Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mistake Or Mistruth

To put it simply, Kitty's stated reason for leaving Xavier's school in Ultimate Spider-Man doesn't jive with the events as we saw them in Ultimate X-Men. In USM, Kitty says the school was getting crowded, and Xavier was displeased with her for demanding he wipe Aunt May's mind of "Peter is Spider-Man" knowledge, so she transferred. In UXM, we've seen that Kitty's been thinking about leaving for at least a couple of issues (spanning a few days), and that Xavier's death has made her realize that being in life-or-death struggles for mutants isn't really what she wants. She came to Xavier's to learn control of her powers, she can control them, so she's leaving.

Sadly, my first feeling on reading Kitty's explanation in USM was disappointment. I thought, 'Darn it Bendis, Kitty just explained her reasons in Ultimate X-Men last month! Pay attention!' I know most of the books in the Ultimate Universe just do as they please, which is probably a good thing, since I wouldn't want other writers to have to pay attention to Ultimates. But I kind of liked that USM and UXM seemed to at least keep in touch. So, a seeming continuity gaffe was disheartening.

Then I thought about it a little more. Does Peter know Xavier is dead? He wasn't at the funeral, and given the hectic pace of his life, it's possible he's missed the news broadcasts about it. So, perhaps Kitty's not being totally straightforward with Peter. It could be payback for Peter going back to MJ, but that doesn't really seem to fit. So why?

In USM, the last time we see Kitty and Xavier interact, Kitty's telling Xavier she hates him because he won't go to bat for her, because taking people's memories is wrong (though I could swear Xavier has done that kind of stuff to people before. They were evil people I suppose, so that makes it okay, maybe?). So I figure that it was shortly after that disagreement when Xavier bites the dust (pending current events in Ultimate X-Men). So Kitty feels guilty. Things between the two of them didn't end on a positive note, and now she's feeling remorse over that. So she changes the story to where she left, but Xavier is still alive, which means they could patch things up again someday down the line.

Personally, I'd much rather go with that line of thinking, rather than "once again Marvel books can't keep their stories straight", so I will. Good for me.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Adorable Baby Panda Misses Big Comic Weeks

Only two comics to work from, so sad. That's three out of four weeks this month with two or fewer books. Are the comic publishers trying to make an Adorable Baby Panda cry? Are they?!

Well, it's Quesada and DiDio so the answer is, yeah, probably. But whatever, let's focus on what we do have.

Applause, Bonk -Shang-Chi. My, that was certainly an impressive beatdown you handed to the Headmen, not to mention destroying a Doom-bot. But... the Doom-bot was that little boy's friend, and now he's sad. What's wrong with you, Shang? Why would you make a child cry? {That's why he didn't get to kiss Tarantula. Pandas aren't about to reward someone with sweet love, when they make kids cry, no way.}

Hug - Humbug. You got your body back, of course not before that Chondu insulted it's condition. ABP doesn't quite understand what 'horribly inadequate for carnal pleasure means', but is quite sure it can't be a complement. It doesn't having something to do with carnivores, does it? {No, ABP, it does not. Ask your Intimidating Mama Panda about it. Just don't tell her you saw it in a comic}.

Bonk - Ultimate Dr. Strange. Look, it's one thing if you don't believe in killing. That's perfectly admirable. It's quite another to want to throw stuff at the person you refuse to kill's presumably dead noggin. That's just not cool.

Hug - Kitty Pryde, Mary Jane. Hopefully, grouping them together doesn't lead to a {shadow}catfight. Kitty's left the place where she had friends and was accepted, and moved to a place where teenagers, being insensitive twits, gawk and poke at her like she was a science exhibit. Plus, her boyfriend appears to have run back to his ex. {Ouch} MJ, meanwhile, appears to be somewhat less cured of the Oz treatment that Dr. Richards and Dr. Storm think she is, and has to deal with the uncertainty over whether she's Peter's girlfriend, or still his ex. {Sigh, the Parker luck with women continues as normal.}

Applause, Bonk - Ultimate Spider-Man. The bonk is easy, because you haven't fixed this thing between you and Kitty. {I'd argue that's not going to be easy to fix, if he even can.} The applause is for standing up to that big jerk Ultimate Daredevil. He's trying to take things too far, and bravo to you for laying down the law.

Hug - Ultimate Aunt May. Lying in the hospital, still trying to recover from her heart attack. ABP wants you to get better soon. {And yet, she's still in better shape than 616-Aunt May. Stunning.}

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Time To Don The Man Pants

Mallet already mentioned this in his random thoughts for 3/28, but I wanted to discuss what I thought was a really nice scene near the end of Ultimate Spider-Man #107. I'm referring to Spidey standing up to Daredevil's little group and definitively stating they will not kill the Kingpin.

That seems like an important step for Peter. Too often, he's intimidated and freaked out by what's going on around him, which is understandable to a certain extent. He keeps getting in the middle of weird stuff, which is also usually life-threatening, and that can leave you feeling uncertain, making you easily mainpulated by someone who seems to understand the score. Whether it's Nick Fury, the Black Cat, the Kingpin (working through Jean DeWolff), whomever, Peter spends a lot of time jumping through hoops for other's benefit. Now he's put his foot down and said "Forget it, we aren't doing that. I'm on board with stopping the Kingpin, but we'll do it the right way, I don't care if you think it's a naive way of viewing things."

It shows the growth he's made as a person because in the past Peter has responded to the Kingpin by acting rashly, trying the violence route. Early on, he thought he'd bring Fisk down, so he sneaks into Fisk's penthouse to get some dirt on him, without bothering to do his homework about the building first. Result, he gets beaten, fried, unmasked, and dumped out a window. When Fisk started backing that political candidate on the anti-Spidey platform, Peter tried swinging right over and attacking the Kingpin in the middle of a gala party. Result, Peter goes SPLAT! on Fisk's nice shatter-proof glass, providing amusement for the patrons, as he slides down the window. And there's the whole thing with DeWolff being in Fisk's pocket, and getting Spidey to go after both Hammerhead and the Kangaroo. Spider-Man certainly has reasons for wanting Wilson Fisk's head, but he's not going to resort to killing, and even though his threat was to snitch them out to Fury, he won't let the other guys do it either. He wants to bring Fisk down the right way, get the information on his illegal dealings, disrupt them, try to make Kingpin nervous and reckless, so that he can be easily caught.

I think this is an inevitable consequence of all the crap that resulted from the Ultimate Clone Saga, and Peter finding out that all that was due to the machinations of one Doctor Octavius. When you find out that this one evil fellow has been jerking you around for months, it probably spurs a desire to assert yourself a little more, to minimize the potential for that happening in the future. We saw it when he not only got his job back from Jonah (though that was somewhat a compassion move by Jameson), but negotiated more hours and a small bump in his salary. He didn't back down, but stood there, and politely explained the situation to someone who frequently intimidated him in the past, and it worked out.

It would have been nice if this had newfound confidence/independence had lead to Peter talking things out with Kitty a little sooner. But he is still a kid, regardless of how many times he's been through the wringer, and matters of the heart aren't easy no matter how old you get, I suppose. And he did try to sort things out with her this issue, so that's something at least.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What I Bought 3/28/07

What the hell, Marvel? No New Excalibur or Immortal Iron Fist this entire month? What's the deal? Ahh, whatever, let's just get to the two books I bought this week.

Heroes for Hire #8 - Well, Bully said this was a fun title, so I figured why not give it another chance. It makes up for my decision to drop Ultimate X-Men I suppose. I would say this issue can be basically described as "Shang-Chi wrecks the Headmen's faces". I really like the Headmen. I've only seen them one other time (Busiek/Larsen's Defenders series), but they just seem like such a goofy group of villains. Of course now, they're a goofy group with a Doombot, which probably explains why a member of Heroes for Hire kicks the bucket.
That in turn, leads to the aforementioned wrecking of everybody by Shang-Chi, which was pretty awesome to see. By the time the rest of the team shows up, all that's left is to pick up the pieces, and in some situations, reattach them properly. From there, it turns to the reemergence of what looks to be this title's version of Guy Garnder, Paladin! It's just fun to imagine this guy is gonna get pummeled by somebody soon, possibly eaten. The art didn't seem as gratuitously T & A as I recall, meaning that either Rio has tuned it down a bit, or it was just because the ladies didn't play as big a role this month. Also, there were a couple of times where facial expressions didn't match what was being said, such as with Tarantula on page 20. Her face displays anger, but her words seem more calm. It wasn't fantastic, but it was fun enough I'm going to stick around to see how this Savage Land storyarc starts out. 3.9 out of 5.

Ultimate Spider-Man #107 - Funny, I had heard this "Ultimate Knights" arc was only a three-parter. I don't see how that's possible, so my info must be off, because there's no way Bendis can wrap this up in one more issue, even if it was double-sized. Yeah, this is your standard Bendis talkfest. It picks up where last issue left off, Kitty Pryde showing up as a new student at Midtown High. Here we see the downside to having a public identity, as her new classmates act with about as much class, dignity, and respect of boundaries as you'd expect.

This leads to Peter trying to talk things out (about time Petey-boy), and as he admits, being told just how much of a lousy guy he was. I mean Kitty really did want to help, she just got there too late. Even the whole "mindwipe Aunt May" thing was just her doing what she thought Peter would want, based on past conversations.

The part of the issue I found really entertaining was Spidey attending Daredevil's little get-together for the street-level heroes. The exchange with Moon Knight 'Put the moon toys away Casper, I'm just here for the chicken wings. There - there are no chicken wings.' made me laugh. So yeah, I'm down with the "heroes trying to bring down Kingpin" story, and MJ's ongoing issues. Not so sure about Shadowcat attending public high school. Butttt, on the strength of primarily the last ten or so pages, 3.6 out of 5.

I'm hoping to get a Ms. Marvel #13 on Friday, so we'll see if Adorable Baby Panda has something else to read this week.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Does This Seem Kind Of Odd To You?

This just popped into my head a couple of days ago, and so I wanted to share it with you.

Here we see Spider-Man #16, Todd MacFarlane's final issue before leaving the book (to start Spawn I'm assuming). Notice that on the cover, Spidey is saying 'Bye Todd'. But MacFarlane is credited for having drawn the cover himself. So does that mean that MacFarlane is, in essence, saying good-bye to himself? And if so, does that seem silly to anyone else? I mean, at least get Erik Larsen or someone to draw the cover, otherwise it comes off a bit like an ego trip.

On a basically unrelated tangent, what's Greg Capullo up to these days? He was the primary artist for Spawn for something like 80 issues (wasn't he?), but I never see his name on anything (except an occasional Spawn cover).

Monday, March 26, 2007

Dumbest Smart Person Ever!

I'm surprised it took this long for me to think of this, but oh well. I was playing Marvel: Ultimate Alliance last night, and I've once again reached Doom's Castle. I'm cruising through, reading these excerpts from books he has sitting on pedestals throughout, when I get to one talking about his accident in college.

Naturally, in Doom's version it wasn't an accident. Rather, Reed Richards jealously sabotaged Doom's device, in an attempt to kill the future ruler of Latveria. The passage concludes by saying something like 'fortunately, our great leader survived, however he must hide his scarred face behind a mask.'

And then it struck me, why the hell does Doom still have to wear the mask? He's got the freaking power of Odin! If he can use that to make evil doppelgangers of some of the good guys (AAAH! It's Infinity War all over again!), or bring other heroes under his influence, how hard can it possibly be to fix a little damage to your face? I mean really Vic, I know you're concentrating on making the world a "better" place, but you could at least stop and think about your situation a little more thoroughly.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Take That, Article In Cosmo!

So a few years back I'm in the store, picking up the essentials foodstuffs (Pop-tarts, soda). I'm cruising through the magazines, and I notice an article heading on the cover of Cosmo. Why I was looking at Cosmo I can't recall. Probably there was an actress I find attractive on the cover, although I think it might have been Tom Brady and I was amused that he'd be on the cover of that periodical. Anyway, the heading was something to the effect of "Why Can't Guys Make Friends?". The whole thing was about how as guys get older, their ability to make friends declines, to where they pretty much only make new friends at work while women can apparently make friends with just about anyone they happen to meet while they're out doing whatever (generally speaking, of course). So what's that got to do with anything?

During my sojourn to visit friends and family last week, my Dad mentioned that a friend of his at a store he visits frequently had some comics to give me. Seems my dad had mentioned my love of comics, and his friend Dave figured I might enjoy a box he had leftover from his younger days. Far be it from me to decline such a kind offer, and I have to say, it all turned out pretty well.

For one thing, he had Captain America #319, which bears a striking similarity to that "Funeral of Stilt-Man" issue of Punisher War Journal, and Captain America #333, when John Walker dons the Captain America costume, also known as "The Day Babies Cried". Daredevil #232 and 233, the last two issues of Born Again, plus several issues from Ann Nocenti's run, which have convinced me I need to buy more of her run. Three issue from Moon Knight: Fist of Khonshu, a Sgt. Rock (except with Andy Kubert instead of Joe), a Wolverine with "Patch" playing "Mr. Fixit" for a chump, good times. I suppose the best would The Mighty Thor #337-382, which neatly covers the whole saga with Surtur, Beta Ray Bill, Hela, Thor Armor, the Midgard Serpent, and the all the rest. Hot damn. Plus several Thors from the period after that with DeFalco and Frenz. I don't like it as much as their various Spider-related stuff (it's hard for me to take the Mongoose as a serious threat to Thor after all the monsters Simonson had him pummeling), but it's still got some good moments.

Also, the 4-issue Balder the Brave mini-series? Surprisingly good. I know it's Simonson and all, but I didn't really expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Plus I learned Balder could speak to birds, and that's always cool.

So I guess it's a good thing my father's able to buck trends describe in Cosmopolitan, or I might have been horribly deprived.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

It's A Happy, Happy Panda!

Such a good week of comics, after two poor previous weeks, makes for an excited Adorable Baby Panda, so I'll waste no more time introing.

Bonk - Kingpin's Hired Gun. Look, you shot Aunt May, that's totally unacceptable. You've condemned us to an ungodly number of angry Spidey stories, and Adorable Baby Panda is not pleased with that. {Heck, you didn't even have the decency to get hit by that car Peter threw at you.}

Bonk - Kingpin. Don't think that just because you quote Euripides and give your regards to the guard's wife that you're getting off the hook! Oh no, that hit man was your idea, and so Angry Spider-Man is your fault too, and Adorable Baby Panda swears this: You will pay. {You know, ABP is getting kind of scary right now. Good thing I've got. . . ice cream!}

Hug - Aunt May. Poor lady, getting shot is never fun. And she must be getting tired of being put in dire medical condition so Peter can get put through emotional turmoil. {I would like to point out, May's the one who stopped Peter when he was preparing to run away instead of reveal his identity to the press. If she'd just let him flee, she probably wouldn't be shot right now.}

Applause, Bonk - Deadpool. Regained his original size, hoorah! Saved his hated rival, Agent X from the clutches of AIM and their creme-filled pastries? Well, that was awful nice of him. And he gave Bob, the Blogging AIM Agent a set of life experiences he'll never forget. {Like having a tiny man threaten to perforate your jugular with a keycard.} But leering at X's associates, and suggesting sexual favors as payment? For shame! You're supposed to rebuilding your rep by acting more professional!

Applause - Sabretooth. You took out an evil Captain America, that's always good. You managed to defeat your mind-controlled teammates and win without seriously harming any of them. So you know, bravo and all that.

Applause, Hug - Reed Richards. Poor Reed, looks like you're gonna die soon, if not by the hands of your ex, then from Psylocke. On the other hand, you managed to hook up with Elektra, and that's not too shabby.

Applause - Slaymaster. Not because you seem to be the standard "ultra-competent fighter guy", but because you've got the cojones to call yourself Slaymaster. It just sounds so horribly cheesy, yet your Hand Ninja squad wasn't laughing themselves sick behind your back, so congrats.

Applause - Shadowpact. They went to Hell, fought a demon army lead by Etrigan, got Blue Devil's trident back, and ended up with Etrigan as a coat rack. Adorable Baby Panda says that's pretty impressive. {I'm inclined to agree, but I still think it's a mistake to use Etrigan as furniture. Better to throw him in some forgotten hole somewhere. And what happened to jason Blood?}

Bonk - Rictor. Yeah, you were trying to help Rahne, but asking if she's mad because Jamie didn't sleep with her was just insensitive. If you're aware of her feelings for Jamie, then you ought to be smart enough not to say something that dumb.

Applause - Layla Miller. Just for asking the SHIELD guys if they wanted to try her smelly armpits. {Though when I see it typed out there, that sounds pretty creepy. Just for the record, she was talking about renamed ice cream all right?}

So, that's that. Your submissions?

Friday, March 23, 2007

What I Bought 3/23/07

I have returned! There's a lot I could say about my week off, but to keep it quick, the time spent with friends and family was good, the time spent driving from here to there and back again was not. I spent more hours driving today (5) than I did sleeping last night (4), so as you might imagine I'm about to crash. What can I say? Dick Tracy came on Encore, Alex wanted to see if it was as good as he remembered, and I'd never seen it. Pretty good, Pacino is batshit insane though, even by his standards, and they needed to have one person where a plain grey suit, just to stand out amongst the garish colo schemes.
So five books, because I think Ken may have run out of Ms. Marvel. I didn't remember it came out this week until a little while ago, so I can wait to ask him another time. Hmm, that's probably not a good sign for my continued readership. We'll see though. On the odd chance you've ignored all other reviews while breathlessly awaiting my thoughts, there will probably be spoilers.

Amazing Spider-Man #539 - This issue can be summed up thusly with two sentences. Aunt May is shot, and in intensive care. Peter is angry about it. Garney does what I'd consider a pretty good job getting Peter's emotions (none of them pleasant) across through facial expressions. The most common emotion seems to be rage, as Peter's getting down and dirty about finding who did this, willingly inflicting considerable pain on various criminal types. We're talking bone-breaking torture stuff. And therein lies my hang-up with this issue.

I don't like angry Spider-Man. I know, I know, it was called "Back in Black", did I think it was going to be a happy story? No I didn't, it just seems that now that it's here, it bothers me more than when it was just something that was gonna happen some time in the future.

I went through all this in the '90s, when Harry Osborn toyed with Peter by creating fake parents for him, and Peter started calling himself "The Spider". I get why he's doing this, with everything Marvel has seen fit to heap on him in the last year or so (destruction of his home, his death, unmasking, criminal attacks on his loved ones, Cap's surrender and death), throwing Aunt May into near death (For what? the 673rd time?) could quite easily be the point that makes him snap. I understand that, I just wish they wouldn't do it. I don't actually think Peter will kill Kingpin when he finds out Fisk is responsible, but I'm kind of worried he will. Maybe that's what Marvel wants, us hanging on our seat edges, waiting to see if Peter gladly crosses that line.

I guess for what the issue wants to accomplish it pulls it off (questions of how that costume stayed webbed to that building for at least the last couple of years aside), but obviously it's a note I'd prefer they weren't trying to hit, so I'll say 2.6 out of 5.

Cable/Deadpool #38 - So, did Skottie Young draw Scud (skud?): Disposable Assassin? I've only seen images of it in Wizard or on various blogs, but Wade's head looks pretty similar to Skud's (Scud's?) on that cover.

Agent X wants to steal a morphogenic activator from A.I.M, but lo and behold, someone at A.I.M. actually demonstrated competence. I am stunned by this turn of events, as Agent X fails at his mission and is captured. His two associates turn to TinyPool to save X, which he agrees to do out of the kindness of his - oh I can't even attempt to say that with a straight face.

So Ant-Wade inflicts harm on a few AIM guys, including Bob, the Blogging AIM Agent, who may soon rival Karl, Throughly Inept AIM Agent from that Marvel Adventures: Avengers MODOK issue. But even Bob cannot prepare Wade for what had been done to Agent X. The issue wasn't great, X's inner monologues aren't as amusing to me as Deadpool's somehow. Maybe I was just tired. 3.4 out of 5.

Exiles #92 - Wow, Claremont really did a radical personality shift on Morph. He's acting a lot like a small child, rather than a goofy adult jokester type I'd gotten used to. Maybe a merging of Morph's personality with a Kevin McTaggert that was still relatively young? Either way, the Exiles are trying to contend with lots of Hand Ninja, an evil Captain America and brainwashed teammates (ah, a Claremont staple if there ever was one).

Of more pressing concern is that the Exiles mission still appears to be to kill Reed Richards (a good guy) so the bad guys can't escape their dimension. Seems killing the bad guys would be a better option but probably more difficult and messy too. Claremont's still using caption boxes from Psylocke's point of view, though they've been reduced since last issue, presumably since she's more acclimated to the team, we don't need to see her adjustment as much. I don't really have a whole lot else to say right now, so let's just grade it out at a 3.0 out of 5, and leave it at that.

Shadowpact #11 - One of these days, Phantom Stranger is gonna have to do something other than intro how dire things are for the team. At least bring the Enchantress some special coffee or something, man! Who do you think you are, Uatu?

The Destiniedly(?) Damned Duo of Nightshade and Blue Devil have brought their three reservists to Hell, to get Blue's trident away from Etrigan. Acheron and Nightshade handle most of the demonic army Etrigan is leading, leaving Blue Devil free to challenge their leader himself. Quick aside, does a trident seem a bit too nautical of a weapon for a realm of fire like Hell? The team ultimately takes its leave of Hell, but acquire a tagalong, which they have to deal with. Personally, I don't think their solution is particularly wise. Don't poke the rabid dog, people.

Oh, and Jim Rook is still in bad shape. I keep saying, if you want him to get better, take out the damn sword!!! That would probably be a great help on his road to recovery. Still, it was a pretty good issue from where I stand. 4.3 out of 5.

X-Factor #17 - "Near death by stuffed elephant" is how the issue kicks off, which should probably be considered a portent or oddness yet to come. Sure enough, Jamie enters the story shortly afterward having found the stereotypical broken-down, drunken, given-up-on-life detective. Who just so happens to be himself. Drunk Detective Dupe, like Layla Miller, knows stuff. Stuff about Jamie, and about Uber, whatever the hell that is. Things end poorly for dupe guy. Or maybe by his accounting, they end well. Guess we'll never know.

Meanwhile, Rahne and Rictor do something ill-advised. It's done with good intentions, but it's one of those times when it probably would have paid to wait longer before interceeding. Thus, X-Factor finds itself in a mess involving angry, depowered mutants, and the federal government. Hmm, I just realized we didn't see Siryn, Monet, or the soon to be illegal immigrant girl they've got with them. Well, I'm sure they'll pop up at the most inconvenient moment for Madrox. 3.9 out of 5.

Friday, March 16, 2007

I've Called This Press Conference...

To tell you I'm leaving town for a week for Spring Break. Gonna go visit some friends and family. Yeah, I'm boring. But before I left, I wanted to leave you with a little something to while away the hours you'll spend missing me, so here's my proposal.

For some reason, the idea of a superteam calling a press conference to tell the media their plans and goals, as depicted in Shadowpact #9, has had quite a hold on me. Maybe it's a common occurrence in the DC Universe, though I can't recall seeing it, and the only time a Marvel team calls a press conference is when the Avengers announce their new lineup (or when Jamie Madrox says X-Factor opposes the Registration Act).

So what I'm asking you to do, is type up a hypothetical press conference for a superteam. The team can be one that currently exists, has existed (ala the original Champions), or is your dream team that has never been. The press conference can be for any purpose - to announce their existence, their goals, to discuss any recent public problems, recruitment drive, whatever. Those of you with blogs might just want to leave a link in the comments, so that you can more properly go nuts with it at your blogs. But if you just want to leave it as a comment, feel free.

Without further ado, here's my own attempt. {Ed.'s note #1: this wouldn't really make any chronological sense, as it involves the original New Warriors, at a post-Civil War time. Just giving you fair warning.}

Firestar: So, who's going to represent us?

Marvel Boy: Well, Night Thrasher is the team leader, so I guess it should be him.

Night Thrasher: Forget it. This whole thing is a waste of time. We should be out there, fighting crime, let that reestablish us.

Speedball: C'mon, Thrash-man! This is the Media Age! You've got to get your face out there, let people know who you are! But hey, I'll be glad to start this thing off. Attention, members of the media, my name is Speedball...

Nova: Somebody stop him.

Namorita: Give him a shot, buckethead.

Speedball: And these are my totally awesome New Warriors! You may remember us from notable instances of saving the day like that time we fought Terrax to a standstill until the Silver Surfer showed up! Or, the time when Night Thrasher's housekeeper tried to use the Well of the Ancients to take over the world! No? Hey, is this thing on?

Namorita: OK, you can get him away from the mike now.

Nova: My pleasure. Time to go toothpick! [Picks up Speedball, tosses him far away] Anyone else want to give it a shot?

Namorita: How about it, Vance? You've hung out with superheroes before, you must know how these things go.

Marvel Boy: Uh, me? Are you sure?
Firestar: I think you'll do fine. Just stay calm, and don't rush.

Marvel Boy: [Takes deep breath] As Speedball said, we are the New Warriors. I know some of you are probably thinking that several of us died in an incident in Stamford, Connecticut. Well, as you may have noticed, Stamford is perfectly fine now. What happened was, our old enemy the Sphinx utilized the Ka Stone to alter reality. This time, instead of using it to create a world where she is Supreme Ruler, she created a world where an error in strategy on our parts lead to a supervillain killing hundreds of people. Fortunately, Nova was offworld at the time, and so he was unaffected, and when he returned, was able to rally Firestar and myself to help him defeat the Sphinx and erase that event, though the aftereffects have remained for some reason. {Ed.'s note #2: I'm not saying the Warriors made a tactical error in Stamford, but Vance takes this stuff pretty seriously, so he probably would.} So we just wanted to set the record straight on that. Any questions?

Media person #6: Why are the events caused by the Stamford Tragedy still here, if the Stamford Tragedy itself is not?

Marvel Boy: With none of us being experts, we consulted with Nova's Worldmind computer, and...

Media Person #6: Worldmind computer?

Nova: I get my powers from a sentient computer, that's also the hub of all Xandarian knowledge and culture. It's called the Worldmind. Mind not interrupting?

Media Person #6: Don't you threaten me!

Nova: If I was threatening you, you'd already be inju - [Namorita forcefully pushes Nova's helmet down on his head, cutting him off]

Namorita: Shut up, and let someone who can use the English language do the talking!

Marvel Boy: Like I was saying, the Worldmind's assessment was that the Sphinx' skill with the Ka Stone was such that she could somehow erase the instigating event from history, but the ripples from it would remain. Reed Richards is supposed to be looking into it, but we haven't heard back from him yet...

Media Person #1: Nova, why were you in space at this time?

Nova: Well, this bad guy named Annihilus - you may have heard of him, rules the Negative Zone - had brought an entire army into our universe, with the intent to kill every last person. But, with the help of a lot of different people, we stopped him dead in his tracks.

Media Person #1: Follow-up my previous question: Is the Earth at any risk?

Nova: Well, the Annihilation Wave is still out there, and it has itself a pretty good empire now, but they'd have to make it through the Kree first, and their new ruler hates the Annihilation Wave something fierce. So I don't think we've got much toooof! [Speedball bounces back onto the scene - and onto Nova's face]

Speedball: Masked Marvel coming through! All Neanderthals need to duck!

Night Thrasher: Oh, this is going well.

Media Person #2: Namorita, with the revelation that you aren't dead, has this affected your cousin Namor's anti-United States stance any?

Namorita: I haven't had much of an opportunity to talk to him yet, but offhand, no. The fact remains, the U.S. government somehow let a dangerous criminal like Norman Osborn loose, and he shot our diplomat. And not only has Osborn not been jailed, he's now head of the State of Colorado's superteam! Namor's taking that as a show of disrespect towards Atlantis.

Media Person #3: So Atlantis is getting ready to declare war?!

Namorita: When did I ever say that? I said he's not pleased with the current relations, and he's waiting for the United States to give some sign that matters to them. That doesn't mean he's planning on attacking the United States.

Media Person #4: Night Thrasher, your alternate universe self had a reality TV show, any thoughts?

Night Thrasher: It was a mistake. This is supposed to be about stopping criminals, not about ratings and money. If you don't have the money to fund your crimefighting, you find a way to make do. Look at Spider-Man; he was a freelance photographer for most of his career; probably lucky not to be horribly in debt, and he did pretty well. If you're worried about your company, hand the day-to-day operations off to someone who can devote more time to it.

Media Person #5: Speaking of criminals masquerading as "heroes" [actually makes quotation signs in the air], several of you haven't registered, what with your having been dead up until recently, and while Firestar was registered, she supposedly retired. So what is the ultimate purpose of this press conference? Are you going to obey the law, or are you planning to defy the United States government?

Firestar: First off, I retired because I was depressed over the loss of my friends and because at the time, my schoolwork didn't leave me enough time to be an on-call agent of SHIELD non-stop. Secondly, I came out of retirement because I saw the opportunity to do some good, and help my friends. As to what we're planning to do now, Nova said he could use some help making outer space safe, and so we've decided to work towards that. I've finished my schoolwork, and this is a chance to do some good on a universal scale. What's more important than that? {Ed.'s note #3: Yes, I'm having them leave the Earth. Yeah, it's possibly a cop-out, but you've got to admit, they're safer from Quesada there than on Earth}

Nova: You tell him Red!

Marvel Boy: Besides all that, people still regard the name "New Warriors" as something bad. When Speedball announced it, I saw several of you wince. Even though the event that made it that way no longer happened, it's still being treated as if it was. That isn't the case offworld, and as Firestar said, it's a chance to do good on a much larger scale.

Night Thrasher: I think that covers everything. Can we go now?

{Ed.'s note #4: Wow, that spun out of control. But if there's one thing you can count on with me, it's that if I incorporate time travel or reality altering into the mix, I'll be curiously selective about what stays and what goes. So I guess I'm like Marvel that way. Or maybe selectivity is more a DC thing? Either way, this is what happens when I don't sit down and try to plan something like this out a little more. But it seemed fitting. The Warriors have fought major threats before (Terrax), gone into space before (#5-6 of their first series for example), and Vance's future self was the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy (wonder if that's still in continuity?) Plus I thought the team would tear apart arguing over the Registration thing (Vance and Thrasher probably pro, I'm thinking Nita and Speedball, remembering what his pro-reg self wound up like, being anti). And since this was supposed to be about getting the band back together, I neatly sidestepped it, just like I did the whole Penance thing (after all, the media wouldn't know Speedball and Penance were the same person).}

Hopefully, the dialogue gives the characters different voices. I'm glad I gave Firestar that outburst at the end (even though I think I bolloxed her reasons for retiring). Up until then, she hadn't said anything because originally she was frequently quiet, and so I figured she'd stay that way during a big press conference (there were more than 6 media people, just so you know).

Anyway, I'm sure you can do better than that, and I expect to see proof of it when I return, probably next Friday. Or maybe Saturday! See you then.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I'll Bonk You On The Head...

If you don't respect what ABP said. OK, technically, ABP hasn't said anything to you yet, but I'm just laying the ground rules early. Not that there will be much to respect today, ABP doesn't have much to work with, but we'll make do.

Applause, Hug - Heather. I think a hug is the least she needs after being taken hostage by Hobgoblin, and she was nice enough to dress up as Spider-Girl to help her boyfriend's comic premiere, and that kind of commitment to a relationship is highly respected by pandas. {I can't stress enough how cool I thought it was that she would do that for him. It really was a good of her.}

Bonk - Jimmy Yama. Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy, what were you thinking? Even if you didn't know that Spider-Girl was back in action, surely you were aware of her many arch-foes? Surely, it must have occurred to you that one of them might decide to crash an event celebrating the Wonderous Webslinger? {Should we just change the guy's last name to "Olsen"?}

Applause, Bonk - Black Tarantula. Awww, you sent some people to help Spider-Girl stop the Hobgoblin, how sweet. Oh, they used guns. Well, Spider-Girl doesn't really approve of shooting people, you know. And you were mostly trying to send Hobgoblin a message about who runs the criminal empire in this town? Hmmm. {Black Tarantula creeps me out almost as much as Gene Thompson. May needs to find some normal guys to hang out with.}

Hug - Peter Parker. Finally learned May donned the webs again, huh? Always the last to find out. And May turned the whole "with power comes responsibility" thing around on you as a reason for her to continue. Man, it's hell watching your kids grow up.

Well, ABP didn't get to hug many people this week, but you can help with that, can't you?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What I Bought 3/14/07

Isn't that just the luck? Only one comic this week, but then I've got at least six (probably seven) coming next week. The joke is that I'll be out of town next Wednesday, and won't get said comics until Friday. Don't worry, I've got a reasonably clever post planned to tide you over for the week, but you'll have to wait until Friday to see it.

Now that that's settled, let's take a look at that one comic, shall we?

Amazing Spider-Girl #6 - And so the first arc comes to a close. I think DeFalco probably would have been better served speeding this arc up, in terms of holding new readers anyway. But seeing as I'm not a new reader, that doesn't really affect me. Just wanted to throw it out there.

So we find Mayday Parker with a bit of a dilemma. She got the much coveted disc of the Kingpin's, but she can't crack it. In the meantime, Hobgoblin wants that disc, and not being an idiot, knows just how to draw Spider-Girl out. Not surprisingly, it involves the premiere of Jimmy and Wes' Spider-Girl comic, with special appearence by Spider-Girl (not really)! Let me just say, Jimmy Yama has himself a heck of a girlfriend, and move on. As it is, the Hobgoblin/True Spider-Girl showdown gets cut short, as Black Tarantula's somewhat disturbing interest in May leads to her receiving some assistance again. I like that it delays Mayday's inevitable one-on-one battle royale with Hobby for farther down the road, and seeing as she still seems a little scared of him, I think that's a nice development. Besides, it reminds us that Hobgoblin takes the larger, more Kingpin-like, view now. It's not just about killing an enemy.

In other news, Davida wants an explanation for why May put her in the student council election so abruptly, which seems fairly reasonable. Oh, and Pete finally learns May's donned the webs again (slow on the uptake isn't he?). He reacts about how you would expect an overprotective father to act. It's pretty much a typical Spider-Girl arc: a few things wrap up, and a lot of things evolve (Detective Drasco's inner struggle being a key one, the overt action against Hobgoblin by Black Tarantula being another). It was a fairly decent ending. 3.7 out of 5.
Oh, and Ron Frenz' artwork still looks a lot different from the previous Spider-Girl run. It's giving me that Romita Senior vibe, though I haven't seen enough of JR Sr. art to know why.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I Won't Be Left Behind This Time!

So Chris Sims restarted that classic meme of yesteryear, and damn it, I'm going to get in on it this time around! I didn't have a clue how to do it last year, and it's probably fairly evident i still don't, but what the hell, this'll drive me nuts otherwise.

So, with that in mind, here's my submission, done to the best of my abilities in Paint (as I lack fancy Photoshop programs like the rest of you). In a move that may surprise you, this one's based on Rurouni Kenshin rather than anything Marvel or DC related. Which means even fewer of my readers will understand what I'm talking about than usual. Sigh. Nonetheless, I press forward, and thus beseech you to Always Remember...

Also considered: "Saito Hajime Loves His Smokes", "Saito Hajime Does Not Give A Damn About Your Lungs", "Saito Hajime Does Not Care For Your 'No Smoking' Policy", and "Saito Hajime Will Cut You In Half And Enjoy A Smoke While You Finish Dying".

Clearly, my imagination vastly outstrips my computer skills.

For the record, Saito will actually use a human to stub out his cigs, so I'm not just goofing around there. So yeah, this is my contribution to the cause. Go me.

Monday, March 12, 2007

When Perception Battles Reality

Just over a year ago, I proposed DC have a "Beat up Dr. Light Month", where every title DC released that month would involve Evil Dr. Light being pummeled, as we find out that his apparent badassedry was just a ruse played by the heroes to make him feel better about himself.

Thus far, DC hasn't taken the bait, though I haven't seen him around much since One Year Later began either. However, I think Marvel may have been paying attention, because it certainly looks like they've instituted a "Beat up Iron Man" campaign. She-Hulk, Nova, the Hulk, I could swear I saw pages of Spidey duking it out with Iron Man in somebody's Wizard Magazine. But this has me wondering about something.

See, as far as I can tell, Quesada, Millar and the rest are dead serious when they say that Tony Stark was right, and thus the "right" side won the conflict. I don't agree with that assessment, but that's not the point. The Powers That Be at Marvel say Iron Man was right, and he's certainly doing the life-saving hero thing in his own book, so let's take them at their word for a moment. What I'm left wondering is, how are they going to play out these conflicts between Stark and these other heroes that are mad at him?

Are the others going to be portrayed as folks who just don't get it? They can't see the unpleasant alternatives like Tony, so they can't grasp how important it was for him to do all the things that he did? In which case, even though they may feel wronged by Iron Man, and may have, in fact, been wronged by him, they're wrong to get attack him, because he did what was best. (Of course, as the Shroud reminded Warbird, what's "best" isn't always what's "right", but let's set that aside for now.)

Or, are the characters going to be portrayed as people giving Iron Man what he deserves, while Iron Man comes off as someone largely unsympathetic to their complaints (a common thing during the recent difficulties), which would tend to place him as the villain? Then, Tony has been pushing people around, and really screwed things up, and now has to face the consequences of his actions.

In the second scenario, the reader would be clearly meant to side with the person fighting Iron Man, because he's done things that were unnecessary and hurtful. It's the same principle behind my "Beat up Dr. Light Month", because who's going to root for Dr. Light? He's the bad guy! Go {Insert Hero Name Here}!

The first situation is a little trickier. There, Stark did the right thing, and did it the cleanest way he could (In theory; in practice maybe not. I have a hard time buying that the thing with Osborn and the Atlanteans was necessary), but still hurt these people, and so it could be argued that at some point you have to accept the bad with the good. You're Director of SHIELD, been setting this whole thing up from the start? Great, then the buck stops with you. But that still doesn't make him a bad guy; just a person who made tough choices that, as tough choices tend to do, hurt other people.

I suppose it largely comes down to how the creative team portrays him. If he comes across as someone who hurts from the decisions he made, and regrets others' suffering, it'd be the first one. If he comes off as the know-it-all, condescending jerk he was often portrayed as during that big crossover I won't name, then it's going to be pretty apparent we're meant to root for some comeuppance to be directed in Shellhead's direction.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Everything Going According To Plan

So Sallyp noted in the comments of yesterday's post that Dr. Doom must be getting kind of depressed, what with Tony Stark's gradually conquering of the world and all. But I figure Doom's doing fine. In fact, I bet he's got his fingers in this whole thing. Sure, with Iron Man involved, you'd figure it'd be the Mandarin mucking things up, but given Stark's current Machine God status, that tech angle is a little more up Doom's alley. And heck, Doom's stolen the power of cosmic beings (Silver Surfer, Beyonder, Watchers) I'm sure he used that power to perceive the future at least once. Even if he didn't, the man has time travel capabilities, so either way, he's seen this opportunity coming a long way off. And being Dr. Doom, he'll naturally take advantage (And why not? Doom is after all, the most qualified to lead the world. Not his fault the world can't recognize it.)

So I figure Victor's manipulating Tony. He's hacked into Stark's head (or however it works with Tony's current state), and is the reason why Stark has recently turned into Female Ultron Thing. This gets the Mighty Avengers all worried about Ultron, who's reappearance sends Hank Pym into another tailspin of guilt-driven depression (Which just causes him to go back into his lab, no violent outbursts). Meanwhile, Doom's been utilizing Stark's gifts to gather any information he feels might be useful, while using Tony's position to weaken SHIELD (the removal of the officer's mess and the dry dock daycare center are only the beginning), and get several nations annoyed at the U.S.

The growing acrimony between the U.S. and other nations leaves the citizens feeling unsafe, which is when Doom pops up, telling everyone that you can't trust a government with a superhuman army, because the supers are still human, and prone to making errors in judgment. Now if you really want to feel safe, Doom will point out that his country has no crime, and it maintains this with nice, trustworthy robots, and so wouldn't the U.S. be better off with Dr. Doom looking after him? The people of Marvel Universe, being less than terribly bright, enthusiastically agree, only to realize later that might not have been such a good idea.

Sadly, by that point, all the registered heroes are either dead or incarcerated, leaving it up to the New Avengers, who've been spending this entire time in Japan fighting ninjas to free the same citizens who wanted them locked away. Why? Because they're heroes, that's why! Of course, the team is lacking a little something, but that's why you've got Dr. Strange, as he resurrects Captain America (hey, if a novice like Willow can bring back Buffy, Strange ought to be able to pull it off in his sleep), who leads his team to victory, drives Doom back to Latveria, and reestablishes the U.S. as it was, including letting the people decide whether they want to still have the Superhuman Registration Act. The people naturally, realize that maybe it wasn't such a good idea, and repeal the Act, and it's happy sunny days in the Marvel Universe!

Until the Hulk shows up...

Man, that reads like poorly thought out fan fiction, which I suppose it is. I only spent like 15 minutes planning this post, what do you want? Besides, in reality, the story will be written by good writers like... crud, who would Marvel trust with this that could actually do it well (and on time)?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Volcano Came To New York City

So why didn't the law enforcement in the Marvel Universe keep using the Vault for super-villain storage? Why switch to the Raft?

I mean, think about it. The Vault was off in the Colorado wilderness; the Raft sits on the shores of New York City. Sure, 90% of the superheroes are in the Big Apple, and since Marvel supervillains these days only concern themselves with elaborate revenge schemes it makes sense for the criminals to be close by. But then you get prison breaks (on Fox!) and super battles, and property damage and then....

Well, you know.

The way I see it, there are three possible explanations for deciding to stop using a super-prison in Colorado, in favor of one in the NYC:

1) Since most supervillains get captured in New York City, it cuts down on transportation costs, and given the frequent expense incurred rebuilding the city, you have to pinch pennies where you can.

2) Environmental lobbyists complained that the supervillains were destroying too much pristine mountain forest during their escapes from the Vault. Seeing as how New York City is already a festering cesspool, what does it matter if it gets trashed? Colorado is important habitat for bears and mountain goats and various woodpeckers, and must be kept safe from Mr. Hyde.

3) Supervillains complained that upon escaping from the Vault, they had to travel too far to reach an urban area suitable for a crime spree/revenge-based rampage. It was inhumane, especially with the thin mountain air, to keep them out there. Besides, the mountains messed up the reception on the satellite transmission receivers in their inner ear. How is one Brother Grimm supposed to tell the other not to break him out before 3 p.m. (because that's pudding time), if the mountains block transmission? I mean, really!

For the record, I'm sure there was an actual reason why the Vault got closed down and the Raft opened (actually, since we're talking about Marvel, I'm not certain of that at all) this just seemed more fun.

Any suggestions from the front rows? {Psst! That means you, loyal reader!}

Friday, March 09, 2007

Cute, Cute, Cute, Yadda, Yadda

Poor Adorable Baby Panda. Only one book fit for baby pandas to read. Unfortunately, denying ABP any looks at The Punisher only increases ABP's demands to see it, so I'll need to pick a particularly graphic issue to scare ABP off it. Ah well, that's a concern for the future, this is the now!

Bonk - Peter Parker. If you're going to break up with Shadowcat, then you might at least have the decency to let her know about it!
Applause - Jonah Jameson. He looked genuinely concerned for Aunt May's health. He took her condintion into account, and cut that tardy slacker Parker a break, giving him more hours and a raise. {And he didn't rescind all of it when Peter almost accidentally called him an expletive.}

Hug - Kitty Pryde. Well, it seems as though last issue's hug wasn't enough. Kitty still seems sad and hurt, and ABP fears that her apparent attempt to get closer to Peter by enrolling at Midtown High will only make it hurt worse when Peter actually gets around to dumping her and trotting back to MJ. {For the record, ABP bears no animosity towards Mary Jane. This is all on Peter, who needs to take initiative. Sitting back and letting stuff come to you is how you wind up running into five clones of yourself.}

So, that's pretty much it. ABP did want to suggest to to the Fantastic Four that they not dismiss MJ's hallucinations so quickly, but this is a young FF, they haven't yet learned the dangers in overlooking anything.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I Hate Morning People

Even though I frequently do most of my work in the mornings. I'm not fully awake then, I'm grumpy about being even partially awake, so I might as well get all the crappy stuff done, so I can have fun when I actually wake up, right? Too bad my class schedule didn't cooperate this semester (damn 5-8 p.m. history class). But that's only tangential to what I want to throw out here today.

I woke up one morning a couple weeks back, and noticed my hair was kinda all over the place. That's pretty typical for me, with my "pat it down with your hand and jam a ballcap over it" philosophy, but I started wondering, how long does it take Wonder Woman to get ready in the morning? We saw her a few weeks back in 52, chilling in Nanda Parabat (or some town near it) and she looked about as usual, which I thought was odd. She's globe-trotting, and I imagine trying to keep a low profile as she goes along, so regular access to cleaning and hair-care products might be a bit restricted. So I'm guessing she's just one of those lucky ducks that wakes up looking fabulous every morning. Mostly because she doesn't strike me as someone who would be hugely concerned with personal appearance, preferring to worry about more important things, like fostering peace between nations and punching Despero and all that. Or maybe it is important to her, because she thinks it's important to look professional, and not like a slob, so people will pay attention to her.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What I Bought 3/7/07

Consider this your bastion of safety from all the hoo-ha about that character that everyone is talking about (if you require such a haven). I only bought two books, and neither is related to the major event that just recently redefined the 616 Marvel Universe.

The Punisher #45 - The main action in this month's installment involves... Frank Castle killing mob guys. {Silence}

OK, yeah that's pretty much every issue (except when he's killing former Soviet generals and their mercs), but what we find out, through a series of flashbacks, is that he's been set up. Not by the fellows he's exterminating, oh no. This wasn't some "Use ourselves as bait and trap the Punisher" scheme. It's more of a "Use these mob chumps as bait, place a hook amongst them, and if the chumps can't kill the Punisher, our hook will make it possible for us to do it" type thing. Clever widows, I got to say. The hook even mentioned slavers from the Balkans, just to get Frank's blood up (his mob killing this issue was fairly controlled. I mean, he uses an M-16 with grenade launcher, but there's no torturing).

There really isn't much else to say. That one lady is still watching the widows, but has yet to make a move, and next issue should be pretty interesting. This one was kind of slow though, which I know isn't unusual for Garth Ennis Punisher arcs, but still I'm gonna say 2.5 out of 5.

Ultimate Spider-Man #106 - Mark Bagley's last arc, right? Better enjoy the hell out of this, I suppose. Peter has decided he and MJ are back "on", thus he and Kitty are "off". Being a guy, Peter's delaying the whole "telling the girl I'm breaking up with her" stuff. Bad, Peter, bad. Adorable Baby Panda will hear of this.

Meanwhile, the Kingpin plans to use liscensing to ruin Spider-Man's image. Crap, I hate economics. And Reed Richards wants to do follow-up on MJ. Good man, Reed, checking up on patients is very honorable. Hey, you know how we haven't seen Peter at the Daily Bugle in a while (I think the two-part Morbius story)? Well, as any of you with a job might know, there's gonna be hell to pay for that. What's Peter to do? Answer: lie like a dog.

Also, people in costumes are trying to get close to the Kingpin. Oh, and yet another person has deduced Peter Parker is Spider-Man. That makes the total number of people in the Ultimate Universe with that information somewhere around... hmm, I think it may be an even 700. Anyway, it was an OK issue, nothing special by itself, but I do like these street level heroes, so I want to see where this goes. it should be a little more old-school, basic superheroing, to contrast with the batshit insanity of Ultimate Clone Saga. Balance is important after all. Or is it? What do you think? 3.2 out of 5.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Permanence Valued

We're going back, yet again, to Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus #1. Today I wanted to think about why Stardust is so devoted to Galactus. Stardust makes it pretty clear that it has no use for the the constantly changing lives of the Ethereals, that it admires the Corporeals, because they build, and change their surroundings, and they (and their creations) persevere long beyond the limits of their own lifespans. Given that, its loyalty to Galactus - who routinely destroys the Corporeals and the things they build - was puzzling to me on the surface. Of course, Stardust admits at the end that the admiration for corporeals was bull, and that Galactus is the only being that Stardust loves. The important question, as friend Tevion almost constantly has to remind his biology students, is why?

But then I realized this morning, that Galactus is a greater example of this resilience. He survived the previous universe. He's one of the few forces that can routinely end the existences of the hardy Corporeals. His is a name and legacy known throughout the entire universe, which is a monument in of itself. Stardust is enabling that legacy to not just continue (since Galactus has demonstrated the ability to find food himself before), but thrive (by making that easier).

And then I realized (about two minutes ago), that Galactus is perhaps a prime example of the merging of these two worlds. He was originally a Corporeal, and has their resilience and permanence, but is in some senses an Ethereal. Stardust describes its people as flitting from place to place, aimlessly. What does Galactus do, but travel the cosmos looking for food? That's it, that's all. There never seems to be a greater purpose to his travels, nothing planned to do along the way. A true nomad. So maybe there's something to that.

Or maybe it's something else entirely.

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Study In Contrasts

I'm going back to Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus #1 for today, because of something that occurred to me after I made Saturday's post. What I thought of was that maybe there was more to which heralds were spotlighted this issue than simply random chance, luck, or whatever. Terrax and Stardust are very different beings, and yet very similar.

Terrax controls earth, is made out of it, or looks like he is. Solid, strong, changing only over long periods of time, as a result of a slow grind of external forces (think of the Grand Canyon being carved from the rocks over millions of years by water). Stardust is energy, and seems to control it. Ephemeral, shifting often, easily malleable into different forms, depending on the forces acting on it in that moment.

Terrax is possibly the worst Herald Galactus ever had. He accepted the power, and the job that came with it, but quickly proceeded to lead Galactus to a world that would poison him. The reason being that Terrax wanted to use the Power Cosmic as he saw fit, no "heralding" strings attached.

In contrast, Stardust may be the most loyal Herald. Silver Surfer and Nova both seemed to have a "crisis of conscience" moment, making them question feeding Galactus inhabited worlds. Firelord and Air-Walker both had issues, though I can't remember what exactly. I think Firelord just didn't like taking orders. Morg was devoted, but too batshit insane to do his job without bringing heat down on Galactus. And if there's one thing Galactus enjoys, it's feeding without disturbance. Terrax I've already disccused. But Stardust, if guilty of occasionally going too far - the Stormbreaker mini-series, where Stardust decided no one should be allowed to survive Galactus devouring their world being an example - seems deeply devoted to the responsibilities that come with the Power Cosmic. Make sure Galactus stays fed? No problem! Only inhabited worlds around? Too bad for them, Galactus must survive, and so on.

So basically, Stardust cares only for Galactus' needs, and Terrax only for his own. But where their personalities converge is in the lines they'll cross in their pursuit of what's important to them. Stardust wants to serve Galactus (why, I need to think more about), and to that end is willing to first attack its own kind (for barring the path), and then sacrifice those same members of its species to Galactus, to prove loyalty and devotion to the Devourer. Never mind that those were the last surviving members of the Ethereals other than Stardust, Galactus must... be... fed.
With Terrax, it's a case of his confidence being gone. He was captured by Annihilus, turned into a puppet, and actually begged Gamora to end his life at one point. He needs to restore his self-worth, and to do that he's going to inflict some damage on whoever makes themselves available. If it means attacking those who try to help him, or show concern, so be it. If it means destroying an entire planet, because the natives don't know how to live without someone telling them what to do, well that's what he'll do. Because the important thing is that people understand that Terrax is back in control, and he is to be feared.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Iron Man Movie Review

Yeah, I watched the Invincible Iron Man animated movie last night. I was bored, full of shrimp, and in no mood to do anything else. So what should I say about it?

Well, a masterpiece it wasn't. I thought it was kind of odd that he'd been making armors before the time where the movie starts from, so that the one he makes to escape his captors is just the best facsimile he could cobble together. I guess they wanted to explain why he would decide powered armor was the best way to escape.

I like James Rhodes. He's smart, and a loyal friend to Tony. By "loyal" I mean that he likes Tony too much not to tell him when he thinks Tony's been a jerk. Yes, Tony Stark takes people for granted to a certain extent in the movie, but he recognizes that, and tries to patch things up. Which is why it makes sense when those same friends risk incarceration for him later on. This also applies to his administrative assistant, Pepper. Cares about him, but isn't easy on him (though she's less direct about it than Rhodey is).

The father/son conflict between Howard and Tony seemed kind of unnecessary, but not something that ruins watching it.

The fight with the dragon was pretty good. Tony actually used his brains to win, that's nice to see.

The sequence with the Mandarin was a little short, yet also a little too drawn out. Contradictory, I know, but I guess I expected Stark to clevrly outwit his extremely powerful opponent, not... do what he ended up doing.

The graphics were, um, less than awesome. Things looked warped at times, or kind of, I don't know, clunky seems like the best description. Character movement just didn't seem smooth in the action scenes is what I'm going for.

And finally, watching Tony smash, blast and otherwise destroy hundreds of reanimated clay soldiers put me in the mood to bust Marvel: Ultimate Alliance out again. So if you'll excuse me, I've got some Mandarin pummeling to get to.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Here Today, Gone Five Seconds Later

So I was fairly intrigued by the Stardust story in Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus #1 this week. The idea of a civilization made, not just of energy, but of the elementary particles remaining from the beginning of the universe was pretty cool, I thought. I'm not usually into what I'd describe as "non-objective art" (whether that's what it actually is, is another matter), but the second panel of the second page of the story is really beautiful. It makes me think of mesas in the American Southwest, only alive.

But I've been thinking about whether a civilization would spring up under the circumstances Stardust described, where everything they create reverts to what is described as 'dull, inert matter.' If things are in a constant state of flux, could a cohesive organization form? Stardust admits that its people (No clue if they have genders) were constantly changing, and if Stardust is any indication, they were as mercurial in temperment as they were in form. Stardust shifts from confused upon reforming, to focused on finding Galactus, to stunned when told of the Ethereals destruction, to violent when attacked by its kin, to regretful in the aftermath, to willing to sacrifice its species to Galactus, all in one story. The others don't seem quite that erratic, but they do go from angry at Stardust to grateful for survival within about three pages. So I'm just wondering whether organisms like that could form a civilization. I suppose they could be constantly organizing, then dissolving the next instant, then coming back together the moment after that.

Maybe it's just too alien of a concept for me to wrap my head around. I understand that in terms of geologic time, the monuments and art humans create are gone like that, but to us, compared to our singular lifespans, they seem to last forever. Could we build and organize if everything we did fell apart as soon as we finished? I doubt it. Maybe the difference (Besides the obvious that Stardust and its kind are fictional characters. Unless some exist in our universe somewhere) is that the Ethereals can merge, and maintain ties in that manner. That deeper connection promotes a group mentality that wouldn't otherwise be sustained.

I think the simplest answer is that if beings like this did/do exist, what they define as "civilization" wouldn't be anything we would recognize. Stuart Moore describes the situation to the best of his abilities, and does it well, but I think a lot of times we're hampered by what we know, and so any fictional civilization is going to in some way mirror the definition we have for that term. I mean, if it is a civilization, but one unlike anything we've ever seen or heard of, then how would we know it when we saw it? The writer doesn't want to lose the reader right off the bat, so he describes it in terms that are different (owing to the Ethereals different lifestyle), but also similar (because monuments and art are the things we'd associate with civilization). And I think that what it does is convey just how different Stardust's people are from the Skrulls, Kree, Earthlings, etc., and gives Stardust an unusual perspective on the whole thing.

Hopefully that makes some sense.

Friday, March 02, 2007

They Hug, And Bonk, And Hug Some More

Adorable Baby Panda is doing better this week. The bump on the noggin from last week is all better, and hopefully, ABP's disposition has improved along with it. Be aware that there will certainly be spoilers involved.

Applause - Tony Stark. ABP had heard a rumor that Stark saved innocent lives in this week's Iron Man. I confirmed this, so ABP felt that Tony deserved a round of applause. {For the record, I opted not to show ABP Civil War: Frontline #11, where Tony's little swath of destruction was laid out. It would be too depressing, you know?}
Bonk - Terrax. Destroying an entire planet just because the people disgust you is not cool! {Damned impressive, though.}

Applause, Bonk - Stardust. Awww, you preserved the lives of the last of your species. Wait, did you just feed the last of your kind to Galactus to get your old job back?! Booooo! {Stardust is very mercurial, isn'}

Applause - Dr. Strange. Saved friend's life. Beat stuffing out of guy that was trying to stop him, barehanded. {ABP wants to learn how to fight from Wong.} Got the best lines. Got the girl. You go Sorcerer Supreme!

Hugs - Wong. For not dying. And for teaching Dr. Strange to kick butt. Pandas appreciate hand-to-hand combat skill, and especially those that would willing pass the knowledge on.

Applause - Night Nurse. Looks like this is the one time the shadowy corporate officials won't be getting away clean. {I'm left wondering whether taking out a major pharmecutical company - assuming that fax will do that - will cause everyone's medicinal costs to rise, what with less competition and all.} And, you've got a new place to treat injured heroes. {Probably just the unregistered ones though.}

Hug, Bonk - Sage. Everyone else was being nice, trying to stay positive, and mostly supportive. But, Nocturne needed a good kick in the rear, so as to not lose all hope, and Sage delivered that. Plus, you let Nocturne dress up your body how she likes to look. {That was pretty nice, given that Sage could apparently kick Noctunre out whenever she pleased.} Still, you were kind of mean to a person who was feeling sad. {Clearly, ABP is torn on this one.}

Hug - John Madrox. You've done a fine job making a life for yourself, and now you get to keep it. That's good, since you know what it's like to grow up with no father. {Well, no parents really, but even losing one parent could have really stunted young Daniel's growth.}

Applause - Jamie Madrox. ABP knows you were a little shook after the HYDRA incident, what with suffocating all those agents, and not really caring much. Getting another piece of yourself back must have seemed like the best way to correct that. But instead you thought of others first, and that was sweet of you.

Applause, Bonk - Monet. Look, saving the orphaned ex-mutant child was good. The crucifying of a bigoted murderer, well, that would have been more acceptable if done someplace other than a police station. {What? Pandas are like the ninja. They strike silently, from the shados, leaving only unexplained corpses behind.} But breaking out of jail, fleeing the police, then feeling the country with a child who likely doesn't have her passport? Tsk, tsk. {I have to think that SHIELD is going to get a message about two superhumans escaping a French jail and fleeing to America. What then Monet? You gonna beat up Iron Man? Well, you'll have to wait your turn. There's a pretty long line for that, but it's cool. Tony knew that would happen all along.}

So what do you have for an Adorable Baby Panda to hug, applaud or bonk?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Drains Must Be Hell To Clean

Quick thought today. Who sheds more at the X-Mansion/Reservation, Wolverine or Beast?

Or is it Archangel's feathers (I really miss those metal wings. They were so kewl)?

Nightcrawler's furry isn't he? If he is, it's thinner fur, probably smaller hairs, which is harder to get out of the carpet.

I wonder if that rock guy in the current New X-Men book sheds rocks sometimes? That wouldn't be too bad, just need a broom and dustpan. Or maybe a shovel.