the Hulk into orbit, fight Magneto to a standstill, and destroy a Tri-Sentinel augmented by Loki's magic. Go get one of those Spideys. Better yet, get 5, or 20. Then send them after Morlun and his crew. Pretty sure he'll find it difficult to grab hold of someone and drain their life force when that someone can fly and shoot energy blasts. And if he does grab hold, congratulations! he's a second away from being punched to the Moon. Problem solved.

I suppose there could be some issue like the Enigma Force can't leave its universe of origin. So trick the Morluns into that universe. He's not that smart. Eh, maybe they've addressed these ideas already, but I'll never know, unless one of you tells me.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Has The Forest Claimed Another Victim?

{Last time, Clever Adolescent Panda and Deadpool were horrified to learn the cookies they so enjoyed eating were made out of the melted down remnants of objects that held great love. With Calvin, they've ventured off to the tree bakery to put a stop to it. Or get more cookies. It could go either way.}

Clever Adolescent Panda: No, it couldn't.

Deadpool: [I don't know, I could use some cookies after our week-long trip down this road. So many obstacles in just a half-mile!]

CAP: Yeah, sorry about your hoodie, Calvin. Who thought that undead ferryman would be so excited about something warm to wear on his trips back and forth?

Calvin: *crestfallen* {I really liked that hoodie.}

CAP: Don't you have two other hoodies?

Calvin: {Not one that's bright blue, though!}

Deadpool: [Less whining, more striking cool poses. I think that's the tree.] *launches flying kick at the tree* [Come out, you little cookie-making monsters!] 

{Deadpool rains blows and invectives upon the tree, but there's no response. Finally, a voice pipes up from the tree next to the one Wade's hitting. It's high-pitched, but with a certain twang to it.}

Voice From Within The Tree: Hey, y'all wanna keep it down out there, idiot? You're disturbing the cookie makin' magic.

Deadpool: [Sure, absolutely, I'll do that. Say, you think you guys could make up a batch of cookies for me if I provided you the materials?]

CAP: Wade!

Deadpool: *puts finger to lips, winks* [Shh!]

Voice From Within Tree: Yeah sure. We don't guarantee the taste, though. That's on you to bring the good stuff. *A large opening appears in the trunk of the tree, roughly five feet up*

Deadpool: [Don't worry, there's a lotta love in what I've got for ya.]

Voice Inside the Tree: Awright, whatever, just give it to us.

Deadpool: [You ready for it?]

Chorus of Voices Inside Tree: Yes, get on with it!

Deadpool: *slips on special Deadpool brass knuckles* [Here you go!]

{And Deadpool punched into the tree with his right fist, the one with the "Dead" knucks on it. There was a noticeable sound of two impacts, one from the fist striking something, the other that something flying across the interior of the trunk and hitting the far side. Then there was a groan.}

Angry Voice Inside Tree: He hit Dwiddel! Grab him!

Deadpool: [Hey, wait, let go of my hand!] {Wade attempts to withdraw his arm, but is pulled forward sharply, slamming his face and torso into the trunk.} [Don't just stand there, help me! Agh, they're smashing my fingers with a rolling pin!]

{Clever Adolescent Panda, recognizing the hole is too small to fit into, and that sticking its arms in there would be a poor choice, opts to leap onto Deadpool's shoulders. From there, it braces its feet against the trunk, grabs Deadpool under the chin, and commences pulling. To little effect.}

Deadpool: [What the hell are you trying to do, readjust my neck? Your claws are in my face! That's my moneymaker!]

CAP: What, like playing the penny slots at the casino?

Deadpool: [It's part of my overall image! People want a mercenary who looks like he's been through some wars! *loud scream* OK, they're removing my fingers, would you do something?!]

CAP: Where are your grenades?

Deadpool: [If you want to go that route, just take a sword and cut my arm off! It'll grow back!]

CAP: You were open to that? Why didn't you do it already?

Deadpool: [It hurts, ya know! And I don't want them makin' cookies out of my arm!]

Calvin: {Just cool your jets.}

{During all the shouting and maiming, Calvin has been calmly putting on the proper safety equipment for operating a chainsaw, which he had opted to go back for after the run-in with the bear-riding Vikings. Now he removes the chainsaw from the case, check the fuel and bar oil levels, and starts struggling to get it running.}

Deadpool: [Would you come on? I can smell parts of me being cooked in there! I know what my burning flesh smells like!]

*at that moment, several more doorways open in the trunk, and little guys in overalls and combination wool sock caps/chef's hats come pouring out, gagging and retching. Wade and CAP go flying backwards as the opposing force to their pulling abruptly vanished*

One of the little guys: Oh God, it's horrible!

Another one: Like a tire fire someone threw up in!

A third: The smell is in my hair! It's in my hair! Somebody burn my hair!

Deadpool: *examines hand* [My fingers are gone! The thumb is all alone now! My left thumb is going to make fun of it now! And how will I dual-wield two weapons to kill these little bastards!?]

CAP: *peering into the trunk* Oh great, it's one of those places that's bigger on the inside. Hey, I see that Frisbee you gave the Ghost of the Forest!

{Calvin has finally gotten the chainsaw started. He turns to face them, looking grim through the protective screen on the helmet.}

Calvin: {Alright, where's my ghost friend?}

Little Guy In a Red Cap: I don't know nuthin' about no ghost. How about you, Stevedolino?

Stevedolino: *drawls* Nope, not a thang. Haf to be pretty silly to believe in ghosts.

CAP: Then where'd you get the Frisbee?

Little Guy in the Red Cap: We found it in the woods. We collect everything we find.

CAP: How are you gonna make cookies out of a Frisbee?

Red Cap Cookie Maker: You don't make the cookies out of it, you add it to the cookies you already were making. You break it down to an atomic level by slow-melting it over a convectional aperture. Then you spin it for an hour in a Hugterfuge, which separates the distinct emotions from the rest. You let the intense emotions cool, then grind them with the Power Pestle and sprinkle it on the cookies.

Deadpool: [Blah, blah, blah, nerdy nonsense talk! *kicks one of them wearing white overalls with orange polka dots on them* My hand demands JUSTICE!]

Stevedolino: He kicked Mercanser! What is it with this guy and violence?

Dwiddel: *through swollen jaw* I don't know, let's get him! With violence!

*The bakers go on the attack, using their various cooking implements and surprising strength to good effect. Wade finds it difficult to hit them when his right arm is ineffective, and trying to jam daggers into his fingers to give himself stabby hands proves to be a distraction and a waste of time. Clever Adolescent Panda is doing better, but the sheer numbers cause trouble. It has the reach advantage, but they swarm from every angle. CAP does better when it opts for a pinballing strategy, charging forward full tilt, then ricocheting off trees to come from another direction at high speed. But here, the presence of two allies blunts its effectiveness, as one has to be careful to not crash into them. Calvin is swinging the chainsaw, but in a mostly defensive manner, as he doesn't really want to cut anyone in half with it. Trying to explain gnome or whatever guts in the filter would be a real pain. 

Mercanser: *mocking* What ya think you're gonna do with that chainsaw? We're magic! You can't stop us with that, we'll just poof out of the way, like this! *disappears in a pink cloud, reappears a second later* Hahahahahaha!

{They gradually back him up to the tree, and one of them, wearing a cap with a skull-and-crossbones on it lurks in the limbs above. He draws a paring knife, then drops towards Calvin's neck. At the last instant, a gust of wind kicks up and slams him into a tree.*

Calvin: {Ghost! There you are! It is you, right?}

{In response, the wind whistles into the tree, and sends the Frisbee spinning out. It hovers for a moment in the air, then abruptly slams into one of the bakers that is dancing just out of Deadpool's reach on his right side.}

Deadpool: [It must be Storm, my teammate on the X-Men, taking a break from her hopefully wildly successful solo title to help us out!]

CAP: No Wade, it's a ghost. We've met it before.

Deadpool: *still slashing at the bakers* [Nah, completely improbable.] *the Frisbee hits Deadpool in the face* [That Storm, what a kidder!]

Calvin: {I may not be able to hit you guys - or want to really - but I bet the tree can't "poof" out of existence. *turns to face tree, revs chainsaw* Time to bring this factory of shattered dreams down! Bore Cut!}

Dwiddel: No, don't cut there! It's where we store the negative emotions!

{Calvin can't hear a thing over the saw and his hearing protectors. He cuts into the tree smoothly at first, then there's a moment of sparks and resistance, and then a dark violent fluid comes bursting out of the cut, enveloping him entirely. The chainsaw cuts out, and there's only the sound of a low groaning as the liquid seems to boil over him. The bakers utter not a word, only begin to back up slowly. Clever Adolescent Panda rushes forward.}

CAP: Calvin, are you OK? Wade, get some water! We'll get this stuff off, don't wor-urk!

{One gloved, steaming hand shoots out, and grasps the panda by its furry throat. Calvin rises slowly, breathing heavily, face gone, leaving only a blank space.}

Calvin?: *low, throaty hiss* {Haaaaaaaate. . .}

Deadpool: [Quick, Storm! Freeze him with an Arctic wind, or stun him with some lightning! *waits* Storm? Are you still there? Is the team-up over?]

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Invisible Man 2.8 - Den of Thieves

Plot: Fawkes is working with a group of thieves to steal various high-security items. This is part of an attempt to capture a well-known terrorist, Javier, who is playing the Charlie to this group of fallen angels. On the heist to gather the last piece of equipment, an alarm is somehow triggered, and Fawkes and Dante, the leader of the bunch, are arrested. But since the other two thieves escaped with their target, Darien has to stay in prison to see if Dante call lead him to Javier.

Unfortunately, there are two other inmates of the prison who know Darien from some previous incarceration, and Luther and Russell aren't happy about Darien stealing that candy bar from Luther 5 years ago. Darien only staves off violence by insisting he can help them escape just like he says he did the last time he was busted, and to prove it, he sneaks into the warden's office and steals his nameplate, plus a few other goodies.

Meanwhile, Claire has deduced that the items stolen will make an EMP generator, and then she has to explain to the Official why this is something a man who bombed a crowded stadium would be interested in. Darien has gotten Dante to confide in him about where they can escape to, and has passed to info along to a prison physician, meaning Claire, there to administer some counteragent. A good thing, the way Darien's been using Quicksilver. Claire passes this along to Alex and Hobbes, and Alex bluffs her way into the hotel room, where she learns the bomb will be planted at a power-switching station.

Back in the prison, it's break out time, and no stupid tattoos will be required. Darien gets Luther and Russell to start a fire, he sneaks into the guard watchtower, decks the guards, unlocks a couple of doors, and he and Dante go one way, while Luther and Russell go another - right into the guards' locker room. Once outside the prison, Darien and Dante find the escape vehicle, but they aren't going to the motel Dante told Fawkes about. No, as Alex and Hobbes are learning, the power station is a decoy. The real target is an FAA control station, and Fawkes and Dante have the real EMP generator. Fawkes knocks out Dante with some Quicksilvered binoculars, and then drives the car with the bomb off a pier, saving the day, although Javier is still out there. Back at the office, Alex needles Hobbes about the thing he said when he thought their fake bomb was going to blow them up ('I love you, Claire!')

Quote of the Episode: Fawkes - 'Did you just say, "premature evacuation"?'

The "oh crap" count: 3 (13 overall).

Who's getting quoted this week? Someone who said once a thief is committed past a certain point, he should stop worrying. And then the line about how you can't go home again.

Times Fawkes Goes Into Quicksilver Madness: 0 (2 overall).

Other: First things first, Alex officially impressed me with how she walked into that hotel room and bluffed those two guys. Yes, she ended up overplaying the hand when she asked to see the bomb and their plans, but that's an overall underestimation of Javier's craftiness, not strictly hers. She even quietly asked Hobbes to cover her, which was nice for showing she understood the risks, and for all the crap she gives Hobbes and Fawkes, she at least trusts him. Even when she questions Darien's undercover capabilities, it wasn't too off base, because I remember him blowing that gun deal in Season One (the one with the new guy in Hobbes' ex-wife's life) by not having a proper naval haircut.

Of course she undercut that somewhat by teasing Hobbes about that declaration. I suppose she could simply be encouraging him to confess his feelings, but I doubt it.

Fawkes punched out at least three guys while invisible this episode, plus Dante with the binoculars, and he busted the hand of one of Luther's goons by Quicksilvering a weight plate. And he didn't drop the invisibility too soon even once. Which is nice. He's been doing that way too much this season.

The scene in the prison shower, with the Fabio like guy warning Fawkes not to use prison shampoo if he wants to keep his hair, was pretty hilarious. I'm not sure Darien would have been as uncomfortable if the guy had come on to him as he was during all that.

Also, Hobbes trying to get Darien to put his hand up on the glass over Bobby's when he came to visit. That was great. Bobby just doesn't know how to act around people sometimes.

I'm curious whether Javier will become a recurring threat. They can't deal with Chrysalis or Arnaud every week.

Would an EMP generator actually harm a human? Everybody was treating it like a huge threat to their physical well-being. I guess it was an EMP bomb though, and it was the exploding part they were worried about. Second question: Would dropping the bomb in the bay actually block the majority of the pulse? I guess try to move through water could cause difficulties, but the energy from it has to pass through the walls of buildings and the hulls of airplanes. I did like Fawkes trying to slow it down by Quicksilver cooling it, though.

I also liked the bit when Eberts comes to deliver the bad news (that Darien has to stay in prison and finish the assignment), and Fawkes confesses that he sometimes misses being a thief. Then he says that being back in a featureless cinderblock room in an orange jumpsuit reminded him of all the reasons he shouldn't miss being a thief. It's all fun and games until you get caught. It's an interesting contrast to the season one episode, "Liberty and Larceny". There, it wasn't so much that Darien objected to thieving, it was he objected to stealing things that would get people killed (like the location of a federally protected witness). Now Darien's at least anti-stealing, at least as far as not wanting to pay the consequences goes. So it's maybe a slow progression, but it's something. Maybe he'll abandon stealing all together here eventually.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Widow's Wait

The trailer for the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron movie is out. I don't quite know what to make of it. The Hulk is fighting his friends, when Banner doesn't look really sad. Hawkeye's running around in the snow, Captain America's kicking open doors in monasteries. Ultron looks about as good as I could have hoped, but who knows if it'll come together well? Even after all the superhero movies I've seen I enjoyed, I'm still gunshy. Batman and Robin casts a long shadow, and it's very cold.

I didn't really want to talk about the trailer, though. Among the reactions to it elsewhere were some noting that there's still no sign of a Black Widow movie among all of Marvel's projects. It does seem strange Marvel seemingly isn't even trying to make a movie about Scarlett Johansson kicking people in the face and tasing them with the Widow's sting. She seems open to the idea, people seem willing to pay to watch movies where she does cool stuff, Marvel Studios likes money, what's the problem? Are they really worried it wouldn't do well? They're trying to make a Dr. Strange film, not to mention Ant-Man. Guardians of the Galaxy has made over half a billion dollars. I think Black Widow: Choose Your Own Subtitle Because "The Widow's Kiss" Was The Best I Could Manage And That's Terrible would do all right.

Natasha is contacted by some old contact of hers, an informant, an old lover or compatriot in arms, take your pick, who warns her about some major threat. A gene bomb that will randomly mutate a stadium full of people, killing most of them, leaving the rest with wild, likely uncontrollable powers (could play off the idea of Strucker's experiments we heard about at the end of The Winter Soldier, where Wanda and Pietro were the only survivors). Or AIM developed their own Stealth Helicarrier, or there are remnants of the aliens that attacked in the first Avengers flick running about, selling their remaining scraps of technology for some unknown motive. Whatever, Natashe finds out about, but can't get ahold of anyone else as backup, so off she goes. Maybe, I emphasize maybe, Hawkeye could show up late to lend a little assistance, just to continue building the friendship there, but it's still 95% Black Widow.

So Natasha's tracking the leads, using the skills she has none of the rest of the bunch do, but she's a more public figure since all her history got released along with SHIELD and Hydra's. There are a lot of people with scores to settle, for revenge over allies and loved ones she killed, or for plots or weapons buys she thwarted, for humiliations she brought upon them by making it look so easy. While she's hunting whatever we've decided the threat is, all those people are on her tail. It may even be the people she's after who have alerted all these old enemies to her location, to keep her occupied.

Am I hoping this would pit the Black Widow against a host of Marvel's hired guns? Yes. Would I like to see Batroc reappear? Yes. Would I like to see the Black Widow fight Taskmaster? You betcha. Paste Pot Pete (sorry, the Trapster)? Heck yeah. You could even let Natasha be the one who prompts the name change, either now, or in some past meeting, depending on which name you want him to have in the present. Could we play up the "former Russian spy" angle and perhaps get the Red Ghost and his Super-Apes? OK, that's probably pushing it - but what about Arcade? You know you want to see the Black Widow escape Murderworld.

I'm sure they must have a possible script floating around somewhere, it just seems strange they won't go for it. C'mon Marvel, you feel bulletproof right now, don't ya? And you could beat Warner Bros' Wonder Woman movie into the theaters, and then talk big about that, which I'm sure you'd love to do. Just make sure you focus on her being badass and good at what she does, maybe include an attractive guy as either an antagonist, or someone she has to protect for reasons, to give the ladies or interested fellows some equal time gawking. Get a solid plot that keeps things moving, doesn't get bogged down in too many meandering sideplots (like say Amazing Spider-Man 2), some good action set pieces, fights or Natasha avoiding fights by being sneaky and clever. Some good dialogue, maybe let her play up Natasha's sense of humor some (she'd have that sort of fatalistic Russian humor, right?), and there you go. I'm pretty sure it's doable.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Dipped My Toe In Spider-Verse And Nearly Got It Bitten Off

'When your mind is a blank, and you've got nothing to post on, you can always trust. . . Dan Slott!'

(sing it to "Downtown")

Not sure how he became the comic writer most likely to do something that causes me to roll my eyes, but here we are. Probably because while Millar is off doing his creator-owned stuff, and Bendis and Hickman are mucking about in sections of the Marvel Universe I can ignore, Slott's got his hand around Spider-Man's throat.

This week, the Spider-Verse event paid a visit to the Spider-Girl universe. One of Morlun's, cronies, cousins, whatever, killed Peter and Mary Jane (and possibly also Mayday's boyfriend Wes, I'm not sure about that), while Mayday took her baby brother Ben and ran. Two Spider-Guys from other universes showed up just in time to tell her it was too late to save her parents, and they escaped. But not before Mayday swore to the trenchcoated murderer that she'd forget everything her parents taught her about being a good person and hero to get revenge on him.

So yeah, Spider-Girl's about the DARK VENGEANCE now. Because a young hero vowing to avenge their dead parents hasn't been done a thousand times before.

The issue before this, Morlun personally paid a visit to the universe for the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends cartoon, and slaughtered the lot of them. Even had a nice chuckle about how that Spider-Man literally had no words for what was happening (since nobody ever got killed on the show, I guess, so murder didn't exist until Morlun arrived). I'm not sure what it was supposed to accomplish. I mean, I didn't know which Spider-Man it was until Morlun was leaving and we see Firestar and Iceman's corpses. This isn't even setting up cardboard cutouts just to immediately knock them down and hope for dramatic effect. It's just thrown in casually, after the fact. "Oh yeah, by the way. . ." At least Peter and MJ got to go down fighting together, albeit off-screen.

I don't see the percentage here. If you're someone who doesn't know anything about the characters, the couple of pages they get before their death probably aren't going to sway you. It's possible they could I suppose, I know Mightygodking once argued Marv Wolfman did a good job giving a minor hero (Sunburst) in Crisis on the Infinite Earths a little arc before his off-screen death, but I don't think Slott's putting in the effort to manage that here. If you're a fan of these versions of the characters, are you supposed to be happy about it? To want to keep reading, excited to see if Slott kills off some other alternate version of Spider-Man you like?

I've seen some suggestions among fans online Slott's doing it intentionally to piss people off, that he's said as much at conventions. I have to wonder if that's legit, or if he's just playing a heel. Get some talk going about his book, get people interested to see what everyone is yelling about. Or maybe he got tired of everyone yelling at him about Brand New Day/One More Day and decided, "Heck, if they're going to scream no matter what, I'll give 'em something to scream about." I'm not sure fostering a hate-filled and adversarial relationship with your audience is the best strategy, but history suggests that in the short-term, you can do worse than to write something that will piss everyone off, then count on the fans to buy the comic so they can rail on about how much they hate it. I don't think it's viable long-term, but maybe that's not his concern.

{Brief aside: I will admit I don't understand buying a book you expect to hate. I have bought a lot of comics I hated. If you've read my reviews for any length of time, you know this. But I'm not going into it wanting to hate it, I'm hoping it will be good. Even when I was buying Uncanny X-Men during the Austen run, because I was still very much a completionist and the idea of dropping a book just didn't register, I kept hoping the book would turn around. It never did, but I never stopped hoping. It's the same thing with Hawkeye now. For all I'm disappointed in it, I'm still hoping Fraction and Aja pull it out at the end. It's why I didn't buy Civil War, and why I dropped Amazing Spider-Man before One More Day started: I didn't see any way I'd enjoy either of them, so it was better to not spend money on them. Aside over.}

The funny thing is, as far as I go, Slott's strategy backfired. I had a certain curiosity about Spider-Verse, in no small part because Mayday was going to be involved. Except I had been expecting a couple of the Spider-Guys to show up and ask if she would accompany them to help with this threat. She agrees, hugs her parents, and off we go. She gets to meet 616-Parker, her dad at a younger age. She did this once before, early in her title, but it was during his high school days, so presumably this Parker would be a little more mature. And Parker could meet the daughter he could have had if he didn't reveal his identity to the world like a schmuck, setting a whole series of stupid events in motion that culminate in deals with Mephisto (where he even showed them the daughter they were losing for making the deal).

I'm not sure why Marvel works so hard to make me not want to read Spider-Man comics.

Anyway, I was not expecting Mayday to go on the run as an orphan to keep her baby brother from being eaten by the Douchebag Goth Brigade, to have to leave her parents' (and possibly her boyfriend's) bodies to burn in the remains of her home. I was not expecting her to be out for revenge. Also, I am really concerned at the idea of Spider-Ock being anywhere near a baby with spider-powers. There's no part about that I like. I know he can't die there, because he has to go back and finish the last 10 issues of his title, but he needs to.

I'm not angry, more annoyed he couldn't think of anything better to do. But he's not the first to go for the cheap pop with a quick death he didn't build properly, he won't be the last. I've long ago decided to pretty much ignore anything I don't like. If the writers, editors, and artists can do it, so can I.

The end result is, my interest in Spider-Verse evaporated like water on the highway in Death Valley at noon in July. Not only that, I had been planning to add the various older She-Hulk series to my back issues searches, including Slott's run, but now I'm wondering if I want to bother. It's possible he wasn't always this kind of lazy writer; I picked up Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. earlier this fall, so I know Geoff Johns wasn't always about dismemberment and gratuitous double-page splashes. Writers can change over time, or certain assignments just aren't suited for them. I'm not sure any longer I want to waste the money to find out if that's the case with Dan Slott.

On the plus side, that whole mess did make me want to reread all my Spider-Girl comics, and maybe track down some of the ones I missed or let go of previously. So, uh, thanks, Dan Slott?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Italian Secretary - Caleb Carr

A friend was planning to give it away and asked it I wanted it. I said sure, figuring I can always donate it to a library later if I don't want to keep it. As it stands, I don't think I've read anything of Carr's since The Alienist, which my dad gave to me back in the misty days of junior high. I can't tell you if I enjoyed that book or not, since I probably read it grudgingly, as that was my default response to pretty much anything my parents offered or requested at that time.

In this case, Carr has eschewed stories set during Teddy Roosevelt's tenure as New York City police commissioner in favor on a Sherlock Holmes tale. Mycroft Holmes requests Sherlock and Watson travel to Scotland, where two men involved in the upcoming renovation of the west tower of Holyroode - where Mary, Queen of Scot often stayed until a man named Rizzio, the Italian secretary in question, was murdered by people who didn't want Mary hanging about any dadgumed Catholics - have been found dead, stabbed many, many times. Holmes confounds Watson by not immediately dismissing the notion that the ghost of Rizzio has something to do with it all. I will admit I was also confounded because having Holmes admit the possibility of the supernatural seemed as out of place as having Scooby-Doo contend with real werewolves and ghosts of space aliens, rather than cantankerous people in goofy costumes.

As it turns out, and as Holmes explains near the end, he meant something different than Watson (and I) thought, but Carr still seems to hint at there being a spirit running around the house, and that it was getting involved in the whole mess for some reason. I've no idea why it would get involved, nor does the book offer an explanation, though horror movies have taught me the best explanation is, "ghosts are jerks". Stop bothering innocent living people, innocent dead people!

The story breezes by; I read it in an afternoon, and it didn't seem to cover more than two or three days. Holmes seemed to know basically what was going on by the time they reached the castle, and put the remaining pieces together by that evening. It wasn't a terribly difficult mystery, seeing as I had most of it figured out before the end. I did make a mistake on how they shattered the bones of one of the victims, but on the whole, things were straightforward. I wouldn't consider it essential reading for a Holmes fan or, a fan of mysteries in general.