Monday, May 31, 2010

Ranting, Nit-Picky Movie Talk, Yes, I'm Back

That was not the worst weekend ever, but it was not the best. Up to Sunday, Alex was really enjoying himself, and I had a good time as well, occasionally. The pool was nice, the midnight boat cruise around the lake was beautiful, the music was good (if I was at a distance, since it was quite loud). Most of the other partygoers were swell folks, and it was amusing to learn of their tales of panic when the police showed up on noise complaints two nights in a row, drug-sniffing dogs in tow. I did get tired of the people trying to pressure me to smoke or drink. Chirst, we're in our 20s, aren't we past that bullshit? If a guy doesn't want to drink then maybe leave him the fuck alone about it, all right?

While I'm complaining, I wish Alex would learn to plan ahead. He didn't have enough money when he was done with work, but didn't remember until we reached the bank he didn't have his checkbook, so back to his house for that. Money retrieved, we return to his apartment to begin loading equipment and luggage, and he needs ice to preserve his protein drinks. He knows these drinks are highly perishable, he told me himself. Did he buy ice ahead of time, or think to make lots of ice in the freezer? Of course not. Then once we started out, we had to turn around because he forgot to pack a shirt he really wanted to wear, so back we went. He's a big-picture person I guess, and I'm the details guy.

I did learn when I sit quietly observing scenery, the look on my face makes people believe I am on something. Don't know what that means, but it was a question I fielded more than once over the weekend. Anyway, I did have fun, rants in the previous paragraphs aside. it's just some of it was my kind of fun, walking around, exploring stores, reading. I am dreading the week ahead, though. I don't feel like there's much in the tank at the moment.

We left yesterday afternoon, and back at his place, I got to watch several movies, plus a new episode of the Boondocks. Alex missed it all because he fell asleep at 9 p.m., a consequence of not sleeping at all Saturday night or during the day Sunday. I watched Pandorum, though not closely enough to decide if it was as good as the trailers had made me hope it was. Parts of it said yes, other parts said no, but that might be me missing bits of information because I was reading the Mini-Marvel Ultimate Collection at the same time. Or was I also watching Charlie Bartlett? The movies all blur together after a while.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was on, and for the first time I can recall, I wondered why no one stopped Judge Doom from killing that toon shoe. The cop talking to Eddie clearly knew what the Dip was and what it could do, and the shoe did nothing wrong. The Judge outright murdered a shoe that's only offense was nuzzling the wrong guy's ankle. It certainly establishes him as an evil man, but the fact he was willing to do it was enough, wasn't it? Then again, I wasn't real happy when Alex' sister's cat kept coming near me last night, meowing and rubbing against stuff. That was because Alex discerned from its actions it must be in heat and hell if I knew what it would do if it got close, but maybe the shoe was in estrus. I didn't kill it, but I told it quite plainly to stay away from me, so maybe I'm a bad guy too. Would confirm some long held suspicions of mine.

That isn't where I expected that to go.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was running concurrently and all I could think was that for giant machine designed to wage war, they are not very good at killing tiny, frail humans. I mean, it took a lot of work for them to nearly kill Sam, or kill him only to have him saved by whatever it was that saved him. So many wasted shots. Where are their highly advanced auto-tracking targeting systems?

Like I said, I had a chance to do some reading over the weekend, book discussion tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Coming Up With An Apt Hero Name Is hard

I've been thinking about Cassandra Cain lately. I'm not sure whether that's because Diamondrock is worried she might be the apparently villainous White Canary in Birds of Prey #1, which in turn makes me worried he might be right* or if it's just because I haven't seen her anywhere since she handed her costume off to Stephanie Brown.

I've been thinking about how to get her back in the costumed do-gooder game, specifically, what codename she could go under. Technically, there's no reason she can't be Batgirl, too. If there can be 7000 Green Lanterns, and 3 Flashes, and so on, I think the world can handle 2 Batgirls. They could work together, or separately** with occasional team-ups (where their cases coincide). Leave one solo, add the other to a team***, whatever floats the boat.

Perhaps that would be considered too confusing, though. Then I thought if Stephanie can be Batgirl, maybe Cass could be Spoiler, but I couldn't come up with a good reason for that swap. Then I thought about reviving her Kasumi identity from Justice League Elite, but when she was doing that, she was pretending to be a stabby killer ninja, and this being comics, that might have some weird feedback effect to some leftover brainwashing and drugs from Deathstroke, and she's back to being evil again. You scoff, but I've seen characters advance such hypotheses before****.

New codename then. Since I was thinking about her working with the Birds, I started thinking of bird-themed names. First I thought of Kestrel, because it's a small, swift, raptor, but it's also the name of an enemy of Hawk and Dove's. Much as I might enjoy Hawk flipping out when Oracle introduces "Kestrel", then promptly getting his butt whooped by someone who isn't what he expected, it's probably needlessly confusing things. Then I though about how Cassandra tends to operate at night, and is mostly silent, so maybe "Owl". I figured it might work, since owls have a tendency to watch carefully with those giant eyes, and Cass is all about reading people with her eyes. Except owls are also considered bookish. I considered Night-Owl (too Watchmen), Hunter of the Night (it'd probably be turned to Night Hunter, which sounds very 90s to me), and I'm at a wall. Maybe she should just be Cassandra Cain, uncodenamed vigilante.

Anyway, it's a little brainstorming exercise I had fun with, and you can throw some ideas in if you'd like. As for me, this is it until Monday. I'll be off at a party at a lake over the weekend. Maybe by the time I return, there'll be comics waiting.

* If it is, I know I ought to trust Gail Simone. If nothing else, her track record with Secret Six would guarantee Cass would be a more interesting villain than she was during her prior jaunt through the dark side.

** Cassandra could be the globe-trotting Batgirl, since she has less holding her in Gotham. Besides, she's already traveled the world on her own before.

*** Teen Titans, the BoP, the Outsiders. OK, maybe not the Outsiders.

**** Specifically after Jean-Paul Valley became Batman, and first went after Bane, but before he actually beat him. He and Tim Drake had a falling out, then Tim and Nightwing chat, and Tim worries aloud that the Azrael costume he designed for Jean-Paul was too similar to one worn by some Bat-foe called, um, Metal head? He had spikes allover the costume, and a sort of whip/flail thing on the top of his head he would swing at people to cut them? Tim thought the design being so close to a villain's may have triggered some of the "system" and that was why Jean-Paul was getting more violent. Cripes, having explained that, why did I even bring it up?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hours In The Car Leave My Mind Time To Wander

One thing I find myself doing when I drive is looking at the houses along the road and wondering what it's like to live there*. Are the people happy living there? Is their house crap? Do they find its location inconvenient, is it noisy, lonely, and so on.

Given the option, would you rather live in the city or the country? You can define those how you'd like. You can approach from where you are currently in life, with a job and kids, or just a job, or look at it as where you'd live someday, if you were retired, or hell, where you would live if you had a Cosmic Cube to reshape the world to your satisfaction.

I bring up that third one because I suppose that's the tack I'm taking. Not to its extremes, where I'd use the Cube so I could live on the Sun, or find some habitable planet in another star system I could have all to myself. That's a lot of work, and besides, the habitable planet would already have life, and I'd hate to intrude, and I'd probably have to use the Cube to subjugate them so I could live safely, and that's not really a route I'd want to go. Those tactics get you punched in the face by Captain America or Mar-Vell, which might be a cool story for the kids (well getting punched by Captain America would be), but would also hurt, and I'd lose the Cube. Sorry, drifted off-topic.

If I could work near my house** I'd go for countryside, say 30 miles from a city of 50,000 people or less. It's close enough I can get there relatively easily if I need something, but if my work's near my home, I don't need to very often. I like to walk, and bike, and the countryside seems better suited for that then the city. Less traffic, though I suppose the traffic there is will be driving faster. I've dealt with that problem before, it just requires awareness, and a willingness to go off-road at a moment's notice. I also tend to think there are more photo opportunities in the country, but people with different preferences would likely disagree.

Your choice?

* The other thing I do is see roads heading into the distance and wondering if they'd lead to something cool. Which is pretty typical, I imagine, that curiosity about what's over the horizon.

** If my job was in the city, I'd live there, because commutes don't really appeal to me. Since I'm going for an ideal situation, though, my work's going to be in the countryside, which is entirely possible considering my field.

Monday, May 24, 2010

It Seems Like A Lot Of Paths, But They Keep Intersecting

I thought I'd talk about a game I've just started playing recently, since my last game post was about one I'd just finished, and I'm not sure when new comics might show up.

Way of the Samurai places you as a masterless samurai, entering a particular valley in the mountains where there's quite a bit going on. Rival clans are fighting for supremacy, townspeople are being pushed around, the law seems to be represented by corrupt weasels, the government's up to no good, and so on. You just walk in, and what you do from there is up to you. Since everything that happens takes place over the span of two days, it doesn't take long to play through a story, but the replay value comes in being able to choose different paths.

My first play I wandered by some guy telling his subordinates to be on guard against the rival clan, declined an opportunity to join their side, then had the swordsmith improve my sword. Except I didn't have the money to pay him, tried to flee, and was beaten to death by him and his giant sledgehammer.

Second time through, I accepted the offer to join that clan, which meant I had plenty of money to improve my swords, but also meant I did things like hassle shop owners for protection money. I served pretty well, protecting my leader's kid, defending the foundry he was selling to the government, but was eventually killed by a horde of the government's covert ninja guys. Which was quite annoying since there was seemingly no end to those guys. I must have killed a dozen, but another would just hop off the rooftops.

Starting my third play, I took the other path, and ran into some of my cronies from the previous play carrying off the young girl who works at the shop. So I kicked their butts and saved her, then defended her shop when they showed up to mess with it (minus me on their side, this time), then rescued her buddy Don who had snuck into their fortress to swipe some money. Well, "saved" might be a strong word. We made it out, but ran into the leader on the way, and he was probably going to kill when he was distracted by bigger problems. Still, Don's not dead, and he would have been, if not for me. I'm not sure what's going to come up next.

The game tends to provide you with options as to how to proceed. You can talk to someone and choose from a couple of responses, and maybe that informs how things proceed. When I went to rescue Don, I told the girl to make it worth it, and the game presented that as having 3 meanings: Either I meant money, a good meal when we returned, or some time in the sack*. You can switch sides in a fight, or choose to help no one at all (assuming nobody attacks you, and even if they do, you could run). If you're about to die, you can try begging for mercy, which I've eschewed so far, figuring I'm supposed to die rather than lose face. Plus, you never know how a fight can turn. One of the guys carrying the girl gave me that option, I declined, and hurt him badly enough he ended up leaving. I might try it next time though, just to see how it goes. Knowing my luck, the guy will laugh and cut me in half. That's basically what I did when I squared off with the guy from the bridge during my rescue of Don.

What? He had a nice sword, and if you kill someone, you can take their sword.

I'm not sure how many different paths there to choose from, but there are things I haven't entirely explored yet. In the second story, the wife of the clan leader was either striking up a business deal without her husband's knowledge, or carrying on an affair. I ran afoul of the town cop earlier in my current game, not sure if that's going to be a problem later or not. The swordsmith's got some big hopes for me, though not big enough to lend a hand when I could use it. The stories don't always operate in a way that makes sense, though. In my second playthrough, the girl from the shop asked me to rescue Don, even though the only time she'd met me, I was working for the people Don was planning to steal from, and I helped trash her home and workplace. I didn't end up saving Don that time**.

Combat isn't too tricky. There's a button for weak attacks, another for strong, one for jumping, and one for blocking. There is a nice touch where, if your opponent is blocking, you can try to push them off-balance, which leaves them momentarily open for a strong attack. or, if you're blocking, if you move away, they'll stumble forward, again leaving them open. You can come up with combos as you go along which is nice. There are even moves for you to attack if you trip over something, so you aren't completely helpless. The only health recovery items are whatever veggies happen to be laying around. Fortunately, most fights take place near storerooms, gardens, or places where mushrooms could grow.

Even though the story isn't very long, I am intrigued by the idea of playing through and making different choices all the time. I want to play at some point as simply a berserker, attacking anyone in sight, and maybe another time, see if I can do nothing. Take no sides, no action, just see what happens if I stand by. I doubt I can manage that. I couldn't stand idly and watch a half-dozen swordsmen from the rival clans have a particularly half-assed battle. Nobody seemed eager to attack, so I rushed in and started swinging to gets things happening again. Course, I went ahead and chopped down everyone, so maybe I've already tried my berserker option.

* I went with food, because the other two seemed wrong, and I generally suck at being evil in games.

** I did make the attempt, but I thought I was supposed to be sneaky, Thief-style, and couldn't see how to pull that off, so I ended up leaving, and telling her it was no good. When I actually made it through on my next play, I basically killed everyone I saw. So much for stealth.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I Know There Are People Who Would Pay Money For This

And here I was, worried I'd have nothing to post about tonight. Sally has this post, which talks a bit about Batman, his current adventures in time, and includes that panel of Batman tied up with cavemen all around.

Looking at it, I think Bats looks rather like Frank Castle. I think it's the stubble, or maybe the lines around his mouth. They make him look older, and I'd figure Castle should be older than Bruce Wayne*. This, of course, lead me to wonder what happens if the Punisher becomes lost in time. If he meets cavemen, and one of those cavemen tries to kill another because, you know, they're trying to survive, or they want the other one's stuff, or whatever, does Castle do what he does?

Initially, I was thinking of it in terms of whether he'd risk the timeline, but considering his timeline leads to the death of his wife and kids, I don't think he'd care**. There was a story in Marvel Knights Punisher about Castle getting Nick Fury to convince Reed Richards to send Frank back to Capone's time to kill him, under some premise that killing Capone would keep the sort of organized crime that took his family from existing. Yeah, I know, it was all a dream story, don't sweat it. At any rate, it would suggest Castle doesn't particularly worry about stuff like that.

Then I started wondering whether law exists at that time. If there are no laws stating it's illegal to take another person's stuff, or cave their head in with a rock, is it still criminal to do so?It could be considered immoral (that would depend on who is making the judgment, though), but without laws prohibiting it, it could be argued the person isn't actually a criminal***. Then I remembered Castle isn't much for technicalities, a crook is a crook, so if he saw a caveman doing something he considered criminal, he'd kill them.

* Though I'm not sure how old Bruce needs to be to incorporate his years of training, then Grayson's years of being Robin, then Nightwing, and Drake's time as Robin, and everything else. Wayne has to be in his early forties at least, right? I figure Castle's pushing 60, though.

** Plus there's Marvel's bit about how you actions in the past only create new timelines where those actions have an effect, but the original persists unchanged. When writers actually use that, anyway.

*** It reminds me of a piece from The Forgotten War, that I read back in March. Hierry talked about how the Germans would let a native of the islands off with a warning if they committed a crime, but were from a section of the island the Germans hadn't reached with their administrative and judicial offices. The reasoning being, they didn't know the law, so it would be wrong to exile them, or sentence them to hard labor. In that case the laws exist, but since the person in question wasn't aware of them, the laws in a way don't exist
until the moment the Germans let them know about them.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Line Of People Angry At Namor Goes Around That Block He Demolished

Sort of related to yesterday's idea about Jimmy Woo being menaced by threats he would no longer remember, do you think that ever happens to Namor? He's had more than one bout of amnesia, and he can be destructive and hot-headed even when in full possession of his faculties, so there have to be plenty of people with grudges.

I picture him being attacked by some person, angry over the destruction of their life from one of Namor's attacks on the surface world, and Namor responding, "Which attack? The one where I summoned a giant whale with legs? The time I was walking to meet with the U.N., the Hulk showed up to help, and we started fighting, or one of the half-dozen other times I've declared war on you pale air-breathers? Speak up!" It'd be better written than that, but in general theme, that's what I'm thinking of.

It could either be played up as "Look, that might be an important day to you, but it didn't mean squat to me, scram", or more sympathetically,* "I'm sorry, I can't recall the specifics, I've had a tumultuous existence".

* I think Namor's capable of sympathy. Not a lot of it, but some.

Friday, May 21, 2010

There's More To Jimmy Woo's Past Than Atlas

The Gorilla Man back-up story in Avengers vs. Atlas #4 caught me off guard initially, mostly because of the tone. Ken Hale (aka Gorilla Man) always seems to be having so much fun with Atlas' operations that I forget his origin could have been a horror story, or at least a Twilight Zone episode*. Gain eternal life (though someone could kill you), but spend it as a gorilla. There are worse things to be, but Ken does have to contend with all the people that are like the man he used to be: obsessed with living forever. Plus, he probably gets attacked by people pursuing what they'd deem "oddities". From outside the Marvel universe, a talking gorilla might not seem so strange, but people in the Marvel Universe don't seem to really get how much strange stuff is out there, so a Gorilla Man might be a shock to them. Throw in a few wannabe big game hunters and that's a full dance card of people who don't have Ken's best interests at heart to contend with.

Still, the first time I read it, I thought about how I would have more readily pictured Gorilla Man in a story like the one featuring Jimmy Woo in Avengers vs. Atlas #2 (where Jimmy goes to an evil restaurant to retrieve an important package which turns out to be really great dumplings). It seemed like the sort of thing Gorilla Man might enjoy, with the opportunity to beat up evil chefs and mutated octopi.

Then I thought about how Jimmy could work in a story similar to Ken's. He couldn't have people coming after him trying to gain immortality through his death (not literal immortality, anyway), but this is Jimmy Woo from the 1950s, from the last impression Marvel Boy had of him before the team originally split up. In between then and when he was nearly destroyed trying to enter Master Plan's lair decades later, he was a member of FBI and SHIELD. There have to be any number of people he stymied over that time who haven't forgotten, or forgiven. That their old nemesis has regained his youth, and taken control of a vast criminal organization would likely only gall them further. Throw in the fact his reaction to their appearance would probably be along the lines of "Who are you?", and they'd be boiling.

I don't know who Jimmy Woo might have dealt with in his career, besides Master Plan and Godzilla (I think), so a writer could take it as carte blanche. Revive old HYDRA or AIM villains (maybe it could play off this new SHIELD book, or Secret Warriors), or bring in hyper-intelligent cousins of the big green lizard, or make someone up entirely. Then point them at Jimmy Woo and Atlas, and see what happens.

* Somehow when I was a kid, I came into possession of a little paperback that collected several stories from a horror title called Creepy. The twist for one of the stories was a man kills a werewolf terrorizing the area, only to become the werewolf as the result. Same deal as with Ken and the gorilla curse.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Need To Work Through This In Writing

Or typing. Six of one, half dozen of the other. Reading through Avengers vs Atlas #4, I keep coming back to the point when Giant Man connects with the chronovirus. Not because I'm still confused by the temporal stuff, but because of something Tony Stark says.

Since it's a mindscape, Hank can assume the identity he feels best in, and so he regresses back to his Ant-Man form, complete with the cybernetic helmet, and he flies off through wherever he is on top of an ant. As he does so, Stark - who, along with the rest of the Avengers and Atlas, are linked into Hank's mind so they see what he does - comments that he thinks Hank's 'always felt more at home as Ant-Man'.

I suppose it caught my attention because I subscribe to the, let's call it Englehartian view that Hank's never really been suited for those sorts of costumed heroics. In that theory, Pym's never really been true to who he is when he throws on a costume and runs around punching people, zapping them with bio-blasts, or changing his size. So the fanboy part of me felt he should have traipsed about as Hank Pym.

Obviously, the fanboy part of me ignored these Avengers are from a time period 20+ years (our time) before Hank went the "scientist adventurer" route, complete with flight suit with dozens of pockets to carry gadgets in. The idea he could go on an adventure like this simply as himself, no codename or costumed identity, would probably never enter '60s Pym's mind. In the '80s, he had to come within seconds of blowing his brains out, and be walked through his history by Firebird to figure it out, so an earlier Hank wouldn't have the experiences to lead him to such a thought.

Setting that aside, visualizing himself as Ant-Man still makes a lot of sense. I still think Hank isn't well-suited for being a hero who punches things, which would seem to be the primary reason to become Giant-Man, rather than remaining Ant-Man. I think it's telling he found Pym Particles, shrank himself, was nearly killed by ants, and his solution was a helmet so he could communicate with insects. He didn't develop a suit of powered armor to blast the insects with, he instead came up with a way to talk with them, to convince them not to attack, and even to help him. It says something about Hank Pym as a character, such as that his solutions to problems won't involve application of brute force, but something more diplomatic, shall we say. Ant-Man is the identity that follows that works with that more readily*.

It would make me wonder if Pym wasn't having regrets about changing identities. One of my high school teachers said that when it came to multiple choice questions where we weren't sure, our first instinct was usually our best one. I guess the reasoning went, that instinct is informed by whatever little bit of useful knowledge we recall, and if we take the time to second guess, we get that info twisted around until we've confused ourselves.

I never took the opportunity to check my tests and see how often changing my answer worked out, but maybe this would be Parker's way of saying Pym should have stuck with his first choice. Giant-Man was a decision made out of insecurity, where he didn't think he could be useful on a team with Hulk (just for a minute), Thor and Iron Man. Pym decided to go the opposite direction from how he started, but did the team really need another strongman? That's something Parker did in this mini-series I enjoyed, play up Hank's brains. He doesn't have a lot of success at the physical stuff, but he's the one best able to comprehend all the weird time happenings. The other Pym was also the one who tried using Kang's machinery to keep his team of Avengers from being wiped out of existence. It's a nice reminder of where Pym's strengths lie.

* Not that he can't come up with clever solutions to problems as Giant-Man, but imagine when he's gone to the trouble of growing to 12 feet tall, it's easier to convince himself he ought to simply hit the problem. Otherwise, what was the point of growing to that size?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It Would Be One More Piece Of The Gauntlet, Certainly

If the Spider-Man writers really want to run with this bit about Peter being unemployed, why not go the extra mile and have him kicked out on the street?

His roomie already hates his guts, and probably tolerates him only because he can cover half the bills, so if Michelle finds out he can't pay his way, I can't see her having any qualms about giving him the boot. I haven't heard anything about Aunt May no longer being evil, and even if Mr. Negative's effect has been reversed, Pete said in the back-up story in #628 he didn't want to turn to her for money*. And he's basically tapped out his friends. Whether he means monetarily, or in terms of their good will, who knows? The latter probably, since I'd think people would get sick of loaning Peter money long before they ran out of money to loan. Maybe he's getting some unemployment checks, although I wonder how long the paperwork takes to process on those, would that even be enough when you factor in the cost of web fluid, and how long would that source of money last?

Spidey's jobless and broke, and unless he plans to take up burglary with Felicia**, he's going to stay that way. So put him on the street, and let's see how that goes. Would he take the Harry Osborn approach and try to crash with a lady friend (say, Carlie Cooper)? Assuming Aunt May's living with Jameson Sr., would he try and sneak into the house back in Queens and stay there, maybe make some repairs when he can (though I think May hired some people and she was going to charge Harry)? Or he could roam the city, staying in currently empty apartments or abandoned/condemned housing, basically, whatever place looks workable after his most recent night of being pummeled by some retooled old foe, or a hip, new version of an old foe. The Chameleon (when he was pretending to be Peter) commented that Parker didn't have much in the way of possessions, so hauling his stuff around ought to be a snap.

I figure if the writers are going to the trouble of telling us Spider-Man's being worn down physically and emotionally by this Gauntlet, combined with all his other problems, really sell us on it. Telling me he's struggling for money whole still living in a decent-looking apartment doesn't really convince me, even if he does have the turmoil of an unpleasant co-habitator. Show Spider-Man trying to find any dry, quiet place he can crash for the night, and how the less-than-optimal living conditions are wearing him down, shortening his temper, dulling his reflexes, whatever, that might be more convincing.

Or they could have more than one thing go right at a time for Spider-Man for awhile, just to see what that's like. Maybe after "The Grim Hunt" is over***.

* Which I figure is the result of the tongue-lashing she gave him about always mooching off people during the Mysterio arc. Last thing he wants to do is prove her right.

** I do wonder what the Black Cat's reaction to that would be? Happy that he's coming around to her way of thinking, or disappointed because she thought he was a better guy than that?


*** If they didn't do that during 2009, which is possible. I wasn't reading much Amazing Spider-Man last year, so perhaps that was his once-in-a Plutonian-solar-revolution "good" year.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Power And Responsibility Are Part Of His Story

I want to talk a bit about Amazing Spider-Man #627-629, with regards to power and responsibility.

Spider-Man is, as you may have heard, all about using his power responsibly. Well, we could argue about whether throwing on spandex and leaving criminals webbed to light poles is the most responsible way for him to use his powers, but it's certainly more responsible than some of the alternatives. Alternatives represented by the other two players in the story, Juggernaut and Mr. William Nguyen.

Though it isn't necessarily his concern, Spider-Man investigates who could trash the Juggernaut. When the guilty party shows up, Spidey throws himself into the mix to save the Juggernaut's life, but also tries to keep Captain Universe from weakening the Juggernaut's restraints. He recognized that this Captain Universe may be a loose cannon, but having the Juggernaut under wraps is a good thing, and it'd be better to keep it that way. During the ensuing battle with Captain Universe, Spider-Man works to keep innocents out of the line of fire. This results in a lot of hit-and-run tactics, trying to keep moving, especially if there are any bystanders nearby (the helicopter pilot, the folks in the gym), and seeking out a deserted spot*.

Juggernaut has considerably more power than Spider-Man, but has most frequently used it for whatever selfish purpose he has at a given moment. Sometimes his motives are better, as he's tried to look after Black Tom at times when he's been in a bad way, and he's done some good, but mostly it seems he decides he wants something, and walks over or through whoever is in his path. Even when he joined the X-Men, I recall him talking about how part of the appeal was he got to be in a big fight and when it was over, he didn't have any cops or masked types trying to throw him in jail. He was able to come back to a big mansion, have a meal, catch some Zs, and not be hassled. His reasons may have changed over time, but eventually he decided it was more important to be unstoppable, regardless of the cost, than it was to be a good guy.

So it's interesting that when gifted with even more power, he actually fulfilled the purpose set before him. There wasn't much penalty if he didn't, the Uni-Force would just find someone else, Spider-Man for example. While I imagine Nguyen's book told everyone the Juggernaut saved them from the earthquakes (though it may also have told them his tunneling out of that foundation caused them), Juggernaut wouldn't have known that at the time, so he wasn't doing it to earn accolades. His only gain seemed to be sticking it to Nguyen, showing him that for whatever insults he might hurl at the Juggernaut, Cain Marko still used the Uni-Force better than he did.

William used the power for revenge for quite some time. He had to be distracted from his obsession with the Juggernaut by Spider-Man, and confronted with evidence of the problem he was supposed to be dealing with before he would hear the Uni-Force telling him what needs to be done. Even then, once he sensed the Juggernaut nearby, he dropped the important work of repairing fractures in plates, and went right back to revenge. By the time he figures out he's used the power poorly, it's gone, and he just has to learn from the experience.

I'm not sure how the use of the Uni-Force by those two compares to Spider-Man's own experience. It was a long time before the Uni-Force communicated with Spider-Man in any way Spidey could understand, but that was apparently because an energy experiment at the universe disrupted Peter's receiving the Uni-Force, so he gained the powers, but for a long time not the knowledge that comes along. So it wasn't a willful ignorance of what the deal was. When he did gain that knowledge, like the Juggernaut, he immediately set to trying to deal with the problem. In his case it was three prototype Sentinels merged into one by Loki, operating under his command to smash a nuclear plant and destroy New York City with radiation. A bit different from Juggy's situation, since Spider-Man was only the solution, as opposed to also being the cause.

Spider-Man had the Uni-Force for longer than either of the other two, and he spent most of that time in two ways: Fighting villains he had little prior experience with**, or wondering if he should be doing more with the power. With the latter, I believe one of the thoughts that enters his mind was trying to end apartheid, or was it solve world hunger? Maybe both. He can't decide if that's a proper use of his power, or whether it would be going too far. I think it's framed as whether he has the responsibility to do such things with this new, greater power, but it really seems to be as much about if he has the right to do those kinds of things, and if so, how can he choose which actions he should be taking?

Since this is a Marvel comic, it never gets past the hypothetically, but to be fair, Spider-Man was having a hell of a time adjusting to all this power. He was constantly trying to rein himself in, because it was so easy to slip and hit someone harder than he expected, or to react on instinct when he needed to stop and think things through. So maybe that was the answer to what he should do. If he couldn't utilize the power more safely, then he was better off not using it, as he might make things even worse. I don't know if that's what the Spider-writers*** of the day were going for. I'll have to reread those issues and get back to you.

* I like that Juggernaut's fought Spider-Man enough to know Spidey would try and lure his opponent to a deserted location. They've fought enough, and Juggernaut's probably seen enough of Spider-Man's other battles for him to know how Spidey operates.

** This happened during Acts of Vengeance, where the whole idea was the villains switched opponents, expecting this would give them the advantage of surprise. So Spider-Man fought, let's Titania, Goliath, and Dragon-Man in Web of Spider-Man, Trapster, the Brothers Grimm, and TESS-ONE in Spectacular, and Graviton, Magneto, Mr. Fixit, and finally the Tri-Sentinel in Amazing.

*** Michelinie on Amazing, Gerry Conway on Spectacular and Web.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Rambling Over Movies

Yesterday afternoon I was flipping back and forth between Rambo: First Blood and On the Waterfront. I suppose they're the same in that each features a man struggling against a corrupt system, be it racketeering unions or small-town cops a little too full of themselves.

Rambo: First Blood was almost finished when I came in, as Rambo was making his way back to town in the army truck, and I was struck by how, as he smashes through the police car barring the way, the music is a rather triumphant score. "Look at our hero break through, no one can stop him, isn't it great?" It's a bit strange considering these are cops he's breaking through. I know he received a raw deal from the cops in town, but I figured these were probably highway patrol, rather than part of the sheriff's department. They were just doing their job. I remember watching it sometime earlier as part of AMC's DVD on TV thing, and there being a blurb about how the book did a much better job of showing Rambo was as much in the wrong as the sheriff.

It's the same problem (albeit not to the same extent) I have the more I watch the Matrix and realize that Neo and the rest kill an awful lot of people whose only crimes are to be unaware they're living in the Matrix. The security guards in the building Morpheus was held don't know what his deal is; they do know two people in leather with a ton of guns just walked in, and it's their job not to allow such things. So they get shot. I know those folks could become deadly Agents at any moment*, but it seems unnecessarily cold.

As to On the Waterfront, I'd never seen it before, and wasn't sure if it would work for me. Something about how the description specifically mentioned "racketeering" made me wonder if it would feel dated, where I'd be unable to relate. I needn't have worried. I didn't catch all of it, as it was already 30 minutes in when I found it, and the next 20 minutes I was switching between it and Rambo taking the town apart, but I was impressed with what I saw. Watching Terry struggle with what the right thing to do is, weighed against the woman he cares about, and his brother, and his livelihood. I felt the Father came on too strong when trying to convince Terry to testify. Too often, when terry worries about what he owes his brother, the Father makes some comment to the effect Charlie isn't worth a damn, and much better men than Charlie have lost their lives to Johnny Friendly's tactics. Seems to me if the person you're trying to convince to help you cares about his brother, badmouthing said brother isn't going to get him on your side. I'm an only child, but if some priest talked shit about my best friend, he would be seriously mistaken if he expected any help from me.

Still, I was impressed with how well the Father held up when lamenting Dugan's death, imploring the workers to realize how they were being used by Friendly, even as those same workers pelted him with stuff and shouted threats. I'll have to watch it the whole way through sometime.

* That's something I'm not clear on. A person in the Matrix becomes an Agent. What happens to the person? It seems as though they're overwritten by the Agent's program, so is that undone once the Agent isn't needed there? Or does the Agent continue to overwrite the person until the "body" in the Matrix is destroyed? Once overwritten, is the person brain dead, because that seems like it wouldn't make them as effective of a generator, so they'd likely be disposed of.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I'll Take My Game Success When I Can Get It

I beat DragonQuest 8 last Sunday. Two and a half years after I started, but it's only about 70 hours of actual gameplay, not quite as bad as it sounds. Granted, I haven't beaten the game entirely, as there are still some bonus missions, but the Big Bad is vanquished, so I think at least partial victory can be declared. I finished in the nick of time too, since space concerns (I've gained a roomie) required me to bring the PS2 home this weekend. So no gaming for the next six weeks. I guess I'll have to pass the time with more reading.

I probably could have beaten the game sooner, but I've been following the advice of an online walkthrough, and its suggestion was to wait until I'd reached Level 40 to fight the boss. I spent several hours running about, trying to fight tough battles to pick up enough experience to reach that point. Eventually, I decided to go for it, because even if I was lost, I might get an idea of how close I was to being able to win. Lo and behold, I pulled it off on the first try. Makes a nice counterpoint to Genji: Dawn of the Samurai, where the (I hope) final boss is still trouncing me*.

I was mildly annoyed with the end sequence in DragonQuest 8. Having defeated the villain, the curse on my king (turned into a green troll-looking thing) and his daughter (turned into a horse) is lifted, which is good. The bad is this means she has to go through with the arranged marriage to the prince of Argonia, Prince Charmles** who is a typical example of spoiled royalty. Cruel, sniveling, lacking in any strength or kindess, totally reliant on his wealth to see him through. The frustrating bit is being relegated to running about talking to people, and viewing cut scenes of things happening. It's annoying because I'd like to take a more active role. When Charmles is drooling over Medea and being snide to my friends, all I could think was "One swing. Just draw your sword and take one swing. His back is turned, he'd be dead before his head hit the ground." But no.

The morning of the wedding, my character (with considerable prodding from his friends) decides to barge in, but there's a guard barring the way. He doesn't believe me when I say I have an invitation (Medea did want me there, so I ought to be invited), and when I try to enter anyway, he asks if I plan to fight. It would have been a short fight, but my buddy Yangus ran up and dealt with him instead. C'mon man, I know you're trying to help, but I need to work out frustrations through violence. The wedding doesn't end up happening; Medea's set against it, her father finally realizes arranged marriages are stupid (and demonstrates some impressive fighting prowess), and even Charmles' father doesn't seem too bothered. That may owe more to the fact he a) knows the Argonite heart his son presented was bought (as detailed in this post), and b) Charmles apparently doesn't care enough to do anything himself, instead ordering his guards to stop me and his fleeing fiance.

I'm not clear on how Medea's father made it down to the carriage before us, since he was holding off the guards while the two of us fled down the stairs. He's a wily old bird, I suppose. I must say the citizens of the kingdom are understanding, or else they love the princess very much. The King had said the honor of his kingdom matters not one whit before his daughter's happiness, so I assume breaking this arranged marriage is going to hurt Trodain's standing in the world, at least officially***. Which might make life somewhat difficult for the citizens. Not as difficult as being turned to stone, like they were while the curse was in effect, but trade is probably going to suffer. Yet when we arrive home, they come rushing out, cheering enthusiastically to see the princess back. That was a nice touch.

The next challenge is some group called the Dragovigians, who are, I believe, dragons. Extremely powerful dragons, apparently, as one walkthrough suggested I should be Level 60 to challenge them. Where were they while everything was going wrong? They weren't on the Big Bad's side, a book in his castle stated he was worried about them, even if they were reduced in number, and they'd have to be dealt with. They should have lent a hand. Lazy buggers, I'll give them a piece of sword for their isolationist tendencies. That''ll learn 'em.

* Though the last time I played, I was close enough to killing him to actually be frustrated with how close I came. As opposed to being frustrated with how badly he was kicking my hind end.

** It's pronounced 'Charm-le', but you would be forgiven for saying 'Charmless'.

*** I'd imagine privately, everyone will completely understand why Medea wouldn't want to marry Charmles, and her father would agree with her. They don't even know that when Medea and Trode were cursed, Charmless whipped them both, because Medea didn't want to let him ride, and Trode stopped him from whipping her. Not making a favorable impression on the in-laws there Charmles. Still, traditions must observed, and it's bad form to break off a wedding an all that, so tsk, tsk, frown, frown, and all that high society bullhockey.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

This Is About The Nicest I Can Be When It Comes To The Sentry

So, I hear the Sentry died in Siege this week. Nicest

Audience: Yeah, woohoo, *whistling, enthusiastic clapping*

Course, he'll probably be resurrected in a couple of years.

Audience: Boo! Hiss! Get outta here with that, you goombah!

"Goombah"? Then before we could truly enjoy being rid of him, Marvel released Sentry: Fallen Sun, where all Marvel's heroes (except the cosmic ones, because they have important work to do) gather to talk about how wonderful and special the Sentry was to them. Including Rogue, as it's revealed the Sentry was the first person she was physically intimate with.

Audience: Oh come on! Seriously?! *assorted groans*

The Rogue thing seems like all kinds of a bad idea, especially just tossing it in there as some throwaway piece to once again demonstrate how much the Sentry means to everyone. Was it supposed to make readers like Bob more? "See, he was so important to Rogue, she's crying! Doesn't that make you like him?" I think the answer to that would be a resounding "No!" In fact, what say we all agree that never happened? Really, the X-Men weren't even at the memorial service. Nope, much too busy trying to save Hope and mourn Nightcrawler (a character who actually merits mourning, even if, as an X-Person, he'll probably be back soon enough.)

I'd like to think within the issue, there was one character at least thinking, if not saying it aloud "We are so much better off with him dead." I know, one shouldn't speak ill of the dead, but I think it'd be fair. Bob was off his rocker, and insanely powerful. He could bring people back to life without even realizing it, which is terrifying when you realize that means he could do the opposite just as easily. He certainly had the power, but he didn't seem to have the mentality to handle being a hero. Some folks just aren't cut out for the heroic life, and so maybe the most responsible thing they can do with their power is not use it. The more he saved the day, the closer he moved to the point where he was the problem.

In the one and only D & D campaign I took part in, we had a goblin shaman with a wishing orb. It came in handy when one of our party would be so thoroughly killed there was nothing left of him to resurrect (happened more often than you might think). Partway through the story, we did something that disrupted the orb's connection to the goblin's gods, which meant now every time he used it, there was a chance it would explode, probably killing us all. The chance increased every time he used it. Still, the folks in the party had the goblin using the orb regularly, even for stuff we could do otherwise. Our top fighter lost their super-awesome sword at the bottom of the bay when our ship was struck by a meteor. We could have grabbed a rowboat, rowed out there, I'd cast a spell to allow breathing underwater, and the meat shield swims down and grabs his sword. Would have taken longer, but there's no risk of lethal explosion.

The Sentry makes life easier, since he can smack down Terrax in under a minute, but using him only brings them closer to the point where the Void's on the loose, and that's worse than Terrax. Better to keep the Sentry gone (or buried in Bob's mind, or whatever), and find another way, which the heroes in the Marvel Universe had done for years anyway. I mean, wasn't that part of the point of his first mini-series, the Marvel Universe doesn't need a Silver Age Superman, it'll chug along just fine without him?

So maybe it would have been better to have one of the Avengers or the FF point out, "You know, we really should have left Bob alone. Being the Sentry wasn't good for him, and we should have been more aware of it." Would it have made a difference? I really don't know, largely because I'm still not clear on the whole deal with Bob/Void/Sentry. I don't see how it could have hurt, though.

Friday, May 14, 2010

This Post Is About Sports, In Case You Want To Leave

I won't hold it against you.

I'm spending the weekend someplace that actually has television* so last night I took advantage of the opportunity to actually watch some playoff basketball, rather than simply following the scores online.

I wouldn't say I'm a Celtics fan, though I have a fondness for Kevin Garnett, from the days I was a Timberwolves fan**, so I'm not too bothered by the outcome. I will say I'm disappointed the Celtics were able to turn up the intensity for the playoffs the way they kept insisting they could during the regular season. That's the kind of stuff the Spurs used to pull, and it just increases my perception the regular season is useless, or at least way too long. I'm not looking forward to all the jabber about what LeBron's going to do, but it was going to be discussed whether he was still in the playoffs or not, so I'll try and avoid it. Not having TV ought to help.

The end of the game is the part that sticks with me. Normally, I'm annoyed when a team is down by many points and they start following constantly. I understand the strategy, hoping their opponents will miss free throws, so they can close the gap with the time saved. But it slows the game down horribly, and I hate watching it. However, when a supposedly premature end to the season looms, I can understand if the Cavs had fouled the Celtics like their lives depended on it.

Except they didn't. I'm sure the Celtics and their fans appreciated the Cavs accepting defeat, but it seemed strange. I don't want to kill the Cavs for it, though. I know I've had times where I looked at some task ahead of me and said "There's no way I can do this, so I won't." Pre-Calc homework in 11th grade would be a frequent example***. It doesn't happen a lot****, but sometimes I can't see the point in killing myself in a futile attempt, so I don't. Maybe that's why the Cavs didn't try fouling. Or maybe they hate using that tactic as much as I hate watching it, and didn't want to go out that way. It was a little surprising, is all.

* There's no cable or satellite service where I'm usually staying, and we've recently been asked not to stream movies, TV shows, or music on our computers, because it takes too much bandwidth. Which prompted a coworker to state that if they take those away from us, the ought to at least repeal the "no drinking in the housing" rule. It wouldn't help me much, except it might keep my coworkers from becoming crabby.

** When he left and the team went completely in the toilet, I decided I wasn't going to root for terrible franchises in two sports, and I was already an Arizona Cardinals' fan. Now I'm a vagabond fan, rooting for whichever team interests or entertains me.

*** Almost every math class I took in high school - statistics being the exception - kicked my butt. Strangely, when I reached college, I did much better in the same classes. Were the teachers better, did I put in more effort (probably) or is it because I was going through concepts for the second time?

*** If nothing else, I hate feeling like a quitter. A lot of times, I put my head down and go until I'm done, so I can say I did finish whatever it is. I hate making other people have to carry my load. I'd imagine that's not uncommon.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Silly Post Of The Day

I was considering some fictional character (don't recall who) receiving comeuppance, and felt it should come in the form of pie. Yes, a comeuppance pie. Which they would be hit in the face with naturally.

Your mission is to decide what a comeuppance pie would taste like, and what its ingredients would be. Prefereably actual edible ingredients, so not socks you wore while working in a rainstorm, then hung up to air dry so they're sweaty, dirty, and rancid. Sorry for that image.

I think it has to taste bitter, but must look and smell appealing. That way, the person receiving it sees the pie and thinks they are receiving a delicious victory pie, only to get this horrible comeuppance pie instead. I'm thinking along the line of mock apple pie. Theythink it's apple pie, but it's actually Ritz crackers and some seasonings. Curses, they'll say, I thought I was eating real apples! How could I have been fooled thusly?

The problem is, having eaten mock apple pie, it is tasty. The tomfoolery is there, but not the unpleasant taste sensation. Perhaps the key is to change the seasonings to something that will make it taste horrible. Ooh, let's use garlic isntead of cinnamon! Or horseradish! Or that armadillo carcass I saw on the highway this morning!

What? Armadillos are edible. I guess*. Those are my thoughs, but I bet you can comeup with something truly devious.

* I'm at the northern edge of their recently expanding range, and I've heard relatives refer to them as "opossums in overcoats". Opossums are considered food by some, so I imagine armadillos can be as well.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I'm Hoping Max Doesn't Have That Large A Blind Spot

Countdown to Infinite Crisis had the reveal that Max Lord was running Checkmate, he'd hijacked/been given by Alex Luthor Batman's spy satellite (good going Batman!), and was using its data for OMACs to use to kill, well, whoever, really. All because, best I recall, Max had a bug up his butt about there being too many metahumans, and they needed to be dealt with some the fate of humankind was in the hands of humans.

How was Max planning to deal with the fact he's a metahuman? Really, the Green Lanterns are more human (less metahuman, whatever) than him, they just wearing awesome jewelry*. The Booster Gold arc where Booster saved Ted, Max says that once the metahumans are gone, he'll turn Brother Eye off, but if the mission is to eliminate metahumans, well, it can't stop until Max is gone. The simplest explanation is Max was a power-hungry loon who justifies his continued survival under some belief that he's necessary, or he saved the world, so he gets to live, or that he won't be alter humanity's path like all those pushy capes.

I imagine Max had some failsafe to protect himself, but it would have been appropriate if he had tried to shut Brother Eye down, only to hear, "I'm sorry, but I can't do that, Max**", then an OMAC decapitates him or something. Or sets him adrift into space, if I'm sticking with the 2001 theme.

* Unless the DCU counts lots of willpower as a metahuman ability. Does it?

** I guess that should be "Eye'm sorry, but Eye can't do that, Max." That was an annoying tic they gave that satellite.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Late To The Party On Brave And The Bold #33

I've been thinking about Brave and the Bold #33 for a few days. If you haven't read it (or heard about it), Zatanna has a premonition in the form of a dream, rounds up Wonder Woman, and in their civilian identities, take Barbara Gordon out for a night on the town. Some time after that (the next night, I think) is when the events of The Killing Joke take place, and Barbara loses the use of her legs.

Turns out that's what Zee's dream was about, so she and Diana decided to give Barbara a fun night out before a really miserable appearance. Rather than, you know, try and avert it. Apparently, if Zatanna dreams it, it must happen. Bet the Anti-Montior wishes he knew that back during Crisis on the Infinite Earths. He could have recruited some schmuck villain with dream powers instead of Psycho-Pirate, made Zatanna dream of A-M destroying all the remaining positive matter universes, and the heroes would have simply lain down and died. "Gee, it'd sure be nice to try and fight for the survival of ourselves, our loved ones, and everyone else, but Zatanna dreamed it, so trying to stop it will only make things worse! Shucks! *kicks dirt disgustedly*"

I believe Zatanna makes an attempt to avert it, by suggesting to Barbara (who commented she doesn't see her dad much) she ought to spend more time with him. So Babs had dinner with him, and wouldn't you know it? Joker chose that night to show up. The point being, I guess, this has to happen, and any attempt to change things only helps to make it happen. This is apparently a theme of JMS' run on Brave and the Bold, heroes being confronted with things they can't change, and being forced to accept it.

Still, it's a pretty half-assed attempt to change things. Granted, I don't think Zee knows exactly who the shooter is, or when it'll happen, but c'mon, you're heroes, put a little effort in. Have someone hypnotize Zatanna and see if she can pull up more details. Or what about a scrying pool? Can't one see future events with those? In the meantime, have Wonder Woman watch play guardian angel. Diana knows a few things about stealth, I'm sure she could shadow Batgirl for a short period of time without incident. Those are just ideas which don't involve actually warning Batgirl, which admittedly, might be futile if all they can tell her is "Hey, someone's going to shoot you soon! Not sure who, when, or where, though!" but that's why one tries and figure out more.

I guess I don't see the point in having them not even really try to prevent it. One can say it "has to happen", but they're heroes, aren't they supposed to scoff at those kinds of pronouncements? I think the point of being a super-hero is believing they can make a difference, even if the odds are slim. They'll find a way to succeed, because they never give up, or they're pure of heart, or whatever. Yeah, it's arrogance, the idea they can always come through, but it's the kind of arrogance that saves the lives of people who might die if the hero threw up their hands and decided there was no way to win.

Even when the heroes can't come through, we as the reader at least know they tried. The first time Spider-Man faced the Juggernaut, he failed to stop Juggernaut from reaching Madame Web, but he was still there trying. When Juggernaut learned her chair was a life-support system, so he couldn't bring her back to Black Tom, and dropped her on the ground to die, Spidey was there to keep her going until paramedics arrived. If he'd decided he couldn't win, so why bother, she'd have died*. Booster Gold couldn't save Barbara from the Joker, but he tried as hard as he could. Succeed or fail**, I'd prefer to see the effort.

Alternatively, don't tie the night out on the town in with that particular story. Just write a "heroes take one night off from fighting crime to have fun" story. I suppose that wouldn't work with the theme JMS is trying to work on, though. I'm somewhat surprised at that theme, why does he want to demonstrate the heroes are sometimes powerless in the face of larger forces? Is it to draw a connection between the reader and the characters? I'd guess most of us have moments where we don't feel like masters of our own destiny, where we recognize our ability to affect events is severely limited. Now he's showing us even these heroes who save all existence once a month, they have times they can't do everything they'd like either. Maybe it's meant to make the DC Universe seem bigger, that there are forces out there at work even the heroes can't comprehend/cope with. It leaves me worried about whether I'll enjoy June's issue, which I ordered because "Inferior Five meet the Substitute Legion" sounded like great fun. Hope for the best, I suppose.

As a final note, I have feel a little for Barbara. I know, she's a fictional character. Still, Rip Hunter used what happened to her to try and teach Booster a lesson, knowing all along it couldn't be changed***. Far as I know, Babs has no clue (though Bruce Wayne and Grayson both know, now). Now (assuming it's in continuity, probably be just as well it isn't) Zatanna and Wonder Woman knew and didn't do a thing, and presumably, Barbara doesn't know that's why they took her out on the town.

* Not a downside if you didn't like Madame Web, but work with me here.

** Fail, since DC's continuity wouldn't allow Diana and Zatanna to pull it off anymore than it allowed Booster

*** Or so he says. It's like, time can't be changed. Except sometimes it can, so time can be changed, but things go horribly awry. Except sometimes things can be changed with little consequence, or little enough Rip doesn't care, so things can be changed without ill effects. It's a slippery slope.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tough Guys Who Weren't So Tough After All

Before Saturday, I had no idea the songs "Bad, Bad LeRoy Brown" and "Don't Mess Around with Jim" were both by Jim Croce. Not that I knew either song was by him - I'm usually pretty dense when it comes to placing songs with their creators - but the idea both were by the same person never entered my mind. The stories they told were similar enough, I didn't they'd be written by the same guy. More likely that one was done later, having seen the success of the earlier song.

Both songs build up their main characters as these fierce, dangerous fellows, but when the time comes, neither backs it up. For all that Jim is supposedly 'strong as a country horse', and the 'King of 42nd Street' (well Slim calls him that, may not be an actual title), he still winds up cut to ribbons (and shot) by some boy he hustled at pool*.

As for LeRoy, even packing a gun and a razor couldn't save him from the husband whose ire he drew. That song actually ends oddly, because all we hear of the fight is when the two men were pulled from the floor, Mr. Brown 'looked like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone'. Yet the song still ends with the chorus about how LeRoy's the baddest man in the whole damn town, badder, meaner, so on and so forth. Unless this is a case of "You should see the other guy!", I'd say there's at least one man in town badder than LeRoy Brown. But maybe LeRoy won. We don't know for sure what happened to the other guy, since it isn't his song, but I feel if LeRoy had slit his throat, or pummeled him senseless, it would have been mentioned.

Both Jim and LeRoy are presented as these tough guys who are feared throughout their little kingdom, and it's done in a way so we'll be glad when they get their comeuppance (though I think Slim went too far considering Jim's offense), but it's a bit of a letdown how easily the two of them are overthrown. I don't know if the point is there's always someone tougher**, or it's a morality play, where the pool hustler/skirt chasers receive punishment for their sins.

* You'd think killing a man simply over a game of pool would get someone in trouble, but I guess even the police won't mess with Slim by the end of the song.

** That would work for Jim, since by the end of the song, they've substituted "Slim" in for "Jim", which gives me the impression someone else's name was there before Jim's.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

It's The "I Am Not A Turkey" Song!

Sung now as a celebration of the end of turkey season, rather than the survival technique it is during the season. Here we go!

I am not a turkey,
I am not a turkey,
Please don't shoot me,
Mr. Hunter-Man,

I don't gobble,
And I don't wobble,
As I try to run and,
flap away,

Which I don't do,
The flapping I mean,
Because I am not a turkey,
Nope I am not a turkey,

Can't you tell,
By how I stumble?
Can't you tell,
By the profanities I grumble?

That's right grumble,
I don't gobble,
I am not a turkey,
I am not a turkey,

I don't have a beak,
I don't swallow rocks,
'Cause I don't have a crop,
Or a gizzard,

To use the rocks,
To grind my food,
I have teeth,
To do that with,

Because I am not a turkey,
I am not a turkey,
Please don't let arrows,
Fly at my head,

When I scratch the ground,
I use a rake,
not claws,
Because I don't have claws to scrape with,

When I use my arms,
It's to grab,
Not flap,
Because flapping don't do a thing for me*,

I don't know,
How many ways I can say it,
Won't you please listen,
When I tell you again,

I am not a turkey,
I am not a turkey,
Please don't shoot me,
Mr. Hunter-Man.

- A song created by people who work in the woods while turkey hunters are around, to avoid mishaps.

- Or it's a song created by turkeys to trick hunters into not shooting them.

- Or created by a nutty blogger with limited lyrical capability.

* Normally, you sing fast, but you have to drag the "me" out. Like "meeeeeeeeee".

Saturday, May 08, 2010

My Head Would Be In The Clouds, If There Were Any

It's a nice day outside. Windy and in the 60s, and a clear blue sky. Normally, I'd notice that while working, and it would bolster my mood, but for some reason I was unusually focused today, so I failed to appreciate it until after finishing work.

I was glancing at the sky while driving home, and strangely, the sky seemed to turn a deeper blue the longer I stared at it. I know it wasn't, but it seemed like it was. It might be a trick my eyes are playing. I feel like it might have something to do with the sky serving as a backdrop for all the leaves on the trees, and my mind's shifting what hue of blue it perceives the shy as to increase the difference.

Or it could be my pessimistic nature, warning me things are too nice. The forecasts are calling for rain, which is good and bad, in the next few days, so perhaps that weighs on my mind.

Friday, May 07, 2010

2010 Cape Comic Con Photo Post

As promised, photos from this year's convention. Mostly people in their costumes, as that's pretty much all I took pictures of. First though, I want to show the Nova Terry Huddleston drew for me. You can click on the pictures, none of the images are large. It's a really nice picture, isn't it?
As usual, I'm jealous of people who can draw so well, so fast. Up next, we have Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2 with Rorschach. Which leads me to wonder what Rorschach's version of Silent Hill would be. It seems to become each person's personal hell, so he'd be reminded of times he compromised, or times he regretted not compromising? Alex said he thought Pyramid Head wore stilts of differing lengths, which gave him the odd, dragging gait Pyramid Head typically moves with.
Rorschach was there Saturday, but Sunday his inspiration showed up. I should have asked what the mask was made of, but I'm not sure I could have heard him. Then again, he had a buddy with him, perhaps designated responder/guide dog. He asked me to hold on, because Vic had a prop, a tabloid mag, which fueled his conspiracies. So he's Justice League Unlimited Question.
The fellow in the red shirt is Brian Rhodes, creator of Mike and the Ninja, and that's his ninja standing in front of the table, ready to dispense stickers, bookmarks, and fliers to all who make eye contact. Don't doubt his blinding speed and skill, as Alex would attest, he can pass things out faster than the eye can follow. OK, maybe not that fast, but he does it with style, that's for certain.Next up, the Mad Hatter and Alice. Hatter is just aware of me standing there with the camera and is trying to alert Alice so they can pose. I prefer to snap pictures when they don't know. I think because I don't intrude on them that way. They go about their business, I get my photo, nobody's bothered. I don't have anything else to say, except Alex and his sister are both big fans of the recent movie, as they have posters for it up all over their apartment. They placed the Mad Hatter in the bathroom, which is not particularly something I want looking at me when nature calls.
Thumbs up to you too, Cap! Captain America was there with Ms. Marvel (in the background), and their two kids, Nightwing and Spider-Girl. I'm not sure what the shield is made out of, but not styrofoam or anything similar. Sadly, I didn't see him ricochet it off anybody's head. Maybe if someone dressed up as an AIM scientist. . .
Rounding it out are a couple other cosplayers from Sunday, going Silver Age on us with Superboy and the Insect Queen. I'm glad I heard her explain who she was to someone else, because I was guessing Queen Bee, if I had any guess at all.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Where We Debate Monitor Placement And The Goodness Of Badgers

Calvin: {About time you got here. So I figure Deadpool earned some actual applause for how he. . . What?}

Adorable Baby Panda: You moved things around! I don't like change!

Calvin: {Unavoidable. I have to start sharing this space, and this is how things have to set until I can take some of the other stuff home next week.}

ABP: But the sun is shining across the screen! It's so hard to read!

Calvin: {True, but at least it isn't shining directly into our eyes anymore. Now do you really want to discuss my lack of interior design skills?}

Not really, no. {Good, because I was finding it crushingly dull.} It was pretty boring. The Juggernaut earned some Applause for saving New York. {From a problem he created.} Spider-Man tricked him into the concrete, so he started it. {After Juggy tried abduct someone, then left them to die.} You're the one always saying we should thank people who aren't normally good when they decide to do good, to encourage more of it, right? {Gah, hoist on one of my complaints about Scooby treatment of Spike in Buffy Season 6! Well-played.} Thank you. Now, Mr. Nguyen could use a Hug, since he knows how much he screwed up, but is trying to make it right. {He did screw up a lot, so perhaps he needs to be hit as well.} No. He's making amends, no hitting. {Oh ABP, ever the pacifist.}

Moondragon needs a Hug. {So does Drax.} Yeah, Hugs for Drax and Thanos. {Thanos?!} He didn't want to come back. {Yes, and he killed Phyla, who had nothing to do with his being brought back!} He might not be back if she'd done her job right! {Bullhockey! The Church of Truth was bringing him back before she ever agreed to work for Oblivion. Remember, I thought the cocoon was Magus all last year?} Oh yeah. Bonk for Thanos, too. {Thank you. Now how about Deadpool. He handled that thing in Georgia pretty well.} Yeah, Applause for Deadpool. He was pretty nice. He did threaten that agent. {Nah, he just reminded the guy that it wasn't cost-effective to hold Deadpool.} Uh-huh. Anyway, Darkhawk can use a Hug. {He can not catch a break these days. I wonder if the Shi'ar still want his head, or if Nova was able to clear that up?} I hope he did, I don't think Darkhawk could defend himself right now.

Power Girl gets Applause for trying to take the high road with Ultra-Humanite, and he gets a Bonk for not accepting it. {Never forget, villains are dumb.} Right. I'm giving Angry Badger Scientist a Bonk for working for Satanna. {No! You can't! Angry Badger Scientist is the greatest character find since Cosmo!} He's evil! {No, he's just cranky. It's not the same thing at all. I should know, I'm both of them occasionally.} I know more badgers than you, and even the cranky ones don't work for super-villains. Because they're good. {Maybe they did work for super-villains and you just don't know it. Lots of villains had weird assistants back in the day. I bet one of those old badgers worked for the Weaponers of Qward, or the Leader back in the '60s.} You're crazy!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

What I Bought 5/1/2010 - Part 2

More reviews!

Deadpool #22 - Deadpool's riding a bus in Georgia when some hoods try to rob it. Deadpool's attempt to stop it is thwarted by White Lightning, a big hillbilly with batteries strapped to his chest. Upon awakening from being electrocuted, Deadpool surmises the local sheriff is part of the criminal enterprise and sets out to shut it down, with encouragement from one of the deputies. Surprise, surprise, he actually pulls it off rather well. No dead bodies, no expectation of applause or gratitude, he shuts them down and goes his merry way. OK, he does kind of threaten the ATF guy who had cuffed him, but the guy was gonna let him go anyway, not being suicidal and all.

I liked this more than expected. Maybe because as a single-issue story, Way didn't drag it out unnecessarily. Admittedly, it plays out similarly to his stint with the X-Men, where he appears to be screwing things up, but in reality has it all well in hand, but it's still nice to see Deadpool handling things with a modicum of competence. Tan Eng Huat was the penciler, and his style is close to what Paco Medina and Carlos Barberi had been doing, while still being different. His characters are rounder, and his Deadpool is more slender, more angular. Huat's also able to convey a hint of menace in Deadpool, even when he's just smiling, which is a nice touch.

Guardians of the Galaxy #25 - Various groups of Guardians of the Galaxy in the future are arguing about whether the dangers to their timelines are over or not. Many think they are, at least one Starhawk is convinced they aren't, as video logs by Star-Lord have recently appeared in their library that weren't there before. In the present, the Guardians contend with Berserk Naked Thanos, who yes, did kill Phyla-Vell last issue. Tough luck for her. The team gets its rear handed to it, because this is Thanos we're talking about, and he may be tougher than ever. Especially since he isn't happy about being alive again. Star-Lord manages to drop him long enough for the telepaths to shut his brain down, and now they have to decide what to do with Thanos. Besides get some pants on him.

This is OK as far as final issues go. It can't provide too much closure, since it leads into Thanos Imperative, but we do see the team deal with regaining some team members, and cope with losing some others, and resolve to go forward. Brad Walker pencils the issue, and does his usual solid job. Abnett and Lanning entertain me with the character bits as usual. Moondragon's grief, Drax kind of losing it over Thanos being back, Star-Lord's casual approach of Thanos, the grudging concern Rocket showed for Cosmo, and of course, 'Groot am ow.' That was funny.

Nova #36 - I'm pretty sure that cover was solicited for one of Nova's Secret Invasion tie-in issues, then they changed it up for some reason.

Nova and Darkhawk go to Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S., because it's on emergency lockdown. Turns out Evil Quasar from the universe on the other side of the Fault is there, controlling the scientists, making them build a "Horrorscope" for him. Its purpose was to find something, and having found it, Evil Quasar scoots off to inform his master, after he critically injures Darkhawk. Also, he's lead a gatekeeper from his world to the Earth-616, so Rich has to destroy that first, giving Quasar some lead time on him.

Sucks about Darkhawk. He's been having such a rough go of it the last couple years, I was hoping he'd get to be a major player in Thanos Imperative. He still might, I have to figure the amulet being fused to him will convey some advantage, but it might be awhile. As a (potentially) final issue for this series, it also only sort of works. Nova deals with the immediate threat (the Horroscope on Earth), but there's still the larger concern. Still, the series ends (or goes on hiatus) as it started, with Richard opening a stargate and hauling butt to a major threat, promising all concerned he is responding. Nice bit of symmetry. Andrea DiVito pencils this issue, and its fine. The Gatekeeper is gross-looking, though not as terrifying as I've heard Lovecraftian things are supposed to be. Then again, it would be hard to draw one thing that would properly freak out everyone, and I imagine if I came face to face with the Gatekeeper, it would be considerably more terrifying.

Power Girl #11 - "War on Terra"? Ouch. Oh well, puns, what're you gonna do?

Would appear Satanna was in on Ultra-Humanite's plan, since she knew where Atlee-in-Humanite's-body was. We don't learn this until U-H uses Terra's powers to good effect against Power Girl, all while dissing her life and intelligence, because he's an evil, evil man. Power Girl does subdue him eventually, then heat visions Satanna's arm off, prompting Angry Badger Scientist to nearly throw up. Terra's people get her brain back in the right body, and even given U-H an new version of his human body, minus the genetic issues his original one had. Is he grateful? No. He's a evil, evil man remember?

Power Girl's approach to Satanna was interesting. For as much as she believes in second chances, she does have her limits, and that's fine. It's been a struggle for her to build a life, then hold on to it, so she is understandably protective of it. Also, I like how Power Girl is amazed by Terra's home, but it's old hat to Terra, and she wants to get back to the surface. Also, the Angry Badger Scientist said 'Rue the day'. I don't care what Satanna says, that's good dialogue right there. I would use it every day if situations allowed. As usual, I don't know what I can say about Amanda Conner's art. I love it, it's awesome, she makes Terra look suitably creepy and malicious when U-H is in there, and Ultra-Humanite look suitably scared and friendly with Terra's brain inside.

Let's see, Amazing Spider-Man #630 narrowly edges Power Girl for Best Use of an Earthquake to Prompt Heroic Action. Avengers vs Atlas easily defeats Guardians of the Galaxy for Time Travel Discussion Hurts My Head. Deadpool tops Batgirl for Best Defeat of Idiot Criminal With Stuff Strapped to His Chest.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

What I Bought 5/1/2010 - Part 1

I remembered the other costume idea Alex had, and it was Captain Planet. He was going to need five people with rings to do the summoning chant thing, and then he'd come charging in with the 'By your powers combined' bit. Might be funny. Reviews!

Amazing Spider-Man #629 - This new Captain Universe has a bone to pick with the Juggernaut. Spidey's determined to stop him, which leads to him trying to survive against the bearer of the Uni-Power all across New York. The guy eventually calms down enough for the Uni-Power to actually communicate with him about what he's actually supposed to be doing with the power (killing the Juggernaut isn't the answer). Things go well at first, but when the Juggernaut catches up, Captain Universe forgets the mission at hand and goes back to his revenge quest. I'm not clear on Spider-Man's precise motivation for protecting the Juggernaut. It's either the bit about even the villain doesn't deserve to be murdered, or he's worried this Captain Universe is too much of a hothead and will endanger people, which doesn't seem too accurate. He's fairly careful about using his power when there are civilians around.

There's also a back up story by Waid, Peyer, and Todd Nauck where Pete loses a potential job interview because he has to fight the Absorbing Man. Peter being unemployed as it currently stands bores me. How has Michelle not kicked him out already? She hates his guts. Why can't he get a job as a fashion photographer? How is he going to fake those photos, and with all the makeup and favorable lighting, aren't they basically fake anyway? Certainly not an accurate portrayal of how good your average person will look. Whatever. It's a typical "Peter only has bad luck" story.

Amazing Spider-Man #630 - We learn why Captain Universe is after Juggernaut so badly. We also learn what it was like for the Juggernaut in the aftermath of his first defeat by Spider-Man, which, incidentally, is also what caused the actual problem Captain Universe is supposed to be handling. When he still can't let the revenge kick go, the Uni-Force picks someone else, and no, it isn't Spider-Man. Potentially devastating earthquake averted, Juggernaut leaves peacefully, Mr. Nguyen turns his life around, and hey, Peter and Carlie seem to be getting along well. There's a short piece at the end by Zeb Wells and Chris Bachalo which shows the stress Curt Conners is under at his current work, and how that's going to bring the Lizard back out.

The Juggernaut story is over, and I liked it. It wasn't anything special, but I was entertained, if for no other reason than it's fun to see Spider-Man try to fight out of his weight class. Stern's dialogue felt a little clunky at times, particularly the exchanges between Juggernaut and the Uni-Force, but I like him (or the editor) don't simply trust we know all about Spidey having the Uni-Force once, or about his battles with the Juggernaut. Also, the ideas behind the story, beyond the obvious one of the difficulty in dealing with more power than you've ever had before. Looking at how Juggernaut's actions harm people other than costumed types, how actions can have long-term effects, how it's all about the decisions one makes. Lee Weeks' art is excellent, as thing flow well from panel-to-panel, and he's able to evoke a sense of other artist's style in the scene's replaying past events.

Avengers vs. Atlas #4 - I don't follow all the time stuff. I know Kang went back in time to help his slightly younger self not lose to the Avengers the first time they fought, and this was a bad thing. A potentially destroying the universe thing, so Hank tried to use Kang's stuff to find a point in time he could change things in to fix it, by tracking the Wasp, except the time period he found where things could be changed is in the current, post-Secret Invasion setting where Janet's dead, which causes problems of some kind. Anyway, the Avengers and Atlas hit the chronovirus until it falls apart, and the New Avengers come back. The more times I read the explanation, the more parts of it make sense, but it's still not completely there, which may be why I found the end lackluster. Or it maybe I was hoping for some clever technological fix to the problem, rather than simply hitting it. The mini-series still had several nice bits, from the dialogue to the fights, to the conflicts and cooperation between the teams, I'm just not feeling the antagonist.

The back-up strip in this issue is by Jason Aaron and Giancarlo Caracuzzo, and deals with the fact that as Ken Hale sought out the Gorilla to kill it and live forever, other people will do the same to him. It's a bit darker than I expected for a Gorilla Man story, since Ken so often seems to be having such a good time on their missions. I could easily have seen him making the dumpling run instead of Jimmy Woo in Avengers vs. Atlas #2's backup story. Which doesn't make this a bad story, simply one that bucked my expectations. It's a good point about Hale's existence, and it reminds me he hasn't always been the wisecracking good guy/soldier he is most times.

Batgirl #9 - Batgirl stops a lunatic on a train from blowing people up. he does have a point about Gotham being a terrible place to live, but I imagine some people can't afford to leave. Steph even gets a "Good job" from Commissioner Gordon. Naturally it starts raining on her, as the universe as tends to happen in stories where the character is feeling good. Barbara is still trying to reach Wendy, without much success, and the Calculator will no doubt be trying the same thing soon, with his people controlling nanites swiped from Apokolips. He's already had one bloke leap out a window as part of a theft, a bloke Batgirl couldn't save, which has her down a bit. Probably can't afford confidence issues right now, Stephanie.

Lee Garbett is back as penciler this issue, and I consider this an improvement over Caldwell from last issue. It isn't spectacular or game-changing work, but it has the smoothness I prefer, and the pencils combined with the colors make for an intimidating Batgirl at times, which is as it should be. Members of the Bat-group should be able to be spooky or scary when necessary. I enjoyed the banter back and forth between Oracle and Steph, as it contrasts with the harsher edge Wendy has in response to Barbara. Both of the youngsters will challenge Oracle, but Steph seems to do so more pleasantly.

More reviews tomorrow, including two books going on hiatus after these issues! At least, I hope they're just going on hiatus.

Monday, May 03, 2010

2010 Cape Comic Con Recap Post

Driving would be more enjoyable without other vehicles. That isn't an issue with the convention but with the drive back here this morning, when I was reminded of that again. Also, a downfall of spring is the state gets heavily into road repair, which means delays. intellectually, I know it's good (if ultimately futile) they're doing this, but emotionally I hate being slowed to a crawl.

Since Alex wanted to come to the convention again, I had to drive to his house, which adds a few hundred miles onto the trip, but he's a good cook, and there's always a lot to catch up on in his life. Come Saturday we headed south, reached the convention, and each picked up the weekend pass (which means paying for both days at once, rather than each separately). I picked up one of the prints Ethan van Sciver did for the con, which Alex took over later and asked Mr. van Sciver to sign (I meant to do it, but kept being distracted), while also taking a picture of van Sciver working on a sketch. Alex put in a dollar for the raffle for the Green Lantern: Rebirth Absolute Edition. He didn't win, which those less positively inclined towards Geoff Johns' work might consider a blessing, but winning is fun, so it was a bit of a downer.

The convention was in the Osage Community Center, which seemed larger than last year's venue. Ken had apparently overcome his desire to pack things together for more "energy", as there was plenty of space to walk past the tables. My first stop, once I found it was, Marvels and Legends' table, because Jack agreed to bring my book's from the past two weeks (so look for reviews starting tomorrow). Having paid for those, Alex and I began perusing the tables in earnest. I don't believe there were as many vendors as last year, but considering there didn't seem to be sufficient visitors last year to keep all the vendors happy, that's probably for the best. I think there were still some folks who probably didn't do great, but hopefully everyone made enough it was worth their while*. Alex and I tried to spread the cash around as best our interests allowed.

This didn't involve many actual comics being bought. Late Sunday, we bought some trades from Alan Schell (who we purchased art from last year), because he was offering 5 trades for $20 bucks. So I told Alex to pick a couple**, and I grabbed three others***, which I read Sunday night and left with Alex so he could enjoy them. I picked up a set of trading cards from the Marvels and Legends table, and there was a fellow in one corner selling various DVDs and CDs related to animes. I bought the complete Noir collection, Alex went with the first 2 Patlabor movies****.

We tried to spend more time talking to creators than we did last year (and more money on their works), though Alex wound up doing most of the talking (and me most of the spending). He's more friendly, so it comes easy to him. I tend to listen quietly, nodding, asking a particular question if it occurs to me. Sunday we stopped at Anime Midstream's table, and talked to them about what it's like trying to dub a series for DVD, especially when it had no budget initially, and whether they added music or stuck strictly to what was in the Japanese version, since Alex had visions of getting some of his music in an episode. Undeterred, he now has hopes of somehow getting to be a voice actor in a future episode, which would be pretty cool. Alex picked up a volume of Nathan Bonner's InDavo, which I'll have to read the next time I visit. We chatted with Martheus and Janet Wade about their Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa series, and I picked up a couple of the graphic novels, Crucible and Defiance. The story has some familiar beats to it, but there are certain aspects to the characters I'm intrigued by, I had a sense the creators have given some thought to the world the stories are set in, and I liked the tendency for body parts to break panel boundaries and lead to the next panel once I was used to it. The Wades were both really nice, Alex took some shots of Martheus sketching some pages, and I asked how long it normally takes to draw a page. The answer was around three days, considering it's trickier to find time with kids to look after, and the page layout is the easy part, but getting the details, especially getting the lighting right and consistent were the time consuming aspects. Alex also marveled over Lin Workman's (Bushi Tales) illustration of Vincent Price, while I was more impressed with the Burgess Meredith Penguin I caught a glimpse of.

The creator we spent the most time around was Brian Rhodes, who was selling a trade of his webcomic Mike and the Ninja, which I ended up purchasing a copy of for Alex, while Alex bought a sketch card of the ninja working a turntable, which Brian sketched up right there (Sunday he had someone dressed as a ninja standing in front of the table, handing out stickers and fliers). Alex also helped himself to several of the Hired Goon Association stickers, which he plans to adorn his DJ equipment with. I only had the chance to read the first few strips, what I think will be interesting is the evolution of his style, because the trade collects strips from when he started in 2000 up to 2008, and just by flipping through the book I could see his figure work improved, while maintaining the simple style, and he went to larger panels. We're talking 7-9 per page, compared to maybe 12-15 panels in the very first strips. I'll be curious to see if there's a difference in the story that might account for the shift, or if he's simply more confident in his artwork.

We spent a lot on art. I bought a couple of different Ghost Rider pieces from Gary Friedrich, one drawn by Terry Huddleston which I'll keep, the other by Mark Texeira I'll give to a friend who likes Ghost Rider. Alex asked Wil Woods to sketch Deadpool working some turntables (noticing a pattern?), and when Wil said he'd throw any of his other prints in for 5 dollars a piece, I grabbed a Spider-Man and a Sango*****, and encouraged Alex to take the one Wil titled "Deathstar Reflections"******. Follow the link, it's right there, you can't miss it. Two of my coworkers showed up early Saturday afternoon, and one of them also bought several pieces from Mr. Woods, including a Batman sketch they gifted to me, and an Evil-Lyn they kept for themselves.

Terry Huddleston ended up with a lot of my money. In addition to his own work, he was selling Alan Schell's as well, so Alan could focus on selling trades. Alex picked up Schell's Dr. Doom and Bat-Mite. Early on Sunday, I went with Terry's Steph Brown Batgirl, Hawkeye, and then a Nightcrawler piece, since he said any of them after the first 2 were five bucks a piece. Later, I went back, and after listening to Terry and a couple of Marvels and Legends' regular customers discuss politics and the method in which the U.S. deploys its military, asked him if he could sketch Nova for me, New Warriors style*******. Yes, it was time to add another New Warriors sketch to the collection, and Terry also let me pick one of the really large pieces he had as a throw-in (or to split the cost, depending on how one looks at it), so I went with Dr. Strange. It was that or the Black Costume Spidey, and as I picked up a Scarlet Spider from Terry last year, I was good on arachnids for awhile.

Nova turned out awesome. Since he was trying to work on it while still engaging other prospective customers, and exchanging goods for money, I wasn't sure how it would end up, but it was beyond my hopes. Really fantastic.

OK, enough about spending. I took more pictures this year, and since I found my camera's "museum" setting, the pictures actually turned out well. Lots of people in costume, and I got pictures of most of the ones I wanted, though I missed out on the Dr. Who. It's not a complicated costume, but I looked at him and knew instantly who he was supposed to be, so it worked. The Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2 was outstanding, though I was partial to the young lady dressed as Rip van Winkle from Hellsing. We kept cracking up at the Batman Alex photographed, who when Alex asked for permission, audibly grunted as he tried to hold himself up straight and (I assume) suck in his gut. All told, there were about 18 entries for the adult costume contest, maybe a half-dozen for the kids********. Alex and I discussed the possibility of who he should come as next year, at one point considering him switching costumes every hour. I said that would mean he'd have to do Superman at least once, so he could run off and pull his shirt off as he went, revealing the costume beneath. I can't remember who else we considered, except for Inspector Gadget. I think he'd have to have some gadget coming out of the hat, and I was thinking the mallet, or the copter blades. For some reason, Alex said "love potion", so I had to tell him nobody wants to see Date Rape Inspector Gadget at the comic convention.

I don't understand his mind sometimes.

Outside of the intense storms Saturday night, which unnerved Alex, it was an excellent weekend. Had some laughs, saw some cool costumes, ate some good food - at his home and mine, as neither of us was hungry while at the convention, so I can't speak on the food there - bought a lot of nice art.

I'm going to go ahead and post this now, because I need a break, but I'll add some links to creator pages later {Edit: Links added!}, and I'll probably do a photo post later this week/over the weekend.

* I was hoping to chat with Ken about this and that, so I overheard a conversation between him and some of the creators where they told him they'd help promote the con if he'd get them some fliers or something to hand out at other cons or comic book stores, which sounds good. Ken said his high-end hope is 4-5,000 people, but he was a little over 1,000 for the 4th year in a row, so he knows that'll take some work. He also knows he has to do better at keeping the web page updated, to which I emphatically agree. There were people at the con not mentioned anywhere on the page. Either he has to do a better job, get someone else (or someone more reliable if he already has someone) to do it for him. I think Ken has such a high motor he tries to do everything himself, an impulse I understand. I worked on enough group projects to know how bad it stinks when something you're working on is torpedoed because one lazy bum can't bother to pull their weight. It's safer to rely on yourself, but I think the convention is too big for that.

** He went with Nova: Annihilation Conquest and Nova: Secret Invasion, and all I said was I really like Nova, before you start getting suspicious I pulled a mind trick on him.

*** I went with Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four: Silver Rage, Captain Britain and MI-13, and the Claremont/Miller Wolverine mini-series.

**** We watched the first one Sunday night, and Alex was disappointed initially, because the fellow promised lots of action, but I pointed out there were 30 minutes (actually 40) to go, and by the end he was more positively inclined towards it. I liked it, though nothing in it really surprised me, except the homage to The Birds.

***** To remind me of when I watched and liked InuYasha all those years ago, I guess.

****** Which isn't a comparison I imagine a Vietnam vet would find flattering.

******* I did opt for the classic blue with yellow star bursts costume, which he went back to sometime around New Warriors 6 or 7, rather than the red one he sported in the earliest issues.

******** One thing for next year is the emcee might want to consider holding the mike farther away from the kids when he asks who they are, or any other questions. I don't know if kids don't understand they don't need to shout because they'll be speaking into a mike, or if they know it'll make their voices louder, and they want to be really loud.