Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What I Bought 2/28/07

I know I shouldn't have, but I looked through Civil War: Frontline #11 today, and let me say this. No matter how much Marvel tries to convince me that Captain America was misguided because he doesn't understand "today's" America (for the record, I don't watch American Idol or use MySpace either), or that Tony Stark was really acting in everyone's best interests - possible war with Atlantis because he thought having Osborn shoot an Atlantean ambassador was a good idea being just part of his scheme - I'm still not buying it. When Steve Rogers is back out there bouncing his shield off the heads of HYDRA agents, I'll root for him, and when Tony Stark fights, well, anyone, I'll be rooting for him to die (sorry Chris). Although there is the possibility that Sally Floyd's applause was sarcastic, given her attitude towards Cap, and her and Urich's decision to not tell the public what they know, I think she was serious.

Having vented my thoughts over that piece of crap, lets move on to books I actually bought. Spoiler warnings and all that hoopajoop.

Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus #1 - It has "Annihilation" on the cover. Yeah, I think we all knew I was gonna buy it. Was it worth it? Hmm, I think so. The first story shows us what happens when you use things to coerce people into fighting for your cause. The result is that they kill you when they get free. Tony Stark, are you and your nanites in the supervillains' bloodstreams paying attention? Terrax, Paibok, and The Delinquent land on a planet ruled by the Space Parasite. Damn, there is so much about Cosmic Marvel I don't know. They're approached by a stranded Centaurian, asking for aid in deposing said Space Parasite. Paibok's willing, but Terrax only agrees because he needs to reestablish his rep. The battle is joined and I'd have to say Terrax would have accomplished his goal, if there were a few more people left to tell about it. Slight oversight there. I think what we see is Terrax in a similar state to where Nova was at the start of his mini-series: He feels he's failed, and he's doesn't know what to do about it. They both responded with anger initially, but I doubt Terrax is going to deal with his problems any deeper, like Nova did.

The second story details Stardust's origin, and it's beautiful. I think the credit here has to go to colorist Laura Villari. McKone's artwork is good (though I keep noticing that we don't see head n views of characters with there arms in front of them. The arms are always out at the sides. I noticed that in his Teen Titans work as well), but I think the pictures are made by the colors, especially since we're dealing with beings made of energy. Stardust survived the first implementation of Annihilus' Galactus weapon, and moves to rejoin its master. Stardust runs into some of its kind, the last remaining ones in fact, they squabble, and then Stardust does something rash, something kind, and then something I think Terrax might have approved of. It was disturbing, but that's where devotion will take you sometimes. I do wonder about the idea of a society made of beings composed of unstable subatomic particles like quarks. I don't know that this book was hugely neccessary, but both the stories were interesting, so I'll say 3.8 out of 5.

Dr. Strange: The Oath #5 - He's the main thing you need to know about this issue. Brian K. Vaughn has read the Lee/Ditko Dr. Strange, and understands that Dr. Strange will beat you up. With his bare hands. In the rain. All we needed was a circle of fire, and I'd have thought it was a Jet Li movie.

So Wong's dying, Nicodemus runs off with Otkid's Elixer and Strange pursues, verbally hammering West the whole time. There's a panel on page 8, after West has fled to the roof, where Strange stands before him, saying 'But your failures always have a way of catching up to you'. I believe Strange would have scared Batman at that moment. There's another panel two pages later, as Strange removes his gloves, that shows the scars all over his hands, it's just great. From there, things start poorly, turn around, go awry again, but wait! You can't lose hope until the last drop is gone!

And so Dr. Strange's life is changed, but not in the way you might have expected from how the story began. Oh, and props to Night Nurse on her remarkable faxing abilities. 4.9 out of 5.

New Excalibur #17 - Wow. I couldn't find a cover image, but let me assure you, this cover had even more white space than the Dr. Strange cover. So Nocturne's awake, but physical rehab takes time. Mentally, she's thinking clearly, but expressing those thoughts verbally, or even understanding what others are saying is a chore. The dialogue from other characters gets chopped up at times, to represent her brain struggling to keep up. The whole team helps out, and we see different parts of her through interactions with them. Through it all, Sage sits in the room and watches. Even at night, when it's just her, Nocturne, and a ghost image of Nocturne, imploring Talia to get up and play. I was having a hard time figuring that out, I think because I still don't understand what Sage's powers are, exactly.

Anyway, Sage keeps pushing Nocturne because she doesn't want her getting used to the idea of being "crippled", and the rest of the team keeps reminding her that there's more to life than being a superhero (yeah, there's creating cyborg clones of your friend and deputizing Norman Osborn while making a buttload of money, Stark). By the end of the issue there hasn't been any magic restorative, no cure-all. Talia's made progress, but her days as Nocturne may be done. As Claremont keeps pointing out though, she can still be Talia Josephine Wagner. I wanted to give some credit to Scot Eaton as well, I thought he did an excellent job with depicting emotions, especially with Nocturne (important, seeing as the issue focuses on her inner turmoil). You could really feel the happiness at seeing friends, to the frustration over loss of mobility, to the fear that was around almost constantly.

I'm not surprised it's taken me this long to consider this, given how slow I am, but do you figure Claremont wrote this story because of his experiences after the stroke last year? I think this was better than the Annihilation comic, but less enjoyable from strictly "comics as escapist fiction" standpoint, so 3.8 out 5.

X-Factor #16 - I'll just throw this out here to start: When Monet and Siryn bust out of that French jail (so much for demonstrating that Americans and mutants don't consider themselves above the law, though I suppose crucifying that bigot probably threw that plan out the window), what was the deal with the red balloon? I'm guessing it's a film reference?

So Jaime's after another dupe, and he's tracked one to a church, but this dupe's made a life for himself, and Jamie's wondering whether it's right to take that away. I don't think it's because he's concerned about depriving the duplicate of his freedom (because where was that with SHIELD Agent Jamie), but because he'd be depriving the family of a father and husband, and Jamie knows what it's like to lose loved ones.. So Jamie's faced with that dilemma, and the duplicate is faced with the dilemma of what he'll do to stay free.

Meanwhile, back in Paris, Monet and Siryn are on the loose. Monet's still acting impulsively, as someone watches and helps them from the shadows. For some reason, I'm terrified by the idea it might be Gambit in his role as Death (or whatever Horseman he became). I doubt that it is, but I can't shake that concern. No Gambit, please (and I'm not even one of the people who hates Gambit)! Um, that's pretty much the issue right there. It was good, though it didn't really grip me, but I wasn't disappointed either. I think it's an important development for Jamie, especially after last month's brainwashing problem. 4.0 out of 5.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Oh, We Are Completely Off The Rails Here

So I was reading Graeme McMillan's non-Civil War reviews and he'd gotten to New Avengers: Illuminati #2. Graeme wonders why, if they have the Infinity Gems, they didn't use them to stop Stamford from happening, or solve the Hulk issue in some way other than tricking their friend and launching him into space.

I leapt at this thought. "Sure!" thinks I "They could use the gems to make it so Banner never turns into the Hulk again! But wait, the Hulk has helped save the world, and they might need him. So they should change reality so Banner can change to the Hulk at will, like Captain Marvel! All he needs is a magic word!" (As an aside, I think it would be funny for "man of science" Bruce Banner to transform through the use of a "magic" word). But what word to use? I couldn't come up with a six letter word (you know, like SHAZAM!) that I liked, so I settled on something that's classically Hulk: SMASH! Now fully insane, I resolved to decide what the letters stood for. Here's what I've got so far:

Strength of the Sentry!
Musculature of the Abomination!
Anger of Sunfire! (He used to be angry, right? Or was he just a jerk?)
Smarts of Hank McCoy!
Healing (as in regeneration) of the Merc With A Mouth!

You'll notice that whether by the gifts he gains from these characters, or the characters the gifts are from, the proper letters are in place to spell SMASH!, so really, you can work it either way.

So, my endlessly creative readers, what magic word would you imbue Banner with, and what would it stand for?

Monday, February 26, 2007

Commence Freaking Out In 51, 50, 49...

Annihilation: Conquest? Ha! You thought this was going to be about Countdown, didn't you? But you forgot DC holds no power over me!

But seriously, Annihilation: Conquest? I am estatic and terrified, eager and cautious. Can it be as good as Annihilation, or are we in the "law of diminishing returns" realm here? Can I read it based on its own merits, rather than constantly comparing it to its predecessor, which I loved so much?

Did they give everyone enough lead time? Please say there's sufficient lead time. I don't want to be in the position Civil War readers were in: "Do I stop buying because I'm frustrated by delays, even though I like it, or do I keep buying in spite of the delays because I enjoy it"?

Will Annihilation: Conquest get a little more recognition by the Marvel Universe at large than Annihilation did? Would it be a good thing if it did?

I'm not sure about how what this does for Nova, though. He's starting off with three issues looking at the aftermath of Civil War and its effects on him, then it's gonna jump right into four issues of Conquest tie-ins? I guess since Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are writing both Nova and Annihilation: Conquest they know what they're doing. Still, it seems like that would make it hard to establish your own tone for the book, if it's being roped into larger events right from the start.

I can't deny I think this will be fun. More Cosmic Marvel! And I get to read about Rocket Raccoon for the first time! I better start setting aside some extra money for the summer.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Break Down, Then Build Up

So, yeah, sorry about yesterday's post. it was one of those "If I don't spit this out on to my blog it's just going to keep ricocheting inside my skull until I go nuts" things. I'm better now. So let's talk about shrunken Deadpool!

I think that Deadpool being shrunk and not being able to immediately correct the problem is symbolic of where Wade's at in his life right now. Recent events have wrecked much of who he was, and now he's at a new starting line, trying to decide which way to go. Let's take a look see:

Wade, having perhaps taken to Cable's message of making the world a better place, tries to go legit, as a bounty hunter of unregistered superhumans. Cable disagreed with that approach, and took advantage of Wade's tendency to say things out loud he really shouldn't to make the U.S. look bad worldwide, leading to Wade's dismissal from his job. His attempt at superficial improvement thwarted, Wade falls back on what he does best: down and dirty merc gigs, actually working to mess up Cable's image. He's regressed to a "it's all about me, I trust now one, spare no one" attitude. Once again, Cable takes action, and Wade gets pantsed and unceremoniously launched out of Rumekistan. Now, not only can't Deadpool get legit work, he can't get the seedy stuff he used to, and Cable's done a Jedi/Vulcan mindscrew to try and force Wade to to confront things he'd rather not. But when you push an animal (or a person) up against a wall, they'll strike, and when the one striking is the Merc With a Mouth, the results can be... explosive (Get it? Because he had a grenade, and they explode and - forget it).

Anyhoo, Wade does decide to try and deal with his past. How? By doing what he does best, beating up Taskmaster so he can get some prospective employers (OK, so that isn't really dealing with it). Except that didn't work. This is the point when he finally stops to assess where's he's at in his life, and decides a different route is needed. Fortunately, we're dealing with Fabian Nicieza and Deadpool, not Bendis and Spider-Man, or the self-reflection would have lasted five issues before action would be taken. Not Wadey. He's stymied, but within a few pages he's made a decision about where to go. With all his old tricks having been closed to him, he embarks on the path of costumed do-gooder at the end of #36. When we first see Wade in #37, he's a tiny little man.

Wade has been systematically, by Cable and other circumstances, broken down to what seems to be his core elements: a wisecracker with a phenomenal capacity for violence. What direction that violence is aimed, and for what motives, is up in the air. I think Wade's going to spend the next couple of issues figuring that out, and possible growing slowly throughout, as he "grows" into whatever it is he's going to become.

Honestly, I think Wade's regenerative abilities could start to overwhelm the Pym Particles effects. Wade loses a limb or something, it grows back, but at normal size. Man, that would be awkward. And hilarious. But that's not the important part. I think the interesting part will be seeing the choices Deadpool continues to make, especially with his old buddy Agent X coming to town next month.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I'm Being Self-Indulgent Here

Open Letter To Disillusioned Marvel Fans In A Post-Civil War World:

How are you doing? Pull up a chair, have a seat. Want something to drink? I've got soda and water. What'd I ask you here for? Right to business, huh? OK, here we go. I've seen you there in the forums, message boards, Newsarama Blog comment threads. You're depressed, frustrated, ready to give up. You say you're done with Marvel, maybe even done with comics entirely.

First, let me say I'm not going to criticize that decision. I'm depressed by Civil War too, and it is your money, which means you can spend it (or not) as you see fit. And I'm not going to say you aren't 'a fan of comics' if that's your final decision. Arguing about what a true fan is doesn't get us anywhere. All I wanted to do was remind you that there's lots of stuff out there that hasn't been touched by Civil War.

You say, "Well I knew that! Do you think I'm stupid?" No sir or madam, I do not. I think you are feeling kind of down, and ready to chuck the whole game console out the window because one of your games doesn't work anymore (I'm tired of that 'baby and bathwater' metaphor, so I've made a new one). Let's take a look at the landscape:

Marvel Adventures: I haven't read much of this, but from what I have, it's done-in-one stories, the good guys and bad guys are pretty clearly delineated, and while things are resolved with violence, there's no "lightning bolt through the chest" stuff. Iron Man's even getting a Marvel Adventures book, which means he would have to be an actual good guy. No more punching Captain America or sending supervillains after Spider-Man. MODOK Avengers, anyone?

OK, maybe you want it a little more gritty than that. Howzabout the Ultimate line? No Civil War there. OK, that's because the government already seems to have a policy regarding superhumans (you join when you're 18, or you go to jail), but it doesn't seem as pushy as it did in Civil War. Plus, once Millar finishes Ultimates 2, he'll be out of this line entirely, so that might be something you'd enjoy.

If you want gritty, non-registration stories, there's the MAX line. I guarantee you won't hear diddly squat about Civil War in The Punisher (watch Garth Ennis make me a liar next month). You'd have to ask Mallet about Son of Satan, but I think it's safe.

But maybe you want less graphic violence, but you still want some sort of continuity. There's the MC2 Universe, home of the Amazing Spider-Girl! That's all there is to it right now, but there could be other mini-series in the future. It's superheroics with a Bronze Age mentality (I think; I'm not really sure what that means). Or there's The Exiles. Everybody likes Chris Claremont! Or maybe not. But it's set outside of any particular universe, so it can just be all sorts of wacky alternate realities! One of those two might even make fun of Civil War. Spider-Girl did it with Disassembled.

And I didn't even mention DC, Image, Top Cow, IDW, Dynamite or any of the other comic publishers out there. Look, this has probably been kind of annoying for you, what with me sitting here, telling you the obvious and all, but I was feeling kind of bummed out that Civil War was ruining comics for people, and so I really wanted to remind you that there has to be something out there you would enjoy, and more than likely it needs your financial support.

Have a nice day,

CalvinPitt

Friday, February 23, 2007

I Will Not Kiss Any Ouchies

So yeah, Adorable Baby Panda was messing around and had an accident. But it's OK, because I had pirate band-aids! So Adorable Baby Panda is perfectly able to render judgement on the comics of the week. And there's gonna be spoilers, I'm certain of that.

Bonk - Kingpin's Assassin. How dare you shoot an old lady! Have you no shame! Even Deadpool wouldn't do that! {That's right! Well, I might. How much was Kingpin paying him?}

Bonk - Weasel. You helped the Rhino shrink Wade down with Pym Particles, after all the times that Wade hasn't killed you? What kind of a pal are you? {Aw, it isn't so bad. I still caught the Rhino, and Weeze shared his beer with me.}

Hug - Conrad. Just a commodities banker who pciks up the tab for lame supervillains, and you got your nose broke by the Three Inch High Merc Guy. {Can I get some business cards that say that? Probably not. The Inch High Private Eye's lawyers would sue you.} But maybe next time you'll know better than to go along with peer pressure to pick on someone smaller than you.

Applause - Deadpool. You stopped the Rhino from rampaging by talking to him. Then you caught him. And you finagled yourself free drinks at the Three Strikes Bar for a month, all while miniaturized. Bravo. {Hey thanks, can I have a job? Wade, I told you last week, we'll call you when we've got something for you!}

Bonk - Orson Randall. Bad enough you kill people with the Iron Fist, and make a man give you his clothes. Then you barge into Danny Rand's building and start drinking his liquor. {Who do you think you are, Tony Stark?} And you didn't ask Danny if he wanted a glass, either! {Because Danny punched him as soon as he saw him, ABP. Hey! Don't you criticize the cute little guy's reasons! Premature punching is a tool of the trade!}

Bonk - Brother Davos. Motivation through fear is not really approved of by Panda Management. So being nice and encouraging to the HYDRA folks who work for you could probably garner better results. {Remember, they're HYDRA. By nature their confidence is low due to their frequent losses.}

Applause - Midnight Rider, Acheron, Warlock's Daughter. Blue Devil asked for people willing to charge into Hell, and you three answered. May not be very smart, but you're brave, and helpful, and so that's got to count for something. {Though maybe not against Etrigan. Hmm, I think I can get you some help. ABP, where's that card Deadpool gave you with his contact number?}

Applause - Bagman. You were doing a really good job scrubbing the floors of your prison. Keep it up. {I think ABP's being sarcastic.}

ABP's being kind of a mean-spirited little panda this week. I better fetch some ice cream, and while I do that, howzabout you offer up your picks, and ABP can respond after the mood is lightened a bit?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Make Reservation Now

Man, it's getting late. I should have gone with my first instinct and done this post this morning. Oh well.

Today I wanted to let you know that spring is around the corner, and that means it's time for a convention. Ken Murphy, owner of Marvels and Legends, has got his first annual Cape Girardeau Comic Con planned for April 21st and 22nd. That's a full two months away, which means you've got plenty of time to clear your schedule. The exact locale is still up in the air, but it'll be in town, and you can count on me to let you know, so that's covered.

C'mon, you can visit Cape Girardeau, the only city in the world with an inland cape! Well, the cape isn't technically there anymore, they got rid of it because it obstructed shipping or to build a railroad or something, but it used to be!

And you'll get to meet me (If I'm there when you show up)!

Oh, and some guys named Denny O'Neil and Roy Thomas (among others).

But mostly, you get to meet me!

Ken's got a web page with some other pertinent info here. All the cool kids are gonna show up, so give in to the peer pressure!

As the announcers in the "Bart Jumps Springfield Gorge" episode of The Simpsons once said 'If you miss this, you better be dead... or in jail! And if you're in jail, break out!'

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What I Bought 2/21/07

Me: Civil War (the mini-series) has ended! The reign of terror and pushed back releases is over!
Assembled Masses: Hooray!

Me: Now begins the age of Post Civil War tie-in books! Let a new, even greater age of terror sweep over the land like a tidal wave of baby's tears!

Lone Person Amongst Assembled Masses: Uh, hooray?

I'm just teasing. I really think the creative teams are going to do stuff interesting stuff with the New World Order {Note: New World Order is probably trademarked by WCW, which is now owned by the WWE. I don't have their permission, so don't tell on me or large men may ram their tailbones into my face at high velocity. I wouldn't enjoy that.}. Sure, there'll be some crap. There always is. But we can just ignore it, right?
Oh yeah, and I'm going to talk about the book's I bought, and there might be spoilers. Maybe. If I get too rowdy.
Amazing Spider-Man #538 - This is a pretty interesting issue. On the negative side, JMS spends most of the issue tap-dancing around what's going on in Civil War #7, with prisoners jabbering to Wilson Fisk about what's happening on TV, and people discussing the fallout from the battle, including a death. I'm still not entirely sure who died. I think I know, but I'm not sure they should count. So that got kind of tedious.
On the other hand, the news report that runs after the battle's ended actually sums up things pretty well, and there are some moments where I think JMS could be talking to the fans, such as the part where Congress hopes that both sides of the conflict come together and set aside their differences. The line after this says 'Doubtless this will be easier for some than others', and shows Bill Foster's parents weeping next to his huge grave. Garney drew that scene very well I thought, as well as his frequent close-ups on MJ and Fisk. MJ's concern, and Kingpin's sadistic streak both shine through.
Oh yeah, and someone got shot. I won't say who. Umm, I'm gonna give it a 2.8 out of 5, because reading through it, all the tiptoeing around Civil War #7 really annoyed me, which detracted from my enjoyment of the issue.
Cable/Deadpool #37 - Huh. I thought the cover was just being metaphorical, but that really is pretty representative of what happens. But when the hell did Deadpool shrink the Rhino? The keep referencing it, but I can't recall seeing a single editor's note to explain when. Throw me a bone Marvel Editorial!
So yeah, Wade's tiny, and Rhino's looking for some payback, leading to Wade receiving abuse from a bunch of suckwad villains I've never heard of, leading me to conclude Nicieza must own every Marvel Handbook ever written. Before the ish is over the villains have hopefully learned a valuable lesson about not picking on someone smaller than them, and Wade has received both a needed ego boost and some unsettling news. 3.3 out of 5. It should probably be higher, but there were too many references I didn't get ('I'm Debra Winger'?), and I was driven nuts by the repeated references (but never cited) to Deadpool and Rhino's previous encounter.
But hey, no Cable for the second month in a row! Teach him to star in another title! Assembled Masses: Hooray!
The Immortal Iron Fist #3 - Based on all these cuts scenes from the past (including another one this month) I'd say Danny's been slacking in learning to exploit the Iron Fist. I'd also like to mention that I enjoyed noticing on Page 3 that a British soldier got his face blown off. I think I just liked it as a little detail. Random thought: Do you think the use of other artists for the flashback pages is designed to relieve pressure from Aja? I have no idea if he's a slow artist, but having a few less pages to draw each month can't hurt.
So Danny is attempting to track down the person who used the Iron Fist last issue. Meanwhile, Orson Randall is attempting to track Danny down. And a fellow named Brother Davos wants HYDRA to capture both of them. Actually, "wants" isn't strong enough. "Demands and kills those who fail" would be more apropos. I'm not sure what's up with his ladies transforming into storks(cranes?) though. Especially considering when it happened.
There's a particularly nice sequence on Page 14, a nine panel shot showing Danny dodging SHIELD patrols, and reflecting on the state of America post-Civil War, which leads to a very brief rumination about Misty Knight, government stooge (this is where if Misty didn't deck me, Danny would. Then he'd tell Misty I'm right, which would be great solace when I regained consciousness). Anyway, I just love that Danny's got all these thoughts running through his head, but he can still move so easily through the city.
Lest I forget, Orson Randall accosts a stranger on the street, and asks him to remove his clothes! Yes, I'm removing it from context; now you'll have to buy it to find out why. 4.3 out of 5.
Shadowpact #10 - The Shadowpact is falling apart, but that hasn't stopped Blue Devil from deciding to go to Hell after Etrigan. Nightshade is up and running awfully fast for how hard she got hit. She left a crater in that wall almost as big as the one Nitro put in the school bus, before he somehow got up and... oh forget it.
Jim Rook is still on the verge of death, and Enchantress is having to stay completely awake to keep him going. Here's an idea on how to make him better - take the damn sword out of his chest! I know, there'd be dire consequences or some such nonsense, but could it really make things worse?
At any rate, with the team running short on useful members (sorry Ragman, that counts you out for now), they ask their Oblivion Bar patrons for help. According to Jack, one of the people who agrees to lend a hand has been in the background of scenes for several issues now, and his taking center stage is a typical Willingham maneuver. I guess he's right, I've only been reading the book for three issues, what do I know?
And one of the other good Samaritans is a holdover from Willingham's days on Robin. A critical player in the last actually Robin story arc I liked, no less. Of course, it means the team now has two deathly pale people with no pupils, but what the hell. And hey, Tom Derenick is still drawing the book! Shadowpact has had the same artist for two issues in a row! The world must be ending! 4.5 out of 5. I like this quirky cast I don't know much about, and their magical adventures. Plus while the violence can be severe (just ask Jim Rook), it doesn't feel gratuitous.
So there you have it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

People Need To Speak Up

Before I get to the primary point of this post, I just wanted to ask, does the comicsblogowhatchamafloogle seem kinda angry lately? Seems to be more sniping back and forth going on than usual.

When I was in the comics shop last week, Ken mentioned an article he'd read in a magizine for/about comics' retailers. In it, there were a couple of store owners discussing the sales on Onslaught Reborn, and they brought up that Liefeld is generally disliked by their customers, but man, his stuff sure does sell. Ken added that Liefeld seems to have a pretty lengthy line for his table at conventions as well.

This struck me as kind of odd. It's one thing when people in the blogworld rag on Liefeld. If Civil War has shown us nothing else, it's that bloggers rarely reflect the opinions of the greater comics buying population. But given the retailers were discussing their customers in general, that would seem to suggest a more representative sample. A smaller sample, but perhaps more diverse.

So why might this be happening? My two theories are as follows: One, Liefeld works mostly on mini-series and "events" these days, and those seem to draw in readers for at least a looksee, getting high sales early, then declining gradually as the issues progress. Going by this, one would predict that a Liefeld-drawn ongoing could not sustain sales (putting aside matters of getting issues out on time), as it's easier to hold a completist for only seven issues, rather than for an ongoing. We'd have to see a Liefeld-drawn ongoing, that came out on time to determine that, so it may not be testable in the present. Maybe past numbers could tell us, but I don't know how much comics buyers have changed in terms of likes and dislikes in the interim.

My other theory is that Liefeld really is still popular amongst comic buyers, but that they don't make themselves heard. Reasons could be that people seem more inclined to vocally complain than vocally praise, and so the pro-Liefeld legions simply don't feel like mentioning they like his work. Or, they could be tired of explaining why they like his work. Given how frequently he gets trashed, it's entirely possible that his fans are just tired of dealing with it, and choose to quietly support Mr. Liefeld. Defending him doesn't accomplish anything, so they've stopped trying.

I personally prefer the second option. It implies that Liefeld books sell because he has a large contingent of quiet fans who buy projects he works on. The first option implies people are buying his work, even if they don't like it, because it's an "event", and so they buy at least the first issue.

Your thoughts, insights, theories?

Monday, February 19, 2007

What Smells Like Burned Hair Plugs?

So I went to see Ghost Rider today. I figured a noon showing on Monday would leave me with a theater to myself. I was close, there were only about a dozen people counting me there. So, here's what I've got to say. There's certainly spoilers for it, so if you know you're going to see it, regardless of this review, then turn away now. If you're undecided, hopefully this helps you out, one way or the other. To start, a couple of caveats for folks contemplating seeing the movie.

First, if you're a fan of the Dan Ketch, grim-n'-gritty serious Ghost Rider series of the '90s, you might want to brace yourself. There is a jokey aspect to the movie, especially when dealing with Johnny Blaze, but some of it spills over into the battle scenes. Ghost Rider is still all about the vengeance and punishing evil, but certain mannerisms lighten things up a bit. So keep that in mind.

Second, if you don't like Nic Cage being Nic Cage, then this is going to be a rough movie for you. Because all of those little expressions, tics, and verbal stammering and jokey type stuff that Cage does in movies like The Rock, Con Air, Gone in 60 Seconds are here as well. They're mostly subdued, as Johnny is a verbally low-key guy, but they're present. Me, I don't mind that stuff, but you might.

So, let's get to the movie at large.

- I like the romance between Nic Cage and Eva Mendes, and not just because Mendes goes through pretty much the entire movie wearing low cut, cleavage-exposing outfits. There's something about it, after they meet each other again as adults, that feels like a couple of goofy teenagers trying to figure things out. They're awkward, and say stupid things that hurt each other, and Blaze shows off on his bike to get her attention, like the kid showing that he can do a somersault to impress a girl. And I think it works, since their relationship ended abruptly when they were teenagers, and they're trying to restart it, they pick up where they left off. Let me put it this way, I liked this romance story more than the Peter/MJ arc in the Spider-Man flicks.

- Matt Long (the young Johnny), was pretty good. I thought he did well with his facial expressions, very descriptive.

- I was glad to see Ghost Rider save a random innocent civilian. Always nice to see that the protagonist can take time out of their busy vengeance schedule to save people they don't know.

- Sam Elliot works well as The Caretaker. Better than he did as "Thunderbolt" Ross in The Hulk, certainly. Not that Elliot was bad in that, I think it's just a role that requires a more blustery persona, like how J.K. Simmons plays Jameson in the Spider-Man movies. But as The Caretaker, the grizzled vet who's seen a whole lot? Round of applause. And his horse is really cool. Cooler than Blaze's bike, and I liked that a lot.

-The "Ghost Rider tears through city while police pursue" scene was excellent. I especially enjoyed the police opening fire after Rider comes off the building, and Ghost Rider going up the side of the building. Certainly that part worked better than it did in Batman Forever.

- Best line of the movie? Mack's 'We were riding a gravy train on biscuit wheels long before you showed up.' That made me laugh.

- Problems. I had a hard time understanding what Ghost Rider was saying most of the time. But I have a hearing problem so it might have just been me. The Penance Stare didn't translate to film as well as I would have liked. Without Caretaker's explanation, I don't know that a non-comic reader would understand what was happening when Rider uses it. I'm still not certain why getting the prize all the bad guys are after is so important to them. How exactly it makes them too powerful, I'm not sure.

- The fights with the various demons were kinda weak (until the Blackheart one), but I think the story was more about Blaze holding onto humanity, so battles were incidental.

It's a decent enough film, nothing too weighty, and if you can go to a $6.00 matinee like I did, I'd say it's well worth the time (I still would have gone even if it cost more, I just like not sharing the theater with many people). What the price cutoff for you, is well, up to you.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Bubbles, Captions, And Point Of View

I don't really have a clever way to intro this, so I'll just say I wanted to look at certain things I noticed in the comics Claremont has written since his return last month, because there were some differences and I was thinking about what they meant.

Going back to last month we've got Exiles #90, and the thing I noticed there was the number of caption/exposition boxes, a seemingly sharp increase from Tony Bedard's more voice balloon-driven writing. If anything, the number of caption boxes increased even more markedly in this week's Exiles #91, but the critical difference was in the point of view. In #90, the caption boxes are written from the third person, whereas in #91, they reflect Psylocke's thoughts. I think the difference is due to Claremont being new to the book in #90. It's his first issue, and so he's writing from the perspective of an outsider looking in at this team, trying to get to know the characters, and grow accustomed to them. If the stories of the Claremont fans are true (that they buy any title he writes, and leave when he stops), then it's possible he's making sure that they're brought up to speed as well.

By #91, we apparently aren't outsiders anymore, and so the narrative boxes switch to the first-person perspective of Betsy Braddock, as she attempts to get used to the new situation she's been thrown into. It's a considerable difference in introductions. We were introduced to the Exiles' lives as Morph/Proteus kills the entire team and conquers reality, but we were still safe and sound behind the fourth wall. In contrast, Psylocke's been abruptly dropped into the middle of everything, and confronted immediately with someone she has an unpleasant past with, and so we get to see her greater disorientation, and gradual (ongoing) acclimation to her new life. In seeing how she reacts to them, and how the Exiles react to her, we get to know a little bit more about the team than by passively watching them interact with each other in #90.

Proving my transitions are as poor as my intros and conclusions, I'd like to shift gears to New Excalibur #16 for a bit. The primary thing I wanted to talk about here was that Claremont actually used thought balloons. First off, always nice to see someone dusting off those classics. Secondly, I think's it's a nice touch to use those for the end of the story as Nocturne wakes up in the hospital. Sure, Claremont could have used the caption boxes to depict Nocturne's thoughts, as he did with Psylocke, but using the balloons is more natural in a way. The little bubbles leading from the character to the thought more firmly connect the dialogue to the character. It reinforces in your mind that this character, the one lying in a hospital bed, is the one thinking these thoughts. That she isn't certain where she is, or why she can't move her right leg. That despite her confusion, she's still putting sentences together properly in her mind, that she's able to think things through logically and coherently. Which makes it all the more jarring when her attempt to speak aloud (second to last page) comes out so garbled, barely understandable. We can tell that she knows what to say, and how to put it together, but that she just can't get it out properly. That gives the whole scene an added bit of severity, makes it more "real" for the reader.

Looking at these shifts, I'm curious to see what Claremont does with the point of view and inner dialogue expression in his future issues.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Solid Light Reanimation

So I've been trying to figure out this whole "Dazzler resurrection" thing going on in New Excalibur. My initial theory was that since we're dealing with Claremont, and Captain Britain, Dazzler was somehow drawing on the lives of other Dazzlers spread out across the multiverse (or whatever Marvel calls it), kinda like Jet Li in The One. But I couldn't figure out how that worked so I've come up with a new strategy.

Dazzler has become like Ray Terrill.

When Ray powers up, he becomes pure energy, immune to physical harm. This is why Lobo was once able to punch clean through Ray's head, with no ill effects for Ray, and why I was amused in Infinite Crisis when Psycho Pirate tried to control Power Girl into beating The Ray to death. I suppose we can forgive the Pirate for that, what with the Eye Gouge of Death he was about to receive from Black Adam. Clearly that isn't happening with Dazzler, seeing as she does keep getting injured.

But there's another aspect to Ray's powers that I think could come into play. Once he took a bullet in the neck while in human form. The bullet was lodged next to his spine, and Ray was terrified to move. So Vandal Savage (who had taken an interest in Ray for some reason I've forgotten) staged an attack on the hospital to force Ray to get up. Lo and behold, when Ray had finished fighting, he found that converting to pure energy had atomized the bullet, and he was fully healed upon reverting to human form. I guess it could be explained by his converting his matter into energy, and when he reverts back to matter, his state is controlled in some way by his mind. So he reverted back sans bullet hole. But what's that got to do with Dazzler?

Dazzler converts sound into light in any number of ways. Shields, flares, swords, lasers, and Claremont's captions say that she's feeling more comfortable with her powers all the time. So if she's no longer holding back, could she be using her powers subconsciously now? In each case where she's died, it's been in the middle of a fight, lots of noise all around. People shouting, guns, explosions, so on and so forth. Could she being absorbing that sound, and changing it, first into light, and then making that light into solid matter, to repair the physical damage that's been done to her?

Of course, even if I'm right, it raises the question of what would happen if she died in the vacuum of space, or if someone tried to destroy her mind telepathically (almost a sure bet to come up, if what everyone says about Claremont's love of combat in the astral plane is true. I haven't read enough of his work to think it's that prevalent).

Friday, February 16, 2007

An Adorable Pick-Me-Up

Been kind of a long day. Fortunately, Adorable Baby Panda can make just about anyone feel better. Shall we see who ABP thought needed a boost this week?


Applause, Bonk - May Parker. She seems to have made her decision as to how she's going to help others, which is good. Obviously, it hadn't been easy for her. On the other hand, she kind of hung Davida out to dry there at the student council assembly. You need to consult with people before making those kinds of decisions that affect their lives. {To do otherwise would be, well, Batman-like}.

Hug - Davida Kirby. May kind of sprung that on you suddenly, huh? Well, you seem to have been spearheading her campaign already, so now you just need to change the face and name on the posters, and I'm sure you'll be fine. {After you yell at May for awhile}.

Bonk - Gene Thompson. It's not nice to undercut your girlfriend's aspirations for your own desires. And don't deface school property like that. Didn't your father teach you any better? Bad boyfriend, bad. {Gene, do everyone a favor and go away. Or better yet, get in the crossfire when Spider-Girl and Hobgoblin go at it. Retract that, because then May will lay a massive guilt trip on herself. So just go away, otherwise, you'll just drag May down with you}.

Applause - Sabretooth. Psylocke smacked you around pretty good, but to your credit you kept under control {mostly}, and actually tried to make peace. Hooray. {You know, I really didn't think that I'd see a Sabretooth getting applause on this blog. Weird times we live in.}

Hug - Evil Susan Storm {Exiles). Sue, we know that Reed did some dumb stuff in Civil War, but that's no reason to take over the Hand! Come back to us Sue! {If you wanted to go ahead and thrash Reed first, that'd be OK}.

Hug- Nocturne. She had a stroke. {I don't really think that one needs much more explanation, do you?}

Applause - Ultimate Nick Fury. {Say what?!} He told the President that the death of Charles Xavier won't lead to mutant-human troubles, and so probably kept the President and the military from doing anything rash, like restarting Sentinels, or building interment camps. {That Magneto's almost certainly going to prove Fury wrong is irrelevant, I suppose}.

Hug - Ultimate Jean Grey. She needs lots of hugs to help her keep her grip on things. {I think she needs opportunities to smack people around personally. Vent a little bit at a time, so as to avoid massive, planet-threatening venting down the line}. ABP thinks Jean is going to take command of the X-Men {what's left of them} and do a good job leading them.

So who do you want to see get some panda attention?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Truly Not A Memorable Film

So last night I'm skimming through the channels while Bones is on commercials. As I cruise by FX which joyously, has finally shown commercials that say the new season of The Shield starts in April - it's about freaking time!!! I've been waiting 10 months! What the hell! Where was I? Oh yeah.

So I'm cruising by FX and I see they're showing Spawn, and it's just about to the point where Spawny comes crashing through the skylight to attack Martin Sheen. When that scene actually happens, I find myself thinking, well, basically what I think everytime I watch that movie:

'Man, Spawn's cape looks like it's made of a giant Fruit Roll-Up.'

Yep. That's what made the biggest impression on me from that movie. Probably not a good sign, though I did like that animated series they used to show on HBO. Always started with MacFarlane in a basement, holding jars with skulls in them, talking about what Spawn had gotten himself mixed up in this time.

And yes. That's all I've got today. Now I gotta go study for a test.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What I Bought 2/14/07

So it's another Wednesday. Which means comics for me to review. Sorry for the low key intro, but maybe I'll get more energetic as we go along. As usual, there are probably spoilers, so you know, watch your six and all that.


Amazing Spider-Girl #5 - Well, May's tug-o-war between her student council run and web-slinging reached a breaking point, and she's decided there can be only one, and it has to be the position where she can do the most good. In the meantime, the Black Tarantula is starting to make his presence felt in the New York underworld, and the Hobgoblin's getting closer to taking an active role in things as well. No suit over the costume this month. I have to say, as much as I enjoy seeing Hobgoblin play at being Kingpin, I'm ready for him to hop on the glider and wreak havoc.

Spider-Girl finds herself in the middle of a firefight between the forces of the wannabes, but she got a little help, so it's all good. To switch gears considerably, the end of the issue contains what I can only conclude is a gift to me, as we see that Gene Thompson is not to be trusted. Also, Ron Frenz' artwork is really reminiscent of John Romita Senior's work, especially his Spider-Girl. She looks considerably different than how Frenz had been drawing her in the past. Smaller eyes on the mask for one thing. Not sure why that is, possibly it's his normal style, he was just rushed before, or maybe it's his inker? All in all, not a bad issue, but not really good either. I need some Hobgoblin blowing stuff up. 3.1 out of 5.

Exiles #91 - Psylocke has history with Sabretooth. Not this Sabretooth, but she doesn't know that, and so they fight. And in the process, likely screwed themselves over concerning Morph (to be determined sometime in the future I'm sure). Psylocke takes a couple pages to explore the Crystal Palace, meets Morph, and finds out what she's doing here. Curiously, she's invisible to Heather's devices, which I assume has something to do with the mojo Jamie Braddock used bringing her back to life. What it has to do with that, I have no idea.

In the meantime, Blink, Longshot, and Spidey of 2099 are having their own difficulties. Hand ninja difficulties. Which makes perfect sense; after all, it requires entire Avengers teams to vanquish Hand ninja, how were the three of them gonna pull it off? I must admit, I was thrown by the identity of the leader of the Hand. I was sure it was Storm, but never mind. So it looks like we'll be seeing three Exiles against three Exiles here in a month or so. Should be interesting. I'm either starting to get accustomed to Claremont's writing again, or he restrained himself this issue. Don't know which but either way, 4 out of 5.

New Excalibur #16 - New artist this month, Scot Eaton. His style has a bit of a Greg Land style, in that sense that his Pete Wisdom looks like someone I've seen on TV, I'm just not sure who. Does action scenes more smoothly than Land I'd say. Less posing, more suggestive of actual movement. Anyway, the issue begins with Excalibur breaking up a hostage situation at a bank. And Dazzler dies... again. And revives... again. I think Claremont has been watching too much Excel Saga (where the main character dies four separate times in the first episode). Still no explanation forthcoming, and there probably won't be for awhile because...

Nocturne had a stroke. Buh-wha? That is what we call "out of left field". The issue from there is the team trying to help her, first by trying to contact Nightcrawler, seeing as he's probably closest to her physiologically, but they're out of luck. Thanks a lot Brubaker. You just had to write your X-Men space epic, didn't you? Anyway, guess we have to wait and see where the next episode goes, but that was really abrupt, and the tension that was present at the end of Tieri's fill-in (with the team uncertain of Juggernaut, and possibly not happy Wisdom told them Marko was staying no matter what) has evaporated. Huh. Ummmmm, 3 out of 5.

Ultimate X-Men #79 - It's the funeral of Charles Xavier! Please pretend to be sad for now, we'll have the party after the kids stop bawling. The loss seems to be breaking up the team. Kitty's out, Colossus is contemplating transferring, Sabretooth shows up to tell Logan to go find his wife, I'm sure Jean is about 3 seconds away from Dark Phoenix time (which really means she's just about normal for her), and so on. There really isn't much more to say, other than Nick Fury is very sure that Xavier's death won't have adverse effects on human-mutant relations, or the 'Legacy Project'. Uh-oh.

Oh, and Magneto's still up to something in the Savage Land. How nice for him. That's pretty much it, other than the confirmation that Xavier has been quite the player in his life. Moira, Emma, Lilandra, Jean. Oops, disregard that last one. 2.1 out of 5.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Stop Making Things Easy

I wasn't disappointed or sad when Superman died fighting Doomsday. I was sad that he came back. And it isn't because I don't like Superman. I don't like Cyclops, but I think I'd be bummed out if he were killed off forever, because then who would I mock endlessly for being uptight and bossy? No, I think the problem is, things seem to come too easily for Superman. When a foe is too tough for Wonder Woman, or J'onn, or the Big Red Cheese, well don't worry, Superman can stop him, because just like Danger Mouse, 'he's the strongest, he's the quickest, he's the best!'

I know that's not accurate, other heroes have saved Superman's butt in the past, and that I'm biased because of my intense dislike for Planet-Juggling Superman of the 1960s, with his endless array of super-powers with no upper limit, but still it seems the gap between him and everyone else is too great. I sort of recall that story from Morrison's JLA where Superman has just finished putting the Moon back in orbit, but he's perfectly capable of going up against someone that's been trashing the Martian Manhunter. There were probably extenuating circumstances (was the angel using fire on J'onn?), but still it seems Supes should at least be worn down enough to require assistance for something like that.

I think this is my Rurouni Kenshin Syndrome, defined as "dislike for a character that apparently must always be the best, no matter how much other characters attempt to close the gap, or how much the character lets their skills atrophy, or how beat up they are." Watching these seemingly supreme characters save the day, just leaves me wondering "How would the good guys have triumphed without Character X? Would it have taken longer? What would the repercussions be?" And with the number of characters the DCU has, with all their varieties of powers, the answers to that are more intriguing to me than "Well, Superman used his super-..."

I suppose the answer to this is something Scipio pointed out once, that in the Golden Age Superman dealt with problems that couldn't be punched away, but I think there still would be the question of how could someone else have pulled this off.

Monday, February 12, 2007

That's A Lot Of Child Support

Once, long, long ago, I brought up the fact that Magneto has quite a few kids. Four, to be exact, though one is deceased (for now).

His off-and-on, up-and-down relationship with those children occurred to me with the recent return of Captain Mar-vell. As pointed out by Ebony Bishop in the comments of this post, he's got one dead son, another live son running around as a criminal on Earth (pending resolution of Civil War), and a daughter that just survived a run-in with one of the baddest mofos in the Marvel Universe out in space, who may be (probably is) embracing an alternative lifestyle. And neither of these kids has had much of a relationship with him (that I'm aware of), so the one interesting thing to come out of The Return might be watching Mar-vell try and connect with his kids. Better than watching him mope in a Negative Zone prison.

But that's not really where I was going with this post, it's just something I thought of while typing. What I was really thinking about was: which comic character has fathered the most children? Mags had four, Mar-vell has three (until we find out Vulcan is actually his kid, 'cause he bedded Cyclops' mom on her prom night, after Corsair stood her up. Or he got in on with a Shi'ar/Badoon/Rigellian princess. Whichever. Or all of the above. Simultaneously. Go for it Mar-vell! I'm sorry.), the Red Skull had a bunch of daughters, but they weren't his genetically, right? Didn't he just take a bunch of orphans and age them? If they are his, I remember four or five. Hal Jordan, Tony Stark, Murdock, Nightwing? The mind boggles at the possibilities so far unexplored. But that's just looking at mortals.

Apocalypse has had several... dozen over his existence (I think. I needed to pay more attention to Apocalypse vs. Dracula). Loki's had at least three: Tess Black (the daughter Spider-Man helped Loki free from the Chaos Goddess Morwen), Hela, and the Midgard Serpent (what did his mother look like?). Hard telling how many more. So in terms of solely quantity, the long-lived fellows probably have the edge. But would that hold true if we looked at kids per year? I think the mortals, with the limited existence weighing more heavily upon them, might have the advantage in terms of rapidity of reproduction.

We could hold a similar discussion for mother of the most children, but it seems like that would go to that Great Mother character Morrison came up with for 52. Plus, I was running with a "deadbeat dad" theme, so moms were kind of off-topic (like that's ever stopped me). If you think there's someone who could top her, let us know.

Oh, and if you're looking to assign blame for this possibly disturbing post, aim complaints at Spider-Man: Reign. That comic has warped my fragile little mind, and I didn't even read it. What power!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Have Movies Lied To Me Again?

So I've noticed Wonder Woman's on trial for killing Max Lord in Manhunter (Or maybe not. The trial could be over by now for all I know). I'm just not entirely clear on why. She's a ambassador from Themyscria, so doesn't she have diplomatic immunity? From this, I'm forced to consider certain options:

One, the theory of complete diplomatic immunity, as espoused by the classic film Lethal Weapon 2, is a overhyped bunch of junk. Diplomats can, in fact, be tried for murder by other countries. This raises the question of why Black Adam hasn't been tried for his various actions over the years, including ripping a man in half in front of a crowd of reporters.

Two, Diana's diplomatic immunity is no longer recognized, what with her country having vanished from the face of the Earth.

Three, the DC Universe does things differently, owing to the fact that superhumans have a tendency to run around saving people willy-nilly, without any respect for international borders (I'm looking at you Hal Jordan!).

Four, Diana's chosen to stand trial, as part of her ongoing attempt to spread a message of peace and tolerance throughout the world. In essence, putting her faith in the American (she's being tried in America, right?) legal system. In which case, she's either banking on her celebrity to see her through, or she's made a serious misjudgment.

And how does that story jibe with her being out of sight during 52, or being a government agent in her own title? Man, I thought Marvel was the company with the messed up timelines.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

This Cuteness, However, Must Be Stopped

So, it's Wednesday in Marvels and Legends. I'm downstairs, chatting about this and that with Len and Jack. I think we were talking about how "Slade's hypos" are a better explanation for weird stuff than "Superboy-Prime punched a wall", and who might have been a better choice as the architect of Marvel's "No more mutants".

Somehow, we get to a point where Jack mentions a set of Marvel Legends figures that each come with a piece of Mojo, who Len very much dislikes. I don't have much of an opinion about Mojo one way or the other, only having read a couple of comics that prominently involved him. He's a character that sounds kind of interesting in theory, but may be lacking in execution. Whatever, not the point. So Jack mentions that along with the Mojo piece, there was originally going to be included something that would have really bugged Len - an X-Baby.

At this point, I was forced to cry ignorance, as I've understand the general concept when someone says X-Baby, but I've never really seen one. Except for one time, when Jean was telepathically linked with Dazzler, and there was an X-Baby version of Apocalypse, or something like that. It was the last story before Morrison and Casey started writing the X-books, so let's just forget it.

Anyway, Jack and Len explain the idea, Jack describing them as "chibi X-Men", I agree it sounds horrific, so on and so forth. Then, Len mentions something about how they certainly shouldn't try the X-Baby concept with the current X-Men roster. So we get a chuckle out of the idea of X-Baby Sabertooth, then I bring up the idea of chibi-Cable, with a gun bigger than he is. That got a laugh, especially when Len suggested Cable would take a page from Wade's book and just kill it as soon as he saw it. Or that Wade would pick it up and give it a big hug, until it blew a hole in his chest. Then he'd snap it's neck, all while babbling about how cute it was.

This tomfoolery lead to somehow a discussion of Wade with telepathy, with the theory that he'd slap on that Marvel Girl outfit he took from the X-Mansion (the one she was wearing when the X-Men tried to defend her from execution by the Shi'ar, the one with a skirt), and cruise around in a wheelchair, fingers to his temple shouting "To me, my X-Men!!!"

Yes, we're all completely insane. What of it?

Friday, February 09, 2007

In The Eye Of The Storm - Cuteness

Adorable Baby Panda's doing quite well this week. Very eager to read some comics, and pass out some love. And who am I to argue? Let's begin!

Applause - David. Poor David. That hawk gave his life, so Roland could become a gunslinger. I mean, Cort just tore the poor bird's wing off, amongst other punishment. {But David went out scrapping, and sometimes, that all you can ask for}.

Applause, Bonk - Roland Deschain, son of Steven {because one shouldn't forget the face of his father}. So yeah Roland, you won your fight, got your guns. Hooray for you. But then you go and get one of those guns shot to bits. You ought to take better care of those weapons than that.

Applause - Mr. Corazon. He told Warbird that if his daughter got hurt doing this hero stuff, she'd have to deal with him. Anya got hurt {Did she ever. It reminded of that time Spawn ripped all of Jason Wynn's skin off. Of course, he really only made Wynn think he did that, but it hurt Wynn like it really happened. And yes, I used to read Spawn. For about 30 issues.} and Carol has to deal with Dad. And he didn't give Carol the easy out of "It wasn't your fault", or "You tried your best". Nope, he's fully ticked off.

Applause, Hugs - Arana. First off, she took care of all those Targoth things, that would otherwise have infected, well, lots of people {it'd be the start of Marvel Zombies Earth!}. And she wasn't doing it because she's an agent of the government or any of that crap, but because it needed to be done and she wanted to help people.

Applause, Hug - Ultimate Mary Jane Watson. The hug is for the traumatic incident that may not be finished yet. The applause is for being the one that opens Nick Fury's eyes to the fact he's an important male role model for Peter, and so maybe he should shape up a little bit. Sure, it doesn't seem to have had any long-term effect, but at least she tried.

Hug - Ultimate Jessica Drew. Don't know where wou'll end up Jess, but best of luck to you wherever it winds up being. Just make sure to stay of Nick Fury's radar.

Bonk - Peter Parker. I know you and MJ had both been through a lot lately, but Peter, you cannot go around kissing girls who aren't your girlfriend! You are not Nightwing! {Thank goodness. Peter doesn't need 75 STDs on top of all his other issues}.

Hug - Kitty Pryde. She got all worked up, trying to help her boyfriend, gets to the scene too late to do anything, can't get Xavier to take Peter's secret identity out of Aunt May's mind {The right call by Chuck, but it didn't help her state of mind}, and she saw the aforementioned kiss. Is this the start of an "Angry Goth" phase for Ultimate Shadowcat? Will it drive her out of the X-Men, or back into the fold? Either way, she needed a hug.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Peekaboo!

Question for the day: What is the dealie in Carol Danvers skull?

We know there's something there. Beast saw it when he did a comparison of Carol to her alternate reality self. Then he chose not to pursue his curiosity any further. Way to be Hank. Some scientist you are. Carol keeps having dreams of being on an operating table, and hearing weird voices, and now she's getting mysteriously healed of the zombie infection. So what's going on?

Two predictions, though they're really just the different sides of the same coin.

One, MODOK has shrunk himself and is hiding inside Carol's skull, until he can devise a way to eliminate that AIM committee that wants to overthrow him. As Fortress Keeper once noted (and it's there on his site... someplace, I'm just lacking in time to find it), MODOK has the hots for Ms. Danvers (understandable, even if she is currently a tool of The Man), and so he's subtly altering her from within, so she'll be more receptive when he makes his move.

Man, that sentence is seventeen kinds of unsettling. Moving on!

Two, it's not MODOK, but it's a device implanted by MODOK, to transform Carol into MOBIRD! Or WARDOK! Or something like that. A device designed to alter her physiology would explain the way she was miraculously cured of the infection this week.

Well, there's my cheap joke. And that was pretty much all I had. So, thoughts?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What I Bought 2/7/07

First things first, Chris of the Guys Who Buy Comics, is back as of Friday. Consider yourself informed, and you better read his blog... or else. I have pandas that could make you sorry otherwise.

Second point, I looked through Supergirl #14 and there are three things I'd like to mention. One, Churchill draws the Batgirl suit with the highly visible (and kind of creepy) stitches. Two, Cassandra seems to be acting more in the Deathsroke "killer for hire", rather than the Frank Castle "lethal vigilante" mold. But who the hell knows what that means, with hypos and the remaining missing weeks of that stupid missing year. Three, when did Supergirl get ahold of the Witchblade?

OK, enough talking about dreck, time to talk about what I actually purchased, with the usual warnings about spoilers applying as always.


The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born #1 - So, I picked it up. I'm uncertain how exactly to grade it, as it's a story I'm familiar with. Peter David writes well, matching the King's style, but with a few things that feel more David-ish. The part about the love bite, for example, felt a bit like David's humor. Jae Lee certainly draws it well (and credit to painter Isanove), especially in some of the facial expressions (there's one Roland directs towards Marten that I really think conveys Roland's hatred) but...

It's the same problem the Annihilus/Nova fight had. No artist can really make it look as right to me as my own mind already had. For example, Roland's teacher Cort is probably an accurate representation of how he's described in the book, but he doesn't match how I've pictured him (shorter, hairier, more gnarled over, kind of like an old offensive lineman), so it throws me a little. It'll be interesting when Roland starts to get a lot older, since I usually pictured him looking a lot like GrimJack.

That said, this issue shows us how Roland earned his title of "gunslinger", as well as what discovery spurred it on. It seems like this mini-series may focus on the story Roland told his ka-tet in the 4th book (Wizard and the Glass), before moving more fully to his pursuit of the Man In Black across the desert. I thought it was fine, a solid 4 out of 5, but I was a fan of the Dark Tower series. It'd probably be more instructive to see the review of someone who didn't like the books, or had never read them (which is why I'd be curious to see Jack's reactions, were he to read it through).


Warbird #12 - Yeah, I'm going back to using Carol's good codename. Consider it a pickmeup, now that Greg Horn is drawing her covers. It's not neccessarily bad, though Carol looks unnaturally twisted, but I don't feel anything from it. It's not getting across any emotion to me. Ah well, just a cover, what's happening inside.

Well, Carol's fighting Doomsday Man and a bunch of zombie things he set loose. In typical horror movie fashion, it only takes a touch from them to infect a person, so now Carol has imminent zombiefication to worry about, if the amped up Doomsday Man doesn't cave her skull in first. In the meantime, Arana's having to play Zombie Crowd Control, and she's doing pretty well. Better than when she winds up trying to help Warbird with Big Cyborg Guy. At least it finally got Carol's head in the game.

Anyway, we're left with the feeling that lots of people are manipulating Carol without her being aware of their presence. There's AIM, whatever the dealie is in her brain, her publicist, I'm sure her romantic interest is evil too. They always are. Beyond that, the issue left me kind of cold. Maybe I'm still ticked at Carol for being a tool in the Pro-Registration Army? I don't know. 3.1 out of 5.


The Punisher #44 - The ladies are still making preparations to get Frank. Turns out getting through all the info on him is gonna be a little harder than they thought, what with one of them being dyslexic. Man was that out of leftfield, but I figure Ennis will have that come back to get a bunch of the other ladies blown up somewhere down the line. Either way, the ladies are quite serious. They've acquired quite a few guns, and they think they've discovered a chink in his armor (based on the reports of his violence from "The Slavers" arc). Of course, that one crazy lady appears to still be tracking them, so they better, how you say, watch their six.

In the meantime, Frank seems to be fighting a bit of a losing battle with his increasing violence. It's a clever idea by Ennis, to ask "If Frank went to the extremes of cutting out a man's intestines as an interrogation tactic once, why not do that every time? What made that guy special?" I think that's going to cost Frank some bullet wounds. It went fast, but I'm getting more intrigued, so 4.1 out of 5.


Ultimate Spider-Man #105 - Little more wrap-up from the Clone Saga this issue. MJ says something that stops Fury in his tracks more effectively than anything else I've ever seen (short of getting his arm ripped off in Ultimates, when the hell is that wrapping up?). Pete gets to the hospital, thanks Invisible Woman, and has a heart-to-heart with Aunt May. Fury finally comes clean with Peter and - damnit Bendis! How dare you make Fury a somewhat sympathetic character! What are you doing to me here? Black is white and up is down! [runs from room screaming]

...

...

I'm better now. I saw the page where we see Fury has the Scorpion and Gwen Clones in his position. Yep, he's back to being a sneaky bastard. Much better. SHIELD ends up covering for Peter with the neighborhood, which is fitting, seeing as there's plenty of damage caused by their stupid robots. There's still one clone left loose, and I imagine we'll be seeing them again. In an intelligent move, Bendis shows MJ isn't over her recent travails just like that.

I want to give a shout out to Bagley. I know, I do that a lot. Well, I'm doing it again. He didn't get much action to work with (none, actually), but some of the facial expressions.... Peter's as he stands over Aunt May on page 6, Peter's face when Fury comes in behind him on page 9, and Kitty's face on the third to last page in particular. Bravo, sir. All in all, I'd say Bendis wraps up most of the important stuff, leaves plenty of other things open for future arcs, and that's fine. I'm ready to be done with the Clone Saga. Bendis got to have his fun, and do it "right", he did a halfway decent job of it, and now it's time to move on. I really want to see this next arc. I want Spidey interacting with more street-level Marvel heroes, even if none of them like him (stupid Ultimate Daredevil). 3.9 out of 5.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Love Changes A Person

I want to talk about something from Annihilation. In Annihiliation #6, Nova has finished off Annihilus, and is passing out from his wounds. Before he does he sees Death and Thanos standing before him, and says 'Better luck next time.' First, was he telling them "too bad, I'm not dying, you'll have to get me some other day", or does he think that Death was looking forward to the success of Annihilus' plan, and thus Richard has thwarted her desires? I'm figuring the former, but whatever. Just throwing that out there.

The main thing I want to discuss is Death's appearance. She appears as an adult woman, ghostly white, pupilless and bald. This is in stark contrast to how she looked the other two or three times she popped up over the entirety of Annihilation. Those times, she was in that Goth child form, with hair, and pupils. So why was she different this time?

One explanation could be that her appearance varies depending on who sees her. So how Nova regards Death is different from how Thanos does. I'm not sure what that says about Thanos, if he saw Death as a child. It could represent that his love for Death is more of a protective, nurturing style, than a "Man loves a woman style". Doesn't seem to fit though. Nova seeing her as a bald adult? Uh, I've got nothing. I'd expect him to see her as the skeleton she was so often portrayed as in the past.

My other theory is that Death looks how she feels like looking, to hell with your perceptions. In that scenario, her transformation to an adult could signify her final acceptance of Thanos, in the manner that he's been striving for so long. All this time, Thanos has been trying to woo her with big, impressive gifts, like planetary conquest, and killing half the people in the universe, and she's appearing before him as a child. Because he still doesn't get it. He thinks he knows what she wants, but he doesn't. He's the child, playing at love.

But by dying, and accepting the finality of that (until someone decides to bring him back), he's progressed, he finally gets it. I suppose it's a sign of maturity to accept that your end will come. Death didn't care that he killed a bunch of people, because all those suckers are going to die eventually anyway. It was about Thanos accepting his own mortality.

Just a thought.

One last comment for the road. Thanos, I'm happy you're finally with Death, but man you've got to ditch the matching outfit. The "shroud with plunging neckline" look is just creepy. You are not a character in an Anita Blake story, get an undershirt!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Surveying The Cosmos

Now that Annihilation has come to a close, I thought it might be fun to look at how things stand, and maybe make some predictions for the future of the Marvel Universe.

- As it stands, the Kyln (prison for criminals awaiting execution) has been destroyed. It's unknown how many escaped alive, so there may be hardcore criminals on the loose, or there may not. Either way, new facilities will need to be constructed.

- Aegis and Tenebrous are somewhere, probably ready to resume their plan to end all existence, seeing as Annihilus failed to do it for them. There's a two-part story coming out this month and next dealing with them. Given the powers of those involved, there will be considerable destruction, leading to unrest and anarchy wherever it occurs. {Update, January 13, 2008: Or maybe there won't be unrest and anarchy because they'll be destroyed at the remains of the Kyln}

- Ravenous, as current leader of the Annihilation Wave, presides over an empire that includes the former Skrull Empire, and part of the Kree Empire. Given that the heir to this empire is present, but not ready to rule, it's unlikely that Ravenous can proceed with any campaigns of conquest and destruction. Instead, energy will probably be devoted to rebuilding the forces (fortunately, the Wave is mostly insects, and if they're anything like Earth arthropods, they reproduce like crazy), and to eliminating the limited and disorganized Skrull resistance that is sure to spring up. At least some of that resistance is going to involve Super-Skrull and Praxagora. They hate the Wave too much to stop attacking it. Also, the Firelord will probably be a problem, as he'll be hunting down the Centurions, who have likely rejoined the primary force.

- The Kree appear unified under a universally respected leader in Ronan. Given his distaste for the armistice he signed with Ravenous, it's likely Ronan will quickly set about rebuilding his forces, making sure everyone is on the same page, so as to be able to attack as soon as possible. I just can't see him tolerating Kree worlds in Ravenous' control any longer than he has to.

- Nova's going to set to work being the Nova Corps eventually. I'd suggest keeping Peter around as a logistics expert, and also as someone who seems to have enough contacts he could call in some help for Rich if needed. Could probably count on Gamora and her Furies, Phyla, and maybe Moondragon. Plus, Ronan will probably allow Nova some leeway to pursue fugitives into Kree space.

- I expect the Badoon to do something eventually. They may not be a power on par with what the Kree or Skrulls once were, but they don't control 38% of the Milky Way for nothing. There space has been untouched by the war, so they've gotten to sit back, watch, and learn. I wouldn't be surprised to see them attack at a moment when the Wave and the Kree were occupied with each other. That kind of sneak attack seems to be a Badoon specialty.

- Drax is either looking for Cammi, or trying to decide what to do now that he did was he was designed to do. I wouldn't be surprised if he went in Wave controlled space and started killing bugs, just to keep occupied until the answer presents itself.

- Terrax has probably set himself up as a dictator on some out of the way world, trying to rebuild his self-esteem after being turned into a puppet by Annihilus. Begging Gamora to kill him couldn't have helped either.

- I haven't mentioned the Shi'ar yet, for a couple of reasons. One, those bird-descended cowards couldn't bother to lend a hand, so who gives a crap about them? Two, and more important, Brubaker hasn't finished this story yet (and was that really a good idea, to start your run with a 12 issue arc?), so we don't know exactly how the Shi'ar empire is going to shake out just yet. I think it's highly unlikely that D'Ken is actually back, seeing as Vulcan isn't killing him (then again, Summers are long on talk, short on action, so he may have just wussed out), so Deathbird is probably the real power (my money's on "D'Ken" being that shape-shifter from the Imperial Guard). In that scenario, the Shi'ar are likely to get a lot more aggressive, and could be reasonably expected to attack anyone. Earth, Badoon, Kree, the Annihilation Wave, hard to say.

- One thing I'd like to see: In an attempt to bolster their forces, Ravenous offers sanctuary (or jobs) to any criminal interested. It'd be a bit like Kang offering positions to Earth mercs, criminals, and super-villains (in the Kang War Avengers storyline). Weaken your enemies potential forces, and you can throw these suckers out first, and preserve your best troops. It would be a fairly safe place. It provides safety in numbers from Nova, the Kree are liable to be getting very serious about crime with Ronan in charge, Deathbird is nuts, so who knows what she'd do. Ravenous could attract some powerful, skilled people, who could add a different element to the Wave, beyond just angry, hungry bugs.

Any thoughts, predictions?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Hitting My Wallet

It's Super Bowl Sunday, which means I'm going to visit my family and eat enchiladas. With that in mind, this post is gonna be a fairly quick post.

So, it's being discussed all over the comics blogowhatchamafloogle. The apparent loophole that Geoff Johns has provided to Batgirl. She's been drugged by Slade (you know, I can't call him Deathstroke anymore.), and so may not be responsible for her actions. Of course, we don't know when he got ahold of her, so the question of whether she was responsible for her actions in "Robin: Boy Wanted" is still up in the air. Time will tell.

And being a drugged pawn of some bitter, vengeful old man isn't really a great character development, but, it's better than where she was. I still think a "Batman who takes it one step farther" would be fine. She might be killing criminals (like Red Hood), but she'd demonstrate more concern for the victims and the innocent than he does. But I'm getting ahead of myself. After all, we've only seen Part 1, and it's a four-parter, so there's a long way to go.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to let Geoff Johns know that my offer is still on the table. And it's still a great deal for DC. And it's not like several of their titles couldn't use more readers.
Just keep it in mind, OK? Nothing to lose, so much to gain.

Tomorrow and Tuesday, more Annihilation!!!! Because I haven't done nearly enough posts dedicated to it.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

'06 Comics In Reviews, Part 5

So, we reach the end of our look back at 2006. And, we're wrapping it up with what were, bar none, my favorite comics of the year. Annihilation slipped under the majority of comics fans' radars, which is too bad. By having the four lead-in mini-series, there was an opportunity to establish reasons for characters' actions, to develop motivations, thus eliminating much of the "OUT OF CHARACTER!!!!" screams that were heard from the Civil War readers. Yeah, there was death (lots of it, when you consider the number of Skrull worlds that went boom!), but that reenforces that this was, in fact, a war. Plus, no Cyborg Clone Thors, and more importantly, no delays!

Annihilation: Prologue - The set-up for the whole thing, establishing the invasion, and giving a general idea of what all the primary characters were up to. One of the weaker issues of the whole thing, because it was serving as exposition.
Annihilation: Silver Surfer (#1, #3-4) - Detailing the Surfer's inner struggle with what he should do. Annihilus is a force of death and destruction, but was what Galactus did (with the Surfer as his Herald) any different? And does the Surfer miss the certainty that came with being Herald, always knowing what was expected of him? I picked up #1, felt disappointed by the Surfer's continued "all whine, no action" stance in #2, then came back in #3 and stuck with it from there.
High Point: #3, when not only does the Surfer regain his full powers, not only does he celebrate by wiping out five Annihilation Wave warships in one two-page spread, but he gets called a 'sadly inadequate poltroon' by Annihilus' version of a Herald, Ravenous. I loved that scene. Especially considering how quickly things turned on him.
Low Point: I suppose it's #2, since I was disappointed enough not to buy that one.
Annihilation: Super-Skrull (#1-4) - I'd say this was my favorite of the four lead-in mini-series. Something about it, I think the feel of "lone wolf fighting impossible odds" struck a chord with me. Ultimately, it seemed like Super-Skrull experienced a change in perspective, maybe a realization of what's really important. Hard to tell if that's persisted through his resurrection.
High Point: #4 was pretty good, with both Super-Skrull's sacrifice and his punishment of R'Kin's treachery. But I'm gonna go with the opening sequence of #1, when Kl'rt fights to defend the planet of Aks'lo. He's going at it, trouncing every Wave soldier he can get at, but even so, the commander in the field describes the Skrulls as offering only 'token defense'. In addition, we're given a glimpse of not only how Super-Skrull views himself, but how a once well-regarded soldier is now ridiculed by the general Skrull populace.
Low Point: The attraction of Praxagora to Super-Skrull, first shown in #3. It just seemed unneccessary for her to fall in love with him. I felt it would have been enough to show her having respect for his skills as a warrior, and perhaps that their hatred of the Annihilus would make them kindred spirits. Mybe with more time, it would have felt more natural to me.
Annihilation: Nova (#1-4) - My second favorite mini-series, and probably the one that most shapes Annihilation. Nova tries to cope with the destruction of the Nova Corps, the overwhelming power of the full Nova Force, and having Drax threatening to kill him if he doesn't get his act together. We see Nova gradually become more hardened, more gritty, but it's done in a way that's more believeable and less absurd than Marvel's strategy with Speedball (sorry, couldn't resist).
High Point: #2, when Rich gets tired of Drax and the Worldmind yelling at him, and tells them to sort it out between themselves. #3, where Quasar calmly stands up to Drax, who's been pushing Nova around pretty good up until then. 'I see. Should I signal the Avengers? The Imperial Guard?' Heh. You tell him, Wendell. Still, the best moment, hands down, is Nova and Quasar's head-on attack on Annihilus in #4. Sure, they're totally outclassed, but that doesn't stop them from going for the best chance to stop the Wave in its tracks. Too bad about Quasar though.
Low Point: Hmm, I'm having a hard time picking out a distinct low point. There was the point in #1 when he called the Worldmind "Dad". That was weird, and it never really seemed to get brought up again. Just kind of an odd moment.
Annihilation: Ronan (#1-2) - What I'd call the weakest of the minis. I read through #3, had no clue where it was going and gave up hope. Just too weakly related to Annihilation, I think.
High Point: I think this would be #1, when Ronan has inadverdently started a clan war by meting out Kree justice. There's a couple of pages of him walking through a clan battle like he's out for a stroll. He takes action only when he's attacked, and only because the attacker is standing between him and his ship.
Low Point: I guess #3, since that's the issue that I decided to give up on.
Annihilation (#1-6): The big-time. The final showdown. The conflict for alllllll the marbles. The... oh enough of that. It was awesome, I loved the ragtag band of heroes, anti-heroes, villains, really whoever could chip in to try and fight the Wave. Plus, Nova dissed the heroes muddling around in Civil War for not having their stuff together. Good times.
High Point: So much to choose from. There was Galactus' defeat in #1, and his revenge in #6. There was the Nova/Annihilus fight. I thought Thanos' reason for aiding Annihilus (Essentially, that he wanted to see what would happen) was pretty amusing. The fact that he was the one spreading the misinformation about the dangers of teleporting was a nice touch. Ronan's assault on House Fiyero in #5, complete with Super-Skrull team-up, culminating in just destroying half of Ravenous' face. Still, I'll go with the defeat of the Unified Front in #3. In a move that truly surprised me, the tide wasn't turned, Annihilus' forces trounced Nova's group, and scattered them like grains of sand. Granted, the "villains deal heroes a resounding defeat" isn't new to these kinds of things (the villains did it two or three times in Secret Wars, I think), but in those situations, the heroes usually regroup and come right back at them. This time, they broke up, Gamora switching to guerrila tactics, Ronan heading for Kree space, leaving Nova to go after the main Wave himself.
Low Point: I was kind of sad that Peter didn't get to chip in on the final battle. Sure, he was really outclassed, but so were Nova and Phyla, so why not let him have some fun?
Well, that's everything.