Friday, November 30, 2007

But Pandas Can't Predict The Future

Nope, we sure can't. {I'm surprised you would admit that.} I knew you'd say that. {But I thought you said you couldn't - aw, you're messing with me aren't you?} Yes. Now tell me more about how you can only put money in the Salvation Army bucket when the person with the bell isn't around. {Later. We aren't here to talk about my neuroses, unless this whole world is a product of my imagination, in which case my comic purchases are a symptom of them. Barring that unlikely scenario, just talk about comics.}

You're no fun. And neither is Acting SHIELD Director Danvers, so Bonk for her. Using drug-addled Harry Osborn to draw out Norman is just sleazy. {Of course, it's largely Norman's fault Harry's in the state he is.} That's true; Bonk for Norman! I hope Peter burns that bed sheet, too. {Hear, hear.} I'm going to Bonk Dr. Strange, too. {Because he didn't tell Wade what the point of all the dimension-hopping was?} That's part of it. But he seemed really OK with Deadpool killing all those creatures he ran into in the different dimensions. {Greater good kinda thing.} You're the one who told me that anytime someone says "greater good", they're really talking about "personal gain". {Actually, I stole that from GrimJack, and you would have to ask yourself what did Strange personally gain from it?} Um, a consolidation of his power base? If the dimensions destabilize then Strange doesn't get to, um, something. {Riiiight. Better just move on.}

Grrr, fine. I'm going to Applaud Kitty for being really cool and saving Peter's life, and being able to get past how hurt she was over how he broke up with her. {And now she's going to date Kong! Yeah! Big, goofy sidekicks represent!} I can't decide whether to Applaud Deadpool for saving existence, or Hug him for having to help T-Ray, so that T-Ray can just attack him again down the line. {Why not do both?} Well sure, if you want to take the easy way out. Thinking about it, I kind of think I should hug Carol Danvers. She's just having an awful time of it as Acting Director. {Well, she's not helping herself any by being stupid.} That's mean. {So was trotting Harry out there as bait.}
You're right. To heck with her then. Now give me some pie! {Pie? What pie?} I know you have pie in your fridge, stop hogging it! {Hey, if you're going to accuse me of hoarding food, could you at least tell me to stop Bogarting it?} No! Give me pie! {Fine! Here's your pie, you loud little so-and-so!} SPLAT! Hey! WHy you! {Woo-woo-woo-woo-woo, nyuk nyuk!}

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What I Bought 11/29/07

Well, based off the recommendations of all my readers, I guess I better go hunt I Am Legend (the book) down. Once I get it read, I'll let ya know what I think, though that probably won't be until after I've seen the movie. Until then, I'll let ya know what I think of a coupla comic books. And I have no idea what constitutes a spoiler right now, as I'm referencing things that I'm uncertain how long they've been known so, you know, keep that in mind.

Deadpool and his Amazing Friends #47 - I could have done without a return to this particular plot line, myself, but that's life. Wade's still having to do things he doesn't really want to do, but he does them because he wants to honor the faith Cable showed in him as he died. Oh right, Nate's not dead {Surprise Face!}. How about dropping Wade a line at some point there, Messiah of the Future? You know he'd help you if you asked, right, and be glad to hear you were OK? Why must you be such a loner, Bionic Arm Man?

I'm still disappointed this book's being canceled, though I'm curious to see where Nicieza leaves Wade as a character when he finishes (and for the record, I'm terrified of what Daniel Way might have planned for Wade in that upcoming Wolverine: Origins issue.) I kind of want to see Wade have to make some harder choices, though. He really didn't want to do what he did this issue, but the universe was at risk if he didn't, so it lacks in suspense. I need to think about that some more. Give me a few days, 'kay babe? And I'm talking like Dennis Miller now, so allow me to venture off on a rant here. What happened to you Dennis? I know, you experienced a huge personal shift after Sept. 11, but dang. I used to love you on HBO, and then you joined Monday Night Football, where you just seemed out of place. I mean, I felt like you enjoyed football, but it wasn't your venue (And I enjoy Tony Kornheiser on PTI, but it's not his venue either. Get Dick Vermeil in there with Jaworski and let them talk football, damnit!) And then you were on the O'Reilly Factor, and now you've got a sports show on Versus, and it all keeps going downhill for ya like Josef Stalin kneecapping Ella Fitzgerald and tossing her from the top of Uluru.

Ahem. You know, I'm not a huge Ron Lim fan, at least not when he isn't drawing bright and reflecty Silver Surfer, but he works pretty well here. Big, scary (Beowulf?) sea monster was pretty, the frown on Wade's face being visible through his mask as he utters 'This sucks'. I was unclear near the end of the issue whether Dr. Strange was there in his corporeal or astral form. He looked faded in one panel, but not in others. I'm going to say corporeal, but I think the colorist (Gotham?) might have wanted fainter, less distinct colors. It was a decent enough issue, though I had no idea what was supposed to be going on until Strange cast his spell of Reveal Needed Information.

Ultimate Spider-Man #116 - Man SHIELD can't be this stupid, can they? Losing the bad guy, then initiating a very bad plan to draw said bad guy out, all in one issue? I guess the plan isn't horrible. . . if you don't care about property damage, which Acting Director Danvers apparently does not. Which is good, because I think there will be a lot of it next month. Kitty saves Peter, somehow catching up to him before SPLAT!, I guess by pushing off the building as she jumped, and probably by streamlining as she fell, rather than flailing like Peter. Oh! I should mention, the laws of gravity appear to have reasserted themselves, and Peter is indeed closer to the ground than Norman, which makes sense, as he was falling faster. I figured since I mentioned it last issue, I should provide an update.

Bendis writes a couple of nice scenes here. The one between Kitty and Peter, after the craziness, and Peter talking with the guys in the van outside his home, those were nice. Yeah, the van scene had a lot of that Bendis banter, but I liked seeing Peter have nice interactions with law enforcement for once. I was not so happy about the post-craziness interaction with SHIELD, just because I'm tired of them being aggressive jerks towards Spider-Man when he hasn't done anything wrong.

As to Immonen's artwork, there's good and bad. That two-page splash of Osborn going BOOM! was very nice. On the other hand, the two pages that precede it, with everyone falling, and Kitty trying to catch up to Peter, don't quite work as well. In one panel they're reaching for each other and seem to be close to one another, even though Osborn should be between them. Then there's a shot of Peter's arm reaching up, but there's no sign of Kitty anywhere, or Osborn for that matter. It feels out of order, which is too bad, because I think it's a really nice idea in theory, I guess the execution just didn't work for me. Oh, and I'd like a ruling from all interested parties, Norman Osborn in a bed sheet toga: sexy or not? I have no idea why I'm asking this, just for reactions, I guess. There are parts of this comic I enjoyed, but on the whole I can't say it was that enjoyable. Certain scenes worked, certain scenes did nothing for me. A very meh, kind of issue.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Well, Scratch That idea

I was going to do a post asking if you thought this new Will Smith movie I Am Legend was a remake of The Omega Men, but then I actually bothered to check IMDB first, and yeah, looks like it is. So never mind that, then.

I was surprised to see the apocalyptic world of The Omega Men was due to biological, and not nuclear weapons, although by the '70s nukes maybe weren't such a big concern. Nobody got nuked during the Cuban Missile Crisis, so we're all gonna be OK, right? Plus, I've only seen part of The Omega Men, some time years ago, so what I knew about the movie was mostly me trying to piece things together from The Simpsons Halloween Special, "The Homega Men", where everything was destroyed by nukes. Nukes from France, no less. Funny, I thought France only nuked pretty places, not holes like Springfield. But I digress.

Can you digress if you didn't really have a point in the first place? I suppose if not having a point was the point, and you had digressed onto something with a point you could be considered to have digressed, but I'm not sure that's actually possible. Agh! Brain lock!

I am interested in I Am Legend, at any rate, to the point I'll likely actually go to the theaters and watch it, a rare occurrence. Not the first weekend, but maybe the work week after the first weekend. Shouldn't be too busy at that point.

It just seems like it could be interesting, though knowing me, I'll be more interested in the earlier parts, where we see how Smith survives alone in New York, than I will be when the conflict actually ramps up. I seem to be odd like that, especially with comedies. Office Space, for example, loses me at the point they put their Superman 3 plan into gear and everything starts to go to hell. Heck, I like the first half of Armageddon, because I think it's funny. I laugh at a Bruce Willis chasing Affleck with a shotgun, our heroes' demands in exchange for saving the world, a few other things. But once they go into space, all bets are off, and I wind up changing the channel. I'm not certain what that means. My guess would be that there plots were not entertaining to me, and so I was most interested in the collection of scenes that serve as set-up for the central plot and primary characterizations of both movies.

Huh, and here I didn't think I had anything to post on tonight. Well I sure showed me!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Now, The Other Side of The Equation

You might have noticed there was no gaming post last Monday. Well, I couldn't think of a good one, truth be told. It's a week later, and that hasn't changed. So sadly, I may be out of games that I enjoyed enough to have an interesting post about. Thus, it's time to go the other way, and talk about games I had that I disliked, probably out of disappointment. Today, it's Earthworm Jim 3-D, for the N64.

This one stands out for a few reasons. One, it's one of only two games I owned for the Nintendo 64 that I wish I hadn't. Two, because I enjoyed the original Earthworm Jim game, and the cartoon, so much, this game just felt like a huge letdown. Third, it seemed to take forever to be released. It was supposed to come out one year in time for Christmas, it ended up taking another year beyond that to hit the market. In the extra time I spent waiting for it's release, I got at least five other games that I really enjoyed, so it was a sense of "I waited so long for this?" Probably not fair, but so little in life is.

On the surface, the premise captures the tone of Earthworm Jim well. Jim has a cow drop on his head, and he's knocked inside his own mind. Now he has to travel between four different parts, and set things right. The parts are (in order you play through them): Memory, Hunger, Fear, and Imagination. Personally, I never got past Fear. There's two different stages in each area, and then a boss battle. There are different objectives to complete in each mission, and completing them will gain you a reward: Golden Udders. You need X number of these before you can access the next part of your mind, provided you defeat the level boss. That's where the trouble starts. For example, you can defeat Psycrow, the boss of the Memory level, but if you haven't collected enough Golden Udders after that, you still can't enter the Hunger portion of your mind, you'll have to replay parts of one of the Memory levels to get more Udders. Likewise, a sufficient number of Udders means nothing if you haven't defeated the boss of the previous level.

Furthermore, as you progress through levels, you have to collect marbles. As you collect more of your marbles, your intelligence goes up, from say, Waffle to Sponge. You can't fight a Level Boss unless your intelligence is of a certain level. Here's the trick: even though you can play through levels as much as you want, you can't just boost your intelligence by playing levels over and over. If you play the first level of the Barnyard Wars once and collect 60 marbles, then play it again and collect 62, you do not have 122 marbles. You have 62. You can only increase intelligence by boosting your high score on a particular level, or by playing a level you haven't yet, which isn't always an option.

The problem is, I can't see any reason the game should be that way. Why can't you just start in whatever part of the brain you wish, and play whichever levels you wish? Sure I understand making the player beat the levels in a particular part before facing the boss, but the rest of it seems superfluous, making us jump through hoops for no reason. Keep in mind, the Golden Udders and the marbles don't actually give Jim any kind of a boost. They don't teach you new skills, or give you more health, or better weapons. So it really feels like those time-filling assignments you had to do back in grade school, the ones the teacher assigned just to keep you busy? Yeah, not the comparison a game should be drawing, in my opinion.

There's some good. In addition to your standard blaster, each level typically has some other weapon that will specially help you there, such as the Meat Cleaver Gun Jim's wielding in the picture. The humor is there. The setup for the boss battles is sort of clever, initially. You enter an arena on the back of a pig (or as Jim calls it, "porkboarding!") The boss has some more imposing vehicle, be it hover tank or UFO (I only faced the first two bosses; I don't know what the later bosses used). There are 100 marbles in the arena. You have some, the boss has some, and others are scattered throughout. You have to get all 100. The only way to make the boss give up their marbles is to pick up one of the massive bullets in the arena (there are three, you can hold two of them), and hit the boss with one, causing them to drop marbles.

Of course, the same is true of you, and here's where I think it went too far. See, you lose health for every hit you take, 20% per hit by the 2nd fight. Each marble restores only 1%. The boss doesn't have to worry about such things. You can shoot him all the doo-dah day long, and he'll never stop, unless you get the 100 marbles. You on the other hand, can lose by him collecting 100 marbles, or you dying. It seems unnecessarily stacked against you. Just put no health restrictions, and first to 100 wins.

On the whole, Earthworm Jim 3-D just seems to be a game of missed opportunities, at least as far as my gaming experience went. The concept was good, the execution not so much.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Save The World - But Only Once

In honor of the appearance of the Terminus Device, which as far as I can tell has never been mentioned in Marvel history before last week's What If?, I am putting forth a little exercise. I would like you to devise some sort of universe/planet/city/day-saving thing. Give it a name, and describe the specific threat that would lead to its introduction to the comic lexicon (whichever particular universe you want it to appear in). It can be magic, or super-science, or whatever.

I'll start, and mine will be deployed by either Captain Marvel or Dr. Strange, depending on what universe we're in. Or Hellboy. Or GrimJack (he fought weird mystical enemies, too). The weapon will only reveal itself on the day that Ra's eye again assumes the form of Hathor and begins to slaughter everyone. Last time, Ra was able to trick Hathor with a lot of beer died blood red, which Hathor drank until she got wasted and forgot she was killing everyone.

Well, Hathor is a teetotaler now, so you're not going to stop her with booze that looks like blood. What we need is something else to put get her out of her genocidal mood. Enter. . . the Pie of Amon! Made from the body of Amon, this looks like a massive, delicious pie. Made of people (it's actually cherry). Hathor won't be able to resist (because how can a god bent on killing everyone and wading in their blood not want to eat a pie made of people?), and by the time she's finished eating the Pie, she'll be too full to want to get up and slaughter everyone anymore. And so the day, is saved. For another few eternities, until the next time Hathor goes on the prowl, at which point a new strategy will be required.

So there you have it. Clearly, I have established that this is not an entirely serious endeavor, but it can be if you want. If you want to place your ideas in the comments, or on your own blog, and just link to it in the comments, it's all good.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

You're Breaking My Heart, You're Shaking My Confidence Calvin

You asked me to come over on a Saturday, interrupting my after-lunch feast nap, for my verdict on one comic you don't even think you should have bought? {What are you, the recap page? Can the melodrama; it doesn't suit you. Besides, you sleep 10 hours a day anyway, only sleeping 8 hours won't kill you.} Oh, so you're an expert on panda sleep cycles now? {No, but I'm a whale biologist, so you better do what I say.} What? {Futurama reference. Since your time is so limited, guess we better get on with it.}

Absolutely! At least it'll be easy, there's not much to work with here. Applause to Nova, Captain America, and Iron Man, for their big sacrifice.

Bonk to Iron Man for his stupid comment at the end to Cap.

Applause to the Watcher for actually helping. Just watching is such a boring way to go through life. I bet he enjoyed actually being useful.

Hugs for all the Inhumans, because they lost their home thanks to the Terminus Device.

Hug for life on Earth, which will probably have a different rhythm now that the Moon is gone. {Yeah, that's going to mess with some reproductive cycles, I would imagine. Plus, it'll probably destabilize the earth's orbit, seeing as the Earth does a little dance through it's orbit with the moon, and now its partner is gone. Things could get weird.} Well, they have the Sentry. I'm sure he could set the orbit right again. {I suppose.}

Well, I'm done. Now you should feed me, so I can have my after-dinner feast nap. {Wouldn't that just be called "going to bed"?} No! I get up after the nap, and have snacks, then go to bed for the night. {And how is it pandas don't weigh 7,000 pounds?} Rigorous physical training for 4 of the six hours a day we aren't sleeping or eating. {Ah.}

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What I Bought 11/21/07

Lousy, lousy week. No books from my pull list whatsoever, and the one comic I did buy, well I'll let the review speak for itself. Hopefully it's capable of that.

What If? Annihilation - Yeah, I know, a "What If?" is rarely a good idea, but I guess I have a blind spot for Annihilation. In ffact, I know I do. So in this version, Drax tries to free Galactus himself, rather than freeing the Surfer and using his power to do it. That backfires, and Galactus, the Surfer and Drax die. Moondragon survived. . . somehow. So Nova reaches Earth fighting the advance scouts of the Wave right during the big, lame final battle of Civil War. He clues everyone in, differences are set aside, lots of still panels of people fighting, oops that was just the advance forces, here's the real deal, hello Watcher and your super-special save the day device that I've never heard of, and there you go.

I think it would have worked better if there had been more issues to work with. You know, an issue for the battle with the advance force, then an issue for the final showdown. With just the one it all feels rushed. The panels feel too stuffed, as it seems like Suayan and Kayanan are both trying to get as many Marvel characters as possible into each shot. I understand the reasoning, to demonstrate how everyone is banding together, but I think they needed larger panels to pull it off, because it just comes off looking largely muddled. Plus, at this stage, I have kind of a hard time believing the heroes of Earth would so readily accept what Nova is telling him, though I suppose the presence of three former Heralds of Galactus might lend some credibility. It's just not so easy to see the heroes doing the right thing immediately, after all the time they spent squabbling over stupid crap in Civil War.

Plus, I'm not sure about the Cap/Iron Man exchange at the end, when Cap says he wasn't going to finish Stark off, and IM replies that he knows, he saw in Steve's eyes that he would 'wimp out'. Wimp out? He was going to spare your life, and that's wimping out? {Edit: Feb. 1, 2008 - Upon further thought, Stark may have been going for lighthearted joshing there. But given the overall all tone I got from Civil War, it obviously fell flat with me.} I guess it's a good thing Stark didn't have Cap at more of a disadvantage in Civil War #7, or he might have just blown a hole through Steve's chest. Would have saved Sharon Carter a lot of grief I suppose. There had to be a better choice of words, that still would have avoided getting too maudlin, which I think is what Hine was going for, to avoid being too serious, but I think he might have gone too far the other way. On the whole, a disappointment, though I'm mostly disappointed in myself for buying it. I'm not sure what I was expecting. Live and learn.

And on that down beat, I'm done for the next couple days. Adorable Baby Panda and I will be back on Saturday. ABP doesn't celebrate the Thanksgiving, because to pandas, every day is a celebration of life's joys and surprises. Which is why pandas are so jolly, with the partying and all.

Monday, November 19, 2007

It's Time To Guess That Symbolism!

So did anyone else notice that Layla Miller's shirt had "46664" written on it in last week's X-Factor? It wasn't present the whole time (it's absent when she charges out onto the platform to dimension-hop with Jamie), but it was there for a few pages.

Good ole Wikipedia informs me that 46664 was Nelson Mandela's prison number, and that Joe Strummer and Bono made a song called "46664" in honor of Mr. Mandela, and that there was an AIDS charity concerts by that name. Said concert took place on November 29, 2003, so I guess this could be a reference to that.

Wiki also says 46664 is the 44th number in the Mian-Chowla sequence, and a Smith number, which means the sum of its digits (4+6+6+6+4) is equal to the sum of the digits of its prime factorization (I get what they mean, but you better go check it out yourself, because I doubt I can explain it). I have no idea whether any of that is at all relevant, though I could see Layla sporting a shirt with those numbers just because, or it could be connected to the parallel universes somehow. How? I don't know, I'm just throwing it out there.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Confronting Mortality Again And Again

One of the things Peter David has consistently touched on with Jamie Madrox is how hard his powers make it for him to make decisions, or take any kind of first step. He can see many different sides to every issue, and that makes it hard for him to decide which side to take, or which direction to go. But this week's issue brought another part of that to mind for me, and I don't know whether David has specifically dealt with it or not, so I'll just put it out here.

Jamie's attached to his duplicates, which makes sense as they're part of him. I know in PAD's first X-Factor run, there was a point where there was a dead duplicate and Jamie couldn't absorb it, and it freaked him out quite a bit. Of course, by the end of that issue another Madrox popped up, so maybe that one wound up being the original, and that's why the freaked out Jamie couldn't absorb the dead duplicate.

Either way, Madrox can definitely reabsorb dead duplicates now. When his "x-factor" blew up Singularity, he reintegrated with Jamie. And as a result, Jamie got back some memories he'd forgotten, the ones about Tryp being responsible for the death of Jamie's parents. But here's what I started thinking about: When a duplicate dies, and Madrox reabsorbs it, does he experience the death as it was for the duplicate? Does Madrox see whatever might be on the "other side", and if so, would it be the sort of thing his mind would reject to protect itself?

Think about what that could do to someone's state of mind. To feel as though you died, to in fact, know that you did die, and yet, you didn't actually die, all at the same time. Doesn't that seem like the sort of thing that would drive you mad, if you had to live with it? Especially if it kept happening (I think it's only happened once to Jamie thus far, but it could happen again. Death is a certainty when you deal with comic books). And if a duplicate did make it to the other side, saw what lies beyond (assuming the dupes possess whatever attributes are required for that), what effect would seeing that have on someone?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Orwell By Wachowski

Somehow I started thinking about 1984 one night a week or two back. Specifically, I was thinking how in the final third of the book, as Winston Smith is "reeducated" by the Party, Winston asks whether the "Brotherhood", a resistance organization, actually exists. He's told he'll never know. That would seem to suggest either it doesn't exist, or it isn't powerful enough to represent a threat to the Party. Out of curiosity, do you think the other two nations are run similarly to Oceania? Are they really always fighting, even though it never seems to get anywhere?

Anyway, I started to think about the ways the Matrix trilogy draws from 1984. There's this massive proportion of the population that just goes through life thinking things are exactly as they appear, but really they're sitting in a vat of goo, essentially plugged into a virtual reality, while they produce energy for machines. Then there's a select few who know about the VR, and the goo vats, and think they've got some measure of control of their lives, fighting the machines, but really, they're being manipulated by the machines as well. The Party still controls everything, and Zion only existed because it keeps humanity around to keep the machines in a better level of existence. Though really, what do the machines do with their existence? We never really see them doing anything like building great civilizations, or art, or interstellar travel, so would it really make a difference if they didn't have humans as batteries? It just means there'd be fewer of them, right?

Back when I first saw Matrix: Reloaded (Alex had the DVD), I thought Neo showing off powers outside the Matrix meant the resistance really didn't know how badly they'd been played. I figured it meant that even the humans who thought they were out of the Matrix, were still actually in the program. The machines had anticipated human rejection, and set up a part of the program specifically for those individuals, which had only limited access to the rest of the humanity. I thought that would have been quite awesome, even though it is like that story you see in comics and cartoons where the villain traps the hero in their own mind, then the hero escapes, but the villain wins, but it turns out the villain is the one trapped inside their own mind now, and just having a happy dream. Of course, that wasn't the direction the Matrix trilogy went, but I think that would have been really in the 1984 vein. Of course, that probably would have seemed to defeatist and depressing for movie audiences, and so we got what we did. Whatever that was. I'm still not sure what happened. Let me check Wiki real quick. Yep, still not sure what happened. Never mind, moving on.

Actually, I'm not sure I had anything else. That's a pretty weak end for the post, but what can you do? Well, it's not on you, I suppose, it would have been up to me to plan this better. If I think of something else, I'll come back and add it, howzabout that?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Don't Fear The Panda

It gets dark too early now. The dark makes me scared and tired. {I hear ya.} Well, then do something about it! {Me? You're the great and powerful Adorable Baby Panda, you do something about it. Or move to the Southern Hemisphere for a few months.} But you'd have to come with me. {Get me a decently-paying job, and you've got a deal.} A job? {A decently paying job.} A decently paying job? Well, I'll see what I can do. {Good. Get back to me when you've got something. Until then, what say we get the show on the road?}

You bet! I gotta move fast so I can start looking for a job for you. So Bonks for the following characters: Moose and Franklin Richards for being mean to Spider-Girl; Luke Cage's friend Willis Stryker, for pinning a crime on Luke; Forge, for not explaining his dimensional travel machine better beforehand; and Barracuda, because, well, you know. {Aw, I bet he didn't actually, you know. And I think Moose and Franklin are both dealing with some serious family problems, so a Bonk may not be what they need.} But Franklin accused Spider-Girl of being self-absorbed, but he's ignoring the fact she went there looking for assistance, so who's really being self-absorbed. {. . . Point to you. Bonk that punk.} You got it!

Let's keep moving, time's a wasting! Hugs for for all the people hiding on Knowhere, but I think they get Bonks too, because other than Cosmo, they're all hiding, instead of helping with whatever's happening. Then Hugs for Tigra, who can't catch a break even in an altered reality, and for Jamie and Layla, who need to find a Forge wherever they wound up at, and for those New X-Men, who are all going to die horribly very soon, and for Moose, because I probably was too hasty earlier. {You're mercurial, aren't you? Changing moods with the winds, just like a sportswriter.} What? That's a terrible thing to say! Comparing me to a sportswriter, why would you try and hurt my feelings like that? {Gee, I'm sorry. I didn't think you would take it so hard.} I know how you feel about sportswriters, how did you think I would take it? {Uh, this feels a little too much like a relationship fight, could we possibly move on?} No! I want to keep talking about or problems, and why you always try and ignore them! {Uh, your fur really brings out the sparkle in your eyes?} That won't work on me, but I'll agree to wait until we finish this. {Whew.}

Must go even faster! Applause for Cosmo for trying to help Nova understand what's happening, and to O'Brien's sister for helping Frank to try and get the baby back. She was keeping it together pretty well. Applause to Jamie for being so worried about Layla, and maybe for not sending a dupe on a suicide mission, and I guess that's it. {Really?} Well, I don't think I should applaud Luke for being a crime boss, and Spider-Girl didn't really do anything great. {You speak true. So are we going to start arguing again?} No, I guess not. it's not really any big deal. {Well that makes me happy.} Me too. {OK, let's quit before someone starts playing "sappy ending" sitcom music.} Good call.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nova, Nova, More Nova

But first, let me thank the federal government for waiting to charge Barry Bonds with perjury until right before Pardon the Interruption was about to start, ensuring ESPN would instead conduct nothing but coverage and discussion of that garbage, and a big fuck you to ESPN for conducting said discussion and coverage. Call me when the government actually proves Bonds did something they say he did. Until then, it's just annoying.

That aside, let's talk about Nova #8. I think I've figured out what I meant by "jagged", when describing the art. At times, Nova looks like he doesn't fit. Inside Knowhere, it seems to be because he's bright and colorful, and the place itself is dark and gloomy, and reminds me a bit of that spaceship the face-hugger was in from Alien. It doesn't seem the proper setting for a colorful, dashing space hero. But the other part of it was that the inking during the part where Rich was in the Rip seems especially heavy, making Nova stand out against the backdrop of all those crazy vortexes. It feels like looking at a Photoshopped image, like Rich was somewhere else, picked up, and then placed there instead, but he doesn't fit. There's some interesting potential meaning there.

In other news, I had an idea that we hadn't seen Rich's actual eyes since he left Earth, just those blue headlights he often has, or the TV static effect the Phalanx caused. Well, upon actually checking, we've been able to see Rich's pupils in every issue for at least one panel, though they were still partially obscured by Phalanx static in Nova #6. So that's out the window. I would be curious to see when his pupils are visible, try and detect a pattern. Seems to be shock most of the time.

Finally, what could decapitate a Celestial?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What I Bought 11/14/07

New wrinkle to the reviews this week: No scores. The amount of effort I'm putting into whether a comic is a 3 out of 5, or a 3.3, and oops, I liked this other comic more, but not enough to give it a higher grade than 3.3, so I better lower the score for the other book, it's just silly. So let's try this. I'll talk about the issue, give an overview, any thoughts on the writing or art that strike me, then try and decide whether I liked it or not. Sound good? Fantastic. Let's go.

Amazing Spider-Girl #14 - It's an alright cover. Looks more ominous than the story really winds up being, you know?

May spends some time with Davida, while struggling with inner concerns. Meanwhile, Hobgoblin seeks out Madame Web, finds what appears to be her successor, and learns all about the history of the Black Tarantula. Also, Spider-Girl goes to the Fantastic Five to see if they could help her little brother, only to be rebuffed by a helmet-wearing Franklin Richards. And then she nearly kills some muggers, deploying the Aparo-style backhands. I hope she paid Batman some royalties for those. Could have done without the "Slap Slap Slap" sound effects in each of those panels. Something a little more substantial would have worked better.

DeFalco's doing some interesting things here, bringing in ideas that have cropped up in Marvel the last few years or so, and trying to work them into his story. To wit: we get an Arana cameo, and DeFalco makes it look like the original Black Tarantula underwent a ceremony similar to the one that gave Ezekiel his powers. I am intrigued, which I never thought I would say again about JMS Mystic Spider-Man stuff. Also, he's got some melodrama going, as Moose once again reminds us that he now hates Spider-Girl for stopping the Carnage symbiote from curing the cancer that's stricken Moose's dad. It's over-the-top, but I some teens don't do "subtle", I suppose, and neither does DeFalco, for the most part.

Frenz is getting a little more emotion showing through the masks than I can recall. There's a panel where he gives Hobgoblin this look of questioning, plus a bit of confusion, it really caught my eye. I think Iron Fist has spoiled me, because I was a little disappointed they didn't get another artist to do the flashback scenes in this issue. Nothing wrong with Ron Frenz' art for them, but I think a different style could have been nice, just for kicks. I'm not sure who they could have gotten, though. I liked this issue. Things had been focusing a bit too much on May's inner struggles, with too little forward progress in the Hobgoblin/Tarantula gang war, but that seems to have been rectified a bit this issue, so good show.

House of M: Avengers #1 - It's a simple cover, but I guess it works. Showed all sorts of characters I'm interested, which encourages me to buy it. Wonder why Luke's face is so much in shadow? Not as though there's much doubt who would be wearing a chain belt, yellow short and tiara, you know? Is House of M Luke Cage, gasp, a Skrull? Man, I sure hope not.

Cage gets convicted of a crime he didn't commit (though he had committed crimes) and goes to prison. Agrees to be guinea pig for reduced sentence. Gains same superpowers he has in New Avengers. Goes to New York for revenge on guy who set him up. Gets revenge, forms own gang of humans, set up in Sapien Town. Rescues Tigra from getting stomped by angry humans. Rough couple of months for Tigra. At least she wasn't screaming or anything, seemed to hold up under the beating pretty well, and she was already shot by then so it could have been worse, I suppose. Police are going to attempt to bring Cage down.

Gage spends most of the issue on Cage, his past, and what he's after, but then he gets the rest of the group together (at least as it stands now) pretty quick. And we get a pretty good idea of what the world is like now, with mutants running things, and what that means for average humans, and how some of them react to it. For example, the contrast between the mob that attacks Tigra, who says she isn't mutant (man I hope she's not going to be a traitor in this mini-series, too), and the cop that's being forced into retirement. Very different perspectives.

Perkins draws a world that seems pretty similar to ours (besides all the people with wings, antennae, and such), and that works with what gage is setting up, that it is very much like our world, because no matter who's on top, there's always somebody at the bottom getting kicked around by everyone else. It's just that what determines that is a little different from what we're used to. I'm not sure his faces work all that well, they look misshapen when I'm not sure they're supposed to, and Cage gets punched in the face hard enough to cause him to damage a brick wall, but his face looks like he's just staring at something off to one side. I like the colors though. Muted, somehow, especially compared to Perkins work on Annihilation: Conquest- Prologue. But it works because this is less high-space adventure, more down n' dirty. Enjoyed it.

Nova #8 - I wish Granov would spice these covers up a bit. There's so much just standing around. Have them do something! Have one character interact with another. Like the Iron Man/Nova cover, or the Nova/Not Speedball cover! Those were good! As to the issue itself...

OK, now that was {expletive-deleted} awesome! Nova has wound up in 'the Rip", which is apparently on the edge of the universe, where matter and energy end (or something). He nearly dies, but finds himself in an odd place, that the Worldmind knows nothing about. He meets a member of the Luminals, who are the planet Xanth's version of the Avengers. She is terrified, then changes into something kind of like a zombie (but hopefully not actually a zombie). Rich accidentally destroys her, then has to flee her comrades, who came in late. Then he meets a talking dog. A Russian talking dog. Then he finds out where he is. Then things get worse.

Thank you, Messrs Abnett and Lanning. This is what I was hoping for. Not exactly, of course. The idea of a dog with a Russian telepathic accent never entered my mind, but it's the spirit of what I was hoping for. Rich has the entire universe to protect, naturally there's got to be all sorts of weird stuff we've never seen before in any FF/Avengers/X-Men space epic. And this is creepy, scary, and just plain groovy weird.

Sean Chen is gone. Sigh. Wellinton Alves is on the book, and he does pretty well. The two-page spread that shows where Rich is at was outstanding - once I figured out which side up I had to hold the book to make sense of it (upside-down worked best). The Possibly-Zombies are creepy, but not overly disgusting, the "Rip" is wild and crazy looking. On the whole, the art has a feel I can best describe as "jagged", not in a bad way, just that there are few lines I would call "smooth", for whatever that's worth. Man, I really suck at discussing art. And I really need to put that two page-spread up for you to enjoy. Soon. Hopefully. Comic definitely enjoyed.

The Punisher #52 - It's not a bad cover, though not particularly striking by itself. I do like that it took me a couple of extra glances to pick out the skull in it.

You know, I could not figure out what the preview blurb was talking about when it said that Frank was going to have to confront a fear he hadn't faced in thirty years. But it makes perfect sense having read the issue. Frank and Barracuda are both circling around O'Brien's sister, waiting for the other to step into the open so they could settle it. Eventually they face off, and Barracuda does something that, well, strikes me as a pretty dumb thing for the muthafucker to do, as 'Cuda himself might say.

Man, I love how Garth Ennis writes the Punisher. That calm detachment is there, the planning is there, but he has that little bit of humanity that you see in the opening scene, when the woman at the gas station gives him a flier with her son's picture on it. it's hard to say, but I believe Frank really will call her if he's sees the boy. Maybe that'll come back up in a story arc or two. I like that Frank isn't quite sure what happens after he wins this fight. What should he do? The answer seems obvious to us, and probably is to Frank as well, but that doesn't mean it'll be easy for him.

Goran Pavlov's art still works well here. He mostly avoided the "Popeye" arms he gave Frank last issue, which is good, because those were kind of distracting. It's a simplified look, not huge amounts of detail on the faces, but the scenes when Frank talks with O'Brien's sister are great for the emotion those faces convey, though Frank looks odd at times, like his eyes are about to vanish. Second-to-last panel of the issue was really superb. Also enjoyed. Wow, this has been a pretty good week. I think all these issues would probably have gotten 4 - ah, not going to fall back into that.

X-Factor #25 - And this has me worried, before I even start. PAD handled House of M and Decimation well, but I think he chose to do that. And he worked Civil War into two issues just fine. I'm am really worried these Messiah CompleX issues are going to damage this book. Fingers crossed, here we go, with the weird cover. That's the point I'd imagine, but rather than being captivated by Layla and Jamie's bodies being stretched and drawn into infinity, I'm struck by how the linework on Jamie's face makes it look like he's has a five o'clock shadow. I don't think he's supposed to, but I keep seeing it.

Rictor infiltrates the Purifiers, and finds out they have a pretty big operation. Cyclops has the New X-Men in his face about wanting to do something. They almost seem to be completing each others' sentences. I mean, each one completes their own statement, but the next person's could be the logical next statement to make. It's. . . weird. And Forge sends Madrox dupes through time to two realities that have had an increase in mutants since the mutant baby in this Marvel reality was born. Except Layla goes along, and it sounds like she really shouldn't have. And Madrox collapsed. Huh.

Like I said, I'm not sure PAD really captured the voices of the New X-Men, but I imagine they're only in the issue because the next chapter is in their title, so David is just doing what he's got to. Other than that, it's decent enough writing. Madrox and Layla banter, Cyclops acts buttoned-down and commander-like, Rictor plays it pretty cool, it's all good. Dick move on the X-Men's part though. They go to a hospital where Amelia Voght, former Actolyte and Xavier squeeze works, and tell her to give them leads on the Marauders. Never mind they probably just cost her her job by barging in there. I suppose she didn't have to use her powers to escape, and it may not cost her the job, but still, kind of rude of them. She wasn't doing anything wrong. X-Jackasses.

I like Scot Eaton's art here more than I did on New Excalibur, although it has that sort of dark slickness to it I saw with Raney's art in Conquest #1 last week. Plus, I'm not a huge fan of how he draws Wolfsbane's head in profile. It's a silly little thing, and by and large he did fine, it's just something that caught my eye. I guess it was alright. I could have done with less New X-Men and Cyclops (though that goes without saying) and more Madrox/Layla story, but it wasn't bad. Cautiously enjoyed.

And with that, my good weeks for November conclude. Three comics he remainder of the month. Weak.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Just Reflex, I Guess

Given that Spider-Man no longer uses mechanical web-shooters, why does he still make the Ditko hands when he fires webs? There's no button in his palm to push to shoot webs, so there's no reason to do it, yet he still does.

As I recall, he stopped doing it when he had the symbiote, since it made the webbing for him. Back then, the webbing came from a spot on the back of his hand, right around the wrist, and Peter usually just made sure to keep his hand turned down, so it didn't interfere. He might have an open hand, or a closed fist, but no "Ditko" hands, you know? So it wouldn't seem like it's just a reflex. So why continue with it now?

Maybe it helps him to shoot the webbing, as it causes a flexing of the muscles, exerting pressure on the web sacs under his skin, ejecting the webbing in a stream. Spider-Man 2099 had a similar situation, with organic webs, and he mentioned (in Spider-Man 2099 #5, I think) needing to flex to make it happen.

Monday, November 12, 2007

It's What We'd Always Been Waiting For

I love Super Smash Bros. And I love Super Smash Bros. Melee. And if I wasn't too cheap to buy a Nintendo Wii, I would probably love the next installment. The games are just simple, crazy fun, involving those beloved Nintendo characters pummeling each other senseless.

The trick is me trying to figure out something else to say about them. I think the creators have did an excellent job varying the strengths and weaknesses of the playable characters, so that you do need to vary your strategies depending on who you play as, and who you're up against. I was always a fan of Fox McCloud myself; being a big fan of using speed and quickness to land a few shots, then escape unscathed, and he had a nice upwards kick, to keep opponents flailing helplessly in the air, while I rack up their damage, until they eventually go flying high enough they're out of the ring. Plus, in the first game Fox had the Reflector Shield, where he could bounce projectile attacks back at his opponents. I think that was one of the missteps of Melee, that they gave all the characters shields with a similar ability. Granted those shields could be worn down from repeated attacks, but it took away one of Fox' selling points as a character.

Of course, Melee added a lot to the game that was good as well, I thought. The Adventure mode, where you pick a character and venture through all sorts of different levels, trying to accomplish different goals. In some cases you were defeating 20 Kirbys, or trying to escape from the Planet Zebes in a set time period, or just playing through an old-style Mario level. I actually really enjoyed the F-Zero level, where you were on the race track, trying to make it to the end without getting killed by the cars going hundreds of miles per hour. And there were the fights with Giga Bowser, where you are supremely outclassed, as you can see from the picture there. It's a very "Spider-Man vs. Juggernaut" vibe. And there were all the little trophies you could win, which were nice just to have and spend time looking at onscreen. Oooh, pretty.

I must admit, when it came to multiplayer skirmishes, I tended to be a bit of a cheap shot artist. Not completely, but I did like to stay on the edges, and take potshots at whoever was in the line of fire, while everyone else pummels each other. It's a good strategy if you're playing survival mode, not so much if it's a contest to rack up the most kills. Although it did lead to a moment at a birthday party (the same one with the Goldeneye battle between Friend Jesse and my father), where I was winning every match, and the other three players realized this, and that I was winning by staying largely out of the fray. For a few moments there, it looked like it was going to get ugly, as they all focused their attention on me. But soon enough they resumed battering each other, and I was able to walk away with more victories. Video game battle favors the calm and focused mind, which is why I'm so bad at most other, more complex, fighting games, as I devolve into frantically pushing buttons in attempt to overwhelm my enemy with a flurry of attacks (that really comes back to bite me on Dead or Alive, when the computer starts countering all my attacks, so I essentially hurt myself).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Splitting The Difference

From Ms. Marvel #21, page 8:

Carol Danvers: We're the same person. I am Ms. Marvel. It's just a costume --

Cru: Questioning: How you lead life you do, and believe that?

So what does that mean? It seems to suggest that Carol, unknowingly or not, divides herself into two people, Ms. Marvel and Carol Danvers, and that the two are very different, and will approach things differently. It's probably true, since in #19 she tells Rick Sheridan that's she only Ms. Marvel when the costume is on, which certainly suggests a division in her mind. Is it really there? I'm going to poke through my issues from this year (so starting at #11) and see if anything jumps out.

Well, in #11, Carol has gone on a date with the mysterious William Wagner, and they've made it back to her apartment, and Carol hears a noise. She immediately shifts to her costume, and finds Arana and an AIM agent in her bedroom. It seems as though when the Ms. Marvel part of life comes into play, all "Carol" stuff just has to get set aside until it's convenient. When William asks her to call him later, when everything's OK, Ms. Marvel says 'I promise', but she's off panel at the time. Then in the next panel she's standing with Arana and the AIM agent, but William's nowhere to be seen. Ms. Marvel did try to call him, during a fight with Battleaxe, but that makes it seem as though she's just fitting him in where she can.

In #14, it's Carol that's telling Tony Stark she wants to help Julia Carpenter, and when she tells Julia she's going to help her, she's in costume, but not wearing the mask. Then in #15 she has a dream about a date with Mr. Wagner, only it ends with her waking up next to (ugh) Wonder Man (in the dream, not in reality). She's not in costume, but she is wearing a shirt that says "Property of the Avengers". That actually reminds me a little of Buffy wanting to have steadfast Riley Finn around to talk to, but being more attracted to the Angels and Spikes of the world. Carol likes to get out of the superhero world for awhile, but Ms. Marvel is too big a part of life for that to seemingly work out.

Following that, we have the MODOK story, where the end consists of Carol blowing off some steam by punching a piece of metal (since she'd punched right through a standard heavy bag two issues earlier, while sort of wearing the costume. It was a tube top sort of setup. No idea how to interpret that.) At any rate, Carol's hands actually bleed from punching the metal, while Ms. Marvel hadn't bled in any of the recent issues.

It seems as though Carol is more vulnerable than Ms. Marvel, and more eager to talk. When she wanted to check on Arana after the Doomsday Man skirmish, Arana's father yelled at her and she retreated in the face of his anger. She stood there dumbfounded when Maria Hill may have implied Carol was getting her freak on with Director Stark. She seems more willingly to express the doubts she had about rounding up heroes during Civil War when she's in civilian garb. She tries to mend relationships more readily, while Ms. Marvel seems more aggressive, confident certainly, a lot like Spider-Man back in the old days, only Carol's not nearly so timid as "puny Parker" was. It's certainly not a complete division, because Ms. Marvel doesn't just resort to violence right off the bat. When dealing with mind-controlled Wonder Man, or Tigra & Silverclaw, she wanted to talk initially, and struck back when it became obvious that talk wasn't going to solve things, but she was willing to stand there and little Puppet Master blow himself up, and she was about to kill Doomsday Man at one point. Hmm, does Carol seem to be fighting a lot of people who want to die (Doomsday Man), or are near death (MODOK, Puppet Master)?

The dichotomy certainly seems to exist in her relationships. Wonder Man seems as excluded from Carol's life, as William Wagner is from Ms. Marvel's. After the kiss incident, Simon wants to see if Carol wants to do something later, and Carol politely declines, and tells him maybe he should take a few days off, get away from the helicarrier for a bit, in other words, get away from her. So I think Carol really is two separate people in a sense, and she either isn't aware of that, or tries to deny it. I wonder which is the more uncommon situation amongst the capes as a whole.

The one thing I'm uncertain about is why Ms. marvel always takes her mask off to interrogate prisoners. She does it when they captured the Scientist Supreme, and those Chilean soldiers. Of course, she is usually trying to get information, so perhaps the friendlier, Carol approach, works better.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

My World Has Flipped Upside-Down

I don't know, the picture seems apt, given the circumstances detailed here. Though I am unclear what Flash is running on. Maybe the sky is an illusion created by the combined magics of Loki and Felix Faust?

I don't have a lot to say about it. I'm curious as to why he's made the move. Did he want to try his hand at drawing some different characters? Get an offer he couldn't refuse? For whatever reason, it's his decision, and I hope it works out well for him. Hopefully he gets a few more fight scenes to illustrate than Bendis usually gave him.

And hopefully whatever this big project is, it's something that will have more to interest me than just Mr. Bagley's art. I don't know what that project would be necessarily, so make me pleasantly surprised DC, if it's not too much trouble.

I'm curious whether he's stepping over to DC just for this project, and then he'll come back to Marvel, or whether he'll sign an exclusive contract with DC, or if he'll just go where he's offered a project that interests him. If he's stays at DC, I wonder what they might put him on, after this big project (which I'm certain wouldn't last forever, so there'd be other work he'd do eventually). I bet he could draw some pretty stuff for a Green Lantern book, but his characters tend to be kind of thin, so I'm not sure he would give Hal & Co. the backsides their lady fans demand. I've seen people suggest Robin, or Nightwing, maybe Batman and the Outsiders. Those could be good.

(Oh, and that picture is by Mark Bagley and Art Thibert, just in case you were wondering.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Where Do I Put The Comics, There's So Many We Could Read

Yes, big week! {I figured that would make you happy.} Darn right it does! What's with you? You look kind of dazed. {Oh, it's nothing. I'll tell you later.}

Fine. Be mysterious. {I prefer "inscrutable".} Whatever. I prefer Applauding Gabe Vargas and the Uni-Force for totally putting one over on the Phalanx. They never would have guessed more power would be a bad thing. Then I want to Applaud Ronan for being creative enough to go to Ravenous for assistance. {Yeah, that doesn't seem to have worked out well.} That's why I'm also going to Bonk him, because sometimes being creative isn't such a good idea. {So the applause is just a ruse to get close to him?} No, it's genuine applause, and so is the Applause for Cru, because I think it's going to help Carol deal with some of her issues, and then she can be an even better hero. And finally I'm going to Applaud Danny Rand for taking an issue off, and letting some other people get face time. {I. . . have nothing to say to that.}

I bet you really do, you're just being polite. {Very true. Let's continue before I lose control.} Okey-doke. Bonks for Danny's abducted friend, Mr. Hogarth. He was actually offering management advice to Xao! He better not be coming down with Stockholm Syndrome! {I don't know. His advice probably wouldn't have involved killing people, so it wouldn't have been all bad.} Bonk for Willow, for teleporting two marmosets out of their happy homes when trying to find Buffy. I hope she apologized before she sent them home. {How do you know she sent them home? Maybe the Slayers ate it?} They wouldn't! {You're right; I'm just messing with ya. It's my way, you know.} Bonk for Aaron Stack, for just being creepy. {Oh, I see how it works. When he wears a fake mustache he's funny, but when it's a LMD of Monica Rambeau's body it's creepy, and yeah, you're right. That was creepy. Let's talk about something else.}
Agreed. Hugs then! Hugs for Faith! Lots of Hugs for Faith, because she just never catches a break! {No she doesn't, but I'm the one who gets to hug Faith. You go hug creepy English girl.} No! Your hugs won't help her out of her problem! {And unless yours can teleport her to safety, neither will yours!} Maybe mine can! How would you know? {How do you know my hugs can't do that, and how long are we going to argue like this?} I'm ready to move on. {Me too. Let's do that.} Hug for Adam Warlock, because he still seems out of sorts, and I think Blastaar could use a Hug after getting stepped on. Also, Hug for Orson Randall's daughter, that watches the gateway, after she got kicked in the face. That was just uncalled for. {Yes, Yu Ti needs to calm down a bit. Striking the help is not cool.}

So what had you so dazed earlier? {Nothing.} You said you'd tell me! {Never specified when. Also, I lie.} Jerk!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Just How Many Things Don't Die?

In Starlord #4, Mantis gets all philosophical after Team StarLord (as dubbed by Jason) survives a run-in with some Phalanx-controlled Kree. She says that "Starlord" is an ideal, and that ideals are hard to kill, if not impossible.

This reminds me of the Chief Subjugator's comments to Ronan in Wraith #3, when we learn that 'gods can not die, they can only sacrifice themselves'. I'm still not sure what that means, but it seems like the two comments might be connected somehow. In fact, it seems like things not staying dead is a major theme in Conquest.

No matter how much damage you do to him, Wraith won't stay dead. He was being guided by a ghost(memory?) of his father, conducted through the previously thought-dead Supreme Intelligence. That same Supreme Intelligence was guiding Phyla towards Adam Warlock (though he was damn vague about it). And Quasar got a brief, but important assist, from her predecessor, Wendell Vaughn.

No matter how hard Peter Quill wants to throw the StarLord behind him, he can't get rid of it, and it keeps helping him out. The Kree soldiers wouldn't kill him because of it; at least some of his team follows him because of it, he's given about as much respect by the Kree as you could expect a Terran to get, at least in part because of something he wishes would go away. And Richard Rider got saved in part by the Worldmind using its records of all the Novas who've died to help fight off the Phalanx infection.

I still don't know what any of it means, but there it is.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What I Bought 11/7/07

Man, it's been close to two years on this blog and I still haven't figured out exactly what I'm trying to do with these reviews. Plot synopsis? Deeper investigation of themes? General impressions and feelings? It seems to change every so often, and I guess this is one of those times. I've felt like I haven't been giving books scores that reflect how much I liked them (or I've just given undeserved high scores in the past, which is certainly possible), and that might have been from my review coming after a second read-through, so some of the initial flavor was lost. Sooo, back to first impressions, I guess.

Annihilation: Conquest - Starlord #4 - That's a pretty nice cover, though I think I preferred last month's. I think it's the little Starlord in the corner, it throws the tone off for me somehow. It's a nice drawing, just feels out of place, like it's detracting from me taking the dire situation on the cover seriously. Shrug, it's still one of my desktop wallpapers.

On the whole, not a bad conclusion to the mini. The team does complete their mission (for now, anyway), which makes that yet another Phalanx conquering strategy down the tubes. Really, Nova was the only one who hasn't put a kink in their big plans, unless you count his inadvertently pulling Gamora along with him when he escaped Kree space. I don't, but you might.

Giffen continues to do a good job of giving the characters distinct voices, and I have to say, his Mantis reminds of Kenshin from the Rurouni Kenshin manga. Probably from her frequent use of the phrase 'this one'. Kenshin was always referring to himself that way. Also, Mantis tends to hold things back until they're necessary, which is a bit Kenshin-like as well. The save the day plan is clever enough, and Giffen does surprise me with one development near the end.

Green II, gives us a few scenes that seem more serious, or maybe it's just me. I think it's the darker shading for example, Peter's face the last panel of page 1. there's a few scenes with mantis as well, where the art seems to move more "realistic". That's fine, and so is the rest, which seems to have a, I don't know, looser feel, where he's going for expression, and that's fin too. Minor quibble: there is one panel where Gabe's mask (what's left of it) is on the right side of his face, when it's been on the left side throughout the rest of the book. I should also mention I think Giffen did a good job of getting some exposition in, just in case someone stumbled into the mini-series late. 4.1 out of 5.

Annihilation: Conquest #1 - Quasar's eye is the first thing I notice on that cover, and it's freaking me out a little. Stop judging me, Phyla! I'm supporting the mini-series, why won't you look upon me with favor?

Phyla and Heater attempt to get the Sav - oh right, I already showed you it was Adam Warlock, attempt to get Adam Warlock up to speed on what's happening, why they're here, etc. Warlock, not too interested in all that, explains why he was in a cocoon, which doesn't make much sense to me, but I guess it works. They are attacked, fighting, escape, Surprise Reveal #1. Phalanx report back, we know who's behind the Phalanx, and let's just call that Surprise Reveal #2. Let me also say, I am now fully prepared to take the Phalanx seriously as a threat, and I really doubt Adam Warlock can save anybody.

Other thoughts: Abnett and Lanning seem to be suggesting less free will for those brought into the Phalanx. The Kree really do seem dead inside, whereas in Nova and Starlord, they've shown a bit more personality. I suppose it could be the circumstances, the Phalanx probably assert more control when. . . processing the Kree.

Raney's art surprised me a little bit. It wasn't what I was used to from that horrible "Return of Captain Mar-Vell" issue he drew, or the Exiles Annual he did. It's darker, which I suppose can be owed to the tone, and while there were certain things I recognized (his Blastaar is reminiscent of his Ultimate Sabretooth), it had a lot of the grimy darkness I associate with David Finch, and a little of something that seemed, McNivenish? Man, I'm bad at talking art. I do think Raney draws Moondragon too small. She's a dragon big enough to ride, pump up the size, closer to the size of Surprise Reveal #1! He does express Adam Warlock's varied emotions well. I'm not sure how to grade this. I'm not sure it had enough forward momentum, but the Surprise Reveals were certainly surprising, and I really want to know what they're each up to here. 3.5 out of 5.

Faith the Vampire Slayer #8 - Man at this rate I'll never finish these reviews. It's not a bad cover, but I probably should have asked for the other one. I'm not in much of a "Look at Faith drown Buffy" mood, which is unusual. I suppose it's because if Buffy died, there would be lots of issues about everyone being sad, and I'd just want to retch. Though I suppose that would be pointless, since I probably wouldn't be buying them anyway, but whatever.

Gigi fills Faith in on her plan, Buffy confers with Willow about future attacks from soldier people, Gigi has plan put into action, Faith tries to save the day, Buffy acts like a pain in the ass, then gets saved, while Faith gets left holding the bag. She never seems to catch a break.

BKV's doing a great job getting Faith's personality out there, though I imagine it works best if you have a familiarity with the character. But her past difficulties, as a Slayer, and even before that, the complicated feelings she has towards Buffy, it all gets summed up so well, and so quickly. You get a view of a wide range of the aspects of Faith's personality. And he keeps the Buffy plot moving at least a little in the background each issue, which is a nice touch.

As for Jeanty, I'm digging the art. It's unusual to see Faith as the more conservatively dressed of a pair of Slayers, but it works to emphasize the differences between the two, along with some other things, like Faith's tattoo, which is noticeable in comparison to Gigi, who doesn't have a mark on her. The fight was brief, but fun and well-drawn, though sometimes I think there's too much empty panel space around the characters, especially since the room was empty. There's something about it that bothers me, but I can't put my finger on it, so maybe later this week. 4.2 out of 5.

Immortal Iron Fist #10 - I may be getting a little tired of the divided covers. This one doesn't grab me. This issue shows us part of why Davos hates the Rand's, we get a token tournament bout, and a bunch of stuff about potential unrest in K'un-Lun. And HYDRA does something involving attack aircraft, that was kind of nifty.

I want more punchy-punchy, less political intrigue, so this issue is not the best for me. I can appreciate Fraction and Brubaker adding layers, but it feels as if the layers are becoming quicksand, because forward momentum is being lost. Now there's something going with Lei Kung and the Prince of Orphans, and August Personage in Jade has got a bug up its ass about Danny, and I think I may be losing track of who's pissed at whom about what. It's still intriguing, and I want to see how things turn out, but. . .

And Aja's art is still good. The use of contrast in some of the panels is especially nice. But the issue as a whole doesn't equal the entertainment value I got from the books I've already reviewed, so 2.7 out of 5.

Warbird #21 - I think I'm better off just saying nothing about that cover, except the aliens left hand seem oddly positioned. It seems like it should be more under the leg for holding Carol up, less on the side. But I don't spend a lot of time hoisting people above my head so what the hell do I know?

Carol fights alien. Agent Sum and Aaron Stack fight alien. Alien communicates with Carol inside her mind. Things go poorly. Carol wakes up in a bad place, finds out situation is even worse than she thinks. Aaron Stack uses an LMD to replace damaged body. Sight of his head on said LMD horribly scars my mind. Team prepares to go after Carol, minus the Avengers they were hoping for, who can't show for. . . some reason. Conclusion: The Mighty Avengers are worthless.

Reed continues to put Carol through difficult times, but I suppose she handled them fairly well. When she wakes up in an unexpected location, she maintains calm, is willing to try something she rejected earlier. So that's good. Her team seems to be doing their best to help her, which at least shows she's earned their loyalty (but where's Rick Sheridan?), and heck, Carol even gets called out for recent decisions. Whether that will cause a change in her long-term, no idea, but it can't hurt to have someone confront her about erratic behavior. Lopresti resumes his solid work with the fight scenes, and the general mayhem of the issue, so I'm glad to see him back after last month's absence. 3.0 out of 5.

Maybe I should just stop scoring them. That might be the best course. Numerical assessments of an artistic piece seem too stringent.

Monday, November 05, 2007

It Sounds Both Safer and Scarier Than Raccoon City

I know, Halloween was last week, but permit me to go back to another spooky game fave of mine. See, Silent Hill 2 holds a special place in the lore of games I've owned. it's the only game I've bought, traded in to get a reduced price on another game, bought again later, then traded in again later. Quite the storied history.

I'm not one of those terrified into submission by Silent Hill 2, unlike some of my friends who can't play the game with the lights off. Scarewise, it pales compared to Fatal Frame 2, probably because with SH2 at least you can shoot the enemies with guns, or beat them with a blunt instrument. There's a solidity to them, that makes it less terrifying than ghosts you fend off with a camera. Plus, I find it kind of hard to take the recurring foe, Pyramid Head, seriously (he's in the picture in the screen shot there, with the spear). He's so slow and shambling, and frankly, kind of ridiculous looking. But that's me looking at it from the outside.

From within, where the main character James is, it's probably so odd as to be terrifying. And the solidity of the enemies, that you can fight them off, probably only makes it seem more grounded in reality, less easily dismissed as a bad dream or hallucination. And it's that aspect that makes Silent Hill 2 interesting to me. James came here in response to a letter from his (dead) wife, only to step into a city almost void of humans (except a handful of weirdos) and filled with horrifying monsters. he meets a woman that looks like his dead wife, but doesn't seem to act much like her. Or maybe she does.

James goes into a hospital chasing a little girl who seems to know his wife, only to eventually fall unconscious. When he wakes up, everything is different. The hospital isn't the same as it was. it's dirtier, bloodier, the rooms are in different places. the town is dark, and in certain places, there are now ominous messages addressed to James, that weren't there before. He starts having to leap down pits where he can't see the bottom, and everything keeps getting dirtier, and as for the ending, well that depends on how you play it. Things can end well for James, or poorly.

I have no idea what it's all supposed to mean. It seems as though Silent Hill confronts each of the people there with their deepest horrors, and it's up to that person to make it through somehow. But that doesn't explain what happened to the town. It was a real town once, that's why James and Mary went there, but now it's this, and I don't really understand it. It is fascinating, though.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What Is It About Me And Annihilation:Conquest Art?

Here's the particular page that caught my attention this week, courtesy of Annihilation: Conquest - Quasar #4. You'll have to click on it, Blogger was giving me some crap trying to upload a larger version. Sorry.

First off, given the location of the Supreme Intelligence's head, and that cocoon, doesn't it look a little like Supremor just barfed up an Adam Warlock?

But nevermind that now. Look in the lower right corner. See the little box, says "Mike Lilly 2007"? Why is that there? This issue didn't have a credits page anywhere like the previous issues, so maybe Lilly wanted to make sure he was credited somewhere in the interior?

Has he been told the page is going to be made into a poster, and so they told him to make sure his name was on it somewhere?

I saw something similar in this week's Namor issue, a full-page spread of Namor bursting out the sea. But in that case the name in the corner was "John Byrne", making reference to the cover of the first issue of Byrne's series, that it was homaging. I can't find another name on the Quasar page, except perhaps for that "A" next to Lilly's name. Wikipedia fails to provide any mention of an artist with a last name beginning with "A" being associated with any of Adam Warlock's major stuff, and Angel Medina is the only artist mentioned with a first name beginning with "A".

Bob Almond is one of two inkers working on Quasar, if the credits page of #3 is still accurate for #4, so I guess he could have put the "A" to signify he was the inker? Oh, I'm so confused.

It sure is a pretty page, though.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

How Miserable Could One Man Make Superman?

I can't recall why I started thinking about this Thursday night, but I did. I actually had to get up to write it on my "blog post ideas" note pad, just to make sure I remembered it.

What happens if Lex Luthor learns Superman is Clark Kent? I know there was a story (by Byrne?) where a computer tells Lex Superman is Clark Kent, and Lex doesn't believe it, but say Lex somehow, someway gets definitive proof, what action does he take?

Does he go all battle-suit crazy, barge over to the Daily Planet, and start laying waste to it, to either kill Superman or wreck his secret identity?

Does he leak the information selectively, and let others rain hell down on Superman for awhile? Lex would administer the coup de grace naturally, as I can't imagine him letting anyone else have that honor.

Does Lex attack loved ones, trying to drive Superman over the edge, into disgrace, then killing him when he's down?

Or does he go the "Wilson Fisk in Born Again" route, and just try and ruin Clark Kent's life? Figure out someway to make it appear Clark Kent is filing stories when he wasn't there, and didn't actually talk to anyone to know what's going on, get him and Lois evicted from their home, try and wreck Lois' career, get the Kent family farm foreclosed, and so on.

I'm not that much of an expert on Lex, and his does tend to undergo radical personality shifts from time to time, so I don't know what approach he might take. Whichever would bring him the greatest satisfaction, I imagine.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Puff The Magic Panda, Down By The Sea

That title is really weak. {Don't be knocking the classics, kiddo.} But it's so babyish. {And I suppose you've forgotten what the "B" in ABP stands for?} And that's another thing! I want to be called a teenager, or at least a child panda. I'm not a baby! {Fine, then you're not adorable either. Only babies can be adorable, it's a rule.} What?! That's not fair! {Welcome to the world, Soon-To-Be-Acne-Riddled Child Panda.} Let's stick with Adorable Baby Panda. {Okey-doke.} Now why did you only buy one comic? {Oh relax. Next week will be better.} Will it? Will it?

Seriously, will it? {Yes! Get on with it!}

No need to be rude! I wanted to Applaud all the people of that village on Morag IV for standing up to the Phalanx. They did so well. {What I can't figure out is why the Phalanx were only using blades and such. If they had used some sort of long-range weapons they could have done a lot better.} Maybe they figured they could use the blades to protect themselves while they brought the villagers into the Phalanx. No wait, Super-Adaptoid told the Phalanx to kill the villagers, didn't he? {Yup.} Then I don't know, but it doesn't matter because the villagers had a dragon on their side, and that's all that matters! Also, Applause for Quasar, both Phyla and Wendell. She made the big save, but things wouldn't have worked out all right without help from Mr. Vaughn. {It's great to see generations of heroes working together. Warms the cockles of my heart.} Cockles? {Yeah, somehow a description of a specific type of mollusk shell came to also mean the core of your being. Language is weird that way.} Cockles. . . {Focus.}

Right. You don't want to spoil who the Savior is, right? {Check.} Then I'll just call them the Savior, when I give them a Hug. I hope they aren't still covered in green ooze. That looked sticky and disgusting. {I'm sure Phyla and Moondragon will get the Savior cleaned up before they leave Morag IV. Probably be a unpleasant trip otherwise.}

I'm giving a Bonk to the Supreme Intelligence. He was the one telling Phyla she had to find the Savior, but he couldn't bother to tell her who he was. She just keeps hearing a disembodied voice telling her to keep going, and that can mess with a person. Bad giant green, medusa-looking head! Are you paying attention? {Not really. TNT started showing Sahara and I can already sense just how horrible this could be. And I liked this book too.} The movie just started, how can you be so sure. {It's my gift. I was bitten by Roger Ebert at a time when he had been hit with a huge dose of radiation. He apologized later, but ever since I've had a sixth sense about these things.} You are such a liar.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Phalanx Haven't Captured Our Imagination - Yet

Quick one, about how nicely things can tie together sometimes. If you still haven't read this week's Quasar then SPOILERS!, I guess.

In the Annihilation: Conquest - Prologue, Phyla complained to Moondragon that she didn't think she had the imagination to use the Quantum bands properly. And it's true, her attacks were pretty basic: swords, shields, occasionally a whip or a giant fist (no boxing glove though). It seemed to be a part of her larger issues of self-doubt, and concern over her ability to be Quasar

So it's rather appropriate that in this week's issue, where Phyla's embraced the legacy of Quasar, she finally unleashes her imagination, and that provides the advantage that wins the day. She moved past her doubts, and now she's really a force to be reckoned with. I like that.

Besides that, it really shows all the various creative teams have been collaborating, because the original "imagination" comment was written by Abnett and Lanning, but Christos Gage has been handling the Quasar mini-series, so you get the feeling everybody's on the same page here, which makes me feel really good about this as a whole.

Also, quick note to Carol Danvers: You've been trying to become an A-list hero, the "Best in the World"? Phyla's showing you how. You stop trying to be the best, and you just do the best you can. All the time. Don't worry about whether it will be enough, because if you maintain resolve, it likely will be. Yeah, it's kind of hokey, but that doesn't mean it's wrong.