Thursday, May 31, 2007

What I Bought 5/31/07

And once again, I get one comic. That's weak, but it's not all bad. It means this post will go fast, and I can get to work on that huge post I have planned for another blog, where I complain about how Dave Duncan screwed up Anthony Reyes. Which means nothing to you if you don't follow the Cardinals, so I'll just remind you that spoilers can be found most anywhere these days, maybe even in this post.

New Excalibur #20 - So Sage has infiltrated Albion's little group. I'm still not sure why she felt dressing in Power Girl's top, Supergirl's skirt, and a coat that looks like it belonged to Santa was necessary, but it worked, so good for her. Nocturne is still making progress in recovering from her stroke, having gotten her left side back to its previous level of mobility, though the right is still sorely lacking.

Meanwhile, Excalibur fights the Dark X-Men, and Lionheart takes off, which seems pretty smart. The teams want to whomp on each other, why get in the way? The battle is pretty enjoyable because both teams show cooperation and teamwork to try and gain an advantage. It's a lot more fun than a bunch of one-on-one fights. Still, it turns out this was all to ensure Excalibur wouldn't interefere with Albion's real plan, which was to attack a really secret base, and steal something that returned England to the Dark Ages. I'm not sure how he would know about that thing, seeing as Sage didn't know about it, and she seems to know damn near everything. Oh, and something happened to Sage when she tried to stop Albion from using the thingamajig. I don't know what. Guess I find that out next month. Hmm, what to say? I enjoyed the battle between Excalibur and the Dark X-Men. The rest fell flat. I think I need to see the Evil Plot progress a little further. 2.8 out of 5.
So, yeah, I'm done. Later.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

So It's What You Do With It, Not What You're Given

I said today's post would relate to yesterday's, and it does, because today we're talking about Spider-Man versus Wolverine #1, and that book is riddled with death. I'm going to spoil a lot of the book, so if that's a problem, you might want to take your leave.

I will admit I'm not sure how much I like this comic (it was part of that box of comics my dad's friend gave me, so not complaining too much), as Spidey looks like kind of like a chump, when he isn't looking kind of creepy. The book kicks off with Pete feeling bad because he uses his exploits as Spidey to make money (by taking photos), moves to Pete freaking out because he couldn't stop a sniper, which leads MJ to try and calm him down, which leads to Peter grabbing her kissing her (they were just friends at this point), then freaking out again and bailing. Given MJ was a little spooked by it as well, probably the right idea. Oh, and it ends with him killing someone (accidentally). Not his finest issue.

There's a lot of unnamed spies killed in this thing, mostly done off-panel (as the title characters storm the location, only to find everyone already dead). Given the only thing we know about them is they tried to kill Logan's friend, and she's looking for revenge, I'm not going to worry too much about them. They are (for better or worse) nameless cannon fodder. The two I'm most interested in are Charlie (that'd be Logan's friend), and Ned Leeds.

To my knowledge, Charlie did not exist prior to this comic. She's a friend and partner retconned into Wolverine's past as an agent. She took a job for the KGB, they tried to eliminate her after, Logan bailed her out, now some time later (it's been long enough that Wolverine went from the yellow-and-blue outfit to the orange-and-brown look) she's going to get all the people that came after her. It's oft stated throughout the book that she's gonna die, with Charlie being the one saying it most often, while Logan keeps protesting that he's going to protect her. At the end though, Charlie asks him to put her down, because he'll do it quickly.

Except Logan flinches. About that time, Spidey - who has spent his entire time in Germany being scared out of his wits because of all the professional killers - shows up to stop Wolverine. He can't understand why Logan would try to kill someone he cares about, and swore to protect. Wolvie's explanation is he can kill her quick and painless, but the KGB will make her suffer. Things start to get real ugly, when someone comes up behind Spidey and he turns and unloads a fist in their face. Oops, sorry Charlie. Spider-Fist winds up being the instrument of her demise.

So, let's look at this. The death involves a character created (I think) specifically for this story, apparently to introduce Peter to the world of international espionage, mostly so he can keep freezing up in the face of men with guns trying to kill him (yeah, I don't buy it either). We get to know Charlie a little, and see that's she's fairly accepting of her fate, moreso than the two costumed guys trying to protect her. She dies quickly as she wanted, and Spidey is left with the angst over the fact he did it. I guess my major question here would be, did her death have a lasting effect on Spidey, reflected by words and events in her titles? Spider-Man has never killed someone (OK, fine Gwen, but he was acting to save her, it just backfired), not even his worst enemies. Now he has. Did that affect him? I remember a story in Spectacular Spider-Man, where he couldn't bring himself to fight his enemies, but that was because he saw what his full strength did to the Sin Eater, so it's kind of similar, but not dealing with the death directly. So, it's kind of cheap in that respect, mitigated by the fact Owsley (that's Christopher Priest right?) took the time to give Charlie some character, and made us understand her motives.

Then there's Ned Leeds. Ned, for those not in the know, was the character long tapped as the original Hobgoblin (until Roger Stern came back and told us it was Roderick Kingsley all along, brainwashing Ned into being his puppet). But as far as this issue goes, there's no Hobgoblin. Ned's in West Berlin with Peter, tracking down Charlie. Ned got a list that confirms that the dead people popping up a KGB, and that Charlie was behind it. Ned provides a hint at how dangerous this info is, when he tells Jonah he sold his soul to get this list. So it probably shouldn't be a huge surprise he winds up deceased. As far as this comic goes (because Amazing Spider-Man #289 apparently fills in several details) Peter enters Ned's room to tell Ned he's leaving, and finds Ned tied to a chair, throat slit. Pete's also surrounded by KGB guys, and we get the first instance of Peter freezing up in the face of men with guns. After that, Ned doesn't get much mention the rest of the issue. Jonah does ask about him when Pete gets back to the states, but Peter just hangs up.

Ned's death is a little trickier for me. He's an established character, killed essentially to make room for a new version of Hobgoblin (namely, that tool Macendale). And maybe to drive Betty nuts (and into a weird cult). And to make Peter feel great rage, which ought to mix oddly with his feelings of guilt over Charlie. All joking aside, Ned's death did have repercussions for the people around him, it wasn't graphically depicted, though it was a little abrupt (Ned had been acting oddly, but not in a way that suggested imminent demise). I'm just not sure whether it was a "good" death or not.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

What Gives It Meaning?

Here's the question for the day: What are the characteristics of a comic book death that make it mean something? What I mean is, some deaths are described as "cheap" or "gratuitous", so what, in your opinion, would make a death something more than that?

Does there have to be some sort of foreshadowing, either within the issue, or in previous issues, or can it happen almost out of the blue (this ties in to my post for tomorrow)? Does a death with lots of gore necessarily have less meaning than one that's implied, or happens off-panel? What I mean here is that we know it happens, we just aren't shown it directly, maybe just blood splattering on the wall, plus a gunshot sort of thing.

Should the death have lasting consequences for the title it happens in, or can a death not having any consequences, or seemingly affecting characters within the book be meaningful in its own way?

Are deaths in big events cheaper than those in regular, ongoing titles?

Is there any particular blueprint, or is it a matter of how well the creative team does selling the death?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Guhhhhroooovy!

For this week's gaming selection, we travel once again into the 1990s, this time to discuss Earthworm Jim for the Sega Game Gear. For those not in the know, Game Gear was Sega's competition for the Game Boy, featuring better graphics and colors. As the Game Boy still exists (as the Game Boy Advance), I think you can guess which handheld won the war. Probably because the Game Gear ate up batteries by crazy. But that's why you buy the wall plug-in. And the car plug-in! Come on people, get with the program here!

So yeah, Earthworm Jim. Story of an earthworm that has an experimental super-suit fall from space and land on him, mutating him into a giant, somewhat more intelligent earthworm. The suit comes with a rocket for travel, a nifty blaster, and Jim can use himself as a whip to either attack or swing around, just like Indiana Jones. With only these skills, and his courage, he embarks on a quest to rescue Princess What's-Her-Name from her evil sister, *deep breath* Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-for-a-Butt. Wow, I'm not going to say that anymore.

The game takes you through junkyards, lawyer-infested Heck, undersea labs, and don't forget the bungee-jumping battles against Major Mucus! Man I loved those battles, I just hated trying to get to them. The undersea level right before it required you to navigate a submersible through a bunch of narrow reefs. You only had a limited air supply, so you couldn't dawdle, but if you bumped the pod against the reefs too many times it broke and you died anyway, so it was a real pain, leading to several occasions of me banging my head against the screen (which is probably why my first Game Gear broke, though I prefer to blame NBA Jam Tournament Edition. That game cheated so hard!).

I have to admit, I never beat the game. Never really got close, in fact. I could never get past Peter's Puppy World, where you have to guide this cute little puppy past all these dangers, while staying alive yourself. The problem comes in the fact that if Peter gets hurt, he transforms into a giant purple beast and attacks you, causing injury and dragging you back to wherever it happened. So frustrating.

Despite my failures, and the pain the game caused, it was a pretty cool concept, and the levels and bosses were so odd that I couldn't help but to like it, at least whenever it wasn't driving me insane.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Know What I love?

Hmm, I forgot to mention, Friday's post was Reporting on Marvels and Legends 500th post. Good for me.

*savors moment*

That's enough of that. I admit, I was a little worried about having enough material the next few weeks. One book this week, one book next week, two the first week of June, just not a good stretch. Then people started talking about what they love about comics, and I've got myself a Sunday post. Huzzah comicsblogowhatchamafloogle! So, without further ado, here's 50 Things I Love About Comics (in no particular order, emphasis on characters and stories):

1. Sgt. Rock. Of my dad's Silver Age DC, there's stuff I hate (Superman), stuff I like (Atom, The Losers), but only one title I loved, and that's the stories of Easy Co.

2. "The Child Within" (Spectacular Spider-Man #178-183). When I was younger I didn't think much of this story, because they spent an entire issue with Peter under the effects of hallucinogenic drugs, freaking out over abandonment issues. Lame, right? Looking, back it's an awesome story, because it deals with Peter's inner turmoil, as well as setting up the opposing character arcs of Vermin and Harry Osborn.

3. Anderson Gabrych's Batgirl run.

4. Rurouni Kenshin creator's Nobuhiro Watsuki's art. because if you're going to have kickass fights, I want to be able to follow what's going on (a serious problem I had with Trigun Maximum).

5. In the same vein as #4, Mark Bagley's art.

6. Spider-Girl.

7. That Spider-Man can fight the Juggernaut or the Firerlord and win, but also fight Juggy or the Silver Surfer and get trounced. There's a thin line between victory and defeat.

8. John Gaunt, aka GrimJack.

9. The "Munden's Bar" back-up stories in GrimJack that were often an absurdly hilarious counterpoint to the awesome violence of the main story.

10. How Cable and Deadpool play off each other.

11. That Squirrel Girl may be the most fearsome force of good in any universe.

12. Annihilation. All of it.

13. Simonson and Buscema's Balder the Brave mini-series.

14. Thor's armor from the Simonson run. Giving a character an armored costume so rarely works, but this one totally did.

15. Magneto's stint as leader of the X-Men/headmaster of the Xavier Institute. Not that I don't like archfoe Magneto, but it was interesting to read.

16. Obsidian Age. I couldn't make sense of it until the very end, but I was sure it was cool even when I was confused as hell by all the time switching back and forth.

17. The first 25 issues of the original New Warriors series.

18. NextWave.

19. The Cosmic-Powered Spider-Man stories during Acts of Vengeance. C'mon, Spidey punched Mr. Fixit into orbit!

20. Amazing Spider-Man #350, where the first ten pages are basically Doom kicking the crap out of Spidey. It taught me that you should never mess with something related to Doom's mama.

21. Nighthawk. The guy takes a lot of crap, but he was pretty cool in the Busiek/Larsen Defenders series. He was the one holding all the volatile personalities together. Well, him and Hellcat. So let's make this "Nighthawk and Hellcat"

22. Dr. Strange beating people with his bare hands.

23. Ben Grimm.

24. Engelhart's West Coast Avengers, especially that crazy arc from #18-24 that was running in about five different time periods at once.

25. Thor #381, God of Thunder vs. the Midgard Serpent.

26. The fact that if there's something happening I don't like, to a character that I do like, there's always plenty of back issues to read to help me ignore it.

27. The original Armor Wars.

28. Iron Man's red-and-silver armor. It was just so different from every other armor he's had (which is probably why the went back to the red-and-gold in about 30 issues).

29. That Geoff Johns didn't feel the need to kill Kyle Rayner when he brought Hal Jordan back to life.

30. That Power Girl enjoys kicking ass.

31. Jim Aparo drawing Batman punching people (and Chris Sims' reaction to it).

32. Busiek and Perez' "Ultron Unlimited" story.

33. Starfire, animated or comic version. Both have their strong points (one's a little more cutesy and sweet, one's a little more firey and independent).

34. Alucard crashing a specially modified SR-71 into the deck of a vmpire controlled British aircraft carrier, then emerging from the flames, 13mm handgun spitting death (Hellsing).

35. From the pages of Immortal Iron Fist: 'Oh! My name is Daniel Rand. I am Iron Fist and I know kung-fu. Hi-Yahh.'

36. Nova letting Tony Stark in on how a real superhero spends his time, while other people quibble over legislation.

37. The Prankster after that issue of Action Comics Busiek wrote a few months back. He struck me as a delightfully clever fellow, who really just wants to entertain, and be entertained.

38. How Jessica Drew's phermones went from making people not like her, to making people really like her.

39. Spawn's seemingly constant attmepts to be free of the forces trying to control him. It never seemed to work in the end, but he never quit trying (from about #99-130 anyway, which is all I owned).

40. Mary Jane and Felicia Hardy trying to get along for Peter's sake, but not quite able to quit sniping at each other.

41. Night Nurse.

42. Superheroes that have non-superheroic friends.

43. The Ray (Ray Terrill) fighting Doctor Polaris all half-assed, because he thinks it's just another trick of his father's. A valuable lesson to parents about not lying to your kids too often.

44. That weird, smelly cat Howard Mackie introduced at the tail end of his run on Amazing Spider-Man. I always wanted to know why those techno-goons were after it.

45. The Russian.

46. Spidey eating hot dogs on a rooftop with Loki.

47. That the Sinister Syndicate (five mostly second-tier Spidey villains) teamed up, not out of some desire to get revenge on Spider-Man, but because they agreed it would be better for their criminal careers if they worked together. They could take bigger jobs, less chance of getting captured in a group. I miss super-criminals out for financial gain, rather than revenge.

48. Storm leading the X-Men, even though she had lost her mutant powers. That takes a real badass.

49. Stephanie Brown's stubborn insistence to keep fighting crime no matter how many times Batman or the Birds of Prey told her to stop.

50. Thor (with Odin's power) on one side. Iron Man (with armored powered by an energy source created by Thor) on the other. Americans and Russians on the edges watching nervously, with Dr. Doom pushing the whole thing forward. And in the middle? Captain America, keeping the whole thing from blowing up, even if it means fighting Thor himself.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Like Puppets On A String

Is that a Neil Diamond song where they sing about 'puppets on a string', and if so, why the hell am I quoting Neil Diamond? Whatever., I'm gonna spend a little time today talking about Shadowpact #13 today. I find it weird that for two weeks straight a book I didn't give a good grade to provided interesting fodder for a post. Well, interesting to me, anyway. Maybe I need to retroactively boost scores, based on how many post ideas I get from a single issue.

So Heaven has commissioned Zauriel to SPOILER! kill Blue Devil. First off, I think it's kind of a crap move to dump that job on someone who knows the guy you want dead, and who isn't technically one of you anymore. What, the rest of the angels are too busy? It's molting season? It just gives me that vibe I got from Ennis' Ghost Rider mini, that Heaven and Hell only care about their big war, and mortals are either in the way, or tools to be used and discarded.

But setting aside what is probably a personal hang-up, Zauriel and Blue Devil are mirrors of each other in a way. Zauriel was an angel that gave up that life for love, and became a mortal. If what poets tell us about love is true, that a really good reason to give up on the perks of being an immortal warrior of Heaven. In his own way, Zauriel's presence on Earth helps to spread the word of God, helps build faith by demonstrating that yes, there are in fact angels, and they serve God, and so yes, there is a God. And since Zauriel spends his time saving lives, that tends to bolster the idea of a loving God, because he's sent one of his agents here to protect his flock. While this probably isn't why Zauriel does the things he does, I'd imagine he's aware of it, and glad to be of service to his boss.

Conversely, Dan Cassiday sold his soul for fame, and wound up as a demon. While he's also seeking something for himself, it's somewhat less pure than what Zauriel desired. Dan didn't want to love and be loved by one person, he wanted the love, adulation, respect, whatever of lots of people. People he didn't know, or would ever know. Seems greedy (and kind of dumb) by comparison. Dan's spreading the word of his benefactor, unwillingly, but he's doing it all the same. He tries to do good, but all it ends up doing is (if you can believe demons) convincing more people that selling their soul to the Devil is cool, because you can get superpowers and help save the world, and be loved by many.

So in some ways they're the opposite of each other, in other ways they're strikingly similar. Which is probably why Zauriel is the one going after Blue Devil, rather than some other ass-kicker who's still a full angel (ignoring things like Willingham preferring to go with an established character, and potential ulterior motives not yet revealed).

Friday, May 25, 2007

Humans Are Lazy; Pandas Aren't

I wanted to do the post early this morning, but Calvin wanted to wait. {I had errands to run.} So? I can do these posts myself. {Yes, but with you paws, all the words look like "dsfokrfjhgklm". Besides, I wanted to make my usual commentary. The fans expect it.} Fooey. Then you should buy more comics, so you could talk more.

Applause - Phantom Stranger. I didn't like him much at first, because all he does is stand around and talk about what's going on, and that seems kind of lame. He should do stuff. But, he does wear a cool hat and a medallion, and he hangs out with a groovy girl, and plays Candy Land with little kids. Do you think he'd play Scrabble with me? {Probably, but I think his vocabulary might be a little too much for you.}

Hug - Zauriel doesn't really want to attack a member of the Shadowpact (Calvin says I can't say which one), but he wants to serve God, and that other angel did make a good point, I guess. {Don't sweat it, I'm sure nobody will actually die in the fight.}

Bonk - To that guard at the Black Tower, for getting too friendly with Kid Karnevil. Just because he's little and acts nice, doesn't mean you should forget why he was there in the first place. {Sadly, he's not gonna get a chance to learn from his mistake.} And how do they rehabilitate someone at the Black tower, anyway? {No clue. Teach them the value of an honest day's work?}

I'm kind of sad, because Calvin told me that the next two weeks aren't gonna be much better than this one. You should tell him to buy more comics. {Hey! I told you, I'm trying to save money for Annihilation: Conquest! You'll thank me when you're reading more space actiony goodness!}

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It Is The American Way, After All

Sallyp already discussed a little of the legal hellstorm heading Tony Stark way (probably a little of that'll be pointed at ole' Uncle Sam as well). Plus the Howling Curmudgeons have been hotly debating the legality of the entire Superhuman Registration Act/Initiative for awhile (that's only the most recent post on it I could find).

I find it amusing that Captain America and his Secret Avengers (now Luke Cage's Secret Avengers) couldn't stop Generalissimo Stark, but a bunch of lawyers just might. Given that you can sue anyone for just about anything these days in America, it would actually sort of be in keeping with Quesada's assertions that he wants the Marvel Unvierse to really be like it's happening in our world.

But I've been wondering what exactly Jennifer Walters, or Danny Rand's attorneys can accomplish. Rand's apparently going to contend with the Registration Act over the definition of "superpower", which given Danny's situation is probably a good idea. After all, is Iron Fist superpowered, or just a really well-trained everyday human? Having watched lots of anime leads me to believe anyone could have a sort of Iron Fist, if they just learn to focus their chi. . . stuff. Silliness aside, by the definition of "superhuman" the Act has no hold over Frank Castle, even though he's supposedly exactly the kind of person they're trying to rein in, but it forces a teenager who just wants to fly, with no real desire to do the vigilante thing, to sign up. That'll cut down on those costumed types acts of destruction.

For the sake of argument, let's says Rand (or Jen, though I'm not sure what angle she's taking) gets the Act repealed. What happens to all the secret identities that were already registered? Do those get deleted? If so, how would anyone know for sure it actually happened, or that there weren't backup copies? Stark is the one who supposedly has all of them, and given his Tech God state, I'm sure they're stored as a zip file in his brain somewhere. How does one deal with that? (Answer: Total lobotomy! Dr. Banner, would you care to do the honors? Here's your axe.)

Would repealing the Registration Act end the Intiative, with the teams in every state, and the training camp where stupid Gauntlet guy uses "New Warriors" as an insult, and God, I hate stupid Gauntlet guy! Grrr! I'd imagine if people still wanted training, and wanted to serve as government sponsored superheroes, then Gyrich would be happy to have them dissected, I mean, happy to have them.

Would the heroes refusing to play ball get amnesty, since they're technically fugitives, or would they still have to answer for that even after the Act was repealed? On the off chance it can ever be proven that Danny Rand is the Iron Fist running with the New Avengers, this would be a good thing to have his legal staff investigate.

If the Act was repealed, would Tony Stark be bounced as Director? I doubt he'd willingly resign, I'm sure his "futurist instincts" tell him that only he has the vision to lead such an important organization of good guy cannon fodder as SHIELD. But, if the whole thing falls apart because he couldn't keep all his friends in line, then I could see the Powers That Be (whoever that is) giving him his walking papers. Maybe they could ruin Stark Enterprises as a finally "Thanks for nothing, loser" gift?

So many questions, so little chance they'll ever actually be answered.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What I Bought 5/23/07

Man, what a lousy week. One comic. Hardly seems worth the trouble. Ah well, might as well get on with it, with the reviews, and the snark, and the spoilers, blah, blah, blah.

Shadowpact #13 - This issue is entirely set-up for future issues. It's nothing but the Phantom Stranger floating and commenting on what all these people Shadowpact will eventually have to deal with are up to. I know, floating around and commenting on stuff is what the Phantom Stranger does, and yes, he looks damn good doing it, but still.

So let's take a look at upcoming concerns for the good guys. A crazy teen name Kid Karnevil (I think he's from the first story arc) escapes the realm that served as his prison. He's nuts. The Sun King has arrived, though he's currently a little less imposing than you'd expect. There's mention of a plague, Holy Magi, and a world-destroying old man with a banjo(?!) Zauriel, shown on the cover, has been tasked to kill a member of the Shadowpact. It sounds like the stories on the way will be pretty good. This however, was not very good. 2.3 out of 5.

And this is why I hate months with 5 Wednesdays.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Little Big Events

I've been thinking about all these sorts of "events" Marvel either has going right now (Back in Black, World War Hulk), or is getting ready to kick off (Annihilation: Conquest, Mystic Arcana, Endangered Species). In the short term, the bigger ones (WWH, ES) will probably provide a nice boost to involved titles, but those aren't really the ones I'm interested in. My main concern is those are going to screw up books I like (I'm concerned X-Factor is gonna get messed up by Endangered Species, for example).

The ones I'm actually interested in are the events dealing with parts of the Marvel U. that don't get too much use. I think that was part of the appeal of Annihilation last year, was that these characters were mostly ignored by the larger MU, and someone (His Holiness, Keith Giffen) decided to put them to use in a little event focusing on what goes on outside Earth. It did its own thing, told its own story, changed a few of the characters place in the universe, and was in general a lot of fun. Annihilation: Conquest is another attempt to do something like that, utilizing characters from last year that were on the edges of the story, and bringing in some other Outer Space Marvel characters who would like a little love. Mystic Arcana looks to be similar, only focused on the mystical/supernatural corner of the Marvel Universe. Given the fact the guys who seem to have the power at Marvel don't seem fond of magic stuff, that area doesn't feel like it's gotten much play the last few years (JMS' Spidey stories being a notable exception I suppose). Now it will, even if just for a little while, and there's no telling which character might be this year's Nova, which is an idea I find kind of exciting (though I don't know if I'll actually get into Mystic Arcana).

While there's certainly the threat of diminishing returns, I think it's a good thing for Marvel to use all the different parts of its library of characters, for more than just fodder for their Big Event. Letting those characters get a little play in a story that fits them actually seems like a good strategy.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Cuteness Battered, Vanishes

For this week's game post, I move out of the dim early '90s, and into the less dim early 2000s, to look at a game from my Gamecube collection. I have to admit, the Gamecube kind of disappointed me, all things considered. Maybe it was the games I bought (I'm sure that was part of it), or that I rarely had anybody around to take advantage of the party game abilities of the system. Who knows. Either way, this is one of my older games, and I still enjoy it. Or a part of it at least. The game in question? Sonic Adventure 2: Battle! That title seems like it's worded out of order. Not my fault though.

It's a pretty standard Sonic game: deals with Chaos Emeralds (of course), has Robotnik as the bad guy (when the hell did they start calling him "Eggman"? He uses robots for his plans of conquest, that's why "Robotnik" worked! Eggman is some twit Hank Pym outsmarted!), you run around collecting rings, yadda yadda. Nothing at all Internet-shattering about it. The part that actually caught my interest was the Chao world.

During the game, you can break open certain blue boxes and find a key. At the end of the level (provided you found the key), you're transported to the Chao World. Initially, you enter a peaceful field, with a couple of fruit trees, set next to a waterfall. There are two eggs there. The eggs will eventually hatch, and those are the Chao. You can name them, send them to kindergarten, have them compete in races and karate tournaments, where they can win toys as prizes. To help them get stronger, you collect things in the levels of the game, either different-colored vials from robots you destroy, or cute little animals scattered throughout the levels. Depending on what you get, you can increase their ability to swim, fly, run, or climb. The only way to increase stamina is through them eating fruit. They can be leveled all the way up to 99th.

Additionally, the Chao can be Hero, Dark, or Neutral. I had a Dark Chao once, I've forgotten it's name, but it was a great way for me to relieve stress. See, one of the ways to make a Chao Dark is to mistreat them (conversely, treating a Chao well will tend to make it a Hero. At some point, I came back from class angry, and sent Knuckles into the Chao World, selected one of the Chao, and bopped it around for about fifteen minutes, while roommate Papafred looked on in horror and amusement. Pretty soon, that little fellow turned Dark. I grant you it was a pretty crappy move on my part, but I felt a lot better afterwards. See, reactionary authority figures, video games prevent real-world violence, rather than promote it, because they serve as a safe outlet for one's frustrations!

That's about the only time I relished sending a Chao to the Dark side, because really, they look so pitful when they get up after you punched them, it's almost impossible not to feel horribly bad about it. I mean, they win races and karate championships, bringing greater glory to you, their owner/older friend/whatever the hell the relationship is, hurting them shouldn't be fun. And it's always sad to lose one.

Oh yes, the Chao can die. I had one, possibly the second one that ever hatched, by the name of Cheng (the name was given by a Chao Fortune Teller, but you can also choose your own names). Cheng had won every race, every tournament,been leveled up to 99 on everything, except Stamina. Since he had to eat fruit to gain stamina, and had to be hungry for that, you had to stay in the Chao World long enough for them to get hungry. So I started turning the game on, entering the Chao World, then letting the game run while I went to class. Except one day, Cheng wasn't there when I got back. I looked all over, even checked the other Chao Gardens on the off chance the game had glitched and moved him there, but nothing. Cheng was gone. All the potential for future good times, lost. All I had left were the memories of how good a swimmer he was, even with no legs and wearing an eggshell over his head.

Sniff, I'm sorry, it's getting a little dusty in here, I've got to go. Good night.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Random Movie-Post-Thought For Time-Day

*looks up at title* Yeah, I don't know what that's about either.

Seeing as there was absolute jack-all on TV, I popped an old favorite of mine into the Xbox (Which also serves nicely as my DVD player): High Plains Drifter. I love that movie. The eerie music (especially during the opening and ending credits), the miserable cowards who inhabit Lago, the way the blood is as bright red as the paint they use on the town, the way the drifter will appear suddenly behind a character, as if being off camera makes him as invisible to the other characters as he is to us. Plus, there's the exchange between "The Stranger" (Clint Eastwood) and the preacher after Clint has everyone else thrown out of the hotel:

Preach: You cannot do this, it is inhuman brother, inhuman.
Stranger: I'm not your brother.
P: We are all brothers in the eyes of "Gaw-d".
S: You mean all these people are your brothers and sisters?
P: They most certainly are.
S: Then you won't mind if they come over and stay at your place, will you? *settles back into chair, pulls brim of hat down over his eyes*
Preach *turning to the crowd*: Brothers, sisters, have no fears. We will find shelter for you in our own homes (pause) and it won't cost you one cent more than regular hotel rates.

The part that really makes it work is how after that, Eastwood abruptly jerks his head up, with a look on his face like "What the hell is with these people?" I laugh at that every time.

Anyway, in all the times I've watched the movie, this particular question had never occured to me before: What happened to the people of Lago after the movie ended? We know Sara Belding (by then the estranged wife of hotel owner Lewis Belding) is leaving town. But what of the others? SPOILERS from here on out!!!! The whole thing started because the marshall found out the mine that was supporting the town was on federally-owned land, and he was going to spread the word. Thus he was whipped to death in the streets by hired gunmen. Ouch.

But the town is still there and the people don't seem to be impoverished, so I figure the mine is still active, seeing as no one ever told the Feds. So did the people give up and leave? Having been confronted with all the crap they did to enhance their prosperity, did they ultimately flee the town and try and start over? The guys who were reps of the mining company, Morg Allen and Dave Drake, are both deceased, but if the mine is still profitable the company will send more. And the miners will need some place they can get supplies readily, which is probably the whole reason the town is there in the first place (thank you, History of the American West!). So I could see new people moving in, to fill the vacancies left by those who can't stay.

I guess the person I'm really interested in is Mordecai, who I doubt was allowed to retain his titles of sheriff and mayor after The Stranger departed. He'd been throwing his weight around pretty good while Eastwood had his back, and given the kind of people that seem to live in this town, I don't doubt they'd amp up their cruelty towards him, just to repay him for that. So I'm really hoping he got out of Lago somehow, or at least kept that shiny revolver he had, so he could cap anyone who tried to give him trouble. Not like that fat lump of a sheriff would be able to do anything about it.

Sadly, I'll never know. So I guess it's up to my imagination! *tries real hard to imagine Mordecai in a better place* Shoot, I can't really think of a place in the 1870s that would treat him any better. *imagines Mordecai stowing away on Doc Brown's steam-driven train time machine* That's much better!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

It's So Obvious When I Think About

In my reviews of April 25 comics, I was surprised that Psylocke could use her telekinesis to make herself invisible. I'd never seen her do that before, so it caught me a little off-guard. At the time, I pretty much accepted Kelvin's reasoning behind the feat (because Claremont says so), but it was recently, quite out of the blue, I realized how it could be argued Psylocke makes it work.

Invisible Woman can do more than just make herself invisible. She can also project energy in various ways. As shields, platforms, bolts of force designed to injure an opponent, as a way to catch something, etc. In short, telekinesis. She's not as refined with it as the TKers on the X-teams, but that's probably because a) she doesn't think of her powers that way, and b) she's already pretty kickass as it is. Giving her even finer control over those powers would make her nigh-unstoppable. Psylocke's a telekinetic as well, she can do all those other things Sue can to certain extents, why couldn't she use telekinesis to make herself invisible as well?

So that's that. Another mystery solved! I'm always on duty!

Friday, May 18, 2007

A&W Root Beer Tastes Like Gum

Why is that? {I don't know. Maybe it's the vanilla, or the sugar or something. Or my sense of taste is messed up.} Oh. {You read Agents of Atlas?} Some of it. The big robot is kind of scary, and the guy with the bowl on his head sticks his stomach outside his body to eat. {Cool, huh?} It's kind of gross. I like the talking gorilla; he's funny. But why can't there be a talking panda. {Because part of the character's backstory is that he's tried to reverse being a gorilla, and if he were a panda he'd never want to be human again, so it wouldn't work as well.} That makes sense. {Really?} Yeah, let's talk about comics!

Applause, Bonk: Cable, gets applause for deciding he's going to save the world, but he gets a bonk for taking so long to do it, and for helping Wade cheat at strip poker. {Oh, come on, it was for a good cause!} No cheating!

Hug: Rogue. She looked like she was really badly beat up, and Cable thinks he might kill her by using her to save the world. Be careful!

Applause: Reed Richards, because he saved his world. {And the rest of the universe. Somehow.} Yeah, how did that work? {You're asking me? I don't know! Go find Claremont and ask him!} OK, I will! {Get back here! You haven't finished the post yet!}

Hug: Psylocke, because she got stabbed a bunch by Evil Wolverine. He looks really stupid when he wears green. {Yeah, he really does.} Still, Psylocke shouldn't have cried when she saw Slaymaster. Heroes aren't supposed to cry during fights. {She's had a rough couple days, cut her a little slack.} Well, I'm still gonna hug her, I just thought it was kind of wimpy to start crying.

Bonk: Sue Storm, for taking over the world, and planning to attack other universes. Is this Reed's fault? {Given how much Sue seems to hate him, I kind of think so, but I don't know what exactly he could have done to mess things up this badly.} Well, even if it is, Sue hurt him and kindapped their daughter, so it doesn't matter. Bonks for her.

Applause: Ultimate Dr. Strange. I want to learn magic! Then I can learn how to teleport, and see what people were doing in a room earlier and where they went, and it'll be cool! {Last week you wanted Danny Rand to teach you martial arts. This week it's magic. I think you're gonna have to pick one, at least to start.} Um, magic. No, martial arts! Can I have more time? {Sure, think about it while you finish the post.}

Hug: Peter Parker, because he's having a normal day. He's captured, teased, the Kingpin makes money off him, threatened his school, and tricked him into fighting Daredevil. {So yeah, pretty much an average day in his life. No hug for Moon Knight after that beating Fisk gave him?} No, he shot up a school! No hug!

Bonk: Kingpin, for being a big, mean, ugly, criminal jerkface. {My, such language.} He is, he should give Spider-Man his trademark rights. {What's Peter going to do with them? I'm not sure he can register without giving his actual name, and that wouldn't stay secret for long.} Then he should get Nick Fury to do it for him. {Yeah, owe Nick Fury favors, that's always the right way to go.}

Applause: Monet, for caring enough to keep pressure on Siryn's injury, and for being the only member of X-Factor that actually did any good in their fights.

Hug: Nicole, for having to spend time alone with Layla. That girl is creepy, and she shouldn't talk about electrocuting people around young children. {Well, Layla wanted to scare Nicole a little, and that's a pretty good way to do it, agreed?} Yeah, it was pretty scary. She could have turned off the lights, it would have been even spookier. {I think it was daytime.} Darn.

Bonk: Pietro. He was lying about letting Rictor leave. I saw all those ex-mutants on the other side of the door, they were gonna hurt Rictor! {Only if he tried to leave.} But he didn't, and now Pietro is gonna hurt him. {Maybe not, if Pietro can successfully pull off this conduit trick that he's, you know, never tried before. Yeah, Rictor's doomed.} See? I'm gonna Bonk Quicksilver silly! {Well, he's a time traveler, so you better be careful.} Fooey. I'll get him.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What's He So Worried About?

Hey, just because Cable/Deadpool didn't make me laugh doesn't mean it can't make me think. I've been trying to figure out why Cable is so concerned about getting his powers back. I thought the whole point of being able to tap into the Infonet, and using the gravimetric sheath was a way for him to replicate his lost powers, and that seemed like something he was very interested in accomplishing. Now he's actually getting his powers back, and he's worried it's going to bollix up everything he's worked for. Why?

Having his powers shouldn't change the message he's been trying to spread, that if people stop struggling against each other and work together, they can achieve great things. After all, he had his powers when he started that mission, and it was going pretty well when he had his technological substitutes, so I can't see how getting his powers back is going to jeopardize this.

Best guess, the techno abilities he came up with, as nifty as they were, were extremely limited in what they could do compared to his true telepathic/telekinetic potential. With those old power levels restored, Cable's worried he's going to stop trying to show people there's a better way, and start trying to force them down the path he wants. He's going to be inside too many people's heads, "hear" their suffering, and decide there's no more time to waste waiting for the world powers to believe in him. Which is pretty much the opposite of what he wants, but with the power at his fingertips, it may be too tempting an opportunity to pass up.

Other thought: Cable doesn't want his powers back, because he thinks he's being manipulated right now. This is something he mentions himself in the issue, that it feels like his rejoining the X-Men was orchestrated so he'd have to regain his powers. Which seems a bit meta-textual; maybe Cable's picked up some of Wade's fourth-wall awareness? The question then becomes, who would want Cable to go back to being possibly the most powerful mutant on Earth? Possibly someone who wants people more scared of mutants again, in the hopes it could. . . cause. . . strife? Oh crap, they better not be bringing back Stryfe. Don't do it Marvel. No more clones! Ever!

Back on topic. So I'm thinking Cable is scared that having his powers back will make him much more forceful, less sneaky than he was being previously, which is gonna make his big plans go up in smoke. Personally, you'd think his awareness of these fears would defuse that problem, especially since he seems to think that it's going to cost him Domino somehow. I'm guessing that goes back to when Cable told Wade that Domino doesn't trust Cable because he's screwed up everything he's ever tried to do. But again, I'd think Domino would work to help keep Nate grounded, seeing as I don't think she actually wants to "lose" him, anymore than he wants to lose her. Come on Aksani-Son, believe in the power of love! Hmm, I've used that line before. Well, it's still a good line so to hell with it.

Anyway, it just seems to me that Cable needs to trust in the people who care about him to keep him grounded, to believe that they'll keep him from going too far, which shouldn't be that hard, seeing as his whole "messiah" shtick is predicated on the ideas that people can change and help each other. So forget the power of love, Cable just needs to believe in the inherent goodness of the human spirit! Hmm, this could be harder for him than I thought.

Those are my thoughts; what are yours? And is anyone else annoyed by this "autosaving" feature? It's just bugging the hell out of me for some reason. . .

Edit, 8:35 p.m.: I also updated the template layout, in case you're wondering why the blog looks a little different. I wouldn't have bothered, but this way you can actually get all the posts for a particular label, instead of just the 20 most recent, so that's something at least.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What I Bought 5/16/07

It's the good week that comes before the bad week, except it wasn't really a great week, you know? None of the books were what I'd call excellent, and two left me disappointed, truth be told. And as long as we're telling truths, I should tell you I might spoil things for you, if you aren't careful.

Cable/Deadpool #40 - Man, Cable is huge on that cover. Even Liefeld didn't give him pecs that big. Cable gets his name back in the title because he actually bothered to show up this issue. Perhaps not coincidentally it's my least favorite issue in awhile. I don't know that this is due to Cable, so much as to the fact I feel like I'm missing big chunks of the story because I don't read X-Men. I know the basics of what's going on in that title, but I fail to understand how Rogue is supposed to help Cable save the day (or is it vice versa?), and Deadpool spends the entire issue playing strip poker with the Agency X crew. Perhaps most distressingly, I didn't laugh once. The book can be serious; that's fine, but give me one good chuckle an issue!

I am interested to see how things change for Cable if the return of his powers is something that sticks around, since he seems to feel it'll be a disaster for his hopes and dreams. I'm just concerned all that is going to play out in a title I don't buy. 2.2 out of 5.

Exiles #94 - Claremont's first arc wraps up, and well, I don't know what happened. I get the parts about how the people reappeared on the Earth of reality 1720, but I don't get why the universe seemed to be destroyed, only to not be. Reed spun some half-assed thing about hacking the Exiles comm-link, but I don't get what that accomplished, unless he's saying he used that as a way to hack the device that would destroy the reality. Grr, I hate confusion at the end of a story arc; that's when the confusion is supposed to end!
As for the majority of the issue, it's the good guys trying to turn the tide, Psylocke nearly dying (again), after she breaks into tears at the sight of Slaymaster (where's that X-Spirit?), and Sue Storm pretty much kicking everybody's ass. That's when she pushes a little red button - and things stop making sense. Hmm, I should probably say something nice about this issue. I like that on the cover, Pelletier draws Slaymaster with crow's feet. It's a little thing, but I like it. Sadly, the same can't be said for the arc, and I'm left contemplating dropping the book. 1.6 out of 5. Well, I did need to clear some more space on the pull list before Annihilation:Conquest . . .

Ultimate Spider-Man #109 - Bendis seems to be really trying to make Spidey's enemies into evil masterminds. First Doc Ock, now Kingpin. The issue begins with Peter waking up - unmasked, naturally - and face to face with Fisk, who feels the need to gloat because he knows where to find Spider-Man now. He's wisely avoided trying to fingerprint Peter, thus avoiding the fate that befell Silver Sable. Fisk also gloats about owning the rights to the Spider-Man trademark, and all the cash it brings him. Then he beats the crap out of Ronin/Moon Knight. Beats him up old school (whatever that means). After Ronin's "shoot up the school" move last issue, this is a move I whole-heartedly endorse.

Anyway, Kingpin decides to have a little more fun, telling Peter that he is behind the "Ultimate Knights" whole attempt to bring him down. He just wanted to mess with the good guys. This leads to misunderstanding punching between the Knights, and a very angry Daredevil by the end of the issue. Hmm, I've probably blown too much of the issue for you. Sorry. Bagley draws Fisk as appropriately menacing and huge (and ripped). The second to last panel of page 9, Fisk's eye's seem almost completely black, it makes him look demonic, and it's a little scary. I like that. The last panel of the issue, with Daredevil looking enraged? Hoo yeah, that was nice too.

I also like Dr. Strange's idea of "meditating", and the fact that Fisk says one day Spidey will make the monumentally stupid mistake of outing his secret identity to the whole world (hee-hee). Technically, there's already about 150 people who know who he is, so I'm amazed one of them hasn't let it slip already (or leaked it for big money). Maybe they can't believe it. I gotta admit, I like Bendis' Ultimate Kingpin; he's very hands-on when he takes a notion, which is a quality I like in Kingpins. 4.1 out of 5.

X-Factor #19 - In this issue, various members of X-Factor fight various depowered members of the X-Cell. On the whole, X-Factor loses. Way to be, gang. Oh, and I was wrong about who Pietro would target as the conduit for his power. I figured Madrox dupe, because what seemed the obvious answer, also seemed too obvious, you know? Well, unless David pulls the rug out from under me, the obvious answer wasn't too obvious after all.

And there was a Three Stooges reference! Woo-hoo! More 3 Stooges references! It was a scene made even better by Monet not understanding what it was supposed to mean. Or maybe she was just pretending not to get it, so she could insult the person making it. With her, either one is possible. In other news, Jamie's fear over his dupes is causing him to make dumb decisions, and making him hold back too much, Guido is concerned about Rahne, and Layla tries to freak out Illegal French Orphan Girl (aka Nicole). And Pietro's a smarmy punk. But you knew that already. 3.3 out of 5.

I'm done. Now, it's time to buy groceries! Away!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Silly, Stupid, Simple Question

Wolverine's claws (with adamantium, natch).

Black Knight's Ebony Blade.

One's usually described as "unbreakable", the other as "invincible".

If the two were to be brought together, bladed edge to bladed edge, which one is cut? Is either? Are both?

Sorry, but I needed to do a quick post before the thunderstorm moves in.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Oh, Pink Ball Of Inhalation

The universe is where it is, but I don't know where it is, so maybe it's nowhere at all? Sorry, that had just been running circles in my brain, so maybe now it'll stop. It's Monday, which means video games. Today I'm going way back, to the good old NES, to talk about my favorite game from that console.

Funny thing about me and the NES, I skipped out on most of the classic franchises: Metroid, Zelda, Castlevania, didn't own any of their games. Don't know why exactly, I rented a couple of them, but they never struck me as worthwhile. But Kirby's Adventure? Now that I had to own, and play, again, and again, and again.

Plot-wise, Kirby's Adventure isn't anything new. Our lone hero sets out on a quest to save his people by returning a sacred item to it's proper place. I suppose the catch was the hero being a pudgy pink ball, who wanted to return the Star Rod to its proper place because no one was having any dreams when they slept, a problem first noticed during the 'after-lunch feast nap'. I wish I could have after lunch feast naps. It's the like the stereotypical fat, hairy guy going on a quest to return a missing piece of a satellite dish, because otherwise how can he and his friends watch football (provided the guy had undertaken a similar quest once before to, I don't know, find the missing cheese for his buddies' nachos)? There's an element of heroism in it, taking on this dangerous mission alone, but it's tempered by the fact that Kirby takes the quest so he can ultimately resume his, shall we say, restful existence.

I think the intriguing part was the fact that Kirby had such a range of abilities, limited only by the enemies he faced. For those who don't know, Kirby's only real power is that he can sharply inhale, swallowing enemies, and adopting their powers. So it's like Absorbing Man meets Matter-Eater Lad, or something. So he could shoot lasers, breathe fire, turn into a wheel (more useful than you think), explodey powers, even, on rare occasions zip around in a UFO that had a couple of different weapons. If you happened to swallow two different types of enemies, you'd get a random power.

Throughout the game there were mini-games you could play (or not). I liked the quick draw game, though I could rarely make it the whole way through. Also, within the different stages of each level, there were secret areas that if found, could unlock more of those mini-games, or in some cases the Museum (basically, a place where you could run in and absorb one of a couple of enemies to get a power you liked better than what you had). None of that was necessary to the game, but it did count towards the percentage of the game you'd completed, as well as being a diversion from the standard play within the levels. I think I got to 98% once, but I could never figure out where the secret area I was missing was.

The most interesting boss of the game, to me anyway, was a knight that would pop up every so often. You'd enter an area, there he was. He'd do a flashy move with his cape, point his sword at you and. . . leave, forcing you to fight his minions, who used maces, slicy boomerang things, and electrified tridents(!). Worst part, you couldn't get any powers from swallowing those losers. Lame. You do finally get to take Sword Boy on in Level 6 (there's 7 levels), and it's not easy. You've got to try and match him, sword to sword, and he's got a few more moves than you do. Of course if you beat him, you're treated to the end of the level Kirby dance (Kirby always dances after beating the level boss. Why he splits into three Kirbys to do it I don't know).

Through the wonders of emulators and roms (shh, don't tell any authority figures!), I've gotten to play it some the last couple years, since one of the other grad assistants decided to download them onto one of the computers in our shared office. It's still a lot of fun after all these years, though I really don't like trying to use a keyboard. I just can't get the same level of touch on my moves, you know? How do computer people do it? Besides buying a controller, I mean.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Allowing For Growth

First off, thanks to all the commenters from yesterday's post. I think that's a new record for comments for this blog. Hurray!

Seeing as it's Mother's Day, I suppose it's appropriate to do a post about moms. Last year I talked about one Mary Jane Watson-Parker, and since I was pleased with her parenting in this week's Amazing Spider-Girl, by gum, I might as well discuss her again.

Mary Jane's had an interesting character arc since the end of the last series, up to now. It was her concern over her family that got Peter to finally(!) hang up the webs (until the next time he thinks May needs help, anyway), and May as well. But as concerned as MJ has been over May's safety, that didn't stop her from giving May the costume so she could go protect her friends in Amazing Spider-Girl #2. Despite her worries about her daughter's safety, MJ is proud of her daughter for saving lives, and encouraged it - that time.

Of course, Mary Jane thought that would be an one time deal, while May has continued to throw the costume on and fight crime and save her friends. And when she found out, that scared MJ, and so she's been distant with May the last few issues. She knows Hobgoblin is still out there, and she really doesn't want May running into him. But even at that time, with MJ and Peter having both expressed disappointment that May was out doing the Spider-Girl thing behind their backs, I think they knew May wasn't going to quit the costumed hero work. That's why there's been distance; MJ has been trying to come to grips with that, and she's needed time to work through it. The abrupt emergence of Sara Hingle's mutant powers just gave her an extra push.

It's made Mary Jane realize that children are going to grow and change, and it won't always be something the child chooses, but even if it is, the best thing the parents can do is be supportive of them. And that's what MJ's realized. May was going out there as Spider-Girl against her parents' wishes, so it's obvious how seriously May takes it. Given that, Mary Jane wants May to give it her all, and not be held back by because she's worried about lying to her parents, which are the same doubts Mayday's been having for the last several issues (Lovely how that works out, isn't it?).

It's been an interesting arc, from my standpoint. MJ went from allowing her fear of May being hurt controlling her decisions (not that it isn't reasonable given Mayday's profession), to deciding the best option is to fully support May's decision.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Friendship, Law, Vengeance, Emotions

In Tuesday's post about whether the Marvel braintrust is serious when they tell fans Iron Man's side was right, commenters Earl Allison and Laura both mentioned that Quesada might well be serious because it's meant to be like 24, which teaches us to break the rules to make things right sometimes. I don't watch 24, but I do watch The Shield and enjoy Dirty Harry, so I have to admit that I will root for someone doing bad things for supposedly good reasons. So why can't I (and other fans, though certainly not all) root for Tony Stark?

I think it's because, as was also discussed in the comments to that post, Stark is screwing over characters we like in the interests of the 'betterment of mankind', as he described it in Nova #2. In those other scenarios, be it Jack Bauer shooting someone, Vic Mackey pressing a guy's face on a burning stove, or Harry Callahan ignoring constitutional rights of suspects, the primary thing we know about the person being hurt is that they're a scumbag. We aren't meant to empathize with them, and that we aren't meant to be troubled by the character we root for performing these unpleasant acts (I don't think we're meant to be troubled).

I don't know about you, but I often respect fictional characters that undergo hardship to protect their friends. Even if the character being protected is garbage, I can appreciate that this other character doesn't see them that way, and so they defend them. I've done it on occasion myself, taking the rap for things a friend did, because I didn't think my parents were all that fond of him, and so I figured it'd be easier if I took the heat instead. As swell as it is to have laws to try and maintain order (to the extent the law, and not human restraint, does that), I like the fact that there can be bonds that transcend the law. The seeming lack of those bonds, the sense that no one cared much cared anyone else, so they'd sell each other out at the drop of a hat, was one of the most depressing aspects of reading 1984, for me, personally. It just seems like such an awful way to go through life.

But it's the way Iron Man and his cronies went during Civil War. They'd rolled over for the law, poo-pooed any concerns others had, and threw dissenters that they'd known for years in the clink. Friendship was secondary to obeying the law, there wasn't going to be any looking the other direction for old times' sake. And maybe there shouldn't be. I appreciate that at times, Iron Man tried to talk with Captain America (though luring him into a trap the first time wasn't a good way to start), and that since Cap was resolute, maybe Iron Man felt he was out of options (but shouldn't a futurist, who sat down with his buddies and came up with 100 ideas to improve the world, be able to come up with an alternative to the whole registration thing?). Maybe having all the superhumans trained and under government regulation is for the best. But pushing it through by stepping all over his friends is not going to make Tony Stark a character I want to see experience success. For me at least, it isn't the mark of an admirable character. Of course, Sally Floyd applauded him for the same actions I despise, but I think Ms. Floyd is a twit, so who cares what she applauds? She's no Adorable Baby Panda!

Just for the sake of comparison, let's look at the current storyline in Amazing Spider-Man. Peter is out to get Wilson Fisk because he ordered the hit which has left Aunt May in a coma (again). He's breaking all sorts of laws with his breaking of limbs, webbing of police officers, chucking people out windows. I'm not really eager for Vengeful Spidey stories, but I can understand the character's reasons. A loved one was hurt for no good reason by an evil person, and he's looking to get payback. It's not noble, certainly illegal, but it's done because someone he cared about was hurt, so it's more understandable to me. There's emotion behind it, whereas Tony, Reed, and Hank's actions have seemed coldly logical, an attempt to ignore the human aspect.

Hopefully that made sense. It was just a bunch of stuff I wanted to say. Type. Whatever.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Four Syllable Sound Effect!

{I'm guessing you read those Simonson Thors?} Yup! {And?} They were neat! Thor was cool when that big dragon swallowed him and then Thor smashed its teeth with his hammer, and Sif fought trolls, and punched bad people, and Loki's head got cut off, and then he picked it up and put it back on! And Thor beat up rats as a frog! Did he ever get turned into a panda? {No, I think Thor as a panda would have been too much for humans to handle. Marvel's entire fanbase would have died from exposure to that level of magnificence.} Oh, okay. Maybe someday. {Want to talk about this week's comics?} Yeah!

Applause - "Mayday" Parker, because she worried more about Sara than her secret identity, and now Sara has someone who can help her adjust. And I think all of May's friends will help out too, because they all seemed worried about Sara. {Except Gene Thompson. He was more worried about him self.}

Hug - Sara Hingle. I haven't been to school yet, so I've never been teased or called a freak, so I don't know what that's like, but it couldn't have felt good. So here's a hug to cheer you up, and remember that you've got your parents and May to help you.

Bonk - Duane Hingle. You're her dad, you should be worried about how she feels, not what people are saying about you. She's still your daughter, if she has powers or not. Why do people do that? {Sometimes we're scared, selfish creatures. Just not something we've moved past yet.}

Applause - Spider-Man. You found the person who shot Aunt May, and he won't ever shoot anyone again. And you know who sent him now. So now you can go get him. {Are you advocating lethal force?} The Kingpin attacked Spidey's family! That's not the way you attack your enemies! But no, I don't think Spidey should kill Kingpin. Just beat him up a little. {Good, you're too young to be taking the Punisher route.} Is that what the Punisher does? Is that why you don't let me read the comic? {Yes.}

Bonk - Spider-Man. That was really risking of you attacking Aunt May's shooter in the middle of a train station like that. There were innocent people all over the place, and he had a gun! He didn't hit you, but what if he hit some other person! Couldn't you have been a little more careful? {I'm with ABP on this. Didn't that Sin-Eater story teach you that ordinary people don't dodge bullets as easily as you?}

Applause - Iron Fist. Can you teach me the Golden Star Gouge? And the Burning Dove Chop? I can teach you the, um, Flying Panda Splash! {There's no such attack!} Is too! {Well then, you don't know it yet!} I could learn! I want to know more fighting styles! {You lack focus!}

Hug - Luke Cage, Colleen Wing, Misty Knight. Misty and Colleen are registered and Luke isn't, right? {Correct.} But when somebody from Danny' company needs help, they still teamed up. {Looks like.} I think that's swell. Politics shouldn't get in the way of friendship. {I am in total agreement with that statement.}

Bonk - Orson Randall. All the trouble Danny is in, with Davos, and HYDRA, and the "immortal weapons", and his company being forced to build a railway in China through blackmail, it's all because Orson wouldn't fight, then when he decided to fight, he killed someone and ran off? {Well, I'm not sure that's connected to the railway thing yet, but the Davos and immortal weapons things are related.} Well then, he deserves this bonk, because he got Danny in a lot trouble, because of personal issues. {Trench warfare changes a man, at least, that's what movies, books, and television have taught me.} Hmph.

Applause - Nova. He didn't back down around Iron Man, and he didn't do anything rash. He didn't start fighting when SHIELD showed up at his parents' house, and he wanted time to think about joining the Initiative. So he's being a grown-up about stuff. {Yup.} You don't think he'll join the Intiative do you? {No. The universe needs the Nova Force a lot more than Earth.}

Hug - Penance. That's Speedball right? {Uh-huh.} He was a happy character once? {I remember him that way.} Well, it makes me sad to see him dressed like. Maybe if I hug him, he'll be happy again. {I'm not sure that's a good idea.} Why not? Don't you want him to be happy again? {Yes, but your hug might hurt him, and trigger his powers. Plus, he has crazy teammates. They might think you're attacking and blast you.} Blast me? {Hey, most of the Thunderbolts are crazy, evil people, I wouldn't put it past them.}

Bonk - Charles Rider. You're worse than Duane Hingle! You haven't seen your son in months, he just found out some of his friends died, and you said mean things about him! Why aren't you being more understanding? Shouldn't you be happy that he's back and mostly okay!? {Don't worry ABP, not all dads in the Marvel U. are bad.} Who isn't? {Uh, Scott Lang really cared about his daughter. Of course, he's dead now, stupid Bendis. Norman Osborn actually used to be a concerned father.} Really? {Sometimes.}

{So, that take care of everything?} Yeah, there were some pretty cool people this week. {That's good. Your next reading assignment is this Agents of Atlas hardcover. Enjoy.}

Thursday, May 10, 2007

It's Those Little Things

It's the little things that can bring joy or annoyance so easily. Because I want the blog to be upbeat we'll start with the annoyance, so that we can end with the joy.

Nova #2: It isn't that Nova didn't beat up Iron Man. I get that. Rich is older, more seasoned. He's seen war in a way, on a scale, I don't believe Stark ever has (I don't think Tony was only the front lines during Operation Galactic Storm the way Nova was during Annihilation), and so I'd imagine violence isn't something he'd engage in casually anymore. It's reserved for when there's a suitable reason. And Stark hasn't really given Rich a reason to fight him... yet.

No, my annoyance was with Nova's scar, or lack thereof. For those who don't know, Nova sported a sizable scar on the right side of his face, from a vicious backhand Annihilus gave him on their first go-round* [Annihilation: Nova #4]. It was a persistent feature throughout Annihilation. So far, there's been no visual evidence of it in Nova. Now that by itself is OK; in the first battle of Annihilation #1, Nova lost a leg, and we're told that the limb was regrown after the battle. So I could certainly see Rich taking a little time (prior to the start of his series) to get the scar fixed too. Except that Justice directly mentions the scar during their chat, alluding to what it signifies about the changes Nova's gone through. Except there's no sign of this scar Vance speaks of. And it's just a little thing that bugs me, which bothers me, because I've been enjoying Sean Chen's art on Nova very much so far thank you, and I think Chen could draw a very nice scar. He just hasn't up to this point.

Now to the joy.

Amazing Spider-Girl #8: A little of the joy is that it's a self-contained story. A single issue with beginning, middle, end, that still leaves possibilities for the future. Most of the joy though, is from Sara's parents discussing what they should do when she's let out of medical care. The choices were to let her go back to Midtown High, or send her to one of those schools for genetically gifted children. The father says it in slightly less happy terms than me, but that's still the part I liked, because he talks about 'one of those' schools. Meaning there's more than one. Kids that develop powers don't just have Xavier's as their only choice of where to go to hopefully be accepted more than they might be in your standard high school.

To me, that says that in the MC2 Universe, human-mutant relations have improved to the point that there are now multiple schools for kids with special powers, and they openly advertise this. Xavier tried to keep that fact about his school hidden for a long time (up until Morrison's run, correct?), because he feared bigoted responses. That's why it seemed like a lot of their students were ones Xavier sensed with Cerebro, then sent the team out to keep from harm (or keep from causing harm), until he could convince the parents to transfer the child to the Xavier Institute. That line, mostly meant to depict a father letting fear for himself override concern for his daughter, suggests that isn't a concern in that time. Or at least not as much of a problem. Ther are always gonna be bigots (I think Gene Thompson is one, and May's old off-and-on boyfriend, Brad, was as well), but by and large, people have grown less fearful and more understanding. I just really like that. It feels like a counterpoint to the current social climate of the 616 universe.

One thing I didn't like was the person in the letters page asking if we'd ever see May don Spider-Armor ala her father's look during his days as Stark's lapdog. Oh please no. However, if they do wind up doing this for some reason, go with armor that Peter constructed for himself (Web of Spider-Man #100). It's not as fancy as the Starktech, but it's at least Parker designed.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

What I Bought 5/9/07

Big week in terms of numbers, not so big in terms of knock your socks off comics. Lot of books that just felt average. Maybe it's me.
Amazing Spider-Man - This is the Free Comic Book Day offering, because Ken was nice enough to hold a copy for me. So what did I think? It was OK. Slott did a good job laying out the basics of the Spider-Man character: loves his aunt, but has a hard time being there because of Spider-Man, disliked by the public and cops, tells jokes, saves the day. The villain (a Spidey fan himself) is there to give us the opportunity to see these character traits in action, and that's pretty much it. So that's pretty much it. I didn't laugh (did chuckle at the Spidey dashboard ornaments), but get real charged up by it, but it wasn't bad or anything. So let's give it a safe 3.0 out of 5.

Amazing Spider-Girl #8 - Man, MJ's pupils are really big in that cover. Reminds me of Jericho, when he does body-possessing thing. The issue is told from Mary Jane's perspective, and it's essentially how troubles for a classmate of May's force MJ to deal with her own problems with the whole Spider-Girl thing.

Seems a student (Sara Hingle) has just manifested their mutant powers right in the middle of class. This leads to considerable student panic, though May stayed calm and tried to help her. MJ ends up doing the same for Sara's parents, though the father is very angry at his daughter for being a freak. His lack of the unconditional support MJ feels a child deserves from their parents, makes MJ question her own decisions to try and block May from being Spider-Girl. Anyway, May promises to help Sara through her problems (after showing Sara she's not alone in the super-powers departmen), and Mary Jane tries to talk some sense into Sara' dad. It'll be interesting to see whether this gets revisited down the line. I'd like to know whether MJ's words had an effect, and if Sara comes back to Midtown High, whether she faces difficulties fitting in. 3.4 out of 5.

Amazing Spider-Man #540 - I really shouldn't have bought this. It was delayed (six weeks since #539), and I ought to be smart enough to stay away from Dark and Angry Spidey. Yet, here I am. Is this issue bad? Not really. Aunt May is in a coma, and since Peter can't do anything on that end (call Dr. Strange?), he'll deal with the person who caused the whole thing (which techincally, should be him, for being dumb enough to publically unmask in the first place, but I really wouldn't enjoy Peter beating the tar out of himself for 22 pages).

He's very methodical about it. Last issue, he got a list of potential gun dealers. This issue, he goes through them until he finds the one he wants, going so far as to use the Batman "drop the guy from a building then catch him to scare him" tactic. That gives him the killer's name. By the end of issue, the killer's received a form of justice, and Peter knows who sent him in the first place. I don't really know how to grade this. If I go low score, it may be because I don't like Arm-Breaking Spider-Man, and I'm not judging the book by its own merits. If I go high, I may be compensating for that same issue. I will say, I wish I wasn't enjoying watching Spidey be dark with these guys as much as I am. Let's say 3.0 out of 5 again.

The nicest thing was to see there's still a few people in the Marvel Universe that like Spidey, and don't have an immediate "It's an unregistered superhuman! Call SHIELD!" reaction. Gives me hope that maybe it wouldn't be best for all the average Joes in the 616 to bite the dust.

Immortal Iron Fist #5 - What to say about this issue? Well, we found out with Davos is after the Iron Fists. Not surpisingly, it's all Orson Randall's fault. He punched the wrong person with the Iron Fist, then took a magic book and ran away. This means that six other 'immortal weapons' will be coming after Danny soon, because of what Orson did, or because they have to fight some tournament, I'm not sure. Either way, it looks like Davos gets the first crack at him. Well, better the devil you know, right? Hey, they used that phrase in the comic! Wow, freaky.

In other news, Hogarth has gotten Luke, Misty and Colleen to try and get his mother back from the HYDRA folks forcing him to to build the railway through China. You know, I still can't figure out what HYDRA is gaining from working with Davos. I don't suppose it matters, as HYDRA will certainly screw up whatever it is they receive. Not great, not bad, I'm thinking next month is going to kick some pretty serious ass (and result in Orson Randall's death), so 3.7 out of 5.

Nova #2 - Let's settle this first: If you were planning to pick this up 'cause you thought Nova would pummel Iron Man, forget it. They have a generally pleasant talk, certainly nicer than any interactions Richard had with his dad this issue. Man, that guy is a complete prick. Is he happy to see his son's alive? Noooooo, he just want to rip on the New Warriors for the whole Stamford thing, and rag on his own son for being off 'playing hero' in space.

Back to the Nova/Stark meeting. No, they don't fight, but when Stark says they heard vague reports from Shi'ar (read: Uncanny X-Men) about it, and interpreted it as a 'Kree border skirmish', Richard sets him straight on which one of them has been dealing with real trouble. The Rich's best line is in response to Tony's question about what happened to Annihilus: 'I pulled him inside out and saved the universe. What have you done lately, Tony?' I loved that. Stark then decides to ask Rich to register and join the Initiative. I would support this only on the grounds that Rich kill Gauntlet the first time he bad-mouths the New Warriors in Nova's presence.

From there, Rich talks with good friend turned Intiative shill Justice, has a less than Hallmark moment with his dad, and gets attacked by an old enemy, who Rich deals with in about three seconds. Cue Thunderbolts arrival. Less, Iron Man punching than I'd have liked, but the digs at Stark were nice. 3.8 out of 5.
Oh, and I bought the Agents of Atlas hardcover today, too. Just haven't set down to read through it yet.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I Don't Know Who's Being Clever Here

I've been thinking about Marvel in the aftermath of Civil War, and the dichotomy between what we're being told, and what we're seeing. Quesada and Millar insist Iron Man's side was right, and Cap was wrong, but we see all this... morally questionable stuff the Pro-Reg side did to help their plans come to fruition.

Sometimes Iron Man looks like a hero (hooray!), like when he saved those hostages in Australia in his book. Other times he's lying about Cap being alive to trap his old friends, because 'it's the law'. Then he looks the other way while Warbird helps reunite Julia Carpenter with her daughter, even though Julia had lost custody, thus breaking the law.

The Initiative is supposed to be training inexperienced supers, but then decide to take away those powers (if they can, see that girl from the first issue of The Initiative) if the kids screw up a training exercise. All this while some former Nazi Scientist (or at least stereotypically evil-looking old German scientist) looks on, standing next to the poster boy for Government Jerkwards, Gyrich. Not to mention the absurdity of giving Norman Osborn a government position and control of a super-team.

Marvel is telling us one thing, but showing us quite another. So I'm wondering whether you think that's by design, or whether the guys writing these stories that seem to run counter to the company line are playing at being subversives.

I really wouldn't put it past Joe Quesada to stand there and tell us all one thing, while actually going a different direction with the books, but Millar seemed pretty insistent that Stark's side was "right". Of course, I base that on excerpts of comments he's made, that I've read on the Internet, where I can't read facial expressions, tone, or body language, so he could be joking around too, and I'd have no clue.

The other possibility is guys like Warren Ellis and Dan Slott are being told to write these books; they don't particularly care for the particulars of the assignment (Pro-Reg is right, Cap and his people just didn't get it), and so they're pitching things as part of the story on the grounds that they're "cool" and "edgy" (like that girl, Armory?, having her high-tech arm thing forcibly taken away for accidentally killing one of the other recruits), but really it's intended to undermine what the honchos have been saying.

I have to admit, the subversive idea sounds kind of nifty, but I think I'd prefer if Quesada were messing with us, saying things he doesn't believe, and that aren't true, just to rile us up.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Life As A Backshooter

"Backshooter" was the term my father had for me whenever I could convince him to play Goldeneye with me on the Nintendo 64. Man, I loved my N64. I had 20 games for it, and only two were completely disappointing - Mortal Kombat 4 and Earthworm Jim 3-D (I may have to do a post on how sad Earthworm Jim 3-D made me some day). As a gamer, I pretty much skipped the Super Nintendo/Sega Genesis era, and went straight to this from the original NES (not counting my Sega Game Gear, which I also loved). The controller was freaky the first time I saw it, but I figured it out pretty quick, and so did my dad for that matter (his problem was he couldn't remember which button did which, not where they were placed).

So back to Goldeneye. I was maybe an average player. I could get through most of the levels on Secret Agent (Medium), but 00Agent (Hard) was apparently beyond my abilities. But that was fine, because I loved it for the multiplayer. Fighting it out with my friends was my favorite thing about the game (and a lot of the charm of the N64 for me). Actually convincing my dad to play was a challenge, much more so than actually defeating him. Before you start ragging on me, I should point out that we always used the same battleground, same weapons, and I would guide him to weapons and body armor before attacking, just to give him a chance. Considering all that, I don't think it's such a horrible thing that I was an opportunist. I was playing as the bad guy, so obviously I'm supposed to play dirty. Sneaking up on him, shooting him in the back a few times, then fleeing and counting on him to get lost trying to chase me worked, so why change? Plus, his grumbling about me being "a dirty backshooter" was hilarious.

- Dad's finest Goldeneye moment would have to be when he chased me into a room with some sort of mechanism in the middle of it. I ran to the other side, but he still had a clear shot, so he opened fire. And missed. And kept missing. I started laughing and having my character run back-and-forth, while I started humming like Curly would right before he'd do something stupid. Eventually Dad got fed up, put away the gun, screamed "Banzai!" and ran around the mechanism to start karate-chopping me, making various "yahh!" noises as he did. Flustered, I beat a hasty retreat out of the room, then turned and gunned him down as he pursued.

- At a party once, I was playing against friends Jesse and Erik. Erik was pretty good, but not up to my level. Recognizing that, Erik decided to avoid me and just hound Jesse, who had never played before. So Erik won a few games by racking up easy kills. That was frustrating, but to be fair, I would have done it too, if I'd had the chance.

- The next year, we convinced Jesse (who had borrowed the game for 2 weeks to train) to play my Dad in a Battle Of The Horrible Goldeneye Players. First to five kills wins. Dad was up, 4-3, but in front of a capacity crowd of 3, Jesse staged a furious comeback to win, 5-4. Absolutely stunning. I can't believe none of us remembered to have a CD with "We Are The Champions" ready to play. I just had this thought: Did my dad throw the game, knowing the ribbing Jesse was gonna take from us? Or was he just that bad? I'll have to ask him.

- That year, we were having four manBattle Royales, and everyone managed to win at least once, even Jesse. We were all opportunists that night. Let somebody else die trying to take out someone, then swoop in a get the points yourself. Then get pounced on seconds later. Later on, I took on John (who could beat the game on 00Agent) one-on-one, and he trounced me. The danger of facing superior opponents, I guess.

- My most frequent opponent was my best buddy Alex. He was occasionally a decent challenge, but cursed with a short attention span. You never use mines with him. He'd ring the room he was in with motion sensor mines, then forget and try to leave, only to blow himself up. How am I supposed to kill him if he does that 11 times in one game?

- Friend Papafred didn't really get the big deal about Goldeneye. He played computer games, and Goldeneye apparently looked like crap compared to whatever version of Quake was out at that time. Heck, you couldn't even jump in Goldeneye! Well, to that I say this (with apologies to Homer Simpson): "Jumping is for jerks and lesbians." *ducks bricks* I'm sure he's right about the graphics and level of gameplay, but for me, Goldeneye was light years ahead of anything I'd had before. Heck, if I had my N64 and Alex here, I'd challenge him right now. But he'd probably rather play Crimson Skies on the Xbox. He owns me on that game now.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Only Time I'll Discuss The Multiverse

Well, probably not, but it's a better title than "The First Of What Will Probably Be Several Posts About The Multiverse, Appearing Whenever It Does Something That Catches My Attention". I mean, that's just too wordy.

So DC's Multiverse is back. Being a Marvel reader of the last several years, and having some experience with '60s DC (I really enjoyed my dad's copy of the team-up of the two Atoms. Of course, Ray Palmer is pretty much the only '60s DC super-hero I actually like), I'm OK with that. I can't say I understood how a giant bug helped this come to be, but I get the basic Multiverse concept. I would have preferred completely scattering the heroes through out the universes, rather than having one Earth that seems to have some version of everybody, and then a bunch of others that have only got some of the heroes. That way it spreads them a little thinner, gets everybody more face time (In theory. In reality, the universes that don't do well either get swiftly ignored, or get inundated with characters that will boost sales). But then DC couldn't have their big JLA/JSA crossover as readily, and we wouldn't want to miss that would we? Well, I could live without it, but some of you might not be able to.

But really, DC can do one thing that would cement a fond place for the multiverse in my heart (because that should be their biggest concern, making me, specifically, love their ideas). It's not a hard thing to do. Just show me one universe where Cassandra Cain is still on the good guys side. No anti-hero, Punisher stuff. No "kill villains and anyone who tries to stop me" stuff. I include both because I don't think DC knows which one they're going with so far on Primary-Earth (I'm pretty sure Adam Beechen prefers "dead" or "punching bag", but he wrote a comic that featured Space Cabbie, so he's evil and should be ignored). Cass as a full-fledged hero. Really, that's all it would take to sell me completely on the return of the Multiverse. She can be Batgirl, Kasumi, Cassandra Cain, Kick-Ass Girl, Kick-Ass Boy, whatever. Just one universe where she's accepted by the white hats, rather than hunted by them.

I don't think that's an unreasonable request. It might placate the fans that have been screaming bloody murder the last year (as opposed to those of us settled into relatively quiet depression), and I'd buy the comic featuring it, which should make everybody happy. You've got a system in place where Winick and Jeff Smith's Captain Marvels are equally valid (nice work on that, by the way), I figure there has to be someone who works for you that wants to do something with a heroic version of Cassandra. Find them, pick an Earth, and let them run with it.

Please? Pretty please? What if Adorable Baby Panda asked you to? ABP hasn't gotten to read current works with non-bloodthirsty Cass yet, and would very much like to. Come on, make the panda smile. You know you want to.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Exclusionary Tactics?

So here's what I'm thinking about today. At lot of the people who work for the Big Two American comic companies are locked into exclusive deals, or if they aren't locked in contractually, are choosing to only work for one company right now. What I want to know is whether you think this is a good thing or not.

On the one hand, it could be argued the exclusive contracts are a sign of heightened competition between the two, and that should lead to better results. In biology, competition usually leads to the elimination of the weaker members, or - when considering multiple species - to the species divvying up the resources in manner most advantageous to them. So you could argue that Marvel has the capes sect locked down (they don't really, despite their recent sales advantage, this is just for sake of argument), but DC has made more advances into other areas, with the Minx line, Vertigo, Jonah Hex, and so on, thus they have the sales edge there. I don't know whether that's an accurate assessment or not (I doubt it), but it was a thought.

There's also the possibility that creators are willing to sign exclusive contracts because it gives them the opportunity to write the characters and stories they really want. Creators are people like us, and just as some of us have distinct preferences for one set of characters or the other, it stands to reason they would as well. And of course I'd be remiss if I didn't theorize that exclusive contracts probably pay better, to provide added encouragement to sign on the dotted line. I don't have any actual evidence of that, but it would seem to make sense.

On the negative side, I wonder if the companies don't overtax the creators, based on the delays we've seen the last few years. I know, some of those delays are by people who spend most of their time working in TV or movies, but not all of them are. I have no idea the process that leads to a project being greenlit, or to a creative team being assigned, but I could see DC or Marvel wanting to put a writer or artistic talent on as many projects as they could, especially if it's a creator with their own legion of fans like a Morrison, to enhance sales. This leads to overwork, which leads to the dreaded delays and/or fill-in teams, depending on the companies' preference (Marvel seeming to vote for the former, DC the latter).

But on a more personal note, I think fans miss out when creators can only work for one company. Think of it this way, if Keith Giffen had an exclusive contract we either would have been without his influence on 52, or we wouldn't have gotten Annihilation (or it likely wouldn't have been as good). While others might disagree about Annihilation, I think the comics world would be poorer for that scenario.

Do you like the exclusive contracts? Think they're a problem? Good for creativity? Bad for creativity? Completely irrelevant even within the limited confines of the comic book industry?