Friday, May 26, 2017

What I Bought 5/23/2017

Yesterday was one of those days where I was constantly stuck behind large, slow vehicles. Construction equipment, campers, truck carrying some giant cylinder. At least the weather was excellent.

Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #2, by Peter David (writer), Mark Bagley (penciler), John Dell (inker), Jason Keith (color artist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - OK, the point at which the mask is taking on the texture of some creepy, membranous substance is the point when you need to stop making his mouth visible beneath the mask. That's some horror movie stuff there.

Ben avoids being shot, first by being fast, then by making a bullshit promise he can cure Cassandra Mercury's daughter of her Crooks' disease, even though he's lying through his teeth. He gets them to set up his "Aunt June" with an unlimited account and a room at the hotel, not that she knows what's going on. Kaine is closing in on Ben, although he ran into some armed goons. Are they leftover security, or other people after Ben Reilly? Don't know.

The dueling phantoms of Ben-as-Scarlet Spider and Ben-as-Jackal didn't appear this month. Probably good not to overuse that, assuming it wasn't a one-off thing. It's interesting to see what aspects of Peter Parker show up, and how they're expressed differently. He's glib, he's fairly clever, but it's less about wisecracks and more about lies, or salesmanship. His lies aren't very good - he claimed he was able to awaken Cassandra's daughter because he has a telepathic ability to reach into the minds of children - but Peter told some weak stories over the years. Ben at least can manage it with a straight face. Peter's been to the afterlife a couple of times, though he doesn't usually remember it. Ben apparently remembers every death the clones experienced, and he remembers it as nothingness. Which no doubt informs his approach. No point in worrying about what comes after, because there is nothing.

I'm not sure what the end game of this whole thing with "Aunt June" is, or if he'll continue to try and collect a faux-Parker crew around him. Is he going to expect some sort of affection or gratitude from her, or is this just a joke to him? Enable some cranky, gambling addict for the hell of it? Is it the only way he thinks he can keep people around, giving them stuff, or making them feel indebted?

Bagley keeps the shades on Ben throughout almost the entire issue. Which keeps people from being able to read the eyes, which might say something about Ben's confidence in his ability to lie to their faces. The only time they're gone is when he and Mr. Slate get into it. Even then, only when Ben underestimates the guy and gets slugged, then kicked around a little. The moment when he loses any sense of control of the situation. He can't bluff his way out of it, and he seemingly can't fight his way out, either. That shocked look as he first gets punched,and then he's getting slammed into the floor.

Also, I like the way the "PUNT" sound effect is drawn. The font seems more appropriate for Calvin & Hobbes, one of the strips where Calvin's getting pummeled by Moe. Given that Ben's in the mess at least partially because he ran his mouth against someone not impressed or dazzled by his wit, that fits.

Anyway, I'm sticking with the book for the time being.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Let's Talk About Samurai Jack After The Big Finale

Such clever titles I come up.

I'm going to SPOIL things like a crappy fridge. Don't say you weren't warned. I'll still give you a minute to leave if you want.

You know, I gave blood on a whim last month, because they were doing a drive at the office, and now the damn Red Cross won't stop calling, trying to get me to make appointments to do it again. What they don't realize, so I guess I should explain it the next time they call, the harder they try and push, the less likely I am to do it ever again. Because I don't need this hassle. I did it, let's not make it a whole thing. I'm really only doing it to confront my discomfort with needles.

So, Samurai Jack finale was last Saturday. How did we like it?

I was pretty satisfied. Until she actually created the portal, I hadn't realized that if Ashi had Aku's powers, then she could send Jack through time. Jack spent so much time trying to find external ways to get back home, I kind of forgot whose power flung him into the future in the first place. Or, it just didn't seem relevant, because I couldn't see Aku ever doing that. Although at some point during this recent run of episodes, I toyed with the idea of Aku growing so despondent at the persistent existence of the Samurai that he tries sending him back to an earlier time. Let a younger, more invigorated Aku take a crack at him. Jack was his problem originally anyway. Past Aku just foisted him off on Future Aku like dick.

Either that or Aku would fling him even further into the future. I read some illustrated version of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine when I was a kid, and the part where he travels millions of years into the future, long after that time with the Morlocks, and the pretty, empty-headed surface dwelling people, and the artist drew it like the surface of the Moon. A bleak rock, set against a jet-black sky. I pictured Jack popping up there. That would have been a bummer of an ending.

Right about the time Jack was going to deliver the coup de grace, a thought flashed through my head about one of the consequences of Jack succeeding in killing Aku in his original time period. And then it appeared the show feinted in that direction, only to opt against it. I figured, chalk it up to the uncertainties of magical time travel. And then they went through with it, and Ashi faded away.

The way all the various people Jack's helped over the years showed up to try and rescue him, even though there was no possibility of it working, went over really well. I've kind of become immune to those "All hands on deck" moments in superhero comics because they come so frequently with the endless barrage of events these days. 500 superheroes show up when they're supposedly going to try and talk Bruce Banner into peacefully giving himself up, it doesn't mean a damn thing any longer.

But Samurai Jack has avoided that, thanks to a relatively few number of episodes and a small number of creative visions being involved. Jack's fought alongside people, or for them, but there's not really been a moment of a mass gathering for some ultimate battle. These episode made a big point about all the people Jack has helped and saved over the years, and now all those people stood up to fight for him. Even knowing it's futile, it's still pretty cool.

And the fact Jack and the Scotsman get together for 30 seconds, and Jack manages to offend him, cracked me up. It's just a good clash of personalities, Jack's calm nature irks the Scotsman, and he's never shy about sharing that, and Jack has just enough of a temper the Scotsman can get a rise from him if he keeps at him, which he will, just because.

So glad that the moment Ashi and Jack arrive in Jack's old time, he wastes no time and goes right after Aku. No speeches, no fucking around, just chops that guy to bits. Extremely satisfying.

The very end was sad but not depressing. Jack is hurting, but he isn't entirely lost. This is the beard-wearing, emotionally distant guy we saw at the start of the run. He's trying to deal with losing some he loved, but he's reminded of what they accomplished, that they saved the damn world from however many years of Aku running it into the ground, and that helps, a little.

And I like the repeated use of the ladybugs, or I guess these would have been the Japanese beetles. It's a small, innocuous creature, but still visually distinct. Tiny, but beautiful. It can be a peaceful creature that will rest on you if you remain calm, but it can also scuttle along walls or fly about in a way that attracts a child's attention, or makes for a nice visual. It's not a bad stand-in for everything Jack's been fighting Aku to protect, as well as all the things on Earth that so interested Ashi and ultimately caused her to switch allegiances.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What I Bought 5/20/2017 - Part 2

The other book from the weekend. This one gets its own post since the story was wrapping up this month. Seemed fair.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #20, by Ryan North (writer), Erica Henderson (artist), Rico Renzi (color artist), Travis Lanham (letterer) - Qbert reference. There was a Dairy Queen my grandmother and I always went to when she came to visit, they had one of those. I usually didn't have the quarters, so I just watched it demonstrate how the game worked while we waited for our food. Which seemed like an eternity, but was probably 5 minutes.

Melissa overthought this. Having already pinned the mosquito attack on Dr. Doom, she now dresses one of her bears in a mockup of his outfit, then tries to pin the whole thing on Squirrel Girl as having created this false threat to make herself look good. Which allows Melissa to "thwart" Squirrel Girl, appearing to be the hero. And since people are stupid, that could almost work, and she would still be able to control the animals at her leisure. I guess she figured it was a good way to take Squirrel Girl off the board, but it feels comically overdone. Which is the point, making fun of the ludicrous lengths people will go to claim mass conspiracy.

Melissa is ultimately defeated by Mary's love for EMPs, but is approached in prison by the evil Asgardian trickster Ratatoskr. That's one titanic team-up you weren't expecting. Erica Henderson doesn't off get the chance to draw disturbing things in this book, between the images of a shaved Tippy-Toe, and the panel of a woman peeling her face apart to reveal a beady-eyed squirrel with a horn beneath, she handled it pretty well. And the big fight full-page splash, even if I have to question Koi Boi who appears to be kicking that lion in the junk as he flips him. Not cool, dude. But clotheslining an ostrich is good strategy, assuming trying to break one of their legs is out, and I doubt Doreen wants to cripple mind-controlled animals.

I do want Doom to team-up with Squirrel Girl whenever Melissa and Ratatoskr show up. Melissa stole his equipment, and dressed a bear up in one of his costumes (the bear does wear the costume well). That's a slap in the face, and I expect him not to stand for it. I think Ryan North writes a good Dr. Doom.

And Chef Bear and Alfredo the Chicken got married, which is sweet, but will there be problems when Chef Bear goes into hibernation? That's going to be an unresponsive spouse for several months.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Don't Believe I've Seen That Weapon Against Ghosts Before

The Dead Room puts three paranormal researchers in a house to try and determine if there's a ghost there. Scott claims (repeatedly) to be intensely scientific and interested only in facts, to an annoying degree (which is why I figured he would be the one killed). Holly has a sensitivity to the presence of spirits, though little experience using it (which is why I figured she'd be the one killed). Liam is fairly scientific, but not the condescending tool Scott is, and he has a family back home, including two kids (which is why I figured he'd be the one to die).

My mistake was in assuming only one of them wouldn't make it.

It's quickly established something shows up at 3 a.m., pushes the front door open, and clomps down the hall. The more they try to detect or communicate with it, the more aggressive it gets. Holly claims she sees a large man, and pretty soon he's punching holes in walls. But there's one room he will not enter, so they use retreat to that when furniture starts flying, although the ghosts aim seems pretty bad. Eventually they try to get rid of the ghost. Holly wants to try a cleansing, which Scott dismisses as 'witchcraft'. He's a man of science, you see. And since ghosts must be made of matter, he's certain he can disperse the spirit's particles with a sufficiently ultra-low frequency sound.

That's right, he's going to defeat the ghost by pumping up the bass. Exorcism via dubstep. I wish I'd thought of that to use in a story. Maybe I'll just steal it (or Pollock will).

Scott's a character that takes himself so seriously it makes him funny. When he initially describes his theory, Liam jibes that Scott wants to be a Ghostbuster. Scott scoffs that movie was nonsense, because they were trying to catch ghosts. 'Might as well try to trap helium in a bird cage,' he replies. Oh, but trying to scatter it to the winds with the Brown Noise from some equipment you probably took from the back of my friend's car, entirely logical.

The movie makes some choices that I found a little novel. It wastes no time on the family that inhabited the house. They've already fled and called these folks in by the time the movie starts. None of the team bothered to do any research ahead of time on the house, figure out if maybe something horrible happened here. There isn't even any time spent trying to figure out why the ghost won't enter that one room. There's one room we never see inside, Holly opens the door once, flinches at the smell, we hear flies buzzing inside, and that's it. No payoff to that.

In the last 10 minutes, we finally learn what's up with the safe room, it turns into a bit of twist ending. Somewhat effective, in that it at least explains why the ghost seemed so ineffectual at actually harming these people. But everything happens so quickly it's kind of a blur. Things seem OK, a surprise is revealed, everything goes to shit, movie over.

The movie also ends on one of those shots where the view is at ground level and something scuttles forward from the shadows at it right before the credits roll. Like the first Paranormal Activity. Except this wasn't a film where someone is carrying a camera at all times and we're seeing things through it. The film is shot more like our perspective is that of a floating presence. We might hover just behind a character's shoulder, but then pause while they continue on down the hall. So I don't know what the thing was rushing towards in the final shot, from its perspective. There was nothing there.

Monday, May 22, 2017

What I Bought 5/20/2017 - Part 1

I did end up in Columbia, but at least it didn't storm. And I found three of the books from this month. Better than none. Start with the two that are still mid-storyarc.

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #8, by Jon Rivera (writer/story), Gerard Way (story), Michael Avon Oeming (artist), Nick Filardi (colorist), Clem Robins (letterer) - Those look like fingerprints on the rocks. Enormous fingerprints. I have no idea if that's what's intended, or what's signified by it.

The Whisperer and his followers are moving across universes, converting people to their cause (represented by the skin at eye level being torn away and glowing blue bone and eyes revealed below). Cave and the others are trying to keep up, but are outnumbered and hole up in a universe where they find Cave's old mentor alive (albeit giving lectures to dead students). After a lot of discussion about what the Whisperer is up to, they are attacked by it and its followers, though it doesn't seem interested in finishing them off, so Cave will have the chance to deal with it.

It seems likely, given that Cave's wife is not buried in this alternate universe where she was in Cave's, that she's still alive. That Cave so adamantly denies Chloe's suggestion that maybe she is alive here only cinches it in my mind. But the refusal to consider the possibility makes sense. Cave has seized on this adventure as a way of, at best, pulling himself out of the depression he'd sunk into by way of action. It's a distraction, and encountering a living reminder of what he's trying to ignore, would make that difficult. Especially since she wouldn't be his wife, similar looking and acting and thinking perhaps, maybe even married to the cave Carson that existed in that universe, but not the same woman. And Cave couldn't stay, so what would be the point?

Granting that I don't know much about Cave's original comic adventures, it almost feels as though Rivera and Way are moving him backwards for this battle. More assertive, butting heads with this Johnny fellow from his old crew, no cybernetic eye. Chloe and Wild Dog both seem to be receding into the background a bit (Wild Dog more than Chloe, but she was closer to being a part of all this than he was). Is this Cave's chance to conclude old business that he should have finished long ago? Dealing with the Borsteins and the damage they've caused? Was it all brought about by his original explorations, and then it's reached this point because he washed his hands of it and stopped paying attention? I'm just spitballing.

Page 19 is a pretty one. Cave almost seems to have lost it, trying to yell at the Whisperer and Borstein to come out and face him as the followers swarm towards them. The lower two-thirds are set with a couple of large blue panels mirroring the eye sockets of those followers. The bottom of the page, bathed it a reddish-orange that matches what's rising from a smoking crater in the upper left corner of the page show hordes of the zombified followers, and some of them are climbing up the space between the two blue panels, to the panel above, where Cave is trying to stave them off with a flamethrower while the disembodied voice of the Whisperer/Borstein taunts him, by telling him he wouldn't want to leave cave all alone. So as you read that, your eye follows the fire of the explosion down the page between the blue panels, to the army below. And the blue panels show Cave looking downward towards the army, refusing to leave, while Chloe tries to get him and a wounded Wild Dog the hell out of there.

The specific way 'We. Are. Leaving!' is written there makes me think it's a reference to 'Marines! We Are Leaving!' from Aliens, but maybe not. Not that uncommon of a thing to say. It would fit, in the sense Cave staying to try and get revenge or strike back somehow is futile and getting their wounded to safety and regrouping is the best option.

Still enjoying Filardi's colors and what they add to Oeming's art. The Whisperer being this mess of bright orange and maroon tentacles and shapes, the neon green of the Mole's cockpit. And in general, I think his use of color helps to guide the eye through some of the more unusual panel layouts. I'm sure that's a collaborative effort from all parties, but it wouldn't work if Filardi's colors didn't grab the eye and draw it where it needs to go.

Copperhead #13, by Jay Faerber (writer), Drew Moss (artist), Ron Riley (colorist), Thomas Mauer (letterer) - I bet that guy got those horns stuck on a lot of stuff when he was a kid. Unless they don't develop until his species hits maturity.

The sheriff didn't actually quit, because she's still investigating. The Mayor was sleeping in the guest room in his house, because he was carrying on an affair. By the time Clara tracks down the other woman, she's dead the same way as the former Mayor. Current Mayor Boo is trying to keep Mr. Hickory calmed down, as it's hard to tell which of them is successfully manipulating the other. The dangerous criminal guy is still trying to make it to Copperhead. I'm guessing he'll show up sometimes at the very end of next issue.

I kind of wish this felt like more of genuine mystery I could be trying to solve. Maybe it's supposed to be, but it seems more likely (and the cover for the next issue being on the back cover of this issue doesn't help) like Ishmael is going to show up with a name of a killer for the Sheriff, she's going to go find the killer, there'll be a fight, it'll end somehow, that's about it.

Also, having Clara do the big "I Quit!" at the end of last issue, then immediately opening this one with her still investigating and having very much not quit, feels cheap. I didn't expect she'd stop investigating, but why try for that as your cliffhanger, and then blow it to hell on page 2 of the next issue? It feels like Faerber wasn't even really trying to for any suspense himself, so what's the point?

That complaint aside, there are pieces moving here I find interesting. This interplay between Boo and Hickory (and how Clara's going to fit into it). The Sheriff now owing a favor to Madame Vega. It feels like this thread with the escaped con has been going on forever, but I am curious to see exactly what his backstory is with the Sheriff, since it doesn't feel as simple as her having arrested him, or him being her son's father. And this murder mystery could play out in a cool way, it just hasn't been great so far. No particular reason to care about the now former Mayor, since he hadn't appeared at all prior to his death.

The complaint I've had about Moss not giving Boo the proper size, well I'm still not sure about Boo, but he drew the head of the Mayor's security large enough. Properly conveying size, making Clara's complete indifference to his attempts at intimidation more effective. Sometimes Moss nails the body language; some of the panels of Clara glaring. The one where she mutters to herself about everyone making things difficult while she talks to Madame Vega. There was a certain tiredness to that one, maybe because vega and Clara's panels are drawn so the two are in opposition, and Vega is drawn standing ramrod straight, while Clara seems somewhat hunched over, actually probably leaning against the fish tank behind her). It's a less aggressive approach than with the security guard, but she was hoping things were going to go smoother here.

Moss does seem to struggle with lips. The Sheriff's lips sit really oddly on her face in a lot of panels, usually when Moss is going for some more quizzical or disgusted expression. He gives her fuller lips than Godlewski did, and the coloring of them is darker, makes them stand out more. There's just certain panels where it looks like some attached lips the way you do on a Mr. Potato Head which is not ideal.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Earthworm Jim 1.9 - Trout!

Plot: Peter and Jim decided to have their heads put on each others' bodies, but Peter was having some difficulty mastering the suit, which gave Psycrow a chance to run them over with a train. But they were able to get Jim inside the suit and he redirected the train - straight up, before gravity kicked in and Psycrow wound up under the locomotive.

On to the main plot, which involves Peter getting a postcard with a picture of a fur-bearin' trout on it, and Jim insisting they go on a road trip to see it. As luck would have it, Professor Monkey-for-a-Head has constructed the most powerful weapon in the universe, and it runs on fish hair. And he too, has seen the postcard, so Queen Sweaty, Bloated, Festering, etc., etc., also hits the open road. As does Princess What's-her-Name, once she learns what her sister is after. Jim and Peter see many wonders, but are no closer to finding the trout when they learn the Queen has captured her sister, and demands Jim bring the trout to her - or else.

But Jim had a vision the night before of the trout, and is able to see the signs pointing the way, thanks to looking within. Which may be a euphemism for being launched high enough in the atmosphere the thin air causes hallucinations. Either way, once he's found the fish, he has to keep him free of the Queen's clutches, which is pretty difficult with her wielding a scepter of pure Dimantium, or however you spell that. Especially once the Trout's Screwdriver of Elysium proved a dud.

In the mid-episode interlude, we see a propaganda film about how hard Evil the Cat works at creating evil in the universe. Sure, when he's not on the golf course, or at one of his exclusive clubs enjoying an 11 a.m. martini.

Quote of the Episode: Peter - 'Oh goody. The day has hardly begun and already your brain has snapped like a dry, brittle twig.'

Times Peter turns into a monster: 0 (8 overall).

Cow? Yep.

Other: Jim said some variation of "Eat Dirt!" four times in this episode, a record so far.

If Diamantium (I keep typing Diamondium, but that's one of Futurama's nonsense materials) is the hardest, sorry, second hardest substance in the universe, having some of it blow up in your face must hurt like hell.

We never did find out wha the Professor's weapon does. Frankly it looked like a cell phone done up like a banana. But this show was made in the mid-90s, so a cell phone that size might be pretty powerful. I could probably conquer 1994 with my flip phone if I went back in time. At least until those backwards people of the past realized that even with all my advanced technology, I was still vulnerable to bacteria. Wait, no, I meant bullets. I'm still vulnerable to bullets.

Anyway, where I meant to go with that thread is, did the Professor just stand around waiting for the Queen to get back with the fish hair? Why did he present it to her half-finished? Go get the hair, get the thing working, then show it off? I guess this way he was spared a whuppin' from Jim, so he really is a smart guy.

Peter was not a fan of the Giant Snail Petting Zoo. Which is fair, I would find that pretty horrifying, too. But he and Jim were a little too into the World's Biggest Scab. I still laughed at the Gabby Scabby Doll. 'Pick me, pick me!'

The Princess was being menaced by a flesh-eating mob of lawyers, which, hmm, I thought lawyer minions were Evil's bag. But I guess there are enough people with law degrees to go around.

So they did a Star Wars reference with the Princess' plea to Jim to save her, and then an Evel Knievel gag when Jim kicks in the Interstellar Overdrive on the Worm-Cycle, and jumps Snake River Canyon. Real '70s week going there.

When the Queen contacts Jim to show she has captured her sister, she gives Jim two hours to find the trout. Which is enough time for Jim and Peter to find the postcard company president and learn his awful secret, for Jim to then fall into a 'bottomless pit of despair', only to then remember his vision, and 'look within' for guidance. And then drive his motorcycle really fast to where the trout is. Which is more than I get done in a week.

I feel like keeping track of how often the opening bit actually plays into the main story. Like in "Sidekicked", Peter's transformation into his monster form lets Professor Monkey-for-a-Head escape, and prompts Jim cycling through several new sidekicks. But in "Sword of Righteousness", the opening bit where Evil has taken control of the suit doesn't tie into the whole thing with the useless talking sword at all.

This one falls somewhere in between. Jim and Peter swapping bodies doesn't factor, but Psycrow keeps popping up, dragging himself across the landscape while the locomotive still sits on his lower body. And at one point, he gives Jim bad directions to stymie his search for the trout. Although that's a pretty weak revenge. Once again, Psycrow overstates the scope of his actions.

Friday, May 19, 2017

What I Bought 5/17/2017

Well I found two books from last week, at least. Nothing from this week, though. I might go to Columbia this weekend to seek more comics, but it's going to storm a lot, so I might not. Also, I don't really want to drive anywhere this weekend after last weekend.

Ms. Marvel #18, by G. Willow Wilson (writer), Francesco Gaston (artist), Ian herring (color artist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - Well that's sweet and depressing at the same time. Depressweet. Depreet? Swepressing? This combining words to make combo words is harder than the Germans make it look.

Bruno is struggling to adjust to his new situation as a student in Wakanda, and his injuries. His roomie drags him along on a highly illegal jaunt to acquire some Vibranium, ostensibly to impress a young woman, but really as part of a plan Kwezi has to build Bruno an exo-suit of sorts to give him some greater mobility. And Kwezi is distantly related to T'Challa, so nobody needs to go to jail.

Not sure what I was expecting, some sort of resolution to the emotional distance between Bruno and Kamala. Which I don't think was ever on the table. The character is still trying to figure out what he's going to do going forward, if he's going to go forward at all. That needed to get sorted on some level before he could worry about patching things up with someone else. I especially liked that moment where Bruno thinks about how much he hates when people tell him to stop saying he "can't" do something, and to instead think positively, and also how much he wishes they were right. I've had those moments before, although it feels like I'm on the other side more often, trying to find something good to say, but worried it's all going to seem trite and feel as though I'm dismissing their problems lightly. A really genuine moment there.

It's amazing to me how much Ian Herring's color work keeps this book feeling the same through all the different artists it's had. There's nothing bad about Gaston's art. He can do exaggerated expression when he needs to, he gives the surroundings a distinct look so you can tell this is a much different place than Jersey City or even New York. His art feels like it's somewhere between Adrian Alphona and Takeshi Miyazawa's, not quite as exaggerated as the former, not quite as slick as the latter. But there were times reading it I expected the art to look like Miyazawa's because the color work makes it still feel like those earlier issues. The particular blue for the field surrounding the Vibranium, the colors of the flames from the hovercar, the yellow of the screens in the classroom (or as the background of that one panel of Bruno and Kwezi seeing the Vibranium), it's all in line with Herring's work on earlier issues, and so the issue still feels like it fits, even with a different pencil artist.

The Unbelievable Gwenpool #15, by Christopher Hastings (writer), Myisha Haynes (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (color artist), Clayton Cowles (letterer) - Gwen, Kate, those bullets and arrows are eventually going to fall, you know. You're probably going to kill some rich kid's parents as they exit the theater and turn him into a grumpy asshole of a costumed vigilante.

The magic gem will collect a person's soul, and if you put the gem in another body it takes it over. The dwarves want the gem to take control of some giant mindless monster. Gwen uses her knowledge of the current Ghost Rider to track him down in his civilian i.d., while not letting Kate learn it, so they can all team-up to stop the dwarves. They do, Cecil takes control of the monster, the dwarves flee back to whichever realm dwarves are from, and that's another friend sort of helped after Gwen screwed his life up in the first place. And now Gwen is going to go look up the versions of her family that exist in the Marvel Universe. What I want to know is did they always exist, or did Dr. Strange create them when he did his hoodoo to give Gwen a past in this universe?

This was not one of the stronger stories. Maybe because I came in after Cecil was dead, so I missed all the stuff that would make me care. I don't know, being a ghost seems somewhat preferable to being a shaggy purple monster. The latter seems like a good way to have Elsa Bloodstone blow your head off. Everything just felt perfunctory. Here's Kate Bishop, let's have them team-up. Oh, throw Ghost Rider in too. Other than some brief drama about whether the spirit in G.R.'s car would convince Cecil to possess Gwen instead, there wasn't any point to it. And I don't care about either of those characters enough to be like, "oooooh, Kate Bishop! Sooooo excited!"

Haynes' art seemed stronger in the flashback sequence. Maybe it's easier for her to draw guys in robes and boots and armored helmets versus trucks and Ghost Riders. Although she did pretty well with the floating skull spirit that was trying to tempt Cecil. And when the monster is first released from the crate. The linework was a little busier, more shading than on a lot of the other panels. Gave it some heft, made it feel a little different from all the other characters. But the rest of the book just feels flat. The action sequences don't have much impact. Rosenberg seems to be going with a pretty basic color range, and I'm not sure it's doing the art any favors.