Saturday, June 30, 2012

Having An Angry Brit In Your Head Can't Be Fun

For the record, I don't believe Angel will successfully resurrect Giles. Could be for any number of reasons. Angel realizes it's the wrong thing to do. He can't find all the pieces of Giles' soul. He finds the piece that won't stop telling him this is wrong until he gives up. Or that piece keeps yelling until Faith thinks he's gone mad and stakes him. Or that Egyptian soul thing gets ripped out. Or Faith finally honors Giles' wishes, puts her foot down and stops this nonsense.

That being said, I'm not sure what will happen if Angel does manage it. That Giles will be furious is a certainty, but what twill he be able to do about it. I was reading some Australia-era X-Men comics I picked up recently, but I don't see it being similar to what developed between Rogue and Carol Danvers, where Carol could take control at times. If that happens here, there's a good chance Giles will walk them out into the sunshine. Which wouldn't bother me too much (I'm cool with it as a solo book for Faith), but they probably don't want to kill the character that gets top billing.

I suppose Giles could end up being a helpful presence eventually. He starts of angry, walls himself of in a portion of Angel's mind, but can't help from offering biting commentary, and then, the occasional useful piece of information. Eventually, he starts helping more regularly, and Gage could play with the idea of whether Giles has really come around, or if he's biding time until he can set them up. Has he come to grips with his situation, or is he still desperate to escape? If it's the latter, how far is he willing to go? Get Angel dusted, get Faith killed, destroy the whole world? Hmm, Giles could in essence become another Angelus. Someone Angel keeps locked up in his head, buried under guilt, who goes apocalyptic on things the second he gets a chance*.

The trick is - and this is something Angel has to cope with as well - we don't know how this will work. All are Giles' traits and knowledge going to be absorbed by Angel, like adding a bit of one color of paint to another. Or are they going to be two distinct entities, sharing the same body. Who has control, can it shift, if Giles feels perfect happiness, will Angel lose his soul, we have no idea.

* I can't recall where I read it first, but someone pointed out years ago that Season 2 Angelus didn't bear much resemblance to pre-curse Angelus. The one who ran with Dru, Darla, and Spike didn't have any interest in throwing the world into hell. In his own way, like Spike, he liked the world. Too many amusements and nice things to destroy it. But after 100 years of rats for food, the brooding, the terrible hairstyles, being blamed for every bad thing they did, when we've seen that Liam was a miserable waste of blood alive, and Angel's no choir boy, Angelus was just too angry. He wanted revenge on everything.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I'm Not Up On Criminal Euphemisms

I'm encouraged that yesterday's post went up as planned. It means they got the auto-publish function working consistently again. That'll come in handy when Internet access is spotty the next 2 months. Which is also, I guess, a heads up that posting may assume a more irregular schedule the next 2 months. Now you know.

Moving on.

Back when I watched Once Upon a Time In America, I took about a page worth of notes. For some reason I was looking back over them earlier this week and I saw I'd made a note, '"roll the drunk" means rob him?' Which references a scene from the early stages of the movie, when they're all kids, and the local mob guy offers to pay them if they'll do just that. This is how they meet Max (the character JAmes Woods plays as an adult), when he interrupts their attempt and makes off with the watch himself.

Which is a little odd. That feels like the sort of thing I should have known already, but apparently not. I was taking it literally. The guy's too drunk to have any more, but you don't want him taking up space, so it's time for him to go. But he's too drunk to stand (or too belligerent to take the hint), so you drag/toss/roll his drunk butt out the door.

I figured the kids were trying to prove they were tough and/or clever enough to work for this guy by removing some rummy that was annoying the head honcho. Maybe that's the original meaning, and criminals appropriated it for themselves?  I imagine there's a bit of that going both ways. Criminals taking seemingly innocent phrases and uses them to refer to something illegal, non-crooks adopting criminal terminology because it sounds cool.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

No One Likes A Cosmic Know-It-All. Or At Least, I Don't

Rereading through that complete Infinity Gauntlet set I bought at Cape Con this year, I think I finally hit on why I've never warmed to Adam Warlock. Sure, being linked to Infinity War and Infinity Crusade (especially the latter) in my mind didn't help, but there's always been something that bugged me about him.

Part of it is he tends to use Earth's heroes as pawns, or even just decoys. Feels a little "villainous grandmaster" for the supposed hero of the story. Part of it is that even having wasted them as decoys, it still doesn't feel like he does much of the heavy lifting, but at the end of Gauntlet, for example, he's the one standing there with all the bejeweled glove on his hand. I guess taking control of the Soul Gem, then somehow using it to take control of the others, doesn't feel terribly impressive, at least not as it's presented. It just sort of happens. This is apparently something Adam Warlock can do, and he does it, and that makes him super-special and awesome.

Which is the real issue, Jim Starlin likes Adam Warlock a whole lot more than I do, and he never sells me on why I should like the character too. Adam shows up and tells Dr. Strange that he (Adam) has to be in charge for the coming battle. Strange gets a look at his soul, and wow, he's just so stunned by what Adam's experienced he's totally convinced. I suppose Dr. Strange would know about such things if anyone would, but all the other heroes sort of fall in line as well. Yeah, some of them worked with Adam before his last death, but they don't know if this is really the same guy, or some charlatan that pulled the wool over Strange's eyes. Even if it is him, maybe he's past his prime. And there are plenty of that haven't worked with him. Even guys like Wolverine and the Hulk, not types to take kindly to being bossed around mostly accept it. Hulk does briefly ask who put Warlock in charge, but once everyone else shows they'll follow him, Hulk goes along with it. The same is true for almost all the big time cosmic entities.

The only two who really openly question Warlock's credentials are Galactus and Dr. Doom. Which, if a writer wants to pick strawmen for the opposing view that can be quickly dismissed, those are pretty safe choices. Nobody's going to take Doom's concerns seriously because he's Dr. Doom, so naturally he has his own agenda. This is true, of course, he does have his own agenda, but that doesn't mean he's necessarily wrong to question Warlock. But nope, no one's going to listen to his arguments. Galactus gets it even worse. He's portrayed as a hothead who lashes out when Warlock disses him (referring to him as a petulant child). Which again, seems like a quick and easy way to dismiss any objections. The person raising them is behaving like a spoiled brat, we don't need to take his concerns seriously.

All we get as explanation for why everyone else, from the Celestials on down the line, is something about Warlock existing outside the realms of Chaos and Order. Oh, well, in that case I'm sold. Sign me up as a clay pigeon in the shooting gallery Warlock's designing for Thanos! I can't wait to have my insides placed on the outside!

There's also something irritatingly condescending about how he behaves towards the Surfer, Strange, and Thor after he gets the Gauntlet. When they express concerns he might be corrupted by the power, use it to rule the universe, Warlock blows them off. They were already at the mercy of some greater power before he says, does it really bother it might no longer be a benign presence (Eternity), and instead more calculating? Maybe they wouldn't enjoy order replacing the chaos of their everyday lives? Ominous, which is reflected in the characters' reactions, and Adam eases off a bit on the next page. Then he sends them back home and goes on with his day, without really addressing their concerns.

Reading this, there's a real sense I might buy into the hype for Adam Warlock more if I read his earlier adventures, the stuff from the '70s. I'm pretty sure Starlin has some specific goal for him in mind, and it probably builds towards this point from that. Except that at the point I've come into things, he's a character I find so unlikeable, so undeserving of this doe-eyes following he gets from everyone else, I don't want to go back and read his early adventures. I'm worried I'll find more of the same.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ollie's Half A Hero

I've been trying to come up with a good word to describe the attitude I think Oliver Queen takes to heroing and life in general, and I can't quite seem to find it. "Half-assed" doesn't seem quite right, neither do "arrogant" or "indifferent", though they both play a role. He reminds me of that friend you might have that's always starting projects, but never finishes them. He lacks follow-through, whether due to laziness, lack of planning, or whatever.

When he wants to jet off with the Skylarks to Alaska, he comes up with some nonsense about all his employees working at home, because it will stimulate creativity and save fuel since people won't have to commute. Because certainly people who work for an engineering and design company are going to have the equipment to put together prototypes of their potential doodads in their own homes. But he doesn't care because he's too wrapped up in his Arrow stuff.

Should he concerned about flying off to who knows where with three triplets who first attacked him, then proclaimed their love for him while finishing each others' sentences? Probably, but Ollie doesn't give it a thought. Some of that is certainly ego, he figures he has them wrapped around his little finger (because he's such a stud, natch), and some of that is he figures he can handle them if that doesn't turn out to be the case. But there's a general sense that he just doesn't stop to consider whether this is a good idea, if there could be ulterior motives, nothing.

Even when he learns two of the Skylarks are endlessly devoted to their father, but one seems to legitimately like him, Ollie doesn't bother to come up with some way to tell them apart. Even though it'd be helpful to know whether the Skylark he was with is the helpful one or not, he plainly states he doesn't care. Which is how he gets lead into a trap, and convinced the Good Skylark sold him out. If he had bothered to slip her a tracking device, or a special arrowhead or something, he'd have known she wasn't the one he fooled around with the night before, but he figured he had it under control. It's creepy enough when Leer doesn't care to distinguish between his daughters. He's the bad guy, he's egotistical enough to believe it doesn't matter as long as they serve him, fine, it works. For the supposed hero to not care, you get the feeling they're all faceless extras in Oliver's own little fantasy world.

Which obviously, he didn't. He may have destroyed Leer's gold mine with the help of the locals, but Leer escaped with the daughter Ollie rejected (because he didn't devise a way to tell her from her wicked sisters). The other two Skylarks escaped separately. If Leer did what he planned his creatures have been set loose into the wild. I'm not seeing how Ollie can say he saved the world here. I'm not sure how the townies will get the gold now that Oliver blew the mine up, but if they can, how is that going to be any more environmentally sound than when Leer was doing the digging? Maybe they won't use cyanide.

The blood and the bear are the real kickers for me. Ollie struts into town making this big deal about wanting his bear (the one that Leer set loose in issue 8), makes a deal with the locals for it then forgets it until it's too late to go back for it. For all his insistence it was important to get that bear out of nature before it messed with the ecosystem, he forgot it except when it was too late. Likewise, he doesn't even think of the fact Leer can add his blood to his collection until after it's all over. Never mind Leer's had his blood since the Skylark's modified hummingbird yanked that mini-arrow out of Arrow's face in issue 7. That whole time Leer's had his blood, and it only just occurs to Oliver now.

What's that say about Oliver Queen? I don't think it's that he doesn't see the dangers he's up against, or the importance of stopping them. He seems to get that, but he doesn't keep it in mind. He lets other things distract him too readily, whether it's inconsequential stuff like making out with the attractive girl, or some other smaller problem, which he then forgets about when the next thing pops up. He forgets about the girls stealing his blood and faking his death because they sic wolves on him. Then because he's met Leer. Then he gets distracted from Leer's bio-engineering because a bear's loose. Then he gets distracted from the bear by Leer's mine, and then the whole thing with Skylarks distracts him again. He's like the Tick: easily distracted by shiny things, and he's in a world full of shiny thing.

Maybe it's as simple as realizing it's OK to enjoy being a costumed hero, or a CEO, but there are people counting on you to do it well. Which is the old "great power comes with great responsibility" saw, but I'm not convinced it's as simple as that. I think Ollie gets that, he just doesn't always follow it. So maybe half-assed was the right word. He has to understand he can't halfway do these things. If he wants to run a company, then he has to really run it, even if that only means making sure the people he asks to do it in his stead have the authority to do it properly. If he wants to be a superhero, then he has to concentrate on it. Think things through a little more, stop counting on charm (which he doesn't have nearly as much of as he thinks) to see him through.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Cloak Needs To Fine Tune The Darkness Sensor In His Cloak

I picked up all the trades for the Brian K. Vaughn/Adrian Alphona/Takeshi Miyazawa/Christian Strain run on Runaways. You likely do not need me to tell you this, but it's very good. There's a lot of great dialogue, the characters look like teenagers, and wear real clothes (I suppose*), there are a lot of touching emotional moments, plenty of comedy (I find the barrage of insults between Gert and Nico hilarious), and it's just an enjoyable read.

I haven't decided whether I should pick up the later creative teams' work. Leaning towards no, as there's a ton - or at least several dozen pounds worth of other things out there I know I want to read at some point**. I am curious if there's ever been any resolution to Cloak's sense that one of the teens has a great darkness within them. There will be spoilers, if you're as unfamiliar with the series' plotlines as I was before I bought the trades.

In Volume 2, he and Dagger are duped into believing the Runaways (and not their parents) murdered a young girl and kidnapped Molly. Misunderstanding battle ensues, and Cloak sucks Alex, Karolina, Chase, and Nico into his cloak, as he does. While they're inside, he says he can't sense any sign they've killed anyone (I guess the vampire doesn't count since he essentially killed himself), but there is a great darkness within them. Pursuit of this is disrupted by Gertrude, Old Lace, and Molly renewing the battle until people calm down enough to talk out their differences. Everyone gets out of the cloak, they part as friends, stuff goes downhill shortly. Three volumes later, Cloak shows up at their new hideout needing help to clear himself of a crime. He says he found them by homing in on that same darkness, but he still can't (or won't) pinpoint who it's from.

Figure we can eliminate Xavin (who wasn't on the team, or even on the planet) at that point, and Victor, who hadn't been there when they first met Cloak. Cloak never swallowed up Gert or Molly, so he couldn't have sensed anything from them. Which leaves Chase, Alex, Nico, Karolina. Alex is dead. This doesn't stop most of the team from figuring it must have been Alex, for good reason. And Cloak does allow that he may 'be recognizing the dark shadow left behind by your former teammate'. That'd be an interesting idea, if we take the tack that Alex formed them into a team, but did so for different reasons than he told them, and that's still proving divisive within them. Or that because their team was formed under false pretenses, it taints everything they've tried to do since. I don't think that second one holds, since they've moved beyond simply trying to stop their parents/clean up their messes, but it seemed worth mentioning as a possibility. Still, it seems odd that a deceased person would have that much malevolence that it would hang around a group of people like a toxic cloud for months, to the extent he can follow it right to them.

Karolina is in space with Xavin, probably in another galaxy entirely by this point. So it seems equally unlikely she's the source, at least directly. Her departure did seem to make the team a bit more divided, so it could be helping to stir things up within someone else. That would leave Chase or Nico. Before I remembered that Karolina wasn't with them when Cloak returned, I was confused because the Gribborim describe both Nico and Chase as innocent souls, which on first glance, didn't jibe with the idea one of them had a great darkness within. Which left Karolina, which seemed unlikely, though it would have been a twist, the girl who draws power from the sun to make beautiful light is the darkest. Then I remembered she wasn't there, then I remembered that he felt the darkness even though he knew none of them had killed anybody. So it's a sleeping darkness, malevolence in potentia.

If we're being honest, I lean towards Nico. Chase has some anger, true, but it mostly seems his form of grieving, or bluster. When he makes his play to resurrect someone, he opts to use himself, not someone else. He is a little sanctimonious about how he opts for that route because he's a good person, but if it were him, I feel like he wouldn't see any issue with sacrificing someone else if he really believed this was important enough.

As for Nico, well, I'm probably picking on her because she attacked Spider-Man unprovoked, and this is not a good way to earn benefit of the doubt with me. But she does seem so quick to hostility sometimes, and the way she often makes decisions that seem almost designed to create trouble (even as she recognizes this is a bad thing to be doing), that could be more than she suspects. She can be pretty scary sometimes, wither her 'I don't make threats, I give orders' line to Chase, casually discorporating the Wrecker***, promising Vic they'll rip Chase's heart out if he tries something again. She spooks me. Maybe it's just the pressure of having to herd this group of cats when she never asked for the responsibility, but darkness released under pressure is still darkness.

But hell, I'm discussing an ambiguous sense of "darkness" one character sensed within another character, so I probably shouldn't dismiss the dead character so quickly. It's only that the way it was thrown out there by Cloak, it was as if he wanted to reassure them, because he needs their help. "Sure, sure, it's probably just your dead friend. You're all good people, the kind who will totally help me out of the jam I'm in."

* I know people complain when artists put all their characters in the jeans/t-shirt look, and sure, I like it when artists get creative, especially if they give the characters a style I find appealing. But the t-shirt/jeans thing has really never bothered me much, since I tend to wear that as much as possible. And yes, some of my shirts are completely devoid of any pictures, designs, or words, so it doesn't strike me as that unusual, if even if I know I'm hardly the height of fashion.


** I swear, it seems like every time I make a decent dent in either my trade or back issue hunting list, I almost immediately think of or read about an nearly equal number of books I should also track down. It's maddening. To the extent "There's too much good stuff out there I want to read!" can be, anyway.


*** It reminds me of Sylvester chasing Tweety through some factory, with all the hatchets and the conveyor belt, and when Sylvester comes out the other side, his body falls into all these neatly sliced bits. That's basically what she did, with the handwave of "It'll wear off in a couple of hours." Are you sure he'll still be alive then? Or sane?

Monday, June 25, 2012

There's More To Nature, Leer, Than Dreamt Of In Your Philosophy

Great, now I'm mixing and bastardizing Shakespeare.

With the first Nocenti/Tolibao arc on Green Arrow in the books, there were a couple of things I wanted to look back and comment on. I figured I'd start with Leer, and discuss biology as it relates to his plans first, then hopefully I'll crystallize my thoughts on Oliver in the next couple of days.

Leer's a bit of a series of contradictions. He claims to be creating new breeds of animals that will be able to survive in the world people are making, but he's also the one using cyanide for gold mining and letting it leach into the local water supply. Which is bad for people to be sure, but not exactly great for the critters and plants, which also require nontoxic water. It appears the gold is used to fund the research (though he lives more than comfortably), so I'm not sure whether this is a case of someone being forced to compromise their ideals to further their work, or if all of Leer's talk is a bunch of hot air. That he creates these mutations because it amuses him and that he's more concerned with ruling the world than improving it.

If we take Leer's goals at face value, then he's the sort who believes that compassion, trust, love, any of those kinder emotions are dangerous, likely to only get someone hurt. We see it in the wolves, who he designed with steel wool for fur, so that the sort of displays of affection common in a pack, or between a breeding pair, will cause physical pain. And we see it with his daughters, the Skylarks. He's somehow engineered them to be reliant on each other for survival. They have to maintain proximity to at least one of their sisters or they get weak and sick. At the same time, he pits them against each other, promising that the one who 'loves him best will inherit his kingdom'. When one of the girls falls for Green Arrow, Leer sends another to betray Ollie while posing as her sister, to turn him against the Good Skylark (it's worth noting that while Leer, the ostensible villain of the story doesn't bother to distinguish between his daughters, neither does Oliver, which I'll return to in a later post). Even though her leaving with Oliver would essentially remove her from the struggle between the sisters, Leer insists she be brought back into the fold.

Presumably, this competition, like the wolves' new fur, will make the Skylarks stronger and better able to survive in the harsh world coming, but it seems more likely to get them killed. As Ollie notes, what keeps them alive now, will kill them later. If it becomes too painful for wolves to stay in a pack, can they survive alone? If they do, are they even wolves any longer? And with the Skylarks, making them dependent on each other, while placing them against each other, can only end badly. Eventually, one of them is likely to decide the best way to "win" is to eliminate the competition. Except doing so will ultimately kill the one left over as well.

You see it sometimes in nature, where a species (group of species) has evolved in a way that works well, but has also left them boxed in developmentally. Turtles, for example. They have this strategy of protective armor they can pull themselves into, and it generally works. But the physiological adaptations it took to get there are likely going to prevent turtles from branching out and filling a vast number of ecological niches, if for some reason, a number of them become available (say, a mass extinction event that mostly misses turtles). It's not a bad strategy, it's simply a bit limiting in the long-term.

I found the fate of the bear to be the most interesting turn, though. Leer has designed this bear, like the wolves, to survive in the harsh world that's already here. The bear escapes, Oliver and the Good Skylark pursue. Normally, introducing a new organism into an ecosystem ends disastrously. It usually has no predators to worry about, so it's population grows largely unchecked (see European Starlings and gypsy moths here, rabbits in Australia), and none of the things it would prey on are prepared to evade it/defend themselves (see decimation of native bird species at the hands of introduced tree snakes on Guam).

So a new bear, bigger, stronger, more resilient and resistant to hostile conditions? Sounds like bad news. Yet they find the bear at the local bar, chained up as an attraction. People pay money to get the bear drunk. Truly fearsome, but it illustrates a couple of points.

First, these days, a lot species' best chance for survival is to be able to live around humans. We're constantly expanding into the last few corners of the earth, one way or the other, and the species that have the most success are the ones that use that to their advantage. The ones that make it to places where they can operate unchecked by traditional predators, or simply the ones that know how to take advantage of the situations we create. Like coyotes, who seem to thrive on our attempts to kill them, and absolutely love what we've done with the place, wherever "the place" might be. The bear, rather than running amok killing people or livestock, is living amongst them as a sideshow attraction. Sure ursine alcoholism can be an ugly thing, but presumably its body can filter out the toxins in beer as readily as in anything else.

The other point is that for all our attempts to alter the course of nature, to produce results we consider favorable, we can't always predict what will happen. We try to improve a habitat for a particular species, it doesn't take because there's a variable we missed. We try to remove an invasive species, but find we can't do it without also endangering the the native ones. It makes me wonder if Leer isn't going to find his manipulations of his daughters backfiring one day. They may decide it's simpler to kill him, then decide how to divide his stuff between themselves, then let him string them along indefinitely. He thinks he's made them too dependent on each other for them to turn against each other, while keeping them too divided to work against him, but there's every chance this will work out differently than he expects, just like the bear did.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Burn Notice 2.10 - Do No Harm

Plot: Michael survives the bomb set at his place. It leaves him a bit bruised, probably concussed, with a new for a new door, not to mention the Charger's going to need some body work after Michael fell on it. No time to worry about that, as Carla's people are after him. Sam pulls off some nifty driving to get them away (damaging his car in the process), and then Michael saves a man from walking in front of a bus. Which Kenny was doing intentionally, because he needs money to send his son to a clinic in Arizona to receive treatment for a heart condition. But Kenny already blew all his money getting scammed on some meds that were supposed to help. So Michael's on the case. When he's not being dragged in by Carla to be interrogated, or to be told it's his job to track down the bomber.

Michael, Sam, and Fiona gradually work their way up the chain, capturing a couple of flunkies and scaring them into talking about their boss, Rachel. The attempt to befriend Rachel and get her started on a scam they can blackmail her with falls apart when Fi decides she really can't pretend to be Rachel's friend. Sadly, Fi also failed in her attempt to strangle Rachel with her handbag. Michael almost makes a very stupid, very desperate decision, but a conversation between his fists and Sam's face calms him down. At which point, Campbell's help is enlisted to locate Rachel, and they terrorize her into giving them all her money and turning herself into the cops.

The Players: Kenny (The Client), Jake (The Son), Todd (Enforcer), Philip (Fake Doctor), Rachel (Thief), Campbell (Fiona's Boyfriend), Campbell (Fiona's Ex-Boyfriend). Ooh, that's awkward.

Quote of the Episode: Michael - 'I'm running on fumes Sam. This is all I got. I can help this guy.'

Does Fiona blow anything up? No. She gets to fight Rachel, and shoot her car up with a shotgun.

Sam Axe Drink Count: 4 (26 overall).

Sam Getting Hit Count: 5 (11 overall). Man, when Michael uses someone as a punching bag, he doesn't mess around. This might be a little off, though. I'm counting the shove Mike gave him. Then again, I'm not including Sam cutting his own thumb open with a knife, so it probably evens out.

Michael's Fake Laugh Count: 0 (7 overall).

Other: Michael uses the name "Donnie" as an alias this week, and Fiona is "Kate".

I always really like this episode. It's not in a particularly subtle way, I just enjoy watching Michael and Co. terrorize people who prey on a parent's desire to help their kids. Maybe I shouldn't enjoy Sam cutting himself, then dripping his blood on Todd, or kicking Todd out a window to scare Philip, or Michael ringing the wall around Rachel's head with bullet holes as a reminder to get herself a long prison sentence, but I do. I suppose it also helps that none of them were physically hurt. Like Mike said, 'Violence perceived is violence achieved.'

Still, it nice to see the attempt to buddy up to the scumbag fall through so quickly, forcing Michael to play it meaner and dirtier. I don't want to see Mike and Fi pal around with Rachel, yukking it up about how they dupe people out of their cash. On that level, the episode's highly effective.

It's also effective for how we see Michael. Up to this point, when things have gotten rough, he tends to shut down emotionally, try to distance himself from his loved ones. This time, though, it's just too much, too fast. He's been running like crazy trying to find out what Carla was up to, then find the sniper, then find his target, then stop him, without Carla figuring this out, while contending with his other cases, Victor, and all the usual drama that surrounds Michael and Fiona. Now he nearly dies, and not only does he not know who came after him, neither do they people who burned him. They seem more scared than he is, which is scary in of itself.

He's at his limit, and we see the anger keep pouring through. Smashing the car window with the stone, calling the driver a jackass for not unlocking the door quickly enough when Mikey wants in, actually planning to ask Carla for money, attacking Sam when he tries to stop him, the angry push-ups. He raises his voice a lot more readily this week, too. When Sam tells him they can't trace Rachel's phone, he yells. He yells at Carla about wanting Nate out of jail, and wanting his life back, but even before that outburst, Carla tells him he was supposed to stay out of their business. He responds, 'Obviously you didn't think I'd do that, because you went to a lot of trouble to KEEP ME BUSY!', and he's getting very loud by the end there. The use of "Who Talks First?" on Todd and Philip was almost certainly part of it, and so were those shots he fired around Rachel.

It's terrifying, because you can tell he's good enough at this he can scare these folks into doing what he wants without having to physically harm them. Which makes you wonder how much damage he can do if he actually decided it was time to hurt someone. Or what might happen if his control slips a little. It could have been interesting to see this persist for a few episodes, but he's seems to have gotten it out of his system by helping Jack, and now he's turned to finding his assassin so he can. . . make friends? Maybe he's not over it after all.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Time For Angel To Get On The Responsibility Bus

Even though it was his fault she'd lost her mind again, it was nice for Angel to offer to help Drusilla. Maybe he was doing it because he figured she could call off her extremely riled former followers, but it'd be nice if he showed some responsibility towards her.

It made sense that Angelus didn't worry about Dru. She was someone he destroyed for kicks, and kept around because her visions could be useful, assuming he could make sense of him.

But Angel, what's his excuse? That he spent most of his first century ensouled living in squalor off rats? We know that wasn't all he did. Perhaps the idea of helping people, whether we're talking Drusilla or her victims, simply didn't occur to him until Whistler introduced him to Buffy. That's been a few years now (would this be Angel Season 7?), but he's never made any effort to track her down. Spike brings her to Sunnydale. Wolfram & Hart bring her to L.A. It turns out she's Mother Superior. For some reason, he's never invested the time and energy to dealing with her, even though she was almost certainly killing people, and may start up again.

Which is strange. He created her. He bears responsibility for her as much as he does for every person he killed over the years. Whether it's to dust her once and for all, or try to find some place she can live safely, without risking others, he ought to have done something. But the thought never seemed to cross his mind until now.

Maybe it's a limitation of Angel's approach. He takes the classic reactive hero approach, where something bad happens, and he sets out to find the party responsible, and bring them to justice. That can lead to a situation where he only deals with the problems right in front of him, and that's rarely been Drusilla. There has, however, been a steady stream of other problems to keep him busy. So maybe he hasn't had the time. Plus, it's a big world, though Dru ought to stand out.

I saw a theory online once, that Angel ignores what Dru does (this goes for Spike as well), because he wants to distance himself from Angelus. In the "Daddy Issues" arc, he tried insisting that Angelus only exists when the soul is gone. Soul = Angel, No Soul = Angelus, no gradations. Taking that approach, he might find it better to adopt "out of sight, out of mind". He's Angel, he had nothing to do with making Dru who she is, she's just another vampire, in no way different or special from any other except for her gifts. If he admits she's more than that, that he is responsible for her, then maybe he's admitting the man he was before he was turned had something to do with what Angelus did to her, that he can't blame it all on the demon. Or Angelus is still there, even with the soul in-house, and so he feels a connection.

That could prove very dangerous to the foundations Angel tries to use to keep himself going, and that might explain the reason he's been uninterested in helping or stopping Drusilla up to this point.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hank McCoy Is A Big Jerk! Or Just Stressed Out

One thing I've had trouble adjusting to in Remender's run on Secret Avengers has been his Hank McCoy. Hank's generally been my favorite of the original X-Men. Admittedly, this is a bit like being my favorite method of having my teeth knocked out, but it's Hank's title nonetheless. The versions I've seen always have a wit to them, some drier than others, but generally good-natured. He was wordy, but a cheerful counterpart to a lot of the mopier X-folks.

Now there's a meaner edge to it. His crack about Pym being the go-to guy for genocidal artificial intelligences. Busting Hawkeye for his chosen method of leadership, because objecting loudly to putting Venom on the team makes you an unreasonable drill sergeant. Now he's getting on Captain Britain for being a know-it-all. All his points are fair, up to a point (though thinking he's smarter than everyone else doesn't seem to keep Tony Stark off the A-list), but they seem to be either kicking someone while they're down -it's not like Hank Pym needs a reminder he created Ultron - or leaving out relevant details in favor of criticizing the job someone's doing.

Maybe that's always been there, or maybe Remender's trying to make a point. Hank had to kill a lot of people during Ellis' run, something he hasn't done much previously. That's a line he may have crossed only because of the severity of the situation. It's been a strain on him, and so he has less patience for people whose behavior jeopardizes the team and their mission. He doesn't want it to all have been for nothing.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Angel May Have Been The Villain This Time

Over the course of the "Daddy Issues" story arc in Angel & Faith, who do you think was doing more good, Angel or Drusilla?

It's true that Dru's motives in taming the Lorophage weren't entirely altruistic. It gave her something she could use to attract followers to her side, people she can take blood from without having to risk breaking the new "rules", keeping her safely away from angry Slayers. Still, she did seem to legitimately help these people move past their pain. The problem was in the fact that what worked for her wouldn't necessarily work for everyone else. So some of the people she helped ended up killing people. But that wasn't true for all of them, and there's a chance if she hadn't helped those people, some of them would have lashed out at others because of their inability to cope with their anguish.

Now that Angel forced the Lorophage to release all that trauma back to them, it still might happen. Which means others could suffer at the hands of people who were released from their pain, and at the hands of people who had it forced back upon them. Not an ideal outcome. Plus Drusilla has lost her sanity again, which makes me think she'll go back to killing people. There's always a chance she'll remember enough to refrain from doing that. With her hypnotic powers, she could convince someone to give her blood easily enough, but there's no guarantee she will, and other than Faith or Buffy, I wouldn't give any Slayers good odds against her in a fight.

The issue for me is I tend to doubt Angel's motives. I rarely feel like he does good because he enjoys it or thinks it's the right thing to do. It usually seems like he's trying to atone for something, or working toward some goal (like the Shanshu prophecy). Even this thing with bringing back Giles, feels like Angel trying to make up for a past mistake. Even though Giles told Faith such things shouldn't be attempted - and I wouldn't be surprised if one of the pieces of Giles Angel's collected so far isn't telling him that - Angel's still doing it. His need to "fix" his mistake supersedes common sense, as well as the wishes of the person he's trying to help. Which makes this stink of Angel and his big martyr complex again. And seeing as stopping the Lorophage got him one step closer to his goal, it's fair to question what his goal really was.

Does he actually care about those people, or even Faith? Angel seems to take it as given that without her pain, guilt, and desire for acceptance, Faith will, I dunno, revert back to the nearly crazed threat to everything around her she once was. But there's no proof that will happen. She still came to his rescue, and she did so in a controlled manner. She wasn't swinging wild, with no regard for anyone else.

Dru didn't help things by trying to fed him to the Lorophage, and you could certainly argue she simply did it because she was tired of his ruining things, rather than a desire to help him. But is forcing Angel to ditch the sackcloth and ashes any worse than his forcing it back on everyone else? I don't know. Angel usually helps people by protecting them from external threats, while Dru was focused on helping them with internal problems. The ones that make them sabotage themselves, that hold them back, that make them self-destruct.

It feels connected to the idea of how much control a person can have over their own lives. If someone is a threat to others, it's easier. You can't let someone harm others, but if they're only a threat to themselves, do you intervene? Or do you decide these acts are their choice and let them deal with the consequences? And if you decide to leave them be until they pose a threat to someone else, how much of a leash do you give them? What's the line where you step in to bar their decisions? Dru lets people run free. They come to her of their own choice, they receive the gift, and what they do after is their call, whether it's stay with her, or go on a killing spree. Once she's lifted their burden, she considers her part done. Angel is more restrictive. He's the teacher that revokes a privilege for the whole class because of the actions of a few students. Even if the rest of the kids aren't abusing it now, they might later, so better to cut it off before it can happen.

I had been thinking of it in terms of people with suicidal tendencies, but I'm starting to make it sound like a freedom vs. security issue now. I tend to believe in letting people make their own choices and deal with the repercussions, but I don't know if that's right. In this case, I think Angel was overzealous (though the fact Dru tried to take the choice away from him muddies that water considerably), and that he's caused more trouble than he's fixed, all in the pursuit of a highly questionable goal, but we may have to wait and see.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Maybe Becoming Green Mist Has Rotted His Brain

I found it curious John Aman immediately started killing the other Immortal Weapons once he learned Iron Fist was investigating the Concordance Engines. He didn't start in with that back when Orson Randall was after them. Sure, Orson wasn't on best terms with the other Immortal Weapons, not after he refused to participate in the Tournament of the Heavens and ran off with the Book of the Iron Fist, but he found other allies. Which ought to have clued Aman in that things weren't always going to be that obvious.

Even setting aside Orson's past history, why would Aman assume Danny would go to the other Immortal Weapons? He's known them for a relatively short time. Meanwhile, he's an Avengers, he and Luke Cage, Misty, and Colleen have been friends for years. If he's in a pinch, where do you really think he's gonna go to first? And that's assuming he's the one spearheading the search, which doesn't seem accurate. Danny is funding it certainly, but I think Strange is the one leading the search, as arcane mystic stuff is more his alley.

It feels like Faction just wanted to kill off the other Weapons for some reason. Except for Fat Cobra, who is clearly the breakout star of the bunch. It's a bit of a waste. I liked most of the other Weapons, Bride of Nine Spiders, especially, just because she was kind of odd and hard to decipher. Sure, there'll be a new Weapon for each city eventually, because that's how it works, but they won't be the same people. Which could be interesting, if someone takes the time to have Danny get to know them. Will they hold it against Danny that Aman killed their predecessors because he thought they were working together? Would they regard him more highly because he was able to face Aman and live?

For that matter, what's going to happen to the Green Mist of Death? Orson Randall was hunted because he killed one Immortal Weapon. Aman just killed 3, and took a run at 2 others. There has to be some sort of punishment for that, surely.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Debating The Merits Of Spidey Trolling Daredevil

Even though Spider-Man said he made his appearance as a member of Black Spectre early to sell the story Murdock was pushing, I think we know his so-called "bonus", ruining Matt's date, was the real reason. Which is a dick move, no doubt, even without taking into account the fact it shook Kirsten pretty badly.

Even so, I really enjoyed it, maybe precisely because Spidey admitted that he wanted to mess with Matt some. I said once, during Shadowland, that I really wanted it to end with Spider-Man beating Daredevil. The reason was I was tired of seeing it always go the other way. When they tussle, Daredevil always seem to win, though the writers always emphasize that he got Spidey angry and swinging wildly, or that it took a strong effort from Hornhead just knock Spidey out for a minute or two. All the same, Daredevil wins.

He usually seems to beat Spidey every other way too. Outsmarts him, uses him towards some end Spidey wouldn't otherwise agree with. The Gang war storyline in Amazing Spider-Man back in the '80s for example, where Daredevil tricked Spider-Man into helping get the Kingpin back in power, because it was the best result they could hope for. Spidey's Daffy, Daredevil is Bugs Bunny, which is pretty sad when you consider that Matt Murdock's basically been Wil E. Coyote for the last few decades. No matter what he tries, it backfires, blows up in his face, goes horribly awry.

Except when it comes to Spider-Man, apparently. So it was nice to see Webs pull one over on Daredevil for once. Even if it was a very rude thing to do.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Joys Or Miseries Of Dangling Plot Threads

I'm sticking to short posts for the time being, at least until they get the Internet service fixed at the housing. Until then, I'm reliant on a coworkers' goodwill and their personal MiFi thing.

With that in mind, let's discuss the recent Resurrection Man/Suicide Squad crossover. Not that I particularly want to discuss the current Suicide Squad, but Waller did finish it up with one of Mitch's hands in her possession. Now I'm not entirely clear on why she wants it. I'm sure she wants to figure out how he regenerates and resurrects, but to what end? She certainly can't want to duplicate in operatives. If you can't keep them dead, then the nanobombs or whatever can't keep them in line. They refuse, you set off the bombs, they die, then they resurrect and you have no leverage. Oops.

It could be to figure out how to counteract the Tekites or whatever it is working inside Mitch. That way you can make operatives unkillable from other means, but not safe from you.

Of course, it's only relevant if it ever comes up again. Considering that Mitch's series is ending this September, it seems unlikely we'll see any fallout from it there. So the question becomes, do you think it'll ever be followed up on in Suicide Squad?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Burn Notice 2.9 - Good Soldier

Plot: We begin with Michael using his copy of the key card to reach the conference room Bill Johnson visited. The only thing there is a table, and a lovely view of open water. A view a ferry just happens to cross. So Mr. Bill is set to shoot someone, but who and when? The best way to figure that out is to keep eyes on Carla (Tricia Helfer), who has come back to town, and is staying at a very swanky hotel. Which means Sam gets some high-priced drinks while he keeps eyes on her.

In the meantime, Fiona has brought Campbell to Michael with a problem. He helped a man who had been beaten up and left in the street. This man runs a security company, and he's been approached by a man named Lesher who wants information on his protocols, because he wants to kidnap a client. So Michael plays a bodyguard, drunk, divorced, in debt, bitter about life. The perfect person for Lesher to approach and learn the job is just too tough to pull off. Except Lesher can't take "can't be done" for an answer. Which means Michael will have to be a little more persuasive. This goes on while Carla starts throwing her weight around to keep Michael off the trail, which includes having Nate jailed, just as he was starting up his own limo company. Poor Nate.

All that is really just preshow, though, for when Carla has a meeting in broad daylight to draw Michael away from Bill Johnson. Michael sees through it, which leads to a motorcycle chase back to his apartment to get the card, so he can intercept Bill. Except there's no need, because someone blew Bill Johnson up by rigging his front door. If only Sam had let Michael know that before he opened the door to his place.

The Players: Carla, Campbell (Fiona's Boyfriend), Henry (The Client), Lesher (Kidnapper), The Muscle

Quote of the Episode: Fi - 'I remember when kidnapping used to be a mom-and-pop business.' Mike - 'Everything is going corporate these days, Fi. Even kidnapping.'

Does Fiona blow anything up? No.

Sam Axe Drink Count: 2 (22 overall).

Sam Getting Hit Count: 0 (6 overall)

Michael Fake Laugh Count: 0 (7 overall).

Other: Michael goes by "Brad" this week. He's also sporting an unusually heavy 5 o'clock shadow. I don't mean just as part of the cover identity. He's rocking it right from the start, when he scouts the conference room. Brad's kind of irritating when he finds Jesus. I wonder if I'm that bad when I ramble on about weird corners of X-Men continuity to my coworkers. I do like that Michael wasn't faking when he said he couldn't speak Spanish.

Something I meant to mention last week, Michael never wears his seat belt. It came up last week when he kept the dump truck from killing Jeannie. It comes up again this week when Lesher forced his hand. On the other hand, he does at least wear a helmet during the motorcycle chase.

Campbell nearly got fired for the bit with picking up a person having a heart attack, who then never arrived at the hospital. That being said, Michael is awfully reluctant to help him out. I know, he doesn't like Fi having a boyfriend, but he does owe the guy.

I don't know, this episode is somewhat unsatisfying. On the one hand, the way the whole thing with Bill Johnson concludes is a pretty nice swerve, but it does leave this feeling that there was a lot of buildup for nothing. All the time watching Carla, Nate being thrown in jail, the chase, all that tension, and it's blown off in a completely unexpected direction. I mean, it is a really nice swerve, and a good cliffhanger, but it sort of undercuts the plot up to that point. It may play out better over the long haul, though. Potentially, we're seeing a real chink in the armor of the people who burned Michael. We'll see next week.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Designing A Suit To Run On Confidence? A Daring Choice

I was wondering about Captain Britain's actions in Secret Avengers. He ignored the Beast, grabbed the Cage off War Machine, then tried to use it to capture the Phoenix off his suit's power. It ended up not working, the cage exploded, and afterward, Hank chewed him out for always being a know-it-all. Rather notably, Brian had succumbed to peer pressure the night before and gone drinking with Thor and Valkyrie, despite his warnings to Thor about being a bad drunk.

So was it the drinking that made Brian rush in? Hank doesn't bring it up during his tirade, but it's worth wondering if that contributed to his lack of caution. I mean, he was drinking with Asgardians, not known for moderation. Still, there is another factor, Brian's confidence, and that's the one that intrigues me. His suit somehow draws magic from the surroundings as a power source, but near as I can tell how effectively it does so varies with his confidence (he says his power depends on confidence, at any rate). If Braddock is shaken from the prospect of facing the Phoenix, then he probably won't be much use. Which means he might try drinking to bolster his confidence, or at least quiet his nerves. If he can drown his fears, then his confidence may come back.

Would the suit be able to sense the difference, that it was false confidence? He told the Torch the suit's power is also determined by his nobility. It seems like getting soused before a major conflict might not be very noble. It would depend on Merlin's definition of the word, and some of Braddock's comments give me the impression he's in the dark.

Which means the drinking could lead to an trapdoor for Braddock where he drinks to alleviate his fears, only to find that either his confidence is an illusion, or that the suit is a teetotaler. Either way, the power he's expecting isn't there, and now the clarity to recognize that and behave accordingly isn't either. When he sees the things going wrong, the Phoenix swatting Thor away, nearly roasting Rhodes inside his armor, he doesn't recognize that the Beast is right, that he's not in a position to make a difference. Not a positive one, anyway.

Or, maybe the drinking is a red herring, one that has nothing to do with his actions. Maybe Braddock thought that if he did something courageous, it would pay off. Fortune favoring the bold. He might tell himself he wouldn't willingly attack the Phoenix unless he truly believed he could get the job done. He's not a suicidal man, he tells himself, just one trying to save the world who thinks he sees a way to do so. So if he's pulling the cage of Rhodes' back and charging towards the Phoenix, then he must be full of confidence, so his suit must be at full power, and surely that'll be enough, right? I could see him doing something ill-advised precisely because he thinks it'll force him to be confident enough to do the job.

The question then is, was it a failure on his and Hank's part not to design the cage where it could more effectively run on his suit, as a failsafe? Was it a failure of his confidence, that he didn't really believe he could pull it off, and that's why the suit didn't have enough power? Or was it that sometimes, a person isn't going to be strong enough? That confidence simply isn't enough to get the job done. It could be that Braddock fully trusted in his power, had as much as he possibly could, but that this conflict is on another level above him entirely.

Friday, June 15, 2012

It's Another Of Those Things I Have To Get Out Of My System

So Smallville Season 11 is going to have Batman and Superman finally meet, and Batman's partner/sidekick is going to be Nightwing. Except in this case, Nightwing turns out to be Stephanie Brown. Now, I'm not buying the comic myself, because I don't particularly care about Smallville, but as someone who likes Stephanie Brown, it's nice to see the character being used. By Bryan Q. Miller no less, someone with a pretty good track record with Steph*. And there are certainly some people excited about it, who will probably buy the comic because of this, and that's good.

Anyway, I did see this tumblr post with the complaint that Steph keeps stealing other character's identities, and when is she gonna create a legacy of her own? I know I should just ignore it, it's people on the Internet shooting their mouths off, but obviously it's too late for that or I wouldn't be typing this.

So, first point. This is Smallville continuity, so we have no idea as of yet about this Batman's history of sidekicks. For all we know, Steph is the first partner he's ever had, maybe just the first to call herself Nightwing. Or maybe not. There may have been one, or three, or seven partners before her, but we don't know. It's entirely possible there's no one in that universe for her to steal that identity from. Unless you're going to argue she's stealing it because there's a preexisting character in a completely separate fictional universe (which she's never seen, again, to our knowledge) that used the name first. In which case, Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, Ray Palmer, cyborg Red Tornado, to name a few, they're all thieves.

Second, this is DC we're talking about. This may have changed with the relaunch, but for what, 10, 15, 20 years prior to the "New 52", DC was pretty into legacies. The Flashes, the Green Lanterns, the Atoms, Superman and the Legion of Superheroes, the Legion of Superheroes and L.E.G.I.O.N.**, Starman, the Arrow family, the Blue Beetles, on and on. You couldn't swing a dead cat (which Roy Harper would mistakenly believe was his deceased daughter) without hitting a legacy hero in the DCU. Wasn't DC One Million about how the heroes had created something that would endure for centuries past their deaths? It wasn't considered stealing someone's thunder, it was honoring what they stood for and adding to it. In the old DCU, Jay Garrick might have been the first Flash, but the name grew beyond just him. It became a title, held by many people across time, each doing their best to uphold what they think it represents, and in the process adding to the cachet the title carries.

While it isn't unusual to see a hero get annoyed initially when someone else co-opts one of their costumed identities, what usually happens is the newcomer proves themselves, and the two form a general acceptance of each other, if not a friendship. It seems like the "stealing" only really applies when a villain does it as a way to tarnish the hero's name.

OK, but maybe the Batfamily is different. Not so much. I mean, if Steph "stole" the Batgirl identity, then so did Cassandra Cain, so did Helena Bertinelli, and pre-Crisis on the Infinite Earths, so did Barbara Gordon (though she was the first to spell it without a hyphen). If Steph "stole" the identity of Robin, then so has that little snot Damien Wayne, and so did Tim Drake and Jason Todd. Heck, if you follow Untold Legend of Batman continuity, even Dick Grayson stole the Robin I.D., because that story says a young Bruce Wayne donned the costume first to disguise himself while he learned from the world's greatest detective, Harvey Harris, who gave him the name "Robin". And "Nightwing" was an identity that either Batman or Superman used when they fought crime together in the bottle city of Kandor (the other was Flamebird, I forget which was which). Tim Drake wasn't the first Red Robin, Jason Todd wasn't the first Red Hood, on and on.

Honestly, the women characters in the Batverse seem better about picking out unique identities. Barbara Gordon was Oracle, obviously. Came up with that on her own, no input from the Bat (I think they may have changed that somewhere along the way, but I prefer to go with the interpretation she took that path all on her own). Cass Cain was Black Bat, which I don't think any other DC heroes have used. There hadn't been a Huntress in post-Crisis on Infinite Earths before Helena Bertinelli, what with Helena Wayne having lived in a different universe that was wiped out/merged with a bunch of other universes.

And, of course, Stephanie Brown was Spoiler. That's the identity she started with, it's the one she stuck with for the first 12 or so years the character existed. It's the one she went back to when Batsy fired her as Robin (under questionable circumstances), and the one she stuck to when she returned to Gotham after she recovered from her torture at the hands of Black Mask. Stephanie was Batgirl for about 2 years (our time), Robin for maybe 6 months, but she was Spoiler for close to 15 years. She's had her own identity, that she came up with on her own, not only independent of the Bat's input, but which she maintained for years in spite of his disapproval.

Seriously, if Stephanie Brown is stealing other people's identities/thunder, then so has practically every other character in the Batverse at some time or another. So have most of the character's in the DCU, period, at some point. Which makes it kind of strange to single her out for it.

* That's actually been my biggest concern since the relaunch with characters I like that I haven't seen. That they'll finally show up, and it'll be a disaster, because they handed Cass Cain to Beechen or Winick or whoever.


** I'm not sure how to count that one. Vril Dox' group came first, but Bedard set it up so the most recent iteration was built upon Vril having access to Brainiac 5's complete files on his Legion, sent from the future. I guess it goes Superman - Legion - L.E.G.I.O.N.?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What's In The Box, Er, Drawer?!

So Foggy found something terrifying in Matt's desk drawer. Something that made him lose his balance, flashback to all his worries about Matt's "put on a happy face" campaign, and look like he was having a heart attack.

So what did he find? What could Matt be hiding that would freak Foggy out that much? Given the severity of the reaction, I think we can safely rule out the possibility Foggy found where Matt hid all his junk food. It could be some leftover memento of Matt's time possessed by a demon, whatever that would look like? How would I know, I didn't read Shadowland?

What? I should? How dare you threaten me with such a suggestion?

Back on track. Could be Matt was able to figure out which set of remains were his father's after all, and he's keeping his dad's skull in his desk. Or what he thinks is his dad's skull. Maybe it's drugs. I kind of like that idea, if only because it gave me a picture of that Green Lantern/Green Arrow cover, with Foggy saying to Daredevil, "All right Hornhead, you've always got all the answers. What do you say to this?" Then a shocked Daredevil exclaiming, "My alter ego, Matt Murdock, is a JUNKIE?!"

Well, I thought it was funny, if nonsensical.

Matt hasn't shown any signs of thinking he and Daredevil are two separate people, which is something at least. Although, given the flashbacks Foggy had to Matt saying he didn't care if Foggy thought he was in denial, of Matt saying he hates the old, angst-ridden Matt, of Foggy thinking Matt would never react this way, has Matt brought back one of those other identities. Mike Murdock? Jack Batlin? Maybe he's getting ready to ditch being Matt altogether, because it'll be easier to be Daredevil and some other guy, than Daredevil and the guy lots of people think is Daredevil?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Four Answers About The New DC

Two and a half weeks ago, I asked some questions concerning DC, mostly related to books being canceled and new ones being given the green light. Didn't take long to get some answers, so let's check in.

1) When will DC announce the next round of cancellations? This week, apparently. I thought it would be September (with the final issues shipping in December), so I gave DC credit for too much patience. I wasn't sure at first about canceling them the month they do zero issues, but I guess if the creative teams can show how things started in a way that wraps up remaining mysteries it might not be bad. I am surprised they're starting the new titles the same month. Doesn't that mean it'll be 56 books in September for the New 52? Why not wait until October, especially since those titles are just starting, why do they need a zero issue already?

2) How many books will get canceled? I said 6, the correct answer was "4". I don't know if that's significant. I could take it to mean they didn't have as many new pitches coming in that they liked. Or it could just mean the execs are happy with how most of the books are doing. Or else they made a recent creative team switch, and are willing to give it more time to see what happens.

3) Will any of the Second Wave be included in the cancellations? No, but given that some of them haven't even reached issue 2 yet, that makes sense. It would have been more of a possibility if DC had waited longer before pulling the trigger, but that isn't how it went. The question now is whether any of the Second Wave will be at first by the time DC gets ready to introduce the Fourth Wave.

4) How long until I should stop calling it the new DC, or whatever? I don't believe DC has made any comment with regard to that, but it occurred to me that I could probably stop whenever DC stops putting "The New 52!" at the top of each book's cover.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What I Bought 6/6/2012 - Part 5

Daredevil #11, 12, 13 by, Mark Waid (writer), Marco Checchetto (artist, issue 11), Chris Samnee (art, issue 12), Khoi Pham (pencils, issue 13), Tom Palmer (inks, issue 13), Matt Hollingsworth (colorist, issue 11), Javier Rodriguez (color art, issue 12 & 13), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - What is the difference between a colorist and some who does color art, do you think?

All three of these issues deal to some extent with Matt Murdock having the Omega Drive, and the various syndicates that make up Megacrime wanting it back. 11 is the conclusion of "The Omega Effect" team-up with Spidey and the Punisher, where Cole, the Punisher's new partner steals the drive from DD, and he tracks her down and talks her into giving it back. Then she gets shot by some HYDRA goof. Relax, she was wearing armor, she's fine. I'm not clear on how they convinced Castle to not kill for a night, simply on the promise he'd get to put the fear of, well, himself, into Megacrime. I guess he realized he'd get more done than if he has to waste time fending off the other heroes, but whatever.

I was concerned about Punisher's regular artist was drawing this crossover, rather than Paolo Rivera, but Marco Checchetto pleasantly surprised me. His style is maybe trying a bit too hard for realism, which is part of why his depictions of the radar sense keep bugging me. He draws Matt scanning the surrounding buildings, but he goes far too detailed on the building exteriors, instead of the more vague outlines the other DD artists favor. I don't love the seams he added to Daredevil's costume, but I do like how the fabric bunches up around the boots, or twists in places as DD moves. It contrasts to Spidey's costume, which he portrays as the more traditional, skintight spandex. I'm not a fan of his giving Daredevil a patchy beard, either, truth be told. All those minor gripes aside - and they're really more stylistic preferences than any real issues with his storytelling abilities - I think he works well for this story. I can see how his style would work for a Punisher series I'm guessing is somewhat more grounded than most superhero books, but it's not so rigid that it looks totally off when he tries to draw guys in spandex swinging around kicking people.

Near as I can tell, the plan was to make the bad guys think Spider-Man came up with a device that would wipe everything off the drive, then appear to use it. Megacrime would think all their info was gone and leave Daredevil alone, and it could be turned over to the authorities. Except the gizmo got broken before they could do that, which forces Murdock to devise a new plan, which starts in. . .

Daredevil 12, when Matt and Assistant D.A. Kirsten McDuffie go on a date at a carnival. Or Coney Island, maybe. I dunno. The twist being Kirsten blindfolds herself so Matt can show her how he sees the world. Assuming he isn't Daredevil, of course. While this goes on, Matt tries to relax, confident he has Spider-Man acting as bodyguard to keep Megacrime away. He regales Kirsten with a story of how he saved Foggy from being expelled by a vindictive asshole of a law professor through chutzpah and showmanship. He also notes it was Foggy's attention to detail - perhaps following Matt's advice - that saved Murdock from hanging himself. I enjoy stories about friends looking out for each other.

Sadly, the date's ending is ruined when a member of Black Spectre appears before them and tells Matt they'll be coming for that Omega Drive, so he better watch out. It doesn't take long as events pick up immediately afterward in. . .

Daredevil 13 where Matt drops Kirsten off at her apartment, throws on the costume with the Omega Drive around his neck, and gets out in the street, daring Megacrime to attack. Which they do, and they kick his butt. Then the reborn Black Spectre appears, kicks everyone's butts, steals the Drive and vanishes. Leaving Daredevil beaten and humiliated on live TV in front of everyone. Ouch.

But wait! It was all a clever ruse! Black Spectre was actually the Avengers! The guy who showed up in the previous issue was actually Spider-Man, taking the opportunity to simultaneously make a public display of Black Spectre's intentions (Daredevil's plan) and to ruin Daredevil's date (not part of Daredevil's plan)! Still Daredevil and Matt Murdock clearly don't have the Omega Drive any longer, and the heroes have it at their disposal to use to destroy all those criminal organizations, all's well, right? Wrong. Daredevil is teleported away to a cage in Latveria. Oh dear. Oh, and Foggy found something horrifying in Matt's desk.

Let's talk art for these two issues, and I want to start by complimenting Samnee and Pham for being on the same page about Kirsten's dress. It's actually the same dress. I know, that shouldn't be a big deal, but considering how often it seems like everyone is asleep at the wheel, it's nice when they manage to keep the little things consistent. Pham's work is maybe a bit lacking in details. Either that or people in the Marvel Universe have gotten a lot better about fleeing during battles. It still doesn't feel like DD is under attack from that many people at once, though. That being said, the fight parts are pretty good, and Javier Rodriguez is doing the color art for this issue, so it feels more in line with earlier issues than #11 did. It's brighter and more varied, which certainly helps the art pop off the page.

But issue 12, where Samnee teams with Rodriguez is where it looks best. The first page, where they use shadows to suggest one setting, then I turn the page and oh, they're somewhere else entirely, was very nicely done. There's a lot of background detail in each panel, people doing more than simply standing upright or walking. Some people jog, some chastise their kids, the different ways Matt and Foggy walk, or how Foggy fidgets with his shirt collar. I think the last two pages, when the "Black Spectre" agent appears in the flare of green smoke are my favorite. The eerie light it casts, how the perspective tilts so the agent looms over Matt and Kirsten, and the last panel, with their silhouettes backlight against the green "HAHAHAHAHA" etc. Plus, the phrase 'twist the Earth into a vortex of terror.' That's a good one.

Monday, June 11, 2012

What I Bought 6/6/2012 - Part 4

For a while there, I'd convinced myself I would ask Jack not to send the AvX tie-ins for Secret Avengers. Just ditch the book for a few months, come back after. Then I figured it was only three issues, how bad could it be? Silly Calvin.

Secret Avengers #26 & 27 by, Rick Remender (writer), Renato Guedes (artist), Bettie Breitweiser & Matthew Wilson (color art), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer) - AT least we have Alan Davis on the covers. That's pretty much the high point here, by my reckoning.

So we have a group of Avengers out in space, trying to stop the Phoenix with some cage Beast devised, based off his past experience with the Phoenix. This plan fails, as first Thor can't keep it distracted long enough, then it severely injures War Machine (whose armor was powering the cage), then when Captain Britain tries to run it off his armor, there's not enough power and the whole thing blows up. The Avengers are spared only because some Kree use a piece of the M'Kraan Crystal to summon the Phoenix to their location, where it destroys them but in the process resurrects, sigh, Captain Mar-Vell.

Brief digression. I've never cared about Mar-Vell. At all. I think it's because he'd been well and truly dead for quite some time when I started reading comics, so like Gwen Stacy, I don't see him as an integral active part of the Marvel Universe. I was going to lump Adam Warlock into that, but I think my distaste for him stems from other factors. Digression over.

The Avengers' ship was damaged so they land on Hala, Kree homeworld. Turns out there's some Kree guy with a huge brain making everyone believe the Phoenix will cause their rebirth and make them more powerful. So nobody evacuates when they hear Phoenix is on the way. Mar-Vell's under this control, and oh goody, so are Ms. Marvel and Noh-Varr, since they're part Kree, I guess. The three of them beat the crap out of the rest of the Avengers, take the wounded prisoner to be executed. Oh, and Carol's sucking face with Mar-Vell. I'm going to assume all this stuff about here loving him is a result of the Kree mind control, and not some '70s comic stuff absolutely nobody has bothered to bring up in any books featuring Carol Danvers I've ever read. I hope that's the case, even if it means Carol's being mind-controlled into another romance. At least this one can't possibly end as badly as the one with Marcus, right? Right?

By the end of the issue, the Phoenix has almost arrived, but Mar-Vell is starting to figure out something isn't right here. Of course, it took seeing some Kree civilians the Vision had freed from the mind control gunned down to do it, and most of the Avengers are unconscious, so good luck fixing this one.

Renato Guedes drew both issues, and the art's too busy for my tastes. Too many very fine little lines, everything feels stiff and awkward. It's probably realistic, but I tend to prefer a more simplified style. It can accomplish just as much, without looking so busy. Guedes does draw a very nice giant fire bird. I'm curious, though, whether I was supposed to have the impression Thor and Valkyrie are hammered drunk in issue 26. Yes, they're drinking, but the way Thor's drawn as he comes through the door, and with how Val's leaning against him, they remind me of Alex on some of the New Year's Eve parties where he let himself go. I can see Asgardians drinking before a big fight, sure, but getting that drunk? I'd expect they'd have moderated themselves slightly in deference to the times, or so as to not overly concern their teammates at least. But maybe Remender wanted them that sloshed, I don't know.

One other thing. Thor and Val get Captain Britain to drink with them, over his initial objections that he's a mean drunk. Then, when the Avengers head into space to confront the Phoenix, Braddock isn't amongst them during any of the panels leading up to the fight. He shows up after Thor's engaged it and War Machine is in the process of capturing it. Was it done that way intentionally, like Braddock was sleeping it off and got a late start, or wasn't supposed to be out there at all? Or did he just get omitted from the earlier panels because there wasn't room? I think it was a deliberate choice, but I'm not clear how it plays in with his actions that followed, or the Beast's subsequent dressing down of Brian.

Oh well, just one more issue and then the book can get back to what I'm actually interested in. Hopefully. For tomorrow, I saved the best book for last.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Burn Notice 2.8 - Double Booked

Plot: Michael starts off trying to track down Bill Johnson, the man who had the sniper rifle modified. As there are many Bill Johnsons in the area, this is taking some time. But that's kind of a boring plot, honestly. Just poking through people's trash and pretending to spray toxic chemicals on their lawns so you can break into their home and pull the sideboards off their walls. It does add a bit of levity to the subplot about Madeline wanting to try counseling again, which was nice. That got a little overwrought.

The major focus is on the sudden appearance of Dead Larry (Tim Matheson), an old spy friend of Michael's now in business as an assassin. He's here to a) kill Jeannie at the request of her idiot stepson, Drew, and b) to recruit Michael into his business. By offering him the job of killing Jeannie. Which Michael accepts as a way to thwart it. Which he will have to do without alerting the cops, as that will cause Larry to quote, 'kill everybody'. Which gets much harder when Michael (posing as Larry) finds out Drew also put out the contract through his coke dealer, so there are at least two amateurs out there trying to off Jeannie. Which does not make Larry happy.

It looks like to get Larry out of their hair, Jeannie may have to die after all. . .

The Players: Larry (Undead Spy), Campbell (Fiona's Boyfriend), Jeannie (Dead-ee), Drew (Entitled Punk), Bill Johnson (Sniper). I like it when they have a little fun with the descriptions.

Quote of the Episode: Sam - 'Just checking in? He's got a weird thing for you.' Michael - 'That's 'cause he doesn't have any friends.' Sam - 'That's because he's killed most of them, Mike.'

Does Fiona blow anything up? No. She on intelligence gathering and covert bodyguarding this episode. I emphasize "covert", because otherwise I'm sure Fiona would blow something up. Probably Drew's bed. While he was in it.

Sam Axe Drink Count: 3 (20 overall).

Sam Getting Hit Count: 0 (6 overall). Just as well. It probably would have been Larry doing the hitting, and that could have been fatal.

Michael Fake Laugh Count: 1 (7 overall). Larry makes things a little too tense for even fake laughs. He did get a smile after Sam asked Larry if he was still drinking the blood of children.

Other: Michael's alias for this episode is "Larry Sizemore". Fittingly, when Larry decides to adopt an alias, he uses "Michael Westen". Oh, that Larry.

I guess this episode counts towards the Letting the Bad Guys Do the Work count. Though Larry's really more of a problem than Drew was. The point is, by the end of the episode, one of them is no longer a concern. I think. It occurs to me someone could take the approach the Jeannie having a heart attack was really to give her an alibi while Drew's being killed. Especially when she doesn't show up at a hospital suffering from a heart attack. I suppose they could find Drew's coke dealer and get him arrested, so he might try and turn on Drew (assuming you keep him in the dark about Drew being dead).

I like how much Sam and Larry don't like each other. It's beyond even the hostility Sam and Fiona had when the series began. It makes me wonder if Sam was involved in some of that Balkans work Michael and Larry did, or if he met the guy independently. I'm leaning towards independently, since Larry was surprised to see Sam at Michael's place, but I feel Sam might not have escaped those partnerships alive without Michael as a mediating presence.

Larry really is kind of scary. He's always moving around, pacing, making hand gestures, like he has too much energy, and it shifts from that jovial, big laughs, comradely attitude to the angry, snarling, shouting about killing everyone guy in an instant. It seems like it would be a bad idea to ever let Larry within arm's reach, simply because you couldn't be sure when he'd strike, or if he would.

And he isn't entirely wrong about Michael. He does get angry at people. Clients who won't follow orders. Bad guys who don't know when to quit. It's worth wondering if he restrains himself more now than he might have in the past because he's dealing with civilians. They aren't trained, but more critically, these problems are not usually ones of national security.

Oh, we also got to meet Campbell, Fi's paramedic boyfriend. He seems nice, friendly, naive. Polar opposite of Michael, really.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

What I Bought 6/6/2012 - Part 3

In today's installment, we learn Angel can't stand to see anyone happy, and everyone and their grandmu - er, grandaunts knows he's trying to bring Giles back.

Angel & Faith #9 & 10 by, Christos Gage (script), Rebekah Isaacs (art issue 9), Chris Samnee (art issue 10), Dan Jackson (colors issue 9), Jordie Bellaire (colors issue 10), Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt (letters) - Jack sent along the Isaacs' covers this time instead of the Steve Morris' ones. Don't know why, luck of the draw perhaps. I like the little angels in the stained glass in the background on 9. You can even tell they're Angel by the stupid hair and exceedingly large forehead.

My theory Faith was trying to trick Drusilla was wrong. Not the first time that's happened. End result is with all the pain gone, Faith feels happy. Naturally, Angel can't have that, so he generally talks shit about her taking the easy way out until Dru gets fed up and decides to feed him to the Lorophage. Even though she's doing it against his will, I'm with Dru. Angel couldn't possibly be more insufferable, and if it made him happy enough he lost his soul, well, then someone could stake him. I have no problem with that endpoint.

It's not to be, as Faith comes to Angel's rescue, fending off Dru until Angel can jab the Lorophage with its own claws, causing it to release all the trauma it fed on? That doesn't seem like that's how it should work (shouldn't it get stuck in a loop of feeding off the trauma of feeding on itself?), but fine, whatever. This means all the people who came to the Lorophage - including Faith - get their pain back, which makes them understandably angry at Angel. It also drives Dru back 'round the bend, where she speaks of dire portents for Angel. Too bad she isn't sane, or she could be more precise! Oh wait. Good job, Peaches.

In the second issue, Giles' great-aunts show up. They know Angel killed Giles, but don't care, because they need protection. They've concentrated all their magical abilities into staying young and beautiful, but with magic gone, that's fading. They also made several deals with demons for various boons, to be collected when they start to show their age. Which wasn't ever going to happen as long as they had magic, but oops. I was about to blame Angel, but then I remembered that one's on Buffy (though they blame Angel, but Buffy smashed the egg thing, I'm sure of it). Our heroes have to fend off all the creditors, and when its over, are gifted with a crystal that had stored a bit of Giles' soul. Because even though they use their magic frivolously, they liked Rupert. Which is kind of sweet. And there's a surprise guest star on the last page, who will probably really piss me off in the next issue! No, not Buffy. There are plenty of other characters in this universe who could show up and piss me off.

I suppose I should be a little bothered when Angel and Faith let the fat demon pass to receive his kiss, given how horrified Lavinia looked. I mean, he's got the slimy tongue, the grin, she has her hand sup to ward him off and is crying. Just going off the art, it's a horror movie scene. On the other hand, Lavinia agreed to this, and nobody likes a welcher. Or is it nobody likes a welsher? Or nobody likes the Welsh? I forget.

I am consistently amused that Angel is the one who keeps being hardest on himself (it's his being that hard on everyone else that irks me). He tries to explain to Sophie and Lavinia that it's more complex than his being controlled, but they blow him off. Don't care at all. Even Dru was getting tired of Angel's wallowing in misery. At some point you'd think he could reach the stage where he does the right thing because he likes it, instead of because of guilt. I suppose that would require removing his head from ass. I'm curious to see if Angel forcing Faith to take back her pain causes problems. Thus far, it doesn't seem it's poisoned the waters between them, but she did seem less inclined to care about the other people the Lorophage had fed on, or Drusilla for that matter. I wonder if reliving all that pain as it came back hasn't damaged her empathy. Which could end up producing much the same effect Angel feared taking it away would. Oh well, Angel screws things up again. What a surprise.

Isaacs continues to do her usual stellar work, especially with the facial expressions, which is kind of important in an issue that's so much about people being happy, sad, content, enraged, and so on. The counterpoint of Faith with a big smile while tears stream down her cheeks, versus Dru who gets much the same look when she gets her pain back. Wide eyes, tears, big smile. A nice contrast. Plus, there was a panel on page 4, as Angel's getting into his spiel with Faith in the background, of Dru in the foreground, looking on and glaring. Gritting her teeth even. She's just so fed up right then with him. Maybe I just like it because I know how she felt. I also like how Dan Jackson went with mostly reds inside Dru's home, but then it switches to deep blues and violets once they're outside, with Angel carrying a torch out the window to kind of transition. I don't know what it means, that in the aftermath of beating the Lorophage, they're left cold? Or that they've calmed down, when before tensions were running high? Redlining, if you will?

The art chores switch to Chris Samnee for issue 10. If this is going to be the pattern for this book - 4 issue arcs drawn by Isaacs, then a done-in-one by a different artist - I can work with that. Samnee's art is a little different, linework is thicker, his tends to use shadows a bit more than Isaacs, not as many close-ups on faces, though that might be due to his issue not being as much about emotional gut punches as #9 was. Still, the principal characters are recognizable. He made sure to give Angel stupid hair and a giant forehead, for example, which is practically all you need. I love the panel of them fighting the giant snake, mostly for Faith's amused expression. I'm not sure whether she's smiling at Angel trying to not to get swallowed, or at Sophie berating the snake for not giving her six-pack abs. Also, the panel of Angel with holding nails in his mouth while he puts another door up. I don't know, he looks so domestic somehow, with the half-open eyes. It's the look I imagine a lot of people have when they do some mundane task they don't need to concentrate fully on.

All told, a couple of good issues. I know we're not even halfway through the year, but I think Angel & Faith is going to be Daredevil's prime competition for my favorite ongoing of the year. Especially if the amount of Paolo Rivera  in the latter continues to decline. Tomorrow is - Sunday. Oh right, Burn Notice. Monday then, we walk glumly into the shadow of Avengers vs. X-Men. There's next to no chance that post will be positive.

Friday, June 08, 2012

What I Bought 6/6/2012 - Part 2

It's been so long since I last received comics, most of the series I buy shipped twice. Most, but not all. So let's take a look at the ones that only shipped once.

Defenders #6 by, Matt Fraction (writer), Victor Ibanez (artist), Tom Palmer & Terry Pallot (finishers), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer) - My problem with this cover is it's basically a collage. A bunch of figures with nothing unifying them, other than perhaps the fact Danny, Prince of Orphans, and Fat Cobra appear to be jazzercising. I guess it does tell you pretty much exactly who's in this issue. That's something.

Fat Cobra almost dies, but tells Danny to 'shut down the engines'. It turns out three of the other Immortal Weapons are dead, and Misty gets angry at Danny because he can't explain what's happening. "Can't" as in, "the engine thing the Defenders found won't let him.", and she basically storms off in a huff. Danny figures Orson Randall's diaries might have some info, so he calls the Surfer in Oklahoma (the Surfer is a short-order cook in Oklahoma?) and asks for some help reading through them. Turns out Orson and his Confederates of the Curious found them in the past as well. Then the Prince of Orphans shows up and tries to kill Danny, only to be dumped in a volcano by the Surfer. Why John Aman thought he could fight a former Herald of Galactus. Anyway, now the team knows a place to look for another engine.

I don't know who to credit for what on the art. I'm guessing it's Ibanez that likes the occasional overlapping panel, which isn't distracting, but it doesn't really add much. I guess it's how he prefers to fit more into a page. He also tends to use uneven panels when action starts up. A panel being wider at top than bottom, or getting more narrow as you read from right to left. I'm not sure what the effect of that is supposed to be either. A focusing of attention? Maybe a sense of things speeding up, where you can't be as aware of everything around you because of the action, so perception narrows. I'm just spitballing. I'm also not sure who did what between Palmer and Pallot. There's a shift after the first flashback, where the art takes on a more simplified appearance. Less use of shadows, the linework is heavier, but a bit simpler. I think there are fewer panels on average, too. So that may be the dividing line. I don't think it's as simple as one guy finishing the stuff in the present, and the other the stuff in the past.

I wasn't totally enamored with Misty's portrayal. Maybe it was the art. I have a hard time picturing Misty Knight standing in shock with her hands over her mouth simply over someone beaten to a pulp. I'd expect to see her looking out the door to see if the attacker is following, or getting ready to perform first aid. I don't disagree with her wanting to know what's happening, but the fact she gives up so easily and resorts to ultimatums about their relationship, that felt off. I'd expect her to either keep pushing, or conversely, be understanding and tell Danny when he's ready to talk, come find her, she'd like to know. Either more interrogative, or less. This sort of middle road felt wrong. Sigh. I'm always complaining about how Fraction writes characters, aren't I? Except Iron Fist, I guess. This may not bode well for Hawkeye.

Green Arrow #9 by, Ann Nocenti (writer), Harvey Tolibao (artist), Mike Ativen (colorist, pgs. 1, 2, 8-20), Richard & Tanya Horie (colorists, pgs. 3-7), Rob Leigh (letterer) - I've given Howard Porter grief about his work on that Superman story in Batman Beyond Unlimited, but I like that cover. Course, I am a sucker for Westerns, and that's what it evokes, with the coat, and the showdown on a dusty (well, snowy) street.

Ollie and the Good Skylark manage to avoid dying from some angry locals who thought they were Leer. When they reach the town where the bear has ended up, they survive fighting with more angry locals. Arrow agrees to get read of Leer so they can have the gold in the mountains. Meanwhile, one of the other Skylarks drugs the good one, then rolls her under the bed so she can listen to Evil Skylark and Ollie fool around, though Good Skylark won't remember this when she wakes up. So it's just momentary torture. Glad I never had sisters. Evil Skylark drew Ollie a map of the secret tunnels, but he thinks Good Skylark did this, so he says hurtful things to her when it turns out to be a trap. He tries to fight Leer, gets his ass beat, blows up the mountain, though Leer escapes. Ollie is lucky that his friend Naomi came looking for him and happened to show up with a heli just in time.

Um, wow. There was a lot going on that first arc, and I find it all pretty intriguing. Whether I'll still feel that way after I reread the whole story, who knows? It may turn out none of it holds together. Hopefully that's not the case, but there are times where the answer to "What's the problem at hand?" seems to change so frequently it makes my head spin.

That may just be Tolibao's artwork, though. It's too bad, because I can look at it and see the outlines of some work I'd probably really like, but it's buried under a mess. Like the bear. When they find it, I can't tell if the grey blobs on its fur are supposed to be snow/dirt, or some evidence of the changes Leer put it through. When Ollie's fighting in the bar, he goes from having a rope around his arms and chest in one panel, to having both arms free and the rope in his hands in the next, to taking the rope off him in the panel after that. When he's fighting Leer, it seems like they're inside the mountain, but if so, how can the helicopter be there? Did the explosions blow a hole in the top of the mountain?

Even so, I'm still glad Nocenti's writing this book, and that I'm reading it. When Green Arrow popped up in Justice League last month or whenever, I saw a bunch of people on the Absorbascon going on about how they wished Johns was writing this book. Sure, because he needs another title to stuff with gratuitous splash pages and graphic violence. Keep Geoff Johns the hell away from this book!

Resurrection Man #9 by, Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), Jesus Saiz & Andres Guinaldo (art), Saiz, Mark Irwin & Christian Alamy (inks), John Kalisz (colors), Rob Leigh (letters) - Not one of Albuquerque's stronger covers. Must be the presence of the current, crappy Suicide Squad. They lower the tone, you see.

Mitch is dead. Again. Before the Squad can take advantage, the Body Doubles show up. A pissing contest ensues, until Mitch resurrects as living metal and beats everyone up. Meanwhile, Waller is chatting with Director Hooker, trying to come to an agreement. This agreement involves Kim Rebecki tricking Mitch into dropping his guard so Waller can kill him and cut off one of his hands before he resurrects. Then she lets him and Kim go, which pisses Hooker off, but oh well. Waller has one of Mitch's hands to study, and Kim has a bomb in her head.

You know, normally I think I'd be complimenting Waller on getting what she wanted, while stymieing Hooker (who she probably knows is no good). But I can't help focusing on the fact she sent the Squad after Mitch without mentioning that no only does he resurrect, he gains news powers every time he does. As Deadshot pointed out, that's potentially useful information she omitted, for no particular reason I can see. So official Reporting on Marvel and Legends' position remains that Relaunch Waller is at best, one-third as smart as Original Waller.

Jesus Saiz drew I think the first five pages or so. Up to the point it switched to Waller the first time. After that I think it's Guinaldo, who is OK, but I was kind of looking forward to Saiz' art. I don't buy Birds of Prey, but when people put his work there online for their posts, it looks really good. And what he did here was fine, except it was just people standing around talking. Oh, and pointing guns at each other. Not the most fun assignment.

Not a real great day on the art front with these issues. Tomorrow will be better though.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

What I Bought 6/6/2012 - Part 1

Forgot to mention yesterday, comics finally arrived. And for 6 weeks of comics we have. . . 13 books. Shoot. Atomic Robo Real Science Adventures #2 hadn't shown up yet. Hopefully by the next shipment. Jack was out of Dial H #1, but hopefully the reorder will have shown up by that next shipment. Let's start in on what I did get, though. I'm going to hit the anthology titles today.

Atomic Robo/Neozoic/Bonnie Lass Free Comic Book Day by: Atomic Robo - Brian Clevinger (words), Scott Wegener (art), Matt Speroni (colors), Jeff Powell (letters), Neozoic - Paul Ens (script), J Korim (art), Ivan Plascencia (colors), Troy Peteri (letters), Bonnie Lass - Michael Mayne & Tyler Fluharty (story), Michael Mayne (script & art) - It was nice of Jack to pull this for me. I hadn't even thought to ask for it.

The Atomic Robo story is an enjoyable little done-in-one about Dr. Dinosaur causing a disaster at Cern Large Hadron Collider to lure Robo into a trap. A trap involving a timevolved T-Rex. Which he cannot control because Dr. D doesn't think things through very well. I love how Clevinger and Wegener use Dr. Dinosaur. He shows up, causes trouble, suffers setbacks, escapes to vow revenge. He's too ridiculous and disorganized to carry a multi-issue arc, but for something like this, he's perfect because he's somehow smart enough to do what I told you he did up there. And Wegener draws a perfect bit where the Futuresaurus, having sprouted guns from all over, takes time to cough up a couple of Mausers it can hold in its still tiny forelimbs. That was gold.

The other two stories don't work quite as well for me, because they're more about setting up future stories, and in Bonnie's case, quickly recapping what came before. Which is OK, I've read both the earlier stories, but a refresher can be nice. And neither had quite as many pages as Robo did to work with, but still, they weren't exactly complete stories. Mayne and Fluharty in particular, didn't have enough space to really give us a feel for their story's world, though they made a good try of it. Anyway, those were just icing on the Atomic Robo cake, which I would have gladly paid for, but fortunately, I didn't have to.

Batman Beyond Unlimited #4 by: "Konstriction" Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen (writers), Nguyen (pencils), Fridolfs (inks), Randy Mayor (colors), Saida Temofonte (letters); "Beyond Origin: Warhawk" Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen (writers), Eric Nguyen (art), Temofonte (letters); "The Trigger Man" Adam Beechen (writer), Norm Breyfogle (artist), Andrew Elder (colorist), Temofonte (letterer); "Superman story/I can't find a title" J.T. Krul (writer), Howard Porter (pencils), John Livesay (inks), Randy Mayor (colors), Temofonte (letters) - Apparently the decision is to go with four 10-page stories, rather than alternate which of three stories gets 20 pages each month. I'm not sure this is gonna be worth it for only 10 pages of Breyfogle. I do like the "Serpent's Maw" view for the cover. And it's very bright. I'm guessing Mayor did the colors for the cover, too, and it's almost too much, but there's enough contrast between adjacent colors to keep it from becoming a muddle.

In the JL story, they travel to New Genesis with a Mother Box Bruce Wayne had, and find it has already been destroyed. Oh, and something weird is up with Darkseid and Highfather, probably from unlocking the Anti-Life Equation, which has somehow not solved the Serpent problem already. Also, terry had to wear an older version of the Batsuit. It still has all its gizmos, but also a cape. I think Nguyen just missed drawing Batman with a cape. He does draw it well, though.

Then there's the start of a story which explains how John Stewart and Hawkgirl got back together to have Warhawk if John was dating Vixen. It involves Vixen dying. That's bad. It also involves Shadow Thief and Adam Strange, which is good, I think. The Vixen thing is still a poor decision, though I have this weird nagging suspicion this amped up Shadow Thief is some future or alternate universe Vixen, really pissed at John. That may simply be me forgetting what happened on the cartoon that would make Shadow Thief so angry at GL.

In the Batman story, Terry manages to resolve the Mad Stan issue before Gotham gets blown to bits, no thanks to stupid arms dealers who underestimate Stan. It's mostly a lot of fighting, but as it's drawn by Norm Breyfogle, I am completely OK with that.  The ending is even fairly happy, which is a nice turn for a Batman story. Maybe it shouldn't be, given Stan's unrepentant about blowing stuff up whether people are at risk or not, but what the hey. Maybe getting to see Boom-Boom will keep Stan from getting any more bitter.

In the Superman story, Hologram Lex lays out his jaundiced view of Superman for his daughter, and she decides she'll try and kill the Kryptonian. Because. . . I'm not sure really. She's angry at the world? She's bored? She figures it's the only way to get at Lex' stored up wealth? I hope Krul isn't going with "She's bad because she's Luthor's kid". I hate that kind of predetermination crap. Also, Howard Porter's figures still look off. Proportions are strange, there are some very odd facial expressions. On the plus side, Superman eats a hot dog. While internally moping about how there are too many goldarned distractions for a good walk to clear his head these days. Hey, I get the feeling, I walk for the same reason, and hate distractions, too. But I can't fly at supersonic speeds to anywhere in the world, which should make it pretty damn easy to find a place for a quiet walk. So yea, the Superman story probably lost me already. Might be better to just skip it in the future, you think?

Rocketeer Adventures 2 #3 by: "Coulda Been. . ." David Lapham (story), Chris Sprouse (art), Karl Story (inks), Jordie Bellaire (colors), Shawn Lee (letters); "Butchy Saves Betty" Kyle Baker (story, art, and letters); "History Lesson" Matt Wagner (story), Eric Canete (art and colors), Cassandra Poulson (colors), Shawn Lee (letters) - I don't have anything to say about the cover. It's nice, it works with the theme of the previous two.

First story. Cliff embarrasses Betty by getting jealous again (and possibly punching out Clark Gable) and tries to make amends by showing her a little farmhouse he could buy cheap they could spend their lives in. The fantasy starts off well, but then the doubts creep in, but interestingly enough, each of them is more concerned about ruining the other person's life than their own. Which is an encouraging sign. I think. Sprouse's art is alright, for some reason I keep thinking Betty's mouth looks odd when she's speaking. Maybe too wide open?

Second story. The Shadow bought the air show Cliff works in so he can use it as a front for his international operations. They need to hire a girl to stand on the wing and collect a package in midair, and Betty's a little peeved she wasn't offered a chance. While she's blasting away with a shotgun, the dog's blasting off with the rocketpack, sending Cliff and Betty up in a plane after him, while Peevy tries to assuage any concerns about the operation the Shadow might have. OK, they never come right out and say the Shadow, but we know who it is. He clouds men's minds, it's the Shadow. I don't know about Baker's art. It's expressive, tells the story, incorporates the sound effects well enough, but man, I just don't like the look of it. The shading and the coloring make it look unfinished sometimes. Also, there's a panel that's basically nothing but innuendo, that I don't know why he threw that in there. Guess it's my fault for having a dirty mind.

Third story: Set in the far future, children learn about the Rocketeer, the first human to fly without a plane, I guess. It seems a little odd to me that he'd be remembered so well, but I guess the point is that even though Cliff originally used it to make some cash (and because he loved to fly), he grew into using it to do great things helping others, and that's the important thing. I'm not sure if Wagner and Canete are suggesting that if he abused the power, or if the Ratzis had gotten to it first people wouldn't enjoy the flight opportunities they do in that fictional universe, though the emphasis on what he did points me in that direction. I do wonder what Cliff would make of all that. Probably swell his head so much he couldn't wear the helmet. Canete doesn't use panels until the last two pages; prior to that it's a collage of images with some text boxes running down one side. There's still a sequential aspect to it, you just have to follow the panels, but I can't decide whether I like it or not.

If we're keeping score, the Atomic Robo was the favorite in its book, Beechen and Breyfogle would be my pick from Batman Beyond Unlimited,, and I guess Wagner and Canete edge out Lapham and Sprouse with the Rocketeer. I guess I wasn't quite in the mood for a melancholy Rocketeer story, and even though I said it was encouraging, you could read it as discouraging, if you think they're too worried about whether they'll be interfering with each others' dreams. It also means they each may think they don't come first in the other person's life, that flying and acting do.

Great, I've depressed myself. Tomorrow, the ongoing titles I only received one issue of over the last 6 weeks.