Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What I Bought 10/31/07

OK, this? Hilarious, to me anyway. I assume Kitna cleared this with Cullen first. And if not, well really, if you don't want people to make fun of you for going through the drive-thru while naked, here's an idea: DON'T GO THROUGH THE DRIVE-THRU NAKED!!!!!! That'd stop the whole thing before it starts. The annoying part was reading the comments in the Drew Sharpe article, where you see people demanding Kitna not only apologize to Cullen, and the city of Detroit, but also to the Christians that have supported him (since Kitna has been very open about his Christian faith, which interestingly, he discovered to keep his wife from leaving him after she caught him cheating on her back in his Seattle days.) Sigh. People are just too damn uptight these days, you know?

As you might have guessed, I started with that because I have no amusing comic-related intro, what with the grand total of one comic this week. So we should get started I suppose, with the usual spooky spoiler warnings.

Annihilation: Conquest - Quasar #4 - That's a nice cover, you know? It's got some energy, though it almost looks like Phyla's trying to drive us away. What's interesting is how when I look at the cover, I start at her face, drift to her sword, then up Moondragon's neck, to the head, and then back down to Phyla's other wrist band. It's like a big semicircle of focus. Well, we know who the "savior" is now, and for those who were hoping for Warlock (of New Mutants fame), or perhaps the Greatest of All SpaceKnights, you're bound to be disappointed. I wasn't rooting for any character, but I was not pleased to see this one.

Anyway, Phyla rallies her confidence and faces down the Super-Adaptoid, and takes a page from Roger Stern's Avengers to defeat her computerized foe. I think it was Stern's run, it was in the 270s. I find it odd the Phalanx can create a subroutine to counter fear, but not to overcome this particular weakness of the Adaptoid's design, but whatever. Near the end, the book dovetails nicely with Wraith from last week, which is good. Demonstrates communication between the various writers, which is always a plus.

Two quick things about Lilly's art this issue. One, the first panel of page 2, as Phyla kneels to pick up her sword, the look on her face is so defeated, it's almost painful, especially combined with the hood shielding her, and the rain. I can feel the despair. Two, Lilly really likes to have diagonal panels, especially during fight scenes. I've been noticing that throughout the mini-series. I'm not certain what it represents, because he's clearly cool with using more level panels, but every so often he just has a few consecutive pages with the panels tilted. Little disappointing as far as the big reveal goes, so only 3 out of 5.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Must Escape From My Escape From Reality

It's times like these, when New England is dominating the sports world, that I wish I had some sports games around. It's always handy, when you're tired of Bill Belichick's "Fuck you"s to the rest of the NFL, to be able to put in a football game and stomp the crap out of the Patriots (Would someone please offer up their firstborn as a sacrifice to appease Belichick? This is getting ridiculous.)

The problem for me with sports games was twofold: One, after I've won the championship, I have a hard time finding motivation to play the game again, and two, I find that the games are just getting too damn complex. With sports games, I just like to keep the controls simple, but with all the weird stuff they do for swing meters, or for velocity + movement meters for pitching, or free throw shooting, or the passing cone on Madden, it's just a bit much.

But on my N64, I had some games I very much enjoyed. Not too simple, not too hard. In Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr., you could drop all the players into a pool, then hold a draft. With that, I managed to win a World Series on lots of hit-and-runs, stolen bases, and bunting. That's because I took either players I liked, or players with lots of speed, which meant lots of no-names (an outfield of Willie McGee, Tim Raines, and Quinton McCracken). The biggest power-hitter on the team was Paul Molitor at first base, and the game gave him a 4 out of 10 for power. The upside to having that sort of team was the game got harder as the season progressed. I'd start out winning 23-1, and by the end of the season I was struggling to score 3 runs a game. All those line drives that dropped early in the season were being caught now. So it was good that I'd spent the beginning of the season practicing moving runners over and scrounging for every run (even when I was up 20 runs. If Belichick can do it, so can I.), because then you know what to do when you actually do need a run. The one thing that disappointed me was I got my #1 starter, Bob Tewksbury, within two outs of going the entire regular season without giving up a run, only to watch the computer somehow pull a ball hit off the end of the bat over the fence for a solo home run. Cheating bastard computer, ruining my moment.

You know, I never actually got much enjoyment from playing NBA Courtside. It wasn't a bad game, but it was too easy when you played it because the computer's offense revolved solely around throwing the ball in to a big guy and letting him take a shot, even if the big guy was say, Chris Dudley. Of course my offense was all about letting the little guys do all the work, but at least I spread it around, and attacked inside and outside. With the computer, all I had to do was just keep swiping at the big guy until I took the ball (or got called for a foul). Pretty easy to stymie their offense. The real fun in the game for me was modifying the rosters, usually taking away each teams two best players, then simulating the season to see which players the computer would have step up. I wasted so many hours screwing around with rosters. Yet I care nothing for fantasy sports. Go figure.

And then there was Madden 99. probably the only place where the Arizona Cardinals could win back-to-back Super Bowls. Hmm, if that happened in real life, I wonder if I would become an insufferable fan? I sure hope not. This game is probably the quintessential example of my attitude towards sports games. I put it on Franchise mode, play every game for two years, win almost all of them, and two championships. Then I got bored with playing games, and basically just handled general manager duties, which was probably the downfall of the team. Without my guiding hand, the team fell to pieces, even though I got better players on the team than there were when I started. Which is quintessential Arizona Cardinals football, I suppose, not playing to the level of their apparent talent. I did come out of coaching retirement for one game, when the team managed to make the Super Bowl, and I stepped in to make sure they closed the deal.

Then the team fell back into mediocrity, and part way through my 15th season I got fired. Sure, my overall record was under .500, but three Super Bowls man! What the heck?! WHere's the gratitude?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Taking The Long Way Around

I was thinking about Nova #7, which came out two weeks ago, and how the title's tie-in with Annihilation: Conquest ended by essentially tossing Nova out of play for the primary Annihilation: Conquest mini-series itself. It seemed like it was four issues that really didn't need to happen.

That isn't to say there wasn't good stuff in those four issues, or that it wasn't important. Rich knows the Phalanx are a threat, and his need to organize a resistance is going to drive him for some time. He's got the guilt of Ko-Rel's death hanging over him, though I wish she'd survived to join up with Quasar or Wraith later on, even if Rich wound up out of the loop as he did (or Rich sends her out for reinforcements while he stays to fight). Rich has to start rebuilding the Corps at some point, why not then? He's partially Phalanx-infected, he's lost, Gamora and Drax are on his tail, which means the Phalanx can start infecting life in this new place as well, and he's at 17% power. Plus, there was the glory of the Memory of Blue Pikachu Nova, whose awesomeness can't be overstated. But still, in the four issues, Rich flies in, gets in trouble, flies out, and is now so lost, even if he could rally support, he may not be able to find his way to Kree Space soon enough to be any good.

It almost feels like a situation on a TV show, where a character mentions they're going on a vacation far away, and that's why they won't be around for awhile. Now as far as explanations go, "I tried to escape through a barrier by flying into a neutron star and opening a stargate with the intense gravity increasing my velocity, only to wind up in uncharted space" isn't too shabby, but still, it leaves me wondering if the four issues were necessary.

I get that for something as dire as Conquest, there would be questions of where Nova was, seeing as he's the only space cop left, and he takes his job pretty seriously. But I think it might have been better to have that barrier in place before Rich made it to Kree Space, spend an issue or two of Rich trying to get through it, maybe he tries the trick with the neutron star in #7, and then winds up in the middle of wherever it was he ended up at the end of that issue. It's all theoretical physics; they can make it do whatever they want. The good news is, I think now we'll see what Abnett and Lanning really want to do with Nova, where before they dealt with his reaction to the post-Civil War situation on Earth, and settled why the man with the entirety of the Nova Force isn't going to be around to help during Annihilation: Conquest (provided he doesn't lead some late cavalry charge at the end). Those were things that needed to be covered, if only to placate us bitchy fans (I admit, I wanted to see Rich's reaction to NoLongerSpeedball), and now that they've been handled, the creative team can get down to the nitty-gritty, as it is known. Which I am quite excited for. I want to know about Xanth's Greatest Heroes! Who are they? What are they? Are they like the Metal Men, cause that would be kind of groovy. They don't have to be like the Metal Men, that was just a thought.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Use A Grandfather Clause Argument!

As much as I enjoyed seeing Deadpool and Bob interacting with the original Fantastic Four this week, it was missing something. No, not French toast! As Wade noted, the FF always have delicious French toast at the breakfast table (much better than Latverian toast, which is actually just a picture of Dr. Doom reminding his subjects to work hard, and to love their monarch).

No, what it was missing was Reed Richards' pipe. Back in the day, Reed frequently smoked a pipe, a was his right, being a scholar and all. It's as ingrained in him as the idea of wearing tweed jackets with leather patches on the elbow (I don't actually know that Reed wore those, but I'm sure he did). I mean really Marvel, why are you hating on the professors so much? You think all the kids reading Marvel comics (wait, kids are reading these comics?) would jump at the chance to puff on a pipe? Well, that would be kind of cool, and I don't even smoke.

But I believe Nicieza and Brown should have put the pipe in on the basis that even if Reed can't smoke now, he did smoke at that time in his history, and so it's reasonable to assume he was enjoying a smoke when our erstwhile time-travelers popped up on Doom's time-travel platform. Thus, it should not count as a violation of Marvel's (idiotic) "no smoking by the good guys" policy (When is that stupid policy going to be lifted?). We're going for period accuracy here, Marvel overlords! Do you want to disgrace Jack Kirby's memory even more? Do you?

Don't answer that. I'm not in the mood to be depressed. The other possibility is that Nicieza and Brown could have slipped it in simply because I really don't know how much the editors are paying attention, and the book's being canceled in a few months, so they might be paying even less attention than usual. You needed to go for it guys, Joey Q is busy sleeping, I mean, trying to catch up on his One More Day art! Then henhouse is unguarded, I repeat, the henhouse is unguarded!

Say, couldn't Dr. Doom demand Reed return the time machine? It's Doom's time-travel platform after all. I think that would really burn Reed if Doom got the American courts to make Reed return it. Not because Doom needs that one, I'm sure he can make others, just because it would probably piss Reed off to have to present it personally (that would be part of the ruling), and I imagine Doom would make a big deal of it, like Cartman does anytime he wins a bet with Kyle.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I'd Like To Toast To All The Pandas

So, do you feel better after yesterday's post? {Yes, I feel much better for having gotten that out of my system. In fact, I daresay that releasing my concerns over those controversies has enabled me to reach spiritual enlightenment.} *BONK* {Ow, what was that for?} That's my joke, and I'll ask you not to steal it. Now, can I get started? {By all means. It's time for this blog to get back to what it does best: hitting Tony Stark on the head for Sallyp.} That's right! Get ready Stark! [Tony Stark: Huh?] *KRA-KA-DOOOM!*

{What the heck was that?} I decided to hit Tony a little harder than usual this week, so I got some help from Walt Simonson. {Cool. So you're starting with bonks this week?} Nah, I'll come back to the bonks later. Hugs for Ronan, he looked so sad this week. {Not to mention suicidal.} That too, but he wants to protect his people, so I'm sure he'll bounce back. Ultimate Peter Parker always seems to bounce back too. Maybe it's because I Hug him so often. Well, this week won't be any different, because dealing with government ineptitude is so frustrating. {What experience do you have dealing with governmental idiocy? You haven't even had to venture to the DMV yet!} I've been around. {Around where?} Well, uh, I was near a Capitol Building once. {Sigh, just get on with it.}

OK, just relax. I'm going to Applaud all the different Fantastic Fours that helped Deadpool and Bob, even if Black Panther was being kind of rude. {Tell me about it. Dude thinks just because he's a king he's better than a mercenary and an Agent of HYDRA.} Don't you think that's why he thinks that? {Probably, but even so, he could try and hide it a little more! Only by hiding what we truly think of others, will everyone be able to get along!} Yes, that would work. . . until everything that was being repressed breaks loose and humanity destroys itself in the most horrific manner possible. You should know this; you didn't get past your Chuck Austen anger until you blogged about it. {Yeah, I guess you're right. Truly, you are most wise.} I know I am. {But not humble.} Hey! {Prove me wrong.} I will. Later. Because I can be humble whenever I want, because I'm awesome. {Proving my point.} Be quiet! I'm trying to Applaud Super Skrull for helping the Kree fight the Phalanx. {He's trapped inside their space the same as everyone else, so I'm not sure what else he would do to pass time.} Why are you trying to bring me down, man? You're harshing my groove, when all I wanted to do was Applaud Shadowcat for her daring breakout of Spidey from SHIELD custody. {What, you're a smelly hippie now? You've certainly got the smelly part down pat.} Hey! *sniffles, looks pitiful* {Oh, come on, I didn't mean it. You smell nice. Like lilacs and cookie dough.} What? {I don't know. I just figured it would bring you out of your momentary funk. Worked, too.}
Well you better watch out because I'm riled up, and ready for bonking! {Ha, you already bonked me today, and the Panda Bylaws say you can't bonk the same person twice in one day!} What?! Let me say that! *reads quickly* Blast. You win this round, so I'll give the Bonk to the Thing, for kicking Deadpool, Weasel, and Bob out of the Baxter Building, instead of letting them stay to play poker. Then I'm going to Bonk Wraith's father, because he lured Wraith into Kree space by lying to him about what he was going to do. {Well, you know how it is with parents, always lying to the kid because it was in their "best interests". What a bunch of hokum.} "Hokum"? What's that? {Bunk. Garbage. Bull. Falsehoods. Need I go on?} No, I'm good, but Ultimate Carol Danvers won't be after I get finished with this Bonk for her. She couldn't be bothered to explain why she captured Peter, and she's got guns that are supposed to stop Norman Osborn, and they don't work! {Well, that's governmental ineptitude for ya.} No doubt.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Week Late And Five Bucks Short: Barda, JLA, Tigra

On some level, I'm certain I'm going to regret entering into this discussion, but this is a few thoughts on some of the recent topics of discussion around the comic blog realm.

Barda's Death: This is setting aside whether or not she or the other New Gods are actually dying, and whether or not they'll be back eventually. On its own, Barda's passing in Death of the New Gods #1 doesn't bother me. I have no real affinity for the character. I'm a little sad it's interrupted her feud with Knockout, and that it's broken up one of comics' happy marriages, but I'm not angry about it like I was say, Spoiler's death, or even Ben Reilly's (What? I liked him as Scarlet Spider). She died in a similar pattern to several other New Gods whose deaths we've seen thus far, meaning she doesn't appear to have fought back. Between that option and the "running for your life" strategy opted for by Deep Six, Knockout, or Lightray (he made that huge impact crater because he was trying to get away really fast, right?), Barda's better off how it went down, in my opinion.

Also, I think the reason she was in the kitchen was well enough established in the story that I'm not too sore about that. I don't know whether the location was important to the death or not. It seems like Starlin was trying to give us a glimpse of Barda and Scott's relationship, and as a result of the story he chose to demonstrate that (them going out to get groceries to prepare dinner for the friends they would entertain that evening) Barda wound up where she did. If the location has a meaning, then I think Black Racer's dying in a hospital bed, and Sleez in that slum where he died, also have some sort of meaning, and are clues to tell us who the killer is. Right now, I can't say they're very good clues, because I don't have any idea who it is (but I don't know much about the New Gods). I think/hope her death, both where it took place, and when, in relation to the others, is going to mean something when we get closer to the end.

That being said, I don't like Barda's death, or those of the other New Gods, as a symptom of what seems to happen at Marvel and DC these days. "Oh, I can't think of any way to use these characters creatively. Me either, let's kill 'em off. Brilliant!" This mini-series strikes me as the same sort of thinking that lead someone to decide to use the New Warriors as the fall-team for Civil War, where it just seems pointless and gratuitous. Yes, nobody was doing much of anything with the New Gods before, but what purpose does killing them off serve (besides selling a few copies of a freaking mini-series)?

Justice League of America: There's a lot of talk about the panel of the JLA helpless in the clutches of Luthor's group, with Wonder Woman, Black Canary, and Vixen front and center, T&A prominently displayed. I'm not sure what to make of it. I can completely see Luthor doing that just to rile Superman up, especially with his follow-up line of 'It's unconscionable, isn't it?', which suggests Luthor knows how bad it looks, which is why he did it. I'm not sure whether I buy that line as commentary by Dwyane McDuffie of Ed Benes' artwork. I think the sequence means something beyond the story. McDuffie seems to know his way around the Internets, he probably knows there would be a response to that panel, and not a positive one, but I'm not certain it isn't a case where he actually has Benes playing it up, to get the reader as angry as Lex is getting Superman. I know Benes is known for this style of art, but I wouldn't be surprised if he and McDuffie collaborated to turn the T&A up to 11, get the reader in a similarly aggravated state as Superman. That does overlook the people not bothered by the scene at all (beyond "Oh no, the Justice League are in trouble!"), but it's unlikely those folks would pick up on either meaning, if there is one. So either Mr. McDuffie is giving us a nod, looking heavenward, and saying "I hear ya, folks. I didn't ask for him as artist", or he's poking us with a stick.

Tigra: Let's start with me saying I don't know Bendis. I haven't read all his work, I don't know if there's a heavily sexist streak running through it or not. I don't know if he hates Tigra. I remember a Wizard interview (before he disassembled the Avengers) where he said he thought Hank Pym was 'a dog that should have been taken out back and put down years ago'. Yet Hawkeye was the one Bendis "gifted" with the most idiotic (and later, rightfully ridiculed by Deadpool) death I can remember. So who knows. I think Bendis is aware enough of the online fans to say things just to deliberately rile them up, but I don't think he writes his comics that way. Which doesn't really matter, if how he does write leaves it open to being interpreted as sexist. I personally don't think the scene is sexist, just not terribly well-written, because Bendis goes too far trying to establish the Hood - at the expense of the character playing taking the fall - which is what I think was his intent. Yes, he shows the Hood to be brutal, and willing to help his troops get payback, but after Tigra's portrayal, are we supposed to be impressed? Bendis and Yu portray her as no more of a competent, respected superhero than I am.

Now, if BMB set out to make me uncomfortable when I read the scene, mission accomplished. It didn't make me as uncomfortable as the scene in West Coast Avengers where Graviton has Tigra on a leash (I thought cats hated leashes?), and she sits there demurely as he captures her teammates, but that's a pretty tall order for Mr. Bendis to match, after all. But if the purpose was to make me buy the Hood as a top-notch threat, someone that can command respect from all these loser criminals, and lead them well, then Bendis failed. If I read this before I found comic blogs, and heard rumors that he hates Tigra, maybe it works, but looking at the scene now, I get the sinking feeling Tigra is fighting Bendis and Lenil Yu, not the Hood, which makes me wonder if it would have gone the same in McDuffie or Brian K. Vaughn's hands.

The mistake, I think, is that it's too one-sided. Yes, the Hood shot Wolverine in his groin, but that was in the middle of a brutal fight, and I think it served a purpose of demonstrating the Hood's quick thinking. His attempt to kill Logan by shooting him in the head failed miserably (because of the adamantium-laced skull), so he switched tactics, and shot Logan some place with no bones to protect it. That's clever, it demonstrates a capacity to change plans on the fly, which is something you'd want in a leader. And Wolverine walks away from it, albeit limping, wounded, angry, but pride still mostly intact.

In contrast, Tigra offers no defense of herself. Yes, she might have been stunned by the first hit, but she doesn't even try and cover her face to ward off his attacks. I mean, if someone was pistol-whipping you, and you're still conscious (as she was), wouldn't you try and protect your head from further damage? Tigra doesn't. No one holds her arms, but she chooses not to try and use them to ward off the hits. She doesn't show any sign of defiance, whether it be in the form of a refusal to scream, or the cliche "spit blood in the villain's face". Any of those could have made Tigra look a little less, how should I put this?, pathetic, while not devaluing the Hood as a threat one bit. He still comes off looking totally badass, Jigsaw gets the payback he wanted, and Tigra demonstrates that the Hood beating her up should actually mean something. As it stands, he might as well have beaten one of my grandmothers. Sure, he's an evil bastard for doing it, but it doesn't strike me as particularly dangerous that he pummeled someone who apparently couldn't defend themselves. Ooh, big man, I guess we all better be careful around you, huh? Gimme a break.

Or, if any of those suggestions had been too much trouble, how about a Tigra caption box, where she thinks about how she's going to let the Hood have his moment, because she'd be at a severe disadvantage if she tried to retaliate now, but she's got his scent, and she'll find him when she's ready. That strikes me as the sort of maneuver you might see the Punisher or Nightwing take. Rather than fight a losing battle now, let the baddie have his moment, rest up, and strike when you have the advantage. The hood still gets his moment in the sun, and the readers can have some sense that good will triumph in the end. Or would that notion be too silly?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What I Bought 10/24/07

I have a professor I really feel bad for. He's trying to teach us about different statistical tests, when and how to use them, and the math behind them. And every so often he'll point something out to us as he works through the math, and be so excited about it, and ask us if that isn't the coolest thing we've ever seen. And I think he knows we aren't going to show that same level of enthusiasm, but I can't help thinking it must suck to be so energized by this, only to look out at the class and see people not paying attention, or looking at you with disinterest, or confusion. For example, when talking about linear regression, he points out that the slope of the regression line is the covariance of the two variables, divided by the variance of the independent variable. All I can think is, 'What sort of perspective does someone have, that they can look at these numbers and figure that out from scratch?' Because someone did that, at some point, and it just boggles my mind.

Annihilation: Conquest - Wraith #4 - I have read the end of this twice, and I'm still not entirely sure how Wraith saved the day. But he did, and I guess that's the important thing. The issue as whole is about choices, hard ones versus easy ones, and how the hard choice is probably the best one, but it's rarely one you enjoy making afterwards.

I like Kyle Hotz' depiction of Wraith, because the mouth is almost always a thin line, and the eyes are usually narrow slits, contrasted with most of the other characters' much wider eyes, and mouths that are open more frequently. It gives a sense of how closed off Wraith is, that they are no entrances inside him. Furthermore, it works nicely with the lettering of Wraith's caption boxes. The font seems really small, so that you feel as though you're reading them at a great distance, which adds to the sense of disconnect between us and the title character.

Anyway, I guess it's a good thing the Phalanx have layers to their plans, I like the idea of a "fear control subroutine", and I like that some of the Kree are coming down with Stockholm Syndrome, or whatever the Kree equivalent is. 3.0 out of 5.

Fantastic Four/Deadpool #46 - While it's nice to see Wade being inspired by meeting all these great heroes, he felt like a bystander in his own comic this month. And man, T'Challa was being a jerk. Calling Wade and Bob 'imbeciles'? Threatening Weasel with those pointy claws? Not wanting to shake Wade's hand? Is it lonely up on that pedestal, Panther? You aren't being written by Reginald Hudlin now, check yourself.

Reilly Brown art notes: He draws a very nice "Storm with one eyebrow raised". Very imperious looking. Also, last issue Wade got impaled in the chest, and shot through in the head. Even though those injuries are healed this issue, the concurrent damage to his costume remains. I just think it's a nice touch. However, his Ben Grimm's don't look noticeably different, so I can't figure why the Ben of the past made the comment about the present Ben's face. Maybe Wade was right; Ben really does need to look in the mirror.

Also, Joe Sinnott name check, Part 1! Wade mentions him as part of a way of gauging how far into the past he is. I include this for reasons that will become clear later. It was an enjoyable issue, but I still wish Wade had gotten to do more, besides get knocked silly by the Thing, and make comments about Sixties era Sue Storm's chest. 4.0 out of 5. I guess I wasn't that bothered by Wade being a bystander, after all.

Immortal Iron Fist #10 - Oh, that's right. It got pushed back to November. Silly me. I'm sure it's all because of Quesada being behind on his One More Day artwork. Or because Frank Cho is behind on Mighty Avengers. One of the two. Moving along.

Ultimate Spider-Man #115 - This is the sort of thing that frustrates me about Bendis sometimes. We get this whole back and forth between the now-captured-by-SHIELD Peter Parker and temporary-head-of-SHIELD Carol Danvers, about why Peter is here, and what's up with him, and what's the deal with Norman Osborn, and through it all Peter wants to be let out, while Danvers stands there, wasting his web fluid like a dumbass. Finally, on page 13, Danvers explains why Pete is actually there, and stuff makes sense, and I'm left thinking that she very easily could have told him this at the start, rather than dicking around and talking about his clones for 10 pages. Granted, it gives Immonen a chance to show off his ability to convey emotion through the use of facial expressions, and he's quite good at it, if a little more exaggerated than Bagley was (and he draws Peter's hair kind of funny, or at least he gives Peter more of it than Bagley did), but still, come on man.

Maybe it was all an exercise in exposition, in which I case I guess I should commend Bendis for an attempt to bring people up to speed. Eh, I'll commend later. Once again, though, I want to say I like Kitty's new costume. And I like that even though there's no sign of eye holes, or anything that would allow her to see where she's going, there's a panel where she fires a weapon, and the flash from it outlines her sockets underneath the mask. Nice touch. What isn't a nice touch is that on pages 13 and 14, where the panels go back and forth across the two pages, they don't line up. Not in the sense that they've been set on the page in an incorrect order or anything, just that the panels are slightly off, so that on one page you have Peter's hand, and on the other page, his wrist, but they don't connect properly. It looks slipshod.

Joe Sinnott name check #2! This time around, poor Joe Sinnott is Norman Osborn's attorney, and he may have stolen Norman's money while Osborn was a guest of Nick Fury. And Wikipedia tells me this Joe Sinnott name-checking must be in honor of his birthday, which was last week, so happy birthday! Sorry Bendis has you killed. Clearly, Bendis hates inkers who worked on Fantastic Four for fifteen years. Shame, Bendis, shame.

Finally, there a physics aspect that seems to be off on the final page. Even though Peter falls out of a window first, then Norman a few panels later, Osborn appears to have passed him on the way down, or at least caught up. It doesn't work like that, Mr. Immonen, come on, now. 3.4 out of 5.

Monday, October 22, 2007

You Want Me To Fight What With What!?

As we're approaching Halloween, I think it's only right to discuss games that really get into the Christmas spirit. Wait, that ain't right, I hate the constant moving up of Christmas-related stuff; it makes me start to hate that holiday after a while. So instead, let's talk about a game that gets into the Halloween spirit, Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterflies.

Yeah, that game goes much better with Halloween. (I'm going to stop dragging this joke out now.) You know, I probably don't mention it enough, but there might be spoilers for the game in here, if you care. Not spoilers like ruining the ending, but some cool scenes potentially.

As I played this on the Xbox, this is actually the "director's cut" version of the game, which I suppose would mean something if I had experience playing the original, PS2 version to compare it to. In this game you play as two sisters, Mio and Mayu, who get lost in the forest, and come across an old village in the mist. You can't find your way back, so you have to venture through the village, and figure out what's going on before you can get out. You won't have been playing too long before you come across a camera, which you take. Oh joy, now I can take photos of rotting Japanese houses! Whee!

Then the ghost attacks. Then you find out you have to fend off the ghost. . . with the camera. Good luck with that. See, this "Camera Obscura" has special properties which can hurt, and ultimately exorcise, ghosts. Of course, you've got to time it right, let them get in range, and have a bit of luck, but that's part of the terror. Even though we're talking about ghosts, I would have felt a lot better with a gun.

Shortly after you first few confrontations with ghosties, Mayu vanishes abruptly, which is quite the trick. She and Mio are sisters, twins, except Mayu walks with a limp from a fall she took when she was younger. And she seems especially spiritually attuned. So every so often, you briefly play as Mayu, following these crimson butterflies until you reach a particular destination. Then you go back to controlling Mio and have to track your oddball sis down. It becomes quickly apparent that you and your sis are connected to this village in some way, to it's past, and it's not a pleasant connection. Don't believe me? Check out this screenshot of what looks a lot like Mayu, after she vanished the first time (yes, she keeps getting separated from you).

Yes, those are dead, horribly mutilated bodies. This game has that creepy atmosphere down. It was like playing the orphanage/insane asylum level of Thief: Deadly Shadows, only it just keeps going. There's the point where your locked in a room, and a box in the corner slowly, slowly opens, and a ghost practically drags itself out, and shambles slowly in your direction, head lowered. And it's only vulnerable in the brief moment where it lifts its head to look at you.

Or there's the ghost child, and her ghost doll, that float around you, attacking from the floor, the ceiling, everywhere, constantly asking (in one of those creepy, high-pitched, monotone voices the kids are so good at): 'Why did you kill?' I never did manage to defeat those little monsters.

There's ghosts with no eyes, ghosts that rise from the water, priest ghosts, ghosts with spears, ghosts with scythes, huge, dark spirits unaffected by the Camera Obscura, and not only can you never be entirely sure when you'll stumble across a ghost, once you have, you can never be sure just where they'll attack from next. Oh, and don't forget the Spirit Radio. You find that, too, and as you progress you'll find these stones that belonged to various people. Put them in the radio, and listen to creepy, scratchy voices tell you something that you'll have to decipher to figure out where to go next!

I believe this game made the hair on my head rise so much, it actually left my scalp. I ought to sue the game makers for causing my baldness. Ah, that's too much work.

Man, give me zombie villagers with chainsaws any day.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Everyone Has A Limit

Reading The Punisher #51 last week, it was interesting to see the response of the cross-eyed police Captain, Hoefker {That name sounds dirty, doesn't it?}, to Frank's request to let him go. The reaction was a violent opposition to the suggestion, punctuated with lots of profanity. Because it's Garth Ennis, that's why. And really, it's about the reaction you'd expect if a person with Frank Castle's body count asks the police to let him go.

But it seems in stark contrast to the reaction cops have usually had to Castle and his activities through the series. The refrain you hear most often is that the cops love the Punisher because he makes their lives easier. I guess there's less paperwork for "victim terminated by shotgun blast to the face" than if they were simply left webbed to a light pole, and the cops have to figure out what they did to merit that.

Of course, the cops have had a task force after Castle since the Slavers arc, but I figured that was going to be sort of a joke, like the "task force" consisting of Detective Soap in the Marvel Knights Punisher series. You know, the cops put on a show of going after him, but they aren't really all that interested in bringing Castle in. Apparently, I was wrong. Of course, we haven't heard the task force mentioned since early in the Barracuda arc, so maybe I'm not wrong.

Then again, the characters who most often talk about the cops not being interested in stopping Castle are the criminals he's pursuing, so things probably look very different from their perspective, being the hunted. I'd imagine every moment the Punisher is out there, is another moment he could show up and kill them, so that would tend to increase one's dissatisfaction with the police.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Moving Swiftly Like An Avian Without Its Cranium

Does DC seem a little, um, panicked lately? With all the creative team changes, and "this character is on the team, but wait, no we've switched them with this character, because we've decided to do something different with that first character"? I mean, Catwoman was going to be on the Outsiders, but now it looks as though she's gotten sucked into Salvation Run. I think Martian Manhunter and Geo-Force are switching spots on the Outsiders and JLA, though I guess that would just be the natural order reasserting itself. Maybe DC has always intended Bedard to just have these brief stints on all these different titles (I'm pretty sure that's the case on Birds of Prey, and maybe Supergirl, but I'm not so sure about Batman and the Outsiders, or Legion of Superheroes), {Edit, 11:00 a.m.: I forgot that Bedard's also working on Countdown regularly, so they may have decided that an ongoing would be too much on top of that, but then why would Editorial keep giving him the jobs?} but the frequent shifts in creative teams has this air of desperation. That they're changing things, to find some combination that hits it off with the fans.

The way I see it, there are four possibilities here:

1) I'm imagining all this. Possible, as a Marvel fan, that I could be subconsciously projecting disorder at DC where there is none, although I'm actually a little concerned, rather than, you know, happy or anything. Still, me chasing phantoms isn't out of the question.

2) DC is playing a little game with the fans, making these frequent changes to keep the fans talking, and guessing. I wouldn't put this past DC or Marvel, but it doesn't feel that way.

3) They are actually are nervous about the response to some of their recent projects, and they really are trying to shift things around to improve that response.

4) This is just a transition period. They're getting ready for a brand-new, line-wide theme/plan, one that will likely be implemented after this Final Crisis, and until then, things are just a little less orderly. This wouldn't be so bad. I mean, it's fine to have a thread sort of running through your shared universe. I think Marvel does now with the Registration Act/Decimation stuff that sort of ties together most of their books (The stuff in the 616-reality anyway. Oops, I forgot the Marvel honchos don't like "616", do they? Oh well.) I mean, it feels like Marvel has a plan. That doesn't mean it's a good plan mind you, or that they've really got their shit together any more than DC does, but it does lend an air of stability.

I don't know that a theme/thread/plan/whatever is essential in the "shared universe", and if there is one it probably has to change every once in awhile, and there's some upheaval that comes with that change I imagine. It's a little like the theory of catastrophism, I guess. Long periods were everything is cool, stable and all that, interrupted by brief periods of great change, that throws things all akimbo before things settle in again.

I'm not making a lick of sense, am I? Really, I just wanted to know if you thought DC seemed out of sync. All of the blather about "threads" running through the stories, and lack thereof just came up from nowhere.

As an aside, what's the longest current run for any writer on a title right now at DC? I'd imagine Willingham has the longest streak with Fables if you include Vertigo, but if you were only looking at the DC Universe stuff (the capes), it's Johns on Green Lantern, isn't it? And that's only 24 issues (although Winick had been on Green Arrow awhile before it restarted, and Outsiders since it began, correct)? I was just thinking about that compared to Marvel, where DeFalco's been the Spider-Girl writer - regardless of the title - for years, and there's Bendis on Ultimate Spider-Man, and a to a lesser extent, New Avengers, and Ennis on The Punisher, Brubaker on Captain America. Of course, half of those titles are outside the 616, and thus unaffected by the larger Civil Hulk Hooha, so maybe I shouldn't bring those into it. I have no idea what any of that might mean anyway, I don't think it's necessarily related to the rest of the post, but it was something I was wondering about.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Lately I've Been Sleptical, Silent When I Would Used To Hug

{. . . And those damn undergrads wouldn't quit their bitching about the prof needing to put up study guides! Life doesn't hand out study guides, ya punks!} You need to enhance your calm, Calvin. {What're you on about now?} After my frightful outburst last week, I have spent my time meditating, and have reached pure spiritual enlightenment. {You have not! You're just feeling good because you just ate!} Can you prove that I haven't reached pure spiritual enlightenment? {Well, no. I don't suppose I can.} Oh, you are trapped by your dedication to science. You must be willing to look elsewhere to find the answers you seek. {I'll keep that in mind. I suppose it would disrupt your newfound spiritual harmony to perform such base activities as applauding, hugging, or bonking?} I can attempt it, if it will help you. I am very invested in aiding my fellow sentient. {Gee, I'm honored.}

Sarcasm is the spike strip on the highway to peace. I will dispense with the violence quickly, so as to not give myself the opportunity to revel in it. First, I must dispense Bonks to Valerio, the American vampire that betrayed Rayne. It is truly a weak person who betrays one who trusts them. {What about Wulf?} He is evil, and does no more than his nature dictates. He may need to be destroyed, but bonks are reserved for those who have gone horribly against their nature. {Are you sure?} Quite, and thus I must also Bonk Albion for his whole attack on Captain Britain and his reality. He was once a soldier, who fought because he had to, to protect his life, and those of others. His recent actions protected nothing. Also, I believe Dr. Alchemy requires a Bonk. Attempting to kill Superman and destroying the Library of Alexandria so that only he would have its knowledge are despicable acts. All the wisdom humanity could have gained, lost! {You're starting to sound agitated. Don't lose your balance.}

Though your tone suggests mockery, you are correct, and so I will move on to a more friendly form of physical contact, to cleanse myself. {This is sounding kind of creepy. Can't you just say you're going to hug people now?} Have no concerns audience, I was indeed referring to hugs, such as a Hug for Rayne, who has received what would normally be a gift, but not at the present. I feel a Hug would also help Rustam, who carries deep scars from the betrayal of his people by the United States government. He will never be able to move on in life, if he does not come to terms with this. {I think he has come to terms. U.S. says it's an ally, then backstabs them. He's mad about it. Seems pretty straightforward.} You view things from ground level, while I have more of a birds'-eye perspective. Things are very different from here. {OK, that does it! This high-falutin' stuff needs to stop! Drop the charade, or I'm gonna drop kick you!} I would not advise that. The retribution would be. . . severe, as I'm sure you know. You must learn to accept change in others, before you can accept change in yourself. {Stop spouting meaningless things that sound deep! We are not in a Matrix movie!}

I choose to move on, rather than continue a pointless argument. {Grrrr.} Wonder Woman deserves Applause for her deft handling of a variety of problems, from mummies to possessed Power Girl, to an uncooperative, unpossessed Power Girl. Om, muy, quan, tse, zhu. . . {Are you chanting while you clap?} It helps me find me center. {Oh fer the love of. . .} I feel Applause must also go to the Jean Grey and Iceman from the Dark X-Men, who were vital in defeating Albion's forces. {But if they were "Dark" X-Men, they weren't they defying their true nature? Shouldn't you be bonking them?} Uh, well, you see, that was - {I knew it! This was all a load of hooey! You've just been playing a trick on me, haven't you?} Yes. But it was really fun. You were going crazy! {I think I preferred you when you were beating up Deadpool.} That's not very nice. It is funny, though. {Why, thank you.}

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Big Green Versus, Uh, Bigger Green

We know that Hulk will soon fight Fin Fang Foom in a one-shot being released in December, I think (and if you didn't know that, well, now you do. You're welcome.) But that upcoming bout has lead me to think of a different potential battle.

Hulk versus Godzilla.

Has it happened? If so, what happened?

If it hasn't happened, and it did, what would be the result? Would it take place on the Pacific Rim, or in the American Southwest? Would the Leader be behind it, or some stupid aliens, or would it just be a misunderstanding battle? How much property damage would there be? Would Thunderbolt Ross waste time and taxpayer dollars firing ineffective missiles at Hulk, or Godzilla?

Does Godzilla have a friend who could engage Rick Jones in a musical face-off?

Basically any thoughts you have about such a conflict, drop 'em in the comments.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What I Bought 10/17/07

I get the feeling I'm probably not going to be posting much on Tuesdays the next couple of months. I just find myself in such a foul mood by the time I get home. Irregardless, I'm in moderately high spirits this afternoon, which is good since I've got four books to review, though two of them came out last week. But it's nice to spread the books out a little, plus when I do fewer reviews, I think I do a better job of not just summarizing the plot. Which isn't to say there won't be spoilers; there almost always are, you know.

Bloodrayne: Red Blood Run #2 - Well, it's been three months. They say you can't rush art, but it still looks like they did for this issue. Faces are a bit more consistent from one panel to the next than they were in the last issue, but Rayne's pants still seem too low. Or maybe they always were, and there's just more rear end views making it noticeable. I don't think that's the case, though.

As to the story, Rayne seems to be caught up in something that stretches back at least 500 years, that involves the people she works for, and a particular Nazi she thought she killed back in WW2. By the end of the issue, Rayne's placed in one of those classic "You got your wish; are you sure this is what you wanted?" situations. We'll see if that resolves in #3, or if the new status quo holds up for awhile. They do promise that everything will change after the next issue.

There is one scene I'm not sure I like, where Rayne has fed on a villain, and she and the vampire she's working with begin discussing which nationality has the most flavorful blood. I've seen a similar discussion in Hellsing Volume 7, but those were dirty Nazi vamps, so of course they'd be so casual about it. Rayne is ostensibly the (anti)hero of the tale, so it seems odd. To be fair, the writer, Troy Wall, admits he had the same misgivings about putting that scene in there (as aprt of the extras at the back of the comic). I guess I should also mention the issue included a roughly seven-foot tall, cross-eyed, apparent immortal in a bondage mask calling himself "El Pulverizador", who promises to 'palfodize' their faces. He obviously went to Deadpool's School For Making Up Verbs For Violent Acts. Even though I'm not thrilled by the art, I am intrigued by the issue, so 3.5 out of 5.

Brave and the Bold #7 - Impulse buy. The cover makes more sense once you read the story, but I think just drawing Wonder Woman and Power Girl fighting might have more effectively told us about the story. It's a pretty cover either way.

Is Power Girl usually this rash? I do recall from the JSA Classified arc that she's not big on sharing her feelings, especially about things that trouble her, but wowee, she was really gung-ho in this issue. I mean, I definitely approve of the "punch mummies" strategy, but she seemed to turn it up to 11, whatever that means. I guess it makes sense, since Power Girl had issues with who she was, and where she was from. I suppose she wouldn't take kindly to anyone messing around with her mind.

What I enjoy about this issue (besides George Perez' nice artwork, which makes me miss him on The Avengers), is that even though it's very clear that Waid has some overarching plot going here, he still tells a complete story within the issue. Power Girl oddly says she's going to kill Superman, Wonder Woman tries to help her get to the bottom of it, they do. There are still questions as to the "whys" of the attempted murder, but that's doubtlessly part of the larger arc. 4.6 out of 5.

New Excalibur #24 - Sigh. Another cover of everyone posing. I think that accounts for roughly 85% of all New Excalibur covers, which is kind of depressing. Tell me something more about the story, please. Sell it, you know what I mean? I suppose it's moot, since this is the last issue of Claremont's big 7-issue arc, and the end of the title, period, if the last page is to be believed. And well, it certainly wraps up, I guess. Can you "guess" that something "certainly" does something?

Things are still a little disjointed. I'm not sure whether having bigger panels or smaller ones would have helped the flow of the fight. Maybe it would have helped if the story had advanced more before the final two issues. And I imagine this is the last we'll see of the Dark X-Men, unless Claremont decides there's more than one version of them, so he can bring them out for New Exiles. "New Exiles", sigh. Even though there are a few panels where the dialogue balloon goes to the wrong character, and some of the art is unclear, we do get sound effects during the fight (old school!), and Lionheart gets a happy ending, which is the primary thing I was hoping for. Hey, someone has to care. Why not me? I can't give it a high grade, because it was kind of rough, but I can't say I actively disliked it enough for a real low grade, so 2.9 out of 5. I doubt most others would grade it as high.

Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag #2 - People with knives riding dinosaurs. Always a good sign, I think. So General Eiling started the Suicide Squad? And then what, it flopped, he dropped it, and Waller ran with the idea? Or did he put Waller in charge so he'd have "plausible deniability"?

General impressions: I like that when Flag mentions how he and Rustam used to work together, and Rustam mentions that was before the U.S. killed his family, Flag just starts talking about needing to find water and shelter. There's no speech bubble indicating a pause (you know, one with the "...." in it), so Flag must have realized as he finished his first comment, what rustam would say in response, and had his topic-changing comment prepared. Or, he just doesn't give a crap.

I don't know why, but it seems like every time there was a close-up of Rustam's face, you could only see one eye (assuming the view was close enough to view the eyeballs). Though there was one panel that showed Rustam's torso and lower half of his face, but stopped just short of the eyes. I don't know if that means something, but I noticed it.

Also, is this issue saying Eiling placed a post-hypnotic control in Flag? 'Dies irae'? "Day of Judgment"? I don't get it. The issue is an interesting sort of look at Flag, and what he's willing to do, and his general outlook on life. Plus, it has dinosaur fighting! 3.6 out of 5.

Well, Blogger's not letting me add images, so I'm just going to publish as is, and I'll try and add some pictures later this evening. {Edit, 9:08 p.m.: Well, got some images added. Now to sign off and shut down before this storm knocks out the power. Stupid crappy weather.}

Monday, October 15, 2007

To Me, My Portable Gaming Consoles!

So I guess I'm not quite finished with Game Gear reminiscing yet. But I am going to hit three games in one swing, just because I don't think there'll be much to the post otherwise.

As you may recall - if you haven't blocked it out - the X-Men were quite big in the early '90s. They'd been big for awhile, but now there were lots of titles, a cartoon, and naturally, lots and lots of games. And, being the dutiful Marvel Zombie I was, I made sure to buy those games for my Game Gear. Three games to be exact (well, four if you count Spider-Man and the X-Men: Arcade's Revenge, but I'd rather forget I probably wasted two months allowance on that game). X-Men, X-Men: Gamesmaster's Legacy, and X-Men: Mojo World. Sigh, I was such a twit back then. But at least I was a happy twit.

Every game was the same. You start out with two available X-Men, and must travel to different locations to fight bosses and free other X-Men, who can help you travel to still other worlds and rescue more X-Men, until you get to the final boss. Of course, if one of your X-Men got defeated, you couldn't rescue them again later, they were just done. You had the mutants' powers, sort of. I think Storm only had her lightning bolts, and she could fly. No rainstorms or hurricanes. And you couldn't use your mutant powers constantly, as you had a bar that measured how much mutant power you had left, so conservation was important. The problem was, even the standard cannon fodder could be pretty difficult to defeat with just your fists, so it was hard to not use your powers.

Of the three, I think Mojo World was probably the best, which makes sense as it was the last one released. I think by that point they'd realized that every game played the same, so there needed to be some sort of hook. In this case, Mojo makes you travel to locations from the past and future, and rescue X-Men from particular time frames. So you defeat magneto at an old Army base, and rescue Cyclops in his original Yellow and Blue outfit. Another level you go to the future and fight Fitzroy to rescue Bishop's sister (Shard? Was she only in the cartoon? Did she ever appear in the comics?) It's a little touch, but it helped, because it seemed like they were at least trying to make your experience a little different.

There was usually one boss battle that was tricky. In X-Men, it was Sebastian Shaw, because the battlefield was littered with traps, so you had to lure him into those traps, rather than attack him directly. In Gamesmaster's Legacy (and what ever happened to the Gamesmaster? Man, so many bad '90s memories being stirred up), Fabian Cortez presented a similar issue. He was actually more annoying than Shaw, because with Shaw I understood the need to lure him into the path of flamethrowers, I was just bad at it. With Cortez, I'm honestly not sure what I was supposed to do, but apparently it wasn't "attack with mutant powers".

I never actually beat any of the games. Reached Mojo once, lost, and that was the closest I came. That's pretty typical for me and my older games, not so much with the more recent ones (I still have lots of games I don't beat, they just don't comprise as large a percentage). I don't know whether that means I've gotten better or games have gotten easier. I think it's the latter.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Spoilery Stuff

By which I mean, different thoughts about Spoiler, not spoilers in various comics. Or something. I just had a lot of different thoughts, and the fact that Spoiler popped up in a dream Friday night, is probably my subconscious telling me to post said thoughts.

- As to this Gotham Underworld project, that both Spoiler and Azrael appear on one of the covers for, I think it's going to be a story that shifts between past, present, and future, showing how all this different stuff is interconnected, in one big, nefarious plan, that somehow is related to the return of the Multiverse. So we'll see Spoiler and Azrael in some flashback issue. It'd be nice if Stephanie Brown were somehow back from the dead, but I'm not expecting it. Azrael can come back too. Batman's supposedly nicer these days, so maybe they could chat politely. Or Azrael's return can infuriate Bats. Whichever, I don't care. Annoyed Batman is fine with me.

- And no, I won't be buying Gotham Underworld.

- I think there were a couple of reasons I always liked Spoiler (if I had submitted lists for Comics Should Be Good's Top DC and Marvel Characters list, she'd have been in the Top 5). One reason, I like the outfit. I like purple, and as has been previously established, I like hoods as part of a superhero costume (I cannot believe I forgot Spoiler when I made that post). The other reason I liked Spoiler was, she didn't seem to care what others thought of her prowess. The first time I saw the character, she was talking to Robin, and he was telling her he wasn't thrilled she was doing the vigilante thing again (Robin #4). Batman's told her to stop. The Birds of Prey stopped training her, as far as I can tell, to try and convince her to quit. Which seems like a pretty stupid move, if that is the reason. Stephanie was fighting crime before they started training her, why would not training her make her stop? Besides, who died and left Batman (or Oracle) to decide who gets to be a costumed vigilante? If during Batman's first year (but not necessarily Batman: Year One), Alan Scott descends from the sky and tells Batman to quit, because he's going to get hurt, or get someone else hurt, you think Batman would have listened? I don't.

So she didn't listen. She enjoyed fighting crime, even if she wasn't the best at it. Enthusiasm counts for something with me. It seemed like she kept Tim from dwelling on things too much, from getting too bogged down in the seedy world he spends half his time in. Yes, she tried something a little too big to accomplish alone, and it blew up in her face, and people died. I imagine if she'd been given a chance to survive, she'd have felt terrible about what happened, and tried to make amends, but oh well. Everyone screws up, Batman included. Tower of Babel? Brother Eye? Blowing off Ted Kord in Countdown to Infinite Crisis? OK, everyone except Diana's guilty on that one. It's just that some characters get a chance to atone for their mistakes, and others get killed off. Which is true in real life as well, I suppose.

- I've often heard people say no one wants to hear about someone else's dreams. I disagree. I like to hear about other people's dreams, and share what I dreamt about. I don't know what they mean, but they can be fun to talk about, or to spend time dissecting. Which is a way of letting you know I'm going to talk about a dream. You can jump to the next paragraph if you'd like. The dream involved me (which isn't always the case), back in my old neighborhood, in the dead of night. I found Spoiler in the basement of my odd neighbor's house (Note: he wasn't "odd" in the sense of tying people up in his basement, but he did like to mow his lawn during thunderstorms, which always seemed off to me). Anyway, I helped her out of there, she was pretty confused, a bit like Jason Todd after he dug himself out of his grave, and we started walking (away from my old house, and the home of my friend Alex for some reason). I kept looking back over my shoulder, because I kept feeling like I was being followed/hunted. Probably by Didio. Or Willingham. Or Meltzer (I know, he never did anything negative to Spoiler. Doesn't mean that I'd want him anywhere near the character if she were to return.) There was also a cat.

- I've never chimed in on the "Give Stephanie a case!" issue. There are a lot of people who want a case in the Batcave for her, since she was a Robin and all. Makes more sense than keeping one there for not-dead Jason Todd, who has spent time running around with heads in duffel bags (or did Infinite Crisis wipe that out? Hell if I know.) Devon and Scipio have raised the subject of Orpheus (who I know zilch about) as being more deserving of a case than Spoiler, and Diamondrock just yesterday brought up Azrael's case for, well, a case. I already posted a halfway joking response in the comments there. It's joking in that I'm drawing from a Simpsons Halloween Special, but not joking in the sense that I really don't care who does and doesn't get a case.

What I mean is, I liked the character Stephanie Brown/Spoiler. Whether DC Editorial decides Batman should have a commemorative case for her, or anyone else, doesn't change that. Whether writers have Batman remember Stephanie fondly, or with disgust, or not remember her at all, doesn't change my opinion of Spoiler. Honestly, if Batman didn't like her, that would probably only solidify my opinion of her, since Batman has had the attitude of someone whose opinion wouldn't matter much to me, for roughly the past decade. Yeah, he treats his friends better now, but that doesn't wipe away the disregard he displayed towards them for quite some time prior. Case, no case, whatever.

- However, I do wish Robin didn't have her costume up in his cave under Titans Tower. Why? We've already seen him try and clone his best friend, and if those future Titans are who they appear to be, then at some point he successfully cloned his two best friends (assuming that Batman is Tim, I suppose). How hard would an ordinary human be to clone, compared to a half-Kryptonian? I just really don't want Tim going down the Miles Warren path, and it might be better not to have that reminder around. I'd like for Tim to remember Spoiler, but the presence of the costume makes me nervous.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Presented Without Comment

OK, not entirely without comment.

From the pages of Nova #7, a nifty little shot of the Worldmind's records of past Novas, fighting to protect the uncorrupted portion of Richard Rider's mind.

Notice the little blue fellow in the center? You do? Good. Then say hello to Nova Centurion Pika Chu.

What's that? It's Pike Blu? Blu Chu? I can't understand you, you've got your translator set on "Kree", oh forget it.

I don't know what to make of it, so I'm just putting it out here for you, my beloved audience.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Low Blood Sugar Makes For Dangerous Pandas

I'm feeling kind of hungry, and what about the title? {Let's just do the post and maybe I'll get a title by the time we're done.} OK. I'm glad you bought more comics this week. {No problem. Should have a good number of comics for you next week, too.} You better!

I'm Applauding Rictor, because he totally beat Huber! {I think "survived" is a little more accurate.} Quiet. Do you think that was a one time thing, since the crystals fell off his back? {I hope not, that would seem kind of cheap. I'm still not sure what exactly he was doing. I think he's like Leech.} Who? {Little mutant kid, can drain powers if he gets too close.} But he didn't drain the powers, they just stopped working on him. {Then how do you explain Huber shifting out of his Colossus form?} Uh, Applause for the Worldmind, for that totally crazy plan that got them past the barrier. {I still think it was a bunch of hooey.} I could explain it you, but it would involve worlds like "acceleration", and "gravity". {And now you're just being snotty.} Ignoring that, Applause for the doctor from The Punisher. Because even though he doesn't like Frank, he decided it was better to let him escape than keep him there where Barracuda could kill a lot of people coming after him.

I hurt my hands applauding so much. {Really? That's pretty impressive. I'm a golf clap man myself, usually accompanied with a head turn and raised nose, so I look kind of aristocratic.} Aristocratic, in your jeans and baseball cap? {If you've got the attitude, then the clothes don't matter.} I don't believe that, but I'm going to turn to the cops in The Punisher, and give them Bonks! {Gasp, you can't bonk officers of the law!} Pandas are above human laws, and those cops didn't care that they were endangering a lot of people by keeping the Punisher in that hospital! They could have at least moved him to a less populated place! {You're above human laws? Little full of yourself, aren't you?} We pandas defend the universe against the greatest evil imaginable; we can't be slowed down by laws of species which don't understand. {That's the kind of attitude that brings Tony Stark to your door with a bunch of SHIELD agents.} Fine. I can deal with Stark, if he wants to try something. {OK, I'm getting a little nervous now. How about we get back to bonking *internal monologue*(as if ABP talking about who should get hit is gonna make me less nervous) *end internal monologue*.} Bonks to those racist parents in X-Factor. Stop raising your children to hate! Raise them to love! Hate is a penguin weapon! {Getting loud.} Silence! {Okey-doke. I'll just go in the other room, leave you to your work.} Bonk to Gene Thompson, because May went to him, wanting to talk, and he broke up with her, all because his needs were being met! What a jackass! Everyone is so mean!

[Hey everybody, what's up?] {Wade, I really wouldn't go in there now, ABP is getting kind of intense.} [Oh, how bad can it be? Hey you cute little - AHHHHH! Ow, my retinas! My tibia shouldn't bend that way!] RAHRRGH! You hurt Calvin's spleen the last time you were here, and you keep stealing his mini-pizzas! Panda SMASH! {Whoa, ABP, calm down! It's just Wade, you don't need to smash him. I'm OK with the spleen hurting, and pizza stealing. Really. Just take a deep breath.}

*several deep panda breaths later, in the other room*

Wade, I'm so sorry. [It's alright. I'll pull back together eventually. You go ahead and finish up.] Maybe I shouldn't. I've been pretty bad. {Hugging people will make you feel better. Besides, the best way to make up for causing pain is to give comfort.} So maybe I should Hug Wade? [Actually, could you get Siryn to do that? I'd really appreciate a hug from Terry.] I don't know Wade, I can't go into comics the way you can come out. Maybe I can write you note saying an adorable baby panda asked her to hug you. [That could work. Hey, bend the tibia the other direction! I thought you were a biologist.] {I never took any anatomy classes, cut me some slack. You go ahead ABP, I'll take care of Wade.} OK. *ABP returns to the computer, out of earshot* [Why do I have a real bad feeling all of a sudden?] {Because you know I could take this opportunity to pay you back for all the suffering you inflicted on me in the past?} [Yeah, I think that's the reason.]

Um, well, Hugs for Rahne, Jamie, and Guido, because they all looked really cold, and an extra Hug for Rahne, because she seems so down. Hug for Ko-Rel, because it looks like Gamora really did kill her after all. Stupid Gamora, how could she - no, I'm not gonna get angry again. Hug for Moose. His dad is probably gonna die, he's in a government base being poked to make sure he isn't still hiding Carnage, and he thinks his favorite hero is to blame for all of it. And Hug for May, because she's just having a really lousy day. I better go see how Wade is. Maybe he'll accept my Hug after all. *hops away from computer, walks into other room* Wade! What happened! You look. . . back to normal. [Yup, Calvin did a bang-up job patching me back together, despite his ominous comments.] {Well, I just wanted to mess with you a bit, make you think I was gonna inflict pain.} [Ha! Yeah, that was really funny, how do I repay you? *draws gun from holster*] {Um, by not shooting me?} No more violence, or I'll beat you both up! {I think we better listen. I think his blood sugar level is messing with him.} [I hear ya. Try Sugar-Frosted Choco-Bombs. I'm outta here. 'Til next week, anyway.]

{So, should we make sure you eat before we do this from now on?} I think that might be a good idea, but really, there were just so many bad people in these comics, it wore on me. {I hear ya.}

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Logic's Got Nothin' To Do With It

On this, a brisk fall day, that I have off, I spent the last two hours watching Unforgiven. Because I do so love Clint Eastwood westerns.

- I wonder though, what did Claudia see in William Munny? I know that's supposed to be part of the mystery, but I'm a comic book reader, and we want everything explained to us, don't you know. Not having any particular insights into the female mind, I can't say. Did she catch him on a good day, when he was sober, and in high spirits? Or did she come across him on a bad day, when he felt so low she seemed like a saving grace? He speaks of her reverentially (at least on the surface; there's a feeling to his repetitive comments about how she saved him, and cured him of violence and drink that suggests maybe he resents her for civilizing him. or I'm reading too much into things) enough to suggest that she found him when he was in bad enough shape to be amendable to changing his ways.

- What do you suppose William Munny was like after the end of his trip to Big Whiskey? Did he revert to his state from the beginning of the film? If he did, indeed, continue to care for his children, I doubt that he fell all the way back to what he was when he was a killer of everything that walks or crawled. Would he have still be a good father, but more prone to violence towards everyone else? I imagine fear could be an effective tool in the business of dry goods, if that is what he wound up dealing in. People will accept unfavorable terms from Wilson Fisk for the same reason.

- You know, the running joke of the movie is how bad of a carpenter Little Bill is, and it's true the man certainly couldn't build a roof, but he was able to make working sliding windows, and that has to count for something.

- Or maybe not. After all, he did kill Morgan Freeman. UNACCEPTABLE!!! Morgan Freeman improves movies by 23.7%; Gene Hackman only by 18.4%. This is a gross violation of movie law, cooler characters should not be defeated by less cool characters, which is why the end of The Jackal is such a load of crap. Richard Gere beats Bruce Willis? Bull {expletive deleted}! Though, credit to Little Bill for taking his death well. At least he didn't humiliate himself by begging.

- Kids must have been very self-sufficient in those days. William Munny took off and left two kids, who wouldn't have been out of elementary school if there had been one around, to run a hog farm in his absence. True, they could hardly do worse at it than Munny himself, but still.

- I love the final scene in the bar. All those shots the law got at Munny, and he walks out untouched. Plus, it dovetails nicely with the lesson on gunfighting Little Bill gave Beauchamp, regarding speed versus a level head. It's all put together so nicely.

- It probably hints at my general instability, but I always laugh at that sequence with Little Bill saying 'You just shot an unarmed man!', to which Munny responds 'Then he should have armed himself, if he's going to decorate his saloon with my best friend'. Maybe it's the same thing I was talking about in my review of the Punisher yesterday. It's so threatening, but said so matter-of-factly, that's it's just really amusing somehow. Not in the sense of the absurd tough guy talk in some action films, where you roll your eyes, more in the sense of it's so awesome I find it funny. I don't really know how that works. Maybe the laughter is a sense of giddy anticipation of the violence soon to come?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What I Bought 10/10/07

I just saw, not five minutes ago, an advertisement for Saw 4. Why won't it end? Is this my fault, for letting Alex convince me to go see it, even though I know he likes horrible movies? No, no, it's his fault, because he'd already gone to see it once before then! He's the one encouraging them! I guess I'll just turn to comics to console myself.

Amazing Spider-Girl #13 - I like that cover. I know it's been done a lot before, but it's kind of clever, though I'm not sure why Hobgoblin is moving Spider-Girl; she wouldn't be one of his pieces. His brother or the cop would be more apt.

A lot of this issue is May feeling distressed over various things that are going wrong in her life. And there are a lot of things going wrong in her life right now. It's actually a bit too much for my tastes. In other news, the Hobgoblin is preparing for war against the Black Tarantula's criminal empire, and in his mind, that includes Spider-Girl. It's interesting to see how Hobgoblin thinks of his adversary, and his comment about her probably being in her mid-20s raised a thought in my mind: How old do most people think Spider-Girl is? For awhile there in the previous series, it seemed like Black Tarantula was actually courting Spider-Girl (he was definitely trying to get her to ally with him), even though he's been around since before May was born.

I don't know what else to say. Something happened that makes May sad, but I'm happy about it (except for the part where it makes her sad), but it felt flat. It needed more kicking and punching. And the "Winkler Device"? A quick Internet search confirms this has been around for some time, but what a name. 2.4 out of 5.

Nova #7 - Can Granov give us some more action-packed covers? It's always just someone standing? It looks pretty, but it isn't exciting.

It's the end of the Annihilation: Conquest tie-ins! And I guess it explains why I haven't seen any sign of Nova in anything I've seen about the actual big Conquest mini. There were three artists on this month's book, and I can't really understand some of the reasons for why a certain artist draws a certain sequence. Brian Denham draws a sequence inside Rich's mind, but there isn't really anything about it that suggests it wouldn't have worked just as well if Sean Chen had drawn it. It doesn't seem like how Immortal Iron Fist uses different artists ,with distinctly different styles, to exhibit a shift in the story . After that Denham sequence, Chen/Scott Hanna draw one page of a getaway sequence, Denham draws the next two, then it goes back to Chen/Hanna the rest of the way. I'm lost as to what was the point of it. I do like the panel on page 4 where Richard's pupils show through that static effect they're using to demonstrate being part of the Phalanx. That was a nice touch.

Also, it appears I may have been wrong last month, when I insisted that Ko-Rel wasn't dead. Sure seems like she is, if the discussion in Nova's head counts for anything. Crap. That seems unnecessary. Anyway, by the end of this issue, the Phalanx aren't really Nova's problem anymore. They sort of are, but there's other concerns as well. I think he's landed in Sector 3601, or something like that. I think the seemingly random shifting of artists hurts the book, plus at this point, it feels like Nova got mixed up in Conquest for no real reason (he hasn't really accomplished anything thus far), but we'll see where Abnett & Lanning go next, I suppose. 3.1 out of 5.

The Punisher #51 - That is a damn creepy cover. Is that barracuda's shadow in the back, or Frank's? Because the pose seems like Cuda, but the lighting doesn't seem right. Nitpicky bastard, that's me.

It's about damn time. In this issue, Frank spends time in a hospital bed, trying to piece together what happened to him to put him in this situation. It's highly entertaining flashback for us, conjecture for Frank, with lines such as 'But my left wrist is broken and the other's badly lacerated so I'm guessing I went insane and snapped the handcuffs.' He's so matter of fact about it, it makes it funny somehow. Which may not be what Ennis is shooting for, but it's what he gets from me.

Anyway, after that initial burst of violence, our two principal characters try to get ready for Round 2 (or is this technically Round 3, after the fight in Florida?). 'Cuda needs psychological fixing more than physical, because I think he's got doubts. As for Frank, well he's getting help from the doctor who wants him out of the hospital, and from his own stubbornness. I have no idea where they're going to meet up. They both seem to have decided on the same place independently, but aren't cluing us in. 4.2 out of 5.

X-Factor #24 - It's a nice cover, isn't it? And yes, I do intend to start discussing the covers more often now. It must be the shading, but it looks like Rahne's bleeding on to the snow. It's probably just supposed to be a reflection of her skin being burned by the wind. And really, Guido ought to be more cold resistant. He's bigger, should retain more heat, even with almost no hair.

I don't quite know what to say about this issue. We learn the connection between Huber and Nicole, see something interesting happen with Rictor, and, um, well I don't really want to say more because I'm trying to avoid spoiling the details. Suffice it to say, Huber's plan seems to have fallen through.

It's not a bad issue, but it doesn't seem to resonate with me, a trend I'm noticing with my comics more frequently. Bummer. Maybe it would have worked better with more focus on one location, instead of jumping around between the different team members, I don't know. I know Raimondi did not seem to draw a Huber that looks like John Cena this month, and he does draw a very wicked looking Layla Miller. It's really the sort of look I'd expect from Kang, or maybe a Luthor, as they crush their overconfident enemy. That was kind of nice. And I think we've learned that Layla Miller doesn't believe in luck, if her 'penny' comment is to be believed (which is always an issue with Ms. Miller). 3.4 out of 5.

I had a couple of other books come in this week, but I set them aside for next week, which looks like slim pickings right now. What is Marvel doing with schedule for these Conquest mini-series? They're all out of whack. And what is with this Michael Keaton movie FX is showing? If ghosts really want to talk with us, they ought to be a little more clear about it, instead of dicking around with static and phone lines and such.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Bright Lights, Screaming And Pointy Hair

As you probably are aware of, if you've read the blog for any period of time, I enjoy video games. And depending on how long you've been reading the blog, you might also know I enjoy the anime. And so it stands to reason that I would like to enjoy video games based on animes, if only so many weren't so awful. This is true of comic book games as well, because with a story that has a particular style, it can be difficult sometimes to capture the proper feel in a format that lets a person interact. A lot of times, the games seem to be fighting games, and they often seem to be - how can I put this? - half-assed. That's not fair, but it does seem like they're banking on the fans of the property to buy the game, so it isn't as vital to make it an actual enjoyable gaming experience.

I don't know if that paragraph actually had a point. I guess it serves as a lead-in to me talking about games based on DragonBall Z, which is a pretty spotty track record. It ought to be pretty easy, since it should be a lot of zipping around really fast, firing energy at other players, and occasionally charging at each other really fast and throwing punches and kicks. And to be fair, some of the games released in the last few years have been pretty good, not just by the standards of the franchise, but as actual fighting games. They won't be confused with {insert title of your preferred fighting game franchise}, but they actually look like some work was put in to make them fun games.

But I'm not actually going to talk about those games, since they haven't been released on consoles I own (I do own DBZ Budokai, but that one was only meh). So I guess that means the first two paragraphs of this were a waste. Ha! (Why the hell am I laughing? It's my time being wasted.) What I'm actually going to talk about is one of my few excursions into computer gaming, a little something called Bid for Power. Man, I hope I don't get sued by someone. See, sometime in the past, back when Quake 3 was still a relatively new game, some people figured out that it was pretty well designed to be a DBZ game, with the focus on the flying, shooting, big explosions, killing, etc. And, it could modified to look like a DragonBall Z game (computer scientists, is there anything they can't do?), with the actual characters, attacks, landscapes, and so on. And so they made it so. The version I had (because I certainly don't have it now, after they were ordered to cease and desist putting it out there for download, no sirree) was I suppose the original, with only six playable characters (but no unlocking required), but it didn't have the occasional glitches a later version I saw did. And it's a very basic game. You pick your character, the type of game, the location, how many enemies you've got, what your power level is starting out, and away you go.

You have a total of five different attacks, and what you set your power level at, determines how many of those attacks you start out with. As you use the attacks, your energy falls, so you've got to periodically stop and concentrate (that'd be the part of the show where you stand in one spot and yell loudly) to replenish it. You can run or fly, there are melee attacks, though not very refined. Hey, that's not what Quake 3 was about. It's just an easy way for me to relax a little, which is always appreciated.