Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Sparrow and the Hawk - Kyle Longley

Almost two years ago I read one paragraph in Small Wars, Faraway Places that mentioned Jose Figueres of Costa Rica and made him sound like a fascinating guy. I finally got around to getting a book that discussed a bit more.

The Sparrow and the Hawk is more broadly about the relationship between Costa Rica and the United States in the years leading up to and including Figueres' first stint as elected president (as opposed to his time as leader of the junta that was in charge for a couple of years after the Revolt of 1948, and using junta makes it sound worse than it was).

The United States, to put it lightly, has a long history of exerting its influence in Latin America. Economic power, political power, military power. Costa Rica has, for the most part, managed to maintain good relations with the U.S., while still having a fair amount of regional autonomy. Longley is interested in how the country managed that, and the tightrope several leaders, including Figueres, walked in implementing their ideals and programs, while not making the U.S. feel its interests were being threatened to the extent it might interfere more.

One of the keys seems to have been supporting the U.S. in most things on the broader international stage, especially anti-Communism after World War II. Costa Rica having a long tradition of democracy, and sticking to it helped. The revolution of 1948 was relatively constrained, the military didn't assume control, democratic processes were ultimately maintained. Figueres was head of a so-called junta that ran the country for a couple of years immediately after, but this persisted only up to the point of a scheduled election. Then the junta stepped down for the elected candidate, Otilio Ulate.

Longley also stresses that prominent Costa Rican political figures spent time in the U.S. and understood the mood of things there. They recognized how heavily anti-Communist the country was getting, and that the U.S. was often associating nationalist movements with Communism. So it was important to work to protect Costa Rican interests, which might include taking control of a few banks, or making the United Fruit Company renegotiate its contracts and pay more taxes, but in a way that did not imply Communist influence. It's largely a combination of picking one's battles and knowing your leverage. Even Figueres, who was vocal about working to remove dictators from other Latin American nations and reinstalling democracy, whether those dictators were U.S. allies or not, would tone it down on occasion.

I did find it curious that at one point Longley says the U.S. intimidated Teodora Picado into stepping down as President during the revolution, then says in the next paragraph the U.S. did not orchestrate the overthrow of a government it thought was collaborating with Communists. His general point is the movement to oust Picado was started by Costa Ricans who had used the legislature to annul election results that went against his party, which is accurate. But at the same time, the U.S. did intervene, both as described above, and by refusing to sell Picado's forces arms, while allowing Figueres and the other rebels to purchase weapons. I guess by the typical standards of the United States, that qualifies as not overthrowing someone.

It isn't a book specifically focused on Jose Figueres, rather it looks at a particular stretch of history during which he was one of several critical figures. But I think it works better for my purposes. I really didn't know anything about Costa Rica going in, and something more concentrated on Figueres might have gone right past me, since I'd lack background.

'When questioned on the issue, Don Pepe responded that he understood that no Soviet-backed government could be tolerated in Central America, and he recounted his role in expelling the Communists from Costa Rica. At the same time, he advised Washington to refrain from military actions through surrogates such as Somoza. Instead, he advocated pressuring Arbenz to remove the Communists from the government. If that failed, he backed sponsoring democratic groups in Guatemala against the Communists, creating a repeat of the victory in his country in 1948. He wanted changes and understood the importance of the Communist question, but he continued to oppose heavy-handed interventions by reactionaries.'

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

There's Always One More Job

For this five-person group, there's a rough theme of "one last job". They're all characters I think ended their movies willing to try and get away from what they'd been doing, but we're going to bring them in for another round. I wanted to avoid characters from films with sequels, since those characters are always being dragged in for one last job. In this case, go with the general idea of a scientist with a big important, potentially scary idea being abducted, and needing to be rescued. Maybe his project can be salvaged, or maybe it's better off destroyed.

The Leader: Mallory Kane (Gina Carano, Haywire) - Mallory might not actually have been through with doing dirty work for governments by the end of this film. But considering she was set up to look like a double agent, and used to hand an innocent journalist over to his death, you would understand if she'd said, "To hell with this!"

But let's say she's open to the idea of rescuing a person in trouble. Even if she suspects the people she's working for aren't entirely on the up-and-up, she figures the victim still deserves a little help. But recovering him is going to send her far and wide, and it may only be the first step, depending on how much he's shared with his captors before she finds him. This team isn't one she assembles by sitting down with a bunch of dossiers and deciding these are the people she needs. It's more that as she moves forward, she crosses paths with them and they tag in. The Baron Munchausen approach.

Problem with that being you can't be sure how long they'll stay tagged in. If they settle whatever issues got them involved in the first place, they may peel off. Mallory isn't likely to have the resources to try bribing them to stay. She could always try threatening to break their arms, but that isn't really conducive to a good team atmosphere.

The Rogue: L.T. Bonham (Tommy Lee Jones, The Hunted) - At the end of the movie, L.T. went back to his cabin in the middle of nowhere. I don't know what you can confront him with to bring him back out. I don't think you can bribe him; he's not a guy who is going to want anything other people can offer. But if the Important Project requires a mineral resource found in the mountains nearby, and people in the area start turning up dead? That might get him interested, maybe even interested enough to follow the trail down out of the wilderness.

If the team needs someone to cobble together a tool out of available junk, he's probably the guy for that job. If they need someone tracked down, he's definitely that guy. Or for a silent approach, or to set up a trap for someone to be lured into. I'd also suspect, whether he likes it or not, he has some contacts in the military he could get in touch with if the need arose. Even if Mallory cleared her name officially, there might still be people wary of helping her. But L.T. should still have a solid reputation in certain circles, which could come in handy. And there could be some comedy factor in watching him awkwardly ask for help, or try to explain the peculiar bunch he's working with.

The Muscle: Danny (Jet Li, Unleashed) - You can't expect Mallory to do all the fighting herself while also running the show. Danny was free of having to fight for the benefit of a small-time thug, and glad of it by the end of the movie. But if the trouble comes to his door, endangers Sam or Victoria, Danny already proved he'd fight about 49 guys to protect them.

The interactions between him and L.T. could be interesting. L.T. trained young men to become weapons, and had to ultimately confront the result of that. Danny was trained by someone more ruthless, but maybe not as cold as L.T., who tried to maintain distance from his students, stay uninvolved in their lives. What does he make of Danny, and what does Danny make of him? L.T. can be a quiet, patient man, which is also true of Sam, and a good approach for being around someone nervous and unsure of himself like Danny. But L.T. doesn't let whatever charm or warmth he has show as readily as Sam, so I feel like Danny's going to be a little intimidated by him.

I also don't know how he's going to work as part of a team, since he was typically left to fight everyone himself. Frankly, it might be best to just stay out of his way, and handle any threats hanging around the periphery.

The Guy of Mystery: Carter Blake (Thomas Jane, Deep Blue Sea) - It's possible you could switch Carter and the next character, but I figured Carter might want to stay well away from boats and water after messing with super-intelligent sharks. Prior to that, he spent two years in Leavenworth for smuggling and illegal salvage on undersea wrecks, which is more what I'm interested in here. The underwater expertise. There's going to be something crucial to the MacGuffin that requires going underwater. My guess is Danny doesn't know how to swim, and this is hardly the time to teach him. Mallory does, but again, best not to ask one person to do everything.

We at least know Carter can keep his cool under intense situations. Stay clear-headed, consider his options, find a solution. Has a decent pain tolerance, given he took that spear bolt through the leg. Knows a little about firearms. Probably still has contacts in low places. He mentioned during the film that he followed the terms of his parole, whatever those were. Is he going to risk violating them for this, or is he hoping to get clear of all of that with this? The old Dirty Dozen deal.

If we want, we could throw in him having somewhat of a phobia, or a bit of PTSD about the water after what he's gone through. You couldn't really blame him, although I suspect he'd rationalize the experience as not being about sharks being more dangerous than he'd told himself. Rather, the problem is people, which is something he knew already.

The Guy with a Boat: Red (Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption) - OK, technically the boat is Andy's (or maybe they're full partners on it), but I'm sure he won't object to Red using it. Maybe Mallory charters the boat. I considered using Andy here, because I thought throwing in someone whose expertise is the world of finance would be very different from anyone I normally include in these things, but I figured a man who knows how to get things might be more useful. If they really need to know something about moving money around, they can always ask Andy. Like how Burn Notice had Barry for whenever they needed money laundered or conjured from thin air. He wasn't around all the time, but appeared when the plot required it.

Tempting as it is to let Shawshank Morgan Freeman turn out to also be badass secret agent Morgan Freeman from the movie Red, we're going to keep him as a non-violent member of the team. If they need to acquire some weapons locally, Red probably knows a few guys that know some guys. If L.T. needs some other random junk for whatever twigs and bailing wire dune buggy he's cobbling together, Red's the guy to get it. I expect Red and Carter might know some of the same questionable individuals. Carter from the supply and shipping side, Red from the distribution end of things. At least one of the individuals they turn to will like Red, but Carter will owe him some money. I figure Red's smart enough to know who he can and cannot be in debt to for any extended period of time.

Plus, I don't really want to see an elderly gent getting beat up by goons. Although that might be what brings Danny in, seeing as how Red bears a remarkable resemblance to Sam. Forget the all-Bruce Campbell team, maybe I should be doing an all-Morgan Freeman team. Although if you pick his character in Bruce Almighty you've got God Himself and that would kind of defeat the purpose.

I was going to describe L.T. as the quiet one of the group, but there's no chatterbox in this bunch. They aren't scowly or unfriendly exactly, just tend to keep their own counsel. L.T.'s comfortable alone, Carter figures nobody cares what he has to say, so until shit goes sideways, he'll keep his mouth shut. Danny, despite Sam and Victoria's encouragement still defaults to trying to not be a distraction, as he sees it. Red is a gregarious guy, but you know there were times in prison it was made very clear he was supposed to be quiet, and I wonder how easy those patterns are to break. And Mallory's pretty no-nonsense, but she might try to talk a little more just to put the team at ease, try to get them to loosen up a little. Whether that works or not is another matter.

The particular mission is trending in the vague direction of Clive Cussler's Raise the Titanic!, minus raising an enormous ship. Which is strange; I haven't read that book in years (I went through a long Cussler stretch starting in 7th grade up to my early undergrad years), but I suspect the need for something to happen in the middle of nowhere to involve L.T. made me think of how that book revolved around a rare element found on a remote island off the coast of Russia. And the sunken ship brings in both the need for a boat and someone who knows their way around underwater. Handwave, handwave, something something, brilliant scientist abducted, and there ya go.

Stepping away from the elements cribbed from that book, let's say the element and the MacGuffin require music, specific frequencies, to work in tandem, and they abducted Victoria as an accomplished pianist, and that's how Danny got dragged into it. I mean, what the hell, go nuts with it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Ricky's been getting bounced from foster home to foster home, and now he's landed with Bella and Hec in the New Zealand wilderness. He's not enthused at first, but Bella's genuine kindness wins him over. Then she dies suddenly. The state and Hec agree he can't look after Ricky, so Ricky runs into the bush. When Hec tracks him down, he fractures his foot, forcing them to camp in the wilderness for weeks.

By the time they emerge from the woods, Hec is suspected of kidnapping, a situation made worse when three redneck imbeciles find them and Ricky gives them the impression Hec molested him. Which starts a months long run across New Zealand to nowhere in particular.

It's a funnier movie than the description would suggest. Hec's gruff attitude is punctured by Ricky finding a few weak points (mostly related to Hec's speaking and illiteracy) and hammering away at them like a kid will. There's Paula, the Child Welfare lady, who is insane in her determination to hunt down this child, or maybe just insane, period. She compares herself to the Terminator, I'd have said Buford T. Justice. Not that she's racist or reactionary, she might be I dunno, just the lack of regard for the limits of her authority, her lack of compassion or understanding. Ricky encounters a few interesting people along the way, although the trio of rednecks annoyingly keep popping up. Sometimes you just can't get away from the worst people.

I wasn't sure I was going to like it, not usually in the mood for heartwarming stuff. But there's enough humor and absurdity in it that it worked out just fine. Really enjoyed it. Ricky keeping the hot water bottle when he runs away was sweet. The way it was a reminder of maybe the first time an adult, really legitimately cared about him, did those little things that shows they care.

Although, I was planning to loan it to my dad as I watched it, but then they ran into a giant wild boar, and one of the dogs doesn't make it, so never mind that. It'll just depress him. Although I found out he has watched John Wick at some point, but left the room during the part where the dog dies. Did the same thing during In a Valley of Violence.

Monday, August 14, 2017

What I Bought 8/9/2017 - Part 2

My downstairs neighbor left a note on my door last week, a full page front and back, complaining how I kept her up all night with loud music and banging noises. Except I went to be bed at 10:30 on the night in question. I think she means the people in the apartment behind mine, but I can't be bothered to find out. But it did put me in a sour mood that day, especially since the note informed me she had told management about my (nonexistent) transgression. I haven't heard anything from them,
so I presume they're taking it even less seriously than I did. I have the impression she complains to them about everyone around her a lot.

Ms. Marvel #21, by G. Willow Wilson (writer), Marco Failla (artist), Ian Herring (color artist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - Nice use of the lightning bolt symbol there, especially in contrast to the electricity crackling off the bad guy's gauntlet.

Kamala, her brother, and the other people set to be booted out of town fight back and try to find safety in the local mosque. HYDRA Lite barges in, the fight continues, Kamala ends up in the bathroom with the masked bad guy who turns out to be that blond jock, Josh. Who has turned his feelings of inadequacy into violence against others. Brilliant.

Kamala and Josh stopping to have a heart-to-heart in a bathroom while there's a huge fight between hate mongers and a bunch of innocent people going on outside seems like a curious decision. Yes, Kamala wants to understand why he's doing this, and she's worn out, but maybe deal with understanding after the innocent people are out of danger? It's a little hard for me to see Josh recognizing the error of his ways and switching sides in the twelfth hour. I did like how, in the flashback, Lockdown tells Josh she knows he isn't bad, he just had a bad idea, and he's really a leader, when she had been the one insisting he had to be locked up because he might cause an explosion at the school. Josh, you gullible asshole.

Failla draws Kamala a little taller in this issue, even on the page where she briefly surrenders. Possibly because she was in fight mode most of the issue, so she was always making herself a little larger. Or maybe he's drawing her a little skinnier than usual, which makes her look more stretched out. It's less noticeable as the issue progresses, because she's getting worn down, and can't keep up the pace, and a lot less noticeable once she and Josh are sitting and talking, what with her being out of fight mode entirely.

Yellow is the color Herring seems to use for when Kamala's going to fight. The panels get a prominent yellow tint when she takes heart from her brother and decides to keep resisting. It's not the first time, it's been pretty consistent across both volumes, yellow is the color for moments when she puts her doubts aside and stands up. Which feels a little strange to me, since yellow gets associated with cowardice, having a yellow streak and all that. But yellow's also a bright color, associated with light and life, which are things she'd be protecting. And her lightning bolt's yellow as well, of course.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #23, by Ryan North (writer), Erica Henderson (artist), Rico Renzi (color artist), Travis Lanham (letterer) - I feel like Henderson's emulating something with these covers, but I don't know what. Covers of old pulp adventure novels. The coloring is just making it look odd to me.

The equipment that sustains the Savage Land is failing, and the problem is believed to be some programming issue with the alien robots that maintain it. Thus bringing in clever programming students to try and figure out the problem. But, as watching character do programming stuff is really boring, the issue instead focuses on Nancy and Stefan's tentative relationship. Their differing opinions on Doom are causing some issues, but may not be insurmountable. Romance subplot done for now, the story returns to hot programming action, now with Dinosaur Ultron. Which is an outstanding addition, and something I didn't know I wanted to see until now. I hadn't even thought of him taking a form like that, but it's outstanding. Much better than that time Frank Cho drew Ultron as looking like the Wasp because . . . well, because it was Frank Cho drawing it I assume.

So that was a pretty good reveal for the final two pages (not counting the actual final page, Kraven's continuing struggle with the Poachmaster General). The two-page spread of Doreen helping Nancy through her doubts about the possible relationship covered some important character work, but didn't take up so much space we were denied Dinosaur Ultron. Also, I like the touch of having Doreen write her name as "DOREEN!" on her name tag, while Nancy opted for "Nancy Whitehead".

However, I must take issue with something. The Squirrel Girl Bathroom Update about Doreen trying to return the baby pterosaur to its parents clearly states Doreen's shirt got torn at the shoulder, and yet there was no battle damage when she returned to the dinner table, having unfortunately missed out on exciting relationship developments. Not Doomesque, dude. I demand continuity be maintained between the main story and the jokes at the bottom of the page!

Lotta good jokes in this issue, too. Latverian slang, the bit about programming montages being boring, the menu jokes, Squire Pete as the (nonexistent) character find of 2017. Unless Squire Pete is going to show up to help in this story arc. Still funny, though. Although knightly armor would have to be unpleasant in a tropical jungle. Chafing issues galore. Nothing funny about that.

As usual, Squirrel Girl's a highly enjoyable book.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Earthworm Jim 2.8 - Lounge Day Journey Into Night

Plot: We open with the narrator having forgotten he's still employed on this show, and have to rush into Bob feeding our heroes to the Giant Sturgeon. Jim, possibly traumatized by ingrained worm genetic memory, is useless, leaving Peter to get them out of the fish's stomach and defeat Bob. The end result of the sidekick saving the day is Jim is stripped of his heroship, and Peter gets the supersuit.

Meanwhile, Evil the Cat has gotten his last selection from the Tome of the Month club, the Hunchback of Nostradamus, which has a prophecy of a cat working with a pair of lounge singers and destroying the universe. The singers in question are Morty and Eileen, who Evil approaches right as Jim and Peter leave one of their gigs (on their way to learn Jim doesn't get to be the hero) any longer.

While Evil gets Morty and Eileen to practice his song, "Don't Buy a Calendar, Tomorrow's Already Gone," Peter gloats over his reversal in status while Jim works multiple menial jobs to pay the bills. And to top it off, he gets this month's selection of the Tome of the Month Club, The Hunchback of Nostradamus! Apparently Evil splurged on the deluxe membership with expedited shipping. The heroes rush to the lounge, but are waylaid by an industrial floor buffer and the awful singing.

The universe does not end, because Evil didn't read the whole prophecy, and so missed the part about the minstrels needing to sign a record contract first. Which gives Peter and Jim time to regroup and try again. And again, they botch it. Right as the universe is about to end, the show's animation budget runs out, for the second time in the episode. Evil wants to believe he's won, while Jim takes the opportunity to seize the animator's pencil and erase Evil. Then he sends another check to the animators.

Quote of the Episode: Jim - 'All this time I was fighting villains, I could have been enjoying musical jello!'

Times Peter turns into a monster: 0 (18 overall).

Cow? Yes, but not quickly enough for me to keep from thinking this show might deserve imminent cancelation.

Other: Morty and Eileen were willing to help Evil destroy the universe, playing someone else's song, for basically the promise he would provide lunch. Which made me think of people working for Marvel or DC, for some reason. Evil's probably a more compassionate boss, though.

Jim's lack of ears come into play again, like they did in Battery of the Gods where he was not only immune to the nose flute, but enjoyed the heck out of it. Morty and Eileen aren't quite as bad as the nose flute, simply because their voices aren't as shrill, but they're still unpleasant.

Henchrat is absent from the episode, because he's taking elocution lessons from Walter. Which at least means he avoids getting his whiskers pulled or ears tied together.

I was trying to think if the claim the heroes league made, that Peter is responsible for 90% of Jim's victories. Jim stopped the apes last week, he sort of stopped Hyper Psy-Crow, he utilized bureaucracy to stop The Fiend Which Dares Not Speak Its Name. Peter did save the day in "The origin of Peter Puppy", but that's the most recent one I can remember. You'd think with all the bake sales those heroes host, they'd be better at math, simply by virtue of having to make change.

Friday, August 11, 2017

What I Bought 8/9/2017 - Part 1

Bought a couple of comics this week I had not bought previously, and it turned into the ol' "Good Idea, Bad Idea" situation. Good Idea: Buying Giant Days #29. Bad Idea: Buying Hulk #9 because you think Hellcat's going to be in it a lot. If you care to know anything further about what I thought about either book, please continue reading. If not, um, there'll be more comics on Monday?

Hulk #9, by Mariko Tamaki (writer), Julian Lopez and Francesco Gaston (artists), Matt Milla (colorist), Cory Petit (letterer) - The scowly face drawn over Jennifer's picture is a pretty solid representation of me after I finished this comic.

Jennifer is looking for her favorite cooking show host, who has been turned into a big green monster by two guys because. . . I don't know. They were the producers of his show, did they think it would boost ratings? The cook is roaming the town, badly scared, and the medication he found that is supposed to reverse what happened, doesn't work, so he's losing it. Jen and the cook's boyfriend are trying to find him before it's too late. Hellcat shows up on two pages, they chat on the phone a bit, that's it. At least they're still friends.

I was really only buying it expecting a little more Patsy and Jennifer interaction, silly me. This bit where Jennifer is reluctant to change, because maybe she isn't sure she can trust herself. Or it? Is she thinking of this hulk form as something different from her? I'm not clear on that. It's kind of interesting in theory, but in practice, I don't care.

I think Lopez is drawing the first half of the book, and Gaston takes over about the time Jen has hulked out and surprises the two producers. Assuming I'm right, Lopez goes a lot heavier on inks, and his style seems going in a more photo-realistic direction than Gaston, who by comparison has a more simplified style. It works, but it does produce a different feel between the two halves. The first half, with all these shadows and people looking concerned and sad is morose, things are dire. The second half, the shadows decrease noticeably, the coloring seems brighter, which would imply things are on the upswing. Even though Jen has forced herself to change, is scaring the crap out of people, and Oliver is losing control of himself. Sounds like the situation is getting worse, but not really how the art paints it. Neither style is bad in a vacuum, but they're at cross-purposes here.

Let's chalk this up as me making a mistake, one I've made before and will undoubtedly make again.

Giant Days #29, by John Allison (writer), Max Sarin (penciler), Liz Fleming (inker), Whitney Cogar (colorist), Jim Campbell (letterer) - The university theater productions, skimping on the backgrounds for their fancy practical effects, like simulating flying, and arrows.

So, I am still about 12 issues behind, but Esther had been excelling in romantic literature courses, but is being surpassed by a student named Emilia, who seems great and wonderful and charming, and who Esther already hated because she's dating the guy Susan likes. I entirely sympathize with, "You hurt my friend, so I must kill you." Esther's attempts to out-do Emilia result in her giving her professor entirely bad ideas about trying to take advantage of her at some mixer (I doubt this is intentional, but the way Sarin draws Professor Lord, he looks like Jack Kirby, which was a strange coincidence). Emilia whisks her away, and they seem to have become best friends by the end of the issue, to the point Esther has adopted Emilia's style entirely, which is concerning.

And there's another plot with Daisy trying to get Ed to date a bit, and Ed being too hung up on that fiction trope of true love being some massive, perfect thing that hits you like a truck immediately. Again, I sympathize, or perhaps empathize.

One thing I've appreciated about this book reading through the trades is Allison keeps stuff moving. Situations progress rather than stagnate, new issues crop up constantly. Which may not sound like much, but if you've read some of the decompressed shit Marvel and DC put out - and I, unfortunately, have - it's sometimes novel to get back to something that gets the hell on with things.

The Esther vs. Emilia thing was already in full swing, but has pushed forward and into a different direction. Although at this point, I'm extremely suspicious of Emilia. She seems too perfect and uninterested in how many people imitate her and fawn over her, which makes me suspect she's reveling in it and hiding it extremely well.

And I like having those kinds of conflicted feelings. Should I be suspicious? Should Daisy be pushing Ed to pursue this relationship he isn't sure about, even though he's probably waiting for the absolutely perfect situation that will never occur? Yeah, probably, but as a person comfortable by himself, who nonetheless has to deal with both subtle and unsubtle pressure from family and occasionally friends about finding someone, I'm kind of inclined to side with Ed's right to live his life how he wants. But I don't think Ed is as naturally solitary as me, so he should listen to Esther and call Cathy back.

Sarin's able to exaggerate his art extremely well for comedic impact, or the dramatics of these college kids, freaking out over all sort of things. Esther's appearance in the "beasting the bones of my enemies" panel was outstanding. In other circumstances it would be scary, but here, when she's basically vowing to destroy someone who is (seemingly) unwittingly stealing her spotlight, it's a ridiculous response, and so it fits the scene perfectly. Also, I love the font Campbell used for that voice balloon. Likewise, Daisy's three-panel increasing freakout at Ed over not calling Cathy back, where Cogar keeps increasing the use of red, and making it a deeper red as well), as Daisy fills more and more of each successive panel, screaming at him about how perfect Cathy was for him. And then fourth panel below them, where she puts frozen yogurt to her forehead and there's steam the same shade of red rising from that one spot on her head.

So far, I feel very good about my decision to start buying this book regularly. I have to get one right sometimes.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Paradox

You know how time travel movies are. A small group of researchers, funded by a mysterious Mr. Landau, built themselves a time machine. They send one guy, Jim, forward one hour, he finds dead bodies of the team, and one of them is holding a camera he was using to record everything. Jim caught a brief glimpse of someone dragging Gail, who also works on the project and is his girlfriend into the only elevator out, but the place is set to self-destruct, so Jim goes back to the time he originally came from to convince everyone they must avert this horrible fate. Their time machine drew so much power it blew out all the power in the city, so the elevator isn't working, so that's out. And the NSA, suspicious of Mr. Landau, is upstairs trying to get to them anyway, to rescue their agent.

So there's a lot of arguing about whether they could go further back and avert the whole thing, or whether their fates are set. They watch what's recorded on the camera, but seem to keep doing a lot of it. At one point, they see that Jim and Gail successfully found Landau in the server room, so they go ahead and do that. Except finding Landau obviously didn't save them last time, so shouldn't they be trying to do different things? Easy for me to say, sitting comfortably in my living room.

I didn't have a sense of how large the underground facility they were in was. There were at least a half-dozen rooms and a couple of halls, probably more, but I started to wonder how the killer kept successfully getting away from them with a limited amount of places to hide.

I have to give the film some credit, I was plausibly able to construct scenarios for basically every character to be the killer. Greed, jealousy, past mistakes, ambition, simply believing it was fated. But you can rule out several of them just based on the killer's size in the scenes where they interact with other characters (the killer is wearing full tactical gear and a gas mask). Some of the characters are simply too big to be the killer, but beyond that, everyone was hiding something, or had some motivation that could explain it. So that was something.