Monday, December 29, 2008

Why Does It Being Old Time Matter?

As I was driving this weekend, I was listening to the radio and this song "If You Could Read My Mind" comes on, and this one line keeps nagging at me: 'Just like an old time movie, about a ghost from a wishing well.'

OK, first off, 'ghost from a wishing well'? I was not aware ghosts hung out around wishing wells. Lacks properly spooky atmosphere, don't you think? I suppose "ghost" could be code for "memory", since if one uses a wishing well, it's usually to get something back they lost, or gain something they never had, and the desire is linked to some pleasant or unpleasant memory that they can't escape.

More irritating is 'like an old time movie'. Why an old time movie? He's trying to be poetic with regards to the contents of his mind, so his mind works in black and white? There's no sound? All thoughts or memories associated with women are viewed in that soft focus where it looks like they put cloth over the lens?

What would be the differences in an old time (remembering the song is from the '70s) movie about a ghost at a wishing well, versus a new (read: 1970s) movie about the same subject? Would the newer movie be more ambiguous, with the ghost perhaps being a person who deserves this fate, while in the older version the person is a ghost because they were done in by foul play and must wanr their loved ones of danger? Would the old version be a slapstick comedy, and the new version some cheap horror flick?

What is so damn special about it being an old time movie?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Hitman And A Businessman Walk Into A Bar

You know, the more often I see Pierce Brosnan in roles where he plays a scruffy, disheveled sort, the harder it is for me to picture him as James Bond. That's really only relevant because I'm trying to use it as an intro to this review of The Matador, where Brosnan plays Julian, a "facilatator of fatalities", as he describes it to Danny (Greg Kinnear), while they observe a bullfight. They meet in Mexico, each of them on business. Danny and his partner are making a pitch to a company, and Julian is there to kill someone. Oh, and it's his birthday, which leaves him feeling rather lonely. After a rather awkward failure at establishing friendship with Danny, Julian tries again, and they manage to hit it off. However, the stay in Mexico ends with the two apparently back on the outs, after Danny would not help Julian complete another job (he asked Danny to do was trip). But, surprise, Julian shows up at Danny's home at Christmastime, for a couple of different reasons.

It's a fast movie, and for one where one of the two main characters is an assassin, the violence is fairly low key. There are no shootouts, car chases, protracted hand-to-hand combat sequences. There is a lot of consideration of mortatility. Julian obviously kills people, but his birthday has given him cause to examine his life, the legacy he's left, and he's perhaps found it wanting. Danny and his wife Bean have others reasons to consider life and death, ones that Julian is initally unable to comprehend. So a considerable portion of the movie is Julian struggling to hold onto this friend he's made, a task all the mmore difficult because Julian struggles to interact in a way "normal" people are accustomed to. Julian's response to stress is to drink, smoke, or visit a brothel, which doesn't give him much common ground with Danny who loves his wife, and finds being in Mexico a giddy experience, while it's just another day for Julian.

What's most interesting for me is that despite the ups and downs of their friendship, despite the fact they are, as Julian puts it, exact opposites of each other, they can help each other. Each man is confronted with a crisis of conscience, where the other helps them to reaffirm their essential nature, for better or worse.

Friday, December 26, 2008

What I Bought 12/26/08

Tomorrow, I'll be heading out of town, so expect the usual sporadic posting rate that accompanies that news, at least for the next week. But first things first, reviews.

Deadpool #5 - I like the Romero name tag on the nurse, though I can't tell if Wade is supposed to be smiling under his mask, or if he's doing one of those nervous "gulp" things. Either way, in this issue, Wade escapes from the dire predicament he finds himself in at the start of the issue, and reminds us that he's not to be double-crossed. Sadly, this lesson doesn't pay the bills.

Way seems to be going for a Spider-Man style hard luck story here, where Deadpool triumphs over his conflict of the moment, but afterwards finds himself stuck with the same problems he had before that conflict. I'm not a fan of all the bouncing back and forth between the past and the present in the issue, as there are six jumps in the issue. I guess it seres a purpose, to show the situation, but it started to annoy me. There's no "Pool-O-Vision" moments in this issue, perhaps due to Carlos Barberi handling penciling solo this issue. Maybe it's not something that comes as naturally to him as it did to Medina, or Way is trying to be more sparing using it. Barberi does show a decent bit of comedic timing in the panels, a little like Steve Dillon when he teams with Ennis, so that's a plus. We even get to see a zombie throw up, if that's something you've been needing to complete your existence.

Immortal Iron Fist #21 - It's Iron Fist in the year 3099, freeing the oppressed people lving in the Alpha Centauri system! He throws a punch that takes 21 years to connect! He fights Robo-Fat Cobra, who is not nearly as fat as I expected, nor does he have robotic wenches of waiting (that we know of). Still quite large, though.

It's a fine issue. Swierczynski gives us hints as to what the future holds for Danny and his legacy, both in a genetic sense, and in what effect he had on K'un-Lun. We see there are still clandestine agreements between the Heavenly Cities and the regular world. We see the importance of hope and faith. Oh, and Timothy Green, whose art I haven't seen since the Starlord mini-series. He certainly knows how to draw some weird stuff, and do so beautifully. I hadn't totally warmed to his way of drawing fight scenes back then, but I like it here. Rather than show the moment of impact, he often shows the moments before and after, and adds a few details to help your imagination put things together. He even conveys are certain human aspect to the security droids, in their body language.

Nova #20 - Rich discusses his concerns about the Worldmind and his brother with Justice and the former Firestar, over beers and pizza. Meanwhile, his brother is busy having fun using those powers to fight the Dragon Man. By the end of the issue, Rich has concluded his problems are just jealousy on his part, but I'd say Rich has reason to be concerned because Worldmind has lost its damn mind.

So Abnett and Lanning appear to be setting up Rich resigning from the Corps, but given what we saw at the end of the issue, I don't see how he can do that. Unless, it's a way to get himself off Worldmind's radar so he can get close to it and rein it in somehow. Or he figures his leaving will help Worldmind come to its senses. I'm concerned about the art. Contrary to what the cover says, Alves didn't handle this alone, sharing duties with Geraldo Burges, which I believe explains why Rich's face and head look so oddly shaped and proportioned during parts of his reminiscing with Vance and Angelica. In addition to the two pencilers, we've got three inkers, which concerns me, because it suggests art team in flux, and I liked the Alves/Hanna team. Don't send them away Marvel!

Patsy Walker: Hellcat #4 - Well it's about goddamn time! Where have you been? You don't write, you don't call, then you just show up, and expect money? I just can't understand you. *pause* Oh, I can't stay mad at you.

On topic, Hellcat storms a ship where the heir for the witches is, which brings her up against a Yeti wielding rocket-powered spruce trees. Once there, and having vanquished the Yeti, Patsy learns this situation is somewhat more mundane and domestic than she imagined. But she has a mission, and she will complete it, odd parents and boyfriends or no.

Still confusing me, though. Patsy is quoting Julius Ceasar (thank you SparkNotes, reading Shakespeare so I don't have to), something about how there are moments where you can be great if you seize the moment, and things go your way. As of yet, I can't quite figure what that means, because I think it has relevance to Patsy, more than the savior, who, for the record, is named after a car, Ssangyong Rexton(?) And the Internet says, yes, it is a car! Wow, I'm learning stuff left and right from this comic. Outstanding! *thumbs up* Like I was saying, I think this is related to Patsy and her life, and I can't shake the feeling this is a dream, or some sort of test of her. Certain things just feel like they're connected.

I continue to love David Lafuente and John Rauch's artistic efforts. The smirks, the smiles, the little gestures, the Mr. Potato Head analogue built out of popsicle sticks. So cheerful at times, yet dark and moody and others. Sometimes cute, sometimes absurd, sometimes a bit freaky, always beautiful. The wolf and the bear with antlers play cards! A bridge is built out of bunnies! These are good things people! Love them! *shakes fist, ala Homer Simpson* Love them!

And that, is all I've got. Talk to ya when I talk to ya.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Would It Be Like Flipping A Switch?

In honor of Christmas, a post about Moon Knight. What do you mean he has nothing to do with Christmas? He has three personalities, which are the 3 Wise Men, and at certain times, worships a mystical being whose existence we can't be certain of. Relax, I'm comparing Khonshu to Santa Claus, not, you know. Perhaps I should get to the point, before irate people storm the blog.

So there's Marc Spector, Jake Lockley, and Stephen Grant. As near I can tell, they are separate personalities, but are at least vaguely aware of each other, and Moon Knight seems able to switch between which is dominant as necessary. In Moon Knight #20, he was a cabbie - Jake I think - and when he learned about the lycan fights, Marc shows up with Marlene on his arm, so I'm thinking information can be passed between them.

Frenchie said that even if Marc Spector is dead, Jake Lockley is still very much alive. Does that mean, the Spector personality has been put away for a time, or that it was actually "killed" in his mind to really sell Spector being dead? That would mean Moon Knight only has two personalities, instead of three*. And if it is the latter, then how does one go about doing that? Was there anything inside the mind that was exclusively Marc, and if so, was that lost in the process, or could any information, memories, or emotions be dredged up as necessary?

Anyway, Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, or Have A Nice Thursday. Choose which one you like.

* Or is it three instead of four? Does Moon Knight count as a seperate entity altogether? Bendis played it that way in Ultimate Spider-Man, but I don't know if it's the same in the 616.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Call Tech Support! Or An Exorcist!

My comic store won't be open until Friday, so I've got to muddle through for another two days. What? Take a break? Horsefeathers! It's a perfectly fine day for blogging! So, in that spirit, I'll chat about Nova and the Worldmind a bit.

So the Xandarian Worldmind is on a bit of a recruitment kick, signing people up from Project Pegasus for the Nova Corps left and right. This is a tad curious, since the first new recruits were from various species scattered across the universe, so it would seem clear Worldmind could cast the net a little wider. It's even more curious given what Abnett and Lanning posited as the recruiting standard for the Nova Corps in the Nova Annual #1*. At that point, we learned that the Nova Corps selects average representatives of a species, for various reasons, related to lack of ego, trustworthiness, and several other positive character traits. Well, I'm sure the folks at the Project are just swell, but I can't imagine they're all average, you know?

So what to conclude from this? Worldmind was nearly lost, and is attacking with self-preservation first in mind, rather than assembling an effective interstellar police force. Second idea: these Novas on a trial basis, and if they don't pan out, Worldmind takes the power back, no harm, no foul. Three: Something is actually wrong with the Worldmind. I don't mean Worldmind is actually an evil world-conqueror, more than its programming was damaged when it was nearly destroyed in Richard's unorthodox escape from Obrucen. Or that it's been infected by something.

And that's where I think that flask of Quantum energy comes in. It had Wendell Vaughn's mind (or soul?) in it, and Worldmind was somehow able to awaken it, to the point Wendell could bring himself together. But the last time we saw Wendell prior to that he was helping Phyla fight Annihilus, whose essence had corrupted the Quantum bands. At the end, Wendell drags Annihilus off with him. . . somewhere. Now Wendell shows up as Quantum energy that was collected in the Negative Zone. Can we be sure he managed to dump the Evil Bug King before then? Could Annihilus have infiltrated Worldmind when it rebooted it's systems, and was interacting with the Quantum energy?

* Looking back through the Annual, I see that in the hallucination that took place well in the future, Wendell is present, in the same form he appeared in during the Secret Invasion arc. Interesting.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Could There Have Been Too Many Ideas?

It hasn't been reflected in my posting of late, but I am still going through my collection, rereading some comics, removing others, debating removing others, and so on. One of the things I've been rereading was the issues of Immortal Iron Fist that came out prior to this year, because things do flow more smoothly when I read several issues in a row*. The thing is, as I've been reading the Tournament of the Heavens arc in its entireity, I can't help noticing things went a little off the rails as it went along.

Not that it was a bad arc, more that Fraction and Brubaker kept adding so many additional ideas to the mix that the original primary arc was lost in the shuffle. Originally, Danny arrives in K'un-Lun for the Tournament of the Heavens, and he's going to have to fight these other Immortal Weapons, because his city's standing is on the line, as the losing city** will somehow be barred from connecting with Earth for 50 years, rather than the usual 10. Of course, Davos is there representing another city, and Danny has to worry about his connection to the abduction of Jeryn, and why Davos and HYDRA were taking over his company.

Except then we learn about the bargain that was struck between Orson Randall's father and Yu-Ti, and the Randall Gate that was the result. We also learn that the Thunderer is training a secret army to overthrow the Yu-Ti. We further learn that Xao, who has thus far appeared to be a unwilling toady of Davos', someone who responds to the Steel Phoenix' bullying by threatening Jeryn's mother, has a personal grudge against K'un-Lun all his own, independent of, certainly Davos, but also possibly the Crane Mother***.

Suddenly, the Tournament goes flying out the window. The battle royale mentioned in one of the solicits that was to take place between the losers, never materializes. No winner is ever declared, because as of the last fight we saw (Prince of Orphans laying the Jawsnapper in Twilight on Davos), there were still three contests (Prince of Orphans, Fat Cobra, Bride of Spiders) that hadn't lost yet. Instead, all the Immortal Weapons band together to fight Xao and HYDRA. Even Davos helps out.

Which is all very well and good, except it's not quite where the story seemed to be headed originally. So here's the thing: a couple months back I yammered on about how I noticed that Danny never had a rematch with the Mecha-Gorgon that so badly trounced him in Immortal Iron Fist #1. I mentioned that instead, Davos easily destroys it himself, which establishes him as Danny's opponent. Except they don't get to have their big showdown, because Prince of Orphans humbles Davos first, but then we find out Prince of Orphans is an ally of Danny's. It's a Russian nesting dolls of opponents, with the conclusion being that Danny's ultimate opponent was a train loaded with explosives. Likewise, Davos and the Crane Mother are pushed aside as threats for Xao and Yu-Ti.

So I'm left uncertain about the whole thing. Is it a case where Brubaker and Fraction just really enjoy playing bait-and-switch with us? Or is it a case of them having so many ideas they wanted to put out there before they departed, that they overloaded the story arc? The second one holds a certain appeal, but I think it has to be the first, since their work on the title was largely about Danny learning things about himself that he didn't realize, like his not being the first Iron Fist. He learns his Heavenly City isn't heavenly for everyone. He learns his Heavenly City isn't the only one, that Lei Kung isn't completely loyal to the Yu-Ti, on and on. It's a series of revelations to him, new problems, new questions. And ultimately, Danny's able to triumph where K'un-Lun meets Earth, not just by having the best kung-fu, but by who he is, that he can make friends, that he can inspire trust in people used to staying in the shadows, or in people that should be his rivals or enemies.

* In particular, I had an easier time keeping track of how different characters were related, as well as the chronology of certain events.

** There are 7 cities, how do you determine who the loser is anyway? There can only be one winner, so aren't the other six all losers? Seems like too risky of a proposition for the leaders to agree too. I guess the loser was who got eliminated first from the battle royale of losers.

*** I include the Crane Mother because the Prince of Orphans mentioned that if K'un-Lun gets blown up while all the cities are joined, then it endangers all those other cities as well, which I imagine must include K'un-Zi, the Crane Mother's home.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Is That Why My Tongue Itches?

One thing I notice in some of the anime I watch is the meaning of sneezes. Frequently, it's shorthand for "someone is talking about you", and this is apparently an old Japanese belief* that anime and manga creators like to use. At least one site says the number of sneezes determines whether they're speaking of you favorably or not**.

Some other poking around mentioned that in Western/Indo-European cultures, sneezing can often serve as an omen. In 309 B.C. a contigent of Greeks who had hired themselves out to Persia as mercs, were deciding what to do, after their officers were killed at a Persian banquet. In the midst of their fevered discussion, someone sneezed, and everyone dropped to their knees, then took it as a sign and fought their way back to Greece***. In India, it's a sign that either someone dear to you has remembered you, or you've remembered someone dear to you.

What I'm curious about is, whether there's an equivalent to that in other cultures, where a bodily reaction is supposed to mean someone is talking about you? For example, I know that's at least one interpretation of "My ears are burning", but I don't know where that originated from. Anyone know of others?

* Actually, doing a bit of skimming through the internet, it looks as though it may be a widespread belief through east Asia, including Vietnam. and China. Hmm, China as a possible site of origin?

** The problem was, it was Answers dot com, linking to a wikipedia article on sneezes, so grain of salt and all that. Unless you know someone who can corroborate, in which please do.

*** I'll cite Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe, here, Volume 14. I don't know which source he would have found that story in.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It Would Fit With Killer Whale Raiders

The "astronaut god" that is responsible for the current Terra's home and the life under the surface of the earth, is it a new addition to the DC Universe?

It doesn't matter, it just sounds like the sort of thing Kirby would have thrown into one of his stories*, and DC's been big on bringing his concepts and characters out the last few years (for better or worse), so I wondered whether this was an old concept revived and added back into the fabric of the DCU, or something new.

I can see Kamandi coming across a civilization built around and worshipping the remains. Sure, it's buried now, but the Great Disaster created an entirely new continent, so it isn't out of the question the tectonic upheaval would push the remains back up to the surface, or close enough that other natural processes would unearth it.

I'm a little unclear on how the subterranean life came about though. So, there were raw materials for life present undergorund, same as on the Earth's surface, but this mixed with the "lifeblood" of the astronaut god. Thus life underground is different on a genetic level, beyond all the basic structural differences one would need to survive the pressures and temperatures underground. So were the remains bleeding out through the coccoon, or did the basic building blocks present udnerground somehow make it inside the coccoon. I'm guessing the latter, since they said Strata is built at least partially inside the astronaut god.

These are the things I use to occupy my thoughts.

* Though I'm probably thinking of that Dreaming Celestial that was part of his Eternals work for Marvel.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Shows Booster Is Learning, I Guess

When reading last week's issue of Booster Gold, I wondered whether Booster made the right choice in not warning Ralph about what was going to happen to Sue. There's a chance it destroys the world if he does give a warning, just like there was in saving Ted from his gunshot in the head appointment, but in my cynical mind I thought, "Gee, the worst that could happen is that Identity Crisis never happens, and I wouldn't miss that in the least."

Then I remembered that if Sue doesn't get torched, Ralph probably also doesn't attempt to seal Neron and Faust in Fate's tower. But that worked for about three minutes, so big deal, right? Then it occurred to me that Neron's time trapped away from his realm might have prompted the current war for Hell in the Reign in Hell mini-series. Though it's not selling terribly well, I imagine an upheaval in Hell could be kind of important. Plus, Faust being trapped lead to his tricking Adam into making an exit for him, which has likely not helped Adam's disposition, and probably is going to contribute to his attitude in this upcoming Justice Society story.

Still, setting all that aside, since we don't have any actual idea how important it is to the time stream that any of those things actually happen, I'm impressed that Booster restrained himself from warning Ralph. Granted, he was in the middle of trying to fix one time anomaly, and causing another might have been inadvisable, but he could always visit Ralph at a later point. And yeah, trying to save Ted blew up in his face, but Rip saved Michelle, so I'd think Booster might figure he could give it a whirl, and if it goes bad, just hop back in time and warn his past self to not do it, no harm, no foul. Actually, seeing as Rip has all this equipment that can locate what was altered to cause an anomaly, does he have something that would allow them to determine what would happen if they made a change? That would be a What If? machine, like the one from Futurama, wouldn't it?

Still, I'm not sure I could keep from telling Ralph, knowing what was going to happen, knowing he'd come yell at me for not warning him. It just seems like needless suffering, so I'd probably think, what could it hurt, damn the consequences. I have to give Booster credit for restraint, though I can't help thinking him smiling and telling Ralph to enjoy his time with Sue is going to twist the knife in Ralph when everything goes wrong. I suppose he had to sell it to be convincing.

Friday, December 19, 2008

This, Of Course, Means War

You had punch and pie and you didn't tell me? {You got impatient and stormed off before I could tell you. Now, did you pay the Arizona Cardinals a visit?} Yes. I gave all of them a good Bonk. They just stood there and looked confused. {So basically the same reaction they had through most of the game. Great. I am filled with confidence for for this weekend's game in Foxboro.} Really? {No.}

Oh. Well, let me see the comics. Oh dear, Nightwing has to get a Bonk for attacking Batgirl. {Thank you.} I think Batgirl has to get a Bonk for abducting the Riddler. {Hey now, she just wanted to talk to him!} Well, I'm sure he has an office she could have visited. Do Moon Knight's friends know he's alive? {I'm pretty certain they do. There's probably no direct evidence, they just understand his mind.} That's fine, then. Then a Bonk for Bullseye, he killed a cop, right? {It's Bullseye, so yes, I'd imagine he did.} That's terrible! {Yeah, and Norman Osborn probably pinned it on Moon Knight. You ought to bring him down.} He has the Sentry as a bodyguard! {Pfft, the Sentry? He's a freaking joke. Tell him a heart-wrenching story about puppies with no homes. He'll break down crying, and that will be that.} What if it's the Void? {Tell him the Sentry is off saving homeless puppies, and the Void will scramble off to cause some mischief. Then you throw on a Goblin mask, and Norman will be so confused you finish him easily.} You've thought about this a lot, haven't you? {Just in the last three minutes.}

Hey, where's Deadpool? {Oh, um, they were out when I got to the store. I'll get one next week.} Oh dear. {What?} Wade said he was coming by to hear us praise him. {Well, he's notoriously unreliable.} *teleporter sound* [Whassup!] {Crap.} Sorry, Wade, Calvin didn't get your comic this week. {It's not my fault, they were out already, so see, it's a good sign! It means your book is selling well. You've reestablished yourself as a solo star!} *mumbles* After only five issues? {*mumbles in response* Quiet, I'm trying to avoid painful death here.} [Wow, this hearing aid I stole from that senior citizen on the street, makes my hearing even better than it was before, so I can completely hear the two people mumbling right next to me!] {Crap.}

[Relax, we'll do it next week. Hey my furry little friend, you get through everything yet?] No, I still need to look at this last issue of the Terra mini-series. [Whoa, that Power Girl there has some meat on her bones! Anyone here got her number?] Never mind that, look at this! Terra's hitting a panda! Oh, I'm crushed, how could she? {Wait, didn't you read the part where Power Girl explained Satana puts people's minds inside animals, then makes them help her commit crimes?} [You'd think she could have them help her steal a better outfit. The blue does not go with her skin.] So she experiments on people and my fellow pandas? {Yep, guess you'll be giving her a good smack.} No, this needs more than that. [A Stabbing? I've got a wide assortment of Deadpool brand cutlery items, that are just perfect for stabbing villains who defile your people! They've all been personally tested on, various objects, by me, Deadpool! The complete set is only $99.99!] {Have you been hanging around Booster Gold?} Will you two be serious?

Deadpool, I need you to come with me. We're going to find this Satana, and she's going to face panda justice. {Um, she usually hangs out in Hawkman's town. Maybe you could just let him handle it. He plays pretty rough.} NO. [I'm getting paid for this, right? Fury stiffed me on that Skrull job, like it's my fault someone stole the stuff I sent him.] Fine, you'll get paid, just get moving. *leaps through window, takes off running* {What about the comic?} *yells back* Hug for Terra, I guess, Applause for Geo-Force and Power Girl for trying to be friends with her. [Our Companda knows I have a teleporter, right? And Geo-Force? That's a terrible name, and I worked with a guy named Cannonballs.] *Teleports. Calvin doesn't notice* {Just try to not cause too much damage. I don't need Hawkman getting bent out of shape about his villains getting beat up by other people, and showing up here because someone listed me as a known acquaintance for you two.}

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What I Bought 12/18/08

So I made it to the store today, and they were out of Deadpool #5. Noooo! How odd, when I feel like Deadpool would have redeemed what felt like a lackluster week. It's a strange world.

Batman and the Outsiders #14 - Sigh. OK, Nightwing and Batgirl fight (related to stuff in the Batgirl mini-series, which I'm avoiding like the plague), after Batgirl has tried to recruit Riddler for her "Replace Batman by committee" strategy. Alfred arrives and chews them both out, they make peace, and there's something going on with the Suit of Sorrows and people getting whipped and worrying about worthiness.

I'm done with the title. Probably should have been done with it months ago, but I stuck around for Batgirl. She doesn't appear to be in the lineup after next month's shuffling, so away I go. Needed to free up a spot on the pull list for Agents of Atlas anyway. I don't really feel anything about this book, except perhaps a weariness. Riddler proclaiming he would find Batman was a bit curious, and the only part that really piqued my interest. I have nothing else to say about the issue.

Moon Knight #25 - So after having Bullseye on the last two covers, he and Moon Knight finally fight in this issue. Well, Moon Knight spends a lot of time running, while Bullseye keeps rambling about how he was excited to fight someone with a harder edge than the supers he usually tangles with, but Moon Knight keeps disappointing him by running. I would point out to Bullseye that those softer types he normally faces also kick his ass on a regular basis, even when he has a squad of heavily armed troops with him (see New Ways to Die), so perhaps he should shut his piehole. I guess he's just a moron. Lot of that going around the Marvel Universe these days. Anyway, Moon Knight appears to die, but he doesn't really die, and so he'll go from there.

I'm at a bit of a loss about certain aspects of this story. Early on, Marc has nobody, he's just by himself, even trying to forsake his usual attire. But as he goes along, Frenchie and Rob rejoin him, and even Marlene seems concerned. Except now he's left them behind again. And what good does faking his death do, since I can't imagine he'll actually stop fighting crime? Sooner or later, someone is going to notice what he's up to, and it'll start all over again. Maybe he figures he'll really be dead by the time that happens, who cares. Or maybe he figures he's has multiple personalities, so he's got at least one more he can sacrifice along the way. It felt as though either the build went too long, or the climax went by too quickly.

Terra #4 - I kind of like this tactic of releasing a mini-series on a biweekly or weekly (like the Punisher War Zone mini) basis. Probably helps keep interest, since it gets the next issue in their hands more quickly. So Faulkner, who has either been exposed to the blood of an "astronaut god" and can alter his molecular substance, finds the underground kingdom, and kind of starts wreaking havoc. Terra and Geo-Force stop him, Geo-Force says it's OK if Atlee calls herself Terra, and she asks Power Girl to be her friend. Because everyone needs friends. I'm not being sarcastic, I am totally serious about that.

I'm curious about Faulkner, because he's kind of odd. He's so excited to find this underground civilization, he keeps raving about its architecture, but he's (inadvertently?) destroying it. He's carrying what's left of his girlfriend/wife, who had a less successful dip in the astronaut god blood stuff, so I'm sure he's at least a little grief-stricken. Still, he demonstrates a dangerous curiosity. He can be charming, like when he tried to be friendly with the insect people he met in #3, but he also killed the defense department contacts he had been showing his super-awesome subterranean drill to. Granted, they were planning to throw him into a lab for dissection, but he's the one who pointed that out, and he didn't have any qualms about doing it.

It may be seen as a bad sign that I sound more interested in the villain (such as he is), than the hero, but Atlee is still a work in progress as a character. I do think it's amusing that Power Girl, who was the alien who didn't know about life on Earth once upon a time, now gets to teach someone else about life on Earth. Atlee does seem like a nice person, earnest, eager, and the heroes can always use more people with enthusiasm, right? With regards to the art, did it seem to anyone else as though Conner went with thinner lines in this issue? Especially in the latter half of the book, when Terra and Power Girl are hanging out, the linework really looked softer, like perhaps she just went with pencils, and no inks. It's just a vague sense I get from it.

So, that's it for this week's haul. Hopefully, the store will have more Deadpool's by next week, though I have to wait until Friday. Because people want to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas with their loved ones. Scandalous, I know.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Yeah, Funny Thing About December

The weather is lousy. To wit: we had ice on the roads this morning, thus I did not brave the 40-minute drive to the comic store. I actually kind of enjoy walking in snow and ice, but driving is something I avoid unless absolutely necessary. Honestly, if I could walk everywhere I needed to go, I would enjoy winter a lot more, but 'tis not to be. So, reviews tomorrow, I think.

In the meantime, I figured I might try and determine what it was I felt was lacking from last week's Booster Gold. It was a nice issue, but something seemed to be lacking, and after a bit of deliberation, I'm pointing the finger at Skeets. That's right, j'accuse, little gold dude!

One of the things I'd grown fond of with the title was Skeets' tendency to make clever and amusing remarks. You know, he'd smack Sinestro in the noggin while proclaiming 'No man escapes me!', or finish Booster's 'If I had a dollar' with 'You'd spend it.' It made him a little Spider-Man, a little Alfred with the biting wit. This issue, he seemed more in the role of Rip Hunter to be honest. The straight man, who has to ride on herd on the goofy Booster* and Michelle, struggling to keep them on task. Skeets being on task isn't unusual, but not taking the opportunity to needle Booster doesn't seem quite right somehow.

It's not a terrible thing. The issue was still nice enough, and if they get Rip back in the mix, perhaps Skeets can loosen up a bit, but that's the best explanation I could come up with.

* Someone, I believe in the comments of Chris Sims' review post from last week, mentioned they felt Booster had taken a dramatic step backwards, character development wise. I wasn't sure about that initially, but that sudden monologue about licencing various Booster-related action figures seemed a bit out of place. The traveling to Renaissance Italy for authentic Italian cuisine I could buy, but that action figure thing did seem more old Booster.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's That Time Of The Year Again

Adorable Baby Panda: To practice kindness and goodwill towards your fellow man?

Deadpool: To steal the beards off Mall Santas?

CalvinPitt: Not quite.

ABP: To open presents, and play in the snow?

Deadpool: To rummage through people's garbage for uneaten fruitcake, and stab rival mercs with icicles?

Calvin: Uh, no. It's time to celebrate the start of another year here at Reporting on Marvels and Legends! Welcome to Year 4!

Deadpool: Wow, how anticlimatic! That was the biggest dud since the Wasp turned to Kirby dots and vanished in a tornado!

Calvin: That was only two weeks ago.

Deadpool: And this was the biggest dud in those two weeks! There aren't even any snacks! I'm outta here.

ABP: Yeah, that was a real letdown. I'm going home.

Calvin: Hey, don't forget to bonk the Arizona Cardinals on the way home! Well, guess it's just me, oh and you, the audience. So, Year 3. Lot less posting (I went from 338 posts to 305), not really by choice, just circumstance conspiring. Also noticed a marked downturn in analysis style posts. Not sure why that happened. On the positive side, we had more Deadpool in the spring and fall, plus a trip to another dimension and to Apokolips. Oh, and we can't forget the Flying Castle Incident. After all, where else would you find a gun that fires raccoons in authentic British police outfits, with Cockney accents? Well, I thought those were positive things.

UnCalvinPitt: Aren't you forgetting to credit a very important person in all this?

Calvin: Yes, I suppose we couldn't have had the Flying Castle Incident without. . . Clint Barton. Sure wish he wasn't still running around as a ninja these days.

UnCalvin: What about the person who sacrificed their flying castle for that incident, meaning me?

Calvin: Hey, you show up late, you don't get any thanks. You can however, have some punch and pie. The others just wouldn't wait until I could get the pie out of the oven. Now where have you been?

UnCalvin: Plotting your downfall.

Calvin: Again? Well, can you at least wait until next month? I'll be back where I was in September and October. There'll be more space for us to settle things.

UnCalvin: I suppose. This is excellent pie.

Calvin: Thanks. It's based on a Hostess Fruit Pie. Tender, flaky crust, real fruit filling, all that jazz.

UnCalvin: So this was a trick!

Calvin: Huh?

UnCalvin: You thought I would eat this and then I would abandon all my machinations, didn't you? I can not believe this, that you would extend a hand of friendship, only to attempt such base trickery! Now, your suffering shall increase one thousandfold! *strides out, cape billowing impressively*

Calvin: Oh come on, I don't even outline my posts ahead of time, you really think I could craft a scheme like that?! Aw, don't increase my suffering a thousandfold, that'll be really painful! Wait, at least tell me where you bought that cape, it's really cool!

UnCalvin: *pauses, turns* Why thank you. It was specifically tailored for me. I'm glad you noticed it, no one else has said anything. I was starting to fear it wasn't as effective as I envisioned.

Calvin: Maybe you could attach a small fan to your belt, where it meets your back. That way, you'd always have a breeze to make it flap and move. That'll make it look more impressive, give you an aura of power. The "large cape enveloping your entire body" look only really works for Batman.

UnCalvin: Seems impractical, though I suppose it would work as long as I'm simply standing there. So the pie truly wasn't a trick?

Calvin: No trick. It's pie, it's inherent goodness and warmth would defy any attempts to use it for skullduggery.

UnCalvin: Then I shall not increase the suffering you will experience after all. You will still suffer at my hands, but it will only be the amount I was planning to inflict prior to today. May I take some pie with me?

Calvin: Sure, enjoy. I need to cut back anyway. But first, say something nice to the audience to ring in the start of Year 4.

UnCalvin: Very well. To you, the peons in the audience, I hope you will continue to enjoy Calvin's capering, until such time as I destroy him and assume control of this blog. At which point we will discuss various financial issues. Good day to you all.

Calvin: Isn't UnCalvin a pip, folks? Talk to you tomorrow!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Let's See You Walk The Right Path Now

Junior posed Bane with a question in Secret Six #4, regarding who should die: Bane, or the rest of the Six? So what do you expect Bane's answer to be?

Bane said that he only does that which is right*, but what's right in this case? Keep in mind he doesn't know what happened to the last person Junior presented with this choice. If he chooses himself, that's noble, and it's one death rather than five (six, counting Tarantula). Except then he's dead, and it's unlikely his team will having any forewarning that Junior has caught up to them**. If he chooses them, then in theory he has some time to figure out a way to stop Junior and protect his teammates. Still, throwing his team to the wolves doesn't seem right, especially with everyone on the team looking at each other funny already over the card.

* Though he said that while cracking Mammoth in his ornament-things with a pipe.

** Keeping in mind Bane doesn't know the rest of the team was poisoned by Cheshire already.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thinking About Final Crisis

Normally, I'd be watching football right now, but Arizona's pants-crapping against the Vikings has removed any desire for that. So on to other business. Now admittedly, I'm not buying Final Crisis, or anything currently associated with it*. I give it a lookthrough in the store, and there's plenty of places to read about it online, so that's what I'm working from here.

OK, so there's something about a singularity and Earth. I'm unclear if the singularity is around Earth, or if Earth is actually collapsing and becoming the singularity itself. I know the approaching Lanterns are going into the singularity to get to Earth, for what that's worth. If I understand this correctly, the singularity is actually the "weight**" of Darkseid's evil collapsing space***. In the meantime, he's brought about 3 billion people under his will, and appears to have been adding more all the time, and as of the end of #5, they're mimicing his words and actions, which is meant to represent their devolution to mere extensions of Darkseid. I think.

OK, so Darkseid has one world pretty much under his control, and he has it inside a singularity, which I imagine makes getting there a tad difficult. Sure, it's easy enough to just let the gravity draw you in, but you've got to survive the experience, right? Not everyone has a power ring.

I know the story isn't done yet, but does this seem a little small-time for Darkseid? I was under the impression he wanted to bring order to the universe, with the caveat that "order" will be best achieved if he's the one running everything. Which, OK fine, everybody should have a dream. But one planet is not a universe. I suppose that if one has Boom Tubes it isn't too difficult to get around a singularity, so he can always keep spreading the word if he wants, and his base would be somewhat difficult to approach. Still, they seem to be making a pretty big production out of his conquering one world. I understand it from our perspective, since the world is Earth, and it always winds up being the focal points of these sorts of things, but from his perspective, it's not that big of a deal, is it?

I was talking to Jack at the store, and he thinks that Darkseid's soul is dying and he's trying to take the universe down with him. I guess reducing existence to nothingness could be considered a form of order, but I thought Darkseid had been stabilized. His body has settled into its usual rocky state, as opposed to decaying as the body he had at the start of Final Crisis did. Or is it that he exists simultaneously in all the people who serve his will now? Either way, eh doesn't seem to be in any immediate danger of keeling over, so I'm not sure about that interpretation.

* Unless you count Batman & the Outsiders through the tenuous "RIP will carry over into Final Crisis, and BatO is currently tying into RIP".

** Or should it be mass, since weight only exists in the presence of gravity and can gravity actually interact with evil?

*** The first time I read that statement, I thought it was idiotic. Sure, I could believe Darkseid's cronies have a device that could somehow make Earth massive enough it could create a singularity. I mean, they've got Boom Tubes, so why not? Then I remembered that in some of the manga I've read, the protagonists occasionally run across a character who is so powerful, or evil, or just inhuman (emotionally speaking), that they're rooted to the spot. They can't bring themselves to move. So if Darkseid is supposed to be so incredibly evil, then I guess he could do that. I'm willing to roll with it, anyway.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Would Some Ambiguity Be Good Or Bad?

I was thinking about the Shawshank Redemption last night. The movie version anyway, since I haven't read the story it's based on. In particular, I was thinking about Elmo Blatch. He's the character that Tommy tells us about, his cellmate in a different prison, who admitted to killing a golf pro and a woman he was with. Elmo goes on to mention that the murders were pinned on the husband of the woman, a hotshot banker. All of which is rather interesting to Andy Dufrense, since he's in prison for allegedly killing his wife and the golf pro she was having an affair with.

So consider the effect that has on the story. Though the warden dismisses the story as Tommy trying to cheer Andy up, I think we're supposed to believe that it's something that actually happened (in that particular fictional universe), which would mean Andy was, in fact, innocent. In that event, Andy can I believe be seen as justified for his breakout, and his swiping of the warden's ill-gotten gains, especially since he ruins the warden and the chief guard as a parting gift.

Now remove Elmo from the equation. All we know of what happened is that Andy was sitting in his car outside the place the golf pro and his wife were shacked up in, holding a gun, and drunk as a skunk, and that he got out and started towards the house. Without Elmo, all we have is Andy's insistence that he's innocent, without anything to back it up other than the fact we didn't see him actually do it. At that point, Andy could be just another one of the cons in Shawshank, always insisting they're innocent, with a wink and a nod as they say it. Andy never acts much like a man who has been wrongfully imprisoned, he mostly just accepts that this is the hand he's been dealt, and does what he can with it.

Of course, without the introduction of Elmo, Tommy probably doesn't get shot, and we'd have to wait for a different stimulus to prompt Andy's escape. Still, I don't doubt that Andy would leave at some point, given how long he'd been working on that tunnel. It might just come to pass that Andy decides to leave after one day where the food is particularly bad, or he sees a guard mistreat another prisoner, or who knows what. But without the specter of Elmo (and the death of Tommy), do we see Andy's escape in the same way? For all we know, he's a murderer. Does everything he did in establishing that library, and helping prisoners get their high school equivalency offset that fact? If he still screws over Warden Norton in this process, does that color how we would see it?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Your Weekly Friday Dose Of Pandas

{Four books for you this week!} Woohoo! {And guess what? Because of the end of Secret Invasion, it appears Tony Stark will soon be a fugitive in the Marvel Universe.} Oh. {You're not happy?} Well, he's running from Norman Osborn, and we can't cheer him, can we? {I suppose you're right, seeing as neither of us has been lobotimzied, and are thus smarter than your average Marvel citizen.} I thought you got annoyed when people were making fun of people in the Marvel Universe being stupid? {Only because they were primarily DC fans, and I can't quite shake that need to defend Marvel. Like how I defend the Arizona Cardinals when people mock them, but then I've ripped them extensively in the past. They ain't they're my brother, or something like that.} You don't have a brother *rimshot* {Thank you, we'll be here all the week!} Huh? {Let's just move on.}

I'm giving Arana a Bonk. {For stealing Spider-Girl's body?} I guess, but also 'cause she didn't have any idea what she was going to do once she got it. She didn't have a plan, so she's just endangering May's life for no good reason. {So, if she had planned to kill Black Tarantula, where it looks like Spider-Girl did it, that would be OK?} No, I guess not. Either way, she gets hit. I think Booster needs a Bonk for not telling Ralph what would happen to Sue. {We saw what happens when you mess with the timestream!} But how do we know that can't be changed?! Rip hasn't said it can't! {I think Booster had enough messes to clean up right then. Maybe later. In the meantime, how about a hug for Ralph?} Sure, Hug for Ralph. Then I can tell him. {Uh, no. There's no telling what that would do, and no guarantee you could fix things if it all goes bad.}

Maybe I should give the Blank a Bonk. {He won't feel it, best to concentrate your efforts elsewhere.} Applause for Peter, for catching the Blank? {And for saving the lady with the stroller!} Right! Saving babies always deserves Applause! {Double applause!} Done! I don't know who to focus on from the Secret Six. {I vote you applaud Deadshot, for not getting worked up about this card.} OK, Applause for Deadshot. He even defended Scandal when Catman made that comment about Knockout. Actually, Catman was a real jerk this month, so he gets a Bonk. He stabbed Scandal and Bane at the same time! {I can't figure out whether he did that on purpose or not.} I don't think so. {I hope not. It's a bad idea to rile the person who's going to keep Bane from snapping your neck. Though I guess that would end his concerns about the card, being dead and all.}

Well, not if he winds up in Hell. {Yeah, it will. He'll be dead. Even if he winds up in Hell, since he doesn't have the card, it won't matter whether it's real, or just a joke. He won't have the opportunity to test it.} I wonder if you can use the card to get someone other than yourself out of Hell? {You mean contact Neron and ask them to release so and so?} Yeah. Neron wouldn't care would he? {I guess not. A soul is a soul, right?}

Thursday, December 11, 2008

No One Messes With His Last Surviving Parental Figure

I noticed that Roger Stern mentioned what happened to Peter's parents in this week's Amazing Spider-Man. I don't know whether any of the other writers since Brand New Day started have mentioned it, and at first, I thought it was a bit odd. But I like it more as I think about it.

One, if we consider the fabled new reader, then that person might wonder why Peter was raised by his Aunt and Uncle, rather than his parents. I know, not terribly likely, but it's a nice consideration all the same. More importantly, it fits with the larger story. I had thought that Peter was a little too intense about finding the Blank, given the guy didn't shoot at May, or really even directly threaten her, and she seemed to weather the whole experience well.

But Aunt May is the last parent he has left. His parents, according to his internal monologue, flew overseas to serve their country when he was a few months old and they never made it back*. Uncle Ben, well, we know what happened to Uncle Ben, right**? He couldn't save his parents, 'cause he was just a baby. He could have saved his uncle, but lazy and self-centered. Now his aunt was in trouble, he has the power to save her, and he certainly wants to, but he wasn't there and he could have lost her too. A little scary, that even if he's using his power responsibly, he still might not be able to protect people he cares for.

Sure, it's a lesson he's learned before, many times, but that doesn't make it any less terrifying when it almost happens again.

* No, there was no mention of the fake parents scheme from the '90s. Then again, I think that was swept under the rug even before JMS started writing Amazing, since Mackie did a story about Peter trying to learn more about his parents. But you can never tell what might come back into play.

** In case you're unclear on what happened, he was shot by a burglar that Peter didn't stop when he could have. That's where the whole power, responsibility thing comes from.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What I Bought 12/10/08

One thing I should have mentioned about Black Hats yesterday: The ending is a little iffy, in that it required Capone to respond in a particular way, and I'm not sure the situation he was presented with would have actually generated that response. Something to consider. As to the comics for the week, I considered the Punisher mini, but 4 bucks, man. I know it's coming lineiwde soon enough, but didn't quite feel I could spare the cash now. Maybe I can get the trade. Onward!

Amazing Spider-Girl #27 - Chemical Vat Mayday has suited up to help the other do-gooders try and rescue Peter, who is, yep going to suffer the fate I expected (and which cover solicitations for future months had confirmed). So I guess that's one predicition I got right, which makes me something like 3 for 474 or so. Our Mayday is running around in Arana's body trying to figure out what to do, while Arana is in May's body trying to do. . . something to Black Tarantula. I thought she wanted to kill him, and she certainly seemed to enjoy mocking him, but then she became apologetic fairly quickly, so I'm not sure what she was planning. Did not realize Black Tarantula's eye beams could do the Omega Effect thing and chase their target. He's a better shot than Darkseid is, though.

It's your standard issue of Spider-Girl, though the personal life plotlines have taken a bit of a back seat, what with so much costumed tomfoolery going on. I'm surprised Black Tarantula made a joke about 401Ks, since he'd always struck me as a stoic sort, using more calm, patronizing "compliments" to deride his foes. I did enjoy his response to the guys who brought him Spider-Girl, considering they beat her up. I think we're going to see several fights brought on by confusion in the issues to come, given all the people who are (or were) in bodies they weren't supposed to be in. Which, given the threat that's looming, is only going to make things worse for the good guys. These last few issues are fixing up to be crazy.

Amazing Spider-Man #580 - The Blank robs Aunt May's bank while she's there. Peter is determined to catch him. He's rather clever about it, which is always good. Granted, the Blank isn't a challenging foe, as he's no real threat to Spider-Man, more in the sense he's hard to stop, like a (very)low-grade Juggernaut.

It's a simple, self-contained story. No reference to any of the ongoing stories, like Menace, or the Spider-Tracer Killer, or any of that. Just a guy robbing a bank, and Spidey's gonna stop him. Works for me. I'm not certain we needed an explanation of why the Blank is robbing banks and armored cars, especially since it was mentioned once and not brought up again. It works as a motivation certainly, but so does "He likes money". I quite liked Lee Weeks' art. It feels like a combination of Marcos Martin, Romita Jr., and a little Sal Buscema in places, none of which are a bad thing to remind me of, though JRJR might have been a consequence of the coloring as much as anything.

Booster Gold #15 - Something has gone drastically wrong with the time stream, and it involves a knife that was supposed to stay in its case during the Killer Moth heist mess of a few months ago. Booster, Michelle and Skeets go to fix it and run afoul of Elongated Man, who is skeptical of Booster until he provides proof that they'll both be in the Justice League in the future. Of course, Booster neglects to tell Ralph about what's going to happen to Jean Loring, which, hmm. Also, a rainbow-colored person attempts to make off with the knife, and Booster gets dumped in some No Man's Land. No, not the Bat-event thing from, whenever the hell that was. Trench warfare No Man's Land.

Ha! You all laughed when I said the story Dixon wrote wasn't over, but who is laughing now?! Me, that's who! Hear me laugh! Ha, ha, ha, ha, aw enough of that. Jurgens' first issue as writer/artist was pretty solid. Booster abuses his time-travel privileges, and he and Michelle bicker like I have seen siblings do on TV and in real life, which was amusing. I wonder about Chronal Energy Man. Is he related to the mysterious laughing figure that was in Kord Industries at the end of Johns' run, or is this some dire new threat? The good news is, Booster seems to be growing into the role. He was fairly comfortable with the "I'll go back in time a few minutes to catch the knife theif, you'll see me then when we catch up to you" plan.

Secret Six #4 - The team starts to bicker amongst themselves about the card. Scandal sees Knockout. Deadshot is terribly disinterested in all of it. We meet their sixth member, Junior tracks them down, and a large contingent of villains show up as well. Things look bad for our band of anti-heroes, that sort of thing.

OK, this Bane playing dad to Scandal thing is really starting to disturb me. More than Junior and his actions, which is probably a poor reflection on me. Maybe I'm just trying to figure out what Bane's getting out of the deal. That was a pretty low blow by Catman toward Scandal, though. It was a moot question he psoed anyway. Knockout was a New God so she'll just pop up in a new body somewhere, no worries. I like that Deadshot doesn't give a damn about what the card could mean for him. he's so fatalistic, it would be odd to see him worried about avoiding what might be waiting for him on the other side. I'll be curious to see what Bane's decision is.
Nothing really superb this week, just four solidly entertaining books.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oh, Alternative Histories, How You Amuse Me

So how's this for a book: Shortly after Prohibition begins, Wyatt Earp travels from L.A. to New York to help the son of Doc Holliday - who runs a speakeasy - because he's getting pressured by a mob whose second in command is on Al Capone. Gunslinging and poker playing hijinks ensue.

That would be the idea behind Black Hats, by Patrick Culhane. I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff, however generally improbable it might be. In this case, Earp apparently was working part-time as a private investigator in L.A. at that time, and there are some accounts which say Capone was still in New York then (his arrival in Chicago is only placed somewhere in 1918-1920). Plus, Earp's old friend Bat Masterson worked as a sports editor in New York at the time, so one more for the pile. To Culhane's credit, he provides a listing of the various resources he used, which ones he ignored and why, and certain creative liberties he took, in a section after the story's end.

I found it to be a generally engaging read, though Culhane's style took a bit of getting used to. He frequently goes to flashbacks from Earp's life or Masterson's, or Capone's boss, Frankie Yale. Sometimes they're related to what's happening at that moment, while others serve to establish the character. For the most part, Culhane works them in during lulls in the story, when the character would have time for reflection, or at the beginning of the chapter, to set the stage for what's to come.

As implied by the title, there are no white, no heroes. Everyone is after something. Earp's there ostensibly to get Johnny out of this, but when he sees the amount of business coming in, he starts calculating ways to make a little coin himself. Masterson is no different, though perhaps less devious. Johnny's making money, and working through some other things as well. Obviously Capone and Yale are in this for the money, and they don't regard themselves as bad people, anymore than the people they find themselves set against. The lead entertainment at the club has found this as a revitalization of her career, and Johnny's sweetheart is avoiding a return to her childhood home. Nobody's altruistic, which is perhaps fitting, since the story buts the Old West, which was not as clean or noble as some of the old movies portrayed it, against the Roaring Twenties (well, it's not quite the Twenties, but close enough), which were largely about people having fun, or being disillusioned about higher ideals (see: Lost Generation writers). Doing something solely out of the goodness of one's heart doesn't really fit.

The characters have their own distinctive voices, especially Earp, who tends to speak little, and Masterson who speaks quite a bit, and loves to use his vocabulary. There's a bit of violence in the book, the obligatory use of Tommy guns and six-shooters, though it's fairly restrained. I think there's as much description of people playing poker as there is of gunfights. Well, it's close between the two. It's a relatively short novel, and it reads quickly enough, even with all the flashbacks, the plot advances swiftly, so I'd recommend it, if it sounds like your cup of tea.

And by "tea", I of course mean the alcoholic beverage of your choice, served in a tea cup. Appearances of propriety must be maintained, after all.

Monday, December 08, 2008

This Is That Moment Before Dawn, Right?

Looking at the Marvel Universe, things have been in a downward spiral for the heroes for awhile now, haven't they? And most of that has been them squabbling amongst themselves, or being under attack from their friends and allies. So is Dark Reign the point all that turns around?

From Disassembled, to House of M, to Civil War, to World War Hulk, to Secret Invasion, the people that wind up causing trouble for the heroes are people who were either their friends, or were pretending to be their friends. It's Wanda going out of her gourd, or Iron Man vs. Cap, or the Hulk looking for some payback, or oops! Jarvis was a Skrull, oh no! The heroes can never get on the same page. They're divided on what to do with Wanda, or they disagree about the Registration Act, or they aren't sure about helping the Illuminati with the Hulk 'cause maybe they deserve it*. When the Skrulls stupidly dropped an army in New York and started blowing crap up, the heroes got their act together for awhile, but once the fight ended, it fell apart again.

Now it appears they'll be up against a cabal of evil** that is, in theory, going to be more subtle. A brief team up to punch people won't fix things (again, in theory). The good guys might actually have to play well together for some time to turn the tide and get things straightened out. Who knows, they might actually talk over the differences they have with each other, mend some friendships.

It seems that with the people who'll be driving Dark Reign generally being outright villains, the heroes should all be on the same side in this one. Actually, this would be a good test of Cyclops' new style. Hey Scotty, Emma's gone evil again, will you send X-Force after her like you did Cable and Bishop? Or will you be soft on her?

As for why everyone is listening to Norman, I've only been able to come up with one (in-story) explanation. Post-Secret Invasion, Norman's in charge of all the governmental super-stuff. SHIELD's gone, the Initiative's gone, everything has been, as far as I can tell lumped into one big group that Norman runs. So theoretically, he could threaten to just send wave after wave of this army he now has at anyone who won't play ball until they're destroyed. He's already demonstrated he can play the media, and the imbeciles that make up the public in the Marvel Universe, like a harp from hell, if I may steal from Batman Returns. He can make up some line of b.s about why he has his people burning the X-Men's shiny San Francisco headquarters to the ground, or why they're invading Latveria or Asgard, and people will buy it. And sure, lots of his resources will get killed, but it's not like Norman would care. He's crazy enough to do that, and the others might simply figure it's better to go along with him than waste time on big stupid fights that will drain their available resources.

I'd be fairly disappointed if most of the others aren't at least planning how to stab Norman in the back. Loki certainly is, while Doom is probably settling on a scheme where he tricks Norman into doing what Doom wants, without that being readily apparent to anyone else.

* Hey, that would be what I'd be thinking if the Hulk says he wants to smash them for tricking him shooting him into space, and then blowing up his planet. Granted they did not actually do that last one, but I'd have serious doubts about getting between them and the Hulk. Which is why I'm not a superhero.

** That's perhaps unfair to Emma and Namor, who may well be there just to gather information for their allies, but given the way things have gone the last few years, until they actually demonstrate that's what they're up to, I'll assume they showed up because they're on board with Norman.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Does Genetics Work Like That?

I was looking over Terra #1, and there at the end of the issue Dr. Mid-Nite says Atlee* (Terra the III) is an exact genetic match for Terra the II, also known as the Terra that got killed by Black Adam.

Given that Terra II was blonde and blue-eyed, and Atlee has black hair and purple eyes, I'm perplexed as to how they can be an exact match. They almost certainly have to have different nucleotides at the genes that determine such things as eye and hair color**, because they're showing different visible characteristics. Granted, both seem to be examples of "Terran" genetics combined with human DNA, or vice versa, so perhaps the underlying Terran genetics codes are the same, and that's what Dr. Mid-Nite picked up on, but what would that mean for them? That they're purely genetically engineered? Would that make Atlee adopted, or did her parents ask her to undergo a process to wind up in her current state?

* The name Atlee brings back bad memories for me of former San Francisco Giants' pitcher Atlee Hammaker, who I remember as dominating the Cardinals pretty much every time he faced them. This recollection was not borne out by the stats, which say he was only 4-4 with a 3.92 ERA in his career against the StL. Although in '87 and '88, he was 3-2 with an ERA under 3.00, so that probably explains the memories.

** One of the things I learned in the class I was teaching assistant for was that eye color, and also hair color I think, are determined by more than one gene. It's a combination of genes on different chromosomes.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Looking At The Conclusion Of The Mortal Iron Fist

I mentioned the end of the battle against Zhou and his master, Ch'i-Lin, was bothering me, so I'm going to try and delve into that a bit.

Essentially, Danny succeeds fighting Zhou by abandoning all technique, and fighting like an angry 8-year old, mad at a world that seems to love taking shots at him (that's a paraphrase of how Danny describes it). Another part of this strategy is Danny suppresses his chi, like Orson did (minus the heroin), only Danny's still going to fight. This changes things so that Zhou can't predict Danny's attacks anymore, as he did in their first battle, when he could easily block, for example, Danny's Bronx Sucker Punch.

OK, so problems with this for me. First, Zhou, besides clearly having some level of superhuman speed and agility*, seems to be a fairly skilled fighter, and I'm leery of the idea that you can beat a skilled fighter by just lashing out blindly the way a hurt child would. It reminds me of that scene in Robin, post-One Year Later, where he was able to fight on even terms with Cass Cain because he wasn't using any particular style, he just blindly attacked her**. I didn't really buy it then, but I'm less bothered by it because the story suggests that Zhou's fighting skill comes from his ability to predict attacks by reading chi. Except I would think one would be using their chi to attack, even if they haven't concentrated it on making their fist 'unto like a thing of iron', as the old saying goes.

Second, so Danny's feeding off all the misfortune and loss he's experienced. Well, he's had quite a bit of that, but would that make him unique amongst Iron Fists? We know Wu Ao-Shi grew up a poor child, trying to steal glass cherries (to sell, I suppose), and being forced to bite down on one instead. No telling what happened to her parents. She was likely the only girl vying for the right to fight the dragon, which I imagine lead to some less than friendly comments from her competitors, and the man she married ran off the night she became Iron Fist. There's some pain to work off there. Granted, we don't know how she did, except that she died at 33***, so clearly she didn't do as well as Danny. I'm simply not totally sold on the berserk tactic working for Iron Fist.

Third, Zhou keeps bringing up that's he's been studying the Iron Fist for 75 years, so as to avoid letting Danny elude him as Orson did. Most of that appears to relate to Danny's friends and how they can be used against him, but you might think some of that would have been spent learning the fighting style as well. Granted, if you can sense his moves, maybe you don't see the need, but perhaps the fighting style itself reveals something about the target. Orson likes to use guns, and seems to be more of a brawler, compared to Danny, who has more grace to his style****. Does that mean Orson likes to keep his killing and fighting at a distance, and what might that mean for you, the guy hunting him? That sort of stuff.

There's something that balances a lot of this out, and it's something unique to Danny Rand. That would be the friendships he has, especially with the other Immortal Weapons. Orson had friends, but it doesn't appear they helped him fight Ch'i-Lin, even before Orson opted to hide. The others may have had friends as well, but never the other Immortal Weapons. Fighters of that caliber (plus his old Heroes for Hire pals) helped keep Danny alive long enough to have this brainstorm.

And that's probably really the key, that Danny triumphs because he had some sort of advantage no other Iron Fist before him had. I keep comparing this story to the first Spider-Man/Morlun battle, and there's a similarity there as well. Morlun had probably fed on lots of "totems" before, but before Spidey, he'd never come across one with radioactivity in his system, and the brains/chutzpah to exploit that. For Danny, maybe it's the pain and loss he suffered early, or it's having to survive without the Book of Iron Fist to learn from*****, or perhaps it's that Danny is a friendly, earnest person who can form alliances with those that normally would try and bludgeon him. So that helps.

{Edited Sunday morning} Jason brought up the end of the fight in the comments, and I had meant to talk about it, but I was feeling lazy and didn't initially, but might as well take care of it now. The final strike by Danny, that was good. It was clever, decisive (even if Danny is sure it isn't over), and visually impressive. He played opossum, which invited Zhou/Ch'i to bet it all on one attack, which left them hanging in mid-air when Iron Fist decided to punch through their head. Even if they can sense and devour his chi, there's no way from them to dodge because all their momentum is carrying them right towards that fist, and no time to do whatever is required for them to steal his chi. So good job there by Swierczynski and Foreman.

I'm still a bit disappointed, but like I said Thursday, Robo Fat Cobra is on his way. I'm am dying to see that.

* As demonstrated by his tossing Luke Cage around and dodging bullets.

** Yes, because those hordes of stupid thugs she'd beaten up over the course of her series weren't doing much the same thing, as they were all highly trained martial artists.

*** So no Iron Fist has ever died before they were 33? You'd figure Law of Averages, one of them would have had a really bad day somewhere along the line.

**** Makes sense right, as Orson is bigger, and would probalby rely more on strength, while Danny would use quickness.

***** Which as Jason noted awhile back, makes Danny arguably the strongest Iron Fist, since he didn't get to read up on all the cool stuff his predecessors had learned.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Pandas, Dreaming, Of More Thanksgiving Leftovers

Calvin: {Sorry, we're out.} Adorable Baby Panda: What? {Well, how much do you think we had left after you and Wade got finished? Here, have some corn chips.} Oh, alright. *buries head in bag, munches loudly* {Hey, save some for me.} *while chewing* No! {Look, comics!} Where? Hey, there's just one comic here! {*grabs bag* You can look through the Terra mini-series if you'd like.} I'd like some more chips. {I'll put some on a plate for you, 'kay?}

I think Natalie, Iron Fist's assistant, needs a Hug. She'll have to raise her kid alone now. Do you know why it was a bad idea for her to mention that? {No clue. The dragon face came out right after she said it, so maybe Ch'i-Lin was worried it would distract Zhou Cheng.} I thought the dragon face was Zhou. {I thought it was Ch'i-Lin. They punch Iron Fist's heart out, then the dragon separates from Zhou, and goes after the dragon egg.} I'm confused. {So am I. Let's move on.} I think Danny needs a Hug, because he was hurt pretty bad. {I nominate Danny for a bonk also. I think it hurt Misty pretty badly, him taking off like that, especially after he was talking about the two of them being together again and all.} Danny has to go find the 8th City! {Why? Besides the fact it's his book, why can't the other Immortal Weapons handle it without him. He's got a company to run, a girlfriend he wanted to get serious with, and he was just begging Luke to help him do the Heroes for Hire shtick again. That's plenty.} He has to, because he's a hero, and you do the right thing, no matter what. {Define "the right thing". I guess you won't be giving Danny a hit?} No. {Fine.}

I think this new Terra gets Applause, and a Hug. She keeps saving people, but she took the time to try and explain to Geo-Force that she wasn't trying to dishonor his sister's memory. {Nice to see someone who cares about Geo-Force. Besides Brad Meltzer, that is.} I thought you liked him. {I feel bad for him, everyone else is so down on him. What about Dr. Mid-Nite? Taking blood without asking, when you've never met the person before seems questionable.} He meant well. {Hmph. I bet Acne-Laden, Obnoxious Teenage Panda would have stabbed him.} What was that? {Nothing.} I'm giving the ugly bug things a Bonk, because they smashed the girl that had turned to diamond. {Yeah, I can't figure why they did that. And she couldn't have actually turned to diamond since they were able to smash her.} Well, whatever she had turned to, she couldn't move. They didn't have to smash her. {Hey, no argument here.} Do you think that made Faulkner go crazy? {Well, grief, plus whatever that stuff he fell in probably did the job. Oh crap. That stuff is probably a pool of symbionts! DC is about to be overrun with Carnages and Venoms!} They can't imitate minerals! {The symbionts are just using the camouflage trick to make Faulkner think that's what's happening. And they're keeping quiet until they think he'll listen to them.}

You're just stirring things up. They aren't symbionts. The DC Universe has enough trouble with Darkseid, and all those Kryptonians running around. {I suppose you're right. Hey, think if we brought Kirby to Darkseid, the Big Ugly would surrender in terror?} No, Darkseid nearly took him over last time, I don't think Kirby would scare him.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

What I Bought 12/4/08

Secret Invasion is finally over! *crowd cheers wildly* Let The Dark Reign fall over the land like a cloud of pollen on a group of highly allergic picnikers! *Crowd murmurs uncertainly*

Yeah, I used that joke when Civil War ended, but I enjoy it so. In other news, I didn't pick up Sgt. Rock this week. I might check back in next month, see if I like it more then. I did grab Terra #3, and the first 2 issues that were sitting on the racks, because what the hell, right? Civilizations deep in the bowels of the earth, which means I get to use the phrase "bowels of the earth"! Good times. Still, I'm going to wait on reviewing that until the last issue comes out, since that's only two weeks from now. So what's left?

Immortal Iron Fist #20 - "The Mortal Iron Fist" draws to a conclusion, and well, it fell a bit flat. SPOILER! Danny doesn't die, but I doubt you're surprised by that. We learn that the Ch'i-Lin is connected to the 8th city that Xao mentioned. I'm not sure how I feel. It works with a general theme of the title, where things that happen to Danny Rand that appear unconnected, are actually related, usually going back decades, maybe centuries. On the other hand, a little bit of purely random stuff hitting Danny could be a nice change of pace.

I have certain issues with the resolution of the battle. I don't buy the reason he was able to triumph, at least not the immediate reason that he gives for his sudden success in battle against Zhou Cheng. Danny wins because he fights like an angry kid, against someone who kills people of incredible martial arts skill with ease. I'll get into that more at a later date, I think, once I order my thoughts a bit.

I'm still trying to get comfortable with Travel Foreman's art. It seems as though too many of the panels from the fight scenes are done in a vague sense, where things in panel are unclear. Maybe that's a byproduct of the coloring, which is heavy on shadows because the battle takes place at night in Danny's dojo, which doesn't seem to have any lights. Either way, there are some panels where I can't tell what's going on (including one where Zhou did something to Luke, possibly jabbed a pressure point, all I can tell is Luke looks like he's in pain, and his foe is pointing/jabbing towards his neck). He also keep characters at a distance, when a close-up might be better, such as when Luke asks why the Immortal Weapons look so disheveled. You can see Bride of Spiders' hair is mussed, but a closer look might reveal the damage more clearly. Also, there is a lot of wasted space, panels set on a white background, with a lot space between them and around the edges. I'm not sure if there's a reason why Foreman went that route, but it seems that using that space might provide more room for details in the art.

So the arc was good, and I want to know about this 8th City, and why none of the Immortal Weapons knew about it, but the resolution just didn't work for me. Oh well, next issue brings us Robo-Fat Cobra. Who can resist that?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Um, Well *Scratches Head*, How About A Book?

I can't particularly think of anything I really want to discuss. Perhaps the continuing war of attrition against the Thanksgiving leftovers has left me addled. I did read L. Ron Hubbard's Final Blackout this evening, so maybe we can talk about that.

The story is roughly 200 pages, and I went through it in about 2 and a half hours, so I think I can safely say it's a fast read. Essentially, the Second World War did not end in the mid-1940s, and it's now the mid-1970s. Civilization in Europe has basically collapsed. The various countries have moved past using atomic weapons, past bioengineered diseases, past specially engineered insects designed to devour crops and starve their enemies. The joke is they've moved so far past all that they've gone backwards, to essentially rifles, maybe an artillery piece if you can get ahold of it. There's no industry, so no planes, no tanks, no battle fleets.

The story follows Lieutenant, as that is all he's ever called, through various conflicts where he demonstrates impeccable tactical sense, and a nearly unshakable calm, the combination of which inspires great loyalty in almost every soldier he meets, as those qualities ensure that he will do his best to make certain they survive, and that counts for a lot.

As I said, the book zips right along. Lieutenant, British but in command of a wide variety of soldiers in the 4th Brigade, receives orders to report to the General Headquarters closer to the British Channel. There's been yet another new government installed in England, and it's time to ensure everyone is on the same page (supposedly). The first few chapters show Lieutenant and his group traveling leisurely to H.Q., and provides a general sense of what Europe is like. Soldiers are frequently disowned by the changing regimes, and wander the continent, searching for some place where the land can still support them. Peasants have dug in, and defend what they have strenuously. Through it all Lieutenant moves calmly, sometimes merciful, sometimes cold, always in control. Upon reaching headquarters, things appear to go poorly for him, but he's more clever than the higher ranking officers imagined.

This is perhaps the weakest part of the book. I don't have any particular beef with the portrayal of staff officers of soft, yes-men types with no regard for the men under their command, except as steps to be trod on to raise their own profile. It's more that I've seen it so often, it gets a bit tired after a time, and so feels like the least creative bit of the book, compared to the interactions between soldiers who are supposedly on opposite sides early in the story, or what happens once the Lieutenant and his men return to England after the chapters at H.Q.

I'm curious as to whether the policies Lieutenant enacts at the end of the story are reflective of Hubbard's views, or are what he thinks a man raised in constant conflict like the Lieutenant would support. Hubbard himself was a military man during the Second World War, so it's possible Lieutenant speaks for him, but I'm in no way sure of that. Lieutenant has the general opinion that the important things are for there to be food, that people work for that food (no handouts), and that the government be responsible to the people. Heavy industry seems rather unimportant to him, and I don't think art or music matter much to him either. They aren't essential, the populace is getting along fine without them, so there's no need for them.

The end of the story brings a final, larger challenge for Lieutenant, in the form of a more prosperous nation, ostensibly bearing humanitarian aid. Really, it's colonialism all over again. It's perhaps apt the British get a taste of it, after spreading the gift of it to so many places around the world, but Lieutenant is rather concerned at what will happen to the country, whether he accepts the aid or refuses. So he has to outmaneuver his opponents one more time. I'm unsure of the ending, because it seems as though it would bring about one of the fates Lieutenant was trying to avoid, so I'm a bit confused on that score.

Overall, I generally quite enjoyed it. There were a couple of scenes where I think the Lieutenant comes off a bit arrogant, especially when dealing with non-combatants, but that might be a by-product of all his men practically idolizing him, and having been in battle for several years now. I just felt that these people he looked down upon were survivors, the same as him, the simply face different challenges. Besides that, I like the descriptions of the battles, which are light in graphic descriptions of damage done to humans, and more focused on how troops were moved to efficiently achieve their objectives.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Well, It Was A Dream

I just noticed this today, so I figured it was worth discussing.

In Punisher #50, Frank has a dream where the kids were sick so they didn't go to the park, and thus tragedy did not strike the Castle family. The dream takes place in what I assume would have been the present, where Frank is a grandfather, having a dinner with the whole family, and good times, and it's very pleasant. Eventually Frank wakes up, and he's bothered by the dream, and he's tries to do some target shooting to clear his head, and it doesn't work, and then he runs into Barracuda again, learns he has a daughter, and away we go.

The thing that caught my eye this time around was during the dream, Frank is talking with his son and son-in-law, and the in-law is asking about Frank serving in Vietnam. Frank says he served most of a tour, but caught some shrapnel near the end. What's interesting to me is that Ennis had established in various other works that Frank had three tours in Vietnam, not just one. The first, as far as I can tell, was fairly basic. The only thing I know about it was that he heard Sal Buvoli* had gotten killed on that tour. The second tour was the one that apparently invovled darker work, including a mission to go silence a captured American general**. The third tour was the one that put at Firebase Valley Forge, where the events of Punisher: Born took place.

Seeing as Ennis wrote all those works, I don't think that was an error. The way I see it, there are two possible explanations. One, in the dream, Frank is not being totally honest, because the things he experienced on those later tours are things best left buried. I recall from Born that Maria was pregnant with Frank Jr. during the third tour, and since he told the son-in-law, it's possible Frank just never told him about all of it, and Maria and Lisa agreed not to discuss it either. I don't really buy that though.

What I think is, Dream Frank never had those latter tours, he never went on, is wetworks a proper term, never had to do whatever was necessary to survive at Firebase Valley Forge, and that strikes me as an interesting thing for Ennis to put in there. The one thing Ennis kept working at throughout his time on Punisher was that it isn't as simple as "family dies = Punisher". Frank Castle is more than that, and more than the training he received in the military. He's those things, plus a hundred other little things through his life before that*** that helped make him as effective as he is. Still, it's interesting that Frank's subconscious removes those tours for the dream. It suggests that Frank realizes that whatever he experienced over there, whatever darkness he reached for to survive, would have wrecked this happy life, even if his family survived.

It raises the question in my mind of what Ennis believes Frank Castle would have been, if he had done all three tours, but not lost his family to crime (or random superheroic activities****)? Would he have kept going back to military service, or become a cop? I have a hard time seeing Castle as a serial killer*****, just killing people randomly. Would that darkness drive him to kill his own family, or would he turn to more self-destructive pursuits to release it? I don't have any answers, and unless Ennis has said something about it somewhere, I don't imagine I will. I like that Ennis gives Frank that level of self-awareness. It's not new, Frank has been pretty open about why he does what he does, how effective he is, and what it's done to him as a person. Still, I appreciate that even if his dreams, he isn't trying to delude himself, even if the result is a bit disturbing.

* Sal being the older brother of the girl that Frank was sweet on in The Punisher: The Tyger. Sal was also the one who burned alive the mafia son who assaulted her, which lead to her slitting her wrists.

** Also described in The Tyger.

*** For example, in The Tyger, we see young Frank is very good at sneaking around, and listening in when nobody knows he's there. He probably honed that as he aged, but that tendency towards moving silently, not announcing his presence when he doesn't want to, was already in place.

**** So let's leave Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe out of consideration.

***** Actually, is the Punisher a serial killer? Carnage is considered one, and Frank has a higher body count than he does, I'm sure.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Forcing Myself To Give Cable Credit

So several examples of powerlessness, eh? If I'd been thinking clearly, I'd have remembered Asimov did a story that was similar. There were elves, or fairies, that look insectile, and one of them was a mutant, who could use human mental energy to power electrical devices. It planned to use a writer of mystical stories as a power source, and was drawing off his mind to use the writer's wife as a hostage. When it sent the writer to get some books on engineering, it tried to sue his son to maintain control. Except kids apparently no longer believe in fairies, so it didn't work, and the kid killed the fairy/elf thing with a book. Whoops.

Couple of years back, there was Cable/Deadpool #35. You might recall that as the issue where Cable had hooked Deadpool's subconscious to the Infonet, so that Wade was being tormented by all the people he killed. The plan, as Cable explained it, was that it would put Wade in a state of mind to come ask Cable for help. Given that Cable wasn't even sure what was going to get tapped into, I'm not certain what sort of help he was planning to provide. I'm guessing guidance as Wade tries to find a new path.

Much to my glee, the plan appeared to backfire. Wade got sick of the voices, and started shooting up his favorite bar. Fortunately for the bar, Cable showed up before Wade had to throw his grenade at something less worthwhile, like the pools tables. At the end of the issue, Wade is not making any steps to ask Cable for help, which was fine and dandy by me. Cable had been playing up the "I'm from the future, so I know what's coming down the pike, I've got the answers" a bit much in previous months, usually at Wade's expense*. Seeing something not go as he planned it was a welcome change, and so I chortled at Cable.

Except, it seems to have worked. Considering what happened afterwards, Wade fumbled about trying to revive his merc career by abducting potential employers, got shrunk by the Rhino, rescued Agent X (and try to find more Pym Particles), and then had to save Sandi and Outlaw from T-Ray**. After that, he gets into situations where no one is necessarily forcing him to act, but he still opts to help. He wants to rush to Providence and help Cable, he goes back to that HYDRA base to rescue Weasel, but tries to do so without getting into a pointless scrap with Wolverine. It doesn't really work, but he made the effort. Wade even agrees to share his soul with T-Ray. Or he agreed to share T-Ray's soul with T-Ray, one of the two.

So I guess Cable's scheme actually sort of worked, though his country being attacked really pushed things along. Still, I guess that means I can't chuckle at Cable for this after all. Curses.

* The fight in France where Wade was a bit overzealous in trying to arrest Cable, and ultimately got fired from the CSA, for one, and the Rumekistan sabotage attempt where Wade basically got tossed out of the country for another.

** I could not get into T-Ray. Every issue he showed up, it was as though the book was a runner that got shot in the knee. Just one knee, so it was still limping along, but impaired.