Friday, March 31, 2006

Back to. . . the Briefly Mentioned Topic in Yesterday's Post

I said yesterday that part of my problem with time-travel might come from the stories I've read that involve it. When I started to think about those, it reminded me of kalinara's comments and Scipio's post on differences between Marvel and DC, and their preferences for DC. And perhaps not surprisingly, time travel pretty accurately reflects what they said. I'll give you a minute to go read what they wrote. Go ahead, I'll wait.

You done? No? Geez, how slow are you?

Finally! See, I noticed that in Marvel, the future always sucks. Like Scip said, DC is about inspiring, that you can make things better, whereas Marvel seems to push more of an inevitability that things will turn out poorly, no matter how hard you try. Also as kalinara hypothesized, DC heroes of the future work with authority, whereas Marvel characters are always in a difficult struggle against whatever authority there is.

Example: DC's 30th century to Marvel's. The Legion seems to have been generally liked and respected over their many reboots. I know that in my dad's books from the 1960s, they're beloved. Even in the most recent series, they may have started out as enemies of the establishment, but eventually they were able to gain acceptance and join the fold. Their members are people from different worlds, each possessing some power inherent ot their race, and they're people who chose to leave home and join the Legion. On the whole, their time seems pretty nice. It looks clean, and peaceful (except for supervillains, but that's what the Legion is for, right?).

Contrast that with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Again, a group composed of people from different worlds (all from within our Solar System if I recall), but now they're the only ones left. The Badoon have wiped out everyone else from their worlds, and they have no other choice but to fight. For other races, the future may be OK, but for the protagonists it's pretty lousy. Or Marvel 2099. A somewhat dirty looking world, dominated by corporations that still try to destroy mutants, when not experimenting on them. Where people addict employees to drugs just to keep them in line.

Booster Gold came from the future to gain financial independence. The future in general wasn't bad, just his in particular. Contrast that to every time-traveler in Marvel history. It's always about preventing some awful future, where heroes are pretty much all wiped out, and the rest are desperately just trying to hang on. While the plan of a Cable, Bishop, or Rachael Summers is certainly more noble than Booster's, it gets pretty depressing when you consider these people keep coming to the "present" to fix things, and yet never manage to change anything.

Maybe it's just that I've been reading the Marvel stuff for so long, it feels stale. Maybe I've played too many video games set in apocalyptic (or post-apocalyptic, or barely pre-apocalyptic) times. God knows it got tiring watching the constant "change the future" attempts on the X-Men cartoon. It's not like the characters are bad because they're time travelers, that simply can't be the only thing about them. When Marvel worked off of Bishop's history as a member of the XSE and made him a cop in District X, that was interesting. I thought Impulse was pretty cool and until that Teen Titans/Legion crossover, I had no idea he was from the 30th century. It never seemed like a big deal in terms of his character, though maybe that would change if I read his series.

Man, I can't believe I'm agreeing with Scipio. It's a good thing I beat Phantom Dust today, or that might depress me. ;) Augh! I used an emoticon!! It's the end of the world!!! Run from the Sentinels!!!! Start up the time-matrix, we have to stop my past self from beating Phantom Dust, so that I'll be too depressed to use an emoticon!!!!! OK, I'll just stop now.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Things I Think About #25

Do you like time travel stories? I suppose that's kind of a broad question since, like any story element, it can be written well, or poorly.

I would say that in general, I'm not a big fan of time-travel, which may be a product of the time travel stories I've read (more on that tomorrow). I think my problem exists in the fact that they begin to be continuity. Then the next time that a time-traveling character shows up, you have to reconcile how anything they did that might have altered things with the fact that they may be the same as before.

I'd say Kang is probably the prime example. As long as I just think of Kang as this guy who wants to conquer things, and has access to all sorts of vast resources which make him an immensely difficult foe, I'm OK. Once I start thinking about how he's from the future, and he's also been a Pharaoh (is that right?), and he's also Immortus(?!), and if he could go back in time and have a hand in the creation of early computer circuitry, which was later improved and adapted for use in Sentinels, which enables him to control those Sentinels (see the massive Kang War in Avengers), why wouldn't he just conquer the Earth at that more vulnerable juncture? Oh right, because he enjoys a challenge. Well, I can respect that.

Ugh, my head hurts, though that may have nothing to do with thinking about Kang.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What I Bought 3/29/06

It appears the ant infestation in our kitchen is dying out. Which only leaves me with quizzes, tests, plant collections, twenty-page history papers, thesis research, fall schedule making, driver's liscence renewal, and I'm sure 3 dozen other things that haven't yet reared up to kick me in the head. Damn. I sound like Ultimate Spider-Man. Two books this week. Spoilers, blah.

New Avengers: The Illuminati - Hmm wasn't Alex Maleev involved with that book Magnus: Robot Fighter? The name seems familiar, or maybe I'm just confusing "Maleev" with "Magnus". That's probably it.

So, Iron Man's a douchebag. What? He is! Always trying to boss everybody around. I still can't believe that Richards is going to go along with this. I wonder if Sue would take the opposite side. Now see, that would make the Civil War more interesting. Too bad they're about to kill her. Dumbasses. Oh, and "No one's seen Xavier since House of M"? I've seen him, just this week in X-Men: Deadly Genesis! Seriously, how were these guys going to try and keep things running smoothly when a smart-arsed college kid from Missouri is better connected than they are?

Was Namor's staunch defense of the Hulk in character? I never really had the impression that Namor regarded Hulk as anything more than a potentially interesting opponent, but damn, he was adamant about them not shooting the Hulk into space. Which they did anyway. And I agree with Namor: Hulk will find his way back (probably courtesy of Annihilation), and man, is he ever going to SMASH. Stark better hope he is really is the Machine God Warren Ellis made him into, because that's the only way he'll last three seconds.

Dr. Strange felt a little passive to me. Maybe as a Master of the Mystic Arts, he's used to sitting and contemplating/meditating more, but he probably could have bothered to assert himself more. At any rate, I found it funny that the reason Tony gave for why they needed to go to the government themselves and agree to the plan (to avoid conflict between long-time allies) is exactly what happened to them. I know, I know, that was the point, still I've reached that point with Tony Stark, where much like Batman, anytime something throws a wrench into his plans, or he gets his butt kicked, or even gets shown up, I'm rather pleased. I can't decide whether that's a sign that he's being written well or not. I'm liked him pretty well during the most recent Busiek/Perez run of Avengers, and he didn't act like this then. 4 out of 5. Yeah, I'm as surprised as you are, but I did enjoy it.

Ultimate Spider-Man #92 - Hey guess what, Peter managed to go a whole issue without being unmasked! I didn't think that was possible! This issue basically involves Peter landing on an island, and generally making a fool out of himself, while trying to help the X-Men defeat these weird Cyborginator guys. At least he wasn't an ass like Cyclops. "What are you doing here?" He's saving your sorry, ungrateful hide Summers! Don't think I've forgotten you laughing at that made for TV movie! Bleepin' Cyclops, needs to get his gastrointestinal tract webbed up. Or, I could follow Tevion's idea and just force-feed him Slim Jims. Apparently if you eat enough of them, you're blocked up for at least three days. That's got to start feeling uncomfortable at some point. Where was I?

Peter's pretty spastic (even by his standards) out of concern for Kitty, and his confusion over why different X-Men kept knocking out X-Men. This was kind of fun, nothing special. It makes me wish they hadn't already created Ultimate Arcade as some lame bounty hunter. I'm not that big a fan of Mojo, though it remains to be seen whether he's involved with this or not. Murderworld would have amused me more. And Ultimate Deadpool lacks that hint of whimsy. His rant on the final page just didn't have that humorous sense that you get from Marvel Deadpool. Darn. 3 out of 5.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Things I Think About #24

Somehow on Sunday, I found myself at a Newsarama article about Civil War. I guess I followed a link there, since I usually ignore it. The comments thread, when it wasn't delving into an argument about how much responsibility all Americans bear for George W. Bush's actions, raised a few interesting points.

One commentater felt that it was a mistake to have Captain America immediately choose a side, which he felt was being implied, because that would mean that stance was automatically the "right" side of the conflict. The argument went that Cap should take his time, deliberate, and then choose a side. Meanwhile, things might be proceeding without him, which would only lend a sense of urgency to the need for Cap to choose a side and unify those on that side (if necessary). It might turn out later that he'd been wrong, and then he'd switch allegiances, but having him choose a side right off would render the whole argument about who was "right" moot. Of course that whole argument hinged on the person's stance that Marvel will never allow Captain America to be wrong, so take from that what you will. The way I saw it, Cap has a perfectly good reason to not support the Metahuman Registration Act.

He knows what the Metahuman Investigation Committee is all about. Back in the Captain America #332, the Commision on Superhuman Activity came along, telling him that he was still a commissioned officer of the United States Armed Forces, and so was still subject to their orders. Over the course of that issue, we saw what Captain America had gone through in trying to decide what his response should be. He talked to a lawyer friend of his about his ability to fight it, he discussed it with his sidekicks, even the kid who ran his hotline. He contemplated what the government would make him do, like leaving the Avengers to lead Freedom Force, or go to Nicaragua to aid the Contras. After it was all said and done, he could not agree to let them dictate how he would operate. He felt that he served the American Dream, the people, not a small group of men in the government, so he turned in the uniform, and the shield, and walked away.

Based on that past history, I can't see Cap really needing a whole lot of time to consider whether giving the government, at the very least, knowledge of all superhumans' identities is a good idea or not. He's already walked this path, he doesn't need to spend much time deliberating. This new committee may not be a scheme set up by the Red Skull - or is it? - but it does seem to be pushing to get the 'capes' under its supervision. Again. Could Captain America really support it now, when he's already rejected the idea once?

Then again, when he walked away it opened the door for "Super-Patriot" John Walker to become Captain America, and now we have U.S. Agent. I guess no moral stand is perfect.

Monday, March 27, 2006

I'm Ripping This Off From Smarter People

Yes, it's an open letter to Marvel! The chaps at 2 Guys Buying Comics are gonna kill me. Still, this post got me in an unhappy mood, and now, two days after I read it, I'm ready to respond.

Dear Joe Quesada,

As I understand it, you are letting some guy named Matt Fraction restart Punisher: War Journal. I'm going to be straightforward and admit I have no idea who that is. I'm also going to admit that the idea of a second Punisher title doesn't mean much to me. No, the problem I have is that this title has been created so that Frank Castle can interact with the rest of the Marvel Universe.

I have to tell you, this is a bad idea. Frank Castle is better off existing in his own little universe of extreme violence. Garth Ennis does an excellent job of writing stories about the Punisher killing all sorts of criminals, and perhaps saving some innocent lives. However, in my estimation, he falters when he begins to include other members of the "mainstream" Marvelverse. Some of the weakest issues of his Marvel Knights series came when the Punisher had to deal with Daredevil, Spider-Man, or Wolverine, especially the last two. Maybe it's just me, but Ennis doesn't really seem to have an understanding of those two, and so reading them is a jarring experience, taking away from the enjoyment of the book. Also, it was nice during House of M to know that there was one title that was going to completely ignore that entire event for its duration. Yes, the Spider-Man titles stayed with their current stories (though given what those stories were, I'm not sure that's a blessing), but House of M still (supposedly) had an effect on Peter Parker. Can't say the same about Frank Castle. Not don't get angry, I'm not saying House of M was crap, just that well, it was a dumb idea to start with, and the execution of it was not all that great either.

Back to the topic at hand, I wonder what Frank is going to be involved in when he starts getting into the mainstream? Is he going to be like the Scourge, and try to kill super-criminals? That's a waste, because we know he'd never kill anyone significant (just like the Scourge), and if by some freak chance he did, they'd just be resurrected the next time someone wanted to use the Vulture, or Lady Deathstrike, or whomever.

Putting this title out there just over-exposes him, and the result is a diminishing of the character. Wolverine isn't the badass he was supposed to be (sorry, but he isn't) because he's immersed in the mainstream and accordingly, can't just kill whatever villain he fights because someone on another book might want that character. The result is someone who talks a lot about being a killing machine, but accomplishes jack-all. Lest you think I'm singling you out, DC has done the same thing with Deathstroke, having him pop up everywhere the last two years or so, yet he never seems to accomplish much on his own. All of which diminishes the reputation he had of being the best. Characters like this are most effective in small doses, such as one title per month that stands by itself, so the character can do whatever, or in Deathstroke's case, occasional appearances in this title or that title, wherein he actually accomplishes something (cripples/kills a hero/hero's loved one).

The final thing I can say is, the Punisher is waging a war against the "normal" crime. Something that he can fight forever because there's always going to be another punk to rise up and try to run an empire. It doesn't matter who, someone will step up. They're ultimately faceless cannon fodder that can be replaced again and again, which epitomizes his unending war on crime. Having him interact with superheroes and villains puts him in a realm that doesn't suit him, because Frank ultimately would recognize that over the long haul the serial killers, drug-pushers, child molesters do more damage than the supervillains who just keep attacking superheroes (which might be something you want to consider changing. How about more supervillains trying to commit profitable crimes, and the superheroes show up to stop them, as opposed to endless streams of vendettas?). Plus, he won't kill the heroes, so he be handicapping himself by trying to kill an Electro, while simultaneously trying to evade Spider-Man without severely injuring him. A simple risk/reward analysis would tell Frank it's not worth his time.

Asking you to please reconsider, and keep the Punisher out of mainstream Marvel,


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Reflections #7 - Amazing Spider-Man #530 and a DC themed dream

Weird. I had a dream last night. In it, I had all sorts of deep and profound thoughts about the comics I've bought recently, which I planned to share with you. When I woke up, all I could remember was the end, where Batman and Robin defeated, someone (with Robin pushing a boulder on him, during the daytime), and as I walk down the street someone had spray-painted messages on the surroundings (and the boulder), telling me about how I'd just witnessed something truly great, not like if it had been written by Geoff Johns, who would have cluttered it with 'his $176 or $187 words' (direct quote). The last one said he would have ended it with the day being saved by 'magical-sand using loser Sand' (direct quote, or as close as I can remember).

So first off, I'm sorry Kalinara, I have no idea why my brain said that. I like Sand. He sounds interesting. Secondly, why would that have to follow all my profound thoughts, simultaneously destroying them? Fortunately, I was thinking about Amazing Spider-Man #530 and whether or not I'd judged it too harshly even before sleepytime.

Yesterday, I downgraded it because it tied Peter into the political machinations of Civil War. As I said, I'm not real big on Peter getting into that stuff, but I realized that maybe it's better to just let it ride. Marvel has decided to have this "event" and that Spidey is going to play a prominent role. If they can write some good stories for Spider-Man in the midst of all that, shouldn't that be enough? Or is that a form of enabling?

Still, we hardly had any mention of Mystical Spidey, besides a brief quip about being legally dead, and of course, the organic web-shooters. Instead, we got to see Peter be himself, as he put it 'the kid from the neighborhood' who is sorely out of his depth dealing with politicians, but when it comes to defending his employer/friend/big brother/manipulator, there's no hesitation to do so. Noble, honest, not a big-picture kind of guy, that seems like our friendly neighborhood Spier-Man.

About Titanium Man: Who's calling the shots on him? I suppose the obvious answer would be the Commission for Regulation of Super-Human Activities. They want to start a superhero brawl on Capitol Hill and make the heroes look bad because these fights endanger innocent civilians. Get their cause some public support. Except he was going to snipe Stark earlier, so maybe the Commission figures Stark is the most eloquent defender of the superhero sect, and if they get him out of the way it'll be easier. Plus, Tony's loaded, and money speaks loudest in politics, so taking the potential for bribes out of the picture could be useful. And yes, I believe Tony Stark would do that. Chris, as resident Iron Man expert, what are your thoughts?

Peter said the guy sounds Russian, but the voice balloon (balloon! Whee! Sorry) has that "digital" look to it, so that could easily be voice modification. Maybe the other Illuminati are behind it, the ones that don't agree with Tony. T'Challa can be a cold guy, though I doubt Namor would send someone else, when he could just pummel Stark his bare-chested self. Thoughts?

I did want to talk briefly about the costume. I swore I wouldn't rip on it, but these "waldoes" are just a bad addition. Think about it, they respond to Peter's thoughts, like they're his arms. Which is fine, if he can concentrate, then Peter can probably use them effectively. But in battle, Spidey is all about immediate reaction. His spider-sense works with his body autonomously, enabling him to dodge attacks without even thinking about it. In fact, it requires conscious effort to not leap out of harm's way. Captain America has even chided Peter about his lack planning and overrealiance on the sheer kinetic frenzy of instinctive movments (I think that's going to be the new description for this blog) he normally displays in battle. Is he really going to stop in the middle of all this to think "Pincer Arm Number 3, yeah you, the one over the top of my head! Take a picture of that lead mobster's face! You know, the one ordering his 40 goons to fire their automatic weapons at me."

I'm not saying they aren't a cool invention, just that they don't really fit with Spidey. It seems as though they'll just get in the way, which is why a simple costume works for him. Too many moving parts, means too many things too interfere. Hopefully after the fourth or fifth time it gets destroyed, Peter and Tony will realize the futility of this, and we can have a return to normalcy. Still, upon further reflection, I'm upgrading this book to a 4 out of 5.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

What I Bought 3/25/06

. . . Aaaaaand, we're back! As for my week in the caves, let's just say that no TV and no Internet make Calvin very edgy. Man I was bored! So on with the six books I got this week, woohoo! I think because it's so late, I'm just going for general impressions rather than a review. Still, spoiler warnings, just in case.

Robin #148 - I'm not a fan of Tim's costume. I'm distinctly uninterested in the foreshadowing of events during 52. Can it be foreshadowing if the events the characters discuss already happened? Kerschel's artwork is a significant step up from the artists the title had the last year or so, at least to me. It seems expressive and fluid. However, I'm having a hard time telling the difference between the person trailing Robin, who I figure we're meant to assume is Cassandra, and the woman who seems to be Nyssa A'Ghul. Personally, I think each one is the other, as the one following Tim looks too old to be Cass.

I was pleased to see Batman be honest, but not a jerk about things. Apparently, Dick and Tim called in Zatanna for a little personality adjustment. Good call. I'm not surprised by the police officer at the end of the issue, and his distaste for capes, nor am I surprised that Gotham P.D. believes their "special" unit is capable of handling the capes. Both the Marvel and DC universes are littered with the bodies of law enforcement types who felt they could "handle" the caped sect. 4 out of 5.

Wolverine #40 - Man, I knew even if Bucky and James went at it, neither one was going to die, but a whole issue of essentially exchanging information? Lame ass. Was Bucky working for the Soviets at this point, or the U.S./Department K/Weapon Program? I don't think my brain is cut out for all this intrigue. I feel bad for James, failing his test because of an explosion on a mountain. Did that Muramasa guy have enough time to forge the weapon he desired out of James before Bucky showed up? I'm done with this title. This was no conclusion at all. 1 out of 5.

X-Factor #5 - Not a real great time for Siryn. On the other hand, Rictor got to be useful for once. I suppose it has some meaning that Rictor found some value to his new, powerless life, by fighting another former mutant, who hadn't yet found that value, and only wanted his power back. Couldn't he have tried to reenter the medical profession, now that getting angry wouldn't result in quite as many deaths? Maybe I just don't get how the medical profession works.

I would have figured Rictor would have known how to fight. He was on X-Force, running with Cable. I can't believe that guy wouldn't have taken the time to teach some basic combat techniques to his students. After all, he was clearly someone not content to rely on mutant abilities. I like that Siryn wouldn't swear that if they could find out what happened to mutants, that they'd fix it all. I miss Ryan Sook's artwork, but Calero's is kind of grimy, which I think works for a book that's supposed to have a film noir kind of feel to it. Still, the issue didn't grab real hard, so 3 out of 5.

New Avengers #17 - Hmm, Bendis is referencing Secret War again. Great, another character almost nobody knows is going to show up. I'm still waiting for the Sentry to be useful again. Goddamnit, Captain America never had to yell at Thor to stop crying in bed and come fight the massively cosmically powered being.

Could Tony Stark stop talking down to people? That crack about Peter not using his brain was uncalled for. You know, I liked seeing Hal Jordan hit Batman, because Batman is an ass, and he needs a good kicking, preferably one that puts him in a hospital bed for about three weeks. Tony Stark is venturing into that territory with me right now.

Carol's not doing so well on that "World's Greatest Hero" thing, but Cap should have told her that Tony was going to try to talk "Michael" down before she started attacking. But he was busy with the Sentry. Man, that guy is a waste of a roster spot. On that last page, did Carol look a lot like her old Binary identity to anyone else? Was that intentional? I like that Luke Cage got to do the more grassroots stuff he had planned, except it got cut short, which is probably why the Avengers don't normally do stuff like that. I liked that page where Iron Man is talking to "Michael", and they're sort of squared off, but the picture is at an angle, that was very cool. 3 out of 5.

Exiles #78 - Wow, it's "Law and Order: Reality-Altering Criminals Unit"! I appreciate the attempt to do things differently, to not just settle it with another mindless brawl. Given how badly outgunned they are, the Exiles should appreciate it, too. Still, if Spectrum's power prism can tell if someone is lying, then shouldn't he have known Blink was telling the truth about Hulk 2099? That he was Proteus, a reality-altering killer hiding in the Hulk's body? And if so, couldn't that have expedited things a bit? Ending having each group walk a mile in the other's shoes just didn't work great for me.

It's funny that people call Marvel "The House of Stolen Ideas" but one of the biggest things in DC in the last few years has been "Ohmigod! You mindwiped that villain!" Shit, the Squadron Supreme was doing that when I was five, so does that mean DC stands for Direct Copy? Not trying to start a war here, just saying that theft thing goes both ways. 3 out of 5.

Amazing Spider-Man #530 - Amazingly, this didn't entirely suck. I do wonder if trying to deal with the effects of having super-powered battles in the world, and how those with political power will react, isn't a little too "real". I really don't want to see Peter Parker trying to deal with politicians, the same way he shouldn't mess with Kingpin-types. They're untouchable by him, whether it's as Peter Parker, trying improve things as a teacher, or as Spider-Man beating on his enemies with fists. What's left for him to do? Take scandalous photos and blackmail the politicos into doing what he wants?

Then we get the Titanium Man showing up, and things got more interesting. Superhero/supervillain brawls is what I want to read here people! The Mutant Registration Act failed (I think)! Don't try and revive the damn thing with a different name. And for goodness sakes, get those damn pincers, stingers, waldoes, whatever they are off Spidey's costume! And what was up with those stupid back and forth boxes that were supposedly editor's notes? That was just distracting. 3 out of 5.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Here Comes the "Limited Commercial Interruption" - Discussion Topic #2

This will be my last post until next Saturday. I'm enrolled in a Field Ecology class, and the entirety of the class is spending my Spring Break in caves, collecting data. Oh well, it's better than not having enough credit hours to receive an assistantship, and having to pay my own tuition. It is lousy for two reasons though: One, I miss the season finale of The Shield. Two, after consecutive lackluster weeks of comics, I've got at least five titles coming in this week, including X-Factor and Exiles, which are pretty much guaranteed good stuff. So expect my impressions of those on the 25th.

Still, I wanted to leave you with a "project" for the week, so you'll keep visiting until I return. What I'd like is the seven member - or less - roster you would design of any team. It can be a currently operating team, like the Avengers (I know, they're the Not Avengers, just humor me) or JSA. You could be reviving the Defenders or Suicide Squad. You could make an entirely new team (in that case, let us know what kind of a "niche" the team will fill). You can use any member of the team, EVER, from any point in their history, just let us know which version of, for example, Cyclops from the original X-Men, or Grant Morrison "cheats on Jean" Cyclops. Or JLA: Year One Hal Jordan or current Hal Jordan. If you want to designate a creative team as well, go for it. Do this for as many teams as you want, go crazy, organize the entire DC or Marvel Universe.

I'll start, with an X-Men team. This is designed to deal with most problems X-problems. I think they have enough power to deal with the Hellfire Club in battle, or to go espionage-style and gather incriminating evidence on them. After I finished, I realized I had enough people that I wanted on the team, but had no room for, to create two teams of 6 members, each with a more specific purpose. So first, the single team idea:

Wolverine (around Uncanny #220; brown outfit, sometimes leader, protective of teammates)
Rouge (from X-Men in the '90s, before she could use any power she'd ever absorbed)
Nightcrawler (swashbuckling '70s and '80s Kurt Wagner)
Iceman (the Guy Gardner-esque one from Joe Casey and Chuck Austen's stints on Uncanny)
Psylocke (the '90s telepathic ninja one)
Dazzler (I think the '90s version, that was fighting Mojo with Longshot)
Colossus (definitely '70s or '80s Piotr Rasputin. Not "depressed his little snowflake died" Piotr)

Also under consideration: Shadowcat (from Excalibur: smart, self-confident, respected), Longshot (more naive '80s version), Stacy X (hey, it's MY team, I can put her on there if I want), Storm (during her time as sole leader, with or without powers, preferably with), Chamber (from Casey's Uncanny).

As for the "dual teams" rosters, we've got: Storm, Rouge, Iceman, Dazzler, Colossus, Chamber (handles more obvious, public threats, like Sentinels, Brotherhood of Evil), and Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, Psylocke, Longshot, Stacy X (for getting at the people that are pulling the strings on the big obvious threats the other team is smashing).

Well, I've exhausted my creativity for the day. I'm off to sit in front of the couch until the Full Metal Alchemist finale comes on. I relinquish the keys to the blog to you kind readers. No wild parties, or at least keep the Hal Jordan-look alike strippers out of my fully stocked bar!

In either scenario, there is one -count it, ONE! - X-book. With two teams especially, you can have enough going on to do at least some six-story arcs, without the need for decompression. Oh yeah, in case you hadn't guessed, House of M never happened, which is how Stacy and Chamber still have their powers (damn Quesada).

Friday, March 17, 2006

Reflections #6 - Annihilation: Prologue

Page 1: Who is the little Tinkerbell sitting on Thanos' shoulder? Thanos and Tinkerbell are incompatible, like Vibe and cool.

Also on Page 1: If Thanos loves Death, and Death is now in the form of a little girl, does Thanos have a Lolita complex? Of course, with him, that's the least of your concerns.

I think Death is trying to convince Thanos to help stop this. . . force (see, I'm still not spoiling it for you, isn't that nice?). See, I believe Thanos is still in love with Death, or at least worships it to an extent. Death knows this, and is taking advantage of the situation, as nigh-omnipitent cosmic being are wont to do with puny mortals. And the way Death phrases things on that first page, well, it's a little disturbing. (Thanos' lines in bold, Death's in italics):

'Something comes. Yes. Something wonderful. Death? I am with him, yes. And? Learn from this one Thanos. This one knows me intimately.'

I'm sure by now you see what I mean about disturbing. But there's something else. It's almost like Death is trying to egg Thanos on. Death's talking about its new boyfriend, how close they've gotten, even though Death probably doesn't even really like the new guy, just to get Thanos off his butt and busy winning Death back, or busy killing the new guy. Whichever, really. And I think it makes sense, in a way.

See, the big threat is out to destroy anything that opposes its existence. And the way this thing sees it, all living things are a threat to its life. While this is true in a sense, mainly if they wind up competing for the same resources, but it's still over the top. Irregardless, the Annhilator seems determined to wipe out all life, which would seriously upset the balance. And Thanos should remember what happens when you do that.

Once upon a time, Thanos had the Infinity Gauntlet, six gems that gave him control over the whole universe. First thing he did? Kill half the people in the universe, to prove his love for Death (now there's a guy who got stuff done. None of this dicking around with multiverses and sentient satellites like Alex Luthor). Still, when Galactus, the Stranger, some Celestials, and a whole bunch of others on that power scale showed up to oppose Thanos, Death sided with them. I believe it did so because he was a threat to all existence, and if you destroy everything, then there is no Death, because there's nothing left to die, you follow?

This new threat isn't quite at that level (after all, Thanos defeated the very essence of the universe itself), but it's still more than capable of wiping out life. And I'd say that once again Death is looking at the big picture, because while everything will die, someday, it can't all die at the same time. To prevent this, Death's trying to get someone who can make a difference to do so. Granted it's in a somewhat obtuse and childish manner, but hey, Death has chosen to masquerade as a child, it might as well use their tactics too.

Addendum: I was looking online, and it seems Thanos wanted to wipe out half the life in the universe at Death's request. Which raises the question of why Death betrayed him during "Infinity Gauntlet". Possible explanation #1: Death felt he was letting his ego get in the way, that it was becoming less about the mission and more about him. Possible explanation #2: Since Death never seems to actually speak to anyone, Thanos was guessing at what Death desired, and being sanity-challenged, Thanos figured it wanted half of all life eliminated.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Concerns for the Immediate Future

I've been thinking about One Year Later lately, especially as one of the few DC titles I buy approaches it's first One Year Later issue (that'd be Robin). There's a couple of nice posts I've seen, one as One Year Later approached and the other looking back after the first few weeks

I can appreciate that DC seems to be at least trying something different. But I can't help feeling it's kind of futile. Ultimately, the writers are going to have to not only advance the current plot, but spend copious amounts of time trying to explain why things are so damn different. Like, why is Captain Boomerang on the Outsiders (both why would he join, and why would they let him join)? Why did Robin change his costume? I just can't see fans letting that stuff slide, at least not for long. I already want to know what the hell Tim was thinking.

Personally, I think it would have been more better if over the next twelve months, the writers of the book had done the stories that get the books to where they are now. We could see Boomerang maybe ask to join, and get rejected, but he tries to help anyway, and the team reconsiders whether he can join. And this would be part of their larger continued mission to hit the villains where they live (or whatever it is the Outsiders do).

I'm sure 52 will maybe answer those questions, but what of the people who can't afford 52? Are they doomed to a life of ignorance? And can 52 devote sufficient time to cover what's happened to each title over that year?

Lest I seem horribly negative, I am considering adding Ion (reliant on the first issue not being poorly written or incomprehensible), Secret Six (contingent on Cassandra Cain joining the book) and that Freedom Fighters book (also based on whether the first issue is poor). What this suggests is that, as marionette's post said, this will be great if you hadn't read the title before. If you had been reading the title, and enjoying it? Too bad.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

What I Bought 3/15/06

Screw introductions. Four books, spoilers ahead, BEWARE!

Annihilation: Prologue - I wasn't even planning to buy this, but I was trying to skim it, and Ken was trying to get me involved in a conversation about baseball, and I'd already snapped at him once in the five minutes I'd been there, so I figured it'd be best to just buy it and get out before I really made an ass of myself. The saving grace for this book? The nice little entries at the end explaining the Nova Corps, and relative locations of the major space empires, and so on. Because I have no clue what the hell the "Kyln" is or where it is relative to Nova Corps headquarters. I didn't even know the Nova Corps had headquarters.

So weird bug ships show up. Between this and Ultimate Extinction what's with the bug ships? Why not ships that look like penguins? The bug ships appear, lay waste to the Kyln, attack Nova Corps, and keep rolling. Meanwhile, Ronan is being arrested, Super-Skrull is infiltrating, Silver Surfer is, um chilling out, and Thanos is just watching all this. Personally I can't see Thanos sitting back and letting the big baddy - who is revealed at the end, but I won't ruin it - wipe out all life. That's Thanos' job. And when the hell did Death become a small, gothic child? She used to be an adult in a purple cloak.

I did not like the art, it felt kind of, well "muddled" is the best word I can use. Is this the same person who drew that Avengers storyline where She-Hulk destroyed a town? I think as far as the other titles for this "event" go, I'm probably going to take it on a case by case basis. If an issue looks good, fine, I'll buy it, if not, well, it's not like this is going to change things in any significant way, just like always. 3 out of 5.

Teen Titans Annual #1 - Look at that cover. Diana's about to castrate Connor isn't she? And has Wonder Girl always had that little star in her navel? It seems so, trashy.

Yet again we flashback to Conner's beatdown from Whiny Superboy, Killer of Unloved Titans. Then Luthor starts monolouging. The Titans barge in, and Luthor mouths off a bit before leaving. So the rest of the team -what's left anyway - heads to Bludhaven. Their rescue efforts are less than coherent. Was this a commentary on Hurricane Katrina relief efforts? The heroes are utterly confused as to who can do what (Metamorpho can't make water), and where people who can make water (Firestorm) are, demonstrating that someone needs to step up and start giving orders. The Society is also there trying to collect Chemo, but the four of them get beat down by Robin and Superman. Tim mouths off to Superman (everybody is really mouthy in this issue), and Superman agrees to play figurehead so everyone will follow the smartest hero present - that'd be our boy Tim - as he gives them marching orders. Hmm, maybe he should have put out that call for heroes in Infinite Crisis #5 instead of Nightwing?

You may notice I've ignored the main crux of this: Cass and Conner's night for luvvvv. Well, what do you want me to say? There was reminiscing, there were laughs. Conner reveals he figured out telescopic vision while moping on the farm. Then he reveals more. Then Cassie does the same. Cue Barry White. And the Kents took it all in stride. 3.5 out of 5.

Ultimate X-Men #68 - Oh bloody hell, they're getting set to kick the Phoenix Saga into full swing. Get to crash positions! I also get the distinct feeling that Jean Grey is messing with a whole bunch of people's minds these days. Nick Fury was acting really weird. Perhaps the new arrival is part of some greater plan the Phoenix has?

I will admit that I don't know the origin for the Phoenix Force in the Marvel Universe. Still, I'm not sure it could be much dorkier than the Ultimate version. Didn't I see this in one of those "Earth X" series? I'm wonder if it means something that Rogue found it so simple that she and Bobby would be back together, while Bobby seemed unsure of where they went from here. It could be some part of whatever's left of Gambit, who seems to be asserting an influence if that "You're such a loser line" is any indication. Or maybe Rogue was supposed to be joking. If so, the artist did a crap job of depicting it.

I can't say I will buy this book next month. I mean it just can't be good when I'm more interested in what appears to be the beginnings of Ultimate X-23 than I am in the storyline approaching. I guess we'll see. 2 out of 5.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6 - Hmm, I think Peter David is still missing that the word "friendly" is in the title.

Pro:A wrestling match between Spider-Man and some masked wrestler, with Jameson donating 1 million dolars to charity? That's alright.
Con:The loser gets unmasked in front of everyone? Not so much.
Pro:Flash Thompson is back rooting on his hero Spider-Man? That's cool.
Con:Flash Thomspon is back to being Peter Parker's personal bully? Eh, not so much.

I preferred a Flash that had grown out of that, had become someone that could confide in Peter, and maybe have Peter confide in him. Peter is sorely lacking in friends who don't dress in stupid costumes. That's been the case to some extent since Howard Mackie moved aside for JMS' "vision". It's really been the case since Paul Jenkins was kicked out, as he was the only one trying to give Peter a personal life. Peter really needs some friends, much like Tim Drake needed some the last year or so in Robin. This appears, at least for right now, to be a missed opporunity. And the Jarvis/Aunt May romance heats up! I'm sure one of this year's Spider-Man annuals will have them consumating it within Edwin Jarvis' broom closet. And now I'm blind.

Should I mention Jameson thought his son was Spider-Man? No Jonah, your son is the one who turns into a werewolf, Aunt May's nephew is the one who dresses in the stupid costume, and swings on webs.

The fight scene wasn't bad. Nice back-and-forth, though I can't tell whether Peter was holding back or not, and I doubt El Muerto is really "the best Logan's ever seen". What, he's never watched himself fight in the mirror? What about Captain America? Or Iron Fist? Shang Chi? And what the heck is the Shroud doing there, besides the obvious answer he had nothing better to do (Note: I'm pretty sure that it's not really the Shroud. Unless it is, and then I totally called it with my ESP, bitches)? 3 out of 5.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Things I Think About #24

Hey, it's my 100th post! Whee! And I'm typing it in the Biology Grad Student Office, because I'm stuck here until 7 o'clock tonight and I'm bored as hell! Uh, Woo-hoo?

Here's the question for the day: When did Alex Luthor capture Nightshade?

I saw her hooked into his Multiverse Maker, as the representative of Earth-4, I think. I can't keep all these Earths straight. When then hell did he catch her? Between making a new Earth, and killing Jade with his Giant Space Appendages, he's been busy. And Superboy-Prime was too busy throwing a hissy fit to do it. And Old Fart Superman probably wouldn't have even been told about it, since he was under the impression that Alex was only bringing back Earth-2, I think.

So when - and how - did this happen? Was it in the Day of Vengeance one-shot? Wouldn't her teammates have had something to say about her abduction? Couldn't Ragman have made passing mention of the disappearance of his fellow Shadowpacter, when he was talking to Mr. Terrific? Arrggghhhh, just how is Alex Luthor doing all this? Is he really Geoff Johns in disguise, showing off his total control of DC by doing whatever he damn well pleases?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Things I Think About #23

I was reading an issue of Wizard, and they were talking with someone from DC about all the lead-ins to Infinite Crisis. Included in this was the fact that the Legion of Superheroes reboot was the result of Superboy-Prime punching the walls of reali. . . I can't even finish that sentence. That has to be the dumbest explanation for anything I've ever read in comic books. Still, it raised this question:

How long has Alex Luthor been manipulating Hal Jordan?

We know that the Red-Headed Step-Luthor used Psycho-Pirate to trick Jean Loring into being Ecpliso's host, so Eclipso could convince the Spectre to destroy all "ordered" magic. Good Lord that's convoluted, and I'm still not sure I buy the Spectre as a big ol' horndog. But how long has Alex been at this?

Did he have something to do with Hal and the Spectre parting ways? Was he the one who directed the Sun-Eater to Earth's sun, forcing Hal to sacrifice his life to reignite it? Did he somehow engineer the destruction of Coast City, which left Hal in a more vulnerable position for Parallax (I never did understand why Superman-Cyborg decided to destroy Coast City instead of Metropolis, Gotham, New York, Central or Keystone City, Washington D.C.)? Was Alex in secret communications with the Big Yellow Locust of Fear, while it was still trapped in the Central Power Battery? And could a being that's been around for billions of years be fooled by Luthor? I suppose so, since he is evidently the most clever and powerful being in existence. Still, where does the meddling end?!

To all this, I can only conclude by saying, "Ugh". And Field Botany is going to kick my ass for the next eight weeks. Ugh squared.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Things I Think About #22

Why should Robin be more like Batman?

I've pretty much accepted that kalinara is right, and DC is trying to make Tim Drake like Batman, thus suggesting Tim's the one that would take over for Bruce Wayne, on the slim chance that someday DC is actually willing to do that. But why would they go that way?

I know Tim is trying his hardest to do what's necessary to be the good partner for Batman, but I thought the whole reason he tried to become Robin in the first place was because he was worried Batman was going off the deep end, and required someone less dark to keep him balanced. If Tim is becoming just like Batman, then HOW IN THE HELL IS HE GOING TO KEEP HIM BALANCED?!

Is he betting that if there's a teenager present Batman will restrain himself? Is he trying reverse psychology, becoming dark to force Bruce to look at who he is, and make appropriate changes when he sees the deep emotional scarring he's inflicting on Tim?

I think I liked it better when Tim was pissed at Batman for giving his secret identity away to Spoiler. He stayed away from him, made his own decisions, did things his own way. Oh well, that train has left the station.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Reflections #5 - Ultimate Spider-Man #91

There's just one question I want to pose today: Where is Aunt May really going?

I don't know about you, but I don't buy the whole "getting together with friends from work" thing. You get that dressed up for a work get-together? She's definitely seeing some one, but who? Two possibilities leap to my mind:

One, it's a member of Nick Fury's staff (like an accountant or something) dating Aunt May to get her in trouble and further mess with Peter's life. Because, you know, Nick Fury gets his kicks from stuff like that. Heck, Fury is probably in charge of Deadpool and his Mutant Loser Brigade. And now I'll stop before I start ranting.

Two, she's dating J. Jonah Jameson. I can't remember if he's married in this continuity, but if he isn't, their mutual distrust of Spider-Man could be a connecting point. Jameson may not believe Spidey is evil anymore, but he has (understandable) questions about someone who swings around in a weird costume punching people. And Aunt May, well she made her feelings pretty clear when Peter was going to tell her he was Spider-Man.

Plus, I can recall at least one or two occasions where May put Jameson back on his heels, particularly when JJ offered Peter the job at the Bugle. Jonah seems to like/respect people who aren't intimidated by him. Ben Urich is constantly giving him crap, but Jameson lets him because Urich gets results, and because Jameson trust people who don't let him push them around, up to a point. So that may make her intriguing to him.

Seriously, how badly would that mess with Peter, his boss dating his aunt? He might be better off with the "Nick Fury is trying to mess with you" option.

Friday, March 10, 2006

52 Stumble?

Wednesday at the store, those of us assembled somehow got on the topic of 52. Whatever it was that was being said about it prompted Ken to ask the following question, the same question I'm going to ask you now: What is the last issue of 52 that will ship on time? As of 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 10, the results are as follows (14 responses):

Issues 1-9: 1 predictions;
10-19: 1 predictions;
20-29: 2 predictions;
30-39: 4 predictions;
40-49: 2 predictions;
50, 51, or completed without incident: 4 predictions
Highest prediction - #52, by two people
Lowest prediction - #1
Average prediction - #35 (actually 34.64)

Sorry, I'm a bit of a stat freak. Still, that's fairly optimistic. Only 4 out of 14 (28.6%) predicted they'd get less than halfway through, which is equal to the amount that believe they'll at least make it to issue #50. On average, the customers expect it to be 67% completed before DC falters.

Ken predicted #52, which figures, since he's the owner of the store, and would have a vested interest in having it stay on schedule. Namely, so he doesn't have to hear us bitch about how DC fell behind. Larry picked #51 on the premise that DC always manages to stay on time with it's events, until the very last issue, citing "Hush" as an example. Len picked #40, as I understood it, based on inside information that Rucka came up with an idea that forced them to completely restart the whole thing, when they were already about two-thirds through.

As for your correspondent? I picked #11, the second lowest prediction. Yes, that's probably my old anti-DC feelings shining through, as well as my general distaste both for "Event" books and what DC's done to books I like the last year or so, plus I'm a pessimistic and cynical person, but there's one other reason. Infinite Crisis is only seven issues, meant to be released once per month. Still, at least two issues have already been late, with two more to go, and that's with seemingly 17 people working on each issue. Even with the corresponding increase in the number of people involved, I don't see how they're going to manage to release the book on time, every week, for an entire year.

So, now that I've depressed you, I'll ask you again: What is the last issue of 52 that will ship on time?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Return to Normalacy

Do you remember that episode of M*A*S*H where Hawkeye and B.J. pretend to hate each other as a birthday gift for Major Burns? Then at the end, they tell him it's finished and everything goes back to normal?

As DC moves into One Year Later, I've seen discussion of the tone DC is going to take with its stories. A number of people expect a return to more lighthearted stories, given all the talking in Infinite Crisis about how "dark" the heroes have become. Of course, it's a bit disingenuous to have Old Fart Superman saying "You mindwiped people! What kind of heroes are you?" when the dialogue is written by the same morons who said "Mindwipes? That's a great idea!". But that's neither here nor there. Others have pointed out that there hasn't been any statement to the effect that DC is moving in a lighter direction.

I figure DC (and Marvel for that matter) could use some more fun, where it's appropriate. Batman comics can still be gritty, though Batman needs to not be quite so unpleasant to his fellow do-gooders, but I figure Teen Titans could do with a bit less angst. Less Superboy being mind controlled and breaking Robin's arm, please. But how does one accomplish this task?

By kicking Dr. Light's ass.

What we need is the return of Pathetic Dr. Light, the Baltimore Orioles of DC villains (meaning, lots of power/money, but no results). So here's what I propose: The real reason Dr. Light has been so dangerous the last year is because the heroes are giving him a present. They decided to let him feel good about himself, by letting him beat the crap out of them. All that stuff about him raping Sue Dibny and getting mindwiped is make-believe. Light just made it up and convinced himself it was true, so he wouldn't feel like such a total loser. It's not his fault, the heroes did something to him. Oh, and whatever it was he supposedly did to the female, not-evil, Doctor Light? Didn't happen; he made that up too, and she's letting him get away with it, as part of the whole "Boost Light's Self-Esteem" gift.

But now that we're at One Year Later, the time for gift-giving has passed. It's time for a return to the status quo. To that end, over the next year, Dr. Arthur Light must get beaten up, down, sideways, in every DC title. Action Comics, Detective Comics, Teen Titans, Birds of Prey, The Secret Six, JSA, that new Freedom Fighters book (Time for Ray to get some payback. Take that stupid goatee right off, and maybe his nose while we're at it. No, that's too violent). A special one-shot of the female Dr. Light proceeding to pummel male Dr. Light until he cries. Then beating him for another twenty-three pages.

Even Jonah Hex and Sgt. Rock:The Prophecy should get in on the fun. Don't ask me how, I've started the ball in motion, DC needs to pick up the slack and figure out the rest. Because only when Light is back to being the premier punching bag for the good guys, will happy days truly be here again.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

What I bought 3/8/06

This. . . was a crappy week for comics. That has been somewhat nullified by the hilarity of watching Ken try to patch up his falling ceiling tiles with duct tape. White duct tape, so that it matches the ceiling. Anyway, two books, spoiler warnings.

Teen Titans #33 - I'm going to change the format for this review. I'll give the score, explain it, and then recap, so you can decide for yourself, because I have a severe bias on this one, OK? Here we go.

0 out of 5. I CAN NOT HANDLE ANYMORE INFINITE CRISIS TIE-IN ISSUES! Would One Year Later hurry up and get here already? I'm about to kill something. Those polar bears and racoons I was ranting about over at 2 Guys Buying Comics are about to be sent DC's way. And you don't want to look out your window and see machine-gun wielding racoons riding in sidecars that are attached to a polar bears' flanks. That's Death right there.

So, this is the follow up to Nightwing's really successful call to arms from Infinite Crisis #5. You know, where he was going to rally all the troops, because people still liked him, as opposed to that prick of a mentor he had? Yeah, that. So he and Superboy are ready to go to work. Nightwing sports an older outfit - with glider wings - and Superboy is still reeling from the ass-kicking Whiny-Bitch Superboy gave him. I say Harley Quinn and Plastic Man have a better chance of stopping Alex Luthor, but no one asked me.

So they're heading north, and we get lots of inner monologue about how neither one really understands the other, which is eventually resolved by talking about their lives. We don't see most of this; we just get the part where Superboy outlines the problems he's having working with Nightwing, and some dorky thing where the crystal Luthor gave Conner "reacts to emotional memories". The actual conversing/understanding is dealt with in one panel as they continue to fly north. Ugh.

I suppose this is meaningful because each one tries to live up to a hero. While Conner is still struggling to move out of Superman's shadow (and away from Luthor's I suppose), Grayson has gotten out from under the shadow of the Bat. He's at the stage Superboy wants to reach. Good luck with that, kid. Can't see DC Editorial letting it happen. At this moment, I can't say how long this book has post-OYL before I drop it. Probably three months. By that time, I'll know what DC has done with Cassandra Cain, and depending on the answer, I may want nothing to do with DC anyway.

Ultimate Spider-Man #91 - The start of a new arc. Will it be good? Who knows. Kitty helps Peter catch a criminal. A lame-wigger-wannabe version of the Ringer. He's defeated and made fun of by Kitty, as is her right. She also learns that in Spider-Man's world, cops are to be avoided, lest you get arrested. See that's the great thing about this relationship, they're learning new things. In the X-Men, you don't worry about getting arrested, because the cops are running from the "mutie freaks" along with everyone else.

Because it's a Bendis book, there is talking. Kitty needs a codename to go with the outfit, since she wants to date Peter publicly, and Shadowcat dating Peter Parker and helping Spider-Man will tip off the three people in the world (Aunt May, Jameson, and that dude in Tibet) who haven't figured out Peter is Spider-Man. Anyway, the codename. Just call her "Sprite". It's got mainstream Marvel history, and sure it's lame, but with that outfit what does she expect? Kitty also tries to get Peter to tell Aunt May he's Spider-Man. After Aunt May's recent outburst about Spider-Man, Peter is a little reluctant.

Kitty catches a remote-controlled jet to the X-mansion, and gets ambushed. Peter swings back by, sees another jet there, hops in, and goes to the X-Mansion. This is where that learning thing I mentioned comes in. See, Peter's about to learn that when you're school doubles as your home, it's just that much easier for you to get attacked by crazy people. There, he once again shows a remarkable ability to forget that the buzzing he gets in his skull is a signal to get the hell away, right now! We see Deadpool, and a bunch of people that. . . I have no idea who these losers are. Some Ultimatized versions of lameass giant '90s X-crossover cannon fodder, I suppose.

That being said, this could be good. I'm hopeful this isn't going to cause a breakup of Peter and Kitty, but will continue the relationship, and maybe convince Peter that Aunt May needs to know where the heck he is at night. If nothing else, the challenge of writing two characters with the naturally chatty tendencies of Spider-Man and Deadpool may cause Bendis' brain to short out. Then we'd get a book of nothing but fight scenes, drawn by Mark Bagley! Horrors! Or, Bendis would have to write fewer books to compensate. Might I suggest letting go of New Avengers, Mr. Bendis? 3 out of 5.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

What's In a Name?

Well, if you're Cao Pi from Dynasty Warriors 5, cow urine. Seriously though, I'm gonna throw this out here, because it's driving me a little nuts. Should Power Girl start calling herself Power Woman instead? I'm not saying this is going to happen, it's just been on my mind the last few days.

I think this started after I said that Johnny Storm dates girls, but Ms. Marvel is a woman. It's tragic how some throwaway joke I made can cause me problems. I don't know why this is bugging me, since I like "Power Girl".

Using "Girl" gives me this sense that she's enjoying saving lives and stomping villains. She recognizes the importance of it, and that it's the right thing to do with her powers, but also that it doesn't have to be treated like work. She's got power, she uses it to do good, has fun, it's all good. If she changed the name, it would give me the impression it wasn't fun for her anymore. Now it's a job, so she has to take it seriously.

This really makes no sense given that Catwoman certainly seemed to be able to enjoy herself, at least until she found out about the mindwipe thing, while Wonder Girl doesn't seem to take a very light-hearted view of superheroing. Maybe that's the whole "trying to live up to Diana" thing, but Power Girl doesn't seem to have that same problem with Superman.

Or maybe I don't understand Power Girl's character at all. I haven't really read any JSA, so I'm mostly flying blind here. You tell me.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Things I Think About #21

I was thinking about how I said Johnny Storm would have no chance with Carol Danvers, and I asked myself who would, because I have too much free time. The answer came swiftly: Hawkeye. Is there a woman he's been on the Avengers with he hasn't slept with, or at least made a pass at? Black Widow, Wasp, Mockingbird, She-Hulk, I'm sure Tigra at some point, that's just off the top of my head. The man likes to date in the workplace, no doubt. Except the Scarlet Witch.

And that's when I realized that all that was needed to stop House of M was for Hawkeye to have hit on the Scarlet Witch. Given his remarkable skill with the ladies, he would surely have scored, and Wanda would have real, actual children, as opposed to the fake ones she conjured while she was with the Vision. And guess what? Crisis averted, insanity forestalled by loving real, not conjured up children.

See, I've realized Wanda remembered her "children that weren't", long before Disassembled. She missed them (understandable), and since making fake kids is a dangerous path to tread, she wanted to have real children. And who better to help than the Avengers resident stud pony, Clint Barton? Except he wouldn't. Whether it was because he refused to get between her and the Vision, because he was afraid of the damage Quicksilver would do to him when he found out, or because he had a headache (admit, you knew that joke was coming), he turned her down flat.

Desperate, she asked other teammates. Jack-of-Hearts was too radioactive. Scott Lang already has a daughter he barely gets to see, he declines. The Vision, well she'd tried that before. That sent her into a realm of pissed-off hurt like you've never seen. And look what happened. Jack-of-Hearts, already blowed up, comes back and blows up Scott Lang. Vision gets ripped in half by Wanda's friend, the She-Hulk. Shulkie proceeds to knock Kelsey Leigh (a woman who has two real children, even if she can't be with them) for a loop, and then Hawkeye blows himself up real good.

It all connects. And honestly, is this ludicrous idea any worse than what Bendis handed us?

Seriously, is it? I mean besides the obvious fact that it falls apart if Hawkeye did proposition her at some point.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Reflections #4 - The Punisher #31

Quick one today. At the start of the issue, Frank Castle asks "What's the only thing more dangerous than a barracuda?" The page shows a shark, so I suppose we could assume that's the answer. But this is The Punisher, so it may be Frank Castle. But honestly it's a silly question, there are plenty of things more dangerous than barracudas.

Penguins (they will steal your soul! Just like Earth-2 Lois Lane)
Jehovah's Witnesses (Again with the soul stealing)
Tom Cruise

Sorry that last one is from my "What's more annoying than a crying baby?" list.

What else is more dangerous than a barracuda?

Image blatantly stolen from Chris' Invincible Super Blog.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Reflections #3 - New Excalibur #5

There's really just one thing I want to discuss, and it's Lionheart throwing a car-sized propane tank at Courtney Ross, who was fleeing in her car at that point. Captain Britain saved Courtney, and Kelsey was clearly stunned by what she'd done when she thought she'd killed them, but I really just didn't buy it. It's not that I don't think she would throw a propane tank at someone; it's that I don't think she would throw it at an innocent bystander, even when she's really angry.

Kelsey is angry with Captain Britain because he's the one who put her in the position of choosing between the sword and the amulet, leading to her choosing the sword, meaning she can't be with her kids again, or even tell them she's alive, since that would somehow lead to their 'horrible deaths'. So he's the one she's after, and just prior to that moment she kicked him through a car and a wall. He's vulnerable, and if she had chucked that propane tank at him I would have been rooting her on. But why chuck it at Courtney Ross? Yes, she's an old girlfriend of the good Captain's, but she had nothing to do with it.

When Kelsey first appeared in The Avengers, she got beaten to death protecting Captain America from a Black Knight pretending to be Thunderball. When she gets these powers and returns to the land of the living, the first thing she does is stab that guy right in the chest. The Scarlet Witch was there too, but Kelsey didn't turn around and try to decapitate Wanda just because the Avengers had been fighting the Wrecking Crew when Kelsey died. Sure, it would have been better for the Marvel Universe if Kelsey had killed Wanda, but that's not the point. I won't deny Kelsey Leigh is capable of great anger and violence, and she's quick to both, probably rather defensive from years of taking abuse from people because of her scar. But she directs that anger at the ones who wronged her, not people who had nothing to do with it.

All this being said, it's done. I'm disappointed because I was actually hoping that Captain Britain would be too bothered by the loss of his wife to lead Excalibur, and Kelsey would join in his place. I'm sure Pete Wisdom could have come up with a situation concerning her children that would have been acceptable (where are her kids? She doesn't have them, and the Avengers were taking care of them prior to "Disassembled"). That would have left Wisdom or Sage running the team, and I'd be comfortable with that. I don't think it would have bothered Claremont too much; he used Sage as a sort of leader in X-treme X-Men. Anyway, now it seems like Kelsey's going to be working with this Albion guy, who is more than likely a bad guy, which she is not. She had another chance to kill Ms. Ross after the adrenaline wore off, and she didn't. She knew Courtney wasn't her enemy. Mostly, I think she's hurt, confused, angry at Brian Braddock for doing this to her, all of which makes her easy prey to be manipulated by Albion, and whoever he's working with. Hopefully, when the big fight goes down, she'll turn on him and get in the finishing shot. *fingers crossed*

One final comment. In the previous issue, Captain Britain told her a person's soul is defined by the choice they make between the sword and the amulet. How the amulet (which he chose) represents the "quest for knowledge. For truth. Violence as a last resort." Hmm. The first time I saw Captain Britain, he came to America as an exchange student, and wound up rooming with Peter Parker, because Peter needed the money, naturally. Brian hears something in Peter's room, rushes in, and sees Spider-Man going out the window. He changes to Captain Britain, chases Spider-Man and. . . starts trying to beat him up. "Violence as a last resort", my ass.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Reflections #2 - Ms. Marvel #1

First off, I never knew Jessica Drew smoked, but apparently she does. Obvious proof she's still evil. Second, I may have been wrong about Jessica and Carol working together in S.H.I.E.L.D. Which leads me to wonder how they became friends. Clearly they've known each other for years, their conversation demonstrated that. Could we get Bendis to write one issue covering this question? Just one, after a couple issues of impressive battles. Moving on to a some quotes.

"It's a long story and it involves me, Johnny Storm and a weekend in Las Vegas that - " This is a pretty funny line. Now, if they're suggesting a supervillain battle with some revealing "costume malfunction", that's one thing. If it's suggesting freaky-freaky, please. Carol Danvers is a woman, Johnny Storm dates girls. And green aliens impersonating his best friend's girlfriend. In other words, people who are easily impressed by flame powers, a smile, and an empty head. He and Hal Jordan should swap little black books. Irregardless, Johnny would be way out of his league with Carol, it wouldn't matter how drunk he tried to get her. A human Ben Grimm? He might have a chance.

"The other day Captain America offered me my old job on the Avengers. You know why? Because I'm me. Not because I've earned it. Not because I'm good enough for it." OK, that is a load of bull. True, Captain America didn't go so far as to call her up and ask her to join, he just asked if she'd like to join when she visited, but so what? Maybe Cap realized that a team with a double (triple?) agent, an absent ninja, a nutcase, and Wolverine, could use someone you can count on. And hey, Carol Danvers just showed up! She's been an Avenger, she's shown that she can follow orders and give them. She could really be a help to the team!

I guess I just don't get this whole idea of "I haven't earned it". When it comes to Avengers stuff, the big cosmic-level threats, only Captain America and Iron Man have more experience than her. Wolverine doesn't count because all that Phoenix stuff was really just dealing with Jean (or a cosmic entity pretending to be Jean) being batshit crazy. She's Avengers material, so put her on the team already! After Bendis leaves. Which should be soon.

I have to say a few things about her talking to the publicist. It seems like she's trying to become better known, to get name recognition so she's up in that Pantheon of the top Marvel heroes. But the great ones don't promote themselves. Their actions speak for them. Spider-Man is regarded as one of the best, at least by his peers, if not the unappreciative bastards of New York City (Marvel Universe New York! I'm not dissing the unappreciative bastards who live in this world's New York). It's not because he has a book deal, or appears on television shows. OK, he gets his picture in the paper a lot, but it's usually with a headline like "Spider-Man: Killer Bug-Person!" Still, the heroes know how good he is, and it's because of what he's done. Promoting yourself is such a, a, a Speedball move.

The publicist told her that to get on a Lettermen-type show, she has to have something to promote, like Reed Richards comes on with some device to help underpriveliged children. But that isn't Reed Richards, leader of the Fantastic Four, that's Reed Richards, brilliant scientist. Yeah, his name recognition comes from what he did as a hero, saving the world from Skrulls and stuff, but he's not on the show to talk about that. He's talking about what he does as a person to help the world. It would be like Peter Parker coming on Conan O'Brian to talk about some after-school program he started. If Carol has other career aspirations, then the talkshow circuit might not be a bad thing. But if she's trying to become the "World's Greatest Hero", it's going to matter a lot more that she's doing those patrols (which is a good idea), and saving cities from the attack of the Brood. Yeah, saving the citizens from the aliens that want to lay eggs inside them would be a good way to build some public recognition.

For the record, I'm not disappointed with the book, or annoyed, or anything like that. I gave it a good score because I legitimately enjoyed it, and I'll buy it again next month. It just prompted several different reactions in me. Which is a good sign.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Reflections on March 1st Buys #1

Starting it off with Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #5, my first question is, when a person with red hair reaches senescence (old age), what color does their hair typically turn?

I'm looking at the ending scenes of the issue, the confrontation between "Spider-Man is stalking me" Woman and Spidey's Widow. Most of the time, the widow's hair is just gray, but there are a couple of panels where it's blondish, just a little darker than the hair Vanna had at the start of the issue. Which of course, set off my panic button. "Holy crap, that's not Mary Jane! They're going to have them break up! Please tell me he didn't wind up with Gwen Stacy's daughter, who happens to look just like Gwen!" OK, so I'm overreacting to what was probably a colorist error, what of it? I've heard things about Quesada. That he doesn't think Peter should be married. And after House of M, I'm a little concerned.

Between Peter realizing his "perfect" life is with Gwen Stacy and not Mary Jane, his "death" and what happened in the hospital just prior to it, and this blood oath with Stark (which I think MJ has more misgivings about than Peter. She doesn't seem to trust Stark as much as Peter does, which I figure could be traced back to the problems with her father. Peter may gravitate towards father figures, I think MJ tends to distrust them. Which is the right instinct here), there seems like there's going to be more stress than normal in the Parker family. Even with Aunt May's influence, this could get rocky. I can even see Peter and MJ getting into it over whether to stay at Stark Tower (Peter) or get their own place (Mary Jane and Aunt May).

Granted, they've tried to get rid of Mary Jane before, with a airplane disaster, and before JMS came to Amazing Spider-Man they sent her to Los Angeles. Ultimately, I'd say fan response overrode both, and she was back. But Joey Q strikes me as a stubborn man. If he wants Mary Jane gone, I doubt he'll stop trying.

Or maybe I'm nuts.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What I Bought 3/1/06, Part 2

In case you haven't seen it yet, the first three reviews are the post just below this one. Two other things quickly. Marvel, please stop putting posters for Neopets:The Darkest Faerie in my comics. Advertisements I can handle, the posters are annoying. Second, all I'll say on Infinite Crisis #5 is that my lone prediction for it was off by 10 pages. Spoiler warnings folks, as we move into the next three books, that for whatever reason didin't grab me as strongly as the first three.

The Punisher #31 - So we start a new arc. Let me say first, I'm glad they at least mentioned the Anti-Punisher Task Force set up in the last arc. Even if it was a sham, made by a guy under the control of Romanian slave traders, the police wouldn't have dropped it, even with the sudden death of that cop. So to see it mentioned, nice. Not so nice is Goran Parlov's art. It's not bad, but after Fernandez' work in the last two arcs, it doesn't quite match up. It has a slightly more cartoon feel, or at least less gritty, which worked very well for Frank Castle.

The plot? Frank Castle kills some coke dealers. Big surprise, except he saved someone's life while doing so. This doesn't seem like much of a surprise either. Frank often seems to get mixed up in these larger incidents because he saved someone while doing his killing. Well, he saves the guy from more rape, and the guy seems to take it rather well. By which I mean, he's not hysterical, or really in tears or anything. He seems much more concerned about Frank leaving him there to let the cops help him. Frank, while enjoying a burger (could I eat meat if I frequently turned people's faces into something resembling hamburger?), sees a news report about the incident, recognizes someone in the background, and decides he better help that guy out after all. Which means Mr. Castle is going to the police station. Remember kids, cops don't like it when you toss grenades around in their precinct. All this was mixed in with an apparently very rich man, talking to a subordinate who was apparently responsible for Stephens being in the position to be saved by the Punisher. Clearly this rich man will be dead by the end of this arc, which I'm sure will cause problems for Frank Castle. 3 out of 5, because it didn't really grab me.

Spider-Girl #96 - So, like I said last month, Kaine's attempt to protect Spider-Girl from the Brotherhood of Scriers, has ended up putting a target on her back. Way to go there big fella, the Parker luck is strong in this clone. May is also trying to deal with school at the same time. She runs into the guy she used to have a crush on, until she found out he was a mutant-hating bigot. Apparently, that's a turnoff (am I using apparently too much?). Coach Flash Thompson wants May to rejoin the basketball team, but May still thinks it's wrong to use her powers against normal people, so she can't. That gets Felicity Hardy, daughter of Flash and Felicia Hardy and the current Scarlet Spider, on her case, because her dad's jobs in trouble. Oh yeah, Normie Osborn is now flaunting the fact he has the Venom symbiote in front of federal agents. Brilliant. Normie is worrying me more all the time.

On her way to the hospital* (*her friend Moose's dad got injured in the fight last issue - CoolMint Calvin) she get jumped by a Scrier. He's supposedly just testing her, but when she whups his butt, he immolates himself. Sore loser Buddhist wannabe. This book marches towards the end, and though there were some nice moments, it still feels like set-up for next month. Which is what I said last month. Bad DeFalco! 2 out of 5.

X-Factor #4 - This wraps up the initial case the crew was working on. The answer to the case of "the dead girl in the movie star's bed" is solved, thanks to Monet's. . . telepathy. *Sigh* Have I mentioned in the last week that I hate how many telepaths there are at Marvel? Monet can fly, has superstrength, and invulnerability, does she need telepathy? She's like Power Girl, minus the heat vision, plus an aggravating attitude. I get that it's an act, or at least that's the feeling I get later on, but damn. She could tone it down a bit. She seems to have a pretty biting wit, but she's needlessly cruel at times. Maybe she needs a lesson in boundaries?

Admist this, I get the impression Jamie Madrox is a severe danger to everyone, as it appears that one of Jamie's duplicates has been reading Jake's posts because he makes a rather bold proclamation at one point. Meanwhile, Siryn helps Guido and Rahne get the point across to the cops. What was the point? We're the force here, back the fuck off. The cops, to their credit, get the message, though they'd have to be deaf to have missed it. Of course, they probably are deaf now. . .

Oh yeah, and Layla Miller's creativity and dark sense of humor continue to amuse me. I know some people don't like her, because she was a plot device for House of M, but seeing as I mostly ignored that, I'm perfectly OK with her, especially as Peter David is doing some interesting things with her. The really funny thing to me is that she and these Singularity people seem to be working towards a similar goal, though they may not realize it. Layla has to keep X-Factor from figuring out why mutants got depowered, Singularity wants to stop Madrox from undoing the depowering. yet their guy was ready to kill her. Funny stuff. So between the resolution of a case, and a nice set-up for next month, I'll give this a 4 out of 5.

What I Bought 3/1/06, Part 1

Well, getting 76% on my American Urban History quiz only partially dampened my spirits. A week of six comics that came off feeling average, that didn't help. Anyway, I've noticed I have a tendency to ramble in these things, and that leads to really long posts, so I'm going to post three reviews now, the rest later tonight. So here we go spoiler warnings as always.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #5 - I had this feeling that Peter David was the person writing the Spider-Man books that I could count on for something lighthearted. I don't know why that would be, especially when the Peter David Spider-Man story I know best is "The Death of Jean DeWolf", which is about as unlighthearted as you can get. Suffice to say, this issue was not all that lighthearted, at least not to me.

On a certain level, a story about a person so full of themselves that they believe four encounters with Spider-Man spread out over almost 4.5 years (based on the assumption of one blog post per day, and yes, I took the time to figure that on a calculator) would mean Spidey was stalking them, could be amusing. But with the way David writes it, she's a person who's home life clearly damaged them, to the point she wants no actual human contact (note she won't shake people's hands, keeps them across her chest to ward people off), just admiration and desire from afar, is just depressing. I get that it's a comparison, that this person let some early trauma do this to them, while Peter took his trauma, and used it to make himself a better person, though you could make pretty good case a guy who dresses like a spider and fights people dressed as rhinos is clearly more messed up.

There's one other thing I want to talk about, from the event at the end of the book, but I'll leave that for tomorrow. Ultimately, it's a pretty good story, and now that we're past the stories where someone ate Peter's eyeball, I like the fit of Wieringo's art more. In fact that's probably why I figured the book would be upbeat, his bright, somewhat cartoony style. Well, that and the word "friendly" in the title. 3.5 out of 5.

Ms. Marvel #1 - I like this cover much more than the one I actually have. It's more dynamic than just "Check out how pretty Frank Cho draws her posing!" Well yes, it is pretty, but I knew that already from those two issues of New Avengers. There's some flair to this. Wait, she's going back to "Ms. Marvel"? I've said this before: Between Marvel and DC, there are too damn many people with "marvel" in their codename. Still, I guess "Ms. Marvel" is more friendly sounding to the public than "Warbird". Hmm, I haven't really discussed the book yet.

So, we get a day in the life of Carol Danvers. She saves some kids, and a dude in a truck. That's all good, though that guy was a little too quick to hug her, know what I mean? She pummels lame-ass villain, including some serious payback for a bit of a diss, then goes to meet a publicist. We hear all this as a conversation between Carol and Jessica Drew, who I guess are old friends from S.H.I.E.L.D. I like the interaction here, the sense that Jessica and Carol are old friends, by the fact that Jessica knows when Carol is, and asks if the "be the World's Greatest Hero" thing is a "Carol-thing". I've asked that question of some of my friends from time to time. I have no idea if this friendship is something real, or if Reed and De La Torre just created it for the purpose of this story.

Anyway, I was pretty happy with this, though there are some things I'm going to be discussing later this week about this issue. Stuff happened, and it looks like more stuff is going to happen in the next issue. Good. I will say Palmiotti needs some work on faces that aren't masked. Jessica and Carol's faces looked kind of odd at times, but this might be because Palmiotti was giving some signs of these being "mature" women, who would have experienced aging, and thus might not have the flawless faces I'm used to seeing in comics. So maybe it's me.

One last thing: Jessica points out Carol at one point stopped the sun from exploding, as proof that Carol is big-time (How many Avengers can say that? Not the Sentry, for damn sure). Carol's rebuttal is she spent the next six months sitting on the couch, eating ice cream and watching movies. You know what? If I ever save the Sun from exploding, you better believe that I would spend the next several months sitting on a couch watching TV (or else I'd be trying to use the "You know, I saved the Earth" line on the ladies). In fact I might spend the rest of my life on the couch. Screw it. I did my bit for the world. I guess that's why I don't get super-powers, or a comic book. 4 out of 5.

New Excalibur #5 - Wow, even with only three reviews, this is gonna be long. Hmm, so the team, which still isn't a team, is scattered throughout London. Sage and Pete Wisdom fend off Warwolves. Did they get interrupted in the middle of some freaky-freaky, or does Wisdom always look that rumpled? Dazzler, Juggernaut and Nocturne do the same elsewhere, and Brian Braddock is trying to deal with a very pissed off Lionheart. It appears the team finally forms at the end, and much to my despair, Lionheart isn't on the roster. I didn't really expect it, but I was hopeful. Worse, she seems to be an adversary (more on her role, again later in the week). Bugger Claremont, what are you doing to me here?

I do like the fact that Claremont seems to be building plots for the future, while remembering that people would like to see something happen in the "now". What a concept! Are you taking notes Mr. Bendis? On the whole, I like Steven Cummings art. However, I'm not feeling his physical confrontations. When it comes to depicting someone taking a severe hit, he just doesn't depict it consistently well. I'm still trying to figure out what Lionheart did that sent Captain Britain flying through a vehicle and a wall. I recognize she dodged his lunge, and put a knee in his gut, then I think she kicked him, it's just a bit unclear to me. Like I said, I mostly like his work, there are just a few quibbles. 3.5 out of 5.

I'll put up the other three tonight. The Punisher, Spider-Girl, X-Factor.