Monday, April 30, 2007

Noir Mixed With The Matrix

I sometimes think the mark of a good game is that you can beat it, set it aside, for months at a time, and suddenly have an insatiable urge to play that game again. You're not trying to unlock anything, you know how it's going to play out, you just enjoy it and want to play again. It happens to me a lot, and so I think I might start profiling some of those games, just as a way of honoring them.

Today's is Max Payne, the second game I purchased for my Xbox (the first being Dead or Alive 3 - don't judge me!). This is a game I originally saw Papafred playing on his computer in the dorms. It's odd, but with some games, watching another person play them eliminates any interest I have in playing them. The Punisher, from a few years back being an example. After I watched him play that, I had no drive to get it myself. For some reason Max Payne was different.

The graphics, especially compared to what's out there today, are nothing special. The plot is fairly standard: hard-working, family man cop loses family, goes undercover, watches DEA contact die, decides to go after the ones responsible, partially for revenge, mostly because they framed him for his friend's death, and he's ready to bring them down. Permanently. It is the first game I ever saw the now standard "bullet time", which was pretty cool, even though I almost never use it when I play.

I think it's the style of the game, with the cut scenes set up like pages of a comic book (or graphic novel if you prefer). The dialogue is sometimes humorous, sometimes beautifully descriptivem but always interesting. Two quick examples:

'Gognitti ran out of steam in a dead end alley, with steam boiling out of the sewer grates like all the fires of Hell were burning high beneath us.'

and,

'He had a baseball bat and I was tied to a chair. Pissing him off was the smart thing to do.'

I've never read much noir, or even watched all that many noir films, but that fits the perception I have of that genre, and I like it, seeing as the one skill I feel I have when it comes to writing is the ability to turn a phrase (well, that and getting to the point quickly), and so I have an appreciation for what I consider fine examples of the craft.

The way the story is presented draws me in, and in most games that's what I'm looking for, to be interested, so that I give a care. Make me care about Max, so that if he gets blown up because I stupidly had him charge into a room full of machine gun-toting goons, I'm bummed by it enough to not want to repeat the failure. Max is undoubtedly in over his head, which he shows by making the mistake of starting on the bottom rungs of the Punchinello crime family ladder, instead of aiming high. That tips his enemies off to the threat he represents, which is only making his job harder. That he's getting used to deal with traitors by a rival Russian mob, and keeps crossing paths with a revenge driven twin sister of the don's wife, people he keeps trusting despite their questionable allegiances, throws a few more torches of insight into the angry darkness Payne's soul has become. (Do you think that phrase was too much?)

The high points of the game may well be the scenes when Max is in drug-induced hallucinations, at least from a cinematic aspect. You're in a twisted facsimile of the home you and your family lived in. You can hear your wife pleading, but the hallways are a twisted maze, until you reach a nearly-empty black void. To get through it, you must follow your daughter's cries, as you run through the void on narrow trails of blood. Plus, all around you, what appear to be red snowflakes are falling, and sometimes you have to leap across the void to reach another trail. While that can be annoying, it's worth it for the atmosphere of the scene alone.

And I'm still learning things about the game, including Norse mythologic undertones I'd only recognized hints of. Your buddy in the DEA's last name was Balder, the Norse god whose death signals the coming of Ragnarok, which leaves Midgard frozen by a nightmarish winter. In the game, you've got a dead Balder, and the 'worst winter storm in New York history'. There's the Aesir Corporation, a club called Ragna Rock, and the designer drug Valkyr (I'll let you draw any connections you may wish there, rather than give everything away) added to the mix, and there's a ship called the Charon, but that's Greek, so it's a little out of place, but it is related to the underworld, so "ship of the dead" I suppose. I'm not quite sure what all this makes Max, Thor perhaps, except there was no battle with a giant serpent. The kicker is, I was able to recognize all this from having read Simonson's Thor run. Truly a wonderful collection, one that continues to enrich my life in many ways.

I think this game being so good, is what made the second one so disappointing (that and too many "keep this person alive or you fail" levels, I hate escort missions!) I remember watching Papafred play Max Payne 2, and feeling no desire to run out and buy it. It looked a little nicer, but it was lacking. . . something. Maybe they shouldn't have pushed the romantic angle so hard, I don't know. What I do know is, I thoroughly enjoy the first Max Payne, just running around, blasting criminals, interspersed with Max's wry, poetic reflections on the current situation.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Hills Are Burning With The Sounds Of Music

So I saw this on Mr. Foss' blog, and figured it might be interesting to see how cruel fate decides my life should be musically defined. This could be frightening, so those of you with weak stomachs might want to have your cursor hovering over the "Back" button, just in case things get too intense.

Opening credits: "Another One Bites The Dust" - Queen. Yikes. That doesn't seem like a particularly promising start. Unless I'm going to be causing other people to bite the dust. That would be a more promising sign, because I'd be an action hero, and it could open with me cruising down the streets, looking for criminals to run over, just like I do in Grand Theft Auto 3. Or I could be an incompetent surgeon. Which would pay more, at least before the malpractice suits. But by the time those are settled I'll be in another country, my cash having been safely deposited in your stereotypical Swiss bank account. Yeah, I'm liking the sound of this movie.

Waking up: "That's All" - Genesis. This might work. I'm usually in a pretty sour mood when I wake up, what with the having to get up and do the things that are expected of me. Phil seems pretty fed up in this song, so sure, I can grumble while I get dressed and brush my teeth and so on.

First day of school: "Behind Blue Eyes" - Limp Bizkit. A song about being alienated and alone, on your first day in a strange new environment. I'm sure the fact it's a remake of a classic song should mean something, but what? Maybe the "feeling alone in a new setting" is nothing new, been there, done that?

Falling in love: "Drown" - Limp Bizkit. It's a slow, sad song, but I think if it was matched up with shots of me being a little freaked out about how hard I'm falling for whoever it is I'm in love with it could work.

1st love song: "Disarm" - Smashing Pumpkins. I'll be honest, if I knew the words a little better, I could see myself trying to sing this to the girl. And given that I don't sing for anybody, that's saying something. So yeah, karaoke scene? I'm not sure that performance would win her over, but I'd at least be impressed with myself for trying. I'd be up there, crooning away, eyes closed, eventually dropping to my knees to show the sheer depth of my emotions.

Breaking up: "Old Fashioned Love Song" - 3 Dog Night. And the natural consequence of me singing to her would be her breaking up with me. And this song, being about love, being soft, alternating between a quicker, upbeat tone, and a slower, more desperate one, almost pleading in a way, trying to convince her that that the song is just for the two of them, and so of course they should be together. I see this happening on a pleasant day, outdoors, ending with me standing there alone in the bright sunshine. You know, play up the contrast, a "there's no sunshine in my heart" feel.

Prom: "My Way" -Limp Bizkit. Somehow, I don't see myself having a date for the prom if this song is playing. I do see myself making a big scene, after an extended period of me seeing the lady of my heart having a good time with some other guy. I'd be over by the punch bowl, stewing away, refusing friends offers to get out on the dance floor, or go somewhere else and do something to take my mind off things. There'd be an eventual explosion of anger, probably leading to my being escorted out of the dance. I might even have to take up drinking for this scene.

Other possibility: In an attempt to make this movie actually resemble my life, "my way" will involve me not going to prom, period, just hanging out at home, moping, venting frustrations on a baseball, or a wood post, or a video game. Something.

Mental Breakdown: "Mrs. Robinson" - Simon & Garfunkel. I don't know if it's true or not, but I always got the feeling from this song, that Mrs. Robinson was being placed into a mental health facility. What with the talk of "files" and "helping oneself". So yeah, that works pretty damn well. I'd be in a straitjacket, just cheerfully hopping around babbling. That does sound kind of fun, to be honest.

Driving: "Hello, Goodbye" - The Beatles. Well, this is one of my favorite Beatles songs. I guess it would be a contrast piece, shots of me driving my friend Alex around, contrasted with him returning the favor (and scaring the hell out of me when he goes 80 in a 45 because he really wants to get home to the bathroom). Of course, we'd both be singing along to the song as we drove here and there. An "Odd Couple" friendship affirmation scene.

Flashback: "Winter In My Heart" - Vast. It's a slow song about a guy's life having been broken, and him trying to put the pieces back together. So, I think this is going to be a flashback to the breakup. I'd be in the middle of a snowy field, walking, pausing sometimes to stare at the harsh landscape glumly. It would work, seeing as I like to take walks in the winter.

Getting Back Together: "What It's Like" - Everlast. So my love and I will be reunited to a song about not judging other people without knowing what they're going through? Now is this going to apply to me, for being so mad about the breakup, and not be willing to understand why she did it, or is it going to be about her, for not understanding where I was coming from in whatever it was that caused the breakup? Or reverse the roles in either scenario. I think the song is going to be playing over scenes of us talking (wordlessly), and one of us is going to have a shocked expression at what we're hearing.

Wedding: "It's Been Awhile" - Staind. I think this would have been a better song for the previous category, but oh well. It's about love, and about someone feeling better about themselves when they're with this other special person, and I think that's really great. Still not sure it would work very well.

Birth of a Child: "Almost Over" - Limp Bizkit. The song's about who he was as a kid, versus who he is now, the challeneges he's faced, and how they've shaped him. I'm seeing flashes to stuff from earlier in the movie, interspersed with the birth process, and probably me passing out. I'm squeamish like that.

Final Battle: "You May Be Right" - Billy Joel. I'm going into my final battle with this playing?! I'm going to get my ass kicked! Hey, I like Mr. Joel's older work, but this is not music for defeating your enemies and savoring lamentations. Unless... I'm going to win the day by admitting to my arch-foe that they were right about whatever it is we're in conflict over, convincing them I'm not such a bad guy after all, and we set aside our differences and eat some pie! Hooray pie!

Death Scene: "Goodnight Saigon" - Billy Joel. Some shuffle. It dumped a seven minute song (from the same CD, six songs down) on me. This is going to be one long death scene. Hope that doesn't mean torture is involved. However it happens, it's going to have to involve me becoming disillusioned about something. I guess I could go out like Bubba in Forrest Gump, and Alex could play Forrest.

Funeral Song: "Luna" - Smashing Pumpkins. Uhhhhmmmmm. . . . I've got nothing. It's not a sad song, but not upbeat, so I've got no idea what to do with it.

Ending credits: "Green River" - Creedance Clearwater Revival. Well, alright. Here's the upbeat. People can be having a good time, maybe a wake, with everybody singing and drinking, and sharing fond memories of me... CalvinPitt, as they enjoy being entombed in my burial pyramid. Because in my movie, I will be like Bender and have a massive burial tomb, with blackjack. And hookers! Oh, forget the blackjack.

So there you have it, the soundtrack of my life. About as I expected, things don't fit together all that well, so hopefully they shoot in black and white, throw in subtitles (even though I'm not expecting overseas release, and we'll all be speaking English), and I can pass it off as one of those artsy films I couldn't make sense of in European Film.

Hopefully something better tomorrow. No promises.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Making Use Of Time

So, this is going to be first my first post really dedicated to those Bloodrayne comics I typically enjoy so much, primarily focusing on a tactic the authors are taking I highly approve of. What I mean is, they're taking advantage of the fact that Rayne is old, at least 80 by now (based off the introduction in the instruction manual for the first game, which describes her as a teenager in 1932). One of the perks of being half-vampire, I suppose. What the various writers (I think there have been five between the various one-shots and mini-series) have done is something similar to a suggestion I had for Wolverine Origins long ago.

The gist of it is that each writer is setting their story at a different point in Rayne's history. Plague of Dreams was in the present day, Skies Afire on the Hindenburg, Tibetan Heights in her early days with Brimstone, Twin Blades before she'd even heard of the Brimstone Society. How much each of those stories reflects a specific time period varies, but the point is that Rayne is at different places psychologically in them. It gives the reader a look at different aspects of her personality, because we get to see her at different points of her life, in different situations - though they pretty much all wind up involving her cutting things in half - and how she acts and reacts to them. It builds the character, fleshes her out, that sort of thing.

Even better, the writers seem to carry over certain themes from one story to another. Rayne's best friend in the Brimstone Society is Michaelus, an elderly fellow who first appeared as a young boy Rayne encountered during her mission in Lycan Rex. His family was gone, and Rayne appears to have convinced Brimstone to accept him into the group, and so he's become a reoccuring character. Dark Soul introduced the idea that Rayne has a dark half, one that seems much older than her, and had been imprisoned by mages, and she made a brief cameo in Plague of Dreams. It's just a lot of little touches, lightly tying the books together, and as a result, building up something kind of neat.

Well, it's neat to me anyway.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Mind-Controlled Vampires From Other Realities!

That's a nice little combination of this week's themes. Is it a combo approved of by Adorable Baby Panda? Let's find out!
Applause - True Pachen Lama. It was nice to see that even after the vampires had locked you and your people up, used you as a food source, that you still didn't want to resort to violence. That's really impressive. {I thought it was more impressive that he ultimately was willing to take a gun and get violent. Sometimes situations require you to do things you'd rather not.}

Bonk - Mynce. Just because it was a child vampire, doesn't mean it wasn't still a vampire. Seeing as your Rayne's mentor, it sets a bad example for you to drop your guard just because you were dealing with a kid.

Applause - Longshot. I have no idea how you broke free of the mind control, but your teammates sure appreciate it. {He broke free because Chris Claremont, that's how.} But honestly, that move with the sword? With the kicking and ricocheting, and Slaymaster getting jabbed with his own sword? Poetry.

Hug - Sabretooth. On the other hand, you got your butt kicked by Slaymaster. He took out your arms, legs, and respiratory system in three panels. {That's got to be embarassing.}

Bonk - Reed Richards of Earth-1720. Are you really about to let your crazy ex-wife loose into the Multiverse? What's next, a Negative Zone Prison for heroes? {Only if he feels like being a copycat.} This is just a really bad idea Dr. Richards. She's really dangerous. {Relax ABP, this isn't 616-Reed. I'm sure he's got a sneaky plan to save the day.}

Applause - Albion. Yeah, you want to kill the good guys and conquer the world. But you were smart enough to make some device to block telepathic attacks, and give it to Lionheart. So that was smart, and nice. {I'm detecting a recent trend of ABP hugging and applauding bad guys. We may be seeing signs of penguin influence.}

Hug - Evil X-Men. {Say what?!} Well, they thought they were going to get their mentor back, and then Lionheart went and killed him. {Their mentor was the freaking Shadow King! Don't you think you're taking a love for all beings a little too far at that point?!} Whose post is this? {Don't make me rename you Obnoxious Adolescent Panda!}

Bonk - Albion and the Evil X-Men. For being evil, and bad, and wanting to kill the good guys and free the Shadow King. Happy now? {Very much so. Thank you. Want to get some ice cream?}

So that's it for us for today. We'll turn it over to you, the audience now.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Changing The Look

I think this came up as a result of Spider-Man's return to the black costume, but I was thinking about why heroes change looks.

Hank Pym kept changing looks (and identities) out of some insecurity issues. Lots of characters adopted more armored looks (Captain America, Daredevil) because the felt they needed the extra edge. Thor's in that same boat, but I'm keeping him separate because his armor was actually cool looking, whereas Cap and DD's were kinda lame (especially Cap's). Why did Booster go to that big clunky armor? Did his original suit break, or did he want more protection?

Superman went to that "electric" outfit to accommodate his weird new powers, right?

Robin's changed his colors to honor Superboy, which is sweet I guess, but I still don't like the look. Wasp changes her costume about every five minutes, I'm guessing because she's a fashion designer, and so she keeps getting struck by inspiration for new designs.

The thing that seemed funny to me was that after Reed Richards helped Spidey get rid of the symbiote, Peter eventually made a cloth version of the costume that had tried to bond with him for life, as far as I can remember, because he liked the look of the black-and-white. That just seems like such an odd reason for a superhero to adopt a particular look, and so I was wondering if you could think of any other, similar situations.

The other one that came to mind for me was Storm going with the street punk look after her time with Yukio changed her outlook on things. Storm liked that more than the disco boot, huge cape thing she'd had going prior to that, so she made the switch.

So any other ones you could think of, or any other reasons why characters have changed outfits over the years.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What I Bought 4/25/07

I've got the Hong-Kong Phooey theme song stuck in my head the last few hours. Weird, but not as annoying as a few years back, when there was two week span I kept catching myself singing the Smurfs song. You know, "fa la, la la la la, lah la lah lah lah" and all that? It was one of those rare occasions where smashing my head against a wall might have been a viable option. And now that I've severely creeped you out, let's take a look at the books! You should know, there may be spoilers lurking within any song lyrics spit out in this review.

Bloodrayne: Tibetan Heights #1 - For some reason, Rayne's ear on this cover really caught my attention. For a second I thought it was a wailing face. I think my brain is dying rapidly. This is a little story about Rayne and her teacher during her early years with the Brimstone Society. There's a few continuity issues I would quibble with, regarding the comic's timeline versus the games, but screw it, I like Mynce, so whatever.

Rayne's been brought along to help Mynce prevent the ascension of a vampire Dalai Lama, which Mynce feels would speel the destruction of her people and religion. Hee, vampire Dalai Lama, I really find that amusing. Rayne gets to play the rookie here, as someone who clearly hasn't been on enough missions to know that keeping quiet is very useful when trying to silently infiltrate someplace. In between considerable stints of vampire killing, there's quite a bit of talk about rebirth, the purpose of a person's existence, the balance between good and evil, and so forth. It was interesting reading, and it worked nicely with the end of the comic, which was kind of sweet. So yeah, I'm happy with it, though I can't figure why the art changed so much part way through. I think it was having two inkers working on the book, but I'm not certain. 4.0 out of 5.

Exiles #93 - Wait, Psylocke can use telekinesis to make herself invisible? Since when? And why doesn't she use it for something important, like opening my jar of apple butter so she can make Hawkman a sandwich? And I've veered off-topic two sentences into the review.

So, rather than kill Reed Richards like she was supposed to, Psylocke chooses to look at a video screen... and faint. Yowzer. Meanwhile Sabretooth's getting his ass handed to him by Slaymaster. Fortunately, Morph and Longshot (yeah, he was brainwashed into working for the Hand last issue - he got better. Why? Luck power, of course.) are there to help. Hey, you want to know the wildest thing about this issue? Elektra killed Iron Man. Yes, he was wearing the armor, and she still stabbed him to death. Crazy, I know. She's trying to save Reed's daughter, who he put in cryogenic suspension, but Sue had her, but never bothered to thaw her out, even though it didn't look very difficult to do. There a few too many things not adding up in this issue for me to give it a good grade, but I do still like the team, and I want to see how this turns out, so I'll be back next month. 2.0 out of 5.

New Excalibur #19 - Things are moving on a couple different fronts in this issue. Cain used some old criminal contacts (though I have no clue who the guy was), to set up a way for a member of the team to infiltrate Albion's plans, since he's apparently recruiting people, especially depowered mutants(?!)

Meanwhile the Evil X-Men (I will not call them Shadow-X, no way, no how) have gotten together with Albion to help free their mentor, Shadow King In Xavier Body. Fortunately, Albion and Lionheart aren't the trusting sort, though Lionheart had to handle this solo. And Evil Jean Grey apparently had unsavory plans for her too. Yikes. Should be big three-way fight scene next issue. Woo-hah, that's something to look forward to.

It was, on the whole a good issue, but I enjoy watching Lionheart kick ass, so I'm biased. Given Claremont's love of astral combat, I'm surprised he went the route he did with the story. Which is good, me being surprised. Of course, there were some things here that didn't seem to connect. How had Albion heard of the Shadow King? Maybe he has a bigger reputation throughout the Multiverse than I thought. 3.7 out of 5.

That's all for today. Auf wiedersehn.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Where's Geldoff?

You may not remember Geldoff; he was in Ultimate Spider-Man about 70 issues ago. He was a Latverian high school kid, with the power to make stuff blow up by looking at it (and concentrating). Spidey tried to rein him in, which led to his first meeting with the X-Men, and us learning Kitty had a crush on Spidey and so on. So it seems to be a pretty important arc in Ultimate Spidey continuity, but one very important piece seems to have been lost.

At the end of the arc we learned that Geldoff has been subjected to gene manipulation while still in his mother's womb, and that's how he got his powers. Xavier seemed troubled by it, which probably meant he was going to alert Fury.

And that was the last we heard of it. No follow up. Fury hasn't ever mentioned looking into it, Kitty's never mentioned to Peter (that we've seen) anything about the X-Men investigating on their own. My best guess is that Bendis was thinking about Ultimate Doom being behind it, but the way Millar set up Doom and the Fantastic Four's Ultimate origins precluded it. So he's just dropped it. That's too bad. It seemed like it might have been an interesting avenue to be explored. It's not really viable for Spidey, he's still just a teenager, and international intrigue is still a bit out of his depth. But for the Ultimates? Yeah, I can see them deciding nobody else should have genetically manipulated people but them and their allies, and trying to kick down some doors in an Eastern European nation.

Monday, April 23, 2007

2-D Body Language

For some reason, I'm really intrigued by Quicksilver's scene in last week's X-Factor #18. So, I wanted to try and analyze his posture, facial expressions, and some of the points of view the panels present to us. Please note that my assessments are biased, as I've already discussed previously how I think Pietro is similar to Sideshow Bob, so that's sure to skew things a bit. And I know it's dumb that I'm going to discuss art without showing you the images, but no scanner, okay? It's just a matter of my ability to describe things, are your willingness to trust my description.

Or, you know, you could go buy a copy of X-Factor #18 and follow along, assuming you don't have one already.

So we first see Pietro on page 2, panel 5, listening to someone else talk. He looks a little zoned out. The panel 6 pulls back and we see it's Elijah Ross (of the X-Cell), talking about his lost mutant powers, and how he used to whomp on people who tried to pick on him. Pietro's turned his head slightly, but he still isn't looking at Elijah, and he's got his hands behind him. I think the back being turned is a sign that Ross isn't important to Pietro. If he wants his powers back, sure Quickie will help, but I don't think Elijah's explanation of how he used his powers impressed 'Silver very much. He's probably already written him off as someone who'll be found unworthy.

I don't know what "hands behind you" signifies. It's reminiscent of a prisoner, handcuffed, which could indicate helplessness. Except Pietro isn't helpless, as he'll soon demonstrate. So, I think it's a way of seeming nonthreatening, or perhaps a way of not looking at his hands, avoiding thinking about what they could do to this boy is returning his powers does go awry. Or maybe Pietro does feel trapped, in a situation that he helped create, by using his sister to alter reality in the first place. Note that on page 3, panel 1 when Ross talks about how the government did this to mutants, we don't see Pietro's face, and by panel 2, we're situated behind Elijah, and there's some distance between Quicksilver and us. He knows the kid is off-base, but doesn't want to let the truth slip out. Panel 3, zooms into a close-up of Pietro's face, and even though he's talking to a boy, someone smaller than him, his eyes are looking upward, to avoid eye contact perhaps? Towards Heaven, seeing as he feels this a divine mission for him? I remember hearing somewhere that if your eyes go up to the left, it means you're lying, because that's where your imagination is in the brain. of course, it could have been to the right, and that was The Negotiator, so it's of questionable use.

By the end of page 3, Pietro's finally brought his hands around front, offering Elijah a chance to get his powers back. Ross is reaching forward, as if for a handshake, but Quicksilver's hand is simply there, held out waiting for Elijah to grasp it. It's like he's waiting for someone to give him something. He knows it's coming, so there's no reason to reach for it. All Pietro will do is make the offer, the individual has to decide whether they want to take the risk to get there powers back. Not unlike a deal with the Devil, now that I think about it. Of course, that's when Callisto shows up to stop the whole thing, and Pietro unleashes his time travel abilities and beats her up. He's very calm about it, offering her the chance to let go before he unloads on her, and when he does resort to violence, his face is calm, almost bored-looking. He doesn't care that Callisto is angry with him, nor is he really angry with her for her actions, at least not outwardly. It's just the sort of thing he has to deal with now. The X-Men want his head, why not Callisto as well?

Page 5 is where I think it gets really interesting. Having dealt with Callisto, Pietro listens to her complaints, then calmly responds that she probably wasn't "worthy" to regain her powers. He does admit that it might have been his fault, but what she describes as 'agony', he describes as a 'mishap', and describes it like that reluctantly, at best. But now his arms are crossed in front of his chest, which is defensive posture (if that psychiatrist on Bones was right). Why defensive? He's demonstrated they're no threat to him, but they are making him admit a mistake, just like his manipulations of Wanda were a mistake, which is why Callisto, Elijah, and he are all in this mess to begin with. This is also the point he starts to show some emotion. Maybe it's the dark eyebrows in panel 3, but he looks cold, dangerous, a lot like his dad did, when he'd be deciding whether to kill the X-Men of offer them a chance to join him.

After that, the perspective switches. Whereas before, the view was mostly level with the participants, or looking down, making the characters look small, now it's making Quicksilver look bigger. In panel 4, we're standing behind and above Pietro, looking down on Callisto and Ross as Quicksilver is, as he beings his spiel about the imperfections in the power transfer process. We can't see his face, but Ross looks awed, and Callisto sullen, face pointed towards the ground, but eye aimed up at Quicksilver. The last two panels, we're on their level, looking up at Pietro during his oratory, as he talks about how he's going to find an intermediary (I'm predicting Madrox duplicates) and make the process safer, and don't worry he's already got someone in mind.

One thing I just noticed is that in panel 5, what I assume is either Ross or Callisto is represented by a dark oval. There's no definition to who's there, it could be anyone. I wonder if that doesn't signify that Quicksilver is talking as much to himself as to them, reassuring himself that he's got this all figured out, that there won't be any more mistakes on his end, and so it really will all be about whether the person is worthy or not.

So I'm not sure what all that means, though I do think Pietro is losing his grip on reality a little more all the time. His eyes in panel 6 spook me. They seem very open, like a predator surveying a meal.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Now Let's Talk Conventions

Hi everybody, it's me, Faceless CalvinPitt! I hate to do that, but some of you may be axe murderers, and I don't want my face recognized. So, some general thoughts from the weekend.

- I'd say that Ken got a much bigger crowd this year, but by moving to a larger locale, it seemed less crowded. A lot more vendors, an entire wall for various creators, and even with gaming being deemphasized from last year, still there was more than enough room to accomodate them. Best of all, I never got that claustrophobic feeling I get when I feel like there are too many people around me.

- On Saturday, there was a small child who apparently has the same name as me, and the kid tended to get too far away from his mom, which lead to a lot of me looking up from a longbox when I heard some lady call my name sharply.

- I expect Ken to take the week off. The man was constantly on the move both days, checking with the guests, greeting the fans, making announcements. I have no idea how he does it.

- Had two Darth Vaders prowling around on Saturday, several Sith/Jedi, a Imperial officer (also known as Vader's Crushed Throat Whipping Boys), and a Chewie, plus a guy trying to pull of brooding Anakin in Episode 3. He did pretty well, certainly had the poofy hair. I enjoyed seeing a little kid walk up to one of the Vaders and proclaim him too short to actually be Vader. I was polite enough not to laugh then, but faux Vader ain't here, so I now say, with full impunity, ha ha!

- Having been someone who rarely pays attention to who was making the comics I was reading (until about two years ago), I don't know much about creators, including what they look like. That being said, I was still surprised that Denny O'Neil reminded me of former Clinton adviser James Carville. Or was it Agent Skinner from the X-Files?

- After making a comics purchase, the vendor I bought from threw in a Roy Thomas written Conan the Barbarian for free. Sadly, Mr. Thomas was on lunch break at the time, and I was called away to meet some friends before I had an excuse to go up and talk to him. Still not sure what I would have said, since I don't know how much of his work I've read. Missed opportunities.

- While perusing the longboxes, I came across something I had to have. Curses, I was two dollars short! I rushed out of the convention, desperate to get to an ATM. Naturally, I had the entire SEMO campus between me and my vehicle. Let that be a lesson kids: Parking far away because you enjoy walking is stupid. Fortunately, I was able to get to a cash machine and return before my prize was gone. What did I purchase, you ask? Oh, not much just...


-The entire run of NextWave!!! Can you feel the Earth tilt off its axis? Can you feel the power? Upside-Down Puppy feels it, see!

-Ah, Warren Ellis, I don't know what your beef is with Tom DeFalco, but I do know that in the afterlife, when you find out your maker likes Spider-Girl and Speedball, NextWave is going to be what saves you. Joe Quesada will likely not be so fortunate.

- I can't really think of anything else to say. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, I enjoyed myself, so it all works out. So let's end with a picture of a stormtrooper just kicking it.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Completely Unrelated To Today's Activities

Day 1 of the 2007 Cape Comic Con is in the books, and it was pretty good for the time I was there. I got plenty to talk about, and even some pictures to share, but I want to wait until tomorrow, see what Day 2 brings. So the recap post will be on Sunday.

For today I wanted to ask if anyone remembers when the Punisher hated mutants. It was early '90s, and it just seemed to be a running theme ("joke" is more like it). It didn't make a lot of sense at the time, why the Punisher would specifically hate mutants. Sure, at that time it seemed as though pretty much every mutant that was alive had thrown on a costume and gotten mixed up in the X-Men vs. Generic Evil Mutant Organization, whether it was lead by Mr. Sinister, Stryfe, Apocalypse, Magneto, whomever. But still, not every mutant was out threatening innocent lives.

Most of the time, he seemed to have this attitude in appearances in other books, usually involving some young, inexperienced hero, who was also usually weird looking, and so Frank decides they must be a mutant and he should try to kill them. Never worked out, and usually there was property damage, and lots of frightened people before it was all said and done, and Frank never seemed to learn anything. I can't recall him deciding after the fact that the hero in question wasn't actually a menace, just that he'd failed this time, and he'd be back to make another attempt another time.

Since I wasn't reading Punisher books in the '90s I don't know whether this attitude was present in his titles, or if it was just a reason writers cooked up to explain his appearance in other books, something to deviate from the standard "hero wants to stop criminals, Punisher wants to stop criminals, but hero is uncertain of Frank's lethal methods" excuse.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hug, And Clap, And Hug, And Bonk, And Clap

As usual, more comics means a happier Adorable Baby Panda, and since I can't think of anything else to add to that, let the release of panda opinions commence!

Applause - Deadpool. Saved hostages? {Check.} Tried to avoid killing hostage-taker? {Check. With Deadpool, trying is a promising sign of its own.} Is ready to fly to Providence and help his friend who isn't his friend, Cable? {Sure looks like it.} Then this one explains itself? {Yup.}

Hug - T-Ray. {What?!} Deadpool stole his identity and his wife, it isn't surprising he went crazy and dangerous! {He took hostages! Hostages that had nothing to do with his issues with Deadpool! That's right! Butt out Deadpool!} But if I give him a hug, then maybe he won't be angry or want to take hostages anymore. {Whatever, it's your hug.}

Bonk - Weasel. Stop telling HYDRA how to run their prisoner holding gizmos! They are a big, evil organization, and they don't need your help! {I'm starting to get a little worried about ABP right now.}

Applause - Nightmaster's Dad. Your son dying meant you'd get to go to the next life, instead of being stuck in a sword. But, you want your son to live, so you helped him, and now you're back in the sword.

Hug - Enchantress. You probably won't notice it, because you'll be fast asleep, but it was pretty cool how you stayed awake ten days trying to keep Nightmaster alive. {Of course, if she hadn't done that, he probably would have talked with his dad and been up and running a lot sooner.} Quiet! She's sleeping! {Hey, you're the one using exclamation points.}

Bonk - Shadowpact. For turning Etrigan into a coatrack. What about Jason Blood? You're just going to leave him stuck inside a stone demon? Not cool. {Not to mention, neither one is going to be too happy when the stone effect wears off. And it will, because those types of things always do, eventually.}

Applause - Shadowcat. The people at Midtown High haven't been very nice to you so far, but you were the first person to step up against Mr. Coo-Coo Bananas. {I think ABP means Ultimate Ronin.}

Hug - Shadowcat. Of course, your "stepping up" got you a fire extinguisher in the face, and now there's a SWAT team training their guns on you. Not a great turn of events. {Maybe we should just give Ultimate Shadowcat an Emeritus seat on the "receives panda hugs" list.}

Bonk - Ultimate Ronin. Well, let's see. Drove a school bus into the school? {Yup.} Pulled out an uzi and began spraying bullets all over the place? {Oh yeah.} Beat up one of the more senior personailities it shares that body with? {Beat it the heck up.} Let's make this a "Super Ultra Bonk Of Incredible Painfulness" then. {Alrighty.}

Applause - Monet. For exercising restraint when that guy propositioned you and Siryn. {Given that Monet bent a street light, shouldn't the applause go to Siryn, who did nothing? Are we grading Monet on the same "baby steps" scale as Deadpool now? What about me, Monet and Siryn, dressed like babies? Nothing, Wade.}

Hug - Nicole. Sure, X-Factor headquarters is nicer than a street in France {Are we sure about that?}, but you've still lost your parents and your powers, the girl closest in age to you doesn't seem to like you, and these adults must seem a little crazy, all taking marching orders from the kid. Just hang in there. {And watch your back around Layla.}

Bonk - Blob. Grand theft auto. Grand theft lunchmeat. {I think that's on Madrox. How fast could the Blob possibly move? I think my grandmother could evade him, sandwich tray or no.} Sucker punching. And calling Rictor a "dumb tamale tosser"? That's just being hurtful for no good reason. {Yeah, don't make fun of his ethnicity. Make fun of his hair, clothes, his horrible attempts at tough guy dialogue. It wouldn't be difficult.}

So there you have it. Your nominees?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Is It "Please"?

Tonight's post contains spoilers for this week's 52 and the World War 3 books. Or maybe just one of them. I only skimmed them, so they're all kind of blurring together, focused around that panel of Adam putting his fist through {name deleted to eliminate spoilers}. Ouch. Anyway, if you haven't read those yet, are planning to, haven't had them spoiled by other blogs reviews, and don't want them spoiled now, you should probably mosey elsewhere, and come back when you've read them, so you can chime in. Go ahead and take a few moments to decide. The rest of us will wait.

While they're deciding, I wanted to ask you something. Looking at the cover to this week's Shadowpact (in the post right below this one), does Enchantress look a bit too busty? Maybe she just needs more fabric in the chest region of her costume. In fact, I'm sure of that, but I'm still not sure what was wrong with her old outfit. I liked the hat, but I'm a fan of hats in general. OK, they should be done deciding by now. let's get on with it.

- So, While I was skimming those books, I reach the point where Captain Marvel explains why how he tried to get Adam's powers taken away, and the Egyptian gods just laughed. So now I'm confused. If Adam gets his powers from Egyptian Gods, rather than the Greek pantheon (plus Hebrew king) Marvel invokes with "SHAZAM!", does that mean the letters stand for something different when Adam says "SHAZAM"?

There's Seth, Horus, Anubis, can Ra be called "Amon-Ra", or am I thinking of the pharaoh who claimed to be descended from Ra? I don't know any Egyptian figures that start with "Z", so I'm kind of up against a wall here. Little help?

- This second question, really shouldn't be a surprise, given the kind of posts I frequently spit out: What did Captain Marvel change Adam's word to (assuming DC has some sort of actual plan with this move)? I've considered "sorry" "forgiveness" "pimpmobile", but I'm thinking "Isis". Adam seems to be in such a place of rage, that I don't see him speaking his dead love's name aloud. Too painful. Of course, Adam may welcome the pain, and try to use it to spur him forward to still more revenge. Hmm, he really didn't seem to kill many of the people he was actually angry at, did he?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What I Bought 4/18/07

Hi, everybody! Audience: Hi, CalvinPitt! You all remember that the Cape Comic Convention is this weekend, right? Audience: We sure do! Great, then I hope you'll all be there! It'll be fun! Cape Girardeau is a beautiful town (I guess)!

You should watch out for spoilers, otherwise they might hang you from your arms, smack you upside the head with a chain, and shoot you in the head, just like Vic Mackey would.
Deadpool #39 - I went ahead and took that other word out of the title. What's a "ca-bleh" anyway? What? It's pronounced "Cable"? Does he have a sidekick named "High-Speed DSL Boy"? Ha, ha, ha, ha! *complete silence from the audience* Oh, you know that was funny!

Lone Audience Member: Sure, the first 3,000 times we heard it!

I'm sorry, I didn't know. Oh, I was so happy last weekend, it had been long enough since we'd seen Cable, I was gonna make the joke, and it'd be awesome, and, and, *starts sniffling, then bawling*

{Five minutes later} I'm better. My comedy career is deader than Parker's was that issue where he tried stand-up comedy. What was I talking about originally? Right, the comic. Wade must find and recover Agent X's pretty associates. This involves threatening a bottle of liquor, spying on an old lady watching porn, and getting hit on the head with a bat. This whole thing is because of a fellow who insists he's Wade Wilson, and Deadpool stole his wife and identity. I really wouldn't put it past 'Pool, but as T-Ray noted, I don't care as long as he's funny. Wasn't really enough of that this issue, and I'm still not sure how Wade's sword ended up in the guy's forehead. Panels unclear. I do like the potential future subplot involving Cable's desire to change the world. May be more work than he can handle. 3.0 out of 5.

Shadowpact #12 - I've been saying it for two months, and they finally listened: the first step to helping Jim Rook would be to take the damn sword out of his chest! OK, technically, according to the story, the first step is for Jim to die, and then talk to someone, then remove the sword from his own chest. I won't spoil who he talked to. Even if you guess right, you won't be completely right.

Other than that, this is a story of the Life and Times of Nightmaster. A few ups, several downs, lots of averageness, which seemed to suit Jim fine. Nothing wrong with owning a bookstore, or running a bar, after all. One thing I did enjoy is that even though it seems Rook should have some issues with the person he talks to, he's doesn't spend too long dwelling on them. Of course, he either had to spring into action or die, so not a lot of time for introspection I guess. Still, the issue fell flat with me for some reason. Maybe I don't care that much about Jim Rook. 2.8 out of 5.

Ultimate Spider-Man #108 - Hmm, I know Moon Knight in the 616 continuity had multiple personalities, but I wonder whether the relationship between them was this volatile. Ultimate MK's personalities have cooked up another personality for him, in the form of a hired killer (quick, guess who it is, they're on the cover!), and has a more successful audition for Kingpin than Shang-Chi did. Sadly, beating up Fisk's guards isn't the audition.

In the meantime, MJ is showing some skill in front of (and probably behind as well) a video camera, which seems to irritate annoying Ultimate Jessica Jones. Good. Teach you to capture people's pain on camera phones. Kitty still is having trouble fitting in, and Liz Allen's problems with mutants resurface again. Wonder what Bendis' explanation for that will be? (psst, Bendis! Don't make it sexual abuse-related!)

The actual "audition" is pretty wild, but the most interesting part was seeing what's going on inside Moon Knight's head during it, watching how the personalities on the sidelines react to what's happening. It's fascinating, and a little terrifying. Methinks Daredevil needed to do more research before bringing Moony into his little band. 4.1 out of 5. Oh, and Peter got his butt kicked, because we hadn't seen that in about five issues.

X-Factor #18 - Khoi Pham does the art for the second consecutive issue, bringing X-Factor's total pencilers to what, 6? His style is reminiscent of Calero's or Sook's, it's a little grimier than Raimondi's, which could symbolize that X-Factor is up to their necks in it right now. The X-Cell is making their way to Pietro, planning to get their powers back before the government unleashes it's next attack on the mutant populace, a misconception Quicksilver does nothing to dispell.

Monet and Siryn are back, just in time to get sucked into the mess as well. On the plus side, they've done something that left Layla surprised for only the second time in the series so far. Could this be what Old Man Tryp warned of? Is it the work of Glowy Hands Guy from France? Will Old Man Jenkins bring in his turnip crop before the first snowfall? Audience: What?

The issue ends with part of X-Factor in combat with depowered members of the X-Cell, and Rahne and Guido planning to track down Elijah (the X-Cell member Rahne and Rictor saved from the government last issue). Oh, and Pietro's scheming. You can tell he's scheming because he's talking. 3.7 out of 5.

So there you have it. Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Not That They Need My Advice...

But Abnett and Lanning are about to get it anyway. More a suggestion, really, for a story. So here's the idea:

Nova doesn't want to share the Nova Force.

When the idea first occurred to me, I thought it was really bad. It sounded like a story of someone addicted to power, and unwilling to recognize that it could possibly be put to better use if distributed amongst other individuals. Besides, Marvel did that once, with an individual called Super-Nova, who took all the Nova force, and caused mass havoc, though he didn't try to erase all existence that I know of, so Parallax can still claim that as his own. It's not a totally unsalvageable story, since it could be written such that Nova is keeping all the Nova Force because it lets him handle problems that would require squads of your average Novas to deal with, rather than out of a desire for ultimate power, but it would still raise the question of why he wouldn't want to get those squads set up, where the Nova Force can help people in more than one location at once.

It was thinking about it from that angle, that lead me to this explanation, where we learn Richard Rider doesn't want to rebuild the Nova Corps because he doesn't want to watch anymore good people die. The last time the Nova Corps actually existed, it got wiped out, and Richard was too weak to do anything but avenge them. Those Novas were veterans, beings who by and large looked at Rich as just a Terran rookie they'd have to look out for. The Annihilation Wave may not be as numerous or organized as it was then, but the universe is still going to be plenty dangerous for any of the rookies that would end up being recruited. [Aside: How do Novas get selected? Green Lanterns get chosen on their ability to overcome fear, what's the criteria to become a Nova, and how do you find people matching it?] Could Nova go through the pain of finding these new members, only to watch them get killed because they aren't ready for what's out there? By sharing the Nova Force with others, Rich weakens himself, which cuts into his ability to traverse distances, and would make it harder for him to keep a watchful eye on the rookies.

So I think it could be kind of interesting to show Rich as unwilling to rebuild the Corps, as saying that things are too chaotic to take the time for that, and then delve into the reasons why he's doing that.

One more thing. Buy Nova. Please.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Parents And Their Tricks

I've been thinking about how angry Mary Jane and Peter seem with May for starting her Spider-Girl career back up. Given that parents are well-known for their double talk and secrets, I'm wondering if that shoudl be taken at face value.

Peter seems really disappointed, which given how often he gave up the webs for about five minutes before donning them again, seems a bit hypocritical. MJ just looks sad, seeing as she's the one who encouraged May to put on the costume that one time, which seems to have kick-started the whole thing. And yet, for people that really don't want May out there doing the wall-crawling thing, they didn't try to hard to prevent future escapades. They didn't confiscate her (empty) web-shooters, and they just left the costume sitting in the living room (which implies the Parkers don't entertain guests much). So this whole thing about them not wanting May to do the hero bit again, strikes a bit hollow.

I think they may be testing May, seeing just how determined she is to do the heroic thing. If she's really willing to defy her parents, especially after they've outright told her they don't want her doing it, then she must really be serious about it. At which point, they'll throw their support behind her.

Honestly, it's probably not that likely of a scenario (much more Batman than Spider-Man), but it was something I wanted to mention.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Uncontrolled Expansion Leads To Conflict

Annihilus' original pretense for attacking the Marvel (616) Universe was that it was expanding into the Negative Zone and threatening that universe's continued existence. Universal expansion isn't a new concept, and nobody ever said Annihilus was lying about it. Personally, I think he was telling the truth.

So let's say the 616 (616, 616) universe really is encroaching into the Negative Zone. What is that going to lead to?

The Crunch is the place where the universe is expanding, so in theory, that must be where the universe is meeting the Negative Zone. Based on what the energy did to the Silver Surfer* [*Ed's note - see Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus #2, true believers!] after only a few moments of immersion, I think we can safely conclude it's pretty damn destructive. If it's anything like that on the other side, then I'd figure anything that happens to run into it would probably go bye-bye. (Quick thought: the Kyln was a prison that also served as a power plant, harvesting the energy generated by the Crunch, and distributing to several planets. If the Crunch is constantly moving with the universal expansion, then the Kyln has to move with it, right? Then the Kyln is constantly getting farther from the planets it supplies, right? So when does it take more energy to send energy to worlds, than you can actually send? Ugh, brain lock!!)

If that's the case, then the Negative Zone would eventually be destroyed (along with Reed Richards' brilliant prison). Actually, since they have portals to the Negative Zone on Earth, would the energy from the Crunch flow through the portal and destroy Earth as well?

But, here's the other side of my insanity: Could the Negative Zone be expanding somewhere as well? Perhaps not into the 616 (six hundred and sixteen) universe, but into another realm? Or does the Crunch not destroy things on the Negative Zone side, rather the two universe mingle, and things are exchanged? Maybe the Marvel Universe could one day engulf the Negative Zone, and they'd become one in the same. That would be weird, especially, if things tried to inhabit the same place at the same time, all kinds of crazy concoctions. I can see the prison winding up in Kree space, the criminals escaping, and Ronan being none too pleased that he has to waste time executing Earth's crap villains.

Thanks for indulging this lunacy. It's really frightening what happens to your brain when you find little better to do than watch various horrible movies all day. Both Under Sieges, and Day After Tomorrow. I think 30% of my brain decayed.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Thus, The Circle Is Completed

Back when there was an entire Nova Corps, rather than just Nova, the highest ranking members were titled Centurions. They were the ones cruising the universe, dealing with all the major problems, with the flying, and the punching, and occasionally blasting things. Then came the Annihilation Wave, and out went the Nova Corps, that diverse band of space protectors.

Now one of the key components of the Annihlation Wave was that Annihilus recruited a crack team of super-powered beings from throughout his Negative Zone empire. This group was full of beings eager to defend their homeworlds from what they believed to be a dire threat to their continued existence. And so they caused a lot of damage, took many lives, all to protect their homes. Now that war is over (or at least is at an uneasy truce), and some of those super-powered Negative Zone inhabitants have decided to get theirs, selecting planets over which to claim dominion. Except, those wealth-seekers are under attack from other members of the group, who want their organization to still stand for honor, and protecting the innocent.

The name of that little group? Centurions.

Interesting how that works, that one group of super-powered do-gooders gets wiped out, and another, similarly named, is around filling much the same role, though for more personal reasons. Let us genuflect before the magnificence of Keith Giffen's foresight, which rivals even that of the All-Seeing Odin.

Quick thought: Annihilus' Centurions, do you think they're truly "super-powered", in the sense they're unusually powered for their species, or simply "super-powered" in the sense that they have abilities we ordinary humans don't?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pandas Aren't Annoying...

But I intend to be, just a little. To Tom Brevoort, because this whole 'I don't like the term "616" because it makes the Marvel Universe seem less real' stuff irritates me. Yeah, to someone not really into Marvel, saying "Marvel-616" means nothing, but that doesn't make it a bad thing. Fortunately, you folks have Adorable Baby Panda to lessen how much it annoys you. Of course, ABP is a little nervous about these thunderstorms, but pandas are tough, they soldier on.

One book from the MC2 Universe, and one from the 616 universe (616, 616, 616, 616, 616).

Applause: May Parker. Throwing caution to the wind, May figures she can't be in anymore trouble than she already is with her parents, and dons the webs to go see why the Ladyhawks need her.

Hug: Regina. One-half of the Ladyhawks, she may be stuck in that wheelchair for awhile, and she's got a sister that's basically out of control with her desire for vengeance, and there's not much she can do to calm her down. {And all of this is happening in a universe other than the 616 continuity, remember. Not-616.}

Bonk: Eugene Thompson. We know you like to be the protective boyfriend. {Insert "over" in front of "protective".} But May wasn't being bothered by Wes' question, so there's really no reason for you to swoop in and order him to back off. {Especially, since you're probably very pleased that May dropped out of the student council election. Still not-616 continuity.}

Applause: Nova. Whether it's fighting a weapon of planetary defense gone wild, stopping an invasion of ravenous giant insects, or just shutting off a recorded S.O.S., Nova was there to step in and do the job that needs doing! {I feel this sudden and remarkable urge to stand up and applaud a lot. Oh yeah, this is in the 616 reality.}

Hug: Worldmind. This poor computer's survival is reliant on Nova staying alive, which is something that Nova himself doesn't seem too terribly concerned with. It's hard to provide guidance to someone who doesn't want to be guided. {Six-one-six. Six hundred and sixteenth reality.}

Bonk: {Iron Man. He appeared in the book, so on principle.} It's not Iron Man! Bonk for Ravenous, for not rounding up all the scattered ships and troops of the Annihilation Wave. That's how Kree people find themselves trying to avoid becoming dinner. Get your troops together, and get them back on your side on the treaty line!

So there it is, except for one last thing:

*sing-song voice* six-one-siixxxxx!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'm Sure I'll Regret This

Opening disclaimer: I am a white guy, and I may be discussing race in this post. I don't expect to say anything controversial, but better safe than sorry.

I was watching The Shield Tuesday night. Quite honestly, it ruled. I leapt from my couch five times to pump my fist in the air and scream "That was awesome! All right!!!" in the span of an hour. Lt. Kavanaugh (Forrest Whitaker) fell apart under the weight of his attempt to beat Vic Mackey at his own game, and Vic has gone off the deep end, or gotten damn close. But then I started thinking (that's never a good sign).

Vic Mackey is white. He's had several people after him for his actions, and most of them have been non-white. His first commander, Captain Aceveda, is Hispanic, and has continued to be a presence since his ascension to the city council. Chief Johnson is African-American. Detective Wyms (the current Captain) is African-American, and so is Kavanaugh. The only real Caucasian threat Vic had was Captain Rawlings in Season 4, though Detective Wagenbach has been a periodic thorn, but seems to lack the nerve to challenge Vic directly. And though all these people have tried to bring Vic down for all the illegal crap he does, none has pulled it off yet.

Aceveda (Benito Martinez) hamstrings himself by simultaneously trying to expose Vic's dirty deeds for the good press, and use the Strike Team's success at capturing drug dealers and the like to make himself look good. Maybe if he stopped condoning Vic's actions when it's politically convenient, he'd have caught him red-handed by now.

Chief Johnson is mostly trying to salvage the department's public image by forcing early retirement on Vic, but that's not much of a deterrent. If you're kicking him out anyway, why should he stop burning suspect's faces on ovens (see Season 2)?

Kavanaugh couldn't beat Vic playing everything by the book, because Vic was playing dirty, intimdating witnesses, using the fact Kavanaugh bugged his office to set up the IAD man, screwing Kavanaugh's mentally unhinged ex-wife. Then when Kavanaugh tried to play dirty (planting evidence, convincing witnesses to lie for him), he found out he wasn't as good at it as Vic (and that it hurt him to do it), so he crashed and burned.

Captain Rawlings (Glen Close) came closer than anyone, because she didn't seem to be actively trying to bring Vic down. She came to the Farmington district to deal with the gang problems, which gave Vic more reason to trust her, which was why it was all the more shocking when it turned out she had an I.A.D. man using an informant (Emolia, who was very important in Season 5 and thus far in 6) to set up Vic. She set up the pieces the Kavanaugh ultimately couldn't capitalize on. Does that say something, maybe that she could get closer to Vic because she's more similar to him than his past antagonists? Was it that she's white, or that she didn't seem more interested in bringing him down than the criminals Vic is stopping?

Of course, Vic evaded even Rawlings' attempts, and now it's Wyms' turn (CCH Pounder, the voice of Amanda Waller in the Justice League). So we'll have to see how that goes. Wyms has, like her frequent case partner, Wagenbach, been on the fence about Mackey. She hates his methods, would prefer he was gone, but recognizes he gets things done. By the looks of the previews, she's going to go with Chief Johnson's plan, forcing Vic into early retirement by going ahead and introducing his replacement. At the same time, I'm sure Wyms will try to keep Mackey on lower profile stuff, where he won't be as tempted to break rules. Of course, if Vic keeps running around being crazy, she may not have that option, at which point I'm sure she'd be willing to lower the boom on Mackey.

I was thinking about discussing how the Strike Team's criminal adversaries have also all been African-American or Hispanic (the exception would be the Armenians, who were a major problem in Season 3, after the Strike Team hijacked their money train at the end of Season 2.). Despite several attempts to wipe out the Strike Team, they've all failed as well. Though Antwan Mitchell (Anthony Anderson, playing a kickass ganglord) did come pretty damn close to taking them down, but that was mostly because of Shane being an idiot while working Vice. He had dirt on Shane, and the Strike Team ended up doing certain questionable things (even by their standards) to try and keep Mitchell from talking to Kavanugh.

I don't know that there's a conclusion to draw from this, other than the protagonist has gone up against a diverse bunch of foes, and yet, the white guy is still coming out ahead (so far). I think it bugs me that I root for Vic, though he's an anti-hero at best, and I wonder if it's because he's not messing with white people most of the time, so I divorce myself from the extreme violence more readily. I really hope it's more of a Garth Ennis-Punisher thing, where he's just so ridiculously badass I find it awesome.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What I Bought 4/11/07

Only ten days until the Cape Comiccon! I should tell you the location is set at 926 Broadway in dowtown Cape Girardeau (if you were planning on coming, and you should be). The website with more information can be found here. So that's my public service announcement. On to comics, which ebb and flow like the tides, with this being a pretty low week, two books.

Amazing Spider-Girl #7 - This was probably my least favorite issue of the restart so far. I think DeFalco is really dragging out this whole thing with Pete and MJ being disappointed in May taking up web-slinging again. I'm ready for that to be resolved so that May can start being criticized for how she handles the hero thing, rather than because she's risking her life to do the hero thing, know what I mean?

In other news, the Ladyhawks make their first appearance since the restart. For those who don't know, the Ladyhawks were two sisters with costumes themed on the Falcon's old green outfit (something I'd never noticed until a character mentioned it this issue) that fight crime. They got trashed (along with all Spider-Girl's other crime-fighting friends) by the Hobgoblin near the close of the last series (which is helpfully referenced by an editor's note! Holy cow, this really is a throwback book). Here we find out that one of them (Regina) fared a little worse than the other, and her sister (Rosetta) wants revenge on Hobgoblin. Regina calls in May to keep an eye on her sister, which means May's back out in the webs risking her neck again.

In the meantime, the Hobgoblin is still trying to consolidate his power base by bringing in other crime lords with him, but that's not really working too well. Oh, and Gene Thompson is still an overprotective jerk, though May seems mildly amused by him. Not a bad issue, but still weak, 2.7 out of 5.

Nova #1 - I think this book is gonna need all the sales it can get, so you better believe I'm on board. Besides, I'd just have to start buying it in a few months when it ties into Annihilation: Conquest (man, I still think that's a bad idea, tying this ongoing into that so soon). Provided, that Annihilation: Conquest is good, of course. This issue gives a look into what Nova has been doing since he finished the recovery he was taking at the end of Annihilation #6 - tearing ass around the universe responding to emergency calls. I want to give a quick shout to Sean Chen for his work, though I think the base of Nova's bucket/helmet seems too fluted at times. But I really like the visible stubble on Richard's face, indicating how hard he's been working.

The ongoing theme of the issue is that Rich is really having to work to clean things up, being the only Nova left and all. There's always another emergency, and Nova is determined to answer all of them, which has the Worldmind a bit concerned. It says it's worried because if Rich bites it, the Worldmind goes with him, but I wonder if it hasn't been in Nova's head long enough to grow attached to him. Tone-wise, the Worldmind reminds me of one of those smart-arsed butlers from any number of TV shows (like Alfred in Batman: The Animated Series). By the end of the issue, Rich has pushed things a bit too far, which brings us to the chance for Nova to kick Tony Stark's butt next month.

I liked it. Considerable action, Abnett and Lanning did a fine job laying out the situation for people new to the game, about how Nova is so powerful, and why he's having to scramble around the universe so much, and the issues related to his having the power that let's him do that. So I'll say an even 4.0 out of 5.

That's all you get today.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Crosstime Crossover

I'd like to see an Exiles/New Excalibur crossover. Two books written by Chris Claremont. Both off in their own little corners of the Marvel Universe. One team that hops from reality to reality fixing problems created by those pesky bugs. The other team had a recent time travel excursion, and is lead by a guy that's no stranger to alternate realities himself.

The trick is that I don't want it to be any big event, just a little meeting that leads to a good old fashioned misunderstanding battle, and an eventual team-up against something. The roadblock to the misunderstanding part is each team currently having one of the Braddock siblings, but maybe Captain Britain could get lost in Crosstime someplace, and that leads Excalibur (searching for him) into a run-in with the Exiles (possibly aware of his presence in other realities, which would almost certainly get Psylocke fired up to help him).

Claremont's already had Roma, a force for order I think, pop up in both books (albeit once in flashback). One could argue that the Exiles, with their missions to "save" realities, whether the inhabitants of the reality they're messing with want it or not, could be an unwitting instrument of Chaos, especially with Proteus on the team (even if he doesn't realize it yet), and Captain Britain probably represents Order, so there's a potential for some sparks there.

It's just something that might be fun to see, if given a proper build-up in the titles. Two teams that happen to converge on the same place at the same time, and go from there. Doesn't have to be part of something company wide, maybe more on the scale of the Avengers-Defenders War. Or maybe even the upcoming Justice League/Justice Society hoo-hah, though I bet that's going to cast significant ripples over the DCU.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Hemingway Or Stallone?

Now that I've piqued your interest, let me tell you that it's a post about New Excalibur. I'll pause here to let your disappointment sink in. Savor the feeling, savor it!

So I've been thinking about what Claremont is shooting for with Albion, tone-wise. We've got a character born into a war, who's known nothing but violence all his life, one day given an opportunity at power that could change that, end the fighting. All he has to do is make a choice. And he did, just not the choice the people making the offer expected. Isn't that always the way it goes? Roma, being an Indian giver, tries to take the power away, but Merlyn's a swell guy, figures that would be kind of a jerk move and lets Albion keep the power, hoping things will turn out well. Of course, Roma has to screw everything up by threatening to return someday and take the power back after all. Which brings us more or less to Albion wanting to destroy Captain Britain as a sort of payback towards Roma, ostensibly for all the people he figures she's successfully screwed over like she intends to do to him.

My first reaction was that Albion's a petty, small man. He ends the war, good for him, but civilization is a shambles, and he's off taking out a grudge on someone who's never done anything to him (Captain Britain). Even when he first visits another reality (and kills its Captain Britain), revenge is foremost on his mind. He proclaims this much nicer looking place to be his and his buddies now. Again, that's swell for him, but does he think about using some of their not-decimated, not apparently war-directed, technology to try and improve the lot of the people on his world? No, he does not. Which makes pretty good sense for the story. He's the villain (I think), and it's a pretty classic villain move to be only concerned with taking care of your wants, to the detriment of others who could benefit as well.

But then I started to think about it a little more. His war was the First World War (only drug out over three generations), and that's the war of the so-called "Lost Generation". People who saw at the time, unimaginable loss of life, and some lost faith in the Victorian ideals their parents raised them on (generalizing here). Albion marches into another reality, where things look clean, and peaceful, and he doesn't see a place where he could find help for his world, he sees a place to conquer and claim as his. The idea of people getting along, cooperating for a greater good doesn't hold much stock to a person who saw people kill each other for a century over a convoluted bunch of alliance treaties and an assassination (if their First World War is anything like ours).

But then I thought about how casually he uses violence, cutting people's heads off at the drop of a hat (probably dropping along with the head it sat on, I know it's an easy quip, but what the hell). That first Captain Britain he met apologized for attacking in haste, for barging in without waiting to get all the facts. He still gets an neckline haircut. Albion is a solider that can't (or more likely won't) stop killing. He's used to waging war, he's exceedingly good at it. Dealing with famine and disease, what does he know about that? What good (as he notes) is his strength against those things? So in that regard, he's more like Stallone in Rambo:First Blood - a soldier just sort of waiting for a chance to be put in action. Rambo may not have been looking for a war, but as was noted by Colonel Trautwein, he did plenty to help it along. Neither Albion nor Rambo really seems to fit in with a peacetime setting, but battle? That's something they know a little about. For better or worse, it's a place that makes sense to these two fictional characters (I use "fictional" to emphasize that this is in no way a discussion of the effects of actual war on actual real people, as I know jack-all about that personally.)

So I'm not sure which one I think is more applicable. I'm leaning towards Rambo, based on what we saw of Albion's origin. He seems to be less of a reflective type, and more of a doer. Not really inclined to spend time contemplating what they can learn from the loss of life because of the war. So that's my attempt to tie New Excalibur #18 in with both a highly-publicized era of literature and art, and '80s action films. So, how'd I do? What are your thoughts overall?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

A New World Of Boards And Cards

I never realized how many different games there are out there. I always figured you had your classics, the Monopoly, Scrabble, Sorry-type stuff, and then a few other oddball sorts of games. Well, you learn something new all the time.

I've got some friends, my two previous roommates and some other old acquaintances from my undergraduate days, and they have get-togethers frequently to play all sorts of different games. And even though I live about two hours away, they're nice enough to invite me up to take part in the fun. Which is why yesterday's post was so early (so I could hightail it up there) and today's is so late (not really, I've just haven't felt motivated today, but it gives the sentence a sense of symmetry this way). I just wanted to talk briefly about some of the games.

For Sale: Very quick, easy to pick up. You bid for properties, numbered 1-30. After x number of rounds (depending on how many are playing), you set out four different checks, for amounts from 0 to 15 grand. Each person lays out one of the cards they picked up, face down. Person whose card is the highest number, gets the most money, second gets second-most and so on. After all the cards are used up, see who has the most cash (including any left over from the bidding). So it's all about knwoing when to go all out.

Arkham Horror: This was my personal favorite, because it promotes cooperative gameplay. If one of the other characters lacks weapons to defend themselves with, you can give them one of yours, as you scramble through the town trying to seal portals to stop the ascension of some Lovecraft monster. Depending on what monster you face, and how successful you are at closing portals, you may never face the boss at all, or you may lose instantly. I felt bad for Tomato, because at the time the boss showed, her character was "Lost in Time in Space", and so she never got to take a shot at him. Still a lot of fun though.

Carcassonne: I'm not even gonna try and explain this one, other than to say you use tiles to build cities, roads, and cloisters. Suffice it to say, I got harshly poned ("pwned" just seems such a dumb way to spell it) by everyone else.

Vegas Showdown: As near I can tell, it's a game about building a casino/hotel, which you attempt to set up to bring in high revenue and people. To do that you, have to buy certain things for it, like restaurants, slots, sports books, etc. Depending on how many other players want the same thing, you may get into a bidding war, but you can always go for publicity to raise your fame (provided the card that says "no publicity this round" wasn't drawn) For someone who doesn't feel he has a good gift for strategy like myself, it can't be that hard to play, seeing as I won on my first try. *does victory dance, in an horrific display of poor board game sportsmanship*

And here I thought board games were for kids. After all, who needs 'em when you've got the Xbox and the PC and the *begins making goofy, Bill Cosby noises*

Ahem. Sorry about that. My point was that, well, I really do learn something new every day. Good night all.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Should The Gesture Mean More... Or Less?

Carol Danvers helped reunite Julia Carpenter with her daughter. This is something I'd call unquestionably good. So why am I having a hard time giving her credit for it?

Part of it could be that she's the one who helped drag Julia off to prison in the first place. It's that she has to atone for her actione in the first place that's bothering me. If say, USAgent had been the one that arrested Julia and separated her from her daughter (because he would do that, no doubt), and then Carol decided to help Julia because she just felt bad for her, it would be a lot cleaner. Carol would just be a good person helping someone in need.

But I think the thing that really bothers me is that Carol is holding all the cards in this situation. She's a legally registered hero, supposedly the leader of the government's premiere super-team, while Julia is just another damn vigilante, refusing to follow the law. Julia has zero leverage here legally. There's nothing forcing Carol to do any of what she does, other than her own guilty conscience. It feels like we're supposed to see this and say 'Oh, isn't Carol such a good person, helping this down-on-her-luck mother recover her child.' Gotta admit, it would probably make great p.r. (Or maybe not. The government probably wouldn't want the public to know registered heroes are blatantly ignoring custody rulings to help prior fugitives, although maybe if you mentioned that the gesture convinced another hero to join the "right" side, and well, I'm getting sidetracked).

This really bugs me, because Carol is trying to make amends for something that the government and Tony Stark say she has no reason to feel bad about, and that should make me happy. And it sorta does. Seeing Julia hugging Rachel was one of the feel-good moments of my comics this week (though there wasn't much competition in the heartwarming category), and knowing that Carol helped make this happen makes me feel better about Carol as a hero. But there's still that nagging little part, telling me she wouldn't have been in this situation in the first place if she hadn't gone pro-reg.

It just occurred to me, maybe I'm thinking about the stunt Carol pulled on Jessica Drew and that's what's bugging me. Because it really isn't cool to lie to a friend about Captain America being alive, just so Iron Man can capture them for whatever his reason is (to stop the anonymous "them" from capturing the New Avengers first, personal glory, it's the law, he's just a jerk, etc.,)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Many Books To Read = Happy Pandas

Before we get to Adorable Baby Panda's thoughts for the day, I have a question for you. Commenter "Nothing Stops The Blob" would like suggestions for books to buy that take place in the mainstream Marvel Universe for someone trying to get back into it. I've heard New Avengers is better, but I'm not sure whether to recommend it or not. Seeing as most of my comic purchases these days are on the fringes, or in other continuities entirely, I thought you might have some ideas, so anything you've got, just put it in the comments for today, would you?

And with that, we're off to talk to Adorable Baby Panda. So kawaii!

Applause - Silver Surfer. You took on two beings that beat up Galactus, and did more than just detain them: you beat them. And nearly died in the process. {Bonus points because the Surfer killed them with a tidal wave of energy. It's goofy, but strangely nifty.}

Hug - Hybalea. You're a Centurion in a universe that you aren't from, and you were trying to prove you still stood for something. Then your friend Espia died. And now, the Firelord has told you that you better keep taking out other Centurions, and leave innocents alone... or else. Just a bad day all around.

Bonk -Firelord. You threatened all the Centurions, but some of them are on your side. That just mean! {Yeah, but Firelord is Xandarian, and those Centurions were part of the Annihilation Wave that destroyed Firelord's home, and the Xandarian civilization.}

Applause - Garek. Even after Rayne tried to kill you, and even after she stopped trying to kill you, and resorted to crippling you, you still saved her life. That was so sweet. {And it never would have come to that if he hadn't been sowing worldwide political unrest.}

Hug - Michaelis. Trying to find out what information Brimstone was withholding from Rayne, and you got beat up for your trouble. {It doesn't sound like you even found out anything, either, though maybe your getting battered is enough evidence of darker motives.}

Bonk - Brimstone Society. First, you beat up an old man. {An old man that's one of you no less.} And then you tried to collapse Garek's base while Rayne was still inside it, and she's on your side! Quit hurting people that are on your side! That's what Davos is doing in Immortal Iron Fist, and it isn't cool!

Applause - Orson Randall. First off, your "Gun Fu" is completely awesome. Second, your dad had his own subway station and airship, and that's also really cool. Third, you taught Danny a new trick with his iron fist, and mentoring is highly approved of by pandas.

Hug - Mr. Hogarth. Because he looked disheveled, scared, and it sounds like he's got a missing loved one. Sounds like someone truly in need of a hug.

Bonk - HYDRA. Why do you keep working for Davos? All he's doing is killing your men, wrecking your weapons, and it doesn't sound like his revenge scheme is anything that's going to help HYDRA's plans for... what is HYDRA trying to accomplish? {World domination, I think. Tony Stark has beaten them to it, but that won't stop them from trying.}

Applause - Ms. Marvel. You felt bad about aiding in the arrest of Julia Carpenter and her losing her daughter. Rather than just mope about it, you decided to do something about it, and reunite them. Sure, Julia didn't forgive you for what you did earlier, but at least you helped make things a litte better. {Wise Old Panda once said, sometimes the important thing is that you try.}

Hug - Julia Carpenter. It was great to see your daughter again, I'll bet. Must have been hard finding out your parents are the ones who took off with her. And it can't be any easier going to work for Iron Man, the one who wanted you locked up so badly in the first place. {I've heard Canada is a beautiful country though, I bet Rachel would enjoy that. She is accompanying Julia, I would imagine.}

Bonk - Julia's parents. It's understood that you want your granddaughter to have a normal life, but Julia wants her daughter, Rachel wants her mom, Julia is gonna abide by the law, so you need to step back.

Hug - The people Albion left behind on his home Earth. He seems to have forgotten all about helping them, hasn't he? Just wants to kill Captain Britain because Roma wanted to take his power away after he chose the sword. {Clearly, not the most mature response to criticism.}

Bonk - Albion - Really, your power could be put to much better use than running around killing people in other realities. How about making a giant plow, and preparing some farmland or something? {It's what Superman would do. Now that I've said that, Albion will probably decide to kill Superman. Good luck with that. You'll really need it.}

Yeah, nobody in New Excalibur really deserved applause this month. Just the way it goes some times. So, as usual, feel free to submit your thoughts on who needs applause, hugs, or bonks, and don't forget to help out our fellow comic lover with some purchasing suggestions.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Junk Post, Junk Post

That's right, it's a random junk post!

- For those of you that might be interested, I survived that cookie gathering ordeal I described in my Baten Kaitos: Origins review from Sunday (I'm too lazy to actually make the link). It wasn't difficult, probably because I knew what to do, but it was really tedious. Why do game designers put tedious stuff like that in their games? I'm not playing to gather cookies for lazy idiots, and fun times for boring professors, I want to follow the story of islands in the sky and periodically kill monsters!

- The Shield season premiere was pretty good, though I'm still not sold on that one kinda rookie officer that Dutch Boy is mentoring. She just seems to be tacked on as the fall girl, the one who makes mistakes or acts unprofessionally and gets called on it by Julien. Of course, that used to be Julien's role, so I guess it's a passing of the torch situation. I especially enjoy that Shane seems to have a Cassandra Cain-esque "death as atonement" thing going now, as well he should. I'm sure criminals will kill him more politely than Vic would. It's fun to watch Kavanaugh (played by Oscar winner Forrest Whitaker) resort to Vic Mackey tactics, to bring down Vic Mackey. Of course, Vic isn't likely to waste anymore time making Kavanuagh look unbalanced, when he could just shoot him.

- My one beef with the season premiere was that Vic didn't pistol-whip anyone. For some reason, I was certain Vic was so over the edge he'd smack someone around with his firearm, but no such luck. Little disappointing.

- The Initiative #1. All I want to say about this book is this - I don't like that "New Warriors" is an insult now. I know, post-Civil War, the Warriors are considered to be lousy heroes and all, and so of course nobody wants to be a New Warrior (except me, and probably Spencer Carnage), but I... don't... care. I've never heard of this Gauntlet jackass, and I don't think Hank Pym has any ground to stand on criticizing the Warriors for being "cocky" or "untrained". Man, I really wish Pym had bought it in Disassembled.

I feel better. Night.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What I Bought 4/4/07

I wonder if this is how it's going to go for me: one huge week a month, and then very little the other three Wednesdays. I suppose Annihilation:Conquest will help with that a little this summer, but still... Anyway, if Marvel and DC's websites are to be believed, this is my big week for April. With so many books, I'm gonna try and shorten the reviews, or this post will drag on forever.

Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus #2 - Did not enjoy this one as much as the previous issue, but it had it's moments. The first story deals with Firelord hunting down and executing the Centurions, for the lives they took as part of the Annihilation Wave. Three things of note: One, Ravenous has set up a spoils system, handing out planets to loyal Centurions. Two, some Centurions are dismayed that the reasons for the war weren't what they thought they'd be. Three, Kolins art was making it kind of difficult for me to tell what was going on at times. Some of the perspectives and character positions he used were... odd.

The second story has the Silver Surfer tracking down Tenebrous and Aegis, because Galactus has warned him that if they aren't stopped they'll accomplish what Annihilus set out to do. Surfer finds them and resolves to hold them here until Big G arrives, except he's a little outclassed. Fortunately, if there's one thing we can count on from the Silver Surfer, it's that his nobe spirit will lead him to do really reckless (but cool) stuff. Sometimes it's odd to see the Surfer back taking orders from Galactus, but then I remembered that in his own series (the 80s-90s one) he seemed to be running into Galactus and making requests or granting them every time you turned around. 3.5 out of 5.

Bloodrayne: Plague of Dreams #3 - Wow. This thing had Ultimates-level delays (originally solicited for December, I believe). It's been awhile, but I did recall that Rayne needed to stop her telepathic relative Garek, who had a plan to destabilize the political world, leading to humans whaling on each other to the point where they'd be easy pickings for the vamps. Now Rayne's leading a squad of Brimstone Society troops to his desert stronghold to take him out.

Despite some setbacks - Garek expecting their assault prime among them - we eventually get to the major showdown between the siblings, and it's a pretty back and forth affair, with Garek running his yap constantly, about what he knows about Brimstone, and how they're using Rayne, and she's just a little girl and blah, blah, blah. To be fair, he's kicking her butt for a lot of the fight, so I suppose he can talk as much as he wants in that case. Oddly, even after Brimstone starts destroying the place (to stop Garek from spilling beans, natch), and Rayne tries crippling him so he can't escape, Garek still helps her escape. Can't quite track that, which was probably my main issue with this mini-series, characters' choices didn't seem to connect with their previous thoughts and deeds. Maybe it reads better if I go through it all at once. I'll have to try that later. 3.1 out of 5.

I do like how most of these one-shots and minis seem to be tying together a few strands at a time, building to something bigger. It shows a larger sense of design, planning.

Immortal Iron Fist #4 - This was pretty cool. Orson and Danny suit up and travel to Orson's father's pneumatic subway station. You New Yorkers with your fancy pneumatic subways. As they travel, Orson clues Danny into some facts about the legacy of the Iron Fist, which basically seems to boil down to "You're a stupid kid, who has no idea what he's capable of." Gotta love those grizzled old folks.

In other news, Davos slaughters dozens of HYDRA agents... because he felt like it, I think. Really, how do you expect to get peak performance out of your employees if you keep killing them? "Death avoidance" is not a proper incentive! Oh, and it looks like Rand Industries will be building that railroad for China after all. I think it's interesting when the big fight scene kicks off that Daniel isn't using any Iron Fist chi stuff. Curious. 4.5 out of 5.

Warbird #14 - Ken's still working on getting more copies of #13, so I'm flying moderately blind into this, but I think I get the gist. Carol wants to make amends for ripping Julia Carpenter's life apart. Hooray! But man, Julia got beat down by Arana? No respect for the Spider-Woman that took part in Secret Wars whatsoever. So, Carol helps Julia, and there's a sort-of happy ending on that front, though Julia makes it quite clear that she still hates Carol's guts. And Wonder Man's too, which is only proper as Simon Williams is a big loser (with moderate apologies to the Wonder Man fans in the audience).

Also, it seems that the first prediction I made in this post can be safely discarded. Or maybe not, but if not, it must be really crowded in there. Maybe it's the inker, but does anyone else think Aaron Lopresti draws hair a lot like Wieringo? Not a criticism, just a question. 3.4 out of 5, because I can't quite bring myself to say I enjoyed it more than Annihilation.

New Excalibur #18 - This is basically an origin issue for Albion. How much you like it would probably derive in part from how much that interests you. I was a little curious, so it worked alright for me. Albion was a soldier on a world where World War I became the Hundred Years War. Given those circumstances, not all that surprising he picked the sword over the amulet, which dismayed Roma greatly. And her attitude pissed Albion off, and so when he meets a Captain Britain (one of Roma's golden boys), he decides it's high time to mess with her goals. It's funny, but I don't remember Roma being part of Captain Britain's origin. I thought King Arthur was involved, but I've only seen his origin in that team-up he and Spidey had against Arcade and it's been awhile since I read that comic, so I'm probably wrong.

I read this is gonna be a seven-part story, which seems too long, but I guess I'll see. I'm mostly in it to see what happens with Lionheart, seeing as I may be her one and only fan. It was kind of an interesting issue, so I'm going to say 3.5 out of 5.

The Punisher #46 - The widows get their first shot at Castle, and well, it wasn't a total bust. I mean, they possibly punctured a lung, and only one of them died, that's better than a lot of the other suckers that put their sights on Frank can say. Of course, a couple of problems have arisen. One, Frank should now be somewhat wise to their scheme. Two, their odd lady stalker has finally stepped into the spotlight, and was the major reason why their plan didn't go better (that and the bait flipping out). Three, their firefight attracted the cops, including that "hero" cop from earlier in the arc, who realizes who the ladies are, and figures their being in one place together can't be coincidence. Hmm, that's more like a few problems, rather than a couple. Bugger.

Also, I imagine that it can't be fun to be lying wounded in a bed, receive a kiss, and have the person who kissed you follow up with the line 'You're the man who killed my husband.' But maybe that's just an everyday thing for Frank. We're nearing the end of the arc, and as things pick up, so do the scores, 4.2 out of 5.

So that's me for the week.