Monday, October 31, 2016

Movie Casting Gossip Is Scary, Right?

So Tim Miller, who directed Deadpool, won't be directing Deadpool 2. He had been having creative differences with both the writers, and perhaps more crucially, Ryan Reynolds, and it all came to a head.

The final straw seemed to have been Miller wanting Kyle Chandler for the role of Cable. My first reaction was to not have any idea who that was, though I suspected some generic, bland, big guy action type. Jai Courtney or someone like that. But no, Chandler was the head coach on Friday Night Lights, or more relevantly to me, he was the main character in Early Edition, the show about the guy who got tomorrow's newspaper and tried to change the bad stuff he saw in it. And he was in Wolf of Wall Street, but neither of those roles exactly screams, "Cable!" at me.

But I don't know who does, really. He's supposed to be a big, old guy, though I guess also reasonably attractive, at least by whatever standards Deadpool has. He usually carries huge firearms and shoots a lot of stuff. And he's supposed to be playing it serious, so you need someone who can maintain their dignity while running around with a glowy eye and a metal arm, so Wade can jab at him.

At the same time, Cable's whole deal is he's come back from an awful future to try and avert it. Sometimes this involves trying to shoot people in the face so they can't do bad shit, but other times it involves trying to do things to make the world better. Encourage the sharing of ideas, offer up what future technology he thinks he can without getting the planet blown up, help a struggling country establish a democracy and care for its citizens to show it can be done. So he has to be a somewhat hopeful character (or a self-deluding one), to try and do all that. To believe people can change, or listen to their better impulses. Deadpool is kind of the perfect test case, really.

And being a time traveler, Cable will sometimes play that game of manipulating people because he's convinced he knows what's best for them, rather than just trying to convince them to do it willingly. Either because he doesn't figure he has the time, or simply because he's thinking big picture, and manipulating them is a necessary evil. And despite being this seemingly big grumpy guy, he has a sense of humor. A lot of it seems to stem from watching people try to outmaneuver someone who already knows what they're doing, but some of it seems to come from people who genuinely surprise him.

So, an actor capable of playing a hardass, stereotypical grim action hero, but also sort of messianic, but also kind of a sneaky jerk. I have absolutely no idea who fits that, assuming they even try to cram all that in there. Might not be room for it all, since Cable is still likely to be a supporting character in Deadpool's movie. But as I think I said back in May, I am actually curious to see Cable in a movie, which is not something I would ever have expected.

If I find myself excited at the prospect of Venom appearing in another Spider-Man movie, that's when we should get really concerned. I may be having a seizure at that point.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Foyle's War 2.4 - The Funk Hole

Plot: Foyle returns from some incredibly boring conference in London, though he barely survives Sam's efforts to be at the bus station waiting for him. He's even got a case, as three guys were shot at by the Home Guard for stealing rations from an army supply warehouse. One of them, young Matthew, was wounded, though his mother doesn't know that. She just knows he's missing. Police efforts to find him lead to Brookfield Court, a place where people with the means to flee the cities being bombed do so. Having escaped the fighting, the residents snipe at each other, complain about portions, and the Hardimans accuse nervous Mr. Vaudrey of stealing from them. Before Foyle can get far in the investigation, he finds himself on suspension, because he's accused of having made seditious comments in a bomb shelter while in London. But never fear, the member of Scotland Yard who brought it to the Assistant Commissioner's attention thinks it deserves a more thorough investigation, Mr. Collier is willing to go to Hastings to do it. And while there, he'll just take over the investigation into Matthew's disappearance.

At least Foyle has time to spend with Andrew, who is on leave for a week after having to crash land in the Channel. Pity Andrew is such a pill. He's even rude to Sam when she tries to get him out of the house.

Matt's friend Dan is forcing Mrs. Powell, who runs Brookfield Court, to provide an alibi, because he knows something's going on with her and the gardener (who Sam quickly recognizes isn't much of a gardener) under her blind husband's nose. But at least Miss Powell's dog found Matt. Well, his corpse. Collier comes on far too strong ordering Brookfield turned upside-down, seemingly producing no results, except for Sam making the mistake of openly criticizing his style, which gets her sent back to the MTC, and her dragon of a commander, Bradley. Foyle, not having much luck spending time with his son, investigates these reports of his seditious statements, and soon finds they were made by another person entirely. So why were they attributed to him? And why did Mr. Vaudrey turn up dead, and how is that connected? Can Foyle fix all this and save Sam from Bradley?

Quote of the Episode: Miss Powell - 'It's not the house; it's the people in it.'

Does Foyle go fishing? No, Andrew wasn't much up for fishing with dad.

Things Sam can do: She knows her was around a flowerbed, and she's not bad at befuddling a person she questions (you can decide whether that's good or bad). Not so good at getting places ahead of time, or knowing when to keep her own counsel.

Other: Turns out Assistant Commissioner Summer gained the position because Foyle got his predecessor, Rose, canned. Presumably for Rose's hand in that mess in "The German Woman", helping the magistrate keep his wife from suffering the same internment so many other citizens of Germanic heritage did.

Milner had to question Dan at one point, and Dan made a snide remark about Milner getting out of service with flat feet. Milner was more heated with Dan than he usually is while questioning people. Not quite at the level of grabbing him by the collar and calling him a punk, but as close as he gets.

The bit where Foyle needs to sneak off to London, and Andrew tells him how he always used to sneak out was pretty funny. Especially when Andrew relates the sight to Sam later. Yes, Andrew does apologize for his poor behavior towards her, and now they may be dating (without Foyle knowing). There's even a scene where those two crazy kids walk together down a flower-lined path and the whole scene is shot in soft lighting. Stay tuned to see how that goes.

I do feel bad for Andrew. In addition to surviving that water landing, we learn Douglas, the third member of their band, who failed miserably at hitting on Sam, died recently as well. And it's only been a month since the events of "Among the Few", which removed Rex from the picture. Andrew is alone in that sense, and he has to sense he's running out of close calls. I don't blame him for being a little cross, not knowing how to deal with it. I mean, I enjoy when Foyle gets fed up with him, because it's always oddly satisfying when Foyle lets someone have it for real, no holding back. But I still recognize Andrew's dealing with some heavy stuff (and so does Foyle, who survived the Western Front, after all).

One thing that doesn't add up. Andrew tells Sam he was 8 when his mother died. He mentioned in "Eagle Day" his mother has been dead 8 years. But Andrew's supposed to be 22, same as Sam. That lack of attention to fact is why he's a poet, rather than a detective.

Michael Kitchen has this particular walk he uses at times, where his coat is pushed back a bit at the sides and he holds his hands just above belt level on either side. It reminds me of a gunfighter, ready to draw. Except Foyle's not carrying any guns. I guess it's a general, "ready for action" walk.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Start Of The New Year Is A Mixed Bag

The first thing I noticed in the January releases was a Henchgirl trade, but it's being released through Dark Horse. Not a complaint; Dark Horse does good work on collections, and I have the issues as single issues, anyway, just surprised. I figured Scout Comics would release the trade like they did the individual issues. But maybe it's beyond their current abilities. Or Gudsnuk got a better offer from Dark Horse? I don't know how all that works.

At DC, it looks as though Blue Beetle will just be wrapping up its first arc, which is not totally encouraging. I still think more creative teams should go for shorter arcs to open books, just work them into whatever larger story they're trying to tell. But give the audience some sort of conclusion, for the sense of forward momentum if nothing else.

Also, DC is releasing a series of one-shots featuring some of the characters showing up in their current TV shows. Vixen, the Atom, although Brandon Routh plays Ray Palmer and the comic is about Ryan Choi. I like Ryan Choi so I'm OK with that, but given they gave him what seems like the TV version of the costume (which is terrible looking), it's maybe a little curious. Of more relevance to me, one of the one-shots is about the Ray. So yes, I will probably buy that. I imagine it's going to be a reintroduction, a bit of an origin story, so I'll probably be reading to see how it varies from his '90s origin. At least he appears to be keeping his yellow-and-black jacket. I really love that jacket.

And the Kamandi Challenge. I don't know what to make of that, other than Dan Didio should probably stop including himself in these things. The original DC Challenge was mess, right? I know a lot of people are fond of it for how crazy it was, but they still acknowledge it was a mess. Is that what DC's shooting for, or do they think it will come together better somehow? Are we going to find out Editorial is tipping off the next creative team as to what the current one is doing, to give them time to prep? I don't think I'm going to get it, but I imagine I'll want to at least find someone reviewing it as each issue comes out, in case it's an entertaining trainwreck.

Wait, IDW has been releasing two Wynonna Earp mini-series at the same time? They have a listing for the Doc Holliday one I knew about, but there's another one called Sisters they say is going to be on issue 3 by then.  I wasn't too interested in the first, but the other I'll at least look into.

At Marvel, Ms. Marvel is back, and has not started over with a new number 1. Imagine that. On the other hand, my theory that X-Men '92 was canceled to start up again in the new year as X-Men '93 was off-base. It's still canceled, but c'mon, you wouldn't have been surprised if they had done that, right? Monsters Unleashed, where all the heroes that were so mad at each other five minutes ago team-up to hopefully lose to a bunch of sci-fi monster characters, kicks off. While the Inhumans and X-Men are busy punching each other.

Deadpool the Duck? Sigh, pass.

Deadpool is double-shipping, not a surprise, but it's a month with two concluding storylines, as both Wade's showdown with Madcap in the present, and the 2099 storyarc are ending in issues 24 and 25, respectively. That could be promising.

As it turns out, my fears Nova was pulling a bait-and-switch were unfounded, as Richard Rider is actually back. So perhaps I'll buy that to show my support. I did shake my head at the solicit trying to pose it as some sort of problem that Sam is already Earth's Nova, and where does that leave Rich? Uh, the entire rest of the universe, which has no Nova Corps that I know of? Send Rich back to space! he didn't want any part of Earth the first time they did the Civil War dumbassery, get him away from the aftermath of the sequel!

Patsy Walker, aka Hellcat is still not canceled. Hooray!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Hold the Dark - William Giraldi

Medora Slone says wolves killed her son. Well, they'd kill two kids already that winter, so sure, why not? Except Medora calls a wolf expert, Russell Core, and asks him to find and kill the wolves. Based on a book he'd written about observing a wolf pack for a year. Even though he wrote about how devastated he was when he had to kill one of the wolves for killing a child. He tries to dissuade her, but ultimately goes into the woods, and kills no wolves.

Just as well, since the wolves weren't guilty, and Medora's in the wind. Then her husband returns from the war, and proceeds to carve a bloody path trying to track her down.

I was expecting more focus on actual wolves, but Giraldi seems more interested in drawing some similarity between humans and animals. Actions taken under extreme stress, the pack mentality of small towns, keeping their secrets from everyone regarded as "outsiders", no matter how horrific. Or maybe it's supposed to be about how difficult it is living in the Alaskan wilderness, how strange and oppressive it can seem, and what it brings out in people who choose to continue living there. Because damn, do characters in this book love to go on about how cursed or off things seem there. It reminded me of Stephen King, when he's trying to establish how a particular place seems wrong, somehow. Except rather than maybe handling it in one scene and then letting events speak for themselves, Giraldi keeps having characters directly refer to it. Trying too hard.

The book is only 200 pages, but Core drops out of it for about half the book, right in the middle. There's all this murder and bizarre people (and a huge gun battle shootout with the cops that seemed out of place), and Core is in some sickly delirious state in a hotel room during all of it. Until right at the end, the sheriff ropes him back in as some last resort. It felt like Core is supposed to receive some resolution on things that had haunted him, but the book also seems to position him as an observer for something else, which doesn't really lend itself to resolving anything about him. His ending doesn't feel like it fits, and I really didn't see any point to bringing him back, other than Giraldi felt the book would sputter out otherwise.

"Mr. Core, do you have any idea what's out those windows? Just how deep it goes? How black it gets? How that black gets into you. Let me tell you, Mr. Core, you're not on earth here." She looked into the steam of her mug, then paused as if to drink. "None of us ever have been."

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What I Bought 10/12/2016 - Part 4

If I'm really going to start buying comics weekly again, I might want to get to where I'm reviewing them that week. I bought at least one of these two the week it was released, and here we are two weeks later and the review goes up. The other one is even older

Great Lakes Avengers #1, by Zac Gorman (writer), Will Robson (artist), Tamra Bonvillain (color artist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - The heroes sitting around a table talking, rather than dealing with the super-villains and rioting? Are we sure Bendis isn't writing this?

Through some contractual foofraw I don't understand, Flatman is able to wrangle the GLA being official Avengers, permanently. Hardly seems like a big deal considering they'll let anyone in these days. So, get the band back together. Except Mr. Immortal won't respond to their texts (because he's trapped in a coffin), and Squirrel Girl, well, she's moved on and forgotten her friends. Tsk, tsk. They're setting up shop in Detroit, where there are super-villains lurking. Well, Firebrand and Shriek, who I guess qualify. There's also a girl artist who turns into a werewolf. She hasn't met the team yet, but I'm sure that will happen soon.

There's some mystery revolving around something Mr. Immortal must have said or done to Bertha that Flatman and Doorman are tiptoeing around. Guess we'll find out about that soon. I'm sort of curious about this girl, Pansy, who had Mr. Immortal's phone. What's her deal? Can she and the werewolf girl survive being members of the team? I'm actually kind of into this thing about Doorman having been away in other realms so long he's forgotten things about earth, and all his references are dated. That bit about being pretty sure his mother's hair was the color of wet fall leaves, was creepy and sad, but in an intriguing way. I may have problems.

Robson's art reminds me of Art Adams crossed with someone I can't place. I keep wanting to say Kevin Maguire, but I don't think that's right at all. Maybe Ryan Stegman from a few years back? I don't know. The main thing that jumped out to me was how young Flatman looks in some of those panels where he's three-dimensional. He looks about 16. I like how he draws werewolves. That's pretty much how I envision them (if perhaps a bit more fearsome), so no complaints there.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #12, by Ryan North (writer), Erica Henderson (artist), Rico Renzi (color artist), Travis Lanham (letterer) - Oh look who it is, Little Ms. "I'm too Good to Respond to Texts from My old Teammates". Like she's some bigshot Avenger now. She's not even on a good Avengers team. They're sticking her on a roster with Red Hulk and frickin' Sunspot! I'd sooner be on a team with Deathcry, or one of those Jonathan Hickman characters I don't give a shit about. OK, I'll drop that now.

With Brain Drain doing a good job fighting crime, Doreen consents to going on a vacation with her mother and Nancy to Canada. There she is bored out of her mind until her mother reveals a muffin she baked has been stolen. It turns out to be the work of a bunch of little guys called Enigmo, who can form into one big guy, also called Enigmo, who defeats Squirrel Girl. Back in civilization, Enigmos have infiltrated every aspect of government, and claim they now run the world. Well sure, can't be worse than the folks doing it now.

I had a good time reading this. Both plot lines, Brain Drain dealing with a bunch of criminals that look suspiciously alike (but he can't figure out there's a problem), and Doreen being bored trapped away from any modern luxuries. I am disappointed that on the splash page of Brain Drain hefting the car, the page is cut off so you can't see Larry the Bank Robber's face as he freaks out. I know he's running off page to be grabbed by Doreen on the next page, but I wanted to see Erica Henderson's rendition of a guy freaking out about someone lifting a car. Also, Brain Drain's attempts to educate criminals on the folly of their ways is pretty great, along with the responses. 'Man I just need a new laptop, don't make this so dark!'

The cottage magazine gags are pretty great. I might need to read that painting one. There are certain images in my head I think my only chance of making look as I envision them is with paint. But I suck at painting, so it's a conundrum. If only there were a way to gain experience, possibly from another human being with more experience. But alas, no such thing exists. Back on topic. The image of Tippy with her little doll sunglasses, ready for vacation, was pretty cute. Doreen's frustration with the lack of electronic diversion, and how quickly she seized on any mystery was funny. That reaction panel when her mother mentions the mystery, and the view zooms way in on her eyes as she says, "I'm listening," that worked well for me. The extreme close-up suggested how intently focused she was on this possibility of excitement by how intently focused we were on her reaction. Seems odd when I type that, but it's how it worked with me.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Something Terrible And Beautiful

The Heiress is not the sort of movie I'd usually watch. Olivia de Havilland is playing a plain-looking young woman who already has one $10,000/year inheritance from her deceased mother, with another, $20,000/year inheritance coming from her doctor father (Ralph Richardson) when he passes. Montgomery Clift is a ne'er-do-well who figures to get those inheritances to waste on himself with a bunch of sweet nothings. The problem being, Catherine's father sees through him immediately, and if he doesn't approve of Catherine's choices, he'll rewrite his will to leave his money to the hospital. And Morris wants all that money, not just part of it.

But the doctor blows it, too. He's too willing to say exactly what he thinks of Clift, not only to him, but to Catherine and anyone else in range. Morris is smart enough to play the honorable man who loves the girl too much to fight her father over an insult, which only makes Catherine defend him more. If this is the doc's bedside manner, I'd hope never to land in his care. That's not even taking into account an American hospital in the 1800s is not much of a place to be. End up like President James Garfield, dying because my doc can't stop jamming his dirty fingers inside my injury. When Clift confirms the doc's suspicions by vanishing into the night rather than eloping with Catherine and being happy with $10,000 a year to waste, the doc still can't fight that urge to be a total douche. Does he express sympathy for his daughter's broken heart? No, of course not. He plays the "I told you so," game, because of course she should have known better than to think that man actually loved her.

And Catherine's had it. She doesn't scream at him, she doesn't clutch at him and plead for him to stop, as she did when he'd badmouth Morris to her previously. She coldly eviscerates him. He has spent her entire life comparing her to her deceased mother and finding her wanting, and when not doing that, holding the threat of disinheriting her over her head. So she insists she'll pursue Morris, and he protests that Morris doesn't love her. That he did her a favor by proving it now rather than her figuring it out 20 years down the line. And she responds that it isn't so bad to live with someone who doesn't care for you. She had lived with her father for 20 years and survived.

So he tries the, "I'll rewrite my will!" gambit, and she calls the bluff. Tells him to do it. She never cared too much for money (though money could buy her love), and she's still got that 10,000 a year. So she encourages him to do it, in one of those mock supportive voices, brings him the paper and dares him to carry it out. And he fails, maybe because he does love her, in his own, shitty way. I don't think there's any one line that was really spectacular, but it was the whole thing. The change in her manner, the shift in her tone of voice, to something hard and cruel. The doctor has spent all this time making her feel worthless and of no importance to him, and he ends up with a daughter who cares nothing for him, and offers nothing he can use to gain purchase on her.

The doctor's health, already failing, goes quickly, so Catherine has few opportunities to get payback, but there's still Morris. It takes a few years, but he oozes back into her life eventually, and she gets a chance to enact a little revenge on him. She doesn't believe his sweet words this time, because he helped teach her not to believe such expressions as genuine. Or else she's come to believe that falling in love with someone is them trying to get something out of you. I'm glad she got some back on him, but I couldn't help worrying for her. I'm not one to criticize if someone is comfortable being alone, but I wonder if she is going to be happy going forward.

Still, I really enjoyed watching her exact revenge on both those assholes.

Monday, October 24, 2016

What I Bought 10/12/2016 - Part 3

I kind of hate holidays which dominate all the channels that show movies. Halloween and Christmas are the two biggest offenders. Judging by some of the tumblr sites I see this may qualify as heresy, but I don't want to see nothing but scary movies all October.

Ms. Marvel #11, by G. Willow Wilson (writer), Adrian Alphona and Takeshi Miyazawa (artists), Ian Herring (colorist), Joe Caramanga (letterer) - So we've progressed from defacing posters to smashing, um, emblems. Durn disrespectful teen heroes.

So Hijinx makes a fake threat to blow up a salvage yard to draw out Becky, who Kamala fights until Danvers shows up. At which point Kamala tries to make her case for predictive justice being stupid bullshit, except a) she mentions Rhodey, and b) she invites Tony Stark. Because when you're trying to have a reasonable conversation, bringing condescending cocky asshole Tony Stark along is a perfect idea. So everyone goes away angry, but Bruno is awake, so surely there will be good news. No, Bruno is thoroughly pissed and planning to go to Wakanda, which is where the only engineering college left open to him is. So everything is awful.

Not that I'm sorry to see Becky in jail, but I question arresting her for impersonating an officer. She was part of an officially sanctioned team, and Danvers had no problem with her imprisoning people up until the moment after she fired her, sorry court-martialed her. Which seems like it should be under an entirely different jurisdiction from the police.

Danvers is mad at Kamala, Bruno is mad at her. I can't wait to see who reads her the riot act next, he said sarcastically. I feel I should have more to say, and once we see the remainder of the fallout I will hopefully have some sort of reaction, but I can't avoid feeling tired of this tie-in. Because Civil War II is stupid as hell. Wasn't rooting for a big event to come along and trash all the things I liked about this book. I do enjoy the Canadian ninjas, and their attack method of throwing random crap at people. No wonder the Maple Leafs can't win a Stanley Cup. Something I didn't notice until now: When Kamala rushes to the hospital at the end of the issue, she's wearing one rubber boot, and one red sneaker. I feel I should make some joke about that one Tom Hanks movie, but I don't know the movie well enough. Something something, Jim Belushi going crazy over vanishing corpses.

Darkwing Duck #5, by Aaron Sparrow and James Silvani (storytellers), Paul Little (colorist), DC Hopkins (letterer) - I'm not going to question the cat holding an anvil on the basis of physical strength, but I do question it's ability to grip without thumbs.

Out of the case files, Darkwing tries to track down a missing cat from an experiment, the theft of which may be connected to many other mysterious thefts. As it turns out, the experiment made the cat, Fluffy, super-smart, and it's co-opted dozens of other cats into an army of thieves for it. Which Darkwing defeats by virtue of a passing street sweeper. Fluffy is the Hannibal Lecter-like criminal that was able to escape the prison with Mortimer's help in the first story arc, and the two are currently building themselves some sort of suit.

Reading this, I kept having a feeling of deja vu. Especially when Darkwing's attempt to disguise himself as a street vendor ended with some bulldog knocking his block off while calling him a, 'vicious and contemptible beast.' And again when he bursts into a hotel room to apprehend what he thinks are the foes behind the thefts, and finds a bunch of his arch-enemies all chipped in on pay-per-view for a beauty pageant. And then in the backmatter, it was explained this story originally appeared in the second issue of Disney Adventures magazine (though not presented as a flashback) in 1992. A magazine I happened to have (I think I got Disney Adventures for at least three or four years).

Can't quite tell if I feel ripped off or not. Isn't like the story was etched firmly into my memory prior to this. And Silvani had some fun with it, judging by the ridiculous face he gave Launchpad while he whispers, 'so cuuuute'. Or the glower DW gives him when he thinks Launchpad is messing with him. And there were a couple of gags in there that, if they weren't new, I'd completely forgotten, so that's a plus.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Foyle's War 2.3 - War Games

Plot: Sir Reginald runs Empire & European Foods, and is ecstatic at the news his son Simon brings from Switzerland, that the company will have all sorts of contracts to supply various fats on the continent, no matter who wins the war. Not everyone is so happy, including Sir Reginald's secretary Agnes, but she can barely make a mysterious phone call before she goes plummeting out the window. Before long, a barrister named Beck visits the cottage of a pair of siblings, Lucy and Harry. They're hard up for money, and Beck leverages that to get Harry to break into Sir Reginald's house. Harry makes it into the safe, but can only make off with a shiny silver box before he has to run, with a load of buckshot in his shoulder as a parting gift from Simon.

So now Harry's got all sorts of problems. Sir Reginald and Simon are looking for the thief. Foyle and Milner are looking for the thief, and Harry's the only ace safecracker in the area. He's hidden the box somewhere, which has got Beck trying to threaten him. And by pulling that job, Harry broke his word to a couple of old partners, Mike and Albert, and they want their cut (for something they had nothing to do with). So it's not terribly surprising when Harry, while taking part in a war game exercise as part of the local Home Guard, winds up dead, shot in the head at point blank range, but only on the third shot.

Foyle's got other problems. Not playing referee for the war game; that was easy. But the British Army unit playing the invaders is lead by a Captain Devlin, who was Foyle's sergeant before Milner. Devlin has some history with Harry Markham as well, and wasn't too happy to see him out of prison. And a squad of tow-headed troublemakers are stealing anything that isn't nailed down for salvage, leading Foyle to put them under Sam's command just to get them off his back.

Foyle is able to learn from Lucy that Mr. Beck came to visit Harry. Beck eventually spills the beans on what he's after, and it involves the forced rapid departure from Germany by Beck and his wife, who has since died. Sir Reginald's family was involved, and Beck wanted to bring them down before the mysterious Ms. Pierce insists he embark on a mission. Maybe some chocolate-crazy kids can lend a hand.

Quote of the Episode: Foyle - 'This is the second salvage collection I've missed. They've got me down as a fifth columnist.'

Does Foyle go fishing? No, his greatest recreation was watching the Home Guard get thoroughly humiliated.

What Sam can do: Justify her and the kids helping themselves to the snacks for the war games. Though, given how quickly the Home Guard got rolled, I'm not certain what they learned, keeping up the strength of salvage-seekers may be more vital.

Other: There's a whole subplot about Sir Reginald's unhappy marriage to his second wife. She's not privy to all this mess going on with her husband and his son, and when she tries to ask, he keeps telling her it doesn't concern her. She ultimately leaves, at least in part because there's no room for her in this house. Good timing, as it turns out.

So Foyle is pretty standoffish towards Devlin, and not in his typical way, where he isn't someone who easily gets jovial with people. It ultimately turns out that Harry was out of prison because Devlin tried planting evidence, and it was painfully obvious, so Foyle was forced to drop the burglary charge, and Harry was only guilty of breaking and entering or something like that. All this comes out with Foyle finally holding forth after Devlin continues to not admit what he did. Foyle has this great, "Really?!" expression at times like this, where he's weary and incredulous all at once. Just can't believe this guy who worked with him for however long is going to try and play dumb with him.

Gotta love Mike and Albert, expecting a cut of a heist they weren't involved in, claiming 'all for one' when they hung Harry out to dry on that last job that landed him in prison. Couple of real winners there.

Emily Blunt, who starred in that movie Sicario I think, plays Lucy Markham. Not a huge role, but as the one person Harry would sort of confide in, Lucy does prove key. And she gets to fend off Simon's creepy, piss-poor attempts to first bribe, then charm, finally intimidate her into helping him find what he wants.

This is the first appearance of Ellie Haddington as Ms. Pierce, but it won't be the last. She's involved in intelligence and espionage, and as a result of the dirty dealings frequently resorted to, she and Foyle will cross paths again. I like Pierce. For one thing, when she walks outdoors, she has this deliberate thing she does with an umbrella she uses like a cane. It's an affectation, but a stylish one, which counts for something. Beyond that, Pierce is kind of like Amanda Waller. She can play dirty, but she has some principles. They sometimes match Foyle's, and sometimes they don't. So they can be allies, or antagonists. Pierce will use Foyle for her purposes, and sometimes he can get her to help.

Recurring theme of people trying to hide their pasts. Devlin and Sir Reginald most prominently. Neither one exactly thinks they did anything wrong, but neither wants the hassle of explaining it to others. Harry isn't trying to hide it so much as half-heartedly run from it. Simon is going along with his father, but just barely, because he's a true believer, rather than an opportunist. Beck doesn't ignore his past, and doesn't want Sir Reginald to be able to either, but he tries hard to conceal it from everyone else.

Reginald has this quote where he tells Foyle about how business is bigger than war, and will go on after it. Foyle's response is an excellently delivered, 'Well, thank you for that fascinating insight.' Which is more polite than "fuck you," but translates to roughly the same thing.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Maybe I'll Get Back To Heroclix Soon

Normally in mid-September I do a post looking at what DC-themed sets of Heroclix came out in the last year, and whether any of the unclixed characters I'd like to get were made. Then I repeat it with Marvel a month later. I missed last month's post, but given it's been years since I played the game regularly with anyone, it hardly seemed a big loss. But, as mentioned earlier this week, maybe that could change in the near future. Possibly, but what the hell. Let's do a twofer.

DC

DC hasn't had a set since February, but there was a Superman/Wonder Woman set last fall, with a lot of Fourth World characters as a subtheme, as well as a decent number of Wonder Woman villains. Then in February, in rapid succession there was a Worlds' Finest set, followed a couple of weeks later with Batman vs. Superman. The movie-themed one doesn't interest me, but Worlds' Finest at least had Doom patrol and Metal Men subthemes, among others. Got our first Ragman since 2006, and Negative Man got made for the first time ever (Doom Patrol fans have been screaming for him for years. They made Negative Woman back in 2007, in the Origins set, I think). So, at least some updated versions of characters I like, but what about the ones still awaiting their turn? Let's check my list:

1. Sand
2. Terra (Atlee)
3. Enemy Ace
4. The Unknown Soldier
5. Grace

Swing and a miss. Not really a surprise, although I thought maybe Grace, as a member of the Outsiders, would make it in Worlds' Finest. I feel like Atlee being positioned as a friend to both Power Girl and Starfire ought to get her a shot here eventually, but who knows. Given the Justice Society is largely on the outs at DC these days, not much reason to expect old Sandy the Golden Boy any time soon.

Marvel

Let's start with the list, just to take care of that:

1. Silhouette
2. Stacy X
3. SHIELD Agent Derek Khanata
4. Umm, shoot, I really should have refreshed my list after Rage and Triathlon got crossed off last year.

Marvelwise, there was a Captain America: Civil War set, an Uncanny X-Men set, a Superior Foes of Spider-Man set, and some "storyline organized play" set arranged around the comic book Civil War. That last one produced Silhouette, so I can't complain too much. The X-Men set was more '80s focused, so no Stacy X. Plenty of Marauders and members of Freedom Force, if you were the person dying for Super Sabre and Stonewall. I know, I'm one to talk.

The Superior Foes set really filled out the Serpent Society, which wasn't something I was exactly pining for, but I can appreciate it. The ability to field an army of moderately priced, snake-themed villains is appealing. Plus they did their first new Boomerang since the very first Marvel set, which was like 15 years ago. They even made a Nightwatch heroclix. Nightwatch being the kind-of a Spwan rip-off they put into the Spider-Man books for a hot minute in the '90s. Definitely not something I was asking for, but credit for digging deep.

So, characters to add to the list. They made a Devil Dinosaur in the last year, they could make a Moon Girl to go with him. If Jennifer Walters' assistant Angie (and her partner Hei Hei's) power were better defined, I'd say throw them in. Oh, let's get a Madcap, or a Slapstick. or both. They could go ahead and make a new Stingray. I know I wasn't a fan of the Mercs for Money, but that was because Duggan failed to give me any reason to care, not because I necessarily think they're worthless characters.

Except Solo, but they already gave him a Heroclix, so too late to close that barn door.

Or Negasonic Teenage Warhead. They brought her back to the comics after the Deadpool movie, so I assume it's just a matter of time. Or the Ghost of Ben Franklin.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

No Margin for Error - Dwight R. Messimer

In the mid-1920s, General Billy Mitchell was pushing for the Navy's air arm to be folded into a single, independent air arm. The Navy didn't want this, and were desperate for some public relations coup to prove how great their air service was. They settled on a nonstop flight from California to Hawaii, and then the trouble starts.

The seaplanes they plan to use aren't certain to have sufficient range, but they add some new carburetors that are supposed to improve fuel efficiency, but the project is in such a rush they don't have time to actually test the modifications to see if that's true. Or, rather, they don't take the time. But they're all sure they'll have a 20-30 knot tailwind, so that'll make up the difference, right? As long as it materializes. They can barely get the three seaplanes in the air for test flights, and find all sorts of mechanical issues.

So the flight is a pretty serious failure, with one plane never getting in the air, one having to emergency land, and the third runs out of gas over 400 miles short of its goal. And because the radio operator on the nearest observation ship was an incompetent dope, the search party is looking in entirely the wrong place. So the second half of the story is the crew on PN9-1 trying to survive while they either figure some way to communicate with the ships or else steer their seaplane to the island of Kauai.

Messimer argues the total failure, combined with the crash of the airship Shenandoah on a flight across the country at the same time, actually helped save the Navy's air service. It brings things to a head, where President Coolidge appoints a board to decide whether all aviation should be under a single independent government heading or not. The conclusion is "not", which was for the best, but it seems curious for the Navy to benefit for such a cock-up that was brought on by placing a desire for headlines above common sense and proper preperation.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What I Bought 10/12/2016 - Part 2

Nothing like having a question about some movie we're watching and not wanting to ask because I know my dad will launch into some overly long, ten-minute dissertation on the thing.

Blue Beetle #1, Keith Giffen (story and script), Scott Kolins (story and artist), Romulo Fajardo Jr. (colorist), Josh Reed (letterer) - Seems like more of a Spider-Man pose there than one for a character that can fly.

Curious issue. Jaime relates a dream he had to Brenda of Dr. Fate fighting a giant beetle. Brenda is extremely acerbic and not helpful. Then Ted ropes Jaime into investigating a tip from a super-powered street gang, concerning a bunch of missing kids. One of whom Jaime runs into, and the kid now has shadow-melting powers. Jaime fights him off, but then the aforementioned super-powered street gang shows up.

For some reason, Giffen and Kolins are writing this so no one gives Jaime any sort of straight answer. Brenda is unhelpful, Ted's assistant and Ted both ignore any questions he ask, not to mention any objections he has. Overall, it makes Jaime look like a dope that's letting everyone herd him around. Like, refuse to keep going along with Ted until he produces some concrete answers.

The high point was probably Ted making a brief allusion to knowing Nightshade (as an example of someone with shadow powers) from his own time as a superhero. I had thought this Ted was a superhero wannabe, but it sounds like he was the Blue Beetle at some point. Which improves the chances of Booster showing up sometime soon, which ought to be good.

I like the designs for the Posse, especially the vibrating reddish guy, and the purple, Candlejack looking guy with the glowing weapon thing. We'll see if it translates once they get into action, but they make for interesting visuals, at least. I don't entirely like how he draws Blue Beetle, his lines make the suit look odd somehow, like the elements don't fit. I do like how the suit morphs, expands, gets more sharp as the situation grows more desperate. Plays into that dream, with a giant beetle monster fighting Dr. Fate.

The potential is there for me to enjoy this book, but toning down the antagonism between the characters that are supposed to be friends would be a help.

Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1, by Sarah Vaughn (writer), Lan Medina (illustrator), Jose Villarubia (color artist), Janice Chiang (letterer) - That's not really good attire to be roaming through a massive yard at night with a candelabra.

Glencourt Manor is the "dark mansion" in question. It has the ghost of a young woman named Adelia Ruskin in it, as well as something else, an oozing dark shadow. Berenice is living there with Nathan, who is trying to get some novel written. But Nathan's health isn't great, and Berenice sees ghosts, so this isn't the best place for either of them. And into all this flied Boston Brand, only to find himself on unfamliar ground. Berenice can see him, not that she wants to. The house has trapped him, where he can't escape, and sometimes can't pass through objects. There's also Berenice's friend, Sam, who Boston can't possess for some reason. And by the end of the issue, Boston and Adelia vanish together, leaving a confused Berenice alone.

So there are a lot of mysteries in here, which is fine with me. Gives me something to mull over, whether they're interconnected or not, coming up with strange theories. I don't know if the book is meant as a Gothic horror story, or Gothic romance, or both. Nathan seems like the soulful, deeply troubled pretty boy, and Berenice the kind, but shy and uncertain heroine. Except Berenice is shy at least in part because she tries to shut out the spirits she can see around her. Not sure how Sam or Boston fit in, but we're up against the limits of what I understand of the genre.

Most of the colors Villarubia uses are fairly muted, kind of mundane. Which makes the parts where he steps outside that all the more effective. The bright yellow when Boston meets resistance to his passing through something. The pitch black shadow. I think Adelia is drawn in by Lan Medina, then not colored in, similar to what Declan Shalvey did in Moon Knight. Makes her seem disconnected from the whole thing in a way none of the other characters are. Which is interesting, since you'd think she'd be distinctly connected to the place she's haunting.

Medina does a solid job with the figure work. There are a few places characters seem a little stiff, but overall, the expressions are good, and when Medina gets a chance to draw more of the house, and use it to create a sense of looming threat, he does it well. The panel of her helping Nathan down the hall of doors, with the hall curving out of sight at the end, that one worked really well. Not sure why, some sense of the hall extending on forever, and endless string of identical doors that Berenice could see if she only went around the bend a little further.

And I like how for the first half of the book, written from Berenice's perspective, we see Boston flying around the manor, testing the place, and she has no idea what's going on. We understand why Boston Brand would show up, but she doesn't know him, and the issue shows him a lot with Berenice watching him from a distance. Even though he might be close to us, it helps put the reader in the mindset of seeing it how she is. Bizarre, something she can't understand, and doesn't want to get close enough to that she could.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Clearing

I stumbled across The Clearing when there was nothing else on one night. Willem Dafoe kidnaps a wealthy businessman, played by Robert Redford, to hold him for ransom. The movie alternates between scenes of Dafoe marching Redford through the woods at gunpoint, and what Redford's family are up to.

Most of the family scenes involve Helen Mirren, who is playing Redford's wife. She has called in the FBI, but the decision on whether to follow their advice keeps mostly resting with her. Demand to hear from Redford or not, stall for time or not, while also trying to keep anyone in the family from losing it.

Redford's character has a reputation for remembering everyone's names and faces, which makes them feel special when they deal with him. And he tries being personable with Dafoe, but it's somewhat hindered because they had met previously, and Redford doesn't remember him. Even so, they chat a bit, compare lives, but when it doesn't get Redford anywhere, he finally loses patience and tears into Dafoe verbally. It's hard to blame him, but it does feel a bit like the man with everything criticizing someone for not being as determined as skilled as him (Redford even pulls out the, "Nobody ever helped me/I did everything myself" line, which I tend to always suspect as bullshit). But credit for not developing Stockholm Syndrome.

On the home front, Mirren takes the approach of trying to keep things pretty much business as usual. There aren't any hysterics, no outbursts, even when she figures out her husband had not broken off an affair he was having. She seems to have resolved to maintain composure, probably for herself as much as her children. She has to continue as if he will return. They even celebrate the grandchild's first birthday as planned. It's impressive, if a little sad, because I can't quite tell what kind of toll holding that in takes on her. Maybe it's the best way for her, to focus on how she feels about him, versus what she fears may have happened.

Monday, October 17, 2016

What I Bought 10/12/2016 - Part 1

I might, here in the next month, actually be able to resume weekly comic reviews. Maybe. It won't go back to the early days, when I'd cram like 5 shitty reviews into one post, but I would like to get back to it being a more regular feature again.

Deadpool #19 and 20, by Gerry Duggan (writer), Scott Koblish (artist, #19), Matteo Lolli (artist, #20), Guru eFX (colorist, #20), Nick Filardi (colorist, #19), Joe Sabino (letterer) - When I first saw that cover as a preview, the girl's blue-tinted hair made me think Wade was hanging out with a ghost. Old Ben Franklin sent someone to keep an eye on him or something. But no.

Issue 19 is a return to 2099. The first round between the Daughters of Deadpool ends inconclusively, Warda successfully escaping, but Ellie having rescued Wade and Preston. Warda still has one of her mother's WMDs, an Elder Beast sealed within one of those glass coffins, and demands her mother or else she'll unleash it on an unsuspecting populace. Wade gives Ellie the location her buried Shiklah, and goes looking for back-up, in the form of what I'm assuming is an extremely old-ass Danny Rand. I guess it could be his successor, there's enough time between now and 2099 for that person to be a wizened geezer too.

So a set-up issue. Lots of talking around things we haven't seen yet, which gets frustrating. The scene where Ellie is reunited with Preston and Wade was sweet, even if she still won't call him "dad". I feel like Koblish's design for Wade's outfit, the coat with the really high collar, is a lot like the one Flint Henry used in the Jim Twilley issues of GrimJack, which involved catching up with the character after a jump of a couple of centuries. Could be a coincidence, though. I like how Koblish is doing page layouts. He uses a lot of small panels swinding their way between two or three larger ones. Allows for a lot of close-up panels for reaction shots, but also establishing setting or allowing for action shots. I feel like the smaller panels are supposed to give a sense of rapid-fire pace, before hitting the larger ones and pausing for a moment to take it in, but honestly, I always feel like I'm bullshitting when I talk about how page layouts effect pacing. I see a lot of people mention it in reviews, but I've never noticed it much myself. It's like a series of notes at a frequency I can't hear. But it's probably there. Plus, all the small panels made turning to that full-page spread reunion shot more effective for how much space it gets.

Issue 20 returns to the present, with Wade wanting to mope on the ruins of his home, only to find a young woman named Danielle preparing to end her life. Which puts Wade in the position of trying to keep her from doing that. So he opts to bring her along with him as he does some pro bono charity work. Meaning he beats the shit out of crappy people he'd received letters about doing crappy stuff. Geez Wade, Captain America had an entire hotline back in the '80s, and you're still relying on snail mail?

This does temporarily raise her mood, eventually, and then Wade brings her to the hospital to try and receive help. Because Wade is at least aware enough to recognize he isn't a trained medical professional. Wade has several lines here that are probably not things he should say, which makes them kind of hilarious? Telling Danielle she should probably go a few blocks down to Parker Industries if she wants to fling herself to death, or that he was bitten by a sad, radioactive clown. Telling her not to be presumptuous because he doesn't care yet, or that she's terrible at knowing what people are going to say next. Booing her for doing a poor job kicking a guy who steals from his elderly neighbors. And the fact that anytime he's going to bust through a door, he knocks first and yells, "Sexy maids!"

Hey, that would get me to come to the door to see what's happening.

Matteo Lolli takes over art chores for this arc. His strongest point is probably the expressions he gives Wade. The exaggerated frown as he relates his sad clown, or the big toothy grin as he admits people say he makes them uncomfortable. That grin would definitely make me uncomfortable. Lolli doesn't get to draw much fighting, but he does well with what he does. Though I wanted to see those hackers actually get a chance to attack Wade with a keyboard, just to see how that worked out for them. I mean, I know it would have ended horribly, but the specifics would have been fun. Although I think when Wade breaks the arm of a guy with a gun, he breaks the left one, but in the panel before, the guy was holding the gun in his right. Little thing, but noticeable.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Foyle's War 2.2 - Among the Few

Plot: Foyle departs a boring committee meeting, but eager as he and Sam are to return to Hastings, they have to wait for a checkpoint. But a lorry driver named Fred Pierce isn't interested in waiting, and leads them in a high-speed chase that ends when he wrecks and the wooden barrels full of stolen petrol he had ignite and kill him. Fred had connections to a local Mr. Big, Frank Gannon, which means this is no one-time occurrence. Stealing petrol in no laughing matter in war, and the only depot in the area is Bexhill, run by a Michael Bennett, a rather lecherous old sod who spends a lot of time barely concealing his drooling over the lady lorry drivers, to his wife's consternation. However, his system for sending out fuel shipments seems solid enough. So it's time for Sam to go undercover! Hot diggety!

Slight problem: Andrew Foyle - who is out of that whole thing testing the radar net and flying fighter patrol over France - is dating one of the girls who works at the depot, Violet. Vi thinks they're pretty serious, despite Andrew never even introducing her to his father. The best lie Andrew can come up with to cover their knowing each other is that he and Sam used to date. Because that's what your girlfriend wants to hear, especially when Andrew comes to Sam's defense at the pub (when an attempt at asking a Sean O'Halloran some questions goes poorly). Andrew's wingman, Rex, is dating Connie, who is the one training Sam as a driver (it's no mean feat to find your way around the countryside when there are no road signs). Things aren't all peaches and cream there, either, culminating in Connie having a complete breakdown in the middle of the pub a few days after the brawl. Andrew offers to take her home, and the next morning, she's found dead in the staircase. And when Foyle and Milner investigate, they find a picture of Andrew in Connie's diary.

All that leads to some unpleasant conversations between the two Foyle men, and an equally unhappy one between Andrew and Violet later. Meanwhile, Sam is being pulled out of her undercover assignment, but when both the Bennetts leave their office, she can't resist the chance to rifle through their safe. Too bad that's when someone brings in a bomb.

Quote of the Episode: Rex - 'No secrets between Andrew and me.'

Does Foyle Go Fishing? Nope.

Things Sam can do: A passable job as a lorry driver, despite not being adept at the lingo or having the appropriate stench of petrol, according to O'Halloran. Pretty decent at being observant, she picked up the safe combination watching from the corner of her eye.

Other: Interesting vocab for the week, "Conkers". Andrew also calls O'Halloran a "bog dweller", but that's not very nice, so let it pass. At least Andrew's commander chewed him out for starting a brawl. Gee, Andrew, I can't imagine why some of the Irish might not be all on board with helping the English. Granted that they could hardly expect better from the Nazis, but people are endlessly capable of self-deception, right? Or too wrapped up in anger to care.

Probably a lot of spoilers below.

I had a recollection of Sam surviving the bomb by using the safe, but that was inaccurate. Not sure why I thought it was the case, probably conflating it with something else. But hiding behind a table, waiting for the bomb to go off, that has to suck.

Andrew is only 22, and one of the most experienced pilots in his wing. Him, Rex, and Douglas, the last of whom can join the growing list of boys who tried hitting on Sam and went down in flames.

This is probably one of Sam's more successful attempts at undercover work. She did nearly get killed, but the person wasn't trying to specifically do that, which is better than most of the time.

Frank Gannon made the claim that he might be a criminal, but he was 100% English. He was apparently less sincere than the mob boss Valentine in The Rocketeer. Near the end, when Foyle shows up to confront Gannon with certain truths (and arrest him for stealing petrol), Gannon starts in with these pleasantries, and Foyle just looks so bored by the whole thing. He doesn't actually roll his eyes, but that impression boils off him in waves.

So one big reveal in Connie is pregnant, and while searching her room, Foyle and Milner find bicarbonate of soda, which Milner mentions Jane is also using. He's somewhat disconcerted when Foyle reveals Connie was 4 months pregnant, and perhaps Milner should ask Jane. Although Foyle actually phrases it as 'I should.' Which is a phrase he uses frequently, rather than "I would." Which I find curious.

The other big reveal is that Rex was actually into Andrew, and using Connie as a beard, is the term I think. The photo in her diary was one Rex was carrying that she found during the brawl. The story doesn't dwell on it much. Not on how much Rex may struggle with his feelings, how Andrew would have reacted to knowing, what it was like for Connie. It's just kind of a thing she figures out which adds more pressure to her already tense mindset.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Nobody Bats A Thousand

I've stopped picking up Black Widow. The skill of the people involved was obvious, but it didn't interest me. The Black Widow is a character I can sometimes appreciate, but isn't one I seem to have any innate affection for. I picked up the Marjorie Liu-written Black Widow series from several years ago in a back issue search, and it was much the same: Well-done, but nothing I regretted not buying when it came out.

Of course, you could say the same for my feelings on several characters, including Daredevil, but I loved Waid and Samnee's (plus plenty of other talented artists and colorists) work with old Hornhead. The difference is, there it felt like they were going against the routine. All those years of Murdock's life being an unending string of misery and woe, and they opted to instead have him fight against that. Which didn't always work, but he made the effort. Let his friends in, leaned on them when he needed to, kept smiling in the face of hardship, refusing as much as possible to let it drag him down. I've already read a run where Matt was shattered and flew from the wreckage he made with his tail between his legs - it was Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr.'s run on the title. Didn't really need to see it again, because I wasn't likely to enjoy a sequel more.

And Waid/Samnee mostly avoided falling into the same old "fights ninjas/the Hand" deal most writers since Frank Miller seem compelled to do (Nocenti being one exception). Ikari is close, but unique enough to be interesting. Instead he's fighting bizarre echoes of Klaw, or the Spot. Teaming up with the Silver Surfer, or going after the Book of the Darkhold with Satanna and Werewolf by Night. Even when he does go to the well of Kingpin or Bullseye, he uses Fisk as someone Murdock turns to out of desperation as a savior, and Bullseye as someone trying to use his gift for hitting any target to strike at Daredevil from the shadows. It's at least somewhat an inversion of the norm (although Fisk and DD have had this co-dependent do-si-do going on for years).

Black Widow felt pretty much like every Black Widow story I can remember reading. Natasha's past comes back to haunt her in some way. It's always the Red Room striking at her, or another of their products trying to exceed her, or some awful misdeed coming home to roost. Doesn't make it a bad approach to take, but it isn't one that's struck a chord with me yet, despite a number of writers and artists trying.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

More Of A Flophouse For Dogs

For some reason, my dad had auto-tuned his TV to Hotel for Dogs. Based on the opening credits, I was horrified and wanting to change the channel back to what he was watching before, that movie with Kevin Costner about the Cuban Missile Crisis. That's saying something, given my antipathy for Costner.

The movie gets somewhat better after that. Pair of siblings in foster care, trying to keep their dog safe from Animal Control on the sly, find an abandoned hotel with two dogs already living in it. With the help of three other teens they repurpose the entire hotel as a place for stray dogs. Eventually they're found out, the siblings are sent to separate foster situations, the dogs are all locked up, and the kids must stage an attempted rescue to get the dogs across the county line.

I honestly can't remember any of the teens' names, though I remember Don Cheadle as the Child Services Guy Who Cares A Lot was "Bernie". I assume my dad was watching it mostly for all the different dogs, and the humor involving them outwitting various members of the establishment (can dumbasses working for Animal Control be The Establishment?)

We were both amused by the range of devices the younger of the two siblings kept cobbling together from random crap. My dad was mildly concerned the kid would become a super-villain, and if he had stayed in that foster home where his sister wasn't around, he probably would have. Just delved deeper into his odd creations as an escape and grown more bitter. I was hoping in the big conclusion at the hotel, the kids were going to lure the police and Animal Control inside, then get them tangled up in the various contraptions like some up-scaled Home Alone scenario. That would have livened things up.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Few Weeks Early For This Sort Of Thing

There are plenty of things to enjoy about being a ghost, if you're of the mind to enjoy it. Some like spying on people the best, or scaring them. Others enjoying the flying, or the invisibility. Some just like being able to break stuff knowing no one can stop them.

For me, it's being able to move through objects. Not because of how it feels; there's only a vague half-sensation most of the time. I'm more aware I'm passing through a wall because I see that it's happening. I'm on one side, then I'm in the wall, and then I'm on the other side. Moving through a living being is more noticeable, because you can feel the heat of them (yeah, even with reptiles. They're still warmer than I am). You can even pick up some of their emotions, it's like a tingling in what used to be my scalp. Although other spirits say it reminds them of a Charley horse, or getting butterflies in your stomach.

But I was always concerned with getting where I needed to go. Didn't want to be late, hated getting held up by weather or road construction. Most of the places I was trying to get weren't really that important, but I was determined to be there as soon as possible. Not any sort of problem now. Nothing can get in my way now. That I don't have anywhere in particular to be is beside the point. Anywhere I want to be, I can be. It'll get old, the spirits who have been here longer insist it all gets old, but that, too, is beside the point. It's a trick that hasn't gotten old yet, and I'm sure I'll take care of what's keeping me here before it does.

Just as soon as I can figure out what that is. I don't remember having any pressing business. Unless not wanting to be dead counts. I wanted to keep going, even if there wasn't anything concrete I wanted to get to. Maybe that was enough.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Revenge, Regret, Possible Retirement

Gun The Man Down is a mid-50s B-western. I'd say it's most notable for featuring James Arness, right around the time Gunsmoke was starting, and Angie Dickinson before Rio Bravo. Arness was part of a three-man gang, and he was wounded during a bank robbery. The other two guys, Matt and Ralph, leave him behind and take Janice (Dickinson), who was dating Rem, along with them. Rem refuses to say who his compadres were, because he wants to hunt them down himself. A year in jail later, he gets his chance.

It's an 80 minute movie, and at least an hour of it is Arness in the town his old pals have set up shop in, letting them sweat and try to find some way out. There was a brief scene where he meets a gun-for-hire who tips him off where to go, that I thought was simply going to be filler, or a cheap way to get Rem from point A to point B. But the bad guys ultimately hire Mr. Billy Deal to try and deal with Rem, which leads to this long scene of Billy slowly moving through town, looking for Rem. It's shot so that scenes of Billy (with townspeople scurrying out of the way), are alternated with Matt, Ralph, and Janice waiting tensely in their saloon, following Billy's progress by the sounds of his spurs. I think it goes over the line from being effective to overly drawn out, but it's a good attempt.

There's of course a subplot about Janice and Rem, whether she actually loved him, if she still loves him, that sort of thing. Prior to meeting Rem, Janice had been a dance hall girl/con artist, but she had been ready to settle down with Rem as a rancher's wife. Partway through, my sympathies were against Rem, because he did seem to judge her, to treat it as "That's the kind of girl you are,", while Matt seemed understanding of the things Janice had done to survive as a young woman alone in the West. Of course, then Matt twists it to undermine her sense of self-worth, that she's just in it for money, same as him, and if she tries to get high and mighty and walk away from him now, she'll end up in the same place with another man soon enough. So that's an abuser approach of, "you don't deserve anyone better than me", so no winner there. But Janice did point out that while Rem wanted to be a rancher, a theoretically reputable position, he wanted to get the money for it by robbing a bank and ruining the lives of a bunch of innocent townspeople. Little absurd for him to be scowling at her for taking the easy route.

And watching all this is a sheriff who I can't quite figure out. He doesn't like what Matt and Ralph have done to his town, because booze and gambling are awful, everyone should just sit in their shitty homes and read the Bible by candlelight I guess, but if Rem kills them, he's still going to arrest him. But he's still giving Rem a lot of signals that he won't mind them being gone. I think he's supposed to be principled, in that Matt hadn't done anything illegal so he couldn't be thrown out, regardless of the sheriff's feelings, but it feels a little crooked. Like he really wants the dirty work done in such a way his hands are clean.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Little Annoyances Build Up

There are two things in the comics/fandom realm that are annoying me lately. Actually probably a lot more than two, but these are the ones that drift to the forefront most often.

One is, when a book is swiftly canceled, for people working in comics to blame the audience for not pre-ordering the book. This came up last month, I think, when Marvel's recent Nighthawk book, to the surprise of pretty much no one, died a quick death.

The other thing is when writers try for some big shake-up/shock ending to the first issue, and people react poorly. Then you get other fans telling the first group, "it's probably a fake out" or to "give it time". Recent examples being Nick Spencer's "Captain America works for HYDRA" thing, and again with last week's first issue of Jessica Jones. It isn't the cheap "everything you knew is wrong" aspect of it, I'm used to that, and hell, there's probably been a fair number of those I've enjoyed over the years. The goal is to hook the reader, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's the insistence the audience owes the creative team another issue, or another five or fifteen.

The common thread is this placing of all responsibility on the audience. It's the audience's job, apparently, to make a book a success by buying a copy based on some flimsy information about who is working on it (which may change by the time the book is released, to say nothing of all those "TBA" artists) and whatever nonsense the solicitation text might provide (if you get anything more than "CLASSIFIED"). They won't even see this book for another two or three months, but they must agree to pony up for it right now. If the writer goes for some lame twist, the fans are again responsible for giving up more time and money until they see if some decent explanation or payoff is provided.

Of course, people pre-order books that get canceled all the time. If you've ever pre-ordered comics, then you've probably had something you were reading canceled. In 2009, Marvel canceled 6 different series I was pre-ordering. Someone was pre-ordering Nighthawk, for all the good it did them. Even if I could get every person who reads this blog to pre-order a book I asked them to, it probably wouldn't tilt the needle enough to do anything. Point being, telling fans who are dismayed a book they enjoyed would have survived if they'd only pre-ordered is a load of crap, because odds are, those people already were pre-ordering, or would have if they could. I'm not expecting these creators to fix the Direct Market, however you would do that, but punching down isn't going to help either. Of course, punching down is comics' favorite pastime, from companies towards creators, and creators towards fans, or creators with more tenure towards less-secure ones, or large groups of fans towards more marginalized sections, so maybe it's no surprise.

As for the second irritant, a writer can't tailor their story to appeal to everyone, I know that. Some people are not going to enjoy what the writer or artist does. Sometimes that's going to build slowly, that gradually dawning realization this book just isn't clicking. Nick Spencer's Ant-Man stuff is like that. There are parts I enjoy, but the whole didn't come together in a way I could get with. The idea Spencer and Rosanas were somehow owed my eternal patience and money while they moved things along is absurd. They had their chance to get me to stay, they failed, that's how it goes. Better luck next time. There's a million things out there to read, watch, play, or listen to. Expecting people to keep throwing away money on something they don't like or that actively angers them, just because the creative team haven't finished revealing their brilliance, is nuts.

Yeah, the audience can cop to the fact they're making judgments based on one issue, or five, or however many they gave the book, but beyond that? I figure if someone says, "I'm not buying Jessica Jones because I don't like that Bendis appears to have broken up Jess and Luke's happy marriage," that's fair. Bendis chose to go that route (or give the appearance of going that route), they can choose to walk away because that was something they enjoyed. A person can choose to give a creative team a second chance, but they don't owe it to them. The saying is "let the buyer beware", not "let the buyer shut and keep giving us money for shit."

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Foyle's War 2.1 - Fifty Ships

Plot: The home Sam has been living in gets bombed by the Germans. She's OK, but the other young woman living there is killed, and Sam is without a place to stay. So her various attempts to find someplace to bunk down, without Foyle being aware of them (for various reasons), will be a recurring bit through the episode. Of more immediate importance is that the fire brigade guys steal some of the landlady's jewels and antique coins. We know who they are, and Foyle and Milner pretty quickly figure out they're the guilty party, even if finding the stash of loot takes time, so that's not much of a mystery.

However, one of the men in the group, Kenny Hunter, is having second thoughts. He just wants enough money to go to an aeronautical school, and his wreck of a father, Richard, is no help. But then Richard sees a newspaper headline touting the arrival of a major American industrialist, Howard Paige, to the area. Paige made a fortune with some syncromesh gear system for automobiles, but now he's a maor advocate of the U.S. entering the war on England's side. He's staying at the home of a local magistrate and acquaintance from his Oxford days, Arthur Lewes, who invites Foyle to dinner, as well as the local doctor, Dr. Redmund, and his wife. As it turns out, Foyle and Elizabeth Lewes know each other from before she got married, though Arthur doesn't seem to know it.

As Sam drives Foyle to the dinner, Richard is leaving in a bit of a state. That evening, several things happen. Someone signals with a flashlight to a submarine off the coast, and someone from that submarine rows himself to shore. And two shots are heard on the shore, and someone runs past a car with a news photographer sleeping inside. The next morning, Richard is found dead, and the man from the boat was found in a pub at 10 a.m., trying to order a beer (against local laws apparently). Hans Maier claims to be Dutch, but no one is buying that, and he seems curious about Foyle. Despite Dr. Redmund's assessment that Richard was a wreck of person with little reason to live, and even Kenny's opinion that his father was a worthless drunk, Foyle doubts it was a suicide. That photographer, Colin Morton, might have some useful information, but he's hauled away in the middle of the night. Fortunate Foyle has another witness who can't be dragged away, because he's already in custody.

Ultimately though, this is not a time where Foyle's desire to see justice carried out can win the day. Not that he's going to give up on it, he's just going to have to wait.

Quote of the Episode: Foyle - 'And no war has lasted forever, and neither will this one. A year, maybe ten, but it will end. And when it does, you will still be a thief, a liar, and a murderer. And I will not have forgotten, and wherever you are, I will find you.'

Does Foyle go fishing? No.

Things Sam can do: Cook Coq au vin, minus the vin. Used up all Milner's bacon in the process, though. She can take apart a gearbox, although she's not much good at putting them back together.

Other: I may have to start a section for words or phrases I enjoy, or ones that confused me. Let's see, this week there was 'haichi', which seemed to refer to people getting bombed? "Trekker" referred to people who took to sleeping in their cars in the countryside because they were afraid of being bombed in their homes. Sam used the term "diggety-boo" at one point.

Jane Milner returned from her trip to Wales. Unfortunately, she did so while Sam was there, and had convinced Milner to dance a bit in the kitchen with her. That was awkward, though Milner claims he was able to explain things to Jane. I have my doubts.

Hans Maier ends up being key to solving the murder, and asks Foyle to somehow get in touch with his family in Germany. He provides a clue which leads to the person who signaled with the flashlight, and Foyle passes the message along to them, opting not to arrest them. OK, so spoiler here: The person who was signaling was Dr. Redmund's wife, Eve, who is a cousin of Hans'. She only did it the one time, because he was family. But after Foyle leaves, her husband just lays into her. Not just the fact he backhands her, which he does, but he's vicious with his words. He tells her essentially, she no longer exists to him, that she can stay or go, but if she tries to speak to him, he'll leave. And sure enough, when she tries, he shushes her, and walks out of the room.

Now for me, I think she came out ahead. Redmund's a dick. Guy completely buys into that idea of keeping barriers between social classes, clearly thinks he's at the top of the heap, and thinks awful highly of his intelligence for a guy who can't put on cuff links without assistance. But Eve cares about him (or is afraid to be alone), and he knows that, but does this anyway. Devastates her, and took some real glee in it. Like, he was smiling when he shushed her. It's sick.

I used the quote I did because it will become relevant in a few seasons. The war is going to end, and Foyle is going to pursue the guilty party, though I don't think we ever get to see it. We do hear about how it played out, at least a bit.

I had the impression firearms were scare in Britain, but Richard Hunter had one, and so do a lot of other people. Maybe it's like Hot Fuzz said, it's the countryside, everyone and their mum is packing 'round here.

On a list of things we learned about Foyle this week, that his father was a sergeant in the police, and so Foyle followed in his footsteps. At the same time, Foyle assumes Andrew will not follow in his. Sound assumption there. Speaking of Andrew, apparently he debated at Oxford on the topic, 'Modern patriotism is a false emotion.' I'm guessing there was a girl involved.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Getting What He Wants, Losing What He Needs

One of the recurring problems for Deadpool is he gains acceptance and friends, only to lose them. Somehow, some way, Wade will wreck what he's worked hard to achieve. Usually it happens by him behaving in a selfish or unthinking matter. Now it's happening because he's actually trying to be a hero.

I've wanted Deadpool to get some respect, or at least understanding from the heroes of the Marvel Universe. He's wanted to be one of them since at least part way through Cable/Deadpool, but he's frequently rejected in what are staggering double standards. Sure, the X-Men will let repeated would-be world conquerors like Namor and Magneto hang out with them, or people will huge body counts like Mystique or the Juggernaut, who rarely express regret for their actions, and often revert to full villainy before long. But Deadpool can get lost. Spider-Man will extend understanding to Harry Osborn over his mental problems, support Sandman in his efforts to reform, be on the Avengers with Wolverine (who has a body count bigger than some wars), but can't tolerate being around Deadpool. It was frustrating.

But the worm had finally turned. Wade is on an Avengers team, put there by Steve Rogers, before Rogers became a HYDRA mole. He seems to be winning over teammates like Rogue and Quicksilver, and seemed to have made friends with both Logan and Nightcrawler before that. And, his brief, self-described pity party in issue 18, he's really committed to trying to be an Avenger. Provided an HQ, funded the team, dedicated to finding the Red Skull and retrieving Xavier's brain. None of that erases his morally questionable actions from the past, but he's at least making an effort to be a proper good guy.

So naturally, everything else in his life is falling apart. Funding the Avengers cost him his Mercs for Money (though it seems he's just going to hire more). His friend Michael sacrificed himself stopping an assault on the Monster Metropolis, and Wade had to stand there and watch. His daughter doesn't call him "dad" any longer. Her adoptive mother is pissed at him, his wife is fed up with him (maybe?) All the friends and loved ones he'd made over the previous volume of his book are falling away from him. Wade hasn't - and maybe can't - manage the juggling act Peter Parker and a lot of other heroes have mastered, where they can do the hero gig, but still be there enough for the people they care about that they don't alienate them entirely.

The saddest part of it is, Deadpool knows it's happening, but he can't fix it. He doesn't really want to be alone, but he thinks being around him is bad news, and he doesn't want those people to be hurt. So he tries to watch over them from a distance. Obviously that isn't working, and it's unclear if he can bring himself to change his approach, or if the situation is even salvageable. I have to think that if Wade made a real effort to be around for Eleanor and Shiklah, things would improve, but I think he's convinced himself being an Avenger is what he has to do, and everything else is getting left behind.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Old Man Struggles With Emotions

My dad really wanted me to watch Trouble with the Curve. I guess he figured I'd like it because of Clint Eastwood, which is admittedly not a big stretch on his part. But a movie where the grumpy old scout teaches those punk kids about how their durn computers can't help you measure a ballplayer? I've read enough shitty columns by hack sportswriters with that exact same message to last a lifetime.

But I guess the movie is at least as much about his daughter Mickey, played by Amy Adams, trying to reconnect with her dad, while looking after him on a scouting trip. I think Eastwood must have some regrets about not being there for his kid in real life, because this isn't the first movie where this has been an issue. It was a fairly big part of Absolute Power, and his daughter (played by Laura Linney) was a lawyer in that movie, too, just like Adams. Although in that case his character seemed more interested in maintaining contact than Linney's, and here it's the reverse. Mickey still gets frustrated with her dad, his complete inability to talk with her about anything other than baseball, and would probably be a lot better off if she could stop giving a damn about him entirely, but that's not in the cards.

I'm not sure what to make of the fact Adams seems to only find happiness when she abandons most everything she had built up, and seemingly starts a new career as a scout/agent, and finds a new boyfriend in the person of a former ballplayer (played by Justin Timberlake) her father had scouted and signed. Baseball was something she grew up loving, but distanced herself from it when it appeared her father cared more about it than her. So she became a lawyer, worked all the time, became a vegetarian (?), but none of it really makes her happy. Her bosses at her law firm were apparently looking for any excuse to pass her over for being a partner in favor of some kissass. So she's going to enter the not at all male-dominated field of professional baseball, where I'm sure her skills will not be disrespected or doubted because she's a woman.

There's also the fact Mickey finds out from her dad she was nearly molested by some creepy groundskeeper or something when she was 6, which seems like it should be a bigger deal for her. She had already admitted she's been in therapy for over a decade, just trying to get over feeling like it was her fault her dad was never around. This seems like something that would be kind of significant, but it's mostly about how that was one of the things that convinced Gus he wasn't a good dad (he had been distracted talking to a player, letting her wander off, and was dealing with the recent death of his wife).

Actually, the idea of Gus trying to cope with that loss, and not being able to do it and raise a small girl, that could be something, but that molestation thing was unnecessary. I had thought, given Gus' recurring nightmares about the horse running the bases, that the problem was Mickey had nearly been run over because he wasn't paying attention, which seems like it might have been enough. Kid almost dies on top of wife dying, yeah that could cause a person to break. As it stands, it's one more awful thing for Mickey, but framed entirely through how it affected Gus.

All that said, Eastwood and Adams had a good back-and-forth. Not a huge surprise; Adams is a top-notch actress, and Eastwood is good within a certain range. And at this stage, it's not too hard for him to play an older man, feeling his body and mind betraying him, seeing the mistakes he's made. I'm not as sure about Adams and Timberlake's chemistry, but it grows over the course of the film. Since their characters are supposed to get slowly more comfortable with each other, that's a good approach.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

There'll Be A Lot Of Sarcasm With This Bunch

Time for another fantasy team lineup post! It's a little late for my every other month schedule, but my schedule has been a mess lately (and may continue to be for the next few weeks), so it was tricky finding the time to sit down and work on it. Enough excuses, let's do this. Last time was the Legion of Angry Characters from the XBox 360. This is going to be based on more characters from my games on the 360, but I wanted to branch out a bit, try to grab a few more supporting characters, a few that are a little less typical. See if that works.

The Leader: Cortana (Halo 4) - I understand that Cortana came back in Halo 5 as a sort-of antagonist after her possible death at the end of Halo 4, but let's just ignore that. Her program degraded, but the Forerunner's technology gave her access to something to help counteract it, but not until she's wound up somewhere else. Or her program fell apart entirely, and she was only able to pull part of herself together over time.

Cortana is smart and resourceful, and has a certain amount of curiosity combined with an unwillingness to take things at face value. This was apparent in the first Halo, when she nosed through the memory banks of the system on the ringworld and figured the Caretaker wasn't being entirely upfront with master Chief about the plan he was pushing to stop the Flood (namely, it was leaving out the part where the plan would destroy that entire section of the galaxy). She figured this out, and then was able to devise a different plan to deal with the threat without wiping out entire star systems.

But Cortana hasn't necessarily been a leader. She gathers information, and offers a course of action, but commanding officers were fully capable of ignoring her (to their detriment, usually). One of the advantages she had before was Master Chief trusted her implicitly. If she told him something was so, he believed her. This group doesn't know her from Adam to start, and now she has to convince them to do what she wants. She can be pretty blunt with people when she thinks they're being stupid. She's going to get impatient with them, they're going to get impatient with her. And depending on whose world she winds up in, there may not be the kind of information network she's used to having access to. If the place they're at doesn't have radio transmissions, or any kind of computer networks, how much is that going to impair her?

The Rogue: Trip (Enslaved: Odyssey to the West) - Trip's the tinkerer of the bunch. Cortana's smarter, but Trip's the one who'll build something for the team if it's needed. She's curious about how things work, and usually pretty good at pulling them apart and repurposing them for her ends. She's fairly brave all things considered, and seems to have a pretty good sense of her limitations (she knew she needed someone with Monkey's physical skills to get home, for example). She has this wrist-computer thing, it's possible Cortana took up residence in it as she was pulling herself together. Or she's inside the insectile drone thing Trip used for recon. Which could be a real problem if Trip just decides to go off and do her own thing all of the sudden, and drags the leader along for the ride.

Because Trip is the one most likely to wreck the entire team, or get herself killed by her teammates. She's consistently selfish, and once she decides something needs to happen, has little compunction about using people for it. She wouldn't help Monkey escape at the start of the game, but once he managed it himself, she was fine slapping a slave headband on him and making him help get her home. Once he did that and they found her home destroyed, she broke her promise to release him so he could help her take revenge. This doesn't mean she won't help the rest of the team out, but it's likely it'll be in service of her own interests.

The Muscle: Rubi Malone (Wet) - Fine, there's still one angry, violent person on the team. Rubi's a gun for hire, good with swords or guns, and quite the acrobat. She also drinks like a fish and swears like something that swears a lot. As a mercenary, she's not much of an altruist, so there's a question of how she got into this (none of the rest of the team have much in the way of money). On the other hand, revenge is a concept she's quite familiar with, so she could be after someone who double-crossed her, or loused up some job she was on.

She's the one most likely to kill Trip if she tries anything, and it's questionable how well she's going to work as part of a team. She has associates, but they're the sort who provide her with information on where the person she needs to find is, then get the hell out of the way. That's probably not going to work here, and there's no telling what'll happen if she goes into one of her rampage modes. I don't know how well she's going to handle taking orders. It might work fine; she's used to having people give her specific instructions for completing jobs, but it's hard to say. I can't picture her making friends with anyone on this team, but as long as they get the job done. . .

If they can keep her stocked up with some halfway decent booze, that might smooth things over.

The Guy of Mystery: Khan (Metro 2033/Metro Last Light) - Khan's ostensibly part of the Rangers, but spends most of his time roaming the tunnels and outposts that make up the Metros. Which is no mean feat considering the dangers: Hideous beasts, giant insects, ghosts, a strange orb of light that floats along incinerating anything in his path. But he seems to handle it fine. The peculiarities of it are old hat to him now, and he takes them in stride. He's capable of defending himself, but doesn't resort to violence unnecessarily. He's an optimist, doing his bit to protect humanity, seemingly sure people can come to some understanding with their strange world, if they'll make the effort.

He's comfortable in his world, so let's throw him into a new circumstance. I don't expect the idea of alternate universes to shake him, but I'm curious how he'd react to a different world. One where he doesn't have to wear a gas mask to walk on the surface, or worry about massive, leather-winged beasts descending from the sky to rip him to shreds. Would he fight more fiercely to protect a world like that from ending up like his, or would he take things in stride, what will be, will be? Khan's a big believer in people having destinies or a specific purpose, and he may wear on everyone else's nerves if he espouses that too often. They're trying to stop some threat, and he's arguing that they're making a mistake by trying to do that. Even though he was very helpful to Artyom in the two games, there were more than a couple of times I wanted to shoot him because I was sic of being told what I should have done, or have to do, or whatever.

If Trip does lead the team into disaster, or use them, Khan's the one most likely to defend her, either because he figures she deserves the chance to atone, or because he accepts it as her destiny. Neither of which is likely to pass muster with Rubi.

The Lady with a Boat: Judith (Tales of Vesperia) - In this case the boat is a giant flying creature that resembles a whale (but doesn't do well in water). She and Ba'ul met when they were both young and had narrowly survived a huge battle. Rubi doesn't like flying at all, so that'll be an issue. On the other hand, Judith is the most physically powerful member of the team, and she enjoys fighting, so those two might hit it off anyway.

In terms of personality, Judith can be pretty closed off. She keeps her true thoughts and feelings to herself, only occasionally offering some sort of commentary. If something is bothering her, she'll try to handle it herself, without letting anyone else in on it. She tends to hang on the periphery of group scenes, taking everything in. Then she'll step in abruptly to question someone's motives or actions. She may not even disagree with what they're doing or proposing. I think it's because she spent a lot of time by herself settling on a course of action, and she thinks other people ought to really consider what they're doing, and why they're doing it.

I'm not sure anyone on this group is going to be easy to control, as they're all comfortable just going their own way, but Judith is probably the one who'll question Cortana the most, just because. I don't think any of them will necessarily object to following an AI because of what she is, at least. Rubi ought to be familiar with the concept from pop culture, Khan and Judith will probably just equate her with some kind of spirit, Trip will probably have the best understanding of what Cortana is, and she might have some concerns give robots under the control of a supposedly benevolent program are what killed her friends, but having Cortana in a computer on her wrist might give Trip a sense of control over the situation.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Batman Game With 50% Less Batman

I picked up the first episode in Telltale series Batman game on XBox Live last weekend. Probably should have done some research on the game first, but it was only 5 bucks, which just so happened to be roughly how much money I had on the account. So, impulse buy. It's been a year since I was on XBox Live, cut me some slack.

So, Batman game. As far as Episode One goes, Bats has his first encounter with Catwoman, stealing something from Mayor Hill's office. Bruce is also funding Harvey Dent's mayoral campaign, but has attracted the attention of Carmine Falcone. Also, there are reports Bruce's parents were in bed with Falcone, and someone stole a bunch of psychotropic drugs from a warehouse. Sooooo they're hijacking the plot to Batman Begins? At they establish that Batman's "scary voice" is a voice modulator, rather than him comically trying to do a scary voice himself.

As for the gameplay, the Batman sections are almost all Quick-time Events. You know, pull the control stick left when it says, or hit X on command. So it's my least favorite parts of Resident Evil 4, all the damn time! They make it look like a cut scene movie, so I want to watch, but I can't watch and keep ready for the commands as they pop up, so I don't get to really see what it is I'm making him do.

But a lot of the game is spent as Bruce Wayne talking to people, where you're given responses to choose from. Which you choose can have repercussions later in the game. Like when Falcone came to my fundraiser for Dent, the game let me choose to shake his hand or not. I figured Bruce would be polite, but that meant there were photos of The Handshake to put on TV when the reports about Bruce's parents came out, which means a p.r. hit. Which is kind of an interesting touch to the game play, but unless I shell out for the other episodes, I probably won't know what impact it would have.

The game provides some similar options when you're Batman, but it's about whether to break a guy's arm or not while interrogating him, or what to do with Falcone when you catch him. I opted against arm-breaking, but did impale Falcone on some rebar as part of my  "Save the brutality for the assholes in charge" approach. But I felt bad about it after, so that makes it OK, right?

Anyway, it only took a few hours to play the entire episode, but I can't see myself picking up the rest of the game. It's not what I'd call a fun Batman experience.