Saturday, June 30, 2007

What Will He Think Up Next?

If I were Quicksilver, I wouldn't plan any entrepreneurial ventures, or any trading in the stock market, because he just clearly doesn't have the gift. He tried to manipulate his mentally damaged sister into remaking the world to be better for mutants, it ultimately backfired horribly. His attempt to regain his powers has warped his mind, along with giving him different powers. Every attempt to give mutants back their powers seems to lead to those mutants dying or feeling horrible pain (not Pietro's fault naturally, they just aren't worthy). Really, you'd think all the times he and Crystal tried to repair their marriage, only to watch it crumble would have tipped him off that his plans never work.

And in X-Factor #20, once again, a scheme of Pietro's has failed miserably. Unless he defines "success" as having a)one of the people he repowered explode (Note: Exploding was not their mutant power), b) the other three vanishing into another dimension, c) even more people know the current plight of mutants is sorta his fault, d) his getting stabbed, and e) losing all the Terrigen Mist crystals he had stored inside his body. Now he's injured, running, and seemingly lacking the ability to repower any more mutants (lucky them).

All of this begs the question: What next for the Son of Magneto? Should he continue in his attempts to aid his mutant brethren, or is he better off at this point simply looking out for #1? I think he's too far gone on this "higher purpose" kick to give up on his plans to restore mutants as a viable population, but he has no more crystals, and after Silent War #6, who knows if there are even anymore left (the city got blowed up, and Black Bolt was opening his mouth at the end, so no telling what's left, assuming that mini even fits anywhere in Marvel continuity right now, as it's somewhat hard to place). Who is left for him to turn to?

The first person that comes to mind is the High Evolutionary. He and Pietro go back awhile, and he once figured out how to turn off all mutant powers, so maybe he can figure out how to undo Wanda's hoodoo (hoodoo?), at least to the extent of helping out the depowered mutant populace. If he did it en masse, without consulting those it would involve, it might make for an interesting story, seeing the mutants who liked being "normal", who had settled into everyday lives, perhaps with loved ones who didn't know they had been mutants, reacting to a return to their previous lives, especially contrasted with those happy to be back on track (the Blob or Marrow, for example).

Other than the H.E., I can't figure who Pietro could turn to. He can't ask the heroes for help, he'll just get whomped, and I don't see him being quite crazy enough to ask Dr. Doom or Mr. Sinister for assistance, so the options seem limited.

Bah, this turned all serious. It was supposed to be a funny post, where we come up with silly ideas for what Quicksilver's gonna do next, like say, become manager of an IHOP in Sheboygan (where he could contend with the Great Lakes Champions!). Or maybe he'll move to Canada and sell his soul to the Great Gods of the North (or whatever those gods that pop up in Alpha/Omega Flight are called), in exchange for them using their powers to overcome Wanda's hex (there's no way she's more powerful than all those guys combined, right? Right?).

So, you choose which way you want to go with it, funny, or more serious. Or do both. Because as I said to Delores Montenegro in Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Die: 'You can have it your way, baby.'

Or did Troy McClure that said that?

Or maybe it was a Burger King commercial?

Friday, June 29, 2007

I've Got To Tell You, In My Loudest Tones

What's that title mean? {Nothing. I'm just having a hard time coming up with good titles for your posts, so I decided to just use song lyrics. Graeme McMillan at the Savage Critic does it all the time, he's just better at tying them to the subject than I am.} Okey-doke, so you're gonna help out? {You know it. Let's kick this thing off!}

Well then I'm going to give Deadpool some Applause and a Hug. He really did want to help Cable out, even if Cable was more concerned with protecting Deadpool, and he hit that whip guy with a stoplight. {True, that was hilarious. And painful looking.} Yeah, but now it looks like he lost his best friend, so I bet he's sad, and that's why he gets a hug. {Ah, Wade'll be fine. A little beer, a few Maude reruns, some senseless violence for a good or profitable cause, he'll be just dandy.}

{Hmm, if you want a big pop from the crowd, better give Gambit a Bonk.} Really? {Yeah, nobody really seems to like Gambit.} Well, it wasn't very sporting of him and Sunfire to gang up on Cable like that, but it doesn't seem like there's anything left of them to bonk, but okay, Bonk for their ashes. {One other thing, it's a Gambit complaint I've heard often. You're an experienced warrior. Tell the folks why a person whose main power is to essentially turn anything into a grenade would also carry a staff.} That's easy; because you won't always have the distance between you and your enemy to use your long-range weapon, so it pays to have something to defend yourself with in close combat situations, until you can get farther away. {Thank you. What's next?}

Bonk for Pietro and Applause for Callisto. Callisto kept Marrow from getting her powers back until they learned it would kill them, but Pietro gets a bonk because he still blames other people when his plans don't work. It isn't that they 'lack vision', it's that your plan is terrible, and won't work!

Bonk for Davos, because he killed a guy who wasn't even trying to defend himself, and because he's the cheater, not Danny! Bad guys never notice when they say stupid things like that! {Not very often, and if they do, they won't admit it. I guess part of being a villain is never admitting you were wrong.} Hug for Danny, who doesn't get to try and find his friend that got kidnapped. Danny doesn't know Jeryn had been helping HYDRA, does he? {Don't think so, but I don't think that would change anything. Danny would know it was under duress, and save him anyway.} Yeah, you're right! Go Danny, win the {Tenkaichi Budokai}! Hey, I didn't call it that! {No, but that's what I'm calling it. Next time you type the post, you can call it the other name if you want.} Phooey. I'm going to end with Applause for the Colleen, Luke and Misty, since they all showed up to help Danny. I hope Misty and Colleen don't get in trouble for helping an unregistered hero. {Technically, Danny is registered as a lethal weapon. He just isn't working for SHIELD. Plus, Danny didn't hire them, so no big.} Good. They should watch their language though. They curse too much. {Well, the Heroes for Hire don't fu, uh, fudge around. Mmmm, Fudge Rounds.} You're drooling on the keyboard. {Huh? Darn. Hand me a paper towel would you? Thanks much. Anything else?} Not really.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Meep-Meep!

So in Infinite Crisis, the Wally and Bart take SuperLoser-Prime. . . somewhere, and the Speed Force vanishes with them. Thus, no one who relied solely on the Speed Force for speed has super-speed anymore. Shortly thereafter, Bart returns from. . . wherever, and the totality of the Speed Force is concentrated within him.

But now Bart is, um, no longer with us. So, does that mean the Speed Force is back to normal? Or has all of it been transferred to Wally?

And if it is back to what it was pre-Infinite Crisis, then we should expect to see young Captain Boomerang exhibiting super-speed again sometime soon, shouldn't we?

I don't know what brought that on exactly, it just sort of popped into my mind. Probably because Boomer seems to get tortured regularly, and he'd like it if he could run swiftly away from the people (or giant eggs) indulging their sadism (sadly, Boomer is never gonna be fast enough to escape Dan Didio).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What I Bought 6/27/07

Well, hello! I . . . can't think up a decent intro this week. Doesn't that just stink? So, intro over, reviews, now! Spoilers, everywhere!

Cable/Deadpool #42 - Here we have Cable, trying to destroy his datacore full of information about the future. Good thing he has Deadpool to watch his back. Oh, he sent Wade to find a back-up of the info. Which leaves Cable on his own against people who want the knowledge. Two people. People who happen to be on the cover. Wade's got (minor) trouble of his own. Things blow up, other things aren't what they seemed, people die (maybe), good times.

Also, I have to say that Jon Malin's art reminds me a bit too much of Liefeld. Cable's face often seems extremely sharp, and oddly shiny, like he has oily skin. Plus the Saliva Strand Syndrome (so common in the '90s) is in effect here, and some of the anatomy is. . . odd. Maybe there was a point to that, maybe that's how Malin always draws (and so, maybe there was a point to using him). Either way, it's not what I'd describe as "easy on the eyes". It's an interesting issue, though I'm not sure where Nicieza's gonna go with it from here. 3.3 out of 5.

I would like to take this opportunity to tell all the Gambit haters out there (I know you are legion, though not Legion, or L.E.G.I.O.N for that matter), that you appear to now owe Mr. Nicieza a BIG "Thank you!" That is all

Immortal Iron Fist #6 - Um, lots of HYDRA agents die in this issue. Some get shot, some get cut with swords, some probably just got punched so hard it did the job. Unfortunately, a good guy also dies in this issue, but I guess it was meant to be, Circle of Life and all that jazz. Danny doesn't really get a chance to beat up the people he really wants to, because, well, it's time for the Tenkaichi Budokai!

Wait, that's DragonBall Z. Oh, it's time for the "Tournament of the Heavenly Cities", that's what it is. Eh, that name lacks zip. I think maybe I should just go ahead and keep calling it the Tenkaichi Budokai. We'll see. What else to say about this book? Uh, well, Davos is a total punk. I'm really not even sure what he means when he calls Danny a "cheater", but it sounds pretty hollow coming from a guy draining the life forces of women/cranes to amplify his own powers. What's the matter "Steel Serpent", can't get it done on your own anymore? Maybe the steel's a little soft, huh? *rimshot* What a dork. Hmm, other than that, I guess I can throw out that idea of Danny suing Misty and Colleen for using "Heroes for Hire" when they're running around doing jobs for SHIELD (read: Stark/Pro-Reg) money. Eh, that was too petty to be Danny's style anyway.

I'm also liking Aja's artwork more all the time. There's lots to it, but only where there needs to be, so that the work isn't so detailed that you can't focus on the important things in each panel. I am disappointed though, I wanted more of a final showdown between Danny and Davos, but I'm guessing that'll have to wait for #12 (which is when I predict this tournament will conclude). 4.1 out of 5.

X-Factor #20 - So, gee, Quicksilver's big plan to empower the X-Cell failed miserably. Who would've thunk it? At some point, you'd hope that Pietro would realize that everything he touches turns to ash, and he'd stop trying. But I suppose he's so delusional that it's never truly his fault, which makes him about as much of a polar opposite of Spider-Man as you can get.

X-Factor scrimmages with the repowered X-Cell members. It's an odd fight, a little amusing at times, especially the horde of Madroxes, but fairly well handled, although Raimondi doesn't do a great job of drawing it. Characters look rushed, positioning is awkward, it doesn't look that great, especially when you read this fight scene after having read through the fight scenes in the two books I reviewed above.

The fight really isn't of any import though, as the critical stuff is going on inside. Let's just say Layla Miller is very sneaky, and she's not what I had thought she was. The art hurts the book (though Raimondi does some nice work on expressions), but it was still a pretty decent little wrap-up to the arc, and I think it sets things up nicely for the eventual tie-in to Endangered Species, or Messiah Complex, or whatever the blasted X-Event of the year is. 4.1 out of 5.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It's Such A Simple Thing

I mentioned it before, but I've always been a fan of the Sinister Syndicate (see reason #47). Beetle, Boomerang, Hydro Man, Rhino, and Speed Demon (and later, Shocker). I think they're regarded in general as a team of second-stringers, kind of losers, a very poor man's Sinister Six. And while it's true they aren't as evil as the Sinister Six, I still think there's a lot to like about them.

For one thing, I think the Sinister Syndicate does have at least one frontline Spidey villain, the Rhino. You scoff, but that's because in today's Marvel he's a punching bag for whichever creative team wants use him that month. If it's not Deadpool (when he's three inches tall), it's Frank Castle, or who knows who else. But Rhino is at least as much of an A-lister as an old dude in a bird suit, or a guy with a fishbowl (for the record, I like Mysterio, but that fishbowl is silly looking). Plus Hydro Man is arguably more powerful than everyone in the Sinister Six, except maybe Electro or Ock (On the basis of Ock's smarts. The tentacles wouldn't do much good against a water dude).

Beyond that, there's the differing motivations. The Sinister Six formed because the bad guys were tired of getting pantsed by Spidey. If they had actually succeeding in eliminating him, that probably would have been the end of their partnership, they go their separate ways and they each would have been caught by the Fantastic Four or the Avengers about a week later. By the time we get the "Return of the Sinister Six" (Amazing Spider-Man #334-339), and "The Revenge of the Sinister Six" (Spider-Man #18-23), they had set their sites a little higher (world domination), but everyone on the team was just jumping to Ock's tune. He suckers them in the first story, then laughs off their attempts to get him for it, then the second time uses his Adamantium tentacles to whomp the Hulk, and scare the other five into working for him (except Sandman, who was turned to glass). At that point, it's less a "team", more "Doctor Octopus' gang of super-powered helpers". For the record, I do remember that there was another Sinister Six during the Mackie/Byrne years, one run by Electro, and hired to kill Doc Ock. But that group also had Venom in it, so I'm choosing to call that out of continuity.

For the Sinister Syndicate, it was about moola. Working together, they could pull jobs with a greater rate of success, because five villains have a better chance of escaping the cops or Spidey or Daredevil, than one bad guy. They weren't going high-level enough to attract teams like the Avengers (who would have trounced them), so they were going to actually have a chance to make some cash. Their first time out they got hired by Jack O'Lantern to eliminate Silver Sable (who was trying to collect the bounty on Jack). That Spidey was there as well was just a happy coincidence for some guys with history wirh the web-slinger, not their primary motivation, which makes it a nice change of pace (probably because I still really like it when the villains are focused on more than just revenge on the hero).

Plus, the team didn't exactly work well. Not that the Sinister Six were all that chummy, each demanding to take their own shot at Spidey the first time, and by the later incarnations they were together mostly out of fear of Octavius. But with the Syndicate, guys got into it with each other. There was politicking. Boomerang was frequently challenging Beetle for the role of leader, and each guy would court the other members for their side (in Deadly Foes of Spider-Man #1, Beetle makes certain to side with Rhino in an argument over whether to kill Spidey, because he recognizes the value in having the Rhino's power and loyalty on his side). Speed Demon was the typically loud-mouthed jerk a lot of speedsters seem to be (because everyone moves so slow to them?). Because the uniting purpose was only money, the bonds weren't that strong, so you had the potential for more intrigue, backstabbing, and unpredictability, compared to a team that eventually was being run by one guy.

So in a way, it was a little gratifying to see half of the Sinister Syndicate in the Avengers: The Initiative #3 book a few weeks ago, up to their usually thieving ways. I'm not sure they should have gotten captured by a bunch of losers in Iron Spider armor, but I guess the point of that was to demonstrate that SHIELD will have their own Spidey's, if the original won't play ball, so what ya gonna do? Maybe the whole team will get back together as part of that MODOK's 11 maxi-series.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Beneath The Armor, Beats The Heart. . . Of A Warrior

For today's selection of gaming happy times, we rotate back around to the Gamecube, and land squarely on Metroid Prime.

Much like Legend of Zelda series, Metroid was one of those franchises I missed the first few times through. Still, it looked pretty damn cool in the commercials, so I figured it'd be fun. And it was, which is always a nice result.

For those that haven't played it, bounty hunter Samus Aran lands on a space station, hunting Space Pirates. During her search she finds a few, but the station starts to fall apart, and she winds up following the survivors down to the planet below, called Tallon 4. Turns out the Space Pirates found a nifty substance called Phazon on the planet, and it just so happens to be one of those handy, all-purpose mutagens that you so often see in science fiction. Being eager to see how it can help them, the Space Pirates have started combining the Phazon with any of the life forms on the planet they can (it's all just wildlife, no sentient life left). Samus, having a severe dislike for Space Pirates, figures she might as well trash their plans while she blasts them to smithereens. The only hitch is that a stray energy surge on the space station somehow wiped out several of her weapons systems, and she's got to roam the planet and find them as she goes (which, incidentally, was also major part of Metroid Prime 2, which was a major part of why I didn't like that game. You'd have thought she'd have learned her lesson, and kept back-ups on her ship).

So, what's the game involve? It's a classic platformer. You run, you jump, you shoot. You shoot while running or jumping. You shoot missiles, you shoot four different kinds of energy beams (once you find them). You combine missiles and energy beams for totally awesome super -attacks. You switch into Morph Ball mode and roll around through small tunnels (During the game you can scan computer terminals, and download the information. One of the funniest entries involved the Space Pirates' description of their attempts to copy the Morph Ball technology, and how it lead to several mangled Space Pirates. Ha, ha. Losers). You swing around using your grapple line. You fight native wildlife, ranging from giant insects, to weird ice creatures with huge teeth, and ice armor on their backs, and of course, those energy-sucking little Metroids. Man, those things got old fast.

One aspect of the game, that can be good or bad depending on your perspective, is all the backtracking. Over the course of the game you will go through the same areas several times, because this time you have a new tool that can enable you to reach a door, or power-up, or something that you couldn't reach the last time you came through. It's a disorienting effect, because on the one hand, you know you're making progress because you accomplish something you hadn't previously. On the other, you're back in a location you were at two hours of gameplay ago, so it feels like running in circles, especially when you have to cross from one side of the world map to the other. But the added powers mean you can do more exploring, see different things, so I guess it really is all how you regard it.

There are quite a few bosses, and they can be pretty cool, especially the final boss, and the giant rock monster. I owe my victory over the game to Papafred's friend Ben. Back when we lived in the dorms, Ben was watching me play the final boss, and watching me die. I was frustrated and ready to call it quits for the day. He had to leave for work soon, and begged me to give it one more try, so I relented. See, my problem was the player's guide told me that when fighting the final boss, it will shift frequencies, and I should switch on my X-Ray visor, spot it, and blast it. I switched on the visor and. . . I couldn't find it. On this final attempt, I inadvertently switched to a different visor (thermal?), and there it was. Turns out it switches what frequency you can see it in each time it moves out of the visible light spectrum. The guide failed to mention that, and I'm not quick enough on the uptake to think of it on my own, so if not for Ben, hard telling how long it would have taken me to win.

But I did win, and then we all got to sit there and watch the ending, and it was good (because I didn't scan everything, so I didn't get the super-special ending that points to the sequel), and I was happy.

So I'll leave it at that, rather than go into how Metroid Prime 2: Echoes ultimately disappointed me, especially as it came at the same time I got Goldeneye: Rogue Agent (which was both a bigger and smaller disappointment. Worse game, but lower expectations than I had for M.P. 2:E).

Sunday, June 24, 2007

So Much Random Stupidity, Brain Overloading

I was watching that Fantastic Four cartoon last night, and they got to meet the Impossible Man, and in the episode he tells them that his people evolved their "impossible" abilities as a way to survive the incredibly harsh conditions of their planet, which I suppose sorta makes sense, seeing as there are organisms on Earth that do things that we can't, like eat hydrogen sulfides, and live in boiling water, and so on, but I think applying that to Impossible Man is taking it a bit too far, which is sort of the point, I guess.

Anyway, in the episode Reed realizes that there's an entire planet of Impossible Men (and Women, or are they asexual?), and Impy is going to bring them all here because it's so much less dangerous on Earth, which of course forces the FF to figure a way to dissuade him of that notion, which they eventually do. But seeing how truly annoying that little fellow can be, it made me very happy that in the 616 Universe, Galactus ate their homeworld, and Impy is the only one left.

Not that that means much. I had a Spider-Woman comic where Impy hired Jessica Drew to find a female version of himself he'd made (he split in two, I guess) to try out these relationships he always saw humans having. They'd had a little fight, which he thought was a game, she ran off, he couldn't find her, etc.

But thinking back on that story now, it occurs to me Impossible Man could probably recreate his entire species that way, were he so inclined. I think the entire universe is probably thankful he hasn't yet.

Hmm, I kind of like to see Impy in a Marvel comic some time soon, maybe out in space. I'm just not sure Impy really has a place in the middle of Annihilation: Conquest. He'd probably mess with the tone a little too much, though it would be fun to watch the Major Threat have a total breakdown trying to deal with him.

And now to post before the thunderstorm knocks out the power!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Looming Shadows

That's right, I'm going to try and discuss art again, but at least I've got a picture to go with it this time this time!

In Amazing Spider-Man #541, page 17, the first panel shows Peter in regular clothes, swinging across the city on his way to confront the Kingpin. What caught my eye is that Garney only draws the outline of Peter, and then we a get a sort of psychedelic, watercolor looking thing within the outline. There are no other details within the outline, just colors: Reds and oranges near the feet, blues on the upper torso, getting lighter as you move towards the fingers and the head. It seems so odd, I figure it has to mean something. But what?

My intial thought was that the colors represent inner turmoil, Peter struggling either to bring his darker impulses under control, or to encourage them, knowing that if he really intends to do this, he has to fully embrace his rage. However, I think that for that the colors would need to be blending, swirling around each other more, to demonstrate the conflict. But as I noted, it's mostly reds at the feet, and blues at the head and arms, very little mixing. Perhaps most notable is that his head is more of a pale greenish-blue, whereas his chest (read: heart) is a darker blue. This could suggest either depression, or that if the blue implies anger (an odd choice, but maybe), in his mind, he has more doubts about what's he's planning, that the anger hasn't entirely clouded his judgement. But there's more to the panel than just Peter, so let's go broader.

Starting with the context. Peter has just finished giving Aunt May some of his blood, hoping his spider-strength will assist in recovery. That done, he's decided it's time to face down Wilson Fisk (without drinking any juice or having a cookie, no less). In the panel, Peter is upside-down, the city beneath him. To look at him right-side up, would force up to flip the book upside-down, but the city would still look more or less the same. It perhaps emphasizes just how things are going for Peter. In the past, Peter hid his Spider-Man identity from Aunt May, and his injuries, absences, and lateness caused her great stress, and periodic health problems. But now his identity is out in the open, known not just by her, but by everyone, and May still got hurt because of Spider-Man. For Peter, everything is falling apart (read: upside-down), but the results have wound up the same (the city looking normal whether you view it upside-down or normally). Peter's big decision has only fouled up his life, it hasn't really changed the world in any significant way.

The fact that even as Peter's life has changed so drastically, certain things still hold true (Peter being Spider-Man impairs a loved one's physical well-being), is further reflected in the illustration and coloring of the cityscape below. The buildings are drawn and colored normally, or consistent with how they had been drawn in the issue thus far. Perhaps it symbolizes the disconnect of Peter from the world beneath him, the society that's deemed him a criminal, the society that has said "No more vigilantes!", even as Peter is preparing to take a page out of the Frank Castle book of vigilanteism (that's not even a real word, is it?).

In the upper left corner of the panel is a text box, containing the second half of what Mary Jane is telling a nurse entering May's room. It says 'It's too late.' While this most obviously refers to Mary Jane having missed her last chance to talk Peter out of going after Kingpin (at least at this precise moment), it could also mean it's too late for Peter, in any number of ways. Going after Fisk now won't make Aunt May be uninjured, it's already happened. It may be too late for Peter to step back from the decision he's made to kill Fisk (we know it isn't, but roll with it).

There have also been several scenes of Peter swinging through the city in this story arc thus far. Maybe there's a pattern we can glean from those.

Amazing Spider-Man #539: On pages 5 and 6, Peter swings to the hospital, carrying Aunt May. He's in civilian clothes, fairly well-lit, as is May, until she passes out and her face falls into faint shadow (dark enough it's noticeable, but not dark enough to obscure any facial features). Peter's face is completely visible on page 5, on page 6 we get a shot of him from behind as he cries out 'May!' Perhaps at this point Peter still has hope that things will be OK?

On page 11, the last panel shows him below and from behind, as he swings away from MJ vowing to 'hurt someone'. Even though it's broad daylight (probably not a good idea for a wanted fugitive to be web-swinging at that time in Times Square), he's completely in shadow, an indication that the anger that was observed in panels 2 and 3 of page 7 (as he hears the doctor's commenting on May's condition) has taken a firm hold of him.

By page 15, he's looking for someone to tell him about the piece of the sniper scope he found. The anger is plain on his face in the first panel, as he's extremely well-lit, but by the third panel, he's moved past us, and once again we see his back in shadow. I'm not sure what to make of the first panel, unless it's mean to surprise us with a scene of Spider-Man going into action out of costume, with emotions that would normally be hidden, plainly displayed.

Amazing Spider-Man #540: Peter spends most of this issue in costume, and does all of his web-swinging while wearing the spandex. Interestingly though, a good portion of the issue takes place during the day, whereas #539 and #541 were predominantly at night. This is because shadows are rarely needed to convey anything about Spider-Man's emotional state. The fact that he's donned a costume he threw away because of how it bothered his wife (yeah JMS said it was for a different reason, but he doesn't know jack, so whatever). The fact that he's getting into a fight with a gunman in the middle of a train station. Forget that he's a fugitive and someone was probably calling the police, who would call SHIELD. He attacked this man, who Peter had to know would be armed, with people all around him. His facial expressions don't need to show us how he feels, because that kind of reckless action tells us enough about where his mind is. This is not about getting a killer off the streets before he harms someone else, this is about Aunt May, plain and simple.
I do want to mention a scene on page 17 where he slams the Martino's face into a wall, because his mask is off, but his face is obscured by shadows, and this is placed between two panels of him making threats with a plainly visible face. It seems as long as he's just talking, Peter Parker can stay in some form of control, but if Spider-Man starts to act, the anger gets ahold of him again, and the actions become the sorts of things we're unaccustomed to seeing from our 'friendly neighborhood Spider-Man'.

Amazing Spider-Man #541: There's one other thing I want to touch on in this issue. Page 4, last panel, as Peter swings away with the man who shot the man who shot Aunt May. In the the Aunt May scene, as mentioned previously, he was mostly illuminated, as he held on to May tightly - but carefully - around the torso as he brought her to the hospital. Now, he's shrouded in shadow, moving away from the hospital, and casually holding this man by the ankle. With May, peter was clearly worried too much movement might harm her; with this killer, I don't think Peter would mind if the man cracked his skull open on a roof Peter didn't clear by enough.

So, I've gone 'round and 'round this thing, and I still don't know that I figured out what the coloring was about. Part of me says it's the "emotional turmoil" answer, and my teachers always said that on multiple choice, if you weren't sure, go with your first instinct, because there's got to be a reason why you're picking that one. Still, I just don't feel like that's right, or that the coloring doesn't represent it properly if it does.

I think I've reached a wall, as far as ideas go, if you've got any, chime in, please. There's a lot more I'd like to look at just in this arc besides this, like the last few pages, when both Spidey and Kingpin are getting ready, and Peter's dressed in black, crawling through shadows, while Kingpin strides in the light, dressed in immaculate white. Or why so many police officers' faces were hidden in shadows in these issues (the guards at the end of #541, the cop outside the building Martino shot Aunt May from in #539, but not the cops catching the guy for public urination in #540. Odd).

But I think that may wait for another day, assuming I have any inspirations. Unless you've got some thoughts on those. We could just turn this into a big ole' art discussion.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Calvin Can't Comment Right Now

Hi again everyone! Adorable Baby Panda here, with my sidekick Calvin, of course. Right, Calvin?

Calvin? {ARGH! Damnit!}

Looks like I might be on my own for this one. Calvin's busy yelling at Shadow of the Colossus. {You putrid, pixellated pack of patheticness, why the hell didn't you do a few pull-ups before embarking on your quest to resurrect the pretty girl?! Surely you knew there'd be a test?!} Well, maybe he'll get frustrated and take a break, and then he can join in. So let's just start without him.

First off, I want to Bonk some people, so here's one for Charlie the Prison Guard, because he's supposed to be enforcing the law, and instead he's taking bribes and picking up the Kingpin's laundry. Bad Charlie! Just for that, I'm gonna have the panda mystics place a curse on you, so that your family vacations will be as noisy and unpleasant as possible! Secondly, a series of Bonks to those aliens that attacked the Church of Pama in Annihilation: Conquest Prologue. I mean, I know you're hungry and cold, but it's a temple that isn't even finished being fixed. Come on, that's just wrong, even more than stealing normally is! More Bonks to Doctor Gotham. Why? Well, he's using a bus full of kids as bait, he - {Damn you pudgy little twit! Stab him in that shiny symbol thing! I told you to stab! I don't care that he's shaking his head back and forth vigorously, STAB!} he's working for a monster that doesn't care who dies to make it stronger, even if it's him. We talked about that with the Davos/HYDRA thing in Immortal Iron Fist. You shouldn't work for a boss that would be happy if you die. Oh yeah, and Doctor Gotham's pony tail is stupid. It's too long, and he looks too old to make it work, so nyah! Finally, a Bonk for Ultimate Kingpin. you promised to leave the country if they didn't hurt your wife, but then you tell your guy to kill Daredevil, and even though they didn't tell you not to try that specifically, you know that's going to get Spider-Man to send Nick Fury after you. You should never want that, so that means you're stupid, so Bonk!

Well, now that all the losers are taken care of, let's give some Applause, starting with Phyla-Vell. She needs some work before she can protect the whole universe, but she's knows that, and she's trying to get better, and I think that's, um, uh Calvin, what's the word I'm looking for {Oh cripes kid, you ride a horse worse than me, and I've never ridden a horse in my life! You're thinking of "commendable"! What? You can't even make the horse get out of the way when you're trying to shoot? Link never had these problems getting Epona to do what he wanted!} That's it! It's commendable. I think Phyla's doing better than she thinks. She made a cool energy whip, and a shield at the same time, that can't be that easy to do. Applause for Blue Devil. I don't think going on TV and telling everyone you made a mistake selling your soul to the Devil will stop kids from doing it, but you tried. And you didn't get your head cut off, which maybe doesn't deserve applause, but it's a good thing. Finally, Applause for Ultimate Spider-Man. Sure he was pretty mad last issue, with the crazy person shooting up his school, and Kingpin telling him he knew about the plan the whole time. But he got under control, and stopped Daredevil from doing something he would have felt really bad about later. Maybe two things, it sure looked like Daredevil wanted to kill Iron Fist, and Spidey helped hold him back, so good job Spidey! That's why you're the best!

{What is this thing I'm fighting, some weird horse/turtle combo?} It has horns, maybe it's a bull? {A bull? That's crazy talk! I would never have this much trouble killing a bovine, giant version made of stone or not!}

Moving on, I want to Hug Mary Jane. I meant to give her a hug last month, but I forgot. I just feel bad for her. Aunt May's in a coma, and Peter's running around hurting people, and all MJ gets to do is sit there, watch May, and hope SHIELD doesn't show up to arrest her for something. She needs to get to punch somebody. Hugs for Peter Quill, who convinced the Kree to work with the SpaceKnights, which is how the Kree Empire got in the mess it's in now. I'm worried Ronan is gonna hit him really hard when he finds him, and with all the times he got shot already, that could hurt a lot. {Oh, forget this! My mother's a better Colossi Slayer! Eat dirt, aggravation-inducing gaming experience!} Um, anyway, Hug for all the school kids that were being used as bait by Doctor Gotham. They probably won't mind, because they get a story to tell the other kids tomorrow, but I know it'll warp one of the kids' minds and turn them evil. {Hey, I'm here! Let's get started!} I'm almost done, as soon as I give Ultimate Daredevil a hug for losing his law office. {What? You started without me?} You were busy yelling bad words at the game. {Still. . . Well, whatever. You ought to be giving Daredevil a hug because he's realized he's got enough rage inside he was gonna kill a comatose woman, just because the Kingpin loves her, and that'll certainly mess with your self-esteem.} I know, that was gonna be the other part of the hug.

So, that was it. Do you need a hug, after all the angry gaming? {Nah, I'm not really angry at the game, I actually was having success. I just wanted everyone to think I was succumbing to advanced paranoid schizophrenia with involuntary narcissistic rage. Really though, I'm a very gentle person.} That is so mean. I was gonna give you a hug to make you feel better, but now. . . you get a Bonk! {Ow! You've been giving Tony Stark bonks every week for like three months, I'm amazed he has any brain cells left!} Actually, I hit Iron Man a lot harder, but now he keeps hopping into his armor every time I show up, so I'm not sure he's feeling it. {My Swiss Army knife has a can opener if you're interested.} Hmm. . .

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Eight? EIGHT?! Now That's All I Can Think About!

So, hey, look at me, I got tagged to tell you about me. Joyous days. Maybe. So hang on, there's some rules around here somewhere.

Ah, here we go!

- I have to post these rules before I start.
- I have to tell you eight facts about myself.
- I have to tag eight people to participate.
- I'm supposed to leave a comment telling them they're tagged and to read my blog.
- And the tagees need to write their own blog post, telling us eight things and posting the rules.

Hmm, so what do I feel comfortable telling you about me? Eh, let's just play it by ear, see how it sounds. All this is true, I swear, or else I will have forgotten the face of my father, do you kennit?

1. I'm deaf in my right ear. Have been for as long as I can remember. Something about adenoids blocking fluid up in my ears, infection, death of certain vital mechanisms, I don't know. I was five when they took the adenoids out just to save the left, how the hell should I know? It's only really a problem when I'm trying to locate a sound, because when I hear something most clearly, my eyes are ninety degrees off target.

2. My first thought upon seeing the cover to GrimJack #1 (and knowing nothing of the character), was that he was a complete loser because he wore a beret. Yeah, I'm not too bright.

3. My friend once accidentally poked holes in the side of my father's $1200 leather reclining chair, and when this was discovered, I took the heat. I figured it'd be better to take the rap for that, rather than get yelled at for having a friend over when my parents weren't around (and one they weren't real high on at that), which I wasn't supposed to do.

4. Papafred and I, as undergraduates, once learned a new word by watching Seasame Street on a weekday morning when neither of us had a class. Don't laugh! The word was "piquant", alright? What the hell are they doing teaching little kids words like that?

5. While on the shot and discus team in junior high, I once won a bet with the assistant principal by throwing the discus so that it stuck vertically a second time (the first time being what prompted the bet). My prize? A Snapple. Yeah, kind of weak.

6. On the subject of bets, sometime after the 2005 baseball season, I made a bet with Ken Murphy (owner of Marvels and Legends) about whether or not Ken Griffey Jr. could reach 600 career home runs by the end of the 2007 season (he had 536 at the time, and is notorious for getting injured). I thought I was sitting pretty after last year (just 27 homers), but now it's looking like Griffey's gonna pull it off. Damn, looks like karma decrees I lose a bet with a soda at stake.

7. I've played one Dungeons and Dragons campaign (though we never finished). The most notable part - other than how often everyone but Papafred's character died - was me deciding my character would have a crush on the group's female elf cleric, controlled by Papafred's buddy Solomon, even though the cleric was also the subject of affection for the team's Conan substitute, played by the DM's girlfriend. What a weird dynamic that was.

8. I once got Papafred in significant difficulty with an acquantance of his. He was showing Neon Genesis Evangelion to another friend and myself when this acquaintance called. He paused the DVD, and we waited. And waited. And his best efforts to end the conversation quickly were going for naught. Finally, he said 'Want to talk to a soda?' I was sitting directly behind him, and loudly responded 'It's the only one listening.' The three of us erupted with laughter, then acquaintance hung up, and Papafred, being a decent fellow, called them up to try and smooth things over. Oddly, the acquaintance was madder at him, than they were at me, which I found hilarious all by itself.

So I guess I got to tag a bunch of people. Hmm, look around quickly here, I guess we'll try Len, Matt, Kelvin, Diamondrock, Chris, Mallet, Jason, and that's all I'm gonna do. 7 out of 8 is an 87.5%, and that's just good enough for the effort I've exerted to satisfy me. Wow, it's like being in high school again!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

What I Bought 6/20/07

By the Great Comic Spirit, whose policy of double-bagging keeps all his comics in mint condition, I got four comics this week to review for you! Isn't that awesome?

Amazing Spider-Man #541 - It should be so easy to give up on this "Angry Spider-Man" comic, even easier considering I'm gonna have to drop it in a few months, since I can't afford three issues of it in a month, and yet, it's so hard. And that's so sad.

This issue can be summed up pretty simply: Spider-Man threatens people, Peter and MJ try to speed up Aunt May's recovery, and the Kingpin prepares for an inevitable confrontation. I wonder though, how much JMS wants to write Angry Spidey. Some of the scenes are just so, odd somehow, it feels like JMS is trying too hard. Scenes where Peter removes webbing from a guy's face , but he doesn't 'do it gently'. Scenes where Peter basically threatens the same guy with being eaten alive by sewer rats, while giving us a lesson on the food chain.

Personally, I think Garney's artwork does a better job of conveying the darkness. There's a moment after the rat scene, where Pete is in May's hospital room, sitting by her side, holding her hand. The left half of his face is hidden, both eyes are in shadow, and he looks like he's scowling. Even in a moment when he should be sad at what's happened to this person he cares about, he's enraged. It's consuming everything else.

I do want to give JMS some credit though, he's arranged things so the Kingpin might credibly be able to survive more than five seconds against an enraged Spider-Man, who should normally be able to punch his head off (No, I don't want to hear about the Kingpin having a cane full of weapons, or being solid muscle. Spidey dodges bullets and lifts buses. He wins). It shouldn't last much longer (even though I'm sure it will), but there's at least a few ready-made explanantions for when it does. Still, not a particularly good issue or anything, so 2.7 out of 5.

Annihilation: Conquest Prologue - This mini-series is gonna have to fight a pretty serious battle to overcome my expectations. I know I shouldn't expect it to kick as much (or more) ass as Annihilation, but I'm really hoping it will. As for how this issue does? Well . . .

It follows much the same format as Annihilation: Prologue from last year, taking us through what's going on in currently where the story will take place, and showing us the initial assault by this year's big problem. Just like with Annihilation: Prologue, the apparent big threat is revealed on the last page, but I'm not quite as enamored of this one. I mean, I guess it could be interesting, but it's a problem from '90s X-Men comics, so I think my expectations just got lowered.

That being said, I do find Phyla and Moondragon to be an interesting pair. Phyla's the impatient, impulsive one, looking to make a big difference real fast, while Moondragon's much calmer, more deliberate, understands that sometimes it's important to make small differences. I'm thinking it's going to be fun to see Phyla grow more accustomed to using the Quantum bands, as she tries to assume the role of Quasar. I also think it's nice that Abnett and Lanning have her showing respect for her predecessor; it helps to avoid that "He was a lame-o, and we killed him off for this cooler, more extreme version" feel.

What else to say? I know I've seen this general plot before, probably in a Star Trek episode or some sci-fi movie, so I'm not sure how enamored I am with it overall. Still, I'm interested to see what the various writers do, and if the mini-series follow last year's pattern of focusing on the characters and how they develop. 3.0 out of 5.

Shadowpact #14 - Since he starts off the issue being confronted by an angel planning to kill him, it is perhaps understandable that Blue Devil spends the remainder of the issue trying to take steps to reduce his effectiveness as a pawn of hell, to improve his odds of not dying. But still, we're going to see an attorney getting involved now? I think Willingham is just jerking our chains at this point.

In other news, Dr. Gotham causes trouble to draw out the Shadowpact so he can kill them. Personally, I think his pony tail is much too long, and it should absolutely play a role in his inevitable defeat that will come some time in the next few months. It probably won't, but it ought to. Also, I don't know if it means anything, but the line work on Ragman seems a lot heavier than on the other characters. It makes him look darker, sketchier, somehow. Maybe it represents the darkness of all the evil souls caught in the rags, I don't know, it's just something I noticed. 2.5 out of 5.

Ultimate Spider-Man #110 - I tell you, Kingpin needs to hire smarter goons. He tells them to shoot Moon Knight/Ronin in the head, I think they shot him in the neck. Sigh, it can't be that hard to find good help, can it? Also, Moon Knight's mind is still really creepy and weird. Especially that little red-haired girl.

Then we get a flashback with Iron Fist revaling to Kingpin how the "Ultimate Knights" fell apart, only to then reveal that - surprise! - maybe they didn't fall apart so much after all. And we learn that Ultimate Daredevil is a scary dude. I guess it's part of that "the Ultimate Universe is your favorite characters without restrictions" thing, but without going to the extent of how Millar's Ultimates were pretty much reprehensible characters.

Bagley's contrasting of the look of horror and fear on Wilson's face, with the teeth-gritting anger on DD's face was a nice touch. Right after that we get two panels: one of Fisk with his head tilted down, chin on chest, but eyes looking straight ahead, at something on roughly their same level. It does a nice job of making him look smaller and inferior, even though he towers above Daredevil. It also gives him a hint of a scared child, trying to be sorry enough to avoid a grounding.

Anyway, things look pretty hairy there for a second, but Ultimate Spidey makes a rousing speech that gets Daredevil on a slightly more even keel, and they give Fisk an ultimatum that just so happens to conveniently dovetail with a decision Moon Knight makes to put Kingpin in an unpleasant situation.

I like what Bendis has done with Peter in these post-Clone Saga issues. He's still a kid, but one that's more grown-up. He can be proactive, he doesn't get intimidated as easily, and he's had experiences that enable him to relate to other's fear and suffering, and connect with them. Still, that last page didn't make much sense. I get why Peter looks so sad, but I can't figure why Bendis wanted to end the arc on that note. I think it would have been better to end it with something happier, like Peter in the hospital giving Aunt May a big "I love you" hug or something. So, deductions for that. 4.2 out of 5.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It'll Drive You Mad

So if I understand this correctly, those stupid Monitor guys want to eliminate Kyle Rayner, Donna Troy, and Jason Todd because they're anomalies, or something like that. It seems like a more sophisticated response would be to find a way to help them fit (assuming they need help, all three of them seem to be doing okay, except for the attempts on their lives) into the brand spanking new Multiverse (is it new? Or is it only new to us, and to everyone else this is how it's always been?), rather than just killing them and potentially incurring the wrath of the other heroes.

But what do I know? I'm not some big, pink idiot in stupid armor, running around deciding who fits and who doesn't. That being the case, I guess Donna, Kyle, and Jason better get to running for their lives. My suggestion would be that they try to find that magical "Haney-Earth", that so many fans hope is out there, somewhere amongst the 52.

It'd be the perfect place to hang out. The Montiors are such sticklers for everything fitting together, and being in its proper place, their heads would explode at the insanity of Haney-Earth.

And who knows, it might just be a nice place for them to sort things out. Jason Todd would magically stop being angry and homicidal. Donna Troy wouldn't have a confusing origin anymore. Which isn't to say her origin would be static, it would keep changing, but each new origin would remain totally separate and unconnected from the previous ones, and would fit perfectly with whatever situation she found herself in at the moment. And Kyle? Well, Kyle would probably continue about as usual. He strikes me as capable of being totally oblivious to all sorts of odd goings-on.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Tubular! Awesome! New Coke-Tactular!

Well, I was gonna use "Reaganomics!", but that'd be stealing too much from Robot Chicken, so ah well. This week's bit of gaming nostalgia is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game. Who says only Japanese RPGs have ridiculously long names?

Truth be told, I had the first three Ninja Turtles games for the NES, and each had some nice features, but #2 was my favorite. From the basic side-scrolling original (with top down views when you went outside buildings), the game designers added several features.

- There was the three-quarter view, which gave a sense of depth to the levels, since you could dodge attacks by simply moving towards the top of bottom of the screen, depending on where you were.

- They added the jump kick attack. In the first game, you had your weapons (bo, katana, sai, nunchuks), and then you could pick up other weapons as you went along, like boomerangs, shuriken, grappling hooks, etc. In this one, they removed the extra weapons, which were limited use anyway, and gave you an attack you could start from a distance (since you could jump, and then launch the kick, while out of the enemy's range). Plus, the enemies often didn't seem as able to defend themselves against the jump kick, compared to charging up to them and smacking them repeatedly with your weapon.

- They gave you a level where you cruised down the freeway on a rocket-powered skateboard, fighting ninjas on skateboards, and helicopters (how awesome is it that you could jump kick a helicopter into oblivion?). Much like the bungie-jumping level in Earthworm Jim, that was one of those levels I would play the game for hours, specifically so I could reach that level, and have some fun.

- They made it co-op. That was a totally new idea to me at the time, being able to actually play simultaneously with one of your friends, whomping the bad guys from two directions at once. Granted, the game added twice as many enemies to compensate for there being twice as many turtles, and my friends were rarely on the same level as me, meaning they died a lot, and took advantage of one of the game's other features, wherin a defeated player could get back into the game, provided their partner had a spare life. It was only really a problem when I only had two bars of my current life left, and the spare they took was my only other life, so suddenly I'm the one facing imminent demise.

That occasional annoyance aside, it was still an intensely fun game, and it's the first game I got my dad to play with me, and that counts for a lot with me.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Can't Blog, Being Entertained

I'd love to come up with a more clever post for you all today, but I've been to distracted by the glory of finding epsiodes of the old Earthworm Jim cartoon show on Youtube. You know, up until now, I hadn't really appreciated that sites' majesty, but well, that was before I got to watch a giant worm in a super-suit battle a professor with a monkey for a head for the first time in years. Oh, it's as beautiful as I remembered.

The show has a Silver Age DC feel to it, with the distinct lack of "everyday" problems you tended to see in Marvel's Silver Age. He's got evil twin problems, megalomaniacal villain problems, sidekick being deemed more of a hero than him, and being giving his suit problems, and yeah, he likes a girl that doesn't seem to recognize his affections. Of course, the lady in question is a leader of a rebel army that has the strength of a hundred man-sized crows, and knows nothing 'of life, of love, of romance!' (but man, can she dance!), so not exactly Average Joe problems. Unless, of course, your super-suit shuts down at the exact moment the evil queen appears to destroy your town, and you must venture to get the BATTERY OF THE GODS to get the suit up and running again. If that's a common problem for you, then I guess the show does deal with everyday problems. For the rest of us? Not so much.

Jim's enemies certainly don't do anything halfway, as every evil scheme involves destroying the universe, or destroying the world, or stealing his suit so they can conquer the world. Those plans involving anything from the Book of Doom (a children's pop-up book), to a Fur-Bearin' Trout, to mystical, reality-altering orbs poorly guarded by aliens that fear everything. Fortunately, Jim's always there to 'rend their plans asunder like so much used facial tissue!' usually by blasting and punching, plus he's got a talking, clothes-wearing, walks-on-two-legs canine sidekick, so what more do you need to stop evil? OK, he does occasionally require the aid of nutlog (???) or a falling cow, but that's rare. Not the falling cows, that happens frequently, the part about falling cows saving the day.

Plus the show has some great dialogue. It's certainly not the Bendisian "realistic" dialogue, what with lines like 'Eat dirt, ponderous-rumped blaggard!', or 'By the Great Worm Spirit, whose segments span the Labyrinth of Eternity!' I would like to see Bendis write a comic with actual dialogue like that, where the characters say it and mean it, not just as a way of mocking their foes. By the by, the Great Worm Spirit talks like Christopher Walken. Go figure.

I have to say, Earthworm Jim is one of the shows that I need them to release on DVD. I would buy it without hesitation. You hear that, whoever has the rights to it? Without hesitation. Yeah, I know it's on VHS, I don't have my VCR with me, alright? Sheesh.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Don't Forget To Call Your Parole Officer

As Nova was leaving Earth in Nova #3 this week, I had what I thought would be a particularly wicked thought.

No, not that it would be funny to see Iron Man call Nova for help when the Hulk smashes every poor schmuck Stark runs out there at him, or how funny it would be to see Nova reply that he's much too busy to help Tony with yet another "squabble".

No, what I'd like to see is Nova place Stark on Interplanetary Probation. What I mean is, give Stark some little holographic doohickey that informs him that due to past actions, the Nova Corps considers him a possible danger to the stability of the universe, and so if he wants to venture more than oh, let's say 300,000 miles from the Earth's surface (that'll let him go about 60,000 miles past the Moon), he has to use a certain frequency to contact the Nova Corps and inform them of his plans to depart what we'll call "Earth-Space". He has to provide the time he's leaving Earth-Space, and when he plans to return (so the Nova Corps can know to search for him if something goes wrong, naturally), where he's going and why, what or who he's taking along, and what those people or objects are capable of. Since Stark is head of SHIELD, this might extend down to all his agents as well, since he could send them out under his orders in his place.

Now you might be asking yourself what grounds Nova would have for this. Well, first off I'm assuming that the Worldmind, in the course of its search for the locations of other New Warriors, stumbled across records of all the questionable stuff Iron Man pulled during Civil War. If Floyd and Urich figured it out, there must be others who did as well, and somebody's got to have an electronic record of it, so the Worldmind should find it pretty easily. Now, seeing as the government has made no move to try Tony Stark for those actions (either because they don't know, or don't care), there's really nothing Nova can do about it personally. What he can do is make a record that, for example, Tony Stark used nanites to manipulate Norman Osborn into attempting to assassinate an Atlantean ambassador (sort of, since apparently the bullet wouldn't really do the job), so as to ramp up public concern, and increase support for his policies. If he did that to his own people, what's to stop him from trying it on some other world?

Look at it this way. When Ronan was Supreme Accuser, he went around trying and executing people left and right, with the full support of the Kree Empire behind him. Legally, the Nova Force couldn't do much, because Ronan was typically acting within the Kree Empire, enforcing Kree law. The Nova Force can't act there unless requested. But the Nova Force kept a file on Ronan (as seen during the Annihilation: Ronan mini-series last year), about stuff he'd done, his powers, protocols for if you encounter him. You might not be able to stop him at that moment, but there could come a day when he does something you can bust him for, and it's good to know his crimes and what he can do.

Besides, once upon a time, Tony Stark was advocating killing the Kree Supreme Intelligence. Yes, there were some extenuating circumstances (like his concern that the Kree and Shi'ar would destroy Earth in their war), but he was still plotting to kill a sovereign ruler of a galactic empire. Who's to say he won't decide to kill Ronan, or whoever rules that planet the Centaurians live on, for some reason or another? It just seems like it would be a really good idea to keep tabs on a person like that.

Sure, Tony could ignore it, but they could always make sure to mention that violating this probation could result in imprisonment, or death if Stark feels like resisting arrest. It's a little thing, and kind of petty, but Iron Man is more than just a guy in a suit now. He's Director of SHIELD, and in the current Marvel-616 Earth, he'll likely have to be involved in any meetings Earth governments (those that affiliate with SHIELD anyway) have with extraterrestrials. It probably wouldn't help matters if Iron Man has been blatantly ignoring the laws of the universal peacekeeping force. That makes Earth look like a backward planet, full of self-important apes that don't feel like they're beholden to the same laws other civilized interstellar species obey. Plus, once word gets around that Nova took care of Annihilus, he's gonna be quite the hero out there, so disrepsecting him isn't likely to earn you any points with anybody you'd want to make friends with.

Just a little something I thought of.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Stretch Those Hugging Muscles!

Hey Calvin, are you happy to be all moved into your new place? {Yep. Are you ready to get down to bidness?} Yup. {Then lead on, MacPanduff.} Huh? {Never mind, just me reaching for a joke.}

Alright, well then first off I want to give a Hug to Penance, because that looks like a really uncomfortable costume, and he didn't get to hang out with his friend Nova for very long. {Actually, I'm not sure hugging him is a good idea.} Why not? {See, his costume has a bunch of spikes inside it, and if you hug him, the spikes will probably stab him.} Why would he wear a costume like that? {Sigh. Because pain makes his powers work right now, and he wants to atone for Nitro blowing up Stamford.} Oh. Well, there must be some place there aren't any spikes, so I'll hug him there.

Also, I want to Hug Courtney Duran and Cable. It looks like Coutney lost her boyfriend without even knowing it, and Cable put all that time into building his cool island city, and now it's broken. That's so sad. {Yeah, it really is. I'd imagine he'll vent his frustration on whoever it is that's planning to steal his technology.} They're gonna get hurt aren't they? {Yeah, more than likely.} Maybe I should start planning a hug for those people.

Time to bonk some people. First up, a Bonk for Moose, because he hasn't be keeping in touch with Courtney, and now he's seeing someone behind her back? He could have at least called her up to say he thought they should break up! What a bum! Why would he do that? {If that girl in my English 100 class years ago was right, it's because all guys are jerks. Not sure I agree with that statement, though.}

Bonks for Sabretooth, because he's evil, but my hardest Bonks are for Nova's dad. He was a jerk the whole time Rich was visiting, putting down Nova for being a hero, ripping on the NEw Warriors, the ones Nova had just found out died, blaming Nova for starting a fight with the Thunderbolts. They started the whole thing! {Yeah, but did you notice the TV reporter as Nova and Iron Man were leaving the scene?} What about her? {She's talking about how the 'Thunderbolts obtained the surrender of - ', and it gets cut off there. It's a safe bet she was talking about Nova, which means the media spun this as him starting the fight, and being another out of control, unregistered superhero. Rich's dad is just going off what he's being told.} But those are lies! He didn't surrender, and he wasn't out control. {Doesn't matter. In Quesada's post Civil War Marvel Universe, up is down, and black is white. Or maybe up is triangle and black is mauve, for all the sense it makes right now.}

Well now I need to applaud something just to cheer up, so lots of Applause for Nova, for staying under control, even though everybody was being mean to him, and going back to space, because that's where he's needed. {Agreed. I got shudders down my spine when Tony suggested Rich rebuild the Nova Corps as part of the Intiative. That's just what we need, the Nova Force and the Worldmind under Tony Stark's thumb. At least Hulk smashed him.} He did? {Oh yeah, smashed the heck out of him.} Well that's good. I'm gonna Applaud Deadpool too, for parachuting to the rescue, when Irene needed him the most. His showing up even made Cable smile, and that's sweet. And he shot Sabretooth a whole bunch, and that was good too, because Sabretooth was causing trouble, and he needed to get beat up. {Preach it, Adorable Baby Panda!}

So that's all Calvin had for me. Do the rest of you have anything for me to applaud or hug, or even bonk? I might not have that many bonks left after I'm done with Nova's dad though. {Just try not to concuss the guy, OK?}

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Warped Reflections

Once upon a time, I liked Carnage. Not like I rooted for him, but that he was a cool, extreme villain, and therefore awesome. It was the early '90s, I was younger, and considerably dumber. Still, there is one purpose Carnage served that I still find interesting, to a limited extent.

In Spider-Man Unlimited #2, we have reached the final chapter of the Maximum Carnage saga, where Carnage and a bunch of other extreme villains have killed lots of people and whomped on third-string heroes because the big guns were otherwise occupied for one reason or another. Carnage is feeling shaky after being blasted with a Magna-Illuminizer (spelling?), essentially a "happy feelings" gun. I'm not kidding. Suffice it to say, happy feelings freaked Carnage the hell out, and he starts running over the city, moving to places of significance farther and farther back in his past, with an angry Venom and a busted up Spidey on his tail.

Unsurprisingly, Venom wants Carnage dead, Spidey wants him captured. The two end up fighting it out in the orphanage where Cletus Kasady grew up (While Carnage fled. Way to go, guys). Venom keeps insisting that Carnage must die, while Spidey mocks him for obsessing. Venom says that he must stop Carnage because the symbiote came from him, thus Carnage is his responsibility, every innocent Kasady hurts is on his head. Spidey responds that he understands, because that's how he feels about Venom. Venom is, of course, flabbergasted by this, because he 'protects the innocent!', leading Spidey to think about how from where he stands, there's only a thin line of sanity between Venom and Carnage. And that was the idea that intrigued me.

I started thinking about how Venom is Spider-Man, if viewed in a funhouse mirror. Visually, Venom is a hyper-muscled Spider-Man. The black costume that could be quite intimidating, has been made frightening with the addition of that tongue, the claws, and the huge pointy teeth. At that time, they both wanted to protect, but Venom was willing (eager) to kill, while Spider-Man wouldn't even have killed a man he despised (Norman Osborn), let alone random criminals. Peter takes responsibility for the death of his uncle, because he didn't capture the thief who later shot Ben, the action which shaped the hero he became. Conversely, Eddie became Venom precisely because he doesn't take responsibility for his own failings. It's Spider-Man's fault for making Brock's life a mess, because Spidey captured the real Sin-Eater, exposing the one Brock had exclusive interviews with as a fake.

Oddly, since becoming Venom, Brock did develop a since of responsibility, often making sure no bystanders were caught in his attempts to kill Spider-Man, but still he blames Spidey for his mistakes. They're both still hung up on a past event, but it drives Peter to be a better hero, to not let others suffer because he doesn't act. Brock is still too fixated on blaming Spider-Man, to get to a point where maybe he can focus more on the "protector" part of "Lethal Protector". Even when he made a truce with Spidey, it doesn't seem to be because he's stopped blaming Spider-Man, so much as he finally realized that Spider-Man does protect the innocent, and so killing him would be bad. That qualifies as progress, but it's questionable how far Brock can move forward if he's always blaming another for his failings. It makes it easy to fall back on that excuse when other things go wrong.

Carnage seemed to be like looking at the reflection in a funhouse mirror, reflected in another funhouse mirror. The symbiote looks less like a costume, more like an actual living being, with loose flowing strands moving about at all times. It can morph it all manners of blades and projectiles, something Venom showed no ability for (beyond making webbing). The colors shift, back a little more towards Spider-Man's red costume, but with black still playing a part. The black in the symbiote could almost be seen as the web pattern from the red-and-blue costume, warped into a series of random lines. Additionally, Carnage seems to be Venom with no morals whatsoever. Whereas Venom simply lacks mercy for criminals and Spider-Man, Carnage possesses no mercy, period. He kills everyone, indiscriminately, reveling in how high he can pile the bodies. He doesn't concern himself with whether people intervene in his slaughter, because he would kill those people eventually, anyway.

Whereas Peter lost his parents on a super-secret spy mission early in life, but had Uncle Ben and Aunt May to love him, and Eddie Brock lost his mother, and was left with a demanding, unsupportive father, Kasady had a mother killed by his father, and possibly a grandmother that he killed (apparently he likes to change up the story he tells the shrinks from one time to the next). From a situation where the loss of loving parents was mitigated by loving relatives, it just went downhill as we pass through the mirrors from one character to the next.

That was pretty much the extent of my interest in Carnage, as someone whose existence and activities troubled Venom, as much as Venom troubled Spidey. Characters that can make the protagonist question how far apart they really are can be kind of fun, in limited doses. Unfortunately, Marvel kind of went overboard on Carnage, and I'm left thinking he would have been better off as a one-shot villain, maybe someone to convince Venom to tone himself down.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What I Bought 6/13/07

Hm, I saw an advertisement for Walker, Texas Ranger DVDs this afternoon, and now that song is rolling through my brain. 'Cause the eyes of the Ranger. . . damnit! Curse you, and your addictive theme song, Chuck Norris! Perhaps talking about comics will help wash the song from my mind, hopefully I won't be so distracted I stumble into spoilers.

Amazing Spider-Girl #9 - So May got the parental okey-doke to web-swing again, which has got her feeling pretty good. Naturally, that can't last. Courtney found out her boyfriend Moose is coming to visit his dad in the hospital today, and plans to go see him and find out if they're still together, seeing as she hasn't heard from him since he moved away to live with his uncle. Teen agnst ensues. Gene Thompson is still a tool. But that's all background noise for the time being.

The primary story deals with the group of ex-villains lead by Kaine (cripes, who ever thought I'd find the first Spidey Clone a tolerable character?) trying to safeguard some "Specimen 297", as it gets transported to a lab for study. Their convoy gets attacked while - in a lucky coincidence - May happens to be around, and wait a minute, why are you guys trying to steal it, you're the ones having it transported?!

What it all boils down to is this - a. . . certain. . . character is back in play. Oh, dear. I know DeFalco seems to think every character can be useful, but I think this one ran its course long ago. Plus, I can already see Peter hearing about this and trying to make May stay out of it, and damnit, we just got through with some of that! Too bad, I was enjoying it more up until the end. 3.3 out of 5.

Cable/Deadpool #41 - So, Cable got his telepathy and telekinesis back, but burned out the telepathy the next issue, but he still has the telekinesis? Is that about the size of it?

This book works better when Cable and Deadpool can react to each other. They can be fine separately, but better together. That's what we get, and I'm glad to see it. The big fight that carried over from X-Men is done. Hurrah! Providence is falling apart, and is doomed. Booo! Cable is sad, but accepts it as just another setback to his plans. Me, I'd mope a little more if I sunk all the time he did into that place, but he's a pragamatist, I guess. Meantime, he's got to take steps to keep all the nifty future stuff on Providence out of people's hands. What people, we don't know. Bad people, or stupid, greedy ones, I presume.

Either way, Cable deals with that, Domino has a standoff with Sabretooth for awhile, then Deadpool shakes things up, as he usually does. Man, he had a lot of bullets in those guns. It took me thirty seconds to say all the dialogue he spit out before they went empty. Eventually, Creed gets taken care of (I suppose this concludes his time as a member of the X-Men). But that still leaves Providence for Cable to deal with, but it's no sweat, because Wade's back at his side! There's a nice panel on page 18, when Cable hears that 'Pool showed up. It's nice because Cable had a happy smile. That's seems such a rare occurence, it's pleasant to see. I had a good time with this. 4.4 out of 5.

Nova #3 - WARNING! For the second straight issue, Nova does not pummel Tony Stark. Physically. He does verbally diss him by consistently calling him "Tony" (No "Iron Man", no "Director Stark"), and pointing out once again, that compared to Annihilation, Civil War really was just a bunch of 'squabbles'. Tony can deny it all he wants, keep insisting it was important, and that they're unified (That's why War Machine tried to block Spidey's powers right? Unity?) but in terms of scale, there's no comparison.

So yeah, Rich doesn't whomp Stark. He does take the best that 4 Thunderbolts can throw at him, and emerge unharmed, telling them to 'surrender or suffer immediate penalty'. The funny thing is, that prompts Moonstone to call him a 'sociopath', which doesn't seem to fit Nova. Given she was a psychiatrist, she ought to know that, right? Eh, whatever, she got her butt kicked, and hangs out with Not Venom and Penance (also known as the Worst Character Development Ever), so who cares what she thinks?

The issue did teach me something I didn't know, namely that the Thunderbolts, unlike the Initiative, isn't part of SHIELD. They work for the Commission on Superhuman Activites. Of course, those were the twerps that pushed Steve Rogers to the point he turned in the shield and costume once upon a time, foisting the twit that eventually became U.S. Agent upon us, so clearly they can't be trusted.

When it's all said and done, Rich realizes this Earth just isn't the place for him, and decides to go back to where things make more sense. Given the chaos out in the universe right now, that sounds kind of odd, but it is easier to understand why countless worlds are destabilized, or lacking in power supply, or under attack by giant bugs, than to figure out how Spidey is a wanted fugitive, and Not Venom is a sanctioned government agent. So hopefully Nova is done with Earth for awhile, say, for remaining length of this title? 4.3 out of 5, and the only reason it ranks below Cable/Deadpool is because it didn't make me laugh.

Oh, and I flipped through Exiles this week, and decided I just wasn't feeling it, so it's dropped.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Audience Requests, Provides Assistance

In last night's post, Kolbyirish asked for some help. She's looking for some good comics with Storm in them, and her main exposure has been from TV and the X-Movies. Also, she'd like to know about any other black, female characters out there.

I suggested Uncanny X-Men post-#200, when Storm is pretty much the undisputed leader of the team, and they're up against Nimrod, the Hellfire Club, the Marauders, etc. I haven't read a all those issues, but the ones I have looked pretty good, and Storm seems a commanding presence, even without powers.

As for other characters, I mentioned Monica Rambeau in NextWave, because the more people that read NextWave, the better. Beyond that, I really wasn't much help. So I'm sure you can see where this is going. Yep, I'm looking for you to chip in with any Storm-centric stories you think are enjoyable, and to chime in with any other characters you think Kolbyirish would like.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Zelda, ZELLLDAAAA!!!!

Sadly, I wasn't able to find a picture of X-Play's "Drunk Link" crying pitfully over Zelda to go with this post. Truly the Internet is freaking worthless. Setting that aside for the time being, we move back to the Nintendo 64 to look at, you guessed it - Starfox 64.

Wait that's not right. I'm not talking about Starfox for a couple months yet. It's Ocarina of Time that we're focusing on today. Prior to getting this game as a gift from Alex, I didn't have much experience with the Legend of Zelda games. I rented the original once, but the rental place never included instruction manuals, so I didn't know what I was doing, or to what purpose I was supposed to be doing them. Not surprisingly, I fared poorly, and pretty much ignored that franchise for the next several years. Heck, it was quite a while before I realized "Zelda" didn't refer to the guy with the sword doing all the work. Hero can't get his name in the title of his game. Except "Link to the Past", which is a horrible pun (as noted by Drunk Link, in one of the few moments he isn't crying over losing Zelda, or the Drunk Girl).

I don't know whether there's an advantage (in terms of enjoyment) to playing Ocarina of Time with knowledge of the earlier games. Maybe you get more out of it, on an easter egg level, I don't know. I just know it's a game I really enjoy. The plot is pretty standard, you as (whatever name you gave yourself) are a special child, tasked to go to the castle and bring a special stone to the princess, who then asks you to go get the other special stones, and it all goes to hell from there. The fact that the two kids' plan ends up backfiring and causing the whole mess is a nice little twist, but one that actually makes a lot of sense when you think back on it. The combat is fun, but not complicated to the point it drives you nuts (most of the time).

For me though, it was all the little things you can do that add to the experience. I wasted all kinds of time just riding around on my horse, or fishing. Not very heroic perhaps, but it's not like the story is gonna go anywhere without me right? Which is why you can take the job selling masks, or play games to increase your weapons load, or concentrate on finding the Skullta spiders to lift the curse on that one poor family. It was kind of interesting to see where people you met as a kid had ended up, and to see how they were doing seven years later, though the answer was rarely good. For example, Talon (a short, chubby guy wearing red and blue) ran a nice horse ranch when you were a kid. Seven years later, he's exiled and living in a small village, unable to return to his ranch because it's been giving to his unfriendly servant (a taller fellow, with similar facial hair, but wearing green), who had always complained of how he did all the hard work, but Talon got all the credit. So it's up to you to turn things back around, because hey, you're a good guy and that's what you do, especially when the skinny jackass tries to welch on the wager you to had. He's lucky I just took the horse, and not his head.

I don't really know what else to say about Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It was just a lot of fun to play. Even though the story is pretty straightforward, there are enough diversions to keep you the interest level high on the second or third time through.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Victory of Will Over Power

So I was thinking about Hulk versus Thing fights, and wondering if Ben Grimm has ever been able to achieve victory without some extenuating circumstances.

It seems as though anytime the two fight, if the Hulk doesn't win, there's an outside factor involved. Either Grimm has some help (like the Fantastic Four), or his strength has been enhanced beyond its normal levels somehow, or the Hulk is weaker than normal. Like the time during the Simonson FF run when they fought, the Thing could become even more rock-monster like, and he fought Mr. Fixit Hulk at twilight, so the Hulk wasn't at full strength at time either, a double whammy. The Thing stomped him, only to get the favor returned later that night (in the pages of Incredible Hulk, natch).

See, I was thinking that even though Thing's strength normally doesn't match Hulk's, Grimm's usually the one more in control of himself, he's craftier, and he ought to be a better fighter. After all, the Hulk shouldn't know anything about fighting Banner didn't know (or that the Hulk hasn't somehow learned over the years), whereas Grimm grew up in an area with street gangs, so I'd imagine he's no stranger to brawling. I'm not saying he's a kung-fu master, but that the mental areas where he typically has an edge on Green Skin should be enough, combined with his strength, to net him a few clean wins here and there. Anybody know of any comics that fit that bill?

Of course, now he's gonna have to fight a Hulk who seems in control of his emotions, and has learned a few things about the art of combat, so those advantages just went flying out the window. Poor Ben, he's gonna get a whupping because of his big-brained stretchy idiot of a best friend. Isn't that the way it always goes?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Perhaps A Bit Much

So Turner Classic was showing Batman Returns this afternoon. I know, what's up with that? Then again, American Movie Classics has been showing Happy Gilmore, so maybe the definition of "classic" has shifted a bit.

Anyway, we've reached the point in the film where Penguin's brilliant "abduct the first-born sons and drown them in the sewer" scheme has fallen apart, and he's sending his radio-controlled, missile-equipped penguins into the city (that's a nice phrase). There's the lady in the control room doing a countdown and all that, and she says 'Estimated casualties - 100,000'. Now I'm sure I've heard that before, having watched the movie on TV several times, and in the theaters (It's been a tradition of my father and I to see the Batman movies in the theaters. Man, did I question the wisdom of traditions after Batman and Robin). I guess it had just never resonated before today, but I thought to myself "Damn, that's an awful lot of people. Seems a little extreme for Pengy."

Granted, Movie Penguin is a far cry from Burgess Meredith, or night club owner/illegal goods merchant (that is his side business, right?) Oswald Cobblepot, or even the bird-themed thief of the animated series. Still, killing a hundred thousand people seems so much more of a Joker move.

Maybe I'm wrong about that. Did Penguin ever exhibit that kind of bloodlust, or was it a consequence of Burton going for more of a "deformed, shunned by society" Penguin?

Friday, June 08, 2007

What Is The Dark Terrible Secret?

Move in is mostly complete, except for the severe cleaning of the old place that still remains. That's going to be unpleasant I'm sure, but that's for tomorrow. For tonight, I want to investigate the troubling past of William Wagner.

For those of you confused as to who dat, it's the guy currently in a relationship with Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel. He has some secret that Carol's public relations lady dug up, one involving extensive surgery. So the obvious (and hopefully fun) question is, what's the secret?

While I'm sure it'll wind up being some tie to Carol's past, some foe trying to make good, I'm not up to date on her rogue's gallery to the point I can hazard guess. The only one I knew was Doomsday Man, and I think he's out of commission for the foreseeable future.

So, for kicks and giggles mostly, I'm going suggest that William Wagner was previously Wilma Williamson (probably not her actually name). I think it would be kind of interesting to gauge Carol's reaction to finding out the fellow she's interested in was at one point in a woman's body.

Granted, I've stories with that element before, on Star Trek: Next Generation, and in an issue of GrimJack, but another perspective can be enlightening. I can't say why the idea is interesting me, maybe just the idea of undergoing such a serious physical transformation is intriguing to me.

Anyway, that's my quick hit, half-assed guess. Now it's your turn.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Guess Who's Flying Solo?

Hey everybody! I get to do this post all by myself today, because Calvin's busy. He's moving tomorrow, so he's says he needs to get everything packed up. He's not really packing right now, he's just yelling at his phone because the cable people keep sending him messages to remind him his service gets moved tomorrow. So it's good I'm on my own, 'cause he'd be grumpy. So let's get started!

I want to give a hug to William Wagner. I don't know what his dark secret is, but it isn't nice of that mean lady to make him stay away from Warbird. Love shouldn't be tampered with mean lady, go away!

I'm giving a bonk to Sean Madigan for not being nicer to his dad. His dad may be MODOK now, but it's still his dad, and he's sick. But Sean doesn't care. All he wants is set off his stupid bomb, and hurt a bunch of people, while his dad dies. That's now how you treat your father.

Finally, I'm going to clap my paws for Warbird's Lightning Storm team. They aren't superheroes, but they did a really good job in that fight. Baines made sure that no more AIM agents could teleport in, Sum, beat up the weird animal that knocked him out a window, which meant it couldn't hurt any people, and Locke nearly killed herself with that telepathic attack. I'm with Calvin though, I don't understand how she does that. Is it that gizmo on her head that does it, or did SHIELD give her superpowers somehow? Either way, she did a really good job.

It's too bad one of them is helping Sean. When I find out who, they'll get such a bonk...

Hey this typing stuff isn't so hard. I guess my paws aren't too big for the keyboard after all. Oh, Calvin says to tell you posting might stop for the next couple days while he moves. Or it might not. So I guess just keep checking like normal, and there will be a post, or there won't. Hopefully there will be. Bye now!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What I Bought 6/6/07

Big week this week. Two whole comics. Hoo boy, that's my best haul since, um, give me a sec here, May 16th. Oh well, we'll just have to make do, and make sure not to stumble into too many spoilers as we go, eh?

Warbird #16 - That's actually a pretty nice cover. The more Greg Horn moves away from pin-up covers, the more I can appreciate his skill. I'll have to mention that to Ken, he likes Greg Horn's work. Or was that Greg Land? Maybe it was both. As advertised by the cover, Carol must fight mind-controlled Wonder Man (well, the cover doesn't advertise that he's mind-controlled, but you get my point). Because fighting never solves anything, Carol breaks MODOK's hold on Simon in a way that I'm sure will have absolutely no lasting consequences beyond this issue.

That settled, it's back to the A.I.M. battle royal, with two poor SHIELD agents stuck in the middle. By the time the actual superheroes make it back to the fight it's already over, thanks to SHIELD's technology that simulates telepathic abilities. How does that work? Still, MODOK's escaped, and the DNA bomb's gone too. They did catch the Scientist Supreme, so I suppose it's Wonder Man's turn to compliment her ass. I wonder, how did MODOK manage to have a son?

Couple of other points. On the whole, I enjoy Lopresti's art, though there are times when the fight scenes look awkward, such as page 4, where Carol seems oddly positioned for having just been left crossed. Still, most of the rest of the fights were well done, and there's some nice facial expression throughout, and that's about what I want, so props. The other thing,is that Carol seems to be bantering in a style I'd associate with Buffy. My only issue with that is, if Carol is in her late 20s, early 30s like I figure, she seems a bit old for that style of chatter. Just something about her saying 'All my awesomeness aside'. . . Not a big deal, I guess. 3.7 out of 5.

The Punisher #48 - How odd. This is the 6th issue of the arc, and it didn't conclude. Is Garth Ennis deviating from pattern? It's fine, he can if he wants, it was a nice enough issue, especially considering Frank Castle does nothing. He sits on a bed, says a few words, and spends most of his time looking at Jenny with something approaching compassion. No wonder I was so confused by his expression, who expects Castle to show compassion? Maybe it's respect?

Be that as it may, this issue is focused on the widows dealing with the fallout from the botched hit on Mr. Castle, and the detective who's investigating their involvement in the shootout. He makes a pretty accurate guess as to what the ladies were up to, but he's got to prove it. Shauna Toomey still goes and jumps the gun, and now they've got three different people gunning for them. Based on Budiansky's display of excessive force in this issue, I'm not sure who they should be more scared of, him, Jenny, or the Punisher. It's sad in a way, the widows' revenge scheme started out so well, they seemed so prepared, but now they're falling apart, pointing fingers, overreacting, and doing things in the sloppy manner of most of the people Frank's planted over the years. 4.1 out of 5.