Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How Long Does It Take To Discover Slowness

John Franklin, the subject of Sten Nadolny's book The Discovery of Slowness, was a real person. He did travel on a ship to Australia with his brother Matthew Flinders, who was the captain of the voyage. He was a governor of Van Dieman's Island, later renamed Tasmania. He did lead (or co-lead) three expeditions to the Arctic in search of the Northwest Passage, including the third one, where he, and apparently all of the crew, died.

Whether Franklin was a signalman on Captain Cook's ship at the Battle of Trafalgar, or was shot in the head at the Battle of New Orleans (the story has the bullet pierce the skin, but travel round the skull and exit out the back), I don't know. I'm not certain how important those events are to Nadolny's story anyway. The sea battles he experiences as a teenager leave him shaken, to the point he occasionally trembles before potential battles, and must work to overcome that, but that's not what the book is about.

Franklin's real problem, at least in the eyes of others, is that he's slow. Which is accurate, in certain ways. He isn't stupid, more deliberate, but not by choice. For whatever reason, he simply can't speed up his reactions and be effective. So part of the story is Franklin trying to compensate for this, until he can find a place where it isn't an issue. This is set forth as part of his interest in the Arctic. During the summer, the sun never sets, and so time does not exist, and if that's the case, the concept of slowness wouldn't exist either. After all, how can you gauge someone to be slow, when there is no apparent passage of time?

Beyond this, Franklin's style is to prepare thoroughly and to take a fixed view of things. When he's a young man serving in the Royal navy, he would spend nights practicing what all the sails and lines were called, as well as the proper responses to all typical commands and questions he might hear. In that way, he would have the answer ready, and would not cause trouble by taking so long to deliberate over the order. Franklin also speaks often of a "fixed view". When a problem presents itself, Franklin will very calmly ponder it for as long as is needed to derive what he feels is the appropriate response. This allows him to maintain his composure in dire circumstances*.

There are obvious flaws with this, namely that Franklin will have difficulty if either something he hadn't planned for occurs, or if new problems arise while he's still on the old one. But Franklin recognizes that for better or worse, he can't change who he is. He can never become fast, and trying to act as though he is will be useless, so he adjusts accordingly.

It's really an interesting story, though the cynic in me can't help but wonder if Nadolny isn't deifying Franklin a bit. He always seems able to maintain his temper, always seems open-minded and progressive, always accepts blame that is rightly his (though he's not going to accept blame that isn't his). All in all, he's a really fantastic guy, and I enjoy reading about his learning how to make things work his way. By the time he reaches the Arctic that he'd always dreamed of, he finds he no longer wants to remain there. Sure, he wants to explore it, but the idea that this would be a place where he could escape being slow is no longer a concern. He's succeeded as who he is, regardless of how different his way of doing things might be, so why would he need to run to a place where he could hide that difference?

It's a story very much about recognizing one's own style, and staying with it, and also te importance of having people who will help you. Franklin doesn't receive much support from his father or siblings, but both Matthew and one of his teachers, a Dr. Orme, are willing to be patient and give John the time needed to order his thoughts, which helps him feel more certain. Franklin and his second wife Jane Griffen both push for schools in Van Dieman's Island, and Franklin is insistent that the schools should be less about indoctrinating children and more about helping them learn their speed and how to succeed with it.

If you have any interest in historical fiction I'd recommend this book.

* An example: While on the first Arctic expedition, a party leaves the boat, and goes exploring on an ice floe. Then they can't find their way back, even with a compass. The men begin proposing all sorts of ideas, while Franklin sits and thinks for a considerable length of time. His order if for one of the men to fire his rifle in the air at set intervals over the next several days if necessary. The men think this mad, to sit and wait on a freezing ice floe, yet it turns out the ice is turning under them as they walk, and this way the ship can find them.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Someone's Inside There

So Adam Warlock did become the Magus. This is not likely to be a good thing for the Marvel Universe. Still, there's the matter of the cocoon. This Adam Warlock emerged from a cocoon during Annihilation: Conquest, but the Universal Church of Truth has another cocoon just like it, which they've been trying to open ever since they encountered this Adam Warlock. Where the UTC came across this other cocoon is unknown. Who is inside it is unknown. When it first showed up, I figured it was the Magus, but since he's known made the scene through a different avenue, I have no idea.

It could be another Adam Warlock, but that wouldn't explain why the voice of whomever is inside was so angry when the UTCers tried to forcibly open it. Granted, Adam Warlock was disoriented through the early chapters of Conquest precisely because he was forced to hatch before he was ready, so maybe this Adam Warlock is more proactive in making sure that doesn't happen? Or maybe I was right, and it's another Magus. Perhaps his cocoon drifted into the 616 universe through a little tear the Guardians either didn't notice or didn't reach soon enough. Two Maguses (Magi?), it's doubtful they'd get along.

The main thing I had to go off of when I originally guessed Magus was the cocoon, the anger, and the use of the color, since that's Magus' skin color. Hmm, who else is purple? Well, Star-Lord's supposed to run into Kang soon, could he have tried a cocoon as an unorthodox method of traveling backwards in time? Yeah, you're right, that's silly.

Maybe it's Thanos. He's purple, and dead, the last time we saw him. Maelstrom said that Drax killing Dearth's Champion caused an instability in the universe, so could Thanos have come back to serve Death again, and try to even things out? Sure, he wouldn't want to leave Death, but he would if he thought she needed him to. Thanos has interacted with the Magus before (Infinity War), but it might be interesting to see how things went this time, since I imagine both of them have changed since then.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Antarctic Expeditions Equal Possession?

Going by the back cover, Polar isn't the first book T.R. Pearson's written featuring Ray Tatum. I wonder if the others are this unusual. The book is set in rural, upland Virginia, and at least partially revolves around Tatum's years-long search for a missing child. The young girl frequently explored the woods behind her family's farm, and vanished.

Added to this is Clayton, a fellow who spends most of his time in his house, watching the "Satin Channel", which sounds like Playboy, basically. When he's not watching that, he's regaling anyone he can grab hold of with the intricacies of the plots of the movies, while being extremely descriptive, and completely oblivious to any offense he might be causing. That last characteristic seems shared by most of the people in the community, from and old lady who seems to run over damn near anything in her Crown Vic (yet insists she's fine to be driving), to the family that sneaks on their neighbor's peach farm, and steals as many peaches as they can, then sit in their yard and sell them, without a concern in the world.

As the story begins, Clayton's in the supermarket, describing one of the movies, when he suddenly goes still, and then insists his name is Titus. He pays for his groceries, heads quietly home, and from then on, ignores his TV, choosing to either sit quietly in his chair, getting up occasionally to sketch something on the plaster above his fireplace. Tatum's girlfriend identifies the drawing as Antarctica. See, somehow, Clayton has been possessed by the spirit of a fellow named Titus who was part of an expedition to reach the South Pole, only some Norwegians beat them there. Most of the expedition died in their tents, but Titus wandered off into a storm. Yeah. Oh, and this has given Clayton/Titus some sort of predictive ability. It's vague, only works if he makes physical contact, and makes no sense until after the event has happened, but it's there.

That's what leads into the missing child, though she'd been gone for at least a year already by then. Pearson starts in their present, jumps back some distance into the past, then works forward, sometimes flashing back, then eventually proceeds beyond the place the book started. Which makes it a tad difficult to keep track of when things are happening in relation to one another. Anyway, Tatum touches Clayton/Titus' shoulder, worried about him, and the fellow says 'It's Melissa now. Sometimes Missy. Never Angela. Never Denise.' The last two being the names the missing girl went by. It's all a rather strange way of getting around to the point, which isn't held for long, since Pearson frequently diverges into anecdotes about the various folks who come to Clayton/Titus for information. The anecdotes largely serve to make every person who lives in the area seem a lout, or outright scumbag. They're all stealing from each other, cheating on each other, lying to each other, killing pets just because, whatever. It left me with the impression a meteor strike in the area would be a vast improvement.

Setting aside the randomness of Pearson having a character possessed by the spirit of an Antarctic explorer to provide visions of limited use, that brief statement really only serves as a way to introduce us to the quest Tatum is on. It wasn't as though Tatum had stopped looking, the unknown storyteller informs us he still goes out to the park and searches. His problem was lack of leads, and Titus didn't actually provide one, except perhaps to confirm Ray's suspicion she was still alive. It feels unnecessary, from a plot standpoint.

I've been trying to decide if Pearson is drawing parallels between Titus and his failed expedition and Ray and his search for the little girl. I can't see it myself, and even if that's the case, why all the other premonitions? It's not as though they uniformly help the other folks. Sometimes people make the right decision (as in, don't cheat on your wife), and sometimes they don't (let's pump my girlfriend's new car full of sewage!) That could be a point about the nature of people, and how, when things are unclear, their true nature asserts itself. So some people do the right thing, some don't, some persevere, others surrender. Maybe the connection between Ray and Titus is the importance of finding something positive to hold onto. Titus lost all hope when he couldn't be first to the South Pole. Ray finds the girl, but, for various reasons, there's no one to return her to. So Ray needed to find something else. Or maybe just finding her was enough, but if that's the case, I really don't see a parallel between he and Titus, because Ray wasn't competing with anyone to achieve his goal.

Overall, it's a strange book, sometimes hilarious, sometimes irritating, as the narrator will opine about the state of celebrity and such, and while they're probably right, it doesn't have much utility to the story. It becomes another divergence, or at most, another example of how lousy a person Denise/Angela/Missy/Melissa's mother is, as she's the sort who uses tragedy to grab herself some spotlight, and move up in the world. After a certain point, I didn't need anymore examples, especially because it telegraphs the end of the book so clearly. I can't decide whether I liked it or not. If you're a fast reader, you can blow through this quickly, and it might be worth your time (if not, the odds are you quickly figured that out, and wouldn't have wasted much time). If you tend to take a long time to read books (it's a shade under 250 pages if that helps), I'd advise giving it a pass, as I think you'd feel your time was ill-spent.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I Wasn't The Only One Unprepared For Comics

Calvin: Well, I don't know where Adorable Baby Panda is. I called and left a message about the comics being here. Let's just move forward as best we can, OK?

I have to Applaud Deadpool for stopping the pirates, and giving Bob a big chest of gold. I think I'm gonna have to smack Bob for not choosing to stay on the island with Kalani. Oh, you think it uncouth of me to suggest he forget his wife? Divorce, people! What? Oh, right, we're talking about Marvel. Deal with Shuma-Gorath, then. I'm thinking Applause for Temugin, Jimmy Woo, heck everybody in Agents of Atlas. I mean, Bob and M-11 destroyed M-23, Gorilla Man at least tried to get M-11 fired up for the fight, Venus decked Jade Claw, it's all good. And now, all gone. *sobs*

I'd like to give Ragdoll a Bonk, but I'm afraid he'd enjoy that. What the hell, creepy little bugger. I think Scandal and Jeanette could probably both use Hugs, what with their sanities in question right now. Bane needs a Bonk. Bane, prison is not your friend! Do not start getting loopy, especially when you haven't even taken any Venom yet! I'm giving Sihing some Applause for taking up the mantle of Dog Brother #1, and trying to keep his friend safe. I'd give him a hug, but I don't think he needs it. Jack Flag needs a Hug, certainly. Monark Starslayer has to get a Bonk. Dude helped Ego gets its act together even faster than it was already going to! Sure, he didn't mean for that to happen - or did he? - but he's still an ass. I'd give Power Girl's cat a Hug, for surviving a bath, but I'm worried what I might catch from it. Shona - that's one of three alien ladies that Power Girl's gonna have to contend with - gets some Applause. Ah, I see you are confused. Well, to pay for a $25 cab ride, she gave the driver a decent-sized diamond, which I assume is worth more than the cost of the ride. Assuming he can sell it somewhere and get a decent price, that's quite a tip.

I think that covers -

Adorable Baby Panda: Wait!

Calvin: Where have you been? I'm almost finished!

ABP: What?! Why didn't you wait for me to get here?

Calvin: Dude, I can't wait all day, I'm a busy man!

ABP: What were you going to do, play more Madden?

Calvin: And maybe read a little! And perhaps talk a pleasant evening walk! Look, just look over what I said, and add where you find it necessary.

ABP: Let's see. You're hitting Bane? He didn't do anything wrong!

Calvin: He said the prison Jeanette was in sounded wonderful. Dude needs to get his head on straight, and I don't think a hug will work for him.

ABP: You said Bob should ditch his wife?

Calvin: Not ditch, divorce. Amicably, if possible, so they can both move forward.

ABP: I'm not hitting him for staying faithful! I'm Applauding him!

Calvin: Fine, condemn he and his wife to a life of misery.

ABP: But, they have all that gold Deadpool gave him!

Calvin: Yeah, right. Bob probably gave half of it to Kalani, and he'll find some way to get fleeced out of the rest on his trip home. Probably get captured by more pirates.

ABP: No he, yeah, I guess he will. I thought you were a romantic?

Calvin: Not on Sundays. It's my designated Pessimist Day.

ABP: Oh. Well, now that I'm here, what should we do?

Calvin: Wanna go for a walk? We can look at clouds and trees and stuff, and talk about how humans are destroying the world.

ABP: What?

Calvin: Pessimist Day, remember?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

What I Bought 9/25/09 - Part 2

Hey, let's talk about comics that came out this week! I have nothing else to say as an intro!

Guardians of the Galaxy #18 - OK, so Star-Lord and company didn't die from falling into that star at the end of #16. Instead, they're being bounced from one universe to another by ripples in time. Oh, and they're also all at different ages, except Jack Flag, who isn't apparently doomed to save the universe and the wink out of existence. Damn, I like Jack. So the issue is the team joining up with a different set of Guardians of the Galaxy (those on the cover, and yes, that's Wonder Man with the beard) to try and use Doom's time machine to get home. But they get bounced to another universe too soon, and keep getting shuttled along until it looks as though they've reached their universe, albeit 1,000 years later, and it's not a happy place.

I like that in every universe there are Guardians of the Galaxy, but they're always fighting something different (the group on the cover is fighting Martians, as would be expected when Killraven's involved). Also, Cosmo as a puppy, wanting to go to the park and chase squirrels was funny. Wesley Craig's back on the art, still expressive, does a good job conveying the difference in ages for the Guardians in the current states (I can't really describe it, but somehow, Bug just look younger, adolescent). I also think he does a little better at keep things clear when lots of characters are involved. With fights, he's using an establishing shot, then switching to smaller panels focusing on individuals or pairs.

Immortal Weapons #3 - We follow an orphaned boy, Sihing as he tries to keep himself and a younger boy alive during the Opium Wars, always hoping Dog Brother #1 will arrive to rescue them, as he is said to do, provided you are lost enough. To keep the other kid's spirits up, Sihing tells stories of Dog Brother's exploits, but stories will only take someone so far, especially when they get roped into being drug runners. In the back-up, Iron Fist and Jada continue searching for her brother, and continue to have no success.

See, I liked this more than the previous one. We learned some things about Dog Brother, such as his purpose, and how the mantle is passed, which is different from what we've seen of the other Immortal Weapons thus far. Plus, this issue was drawn by Timothy Green, and I find it an immense improvement over Brereton's work from last month (though I imagine the three inkers weren't helping Brereton). It's odd, Green uses a lot of little lines in his work, especially on faces, but they don't annoy me the way they do when Foreman does it. Maybe because Green's lines are thinner, so they don't bleed together as much.

Nova #29 - Nova Prime and several other Novas board the ship that came through the Fault last issue. They meet the Nova Centurion piloting it, and he has a prisoner. He also has a stowaway, which would be the man on the cover, Monark Starslayer, who proceeds to smack the Novas around pretty good. He's also screwed the pooch for everyone, because in an attempt to stop Worldmind from scanning, he infected it with a virus, causing it to shut down, which has enabled Ego to regenerate and get active again. Also, the prisoner's crew arrive to rescue him. That's a bad thing.

Well, I've only just met Mr. Starslayer, and I'm already eager for his comeuppance. 'Don't you just hate it when someone has much cooler toys than you?' What an arrogant prat. Oh well, he's a bounty hunter so I guess it's proper for him to be an unlikeable ass. I'm glad to see Abnett and Lanning are keeping things hopping, but Ego's back already? A few issues ago it was going to take centuries, then he was recuperating faster, and now he's awake again? Might have dangled that particular sword a bit longer. I guess Nova's rotating artists like Guardians of the Galaxy, because DiVito's out, and Kevin Sharpe's back in. He seems to make everything so shiny, I'm not really sure I dig it, and character's movements seem awkwardly depicted. On that third page from the end, final panel, I'm not sure what the Novas still on Nu-Xandar are doing. Their hands are glowing, but they're not shooting or creating shields. Do they think Ego's afraid of glowing lights?

Power Girl #5 - Power Girl investigates the crashed ship. It's pilots escape while she's busy doing this. Ship explodes, but is nice enough to make only a small crater, and not scatter debris all over creation. Power Girl washes her cat, interviews someone for a marketing position, then has to rush off because the owners of the ship that blew up are in a firefight with a goofy due with a jetpack. Also someone was taking photos of Power Girl. I think I know where it's going, so at least she hasn't fallen into one of those, "Ha, ha, I know your secret identity, and will use that as blackmail, mwa-ha!" things.

I'm really surprised how uncool Jetpack Dude looks. I was under the impression etpacks made everyone look cool. Even Cyclops. I think it's that bit of hair sticking out from under the skullcap. Makes me think of jheri curls, which makes me think of the Beyonder, and then I start thinking of Secret Wars 2, and . . . *thud*. *Time passes* Sorry, I blacked out. Maybe it's not jheri curls, more of an Elvis thing? I really expected these alien girls to be more destructive, but until jetpack guy arrived, they were fairly restrained. Curious. What should I say about Amanda Conner's art this month? I really enjoy the expressions the cat makes while it's being washed, especially as it makes its escape. It's looks so miffed about the whole thing, and possibly is contemplating revenge. Which would make sense. It is a cat.

Friday, September 25, 2009

What I Bought 9/25/09

I know, I was surprised too. I was figuring early next week, but here they are. So, consider the book binge on hiatus for a few days. Just as well. It'll give me time to decide whether to give The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time another shot, or write a post about why I gave up on it after 50 pages. For now, though, comics!

Deadpool #14 - Now that is how a pirate should look! Captain Morgan's got nothing on Deadpool (it's the high-powered rifle that gives Wade the edge)! Wade gets his new navigator outfitted, but has already set his eyes on a new lady love. Meanwhile, Wackbeard the Pirate and his crew have stolen Wade's pirate ship. Deadpool actually employs a little trickery to reclaim it, and loses a leg in the process, but that means he gets a peg leg. Deadpool - 37% more piratical with every issue!

Anyway, Deadpool stops the pirates, probably destroys most of the housing on the island of Jallarka, does Bob a serious solid, and concludes he enjoys helping people, which lead to his utter depression at the start of issue #15. Somehow. Maybe because there's no one to help in the middle of the ocean, I dunno.

The second part of the pirate story wasn't as funny as the first, but it's nice to see Way starting to go someplace with this, as the book had felt aimless for the first year. Which may have been the point, or may have been a consequence of all the Dark Reign tie-in nonsense. I still like Shawn Crystal's artwork, as his Deadpool is suitably freaky-looking (though most of his people are, now that I think of it), but he does have a tendency to not keep track of which hand someone is carrying a weapon in, so it switches from one panel to the next for no apparent reason. Regardless, he can draw a macabre scene like a man losing a leg in a way so that's it's more darkly funny than gruesome, which considering the character's just going to regenerate the leg, is probably fine.

Immortal Weapons #2 - We learn about a battle between a Murderous Lion and a previous Bride of Nine Spiders, that caused one spider to be left in our world. 70+ years later, it's still alive and is auctioned off to a young man determined to learn its secrets, assuming the old woman he outbid doesn't have it stolen back first. The majority of the story follows the people she hires as they move through the seemingly deserted home of the buyer, and keep hallucinating due to the song of the spider. We do run across the Bride of Nine Spiders eventually, and she's a bit more chatty than I'm used to. Probably a concession due to her being the star, rather than the supporting cast. The Iron Fist back-up continues Danny's quest to help Jada find her little brother.

Here's my problem with the Bride of Nine Spiders story. I don't feel we learned anything about her. So she showed mercy to the folks who freed her, rather than eat them. Well, she's demonstrated previously she's not some complete psycho, so that's not exactly news. We didn't really learn anything about her city, or what the significance of that particular spider was. She's still pretty much as mysterious as she was before. The problem being, she's not really illustrated that way, as she's in full view, clearly visible in every panel she appears in. If you're going to keep her mysterious, have her stay in shadows, or shrouded in spiders and their webs. Also, probably due to the three different inkers, Brereton's art seems to vary wildly, from looking unfinished and flat, to more vividly detailed. From smooth lines, to rough and scratchy, on and on. It's hard for me to tell it's the same artist some times. I did like Travel Foreman's art in the Iron Fist more than usual. I think deep shadows and rain help his art, or he just cut down on some of the unnecessary linework.

Secret Six #13 - Jeanette's coming back from the brink of madness, Deadshot and Scandal both seem to be moving closer to it, and Bane seems to miss prison, which is concerning. I suppose it would keep him away from the Venom. Catman switches sides - about damn time, Blake - then that Smyth makes a little announcement which does make sense, though I hadn't considered it. I can't imagine it's going to matter much to the Six. Or would it be the Four?

Can someone explain why I'm supposed to be worried about this Grendel thing? Ooh, it's furry and has sharp teeth, and talks of eating people! Junior was considerably scarier. Especially after she disrobed. I will never be able to scrub that from my brain. Grendel strikes me as a smaller, somewhat more verbal Wendigo, which just doesn't seem like that big of a deal. Other than that, it's a fine issue. Ragdoll is suitably disturbing, as usual, and Nicola Scott draws everything quite nicely. I especially like Jeanette seeing her friends and Artemis in the olde tyme clothes. Bane with the hat (which take away the feather and it's be close to GrimJack's) and Artemis' ridiculously high collar were nice touches.

Agents of Atlas #11 - So the book is canceled. Or on hiatus. Or a backup strip for Incredible Hercules. One of those. In the meantime, Atlas gets whomped again by that M-21 robot. Temugin actually helps Jimmy survive in the Dragon's Corridor, and the team tries to regroup again. Gorilla Man helps M-11 get into the spirit of the battle, Namora calls in some reinforcements, and Bob takes away M-21's advantage, and there you go. The battle ends with a punch and "Yay!" Jimmy Woo plays gracious and wise leader, and the dragon's are both very pleased with all this. Which cannot be good. Freaking duplicitous dragons.

Thus ends Agents of Atlas the ongoing. For now. Parker set some things up that I'm sure we'll see begin to play out shortly, and I'm curious to see if/when this dovetails with Incredible Hercules, as I imagine it will eventually, based on that Olympus Group scene in #10. Panosian's art was a lot rougher in this than it had been. I don't know if it was meant to symbolize how things were falling apart for Atlas there for awhile, or if he was rushed, but it didn't look as nice as it had in earlier issues.

That's it for older stuff. Tomorrow, we discuss actual comics from this week. Crazy, I know.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Somewhat Lackluster Betrayal

So Phyla did end up being the traitor Mantis spoke of back when Guardians of the Galaxy started. Unless Mantis was speaking of Adam Warlock becoming Adam Magus, but I'm not sure what Magus will do can be considered traitorous. Maybe I'm biased because I feel bad for her, but I felt like Phyla wasn't trying very hard to carry out her mission.

It seemed as though she was constantly starting fights, being more aggressive than necessary. She starts throwing down with Shi'ar at Starlin's in Knowhere. When Star-Lord is trying to convince the Inhumans to stop fighting, and Crystal is actually speaking in support of him, Phyla goes and holds her at swordpoint, then abducts her. Neither of those actions helped the Guardians case, and both of them lead to the team wasting time fighting the Inhuman Elite. Then once the Fault's appeared, and the team's once again confronted the Inhumans, Phyla was certainly cold upon learning Black Bolt is dead.

On the one hand, these could be her way of trying to waylay the Guardians. She's working for Lord Oblivion, he was once served by Maelstrom, who was always trying to destroy existence, so let's figure that's at least one thing Oblivion is after. This war could bring that about, and the Guardians of the Galaxy would try and stop it. So keep them busy fighting battles that won't accomplish anything. That way they make no headway on stopping the war, and maybe some of them get killed, which only hampers their efforts to make a difference even more.

On the other hand, she's so ham-handed about it as to make it too obvious she's up to something. Plus, when these brawls kick off, she's always right on the front line, so I wonder if she wasn't trying to get herself killed before she had to fulfill her promise. It would at least sort of look like she was trying to further Oblivion's plans, except whoops, she overreached a bit and now she's dead. Darn, guess she won't be able to kill the Avatar of Life after all.

Which brings me to another question: Why did she strike Warlock down when she did? Why not before he cast the spell that halted the Fault? The Fault would destroy everything, which I'm presuming is what Oblivion was shooting for, so shouldn't she have stopped that from happening? Or maybe Oblivion knew what striking Warlock down would lead to, and having Magus in charge of the Universal Church of Truth is actually a better path.

Could Oblivion simply have been working to restore balance? Maelstrom said that when Drax killed Death's Champion (Thanos) it tipped the balance too far in favor of life, and that too much life can lead to an end just as easily as too much death. Was Oblivion manipulating events to correct that, by turning a champion of life (Adam Warlock), into a champion of Death (Magus)? Would that be a goal of the Magus? I've never actually read any comics he was in, so I'm not clear on what his goals have been historically. He's not really Warlock's evil opposite, he's just Warlock's evil in a separate form, because warlock cast all good and evil out of his soul.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Start Of Another Book Binge

I haven't really gone on one of those since late May, and I purchased some books over the weekend, so I'm going to try alternating between books and other stuff the next few days. Might as well start with some science fiction, since I seem to end up there eventually.

Millennium 3001 is a collection of short stories edited by Martin Greenburg and Russell Davis. In the introduction Davis discusses how all the stories are meant to take place a thousand years in the future, and deal with what things might be like, with more of an emphasis on the people, and less on the science. Davis admits he's tended towards science fiction that focus on psychology, sociology and the like, because he was never much interested in biology, physics, and chemistry. Largely because they ultimately seem to have solid answers to their questions, and I guess the others are more up for interpretation.

So there's a variety of premises. You have a "humanity was wiped out by a catastrophe" story, stories about losing oneself in a virtual reality simulation, stories about humanity fragmenting (in several different ways), about humanity being supplanted by higher forms, and of course a story about someone waking up after centuries of being frozen.

As you might expect when dealing with many different authors, I found the stories to be hit and miss. "Go Tell The Spartans" works off the concept that humanity has spread out from Earth, but space travel renders women infertile, so Earth's economy is apparently entirely based off the fact if you want a kid, you got to pay some lady on Earth to have it for you, 'cause no women on your planet will be able to. Except science is gonna find a way around that. It always does. I kind of figured women would be more resistant to cosmic radiation, what with having, on average, stronger immune systems than men, so there'd be a greater risk of guys winding up sterile.

"River" deals with a person who spends their leisure time in virtual reality, pretending to be historical figures, but for some reason during one simulation, remembers all the past ones, which they shouldn't, and decides to try dying. The mystery of death comes up in "A Better Place" as well, and it didn't really work for me either time. I didn't feel either story said anything significant. "Take Me Back to Old Tennessee" and "To the Universe Station" both posit that in the future some humanity will live on Earth in a more primitive state, and others will live on either the Moon or in space, and the former suggests the space folk will abduct and experiment on their terran-based brethren. Why? Don't know. The latter spends too much time moralizing about recent policy makers for my taste, in the form of a recap of the time the recently unfrozen fellow missed. At least the unfrozen fellow voices my feelings, asking them to skip the moralizing and just state the facts, ma'am. That being the case, why did Zebrowski include such tediousness in the first place?

I'm complaining a lot. There must be a few stories I can talk about positively. Some of the stories I like could really be set anytime. "Landscapes" is about guys trying to escape from their everyday lives, the jobs, families, and how that can still hound you. Plus, it demonstrates the value of friends, which I'm a big believer in. We all need our supporting casts in the solo titles of our lives. "Dr. Prospero and the Snake Lady" could easily be a story about teenage/childhood resistance to change in the way things are, and the selfishness that accompanies that.

"Geometry" is a story I started off hating, because I couldn't make sense of all this stuff about Geometries, and Dyson, and totems, and "lesser geometries", and kangaroo villages being destroyed by dingos wielding stone spears. Eventually it starts to make sense, though I can't help feeling bad for the sentient animals that have been created largely to be sacrificed. I'm not sure how far they could go if given the chance, but their purpose is solely to die to serve as an example. It did raise a question in my mind: Humans keep fighting and killing each other, and potentially wiping each other out for stupid, petty reasons, and we can't seem to stop doing it, even though at least some of us seem to realize it's not really the best way to be going about things. Could we actually create a lifeform that could not only see that, but act to block it? Since they were created (albeit inadvertently) by us, wouldn't they possess the same inability to stop? And maybe they do, since the Geometries keep setting up these sentient animals to wipe each other out. They just aren't doing it to each other, they use simulacra to express it, and pass it off as an abject lesson to humans.

I'm not clear on the point Dean Wesley Smith was making with "Nostalgia 101". The people on Earth in the story regard interest in the past as a waste of time and resources, and those people a drain on society. Which seems short-sighted. I don't know that adage about ignoring history and repeating it is written in stone, but surely it can't be a bad idea to keep track of past mistakes others have made? Sure, one probably shouldn't spend all their time focusing on the past, but occasional reflection can't hurt. And how many breakthroughs have been built upon past research? The past has useful things to teach us, and so I'd think some interest in it is healthy, and that it isn't a waste of time to revisit places and ideas others have already tread. Never know what a fresh pair of eyes will see. So does Smith believe what the characters say, or are we meant to pity them as fools?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Getting To Know Jack - Manx Cat #2

So with GrimJack: Manx Cat #2 coming out a couple of weeks ago, I'm once again getting my kicks by going through the issues and seeing what John Ostrander and Timothy Truman tell us about GrimJack (aka John Gaunt) and the world he inhabits over the course of the mini-series. This isn't a perfect investigation of what a first-time reader could learn, since I'm very familiar with GrimJack, but I'm going to try my best to look at it from the perspective of a new reader, albeit one who knows there's a plenty of history already established.

Page 1 - GrimJack tends to be unfriendly towards people when he's in a bad mood. The unfriendliness tends to include threats of violence or other unpleasant acts, though they don't impress Gordon or Goethe much. Probably not idle threats, since panel 5 shows Gaunt's hand holding the handle of his sword as he talks to Goethe.

Page 2 - Gaunt will put aside hard feelings towards someone if they're willing to pay. He doesn't jump to conclusions about who stole the Cat away from Goethe (away Gaunt had stolen it and given it to Goethe), or doesn't voice conclusions if he has any. Gordon says Gaunt's loved ones tend to die. Gaunt makes no response.

Page 3 - Lots of info. Gaunt agrees with Gordon. Gaunt was close with Gordon's ex-wife, a Jo Chaney. She sold Munden's to Gaunt to spite Gordon. She became a vampire to spite Gaunt. Gaunt staked her (Why did Chaney want to spite anyone?). Gaunt makes references to a 'Demon Wars', a 'doomed land of Pdwyr' and a 'Rhian' (What are those?). Gaunt feels only those you let in can hurt you, so best to keep everyone out, but he can't. Also, wherever he is, there are multiple worlds visible in the night sky, some large enough continents can be seen. Gaunt's also walking with his sword drawn, and looking over his shoulder at one point (Why?).

Page 4 - Gaunt knows people who have information, and knows how to get them to divulge it. His main snitch is named Feetus, a legless Demon wars vet. Gaunt has a friend known as BlacJacMac, or BlacJac, who has a mercenary army. Like Gaunt, BlacJac fought in the Arena. BlacJac knows how to fight (we see at least two beings running away, and another four lay bloodied on the ground around BlacJac). BlacJac, like Gaunt, Gordon, and most everyone else, smokes.

Page 5 - BlacJac doesn't take kindly to people attempting to mug him. He also has a new girlfriend named Goddess. He has sufficient awareness to know Gaunt's being followed (Gaunt knows it too). Wherever they are, there are odd, pink, vaguely dragon-like vermin that scrounge through garbage.

Page 6 - BlacJac likes to give Gaunt a hard time about being old, and about being ugly.

Page 7 - BlacJac's willing to follow Gaunt's lead. They both have enough control to not start firing immediately, preferring to ask questions first. Clones are common enough where they are that someone is as likely to be one as to be someone's son. It is not unheard of for repo men to use guns. Lots of garbage wherever they are.

Page 8 - Johnny Aristo hired these particular repo men to retrieve the Manx Cat from Gaunt. They're large, poorly defined faces, and at least one has a bird leg.

Page 9 - Gaunt grasps things quickly, as Hab needs him to retrieve the Cat, so Hab can take it, but since Gaunt doesn't have it, Hab can't kill him. BlacJac works on the same frequency as Gaunt, and just as quickly (they're both shooting in the bottom panel). Gaunt's not above using human shields.

Page 10 - Gaunt's a fair shot with a handgun (three shots fired in panel 2, two hits that we see in panel 3, though the distance is unknown). Not actually using Rehab very effectively as a shield, since he's holding him patrially off to the side (is it to keep Rehab from kicking his gun away?). In what may be a jab at Wanted, one of the soon to be dead mopes in panel 1 says they need to shoot around Rehab by curving the bullet or something. That doesn't actually tell us anything, I just thought it was funny and wanted to mention it.

Page 11 - Gaunt's fairly strong (throws Rehab hard enough that the impact knocks Hab over).

Page 12 - Gaunt's doesn't feel it necessary to kill everyone who attacked him (Why?). But if Hab isn't smart enough to take Gaunt up on the offer, he might do it after all.

Page 13 - Gaunt was born in 'the Pit' (don't know what that is). Raised in the Arena (discussed last issue). He survived the Demon Wars (obviously, but what were they, besides wars involving demons presumably?). He chased 'the Dancer down to Hell' (don't know who the Dancer is, and Hell metaphorically or literally? He mentioned demons so it could be literal Hell). He describes himself as the 'last man in the multiverse you want on your ass.' So there's a multiverse, somewhere. Also, his eyes were previously depicted as blue, white your standard white sclera around it. As he says all this, his eyes are narrowed, and completely black. Iris, pupil, sclera, all of it black, save a tiny circle of blue in what is probably the pupil. Not sure if that's significant, or just really cool. I know it's the latter, but it could also be the former.

Page 14 - BlacJac prefers the more direct approach of killing people who trouble him. Feels Gaunt was doing PR work. Last month, I mentioned that Munden's doesn't accept tourbots. Now we learn what they are. A person can have their mind placed in the trashcan shaped mobile thing, and travel places while their body is safe elsewhere. Gaunt considers them a plague upon 'Cynosure'. Gaunt can appreciate ingenuity. Also, graffiti on a wall informs us 'Tucker Lives'. Not sure if this is relevant, but letting you know just in case.

Page 15 - Lots of people after the Manx Cat, including Mr. Tourbot, a Jean Loire, who wants to work with Gaunt. Gaunt won't discuss business in the street, and won't discuss it with a tourbot. Munden's Bar is located on the lip of The Pit. BlacJac doesn't like tourbots either.

Page 16 - Gaunt's served in regular armies. Note that's plural. BlacJac apparently is the kind of leader that inspires loyalty, maybe because he keeps his army well supplied. Feetus has a floating platform he sits on. He and BlacJac, drink what might be beer. Might be soda, or maybe canned milk.

Page 17 - Goddess, who Feetus can find nothing about, makes her appearance. BlacJac has people who'd like to kill him. He likes to do his research on people.

Page 18 - Goddess finds Gaunt interesting looking. Interesting looking enough to inquire if he'd like to join her and BlacJac sometime (legitimate offer or playing off their insecurities?). The fellows both decline. Feetus apparently not interesting looking enough to receive similar offer, but not troubled by it.

Page 19 - Feetus concurs with Gaunt's assessment last month: Darlin' Lil is an aristo who steals from aristos. Doesn't sell her spoils where others do. Goddess says the Manx Cat dates back to chaotic gods and the dawn of creation. Also interprets rumble of thunder as her father calling. Leaves abruptly.

Page 20 - BlacJac's still busting on Gaunt's age. Gaunt mocks Feetus' normal living arrangements. Gaunt uses cops for information, namely Roscoe. Doesn't think him hitting Roscoe, or Roscoe throwing him in jail will get in the way of business.

Page 21 - Roscoe, unlike Commissioner Gordon, knows when a shadowy figure enters the room. How? Don't know. Roscoe calls being paid for info his retirement fund, but doesn't plan on retiring to take a pay cut.

Page 22 - Gaunt won't give information away for free if he has to pay for info. Lil lives in the Sherman-Helmsley Plaza. The elevator operator is reminiscent of Droopy. Lil's family has what Gaunt describes as 'old money'. In this place, one can buy pocket dimensions and attach them to the floor of the hotel one lives on. Gaunt's sensing things again.

Page 23 - Robots exist, as servants at least. Is it near Halloween, a jack o'lantern sits next to the door, looks fresh as well. One robo-servant is like something out of Gone with the Wind, or a similar piece from that period.

Page 24 - Robots may be servants, may be old and in need of repair, but can still have sense of humor. Gaunt doesn't have anymore trouble fighting robots than he did against Hab and the repo boys. The robots release dust (smoke?) when damaged. Is it engines burning out, a soul or animating spirit escaping (hey, we know magic exists, why not), or are they just so old they were about to crumble anyway.

Page 25 - Gaunt's cape has seen some action, as there's at least one patch sewed onto it near the end (see panel 1). Again with limited force, as he takes out the two attacking droids with one hit each, and leaves the other one (which hadn't attacked) alone.

Page 26 - Is Gaunt imagining the shadows we see in panels 3-7, or are they really there? Either way, shadows don't bother him.

Page 27 - Lil sleeps with the Cat, and with a sword next to her bed. She's not sleeping well, and Gaunt recognizes that kind of sleep, and knows why he has nights like that. Again, trying to be restrained with force, not going for revenge on Lil for all this trouble. Just grab the Cat and leave quietly.

Learned a bit more about GrimJack this time, though it's not really in any order, and a lot of the specifics are absent.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Maybe She Just Wants To Rile Osborn

I don't purchase it, but I did flip through an issue of Thunderbolts a couple of months ago and thus learned the truth about the Black Widow running the team. It had appeared that it was Yelena Belova, the 2nd Black Widow, but no, it's actually good old Natasha (Natalya?), going to rather extensive lengths to impersonate Yelena*. Natasha's serving as a plant for Nicky Fury, for some reason.

Reading that made me reconsider the end of the Deadpool/Thunderbolts crossover from this spring, where Deadpool's head is cutoff, but someone sewed it back on, and it wasn't Taskmaster. Deadpool concluded Black Widow really did love him, and if it had been Yelena, well, I still wouldn't buy that, but I can see it more readily than with Original Style Black Widow**.

It's a curious decision on her part. The last time Norman Osborn saw Deadpool in that crossover, Headsman had decapitated him, and Widow was holding the head, asking if Norman wanted it as a trophy. He did not, and told her to burn it. So he believes Deadpool to be finished, yet Natasha went to the trouble of reattaching his head to his body, when she had to know Deadpool wouldn't keep a low profile. Which would mean Osborn would soon learn Deadpool wasn't dead after all, and that ought to raise some questions. Sure, we might expect Norman to be so crazy, or so busy dealing with a dozen different fronts at once to bother to really think about the implications of Deadpool not being deceased, but Black Widow wouldn't be one of Nick Fury's go-to people if she left things to chance. So why risk it?

I thought maybe since Nick Fury hired Deadpool to procure that information on how to kill Skrull Queen's, and Deadpool was technically successful, maybe Fury felt he owed him. But this is Nick Fury we're talking about; he doesn't do sentimental. Maybe Fury, or Natasha, felt Deadpool could come in handy later. Guy that crazy and hard to kill could be useful at the right time. Maybe having Deadpool alive and running about being himself makes Osborn look incompetent. It certainly frustrated him when Deadpool interrupted his interview by briefly teleporting in, and it probably raised some questions with people Osborn has to answer to or contend with.

There's always the possibility Natasha just finds Wade amusing enough that she took pity on him.

* Yelena having died after becoming a Super-Adaptoid in New Avengers Annual #1.

** She's been romantically linked to Hawkeye, Daredevil, and Winter Soldier, so suffice it to say, Deadpool's seriously outclassed, unless insanity is highly appealing to her.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Assessing Where Cosmic Marvel's At Now

I thought with War of Kings just about over, it might be worth it to take stock of the current situation out in space. And if you know of any other developments I miss, definitely add them in the comments.

- There is now a parsecs wide hole in the universe, called the Fault. Well, that's the biggest problem. It's not getting any bigger right now, but it's still plenty big enough for nearly anything to come through.

- Something has already come through, in the form of an old-style Nova Centurion spaceship.

- The explosion that created the Fault destroyed almost 90% of the Shi'ar military.

- The Shi'ar surrendered to the Kree.

- After Lilandra challenged Vulcan's rule, a civil war broke between various factions supporting the two rulers.

- Which is kind of a waste of time, since Lilandra is dead, and Vulcan can be presumed dead*.

- Gladiator appears to have fallen into the role of new Majestor of the Shi'ar Empire (what's left of it).

- The Kree Empire still stands, though several of its worlds were blown up. The Kree citizenry themselves are perhaps not totally confident of their new Inhuman leaders.

- The Uplift Program designed to restart Kree evolution with Terrigen Mists, won't work.

- Black Bolt, like Vulcan, is presumed dead**. I don't know who is taking over in his stead. Medusa? Maximus? Crystal and/or Ronan the Accuser?

- Ravenous has been ousted as ruler of the territories the Kree ceded to the Annihilation Wave. Blastaar, armed with a Cosmic Control Rod, has taken over.

- Star-Lord, Mantis, Jack Flag, Bug, and Cosmo, were last seen centuries in the future, falling into the Sun. Solicitations indicate at least some of them will survive to have time travel adventures involving Kang.

- Gamora and Phyla are presumed dead***. Gamora from a broken neck and being tossed adrift in space, Phyla from being stabbed in the chest by Gamora.

- Adam Warlock is now the Magus, his really evil self. Adam Magus also appears to have control of the Universal Church of Truth, with their millions (billions?) of followers, after Warlock sort of kept the promise he made and saved the universe****.

- So that would leave the Guardians with a current roster of Rocket Raccoon, Drax, Groot, Major Victory, and Moondragon.

- Richard Rider's back in place as Nova Prime.

- The Worldmind's old system has been deleted, and replaced by a sort of recreation of Ko-Rel, the first Nova recruited after Annihilation, who Gamora killed during Conquest.

- The Worldmind's set up on the currently lobotomized Ego, the Living Planet, though Ego's brain is healing rapidly.

- The Nova Corps itself is down to seven members. Eight, when Robbie Rider gets out of intensive care.

- Nova and the Guardians have both crossed Blastaar over the course of this war.

- The Starjammers don't have to worry about overthrowing Vulcan anymore. Until he comes charging out of the Fault, I mean.

- Rachel Summers got revenge on the people who killed her family.

- Darkhawk is out searching for all the amulets like his, to stop the Fraternity of Raptors from reestablishing itself.

- Darkhawk is also wanted across the universe for killing Lilandra, though it was actually a member of the Fraternity who had hijacked his Darkhawk suit.

That's everything I can think of. With that, I'm done until Monday. I'll be off visiting a friend, so mind the store for me.

* It'll probably turn out that he fell into the Fault and soaked up all sorts of other-dimensional energy to heal himself, and he'll pop out eventually, stronger and crazier than ever. I'm not advocating that, I'd certainly prefer he stay dead, but I can't imagine we'll be so fortunate.

** He's probably lost in the Fault as well.

*** And let's just assume they'll be reappearing out of the Fault at some point as well. Though, and I say this as someone who likes Phyla and Gamora, and is indifferent to Black Bolt, if all three of them staying dead would keep Vulcan dead as well, I'd take it.

**** He promised to stop the war and save creation. He did save creation, but he certainly didn't stop the war. If he had, he probably wouldn't be Adam Magus right now.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hal Has To Get Some Credit For That

Did Batman ever give Hal Jordan any credit for reigniting the Sun during Final Night? I know Batman was sort of down on Hal after he tried to erase the universe, so he could rebuild it how he wanted it.

I also remember a JSA story where some villain the Jim Corrigan Spectre dealt wth lead a revolt of all these souls the Spectre had condemned, and Hal was struggling to get them back under control. He ultimately did so by ignoring Reverend Cramer's advice to show compassion and free the souls from damnation, and instead chose to condemn them all over again. At the end, Jay Garrick and Alan Scott visit Gotham to discuss it with Batman, and they tell him Hal's still finding his way, and that he deserved a second chance. because this was a Batman written in the last 20 years, odds were good he'd be a dismissive ass to that suggestion, and lo and behold he was, claiming Hal already had a second chance, whatever that means*.

So clearly, Batman was not a big fan of Hal's over the last 15-20 years. Of course, they've made up since then, depending on who's writing the scene**. Still, even if Batman had legit reasons to be down on Hal back in the day, he can't deny that Hal Jordan saved the freaking planet by sorta dying to reignite the Sun. Hal did that. I think a "Thank you, Hal", would be in order. I would think Alfred would have taught him at least that much.

* Does he mean because Hal came back to life after he appeared to die in Zero Hour, and most people - say Thomas and Martha Wayne - don't get that chance, so screw Hal?

** So Geoff Johns has Hal tell Barry Allen that he and Bruce were friends, but James Robinson has Hal tell Oliver Queen he didn't like Bruce?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Trust Me, The Little Aliens Shift From Cute To Scary

When I reviewed Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter #3, I talked a bit about how, as he weakens, Galactus is drawn less and less impressively by Kano. Galactus is less frequently drawn in large panels that dominate the page, and even within the smaller panels he occupies, he can be dwarfed or otherwise overwhelmed by other things (be it Bill, or the I'than armada).

I also wanted to discuss the shift in art with regard to the I'thans themselves. Unfortunately, my camera doesn't want to connect to my computer anymore, so I can't transfer the photos I took of the relevant pages, and the Internet hasn't really helped me in my search. So it's time for the always popular Art Post With No Art! I'm sure it will work, though. After all, you all bought Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter, right? Well, you'll buy it when it's released as a trade, then you can come back, read the post and be like "Oh, Calvin was totally right about that!"

Issue #1, Page 13: We're introduced to the I'thians as one of their ships evacuates I'Than IX. Their ship is a crystalline design, a bit like an oddly shaped diamond. Our first glimpse of an actual I'thian comes in the next two panels, as the pilot describes their attempts to flee the planet without being killed by Stardust*. It's a furry critter, with big purple eyes, and the rings on the neck of its suit suggest an isopod (roly-poly, or pillbug) to me. When the pilot sees that his ship's been caught by Stardust, all he can do is lament that someone has to draw the short straw. If the ship has any defensive capabilities, the pilot doesn't consider them worth trying. Fortunately, Bill arrives, and battles Stardust, enabling the ship to flee to I'than Prime. The brief shots we have of the I'thans in this issue make them look small, and generally sort of helpless. In a panel shared by the ship and Stardust, the Herald takes up more space than the ship, and the two facial shots of the I'than sit above and below a much larger Stardust, as it issues its proclamation of death.

Issue #2 starts with that same ship arriving safely at I'than Prime, which is a lush, green world, with clear blue skies. The I'thans all wear brightly colored clothing, and are rendered as sort of cute, as the pilot describes his savior, making hand gestures to represent Bill's hammer and 'elongated face'. One of the I'thans remarks that thanks to Bill, they've evacuated without a single casualty, and isn't that lucky where Galactus is involved? Then Stardust arrives, and takes up 80% of Page 2 (or Page 3 if we're counting recap pages) with another proclamation: Galactus is on his way. All the I'thans can do is look upward in concern.

On Page 7, the I'thans reappear, sporting odd helmets, which cover one of their eyes with a red lens, as they open the vaults, all the vaults. The skies are orange now, as it's probably sunset, and wherever they are on their planet, it's dirtier, a dead space. By Page 11, the I'thans have a armada in space, driving the Surfer away from their world under the sheer weight of their fire. These ships are very different. An ugly ochre, or beige color, and rounded off, no edges. Oddly, the ships look less threatening than the one we first see, what with the lack of pointy surfaces, but unlike the crystalline ships, these do possess firepower worthy of challenging a Herald.

Bill and Skuttlebutt land on the planet, and the twilight has deepened, and again, the location is not green looking. The I'thans faces are shown in shadows throughout Page 13, and even though Beta Ray Bill should tower over them, they occupy roughly the same space in a panel, and in the final panel of page 13, Bill is a small figure in the background as the I'than walks away. Even their large purple eyes are drawn smaller, beadier, less "Aww, aren't they cute?" When Bill returns to inform them he's struck them with a plague to force them to leave their world, they still don't resemble themselves from earlier in the issue, but the shadows are largely gone, and Bill looms over them again. They've been rendered powerless once more, and the sky still has some orange to it (it's morning now, instead of evening), and the foliage is still an ugly brown, possibly because the planet will be destroyed soon (by Bill, so that Galactus can't feed on it)?

In issue #3, the I'thans make their first appearance on page 9 (not counting the shadowy outline of the armada on Page 6). The insides of their warships are all deep reds, compared to lighter yellows and greens with the crystalline ships. Page 9 has four panels of I'thans inside their ships, set on top of a full-page shot of their amassed forces. In ship design, their fleets remind me of the ships of the Annihilation Wave, though I can't say whether Kano and Gillen are purposefully making a callback to the army that nearly destroyed the universe. In the interior shots, there is at least one I'than with a clenched fist in every panel, save the last one, which is an extreme close-up on the leader's face. That face is almost entirely blacked out, except for that glowing red lens, and his clenched, smiling teeth. There is nothing sweet, friendly, or adorable about that creature.

When they attack Galactus on page 11, Galactus dominates the first panel (which extends vertically the length of the page, covering roughly 40% of the page), but subsequently, the I'thans rule the rest, with the first panel a shot of the I'than leader giving a command, the second showing the Heralds overwhelmed trying to halt the attack, and the third, showing the sheer numbers of ships brought against Galactus as they make it past the Heralds and open fire. In that last panel, the sun is behind them, though whether it's meant to be rising on the I'thans and their renewed militarism, or setting on Galactus, I don't know. Either way, the armada nearly obscures the sky, and takes up considerably more of that panel than Galactus.

The last time we see any individual I'thans is when Bill throws himself between them and Galactus. They'd unleashed some ring-weapon larger than Galactus that put him on the mat, and now that Bill is defying them, the I'than leader is nearly snarling as he orders all missiles fired. Everything falls apart shortly afterwards, as Bill destroys enough missiles that Galactus can feed on this uninhabited world, and get some strength back. At which point (on Page 17) we start with a panel of Galactus announcing he's fed, where he is one relatively small figure, against all those ships. But in panel 2, the status quo is restored with a close-up on Galactus' face, announcing his displeasure. Panel 3 is Galactus firing energy, and while he doesn't fill that panel, he's the only thing of significance in it. Panel 4 shows the aftermath, as the I'than ships are burning to nothingness, and Galactus stands before them, now looking much larger than any individual ship, having reasserted himself.

It's unclear what happened to the I'thans. Not all of them were fighting Galactus, as the Surfer had mentioned refugees at the start of the issue. As for the military, Galactus couldn't have destroyed all of them since Bill ordered Skuttlebutt to save as many as he could, fearing Stardust would kill them for daring to attack Galactus. Whether Skuttlebutt was successful, and whether Stardust did end up hunting them down and killing them, we don't know. On the whole, the I'thans and their world are portrayed as being pretty well off until Stardust arrives, and when they tap into their old ways, they become less friendly looking, and their world stops looking like such a paradise. There's also quite a few scenes set at sunsets or sunrises. I'm guessing these indicate, in order: the end of the I'thans years of seclusion, Bill's willingness to do anything to stop Galactus, and like I mentioned a couple of paragraps ago, either the end of the I'thans or the return of Galactus to prominence.

I'd say that Kano, Alvaro Lopez the inker, and Javier Rodriguez the colorist all do an excellent job, both at showing the wax and wane of Galactus, and the shift of the I'thans back to their old ways, and the destruction that portends.

* Stardust is one of Galactus' two current Heralds. Problem is, where the Silver Surfer is really mopey, Stardust is really nuts. It considers it an honor to be devoured by Galactus, and tends to hunt down and kill any inhabitants of a world Galactus eats that escaped. In the Stormbreaker mini-series, this included the Korbinites, Beta Ray Bill's people.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cosmic Odyssey

I ordered one of those second printings of Cosmic Odyssey, because I'd heard some good things about it. It was alright, though it felt oddly paced, I think because, in what I'm assuming was meant to show all these events happening simultaneously, Starlin and Mignola keep hopping from one duo to another every few pages, and in some cases the handful of pages spent on say, Superman and Orion don't have them making much headway. It gives me this feeling that things are taking a very long time to play out, when they probably aren't. They can't be, since the Anti-Life Entities would be trying to work as fast as they could to clear the way for the Big Problem, so things would seemingly have to be happening quickly.

Starlin writes Starfire a little differently than I'm used to seeing. Mostly, he makes her less naive, where the current crop of writers tend to follow the model set by the Teen Titans cartoon (ignoring the fact that comic book Starfire's older than cartoon Starfire, has been on Earth awhile and would be less confused by Earth customs, or at least U.S. customs, since she spends the majority of her time there)*.

Also, I'm curious as to how Highfather and Darkseid came to have Etrigan in their possession**. Then again, he didn't appear to be in any condition to put up a fight, so if they could find him, it probably wasn't too hard.

I need to say something about Mignola's art, but I don't know that I can do it justice. I like that in the scene where they've gathered New genesis' requested "ambassadors", all the characters stand a little different, and Batman hangs back, so that even his mask is shadowed. There seems to be an alternation between white space between panels and black, I assume because the whole series is about various dualities, represented by the different characters. On a cursory glance though, I can't find a pattern to when the colors are used. He keeps panel layout pretty basic, no diagonal panels or anything like that, but I would say it works fine.

One thing I did not know was that this is the story where John Stewart screwed up and a planet was destroyed. I had always figured that was in a Green Lantern comic of some sort. Yet here it was, his arrogance destroying a world, though it's under questionable circumstances. He fails because the anti-life entity (or the host body its using) knows the ring is useless against yellow. How does it know that? No idea. I notice that the host (who created the bomb and painted it yellow) is dressed differently from the other natives of Xanshi. They're mostly depicted wearing robes, sort of vaguely Roman senate style, but the host is wearing pants and perhaps a polo shirt, plus glasses and rocking a lot of hair and a big beard.

I wonder, would that have described either Starlin or Mignola at the time this comic was created? Would that be a little joke, that the entity spread further than they thought, reaching the actual creative team, and taking advantage of their knowledge to guarantee success?

* Maybe I'm off base on that, though. I've never spent any time in a culture wildly different from mine, so maybe it takes many more years than Starfire's had to get comfortable with the everyday protocols of life in said culture.

** I'm always impressed with writers that can do the rhyming Etrigan and make it work, which I think Starlin does. It seems like it would be hard to write dialogue that actually makes sense, yet rhymes, especially when it's being uttered by a demon that's probably going to be describing horrible things.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Well, At Least He Can Feel Needed

I was thinking about those pages in Agents of Atlas where everyone keeps making requests of Bob, while he's busy trying to repair his saucer. I was thinking about how irritated Bob must be, everyone always coming to him, making demands. 'Hey Bob, I need you to go a week without sleep so you can make a telepathic disguise for me.' That kind of thing.

Then I thought about his prior situation. He was part of a colonial species living deep in the atmosphere of Uranus, which was pretty unusual since he wasn't a member of that species, but they were nice enough to let him in so he didn't die. Except he left all that to help Jimmy, and he can't ever return. I guess weird, colonial, vaguely bacterial-looking indigenous Uranians don't handle rejection well.

So he lost that, and a big part of it was that he felt like part of something larger than himself. So maybe having his friends around all the time asking for help wouldn't actually bother him, because it would make him feel like he's part of something larger, which is what he'd grown accustomed to.

Or maybe it really does bug him, but he plays it close to the vest.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Let's Bonk This Thing, And Go Home

*Previously, Calvin and Adorable Baby Panda captured Shadow Thief without meaning to, and some nice cops gave them a lift to where Satana was. Also, Deadpool blew up Hawkman with a grenade, and there was much rejoicing.*

*ABP and Calvin move down a street in St. Roch's financial district. Ahead, they see Satana, accompanied by 4 of her experiments: a tiger, a moose, a snake, and a panda. They're standing outside a bank arguing with a middle-aged gent in an opera cape and a monocle. As they approach, our intrepid heroes slip into a nearby shadowy alley.*

Calvin: {I'm guessing that would be the Monocle they were talking about over the police band?}

ABP: I guess so. He has a monocle.

Calvin: {Yeah, it's very classy. Makes me wish I had one. So what do we do? Capturing her was gonna be hard enough with her victims there, another super-villain only makes it worse.}

ABP: You have a sword, that should help.

Calvin: {When have I ever demonstrated I could use a sword?}

ABP: Then why did you bring it?

Calvin: {It made me feel more secure than the stick.}

ABP: Maybe if you look like you know how to use it, we can scare them.

Calvin: {Or maybe our problems will take care of themselves. Look!}

Satana: All I'm saying is, stop blowing up the *expletive deleted* banks, until after I can rob them! I need that money!

The Monocle: *smirking faintly* Oh, come now, my dear. Surely a decent pair of pants can't cost that much? Perhaps you could afford them if you bought less gaudy earrings?

Satana: {Multiple expletives deleted} Kill this {expletive deleted}!

*The hench-animals rush forward, only to be blinded by a flash of light from the monocle of their target*

The Monocle: I really have no interest in killing you or your pets, so perhaps you could simply adjourn for the evening?

*Just then, Deadpool runs up*

Deadpool: [Hey, I found the bad girl we were looking for! Now where are Calvin and the Fuzzball? There they are, hiding in those shadows! Hey guys, come out here, I found the Dr. Moreau wannabe we were looking for! Let's hurry and beat her up, 'cause I might still be able to pick up that fine lady from the coffee place!]

*Calvin and ABP both facepalm, as Satana and the Monocle whirl to look at them.*

Satana: What are you, some low rent neighborhood watch? {Expletive}, kill all these freaks! *The hench-animals split up and each attack a different target*

Calvin: {She's blue, and commanding animals with human brains inside, and we're the freaks? She needs to lay off the peyote, eh ABP? ABP? Oh, crap, Tiger Man! Run away!}

*ABP is already charging towards Satana, though her Panda Man moves to bar the way. Calvin is running from the Tiger Man. The Monocle, clearly bored with the whole thing, simply incinerates the advancing Snake Man with a beam from the Moncole. Deadpool is launched through the window of a thus far untouched bank by the Moose Man.*

Deadpool: [Why am I playing the Jorge Lugo to everyone else's Charles Barkley today?]

Monocle: *from the sidewalk* Pardon me, aren't you the boisterous fellow who was fighting Hawkman earlier this evening?

Deadpool: [You mean Conan the Barbarian with bird wings? yeah, I fought him. Did you know he's crazier than a bag of hammers? *seems to argue with himself* It does too make sense! *to the Monocle* Yeah, I blew him up good. Remember kids, hand grenades aren't toys, but they are fun!]

The Monocle: It seems proper, considering how much he enjoyed violence.

Deadpool: [*now very animated, excitedly relating story* Well, I also cut off his wings, smashed his face into the ground, and made him start crying for his girlfriend!]

The Monocle: Really? I wish I had been there to see that. He always mocks his opponents if they start crying after he stabs them, you know. Would you like any help with this fellow? *nods towards Moose Man, who has stood there confused through the conversation*

Deadpool: [*adroitly hops back through window onto sidewalk* Nah, I've got it in hand. Have fun destroying the lives of people unrelated to the horrible misfortunes you've endured! *waves eagerly*]

The Monocle: Uh, thank you. *Thus exits The Monocle*

Deadpool: [Now why would she put a human brain in a moose? *dodges charge, moose slams into wall* It doesn't have hands to carry stuff. *dodges mule kick attempt by leaping onto moose's back* Maybe she has lots of hats? *leaps off moose's back, grabs antlers as he descends, give neck sharp twist, kills Moose Man*]

*Meanwhile, Calvin is still running*

Calvin: {Running from a Tiger Man, while great exercise, is not productive. What would Kamandi do? Seriously, someone who has read Kamandi tell me what he'd do. Ah hell, lets try this.}

*Calvin hops on top of a fire hydrant, narrowly avoiding sweeping claws, then leaps sideways towards a lamp post, which he grabs on to, and swings around on, so that as Tiger Man turns to face him, it gets a face full of Calvin's size 14s. The Tiger Man falls backwards, and whacks its head on the hydrant. The impressiveness of Calvin's move is marred by the fact he can't stick the landing, falling on his rear end instead. before the Tiger Man can regain its senses, Calvin's strikes it in the face with the pommel of his sword.*

Calvin: {Hey, I won a fight. Go me!}

ABP: Great! Look, I caught Satana and stopped the poor panda she hurt.

Calvin: {Wow, way to make me look like a bum. You're just Grant Morrison's Batman in a Piglet sized package, aren't ya?}

ABP: Sorry. Hey, at least you didn't hurt yours too much. Now her victims can get help, since we caught them alive.

Deadpool: [Wait, we're not killing them? Oops.]

Calvin: {Yeah, and I think the Monocle killed that Snake Guy, judging by the huge pile of ash over there.}

ABP: Well, at least we caught these two, and they can get help.

*A squad car pulls up. Jerry and Claire, the officers from Part 2, get out.*

Jerry: Hey, they caught Satana.

Claire: Yeah, but it looks like the Monocle got away.

Jerry: Cut 'em some slack Claire. Catching one bad guy is pretty good for a couple of rookies.

Deadpool: [No problem citizens. Fighting the forces of evil to protect a world that hates and fears us is old hat for us X-Men!]

Claire: Say, doesn't he match the description of the crazy guy that fought Hawkman?

Deadpool: [I'm the crazy one? Have you listened to that bird guy lately?]

Jerry: We try to ignore him. You're right, he does. *Turns to ABP and Calvin* You two said you didn't know him.

Deadpool: [You said you didn't know me? Is it amnesia, caused by constant regeneration of your brains? Wait, only I have that!]

Calvin: {Wade, it really wasn't the time to admit that to them. They were being helpful, and you were fighting the city's costumed protector.}

ABP: See, I told you lying to the cops was bad! Told you so, told you so!

Claire: I told you those two weren't real heroes. I mean, "Ordinary Guy"?

Jerry: I thought he was being modest!

Claire: They beat Shadow Thief with a camera and a stick!

Jerry: So you can't fight crime on a budget?

Calvin: {Yeah, haven't you ever seen Blankman?}

Deadpool: [Nobody saw Blankman.]

Calvin: {Oh, right.}

Claire: You'll all have to come with us and answer some questions.

Calvin: {I thought cops in the DC Universe were more understanding.}

ABP: Not when you lie to them!

Calvin: {You're never gonna stop lording that over me, are you? And just how are you planning to deal with Satana? I don't see the cops letting us stroll off with her.}

ABP: Yeah, it's too bad. I thought hitting her over the head until she admitted she was screwed up would really help. Then we could talk about feelings.

Calvin: {Well, I think the amount of time we can plausibly converse before the cops starts actively trying to take us in is long over, so do what you're going to do so we can flee.}

ABP: All right. *Turns to Satana* So you'll remember to shape up, I'm giving you an Extra Special, What The Heck Are You Thinking Tony Stark, You Are In So Much Trouble, Bonk Of Extreme Displeasure! *Unleashes that thing I just wrote out above on Satana. She's hit hard enough that the little birdies and pandas she sees are visible to everyone else.*

Jerry: Holy crap! She made little birds and pandas with her mind! If we're not careful, she might use her new powers to force us to start doing the Monkey! *starts doin' the Monkey*

Claire: *Raps him gently on the head with her nightstick* You're just looking for an excuse to do the Monkey, and I keep telling you there is no excuse. Say, where'd they go?

*Our trio has quickly run around the corner, only to crash into a large drunk. A very large drunk. In a monk's robe, with bright pink skin, red eyes, huge teeth, and four arms. Three of the arms carry various liquors. The fourth carries a very large sword.*

Our Trio: Oh crap.

Large Drunk: hic *Sways* Hrai, I crave vengeance! *Leans heavily against the building*

Deadpool: [Hawkman really can still reincarnate! Geoff Johns' continuity magic must be too strong for Starlin's!]

Large Drunk: Where ish GrimJack? Zago, Blood, urp, Red God of Deatsh, has returned, and belch, seeks vengeance! *Smashes one bottle against building, throws up* Mortals, shpeak, and Zago will kill thee swiftly! *Drops sword; doesn't notice*

Calvin: *Looks around desperately, notices Hawkman flying towards them, looking really pissed off. So, a normal Hawkman look.* {There he is, trying to disguise himself as a winged barbarian!}

Zago: *Looks up, clutches head and groans, stares at Hawkman doubtfully* You are sure?

Calvin: {Absolutely. Look, he's even got a sword, so he's no doubt planning to cut off your arms and stab you, just like he did last time!}

Zago: *Pulls himself up straight* Nay, the weakling will be made to learn the glory that is Zago this time. *Lumbers past our heroes, still without his sword, towards the Hawkman, who's coming in swiftly at a shallow angle. As Hawkman readies his sword, Zago falls over, and Hawkman slams into the building. Clearly, he's still shaking off the grenade.*

Calvin: {And now I suggest we resume running.}

*And they did, all the way back home. The end.*

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oh, We Do Go On

Adorable Baby Panda: Why did you call me Adorable Baby Panda the 2nd yesterday?

Calvin: {I thought I might tease the audience with the idea that you'll be killed off in the thrilling conclusion to our St. Roch Field Trip tomorrow, thus forcing me to seek your replacement.}

ABP: You're going to kill me?!

Calvin: {Of course not. Kill off the one character I've created for this blog people actually like? Ridiculous. I just wanted to add some tension. Guess that's gone flying out the window.}

ABP: You don't think people like UnCalvin?

Calvin: {I'm not sure I actually created UnCalvin. UnCalvin may have always existed.} *Stares into space*

That's creepy. Stop being creepy. I'm giving Bob a Hug because all his friends kept bugging him when all he wanted to do was fix his spacecraft. {They only bother him because he's smart and they're all morons.} That's not a good reason! And they are not morons! Wait, you're being sarcastic aren't you? {Considering I am sarcastic and/or snide roughly 88% of my waking life, yes probably.} What about when you sleep? {I'm 100% sarcastic then. You should hear me, mocking the sheep and their endless leaping over fences. "Oh, nice jump there Lambchop. You got mad hops. Shouldn't you be in a Certa mattress commercial?"} You're being creepy again. Hugs for the Exiles, because their book was canceled. {Deadpool needs a hug too, don't you think?} But he's about to find friends! {Yes, I'm sure his attempt to join the X-Men won't end in disaster. And explosions.} You're being sarcastic again. {It's my default condition. Says so in the owner's manual.}

Moondragon gets a Hug because her girlfriend is dead. {Oh, she's not dead. She was stabbed through the chest, but she was lying near a massive tear in space and time. She'll be fine, and, before you say it, so will Gamora. She's the deadliest woman in the universe, gonna take more than neck snapping to stop her.} Grimjack gets a Hug because he's ugly, and old, and that's sad. {He's not THAT old.} OK, he gets it because he won't let anyone be his friend. {That's a little better reasoning.} Maybe a hug for Po Lin. {Nah, she'll be fine. She had one of those moments of clarity. Maybe one for Chun Li, since her dad's going to be murdered soon.} We can stop it! {Can't change the past.} Maybe we could! {No, we couldn't.} Yes, we could! {No. It would require time travel, so we'd run into Kang, and I am not having run-ins with Kang, thank you very much. Also, you'd insist on bringing Deadpool, and we're not setting him loose in the time stream. It'd be the "Homer travels through time with his toaster" Halloween special all over again. Wade would probably shoot Sir Walter Raleigh and scandalize Queen Elizabeth in the first five minutes.} Why would we meet them? {It's an imperfect science, duh!}

Do you think Beta Ray Bill deserves applause? {*shrugs* I think Galactus does. He did Bill a real solid considering Bill was trying to kill him.} But Galactus is still eating planets, and letting Stardust kill everyone! {Hmm, point for you. OK, applause for no one!} Well, I want to Applaud Nova for getting what he wanted out of Blastaar. {That was pretty smooth.} I'm giving that ship captain a Bonk for throwing Deadpool overboard like that. {Yeah, he could at least wait until they reach land and turn Wade in to Norman Osborn for a huge reward!} Stop being sarcastic! {Geez, I can't be creepy, and I can't be sarcastic. What are you leaving me with?!}

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

What I Bought 9/8/09 - Part 2

More comics! I can't pause for a longer intro, because time waits for no one!

GrimJack: Manx Cat #2 - The man GrimJack stole the Manx Cat for has already had it stolen from him, and they'd like Gaunt to get it back, and they'll pay him for it, which is nice since he was planning on finding it anyway to get Johnny Aristo off his back. He looks up his old buddy BlacJacMac. They get into a firefight with some heavily armed (and seriously dumb) repo men, who want the Cat. Then we meet BlacJac's new lady, Goddess, then Gaunt gets a little information out of Roscoe (for a fee), and hunts down Darlin' Lil. But things start to go awry, as they usually do.

This issue actually doesn't advance the plot very much, as Ostrander spends most of the issue expanding on Gaunt's character, and introducing us to a few more of his friends, and seeing how they interact. Which is fine, as I like watching BlacJacMac bust GrimJack's balls about so old and ugly. Plus, Ostrander makes sure we get at least a few pages of GrimJack being badass, which is always a good thing. I like Truman's art, but it's a little odd that for certain buildings, he seems to have taken a picture of a real place, and superimposed it into the picture (he did that with the courthouse last month as well). It's kind of jarring, and I know Truman could probably draw an antebellum house that looks better than the picture they use. Maybe there's a point to it, but it eludes me.

Guardians of the Galaxy #17 - Star-Lord's warning arrives a bit late, as the T-Bomb's already gone off. The Guardians confront the Inhumans, and Phyla continues to aggravate the situation, until Lovecraftian Monstrosity #2,347 attacks the Flying Spaceship City of Attilan. At which point Groot collaborates with Maximus to send the thing packing. Apparently he's not just saying 'I Am Groot'. Meanwhile Adam Warlock uses the Universal Church of Truth as a power source for a spell to stop the Fault from expanding any further, and tethers the present to a unused future timeline for some purpose. Then Phyla stabs him through the chest. Yep, say hello to Mantis' prophesied traitor from issue #1 (or was that #2?) Then Gamora "kills" her, then we learn the price of Adam Warlock's big spell, and it's not good for Gamora.

Well now, that was a lot of stuff. Team members dropping like flies all over the place. Still, it sets some future conflicts up for what's left of the Guardians, and I somehow doubt that Lord Oblivion's plans are actually over. I'm not sure about Abnett and Lanning have Rocket Raccoon reference "Gerard Way" as a comparison for Adam Warlock. Maybe because it doesn't mean anything to me, or maybe because, unlike with Rocket's reference to E-Bay back in #1, no one expresses incredulity with the comment. Brad Walker's on pencils, but it feels as though he's using more small lines than he did previously, and that he's exaggerating people's faces more, especially around the mouths. Lots of characters seem to be pooching out their lips, the way chimpanzees do (almost like puckering, but jutting the lips out further, so they aren't really touching). It's kind of distracting. And I think the Phyla/Gamora fight would have worked better in separate panels, though looking at it, he does use the sword motion in each still to lead to the next one, which is a nice touch. As it stands, I'm more interested in what this sets up for the future than the actual events in the comic themselves.

Nova #28 - Nova takes out the Strontian that nearly killed his little brother, and he uses a headbutt to make it happen. Headbutts, represent! The other Novas stomp some other Imperial Guardsmen, rescue Ravenous and Raza of the StarJammers. Then Rich negotiates himself, his Novas, and their prisoners out of King Blastaar's hands rather cleverly. Having returned to Nu-Xander, we learn the Corps is down to about 8 members, as Rich is not going to force Robbie to go home once he heals up. At the end, a space ship comes floating out of the Fault (the Corps having decided to go check it out, since it'll probably release things for them to deal with).

That was fun. I like Rich beating someone as strong as Gladiator, and doing it cleverly. I especially like how he managed to sweet-talk Blastaar into letting him go, but still threw in a dig at Blastaar, reminding him what Nova Prime did with the 'last idiot who faced me with a cosmic control rod. I tore him inside out Blastaar. Inside out.' I never get tired of remembering that battle. Good times. Also, the look on Blastaar's face as Rich bows to him, and thanks him for his mercy and compassion is just priceless. Go Andrea DiVito! I read this in the Legion of Doom review of the issue, and having read it myself, I'm inclined to agree: I'm not a fan of the Worldmind's new speech patterns. I'm not sure I'd classify them as a teenage girl's, but then I'm not sure how teenage girls sound. I suppose they're trying to differentiate more between the Worldmind's old format, and Ko-Rel, the basis for the current model, and she would be more impressed by weird stuff, but she was a Kree soldier, so I'm not sure she'd be sound, um goofy, at times.

Street Fighter Legends: Chun-Li #4 - Our heroes survive the attack on them at the restaurant, and learn what Sagat was after (those Terracotta warriors) and that's he's already got them and is leaving. They hustle after him, beat up his guys, but Sagat pretty much beats all three of them up, then flees because more police are coming. Po Lin figures out she's in the cop business for the wrong reasons (revenge) and calls it quits, then we get foreshadowing to the eventual murder of Chun-Li's dad, which is what sets her so doggedly on Bison's path.

The problem with this, and it's one I should have realized earlier, is that this is really just filling in some gaps in Chun-Li's history. I'm not a Street Fighter afficonado, but even I knew her dad doesn't get killed by Sagat, and I know Ryu is the first one to ever beat Sagat, which means I knew as soon as our heroes started fighting him, they were all gonna get whomped. The future is already locked in, and they can't change it, so they have to lose. Also, they're not terribly effective in the story in general. They survive all the gunmen at the restaurant because another friend shows up and helps, and he forces one of the gunmen to tell them what Sagat's up to, and where he's gone. They don't get that information through interrogating suspects, or pounding the pavement for clues, so they start to feel like bystanders in the story. I do like Omar Dogan's art, and the story in general is probably a good example of what could have happened to Chun-Li after her father died, if she had let it, so that's a couple of things in its favor.

And that's all the reviews for now. Adorable Baby Panda the 2nd will be by tomorrow for our usual escapades.