Thursday, August 31, 2006

Because Mutts Are Better Than Purebred

At least, that's always been my opinion when it comes to dogs. My father, given his current love affair with English bull terriers may disagree, but I'll put the Beagle/German Shepard we had when I was kid up against them any day!

But that's not really what this post is about. This is a post about half-breeds and their seeming superiority, especially as depicted in animes. I can already tell I'm going to get myself into trouble with this one.

It's a trend I've noticed (or think I've noticed) that the most powerful character often tends to not be entirely human. In many cases, it's a situation where one parent was human, and the other demonic. D from Vampire Hunter D, InuYasha from, well. . . InuYasha. Naruto and Gaara are, as best I can figure, children with demons sealed inside them, but the kids are able to access the power themselves. Ditto for Kurama and I think Yusuke from Yu Yu Hakusho. In each case, the person is generally shown to be stronger than just about everyone else, or at least much stronger than they should be, given their age (Naruto). InuYasha, for example, is able to kill a dragon that his father (a full-blood demon roughly the size of a mountain) couldn't finish off.

The reasoning there I can sort of figure. The argument is probably that having that human aspect makes them able to love and care about people, have desires and fears, and all the sorts of emotions that can routinely drive humans to actions that should be beyond there capabilities. In this way, these characters with mixed descent are superior to those who are just human, or just demonic. This could be the argument used for the effectiveness of the Vampire Slayer, seeing as their power is also of demonic origin, or of Bloodrayne, a half-vampire. The human emotions add something critical to it. It's the same sort of argument I've seen for depicting the JLA-Batman as super-smart and competent, because it tells us that ordinary humans can keep pace with nearly god-like beings, that there are things only they can contribute.

But there are also quite a few where it's case of human/alien interaction, and those I don't understand as well. Throughout Dragonball Z, Saiyans are shown to be vastly superior to ordinary humans in terms of their fighting abilities, and their upper limits of power are generally shown to be considerably greater. It's one of my gripes with the series that for the majority of it, Yamcha, Tien, and Krillin - the regular humans - are relegated to the Red Tornado/New Warrior roles. Yet Gohan is able to possibly exceed his father in power, despite being half-human. In the Tenchi Muyo OVA, Tenchi himself is only about 1/16th Juraian, but he seems to be able to access power greater than his grandfather, who's half-Juraian. Given that Tenchi's dad (an Earthling) shows no extraordinary abilties, one would assume that his power comes from his Juraian heriatge. So how come he's strong enough to go into a black hole and come back out, but his grandpappy isn't (at least, he never demonstrates that level of ability)? Tenchi is able to access the source of their power to a much greater extent. It's cool, but the biologist in me can't quite figure it out. Comics-wise, the only examples I could come up with where Cassandra Cain, which may be more a factor of her upbringing and not her parentage, and half-machine types like Vic Stone (Cyborg), but in those cases, it rarely seems as clear-cut that they character is the best. Cass has lost a few times, and so has Vic. Would Jade have qualified? I'm a bit unclear on her parents' lineage.

This isn't to say it's always like this. Seras Victoria (Hellsing) is turned into a vampire, but tries very hard to retain her human qualities, generally rejecting offers of blood that would make her a full vampire. As a result, she often seems significantly weaker and less effective, even compared to Walter, an human entering his autumn years.

I suppose the thing that makes this noteworthy to me (here comes trouble), is I have this notion of Japan as a country that's very much about homogenity, and not too much about mixing things up. That's why the frequent portrayal of the power that seems to come from mixing of people from different ethnic backgrounds seems so odd to me (hmm, Politically-Correct Sense Tingling!). This notion, however, is severely undercut by the fact it's based on only a few things I've read here and there and no actual experience with being in Japan.

Which is why I'm posting this. One, to just get it out of my head so it'll stop bugging me, and two, to get some feedback from other people, hopefully some of whom have much more knowledge of Japanese culture and can shed some insight.

So that's probably it for me until Monday. I'm leaving town to attend a wedding, and I just really had to get this out there before I left. Might be able to do a post this weekend, just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What I Bought 8/30/06

I don't have much to say to kick this week's selection off. Four titles, which is the most I've had in three or four weeks, I think. Two of them were, well, disappointing. Let's just get to it. Watch of for spoilers.

Cable/Deadpool #31 - The absolute high point of the week. Laughed my ass off constantly while reading this. So what happened? Wade tries to apprehend the rogue heroes. Hmm, Deadpool versus Captain America, Daredevil (wink, wink), Falcon, Goliath and Hercules. Yeah, that'll end well for 'Pool. Wade does hold his own for a while, but when things go bad, it's Cable that probably keeps Herc from ripping Deadpool's limbs off.

The heroes leave to deal with a situation, and leave Wade indisposed. Cable comes back, and oops, there's a spoiler for Civil War #4 (coming out whenever Marvel damn well feels like it). Then Cable wants to have a face-to-face with the President. All Wade wants to do is find the toilet. There's some yak-yak-yak, Wade comes back from the water closet, and gets himself an ultimatum from the Commander-in-Chief (though isn't Deadpool technically a Canadian?). And we're set-up for what will likely be a highly humiliating throwdown for Wade next month. 4.6 out of 5.

Teen Titans #38 - If the rest of this "Titans Around the World" arc is like this, I won't be around for the end of it. What can I say? I don't have the available funds to keep my promise to Geoff Johns anyway. As to the story, well the Titans captured somebody named Girder to start off the issue, good for them. Then Cyborg decides he wants to go find some of the other Titans, which isn't greeted well by Kid Devil and especially Ravager. This sets up a theme of annoying whining and bitching that extends through out this issue. That's what I really don't want to keep seeing.

The team goes looking for Raven, and finds Red Star. He's a big shot with the Russian goverment, and he tells the Titans to disband, because they're not worth much. They don't help out the people who served them well, with Exhibit A being Pantha and Wildebeest. Exhibit B would be Risk, who gets the Titans East offer. Watch as I struggle to contain my excitement. I hope you watched closely, my excitement put up about as much of a struggle as a sea turtle egg. I really love Robin's line, 'It's not what this team can do you for you-'. What is he, JFK now? I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the Dark Knight Junior would forget the Titans are supposed to be a family.

Whatever. The Titans follow Raven's trail to Beijing, and apparently one of the Titans from the last year is a traitor. Which would mean more if I knew who the hell 85% of these people are. "Power Boy"?! What the #$%^! Also, I can't quite put my finger on it, but the art doesn't work for me. It feels like Scott Kolins meets Rob Liefeld, and that's not really a good thing. It's mostly the girls. Something about their hair and faces seems. . . off. Consider this book on warning. Knock my socks off next month, or we're done with each other. 2.1 out of 5.

Ultimate X-Men Annual #2 - Geez, I can't remember a cover that promised something so happy, only to see the actual story go so damn badly. This takes place after the current "Magical" story arc, based on some comments made by Wolverine and Xavier. Dazzler goes missing from the hospital. Nightcrawler's got a little something to do with that, but nobody else knows it yet. And Dazzler has no idea that there's anything wrong with Kurt spiriting her away.

Of course, when Kurt comes back to the mansion and Xavier is telling the team to split up and start looking for Alison, well, it's hard to keep secrets from a telepath, which is why telepaths suck. The team follows Kurt, his ruse (that he was playing on Dazzler) is revealed, and the X-Men do what they do best: beat the crap out of a confused teammate. Eventually, as Kurt hands them their butts for awhile, and lays deals out some hate speech to Colossus. But how come Nightcrawler didn't break his fist punching Wolverine in the jaw?

So let's tally it up. One X-Man leaves. One X-Man is in a hospital bed. And one X-Man has their old powers back, and has lost their newer powers. I would have felt bad for them, but they said some very mean things to the hospitalized X-Man, which made my sympathy for them go flying out the window. Combining these events with the impending appearance of Ultimate Cable, and I'm lead to believe that Ultimate X-Men and I shall be parting ways soon. And what the hell was that stupid "Origin of Xavier's cat" supposed to be?! Yech 1.7 out of 5.

X-Factor #10 - A fellow who works for Singularity wants out. Jamie Madrox got real drunk after his "X-Factor supports the heroes who won't register" press conference, and, well, Siryn and Monet. In separate bedrooms. 'Nuff said. Thank goodness he stayed away from Layla.

Professor Buchanan, the guy who wants out of Singularity, pays a visit to X-Factor, and we find out what he was working on for them that has him so spooked. Seems kind of pointless to me, but I'm operating with the knowledge that comes from existing outside the universe, and seeing the rules that govern it.

Sorry, I must have channeled Animal Man from this week's 52. Ugh, Lobo. Who the hell's brilliant idea was it to keep him in existence post-Crisis? Back to topic.

The professor has information that would corroborate his claim, so he and Guido head to the bank to get it. Guido gets a phone call and well. . . hmm. That seemed kind of out of left field. I mean, I really didn't see any hint of that previously, which either means I'm dumb (entirely possible), or PAD just decided to spring this on us abruptly. 3.2 out of 5.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Obliviousness and Bendis' Treachery

Of the former, I ask this: Why would Sisyphus keep pushing the damn stone up the hill? He knows it's just going to roll back down as soon as he reaches the top. And he was already in the Underworld so what could they do, kill him? Sure, they could pull a "Prometheus Special" on him, and have vultures rip out his intestines every day, but at least then the horrible pain he's feeling is being caused by someone else. It seems like it would beat the spine-cracking agony you subject yourself to by pushing a boulder up a hill all day, every day.

Or maybe I'm underestimating Hades' punishment capabilities. He might be taking lessons from Garth Ennis in "Creative Pain Disbursement", at which point I'd say, go with the rock.

The things that occur to you when looking at a poster detailing what won the 1997 Nobel Prize Award for Physics.

As to the latter, I remember my freak out over Seward Trainer being name-dropped as the fellow Aunt May was staying out all night with in Ultimate Spider-Man. You might remember it, I was pleading with Bendis not to go there, "there" being the Clone Saga. Obviously he ignored that, but so far no Seward Trainer.

I'm beginning to think Bendis name dropped Dr. Trainer just to send those of us familiar with the Clone Saga into a panic. It dredges up all kinds of unpleasant memories: The lady Dr. Octopus, Ben Reilly in that stupid Spider-Man outfit (which as someone said, works much better on Spider-Girl. Why it does, I can't figure), Peter without powers trying to snoop around on Trainer, and so on.

But up to this point, he doesn't appear to be a factor. That would play into what BMB appears to be trying: take out all the extraneous crap the original '90s Clone Saga gathered over the two years it was going on, and just stick to a simple story about lots and lots of Peter Parkers, if such a thing can be simple.

As for how well it all winds up working, well, the jury is still out, with a couple of issues to go. The reappearance of his supposedly dead father does not bode well.

Monday, August 28, 2006

This Could Easily Be A Weekly Feature

It's "Stupid Things Tony Stark Said During Civil War"!

This week's unmatched brilliance is from Heroes for Hire #1. When explaining the rationale for registration, Mr. Nuclear Underpants drops this line on us: 'The only thing changing is that we're finally weeding out the kids, the amateurs and the sociopaths.'

The emphasis is Tony's. And he certainly makes a good point. Those kinds of people are very dangerous and shouldn't be allowed to fly around the city saving lives.

Certainly no one that gains super-powers as a teenager could possibly be any good as a hero. Oh, hey Spidey. Hey, Pete, remember that time when you stopped the Sandman from using your entire school as hostages? That was pretty cool. Say, you should have bought some beers afterwards to celebrate your victory. What do you mean you weren't old enough?

And Tony's right about this not being an occupation for amateurs. Like, remember when that rich guy - I forget his name - thought it would be fine to pilot a multi-billion dollar war suit while soused? That guy nearly killed some people and we can no longer tolerate that kind of reckless. . . Tony, what's wrong? I'm agreeing with you. We need to leave this to professionals, like Reed Richards, who had ten years of experience as an International Man of Mystery before he ever got hit with those cosmic rays (which he may have inadvertently created when he helped start the universe. Damnit, JMS).

What do you mean, Reed Richards had never fought aliens, Eastern European despots, or subterranean armies prior to gaining super-powers?! But that would mean he was a. . . a. . . Gasp! It can't be!

As for sociopaths, well, it's a great idea in theory, Iron Man, but if that's your goal, you might want to stop using Wolverine! I've seen vampires that were less bloodthirsty than this guy. Mongol hordes think the hairy Canuck needs to kill fewer people.

You know, I think I've misjudged Tony and Reed. This isn't about protecting innocent lives, or even their bottom lines. This is about maintaining themselves as the elites of their little sect. They're like those people that belong to the really trendy club and don't want to let anyone else in. The more people that get in, the less special, and most important, envied they are. Stark and Richards have just neatly used the government to cement their status at the top of the food chain. Jerks.

Oh, and I'm going to predict that the guy who amped up Nitro's powers works for a subsidiary of Stark International, because clearly, Tony engineered this whole thing.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Just Setting Yourself Up To Suffer

I've been watching Trigun today, and I've begun thinking that the colonists basically set themselves and their descendants up to get annihilated. You have these two "kids", that are plants who can pass for human, and so you give them names. You name one of them "Vash". Now that's kind of an odd name, although maybe not so much once you consider his mother figure was named "Rem". Still, it's a relatively harmless name. It can sound kind of cool, depending on how you say it.

But you go and name the other kid "Knives"? What the hell was the thinking there?! Why not call him '"Guillotine", or "Atomic Warhead"? Sure, it's also a cool name, but didn't anyone pause and think that maybe you should give him a less violent name, like "Johnny Shoots-Some-People"? Really, is anyone all that surprised when a guy named Knives goes crazy and decides he wants to eliminate the entire human race?

If you're going to name him after an inanimate object, pick something harmless and neutral, like "Forks". Or maybe "Couch". Those are objects that don't have a connotation of violence attached to them. But, "Knives"?

Poor choices in naming aside, I do enjoy this series. It's one of the few animes I've watched that can do both goofy and fast-paced action well. I tend to prefer the more light-hearted episodes, such as the first five when only Milly is really sure Vash is, in fact, Vash, but most of the Gung-Ho Guns fights are pretty engrossing (personal fave: Vash and Wolfwood vs. Kaine and Chapel, even if the ending did bite). That episode where Vash and Legato settle things does get a little tedious. He's freaking asking you to kill him Vash! He wants you to do it! Granted, it's because he wants you to suffer, but come on!

Plus you can do a drinking game where every time someone in the series says "Vash the Stampede?!", you take a shot. Adds a whole extra-dimension to it, even if you're just drinking soda while watching at 3 o'clock in the morning (the circumstances under which Alex and I came up with the game). Can you say "Caffeine high"?

Image courtesy of Anime Project Alliance.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Who Ya Got?

So, I skimmed by Newsarama because I keep hearing about this Grant Morrison interview. Given that I'm not one of his adoring public, the reason for this somewhat eludes me. Actually, it doesn't. I wanted to see this alleged "dig" he took at Frank Miller and his "Batman vs. The Terrorists" story. Great. Now the NSA is going to be keeping an eye on my blog. Well, hopefully they'll at least comment occasionally (I now expect a horde of commenters named "Not an NSA Agent"). Back to the interview. I have no idea how much of it Morrison actually meant, versus what was just him having some fun. I'm certain he enjoyed the interviewer's nervousness when he started to go off on old Frank, but beyond that, I don't know.

Still, I wanted to ask you: In Thunderdome, who ya got: Grant Morrison or Frank Miller? I'd imagine that Morrison's template for the ultra-competent god-slayer Batman he wrote in JLA was probably himself, which would lend the edge to him, but Miller might just be so crazy he would feel no pain. It'd be like trying to stop Thor's old foe/problem The Destroyer.

And, it raises another question, what figures in comics (alive or dead) would you like to see go at it?

I'm going to throw my money in the ring for Steve Ditko versus one Brian Michael Bendis, if only for the moment when Dr. Strange shows up to aid his creator, and thunders "By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth, let the All-Seeing Eye of Agamotto show you that Dr. Strange is the Sorcerer Supreme, not your stupid eraser!"

C'mon, you know that would be awesome.

So, any particular favorites? People with grudges, people that just seem like an absurd combination (say, Jim Shooter against someone really short), whatever.

I think I have officially descended into hackery, if I wasn't there already. At least I'm not being paid for it.

Friday, August 25, 2006

New Cover, Same Story

So the theory I'm seeing floated around on the Internet a lot these days is that Supernova is the Booster Gold of New Earth's timeline, and that Recently Blown-Up Booster Gold was just a remnant of the old timeline. OK, that's fine with me, and for the purpose of today's discussion, I'm willing to run with it.

So if we go with the premise that Supernova is the same guy as Booster Gold (Michael something, right?), what do you think the odds are that this guy is just as much of a publicity whore as the last Booster?

I just find it a little suspicious how he can make stuff vanish, like pavement, or giant sea monsters. That suggests something like "hard light energy constructs", which suggests something that's been set-up. So is it possible that this Supernova fellow is also staging events to make himself look good?

To be certain, he's doing a better job of gaining love and attention, by applying Eric Cartman's "You can't come theory". By not making sure everyone knows who's saving them, by playing up the mystery and the "aw-shucks" factor, he makes people want to know about him even more.

I can't recall now, but didn't Skeets only mention a submarine accident in Midtown Metropolis? He didn't say anything about a monster along with it, did he? I think Supernova has access to the same info as Skeets, and he's twisting things here and there to make himself look better, and to screw over Booster.

So, for those of you who have paid considerably more attention to 52 than I, where am I going off the rails here?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Networked Worshipping

First off, a big "Thank you" to all the Geoff Johns who commented on my Letter to Geoff Johns post. However, I'm going to have to ask the person who claimed to be Spartacus to leave. Here at Reporting on Marvels and Legends, we have a strict "no admittance" policy for people portrayed in movies by crater-chinned Kirk Douglas.

Just look at that thing. Banditos could hide gold in there, and probably have.

Now as to the actual point of this post: Do you think the Norse Gods are worshiped on other worlds? I mean as powerful as Odin seems to be (when he's not asleep, anyway), it would seem like the number of mortals who would not only know of him and his people , but would worship them, would be larger than a relatively small proportion of the population of one minor planet, which orbits a dinky star.

So has that been covered in a Thor comic? Thor shows up on an alien world, and finds out that as the Son of Odin, he is revered by the people?

This actually lead to another thought. We often create a picture of what our Supreme Beings look like, based on certain notions of what they ought to look like. So, is it possible that having arrived on an alien world that worships him, but whose inhabitants don't look a bit human, that Thor's outward appearance would change to meet the expectations of his followers? Odin is pretty powerful, so I'm sure he could do the shape-change bit, and assume a form that would appeal to the residents, which would tend to inform their opinions of what his fellow gods (or offspring) would look like. I mean, the closest I've ever seen to this was when Odin-Power Thor was an active presence on Earth, but he looked human, so it would be hard to tell if people's perceptions altered his image.

Or would Odin have simply appeared on the world as is, and counted on his displays of power and generosity to win over the people, regardless of how he looked?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

What I Bought 8/23/06

Four random thoughts from comics to start off. One, I looked through Wonder Woman #2, and Dodson made Tim Drake look like an Asian teenage girl. Two, I can't believe 52 isn't even one-third done. Three, what's the over on the number of issues of Justice League before Meltzer kills off that girl Dinah adopted in Birds of Prey? Four, exactly how badly should Gail Simone mess him up when he does? So, my pull list provided two books, and I picked up a third on a whim. Beware the spoilers!

Exiles #85 - I thought Tony Bedard finished his run on Exiles last issue. Is he hanging around because of Claremont's health problems? For whatever reason, I'm cool with Bedard, so why ask why?

The Exiles have been. . . stranded in Heather Hudson's universe, and the little bug guys have picked a whole new team. Consisting entirely of Wolverines. Cripes, I like Wolverine, but that's nuts. They've been called together to fight a fairly odd foe: A female Magneto that tried to absorb her reality's Wolverine, only to merge with him, and the Scarlet Warlock, and Quicksilver and Mesmero. And now is a glowy-blue person. Say what now?

It also turns out this isn't the first team of Wolverines the bug guys have sent, and this one has about as much success as the previous attempts. But Logan of "Days of Future Past" is a little bit quicker on the uptake than most, and he's come up with a plan. I don't know, this may actually be too weird for me, but I'll wait and see. 3.7 out of 5.

Heroes for Hire #1 - Now why did I buy this? Oh yeah, I liked watching Misty and Colleen tell off Stark, Richards, and Spider-Man. As you might have guessed, the aforementioned butt-kicking ladies have formed a team, and they're going to use it to capture people who don't register, though they seem to want to stick with villains, rather than hunt down Captain America and his Band of Brothers.

Offhand, they aren't bad. They took down roughly eleven criminals in this issue alone. Granted, I can't recall having ever heard of any of them (except Bloodshed, he was in Spider-Man Unlimited #4!), but at least they're actually capturing bad guys. Wolverine seems to be the only other registered person interested in that. The capturing bookends the previously mentioned conversation, where Stark and Reed seem to be trying to play the heavies, which is pretty par for the course for them these days.

The art is a little too heavy on the T & A at times. I mean, these ladies kick ass; you had me at that, especially given they're an eclectic mix of lower-tier characters. Should be a fun ride, especially since Misty and Colleen seem clever in their plannings. Plus, it has Shang-Chi! How the hell are you not up for that? 4.1 out of 5.

Ultimate Spider-Man #99 - And this is what I was afraid of. Bendis has gone completely off the rails. We've got Ultimate Kaine, a live Gwen Stacy, Nick Fury's been informed of the Peter Parker with a tail grafted to his spine. Aunt May knows about Peter as Spider-Man, and her reaction, well it's not very nice. Oh yeah, and Pete's dad showed up. And we still have no [expletive deleted] idea who the [expletive deleted] is behind this [expletive deleted] mess. Heck, I'm sure it's Dr. Conners' lab assistant, Ultimate Ben Reilly (no, I'm serious about this, he kept a sample of the Carnage-thingy)

What else? Well, it sounds like MJ is about to get the spider treatment, as her captor has apparently put his full mind to use. Fury is planning to unleash the Spider-Slayers on Peter and his loved ones, and well, this is just a huge I-don't-know-what. I mean give us a hint about what's going on, besides "Gwen remembers waking up in a hospital". A friggin' crumb, that's all I'm asking for! 2.2 out of 5.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Open Letter To Geoff Johns

To: Geoff Johns, Undisputed Master of the DC Universe:

I am writing this in the hopes that either you will stumble across this while Googling your name, or that you have been reading this page regularly for some time, whether silently, or with comments under a false name. I am writing this to make a request of you. I'm making this request as someone who first became of aware of you during your stint on The Avengers. I liked Jack-of-Hearts and Scott Lang, so the inclusion of both, even if they were adversarial, was enjoyable. The Black Panther nearly punching the Red Skull's filthy Nazi jaw off? Fantastic. That issue with Thor vs. Iron Man, with Cap in the middle? Gave me even more respect for the Sentinel of Liberty. I'm not trying to suck up (that's what "Undisputed Master of the DC Universe was for), just establishing my credentials. As to the actual purpose of this note. . .

As I understand it, you will be writing a storyline in Teen Titans soon, involving a group known as Titans East. This group will include one Cassandra Cain, formerly Batgirl. If you have read my blog previously, you know my liking for the character, and my dismay at her portrayal in Robin a few months ago. If you haven't been reading, well, to put it succinctly, I'm less than pleased that she seems to be firmly in the bad guy camp since One Year Later, what with her conflict with Robin and all.

Upon hearing about your Titans East story, I was overjoyed. There was hope! But then I start seeing things like 'consisting of former heroes Batgirl. . .', and 'formed by Deathstroke' and my hopes fell. Look, let me cut to the chase. Here's what I'd like to see from Cassandra Cain.

You know how the Punisher frequently kills criminals, and then after the fact, he finds some innocent victim of those now deceased criminals who needs his help? I want Cassandra to be the reverse (this is based on the assumption you won't let her go all the way back to being Batgirl again. If you will, then by all means, do that). What I mean is, when fighting with a criminal, Cassandra's first instinct (or order, if her League of Assassins is with her), is to safeguard innocent lives. To get the bystanders to safety. After that, then she can beat, subdue, and if the person is deemed evil enough, kill them. She's certainly not a hero, but her concern for innocent life means she isn't a villain either. "But why should I bother", you ask? Because I can make it worth your while.

If you give me this, not only will I never say anything about having to wait six weeks for an issue of Teen Titans again, I will guarantee my purchase of the first thirty issues of Justice Society of America, no matter how confused I may be as you delve deep into DC continuity I don't understand. Consider that as an avowed Marvel and especially, Spider-Man fan, I could only give New Avengers 20 issues before concluding I couldn't afford to keep tossing my money at it. You're getting almost another year of my patronage, guaranteed! But wait, there's more!

If given my heart's (realistic) desire, I will give any DC comic a two month trial on my pull list, provided it meets the following criteria: It is not a solo title for any of the Trinity characters. It's not written by Brad Meltzer or Judd Winick. It's not from the Wildstorm or Vertigo Universes. It's not Flash. It's not Supergirl. Everything else is fair game. Consider that. Right now I spend $3.00 a month on DC comics. This could add, what $40 or $50 a month to your employers' coffers? C'mon, all it takes is probably just a little tweak to your story. So what if the book comes out a little later? You're Geoff Johns. No one is going to say "Boo" to you.

"But what if I'm not interested," you ask? Well, then. . . nothing. I'm not going to make threats. And I don't mean that in the whole 'I don't make threats, I make promises' way, either. Anger doesn't accomplish much. Hal Jordan fans had to scream for over a decade before you came along and made him a Green Lantern again. Cassandra doesn't have nearly the fan base to mobilize, and besides, I'm trying not to let anger determine my actions. I'm not going to make some big deal about how "I'll never buy DC again". Honestly, if you aren't interested in bringing in some extra money each month for your company, I doubt you're concerned about the possible loss of $3.00. So yeah, I'm bribing you. That's not such a bad thing, is it?

So there it is, all reward, no downside. Why not go for it? You'll make so many people happy. And like I said, you're Geoff Johns. If Didio gave you any grief, you could probably tell him to go to hell and get away with it.

Just Giving You Something To Consider,


Monday, August 21, 2006

It Ain't Easy Being Part Of A Legacy

So I was reading through Sensational Spider-Man #29, and I get to the ending. At that point we've got Liz Allan reminiscing about her friend Peter Parker, who she now knows is Spider-Man. But she gets a surprise visitor - Her brother the Molten Man! Given that he's walking towards Liz while burning through the door and telling her he's sorry, it seems a pretty safe guess that things aren't going to end well for one of (the first of?) Peter's crushes. I guess it makes sense, seeing as she's an old friend, and it's her brother doing the killing (cue M. Night saying 'What a twist!'), though Liz has been out of the Spider-circle for awhile. I guess maybe Chameleon wants to start at the beginning.

Hmm, just eliminating Peter's various love interests could take months. Paging Betty Brant, paging Betty Brant, please do not pick up the white courtesy phone, simply run very far away, very fast. You are probably next on the hit parade. Does anyone know where we can find Debra Whitman? She'll probably need to be warned. Oooh, light bulb! Hey Chameleon, howzabout sending some of your guys to France and eliminate Gwen's children? No, they aren't Osborn's kids, where did you hear that?! Oh, Quesada told you? Well, OK they are, so what? They're children of one of Peter's loved ones, you are attacking his loved ones, ergo, you should attack them. Are you afraid of Norman Osborn? Oh, you are? Well, what good are you?

Back on topic.

What I'm wondering is, where was little Normie Osborn? I mean, his mom must have custody of him, right? Norman's apparently decided the kid has too much of his father in him to be a suitable heir, so I don't figure Normie would be with him, even if Norman weren't in prison. Oops, that's right, the government seems to have let him out of prison. Fantastic. I guess maybe he could have been at school, he's old enough, but I feel bad for him. I mean, the kid's been through enough already.

His mother got abducted by Hobgoblin while pregnant with him. He's been threatened by a different Hobgoblin, kidnapped by a construct made by his grandfather so Norman could prove he isn't the Green Goblin, been abducted by the Brotherhood of Scriers in an attempt to get Norman out in the open (because Norman had demonstrated such immense concern for his loved ones since his return). He's seen his mom in all kinds of suffering over his dad's apparent mental issues. Oh yeah, and he watched his father die right in front of him. Man, if ever there was a kid who didn't need more trauma dumped on him, this is that kid.

Well, I guess we can hope that since we didn't actually see Molten Man do anything to Liz, that maybe he spared her, and is just planning to lie to the Chameleon about carrying out his orders. Then he can team-up with Spidey and they can layeth the smacketh down on all those candy asses!

*fingers crossed for Liz and Normie*

Sunday, August 20, 2006


That's what I'm feeling, and that's what I'm giving you today. Yesterday was. . . fairly interesting, so let's hit the high points:

- Started the day by doing laundry. Because nothing says 'I'm going to do sleazy, possibly immoral things at a bachelor party!' like washing your socks. Of course it could represent the fact you're going to be unclean by the time you're finished and you need different clothes to hide that, but I digress.

- Strip malls cause traffic jams. When I conquer Europe and North America, I may have to get rid of such places.

- The soon to be married man - who we'll call Joseph Hoth - has too much free time devoted to playing World of Warcraft.

- Growler's is a pretty nice pub, though for $7.50 I was hoping for a slightly larger meatball sandwich. Oh well, free drink and fry refills. And Touch It (actual last name: Tuchit) is already on his way to being hammered courtesy of a large beer with a gnome on the label.

- Jason Isringhausen cannot stop the Chicago Cubs. That's only part of why I hate him. The nearly $9 million he's making for such ineptitude is another part of it.

- Quote of that day goes to Mr. Hoth, upon entering the casino: 'It's kind of depressing.' Indeed, all these elderly folks, some in wheelchairs, with oxygen masks, just pouring money into the slots.

- Hoth came out $14 ahead, Touch It $45 down, I've got no clue how Bess did, I was only 40 cents down, but I got cocky and blew another $3 on nickel slots. What do you mean that's cheap?! I'm a poor-ass college student! $3.40 is a freaking comic book! And I now understand how these people can sit here for hours and blow their money. It's kind of frightening, the grip it can get. Time for a free soda.

- Interesting dichotomy courtesy of Solomon and his brother Nathan. Sol won $350 between video poker, nickel slots and some 3-card poker game. Nate lost $280 playing the same games. Karma, ka, the Great Wheel, something.

- Sol tips the dealer - who had a flair for drama - $25, which the dealer may have inadvertently given back when handing him his winnings (some chips got scattered).

- Hour wait at Dave & Buster's just to get a table. Time spent playing games (and burning the $18 I had left over from the $20 I was willing to lose gambling). Of course I wound up with 598 coupons (I think I had 606 and they gypped me), so I was two short of getting the Homer Simpson plush doll. Had to settle for a Super Bouncy Ball and a lemon drop glass. Damn. Hoth picked up a Whoopee cushion and an air gun for the fiancee with the combined winnings of everyone else.

- Sol picks up the tab for dinner, which causes Nate to go on a bender. The tally: A Smirnoff, some blue margarita, and two of something called The Lethal Weapon. Surpisingly he made it to the car without puking or passing out.

- I left Hoth's house at 11:30, drove through rain for ten miles, had lightning overhead the entire trip, and made it back to Cape at 1:30. It would have been sooner but I went the wrong way on the second turn I had to make, it cost me about 7 minutes. Good thing I hadn't had anything but soda to drink.

- The thing I thought was interesting, you know how in TV and movies, the bachelor party is always the other guys ribbing the soon-to-be-married guy about how much he's going to miss single life? He's going to have to pick up after himself, remember to put the toilet seat down, and she'll be telling him what to do, and he won't be able to swear or gamble or whatever? None of that was going on. Maybe because we all know the Fiancee, and she's nice, and we know she likes to play a little poker herself, or maybe we're all just envious. Most of us are currently unattached to any lady, so we wish we were in his position.

Or maybe TV and movies are just full of crap.

- And now I think I'm going back to bed. Good night, all.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Dimension Hopping's A Pain. . .

And so are light comic weeks. And next week isn't looking much better (only Ultimate Spider-Man?!).

So with few comics to look at, and the one's I have not really shaking anything loose right now, I'm turning instead to the Teen Titans cartoon. The topic for today: the identity of the second Red X. I haven't actually seen his identity confirmed anywhere (if it has been let me know), but that just means we get to have fun speculating.

We know the first was Robin in disguise, but who's the self-professed "thief" who has the suit now?

My vote is for an alternate reality Dick Grayson. He arrived here courtesy of the foul-ups of Larry and his 'magic finger'. Given that he simultaneously fixed Robin's arm and dumped the Boy Wonder into some sort of empty white space (quite possibly Joe Quesada's brain! *rimshot*), it doesn't seem out of the question that he initially grabbed the wrong guy when trying to bring Robin back.

The (Circumstantial) Evidence:

Red X is the same size and body type as Robin. He moves similarly. He does have a sense of right and wrong (or maybe just a sense of honor), he just ignores it most of the time. That suggests that wherever he learned his skills, there may have been a greater purpose behind the teaching. He's voiced by the same person who voices Robin (Scott Menville). I know, the suit has a voice changer, and Robin was the original wearer, so, you keep the voice consistent, but when Michael Rosenbaum, who voices Wally West-Flash on JLU, also voices Kid Flash on Teen Titans, I'm not inclined to dismiss choices in voice actors as irrelevant. But that's me. Furthermore, Red X is attracted to Starfire.

OK, maybe that last one isn't much proof in and of itself. Just thought it should be thrown in there.

I figure that if I'm right, there's two possibilities to explain his actions. One, he was adopted by Bruce Wayne, and received the training, but decided risking his neck for others, while receiving no tangible benefits, wasn't for him. So he parted ways with Bats at an early age, and went into the thieving business. Kind of a "Jason Todd meets Booster Gold" kind of thing.

Two, he's a Dick Grayson that's a few years older than Robin. Maybe he was the loyal partner, but then he saw Batman destroyed - perhaps in a situation where the public and the police turned on him, ala that nightmare Batgirl had in the episode "Over the Edge" of The New Batman Adventures. In that situation he's not only alone, he's angry at the people they helped, he's bitter, he's looking out for #1. I don't think that fits as well, as X seemed pretty easygoing, a very "roll with the punches" kind of guy, but it's a thought.

Of course, he could be related to Starfire's time-traveling, or Control Freak or Mumbo's apparent abilities to mess with reality, or he's a version that took to Slade's training (remember he commented that Robin enjoyed stealing for him), or he could simply be some anonymous thief, much like Hobgoblin was originally.

So, that's what I've got. I'm not sure whether there'll be a post tomorrow, I have to leave town to attend a bachelor party. Whoo, I'm gonna get hammered!

Thoughts? Suggestions? Inside Information? Edit: I mean about Red X, as opposed to my weekend plans.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


So as far news goes, this is kind of a bummer.

Ha! You thought this it going to be about those Civil War delays, didn't you? Well, I've already bitched about that in the comments of at least three or four other blogs, so I'm ready to stop boring you with it.

I figured Bagley would leave Ultimate Spider-Man eventually. I mean, the guy's been drawing 18 comics a year on that title for what, 5+ years now? And Millar says McNiven is a fast artist because he can do '9 or 10 issues a year'. *snorts derisively*

It's always interesting to see other people's reactions to the same artist. One comment before mine, we had a fellow named Martin who said he hoped Bagley wouldn't start drawing any books he bought. Then you follow it up with a guy who says he might drop Ultimate Spider-Man with Bagley gone (that'd be me). I'm not sure how true that is. I suppose it depends on who replaces him. Mark Brooks wouldn't be objectionable, though I have no clue about his track record with deadlines. Whoever it is, I think we be sure we won't be seeing 18 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man a year anymore.

Of course, art is subjective, and so both Martin's opinion and mine are equally valid. I mean, some people love Frank Quitely's art. I don't really see it. I saw that he drew Charles Xavier's head like a peeled potato, and I said 'No thank you, sir!' But again, it's all subjective.

So what am I getting at? Well, it's been a realization of mine that I can rarely put into words what it is I like about something I like. I can't explain my tastes in music. When people say that New Excalibur is crap, and only for people who buy whatever Claremont writes (a descriptor I don't believe applies to me), I want to try and understand why I do buy it and enjoy it. I'm still trying to put into words what it is about X-Factor I like so much. Not necessarily because I feel like there might be something wrong with liking what I do, though when everybody keeps saying "This book {insert title} sucks!", you start to wonder, but because it'd be nice to be able to give an actual defense. It solidifies it somehow. Is this making any sense?

But with Bagley I actually know what I like. His art is clean. Let me explain that adjective. I'm a big fan of art that looks like what it's supposed to be. You draw a boat, it better look like a boat. If I wanted to see a picture of a boat that looks more like a whale, or a house, or inarticulate squiggles, well, I could draw that myself. This probably explains why I'm not much of a Jackson Pollock fan. With Bagley, you'd could always tell what was going on. You could look at a character and see that they're angry, or happy, or scared or beaten down. Maybe part of that goes to the inker and the colorist, I'm not sure who gets credit for things like, well I'll call them "action lines" that you'd sometimes see around a characters' head when they're excited and shouting, which helps when they're wearing a complete mask (ala our friendly neighborhood webslinger).

In his fight scenes, I think Bagley does an excellent job of conveying movement, and knowing when to do a close up picture and when to pull back. I can't recall a Bagley-drawn Spider-Man comic with a fight scene and me not being able to follow who was attacking whom, and how that person got to that position from where they were two pages ago. You were able to keep track of what's going on, which is an important part of being a comic artist (I'd say). Contrast that with, for example, Damion Scott's work on Robin about a year ago. I found myself looking at panels three or four times, trying to figure out who got sliced, or kicked, or what that character did. There seemed to be too many close-ups, and I felt confused.

At any rate, I did just want to give some props to Bagley, seeing as he's probably my favorite Spider-Man artist (Romita Jr. comes close, based on his stuff during the early JMS run, but his early Spider-Man, from before the Clone Saga and leading up to when they rebooted the titles was really bulky, which was a bit distracting. It's the little things sometimes, you know?)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What I Bought 8/16/06

Lame pull this week. I mean really lame. I had to give a title a second chance just to have two books. And of course there was the delightful news that Civil War is being pushed back, and that's it's dragging about six other Marvel books back with it. I guess the saving grace for me is I only buy one of those books (Amazing Spider-Man) so I'm not that badly put out. Still, very smooth Marvel. Ah, let's just get on with this. Spoilers ahead (probably).

Ghost Rider #2 - Hey, Johnny Blaze isn't in Hell anymore! How'd that happen?

No seriously, how did that happen? This issue doesn't tell us. We see Johnny on a desert highway, getting helped by a friendly trucker, after she kicks him in the nuts, because he freaked out when she knew his name.

So he gets to a truck stop, but an elderly fellow in a van shows up as well, a family along for the ride. I thought it was Spidey's old enemy Tombstone at first, but it's not. Anyway, the old man is up to no good, he and Ghost Rider get into it, as we find out that apparently, Johnny Blaze wasn't the only person to escape from Hell.

Oh, and Dr. Strange showed up. I'll reserve judgement on that until I see how he's depicted. Next month. #3 is being released next month, right Marvel? It's not being pushed back because of Civil War is it? Expletive deleted. I guess I'll give the book 3.1 out of 5. Nothing jumped out at me in this issue compared to last month.

Sensational Spider-Man #29 - It occurred to me that I was probably hasty in only giving Aguirre-Sacasa one issue to win me over. Given I stuck with Reginald Hudlin for 11 mostly average issues, he probably deserved a more lengthy looksee. So here we are. I believe this story is best titled "Spider-Man Has It Driven Home To Him That Publicly Unmasking Was Really Freaking Stupid", but they went with "The Deadly Foes of Peter Parker". To that I have to say, really? The Scarecrow is a Deadly Foe? He got his butt whipped by the Falcon (in a Geoff Johns' Avengers issue, which is probably a sign of the things that went wrong with Johns' run on that book), but he's going to challenge Spider-Man?

And look, he's working with Will O' Wisp! OOOH, scary. I thought that guy had reformed. He was a good guy (sorta) back in the '90s (I'd say Spidey had the best rate of enemies turning things around of any hero, except most of them seem to have reverted). While those two engage in a little cat n' mouse with Webs, Chameleon is recruiting the Molten Man, by threatening to have Electro kill children. Well, OK, Electro that's better. I was afraid that Aguirre-Sacasa was just having to run with D-list villains because JMS and PAD and Paul Jenkins were hoarding all Spidey's good arch-foes.

OK, I've been mocking the book up until now, but I do want to give some props. One, we see MJ doing something other than sitting in Avengers Tower worrying about Peter. She's at the theater, getting ready to play Lady Macbeth, and she's not going to go hide in the tower just because Peter says so. Way to go MJ! Take back your life from your idiot husband! Two, Aguirre-Sacasa seems to be having the most fun with the Iron Spider outfit of the Spider-writers. I know two issues ago he had the suit demonstrate it's camoflauge abilities, and the fact it's actually a bunch of little robots, this month we see the glider wings and the suit's ability to counteract toxins used on Peter. So that's good. If A-S has to write the stories with Peter having that particular costume, he might as well demonstrate the differences/advatages to having that suit versus the classic costume.

Third, and most important - especially for Chris Sims - we have an appearance by a certain mass of bees. No initial sign of Nazism, but it was only a brief apperance. but I've said too much.

Fourth, we get cameos by Puma, Black Cat (who may still be in love with Peter Parker! Gasp, it can't be true!) and Madame Web.

There are certain notes that don't ring quite true. I'm can't believe Raxton would actually do what the Chameleon has apparently asked of him, even with children being threatened. I'd expect him to attack Electro, or yell at the kids to flee. But, it fits with the theme of the story, namely that Peter unmasking was a really bad decision, so I guess it's passable. Plus, I may be biased since the entirety of my experience with Molten Man was as we approached Harry Osborn's death and M.M. was trying to help Liz raise Normie. Well, I'll give the book another chance next month. 3.6 out of 5.

Say, where the hell is Normie these days?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Timetable for a Resurrection

I was thinking about character death recently. I suppose it was prompted by the return of Uncle Ben, and someone at the store sarcastically commenting, "Nobody stays dead". This, of course lead to us pointing out a few characters who have died and remained that way. I'm not sure what to draw from this, but Spider-Man seems to have quite a few. That, in my grumpy frame of mind over Alternate Universe Uncle Ben shooting people (even if one of them was that tool, Spider-Man of 2211), lead to me contemplating how these characters will make their seemingly inevitable returns to the printed page. So here's what I've got:

There's Captain George Stacy, Gwen's dad, killed by falling bricks during a Spidey/Doc Ock fight, in the one Amazing Spider-Man comic my father still has (so naturally, no covers). Spider-Man somehow used webbing to block Ock's commands to his arms, causing them to go crazy. Not only do I not understand how that works, I'm not really sure it's that great of a plan. Now we have four impossibly long metal tentacles just flailing about wildly! Um, hooray?

Anyway, there's a rumor* that Captain Stacy was going to return, but saw what JMS did to his daughter Gwen and had Death divert a heart attack that was meant for Aunt May to him, and he went right back into the ground before we ever saw him. So they'll just use his brother Arthur Stacy instead.

*I am completely bullshitting about there being a rumor about this, I just made it up.

I noted that Harry Osborn was still dead, but that's probably because the writers consider him superfluous as long as they have Big Daddy Osborn. To be honest, I'm quite alright with that. The more I look at it, the more impressed I am with Spectacular Spider-Man from about #178 (beginning of "The Child Within")-#200 (Harry's death). It does such a nice job of depicting Harry's slow descent, with him struggling not to get buried under the weight of all the lousy stuff he's been through. It's sad, but it's powerful. I'm less pleased with the revelation he was behind the "Peter's fake parents" plot, but that's another story.

Still, I'm going to offer a prediction. Harry Osborn will return from the dead in a Spider-Man comic in November of 2016 (23.5 years after his death, just like Norman), revealing himself to be behind all of the mystic crap that's plagued Spidey recently {Edit: Looks like I was off by 8 years. Harry's back as of the start of 2008, in an even stupider way than I came up with.}. See, whereas Norman went to Europe and hung with the Brotherhood of Scriers, Harry went and learned from some of Dr. Strange's old enemies, becoming a powerful mystic. And just as an advance warning, keep your eyes out for Norman's 2nd death in April of 2013 (35 months prior to Harry's return, just as Harry died 35 months prior to Norman's reemergence), killed alongside his offspring in some battle royale involving them and a hairy, six-eyed, five-armed, stinger-wielding Spidey (he hasn't completely become a Spider-Monster yet, just close to it). Spider-Man will ensure victory by biting all their heads off. And I'm depressed now.

I think the last person I brought up was Jean DeWolff, who died again recently at the hands of Ultimate Punisher, for the crime of being a dirty cop, which lead to a page of the Ultimate Kingpin being sad (which was oddly touching, what with him being evil and all).

In my typical cynicism, I think Bendis was just doing that to set the stage for the return of Marvel Universe Jean DeWolff. I'm sure that very soon we're going to find out that Jean faked her death to join SHIELD for the purposes of getting revenge on. . . someone, for the death of. . . someone. "Detective Stan Carter", aka The Sin-Eater, was in fact a SHIELD-employed shape shifter, with no actual skeleton or internal organs, and the ability to alter his density. In this way he was able to absorb a beating from an enraged guy who can lift a bus (who by all rights should have shattered Sin-Eater's face with the first punch, enhanced strength through SHIELD use of PCP or not), and even retaliate with punches that could stun Spider-Man.

As for the judge and the priest that Sin-Eater killed? Well, I'm sure it'll be explained those were actually MODOK's evil AIM technicians, hiding out until the could put forth a plan involving Communion wafers and jury duty to make an army of mindless drones.

So, what character out there that's currently dead, do you have a brilliant (or depressing) resurrection story for? If you're worried the honchos at DC or Marvel might actually read this, and use your idea, and you don't want the character resurrected, then just leave their name. Maybe someone can come up with a super-cool idea to resurrect Nightwing!

What do you mean he's not dead? What do you mean he's just horribly written?

Monday, August 14, 2006

It's Harmless Insanity, Just Humor Him

One of the great things about the comicsblogowhatchamafloogle is that there's hundreds of blogs, with people coming up with all sorts of weird and interesting stuff to discuss. The downside is that sometimes they hit on something that leads to obsession.

Case in point. The actual post that originated this was two months ago, and I just found out about it yesterday. I haven't even read League of Extraordinary Gentleman - I know, I have to turn in my Comic Nerd card now - but I love a good "Create your own {insert term here}", so I've naturally gone nuts since then. Three teams already, and that's just from TV, not even getting into books, movies, anime, video games. . . gosh, I'm pathetic.

Relax, I'm not going to go over all of them, but I did want to outline the first team I constructed, and just go into what I was thinking when I did. So working from Bully's archetypes (more or less):

The Leader - Captain Benjamin Sisko, some time after the end of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. So this is after Ben returns from his time with the Prophets. He did say he'd come back eventually, so if we go forward a few years, he's a bit older, a bit slower, and probably mellowed a bit from his time. . . wherever the heck he was, so he can hopefully remain calm and reign in some of the more impetuous members of this group. Still, he always had that tenacity, where once he decides to start something, he won't let up, no matter what, and that's going to be needed. He can handle himself in a fight, he's been in enough battles to come up with some good strategies, and for someone that so often seemed to operate from a place of anger, he could be remarkably sly and deceptive.

The Rogue - Johnny Smith, The Dead Zone, pre-Greg Stillson induced visions of mass destruction. While it could be fun to have Johnny trying to get the team into helping to block Stillson, I think I want him slightly less obsessed over a single thing. Johnny doesn't totally fit the definition of "rogue" Bully gave, but he would be hard to trust. See, Johnny has this annoying habit of having visions about a person, and then not telling them he has visions about them, but rather trying to subtly manipulate them out of danger. This might lead to Johnny thwarting the team in battle sometimes, because he's trying to keep them alive, but not telling them that, which can lead to trust issues. Plus, at least one person on the team might get annoyed at Johnny slowing them down, with his cane and all. Plus, he has a cane, and you know what that means: sword canes!

The Muscle - Vic Mackey, The Shield, probably after the conclusion of Season 6. By then, I figure Vic will know who killed Lem, and he's going to be wondering who he can trust, which if Johnny leads them astray, can lead to fireworks (or firearms). Vic has no problem with beating the crap out of people who need to be beaten, he will do the dirty jobs without much difficulty, and he's fairly clever at getting out of tight spots (witness his frequent escapes of prosecution for his less-than-legal tactics). Plus, once Vic trusts you, he'll do just about anything to protect you. Throw in that Vic needs money to keep his two autistic children in their special needs school, and that could let him fill in certain aspects of The Rogue that Mr. Smith doesn't. And I'd be interested to see how he interacted with the next member, a veteran of state correctional facilities.

The Woman of Mystery - Faith Lehane, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, from the time between departing from L.A. (Angel Season 4), and arriving in Sunnydale (Buffy Season 7). Let's just have Faith skip over needlessly trying to make amends to Buffy (I'm not going to get into my frustration over the double standard between Faith and Willow's treatment), and get on that road to redemption by helping people. Why Faith? 1) The team needs someone who can keep Vic in line. 2) It needs someone who can protect/compensate for Johnny in a battle. 3) She's awesome. 4) She's got a complex and troubled past. 5) Unlike certain other Slayers, she doesn't constantly whine about said troubled and complex past. 6) I think you'd get an interesting dynamic between Faith - the proverbial kid who slipped through the cracks - and Johnny - the former high school teacher, who's probably seen his fair share of kids like that. Probably get Johnny trying to convince Faith to get her G.E.D., try to bolster her sense of self-worth, and if it took, he'd probably be like her Watcher. Which leads to Faith being the one keeping an eye on Johnny when he tries to do his "lone wolf, save everybody" schtick.

The Man With a Boat - If you insist on a boat, I guess we can use Rico Tubbs, of Miami Vice. He cruised around in speedboats often enough. But I'd rather have Michael Knight (Knight Rider), not out of any particular love of David Hasselhoff (though I am intrigued as to how he looks almost the same now as he did then), but because I love KiTT. There, I said it, I think that car is freaking awesome, and well, I guess Knight probably comes with it. Which isn't too terrible, since he demonstrated some ability to defend himself, or at least avoid getting shot. One note: we're taking KiTT from early in the series, before that added that weird "super fast mode" or whatever it was. I mean geez, the car could already go 270 mph, why do you need to go faster?

The Mastermind - To me, this character doesn't have to be tactically brilliant. The Leader should be able to come up with some good strategies once you're actually fighting. What I want from this person is to be able to gather important information, get the team the necessary equipment and transportation. That way, they get where they need to be in time, knowing what they're up against, and having what they need to stop it. That said, my Mastermind is. . .

Eric Cartman.

He may be an evil bastard (though, technically he does know the identity of his father), but he's a smart evil bastard. The plans he's devised, from using fear of Hell to try and make $10 million dollars, to the parental revenge business, to the incredible Scott Tenorman story, just genius. His problems lie in the fact he doesn't have talented enough people to work with, nor does he usually have sufficient resources to take his plans to the next level. Well, working with the League should be able to solve those issues, so it's just a matter of making sure Cartman doesn't trick the team into unleashing some kind of disease that only eliminates certain members of the gene pool, so I guess it's good that we have a psychic, and that Vic probably wouldn't be adverse to scaring the crap out of him.

Edit: As one final thing, I'd have Michael Kelso from That 70s Show as a first episode guest star. He'd assume the Classic Star Trek "Red Shirt Guy" role, dying horribly to set the tone of the first epsiode. Why? I think it'd be funny.

So that's what I got. If you didn't partake of the fun the first time around, head on over to Bully's and make a team in the comments. C'mon, what're you waiting for? Just follow the first link up above.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


I think I've mentioned this before, but I figure it bears repeating: I think Robert De La Torre is doing a pretty good job as artist on Warbird, though some of what I like can probably be credited to Palmiotti as the inker. I know some people aren't enamored of his anatomy, but I think he does well with faces and action scenes, so that pretty much works for me. Which brings us to the what I'm contemplating today.

I've noticed that Carol looks older without her mask on than she does with it. There are some lines on her face. Personally, I think this is appropriate. Carol isn't some teenager, or young twenties girl, she's an older woman. Not Agatha Harkness old, but I'd bet she's early 30s. And when you consider her life up to now - infused with Kree DNA, mind-controlled, spent time in Limbo, gave birth to man she thought she loved (that's creepy just typing it), Starjammer, depowered, alcoholic, all manner of superheroic adventures in between - it hasn't been an easy early 30s. She should show some signs that she's been through ordeals. Of course, by that logic, I guess Peter Parker should look like he's in his early 50s, but that's a discussion for another time.

When she puts on the mask though, the lines are less noticeable. To me at least, she looks younger. This could be from a couple of things. First, the mask probably covers some of the lines, and I think it visually overwhelms the ones around her eyes that you can still see. If you look at her when she's doing the superheroing, you can still see lines around her eyes, but the mask draws attention away from them.

Secondly, I think she smiles more when she's Ms. Marvel, which I believe helps. And I think it ties in to the power of masks. I think for the characters, suiting up and going out to fight crime is a sort of Fountain of Youth. I mean, it certainly seems like a kid's idea, that you can put on a funny outfit, run around hitting people, and that'll make the world a better place. It doesn't really mesh with how things really are, even in a comic book world, as Ultimate Foggy Nelson pointed out to Ultimate Spidey. It's more complicated, and Carol knows that. She knows all about how the world isn't black-and-white, it's grey. But when she does the Ms. Marvel thing, she can forget about that for awhile, retreat to when things where simpler.

I think it even shows from issue to issue. I'd swear the lines are less noticeable in #5, when she's helping Dr. Strange fight the crazy and evil Warren Traveller, then in #6, when she's been drafted to round up non-compliant heroes like Prowler and Arana. One fight, it's very easy to decide who is right and wrong, the other? Well, in theory people who break the law are bad, but like I said, Carol's a mature woman. She knows it's not that simple. She just doesn't much like being confronted with it. Or maybe this is all subconscious on my part.

But I think the simple act of putting on the mask and going out to fight crime, it feels good. It's hard, but Carol seems to enjoy it. She certainly enjoyed beating down Stilt-Man. And I'd say from some personal experience, when you're enjoying yourself, you feel younger. Who knows? Maybe Carol has some power that unconsciously manifests when she dons the mask, and subtly de-ages her, an expression of what she's feeling when she goes out.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Wacky or Relevant?

That's the topic for today. With the release of Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #2, I want to know how you like your annuals (if you even care about such things).

Do you want your annuals to be a part of the larger goings-on in the character's life, a continuation of what they're dealing with in the monthly title?

Do you prefer them to be an opportunity for the writer to put things in motion for later development, which is how Bendis seems to be using them. Heaven knows he couldn't speed up some of his arcs so that he could use an actual issue of Ultimate Spider-Man to set up the idea of Daredevil trying to organize the street vigilantes against the Kingpin. And maybe you prefer that he does it this way. I'm not against it. I liked this annual, and the one last year that established the Spidey/Shadowcat relationship. But it does feel like a bit of an excuse to rush that plot point in, without as much set-up.

Or do you prefer your annuals to just be completely wacky, random crap that won't be in continuity or have any lasting repercussions? Kind of like those Avengers annuals where everyone dies, but at the end they all get better.

I suppose for me it depends on a couple of factors. If the Annual costs more than a standard monthly issue, I wouldn't want it to be relevant to the monthly storyline, because I might not be able to afford it, and so I'd miss out. But the Ultimate line seems to be making annuals the same price as monthly issues, so that's not a factor.

To me, Annuals are probably best served to let a writer get some crazy out of his system, a story that wouldn't really fit in the normal tone of the book. For example, that two part story in Ultimate Spidey where Spider-Man and Wolverine got switched into each others' bodies? Yeah, that should have been an annual.

And off topic, just how much of an expletive deleted is Jean Grey for doing that? "Oh Wolverine had an erotic thought about me! I'll switch his brain with someone he'd hate to be, to teach him a lesson!" That's great Jean, but what about the person who gets stuck in Logan's body? In case you've forgotten, people regularly try to kill that hairy, drunken letch. Cripes, Jean must be taking lessons from Silver Age Superman or something. OK, off-topicness over.

Actually, I think that's all I got. So how do you prefer your annuals?

Friday, August 11, 2006

There's Book Smart, and There's Clever

Civil War: Front Line #5 made me realize Reed Richards has become quite devious. He built his little "prison for people who don't conform" in the Negative Zone. Now offhand, that doesn't look too smart. I mean, the Negative Zone is Annihilus' home, and place he rules 97% of, and I'm sure he claims the other 3% is under his dominion as well. When you consider that Annihilation is Annihilus waging war on the Marvel Universe because the damn universe - not the inhabitants, the universe, due to natural entropic forces - has the temerity to expand into the space his empire occupies, deciding to use his land to house your unwanted doesn't seem like a bright idea.

But see, Reed figures he's playing with house money. He knows all about what Annihilus is up to. Super Skrull told him about it, when he came to Reed for a way to reach the Negative Zone in Annihilation:Super-Skrull #1. Reed knows that Annihilus is off in the Skrull Empire waging war (or he was when Reed talked to Super Skrull, he's in Kree Space now), and therefore isn't paying as much attention to what's going on in his own back yard. So the prison is actually in about the last place Annihilus would ever run across it. It's in a relatively low-risk location. Consider the possibilities:

If Annihilus isn't stopped, well the people in the prison are probably the safest of all, since the people of Earth are going to die much sooner for daring to "invade" Annihilus' territory. And Earth would die. I have no confidence in the ability of Marvel's heroes to get their shit together right now and actually fight something evil, as opposed to fighting each other. Even if they did, it'd be disorganized, and piecemeal, so they'd have about as much success as all the characters in the Annihilation mini-series were having, when they were scattered everywhere, each trying to fight their own little battles. They'd have to work together, and unless Ben Grimm slaps everyone upside the head, I don't see their differences being put aside quickly enough.

If Annihilus' advance is eventually halted (I can't see him deciding he's annexed enough space and calling it a day), then he'll have that much more area to rule, which makes it even less likely he'd notice a prison set on a single asteroid back in his old stomping grounds. He'd likely be kind of busy, either getting stuff in his new territory set up the way he's likes it (I'm guessing desolate and miserable), or quieting down any uprisings that may have started up back in the N-Zone while he was away. You never know, the knowledge of Super-Skrull's attacks on the prison and throughout the N-Zone, may have given some people hope. So, it would occupy the Big Bug for at least a little while, dealing with that, and the prsion could probably escape notice. Until someone mentioned seeing to try and save their life.

Of course if he's defeated, and he retreats to the Negative Zone, then the prison is in trouble, since Annihlus is likely to be in a foul mood, and not likely to be merciful to any intruders he discovers. But hey, the only people at risk are a bunch of cons (it's mostly robots watching them, right?). So it's not really any big deal to Reed if Annihilus rips Speedball or Typeface limb from limb. After all, they're just insurrectionists and baby killers, right Reed?

This is just sort of a side note, but I was watching the first episode of S-cry-ed (not for the first time) a couple of nights ago, and I was really struck by the similarity to Civil War. I mean you have the people with superpowers who work for the government (Ryuhou and Sherrice), who are still feared, but at least allowed to live peacefully, and you have the ones who live out in the Lost Ground, that use their powers in whatever manner most benefits their survival (Kazuma and Ayase, for example). And the government doesn't care what those methods are, those uncontrolled "alters" (basically, think like DCs "Metas"), are unacceptable. They have to be brought in line.

In the first episode alone, Kazuma is fighting another unregistered Alter that's using his powers to push around a gang of mostly kids, and add their territory to his. Kazuma defends the kids (for money, but he liked them), but he's still considered a criminal, and gets the crap beat out of him and arrested. Granted, the beating came because he tried to fight the government forces, but they still planned to arrest him, so he might as well go down fighting.

I don't suppose it's any suprise. Wizard has been saying for years that 'If you like the X-Men, you'll like S-cry-ed!', and since Civil War is just the Mutant Registration Act writ larger, it probably figures there'd be similarities. It's just the fact that in Civil War it's OK to have powers, as long as you work for the government, whereas the Mutant Registration stuff always seemed to imply there was no such thing as an OK mutant, so the comparison actually seems to fit a little better. I just wanted to throw that in.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Books! Memes! Run!

Well, Kalinara asked, so I will obey.

One book that changed your life:

That's hard. It's probably actually something from my early years I don't remember, but I'm going to say House of Stairs by William Sleator.

One book you've read more than once:

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King.

One book you would want on a desert island:

Foundation and Earth by Issac Asimov.

One book that made you laugh:

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.

One book that made you cry:

1984 by George Orwell. Not "cry", exactly, more "curl up under my bed in despair for awhile".

One book you wish you had written:

There was a short story I wrote in 11th grade about a kid who was dead and wandering the world as a ghost. If I cut out some of the cheesy pop-culture references, and focused more on the wandering, I think it might have been decent. If you mean actual published material, The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth.

One book you wish had never been written:

On a personal note, the short story that preceeded the ghost one, where the kid is killed by the squad that keeps order in the school for mouthing off at a teacher. Weak, derivative, needlessly gory. Fortunately this was a few months before Columbine, or I could have been in some trouble. Actual, published work? As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner. Not a fan of it.

One book you are currently reading:

Nothing today, but I finished John B. Robinson's The Sapphire Sea last week.

One book you have been meaning to read:

A Brief History of Time, Dr. Stephen Hawking, or Origin of Species, Charles Darwin.

Tag five people:

Um, Len, Chris and Randy, Jake, and Carla.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What I Bought 8/9/06

Don't you hate it when a dream tries to tell you something important, but you can't remember the specifics? Last night I dreamt of a soda machine that sold Mandarin Orange Slice, but I can't remember where I was when I saw it. Of course, in the dream I had a job (which I wasn't doing), so it may simply not be time for me to find that particular machine. But someday.

I'm going to try and shorten the reviews. I know I've said it before, but I'll try and hit the major plot points and leave the editorializing for later in the week. Cross your fingers, and keep yourselves on guard for spoilers.

Annihilation #1 - And away we go. Things appear to have come together since Annihilation: Nova #4. Richard Rider has assumed the John Conner role against the Annihilation Wave, and most of the players from the other series are here (excluding the cast of Super-Skrull). We've got Gamora, Ronan, Drax, Cammi, Firelord, Stardust, some guy who called himself "Starlord", the whole crew.

Meanwhile, we've apparently already missed the Surfer/Galactus versus Aegis/Tenebrous fight, as we get it in flashback. Let's put it this way, Thanos is happy with the results.

Not bad for a start. It felt like it set the board well, there's a few gaps left to be filled in later, and some mysteries to answered later as well. I'm not disappointed 3.8 out of 5.

Warbird #6 - I'll say this first, if you were thinking about buying this to see Carol and Captain America discuss their differences, forget it. That discussion comes in flashback, and it lasts about one page. We already know how she chose, so it's probably not a big deal.

Carol, Wonder Man and Julia Carpenter, Spider-Woman 2, Arachne, whatever, meet up with Tony Stark to get their marching orders. Julia is to go after Fortress Keeper's favorite The Shroud, which is a bit odd given Stark says he took out an entire squad single-handedly the night before. Then maybe Wonder Man should go after him, hmm?

But Simon and Carol are going to be busy criss-crossing Brooklyn looking for. . . Arana! Wow, combine that with Carol capturing the Prowler at the start of the issue, and the anti-registration group is really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

So, Prowler gives SHIELD some info on who warned him they were coming after him, but only after they threaten to throw his wife in jail with him. Yup, fair and balanced, that's the Marvel approach. His information makes the plot contrivance of Arachne going after the Shroud work, while Carol and Simon run into Arana at a fast food joint, setting up next issue's beatdown of a young hero whose only crime will be trying to stop a robbery in front of Warbird and Wonder Man. A little disappointing, because I really thought we'd get a good discourse about the pros cons of registration, but it boiled down to a couple of sentences whether or not you should follow all laws, or only those you think are just. Of course, that is probably the whole crux of the argument, but I'd kind of like to see if debated more heavily. If that don't bug you much, you'll rate it higher than me 3.4 out of 5.

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #2 - See Spider-Man humiliate the Shocker for the fourth(?) time. See Foggy Nelson advise Spidey that if he wants Shocker to stay in jail, he should actually take him to the cops, instead of leaving him webbed to a lightpost. This leads to Spidey conversing with Jean DeWolfe, who advises him of another criminal that needs to be stopped, that the cops can't arrest, that's right it's the new guy gunning for the Kingpin, the Ultimate Kangaroo! Dear God, help me survive. At least he doesn't seem to be sporting a Claremontesque accent (no "Oi!" that I can recall). Jean gives Webs the address, Webs goes, he waits, man gets thrown out window, Spidey gets involved.

Hey it's Ultimate Jerk. . . I mean Ultimate Daredevil! I'd swear Millar wrote this guy. I mean he stops attacking the Kangaroo to hit Spider-Man - twice! - for daring to help. What an ass. Then Ultimate Punisher shoots a rocket at everyone. Yep, he's escaped from prison. Or been released, I just know the warden didn't want him in his prison after he killed three men with his lunch tray. And Ultimate Moon Knight shows up! Yes, he's out of his coma, and escaped from the hospital by leaping across rooftops in a green t-shirt and tighty-whities!

You didn't need to know that last part, did you?

People are arrested, people are killed, people are sad, vigilantes are making offers to other vigilantes, some of it felt kind of cheap, but all in all, not bad. And I'm curious to see how the events in this resonate in upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man stories. 4.3 out of 5.

Ultimate X-Men #73 - So Xavier and Fury have realized something is up with Magician. When the team gets back to the mansion, they confront him. The revelation that he's been lying and tricking people doesn't go over well, and surprisingly, Cyclops takes the first shot. Pretty soon, everyone gets involved, and they're all trying to keep him busy until Xavier can shut his powers down. Except he knocked Xavier out. Free-for-all!

Yeah, uh, "free-for-all" doesn't work very well for the X-Men, and things are looking real bad when a certain - possibly crazy, possibly possessed by an ancient force - someone shows up, looking to brawl. And Dazzler's not in her hospital bed anymore. Aw Kurt, I know you're hard up with no girlfriend, but come on! I'm joking! I'm sure it's all explained in the Annual, which I will review when it comes out. But really, that's it. I'm sticking with my assertion that this is Proteus, or at least, that's he exerting some influence from within this kids' head. Having a hard time grading this. Wasn't a bad comic, wasn't great, just seemed to be there to get things to the point at the end, and what actually happened along the way was incidental. Except maybe the part where Magician likes Kitty (seeing as she was the X-Girl that was hitting on him, when Rogue and Storm where in the same plane). Um, let's call it 3.5 out of 5.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Study For The Feasability Of Movie Goofiness

Thanks to Ultimate Spider-Man #98, we know that Ultimate Reed Richards spends his free time turning urine into drinkable water, because Costner did it in Waterworld. While gross, it's better than what Marvel Reed has been up to, what with the building of prisons to hold his former friends and allies. So with that in mind, I want us to encourage Ultimate Reed, because it'll keep him from giving Nick Fury anymore superweapons, like his throwing a Big Bang at Ultimate Gah'Lak'Tus.

So what movie ideas should Reed try and make feasibile?

Movie: Close Encounters of The Third Kind
Project: Devise color and music themed extraterrestrial communication device.
Reasoning: Because I'm tired of them always being able to communicate flawlessly with the alien races we interact with. I want an alien race to stumble across us and not be prepared to communicate in English, so we have to go to Plan B.

Movie: Field of Dreams
Project: Create a baseball field that harnesses the life-giving power of CORN to resurrect and/or de-age baseball players.
Reasoning: Because I'd like to see Ty Cobb come back and take a few dozen fastballs in the chin, that's why. Roger Clemens can do it, and I'll never disparage him again.

Movie: Little Man
Project: Determine how this movie has made more than $50 million so far in the box office.
Reasoning: Because it doesn't make any sense, that's why!

*slams head on table repeatedly*

OK, well I feel kind of drowsy - or maybe it's a concussion - so I'm gonna go lie down. You just leave your proposals in the comments box, and I'll make sure Ultimate Reed gets them.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Further Proof My Brain Likes to Wander

Thinking about the Black Knight takes you odd places. Or maybe it's the state of mind you have to be in to be thinking about the Black Knight in the first place.

- A couple of days ago, probably while plotting yesterday's post, I started thinking about how the portrayal of Black Knight in New Excalibur lines up with the one we saw in Hudlin's Black Panther story. That guy had a flying horse, and seemed to be a religious zealot, fully willing to invade Wakanda and attack those damn Pagans in the name of Alimighty Gaw-d.

- Given Dane Whitman seemed to have his horse stuffed and on display in his museum (or maybe it was a recreation), and doesn't seem particularly interested in religious wars (which makes sense given he already spent years fighting in the Crusades, he's probably burnt out on that), something don't line up. I suppose the simplest explanation is that this is Marvel we're talking about, and Hudlin pretty much got to depict characters however he wished, and Black Knight was simply someone who fell in his crosshairs.

- Thinking about the Crusades brought back a scene from Bloodties. Yeah, I willingly thought about comics from the '90s. Horrible, I know. In it Black Knight (sporting his leather jacket/photonic sword look, ugh) comes face to face with Magneto's old helper Exodus. They exchange words, Exodus flies off, and Whitman is left with the certainty he's met this guy before.

- Honestly, that isn't any surprise. It seems like every character has met every other character at some point, and that you can pretty easily do the "Six Degrees of Separation" with just about anyone. To wit: Spider-Man's enemy Norman Osborn, is father of Peter Parker's (Spider-Man) best friend Harry Osborn, who married Peter's high-school crush Liz Allen, who's brother is Mark Ralston, the Molten Man. OK, that's only five, but the point holds. The question is, where did Knight and Exodus cross paths before? I'm going to guess during the Crusades, since Exodus can apparently survive being buried 100 years by Nate Grey to emerge in 2099, so he's probably pretty old (hat tip to Len for the heads up on that). Maybe he's an Apocalypse child?

- The "everybody's connected" idea brought up something from X-Men #1, when Wolverine says that Fabian Cortez (sigh, more '90s) smells familiar. Did we ever find out what was the history between those two?

- And what ever happened to Fabian Cortez? I know Exodus was planning to kill him in Bloodties, but given the presence of Jean Grey, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Crystal, and Cortez using Pietro and Crystal's daughter as a hostage, I'm kind of doubting it happened.

- And one last thing I thought of while typing this: Exactly how many flying horses are there in the Marvel Universe? Valkyrie had one, at the very least in the Busiek/Larsen Defenders, and probably in the original series as well. Moonstar got one during her time in Asgard. Black Knight had one. Are the stories about cows being Marvel's monkeys false? Are flying horses actually Marvel's monkeys?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Don't Be Afraid, But. . .

It's a Black Knight/New Excalibur themed post.

Well, don't everybody squeal with excitement at once.

- From reading Avengers #264 (one of the first comics I got, and the first appearence of the lady Yellowjacket), I know Dane Whitman spent five or six years in the 13th century fighting in the Crusades. So I'm wondering, did he pass the sword on to the someone while he was there? I mean, the Ebony Blade gets passed from teacher to student right? So did he have the opportunity to teach someone, then leave the sword there, so he could receive at whatever point in the future it was he got it?

- Is the Ebony Blade a family thing? If so, that might raise the question of whether Dane - like Philip J. Fry - is one of his own ancestors. Must have had a least a little time for relaxation, and by understanding the concept of bathing, he'd probably have a leg up on all the other blokes.

- On second thought, let's not raise that question. Sorry.

- Idle artistic note. On page 10 of this issue, Sir Percy is wielding both Excalibur and the Ebony Blade. I think it's kind of amusing that in his right hand, he holds a sword with his pinky extended. I kind of figured that was a later cultural trait for beverages, not something you'd see in the 6th century. Or is there a practical reason to do that when holding a sword, similar to how when you punch someone, you shouldn't have your thumb tucked inside your fist?

- Second idle artistic note. Sage has these lines, one from the outer corner of each eye, that curves down and around the outside of her cheek to her jawline. So what's up with that? Could just be some weird idea of makeup, but that doesn't seem much like her style. Knowing her it probably hides some top-secret nano-tech scanning/info retrieval devices. I can't remember if she had them in X-treme X-Men, but she's had them pretty much in every issue of New Excalibur Michael Ryan has drawn.

- Last thing. Reading Thor #400, Black Knight's there helping the Asgardians fight Seth (the Serpent God of Death) and his forces, while Thor fights Surtur. Except partway through, Black Knight falls to the ground completely stiff, because of some curse bond between his sword and the armor(?). Apparently he'd spilled so much blood he'd become a manifestation of the sword.

From this I can tell you two things: 1) For Black Knight to be able to get in the middle of a fight between gods, and hold his own means he's pretty cool. Or can be, which is why I'm kind of hopeful he joins Excalibur. 2) The curse lead to one of the coolest things ever, when Hogun the Grim, realizing that Black Knight is now as indestructible as his sword, throws him like a javelin at Giant Serpent Version Seth, with the Knight going completely through his head. I'd say that's cold, but hey, that's just how Hogun rolls, son.

- I do wonder how they fixed that curse though.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

What I Bought 8/5/06

And, I'm back. Yeah, I'm a day late. A family situation required me to stay an extra day to look after five English bull terriers. I don't know how the hell my dad does that every day, because I'm a freaking wreck from being in mortal terror that one of them would suddenly fall really ill. As you might guess, I have no pets of my own. Anyway, thanks to everyone who chipped in on the "friends" post. Let's get back in gear, eh? You should watch out for spoilers, especially, as I'm going to type the reviews as I read it for the first time.

New Excalibur #10 - So we kick it off in the 6th century ruins of a castle. A fellow is entrusting Excalibur to the Black Knight, who's forgone a helmet for the stylish Iron Fist-style bandanna hood/mask look. Flash to the present. Dane Whitman, current Black Knight, has turned his family estate into a museum to celebrate the history of the Black Knights, which includes the preserved body of Hoodie Knight himself, Sir Percy of Scandia. Seriously, Percy? Irregardless of his name, the people crowd around his glass coffin like Soviets gawking at Lenin (assuming Soviet citizens were allowed close enough to gawk at Lenin's tomb).

The entire issue flows back and forth between those settings. We see Percy deal with the rabble, now terrified by the fall of Camelot, and eager to take out their fear on anyone they don't know, which includes Percy. Might want to pick a target not wielding Excalibur and the Ebony Blade, boys. Oops, too late. He winds up at the Lake with the Lady, wanting to know what he's supposed to do. Well, you're supposed to save Camelot, Percy, but it's a matter of "when", not "how".

Dane's talking on the phone to Captain Britain, who does some playful dissing, and then gets ready to make an offer. But Percy "arrives" first, and you get your standard misunderstanding fight. Works for me. I have to admit, I'm consistently surprised by the fact I like this book, though I wonder, is this Tieri doing his own stories, or is he still following Claremont's scripts? Ah well, either way. 4.2 out of 5.

The Punisher #36 - From the book that had probably a dozen deaths - all involving impaling or decapitation - done off panel, to the book that shows you see the gore, in bright pretty pictures. Oooh, pretty.

So we got duplicity (duplicity? duplicitousness?). Alice wants Barracuda to kill Dermot, as well as Harry. Or does she? Well, either way we get a scene straight out of Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left, which proves that Frank Castle is an idiot, because clearly he was just going about trying to kill the Barracuda the wrong way. Dermot and Alice made it look pretty easy. Or did they?

Harry is already ruined with news of his planned blackout having been leaked, and finding out Dermot and Alice are together doesn't help. Finding an explosive in the engine room doesn't help Dermot much, but he gets it together and feeds a good line to the stockholders, until Frank detonates the other charge. At which point Dermot makes a massive screw-up. Rather than relent to the Punisher's demands, or at least truthfully explain why they can't be met, Dermot tells the Punisher there is nothing he, Frank Castle, can do to stop Dynaco, because they are a big corporation, and they have all the power. Which is true. . . up to the point you meet someone who doesn't care about, law, proper channels, or any of that stuff.

Of course it still takes a surprise assist for Frank to wrap up the loose ends, plus a bunch of sharks, who must just be starving to wolf down so many humans (or else the people are really high in fat). The surprise assist gets its reward, and Frank Castle gets to keep killing people in adventures that run a neat little six issues. Which is just fine with me. 3.8 out of 5.

Ultimate Spider-Man #98 - I've been wondering how long it'll be before I give up on this book. I mean, it's the Clone Saga, I should be running for the hills. But maybe Bendis can do it well. By "well", I mean quickly and neatly, in six issues, with all the clone crap resolved at that point, so someone can't come back in 20 years and destroy everything. On to the actual issue.

So Peter has found out the Scorpion is a clone of himself, so he takes it to the Fantastic Four. OK, that's solid, I'd buy that. And Reed Richards will agree to hide the testing from Nick Fury, that's good. Scientists don't usually trust the military's intentions, and Reed probably figures he gave Fury enough stuff with whatever it was he used against Gah'Lak'Tus. But the Fantastic Four don't know Peter is Spider-Man? I could have sworn they found out in that same Super Special thing where he ran into Blade. I know at the end Reed makes some comment about greatly respecting the work Peter's father did. And the Blade encounter is in continuity, so what's up? Thinking too much, just review.

Interestingly, the clone is not an exact clone, only a 94.2% match, with some signs of genetic damage. Well, I'm not too surprised. The body was modified so that tail could be grafted to the spine, you'd probably have to monkey with the DNA to avoid rejection (he said, as if being a supreme expert upon cloning). Or it could be that just like in DC, cloning is an imperfect science, though they're apparently farther along in the Ultimate Universe.

Anyhoo, Peter freaks and bails, finds out MJ is missing, and goes to the warehouse she sometimes hides at. She's not there, but a familiar-looking Spider-type female is, and she whoops Pete's butt. And shoots webbing from her fingertips. Ew. And the Peter that kidnapped MJ wants to make it so she'll be safe. Yes, safe from being kidnapped by weird ass clones like yourself. Well, you should get right on that then.

Oh yeah, and Gwen Stacy's back. God, Bendis is just having a rollicking good time with this one. It's a little terrifying, honestly, and a bit of a train wreck situation. Not a bad issue by itself, but would Reed Richards really waste time trying to make drinkable water out of urine? Or is this one of those side hobbies he does to fill 20 minutes? 3.5 out of 5.