Thursday, November 30, 2006

Rough Weeks Are Made Better With Hugs

Adorable Baby Panda would like you to know two things. One, last week's visit to see the family went quite well. Good times were had by all. Two, Adorable Baby Panda swears to eviscerate Hideous Baby Penguin. What can I say? It's a conflict as old as life itself.

So who's up for a hug?

Danny Rand - Poor Danny; he seems beset by doubts about his abilities - both to be Iron Fist, and to run Rand-Meachum. ABP feels sure that a hug would life his spirits. {Me, I think Danny could use the surgical skill of the Night Nurse more than a hug, but it's ABP's show}.

Mecha-Gorgon - It's a giant robot with multiple blades that slice and dice. It's concentrated coolness. It's not so much that ABP wants to hug it, as pilot it. And kill Hideous Baby Penguin with it. {Besides, when did HYDRA last build something that actually achieved it's purpose? Gotta give them credit when it's due, right?}

Raven - She seemed kind of brusque with her teammates this month, and since she doesn't seem to want anything to do with the two most upbeat Titans (Miss Martian and Kid Devil), maybe she'd respond to a ball of furry cuteness. {Personally, I think it's a waste of time. Current Raven would probably be put off by the cherry attitude. Go hug Miss Martian, for not being a credit to her crazed, homicidal race. Or better yet, hug Didio, erase all darkness from his heart, so I can have a nice Cassie Cain again}.

From last week's comics, ABP offers hugs to:

Peter Parker - For having the guts to tell the country why he made a mistake, and that's he's going to correct it. {Better late than never I guess.}

Miguel O'Hara - He really wanted that flight ring, you know? Maybe Panda Claus can get him one for Christmas. Until then, please accept this complimentary panda hug.

The Wrecking Crew - Because they are the Wrecking Crew. Thus they are losers, and they know it. That's gotta be a downer. {All I'll say is, at least Tieri knows it shouldn't take multiple issues to beat them. Are you taking notes Bendis}?

Jessica Drew - You're a girl. But all your memories say you're a teenage boy named Peter Parker. Weird as that may seem, there are a lot of good memories there. Too bad the CIA plans to take them all away if they catch you. Have a hug, and know that the pandas will be watching over you from the shadows. {That whole girl thing really puts a kibosh on a relationship with MJ, huh? Or does it? Man, that's just wrong! Deadpool, I told you to stay out of my blog}!

Theresa Cassidy and Monet St. Croix - It's never easy dealing with the loss of a beloved parental figure. Some people choose not to deal by wrapping themselves in fantasy. Some deal, by pretending that they aren't bothered by it. And there are some things a panda hug won't fix. It probably would help for the two of them to spend some time talking together about Banshee. {And maybe they could be in their PJs while they're sharing. Damnit Deadpool!} That's ABP's advice: talk with someone else who cared about the person. {Warning: advice may be rendered void if the two people are coworkers who don't like each other very much and then find out they've been getting two-timed - by the same guy.}

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What I Bought 11/29/30

I just realized today, that I've been off a day for the last week. Not in the sense of "I thought it was Friday when it was Saturday," but in the "I thought it was the 24th when it was the 23rd" way. I thought last Wednesday was the 23rd, and I've been screwed up since. Man, my mind can't be going already, can it?

That's the point where Dr. House pops up and screams "Right, he's in his 20s, of course his brain can't be failing him! Let's cure him with cheese fries and pornography!" At which point someone says "Or we try angry, petty sarcasm." And throws House through a window. Whatever works really. Spoilers are in here somewhere. Probably.

The Immortal Iron Fist #1 - Well, I guess it's about time to jump on the Brubaker Bandwagon, and since I'm not really a Cap or Daredevil guy, I'll roll with Danny Rand. The story is a pretty standard first issue. We find out how Danny Rand came to be Iron Fist. We also find Danny Rand in the midst of punching Hydra guys, followed by a flashback to how we got to that point, ultimately leading back to the present.

In addition, Brubaker appears to be going the legacy route with I.F., which is OK, and showing us both sides of Danny's life. That's fine too. Honestly, the thing I liked best was the major threat he ran into near the end of the book. Pretty cool, even though I'm not sure I'm feeling David Aja's art. It's too, I don't know, scratchy? I can't really describe it. Either way, I'm on board for the time being. Just hope I can handle the "slow burn" style I've heard Brubaker's got. 3.6 out of 5.

The Punisher #41 - I still like Leandro Fernandez' art. I just wanted to mention that, because I don't think I have recently. Let's see, Punisher is captured. Yeah, that'll go well for the bad guys. Especially when Frank shows that his ability to conceal things inside himself would let him fit in at prison. Things go well, then they stop going well. Not much of what happens is a surprise. We're talking about reoccuring characters in a Garth Ennis Punisher book. Sooner or later, they all stop being "reoccuring".

The last page makes it pretty clear, someone is going to get messed up in the conclusion next month. Which is not really a big surprise. 3.3 out of 5.

Teen Titans #41 - Well, the team came together at the end. So why aren't I enjoying it more? Joseph's back in action, and adjusting to his situation rather quickly. There's a small fight, then a big fight, then some talking, and then the set up for the next arc, which doesn't start for two months?! Freaking Johns. And the guest artists weren't helping much. Especially whoever did the pages where the forgot to put the eagle or the "W" or whatever on Cassie's shirt. I mean, is it that hard to remember that. It can't take that long to add. Sigh, moving on.

Of course, even though they're together, they still aren't together. Raven doesn't seem to like anyone (Eddie reminds her of her dad, Miss Martian is too happy, cripes). I'm not really convinced Tim is a leader, whether because he's got too much "stay in the shadows from Bats", or he's just not up to it. Maybe now that Johns has his lineup, things will gel a bit. I don't know, given all the trust issues that seem to be going on here, I'd swear I was reading Suicide Squad. But Rose and Jericho trying to connect might be an interesting plot line, I don't know about the Kid Devil subplot that seems to be brewing. Hmm, there's a lot I don't know about. I do know it wasn't as solid of an ending as I'd hoped. 3.5 out of 5.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Off I Go Being Asinine Again

Do you remember a few years back, when Loki and Spider-Man had a team-up? There was a scene where Spidey and the God of Evil sit on a rooftop eating hot dogs. Wizard panned it as being absurd (or dumb, I can't remember which). Personally, I don't think any magazine which names Joe Quesada it's Man of the Year for 2006 has much moral high ground to be panning other written works from, but that's a digression, and besides, I thought that Peter calmly sitting and eating hot dogs with Thor's greatest foe nicely demonstrated Peter's everyman aspects, in that he's not going to react differently around Loki than he might around say, Nova. Plus, after everything Peter's experienced, dealing with an Asgardian probably isn't any big deal. But I still wonder...

Who bought the hot dogs?

Peter has no pockets in the Spidey suit, and he wasn't wearing his web pouches, which normally contained his clothes and wallet. As another digression, whatever happened to him using web pouches? Seems like it's been years since I've seen him carrying his clothes around in one. Irregardless, it's doubtful Peter had the money to purchase the food. Likewise, I can't see Loki actually buying the food, nor do I see Spidey letting him mentally manipulate the proprietier of the hot dog cart into giving them free food.

Maybe Spidey got one of his adoring fans to shell out the cash? Or maybe the Spider-God stepped to lend a hand. Or, let's just forget that last theory. I don't know. Anybody else got any theories?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Because I Can't Let Things Go

It's been roughly a year now, since The Other showed up and did... some stuff to Peter Parker. But it's just now that I'm actually figuring out the answer to something I've been pondering since then.

Pretty much since that storyline ended, I've been wondering "What was up with Peter's mysterious sickness?" You know, the one that nobody - not Reed Richards, Stark, Pym, T'Challa, or Dr. Strange - could fix? It was a important part of the early issues, and then when Morlun showed up, it pretty much got thrown out the window and never addressed again. I guess eyeball-eating was more important.

I believe it was the recent What If? that Peter David wrote about The Other, that finally clued me in, when Uatu talks about how Peter was suffering from radiation poisoning (or something to that effect). Suddenly it made a lot more sense why they'd been so intent on finding the Hulk. Because not many people know more about radiation than Bruce Banner. Maybe they mentioned that in the story and I missed it, or maybe they never explicitly said it, either way, things started to come together.

The radiation is leftover from his first fight with Morlun, when he won by injecting himself with radioactive liquid, thus blocking Morlun from draining his life force (hey, don't blame me for how weird it sounds - it's JMS' story). Peter did a pretty good job, using enough to be effective, but not enough to kill himself. Unfortunately, when all is said and done, he still pumped radioactive liquid directly into his bloodstream, and you'd have to expect that sooner or later, he'd pay for that.

So that explains his odd malady. Of course, it still doesn't explain how Morlun - last seen decomposing in the nuclear facility - showed up again, but what do you want from me? I'm a blogger, not a miracle worker.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Definable Patterns In Comic Storytelling

Relax, it's not really as deep as it's sounds, I just felt like doing one of those thesis-esque titles.

So in reading through the first 25 issues of Byrne's Namor series, West Coast Avengers and New Warriors, I've detected a sense of closure after that 25th issue. Like there was an overarching plot from the first, and now it's done, and they're moving on to the next arc.

With Namor, the first 25 seem to focus on Namor getting involved in the surface world, and dealing with parts of his past (his history of aggression, his dead wife, his time in WWII, etc.). Well, that and things Byrne had some sort of vested interest in (I'm still not sure why he was so intent on bringing Iron Fist back, but I won't complain). The 25th issue wraps up a lot of those things, and sets Namor off in a somewhat different direction.

The point of the first 25 issues of West Coast Avengers seems to have been to get a roster constructed, as well as deal with various psycholgical problems of the members (Wonder Man, Tigra, Hank Pym). Sounds a lot like New Avengers, except WCA actually involved time travel, Hellcat, and about a dozen different super-villains getting beat down (including Ultron and the Grim Reaper). And nothing as incomprehensible as the Xorn/Magneto thing. After 25 issues, the roster is set, one of the major villains of the first 25 issues is dealt with, but there's still some other threads left open to hit later.

New Warriors plot point seemed to be Night Thrasher, and what the hell was up with him. Throw in some bonding between the team, some confrontations tied into character history (Firestar/Hellfire Club and Marvel Boy and his dad), and by issue 25 Nicieza was pretty much ready to go from there.

I think Darkhawk had roughly the same scenario, with Chris Powell having found the truth about his dad's death, fended off numerous people trying to kill him, learned some of the ups and downs of herodom, and helped keep his family together, but by then he'd run into another person with similar armor to his, which raised new questions as you moved into the later issues.

This doesn't always happen. The adjectiveless Spider-Man series of the '90s didn't have an arc I could discern, but the book went through about 4 writers in 25 issues (3 after MacFarlane left at #16), and it was one of 4 monthly Spidey titles, so it was at least a little beholden to what was happening in those. It's hard to have a defining arc in those circumstances.

But why would writers go with 25 issues as sort of a wrap-up/jumping forward point? Did writers have to come to the Editorial with a plan laid out for the first two years of any project they wanted to kick start? Was it simply because it was a quarter of the way to 100 issues?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Only Took Seven Months

While I haven't been reading it, I have skimmed through 52 pretty much every week. I haven't had much in the way of reactions, mostly because things seem so disjointed. I'm still waiting for some follow-up on "Hawkgirl is 20 feet tall!" from, what Week 4? But finally - finally! - they gave me a moment that really intrigued me.

I speak of Luthor unveiling his Jade right in front of the JSA headquarters, and in front of Alan Scott and Obsidian. Just seeing the name "jade", you just knew something was gonna go down, especially given that one of the parties it would offend is periodically insane.

I was a little disappointed that Obsidian didn't go on a a Batman-esque face-wrecking rampage, but I guess physical violence isn't really Todd's style.

Gotta give points to Luthor though. Makes his squad of doofuses look good, and the old guard look bad. And does it so very smoothly.

Final thought:

So this whole metahuman gene therapy thing seems to be the DC Universe's version of Mutant Growth Hormone (which was a Morrison concept, right?), and given that we know it wears off after a time, and can be deactivated, is Luthor trying to make an army of people addicted to super-powers, all bound to his will? That seems a bit too obvious, but given Luthor's desire for power, not out of the question.

Friday, November 24, 2006

He Can't Hide It Long

First, let me say that I'm sorry I didn't get you a post yesterday, and Adorable Baby Panda decided to go visit the family over the holiday, so we'll have to wait until next week for panda hugs.

Yes, I saw UnCalvinPitt's post. Yes, there'll be hell to pay. No one lets penguins into my blog without suffering for it. But that's for later. For now, let's talk about Sideshow Bob, and Quicksilver.

I mentioned in my review of X-Factor #13 that Pietro very much reminded me of old Bob Terwilliger. I think it's the veneer of civilization, masking the violent tendencies. Bob tries to seem cultured, what with reading literature, despising popular TV, the appreciation for wines, the vocabulary. But he's still someone who thought the best way to frame a celebrity was to rob a Kwik-E-Mart, who tried to kill Aunt Selma for... some reason, who isn't smart enough to count his blessings for an amazingly lax prison system, and thus keeps blowing his freedom on murder attempts (well, not always, but it does eventually always come back to killing Bart). And those attempts always seem to come back to stabbing. There was the gas explosion attempt on Aunt Selma, and that was inspired, but with his main foe, he seems to resort to the common weapon of the butcher knife. Or the ax.

What about Pietro? Well, he acts very dignified now, politely offering pastries to Doc Samson, and taking small, controlled bites. He speaks very calmly about how he considers all of X-Factor friends, and how he's glad to be helping mutants. He says he knows he made a mistake manipulating his sister, but that it was with good intentions, so it wasn't truly bad. He recognizes the same could be said of his current actions, and doesn't seem to bother to consider whether he's in danger of screwing things up just as badly again. He says that whatever happens to a mutant he repowers, happens. It's not his problem, as he is just an instrument of divine will. So if people die from it, not his fault. He casually mentions, that were he given an opportunity to kill Layla Miller, he'd eargerly take it, and seems to completely ignore the ramifications that would have for him, seeing as X-Factor doesn't totally trust him, and the X-Men are dying for a reason to go after him. For all his playing at being wise, refined, and knowledgeable, he doesn't seem to recognize consequences, or else he just doesn't care. Which might suggest a suicidal tendency, but I think he got over that after the "walking off a building" thing in Son of M, so I think it's more that disconnect from reality that Samson noted.

Bob seems more inclined to let his violence (or insanity, or whatever) out, while Pietro's just slips out through his words mostly. But both seemed too locked into their personalities to stop from repeating the same mistakes. Or maybe Pietro will break the cycle, but I'm not really holding my breath. These repowered mutants are going to start wrecking stuff, and once again the world is gonna get thrown into serious upheaval because of him. The difference is, it's unlikely that the majority of the planet will be unaware of what transpired this time around.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I Got A Bird For Ya

Well hello there, you ordinary people. Calvin couldn't get his lazy butt up and running this morning, so today's post has been hijacked by the one and only, UnCalvinPitt! Oh, but don't worry, I'll honor that's idiot's spirit, by doing a traditional Thursday post. I even brought a little animal friend!

So say hello to... Hideous Baby Penguin! We want to tell you all about the people who demonstrated their ruthless, devious, or flat out evil streaks, because those are the people that'll be getting funding from the penguins in the next fiscal year! So let's go!

Tony Stark: You know what's great about Tony Stark? No matter how many doubts he's had about the whole Registration thing, no matter how many of his so-called 'friends' have abandoned or attacked him, he stays the path. He's going to see this through to the end, and if that means that his former allies have to go to the Negative Zone, well they should have stayed out of his way.

Brimstone Society: You say "But they're dedicated to destroying vampires. Isn't that good?" I say "Shut up. I wasn't finished talking." Destroying vampires is just a means to an end. These Brimstone fellows know that taking over the world and running it - like that idiot Garek wants to - is hard. It's easier to move quietly behind the scenes, to subtly manipulate the ones currently running things, so the world stays how you like it. Like they want to keep Rayne as a soldier, so they can't give her the cure for dhampirism, because any ordinary human isn't much good, but still want to seem like they care about her, thus they say they've discovered how to overcome her weakness towards water. It's a little gesture, but one that helps to keep her in line. And keeps her willing to eliminate those who threaten their interests.

The Shi'ar: They must have penguin blood in their ancestry, because they were quite right not to let the Spider-Man of 2099 keep that flight ring. Yes, he helped defeat the Silver Surfer, which kept Galactus alive, but still, he's a human. Give them anything, and they'll figure out how to use it against you. Humans can't be trusted. That's why penguins simultaneously like them so much, and interact with them so little.

Galactus: Hideous Baby Penguin completely approves of Galactus' existence and purpose. Without Galactus, that universe would be devoid of inhabited planets, and then where would the penguins exert their subtle controls?

Sage: Yeah, she's a good guy, or so they say, but once a Hellfire Clubber, always a Hellfire Clubber. She lets the brightly attired boys bicker about who runs the show, while quietly she's doing it. Subtle manipulations, bravo. She won't get too much funding though, because if Piledriver can figure that out, she's not being nearly subtle enough.

Black Tom: For telling Cain there's no way they can ever be redeemed. Calvin may be big into the whole "redemption" thing (see, Faith LeHane and Spike), but Tom understands that once you stop worrying about trying to atone for all the supposedly bad crap you've done, you're free. There's no limit to what you'll do, because there's nothing holding you back. Except imagination, so Cain may be out of luck after all.

Doctor Octavius: Because he's another fellow that looks like he's been pulling strings for awhile. He got Fury to let him out of prison and use that stupid, Mary Jane-obsessed clone to conduct more supposedly illegal (except when Nick Fury authorizes it. Man, HBP and I hate Nick Fury. Man has all the subtlety of a wrecking ball in the face. And poor organization too. His CIA competition hasn't even had mysterious accidents yet.) experiments. Doesn't have his metal limbs, but you know he's calling them to him, just keeping them out of sight for now. Thumbs up, Doctor.

Guido Carosella: He wasn't really intriguing until his yo-yo string broke, and he started stomping on it. He's got a abrupt violent streak, and combined with the mental work Singularity did on him, there's a foundation for something. Hmm, I'm scheming. This is my scheming face. HBP, let's call the Soul-Stealing and Manipulation Division, would you? We've got some - are you still here? Well, I should kill you, but since the Americans among you are celebrating a holiday, I'll let it slide.

So here's wishes for your mother to embarrass you in front of your significant other, and plenty of colon obstructions for everyone!

What Hideous Baby Penguin? Oh come on, it'll take a really long time to find all of them. I want to go see my Unfamily. Yeah I know they celebrate by eating a bird, but you don't like turkeys that much anyway, so what's the big deal? What? No, not the trout fields! Please no!

Oh God, the smell! It's awful!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What I Bought 11/23/06

As is only appropriate, given that I'll be stuffing my gullet tomorrow, I get to stuff my eyes today, courtesy of six comics coming in for me. Hoo-rah. Would you like some spoilers with your reviews? No? Too bad.

Amazing Spider-Man #536 - Oddly, it doesn't feel like it's been two months since the last issue. Either my memory is going, or I just haven't bothered thinking about this book recently. I'm not sure whether the latter would be a good thing or not. Probably good for me, bad for Marvel.

So, yeah, you know my post yesterday, theorizing why Tony didn't put an off switch in the suit? Forget that. It just turns out Peter remembered he was smart, too. Still doesn't explain why the suit's tearing like it was made of cloth, rather than nanites, but it's at least some sign of cohesion and foresight by Marvel.

It's still Civil War Tony Stark, though, as he blames Peter for the destruction of their fight, even though I seem to recall Iron Man tackling Spidey first, and being the one who slammed Peter into a hot dog cart with civilians all around. Man, Tony's just completely a lost cause right now, isn't he? Next he'll blame the delicious brown liquor in the Jim Beam bottle for his being a stinking drunk. After a skip in the story (which is covered in Civil War 5 and 6, meaning I won't know what happened), Peter meets up with May and MJ, who somehow escaped SHIELD. I say "escaped" because I can't believe SHIELD wouldn't try to catch them to force Peter to come back. A heatfelt family talk leads the Parker clan to decide to stick together, which is stupid, but at least May admits it's her fault for convincing Peter to stay and unmask in the first place.

Peter has a conversation with his inner teenager that accomplished, uh... nothing? I don't know. it felt like filler to me. The story ends with Peter making a public announcement, letting everyone know he isn't on Stark's side anymore, and why. Did his heartfelt words stir Tony Stark, perhaps cause his heart to grow three sizes? Take a wild guess. 3.1 out of 5. Spidey punching Iron Man was fun, but on the whole, just blah.

Bloodrayne: Plague of Dreams #2 - I can't figure why her face is painted on the cover of the one I got, or why she seems to be floating, but oh well. This is mostly an exposition issue, as Rayne finds where her newly discovered telepath/telekinetic/fellow dhampir half-brother was raised. She knows about it because of the little trip they had inside each other's heads last issue. While she's there, she runs into an immortal caretaker of sorts, who let's her in on Garek's childhood, which was mostly his father trying to make a useful weapon out of him.

Meanwhile, we find out the Brimstone Society is keeping things from Rayne (no big surprise there), and that they've located Garek's stronghold. And Rayne's going to get some help from some fellows who bond with spirit entities to become superhuman. This is going to be their first field test. Yeah, good luck with that. So not a whole lot actually happens, but it seems things should be set up nicely for a nifty little donnybrook (am I trying too hard with the vocabulary here?), and it's tailing into things from both the Lycan Rex and Twin Blades one-shots, as well as addressing a concern I had about Rayne's reaction to her half-brother, compared to the way she'd always responded to family in earlier comics and the video games. Cohesiveness is fun! Still just a 3.4 out of 5.

Exiles #88 - The Exiles team up with Shi'ar, Skrulls, Kree, whoever, in an attempt to stall the Surfer (at one point shown plowing through a planet, rather than take the time to go around) until physicians can get Galactus up and running.

So while that goes on, Miguel is letting his inner scientist freak out over the flight ring, and Sabretooth says it's stupid to just sit in the open and wait for the Surfer to come to them. So he bails. And the Surfer arrives, and people start falling like dominoes. While everyone dogpiles on Shiny Boy, Spider-Man 2099 and Longshot hitch a ride on the Surfboard Express. Things go poorly, but the Exiles wind up with some cosmic-powered help of their own, and as they do, things tend to work out. Like the last story, this one seemed to end kind of fast, I'm not really sure why. it was a good ending, and I'm cool with it, but I'll have to stop it at a 3.9 out of 5.

New Excalibur #13 - So Calafiore is gonna take over for Ryan? That's cool; I liked Calafiore on Exiles fine. It's Excalibur versus the Wrecking Crew. Well, actually it's mostly the Wrecking Crew pummeling Cain, and feeling sorry for him because, as Wrecker points out 'They're the Wrecking Crew fer cryin' out loud!' I guess Wrecker saw Magnum Force too ('A man's got to know his limitations'). Finally, after considerable yakking and punching, the rest of Excalibur shows up. But Brian and Wisdom are actively squabbling, which is kind of moot when Sage can stop Piledriver with one kick to the crotch. Seriously? I thought he was like, invulnerable or something. Shouldn't she break her foot doing that? *shrugs*

The fight goes on, with Captain Britain and the Black Knight reminding me of Hawkeye and the Thing in the early issues of West Coast Avengers. It all ends OK, except for Cain hearing voices. And Black Tom not giving a ringing endorsement to the redemption path. And Cain's headed to Korea. For some reason, I always thought the temple of Cytorrak was in the Nepal/Tibet regions. I'm really curious to see where this goes. I remember all the villains of Spidey's that were reformed in the '90s (Puma, Prowler, Rocket Racer, Sandman, Will O' Wisp, sigh, Venom), only to ultimately sink back into criminal pasttimes, with Prowler being the lone exception. So we'll see how this goes. 4.4 out of 5.

Ultimate Spider-Man #102 - Man, this arc seems to be going really long, which is funny, considering this 7 issue arc will probably finish in half the time Civil War takes. Peter is saved from incarceration by the mysterious girl who shoots webbing from her fingers. Geez, Peter's having a lot of troubles with SHIELD lately. How long until they try to capture him in Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane? And this so-called Spider-Woman is... uh, yikes. That's pretty gross. Damn you, Ultimate Ben Reilly, you've besmirched the name "Ben Reilly"! Oh well, at least we figured out where all these damn clones are coming from. I wonder whether the Carnage project was separate from all the clones? Man, Ultimate Madame Web looks kinda like Sage. I thinks it's the red shades.

So yeah, lots of explaining going on, though there are some gaps, which I suppose is good, Bendis giving us a little at a time. Honestly, this "Spider-Woman" is about the closest to a non-emo Spider-Man Bendis has given us. Especially considering her circumstances, she's really concerned about others: Peter, MJ, the other clones. We find out what MJ was given that made her a large red beast... thingy, and where Bad Acne Peter got it from. To that revelation, and the final panel, I must say "Holy bejeezus, what the farking shazzbot is going on here?!" But I won't say I'm not hooked, though this is getting so convoluted and crossed over I'm not sure Bendis can write fast enough to make it make sense in two more issues. 3.9 out of 5.

X-Factor #13 - Hey, I got the variant cover, which I actually like better, seeing as it isn't the typical "characters all standing there, staring at you" cover. This is apparently a reprise of X-Factor #87, as each member of the team meets with Doc Samson and discusses inner turmoil. Guido made me wonder why his super-strength wouldn't alleviate the stress of carrying all that bulk. I suppose it's symbolic, and I'm an idiot. Layla plays her typical cryptic self, though she makes me wonder if this issue would mean more if I read it upside-down. Rictor plays the Angry Guy, possibly a nod to his days as part of the "super-kewl and extreme" X-Force? Siryn still remembers that X-Men never stay dead (except Thunderbird). I actually like Monet a little more now. Jamie's still running in place, though Samson did get him going in one diretion anyway. And then, there's Rahne.

Rahne made me sad, and her dream, or vision or whatever? Harsh. I like Rahne, I really, really hope that isn't something that would actually happen, and that she can find a balance. I'm not sure what else could be done about it. She could chose never to use her powers again, but she isn't the sort to sit by while people get hurt, so that's likely a no-go.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot Pietro. Hmm, about all I'll say is, that in the panel where he says he'd 'happily squash Layla Miller like an insect', his face reminds me of Sideshow Bob somehow. Actually, that's kind of true for all the panels featuring his face, but especially when he speaks of killing. This bears further investigation. Maybe I need an appointment with Samson, though I can't recall him helping the Hulk much. Ah well, 4.7 out of 5.

So, if I can get going early enough, there will be a Thanksgiving Adorable Baby Panda post. If I'm slow rising, and ABP is enjoying a Thursday repast, then it'll just have to wait until Friday.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Second Foundation Could Have Warned Him

There's been a bit of discussion in the last week about how Tony Stark, a man who apparently has a shutdown phrase in his own armor, forgot to add such a thing to the nifty outfit he gave Peter Parker. Or maybe he did put a shutdown in there, and that's why a suit made of nanites was tearing like it was made of cloth.

Sorry. I told myself I wasn't going to pick on Civil War #5, so let's move on. I suppose the question is how Tony Stark, a self-proclaimed futurist, who could foresee the New Warriors getting blown up by Nitro (along with a school full of kids, but really, who cares about children?), and could see the benefit in someday being able to make a clone of the Norse God of Thunder, would fail to see the wisdom in putting an "off" switch in the armor he gave his protege.

Well, it all comes down to Issac Asimov. In his "Foundation" series of sci-fi novels, he talked about an idea dubbed psychohistory. This basically proposed that large groups of people have an almost hive mentality, and so their actions can be predicted (actually, this was first brought up in his "Robots" series, which took place centuries earlier, but it hadn't been named then, and I read those later, so there you go). And thus, it was possible to predict the course of future events. This was realized through a character named Hari Seldon, who predicted the current Galactic Empire would fall, and the galaxy would be thrown into 35 millenia of chaos. Seldon used what he knew to build two Foundations, a public First, and a unknown of Second, to ensure the period of chaos would be cut to 1 millenia, before the Foundation would become the new Empire. What was going to happen after that, I don't recall. Probably years of peace and prosperity.

Anyway, the people of the First Foundation settled on the tiny world they world told to, and followed Hari Seldon's plans and predictions, and for the first 200 years or so, things went as expected. Then a telepath named the Mule appeared, and leading his own space army, conquered the Foundation. The Second Foundation finally emerged, and revealed themselves telepaths as well (though of a lesser caliber), and eventually outflanked him, but no one had seen him coming. He hadn't been predicted, because individual humans are inherently unpredictable. It's only in those large groups - like an entire planetary population - that they become more predictable.

And that's the problem for the so-called "futurists". The number of superhumans, and superhuman-related conflicts, had risen to a point where it was possible to predict the outcome you got in Stamford was going to occur. Honestly, it probably should have happened sooner, but writers and editors at Marvel had enough sense not to go with a story about lots of small children dying. Sorry, editorializing again. Either way, it was a large enough sample size to predict not only this, but the resistance that certain heroes would have to the registration. The formulas didn't say exactly who would resist, that probably boiled down more to what Tony and Reed knew of each person, but it was easily predicted that some were going to say "No way".

But Spider-Man's turning on Stark is about one person, already in the fold, changing his mind, and going in a different direction. In all likelihood the formulas said that once someone was in, and had seen what fate awaited those who opposed the Act, there's no way they'd risk Negative Zone Prison to switch allegiances. But it's like I said a while back, it's part of who Peter is to be unpredictable. He gets frustrated with Jonah, and rather than lash out violently, or quit this "costumed hero" crap, he puts webbing on Jameson's chair as a prank. He screws around with the Human Torch, then asks and gives help to the Matchstick, teases and humiliates his enemies, and in general does all sorts weird stuff that doesn't necessarily make sense. If you want to chalk that up to part of the whole "Spider-Totem of a chaotic Trickster God", go for it. I'm sure JMS will. Or we could simply call it human nature. Is that still more editorializing? Who cares.

The point is, we shouldn't be too harsh on Tony Stark. His "futurist sense" was simply insufficient to perceive the tortured inner workings of Peter Parker's over-responsible soul.

Monday, November 20, 2006

They Can't Be All Bad

Was there ever a good Dire Wraith?

I was looking at Chris Sims' post from yesterday, showing Rom destroying a Dire Wraith disguised as a hooker(?!), and in the comments, Chris mentions that the Wraiths were conveniently all evil, making it OK for Rom and his Spaceknight cohorts to eradicate an entire sentient species, something that is normally frowned upon when the Skrulls or Badoon try it on humans.

In the way that my mind usually does, it recalled some discussion in the comments of a post (which one I can't recall) over at Pretty, Fuzzy Paradise that was talking about how Miss Martian is an example of the One Good Member of the alien race, in this case the White Martians, typically introduced so as to demonstrate that the writers aren't saying the entire species is evil, as that would come off a bit racist.

Which is what got me wondering if there had ever been a Dire Wraith that, through its words and deeds, wasn't considered to be evil and in need of death. I've only really seen them in one Uncanny X-Men story, and given they seemed to be trying to steal the X-Men's bodies, it wasn't a very positive view. Granted, it was starting to snow, and they don't do well in the cold, and so maybe they just wanted to stay warm, but I remember one telling Forge they wouldn't stop until they'd taken over the planet, so yeah, not a real friendly showing.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

It's Easier To Haul It Out Of The Muck, Than To Keep It Shiny

Thought for the day: What's harder for a creative team, to take a so-called "third-tier" character, and make them more widely popular and beloved, or to take the "icon" characters, and keep them widely appealing, while still doing your own thing?

With the front-liners, like Spider-Man or Superman, you have a wider preexisting fanbase, and you have certain expectations of the characters you must meet to keep them buying, thus keeping sales steady. In reality, it seems likely the fans would continue to buy even if the team diverged from what the fans considered the core of the character, if only to complain about that, or hope that things will turn around, but I'm going to set that curious trait aside for now. Still, if you just rehash what's been done before, without at least taking a new slant on it, the fans will get bored and possibly wander off. Plus, it's probably desirable that you attract some new readers (not necessarily people who don't read comics, though that'd be nice, but maybe you write X-Men and you try to draw back some people who'd given up on it in the last few years). You're going to face more scrutiny, and be under more pressure to achieve, and likely have less creative range.

Actually, that last one is probably false, given editors would be the people saying "You can't do that with Character X", and at least at Marvel, editors apparently are unaware they might want to do that periodically. And I really doubt DC tells Grant Morrison "No" very often either, but whatever, moving along.

If you take a lesser known character, you face different challenges. There's still a fanbase present (as every character is somebody's yadda, yadda), but it's smaller, and probably just ecstatic that their beloved hero is getting some spotlight, and so as long as the character's given a measure of respect they'll happily buy it, just to support their fave. But that isn't enough. You've got to figure out some way to draw in people who haven't been interested in the character previously, or haven't heard of them, to get sales to the point where the book can continue. At that point, the creative team is probably dying for the scrutiny the people on the A-listers get, if only because it might get them some attention, maybe some critical praise, which can help convince the Powers That Be to keep the book going (that was the case with Priest's Black Panther, wasn't it? It was so positively reviewed Marvel wouldn't risk the bad pub for cancelling it?). You have - in theory - more creative control, because the bosses probably aren't too worried about what happens with these characters, as long as it doesn't bollox Big Event #287 somehow. Of course, big events can help draw new readers to your book (I'd like to thank Civil War for getting me to buy Cable/Deadpool. Well, that and Mallet and Len's positive reviews. Actually, let's not give CW credit.), but they can also hamstring you, and make it harder to do fun stuff that might convince those tourist readers to stick around after.

I got on this topic thinking about how people don't seem too happy with what Marvel's doing with a lot of their A-list people (the Spider-Mans and Iron Mans, Fantastic Fours, etc.), but with Vaughn on Dr. Strange, and Brubaker's upcoming Iron Fist (I'm going out on a limb and predicting it'll be good), Nicieza's use of all sorts of obscure characters in Thunderbolts and Cable/Deadpool, NextWave, and so on, Marvel actually seems to be doing pretty well with some of the lesser known or less high profile stars.

Responses?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Hidden Disasters

The Return of Peter Parker's Parents. This thing started up right when I was probably heaviest into comics (prior to now, as I've somewhat widened my horizons). It seemed like kind of a cool idea at the time: Peter's parents - thought dead in a plane crash twenty years ago - return, having apparently been in a Soviet prisoner of war camp, what with being secret agents and all. Peter's happy his parents are back, but kind of out of sorts, since they've been gone so long it's hard to relate to them. Aunt May's his parental figure now, after all. Still, he's trying to get to know them, and they're trying to know him, though his dad had kind of an anger problem.

Ultimately, Peter tells them he's Spider-Man, and based on a spider-sense tingle he gets the next time he sees them, decides Aunt May wasn't senile for insisting they weren't who they said they were. Of course, they turn out to be artificial life forms, created by the Chameleon to determine Spider-Man's identity, based on the theory Parker must know who Spidey is, what with all the photos he takes. Spidey shows up, big fight, the Mom-bot has developed real feelings for Peter and saves him from crazy Dad-bot, only to have her life drained by Vulture (via weird rejuvenator technology doohickey he stole a few issues earlier), who winds up being young as a result (until he's not anymore). Peter goes on a manhunt for the Chameleon, finds him, basically terrifies him into a coma, and finds out the now dead Harry Osborn was behind it all. Yikes.

Whew, give me a moment, that was a lot of suck. OK, maybe not. It started off kind of interesting, and I suppose it follows the Spidey adage that everything good must be offset by some bad and vice versa. But this was too much bad. This is the story that made Spider-Man dark, which is always a good idea. I mean, who doesn't enjoy reading comics where Peter Parker thinks of himself as "The Spider" (no mysticism required though, there is that), and tends to flip out during battles, pounding his enemies into mulch, and usually screaming about not letting anyone else he loves get hurt? Ugh.

But when people talk about the stories that almost wrecked Spidey, this one always seems to pass by without mention. Maybe because the Clone Saga kicked off about a year later, or because Maximum Carnage took place right in the middle of it, or because Harry Osborn died shortly before and took the spotlight. I don't know.

What are some other disastrous story arcs that seem to not receive the ridicule they deserve?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Savior or Satan?

This does have a point, so don't fret about that.

It may not be a good point, but there is one.


So I'm reading Cable/Deadpool this week, and I've reached the point where a few citizens of Rumekistan have found Cable lying facedown and shot in the street. Good thing Wade felt bad about leaving him in the sewer or they'd have never found him, huh? Not that would have mattered much.

The people start carrying Cable to a hospital, hoping that someone will be able to aid their fallen leader, and I start getting an odd sense of deja vu. The whole thing reminded me of that Superman episode "Legacy" where Supes having gotten free from the mind control Darkseid placed him under proceeds, as Chris Sims might say, to wreck Darkseid's shit. At the end Darkseid is lying beaten before the people who he's crushed for so long. Rather than rejoice that they're, as Superman says "free", the people rush to help their dark god, carrying him to someone who can help.

Given Cable's tendency to come off as being damn near all-knowing, and seemingly always being fifteen goddamned steps ahead of everyone else, while simultaneously possessing ludicrous power, and his attempts to unify people, it was kind of a weird moment.

Then yesterday another comparison came to me, that being the elevated train scene in Spider-Man 2. Spidey saves the train from going off the rails, and then the people save him from falling off himself, passing him back above them to a safe place to lay him down. It matches the emotional aspect more accurately, with the people showing concern and gratitude for someone who saved them, but Spidey's never really been a member of the "I know better than you" camp, so character-wise, it kind of falters.

I think the two things neatly encapsulate Cable. Is he a hero, someone who's going to save Earth from all the death and hate that he's seen in his life? Or is he a greater monster (or just misguided) bringing people together, making it that much easier for them to be crushed under one heel?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dig A Little Deeper

With only two books this, Adorable Baby Panda was straining a bit to find people to hug. But, pandas never say die, so here's the picks.

Gareb - Mostly for trying to come up with some way for Cable's cabinet in Providence to help him out, while he's unconscious in Rumekistan. Sure, we aren't certain he ever got around to doing anything, and Cable certainly didn't seem to need help, but the thought was nice.

The people of Rumekistan - When the lights went out, they didn't respond with panic and rioting, nor did they lose hope in the person who had a big hand in turning things around. Instead, they took steps to try and get that so-called savior back on his feet again. {I was a little less enamored of this scene, as it reminded me of something kind of disturbing.}

Guy Who Owns Restaurant - It takes some chutzpah to hit on a superhero in the middle of a fight that just blew a huge hole in your business, but this fellow was definitely taking the opportunity to be a smoothie towards Carol. Dr. Strange is gonna be jealous.

Carol Danvers - She's forgiven Rogue for what she did to her. That's pretty impressive.

Yeah, that's about all we got. I'm not about to force Adorable Baby Panda to find the bright spots in this month's Civil War. That could get me in a lot of trouble with the Chinese consulate don't you know.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What I Bought 11/15/06

Continuing my "feast or famine" pattern, this week was... famine. Bugger. Two books, so let's just get to it. Spoilers, yadda, blah.

Cable/Deadpool #34 - I think Cable is competing with Black Panther for "Most unbeatable hero at Marvel", which makes me think the people of their universe would be best served if both of them got their lazy asses' into space and helped fight Annihilus. I'd loved to see what cockamanie strategy T'Challa has for that. Hmm, I've digressed.

So, Domino still has doubts about what Six Pack is doing, and she's quite open about expressing them. But, Cable's already shot, so it's a little late for that. Deadpool actually feels kind of bad about it, so they leave Nate lying on the street, rather than in the sewers. At which point we get to see how the people of Rumekistan feel about Cable. As you might have guessed, Cable doesn't stay down, and soon undoes the damage, and deals with the Six Pack.

And at the end, we're left with romance and regrets. Or rather, romance and one person insisting they have no regrets. It's not a bad issue, but this continuing "Cable knows all" stuff is a little tiring. It vaguely reminds me of my dad's Silver Age Superman comics, which isn't a good thing. 3.2 out of 5. And I have to just mention this, but when Deadpool smiles with the mask on, the shading makes it look like he has a mustache.

Ms. Marvel #9 - Nope, she's still hasn't earned her "Warbird" title back yet. Getting closer. or she would be, if I could figure out what the hell is going on. Simply put, there's two Carol Danvers, one that's made her peace with Rogue, and one that hasn't. The one that hadn't had attacked Rogue earlier - and lost -, and Rogue used her keys to get into Carol's apartment. Angry Carol wakes up, fight starts again, with Ms. Marvel helping Rogue with Angry Carol.

They call in the Beast for a little tech support, we find out why Angry Carol is here, Ms. Marvel gives her a piece of her mind, and off we go again. And at the end, well, I don't know. All in all, it was kind of weird, but the Mike Wieringo art was very lovely, especially that cover, and I imagine Brian Reed's got something big planned, especially with whatever it was Hank noticed when he scanned Not Angry Carol (man I hate duplicate stories), but right now, I'm just not sure where this is going. 2.8 out of 5.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Because He's The Only One Who Can

We need Cable and the Black Panther to meet up. This should happen naturally within Black Panther, seeing as T'Challa is on his "visit important rulers" field trip, and Cable runs two countries now. And they should very naturally fight, since that's happened pretty much everywhere the rulers of Wakanda have gone. I haven't heard about that happening in Black Panther anytime soon, so I guess it falls upon Cable/Deadpool to do it. And honestly, that would make it so much better.

That way, when the inevitable fight starts, Deadpool can say something about how "nobody can beat the Black Panther." From there, it can go two ways:

1) As Cable is losing - because even technology from centuries in the future is no match for the Black Panther - Deadpool can amuse himself by hitting on Storm, who will cause a huge distraction by making Lightning Roasted Deadpool, allowing Cable to get in a cheap shot and win the day.

2) Cable and Black Panther don't fight. They are, after all, reasonable men. But on the way out, Deadpool - probably out of boredom - picks a fight with T'Challa, shouting "Reginald Hudlin's not here to save you now!" The fourth wall breaking will confuse the Panther long enough for Deadpool to get in some shots, before Storm - with a look of extreme annoyance - creates a whirlwind to toss Wade up in the air, and dump him unceremoniously in Providence's waste areas several miles away.

Ah, Deadpool, you're such a useful outlet for fan frustration.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Why Ignore A Perfectly Good Target?

About a week ago, Graeme McMillan was doing his reviews, and he brought up that the plot of Midnighter #1 involved the title character being told to kill Hitler. Graeme remarked that this was kind of taking the easy route, since Hitler is so evil, he's an easy target.

And that got me thinking - why don't we see more superheroes having to try and kill Stalin? Sure, there was that one awesome story, but really, I can't think of any off the top of my head. He's truly an underused dictator, given that the current estimates on people killed by his regime - between executions, the Gulag, deportations, POWs and German civilians, possible use of famines to dispatch kulaks - seem to all reach over 10 million.

Certainly, that would seem to make Stalin a reasonable object of superhero attacks, at least as much as Hitler. So what's the deal? Is it because we never directly went to war with the Soviet Union? Because the Siberian tundra hides its secrets better (based on Wikipedia, there's a lot of argument about the exact number of Stalin's victims)? Because Americans are stupid and don't know who Joseph Stalin is?

I'm not really advocating using real-life historical figures in superhero comics, since (if Civil War has taught us anything), they don't seem all that capable of handling the ethical and moral aspects with much tact or depth. At least, not as part of a massive event. If it's something that's more standalone (like Watchmen), where it isn't meant to have ramifications on a larger fictional universe, there's a better chance of that depth. But if you just want to go crazy with it, why not mix things up with old Joe?

I don't know, this is just something me and my old roomie used to kick around, why Stalin's atrocities never seemed to get as much pub as Hitler.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Purchasing Advice

As I may have mentioned, I've been buying a lot of old comics at low, low prices these last couple of weeks, and before I dove back in again (because I've got a pretty slow week on my pull, what with only the hilarity of Cable/Deadpool and the first opportunity to see whether Ms. Marvel can do some p.r. work on herself), I'd thought I'd poll the populace about something.

Amongst the back issues is JSA, from about issue #5, up into the 70s. There's some gaps, as other people have scavenged what they need (a tactic I frequently use myself) , but there's still a lot there. So I was wondering what you'd suggest I should pick up. I will say I don't think I want to get into those Alex Ross cover issues near the end, since that's a lot of Infinite Crisis-related stuff, and I'd prefer to keep that at bay. Stupid Infinite Crisis, it's your fault Marvel did Civil War! Shame!

So prior to that, what would you describe as Essential JSA stories to go for? I know that I like Sand, Power Girl and Doctor Midnite seems cool, but I don't know enough about a lot of the other characters to say I wouldn't like them, if I just read more about them.

So yeah, simple post today, but I've actually gotten back to writing down post ideas, thus preventing my forgetting them, and allowing for a smoother fleshing out, rather than the more slapdash, ragged, all-over-the-place posts I normally provide.

Well, maybe I shouldn't promise the posts will be more carefully planned out. There's a reason I prefer button-masher games to real-time strategy.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Too Soon

Teen Titans #40, a book I thought had one positive development amidst several negative ones.

The good was the team came together a little in the latter stages of the issue. Kid Devil wasn't the only one defending Rose, Wonder Girl got in on the act. Ravager, despite not exactly feeling the love earlier, shows up to help out her teammates. It's the second time this group has actually gotten its act together a bit (the first being when they all helped Eddie stay out of Caulder's grasp). I get that they're teenagers, and prone to erratic, emotional behavior, but I'm really not a big fan of a Titans team that spends most of it's time screaming, snarking and sniping at each other. It's like a comic book version of Married with Children. Ugh. Which I think makes Cyborg Marcy Darcy, bringing us to the problem of...

Vic Stone's continued jerkification. I know, Cy's had a rough year, he's probably still adjusting to the situation he's been thrown into, but this is the guy frequently referred to as the "heart" of the Titans. The guy who told Speedy that there are Titans all over the world, and is now the one who seemingly can't wait to send Rose packing, and is still only lukewarm on Kid Devil. Raven had done some bad stuff, but Vic still welcomed her back after her most recent resurrection. Ravager was a hero at some point too, right? So why can't she get the same consideration?

Speaking of potential candidates for traitor, let's talk about Bombshell's reveal. It's the reason for the title of this post, because it had no impact. Yeah, she's the traitor, great. We hardly know anything about her that would either make it a shocking development, or something that makes a lot of sense based on past history. So it falls flat. Maybe there'll be something in 52 that sets the table, but that'll be a little too late won't it? Or maybe it wasn't supposed to matter given the big ending, the Return of Jericho.

Uh, why? Forget why Johns wrote this, why would Raven do it? Does she think giving Joe a body again will make him less crazy? Spending years trapped in the back corners of Deathstroke's mind warped Joseph's, and I doubt that just because he's corporeal again, that he isn't going to try and hop into someone's body - probably Bombshell's - and start pummeling Titans again. Sure, it minimizes Bombshell's employers' *cough Father Time cough* chances of using him as a weapon, but he's not much less of an immediate threat as is. I'm not sure it wouldn't have just been a better idea to pop the CD in the microwave for a few seconds.

If you're the JLA, are you a bit red-faced if you find out the key to stopping White Martians was just to give Captain Atom a call? All that garbage with mass hypnosis, and Phantom Zones and Kyptonian weapons, and pulling the Moon into Earth's atmosphere, when really, all you needed was Captain Atom to do what he does best - blow himself up when there are a bunch of the Martians around.

I know, I know. Just drop the book and stop your bitching, right? What can I say? I see the glimpses, and since we're talking Johns and not Bendis I've got more confidence that the glimpses will become a full time thing. Yeah, I'm a dumbass.

Tell you what. There's another issue coming out at the end of the month, maybe Geoff can end the arc on a high note. If not, I'll let it go, try to find another book to keep DC on my pull list.

Friday, November 10, 2006

What I Bought 11/10/06

Doctor Strange: The Oath #2 - I enjoyed this book. I like that Strange admits how much of jerk he was in the old, pre-mystic arts days, while still retaining a bit of that. Case in point: when Wong describes Baron Mordo as Strange's 'Opposite and equal', leading Strange to reply 'Well, opposite anyway.' Nice burn.

Everybody gets to a do a little something, whether Wong is helping to bust security droid heads, or Night Nurse demonstrates a bit of lockpicking precision, and the best part is, it doesn't require the other characters coming off like chumps in the process.

I'm intrigued by Brigand. Is he a new character, or has he been around before? Either way, he's a clever, practical sort of wiseass, and I wonder if Vaughn isn't tweaking Quesada a little bit when he had Brigand say 'I hate magic. There are never any rules, and that means there's nothing for me to break.' No, I'd imagine you wouldn't like that, it makes it so much harder to blow up 600 schoolchildren and the New Warriors to kick start your big, stupid crossover event!

And meanwhile, you've got that mysterious business man calling in some people called Overlords. That's never a good sign. 4.3 out of 5.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Long-Distance Hugs

Yeah, I'm feeling kind of ill (it's truly aggravating trying to teach a class when you could at any moment sneeze, cough, hiccup, or burp), so Adorable Baby Panda and I are communicating long-distance today. We don't know that what I have is communicable to pandas; in fact, I'm not sure there is a human illness that pandas can contract, but why take chances?

So a round of hugs for:

Mary Jane Watson-Parker: She doesn't want May out there fighting crime, but she's flexible enough to realize that compromises have to be made, and so she brought May her costume and told to go protect the other volunteers at St. Andrews.

{Plus she told off that jerk principal for answering May's cellphone. That was pretty rude}.

Death: Adorable Baby Panda is very intrigued by Goth Child Death in Annihilation. Hopefully it's just a phase, and doesn't result in ABP seeking the Infinity Gems to kill half the universe for her. *fingers crossed* {I suggested Drax was pretty awesome, but ABP feels you have to be able to control your baser emotions, and Drax certainly didn't do that}.

Peter and Phyla: He still hasn't donned the Starlord garb, but he's following Nova on his heroic assault, and that counts for a lot. And she's doubting whether she can live up to her father and brother's legacies, but she isn't shying away from an opportunity to found out. {It might be a bit premature, since they aren't under fire yet, but what the hey}.

Rose Wilson: She was accused of being a traitor, and basically told they believed it when Cyborg and Robin advised her to go home. And yet, she showed up to try and bail them out when Marvin and Wendy provided her with the final puzzle piece. Maybe it was just to rub it in their faces that they were wrong about her, but at least she cared enough to do that much.

Storm: ABP is a bit of a theater fan, and so it was an interesting development to hear about Storm's unfinished play. {I'm not much of a theater man myself, but I can appreciate the idea of encouraging the growth of artisitc talent}.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What I Bought 11/8/06

So, the pull list came up quite nicely for me this week. The store didn't receive any Dr. Strange: The Oath, but there'll be some in on Friday, so it's OK. I just feel it's very important to buy that comic and demonstrate to Marvel that people will buy a comic where Strange gets some respect, and isn't treated like a freaking plot device.

With that out of the way, let us proceed to the books of the week. Some good, some bad, some "Huh?", and all with potential spoilers in the reviews.

Amazing Spider-Girl #2 - Where to start? Well, May dons the costume this week, at her mother's request no less. What this means about parental approval for future vigilante work, neither May, nor I, can guess. But before we get to the webslinging, May decided to do a little snooping as Red Hoodie Girl, paying a visit to an ice cream palor she saw two thugs last issue enter. At which point she runs into the villain of the day, and beats a retreat.

In typical Parker fashion, superheroing leads to school troubles, and might have hurt her chances for Student Council President, and one character is hoping it also hurts May's chances with Gene Thompson. I'm totally with her on that one. Either way, MJ bails May out of some school trouble, so May can get to the aforementioned webslinging.

Additionally, we find out what Hobgoblin's up to, even if we don't know what the lady he's looking for has yet, and Peter - as part of the police CSI guys - is getting a hint that something is brewing. All in all, a nice follow up, so 4.4 out of 5.

Annihilation #4 - Is it really worth it to review this? I'm clearly not objective, as there's simply no way that we can be four issues in and I haven't been seen a misstep yet. Oh well. For starters, love that cover. It really gives a sense of just how large Thanos is, which I hadn't ever realized, but he's freaking huge! Once within the book, we pick up with Drax doing what he was doing when we last saw him - killing bugs. Of course he's been doing that for six days now, and doesn't show much sign of slowing down. And yet all he cares about is getting to Thanos. Well, he's also kind of sad about splitting from Cammi, and kind of pissed he doesn't feel more sad about his daughter. Complex man.

And what of the Titan? Well, Annihilus is getting pretty bossy, demanding Thanos hurry up and fill his ship with cosmic control rods containing the power cosmic their Galactus Weapon is siphoning off for them. Allow me to say that sounds like a very bad thing. Moondragon lets it slip that she's been poking around in the Big Bug's mind. Which piques Thanos' curiosity (as Giffen seems to be going with a Thanos who's scientist first, death-dealing powerhouse second), and he finds out exactly what Annihilus is up to and well... it's bigger than we thought, which is saying something. But not, as Moondragon mentions, out of line with his very name.

So Thanos decides it's time to bollox Annihilus' plans, except guess who caught up with him? And guess who won't let anyone, including his own daughter, stop him from getting at Thanos? All things considered, Thanos takes it pretty well. Hopefully Reed Richards and Tony Stark take their eventual fates at the Hulk's hands that well.

Oh, and Nova gets down to business, but not before throwing in some nice digs at the heroes of Earth. Go Richard Rider! Like I said, I'm not objective. I see only gold. Or Pop-Tarts. I'm not sure which I like more. 5 out of 5.

The Punisher #40 - Well, it's time for Frank and O'Brien to get down to business. Not that! They did that last issue! I mean that Zakharov has followed the trail that Frank left, and that Zakharov knows he's leaving, and it's soldier fighting time. One helicopter is driving Frank towards all the soldiers they just dropped at the egde of the mountains, and things are looking good for the bad guys. But, as so often happens with burly men, they forget what good things can happen when you just add a woman's touch.

"Touch", in this case refers to O'Brien's finger on the trigger of that Stinger missile. Boom, big badda-boom. At which point the battle turns, and Zakharov turns to plan B. It's not exactly a new plan, more a refresher on an old plan, but it certainly forces the good guys to come up with something new. I hope the surrender was part of it. 3.7 out of 5.

Teen Titans #40 - A DC comic? On my pull list? That can't be. I had a DC book on my list, but it stopped coming out. Wait, this is that book? Oh joy!

Or not. Accusations are thrown at Ravager being the traitor, which causes her to leave, while Bombshell teams up with the Titans to find Raven. Miss Martian shows up, and yes, she is a White Martian, run for your life. Rose is preparing to say adios to the Titans life for good, when Marvin and Wendy (crap, I'd almost forgotten about them), give us another clue as to what was actually stolen.

We find out who the real traitor was, and we find out what Raven was up to, and honestly? I got nothing. I have no idea what Johns wants to accomplish here, which is too bad because in the early part of the issue I thought he was building to something. Well, maybe next issue. At least I only have to wait like two weeks for it. Hooray? 2.8 out of 5.

Ultimate X-Men #76 - Hmm, not as many answers as I'd hoped. Very few actually. Cable wants to kill Xavier? Check. Cable is Wolverine, or trying really hard to convince everyone he's Wolverine? Check. Bishop shows up hunting Cable? O...K, sure, why not? The X-Men are prepping for the next conflict with Cable, but they don't know he's got himself a team. Not a six-pack, so I guess they're the Wild Pack? Was that a '90s comics team? One of the groups of losers Sinister organized? Whatever.

The good part for me was the moments between Storm and Kitty. I hadn't really pegged Storm as a playwright, but I remember Hank had been encouraging her to expand her mind, before the separation and, you know, death. And Kitty thinking about leaving? It's a valid idea. She can control her powers, she can pass for a non-powered human, and other than the fact Nick Fury will probably show up to arrest her, or force her to join his squad, it's a good thought. Well, it was kind of a letdown issue, but last issue was enough to keep me locked in until next month. Maybe that's Kirkman's strategy: alternate intriguing issues with less intriguing issues. Can't keep the excitement at fever pitch constantly, I suppose. 3.1 out of 5.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Reunion Tour!

As we know, Mark Bagley will be leaving Ultimate Spider-Man in a few short months. As I understand it, Stuart Immonen of NextWave (Next Wave?) fame will be taking over, so I'll have to see how that goes. Based on my limited observation of the work I'd say characters' faces should be fairly expressive, which will mesh pretty nicely with a writer that has so much of each issue boil down to talking.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. I'm thinking about what project Mark Bagley should sign on to next, after a period of time for rest and recuperation that he deems sufficient. The man's been doing 18 issues a year going on the last six years, he could probably use some downtime. I don't know if he's already made any commitments, but I have one suggestion: team-up with Fabian Nicieza.

They worked together on New Warriors, and it was golden. It's why Quesada's use of them as cannon fodder was so effective at ticking me off. Though I haven't been much of a Thunderbolts reader, it has a devoted fanbase, which a Spider-Girl fan such as myself can certainly respect, and the bits I've read seemed pretty good. Hmm, there was a stack of those in those longboxes at the store, hmm...

Anyhoo, Nicieza's moving off the T'Bolts so Warren Ellis can give us Marvel's Suicide Squad (call me when Norman Osborn dies in an irrevocably permanent manner and we'll talk), so that should free him up for another book. Surely Fabian's got some project in mind to pitch, or perhaps you have something he should try. Or maybe the regular artist of Cable/Deadpool would like to try something new.

Just a thought.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Shared Madness?

When I was reading through my recently purchased back issues of Cable/Deadpool, one of my favorites scenes was in issue 20, where pages 2 and 3 show us what Deadpool does while he waits for the phone to ring. The best part (yes, even more than finding out Wade likes The Professional) was observing that he watches ESPN's Pardon The Interruption while he cleans his firearms.

Because nothing is more manly than listening to sports discussion while holding guns, especially when there's beers and katanas in the room. Even Guy Gardner would be overwhelmed by that level of manliness.

But really, I'm not surprised Wade Wilson is a devotee of PTI. He and Tony Kornheiser have so much in common. Observe:

Wade: Has no hair.
Tony: Would be better off if he just accepted his lack of hair.

Honorary X-Man: Has bumpy, ridged skin, due to his constantly healing body.
Mr. Tony: Has admitted to having orange skin.

Wadey: Wears brightly colored work clothes (standard Deadpool outfit).
TK: Wears bright red blazer for Monday Night Football, and would you just look at that tie up there! And that's not even his most garish.

Deadpool: Has boxer shorts with hearts or smiley faces.
Tone (as Stat Boy calls him): Frequently wears turban, earrings and scarf to play "Psychics". Also known to wear cop hat and sunglasses for "Good cop/Bad Cop".

Merc With A Mouth: Interested in Shadowcat, who seems much too young, and has a boyfriend who is large, athletic, and could seriously hurt Deadpool.
Larry Brown's Wingman: Interested in all athletes' attractive wives/girlfirends, even though at 60, is much too old and could easily be injured by said athletes.

'Pool: Has love/kill relationship with Cable, a bossy loudmouth messiah from the future.
Kornheiser: Has love/yell relationship with Michael Wilbon, loudmouthed sportswriter from Chicago.

Scarred Face: Has to be on guard against all the other competition in his chosen profession, who will take his jobs, and his life.
Old Man: Has to guard against Dan LeBatard getting too many guest appearances.

I've Run Out Of Cute Nicknames: By rescuing Cable from his vanishing after the battle with Skornn, may have saved the world.
Ditto: By actually showing up on PTI, saves audience from LeBatard saying "BAM!" 7 million times an episode.

Squirrel Girl's Most Recent Conquest: Finds Bea Arthur attractive. No, I don't believe he was joking.
Notre Dame's #1 Fan: Describes Tonya Harding as "his girl". Yikes.

Wade Wilson: Sexual preference in question due to comments about Hercules' endowment, 'nubile Young Avengers' Wiccan and Hulkling. And we won't even get started on his "Cable and cocoa butter on the beach" fantasy.
Anthony Kornheiser: Makes frequent references to sitting down to watch a TV show with his Beano Cook inflatable doll. 'Nuff...said.

Whew. That really went long. I'm out. Later.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Easy Access

When I was reading through Armor Wars, I noticed that every issue had a point where two characters, usually Tony Stark and Jim Rhodes, neatly summed up everything that had happened in the story arc prior to that. You know, something like "Boss, I know you're worried after finding out that Spymaster stole some of your designs and sold them to Justin Hammer, who sold them to various criminals. Sure Rhodey, that's why I've been going around attaching these devices that render the armor completely worthless. I know, but don't you think attacking government installations like The Vault is going too far?, etc."

The best part was, it only took four panels, or a third of a page. And then they could move forward with the story, confident that anybody that hadn't picked up the previous issues knew the score. Granted, it got a little tiring reading those same speeches over and over again, but I hadn't seen that in awhile, so it was kind of nice. Do you think they've moved away from that practice because the hardcore fans, who were buying every issue already got tired of it? Of course, with the way most stories are slowed down and drawn out, that kind of exposition could take three-quarters of an issue now.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Really? That's The Best Decision?

When Garth Ennis did his 12-issue Punisher mini-series, lo those few years ago, he had an issue where Daredevil faced a conundrum.

Ma Gnucci's brother is on trial for, remarkably, something he didn't do. Remarkable, because he's apparently such a psycho the other families felt it best to frame him and get him out of the way. But the Gnuccis were smart and hired that wonderful Murdock & Nelson law firm, who went right to work making sure he wasn't convicted of something he didn't do.

So naturally Frank's response is to shoot him. Except Daredevil shows up to stop him. Naturally. At which point Frank exercised a nearly Hudlin-Black Panther level strategy, except for the part where Daredevil beats Frank up before Frank uses the ultrasonic generator doohickey to overload DD's senses, allowing Frank to deck him. While we're here, where the hell did Frank Castle get an ultrasonic generator device? He doesn't have Micro to hook him up, and that doesn't seem like the sort of thing you find while helping yourself to some dead criminal's money and weapons. Maybe he used the money to buy it from AIM? *Shrugs*

Daredevil wakes up chained to the water tower (ah the ubiquitous New York City water towers), with a gun taped to his hand. Frank says there's one bullet in the gun, and that because of the tape and the angle DD's arm is chained at he can't throw the gun, and Frank's Kevlar makes a body shot useless. So to stop Punisher from shooting his target, Daredevil has to shoot the Punisher in the head, what would likely be a killshot.

And Daredevil was going to do it! He aimed and pulled the trigger! Thank goodness Frank had removed the firing pin!

But that stuns me. Daredevil thinks it's better to kill Frank Castle, than to let Frank kill a guy who has committed any number of crimes that he got away with? And yeah, a normal person probably wouldn't know that the fellow in question had committed all those crimes, but this is Daredevil. He's got underworld connections, he would know about this guy's rep, and what he's done. I know DD really believes in the American system of justice (except for the part where he takes the law into his own hands, by dressing up and leaping on rooftops punching people), but he's willing to let Dino Gnucci back on the streets, in the hopes they'll actually catch him doing something down the line? So Daredevil doesn't believe in killing criminals, but he does believe in killing people who do believe in killing criminals?

Then again, the Punisher almost certainly has a higher body count that Mr. Gnucci, so I guess that could explain it. Or we could chalk it up to Mr. Ennis', shall we say, unusual view on superheroes.

Friday, November 03, 2006

It's All About The Balance

Exiles #87 introduced us to a Galactus with a slightly different role. Rather than a Devourer, he's a Life-Giver, restoring planets rendered lifeless by some blight that afflicts the universe. That notion has left me wondering just what that blight may be. It has to be some sort of active entity, because if it was something written into the natural laws of the universe - something that causes things to move to entropy or decay faster - then the universe would never have lasted long enough to form planets in the first place. So what's behind it all?

The obvious answer seems to be that whatever causes planets to have life in the Marvel-616 Universe, causes them to die in Marvel-552. Except I don't remember there being a force credited with that, which doesn't make sense. All the cosmic forces at Marvel (and probably DC, I just don't know about them) have counterparts. Mistress Love and Sire Hate. Lord Order, Master Chaos. Eternity and Infinity. The In-Betweener balances itself. Given their penchant for meddling, you could argue the Celestials are the opposite of the non-involved Watchers. And I recall someone arguing that Galactus was a necessary force in the universe (I want to say Reed Richards, but I'm not certain), that Big G serves a needed role. That being the case, there must be something that counters him.

Maybe the Celestials are the counter, because they tamper with life in ways which can improve their odds of survival? In that event, you could argue The Stranger was the Watchers' opposite number, seeing as he was always traveling around, grabbing people and things here and there, always mucking about.

If the Celestials are the life-givers in 616, and the "blight" in 552, that would explain why Galactus seems to be fighting a losing battle (given the statement that planets die faster than he can revive them). There are lots of Celestials, and only one Galactus. Outnumbered, therefore, overworked.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

They've Arrived... To Tell You What To Applaud!

Just too, too many books for one Adorable Baby Panda, so the whole Panda Squad parachuted in to lend their aid. They are a rough, tough, dedicated group of comics' readers, but damn if they didn't eat all my ice cream.

Sigh. What've you got for us, roly-polys?

Respect Your Elders! To Peter Parker, for defending notorius thief The Black Fox from Doctor Doom, even though Doom just tore Websy up. What took Morlun multiple issues, Doom did in about, oh, eleven pages. And most of that was Spidey running for his life.

And while we're at it, hugs to Victor von Doom, for not taking the theft of his mother's keepsake lying down. This is a man who loves his mother. {Not that way! Who are you, Deadpool?}

Using The Whole Deck. To Fabian Nicieza. Marvel may not have the character library DC has, but there are plenty of characters who don't get enough love, and Nicieza's the one most consistently giving it to them. Diamonback? Asp? Prestor John? Solo? I hadn't seen him since those sporadic appearances in Amazing Spider-Man back in the pre-Clone Saga days, but there he is, working with the Six Pack.

Friends Take Bullets For Friends. To Deadpool, for taking a gunshot to the head for Cable. Granted, he was the one doing the shooting, but still...

And also, panda love to the New Warriors. Whether Firestar stays to help Marvel Boy through his trial, or the team agreeing to go to South America to help Speedball check on his mom, or Marvel Boy stopping Nova from punching Night Thrasher, they had each others' backs. That's what friends are for right? {No, I will not break into song. You go to hell.}

Fashion! To Frank Castle, for sporting a stylish red headband. Because nothing draws attention away from the Kevlar-protected, attention-grabbing skull, like a bright red piece of fabric tied around an unprotected part of your body! {Seriously, I tried to explain this to the ABPs, and was roundly shouted down. They insist it's cool. Baby pandas, what you gonna do?}

Sometimes, the Greatest Heroes Are Those Who Endure. For Edwin Jarvis, who put up with Hercules, and retained enough sanity to see the Son of Zeus was crushing a poor boy's spirit. {Hey, Hercules is Greek, the kid should be glad spirit-crushing is the worst that happened! Deadpool, get out of these notes! Only I can use them! Save the fourth wall breaking for your book!}

Obsession, In A Kind Way. Because Armor Wars-Tony Stark, despite being a law-breaking, double-crossing loony, went out of his way not to hurt innocent people. Wanted to keep unarmored SHIELD agents out of his Mandroid skirmish, gave The Captain a light tazing so he could finish the Guardsmen, fired himself so his Stark employees wouldn't be affected, and worked to keep Rhodey out of the line of fire as often as possible. Still nuts, but not "Clone Thor and beat Captain America senseless" nuts.

Toughness. Power Girl grabbed hold of Sand's body, and dragged him to the surface... from 200 miles under it. That's well into the Earth's mantle, so we're talking about liquid hot magma and all that. Adorable Baby Pandas, salute!

Oh, and the pandas would like Barry Windsor-Smith to know that just because they hid under my bed while reading Iron Man #232, that does not mean his art made the issue a scary story. Nope, they weren't scared at all. Until I turned off the lights and started moving towards their hiding place. Slowly, slowly...BOO!

The next thing I remember is waking up bruised, with all my ice cream gone. Little guys got no sense of humor...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What I Bought 11/1/06

Well, alrighty! Let's see how many comics I had this week! Johnny, put the number up on the Big Board!!

...

Johnny? Where's the Big Board?

What do you mean I didn't have any new comics this week? What do you mean my pull list gave me nothing?

What do you mean there's still longboxes filled with older comics downstairs?

Congrats, Johnny. Your job is safe.

And so, it came to pass, that on the first day of the eleventh month of the sixth year after the second millenium - on the A.D. side of things -, CalvinPitt did purchase $9.75 worth of comics. Which would normally have availed me of only three comics. But on this special, special day, I left with thirty-nine comics. And I'm certain to be diving back in on Friday. But that's two days hence, let's deal with the now. What was purchased?

I'm not actually going to grade these, seeing as I've only read through one so far.

- The Mighty Thor #356, also known as "Hercules Shoving Thor off the cover".

- The Avengers #17 and #51, from the pre-New Avengers series. Remember those days? When Avengers was good, and fun? Sigh, good times. #51 in particular I wanted, because it was the one issue of that massive war with Kang that I was missing.

- Fantastic Four #374, or "Short, Hairy Mutant Slices Ben Grimm's face".

- JSA #64, "Power Girl pulls Sand out of the Earth" Nod to Kalinara for this one.

- Amazing-Spider #350, "Or Dr. Doom hands Spidey a Whuppin'". I actually already own a copy of this, but some foolish child chopped up some of the pages, for some reason I've since forgotten. Or repressed, I forgot/repressed that too.

- Iron Man #200. Notable for "Nuclear-Powered Underpants" and "Obadiah Stane Threatens a Baby". All credit to knowing to pick this up goes to Chris Sims.

- Iron Man #225-232. Oddly not called "Armor Wars" inside the comics. Rather, they're titled "Stark Wars". I did not know that.

-Cable/Deadpool #8, #12-23. I need a reason to buy Cable/Deadpool issues for 25 cents a pop? The tip of the cap goes to two people here, as both Len and Mallet have been preaching the gospel on this title.

- New Warriors #7-9, #18, #21-22. Because now I have almost all of the first 25 issues, which are just loaded with Nicieza/Bagley goodness.

- West Coast Avengers #1-5. For the hell of it. I kinda like Tigra. And Hawkeye. And Mockingbird. And it's got Red and Silver Iron Man. Of course, it also has Wonder Man, but Hank Pym seems moderately sane, so those should offset.

I have no idea what I'll be interested in on Friday. Most of The Ray series is there, and I lack the second half, but the covers showing Ray's similary-powered little brother produce great unease in me. I saw plenty o' Deadpools and Agent X, and there were considerable numbers of Simonson's Thor and Fantastic Four stuff. If you think I'm freaking out, imagine what Adorable Baby Panda is going to think upon seeing this stack.