Friday, July 28, 2006

Will You Be My Pal?

Let's cut to the chase, shall we?

The question for the day is: What character(s) of the comic book universes do you feel is someone you could actually be friends with? This would assume you could put aside any human biases related to their being an alien, or being very different looking, or the fact you might be getting pumpkin bombs thrown at you by a man on a rocket glider, what character do you think you'd find yourself doing the things you do with your actual friends. Or doing things you wish you'd do with your actually firends? Get your minds out of the gutter! I mean like stuff they won't do because it's too dangerous! Base-jumping or something! Geez, you pervs. . .

I'm not going to pick Spider-Man, because, well, he's not allowed to have friends who aren't super-heroes. Given the circumstances of his life right now, that's probably wise. So I'm gonna pick Nightcrawler.

In a lot of ways, Kurt Wagner reminds me of my friend Alex. Kurt's sense of humor could use a little work, but he can get off a good line every once in awhile. He's usually in pretty high spirits, but he can fall into the doldrums if he starts to think of his lot in life too much. I've got some practice getting my friends to cheer up, and feel like everything's gonna be OK, so I'm used to it. And cheering them up cheers me up. Kurt's got the style with the ladies that, if nothing else is fun to watch, and I could probably stand to pick up a few pointers from him. He likes to shoot pool. He doesn't try to push his religion on people, and I've matured to the point where I don't antagonize people for being religious (a real problem of mine in high school), so I might actually be able to have some decent theological discussions with him, and learn a few things, without being an ass.

Besides, Kurt speaks German, and I wouldn't mind being able to keep mine in practice.

OK, that's it for me. I'm taking off for a week. Yes, again. Unless something unexpected happens, I'll be back next Friday, letting you know about what I buy next week.

So what are your choices for people to go out and hit the town with?

Auf Wiedersehen!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Paging Marvel's Editorial Staff. . .

You know what I've figured out? Every Wednesday, my Internet seems to go wonky in the middle of the day. It's fine in the morning, fine at night, but in the afternoon? Forget it. Whatever, the real gist of this post is Amazing Spider-Man #534, as Marvel's editors once again demonstrate that either they spend all their time sleeping, or they know less about Marvel history than I do, and mine is not an encyclopedic knowledge. Well, maybe a crappy set of enyclopedias.

What seems to be a major sign that Peter is starting to wonder about Iron Man comes when Stark tells him that Spidey is riding with the convoy because of his spider-sense. Peter gets concerned because he's sure he never mentioned that to Tony. Only Aunt May and MJ know about it, so Peter starts wondering just what Stark might be learning about him from that suit. All of this ties into my theory that post-death, Peter is as smart as ever, just slower on the uptake. You'd think he would have been dying to pick the costume apart and examine Stark's work, and with all the plane flights he's been on recently, there's been ample opportunity. It just occurs to him to check it out now? Sigh. Unfortunately, that seeming mis-characterization isn't what got me annoyed.

No, it's the assertion that 'only May and Mj know about that', "that" being his spider-sense.

First, I'd argue that just by virtue of having fought with him so many times, and knowing him as a civilian, Norman Osborn knows about it. Reed Richards has done all sorts of scans on Peter over the years, I'm sure he noticed it. The way Captain America was able to manipulate his movements in the fight, I'd figure Cap knows what guides Peter's moves. Mysterio and the Hobgoblin both used gases which effectively removed his spider-sense, but did nothing else. It seems odd to have a gas for the purposes of removing a person's extra-sensory ability, if you don't even know he has one.

But you know what? I'll let those slide. Maybe Norman's never figured out how Peter sensed the glider coming and got out of the way. Maybe Reed's scans can't detect whatever physiological signs a spider-sense might provide (I'd think there'd be at least some sort of irregularity in his brain). Maybe Cap's such a good fighter he instinctively understands how Peter moves, without knowing for certain what causes it. I don't think Mysterio knew originally his gas would have that effect, so maybe he just observed Spidey struggling more in battle when the gas was used, and didn't bother to question why.

Still, I know for a fact Daredevil knows about that spider-sense. In Daredevil #305 he asks for Peter's help in capturing the Surgeon General, with the idea that Peter will hit the night clubs she frequents, and his spider-sense will let him pick her out from the non-dangerous women. Spidey specifically asks Daredevil to keep it down about his spider-sense, as he liked to keep a few secrets. Silly Spidey. You think you didn't have many secrets in June of 1992? Wait until the summer of '06, it'll blow your mind.

But wait, the incompetence of Marvel's editors gets even better.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #4, part 10 of The Other, and actually pretty good, at least until Spidey meets the sentient mass of spiders at the end. Peter is tired of being poked and prodded. He starts to leave, Stark goes to put a hand on his shoulder and Peter jukes him, leaving Stark flat on his butt, how I'm not sure. I guess Peter tripped him. Pete says it's just instinct. Hank Pym says, and I quote 'This is related to your spider-sense, correct?' The emphasis is theirs. At any rate, guess who's standing right there, next to both Peter and Pym, when he says that? Can you guess? That's right, Tony Stark. So what the hell is this "I never told Tony about my spider-sense crap?" Yes Peter, in the sense of you actually bringing it up, you didn't. Pym brought it up, but you confirmed it, so you did play a role in telling him about its existence.

Look, I get that Peter is supposed to be having doubts. That's he's contemplating a turn in loyalties. I not only understand this, I'm waiting eagerly for the day I can root for him again. That said, it would be nice if the method JMS uses to plant doubt didn't directly contradict something written this year, in a major "event" he was, I assume, in charge of!

You want to plant doubt in Peter's mind? Here's some suggestions:

1) During the convoy scene, have Stark make a comment that Peter needs to calm down. When Peter asks what Stark's talking about, have Stark mention that he can see Peter's heartbeat and respiration are very high. This implies Stark is using the suit to keep tabs on Peter, without contradicting anything. Suspicions can still arise.

2) At the start of the issue, when Peter was expressing some sadness over the battle in Civil War #3, let Stark have the lines about how 'we gotta fight who we gotta fight' and 'we're just following orders, that's all.' In Peter's hands, those words sound tired, depressed, resigned to a fate he doesn't particularly like. In Stark's hands, spoken more confidently, with authority, as if to to get Peter's butt in gear, they come off as dismissive of Peter's concerns, as if this is stupid and trivial and Pete is wasting his time.

3) Just give us more stuff like Stark's line once they're being bombarded on Yancy Street. Stark says 'Great. See what you've started, Spider-Man?' Seriously, what's with that? Stark wanted Spidey with the convoy to sense danger. Spidey sensed danger. Stark is the one who decided that first, they needed to switch to an alternate route, and then decided that they couldn't wait to clear the protesters out of the way on that route and switched to the second alternate route, which ran through Yancy Street. Peter performed exactly the task Stark wanted him there for, and still got his head bitten off for his trouble. That makes one wonder why Peter would bother to put up with that shite. Edit: Well, it wasn't a bad idea in theory, but as pointed out by Tom in the comments, Iron Man is actually referring to the fact Wasp called him "Golden Boy", rather than Iron Man. In my defense, Marvel has made it pretty easy to envision Stark acting as I intially believed he did.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What I Bought 7/26/06

Weird day. Saw a car with a password I've used in the past for a liscence number, and Paul Jenkins used the lyrics to Billy Joel's "Goodnight Saigon" in his historic-themed piece for this week's Civil War: Front Line, which I just happened to have playing in my CD player when I got in my car.

Yes, I listen to Billy Joel. Stop laughing! Anyway, slow week for me, only two books, so let's just get started, OK? You know by now to watch out for spoilers right? Oh, and I flipped through New Avengers. I loved it when Luke Cage compared Iron Man and the SHIELD forces to living in Mississippi in the 1950s. It's not what Len's waiting for, namely, Captain America calling Stark "Adolph", but it's a start.

Amazing Spider-Man #534 - Reviewed by me, so you don't spend your money on it! I believe this is what's known as "plot-hammering". Read how Peter feels lousy about beating up on other super-heroes. Hmm, you seemed to enjoy smacking people with Cap's shield in Civil War #3. Also, see Tony Stark insist he's not the one making them do this. That's true Tony, it's SHIELD. Or Congress, I'm not sure which. But you are the schmoe that said on live TV Spider-Man would be part of the task force, which really left Peter with no choice.

So, the pro-registration heroes are escorting the captured anti-registrators to the shiny new prison Reed Richards designed. Yay? Peter finds out that he's riding with the convoy because his spider-sense will warn them of any approaching danger. Except Peter is sure he never told Stark about that, that only May and MJ know about it. So Peter decides he wants to examine this suit a little more. Hmm, ominous.

So Peter detects danger below. They start trying to take alternate routes, but the first one is blocked by an angry mob. The second backup route goes down. . . Yancy Street. I think JMS likes using that rowdy bunch a little too much. Either way, someone uses them as cover to launch missiles at the convoy. I assume the plan was to damage the military vessels, and not blow up everyone, including the captured heroes, but who knows with the way Marvel is now?

Spider-Man redirects the last two missiles, and finds himself fighting Captain America. And he also finds himself getting schooled. I don't know. Cap's a great fighter, but Peter's reflexes are forty times better than an average human's. He's got to be at least five times faster than Cap. I'm just not sure Cap could play him that easily. Then again, Cap is the one who criticized Peter for being too reliant on instinctual movements, so I guess he knows how to handle him. Of course, Peter's response is to fight more instictually, fighting "man-to-spider" as he puts it. Not sure how that works, but he does better at that point, though he's fighting like a wuss. I mean, scratching Cap with those goofy robot arms? What are you, a six year old? What's next biting? Oh wait, you did bite Morlun. Nevermind, forget I said anything.

Something explodes, Cap takes off, Spidey leaves his shield webbed to the wall for him later, while giving himself a little internal speech about following the law. But now Spidey has doubts about what he's doing! Hmm, I wonder if he'll play turncoat? Oh yeah, and Peter apparently has at least four spinnerets on each wrist, based on how many webbing strands he fired at Cap. *rolls eyes*. I'll give it a 3.6 out of 5, because neither Cap or Spidey came off like a jerk, and honestly, I'd guess JMS is doing the best he can writing a story that's ending has been mandated for months in advance. And neithe character really seemed to like fighting each other that much. The art was kind of weak. There's a page where the anti-registrators stage their attack and I assume Daredevil and Dagger are leaping into battle together, but honestly, it looks more like DD is kicking her in the face. Um, DD? I know you're blind and all (or not), but dude, Dagger is on your side. Iron Man still comes off as a prick though.

Exiles #84 - If the Spider-book was "plot-hammering", I'd describe this as a "face-fault". What I mean is, in animes you'll sometimes have a character say something that's either so absurd, or so stupid, and say it so casually, every other character falls face first on the ground. That's the feel this book gave off. Which isn't bad. I usually find face-faults hilarious.

So to kick things off, the Exiles are taking a bit of a break. Blink is at Mimic's funeral. Heather Hudson goes home to visit her husband. Spider-Man of 2099 goes to see his brother. And so on. All this has the side effect of annoying the bugs, because there are still realities they damaged out there that need to be fixed, and these damn Exiles won't get back to work cleaning up the bugs' mess. So the bugs get to planning. Soon, we find there's a threat endangering Heather's reality, courtesy of desperate Communists. They're going to summon Chernobog from the Darkforce Dimension. Man, those Commies are either very tricky, or very stupid.

So the Exiles team up with Alpha Flight to save the day. Except the bugs keep saying things are going poorly, and so Exiles that were waiting in the Crystal Palace, keep getting sent to battle. Right about the time that Morph and Longshot have been sent down, clearing the tower, the problem is resolved by Snowbird. Hurrah!

But the bugs have had enough of the insubordination, and rather than say so and drop the Exiles off in a reality they might want to live in, they're just going to leave them in Heather's. So even though it was obvious the whole issue the bugs were planning something, I hadn't quite figured they'd clear the deck entirely. Seems like a bad idea to have to bring in a completely new squad and explain it all from scratch, you know? Still, it was a fun issue, gave me a better understanding of some of the characters (like Sabretooth), so 4.3 out of 5.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Comics. Sports. Brace Yourself.

I suppose this'll fall under the heading of "I'm Not As Clever As I Thought", but oh well. So yesterday I read this post, and it got me thinking about why fans don't give up on books sooner. I'm all set to do a post, when I notice that Mike Sterling at Progressive Ruin touched on the topic on Monday. Damn and blast! But screw it, I'm running with my post anyway, because I think I go in a slightly different direction from him.

So the question remains, why do we keep reading books we're not liking? Being a bit of a pessimist and cynic when it comes to people, my first thought was we enjoy suffering. So basically we'd rather read a book we hate and complain about it, than read a book we like and rave about it. I don't think that's true because a) I don't think you take up a hobby or interest with the goal that it will hurt you (with some exceptions) and b) that's depressing, even for me.

I think Mike hits on part of it in his post, that we form attachments to characters or titles, and we hang on because we believe things will turn around, they'll get better again. I've looked through my comics, I know this. By all rights, I should have dropped JLA after the story where J'onn unlocks his true Martian and nearly destroys the world, because it's the last one I enjoyed, but I kept going another 20 issues, because I figured things would get back to that level. Oops. At least I got out before that Harras story. The trick is, that's a case of there being a previously established enjoyment level that the reader wants to see reached again. What's the deal with a book like New Avengers, which granted, I thought had a good premise, but never really got into it strongly? I think the answer lies in similarities in the mentality of comic readers and sports fans.

In sports, there are the fans who have that one team that they root for. They've followed it for years, whether because it was the local team, or the one their parents cheered for, or whatever, and they have a strong attachment to it, no matter how bad things go. Look at Cubs fans. I read their blogs, there are people who've been suffering with that team since World War 2. Heck, look at me. This year marks the 13th season I'll be rooting for the Arizona Cardinals. Talk about your exercise in futility. Like the New Avengers, there was never really a moment of awesomeness to make you believe this was really something good. I mean, the first year I rooted for them they went 7-9, and they've only beaten that record twice in eleven seasons since. I've seen them win a playoff game, only to see the QB throw 24 interceptions the next season as they crash and burn. There isn't really that past reservoir of goodness for me to draw hope from. Just like with New Avengers. So what keeps us coming back?

I think it's a matter of pride. I've been asked, usually by my father who rooted for the Cardinals when they were still in St. Louis, why I stay with them, and I tell him that I know that one day the Cardinals are going to be good, and when that happens, I want to be able to say I never bailed out on the team, that I stayed through good and bad. Let's be honest, that's just idiotic. I mean, why would it matter? What, I don't want to be lumped in with the bandwagoners, who would have started calling themselves "fans" in the last two months? It shouldn't matter, but it does.

Comic fans, develop that kind of strong connection to a character, or a team, or a writer/artist, and we refuse to give up on them. We want to continue to give our support, even when they aren't really earning it. It distinguishes us as 'true' fans, and not the *rolls eyes sarcastically* trend-followers, who just buy whatever Wizard tells them to. We're the ones who can sit there and say 'Yeah, well I kept buying the book even through the Ronin arc.', and get the suitably impressed gasps and nods. Which is probably pretty dumb, since the people following the "hot" books probably find it much easier to drop what they don't like, saving themselves considerable distress and annoyance.

So, that's what I've got. Thoughts? Impressions?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Pursuant To Nothing. . .

Hey, I'm actually blogging from home. No, the cable people didn't actually get here already. Apparently my appointment was for Tuesday, though I'm sure I said Monday. Nope, I fixed it myself, and I'd be real proud, if it weren't an example of me being an idiot. See, when we got the service in the apartment, my roomie and I hooked the modem they provided into a router, because it was the only way to have the four computers in our apartment all connected. But as of now, basically, there's only one computer in use, and given that the router seemed to be the problem, I just unplugged it and hooked directly into the modem. Too bad I didn't think of trying that until today. Sigh.

I don't have too much to say today, but I do want to mention something I noticed in one of the issues of Civil War: Front Line. Dedicated liberal journalist Sally Floyd is talking to Angelica Jones, aka Firestar about the Registration Act. It concludes with Firestar deciding this hero biz is too much crap to deal with and retiring. This brought two thoughts to mind:

One, isn't Firestar a mutant? I know she ran with Emma Frost's Hellions for a time, so I kind of assume she is. I can't remember her being listed in that book that listed all the 198 mutants (now more like 210), but most of that was me skimming and saying "Not Stacy X, not Stacy, who is that, why does Havok get to keep his powers, he's lame.", so I could have missed her.

Mostly I was just surprised she was out and about. The government was "encouraging" all mutants to move to the Xavier Institute, and others are holing up in Mutant Town, where X-Factor can cover them, but she's just moving around as she sees pleases. Maybe being a former Avenger gives her more leeway, or its her reward for actually taking part in Maximum Carnage.

Two, with Firestar feeling forced into retirement, I feel like Nova is doing better than any of his buddies from the original New Warriors. That's pretty sad given his current state involves trying to contain an immense power source, one that is highly prized by Annihilus, who killed his ally like it was nothing and did some damage to Nova before he escaped, and Nova's traveling with a fellow with a penchant for destroying and a mouthy teenager (do they come any other way?).

Oh well, at least Firestar's still alive. I wonder if she and Justice are ever going to actually get hitched. I know they were planning it with they left the Avengers during the Busiek/Perez run, but I can't recall if it actually happened.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Are They Really Making a Guest Appearance?

Or is it some body doubles? I've been trying to decide whether the Astonishing X-Men were portrayed out of character in this week's X-Factor. It's a pretty common tactic, you know, have a guest appearance by other heroes, where they act like jerks and make the stars of the book look good. But I think it really did sort of fit. Peter David called out the utter absurdity of the X-Men choosing to be Switzerland in this whole Registration thing. I mean, I understand when Emma Frost tells Tony Stark or Carol Danvers that "No, we're not going to help you, because where the hell were you when all the mutants in Genosha were being wiped out, or when mutant-haters attacked our home?" Emma's not a nice person, I understand her reacting that way. Hell, I'd react that way, which is kind of depressing to think I have that in common with her.

But even if Cyclops is disillusioned by the revelations of Xavier's dickery in X-Men:Deadly Genesis, he really shouldn't just be publicly doing nothing. So calling him on that makes sense. I originally thought Colossus seemed off, what with his kind of imperious statement that hiding the truth of Decimation is OK because they were doing the right thing, and so they don't have to explain themselves to anyone. Then I remembered that he recently responded to seeing Sebastian Shaw by trying to beat the guy to death, even though that's the last thing you should try to do with Sebastian Shaw. So I guess Colossus being more aggressive is in character right now.

I do wonder about Wolverine's blithe dismissal of the complaint that the X-Men lied to X-Factor. Given the amount of lies and half-truths and deceptions he's been subjected to in his life, you'd think the truth would matter a little more to Wolverine. But, he's also a freaking psychopath, and prone to being an ass, so it's not inconceivable he'd act that way. Plus, he was there looking to fight, so he was probably grumpy he hadn't gotten to try and claw anyone yet.

There were a couple of other things I wanted to mention from that issue, that aren't really related to that. It'd go better if I had a scanner handy, since they're art related, but just trust me OK?

One, the look on Madrox's face when Layla says 'Because someday we'll get married.' I didn't notice it the first time, having been focused on her words, but Jamie's face is a combination of Homer's "D'oh!" look and that face you make when you hear fingernails on the blackboard (provided that isn't the sort of thing that you enjoy).

Two, when Madrox runs into Aegis, and they're running down the streets talking, there's a panel where Aegis is between us and Madrox, and on the tip of Aegis nose is a bead of sweat. I can't really say why, but that little detail really makes me happy. I mean it isn't easy to try and elude SHIELD. You're going to exert yourself, especially if you just got finished stopping a crime, so perspiration is natural.

There is one question I have. Do you think Jamie reabsorbed that one duplicate that was working for SHIELD? The dupe was in the office when Madrox arrived at the end of #8, nowhere in sight at the start of #9. So did he leave, or did Madrox bring him back into the fold?

Well, hopefully my internet will be fixed tomorrow afternoon, so I won't have to keep driving elsewhere to make these posts. Cross your fingers for me.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Path Traveled Unseen, Because It's Lame

Live, from the Biology Graduate Student office, it's Reporting On Marvels and Legends Saturday post!

As I alluded to in my reviews, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man has fallen from my pull list. Well, it hasn't been crossed off yet, but that's because I forgot to do it. I'm with the fellows at Comics Should Be Good, it boggles the mind that Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #10 and X-Factor #9 were written by the same person. Are we sure the Spidey title isn't being written by Todd MacFarlane in an attempt to destroy David's rep?

But before I turn away from my second Spider-Man title of the year (dear god, that's depressing), I wanted to take advantage of a little something David introduced in this issue.

So the *shudder* Hobgoblin of 2211 told Spider-Man that there are six critical points in his life. Moments so important, they are the source of a myriad number of alternate realities, depending on how things go, and how Peter reacts. Uncle Ben getting shot was one. Gwen Stacy dying was another. What are the other four events?

For the purposes of this, I'm going to assume that at least one of the events hasn't occured yet. Aw screw it, I'll say two haven't happened yet. So here's my guesses for the other two:

The second time he lost to Stilt-Man. That's right, Spidey lost to Stilt-Man twice, and the second time around he didn't have the excuse of being sick. That's so humiliating, I'm sure it had a devastating effect on his psyche. Oh, you want me to be serious?

Fine, his "death" at the hands of Kraven. I'm still not sure what Kraven did that enabled him to put Spider-Man in a coffin for two weeks, and Spidey could be alive after that (chemically-induced coma? It was on House last night), but irregardless, it made Spidey darker, and probably more neurotic. The time he spent dead also bit him in the butt during the Clone Saga, as Kaine had killed people during that two-week period to frame Ben Reilly. Why he didn't consider that this would implicate Peter, who he actually wanted to protect (believing Peter to be a clone like himself, whereas Reilly was the hated original), I can't say. Brain damage? At any rate, Peter lacked a usable alibi for those two weeks, what with being six feet underground and all. Plus, I'd say it put a strain on his marriage, which had just begun. And, for better or worse, it seems to have introduced a darker strain of stories to the Spider-Man universe. And this has the added effect of diffusing the impact of The Other, since Peter's already "died" once, so what's the big deal that it happened again?

For the second one, I'll vote the death of his daughter. We've already seen what happens when she doesn't die, but is instead abducted by agents of Norman Osborn. She becomes Spider-Girl, Peter loses a leg, Norman Osborn finally dies and stays that way. Peter becomes a police scientist, etc. And that's just the universe we've actually been shown.

So what are your picks for the "Important Intersection Points In Parker's Life"?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Little Help?

I just realized it isn't a good time to be a symbol of America. Cap just got finished having his head punched in by Iron Man (which is exactly how that fight should go, like it or not), and Uncle Sam's got the new Freedom Fighters and this Father Time dipwad coming after him over at DC. Or is Uncle Sam coming after them? Well, he's outnumbered so I'm going to say he's being chased. But that's neither here nor there.

Captain America needs help. His team is pretty clearly outmatched, and they need some equalizers. Where might he find some? Let's take a look around, and keep in mind, I don't read Newsarama, so I have no clue what they've already told us about what's coming.

The Sentry: I know, you're stunned that I'm actually suggesting this doofus, but until the real Thor shows up, he'll have to do. Then Cap can tell Marvel's very own Silver Age Superman that it's vitally important that he fly to the center of the Sun and stay there, to, I don't know, power the core or something, so it doesn't die. Or maybe Nova could let someone know that they've got Annihilus trouble out in space, and could use a hand.

She-Hulk: This week's issue had Jennifer finding out no one has seen or heard from the Hulk in weeks. How strange. It's only a matter of time until she finds out what happened to him, and somehow I think Stark and Richards are going to need to run for their lives when that happens.

Maybe not. Maybe Jen would agree that it was the right idea, but I doubt she'd agree with their tricking him, rather than being upfront about it, so whatever hospital Starfox is recovering in from that kick to the junk she gave him, might want to clear some beds.

Invisible Woman: She keeps saying she's not in favor of hunting down her friends. Of course, there she was in Civil War #3. . . hunting down her friends. Sigh. Marvel, would you get your stuff straight? I don't think that with a brother in the hospital, it would be out of line for Sue to ask out of the mission to stay with him. Anyway, I expect her to get disgruntled at some point, and then Cap's got the most powerful member of the FF on his side, not to mention. . .

The Human Torch: I mean seriously, who is Johnny going to side with, his sister, or his jerky (as portrayed by Millar, and JMS to an extent) brother-in-law? Sue is going from the heart, Reed's working from whatever part of his brain makes him a futurist. What's Johnny going to relate to more?

Spider-Man: Because at some point, Peter Parker will recognize that following Stark has him doing quite a few things he really doesn't want to do. I can't imagine he enjoyed smacking Captain America with his own shield (psst, Spidey. That's a sign that you're evil), or revealing his identity and putting May and MJ at more risk. So, it'll happen eventually, just not any time soon.

The Inhumans: This is contingent on a point from Son of M #6. I'm not sure whether the U.S. government people actually escaped with any of the Terrigen Mist Crystals they'd confiscated before Black Bolt. . . spoke. If they did, I could see Cap agreeing to steal and return them to the Inhumans in exchange for a little support. And Black Bolt would be a huge help. The kink in this is the Fantastic Four are closer to The Inhumans than Captain America, so they might convince the goverment to give the crystals up so as to avoid extra conflict.

Nova: This is just one I'd love to see personally. Annihilation's going to end, and Nova's going to want to come home and check on his family. I can just see him entering the atmosphere, only to see Iron Man, Warbird, and the Thor robot telling him he needs to register before he can visit his parents. At which point (assuming he hasn't released the Worldmind and the majority of the Nova Force) Rich opens a gigantic can of whupass on all of them. Dude is going to save the freaking universe from Annihilus and come home to see people spitting on the memories of his friends (including a past girlfriend)? Throw in that by then, Drax will have taught him more about how to fight, and hooboy.

Namor: I know he said he'd let the surface worlders destroy themselves over this and he'd just ignore it. But then Nitro killed his cousin (Quesadaaaa!) and the only person who seems to give a crap is Wolverine (and Iron Man, but SHIELD has him too busy catching other heroes to worry about the guy who actually killed 600 people). And once Namor's on the surface, who is he going to help? His old World War 2 buddy, or the dude he was smacking around for deciding to shoot the Hulk into space?

Ghost Rider: He's leaving Hell, and do you really thinka Spirit of Vengeance is going to care one whit about registration? He's been dead; there's nothing SHIELD can do that's any worse, so screw 'em.

Dr. Doom: Just to stick it to the accursed Richards. Probably just give Cap some nifty piece of technology and go back home to watch.

Aegis: What, he said he was going to try and hook up with Captain America. Is the Sentinel of Liberty really in any position to refuse help?

A Madrox duplicate: There was one working for SHIELD, so why not a total renegade?

Darkhawk, Arana, Terror Inc., Gravity, Sleepwalker: Call it the Legion of Losers 2.0, X-23 is otherwise occupied, Speedball's incarcerated, and Dagger is already working with Cap.

Iron Man: Because the current one is really Iron Maniac (from Marvel Team-Up). Or being controlled by Kang. Or it's Arno Stark, Iron Man of 2020! Take your pick.

The Exiles: Because this whole thing is the fault of those little bug guys in the crystal tower, and so the Exiles have to show up to fix things.

Norman Osborn: Because he wants to fight with Spider-Man that bad (removed from the list upon Spider-Man's switching sides).

Dr. Strange: Because just putting your head in the sand never solved anything, except for that time in the desert that my head was on fire. But that's not really applicable here.

So who else do you think we can expect to see lending Captain America a helping hand? I don't think Zemo should count, since he's apparently working towards his own ends.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Stupid Nerds

So what's with this strain of anti-intellectualism currently being demonstrated at Marvel? And yes, I know that opens the door for an ungodly number of cracks about Quesada's mental capabilities, so feel free. But what I mean is, why are all the "smart" people on the bad guy side?

What's that Marvel? You say there isn't a good or bad side in Civil War? Well let's see. On one side, we have Captain America and his "Secret Avengers", who spend their time trying to capture actual super-villains. On the other side, we have Iron Man and his crew, who spend all their time a) trying to capture Captain America, b) building a prison to hold Cap and his allies, and c) working with Baron Freaking Zemo! When you work with the evil grandson (it is the grandson and not the original, right?) of a Nazi war criminal, you are not the good guys, verstehen sie?

And that's OK Marvel, I don't mind booing Tony Stark. Or even Parker, really. he's being such an idiot that he deserves it. But as that guy in The Outlaw Josey Wales said, 'Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining.' There are good guys and bad guys, and all the bookish people are bad guys, or abstaining. Don't believe me? Let's check the names:

Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Hank Pym, Peter Parker (all science nerds): Pro-registration. Doc Samson (must have some psychiatry or psychology degree): Pro-registration. Jennifer Walters (law degree): Pro-registration. How much you want to bet the "D. Blake" that picked up Mjolnir is a doctor (and probably one from Stamford, Connecticut)? Either way, right now, Thor: Pro-registration (I know Randy thinks it's a robot, but until I see evidence of that, it's Thor). Isn't Radioactive Man a doctor as well? He's Pro.

Dr. Strange is Anti, but he's off fasting because Millar is too damn lazy to find someone who could write Dr. Strange well, and ask for advice on how to use him in a fight. Dr. Walter Langkowski (Sasquatch) is in Canada, so he's exempt, and besides, he's probably still recuperating from the one panel annihilation Bendis gave Alpha Flight. Dr. Morbius? Who knows? Dr. Banner's off in space. Dr. McCoy is already registered, and apparently isn't going to fight registration, but he isn't going to help Iron Man either. He is going to help Cyclops round up renegade mutants before the government does, so I'm counting that as Pro. Whether it's government sanctioned or not, he's still helping to throw mutants into camps, so Beast=bad guy. Dr. Doom is in Latveria, laughing his ass off (albeit in a restrained, dignified manner, holding a sifter of brandy) at the heroes beating each other up. It's only a matter of time until SHIELD grants evil scientific geniuses Norman Osborn and Otto Octavius a full pardon in exchange for working for SHIELD. Boy, I bet Parker will love that. I'm sure Madrox has gotten a doctorate at some point, and he's registered, even if he's going to defend those who don't register. Any way you slice it, none of the above are giving Captain America a hand. Well, I guess Cable is smart, but I'm not sure it's smart so much as he can just get ahold of any information he needs, instantaneously.

What this reminds me of is that Simpsons episode where Lisa and the other Mensa members (Comic Book Guy, Dr. Hibbert, etc.) end up running the town, because they're the smartest. And it goes great. . . for a while. Then they let their petty personal desires and beliefs start clouding their judgement and they ruin it all. Stark and Reed might have meant well by trying to get the public to trust heroes again, but when you start hunting down the Sentinel of Liberty, well you've gone astray. Personally, I think Reed just really wants an excuse to start building a super-cool prison. Doofus.

Personally, I think the whole "trust" issue is a load of crap. Like Daredevil said in Cable/Deadpool #30, whether you know who's in the Iron Man armor or not, doesn't reduce the chances of a Shi'ar battle cruiser landing on your house. And does knowing Spider-Man is just some guy in his mid-20s who got the powers by a fluke (no, it wasn't the Supreme Will of the Great Spider-God, I don't care what JMS says!), and couldn't even protect his girlfriend from his enemies, really boost your confidence when he shows up to fight the Lizard? I'd be thinking "Cripes, this guy's a complete loser, where's a good hero?"

But seriously, why are all the brainiacs on the pro-registration side? Is it because people have an instinctive distrust of those smarter than us, because we're worried they'll try to slip something by us, so it's easy to dislike them? Is it a case of the readers not thinking long-term (as if that matters in the Marvel Universe, where continuity is an inconvienence), and recognizing how the universe has been set up, whereas the characters do?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What I Bought 7/19/06

So before I start, let me warn you of spoilers, as always, and play a little "Good News, Bad News".

Bad News: My internet connection is out. I can't fix it, neither could the over-the-phone tech guy, so they're sending someone and he'll be here on. . . Monday. How efficient.
Good News: The university has many computers, I'm just not sure how often they'll be available, or if picure posting will work well, so if posting is erratic the next several days, you know why.
Good News: I'm adopting the 2 Month Rule, as espoused by Fortress Keeper at Fortress of Fortitude last week (I'm too aggravated to do links right now), so expect a shifting menagerie of titles in the future.
Bad News: Yet another title falls from my pull list after this week.
Bad News: Civil War #3 made me sad. . . thrice. The reveal of what side the person on the final page is on, plus Marvel's decision of what to do with Dr. Strange, plus the fact I find myself rooting against Spider-Man for the first time in 19 years of reading comics. Thanks a lot, Marvel.
Good News: I bought two books not on my pull because they made laugh while reading them. If I'm going to complain that things are too grim and angry, then I should buy what's funny, right?

Annihilation: Nova #4 - Well, it turns out Carla of Snap Judgements was on the money about Quasar. Too bad, he really showed me something in these last two issues. But, can't be messing with Annihilus I guess.

As for the rest of the issue, Nova got down to business. He embraced the Nova Force for all that it enabled him to do, and he got the Worldmind to help him out. I thought it was pretty nifty, the Worldmind guiding his movements and use of power to most effectively delay the Annihilation Wave. Of course, all he really did was get the head bug's attention.

I have to admit, I never realized how powerful Annihilus actually was. I've only read a book with him in it once, and Spidey was in that, so they probably downgraded him a bit. But damn, he faced down Quasar and Nova, and other than Nova suckering Annihilus into connecting to the Worldmind, and taking one good punch from Bucket Guy as Cammi might say, he came out unscathed.

What's a little scary about this is that he did all of this stuff concerning Nova, then turned his attention to Galactus, the Heralds, and the Power Cosmic, all within a couple of days. He moves very quickly I'd say, which leaves no time for dickering about. Solid, sad ending for the book. 3.9 out of 5.

Cable/Deadpool #30 - I've been glancing through this the last few months, and it's clever, and amusing, and I like the characters, which I never thought I would say about a book starring Cable, so I bought it.

Wade wants to cash in on the resistant heroes, and starts by attacking the Great Lakes Champions. First off, I'm glad that Marvel remembered Dan Slott changed their name in the last issue of The Thing. Sure it's a small thing, but given Marvel's editors seem to be asleep most of the time, I'll take what I can get. Deadpool is doing alright, by his standards anyway, but then he runs into that most dire opponent. . . Squirrel Girl! If you can't figure how that went, well I can't help you. Well, I could, but I won't. Deadpool-like, aren't I?

Having been thwarted in his attempt to capture them, by their already being registered, Wade does get drafted as a bounty hunter, talks to Cable, who seems to give the whole thing away in a statement at the end. It leaves me wondering: is Cable trying to ruin Captain America's plans, to force Cap to go along with his idea of taking asylum in Providence? I wouldn't put it past Nate.

Then we get a Deadpool/Daredevil fight. Good times. Combine that with comments about 'nubile Young Avengers', and trouble with first person narration boxes, and it was great. 4.7 out of 5.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #10 - Welcome to the other side of the tracks. This blew chunks. We find out Spidey has six moments in his life that are intersection points across realities. The Hobgoblin of 2211 offers to undo Gwen Stacy's death. Spidey turns her down (because he loves Mary Jane. Stop making him pine after a dead girl Marvel! Damnit! That's Scott Summers job!), and a fighting we will go. Spidey of 2211 shows up, fighting continues, retcon bombs are wielded, and well, Spider-Man of 2211 is a dick, to be quite honest. Dude, don't bite Spidey's head off, you're the one who locked your own daughter up, leading to her becoming crazy and evil.

Plus we get an Uncle Ben/Aunt May reunion, and well. . . that blew chunks too. Can we have anything be happy? No, May has to assume he's fake, and Ben has to get kind of agitated, and Jarvis has to butt in, and punches have to be thrown, and Ben has to stagger off sad. Oh yeah, and he's not going away. Apparently I should have known this, but I didn't, and I'm not pleased. Why the expletive deleted are we leaving alternate universe Ben Parker in the Marvel 616 Universe?! AAgh! This gets a 1.3 out of 5, for Spidey actually fighting a villain, and an itneresting question it's raised with me. But the revelation that next month we're dealing with the new Mysterio, the one we got courtesy of Kevin Smith's tripe, and that's it, I'm done with this book. Peter David might have made Layla Miller fun, but not even he can make this new Mysterio work.

She-Hulk #8 - Book 2 that made me laugh. The page with 12 spit take panels of reaction to Jennifer and John Jameson getting married? Beautiful. I wasn't really all that concerned with the subplot concerning Pug, who loves Jennifer and is convinced Starfox monkeyed around with things to make Jen and John fall in love, to the point of getting married. It'd probably mean more if I'd been reading the book previously. I mean, I get what he's doing and why, but I lack the emotional connection for it to resonate you know?

But let's be honest. I bought this because of the "dinner at the Jameson's" scene. I absolutely love that Jonah keeps the first Spider-Slayer up in his attic, almost as much as his frequent use of profanity. I will say I didn't buy him being so freaked about Jennifer and John having kids. That struck me as kind of bigoted, and I'm not totally sure that's Jameson's problem. He just doesn't trust people who run around in masks, and say they're here to help. Plus, they make him feel small inside. Maybe he was just stressed over the Parker thing, and I guess finding out about his son's marriage on the news didn't help either. Anyway, it was amusing, and the fact Jennifer uses her legal knowledge to get on JJJ's good side, after his earlier tirade against lawyers was fantastic. 4 out of 5.

Ultimate X-Men #72 - And here's another book that's teetering. Having stepped away for three months (stupid Phoenix), I can't say my life has been horribly empty without it, but I'm willing to give it the two months.

So the X-Men are fighting the Friends of Humanity, who were killing ordinary humans who wanted to offer medical aid to mutant children. It's all very easy, with Iceman and Wolverine both taking time out of their busy fighting to rag on Spider-Man, what with him being Kitty's boyfriend and all. You know, I like that this book actually seems to be in continuity with Ultimate Spider-Man. I don't think you can say that about the other two Ultimate Universe titles. And I've just realized that Kitty is the only X-Woman that doesn't go with the exposed midriff look, even though, with her intagibility, it would be less of a problem for her than any of those who sported it (Storm, Jean, Rouge, Dazzler went that route as well). No understanding the female mind, at least not when it's written by guys, I suppose.

Anyhoo, one member of Friends of Humanity is a mutant himself. He lays waste to the team, except Magician, who then beats the guy down himself, before the rest of the team can pick themselves up. Meanwhile, Nick Fury, being a manipulative bastard, tells Xavier he wants Magician for the Ultimates, and he has parental consent, which I'm sure was gained through use of bamboo splinters under the fingernails. Except Xavier points out that Fury told him the parents were dead when he brought him here. Fury has no idea what Chuck is talking about.

Oh yeah, and Jean Grey is stills eeing transparent goblin things. Are these those German speaking guys from that Green Lantern story a few months ago? Sure look similar, little smaller though, probably lost mass passing into another universe.

Not bad, not gripping, I'm most intrigued by Dazzler waking up, and Nightcrawler being there, given as those two are longstanding favorites of mine. Oh, and I think Magician is actually Proteus, back from wherever he went after Colossus hit him with a car while he was trapped in Betsy Braddock's body. 3.3 out of 5.

X-Factor #9 - Yeah, I know it's the wrong cover. I'm doing the best I can here. X-Factor yells at Quicksilver. Jamie doesn't want to make decisions, so he doesn't. Did he reabsorb the duplicate that was already working for SHIELD? Jamie yells at Layla for witholding things from him. She tells him that he needs her to tell him where he needs to be. She's not wrong, but the idea of Madrox being on the leash of a creepy, secretive little kid is a bit disturbing. On his walk, Madrox helps Aegis escape SHIELD, who want to arrest him for commiting the awful offense of stopping a crime *rolls eyes*. But hey, at least that's one New Warrior not dead or in jail. Cheers.

By the time Madrox gets back to the office, the X-Men have arrived, summoned by Layla, who told them Pietro was there. The situation escalates, as the X-Men try to defend not telling all the depowered mutants what happened, or the public in general. 'If they knew that just one mutant was capable of rewriting reality, taking away powers, we'd be even more hated and feared'. That's me paraphrasing their bullshit, because news flash!, you're already hated and feared. Morons. All this finally spurs Madrox into action and he declares that anyone with powers who doesn't want to register can come to Mutant Town and X-Factor will protect them from whoever tries to arrest them. Which prompts Cyclops to talk tough, because really that's all he's good for. Certainly can't think or act, unless Emma tells him to. Wanker. Go X-Factor! 4.3 out of 5.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Good Ol' Fashioned Randomness

I've realized that it isn't where my brain goes that scares me, it's how it gets there. The path from watching two old men fight on The Boondocks to looking up whether it was Alfredo Griffith or Alfredo Griffin that played for the Blue Jays in 1987 is surely an odd one. For the record, Alfredo Griffin actually played for Oakland that year. He did play for Toronto in 1984.

Anyway, in addition to my weekly pull, I've been buying some older comics this year, what with Ken having been given a few thousand to sell off by a customer. Plus, I brought back a few of mine that I'd loaned to a friend years ago. Well, I technically gave them to him, but he had them buried under his clothing, so I don't think he'll miss them. So what have I learned from them?

- I like Spider-Man comics where he teams up with the Black Cat (The Powerless Saga, and the Invasion of the Spider-Slayers stories). The exception is when Kevin Smith decides to retcon rape into her origin. Thanks Kev, hope Clerks 2 is a big success for you.

- Ultron Unlimited (Avengers #19-22, Vol. 3(?)) is freaking awesome. So much so that, as pointed out by Len and Jack, no Marvel writer has dared to use Ultron since, probably out of fear that the story wouldn't measure up. That's probably a valid concern.

- Of course, that's no reason not to use Alkhema, Ultron's second "wife" (also pointed out by Len and Jack).

- Or Count Nefaria for that matter. Marvel suffers from a severe lack of villains that make you go "Oh, shit! The good guys are in trouble!" when you see them in the book. In theory there's: Kingpin (Daredevil), Green Goblin (Spider-Man), Thanos, Apocalypse, Ultron, Dr. Doom, The Sentry (well, he makes me go "Oh shit!" when I see him in a book). . . that's about it. But they've got some who could be that way, if they'd bother to use them. Of course, why make scary villains, when you can just have the heroes slap each other around?

- There are few things at DC that make me happier than seeing Batman losing it and slapping the Joker bloody and senseless, especially when it's because the Joker brainwashed Catwoman back into being a villain, which means the Bat is sleeping alone tonight(Detective Comics #570, Mike Barr, Alan Davis, and Paul Neary).

- Batman killed an Eclipso manifestation with a toy sword (Detective Comics Annual #5)? Why does this guy give the JSA trouble again?

- I collected The Order, which is a six part arc/mini-series in Busiek and Larsen's Defenders that explains why Hulk, Namor, Surfer, and Dr. Strange had been acting as they had until then. Busiek did that part fine (I think health issues had taken Larsen out of it by then), but how the day was saved makes no sense to me, no matter how many times a I read it. The Big Four's female counterparts get hit by energy which passes through them and hits said Big Four, and then they aren't so angry anymore? Buh?

- The first 18 issues of John Byrne's Namor are as kickass as Mallet said they were, which is good since I took that as a recommendation, which is why I bought them when I saw them at the store. Namor's a jerk, but a cool jerk, who loves to beat people up while talking about how awesome he is. Clearly, he idolizes Thor. And hey, frequent appearances by Namorita in her pre-blue, pre-blown up days are always welcome here at Reporting on Marvels & Legends.

I've got some other books, but I'll hold those in reserve for another day.

Monday, July 17, 2006

House of Modified Ideas Seems Apt

So I'm going to predict that in the upcoming Annihilation mini-series (which I'm eagerly awaiting) Aegis and Tenebrous are going to be the big problem, not Annihilus. Annihilus wants to destroy all the life he considers a threat to him (which is apparently most of it), Aegis and Tenebrous seem more interested in destroying the entire universe. So we've got an Infinite Crisis situation, only done a little better I think.

Infinite Crisis gave us four crises, then revealed that the true threat was causing all of them. Of course, within the minis, we didn't get much outright evidence that there was another threat, beyond the two Luthors running around in Villains United, and the appearance of Pariah (anything else?). Personally, I still feel Villains United would have been better if Lex Luthor was running both groups, using the Six as a Boogeyman to scare people in joining the Society, but that wouldn't have fit the larger game plan, so oh well.

Annihilation seems to have simplified the idea a bit. There's one major threat - the Annihilation Wave - and it's actions (destroying the Kyln) have unwittingly unleashed the much larger threat, the two Galactus level beings that now appear to have Thanos on their side. So I figure that just like Infinite Crisis, Annihilus is going to be put on the backburner in favor of dealing with the real problem. Think about it.

Silver Surfer has joined Galactus to help him in his battle, and he's decided to stay clear of the Annihilation Wave. Super-Skrull, who would have kept going after the Wave, is gone. Nova is all set-up to have a major confrontation with Bug-Boy this week, which might just settle that, and Ronan doesn't seem to care about any of it. The Wave's primary source of food was destroyed, the attempts to harness the Power Cosmic are failing, the plan is starting to run out of steam.

I'm actually going to predict that Annihilus fills the Black Adam role of "Bad Guy Who Fights Bigger Evil" and ends up helping fight Aegis and Tenebrous. Because I'm sure they won't balk at destroying him too, and his whole scheme was to solidify his standing and lessen the chances of his doom.

I have to say I like Annihilation's strategy better than Infinite Crisis. It doesn't feel as buried in continuity, where you have to know about Crisis on the Infinite Earths to get why these Pocket Dimension schmoes are so pissed. Marvel seems to have said 'Screw it. Let's just create some new things to be the primary threat. All people will need to know is that they're really powerful and they want to end existence.' Which, when combined with the Nova Corps files in the back that explain who all these rarely used characters are, makes it a bit more accessible to a new reader. Of course, sales will tell whether that turns out to be true or not. The lack of recognizable, iconic Marvel characters may hurt sales, but hopefully it'll do well.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Finding A Nit To Pick

I think this post is going to wander all over the landscape of Annihilation: Super Skrull, but I'll tell you the general theme is a question about the death scene at the end. If you haven't read #4 yet, there are going to be spoilers, but that's a chance you'll have to take.

My problem is that as I read that scene, where Super Skrull absorbs all the heat that Praxagora is putting out as she prepares to explode, I started getting this weird feeling of similarity to Jade's death in Rann-Thanagar War Special. In that case, Jade died taking a hit meant for her former fiance, Kyle Rayner, and then gave him some power, which at the time was supposedly his to begin with. Which seems kind of sucky, because Jade gets portrayed as weak and only useful as someone to take away to throw the male protagonist into a more fragile mental state. Of course the Ion series said she gave him the Starheart power she inherited from her father, not just any Green lantern energy he'd given her previously, so maybe that improves it a bit, I don't know.

But with Super Skrull and Praxagora it felt like she got cheated. She's the last of her people, she's been captured, tortured and debased, and now she has a chance to strike a real blow against the Annihilation Wave. The Harvester of Sorrows is the primary source of energy for the soldiers, and an army travels on it's stomach. Even if its loss doesn't stop the Wave, it would at least slow them down, as they resort to less efficient methods to feed and supply their forces.

But she doesn't get to deliver the deathblow. Super Skrull decides that she's only there because of him, nevermind she's got her own grudge against these bugs, and so he absorbs all the heat she's releasing and does the explodey thing himself (which has to go down as a Surprise Moment of 2006). She's left with just enough energy to find an escape pod and flee, and he gets to deliver the big hit. She gets to live. . . and tell everyone how awesome Super Skrull was. Something about that just feels wrong. Maybe I'd feel better if I'd seen some evidence that her energy regenerated over time, so that we could see she went on and continued to fight after this. For all we know right now, she'll never again have enough power to be a major player in Annihilation, which would mean she got depowered so the guy could have the big moment. Granted he was the title character, so you would expect big moments to go to him, and she's not dead, so it's probably not as bad as I'm making it out to be.

I think the thing that's really hanging me up is her comment that Super Skrull is one of two men she's loved. That whole plot (which only popped up last issue) just felt forced, when it would have been easier to simply depict her as having great respect for Super Skrull, both as a warrior and as a leader, and that's why she's willing to die for him. That worked for Preak, why not her? But the love thing starts making me think she's not trying to kamikaze the Harvester out of a desire for revenge, because of what they did to her and her people, but because she loves this guy, and it's what he wants. Now maybe it's more noble to sacrifice yourself for someone because you love them, rather than because you really, really want to kill these people, but it still feels off. I really feel that's the one misstep that Grillo-Marxuach made in this mini-series, so like the title says, I'm really nit-picking here.

Oh, and I'd like to give a shout-out to R'Kin. Poor little traitor, the one good thing you did, you did unwittingly: You made the Super Skrull realize there'll never be a better time to lose his life in battle. That comment about them escaping and then Super Skrull could 'go wage his stupid, dirty little wars until he died' made K'lrt realize he's never going to fight in a bigger battle than this, so why is he thinking about abandoning those who're dying for him? So he can fight in some future little skrimish against the Kree?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Yet Another Thing I Never Thought I'd Be Discussing

But first, permit me a slight digression. This occurred to me last night, and I have to spit it out, or it's going to bounce around inside my noggin like Speedball, driving me insane. Here's the thought: In the current DC Universe, Deadshot - 2nd best assassin on the planet, behind only Deathstroke - is closer to being considered a hero - or at least an anti-hero - than Cassandra Cain, who spent at least six years (our time) as a successful, crime-fighting Batgirl. This boggles my mind, and now, I'll drop it. Moving to other subjects, namely, hair.

Specifically, Osborn hair.

Take a look at Harry's hair. Now I ask you, what exactly is the deal with the striping pattern? I admit, I don't get out much. I'm not hip, I'm not down with what's cool. Heck, I don't even own a comb. But what is the deal with the black-then auburn-then black hair?

Norman Osborn has it. Harry Osborn had it. Little Normie didn't have it when he was a child (back when his dad was alive but his grandpa wasn't), but he does in Spider-Girl.

Is it some sort of genetic trait inherent to Osborns? Would it be limited to the men, something they gain upon reaching puberty, the point at which their pumpkin bombs dropped?

I can't believe I just tried that as a joke. *shakes head*

It can't be as a result of being exposed to the serum that gives Goblins super-powers, as I don't recall Roderick Kingsley having that hair, while Normie was never exposed to the chemical.

The only way I can figure you get hair that looks like that is by lighting up a barbecue grill, and doing a headstand on in it. You'd have to rotate your head forward and back a bit to get the complete effect, but it could work.

I don't have sufficient materials in front of me to check it, but I wonder if the ratio of auburn to black would be representative of how evil they were at any given point? Looking through Spider-Girl #100, and going off the assumption that Normie isn't a bad guy any more, it would seem like auburn, which is in the minority, would be the color of evil. That would jibe with Harry's death scene in Spectacular Spider-Man #200, where his hair was almost totally black after he'd overcome his, I'd say dementia, and saved Peter from a bomb he'd planted himself. The true person within emerges, and overwhelms his father's influence.

Unfortunately, I don't really have much in front of me to compare with, but Norman at least seems to have a bit more auburn than his descendants. So maybe auburn represents a greater amount of inner fire, which can be twisted in all sorts of bad ways. Which is why Norman is such a dangerous enemy, he's got too much fire. He can't simply reach a point where he decides that trying to harass, ruin, and destroy Peter Parker is no longer worth the trouble.

It'd be an interesting way for the artists to convey the character's intentions, if it did actually hold true.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Rolling Over The Odometer

Alright, let's talk about happy things today, because this was a good week for me comic-wise, and I want to reflect that with these posts.

This is the sort of thing that makes me happy.

Spider-Girl, Spider-Girl,
Marvel's gonna give her another whirl.
Another book, what a chance,
Let's hope May survives to her senior dance.

OK, yes I'm terrible at song lyrics. At least you didn't see me doing the Happy Panda Dance of Joy while I sang it.

So what do I want to expound upon about this monumental news? Well first off, I still don't see why Marvel couldn't simply rename the back The Amazing Spider-Girl with #101, rather than starting over. I suppose it's less intimidating for potential new readers, but there's something cool about the fact this book has kept going this long, through how many near-cancellations? Two? Three? I mean how many comics make it to 100 issues these days?

I've also figured out just why I like this book so much: It reminds of the Spider-Man I started out reading. DeFalco and Frenz were the guys doing Amazing Spider-Man when I got my first comics, and this feels very similar to that book. Yeah, there's a lot of speechifying, but there's also high-schoolers being high-schoolers, super-villains, lots of fighting, and that added aspect of parental issues that Peter didn't have to deal with at that time. It just very much feels like a comic of the '80s, which is certainly a hell of a lot better than feeling like a comic of the '90s.

I think what DeFalco has done well with #100 is that he's wrapped up several major plot points, while leaving other ones open, and introducing new ones. The symbiote situation has finally been resolved, and I gotta admit, he did it in a way I never would have expected. The symbiote grew as a sentient being, having learned love and compassion from Normie Osborn? The symbiote was female, when I'd always had it pegged as an asexual being? Putting aside the fact that it's gender makes it's hatred of Peter Parker feel like a Jilted Lover Syndrome, let me say Wow. The Brotherhood of Scriers is off Spider-Girl's case for now, but you know the price for that is going to have to be paid at some point. And given the person responsible's somewhat unhealthy obsession with Spider-Girl, that could be kind of weird.

May and Courtney have settled their differences, but she's still hiding things from her friends and struggling to make time for them between everything else in her life. I think Peter may finally be willing to give up the webs forever, but that's probably only going to make him keep an eye on how May's doing even more. Oh yeah, Hobgoblin is still on the loose, and I have to imagine he's stinging from the beating he got from Spider-Girl. I mean, he's been fighting her dad to a standstill since before her parents were even married and she smoked him. That scene where he tried to fire his finger-blaster at her, but she webbed it up first? Classic. He's probably lucky he didn't lose the finger.

I think the plot I'm most curious to see is what happens with Normie and Brenda. Will Brenda ever have served her debt to Agent Whedon and be able to stop with all this government agency stuff? Maybe Normie could slip them some high-tech weapons under the table in exchange for her being released from that sooner. I figure that's going to have to be how he supports them now, with the symbiote out of the picture and all. I thought it was hilarious, Normie in nothing but Kaine's trenchcoat, wielding a sword, back-to-back with Kaine and Spider-Man, trying to fight off the Scriers. Really, when did Normie learn to fight? Mary Jane decked his butt at one point, fer pete's sake! But I'm sure he's going to be involved. He got into it because he wanted to work with his fiance, watch her back. I can't imagine that's going to change now that they've wed.

You know, I've been thinking about it, and if there was a Marvel comic I'd recommend to the DC fans who love the "legacy" aspect of the DCU, I think this is it. I mean, it's a universe primarily for the kids who've inherited the titles from those before them, but there are still a few of the old hands involved. Peter Parker's there, but mostly as an advisor to may, kind of like what Max Mercury was to Impulse. You've got the original Fantastic Four, but you've also got Ben Grimm's two kids, Johhny and Lyja's son (was Lyja DeFalco's idea? That would probably explain why she's here, when Marvel at large seems to have chosen to forget her), and Franklin Richards, fighting alongside them. Tony Stark is still involved in his own way. Captain America is there along with American Dream and Cassie Lang (Is it just me, or are there a whole bunch of girls named Cassie in comics these days?). Heck Nova has gone from being the sort of rookie, to being one of the top heroes on the planet. Which might actually say more about the state of heroes in the MC2 Universe than anything else. I'm kidding! Nova's cool, precisely because he acts like an arrogant jerk to Spider-Girl most of the time. He had to deal with being doubted by the front-liners when he was young, he follows their lead when it's his turn.

Well, that rambled a whole bunch, but let's just say I'm eagerly awaiting Amazing Spider-Girl #1 in October. And now to post before the power goes out again.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Are They Trying To Make Me Think We're Back In My Heyday?

Don't worry, I'm not talking about last month's issue, I just can't stand the most recent cover. So I'll get to Warbird #5 in a moment.

It's been an interesting morning though. My Internet went on the fritz, which left me scrambling to and fro, unplugging this and that in an attempt to fix it. The scrambling lead to me slamming my foot into the wall and tearing the skin off the end of my little toe, which was fun. I was starting to mellow down from that when I cruised by Seven Hells, and saw Devon's statement to those of us angered by the apparent fate of Cassandra Cain. If you've read this blog for any time at all, you can imagine how my mood went after reading that. I posted a comment, and now, for the first time, I've been asked not to comment at a blog again (don't bother to go look for it, it's gone).

Was I overly antagonistic? The more I reflect on it, yes. I told Devon that before (what I interpreted as) accusing the rest of us of not having read the books and understanding the character, he should do so himself. That was mostly in response to his assertion she shot David Cain in the head, killing him. I pointed out that Cain was nowhere to be found at the end of the issue, but there were assassins with broken necks all around, so probably she didn't kill him. Did I say it in an angry and sarcastic manner? Well, to whatever extent you can do that in print. On just about any other subject, it's the sort of comment I would delete five minutes later because I know I'm being rude and needlessly anatagonistic, in the process obscuring my point, if not losing it outright. But I didn't do that this time, so there you have it. Edit - 4:15 PM. So with my feelings of having acted like an idiot only increasing as the day rolled on, I e-mailed an apology to Devon this afternoon, and he was nice enough to accept it. Hmm, chalk one up for for my parents teaching me the value of being able to say "I'm sorry", and the value of recognizing your mistakes. So Warbird #5.

So, Dr. Strange came off as a bit more competent than last month. I am curious why he called Carol for assistance, then tried to stop her from helping when stuff starts to go crazy there at the end. What do you expect her to do Doc, just sit and wait for you to handle it? Traveler essentially had two Wands of Watoomb, and I've seen you get beaten by someone with just one (back when you and Spidey had your first team-up). I know I keep saying it, but it bears repeating: The ability to absorb energy is pretty handy. Carol really keeps using it to her advantage. I've got to admit I'm curious as to why Carol is going to turn down Captain America and side with Iron Man. I really hope it won't just be because she's trying to boost her image these days, and being a fugitive would hurt that. Maybe because she feels she owes Tony something for his help when she had the drinking problem, and giving her support to join the Avengers again? Of course, she has a military background, so maybe it's just a matter of being used to obeying government rules. She was the Avenger most likely to deal with various agencies and their regulations during her stint on the team it seemed.

Last month, I was wondering - and still am - about whether this Warren Traveler is any relation to the Judas Traveller from the Clone Saga. This month, Traveler brought Carol to a reality where everyone on Earth was devoured by a swarm of alien insects. I started wondering, is it some form of Ultimate Gah'lak'tus? Is it a universe where the Annihilation Wave wasn't stopped? But then I settled on another thought: it's an old Spider-Man enemy. No, not the Swarm. Well, not exactly.

Back in Spectacular Spider-Man #170-172, Spidey teams up with a bunch of his reformed former enemies (Puma, Prowler, Rocket Racer, and Sandman) to investigate a weird chest that Spidey had found in the ruins of a house recently. He'd been lead there by She-Hulk, who then left him buried under tons of rock. This put Spidey a bit at odds with the Avengers, especially after he showed up at Avengers mansion, and punched her in the jaw. Ignoring the fact he probably can't hit hard enough to send She-Hulk flying, with one punch, yet did just that, accusations are thrown around and Spidey's decision of teaming up with a bunch of former criminals gets the Avengers suspicions up. There's an obligatory hero versus hero battle, where Spidey's "Outlaws" somehow manage to avoid getting trashed long enough for the truth to be revealed.

The good guys find out that Space Phantom is behind all the trouble. I think this may have been his first appearance since his intial one in The Avengers. It turned out the chest contained a swarm of microscopic insects an explorer had found in the Amazon around the beginning of the 20th century. They were efficient hunting, killing and eating devices, and able to strike as a mass, enable them to even knock around Thor, while being immune to pretty much any attack you could conceive of. The heroes managed to seal it up in the chest again, Spidey webs it to Thor's hammer, and he tosses it in to space.

Around Amazing Spider-Man #350, a group called the Arcane Order, which I think had been started by the guy that found the swarm, tried to bring it back, using some machine powered by a mystical emerald stolen from Dr. Doom, a keepsake of his mother's, I think. Yeah, that's a bright idea. Spidey and the Black Fox, with a bit of an assist from Doom, managed to stop them from bringing back the swarm.

So I'm wondering whether this might be that same thing. It sounds larger, and more powerful, but it's possible that during the time in space, it multiplied, mutated, and grew more powerful. After all, I don't think anyone ever said where they ended up after Thor sent them on a space voyage.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What I Bought 7/12/06

Hmm, I'd been having some trouble adding pictures to these posts lately, but I seem to have found a solution. Add the pictures first, then type, then just maneuver the pictures around as you need to. Which is handy when you've got six comics to review this week. Eclectic bunch too. Two mini-series conclusions, the end of one long-running series, the beginning of another (well probably not long-running) and two other books besides. We're going from first impressions here, so beware of spoilers.

Annihilation: Silver Surfer #4 - See Silver Surfer survey smashed ships. See Ravenous dumbly threaten Silver Surfer. See the two fight. See Silver Surfer play tricks of Ravenous with his surfboard. See Galactus get a bit testy. Enough of that. The Surfer and Ravenous have it out on a Badoon Fringe World. If I remember the galactic map from Annihilation: Prologue, that means they're in the Milky Way Galaxy. Up until now, I'd figured they were confined to the Andromeda Galaxy. Not really that important because those two were going to throw down regardless. Ravenous enjoys the Surfer in his new state. If I had to guess, the Surfer's a bit more determined than he was before. Either way . . . Holy crap he just blew up a planet! Ravenous, what were you saying about being his equal?

Afterwards the Surfer sets off on his job as the Big G's personal assistant, and we see Thanos meeting with Tenebrous and Aegis, who don't seem particularly pleased to find that life exists in this universe. Given that they seem to be striking a partnership with Thanos, I'd say the Galactus and the Surfer are in for it. Pretty good ending, not quite as cool as last month's issue, and I can't figure out why they didn't release it last week, so 4.2 out of 5.

Annihilation: Super Skrull #4: Both these books have done a little recap on their first two pages. Just a quick little monologue from the title character as to what transpired before, so someone could follow it if they just picked it up. I like that; it seems to suggest that things are going to move quickly and they want you to be able keep up. Note to Annihilation forces: Super Skrull has more than just the Fantastic Four's powers to be neutralized. Remember this the next time you catch him. The Skrull and his allies are loose, R'Kin is on the run, and thousands of soldiers are bearing down on these rebels. And whether he meant to or not, Super Skrull really has earned their respect, because Phreak and Praxagora are going to lay down their lives for him.

Upon catching up R'kin, Super Skrull finds out just what the hell is wrong with this kid. Suffice to say, my theory that it was actually his kid in disguise was off the mark. Still, the Super Skrull does teach R'Kin a valuable lesson about double-crossing him, namely, don't.

The rebels are falling, but Super Skrull and Praxagora make it to the core together. She's ready to blow up, but wait, what's Super Skrull doing? Oh, I see, he's going to absorb the heat she releases in her immediate area so she survives when she. . . blows . . . up. Wait that doesn't make any sense, what the heck is he do. . . Oh. Wow. Not expected, but hell yes, 5 out of 5.

Ghost Rider #1 - Yeah I know, Daniel Way writes this, and he's the dude that drove me off Wolverine. What can I say? I have hope, and since I'm not trapped in Hell, hope isn't such a terrible thing.

Unfortunately for him, Johnny Blaze is trapped in Hell, and as we see in this issue, hope is a very bad thing to have there. Hope is the football, Rider is Charlie Brown, so guess who that makes Satan? Johnny tries a couple of different ways to get out, just like in the Ennis mini-series. The second time he even rescued a little demon to help him. Yeah, neither one worked out quite like he planned. But, come the end of the issue, there he is, cutting across the waves, chasing after a bunch of zombies by the looks of it. Gee, I guess we'll have to wait and see what that's all about, huh?

Well, I liked it enough to give the next issue a shot. Whether you would or not depends on you. If at all possible, I'd read it first, then buy it if you really liked it. 3.3 out of 5.

Warbird #5 - Man, I really hate that cover. In other news, congratulations to Dr. Strange for not falling unconscious after being hit over the head with the Wand of Watoomb. And guess who the Doc calls for help? While she's dreaming? About being pestered by reporters while in the tub? At least it was a bubble bath. Carol gets there a bit late, and winds up getting tossed into an alternate dimension by Traveler. He wants to chat in private you see, and on this world, all life has been devoured by an insectile swarm from outer space. Which he demonstrates by pulling the top of the deceased Dr. Strange's skull off. Yuck. Then he decides to move to a few days before it happened, and let Carol get eaten, while he flits off. Too bad he forgot Villain Rule #1, which is: "When you blab too much, expect the masked opponent to bust you in the face."

Which is how he loses the Wand of Watoomb and goes back to being crazy. See the Eye of Watoomb in his head is the melted down Wand from another reality. He needs the Wand to keep the Eye under control, so he stays sane. Got that? I don't. God, I hate magic. Anyway, with no other option, he sends Carol back to her time, but gets her there early enough to help Dr. Strange. Great, now we've got time paradoxes. *hits head on desk*. The have a team-up, save the day, and you know what? Dr. Strange didn't seem like a complete boob. He seemed like an honest-to-goodness well-meaning mystic, who was simply at a bit of a power disadvantage at the moment.

Then the Civil War tie-in ruins all the fun. Phooey. 4.4 out of 5.

Spider-Girl #100 - So The Little Comic That Could rolls into the station. May Parker is bleeding from a pretty severe looking stab wound. Plus, the blades were poisoned. Overkill? Just a bit. Kaine's displeased, and when he shows up, Normie Osborn isn't too happy either. Fortunately, he's apparently had a claming effect on the symbiote, because it actually wants to save May's life.

Meanwhile, Peter finds the Hobgoblin and starts a brawl with him. The Black Tarantula challenges Raza, head of the Scriers, for leadership of the group, as the only way to get them to leave May alone. And May is missing Moose's going away party, naturally. Unlike the Hobgoblin, Peter shows his age, and gets outmaneuvered, until May shows up, fully healed and wearing the symbiote?! Good thing the Scriers had heard the Venom symbiote was around, because they equipped Hobby with some ultrasonics. The symbiote attacks Hobgoblin, and May swears to get the Hogoblin for what he did, except she's slamming her father up against the wall when she's swearing it. Focus, May. You're enemy is the one on the glider.

Let's skip to the end. May fights with Hobgoblin. Peter, Kaine, and Normie Osborn fight a bunch of Scirers, until their leader calls them back. The fight between raza and Black Tarantula has concluded. Mary Jane is worried about her family. Given how they look by the end of the episode, I can understand why, but does she really think she'll get her wish? May talks to Courtney, and they sort things out, because that's what friends do. There is nothing here I didn't like. Some things wrapped up, while plenty of others are still open for future exploration. 5 out of 5.

Ultimate Spider-Man #97 - And then there's this. Do teens in love really act like this? I mean Kitty's mad because Peter was freaked out about the Morbius thing and MJ noticed this and comforted him? After Peter had been unable to get Kitty on the phone because she was off on some X-thing? Bloody hell, the female mind is unfathomable *ducks bricks*. Anyway, Peter's somewhat fed up with that phone conversation, and ends up at the mall with MJ. They're talking, Peter meets the guy in the band who wants to date MJ. He clearly is not too impressed with Peter, and probably a little annoyed he's sitting there with her. Whatever, cue explosions.

You know, I've said this before, I'm sure I'll say it two dozen more times before I'm done (whatever it is I'd be done with). If every time I put on my costume and tried to save the day, people called me "monster" and accused me of being behind the destruction I was trying to prevent, not to mention the cops trying to arrest and/or shoot me every time they see me, pretty soon I'd say to hell with those people. Let Lunatic-'O-The-Week Man wipe them out.

Fortunately for residents of the Ultimate Universe, Peter Parker is not like me. So he continues to fight the crazy person in the weird armor - with a tail - while all the stuff I described above goes on. The fight goes back and forth, like usual, because as always, Peter's a lousy fighter. And Crazy Tail Guy (I will not call him Scorpion) has a bunch of weapons. I got to admit, I thought the tail had a missile. If it does, it didn't demonstrate that ability. I guess the point is just for stabbing and not for firing. Finally he beats his enemy to the point the mask shatters, and his enemy is. . . Peter Parker?!

Oh wait, that's right. Bendis thinks Ultimate Clone Saga is a good idea. You mean Like Ultimate Deadpool, dipstick? Argh, I was all set to enjoy this as a crazy villain versus hero romp that would ultimately prove to be the work of that manipulative bastard Nick Fury, but nooo, we've got clones. And I think another one of them just abducted Mary Jane. Fan-tas-tic. I'm going to be generous, and not judge this by the original Clone Saga, or by my feelings of impending doom, so 3.1 out of 5.

That's it, I'm done.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Book Week Collapses in Exhaustion!

As we cross the finish line. I'm sure you're so excited you could just plotz, whatever that means. But why is Book Week ending, you ask, afraid of the answer? Well, for one, I've got six comics coming in tomorrow, and hopefully at least a few of them will fire up my creative centers, or at least raise some questions. Secondly. . . I've finished the books my dad loaned me. So there you go.

Today's author is an old favorite of mine, he's not very well known, but if you're well0read enough you may have heard of Stephen King. No? That's OK. The particular book is Cell. It's like taking The Stand, plus War of the Worlds, plus the underlying message on humanity from 28 Days Later, plus a book I read years ago called The Day the Tripods Came. Or The Day of the Tripods, I can't recall, it wasn't very good.

Anyway, cell phones spell the end of the the world, or at least civilization as we know it. People talking on phones become insane. Well, that's no surprise. They talk on those things while driving, obviously they're crazy. The story follows three characters as they try to get from Boston to Maine because one of the characters has to make sure his son and ex-wife are OK. Well, the son anyway, he's a bit ambivalent towards the ex-wife. This little quest gets aided by his companions either having no loved ones, or being completely certain said loved are already dead. Along the way, they begin to notice that the "phone crazies" are exhibiiting strange behavior. Moving in flocks, sleeping in giant collections at night, and listening to music. Given these "people" have no real problem with killing those who aren't in their condition, the heroes have no problem with setting two full gasoline trucks in the middle of the soccer field a mass uses for sleeping and blowing them to hell. Fortunately, the crazies lack higher cognitive functions, and either don't recognize gasoline trucks, or think nothing of the fact that they've appeared there since the crazies went to forage that morning. But striking at them carries it's own problems.

A couple of issues I have with this book. The theory initially expressed for what's going on never gets much improved upon, which was difficult because I kept waiting for the true explanation, like a punchline that never came. I mean, I guess the given hypothesis works as well as any, but it just felt silly, given who was argued to be behind the whole thing.

The second problem is I never felt any real connection with the characters. This is very important for me, whether I'm watching TV, or movies, reading books, or comics, I want to feel something towards the characters. Hatred, derision, concern, admiration, something. I can't recall ever really getting that feeling from this book, probably because the characters aren't very fleshed out. Clay wants to get home to his family. he's an artist and he just got an agreement to publish his Dark Wanderer series as graphic novels (wink, wink). Tom has a cat he loves dearly, grew up in a very religious family, and likes guys. Alice, took karate, soccer, killed her phone-crazy mother, and keeps a baby-sized Nike she found (no the foot wasn't in it) as sort of a stress release device. The others we meet along the way don't get even that much fleshing out. Thus, even when two characters take their own lives, and two more get killed in revenge, it had no effect.

Honestly, it feels like King had a larger novel planned, and then pared it way down, removing much of the character development, whether through conversation, action, or internal monologue, that would have made me care more. I mean It felt like a long book when I first read it, but damn it, I cared about those kids, and I wanted them to make it out OK. There's no real sense of that here.

Of course, he left the ending somewhat open, so maybe he's got a follow up planned. Or maybe he just felt a little ragged after wrapping up The Dark Tower series, which I could understand. Still, kind of a disappointing read.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Book Week Continues!

Also known as "Why The Hell Aren't My Comics More Interesting?" Week. Ah well, nothing wrong with a little diversification.

Moving along.

I've got to confess I haven't been a huge fan of Dean Koontz up to this point. Where I compared T. Jefferson Parker to Jeph Loeb, I'd compare Koontz to Paul Jenkins. Now I'm a fan of Jenkins, especially his work on Peter Parker Spider-Man, but I have to admit, he does not have a flair for endings. He's good when doing a quick, stand alone issue, but when he tries to build something up over three or four issues (or more), the conclusion inevitably seems to be a letdown. The most recent Sentry mini-series (of course, nothing short of Sentry's death would have suited me, so that's probably not fair), the four issue Spider-Man versus the Goblin story in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #142-145.

Koontz' had that track record in the four books of his I've read previously. He builds up this huge level of weird stuff that's going on. It's creepy and awesome and then. . . God's behind it. Or the Devil. Or it's flat-out the Rapture. Everytime. Maybe it's me - in fact I'm sure it is - but that always seems like a copout explanation for a story. I don't know why that's a copout, but "aliens did it" isn't. Maybe because I figure aliens are still mortal beings, and so it's more interesting to try and figure their motives, than some powerful, inscrutable force that permeates the cosmos. It's just a little frustrating when you've invested considerable time reading the story. I won't even start on my irritation with Arthur C. Clarke's Rama series, the ultimate expression of this for me. This is the point where my dad would pop up and say 'It's not the destination, it's the journey.' Not after 2500 pages, Dad.

With that in mind, I was a little unsure reading Koontz's The Face. Fortunately, Koontz has decided to write a story with people like me in mind, yet still remaining true to his apparently favorite themes. Basically, he gets the weird crap going right from the start, but also makes it clear within the first 2oo pages or so (the book runs 650) that there are higher powers involved. For some reason, his having gotten that out of the way helps a lot. Probably because it removes any need on my part to wonder why the weird crap is happening, and to instead focus on the characters: what they're doing, what they're thinking, choices that they should be making, choices they do make, and so on. That made it much more enjoyable.

Or maybe it's just a stylistically different book. The others had the same sort of thriller elements to them, but there was much less shared with the reader; we didn't neccessarily understand all the motivations, or the forces at work, and so figuring it out was part of the fun. This is less mystery, more thriller, more "can the hero get there in time?" kind of stuff. There's still a bit of a mystery as to why certain characters are involved, but it's not something that dominates the book, or at least not my reading of it. In other words, it's something that would be more likely to make it to the big screen, what with being less deep and all. Which might be a statement on today's world, given the plot involves a famous (fictional) actor, and an anarchist. I get the feeling Koontz isn't all that pleased with the world today, given one character railing against how actor's today are "flat", that they have no personality or gravitas compared to the Bogarts and Grants of the past, and the sheer number of people in the story who seem to be in favor of aiding society's collapse.

Or maybe Koontz is just really adept at giving that impression of himself. Either way, I tore through it in less than 24 hours, so I suppose that should serve as a recommendation, one of those 'I couldn't put it down!' quotes you see on the back. Think I'll see any sort of a check?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I've Got Something In A Marvel Style, If You're Interested

Two things not related to the main post. First, there was a quote from The Lincoln Lawyer I especially liked I wanted to share. For the record, despite my poking fun at his "paint-by-numbers" style, I did enjoy the book. There were several "Oh, snap!" moments for me during it. I know, "Oh snap!" is lame, but all the cool catchphrases, such as F#$% Yeah! and You are now freaking out are already taken. Anyway, this quote was thought by Michael Haller, of his first ex-wife: 'Whatever made her happy made me happy - except that time she thought divorcing me would make her life happier. That didn't do much for me.'

I can't say why that amuses me as much as it does. It seems vaguely Woody Allen-ish, and other than Annie Hall, I haven't seen any of his movies, and I didn't love that one. Maybe it's the matter-of-fact way I read it, or that he kind of tosses the exception to the rule in out of nowhere.

Secondly, Naruto is the slowest freaking anime I've ever seen. Look, you're a show starring ninjas, so I expect to see people sneaking around, stealing vital information and killing people silently. Or, since the stars are kids, attempting those things. Failing that, I'll settle for fights. What isn't cool is thirty minutes of two girls emoting and flashing back over their childhood friendship. That could have been done in two minutes! Even Bendis wouldn't have dragged it on as long! AAARGH! OK, I'm good. Ready to move on.

DC doesn't want Cassandra Cain anymore. They are clearly more enamored of this lunatic running around calling herself Cassandra, who tries to beat up Tim - and fails - when she isn't acting just a little too friendly with him, if you get my drift. So fine, they don't want her? I'll find a new place for her to be a hero (or at least an anti-hero). There must be plenty of places for a teenager with ludicrous martial arts skills, and a powerful desire to crush evil, to set up shop.

Scenario #1: Team-up with Captain America. He's had plenty of partners over the years, including one that was originally an enemy (The Falcon, or have they retconned his being someone working for the Red Skull out of his origin?). He'd provide a stong presence in her life, while not being as much of an emotionally distant jackass as her previous mentor. Yeah, he'd probably curb her desire to mete out permanent vengeance, but I'm not opposed to that. Or hell, maybe she could work with The Falcon. He's been around awhile, let him be the voice of experience.

Scenario #2: Join Cable's squad. Based on the covers, it looks like Deadpool's doing some work for the government side, but we've already seen Cable on the rebel side. So either Cable is playing Captain America (possible), or Cable may need another headcracker soon. Besides, he's probably got some way to help speed up her language skills, without costing her those fighting skeelz.

Scenario #3: Cynosure. I think Cassandra could fit in pretty well in Grimjack's world. Granted you can make that case for just about anyone, given the fluxing realities you encounter there, but she strikes me as someone who could have spent time in the Arena like Gaunt and Blackjackmac, or maybe someone he met late in the Demon Wars. Either way she could be an ally, an enemy (as someone who believes in Mayfair and the cadre, and regards Gaunt as barring their way), or someone who never met him at all, her dimension comes in phase with Cynosure, she happens to pass through, they fall out phase, and here she is.

Scenario #4: Maybe she dies and comes back as a soldier of Heaven, hunting down demons and . . . just kidding.

So, your thoughts? Other ideas on where she could wind up? Maybe kicking it with Conan? Please don't tell me Riverdale. If anything is going to drive Cassandra Cain crazy, it would be extended exposure to those twits. Or maybe that's just me.