Sunday, August 31, 2008

Abandoned Storylines #2

For the record, Abandoned Storylines #1 would be here. As you might have heard, I've spent some time going through my collection recently, and so I've come across a few stories that were started by writers that never finished, for whatever reason. So I'm going to discuss those, just to see what people think about them, if they have any thoughts on where they might have been going.

First, Geoff Johns' Avengers run. His first story involved various cities around the globe vanishing into another dimension, and someone having split the In-Betweener into separate entities of Order and Chaos. Things get so bad, the Avengers are granted worldwide control to prevent utter chaos, what with most of the capitals of the world being MIA.

Ultimately, we learn that a new Scorpio is behind it, using the power of the Zodiac Key. The Avengers stop him, recombine Order and Chaos to make the In-Betweener, and all the cities are returned. Except Scorpio escaped with the key, which now has all sorts of valuable information on the Avengers (what information I don't know), and he was part of a larger organization. A Zodiac, which is now poised to strike. Uh-oh.

There were some thing I liked from that story (and Johns's run in general), and some things I didn't. I liked that when Namor is less than impressed by the Avengers currently present to deal with the vanishing cities, he's standing at the head of the table while yelling at them. Then Captain America walks up behind him and Namor just moves slightly to the side, ceding the command position to him. Plus, Cap tells Namor he'll be paying for a new meeting table, so after the arc is over, Namor presents them with this really nice table, crafted by the top Atlantean metalworkers, I think. Then he laughs his butt off when Cap asks him to stay with the team, and thanks Cap for always being able to make him laugh. You get Thor vs. the Order half of the In-Betweener, and Ant-Man and the Falcon being useful (which warms my lower-tier character liking heart).

Still, I kind of wince seeing the Wasp and Yellowjacket hanging around each other, because that always means the writer's going to explore their relationship, and that's tends to bore me. There's the start of tension between Jack of Hearts and Ant-Man, which always seemed overdone, though I suppose Jack has reason to be irritable. For that matter, I felt Johns overplayed Iron Man's hostility towards the Black Panther, especially in light of the things Stark's done since then. Kind of amusing for him to be mad at T'Challa over joining the team to spy on them, considering he went and made a clone of Thor without asking. That's not Johns' fault, but he did seem to write Stark as ready to jump on the Panther for any little comment or action. You'd think a successful businessman would play it closer to the vest, watch someone he didn't trust quietly, maybe give them some extra rope to potentially hang themselves with.

Anyway, we never did see what the Zodiac had planned, or what advantage the Key had given them. There were some stand alone issues, the Red Zone arc (and may I say, watching Black Panther nearly punch the bad guy's jaw off was extremely enjoyable), the death of an Avenger, and that arc where they went looking for She-Hulk and she tore through a town like she was her cousin, who also popped up*. Then Johns was gone, Chuck Austen wrote a couple of arcs, then Bendis came along and dismantled everything. I've only seen the Zodiac in one story, and that was in Engelhart's West Coast Avengers. They were somewhat difficult to take seriously there, when you're dealing with 12 people who supposedly control the 12 major markets dressed up like bulls, fish, crabs, and the like. Plus, they were wiped out by LMD versions of themselves inside of 10 pages, as part of LMD Scorpio's plan to replace humans with LMDs. So, not a threat I regarded as terribly dire while reading. I have no idea whether Johns' Zodiac was going to be LMDs, or new people assuming the roles, but I imagine they had something different on their mind. I really would have liked to have known what.

*And Hawkeye had the bright idea that the best way to stop her was to make Bruce Banner transform into the Hulk to fight her. Smooth, Clint.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Absence Does Not Make My Skills Greater

It's been awhile since I last went and played any Heroclix, so having nothing else of any particular importance on the docket for today, that's what I did. Small turnout this week, only three players, which I actually kind of prefer. It seems less frenetic when there's fewer people there, though only having three does mean everyone gets one bye. So four is better, everyone plays each round, and everyone plays everybody else.

It was a 500 point game, unrestricted, Cloud Map. I'd never seen the Cloud Map before, and it's a completely white map, with grid lines so you know how many squares you're moving and such. No blocking, elevated, or hindering terrain, just open space. I opted for a New Warriors squad of Firestar* (52 pts.), Darkhawk (56), Justice (72), Kid Nova (66), Night Thrasher (73), Speedball (77), and Namorita (98)**. I drew a first round match with Tim, who trotted out Dr. Doom (200 pts.), Mr. Fantastic (100), and Iron Man (188, plus 12 points of feats which proved irrelevant). Hey, it's a Triumvirate of Evil! No seriously, I can vaguely conceive of something so dire Doom would work with Reed, but I can't imagine it involving fighting the New Warriors. All of Tim's characters had Perplex, and they used it to great effect, amping up each others' Attack and Damage values and mowing through my team. I did manage to smack Iron Man around a bit, but I knocked him onto his Pulse Wave clicks right as I had swarmed him with my entire team. In the span of three rounds, he probably did a cumulative 14 clicks of damage to my team with that power. Suffice it to say, Tim took out my entire team in short order, and I got none of his. My best moment was using Justice to TK Thrasher close enough to Charge Iron Man, but not before Thrash Outwitted IM's Invulnerability. Without that, I wouldn't have fazed him, with it Thrasher punched Stark right in his stupid face for 2 damage. Sometimes, you have to take the little victories.

Afte that mercifully brief disaster, I faced Jack. Jack opted for the Fantastic Four released in the recent starter set (each character worth 100 points***), plus Nick Fury (also 100 points). We basically met in the center of the field, and split into smaller skirmishes. Nita and Firestar went after Reed. Thrash, Justice, Nova, and Darkhawk were trying to corral the Thing. Speedball got in Fury's face, and Jack kept Sue and Johnny in the background, taking potshots as they appeared. I tried my "TK Thrasher, he Outwits target's defense power, then Charges" on the Thing, but I missed. And I missed when I used a theme team provided reroll. Then Mr. Grimm attacked Night Thrasher, and scored a hit. I made him reroll. He rolled double sixes this time (that's bad for me), so I used my last reroll to make him try one more time. He hit, but 4 damage is better than 5 with 4 knockback (which would have smacked me into the edge of the map, causing another click of damage). I sent Thrasher back up there again, this time hoping for Close Combat Expert to help, but he missed again, and was finished off shorthly thereafter. Sue dealt with Firestar pretty quickly as well. Between Darkhawk and Justice, I managed to chip 3 clicks off the Thing, but it wasn't looking good for me.

Then things turned around. Nita hit Reed a few times. Both Fury and Johnny had been failing to hit Speedball, but Speedball finally got a shot in on Fury. It could have done 3 damage, but Jack used the "LMD" defense power, which reduced the damage by 2, but moved Fury into a corner on my side of the map, taking him out of the fight for a bit. That left Speedball free to go after the Torch, and 3 successful attacks later, I'd knocked him out (without taking any damage, I might add). Also, Jack had moved Sue to get a better shot at Darkhawk, who was undamaged up until then, but 'Hawk was able to get a shot in on her and knock her off her starting click that had Invulnerability. It's much easier when she only has Barrier for a defense power. Nova was decked by this point, and Justice saved himself by Force Blasting the Thing away from him, though it only bought him a couple of turns.

Still, Namorita defeated Reed (who was having some real trouble attacking successfully, which was fine with me). Fury shot Darkhawk in the back and finished him, and the Thing finally hurt Speedball a little. I Charged Nita at Sue, and managed to knock a couple clicks off her, and by this time Nita had Poison****, so I chipped away at Sue a little with that. She hit Nita, but didn't finish her, then Jack pushed to try and finish the job, before Poison could kick in again. Except I hit my Shape Change roll, so he had to reassess. He tried to break away and failed, took a click for that, and the click from Poison at the start of my turn finished the job. So I took the opportunity to Charge at Nick Fury and smack him, and used Speedball's movement power to get the hell away from Ben Grimm (I didn't like the odds of hitting his 18 defense with an 8 attack) and over by Fury (who had a more manageable 16 defense). Perhaps miffed by this, Ben marched right over to Justice and smacked him out of the game (way to treat your trainer from your Unlimited Class Wrestling Days, Mr. Grimm!). At that point, time was up. As it turns out, that last KO was the turning point. Jack got everyone on my team except Nita and Speedball, and I got everyone on his save Fury and the Thing. He got 319 points, I got 300. So yeah, I lost again, at least this one was competitive. To be fair, it helped me that Jack kept forgetting to use the FF team ability (whre if one of them gets KO'ed, the other heal 1 click), but I forgot to roll one of Nita's Shape Changes and he hit with the attack that followed, so neither one of us was perfect.

So Jack played Tim for winner. Jack was able to use his Outwitters (Fury and Reed) to keep Tim from Perplexing up Iron Man's stats the way he did against me, which helped. Also, Jack's attempt to swarm Iron Man went much better than mine did. There was a moment, as I was watching, where Tim pushed Doom to retreat (In other words, Doom took a click of damage just to move back a couple spaces). I didn't understand until he did the same with Reed (also pushing him). He did the same against me - right before Iron Man Pulse Waved my team. And that's what he tried, pushing Iron Man to do it. Didn't work as well this time. He only hurt Ben and Sue (1 click each), as Johnny and Fury's defenses were too high, and Reed was out of range. Iron Man fell shortly thereafter, and things looked bad for Tim. But Jack had taken some hits focusing solely on Tony Stark, so he lost Reed and Ben in the next few rounds, and Sue as well. But Tim was pushing enough - and Jack's pushes were working out often enough - that Jack did eventually put Doom and Reed out of commission.

So two of the three games were interesting at least, which is a plus. Blow outs are just unpleasant for everybody. Except maybe the person winning, but even they might be bored by it. I couldn't really tell you.

* Let me take this opportunity to request a new Firestar, because they one we've got, in addition to having been retired for a while from restricted play, does not have very good stats. I considered using the Rookie Vance Astro for his Defenders team ability instead, but when they changed the rules last month, they kind of screwed over Defenders team ability for working with wild cards. Yes, but let's make Perplex and Outwit more powerful! That was certainly necessary!

** Something I noted: Tim and Jack both pronounce it "Nah-more-it-ah". I say it "Nay-moe-rita", probably because I think of Rita as being a girl's name.

*** And can I say, Ben Grimm seems far too strong for only 100 points.

**** I'm not sure what power of Nita's that's meant to reflect, but it means I can hurt a character who lacks damage reducers automatically at the beginning of my turn, and it costs me nothing, so I'm not complaining.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Calvin Is A Promise Breaker!

{What?! I am not!} Are too! You keep saying there are going to be lots of comics, but there never are! {That's not my fault! They won't ship them to Ken! I'm blameless here! But if you want more comics in one setting, just you wait. But be careful what you wish for.} What are you talking about? {You'll find out when the audience does.}

No, tell me now! {No. Give out your hugs.} I think Iron Fist needs a Hug, and his students probably will too. So I give the Ch'i-Lin guy a Bonk, because he's a loser. {True. Child endangerment is such a Carnage move.} I think Nova proably needs a Hug, since he got attacked for no reason and he found out Earth is under attack. {Technically, the Skrulls had a reason, and a pretty good one from their perspective.} Fine, then he gets the Hug because he got attacked when he thought he was saving lives. {That works.}

Super-Skrull gets a round of Applause for helping Nova. {But he sold him out at the end of the issue.} No he didn't! That's obviously a trick! {Oh, excuse me.} Tell me the big secret. {No.} Come on. {No.} Please? {It's not that big of a secret, and no. How about you bonk those Skrull invaders?} I don't know. They think they're doing a good thing, and it's part of their religion. I'm not sure I should. {Hey, Nova didn't do anything to them, and they tried to kill him.} Good point. Bonks for the Skrull Army!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

C'mon Now, Batsy!

Back before Bill Willingham, Robin was written by a fellow named Jon Lewis for about a year and a half. His last story arc involved Tim's 16th birthday, and someone delivering a featureless white cube to Tim's home. Tim goes to Batman to help him figure out who sent it, why, and what it is exactly. At one point, the cube opens, and attaches glasses and earphones to Tim's head and he receives a message. From an Alfred from the future. With a metal hand, no less.

Future Alfred tells Tim that things have fallen apart because some time not to long from when Tim sees this message, one of their little family will go too far in trying to protect the innocent, try to establish a police state, the powers that be will strike back, and it all goes to hell from there. Alfred lays it at Robin's feet to find and stop their ally, but gets shot before the message is completed. So it's down to Tim, as he figures he can't trust any of them with this knowledge.

So he proceeds to drive himself halfway round the bend. He sneaks into the cave to try and use some "neuro-ontoscope" Batman whipped up to try and pry secrets from the goon who apparently delivered and built the package (but doesn't remember doing either), only to see the device gets smashed while he tries to subdue the guy (who has gotten free somehow). He comes up with scenarios to explain how any of the others could gotten to the point Alfred describes, even plans out a scenario that he will suggest to each of them, to see if they bite, and give themselves away as the future traitor.

OK, spoilers for the conclusion after this point.

As he gets ready to put it into action, Future Alfred appears before him, fully solid, not a message, not shot. Tim realizes something's off and attacks him and discovers it's actually . . . Present Day Alfred*. Yep. The whole thing was training. Batman built the cube, he and Alfred came up with the message, Bats hired an actor to portray the goon. Batman even built some hunk of junk called a neruo-ontoscope to see if Tim would think to take it apart and verify what it did (he didn't, minus points, Timmy). He does give Tim points for keeping an open mind and questioning the character of his closest friends (yep, not trusting your friends. That's certainly something Batman would consider important).

Cheap shots at Batman's interpersonal skills aside, he does choose one rather curious thing, to criticize Robin for. Batman tells Robin that he should have dismissed the whole thing outright on the grounds that it involved time travel. Let us think about this for a moment. Batman has been on the Justice League with Booster Gold, who is from the 25th Century. Maybe Booster somehow kept that info a secret from Batman. I haven't read much of the JLI "Bwa-Ha-Ha!" issues, so I don't know whether Booster being from the future was common knowledge among his teammates or not. I suppose it's possible Batman knew, but just figured Booster was delusional, though I'd think a mind scan by J'onn could debunk that mighty quickly.

I would think, though, that Tim would struggle to scoff at time travel, when one of his best friends is Bart Allen, who's from the 30th Century, and I really can't believe that Impulse would be able to keep the fact he's from the future a secret from his friends, even if he felt like it. Now, I grant that Future Alfred was only from about a decade or so in the future (2012 I think, but the story is from late '03), but given that there are people who do the Temporal Shuffle around the DCu when the story took place, it doesn't seem preposterous someone might get ahold of their work. Especially if some super-hero decides to take over everything and people start getting desperate.

It's funny. When I read this story originally, I was mostly annoyed by Bats being a jerk, because it really does seem a bit excessive just to teach Tim some stuff about deduction, on the grounds that Robin needs to learn to 'Question everything.' I was right there with Tim as he threw his cape in Batman's face and told him 'Go to Hell!'. Heck, I'm still with Tim on that one, even if he did wind up going back to Batman, but the time travel thing stands out a bit more now that I know more about DC than I did back then (I think Robin and JLA were the only DC titles I was buying at that time).

I guess this is one of those cases where the title exists in a separate universe all to itself, and so things that involve these characters in other books didn't necessarily carry over this one. Still, based on the point Batman was trying to get across, I think the things he brought up were probably sufficient. I wonder how much he had the deck stacked against Robin, though. For example, if Tim had tried fingerprinting the actor pretending to be the goon called Yak Black, would it have revealed the truth, or had Batman rigged the Batcomputer to confirm the fake's identity, to further mess with Robin. Actually, now that I think of it, if Batman wants Robin to 'question everything', then he shouldn't have chastised the kid for accepting time travel. Batman may think it isn't possible, but that doesn't make it so**.

* Alfred then offers Tim a drink from a flask, saying Tim's of age tonight, regardless of his birthdate. Never pictured Alfred for a flask man, or a consumer of liquor, for that matter. Must have been stressful business.

** Since Batman's belief do not control the universe, regardless of what his ego might believe. Unless he stole the Reality Gem from the Marvel Universe recently. Which I wouldn't put past the guy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What I Bought 8/27/08

In pull-related news, Diamond (or the shipping companies) aren't on the ball because Ken didn't get his reorders of Punisher, Moon Knight, or the Layla Miller one-shot. So maybe next week. But this is this week, so let's worry about that for now.

Immortal Iron Fist #18 - I dig that cover. I don't know that blood smear on the wall is necessary, but it does make a nice contrast. Plus the gap where his tattoo normally is, suggests Danny as an empty husk, that he housed something greater, but it's outgrown him and moved on.

As to the issue, Danny has survived his first fight with his predator, but this servant of Ch'i-Lin knows how to draw Danny out again. Honestly, I'd like to think a fellow like this could play by some sort of rules beyond simply "find Iron Fist, kill Iron Fist", but I guess not. I am surprised at how Danny escaped. I thought that particular advantage wouldn't come into play until the final battle, much the same way Spidey's irradiated blood didn't come into play against Morlun until the very end of their big showdown (ignoring their fights in The Other, because that's really for the best, don't you think?). So I'm genuinely curious what Danny's solution to the issue will be.

One thing I noticed about Travel Foreman's art is he seems to prefer long panels, to tall ones. To the point that when he does one slightly diagonal (as when Danny reacts to getting headbutted on page 6), it stood out. I'm not sure about the odd red-and-orange background in that panel either. Reminds me vaguely of some of those Kirby "I'm so imbued with energy I'm a dark outline with eyes and surrounded by crackles!" panels I've seen in some of my dad's comics. It's an impressive hit, but Danny takes some more of those and Foreman doesn't repeat the technique. Also, later in the issue, he seems to go with a style of giving us an image, usually a person, set in front of a blank background. I suppose it's meant for emphasis on the image, because he does some decent backgrounds, but it seems a bit like a waste of page space. Still, his artwork is working mostly well for me.

Nova #16 - I like the idea of the cover, but I'd like it more in practice if Alves had drwan it. It feels shiny, but lifeless. I'm not feeling Nova's punch striking against the Super-Skrull's force field. Anyway, Rich responds to a distress call, and gets ambushed. To the Skrull loonies' credit, they sent 5 Super-Skrulls after Nova, so at least I can't say they underestimated him. Rich is having a little trouble with the Worldmind being gone, because he has to tell his suit what he wants, instead of having a brilliant computer to recognize what he needs instantly. Fortunately, one of the Super-Skrulls is the real deal, accept no substitutes, "I blowed up the Harvester of Sorrows in Annihilation real good", Super-Skrull, and he's got Rich's back. Or does he?

Yeah, I'm pretty sure he does. I could be wrong, but Kl'rt's move smells like one of those, "get your numerous foes to drop their guards" strategies, and he's certainly sneaky enough to try it. I like that with Worldmind out of commission, Abnett and Lanning gave Rich someone else to banter with. Super-Skrull doesn't have Worldmind's dry sense of humor, but he does have a different perspective from Rich, so when he starts giving exposition on Secret Invasion, he doesn't emphasize the same things Rich might consider most vital. Alves doesn't get to draw any creepy stuff this month, which is kind of a bummer, but he still does a good job diagramming that sweet destruction of those filthy Skrulls. Except for Super-Skrull, of course. And, ALves draws some adorable scared kitty-people, too!

Oh, and in a somewhat encouraging sign of people being on the same page, Kl'rt's reason for heading for Earth is the same one demonstrated in She-Hulk this week. The writers are communicating with each other! Outstanding!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Favorite Posts Meme

So let's give this a try. It's relatively off the cuff, since the list would get ridiculous if I go through all my regularly read blogs, constantly stumbling across posts that I really enjoyed, but got buried under later posts.

Googum already tapped this one, but I will also lend my vote to Jake's Resident Evil 4 post.

Perhaps it's poorform to select a post by the meme starter, but Plok's question about the worst super-team is in the running.

In a somewhat similar vein, I tend to enjoy those question about "Who's your favorite", especially when they can get a lot of responses. It's fun to see what people think. To that end, I'm going to link to Brian Cronin's series of posts detailing the results of his poll of the Top Marvel and DC characters, as ambiguously defined as that may have been. If nothing else, it lead to my examining trading cards from the '90s, which lead to that story about alternate realities, grass eating sharks, Deadpool, Kirbyseid, and all that other stuff.

So, you know, blame him, not me.

I have to give a nod to Scipio's differences between DC and Marvel (I'm just linking to the first one). I think I sort of understood what he describes, but not as clearly as after I read that post.

Dave Campbell can't go unnoticed, so I'll choose (from several possibilities) his post on Slipkont. Poor, poor, Slipknot, mocked by a Manhunter robot. Harsh.

I have no idea who has or hasn't been tagged, so if you want to jump in, and nobody's asked you yet, consider yourself asked.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cathartic Video Game Levels #1

This might be a new series of posts, or it might not. Depends on my state of mind, as do most things in my life, I suppose. I'm certain it won't be quite as frequent or consistent as that series of posts about my favorite games was. Basically, there are certain levels or battles or game experiences that I find terribly relaxing, or take particular pleasure in. I figured I'd talk about some of them, and why I find them so enjoyable.

In Grand Theft Auto 3, after you've broken ties with the Mafia, one of the groups you work for is the Yakuza. There's two of them that run different parts of the operation, Asuka and Kenji. Asuka's OK, Kenji is not.

I'm sure most of you, at some point in your life, have had a boss you weren't too fond of. I've been fortunate to either work for bosses who trusted me and let me alone to take care of things, or if they were present, worked as hard as I did. My first supervisor, however, had the tendency to be quite lazy, and when he left my co-workers and I alone, that was fine. It was when he had us busting our humps while he sat in his air-conditioned truck and read hunting magazines, that I was less enamored of him.

Kenji isn't that kind of bad employer, but he is not someone I enjoy working for. See, Kenji expects you to go around and pick up the protection money. You go to pick up money, but the Yardies have already taken it, causing the shopkeeper to yell at you that the Yakuza are worthless. So you kill the thief, then wipe out some more of the Yardies to prove a point, per Kenji's orders. But still the Yardies persist in taking what Kenji believes is his, and making him look bad in front of the people paying him for protection. Does Kenji recognize this as a failure in his planning? Nope! Somehow, you, having executed his plans precisely as commanded, are to blame. Eventually though, you finish your missions for him, and you might figure that's it.

Soon enough, an eccentric millionaire hires you to start a gang war, to drive down real estate prices. To that end, you steal a Columbian Cartel Cruiser, and crash a meeting between Kenji and a rival boss, killing both of them, while pinning it on the Cartel. It really isn't a terribly difficult mission. You steal the Cruiser, drive up to the top of the parking garage, run over Kenji, then hightail it out of there without leaving your vehicle (since everyone seeing you would kind of ruin the illusion that the Cartel did it)*. It's not challenging, but because Kenji annoyed me so very much while I was working for him, it brings a special joy to not only get to remove him from the game, to not only get paid to do it, but to not even have to take the blame for it. I always enjoy that.

OK, tomorrow I'm going to try that "best blog posts" thing the Fortress Keeper tagged me for. Jeez, with my indecisiveness, that's going to be a trial.

* And it leads to Asuka demanding you go and get revenge for her brother on the Cartel, who are actually innocent of this particular offense. Hilarious.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Discussing Movies Before The Power Fails

The power keeps cutting off for a split-second, then cutting back on again, which really just serves to keep fouling up the internet connection. Swell. Also, Adorable Baby Panda won't be in this week, the pandas are having something called the Feast of the Dancing Herons. I think it's just a tailgate to celebrate the coming college football season. So I'm going to talk about these other movies I watched with Alex since the last time I talked about movies I watched with Alex.

War - Failed to draw me in. If you're going to have all these double-crosses, and things done in a fit of emotion, I think you have to spend a little more time on those characters, trying to get us invested in them to make us care. But I was just looking for kicking, explosions and gunfire. Well, there was plenty of gunfire, but I was sorely disappointed in the meager number of explosions, and there wasn't quite enough kicking.

I was intrigued by Jet Li's character, but it was more because of what I hoped was going to happen than what did happen. First I thought he was pulling For A Fistful of Dollars maneuver, playing the sides against each other to make more cash. Then I thought he was pitting them against each other to eliminate the leaders and assume command of both syndicates. Then I thought we might get a story about the dangers of becoming someone else, and how far you can go with that before you lose the way back. If we had that, it was in a mostly perfunctory way, and I think it would have worked better if Statham hadn't betrayed his partner, because it would have heightened the conflict between Li's two parts. This is his buddy, always tried to do right by him, but Li may not be the same guy Statham was a friend to, so how will that play out. There was probably potential here for a much better movie, but as it stood the only part that got my attention was, as mentioned in the comments to the last movie post, the point where Statham and Li enagaged in Farm Implement Fighting.

Oh, and I don't think there was any reason for Statham to have a wife and kid. If you want to show that he's abandoned life outside of his job after his partner's unfortunate situation, then you could do that without the family. There's a scene where his wife asks if he's going to be there for their child's first basketball game (or something) and Statham sort of distractedly promises he will, but it never comes up again whether he made it or not, so it doesn't really serve to illustrate his obsession with his case.

30 Days of Night - I've never read the graphic novel, so this is all I've got to go off of. I could never get into the movie, largely because I was annoyed by the vampires. They were so damn wasteful in this movie, biting into a person for 3 seconds (with that ridiculous, sped-up, head-shaking move) then running off, when the person clearly still has plenty of blood, because it's spilling out all over the snow. I don't know their daily requirements, but there were about a dozen vampires, and if the town population sign was right, there were enough people to eat five a day for the duration of the darkness. Except they appeared to slaughter 90% of them in the first day. Just wasteful.

There were certain things I liked. Their Reinfield, getting things ready for them. That they sailed in on a large black ship (which is a callback to Dracula sailing into London on a black ship, I believe). Grumpy, yet kind-hearted Beau Bower and his rampage with the trencher*. I sort of liked Ben Foster as "The Stranger" (the Reinfield), except I couldn't quite figure what was going on with him. Sometimes he was cocky, pushy, very self-assured that he had the oncoming plague to back him up. Other times he was terrified, as though the horror of what he was a party to only sinks in every so often. Beyond that, I didn't find myself caring much about the other characters, besides the elderly fellow, who I hoped would somehow survive, just wandering the streets, without a clue as to what was happening. I think it would have been funny, though too absurd for the movie perhaps.

Shoot 'Em Up - It took me a while to get into the proper mindset with this movie. Early on, I was expecting a hyper-serious movie, then, either about the time "Mr. Smith" cuts the umbilical cord with a bullet, or when he saves the baby by repeatedly shooting the merry-go-round thing to keep it spinning, I realized it's more of a send-up of those action flicks**. The hero who doesn't want to be involved but either can't find anyone to foist the problem on, and can't bring himself to wash his hands of it. He dislikes everything it seems, and the only person he's even remotely close to is a lady of the evening. He looks like a bum, but he has an impressive knowledge of things that are relevant to the plot. He's a remarkable shot, while the dozens and dozens of bad guys must be firing with their eyes shut. His background is somewhat ill-defined, since I never heard him confirm Paul Giamatti's hypothesis on who he is***.

Speaking of Giamatti, I didn't really buy him as a villain. At least not as someone's lieutenant. As the mastermind, yeah, but as someone running around, commiting murders himself, he just doesn't cut an imposing enough figure. I'm not sure I was ever really impressed by things that went on in the movie, maybe because in its universe, almost anything seems possible, so it was hard to really say "Oh, that was awesome!", because there was never a sense it was particularly difficult. I did lagh at some witty comments (mostly Giammatti's), and groan at some of Smith's, comparing one to me getting hit between the eyes with a stick****.

I think the scene that tipped it too far was the gun battle Smith has with security personnel after skydiving out of a Senator's airliner. At that point I was ready to just give up the ghost. Still, the ending was fairly amusing, for how neatly everything ties together for our protagonist. However, it reminded me of the Long Cold Dark story from The Punisher. In that, Frank concluded that he couldn't be any part of his newly discovered daughter's life, because he knew, even if he tried to stop for her, some crime would eventually be ugly enough to draw him back in. Based on the end, and the general lack of impulse control Smith demonstrates in the movie, it seems likely he's not going to be able to stop killing people, but he also seems quite content to continue this little family he's cobbled together. Then again, Shoot 'Em Up is a lot less serious than The Punisher.

* At one point, before I knew what was to come, I told Alex I wanted to see what the townspeople say when they return, especially the family who find the trencher in their parlor.

** Actually, I just remembered what it was. It was when Owen and Giamatti expended bullets in the middle of a firefight to use a building's neon sign to send messages to each other.

*** Though if you're going to leave the origin up in the air, you need to present multiple choice, like the Joker. Just one proposed origin doesn't work terribly well.

**** Yeah, it doesn't make sense, but it was four in the morning, and I had just seen Owen use a dead man's hand to bypass the thumbprint scanner on a handgun, then cap it off with "Nothing like a good handjob".

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What I Bought 8/23/08

Salutations! Verily, I am glad to be here, mostly because I'm sick of driving, and of throwing off my sleep cycle hanging out with my night owl of a friend (going to sleep at 5 a.m. is pretty standard for him). I haven't shaken the effects yet, since I was not myself when I swung by the store to purchase my comics. I forgot to see if Ken had any of the Layla Miller one-shot, and I didn't check to see if he had any of the Batgirl mini-series (probably my sub-conscious telling me something). Plus, he got shortchanged on this week's Punisher, and he was out of Moon Knight (I want to see Marc Spector fight the Thunderbolts). So the week was somewhat smaller than I expected. But I'll forge ahead regardless.

Batman & the Outsiders #10 - The Outsiders find the club that was shown at the end of last issue, where the weird monster thing can give people powers, if it doesn't kill them. So three Outsiders fight with the newest of the empowered, while Batman gets a little gung-ho leaping onto the fleeing parasite and telling the others to follow his signal. Except the transmitter's in the belt, and that got ripped off, so no one knows where he is, and the team has a new leader. And Salah reminds us of the hazards of psionically linking yourself to a serious piece of cybernetic hardware (really, the second he said he'd decided to control the suit with his mind, you had to know what was going to happen).

I'm a little surprised at who steps up to take command. Of course, taking command doesn't mean you'll be followed, so we'll see how that goes. I imagine if Green Arrow shows up next month he'll be a hassle, but he hassles people he supposedly likes, so I guess that won't be much of a change. I suppose this is it for Dixon, and it'll be Tieri doing the "Batman R.I.P" tie-ins. That should be interesting. A lot of these characters have connections between them (say, Metamorpho-Geo-Force-Katana as the classic Outsiders, or Grace-Thunder from the prior iteration), but as a whole the only thing that tied them together was Batman putting them on the same team. If he's off if his Day-Glo costume busting people in the head with baseball bats, what do they do? What's their purpose? Perhaps they'll become a "non-team", like the classic Defenders (on a related note, I purchased Vol. 1 & 2 of The Essential Defenders this week), each of them going off on things that interest them, that somehow connect. I suppose that's probably only going to work once though, having it be a coincidence that their interests coincide.

New artist this month, a Ryan Benjamin. He (or his inker) is using a lot more lines, which gives everyone a rougher look, which could work if it's meant to evoke things starting to go awry for the group. There are times his faces look rushed, and oddly shaped, lopsided, but for the most part I think he does a solid job, conveys the information he needs to.

BloodRayne: Tokyo Rogue #2 - It's been three months since #1, so I wound up reading this issue, rereading #1, then reading this issue, which seemed to help get everything straight in my head. The first issue seemed designed to present a mystery (who are these people attacking the Brimstone Society's Japan branch, and why?), and to get Rayne to Japan to meet them. This issue solves the mystery, and explains why they needed Rayne in Japan. Unless I miss my guess, #3 will be the big fight scene.

The answer to the mystery is a bit Asimov's Second Foundation, and it's a nice idea, but part of me wonders whether it would have worked better for us to see this story before all the previous mini-series and one-shots that established that the Brimstone Society wasn't, to let the readers wonder about it, and then we could decide whether some of the other stories were signs of misdeeds, or just coincidence? It doesn't hurt this story, I'm merely pondering. Anyway, the real problem is that the leader of this mysterious bunch has one of two swords that belonged a Japanese version of Vlad the Impaler, and his soul is bound to the sword. Part of it anyway. The other part of his soul is bound to the other sword, which is in the possession the mysterious leader's (Hicharo) old mentor, who has been corrupted by the malevolent being within, and wants the other sword. So the big fight's going to be a defense of that sword I imagine.

There's quite a bit of double-crossing, with people switching sides, but not realizing their cover is blown, and characters allowing themselves to be followed to secret bases to set traps. It makes things a little murkier, less clear-cut than simply "find bad guy, kill bad guy", when everyone is being sneaky. It works well with a story about the daughter of a ruthless vampire, who despite what you might expect, fights to protect the world. Keeps a theme of not judging by the outermost layer in play. Jake Bilbao's art is still quit good, though he seems to have added more linework to the faces, which makes the characters seem less smooth than they did last issue. Perhaps the stress of the situation is leaving them a bit weary, since things did seem a bit simpler when Rayne and Severin thought they were just investigating a simple attack. I imagine duplicity could wear on a person, especially one who tends to prefer the direct approach. The coloring interests me, since there are some pages tinted entirely in purple, others in green, still others in orange. I'm not certain what it means, but it caught my attention.

Guardians of the Galaxy #4 - I could really do without Secret Invasion mucking about with my beloved Cosmic Marvel titles. Just have to keep telling myself it'll help the sales, and hopefully preserve the book. A bomb goes off in Knowhere, and Skrulls are among the dead. Skrulls that were in disguise (in case you thought perhaps the Skrulls were merely there to ponder the vagaries of existence at the edge of the universe, though that would be pretty funny if the Guardians got all freaked out about the Skrulls, but in reality they weren't targeted at all). Lots of accusations fly around, as Rocket accuses Cosmo, Gamora questions Warlock, Drax, and Starlord. Meanwhile, it wouldn't be a Marvel comic if the public wasn't wary of our heroes' presence, and the council of Knowhere decides to start questioning them about stuff. Oh goody, beaureacratic hamstringing. I'm with Adam Warlock on this, to hell with the Council. Also, Starlord had Mantis do a bad thing, and Drax knows about it, which means it's certainly not good that the issue ends with Drax loading up with firearms.

Assuming there is a Skrull present on the team, I'm not sure whether it's responsible for the increased strife, or whether it's a side effect of Starlord's bad decision. I see roster upheaval in the future, unless Vance Astro can remember what he's there for (I figure it's big enough people will put aside their beefs to help). I'm curious to see what Peter Quill does from here. He's clearly willing to cross boundaries if he deems it necessary, so are there any boundaries for him? How does he view his team? Are they expendable, and if so, how dire does the situation have to be for that to happen? And are some of them more expendable than others? Is he even the one in charge? Truthfully, I like the idea of tension between the team members, but I think it could have been explored without Skrulls tiptoeing about in the background, and then we'd have more time for that church, and whatever is wrong with Starhawk. Ah well.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sometimes Movies Are Better Than I Expect

We'll see whether that hold true for this Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise flick I'm getting ready to watch with my dad. It certainly held true for one movie I've watched thus far during this week. We'll get to that soon enough.

Rented four movies with Alex, but two of them were for his benefit, one was for a friend of his (who chipped in no money to pay for said rentals, or vittles to eat during the watching of said rentals) and one for me. We didn't get to War, which was what I wanted to watch. I'm hoping for lots of kicking, explosions, and gunshots, but I'm worried that I'll wind up feeling 'Yeah, those were pretty nice explosions, I guess'. The number of explosions is really critical, since I'm not really expecting a significant amount of plot or character development. Maybe I'll be surprised.

{Death in Paradise update: Dad has expressed concern that this is based on the book where Stone's dog dies. Meanwhile, one of Dad's dogs imitates a rhinocerous in the kitchen, making more noise getting in and out of her box than a beast of her size should be capable of. Also, Stone may have a drinking problem.}

Did watch Live Free or Die Hard, not out of some burning desire to see it again, but Alex hadn't seen it yet. I know there's a lot of ludicrous stuff in that movie, but that scene with the fighter jet and the big rig is still the one that pushes things too far for me. Then we watched Unleashed, again because Alex hadn't seen that either. I was more eager to watch this though. I still really enjoy those scenes where Jet Li experiences life beyong being Bob Hoskins' "dog". Plus that first arena fight he has (if you can call something that lasts five seconds and three throat punches a fight) dances that line between hilariously absurd and very cool. I still find the appaearance if the bald white guy in the robes a bit abrupt. He shows up in the crowd watching Danny fight, next time you see him he's working for (with?) Hoskins.

{Death in Paradise update: Jess Stone (Tom Selleck) has been told he does have a drinking problem. And he's crying at somebody's grave. No, not his wife, she's alive and they're divorced.}

In both cases, Alex enjoyed the movie, so I guess it was money well spent. The same can't be said of Prom Night, rented at the request of Alex' friend. Pretty typical slasher stuff, with an obsessed killer who doesn't seem particularly remarkable, but moves with remarkable stealth, and stabs with a brutal energy, though he remains fairly deadpan. The problem is, while watching the movie, I couldn't shake the feeling that the only reason he was having so much success evading capture was because everyone else in the movie is a complete twit. Heather did make a good point at the end: No matter how it turned out, that girl is never going to be right in the head.

OK, enough of the stuff I disliked, stuff I watched again, and stuff I didn't get to see yet. Time to discuss Tropic Thunder. This movie was much funnier than I expected it to be. I didn't expect it to be bad, but I laughed more often than I figured I would. From the "previews" that immediately proceed the start of the movie, to the opening sequence describing how this movie came to be, to all the bickering and idiocy of the characters in the jungle, to the big battle, there are laughs a plenty. Not highbrow laughs, mind you (unless a man screaming 'Ha, you OD'ed!' at a bat, then eating part of it, highbrow), but laughs. There's a sense I have that it's a parody of lots of things. Roger Ebert mentioned a connection to Hearts of Darkness, a movie about the making of Apocalypse Now, but it also seems to be making light of movie stars' exorbitant demands, different schools of acting, and there was a scene that felt very much like a send-up of all those espionage movies, where some high-ranking suits argue over policy versus innocent lives. Looking at Ebert's review a second time, I see he mentioned several of these besides the documentary, which is not terribly surprising. He gets paid for this, after all.

Usually, I only like Ben Stiller (playing Tugg Speedman) when he plays a jerk (Dodgeball), as opposed to the nice idiot, who probably does have anger problems, and so keeps switching from passive to aggressive, while being such a klutz he can't do anything properly. He's not really a jerk here, though he's probably pretty similar to his Mr. Furious role in Mystery Men. He's not a bad guy, just one who sees some writing on the wall about his career, and is desparate to get something different up there. He wants to be a serious actor, but he doesn't understand the styles he's tries to adopt, with results like his film Simple Jack, which based on the clips we see, convinced me it really could have been the worst movie ever made.

{Death in Paradise update: I think Jesse Stone may see dead people.}

Jack Black's Jeff Pornoy strikes me as a cross between Eddie Murphy (at his current career stage) and Chris Farley (or maybe John Candy), based on some comments he makes about how he feels about himself. Then there's Robert Downey Jr.'s Kirk Lazarus. I don't know what to make of him. He seems to be a sendup of that old tactic from Westerns of hiring people who weren't Native American to play Native Americans, but he also seems to be poking at actors who take their roles too seriously. He clearly gets lost in his roles, so that even when he says he's out of it, he's still speaking as his character. I think he gets the best lines, except I can't understand them a lot of the time. I love the back and forth between Lazarus and Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson), who is in the movie partially to hawk merchandise, and partially to present what he feels is a better example/role model of African-Americans than Lazarus.

I think Alex would be mad if I didn't give a shout-out to Brandon Soo Hoo, who plays the head druglord. He is definitively in charge, unchallenged by all those around him, striding confidently with his scar over the eye, the beret, the bandolier, smoking cigars like he's Nick Fury, hefting AKs and rocket launchers, and beating up actors like he does it everyday. If he hadn't been a scumbag druglord, we probably would have rooted for him.

{Death in Paradise: Oh no, one of Jess' officers was shot and is in a coma. Jess is discussing the murder case, and I'm sure is about to recall an important fact about knots. The tied variety, not the nautical speed kind. Now he's trying to trap some criminal type into outing himself as a killer. I find it hard to believe this ploy is actually going to work. Well, it didn't produce a confession, but it did produce gunfire. Criminal Type's henchman wasn't very smart. Guess that's why he's a henchman.}

Obviously, you should not take kids to this movie, and they throw around the word "retard" a lot in this movie (my father informs me they've taken some heat for this), so if that is an issue, then consider yourself forewarned. Otherwise, I think it's a really great movie, and if you go (and you haven't already read or heard about who he is) see how quickly you can figure out who plays Les Goodman, the financier of the movie. It took me until he and Speedman's agent are arguing face-to-face in Goodman's office.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Garth Ennis' Punisher: What Survives?

Jog's already put up an interesting read about Ennis' Punisher run, which I encourage you to go read. It pointed out a few things to me, such as the fact that the author of the book we kept getting excerpts from in this last arc is the brother of a character from Ennis' Punisher: Born mini-series. It's not vital to this arc, but it was something I wasn't aware of.

Of more importance was Jog pointing out that this last arc contained none of Frank's usual inner monologue. It's entirely from the view of the characters around him, mirroring the book where everyone describes what they remember or think of the event so many believe to be the origin of the Punisher (Vietnam, specifically the battle at firebase Valley Forge). It's kind of amusing in light of Ennis' Punisher: The Tyger one-shot, where we get to see that the genesis of what Frank becomes started long before he went to Southeast Asia, and he even muses on how people will ascribe his motives to his family's death, and his time in the service.

There's other things in that essay that I'd been thinking about periodically, like the impermanence of Frank's supporting cast (I think O'Brien appeared in more issues than any character besides Castle, and nobody, including her, showed up in more than three stories, because you can only be around the Punisher, or in his sights, for so long before you die), and how he just keeps on keeping on in the face of all of it, and his understanding the reality of what he does. The thing I wanted to get at is this: Are there things Garth Ennis added to the character of the Punisher that you think will be kept by future writers, and if so, what are they?

I'm hampered here, because Ennis' Punisher pretty much is the Punisher to me. Prior to "Welcome Back, Frank", I owned two, maybe three comics where the Punisher was the star, and maybe a dozen comics where he guest-starred (probably less than that). So I can't really separate what was Garth Ennis, and what was already there. I imagine the idea that Frank still dreams of his family isn't new, but maybe the idea that he actively works to bury those dreams (as seen in #50) is. The idea that it's not supposed to be a personal thing with him, that he tries to regard it as a mission, not much different from the stuff he did in Special Forces, sounds new. Especially the idea that when he lets things get to him (ala the Black is White, Up is Down, or The Slavers arcs) it either gets him in trouble, or worries him after the fact. The idea that the Punisher is actually capable of doing things to criminals that even disturb him after the fact (which he reflects on at the start of The Widowmakers), certainly seemed new.

Again though, I'm not familiar enough with what he was before to really say, which is where you come in.

Unrelated note: I'm leaving town tomorrow, to go help move things. I'll probably be back Friday. Maybe Saturday. So expect reviews one of those two days, and hopefully at least a little posting in between now and then.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Here On These Grimy Streets, Hugging People That We Meet

{Yeah, and how's that working for you?} Everyone keeps looking at me funny. {Well, I imagine they aren't used to seeing pandas running wild around here. We aren't in the big city, you know.} A few people hugged me back, but then one person tried to put a sweater on me. {You know, I was going to ask about it. Thick purple wool, with flowers and butterflies, and big, puffy cuffs, very pretty. *stifles laugh*} Shut up! They were just trying to be nice, I didn't want to tell them I thought it was ugly! {Oh, it's not ugly. It makes you look cute. *bursts out laughing*}

Grr. I was expecting more comics than two! You promised more! {Two is more than one! Besides, I wouldn't wanted you to get tuckered out, you poor dear. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!} I'm going to give May a Hug, since she's real confused, and a Hug for Normie, since he's injured, and a Hug for Rip Hunter. {Too bad he didn't have your sweater, it could have stopped a bullet! Ha!} Will you quit it?! How is Booster going to hear my Applause for beating Batman and Robin? That should help Killer Moth get some respect. {A moth? Better keep him away from your -} Enough! BONK! Jeez, he just won't let it go! And he's not even being funny!

I think the other May might deserve a Bonk for hurting Normie, but she might just be confused. I guess he's dead in that universe, but maybe I could Bonk Norman Osborn. He started it. Alfred's the one who hurt Rip, so I think I have to Bonk him. He shot Rip way too easy. I guess that's it. I'll just leave the sweater with Calvin, so he remembers not to make fun of me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Just Help Me Try And Figure This Out

This isn't actually related to the rest of the post, but for the people who read the Punisher, did you notice the advertisement for the new Runaways series? The Punisher seems like kind of an odd book to put that in, as I wouldn't think the two titles' audiences would overlap very much.

OK, main issue today. The Fourth Worlders in Final Crisis. So, all the New Gods died at some point prior to the start of Final Crisis, though not necessarily in the manner it was depicted in Countdown or Death of the New Gods, correct? I mean, we know Orion killed Darkseid (what with the prophecy and all), and Orion got killed by the bullet traveling backwards in time*, but other than that, do we know what killed the others? It's not really vital to the post, I was just wondering.

Anyway, New Gods die, but don't stay dead, instead possessing the bodies of various mortals, until they burn out*. The possessing is a consequence of their deaht, and loss of previous bodies, right? I can't figure Darkseid putting up with the hassle of bodies that keep decaying on him if he didn't have to**.

So here's what I'm trying to figure out. Shilo Norman, is it a case of Shilo Norman's body, but Scott Free's*** spirit possessing it, or is it Shilo Norman, the guy who was trained in the arts of escape by Scott Free, and has inherited/taken up the mantle of Mister Miracle in Scott's absence/retirement/death the mortal man, on his own?

* Which is kind of a cool idea, actually, except time travel tends to make my head hurt. It also housed the virus that transformed Wonder Woman into Super-Person with Tusks, correct?

** Which raises the question of why he hasn't tried to sucker Superman in close to try and possess the way he did Turpin. Maybe that's coming later. He could always try a robot body, that woudl probably be more resilient. Just don't use Red Tornado, that guy falls apart like he was made of toothpicks and spit.

*** Scott Free is a really cool name, even if you aren't a master escape artist.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What I Bought 8/13/08

Hi, everybody! How is every little thing? I'm doing well as can be expected, but I'd like to impart a little bit of wisdom to you. If you borrow someone else's bike, make sure it's put together properly first, lest one of the pedals fall off when your ten miles from home, and in the middle of a bunch of cornfields. In my defense, I believed the bike I was using was property of someone who knows how to maintain their bikes, and I was incorrect in matters of ownership. I still think it's a good lesson. Comics!

Amazing Spider-Girl #23 - May is still having trouble juggling all the different aspects of her life. Gene is giving her the cold shoulder, Simone is preparing to swoop in and hook up with Gene (she can have him), the Humanity First twits are planning to go after Davida for not letting them set up a chapter of their club at the school (because that'll dispel the notion you're a hate group), the X-Men and the Sisterhood of Mutants are watching Sara, and she's about to crack by the looks of it, and Peter went berserk and attacked Kaine. Gave him a pretty good smacking around too, though Kaine didn't seem very interested in fighting back. And May ran into someone she wouldn't have expected on the roof on the high school.

I don't have a whole lot of thoughts about this issue. It's primarily set-up. I'm not sure how it's all going to tie together (assuming it does). I'm trying to decide whether May's getting a handle on her life or not. She seemed to recognize the beats her life has fallen into enough to advise Wes that he shouldn't try to say something comforting after her attempt to apologize to Gene, since it would probably just lead to more trouble, but that really didn't seem like the best way for her to handle things. Wes was just trying to help. Not an issue likely to to be remembered as one of my favorites, that's for sure.

Booster Gold #11 - Odd fellow in glasses helps Killer Moth try and rob a museum. Batman and Robin stop robbery, Batgirl apprehends odd fellow, steps on odd device he had. Our three heroes vanish from existence. Enter Booster Gold, who must impersonate Killer Moth to make the robbery go properly. Except, even that doesn't work right. I think it has something to do with a knife that was supposed to be part of the loot. By the end of the issue, Alfred shoots Rip Hunter, and Booster and his sister may be in a spot of trouble.

It was a funny issue, with Booster trying to play the criminal. I think this is supposed to be in the vein of the Adam West TV show. That was the vibe I got from the Batmobile, and maybe the extent to which they took the moth motif (loved Skeets' accessories). Plus you get lines like 'That's how I roll. . . loyal minion.' Well, it made me laugh anyway. I'm not sure I entirely understand what the problem is, even if I think the knife is involved, nor how Booster dispatched Bats so easily (force field? Batman expecting less resistance because it was Killer Moth? Lucky punch? Just curious), but I'm sure Dixon will get to it next month, so I'll just wait. Plus, I figure next month will be Goldstar's opportunity to get in on the fun. That should be suitably amusing.

The Punisher #60 - Well, that was considerably less violent than I expected. People died, but I guess Ennis figured that was never in doubt, so no need to show it. Which makes sense. Given the players involved, the outcome was never in doubt. See, the Lieutenant, the one that's been the go between for the Generals and the Delta Force guys, he found something in Castle's file that made him nervous. It made him think, and apparently he thought right.

The Colonel's thought process is what interests me. Not so much why he took the job, I'll go with the Looie's hypothesis on that, seems on the ball enough. Why Howe wanted Castle locked up, rather than dead, and why he changed his mind, that's what interests me. I'm not sure whether it was talking to Castle, understanding why he does it, and how he views what he does, or whether it was what that tape with Rawlins spilling his guts on it told Howe about the generals. He said Castle taught him 'a lesson in necessity.' I'm going to need some time to mull that over.

As to the book excerpts that have been scattered through this story, well it seems Ennis is drawing a comparison between Vietnam and the current military situation in the Middle East. I think he is, or it's me connecting dots. He has Fury reading the last few paragraphs of the book in a bar, while news reports about current conflicts are on in the background, so I think I'm reading him right. And I think Ennis is making the connection between the generals in this story and the people he would say started both the Vietnam War and the Iraq (and Afghanistan as well, I'd imagine) wars (military actions? I'm not sure to the proper terminology). I suppose the generals serve as the stand in for the people he feels are responsible in the real world. I still want to come back to this later, because I wonder if there isn't a reason the excerpts came in the order they did, and how does that relate to what was happening in the story at that time. That'll be for some time later, though. For now, it's a melancholy, somewhat subdued end to a fantastic run.

Now I just have to decide how much of a leash to give the new writer. The preview of Hurwitz' arc didn't leap out and grab me, but Ennis tended to start slow sometimes himself, so I'll play it by ear. The tricky part will be not constantly comparing Hurwitz' Punisher to Ennis', and trying to let Hurwitz develop his own take. Not saying I can do that, but I figure it's proper to at least try.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

What Do You Know, The Crazy Guy Was Right After All

Still going through the collection, came across Daredevil #181, which, if you don't know, is the issue where Bullseye introduces Elektra to the pointy end of one of her sais.

It's kind of interesting to see the Punisher show up in the title (as this was during a prison stint for him), and encourage Bullseye to escape, telling him that Kingpin wasn't going to get him out, because he'd found a new killer (that'd be Elektra). Of course, Frank figured Bullseye would attempt a break out (correct), and get killed in the process (false). Probably shouldn't tease the guy who can kill with anything, Castle.

Anyway, Bullseye escapes, finds a place to lay low, and plans to eliminate Elektra and Daredevil. While doing some planning, it starts to occur to him that Daredevil and Matt Murdock might be connected, seeing as how one always seems to closely follow the other, yet they never appear together. After Bullseye finishes Elektra, he watches Murdock in the morgue, and a little test with a scapel confirms his suspicions. He scrambles off and tells Kingpin about it. How Murdock was blinded as a kid, but his brain scans showed increased sensitivity to sound and scents, until that mysteriously faded. What if, Bullseye posits, the ability didn't fade, Murdock just concealed it?

Fisk interrupts before Bullseye can get to the part about Matt's father, which might have struck a chord with Fisk*. Fisk dismisses Bullseye's theories as nonsense, designed to get his job back**, and tells Bullseye to get on with killing Daredevil. Bullseye goes to Murdock's apartment, but gets faked out and subsequently abandons his theory of Murdock being Daredevil.

I've only read the latter parts of Born Again, so you tell me, was there a moment, when Fisk learns that Murdock is, in fact, the Man Without Fear, where he mused to himself about how Bullseye was right all along***? I'm not expecting the Kingpin to regret not believing Bullseye, or to feel bad about not believing him, but I think Fisk might be wryly amused that the loon who kills people with whatever's handy, actually put it together all by himself. Actually, Fisk might be a little regretful, mostly because if he'd had this information sooner (or believed it) he couldn't have removed Murdock from the equation long ago.

* Is Fisk the one who killed Battlin' Jack Murdock in the comics, or was that strictly something they added for the movie, because Kingpin being a dangerous crime lord who ruins lives and ordered the death of a lady Matt was quite taken with wasn't enough motivation?

** How was that going to get Bullseye's job back, even assuming Fisk had believed him? It's not like Bullseye said, "I know who Daredevil is, if you want that info, give me my job back," he flat out told Fisk what he believed. Besides, he's an assassin, not a planner. Fisk wouldn't be hiring him for his deductive ability, so what would it matter?

*** Presumably while standing at the window, gazing out upon his city, with his cane in one hand, and a fine cigar in the other.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Perhaps This Will Teach Him The Importance Of Full Disclosure

While I was going through my collection, I came across a Spider-Girl issue that seemed somewhat relevant, under the circumstances. In Spider-Girl #44, Pete gets on May's case for being irresponsible*. In this case, May had waited until she only had one webbing cartridge left, before telling him she needed more. Well, that's teenagers for ya. Pete reads her the riot act, and when May asks whether he every made any mistakes, Pete boldly proclaims that he was 'absolutely perfect'. MJ, loving spouse she is, opts to wait until May has left to laugh herself silly at that comment**.

Anyway, Peter decides to go patch things up with May, and explain while being responsible is such a big deal to him. Which means he explains the hole Uncle Ben and the Burglar situation, something he apparently hadn't done previously. May is affected by his story, but it also piques her curiousity. She wants to know about her "Uncle Ben", who we know as Ben Reilly, Mr. Scarlet Spider himself. THis is where Pete's decision making takes what is probably a turn for the worse.

Pete says he isn't certain how he and Ben were related, but given Ben's last name (Aunt May's maiden name), they were probably cousins, though they were 'closer than brothers'. He tells her about how he and Ben didn't get along initially, then Ben left to wander the country for awhile, before coming back when Aunt May fell ill. About the time Peter mentions that Ben had spider-powers, May gets suspicious. How'd that happen, she wonders? Pete deflects with some half-truths about 'mad scientists and crazy experiments', and how he doesn't really understand the process, and continues the story, up to the point where Norman Osborn killed Ben. That did give Mayday a little more insight into her dad's issues with the Osborns, so that was nice.

But it's a little interesting that Pete left out all the stuff about clones. I can't really understand why, given all the weird stuff May had dealt with. Granted, most of her difficulties have been with low-level villains, typically working for various mobs, but I can't figure "Clones!" would shake her that much. I guess she could start questioning whether her dad is the real Peter Parker, but it wouldn't change how she'd feel about him, so I think the risk with that is pretty low. There's the possibility she'd wonder what Kaine's connection to all this is, and whether she'd realize he's as much her "uncle" as Ben was, but his features have degraded enough I don't she'd see the resemblance, and somehow I don't see Kaine admitting it to her himself.

I bring it up since one of the cover solicitations (maybe October's) showed May is going to have it out with the other May here pretty soon, and if she knew that her family has history with clones created (or whose creation was sponsored by) Osborns, that might make it a bit less disconcerting. At least she would have some idea what's going on, you know?

* Pete does that a lot.

** For the record, Pete laughed along with her, so he's not completely delusional.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Skipping Down A Merry Field Of Pretty Flowers

Blech, that's disgusting! {Yes, nauseating, isn't it? I thought you'd be repulsed by it.} Then why do it? {For kicks and giggles, young Pandawan, kicks and giggles. Though actually, it's making me a little ill.} Ha!

Well, I guess Patsy has to get some Applause for agreeing to help those sages. So was the thing with tentacles a threat to Hellcat? {I don't think so. I think it was just to get here to them. That one guy started wearing it as a hat after they got inside the pink igloo.} Ah. I also think the Map gets a Bonk for calling Patsy names. {You have to admit, "fishwife" is a pretty good insult, if only because most people you call that will be too befuddled to develop a comeback.} It didn't bother Patsy. {Yes, well, she's not most people. Can I suggest Patsy get a bonk? She left the wheel of a moving motor vehicle unattended.} That is pretty bad driving. She might have avoided the wolf if she'd been at the wheel the whole time. Oh, that reminds me, Bonk for the giant wolf. Smashing other people's property is unaceptable unless they're evil. {So yes to the bonk for Hellcat?} I guess it's the only way humans learn. Bonk!

{Sorry you don't have more to work with. Next week will be better.} How am I supposed to get more face time on the blog, so I can spin-off into my own, uh, *reading from sheet of paper* critically acclaimed, but poorly selling ongoing series, if you don't buy more comics? {I told you next week will be better. You ought to be used to the ebb and flow of my comic purchases by now. Wait, did Wade write that out for you?} Yes. {What the hell does he know about "critically acclaimed"?} He said he read all of Christopher Priest's Black Panther series. {Oh. Well, anyway, I told you we were going with a series of mini-series and one-shots to gauge fan support before we even considered an ongoing. Plus, given your feelings towards late books, we'd have to find a creative team that's willing to risk getting bonked on the head if they can't get ehir work in on time. Which means you might be stuck with me.}

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I Make It So Much Harder Than It Needs To Be

Having been reacquainted with the majority of my collection, I've been taking the opportunity to read some issues I hadn't looked at in quite a while, such as that NextWave collection I got at the '07 Cape Comic Con, or assorted Spider-Girls, or some of the earlier story arcs from Punisher MAX. I've also been trying to thin out the collection a bit, you know, move out comics I didn't really enjoy, or that I'm not likely to read again. I've had a little success, though compared to the amount of comics coming into the collection it feels like trying to bail out a flooding ocean liner with a drinking glass, but often, as I start to remove a comic, I concoct some reason to stop myself.

Sometimes it's just nostalgia, it's some comic of questionable quality I loved as a kid, like most of my '90s X-Comics. Sometimes I hate the story, but it has an artist I like, so I can't get rid of it*. Then there's the stuff I think you, my beloved audience, might enjoy, like say, Bill Mantlo teaming up with Mike Mignola on Alpha Flight. OK, I've only got two issues of that, but it's a weird two issues**. Then there's the stuff that I put a lot of work into collecting, so there's no way I'm getting rid of it, even if some of it makes no sense to me, or feels kind of lackluster on later readings (some of the Spider-Girl, parts of Engelhart's West Coast Avengers, parts of The Ray ongoing).

I'm sure there's a lesson in there about not letting possessions control you, but I can't hear over the sound of the GrimJacks telling me I should re-read them.

* That'd be about half of the issues of Bagley's Amazing Spider-Man that I've got. So much Venom and Carnage, and oh, the fake parents storyline, I can't believe I used to think that was a good idea.

** Yes, one of the issues is the one where Mantlo uses a soul stealing entity trapped in a sword to explain Puck's drawfism.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

What I Bought 8/6/08

The beginnings and ends of the month are just not good for me. All my books come out in the middle weeks. I'd really prefer a more even distribution, but short of dropping books that won't comply, or adding books I'm not interested in, I can't do much about it, so rather than continue with this complaining, let's talk comics!

Pasty Walker: Hellcat #2 - I don't know if anyone else saw this, but there was no solicitation for this mini-series in the October Previews (which is theoretically when #4 would come out). I'm enjoying this far too much for it to miss a month. It's so pretty, and Patsy is so snarky, cheery, and completely nonchalant in the face of weirdness that leaves me scratching my head.

Case in point: This month Patsy's fight with the weird tentacled thing ends abruptly as she's confronted by seven shamans in a pink igloo. They need Hellcat to find their daughter, who has been captured by something, possibly a Windigo (that's how it's spelled in the book, FYI, so it's not a typo on my end, at least). Or that may just be a predator they hunt for other reasons, I wasn't entirely clear on that concept. Anyway, Patsy agrees to get to it, after the load her up with all sorts of stuff (including a talking map which Patsy insists is a calendar) in a really nice SUV. The end of the issue presents Hellcat, sorry "Double Clawed Cat Full of Red Hell Fire with Her Head Against the Wind and Comes Not Quietly from the Great Sea Road" (Jeez, what a mouthful) against a large adversary.

Like I said, this book is very pretty. It's bright, and LaFuente draws a very expressive Hellcat, between her body language and facial expressions. It demonstrates how she can be calm and generally unfazed by these odditites, but still be surprised occasionally, and that she still likes her clothes. I'm not sure what's going on beyond the fact that Patsy's playing the role of Link in her own version of Legend of Zelda (or, based on some advice she received, she's Baron von Munchausen). However, I still really like how Kathryn Immonen writes Patsy. She's serious when it's required, but there's a light-heartedness to it. She's not gritting her teeth and snarling like something that escaped from Sin City, she's simply determined that she'll help those people, while not being entirely sure they aren't yanking her chain. It makes her a compotent hero, one who's definitely faced weird stuff before (heck she used to be a Defender, she knows about weird threats), but not one that's let the job sap her enthusiasm for do-gooding, and especially not for life in general. So yes, I really like this. It makes me happy.

Oh, oh, also the recap page has a quiz, and Hellcat is using the letters page as an advice column!

Good thing I only had one book this week, because I think I used up all my enthusiasm on it.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

More Tact Might Be Useful

I was looking through that first issue of the Reign in Hell mini-series, and lo and behold, there's Linda Danvers, with fire wings and everything. That was a little surprising, I thought she was persona non grata in the DCU since they brought the current Supergirl in.

I wasn't aware of the fact she was somehow connected to Neron. I suppose the fire wings should have been a clue, but I thought she was an angel on earth, so it didn't occur to me she'd be connected to their devil. I found it a little curious that the Shadowpact, worried that she might get drawn into the conflict in the infernal realms, decided to attack her, rather than approach peacefully. Given that she was doing absolutely nothing threatening at that particular moment, it seems like a needless escalation of things. Yes, she might respond in a hostile manner if they simply walk up and ask if she'll come with them, and certainly you don't want to get killed if you can avoid it, but if you attack you pretty much guarantee you'll get attacked right back.

Even if they had succeeded in restraining her, and putting her some place where she couldn't get recalled to Hell, at some point that conflict is going to be over, and what do you do then? You going to keep her locked up forever, based on her heritage, rather than what she did? Because that's very Marvel Universe isn't it, like an mystical version of the Mutant Registration Act and all those future where mutants are in camps simply because they're mutants. So that hardly seems proper for a team of heroes. So maybe they cut her loose. What's to stop her from turning around and immediately attacking them? They locked her up when she hadn't done anything. More than that, she'd built a life for herself there, and they probably wrecked it (even if they don't have a huge, destructive fight that reveals her true self to her friends and coworkers, she's probably missed work, and her friends haven't heard from her, she may have lost her home), so I'd say Ms. Danvers might feel a bit of butt-kicking was in order. You know, to redress a wrong.

Oh well, she did get recalled, so maybe the Shadowpact won't have to worry about any aftershocks..

Monday, August 04, 2008

Mister Freeze?

I was watching the Batman: Subzero movie this weeken and it occured to me that it really ought to be Dr. Freeze, oughtn't it? He has a doctorate, they say so right in the movie when they call him "Doctor Victor Fries". You'd think, having gone to the trouble to get a doctorate, he'd insist on his proper title, but no.

I imagine there's an argument that he feels Victor Fries is dead, and so the title doesn't pass on to Mr. Freeze, but I can't really buy that given his actions (at least in the majority of his portrayals) are motivated by things from his life as Victor (namely, his Popsicle Wife*). His old life does still have a hold on him, so why not carry over his title, especially since he still utilizes the expertise he gained during the processing of earning the degree.

Perhaps it relates to the fact that much of what he's done is related to Nora, and since that's a personal matter, one of the heart, his education, his former professional life is irrelevant, and since being a doctor was part of that, he left that aspect behind.

I suppose they dealt with it in the version they created for The Batman series, since that Mr. Freeze was just a thief trying to escape from Batman, not a cryogenics expert. That was an interesting choice, because it shifted the guilt and sympathy. With Batman: The Animated Series, Freeze had been a man in love, destroyed by people more interested in the bottom line, and we were supposed to feel at least a little bad for him, even if he was fairly indifferent to the damage he inflicted on people who had nothing to do with his loss. In the newer series, that's not really the case. He was stealing**, he tried to escape Batman, he accidentally fell into a cryo tube, and now he has ice powers, which he immediately sets to use stealing for his enjoyment (as opposed to stealing to gather equipment to care for a loved one). He's much more of an out and out villain, a Norman Osborn-Green Goblin, rather than a Harry Osborn-Green Goblin. Yet, Batman feels guilt over this turn of events, since he couldn't save Fries from falling into the tube, or winding up like he did. Whereas in the earlier version, Batman is just the outsider vigilante that has to clean up the mess, now he's played an active role in the creation of a much greater danger than an ordinary thief. It's a different dynamic, which is a nice touch.

Supposedly (according to Wikipedia, anyway) in his Silver Age origin, Freeze (or Mr. Zero) took a shot at Bats with the freeze gun, only to hit Nora's capsule and shatter it when the Caped Crusader dodged. I wonder if Batman spent anytime dwelling on that, wondering if he could avoided the shot in a different way.

* Except she isn't a popsicle anymore, as of the last story arc in Batgirl. She's back, with power over the dead. I wonder whose idea that was, and if it survived the reshuffling of things that's gone on since the end of Infinite Crisis. Personally, I would have preferred the drop in the Lazarus Pit either restores her back to a healthy, normal person, or it doesn't take and she's finally dead. "Superpowered wacko" just seemed an odd route to go.

** I guess B:TAS Victor was stealing too, since he was using company funds and equipment for a personal project, though as successful as his cryo tube had been on Nora, the company certainly ought to have been able to make some serious bank with the patents, and they could have left Victor to care for his wife.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Defenders Discombobulate!

"Defenestrate" was actually the first one that came to mind, but that's because I think Giffen and Casey used it in The Last Defenders #1, and I didn't want to rip them off, and "discombobulate" works pretty well for this bunch.

So purchasing Essential Defenders Volume 4, when I've not read the first three volumes is probably a questionable decision, but if there's one thing those older comics know how to do, it's get the new reader up to speed. There are a lot of different arcs that run for quite some time through the volume, from the mystery of Lunatik, to the Unnamable One conquering TunnelWorld, to the Mandrill and his schemes, to Kyle Richmond's struggles with various financial institutions, such as the IRS and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Oddly, I was more interested in that plot thread than the one about Dr. Strange, Namor, and the Hulk trying to stop the Unnamable One. I guess since Nighthawk is not the "name" character Strange and his cohorts were, and because being investigated for various financial misdeeds isn't as life-threatening as battling amorphous evil beings, that I figured the Richmond story was more likely to pay off somehow. Also, I'm not a big fan of antagonists with ill-defined powers or abilities. It makes it to easy to say "They can do this", or "Oh, but you can easily defeat them doing this". I did think the solution to that battle was pretty trippy, so that's a plus.

I was not aware of the fact the Hulk hated water, but that was a running thing through the book. I guess when you don't have an umbrella, water can be kind of annoying. I really enjoyed the story arc where the Defenders P.R. guy/leech, Dollar Bill, made his documentary on the team and said anyone could be a Defender, leading to a dozen heroes showing up to join. Naturally, you get that many heroes around, they're going to do something stupid, like try and capture the Hulk. Because that always goes well. Plus, you get to see villains going on crime sprees, then when they're defeated, they tell the cops they're the Defenders, and the heroes are actually villains besmirching the Defenders' good name. That was some quick thinking.

One odd thing to me was Hellcat's Shadow Cloak, She's showing it off early in the volume, and gushing over how much she likes it and how neat it is. I kept expecting her to bust it out for a battle, but she almost never uses it. She hardly ever even has it with her. Also, the story with Omega the Unknown was a little weird. I'm not sure whether it would have made more sense, or less, if I'd read the original Gerber series. I know some people have been disappointed with this story as the attempt at a conclusion to Gerber's story, but I can't really comment on that. It was depressing, and I couldn't really see why they would decide to go the way they did.

I should at least try and discuss the art. There are quite a few different pencilers on the title, coming off and on frequently. For the most part, they seemed like solid artists, nothing flashy, but not hampering the story at least. Of course, there was so much dialogue, the artists probably didn't have nearly as much room in the panels to do what they would have liked. The only things that really stand out was some of Don Perlin's work, where it seemed as though he must have had a little more time, because there's an extra layer of detail to some of the faces. Also, there were some superb double page spreads in there (Ed Hannigan had one in particular of Asgard in #66), which may have stood out all the more compared to the more common small panels, crammed with words.

I did think the conflict between Namor and the Black Panther was a bit overdone. I know Namor's hotheaded, but it things escalated too fast. Plus, it lead to yet another of Namor's "I can't trust any surface-dwellers, to hell with all of you!" outbursts, followed by his usualy storming off to his underwater kingdom. Oh Namor, will you ever get your temper under control? Answer: Yes, when John Byrne decides your problem is fluctuating oxygen levels in your blood from going between the water and dry land so much. Or something like that. I haven't read my issues of that series in a while, the memory is a little rusty.

Overall though, this volume was a lot of fun, and I really liked that the roster rotates so frequently. While there's certainly something to be said for a stable cast, that allows for development of relationships or rivalries between characters, it's also a lot of fun to be able to have Black Panther join up for a few months, then Daredevil, or Spider-Man for an issue.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Most Interested I'm Liable To Be In Secret Invasion

Because today was what's labeled as Week 1 of the Heroclix Secret Invasion event. It was a sealed event, meaning you buy two boosters, open them up, and make a team out of whatever's inside. I went against my normal style (because it's not as though that's worked well for me), and sent out a "real" Ms. Marvel (making up 58% of my team on points), the Punisher, and Gee (Alex Power of the Power Pack). Based on results, I might be better off sticking with my swarm style.

The problem today was simple: Ms. Marvel was a 168 point millstone around my neck. She hit absolutely no one today, in three games. Bob used Iron Man to smoke her for 5 damage, then she whiffed after he moved Iron Fist in between them. The Punisher did manage to hit Iron Fist for 3 damage (after being TK'd into place by Gee), and then later killed Bob's Gee (four players today, and three of us used Gee. Cheap Telekinesis is popular). But by then Carol was dead, and Iron Man was zeroing in on Frank, and he didn't last long either. After that I made one last futile stand, with Gee Force Blasting Iron Fist away from him (though not far enough to slam him into a wall, as per my luck), then Incapacitating him for 1 click of damage, before Marvel's Dread Ruler, Tony Stark, blasted him in the face.

The second game, remarkably, went even more poorly, though it took longer for me to die. At least it was an interesting team, as Malcolm trotted out Arachne (Spider-Woman the 2nd), Gamora, Clea, Elektra, and Howard the Duck. Only in Heroclix, people. I again got to pick the map, and this time I actually put some thought into it. All 3 of my characters have a range of 8 on their attacks. But on Malcolm's team, Elektra has a 4, Clea has an 8, and none of the others could attack at range. So I picked a rooftop map, where if a non-flier stops in mid-air, they fall and take damage. I figured that would restrict movement, and work to my advantage. I suppose if I had just sat back and waited, forcing him to come to me (the Bob Strategy), it might have worked, but that feels so cheap, so I didn't, and well, I paid for my impatience.

Ms. Marvel continued to fail to hit people, though she was trying to hit 19 defenses (thanks to hidnering terrain), so I'm not going to fault her too much for that, but missing a 16 was unacceptable. The high point of that game was either Frank Castle doing 3 damage to Howard (unfortunately not enough to kill him), or after Gamora had Charged at Frank and missed with her attack, Gee used Telekinesis to pick her up and move her out over the air, and let her drop. She popped up on the same roof she was on before, but now Frank could shoot at whomever he pleased, whereas before he would have been forced to attack her. The catch was that my attack roll with Gee was a 12, so if I had just attacked normally, I would have done 2 damage, which probably would have been better. Eventually, Ms. Marvel got battered, Clea Mind Controlled Punisher into killing Gee, and then Gamora charged in and hacked Frank to pieces.

Against, Tim, the rolls were really against me. 4 critical misses, including two in a row by Ms. Marvel, and one by the Punisher when he was already going to take damage for pushing. I did kill Tim's Gee, and his attempts to use Adam Warlock to Mind Control Frank into killing Carol failed. Not that it mattered, since Carol was still whiffing on every attack, and getting plinked to death by Sharon Carter and Spider-Man. Spidey also pummeled Gee into the ground, and then everybody dogpiled on Frank. I did manage to at least hurt Warlock, knocked him over halfway down his dial (except he Regened and recovered most of that), but Sharon Carter stubbornly refused to get hit.

By some cosmic joke, I won Fellowship, which is voted on by all the players, except you can't vote for the guy who won (Malcolm), so even though I did the worst of the four of us, I was still one of the two to get a prize. I don't know what the criteria are supposed to be for voting on that, so I can't say I know how I got it. I usually vote for the two players (in case of a tie) that beat me the most handily, assuming one of them wasn't the overall winner. I don't know what guidelines anyone else uses. The prize was a feat card that might come in handy in a game, I'm not sure. I really would like to be able to blog about some stirring tales on victory on my part, where my brilliant strategy, or fortunate rolls carried the day. Maybe next week.

Edit: One other positive I failed to mention earlier, I was able, by purchase and trade to get about half of the figures in the set I was looking for. They were the cheaper half, but still, I'm partially in this for the collecting aspect, so that was a nice turn of events.

Tomorrow. . . hmm, Essential Defenders Volume 4, I believe.

Friday, August 01, 2008

So Much SIlver Age Stuff

I spent today at my grandmother's former home, helping my dad with some moving. We already got most of the furniture that wanted to be kept, so this was mostly about getting the things important to my dad, and putting the rest out for auction. I wound up as the keeper of his comics.

I'm not a big fan of Superman comics from that era (though they do have their insane charms, as I'm sure many of you know), but there's quite a few Sgt. Rock's in there, as well as G.I. Combat, which means, among other things, the Haunted Tank. Hell yes.

What I found interesting is that when people talk about Sgt. Rock, they talk about Joe Kubert drawing it, with Kanigher handling the writing. But almost all of the ones my dad has have Kubert doing the scripting, and Russ Heath on the art. Which is fine, I like his work on these comics just fine, even more so than his work on the last issue of Immortal Iron Fist. There's more of a rough edge to his older work, possibly an attempt to mimc Kubert, that I find appealing, at least when it comes to Easy Company. I'm not sure that particular style would work as well for Superman, but that's not really an issue here.

There are a couple of Marvel's in there, one Lee/Kirby Thor (where's he fighting Mangog), and one Lee/John Buscema issue against Durok the Demolisher. Pity the comics are in such beat up condition. It's as though their original owner left them in a box in a basement for 25 years, until some punk kid, perhaps a son, found them, read them, and didn't take care with placing them after he was finished. Don't know how that could have happened.

Anyway, between that little haul, and my being reuinted with the majority of my collection, I might be doing more posts about older comics in the future. Or maybe not. I still haven't sprung for a scanner, and those are just so helpful.