Friday, June 30, 2006

It's That Time Again

Huh, you know what I forgot to make a big deal out of yesterday? It was my 200th post. Oh well, I'll be more impressed if I'm still here after a year. Tomorrow morning, I'm leaving town for a few days, going back to Columbia to see my dad and my buddie Alex, with a brief stop in St. Loo to see my former roomies' house and get fitted for a tux. Why couldn't their wedding be informal dress? I hate tuxes. And what's up with all the bloggers going all over the place. Diamondrock, Kalinara, me, we're on the move. Oh right, Fourth of July. Or is it? Perhaps, as Alex would say, 'In the darkness, we are gathering'. Of course, all the Roman candles might make it hard to stay hidden, but I've badly digressed. So, with me not making any new blog posts between now and next Thursday (when I'll review my pull for the week), I wanted to leave you with something larger to discuss, as is my style. So here it is, because I just love hypotheticals, don't you know?

You are placed in charge of Marvel Comics for five minutes. I suppose I could make this any comics company, but I'd say the general consensus among people who read Marvel is, there need to be changes - badly. But, if you'd rather put this in action for DC or IDW or somebody, run with it. To continue: You have precisely enough time to issue one - and only one - edict, but it will be followed for the remainder of the company's days. And no, they can't simply shut down the company and restart it under a new name to get out from under your commandment. None of that "Buffy was clinically dead for three minutes, so a new Slayer got called, and this is how we have two Vampire Slayers" stuff. You can make a decision regarding anything, large of small. It can pertain to liscencing, whether movies, games, toys, cartoons. It can involve firing a certain person of the last name that begins with "Que". It can be putting a specific writer on a book (someone must be able to write Dr. Strange well), or taking a writer off a book (or books, if you want the person gone entirely). It can be to dictate storytelling policy because, in short, you have the Reality Gem, because here at Marvel, we don't need no stinking Whiny Brat Superboy to change the way things are! So what do you do?

I'm torn. I'd love to kick Bendis off New Avengers, and give it to Tony Bedard. Or simply state that everything from the beginning of Disassembled forward is out of continuity, and to be ignored, except Annihilation, which is good. But here's what I'm going to decree:

Two book maximum for all characters within the 616 universe. I know Marvel doesn't have the stable of characters that DC does, but damnit, there's people there who can be used (even more assuming one of you retcons out House of M and we get assloads of mutants back)! So, no character may have a prominent role in more than two books. I will count against them out-of universe exceptions, such as the MC2, Marvel Adventures, and Ultimates lines, though those have their own limits as well (just in case). I will allow a character a maximum of three guest spots per year (that's for all titles they aren't already in, not per title). Basically, I'm tired of over-exposure, and if the books are written well enough, and accessibly enough, I think people will buy them, whether or not "SUPER KEWL SPIDER-MAN AND WOLVERINE ARE IN THE BOOK!". Maybe I'm overestimating our intelligence as comics' fans. So be it.

For example, you want Spider-Man to stay in New Avengers? Then he loses two of his solo titles (I'd say we keep Amazing just because I'm loathe to dump that comic title, with the history of it). He's not going to be in New Avengers? OK, then he can have Friendly or Sensational back, and you give his spot to someone like Nova or Chamber (suggestions made by Spencer Carnage and Kelvin Green back in the early days of this blog), or Speedball, since Nova's in space right now. Same deal with Wolverine. This way, some of the lesser known characters get used for something other than simply cannon fodder in the Next Big Event (damn you Quesada! I loved The New Warriors! Why, you bastard, WHY!!). Who knows, maybe you find a writer that really makes them great, and they become more than a character with a small cult following? Maybe the public at large would grow to understand the awesomeness that is Moon Knight? Or The Shroud? Or. . . or, The Sentry? Just kidding, I wanted to see if you had given up on reading and gone straight to commenting. You are going to make an edict and place it in the comments, right?

OK, clearly I've run out of steam, so let me close by phrasing this suggestion in a way the fellows currently running the show at the House of Ideas can understand: If you make your lesser known and used characters more beloved, by a greater number of people, then it will have a much greater impact when you . . . get around to killing them for the Next Big Event. Does it make sense to you now, you pea-brained little minnows?

Peace out! I heading for the West Side! Even though Alex lives on the East Side! And my dad lives on the North Side! So where the hell am I going!?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

This Is Not A Good Sign

Before I get to my main topic from Amazing Spider-Man #533, I have one quick thing to quibble with. During the "villain reaction" pages of the story, they showed Eddie Brock, lying in a hospital bed, because, you know, he's dying of cancer. Except I'm pretty sure Millar's run on Marvel Knights Spider-Man said Brock died of that within a month, and that was two years ago our time, which i figure means six months, Marvel time. C'mon, the man is dead already, just let him go! For the record, I'm not advocating the "Mac Gargan as Venom" story, I'm just pretty much ready for Eddie Brock to go away - permanently. Still, I'd say the enemy I'm most curious to see the reaction from is Doc Ock. He did try to marry Aunt May, and part of me would just love to see him fighting off a bunch of Spidey's other enemies that were trying to hurt her. Why not? Civil War (or rather the futurist Iron Man) prophesied enemies would become allies.

My main question is what does it mean that Jameson stopped smoking? As I understand it, only villains are allowed to smoke in the Marvel Universe these days. Putting aside for the moment that this is idiotic, it does make it fairly simply to tell good guys from bad guys, to an extent. So Jolly Jonah isn't a smoker, therefore he can no longer be easily classified as a villain. So what does this say about Civil War at large?

Well, we know Jonah is in favor of the Registration Act, he's been screaming about "these damn vigilantes menacing the public" for years, so if one of the most vocal supporters from the "flatscans" (dredging up the early '90s X-Men terminology, oh dear) isn't smoking, then it has to be a good idea, right? He's not a villain, so if he supports it, then it could be argued to be good, or right.

But at the same time, he's still Spider-Man's enemy. He's suing Peter for fraud and all that other crap the lawyer said. Given he's Spider-Man's enemy is this the way of foreshadowing that Peter's going to switch sides? Because Peter's registered and still being attacked by a supporter of the act, does it demonstrate that he's in this for all the wrong reasons (not because he believes in it, but because he's scared)? Does it mean that the heroes who won't sign up are bad guys, even though they don't smoke either? Because it seems as though you could argue that abrupt shift in Jonah is more significant than the fact that Captain America doesn't smoke and never has.

But we have to consider that Jonah hasn't given up the addiction, he's just switched his method of obtaining his fix. He's chewing the gum, and liberally using the patch, if his words to Robbie were the truth. So that could mean that registration is still wrong, it's just trying to do a better job of disguising that it's a cheap rip-off of Nazis slapping Stars of David on all the Jews clothing, to keep the stupid cows that are the public from getting too concerned about any larger implications, such as what might happen if SHIELD decides to conquer the world, and now all the super-heroes work directly for them, who's going to fight back? Nobody that's who. Well, I guess Black Panther, Namor, probably Doom, the Hulk if he ever gets back.

A couple of things about this. One, this would all be a lot more interesting if we weren't being beaten over the head with a dozen other things to tell us something's up with Peter. Between threatening Stark if anything happens to May and MJ, to the lawsuit, to his assorted Rouge's Gallery, to "Cap's #1 Fan", to Peter not being all that happy about being on the "Hunt Down the Dissenters" squad. Kind of lessens the impact a more sneaky statement has, which is too bad. The not smoking thing was the most interesting part of the issue.

Two, were I ever to gain control of one of the major comics companies, you can rest assured that you, the fan, would hear nothing about major developments that were upcoming. In the case of Civil War (if I would actually allow something like Civil War, which I wouldn't), yeah I'd tell you it was coming, that heroes would be divided, but that's it. No hints about heroes revealing their identities, or switching sides, or who's going to play a surprisingly big role, or any of the other crap that's removed a good chunk of the suspense because we already know what's coming.

Third, I wonder if the "disguising it as something to fool the people" analogy doesn't apply to what Marvel's trying with us. Trying to convince us this isn't just another big crossover designed to rake in money through controversy, because this time it's of a topical nature in our real world. If that's true, it means I'm a stupid cow, and while that's entirely possible, it's not particularly pleasant to think about.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What I Bought 6/28/06

Didn't buy Annihilation: Ronan #3. Just wasn't appealing. Four other books did get bought, and I gotta say, none really, how should I put this, resonated. Oh well, some weeks are just like that I guess. Spoilers are lurking ahead I'm sure.

Amazing Spider-Man #533 - So, Spider-Man is really Peter Parker. And the nation does a collective "Who?". Jameson is miffed. Peter seems rather cold to Stark in the aftermath, so I suppose he's starting to pull his head out of his hindquarters and realize that what a monumental cock-up he's just made of things. Oh and he threatened Tony if anything happens to May or MJ. Good. I hope to see Iron Man get his ass kicked often during this crossover (sorry, Chris), and quite frankly, as inspiring as drunken Prodigy's attempt in Front Line was, it didn't pan out.

Then we get a less than pleasant reaction from the public. Really great idea going public Parker, 'cause now they can hate both your identities. Then the story comes to grinding halt with the MJ and May/Peter/Reed and Sue Richards conversation thing. I'm sure it was meant to be witty, but just like a lot of those jokes on Family Guy, they dragged it to such lengths it was just annoying as hell. Though Peter's solution was marginally amusing.

Peter's been sued. I wonder whether Stark is going to pick up the tab for that, given that this situation is his fault. Oh, is it unfair to blame him for Peter's employer finding out their photog's been taking pictures of himself all these years? Well, it's unfair to blame Speedball for Nitro blowing up an entire fucking city!!! Calm, calm.

And on a final note, Peter isn't happy that he's been drafted into the "Hunt Down Captain America" Squad. Welcome to life as a lapdog of the state Petey-boy. Wanker. I did not like this issue. Too much talking, the ridiculous phone bit, and Peter is only starting to question what the hell's he just done. 1.8 out of 5.

Exiles #83 - This appears to be an issue for pausing and catching your breath. The Exiles are sending back a bunch of their former teammates, whether dead or alive. At least, I guess that's what's going on. I've never seen any of these people. The team, except for Power Princess, is attempting to keep up the charade that this Morph is actually their old buddy, and not Proteus brainwashed into believing he's Morph. Blink is trying to decide what to do with Mimic. An Iron Man gets aggressive because he doesn't want to go home. Seems he might have caused World War 3 and he's a wanted criminal. Hmm, really? I can't imagine Stark starting up a war. I wonder if it was civil? Surely not. It's times like this I wish computers were better at expressing sarcasm.

Anyway, the Stark is contained, and the team resumes sending the fallen back to their respective homes. Last we see of Iron Schlub is him surrendering to a bunch of guns. *evil grin*. And we see what Blink decides to do with Mimic's body. The art bugs me a bit on this, especially Spider-Man 2099. He goes from muscular to scrawny, and then kind of elongated throughout the book. It's a bit distracting. Still, pretty decent warp-up to Bedard's run, so 4.1 out of 5.

Ultimate Spider-Man #96 - Spider-Man is in the middle of a vampire fight. Predictably, he's in way over his head. Morbius keeps telling him to get lost, and finally Peter takes his advice and bails with the bitten Ben Urich. Not surpisingly the Fantastic Four aren't around to help, and the personnel at the hospital he goes to give him a lot of flack, and keep accusing him of doing something to Urich. Because I'm sure he would bite the guy on the neck, then bring him to a hospital for treatment. People are such idiots.

Morbius shows up at the hospital, planning to save Urich - by biting him. As you might expect, Spider-Man is less than convinced. But then he gets bitten by a vampire, and a fight breaks out, and Morbius sounds oddly current for someone who's the son of, well we're talking about vampires, so I'll give you three guesses who Daddy Dearest was.

Anyhoo, Peter's blood protects him, Urich is fine, Morbius dissed Peter (man, everyone disses him), but hey, Mary Jane seems less angry at him. At the very least, she's willing to be his friend again, which is of the good. Peter needs friends. 4.2 out of 5.

X-Factor #8 - Let's see, Layla throws a rock at some guys, and blames it on the silver-haired figure in front of X-Factor Investigations. Rictor, Siryn and Monet argue about registration. Siryn is also suspicious about Cyclops' reaction to Layla in the previous issue. So naturally, Rictor starts badgering Layla, because that works well.

And a Madrox duplicate shows up from SHIELD, to get them all to sign up. I will now smash my head through my desk. The rock-throwing didn't go the way Layla planned, Siryn interrogates Spider-Man and finds out all about House of M. OK, godamnit, why the hell is it when people find out about House of M, it's always from Spider-Man. They couldn't find out from Wolverine or Cyclops for once? *next five minutes of typing have been deleted for extreme profanity*

What else? Well I guess we learned something interesting about the heads of Singularity. And Pietro and Layla exchanged deep and meaningful discussion about evil and good, and blah, blah, blah. Whatever. I think Civil War is killing me. 3.3 out of 5.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

This Is What It's All About

Yesterday I was out walking and I'm watching the trail ahead of me. I see one guy on a bike in a purple shirt riding away from me. He'd just passed me a minute ago. Coming towards me is another person on a bike, wearing a shirt with a checkerboard pattern. I turned away, looked into the trees along the trail, and when I looked back the second biker was nowhere in sight. They hadn't passed me. They hadn't gotten off the trail, since going to their left would take them right through my line of sight, and going right would send them into the creek. Just gone, like a "glitch in the Matrix" moment. I think I might have been walking too much yesterday. That has nothing to do with the rest of the post, but I wanted to mention it. Also, I'm picking up Amazing Spider-Man #533 and X-Factor #8 tomorrow, so unless you normally buy (and enjoy those) leave 'em be, and I'll review those Civil War tie-ins for ya. Moving on.

As you may have deduced by now, I am enjoying Annihilation. Silver Surfer started slow, but has upped the ante considerably. Super-Skrull started awesome, and has slowed a bit, but is still a lot of fun. Nova's been steady, but also looks like it's going to wrap up in high gear. Ronan's been my personal weak point, as it doesn't seem to actually have much to do with Annihilation, but maybe that'll change this week.

Last month, I offered an idiotic reason for why I was enjoying Annihilation. Well, upon further reflection, I've divined the real force behind my enjoyment. Simply put, this series is what superhero comics are about to me. You've got a powerful force, that threatens countless numbers of innocent (and not-so-innocent) lives. And you've got heroes, or at least warriors, willing to stand in the evil's way, and try and stop it.

It isn't the heroes defending themselves against a bitter enemy out for revenge. It isn't the heroes dealing with a trio of whiners who feel that their heroic sacrifices are being wasted, so they want to retract them (Infinite Crisis). It certainly isn't heroes fighting with each other over legislation of all things (Civil War). No, it's a guy who wants to conquer and kill an entire universe because he feels it represents a threat to his power. And quite naturally, the protagonists aren't going to let that happen.

And that's what I like to read about (as you probably know, given the amount of bitching/ranting/complaining I've done about this kind of stuff previously), so I guess it makes sense that I'm having a rollicking good time.

Monday, June 26, 2006

There's Good Realism And Bad Realism

How weird is it to see a comic cover that tries to make Quasar look intimidating, or at least really pissed off? With him, I'd shoot for a cover that depicts speed and grace, or maybe power, but not anger. Doesn't fit with what I remember of the character, which I grant you ain't much. Anyhoo.

In the March 2006 Scientific American, there's an article that discussed how the greatest threat to manned space flights to Mars and beyond isn't things like asteroids, but cosmic rays. This is due to the fact that out there, the people wouldn't have the nice barriers provided by Earth's atmosphere and magnetic field, only whatever protection their ship could provide, which as spaceflight tech stands now, really isn't that much. And of course, prolonged exposure to cosmic rays can lead to all sorts of mutations and genetic abnormalities. Just ask the Fantastic Four. Or the U-Foes. Or look at what even UV rays can do to you over years of exposure: breaking your DNA apart, which means it may not reconnect properly. Why the heck am I bringing this up?

Because Nova and Quasar appear to be suffering the effects of running around in space without proper shielding for too long. You should look at their faces, they have that kind of Robert Redford "tanned and worn leather" look going. Yipes. That was a lot of yakking for a pretty meager joke, if one can even call it that. Credit to Walker though; Annihilus looks pretty cool and menacing, and that panel of Nova tearing up through the atmosphere to get to the battle was very nice. I really liked that.

Quasar did come off as a bit of a smartass in this issue, which is fine. I liked that 'Should I signal the Avengers? The Imperial Guard?' line. Drax has been pushing Nova around pretty easily, given Nova's uncertainty over his power, but Quasar don't play that, no way Drax. And he seems very cool under fire, especially for a guy named "Wendell". Makes me wonder just what the hell he's been dealing with out there in space, that he can be pretty calmly handling a mass evacuation and fighting off the intial ships of the Annihilation Wave. I do remember he died fighting a guy who wanted to suck the universe into a black hole (Maelstrom?), only to return and triumph. I suppose that could have a maturing effect.

Is it sad that when Drax said 'I had a conversation with his hat.' I didn't laugh because I was thinking "It's a helmet."?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

When Did The Bloom Fall Off The Rose?

Friday, Scipio posted a review of a discussion he and Devon attended. To me, the most interesting comment, on a personal level, was what Scipio labeled an Unpleasant Unfortunate truth, courtesy of Tom DeFalco. Basically, that the Big Two will do certain storylines with the idea that it will piss off readers, because impassioned fan outcry seems to boost sales. I guess it's part of that "slow down and watch the car wreck" mentality. Technically, DeFalco was only speaking from personal experience, which would probably limit it to Marvel, but I've read enough to know DC pulls the same crap, so I'm tossing them in as well.

My first instinct was to make a snarky comment, something like 'I am shocked - shocked! - to hear that comics companies are intentionally trying to anger me to boost their sales figures!' But, that wouldn't have really added anything to the discussion (Scipio does snark in a much better manner), and I didn't feel much like channeling Claude Rains. Besides, I found myself wondering, when the hell did I get like that? That my reaction to such a statement is sarcasm, rather than actual surprise?

It wasn't in the '80s, because that's when I started reading comics, so everything was new to me, and I didn't totally understand how the world of comics worked. It wasn't even the '90s, which was mostly just me feeling lost as massive X-Crossovers and Clone Sagas roamed across 40 books, leaving me unable to keep up. Heck, when I made a serious return to comics in fall of 2000, I was still fairly upbeat and I suppose, naive.

I honestly don't think that there was any one event that brought it home, this realization that the people in charge at DC and Marvel were screwing with us. Rather, it was a combination of four: 1) Spider-Man gets organic web-shooters, courtesy of Disassembled. It made no sense, other than the fact it matched the movie, which seemed like a stupid reason to do something. 2) War Games, and the Stephanie Brown death. Pointless, occurred only because certain characters were written massively out-of-character. 3) Jack Drake's death, which combined with #2 to bollocks up Willingham's run on Robin, for the purposes of some P.O.S. mystery, and I use that term loosely. 4) The fact that pretty much all the characters in Avengers I really liked either died (Scott Lang, Hawkeye), or were knocked into near-oblivion (Kelsey Leigh) by Avengers Dissassembled.

All of it fostered this massive anger in me, but also left me picking up books to see if maybe the characters would have turned out to have survived after all, or they were injured, but now they're back. Books that, given my frustration, I shouldn't have been buying. And thus I realized I was being duped.

So here's my question: Have you reached a point where you feel you care for the characters more than the people in charge of them? And if so, what was the event that left to that?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I Come To Praise New Avengers, Not To Bury It

Although, when I do get around to burying it, I'm going to pick a nice spot, geologically stable, low water table, then I'll encase the issues in concrete and put them in the deepest hole I can dig. But today, I wanted to focus on the few things that happened in the first 20 issues of New Avengers that I actually liked. So let's get started, if you see an asterisk, that means there's a caveat to that particular good thing, which will be detailed at the end of the post.

- I said it long ago, that I felt part of the difference between the Avengers and the Justice League is the Avengers seemed more about giving heroes (and villains) who hadn't really moved beyond second-string a chance to prove they belonged with the big dogs. Obviously, that applies to both teams (Booster Gold, 'nuff said), but I've always thought it was more of an Avengers thing. So I was glad to see Spider-Woman* and Luke Cage** get an opportunity.

- The intial premise of a mass escape of super-villains from a high security prison, causing Captain America to see the need to re-form the Avengers. Could get a lot of good stories out of chasing down 45 escaped super-criminals, especially when one is Count Nefaria***.

- That Carnage was ripped in half****.

- That they actually went to capture one criminal (Sauron), after capturing the one who caused the escape (Electro)*****.

- That during that fight, Captain America richocheted his shield off Wolverine's head.

- That SHIELD Commander Hill is initially skeptical of this team******. Some of the characters have questionable histories, she doesn't have the past with some of them Fury did, the Disassembled debacle would make most people nervous, and Cap and Iron Man kind of ignored her concerns and did whatever they wanted.

- That the team went out and caught another escaped villain - The Wrecker*******.

- That burn Cage got in on Spider-Man during the ninja fight: 'The fight's gone so long, I ran out of jokes. Well, that's good thing to come out of this.'********

- That we haven't seen Ronin since the end of that arc*********.

- That Warbird has been a frequent guest since #15**********.

- That Michael was a threat actually worthy of the Avengers***********.

- That Michael slapped the Sentry around like a silly twit.

- That Captain America had to tell The Sentry to stop crying in bed and come fight. Sure, it was pathetic, but it was still funny.

- The New Avengers Annual. Humor, powerful villain, everyone on the team got to do something, The Sentry got, once again, smacked around like a silly twit, Warbird was involved. A wedding. Stan Lee cameo. Good times all around************.

I think that's all I got. If you have one, feel free to add it in.

* Except for the fact Bendis focused entirely too much on her espionage roots. Avengers needs to have big explosions more, sneaky spy stuff less.

** Except Luke seems to have been amped up in strength for no reason I can figure. I'm looking at his Marvel Universe Series 4 card, he's a Level 4, which means he's as strong as Spidey at best, but he seemed amped up near She-Hulk levels. When he actually got to do anything, which was rare.

*** Except for that bullcrap about Jigsaw breaking Spidey's arm "because he had leverage".

**** Except The Sentry did that, and Carnage shouldn't have been there, since Venom absorbed the symbiote off of Cletus Kasady years ago.

***** Except that probably shouldn't require a team, and it tied into the espionage stuff too much.

****** Except they could have begun moving past that, before her abrupt defense of them in #20. Seriously, talk about out of left field.

******* Except Spidey could have done that himself in two issues. For four super-heroes, that should take half an issues, tops.

******** Except, as noted by the Guys Who Buy Comics
the Avengers shouldn't fight ninjas, because they're the bloody AVENGERS!

********* Except we shouldn't have seen him at all. Did I say 'him'? How clumsy of me. I must have been thrown off by the massive muscles, or maybe the fact that should have been Daredevil or Iron Fist's spot.

********** Except she still isn't officially on the team. Why, we may never know.

*********** Except the final issue made no sense whatsoever. Xorn? Magneto repowered? Zombies?

************ Except it took Bendis forty pages to tell the story, although to be honest, if he told that story over two months worth of New Avengers, I doubt I would complain much. It'd far and away be the most interesting two months of the book so far.

Hmm, I think I've done a better job burying New Avengers than praising it. Oh well, that's on the guy who wrote the book, not me. I can only work with the material I'm given, after all.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Talking Books. Deal With It.

Not books that talk. If you want that, I'm sure Dr. Fate's library has some, assuming it's still around. I would have said ask Dr. Strange for some, but his place was looted by teenagers, after the Sorcerer Supreme was defeated with a joy buzzer and pie to the face. Granted, pie can be quite distracting, but still. . .

The last three weeks or so, I've found myself spending a few hours Wednesday and Friday mornings at my university's library. Paltry though the selection is, I did stumble across a sci-fi book called Hyperion, by Dan Simmons. I've seen a review that describes it as heavily influenced by Chaucer, which would be helpful except I'm a biology major, not literature, so that doesn't nothing to me, beyond the fact the name is familiar. Maybe my dad knows.

What I know is Simmons has a serious interest in the poet Keats. There's a town named after him (and the story takes place in the 29th century), people keep referring to Keats as the greatest poet of all, and the AIs which keep everything running smoothly for the Hegemony (I'd say it's like the Old Republic, pre-Senator Palpatine days) even created a "cybrid" that's meant to be John Keats, creating a personality based on all his writings and descriptions of him. So what's the point of the book?

On a planet called Hyperion (the name of an unfinished poem of Keats'), there's a place called the Time Tombs, which is apparently moving backwards in time. I haven't yet been able to quite wrap my head around what that means, other than as the protagonists go through the book, the Tombs are actually getting younger, closer to the date they were created. Or something. Anyway, there's a creature associated with the Tombs, called the Shrike. It's large, metal, covered in spikes and blades and appears to have temporal abilities. It even has a Church that worships it, and they've requested a pilgrimage be sent to the tombs. Seven people with no obvious connection are chosen, meet up above the planet and descend to the surface to begin the trek. Oh yeah, and a sect of the human race, known as the Ousters is preparing to invade, because apparently they want to know what's up with the Tombs as badly as the Hegemony and the Church and the AIs.

Here's the thing. This book is 482 pages, and it basically covers the four days from when the people are summoned, to when they reach the edge of the mountains where the Tombs are present. That makes up maybe fifty pages. The rest of the book is the characters describing what connection they might have to the Shrike. That's good and bad. We get a story that culminates with a person being electrocuted for seven years, human/cybrid loving, Merlin's disease, a soldier searching for. . . something. I won't say what, but as you might expect finding it isn't nearly as fun as he'd hoped. On the down side, you get a bloviating poet, a guy who doesn't tell his story, and an allegory about conservation versus devlopment.

Unfortunately, the whole book just feels like the prelude to the next one, or possibly the next three, which is a little disappointing. Maybe Simmons just wished to get exposition out of the way.

The one thing I found most interesting was that the poet has this point in his story where he goes to his publishing company and tells them he's through producing these crappy serial novels for them, even though they sell fairly well. he wants to get back to his true poetry, which had been yawned at, when not outright trashed by the critics the previous time. This story feels a lot like some of the other sci-fi stories I've read, so i wonder if Simmons put this in as commentary. At this point, I don't believe the library has the others, but if I get a chance to continue the series, I'll let you know if it pans out. I'd say that right now there's no danger of it displacing Asimov's Foundation series as my favorite sci-fi arc of all time.

Tomorrow, a eulogy for a series.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Vague Can Be Good, But It Can Also Be Irritating

I was thinking back on my little DC vs. Marvel post from Tuesday, and the Fortress Keeper's statement that Superman should be able to wield Thor's hammer, without any special help from Odin. So that got me thinking about what exactly makes someone "worthy" of lifting the hammer? As Wonder Woman pointed out in DC vs. Marvel #2, the word "worthy" is awfully subjective.

I think it may be a matter of Norse culture, or comic book interpretation of Norse culture. "Norseman" equals "Vikings" to most people, assuming they even know what a Norseman is. In my experience, when people think of Vikings, they think about violence and pillaging and being a warrior. And The Mighty Thor takes pride in his prowess as a warrior, he enjoys a challenging battle, it's generally regarded as a good thing (as long as friends and loved ones aren't being harmed, then he just gets really angry). So, maybe that's the key?

Looking at the people who can wield Mjolnir, you've got Beta Ray Bill, who was designed to be the ultimate warrior, keeping his people safe from Surtur's forces as they scrambled for a new home. He endured considerable pain, physical and psychological to reach that point. You've got Captain America, underwent dangerous experimental trials to be a soldier who could serve his country in time of war. His goal is to fight evil wherever it is, to preserve freedom. There's Wonder Woman, who at least in one origin had to pass several trials to earn the right to leave Themyscira, and is a great warrior as well.

Don Blake was just an identity Odin concocted to teach Thor a lesson, so he doesn't count. Eric Masterson was always sharing a body with Thor, so I argue it was Thor enabling him to use the hammer, even with Thor's spirit had supposedly been banished. By the time the separated, Masterson had proven himself as a great enough warrior to be able, like Beta Ray Bill, to wield a mystical hammer of his own. Too bad he wasn't a coward, I think Marvel could have done without Thunderstrike. There was Dargo from the 26th century, but his tenure was marked by Mjolnir trying to get the hell away from him, so he doesn't count either.

So it seems like a common thread is that people who can wield Mjolnir are great warriors that underwent trials to gain their abilities/gifts. Could that be Superman's problem? Even though he died in battle protecting others, so did Skruge and I don't see him chucking Mjolnir around. It doesn't seem like Kal-El has ever had to fight for his abilities, or go through trials and tests to gain the power he has, so maybe that's held against him. Of course, Thor didn't have to either, being born with considerable power and then getting Mjolnir as a gift, but I'd say his father's prerogative wins out there, and he's certainly fought enough epic battles to have earned it since then.

Keep in mind, I'm not arguing Superman shouldn't be able to wield the hammer (though I enjoyed watching him fail to pick it up, and I really wish Captain America had casually walked by, picked it up, and tossed it to Thor, just for the look on the Kryptonian's face), I'm just providing a possible reason why it could be argued he can't. Of course, I'm not up on Superman history, so I've probably missed something in his history, though I don't consider getting over his own subconscious desire to be normal a worthy trial.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What I Bought 6/21/06

Wow. I don't think that since I've actually had a pull list, that I've ever had a week where I dropped two books. So I guess there's a first time for everything. One title's life was contingent on how a character was portrayed, and though I'd originally said the other depended on how the current arc did, it's been doomed for the last couple of months. Believe me, there will be spoilers, so consider this a warning.

Robin #151 - I suppose that if there is an advantage to being in the comic blog community, it's that I get forewarning about upcoming developments. That's really the only way I can explain my reaction to this. I don't feel like hitting a door, or jamming ferrets into Didio's colon, or even cursing. Whether it was actually Beechen's call (which I doubt), or DC Editorial's decision, Cassandra has been marked pretty clearly as Tim's enemy, which basically says "villain". Not "anti-hero", villain. I changed my mind. I am angry enough to curse, so DC, pay attention: Damn it all to hell, you rat bastard mother killing pieces of garbage, I hope this forevermore curses your lineage to an uncurable case of genital herpes. Ok, I'm better.

So, question, does Cassandra's pistol look like it can fire twice consecutively? Because it was, once by Tim into the air, and once by Cassandra into her father. But she didn't reload, and it certainly looks like the kind of gun that would require that. Maybe that means something other than Williams should have drawn a different gun, I doubt it. What else? Well, Robin blew up some ninjas, sure they got a couple stories up an oil derrick, then knocked off by an explosion, which likely left them too stunned to save themselves, but you haven't killed anybody, right Boy Wonder? I really think I hate Robin now. Tim can apparently fight Cassandra to a standstill for four pages, which is roughly how long it took her to break Lady Shiva's neck last year. Yeah, I hate him now. Go ahead and become Batman, you little pissant.

In the "future developments" file, David Cain isn't dead, a teleporting teenager is fighting crime, Tim got Boomer's message, and the Joker is going to kill everyone without realizing it. I couldn't care less. Looking at it as an objective reader, I'll give it a 2 out of 5. As a fan of Cassandra Cain, I give it a 0 out of 5, and two upraised middle fingers towards DC. Let's move on. . .

New Avengers #20 - . . . to our next selection of dreck. Well, the threat is certainly something worthy of the Avengers, though I can't make heads or tails of it. OK, so Xorn is behind all the mutant powers flowing into "Michael". OK, I thought there were 2 Xorns, one that sucked Juggernaut, Nocturne and himself into the black hole in his skull, and the other that was Magneto in disguise, so what the hell is this about? The Sentry got his ass kicked, again, so that was nice. Most of the Avengers were relegated to standing around, or fighting zombies (I'm not joking, zombies), which is lame. Even when Ant-Man and Wasp were on the team, fighting Red Ronin, they at least got to make a token effort to attack the main threat. Luke Cage and Spider-Woman haven't done jack in this story. I know, I know, it's New Avengers, I know it sucks, quit bitching. Well, I'll stop bitching when I finish this review.

That SHIELD agent Cap requested several issues ago finally shows up. She helped, I guess. And The Sentry threw the malevolent energy into the sun, because that's how he deals with all his problems. I'm sure it sucks if you have to tell him he's behind on his electric bills. Into the Sun you go, no one must ever know The Sentry is actually. . . a deadbeat! Why I'm not sure, given it's not any worse than the fact we know he's a gigantic loser, but it makes sense to him I guess. Commander Hill was actually nice to the Avengers, so maybe she's taking my advice about not trying to out-Nick Fury Nick Fury. Or maybe she just didn't want to waste potential soldiers. Whatever. Magneto gets his powers back, but I'm doubting any of the other mutants will. Stupid, elitist Marvel. 1.3 out of 5, and farewell to thee.

Annihilation: Nova #3 - OK, I promise to try and be nice this review. Let's see, Quasar wants Nova to help him evacuate the people on Nycos Aristedes. Drax thinks that's dumb, and that they should be getting ready to fight. Cammie disses wearing a cape. Great, Fantastic Four has introduced the idea of publicists for superheroes, apparently Abnett and Lanning are bringing in the fashion critic to go along with the tailor JMS premiered. What, I'm not criticizing, merely commentating.

Nova is continuing to dither about using his power, but finally, when the Annihilation Wave reaches the planet he gets moving and helps Quasar defend the ships that will build stargates so people can flee. I'd say the impetus was Quasar telling him 'That with great power comes great responsibility', a quote Nova mistakenly attributes to Captain America, which is funny because Nova spent a lot of time around Spider-Man in the '90s (more than Quasar anyway), so you'd think he would have heard it by now. Still not criticizing!

Anyway, Nova unleashes the Nova Force to open a stargate large enough for all the refugee ships to escape through. Which, unfortunately gets the attention of Annihilus, and brings him and his main fleet into the fray. Hoo boy. At least the Worldmind seems to understand Richard well enough to know it's got a better chance of survival if it helps him, rather nag him. 3.7 out of 5, I'm not sure why it's not scored higher, it just doesn't feel like it was any better. Maybe it's leftover anger.

New Excalibur #8 - I'm not sure what to say about this, other than I think it pretty well confirms at least some of my Grand Unified Marvel Theory. Apparently, Wanda's phrase has most definitely screwed up more than just the number of people with mutant abilities on Earth. It gave an old friend a way back into their reality, namely The Shadow King, who has been nestled inside of the Evil Xavier's brain who is, in fact, from an alternate reality. Shadow King wound up there after Psylocke's death, and beat that Xavier and controlled his X-Men. How nice. It doesn't jibe with X-treme X-Men Annual, where we learned Rouge, having retained some of Psylocke's memories, was the one left to keep Shadow King imprisoned wherever the hell it was she was doing that. But, it's X-Men, and perhaps more critically, Claremont X-Men, so why am I expecting it to make sense? Don't mean that in a bad way, just in that "give in to the absurd" thing.

Any rate, Psylocke deals with Shadow King, and thus begins her journey to the Exiles. See ya there Bets! Of course, this means Captain Britain is going to be all mopey and stoic like he was before Lionheart threatened Courtney Ross. That could be a downer. The scene in the night club was fun, and Pete Wisdom using the same like holo-transmitter thing Nick Fury used in New Avengers #14, was a nice touch, especially with Peter comparing himself to said former head of SHIELD. But what did he mean "imaginary sister"? Psylocke's real, she's alive, she's just been modified by her brother Jamie to be immune to manipulation. Or does he mean she isn't really Brian's sister? I feel X-Continuity Confusion Syndrome settling in, so I better wrap this up before I get grumpy again. Um, I liked this, I'm glad they brought up Lionheart and Albion again, because it means they'll be revisited (hopefully Kelsey Leigh doesn't wind up a full-out villain like Cassandra), Michael Ryan's art is very nice, and I'm very curious to see how the heck Chamber is going to show up next month. Plus, since it's taking place in England, I think this book is immune to Civil War, yee-haw! 4.1 out of 5.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Say It With Me Now - Batman Is NOT God!

So the always awesome Dave's Long Box has finally held forth on the sheer horror that was the Marvel vs. DC mini-series.. He's broken down the fights as only he could, and I'd say he's right on, for the most part. However, there are just a few things I gotta say, and I'd rather do it here, where I can rant at length.

1) Like Kyle Rayner, Hal Jordan would lose the battle to the Silver Surfer. No, I don't care that it's HAL JORDAN, he'd still lose the battle. I will say he'd win the war. See, after he's finished getting smacked around, Hal will go back to Earth and pick up some pretty lady at a nightclub for some sweet lovin'. Meanwhile, the Surfer is out in space, bemoaning the fact the he's separated from his beloved Shalla Bal. Shalla Bal? What the hell kind of name is that?

2) Jubilee would beat a Velociraptor. She's Wolverine trained, she's been in the Savage land and nearly eaten by much larger predators, and Jurassic Park proved Velociraptors are dumb enough to lose to a couple of children with no superhuman abilities whatsoever. Robin still beats her though. 'Nuff said.

3) He's absolutely right, Namor beats Aquaman. The guy takes punches from the Hulk, but you expect me to believe that hitting him with an Orca stopped him? All that does is piss the Avenging Son off, leading to Aquaman losing the harpoon hand, and then watching as Namor uses it to cut off his remaining hand.

4) Could Batman beat Captain America? I'm inclined to say no, as I agree that Cap has been fighting guys who play dirty for years, and unlike Batman, those guys weren't afraid to try and kill the Sentinel of Liberty. Personally, I think the best suggestion was that it should be a mini-series of it's own, where Cap wins Round1, then Batman gets enough time to strategize and wins the Rematch, and Round 3 is interrupted by the world ending.

For me, it stirred up annoyance, because once again, I get to read about how "if Batman has enough time, he can beat anyone". In an issue of Wizard where they revisted some of these fights, and asked various writers and artists their opinion, one fellow went so far as to say that Batman could beat Galactus given enough time. First off, how much time? Six weeks, a decade? Give us a time frame here. But as a special gift to you, because I care, I will fill you in on Batman's "How to Beat Galactus Strategy".

Step 1: Galactus' ship arrives in the skies over Gotham. Why there, and not out in a field, where he could more easily access the planet's energy, I don't know. Just roll with me here.

Step 2: Batman sees the ship, and sees Galactus disembark, to begin constructing his energy-taking machine.

Step 3: Batman loses bladder control. Fortunately, he planned for that, and was wearing Bat-Depends.

Step 4: Batman calls the Justice League for help. They ignore him, because honestly, Batman has been kind of a dick to them the last couple of years, and they want to see him sweat a bit.

Step 5: After three hours, the Justice League shows up to save the day. Of course, Galactus has already taken all the planet's energy and left, the planet dies and that's that. Ha!

So there you have it. If you can scream loudly enough to get their attention, and haven't been a jerk to them previously, you can also defeat Galactus, just like Batman! Just remember to wear your Bat-Depends!

Also, if anyone from Wizard reads this, your "Last Man Standing", where Batman and Spider-Man run into each other in an alley and Batman wins, by catching Spider-Man by surprise from above? Yeah that's total bullshit. Sigh, let's break this down. Spider-Man: Spider-sense that alerts him to danger whether he can see it or not, and causes his body to move instinctively out of the way, with speed and reflexes forty times that of a normal human. Batman: Speed and reflexes, that are, I'll be generous and say five times faster than a normal humans. Ergo, Batman does not hit Spider-Man.

This kind of crap is all Grant Morrison's fault. "Sure Batman can beat four people as strong as the Martian Manhunter! He's Batman!" Ugh.

Since I'm screaming about all these cross-company battles, I'll end with this. In that same Wizard where someone opined Batman could beat the Devourer, they discussed Thor vs. Superman, with Walt Simonson arguing for the Norse God of Thunder, and Louise Simonson for the Last Son of Krypton. Me, I don't care what Busiek said, Thor wins. As I understand it, Superman isn't extra-vulnerable to magic, but he is just as vulnerable as anyone else. To me, that means that when he's getting smacked upside the head with an enchanted hammer, his invulnerability isn't protecting him, and the guy doing the swinging hits pretty hard. That, plus I think Thor would get more into it than Superman. It's be a point of honor to the Odinson, to win against this incredible foe, and that'd amp him up. I've never really seen Supes display that, and given he died at the hands of a brainless punching machine, I'm inclined to hand it to the owner of the hammer labeled "Mjolnir", who's spent centuries in battle with all manner of beings. Not saying it would be easy, it'd probably be like using a wooden mallet to drive a rubber stake through concrete, meaning it'd take lots of time and effort, but it'd happen.

Whew, I'm ranted out. Time to go home and nap!

Monday, June 19, 2006

From The Bottom Of A Hole, Even A Ditch Would Look High

Can you be nostalgic for something you hated the first time around?

Looking at everything that's been done to Spider-Man in the last two years or so (organic webshooters, The Other, the House of M revelation that he'd rather be married to Gwen Stacy, moving in with Stark, the Iron Spider, unmasking), I'm actually missing. . . The Clone Saga.

I really can't believe I typed that, but at least at heart it seems like a well-intentioned attempt to get Spider-Man back to his "roots". Send the current version, who's married to a sometimes model, who's expecting a baby, off into the sunset of the Pacific Northwest, to spend his days as a husband, father, probably scientist (something related to genetics I'd bet), and yeah, probably occasional superhero, on those rare occasions a Marvel villain strays from New York, and threatens his home.

Replace with different version, that's not married, doesn't have the educational credentials of the previous Parker, even if he does have the smarts. So he works a menial job, and tries to have relationships, but being Spider-Man gets in the way. Hey, that sounds like classic Spidey!

Whether or not that was a neccessary move, whether it's a good idea, I don't know. But at least it seemed a bit smoother. There didn't seem to be the hamhandedness we're seeing with Quesada fumbling about trying to remove Mary Jane from the board. Just assure the fans that no, they aren't dead, they've just moved on to a different place to live. If it were up to me, don't even argue with the question of which was the original Spider-Man, and which is a clone. Let the fans argue about it, if they care. Oh and they should have had Ben Reilly keep using the original Spider-Man costume. That was the most jarring thing to me, as someone who lacked the funds to buy every Spidey title, so just glancing through one or two every few months, I was lost. What's with this weird costume? Why is he a blonde? Oh, it's the Scarlet Spider? Where's Peter at?

I guess that's the problem, that sometimes -OK, a lot of times - we as fans demand more consistency than is probably good. Maybe "consistency" is the wrong term, maybe I just mean "less change". We wouldn't accept the new guy, we hollered about it, they brought back Peter and Mary Jane from the Northwest, and eventually restored the previous status quo.

To be fair, they've written some good stories since the end of the Clone Saga, so it wasn't the worst thing in comics history that they went the route they did, but given recent trends, if they gave me the choice between the scorched earth tactic they seem to be taking to Peter's character now, and just bringing in a new Spider-Man, that looks and acts strikingly similar to the old one, I'd have to vote for option "B".

Probably a "grass is always greener" situation, but where I'm standing right now, I'm not seeing much grass period, green or otherwise.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

T-minus 74 Hours

That's about how long it'll be until I'm either a very happy or very sad panda. I'm speaking, of course, of the impending release of Robin #151, which will tell me whether DC has once again decided to kick me squarely in the nuts by ruining a character I like. Right now, the odds that they won't seem to be "slim" and "none" and Slim is on life-support in the hospital after being the victim of a GTA-style drive-by from the notorious Didios. But it's not as bad as it seems.

There's a quote I heard once. It sounds like something Batman would say, but I think it's from the ten minutes of Swordfish I actually watched. It's something like: "There's what you see, and what you think you see." That ties in with a scene from Robin #150. As Tim is breaking into Blackgate, he thinks back to some wisdom imparted on him by Batman, which goes like this: 'Get out in front as quickly as possible. With ordinary crooks, it's relatively simple to learn their plans before they implement them. . . but with extreme criminals, it's not always that easy. And with them, it's critical you get two steps ahead of them as soon as you figure out what they're doing.'

At that point, Tim comments on how all he's done since this began is play catch-up, and how he's ready to turn the tables. And he tries. When he breaks Cain out, he interrogates him, trying to get some idea what's going on. But either Cain doesn't know, or he's not talking, so Tim just has to keep jumping through the hoops set for him. And when you do that, it's fairly easy for someone to make you see what they want. That's true for Tim, and for us. This whole story has been about Beechen (or DC Editorial) throwing stuff at us, and us reacting to it. It started when they showed pages from Beechen's first issue, culminating with Robin standing over a bleeding Batgirl. "Oh no," we cried, "they've killed Batgirl!" To which DC, replies, "Psych!" I don't know about you, but I think they're going back to the well.

The pages from Robin #151, what do they show us? Cassandra trying to make Tim shoot her father, Tim refusing, them fighting, Cassandra shooting her dad, and Tim saying he's dead. But that's what he (and we) think is happening. Remember, when Tim and Cass went to Bludhaven, she demonstrated she could take a bullet without flinching, and play dead, no respiration, no heartbeat. Now, who do you think she learned that from, hmm?

We're being played, I'm absolutely sure of it. I don't know what it is they've got planned, but I know they're fooling with us.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Family Is The Hardest To Trust

Annihilation: Super-Skrull #3.

Super-Skrull has thus far been accompanied by R'Kin, an apparent Skrull child, that's a mechanical whiz. In #1, SS, told Reed Richards that it was foolish to assume R'Kin was a child, merely because that's what he looked like. In #2, R'Kin's childlike nature was seemingly revealed when he was horrified that Super Skrull would kill someone who had provided useful information. In #3, R'Kin offers to pilot the viral missile that can destroy the Harvester of Sorrows, only to betray his comrades. I offer this prediction:

R'Kin is Super-Skrull's son, the one he's trying so hard to save.

I was thinking about it. R'Kin said his father "died at the Battle of Harkoon alongside Super-Skrull". Harkoon is the battle which earned Super-Skrull the marriage to the countess. Maybe the kid meant "died" as in that was the "last time his father was successful in battle", the last time the child was allowed to be proud of the father? We don't know whether his son knew he was there when the kid (named Sarnogg) when the kid drank the bile of a live G'Rang beast, but what could be a better disguise for a kid with obvious warrior skills than as a weakling whose area of expertise is mechanics? And it seems likely he could have been turned against his father, not by the Annihilation Wave forces, but by his mother, who did send Super-Skrull away as his win-loss record deteriorated. As for how the kid got out in space, and why he betrays dear ol' dad? If he's as strong a warrior as Super-Skrull hints at, he was fighting on the front lines, and chose to help his father. Possibly out of some concern for him, or because he was impressed by his determination. As for the betrayal, Super-Skrull did tell him that a warrior does whatever it takes, end of discussion. Except he didn't finish the statement, because he doesn't say what it is you're trying to accomplish. Victory? Survival? Clearly, the kid chose "survival".

Plus this would seem to fit with the themes running through this of trust, family, honor. Super-Skrull is not what we might consider honorable, given his win at all costs mentality. He trusts almost no one, and really had no family. But when this series kicked off he was forced to trust, and develop alliances. He had to count on Reed Richards to not just blast him on sight, and hear him out. Trust the kid to build the portal. Trust the prisoners to fight with him. And while it may not have been a family, he was forming a unit.

Now, who knows? I think this'll probably set-up a running theme through the Annihilation series, where the other players can't get Super-Skrull to be a team player. He's tried that route, and it appears to have blown up in his face.

Man I love making predictions. One of these days I might even be right about one.

Friday, June 16, 2006

It's Sorcerer Supreme, not Sorcerer Inept, Damnit!

Talking Warbird #4 here people. Few quick notes:

- OK, Strange says he bound Traveler with the Crimson Bands of Cytorrak. Great, except I don't see anything crimson holding the guy. I do see some stuff that's brown, looks suspiciously like packing tape. C'mon Doc, save that stuff for when you put antiquated books on Ebay, not when you're holding a guy who's got considerable, if possibly uncontrolled, mystical power.

- And why would you leave the Wand of Watoomb sitting out in broad daylight over your fireplace? The first time I saw that was your first meeting with Spider-Man, when a mage sent some hypnotized super-goons to steal it, and you were at least hiding it in a cabinet then.

- And when the hell did Wong start sporting the Alfred Pennyworth look? A white suit, with a green tie? OK, those aren't Alfie's colors, but it's his style of attire. Wong wears meditative green robes. Maybe he and Jarvis are double-dating these days? Now who could Wong be dating? Mistress Clea (behind Strange's back?)? Maybe Shang-Chi's sister? She was going to marry Black Panther, but he shot her down, so. . . I've got no clue, help me out here.

- Is this Warren Traveler any relation to the Judas Traveler that was such a pain in Spider-Man's butt during the Clone Saga (as if Webs didn't have enough to worry about already then)? Probably not, since that guy was apparently strictly low-level psionic, with perception altering powers, while this guy is a time-traveling sorcerer, but you can never tell.

- Doctor Strange has a publicist? What, she helps him get on Conan O'Brien, where he pulls Mindless Ones out of his cape? Wasting his time with that, no wonder he looks so incompetent these days.

- Speaking of publicists, this lady is up to no good. Her building scans information from your cellphone and records it? Why do I have the distinct feeling that little nugget is going to bite Carol in the rear sometime in the future? Or maybe not. Does she have friends that aren't in the superhero community, people that could be endangered if the wrong people got her cellphone records?

- Never mind. Carol doesn't have any non-superhero friends. If Spider-Man is any indication, having friends that aren't costumed adventurers is as taboo as smoking. Way to keep your heroes grounded in our world Joey, because there's no chance people with superpowers and secret identities would still have friends who weren't like them. Idiot.

Final thing:

- When the publicist calls Carol on her new phone, she tells her that until her apartment is repaired, she'll be staying at the Ritz. And here's the part I find interesting. The publicist says 'You're under the name Linda Danvers, since nobody would be interested in that name.'

There's a meaning there, obviously, given that Linda Danvers was Peter David's Angel-Supergirl. Is it a reference to the fact she's apparently no longer in continuity? Were Bill Reed, Roberto De La Torre, or Jimmy Palmiotti involved with that series? Or is it just a shout-out to Peter David, who's Fallen Angel series stars a character somewhat similar to Linda, that he had to switch to IDW because DC got annoyed about it for some reason? Or is it simply a jab at DC? Or all of the above.

- And why exactly isn't Linda Danvers in continuity? She wasn't a Kryptonian, so why does it matter if she called herself Supergirl before this anorexic, annoying twit that has the title now? Honestly, if you want a Kryptonian cousin for Superman, they should have just stuck with Power Girl. With her origin finally settled, and people who can write her well (and interestingly), she was fine for that role, plus calling herself "Power Girl" keeps her from just being a female version of the male character. Just a thought.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I Got One Year Before It Blows Up In Your Face

I do have one quick thing related to Civil War #2. Does anyone know where the Reality Gem from the Infinity Gauntlet is? I know Galactus tried to use them to cure him of his need to eat planet's life forces, - which backfired, natch - but I haven't heard anything of them since then. I ask because I think by the time Civil War is over, we're going to need something powerful to fix the damage it did. And House of M. And The Other. And Disassembled. So we should probably look into finding it, in preparation for that. Movin' on.

Quick survey. Who here thinks that when fighting a being with the ability to alter reality, that is running around in your friend's body, that brainwashing that entity into believing they are the person who's body they've stolen is an acceptable response? Anyone? Come on, speak up!

Nobody, huh? Yeah, that's what I thought. Well, that was the Exiles solution to the Proteus problem, as Kevin now thinks he is Morph, which should work just fine, as long as the Exiles all treat him like Morph. Great, because I'm sure that Blink can act totally normal around the person who killed her lover, just like she would around Morph. This has the potential to go so badly haywire for them, but I don't think it'll get the chance.

I think that roughly the time Proteus remembers who he really is, Doom 2099 is going to arrive on the scene. He was intrigued in the technology that enabled Alchemax to open dimensional portals, he's going to get it, and use it. He may not be after Proteus initially, but when the Exiles get sent to stop him, he'll probably recognize Proteus' energy signature, and steal that power for himself. His suit's metal, he could easily either capture Proteus and then just siphon off his power as he needs it, or figure some way to kill Proteus, and just absorb the power into himself. But that's for another time. Back to the actual issue.

I've been wondering if this was the way the story was originally meant to turn out. I know Claremont was going to take over the book and Psylocke would join the squad. And Jamie Braddock had made her resistant to the powers of reality-alterers like Proteus, so I figured she'd finish him off. But Claremont's had some health issues, so I'm wondering if they scrapped that plan.

Which makes me wonder if it affects the Loeb/Liefeld Onslaught Reborn project. I kind of figured his return would be connected to the fate of Counter-Earth. So Proteus succeeds in destroying that world, the Exiles get some of the people to Actual-Earth, Proteus shows up, Psylocke kills him, but the destruction of Counter-Earth somehow triggers Onslaught's reformation.

Of course, his return could be connected to next week's New Avengers. After all, "Michael" should have both Xavier and Magneto's powers, and they landed in Genosha where Magneto is, so. . .

Wait and see, I guess.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What I Bought 6/14/06

Introductory paragraph? I don't got one, other than it was amusing to see Civil War #2 make Jeff drop all Marvel titles from his pull. Well, it'd be amusing if I wasn't afraid Robin #151 is going to make me do the same with DC. Anyhoo, spoiler warnings, because I just can't help myself.

Warbird #4 - I'll admit, I was dreading this issue. I was sure we'd see Carol on a talk show, looking totally out of her depth, thus embarassing herself. Fortunately a fellow named Traveler showed up spoiling for a fight. That's good. His problem with Ms. Danvers seems to have something to do with House of M, and Carol defeating him by. . . throwing a cat at him?! Oh-Kay.

Part-way through the fight, Traveler's personality changes abruptly. He no longer tries to attack to Warbird. Being a bright person, she takes the opportunity to knock him senseless, and take him to Doctor Strange. Strange proceeeds to spout all sorts of garbage about how the reality-altering of House of M, has unhinged this fellow, and left him partially disconnected from reality and magicks. The doctor fixes Carol's arm, but not before intoning that there's 'something not of this earth' about the injury. No shit Doc; an alien being named Cru did it, thus it is not of this Earth.

Dr. Strange tells Carol he'll take care of Traveler, and tells her it's OK to go home (or to the hotel room her publicist got her), and starts talking with Traveler. He seems fairly confident that he's got the bad guy under control, but apparently they don't make the "crimson bands of Cytorrak" like they used to, because now Doc's out of it, and the baddy got himself a Watoomban wand to go with his nice eye. Good issue, a bit confusing, and a Marvel writer again fails to give Dr. Strange his due. Still, 4 out of 5.

Exiles #82 - And so the "World Tour" comes to a close, with a "Huh?" The Order/Chaos being of Counter-Earth tells Proteus he's to destroy the planet, which is something Kevin has no qualms about. But he's going to enjoy it. So first he'll make Atlantis (where the nukes he'll use are at), and trap the fish people to suffocate. Nice. Then he'll kick the Exiles butts. . . again. Then he'll launch the nukes. Then he'll put Dorma's crown back on his head. Whoops, mind control device from Squadron Supreme Earth. And thus, the threat of Proteus is brought to a close. . . for now.

I really don't know what else to say. I guess it's OK as far as endings go. I mean, I don't know how that team would have managed to kill Proteus, and besides, they're heroes, they aren't supposed to kill, right? Right? 3.7 out of 5.

Bloodrayne: Twin Blades - Yeah, you don't care, but oh well, it's my blog. This particular one-shot doesn't actually focus much on Rayne, focusing more on a fellow called Finney. Rayne inadverdently saves his sheep from a wolf - she was hungry - and Finney offers her a seat near his fireplace. Then he tells her he understands the hard life of a dhampir, because he was one too, until the Brimstone Society cured him.

We get a flashback through his time as apprentice to a blacksmith, the death of that blacksmith from purple demons, Finney using some sulfur left behind to stoke the fires and forge some kewl blades, which he used to great effect to kill the demons when they dropped by again. Why they came back, I don't know. He keeps this up for awhile, gets drafted by Brimstone, works with two other fellows (no word on whether they were human or not), and somewhere along the line becomes human.

But surely this issue can't be all talk, can it? No, it can't, and to help out, here's one of those big purple demons! Maybe I've watched too much Buffy and Angel, but it feels like there needs to be a reason why these demons showed up, some purpose beyond hunger or playing the role of cannon fodder. Maybe not. Anyway, fight ensues, blood is spilled, demon killed, Rayne gets blades, hoo-rah. This was quite good actually, because it seems to give a decent look at the kind of person Rayne is, not trusting of others, and maybe not all that concerned with protecting people in general, but if you're nice to her, she'll try to protect you. Reminds me a bit of Spike in that regard, so 4.4 out of 5.

Annihilation: Super-Skrull #3 - Today we get to see Super-Skrull's skills as a leader, as he trains the prisoners of the planet he stormed last issue to fight the Annihilation Wave, while R'Kin works on building a dimensional portal that can put them near the Harvester of Sorrows, to launch their viral missile. A viral missile, that stirs such evil images. Super-Skrull addresses a lack of manpower by beating on his squad's version of Jamie Madrox. Presto, it a crew of day laborers! He uses one of the scientists' own toys to make the guy build the virus. I'm with Super-Skrull; don't call something "The Spine of Complicity" and then be surprised when it gets used against you. I enjoyed that part.

R'Kin wants to pilot the missile, to "prove" himself as a warrior, and Super-Skrull has to fend off the advances of one of his squad. I could have done without that part. It was forced, like Grillo-Marxuach felt that had to be in there to show how focused on the mission the Skrull is, that he rejects this woman's advances. They make their play to stop the Annihilation Wave, and it ends with a thud. Whoops, gotta be careful who you trust SS. The forced romance thing hurts the book, so I'll give this a 4.0 out of 5.

Spider-Girl #99 - Well, it appears as though my predictions were off-base. Both Raptor and Phil Urich seem likely to survive the end of the book. May Parker on the other hand. . .

The injured parties from the previous issue have been taken to the hospital, and May rushes off to save Phil Urich. Too late, he's getting his butt kicked. Man, Hobgoblin continues to be quite impressive, just going around handing out ass-whippings like they were free cookies or something. Mmm, cookies. Sorry, dieting is starting to get to me a bit. Despite having been late multiple times thus far, May finally shows up on time. . . to save Kingsley's brother. . . the fashion designer. Way to be Mayday. I'll sleep better at night, knowing that since you and I have never met, you'll certainly show up in time to save me. Were we to be friends, I just know that I too, would receive a swift and brutal beating from one of your enemies. Of course, that also means I'd have super-powers. I'll risk it.

Hobgoblin then proceeds to show May why he was on of Spider-Man's greatest enemies, as he gives her one of those Free Cookie beatings. Granted May has no web-shooters (regardless of what the cover depicts), but I doubt they would have made a difference. He's smacking her around, chopping her up with razor bats, uses the finger lasers to blow up her backpack because the cellphone within annoys him (ha, I've been there!), until May finally gets one good shot in. Wait, just one punch and you're reeling, what the hell is wrong with you Hobgoblin? Say, you aren't Jason Macendale are you? Cue Kaine catching up, and large numbers of Scriers arriving on the scene. Oh, it was a trap. OK, forget that "Macendale" crack I made. And a certain someone is pulling their costume out of the trunk in the attic. I am fired up for the next issue. 5 out of 5.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

To Hold The Line. . . Or Erase It?

I. . . SAY. . . THEE. . . NAY!!! That's right, just like Skurge at Gjallerbru, I'm going to hold the line against the forces of Hela, Goddess of Death. Of course, by "forces of Hela", I mean DC bloggers. No, not because they're hideous monsters! Because we're that damn outnumbered! But that's not what this post is about.

I'm talking Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #9. I've been wondering if I've been too hard on this "Hobgoblin" storyline. I mean, it's not mystical stuff, it's not Civil War related, he's actually fighting a villain right? So what's my problem? I think I'm disappointed that's it's another grudge battle. 'Hobby' is pissed at her dad, but she's going to take it out on Peter Parker. Just from an enjoyment standpoint, I think I'd have preferred a Booster Gold situation, Hobgoblin comes back in time to steal valuable artifacts, like a DVD copy of "The Rundown" because, in 2211, Christopher Walken's greatness is even more revered than it is now. As well it should be.

When I first started reading X-Factor, I saw a number of reviews that said Peter David has a tendency to get too "cute" or try to be "too clever". I didn't understand at the time, which makes no sense, given that I've read through some of my old posts at times, and I could see that I was trying too hard to be funny, and that at the time, I was sure I was being brilliant, so I've got that in common with PAD, I guess. Anyway, with the introduction of the "retcon bomb", I know what people meant. I mean, if he called it a "paradox bomb" or something, that could have worked, but 'retcon'?

Still, whether it's too over-the-top or not, it does provide an interesting question: if you were given access to the universes of Marvel (or DC), and could throw one of those at any character, who would you choose?

If it was DC, I'd pick Ma Hunkle. I'm kidding! Doomsday. He's a one-note character, created for the simple purpose of killing Superman. Once he succeeded, he was dead, and all was well. Then we found out that Superman is apparently too powerful to stay dead, and Doomsday was completely useless. My only misgiving is that story prompted the creation of Superboy, Steel, and probably all the "cool" '90s versions of heroes - Connor Hawke, Jean Paul Valley, probably Scarlet Spider. Hopefully those characters could be created under different circumstances.

Of course, if they had left Superman in the after-life (which I think makes DC more interesting), I'd have to pick someone different. Guy Gardner? No. I don't know, I'm not well-versed enough in DC lore, so let's switch to Marvel.

First off, it's not Joe Quesada. Fictional characters only please. besides, I got other plans for that schmoe. No, the correct answer is "Carnage". I mean, what did he give us?

1) A more extreme version of Venom. Oh goody, because the guy that talks about eating Spidey's liver was going far enough.

2) He gave them the chance to introduce Shriek. Yippee.

3) He gave Marvel a reason to put Venom back in play. As of Amazing Spider-Man #348, Venom thought he'd killed Spider-Man on a deserted island, and had decided to live in peace there, bringing a decent conclusion to a 50-issue stretch that featured at least 10 issues with Venom. Carnage forced Spider-Man to go to Venom for help, thus letting Venom know Webs wasn't dead, giving Venom a reason to go after Spidey again.

4) Wait, why did he need Venom? The Human Torch can fly out to the island with him, but he can't cruise around New York and help Spidey fight Carnage?!

5) He helped push forward the symbiote explosion, which lead to at least six characters having symbiotes, giving Venom more people to squabble with besides the other "extreme" heroes.

6) Kasady being completely evil let Marvel make Venom out as a hero. Sorry "lethal protector", which is the '90s definition of "hero".

7) "Maximum Carnage", because the Spider-Man history was crying out for a 14-part series where a bunch of loonies beat up on third-string heroes while killing hundreds of civilians.

Look at that list. Is there a single damn thing up there that is any good? Sure "Maximum Carnage" gave me fodder for this post, but that's not enough. So for being completely worthless, Cletus Kasady, you get a retcon bomb in the face! And now, none of that stuff happened.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Father Versus Son

This is something that follows up my describing Bart Hamilton as a 'third-rate Green Goblin'. My original thinking was that obviously Norman is the best, and Harry's 2nd rate, thus Bart is third. Sure the terms don't have to be applied that way, and it ignores the fellow Norman used for a time as the equivalent of a Superman robot (See, I told you I, Norman Osborn, wasn't the Green Goblin, because there he goes flying by right there!), but now I'm not even sure I agree with that ordering. I think there's an argument to be made that Harry was the greatest Green Goblin. Let's look at their histories/accomplishments:

Norman - Well, he not only created the formula that gave him his powers, he also designed the suits and weapons, so all Green Goblins (and Hobgoblins) are cribbing from him to some extent. He had plans to become a criminal overlord, with the destruction of Spider-Man as the action that would give him the necessary credentials. He's the first villain to discover Peter's secret identity (back when that meant something, by gar!). He killed Gwen Stacy. He did. . . other stuff with Gwen Stacy. He orchestrated the entire Clone Saga. One could argue that given Seward Trainer's involvement in that, and his daughter's dissatisfaction with him, that Norman is responsible for the female Doc Ock. Maybe.

He framed Spider-Man for murder, got controlling interest in the Daily Bugle, and I think he had his own grandson abducted and pinned that on Spider-Man, I'm not sure on that one. He's had Aunt May kidnapped and buried alive. He's tried to make Peter into his "heir". His overbearing nature, combined with his frequent mental health problems, didn't do Harry Osborn any good. He put Flash Thompson in a coma. And he killed Ben Reilly. I'm sure there's more.

Harry - Harry doesn't have the level of carnage his father has, especially when it comes to destruction of life. But I think Spider-Man is in large part a story of emotion, and I figure it hurts Peter a lot more to try and fight his best friend, rather than his best friend's crazy father. The fact that Harry started trying to destroy Spider-Man was only made worse by the fact that at times he'd become the Green Goblin to be a hero, so he could rehabilitate his father's name. That he could have such good - if misguided - intentions, makes his fall back into dementia much worse for Spidey.

The thing about Harry is he worked subtly. Whereas Norman would actually threaten or attack Peter's loved ones, Harry would just make him think that's what he had planned. He'd swoop down and grab Mary Jane off the street and take her to the bridge where Gwen died. Oh no, he wouldn't! But it was just to tell MJ that what was going on was between Peter and him, and Harry wasn't going to hurt anyone else. He'd give Aunt May flowers, just to get Peter wondering whether there was a bomb or something hidden in them. He'd hire the Rhino to attack Peter Parker, and keep saying that Parker's 'secret was out', even though Rhino had no clue what he was talking about. He'd fly around in broad daylight, and stop right in front of Peter just to say "Hello", because it would drive Pete nuts. Peter had no idea when the attack was coming, and didn't really know how to handle it when it did come, because it was still Harry, his college roomie, best bud.

There was "The Child Within" where Harry got Peter with some hallucinogenic gas, that sent Peter into his subconscious, and tormented him with all the people he'd lost over the years. All his doubts and fears and feelings of loss, all at once. Harry knew all about this stuff because they were friends, Pete would share, which meant Harry knew just where to hit him.

And of course, Harry's masterstroke, getting the Chameleon to create artificial life forms that passed as Peter's long-lost parents, with Chameleon believing they were to uncover Spider-Man's identity (since all those photos Parker gets clearly show a connection). But I think the true goal was: a) for Peter to find out it was a lie, b) to see his "parents" killed, and c) to find out that the person behind it was his now dead best friend, a last little attack from beyond the grave. I mean that's just sick. Given that this is the event that pushed Spider-Man into the "dark" and "gritty" realm (when he started referring to himself as "The Spider" during internal monologues), I think you might have to give it to Harry.

Of course, two things might swing it back Norman's way. One, he's still alive (whether his resurrection was a good idea I'll let others debate, though if "Sins Past" is the best they can do with him, it was a bad idea). Two, Harry died saving Peter's life, moments after he'd gotten Mary Jane and little Normie to safety. Saving the person you swore to destroy, probably hurts your rep, but I think that might make it hurt Peter even more. At the very end, his best friend came back, got out from under all the crap that had pushed him to where he was, and saved his life. But he didn't get the chance to build on it, that was his last stand.

I don't know. I still have this desire to give the edge to Harry, but he's the Green Goblin I grew up with, so I'm probably biased. Your thoughts?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Goblins and Gravestones and Gamesmasters

While thinking about Annihilation, I remembered an Avengers annual from several years ago. It was 2-parter, starting with West Coast Avengers Annual, and following up in Avengers Annual. They had to fight the Gamesmasters' Legion of the Dead to save the universe. He planted five bombs throughout the universe. Altogether, they could destroy everything. The Avengers were split up, and had to try and get past their dead enemies to destroy the bombs. One team failed, though I suppose that shouldn't be surprising for a quartet of Iron Man, Mockingbird, Black Knight and Dr. Druid?! So I'm wondering, does that mean the 20% of the universe is still destroyed? If so, what does that look like when you get there?

Honestly, I'm not sure if it stuck. Prior to Gamesmasters' final defeat, all but two of the Avengers had been killed by their enemies, by the end of the story Death had regained control of her realm (the problem that started it all in the first place) and brought the heroes back to life. So maybe she fixed that, too.

Heck, I'm not even sure if it's in continuity, as a lot of the dead people aren't dead. Nighthawk (was later explained, I think), Terrax (!), Hyperion, Bucky (?), and the one that first caught my attention, the Green Goblin. Given that Norman certainly doesn't seem dead (though he was considered to be at the time), it can't be real, right? Not so fast. What if it was the third Green Goblin, Bart Hamilton? You heard me, Bart Hamilton! He was Harry Osborn's psychiatrist, Harry reveals under hypnosis that his dad was Green Goblin, and where Norman kept weapons and serum. Hamilton finds them, and uses them to battle the Mafia, I mean the Maggia, for reasons unknown. What, shrink work wasn't paying enough?

So that settles that, the story can still be in continuity, at least as soon as one of you explains Bucky's presence. Of course, that means that Moon Knight got killed by a third-rate Green Goblin, so sucks for him. I mean, it took Dracula to kill Mockingbird. Seriously, how do you lose to a guy that accidentally blew himself up with his own bomb? Tsk, tsk, Moon Knight, hope you didn't let Frenchie and Marlene hear about that.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Mmm, Frankfurter. Is That Something?

Couple of DC-related things, one from Jeff and two from me.

- When explaining to me why DC feels the needs to cancel JSA, then start over with Justice Society of America about three months later, Jeff mentioned that he thinks he knows who the new Starman is. Ragnell has previously suggested that it might be a time-displaced version of the Legion's Star Boy, perhaps a holdover from an earlier version of the Legion, with gravity-related powers. Jeff suggested that it's "Starman" as in "solar powers", and that it's actually The Ray, seeing as how he's abandoned his codename so that feeb with the new Freedom Fighters can have it. Being a fan of the Ray, I'd really like that, but he doesn't have the connection to those Golden Agers that Damage does, does he? Ah well, time will tell.

- As for me, I was reading Superman/Batman #26 and a thought struck. The title characters feel they must stress how important it is to keep the young Toyman on the right path, emphasizing that 'everyday Hiro Okumura walks the razor's edge between heroism and villainy.' While I'm happy that they care what happens with the kid, I think I may have noticed a trend:

Hiro Okomura - Apparently straddles line between helping the heroes and becoming a villain.

Katana - Works with Outsiders, who do the things that are too morally questionable for the "regular" good guys to get their hands dirty with.

Cassandra Cain - Based on my theory, she's turned the League of Assassins into a criminal-killing organization, meaning she's also on that line between dark and light, at least as someone like Superman or Batman would define it. Or, she's flat out crazy/evil.

Is this just a freak coincidence? Probably, but don't be surprised if we find out the new Atom is using the shrinking abilities for personal gain, regardless of whether it helps or hurts others. Because, you know, "right" and "wrong" probably don't exist at the sub-atomic level.

- Also, do we have any idea if Hiro has survived to One Year Later? I kind of doubt he's that freaky Toyman running around with Luthor. If so, I got a newsflash for him: Bearing a resemblance to that dude there on the left and teaming up with Luthor, is probably not going to net you Raven's phone number. Just a thought.

I don't have a problem with this evil Toyman. He's creepy, and probably dangerous, and that's fine, it's just I'd like for the kid to have survived. Sure he's goofy, and needs to take some medication to get his hormones under control, but damn it, he made a giant Composite Superman/Batman (or is it just Composite Superman?) robot! A character like that must survive! As Len put it 'It's a hell of a lot better idea than bringing back Titano.' Couldn't have said it better.

Of course, I love giant robots, and hate most primates (damn poo-flingers), so you might feel differently, but that's what comments are for, right?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Now Who's A Sadly Inadequate Poltroon?

Can you tell I really love that he said "poltroon"? I was talking with Len about the book on Wednesday as I was reading it, and he commented that he felt that Annihilation was definitely doing a better job of conveying the size of the conflict than Rann-Thangar War. Annihilation (thus far) has done a good job of spreading things out, none of the characters in one mini-series are overlapping into another. Of course, Annihilation is an entire event, Rann-Thanagar was just part of one. A neglected part, so maybe it's not fair to compare. I do know I can follow this a lot easier than R-T. So, bit more in-depth look at the issue, what I like, and what I didn't.


- Firelord chides the Silver Surfer for just sitting around moping, instead of, you know, doing something.

- Silver Surfer decides to, you know, do something.

- The other Heralds start fighting the Annihilation Wave

- Morg (a crappy extreme '90s version of Terrax) is dead.

- Annihilus gets a little chippy with Thanos, and Thanos calmly reminds him who he's talking to. 'Do not threaten me. I am not one of the Lord Annihilus' drones.' In other words, Don't #$%^ with me, Bug-Boy, I wiped out half the universe. And Annihilus is a little shook. His reply, 'Of course not. . . of course not.' You can tell he's intimidated.

- Annihilus should be intimidated. Thanos is not to be trifiled with.

- Ravenous said "poltroon". I can't stress enough how much I liked that.

- Galactus smiled. Jack didn't like this, feeling Galactus shouldn't smile. Me, I liked it, because it gave you a sense of just how outmatched Ravenous and his boys were, but they had no idea.

- 'Behold the. . . SILVER SURFER Herald to Galactus!' Is this an homage? I feel like I've seen this picture somewhere before. Either way, that smile on the Surfer's face, brought an equally frightening grin to mine.

- KA-BLAM! SKRAK! BOOM! CHOOM! KROOM! That is how you wage war! Hell yeah!


- First page rundown of what's come before. It says that by Day 19 the Surfer has witnessed the destruction of the Skrull Empire and 'not a single Skrull world is intact.' Which is fine, except the Super Skrull was still fighting on Skrull worlds on Day 46. Damnit Marvel, could the editors get some coffee and cellphones, so they wake up and confer with each other?

- This means Super Skrull will fail to protect his son. That's not so bad, I figured the kid was pretty much a sacrificial offering to give Super Skrull a reason to keep fighting - revenge. If he could save his son (and the Skrull Homeworld with him) he'd probably call it a day. This keeps him in. Still, I would have liked to not have known that for certain until the Super Skrull mini-series was over.

- The Beyonder essence was still around? I thought Molecule Man killed it. Oh well, it's dead now, but that was a little disconcerting.

- Follow me on this one. Ravenous spots the Surfer parting ways with the other Heralds. He figures his forces can follow Surfer to Big G. They follow, and find the Devourer. Then Ravenous demands to know where the Surfer is, and he's quite confident, given who he's squaring off against. But then, next page he says 'Oh no. . . The Surfer's here -- Take Galactus! Take him NOW before --', and he looks terrified. Why? You were ready to attack Galactus, you and you wanted to know where Shiny-Boy was, why so freaked out when you get your answer? I know the Surfer had just gotten a power boost, but come on, you were getting ready to attack Galactus, why sweat the Herald? It just seemed like an abrupt turn, like he's manic-depressive or something.


- Tenebrous and Aegis. I'm not sure this is a neccessary addition to Annihilation. I mean, I don't see how that's going to be resolved in the remaining issue of this mini, which means it'll carry over to the actual Annihilation mini-series. But doesn't that mean the Surfer isn't actually going to play a part in fighting the Annihilation Wave? He's going to be busy helping his master against Those Two, and probably the Fallen One, who looks like he may be adapted to a weapon for those two. I suppose one could argue with the power of those involved it's more important than Annihilus' army, but does that mean that Annihilus was just a set-up to kick start the real conflict?

- I suppose that would lend strength to the argument that this was supposed to be an Infinite Crisis rip-off. They had four mini-series that set up several different problems, but it was all really a prelude to the true problem, the Pocket Dimension Quartet. God I hope Annihilation don't go like that.

- Wait, Galactus is the only person left from that battle not imprisoned in the Kyln? What about the Stranger? If Tenebrous and Aegis were, as Galactus said, going to defy the creator and remake his works in their image, shouldn't Eternity have gotten involved? I mean, wouldn't he be what they were changing, wouldn't he object? Am I overthinking this?

UnCalvinPitt: Yeah, probably.

CalvinPitt: Quiet, you!

Guess I'll just have to wait and see like everyone else, but damn if this doesn't feel like it has the potential to be freaking incredible. Unfortunately, like anything that has the potential to reach great heights, there's also a chance of plummeting to horrid depths, where there's no light, and all you can do is watch a slide show of Infinite Crisis play across the insides of your eyelids.