Monday, March 31, 2008

Movie Reviews From The Home

Yes, I'm back on the block. . . for about four days. Then I have to go out again. Anyway, I had the opportunity to see three movies last night I hadn't seen before, so that's what you get, because I don't have the energy to be creative right now. I've slept less than thirty minutes in the last 24 hours, so please excuse any lack of coherence. Oh, and I''m fairly sure there are spoilers in here somewhere, but I've forgotten where I placed them. Mind's scattered a bit right now, you see.

Drillbit Taylor - So this is what Alex and I (along with some of his other friends) wound up seeing at the theaters. It's a fairly stock plot, with three rather geeky fellows who need help to survive high school, and Owen Wilson plays the guy who claims he can help, but plans to help himself to all the high-priced electronics in their homes, except he decides he cares about them, and everybody gets a moment to confront their fears, and we learn about the importance of honesty and friendship, and you know all this stuff. It's kind of like Chicken Run in that regard, or any of several other movies (The Ladykillers, perhaps?). All of which makes me feel a bit bad that I enjoyed it, but I suppose it's like what Brian Cronin says sometimes in those Judging Books By Their Covers posts, how the reason something is a cliche is because it works well. or something like that.

I did laugh at several parts of the film, though there were also parts I didn't want to watch, as I felt the characters' (not the actors', but their characters') embarrassment too keenly in that moment. It's a weakness of mine, I hate to see generally good people make fools of themselves, so I chose "T-Dog's" freestyle rapping as the moment for a strategic bathroom break (though I believe it went well for him). Like I said, I laughed about several things (The Mexican Judo comment always gets me), and even though Drillbit seems to be the same guy Owen Wilson always plays, he plays him in a way where I feel for him, even when he's ripping off poor gullible kids I also sympathize with. Plus, there was a pretty decent fight at the end, though I still wonder why no one ever punches anybody in the throat during these things. If you do that, they can't breathe! No breathing = no fighting! So I would cautiously recommend at least renting it at some point for some cheap laughs. I would advise viewing with friends, that way if you decide it's horrible, you have people to converse with about how much you dislike it.

We Own The Night - Watched this movie back at Alex' place. I'm disappointed in it, mostly in Joaquin Phoenix' character. Early on, when he was having a good time running a night club, I sided with him against his brother (Mark Wahlberg) and father (Robert Duvall), who are both cops, and seem disappointed (especially the old man) that Joaquin didn't follow their career path. Then they start trying to push him to help them wreck some drug trade they say involves a prominent person inside the club (they're right, but Joaquin doesn't know that). Anyway, as long as Joaquin was telling them to get lost, sticking to his guns, I was with him. But about the time he shifts perspective (owing to a tragedy in the family), he started to lose me. Probably because it seemed like his family looked down their noses at him, so what the hell did him owe them? I know it's about doing the right thing, and I'm usually for that, but not when it benefits people who treat you poorly.

What's interesting is that he never seems to debate his decisions much, at least not in front of the camera. He's deadset on going one way, then something happens, and he quickly seems to reverse course. I know that's the way things happen in life, especially when your life takes a serious hit, but he just seems to change his decisions too easily for a person who was able to resist his father's desire for him to join the force. Maybe it's a mellowing with age. Also, that was an abrupt ending. 'I love you. I love you, too.' Credits. Um, OK then? I get the point (I think), as it relates to reconciliation, but it seemed too sudden.

So after that generally disappointing film, I put in Dead Silence. . . then promptly took it out about the time it became clear the possessed ventriloquist doll had ripped out the lady's tongue (demonstrated by the blood pouring from her mouth). At that point I still figured I was going to sleep a bit after the film, rather than just hit the road in the wee morning hours, and I didn't need that in my dreams. Which means it's still waiting for me to go to sleep. Nooooo!

Ahem. Sorry about that. So instead we watched 3:10 to Yuma. This felt like a movie that wanted to play with conventions of the genre a bit. Members of an escort posse that can barely handle a gun outlast seasoned gunmen. The notorious stagecoach robber Ben Wade can be an extremely brutal man, but also an aspiring artist, and possibly a romantic. He's got a bit of the Bruce Wayne in him, shaped by the (separate) circumstances under which he lost his parents, though I'd need to watch it again, knowing what happened to them to have a better idea of what it did to him. Meanwhile, Christian Bale's Dan Evans character reminds me a little of Joe Kidd, and a little of William Munny from Unforgiven, and maybe a little of Dean Martin's characters from those Westerns he did with John Wayne (Rio Bravo?). He's missing a foot, an unsuccessful farmer, with an older son who's openly disdainful of a father who refuses to fight those who wrong him, but even with everything he lacks, and how powerless he seems, he's got his pride, and that carries him forward quite a ways.

I was talking about playing with convention. Early in the film we learn that Dan was in a sharpshooting regiment during the Civil War. naturally, I expected that this bit of information would prove critical during the film. Well, unless you count shooting a gently lobbed package of TNT with a revolver on a horse as sharpshooting (though it's certainly more than I can manage), Dan never really demonstrates any great skill at shooting humans, at least not compared to what we've come to expect of "sharpshooters" in movies. Another thing was that for a long time, we don't know how Dan lost his foot, but Wade's righthand man, Charlie Prince, is wearing a jacket that reminds me of a Confederate uniform, and we learned that Dan was fighting for the Union. Plus, there's a scene where Dan could shoot Charlie as he rides away, but doesn't, and Charlie sits atop his horse along the horizon, in what seems a significant moment. So I was sure there was history between those two. well, Dan not shooting Charlie became relevant later (since Charlie commands Wade's forces in the man's absence), but it, again, wasn't what I expected.

The thing I like is the film didn't feel rushed, like it needed to hurry to the next gunfight (though there's plenty of people getting shot throughout the film). It took its time, and gave us some interesting character interaction at several parts, usually involving Wade, and how the others play off him.

So hey, maybe something comic-related tomorrow, in case you'd forgotten what this blog normally traffics in. I had, until I started looking through the archives. Been away so long. . .

Friday, March 28, 2008

Forgotten Movie Review

Given this was the one film I got a chance to see this week I actually ostly enjoyed, I'm not sure how The Simpsons Movie slipped my mind yesterday, but it did. Probably because it was the first one I saw, and the pain from the other's partially obscured it. No use worrying about it, since I can try and discuss it today.

First off, I didn't laugh as much as I hoped I would, but there was laughter, so that's nice. The scene in particular I remember enjoying was when the townspeople come after Homer, but they're headed the wrong way, which causes Homer to lean out the window and laugh at them for that. Naturally, they hear him, and reverse course. There were other things, but I can't recall them now. Sadly, President Schwarzenegger didn't tickle my funny bone, and I had kind of thought he would. Maybe with more lines.

I must admit, Marge's video note for Homer got me. Overdone, sure, but this is Homer we're talking about. Subtlety is likely to be lost on him, so much like with Futurama's Calculon, you've got to go over the top a bit, talk about how you've lost faith, and can't be with him forever anymore, etc.

The problem I had with the movie is that there seemed to be too many things they wanted to poke fun at, and so it felt a bit scattershot at times. I think the primary bad guy initiated his evil plan because it netted him big bucks in government contracts, but I'm not sure about that. He could just have been an environmental extremist, or just plain nuts. Maybe that's a weakness of taking something normally done in half-hour segments, and stretching it out beyond that. The average plot isn't strong enough to sustain a whole movie, so it has to be a bit cobbled together. it was still enjoyable, there were just times where things seemed added in (Bart being drunk in the hotel room, or the Tom Hanks cameo).

Oh, I remembered something else that made me laugh! The scene of Bart and Flanders fishing, and Bart's immediate reaction when he loses Ned's fishing rod. I'm still not sure I believe Bart would turn to Flanders' for a father figure, not because he likes Homer that much, more because he seems so disdainful of Ned. But there were some interesting moments there, like the hot chocolate Flanders-style, though I must confess to a moment of nerdism. He started adding all those sprinkles, whipped topping, etc., and my brain said "Hey, Rod or Todd said a long time ago they weren't allowed to have sugar, what's the deal? Has Flanders truly loosened up? And wouldn't that have terrified these boys, so used to their father's extreme caution? Might they believe their father has been possessed? Or maybe they're kids and getting sugar washes away such concerns."

OK, that last bit is kind of false. Everything after the part about Rod and Todd saying they can't have sugar occurred to me as I was typing this. Only that stupid continuity bit came along during the film, which is probably good. I fi was thinking about all that other stuff during the movie, then that would mean it wasn't very engaging. So, The Simpsons Movie. Generally entertaining, though not as much as I'd been hoping (though better than I feared), and looking very good in comparison to those other movies I mentioned yesterday.

FYI, I didn't go see Run, Fat Boy, Run today, because Alex couldn't manage to wake up until nearly 5 in the afternoon, and I had to be back out in the boonies with the dogs by 7, and it wasn't the sort of movie I wanted to pay to go see by myself. Maybe tomorrow. Alex swears he'll be awake when I swing by, though that'd be the first time this week. Boy has got to stop partying all night.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Less Than Detailed Movie Discussion

So hey, I'm sick. I'm not sure what's the matter, whether it's an allergic reaction to all the pet dander around here or something more severe. Either way, I wanted to do another little post, since I've had the opportunity to see some flicks I hadn't previously, though I wouldn't say that the time spent watching them was being put to good use. I probably should wait for tomorrow, since Alex wants to go see Run Fat Boy Run, but I've been trying to put this post up since yesterday evening, and the only computer I have access to hasn't been cooperative. Besides, Alex and I have a tendency to make plans that never come to fruition, so who knows if we'll make it to theaters tomorrow?

Balls of Fury: I'm sure I laughed at something, I just can't remember specifically what it was. I like lowbrow humor just fine (Which is why I can watch Dodgeball so many times. Well, that and I prefer Ben Stiller to play imbecilic jerks, as opposed to goofball losers) but the movie didn't really connect. I couldn't seem to muster up much concern for the characters. Then again, I'm not sure the creators were shooting for that. Things seemed to develop a tad too abruptly, like everyone was in a hurry to get out of there. Clearly though, I've watched too many sports movies, because I was disappointed when Randy Daytona didn't get his rmeatch with his adversary from the '88 Olympics. I wanted to see it, and I'm not sure it would have mattered whether he got his revenge, or tasted bitter defeat again. The most disconcerting thing was that I didn't feel amused by any of Christopher Walken's antics, which is abnormal for me. Perhaps that was the first sign of my current illness.

Click: Hey speaking of me not laughing at Christopher Walken (again, a troubling sign), here's another movie. I would like to have a remote control that could do all the neat stuff demonstrated in this film, but I'm probably not high on the list of people who would get one if they were available (you have to figure there'd be regulation on who could have one, right? Why am I thinking about that? The illness is strengthening its grip). I found the film to be a bit darker than I expected. I figured that Adam Sandler would have some fun with the remote, then learn a valuable lesson about abusing its power, but the way the last part of the film just beats down on us about how he's ignored his family, that was more of a downer than I expected.

Wild Hogs: Why did I put this in the DVD player? Oh yeah, Alex was having a power nap (one moving into its fifth hour by this point), and he didn't have any other films I was even remotely interested in. Plus, I'd heard some less than positive things about it, and the car wreck mentality took over. That mentality will be the death of me, or at least whatever ability I had to critically judge films. But I could easily have gone my whole life without seeing William H. Macy's hind end. He was the reason I had some glimmer of hope for the film, as I've usually enjoyed his works. And did there seem to be a lot of jokes about homosexuality to anyone else (especially early in the film)? I'm not sure what we were supposed to be getting out of that (yes, we were supposed to laugh, but I'm not entirely sure why). I am surprised that one cop didn't reappear during the final conflict between the Hogs and the "real" bikers. He seemed like such a big deal early on, I figured he would have gone ahead and followed them across state lines.

Number 23: To be fair to this movie, I was only half watching. The rest of the time was spent going through Alex' comics, several of which he got from me, and reading the ones I was feeling nostalgic for. This movie reminds me of the Michael Douglas movie, The Game, because it seems to go from pointing to one conclusion to another (though The Game seemed to just bounce back and forth between two conclusions, whether this was real or not). I wasn't all that surprised by the reveal of the author's identity, and the movie struggled with me, largely because I had a hard time buying into this obsession with the number 23. Which is odd, given that the number 13 seems to have some odd hold on me, in the sense that when I'm by myself trying to sort something out, and I can't think of the next word I want, "thirteen" is the one that comes to my lips, even though it never has any relation to what it is I was trying to work through. Anyway, the parts of the movie that were ostensibly pages from the book were the most interesting parts to me, just based on the way the world, and the people in it, looked. Very stylized, with the bright whites and very dark shadows, and the fact that they rarely seemed to intermingle. Those parts were the kind of thing I might have enjoyed sitting down and dissecting for the film classes I took.

Oh, one last thing before I wrap this up. Alex' dad was watching The Village on Wednesday, and I was thinking how I kind of like the movie, if you leave out the whole reveal at the end, and I started to think about what kind of story they could have done other than that. I thought about a story of people who cut themselves off from larger society, just not to such an extremist degree (in other words, if you want them to appear colonial, have it set closer to that time). Then, based on the idea these people cut themselves off to get away from the darker elements of society, just do a story about someone in the village becoming a serial killer (or some sort of moderately violent criminal) who's adopted the visiage of a childhood boogeyman, and the townspeople have to discern their identity. You can still have the love story set around that, I would think, and it could probably serve that story in some way.

Now, I think I'm going to lie down, at least until one of the dogs demands to be let outside, which should be about five minutes after I fall alseep. Nah, that's too pessimistic. It'll be two hours, or thereabouts, if the last few days are any indication.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pursued By The Need To Blog

Might as well at least try and keep with my promise to try posting this week. All the canines around here aren't making it easy, though. A few minutes ago, one of them started barking, code that they want out, usually for bathroom-related reasons. But once I'd let the dog in question loose, she retreated back into her crate because one of the other hunds decided to get territorial over, as best I can tell, a chew bone she didn't give a damn about five minutes earlier. She scooped it up as the much smaller dog approached, and began growling, even when I eventually carried the little dog outside to take care of business. Alex was right, it's like dealing with a house full of kids, all selfish, needy, and intensely annoying to me. But that's not relevant to today's discussion, beyond whatever adverse effect it has on this post..

I said previously that I'd read enough books dealing with World War 2 to last for quite awhile. Apparently not, since today I'm discussing James Stewart Thayer's Pursuit. Whereas I finished off six other books in five days, this one took the better half of a week to complete, and it wasn't due to the length of the book.

It's the story of a German soldier's escape from a POW camp in Washington State, because he's been given a mission to kill someone very important to the United States at that time. What, exactly that assassination is supposed to accomplish in the long run is unclear to me. I can't see it causing the U.S. to withdraw from the war, or leading to a series of stunning losses by American troops on the various fronts. Maybe it's for spite. For whatever purpose, the story follows this POW and his ally/hostage across the U.S. as they evade the feds, Secret Service, and local law enforcement through methods both clever, and a few that seem to be simply that the POW is that damn good. Which is at least marginally backed up by the description we're given of his activites prior to his capture, so it isn't completely surprising. Their chief pursuer is a Secret Service agent, hardened by loss, who has tried - and most succeeded - to bury his painful past, even as he was contemplating leaving federal employment.

One thing that strikes me as beig not entirely successful is that attempt to draw connections between the POW and the Secret Service agent. Both the POW and his ally/hostage remark on their similarities. Yet, the POW succeeds most on his guile and skill, occasionaly relying on sheer force of will, while stubborn determination seems to be all Agent Wren has.

There's a fair bit of back-and-forth in the book about codes, sending radio messages, and breaking the codes for each message. In of itself, that doesn't interest me much (I was never much for word jumbles and things of that sort), but it did introduce to the character I was most interested in, a radio operator assigned to a remote Labrador listening post, all by himself. The reason for his exile appealed to both my juvenile sense of humor, and what's left of my "stick it to the man" attitude. Plus, the description of what he does to pass the time up there all alone, and his frequent requests for a transfer were entertaining reading.

As for the rest of the book, it never reached that stage some books do, where I'm just flying through it, and I stay up into the wee hours of the morning because I don't want to wait to learn how it ends. This was a book read in fits and starts, and one I contemplated not finishing a couple of times. But by that point I was already at least 150 pages in, so it seemed silly to have wasted that time on a book I didn't finish. Draw from that statement what you will about the book.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Raven and the Raven Deception

So here's the deal: I'm leaving town again tomorrow (more family-related stuff). I ought to be back in town by the 31st at the latest, and I'm hoping there will be some internet access where I'm going, so I might even be able to do a little blogging. It'll likely be book-related, but that's better than nothing, right? And hey, I'll see my buddy Alex while I'm gone, which means there'll certainly be a massive movie post or two when I get back. Good times, huh?

So, for the last post I'm certain to do before I leave, I wanted to talk about a pair of books I read during my time out of town this week. As I mentioned yesterday, there wasn't any internet (or cable for that matter), so I turned to my old friends, the books, to pass the time. Six of them to be exact, over five days, and I can now say I am quite finished with World War 2 related fiction for awhile. Today, I'm only going to talk about The Raven and The Raven Deception by Michael Murray.

The Raven introduces us to August Street, who works for a research foundation, and has been sent to England to review some WW2 documents that are under consideration to be declassified, as part of a joint U.S./U.K. thing, with Street representing the U.S. In the course of reviewing these files, Street comes across Operation Raven. There's almost nothing to it, but the U.K. rep, a friend of Street's recommended against declassifying. Even though it basically doesn't matter what he says at that point, Street chooses to go digging, uncovers a startling secret, etc. The Raven Deception deals with the fallout of what Street chose to do with what he learned.

First things first. These books needed a better editor. It's a bunch of little things, but there was inconsistent punctuation, lack of spacing between words, double indented paragraphs for no apparent reason, lack of new paragraphs where there ought to be, so on and so on. Not hugely detrimental to my reading the books, but it did start to wear on me after awhile (of course, I was stressed for other reasons too, so the book may be unfairly taking the brunt of that). The more irritating things were the occasional shift in scene location from one paragraph to the next, with no indication that had happened. You'd be reading a conversation in Britain, then you're reading interactions by characters in Russia all of the sudden. Usually there's a break between those, to indicate that you're moving to somewhere else for awhile, but that wasn't always the case, and I found it jarring and mildly annoying. Plus, The Raven Deception reprinted, verbatim, a 23 page sequence from The Raven. While it had the advantage of letting me skim that section, it felt like a cheat, to pad the book. A summary, and more time spent elsewhere might have been better.

Even though it had more of the grammatical errors, I enjoyed The Raven more. I have no idea how historically plausible its premise is, it certainly seems like a stretch (basically, SPOILER!, the British parachute commandos into Germany, wreck Hitler's train, kill Hitler, and use a British actor to impersonate him long enough to cancel Operation Sealion. Except a German patrol arrives as they withdraw, and the only way for the commandos to escape is for the the actor to pretend to be an injured Fuhrer - as the real one was burned beyond recognition - so the patrol will focus on getting him medical attention.) It's basically an attempt to explain Hitler's odd tactical decisions in the later stages of the war, as well as the defection of Rudolph Hess. The premise taxed my suspension of disbelief just about as far as it can go, but Murray made a game enough attempt to explain how it could work that I went along with it, and the parts that deal with the inner turmoil of one Archie Smythes, as well as the toll that the mission takes on him over time made it mostly pay off. I'm not sure I could feel his terror, though if it had been more noticeable the book might not have lasted as long.

The Raven Deception felt more paint-by-numbers, as we get the usual story about the shadowy government agencies flexing their muscles by wrecking the life of the guy who won't just play ball, then they decide to kill him, but he somehow survives until new characters appear from (almost) nowhere to save him, and are able to do so somehow or the other. The sequences involving Steven Dietrich (an American born German who flies in the Luftwaffe during WW2) were generally entertaining, but you get more that that in The Raven anyway. One thing I would have liked to see more of in The Raven Deception was the difficulties between the United Kingdom and Russia, which arose as a result of Arthur Street's decision of what to do with the information he had gathered. It pops up twice in the book, then becomes a major part of the conclusion, rather abruptly I felt. It's basically explained as it happens, and I was not entirely pleased with that. There was also a part of the story with a character from The Raven being captured by the police in Spain, and then tortured, and I was never all that sure what was going on there.

My advice is if you're going to read one, read The Raven, assuming that the premise as I described it didn't exceed your oddball tolerances.

Friday, March 21, 2008

What I Bought 3/21/08

And I'm back. Family business took me out of town and into the wilderness, where there was no internet. Horrible, I know. Anyway, did you miss me? Don't answer, either way it would probably be disillusioning. At any rate, best to ease back into blogging, and it can't get much easier than a review of one book, Ken having sold out of all his Batman & the Outsiders already, so I'll just have to get it the next time I'm at the store. So away we go.

Immortal Iron Fist #13 - With nothing to say about the cover, we move to the issue itself. Danny confronts Yu-Ti, and asks him to stand down as ruler of K'un-L'un, citing evidence he has to prove Yu-Ti's unworthiness to rule. Yu-Ti, being an egotistical, villainous sort, plays into Danny's hands, as has Xao and his HYDRA goons. Next issue should involve all sorts of nifty, cleverly named attacks being unleashed on various suckers.

I'm guessing that David Aja only drew three pages of this month's offering so that he has time to do the majority, if not all of next month's big conclusion. As it is, he draws what were probably the most important three pages, since they're what really kicks things into gear. For some reason, Kano's work in the issue reminds me a little of Bruce Timm in the faces, and a little of Joe Kubert, though that might be the inking (which I think is done by himself, if the credits are any indication) more than anything. I'm not as big a fan of Tonci Zonjic's work, which makes up the majority of the issue, though I though it was funny that the way he draws Jerwyn reminds me of Bill from King of the Hill.

I like the confrontation between Lei Kung and Davos, if not how it was drawn (lacked energy, but they were probably just sparring, so that's not so bad). I'm wondering if there'll be any arrivals to the battle in next month's that weren't hinted at in this issue. Any surprise guests, assembling on the battleground perhaps? Ah, probably not, and the comic probably couldn't contain that much outstanding. It's this glossier paper they use these days. It makes colors stand out more, but it's just not as absorbent when it comes to awesomeness and the like.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Respect The Teen Hero Teams!

One of the things I enjoyed with this week's Nova was Rich's respectful attitude towards Warlock's old buddies, the New Mutants. First, he tells Warlock that he'd heard they did OK. Then he gets in Tyro's face when he started speaking poorly of them. Although Rich might have been responding to Tyro speaking poorly of humans in general, though Tyro's attitude in that regard is fairly understandable. Humans have lifeglow, so to the Technarcy, they're just food, which is not a perspective that would breed respect, I would imagine. Oops, went off-topic.

Still, it was nice to see that Rich understands that when you haven't seen your friends in a long time, the last thing you want to hear about how some of them are depowered, or dead, or demony-things (or whatever it was Illyana was in that New X-Men arc), or performing covert assassination work because Cyclops can't get his own hands dirty. Granted, Rich wouldn't know most of that, but even if he did, it's just not welcome news, and Rich has been down that road himself. So he's not about to speak poorly of the kids that just try and do their best. Yes, I'm being sappy now. It happens every so often.

Friday, March 14, 2008

It Rises Now Before Me, A Bright And Cheery Panda

The 2008 Cape Comiccon sounds awesome! {Hey! I said there wasn't going to be anymore plugging of the convention this month! You trying to make me a liar?} No, I just wanted to know if I'd get to go. {Well, I suppose you might be able to come along. If I bring a backpack, you could ride along in that. But no misbehaving between now and then.} None? {Well, OK, you can misbehave a little. You're only human, after all. Er, you know what I mean.} I'll try. {Great. *deep, booming voice* Now let us begin!}

What was that about? {I, don't, know.} Maybe your brain shorted out. I could bonk it, that might help. {I don't think brain damage will be fixed by more brain damage, so kindly direct the bonks elsewhere, if you don't mind.} OK, first Bonk goes to Iron Man. {What for, or are you just pandering to Sallyp?} No, it's because he wouldn't let Nighthawk pick his own Defenders team. {That did kind of stink. Stark cheated us out of more Hellcat, curse his goatee.} See? I did have a good reason. Then I'm going to Bonk the High Evolutionary for only caring about his work, and dooming the universe. {I don't know. There's something about his comments, I think he knows something about Ultron's new body he isn't sharing.} What? {Not sure. Check back with me later.} Okey-doke. Rick Flag gets a Bonk. He betrays Rustam, but he doesn't care. {I know! He's such a jerk! I'm not sure whether we're supposed to like him or not, but he's doesn't make it easy. He did chip one of Batman's ear dealies once, though, that's got to count for something.} Maybe. Jamie's not being very nice either, so he gets a Bonk too. {Oh come on! He's clearly suffering post-traumatic stress disorder! How about some hug therapy? Heh, hug therapy. *laughs loudly*} What's so funny? {I just reminded myself of last night's Metalocalypse episode. I'm not a big fan of that one, but the line about a wrestling hold being "hug therapy" was pretty good.} Why can't I watch it? {It's too sophisticated.} *ABP raises an eyebrow* {Fine, it's too profane for you. Happy?} No, I still want to watch it. {Well, you can't, so move on.}

You never let me do anything fun! {Hey, I'm planning to bring you to the con, what more do you want? Can we continue?} *monotone* I guess. Hugs for Drax and Gamora, because turning into a Babel Spire looks painful. And Rictor could probably use a Hug too right now. {The compassion in your voice is overwhelming.} *still monotone* Yes, I am full of compassion, that's why I'm going to Hug the Old Rustam, even though he was a slow old man that couldn't avenge his son. {Yep, you're full of something. Not sure it's compassion.} Hey! {Oh, now you put some energy into it.} I'll show you! Hugs for all the heroes that got killed by OMACs! {Wow, that's a lot of hugs.} Darn right!

Let's see, Blue Beetle gets Applause for tricking the OMACs. Warlock gets Applause for trying to change how his people do things. Groot get Applause for being Groot. Windfall gets Applause for saving the rest of the Squad from Chemo. {Good luck finding something of her to applaud.} Well yeah, but that doesn't mean she doesn't deserve the applause. {I suppose that's true. Anything else?} No, I think I'm done.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Advertising For A Friend

Short post tonight. Very short. Just long enough for me to let you know that we're only about six weeks away from the 2008 Cape Girardeau Comic Convention. Whoo! It's April 26th and 27th, in the Southeast Missouri State University Rec Center South, just like last year.

Now I know that my audience, sparse though it may be, is widely scattered, and that some of you are thousands of miles from here, but come on, it'll be fun! Come visit the City of Roses. Come see the world's only inland cape! Oh wait, I think that got destroyed to make room for a railroad. So come see where the world's only inland cape used to be! The convention website is here.

Oh, and I'll also mention, for any wrestling fans in attendance, Ken Murphy's setting up a wrestling show for Sunday evening after the convention as well.

OK, no more plugging the convention, at least until the week before. Just want to get the word out.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What I Bought 3/12/08

So many books this week, so I'm going to try and streamline a bit, whatever that winds up meaning, or else I'll never get finished. Take a deep breath, we're going to dive on in.

Amazing Spider-Girl #18 - That cover is actually also a panel in this issue. Not a criticism, since I'd rather have covers that tell us about the comic, personally, just an observation. It's quite the energetic issue. Lots of backstabbing, betrayals, temporary partnerships, surprise entrances, and the like. The end result seems to be that Hobgoblin will be taking a break from his attempts to become the new Kingpin, and he's going to have to recruit some more help.

It's an enjoyable issue, at least in part because it's mostly a big fight scene. Even so, there's a lot of plot threads that get at least temporarily wrapped up. The one thing I wonder about is where DeFalco plans to go for opponents for Spider-Girl for the near future. The solicitations make it look like May plans to rededicate herself to having a life outside the webs, but I'm sure she'll still have some super-villainy to deal with. Have to wait and see I suppose. 4 out of 5.

Annihilation: Conquest #5 - I wonder why Ultron has a bubble on his head on the cover. This issue teaches us what Ultron's plan is, and how he wound up with the Phalanx. It even ties in to Mighty Avengers, which I guess means they knew how that story was going to go well before Cho finished drawing it, depending on how far ahead this was planned out. As far as schemes go, it's not bad, though I still prefer my idea about combining the transmode virus with the very ground around them. Also, the Starlord team gets a bit crazy, and speaking of crazy, Ronan's begun his plan to spare his people from becoming Phalanx. Spare them. . . by killing them.

On the first reading, I couldn't figure out what the Starlord team's plan would accomplish at this stage. I've since figured out at least one thing, and that could make things interesting. I really want to see how Abnett and Lanning draw all these different plots together at the end, assuming they do all come together. Generally, I liked Raney's art, but there were places it looked rushed, the Mighty Avengers flashback for one. Maybe that's just part of his style though. 4 out of 5.

Booster Gold #7 - I know the cover's telling us there are OMACs in front of them, but I keep looking at it and thinking, "Behind you, you fools!" So Rip Hunter is mad at Booster, Booster and Ted are trying to survive an OMAC encounter, Max Lord is a jerk, and the Time Stealers are having a meeting. All in all, things look bad for our heroes, since I'm not even sure where they would need to start trying to set things right.

I can't quite say what it is I like about this book. Maybe it's the fact that since nobody has any idea Booster's out there protecting the time stream, the book doesn't have any effect on other titles, and so it can pretty much do whatever it wants. Zero Hour callback? Sure! Getting drunk with Jonah Hex? Hey, that whiskey saved Superman's life! That kind of thing. And Dan Jurgens is kind of like Ron Frenz in terms of art, not flashy, but definitely not hurting the story, though perspective seems off at times in this issue, such as when Ted fired the Beefeater's staff at the OMAC. Looked like he was shooting past it. 4 out of 5.

Nova #11 - Hey, Maleev drew the Phalanx infection on Rich's face. Just barely, but it is there, in the blue light. Nice touch on an otherwise less than engaging cover. Rich has made it to Kvch, but no one's home. Well, almost no one. Guess who's there, trying to preserve their species? Then the virus starts freaking out in Rich. Anyway, Rich has unfortunately come a long way to not be able to get much help, as it's a matter of priorities for both parties involved, and they have different worries. Meanwhile, Drax and Gamora reach Kvch, and start having a similar reaction to Rich's, except there's no one around to help them, and things start to go downhill from there.

I like the issues that get brought up here. Who do you save, and what sacrifices are permissible to do so? Also, I like what the character that came back (who I don't want to spoil) is trying to do, and how difficult that must be. And Paul Pelletier's artwork is always a good thing from my perspective, although it took me a while to recognize his work. I think Nova is colored a bit darker than what I'm used to from Pelletier's work, so it threw me. I like how he reflects the mood of that character I won't name, though. It's amusing. 5 out of 5.

Punisher #55 - Does Frank look like he's sporting a gut there? The eight generals that Frank screwed over way back in the Mother Russia arc are out to get him, and much of the issue is spent with them debating how to do that while on a golf course. This is interspersed with Nick Fury getting hammered and picking bar fights, excerpts from a book about a battle where Castle was the only survivor, and at the end, a conversation with a special forces colonel. Set-up in its purest form.

Plain and simple, it appears Frank Castle's military past is going to come back and bite him in the ass. Ought to be very interesting to see how Frank handles this issue, especially if those generals have him pegged properly. Not much else to say other than that. It wasn't a particularly engaging issue, but better than I would expect for an issue comprised of people talking about Frank Castle. It would have been a nice breather after last issue's gory final showdown, but with two months in between, just a bit slow. 2 out of 5.

Suicide Squad #7 - It's an alright cover. Last issue, it appeared Eiling had things going his way. That's still somewhat in effect, but the pendulum has begun swinging back the other way, either because people were better prepared than he thought, or they weren't quite as amoral as he thought. Rick Flag is confronted with a ghost of his past, and predictably, doesn't give a crap. And next issue promises blindfolded Deadshot against a dude in powered armor. That ought to be pretty good.

I like how Waller responds to the situation. She's fairly undisturbed by getting smacked in the face, but she's annoyed the traitorous techie got capped. The death of one of the character's disappointed me a little, as I thought Ostrander had set up an interesting dynamic between them and another character last issue. Guess he figures with it just being a mini-series that there wasn't much future in it, so what the hell. I can't figure out why the pages were split up between 3 pencilers the way they were. Granted, each of them is dealing with a different part of the story, but a couple of those parts had been dealt with earlier in the issue as well, and drawn byPina at that point, so why switch artists now. On the plus side, I think they have fairly similar styles, so it's not a jarring shift. 4 out of 5.

The Last Defenders #1 - Jeez, will these reviews ever end? I'm hopeful Nighthawk gets a good treatment in this. I grew fond of him from the Busiek/Larsen Defenders. So Nighthawk wants the Defenders to be part of the 50 State initiative, with him in charge, naturally. Stark grants it, but he picks the roster and the state they get. let me tell ya, it isn't a prize state, and I'm not so sure about the roster either. They quickly get after a Sons of the Serpent group that's up to some mystical thing, and stuff goes wrong.

This team is seriously overbalanced. I get Stark's reasoning behind having considerable power on the team, but there are times a lighter touch is advisable. So much for Tony's claims of being an expert at constructing rosters. I don't have much else to say, except that everyone looks really chunky in this comic. Blazing Skull in particular needs to cut back on sweets. 3 out of 5.

X-Factor #29 - I get what the cover's going for, but the perspective feels wrong. X-Factor is continuing to fragment. Madrox is feeling adrift, unsure if he has a purpose anymore. Within a few panels he demonstrates his attention to detail, and his ability to jump to conclusions. Then things start getting weird. Their building is in space, then it isn't. Then Rictor's gone, and they're chasing him, but he's someplace else entirely. Then Guido gets hit by a rock. That was kind of amusing. I do like this villain, so that should make things fun for awhile, provided Madrox doesn't flip out and starting beating him like we're back in Peter Parker's "I am the Spider!" phase. I don't have anything else. 3 out of 5.

That's more than enough of that. Why the heck can't I get a more even distribution? C'mon Marvel and DC, alter your shipping schedules to accommodate me!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Lips Are Moving But No Sound Is Coming Out

I like watching television with the captions on. I have had roommate's who can attest that, in fact, the closed captions are always on with my TV. Oh, I do turn them off occasionally, usually during football games, when they have an annoying tendency to run at the same level as the scoreboard, meaning I can't see how the other games are going. For the most part though, they stay on.

I can't say why exactly I started doing that. I think it might have been so I could watch TV and do homework simultaneously. I can get pretty easily distracted by noise, and the captions eliminate that issue. Except sometimes, I keep the sound and the captions on, like when I've watched foreign films, or animes, but also just for your everyday shows like the Simpsons.

Sometime yesterday afternoon, it occurred to me that maybe comics are related to it. Comics have pictures and words, together on the same page, but no sound. So maybe it's a mixture that I'm comfortable with based on those past experiences? I'm used to having to try and distinguish emotion, or intent, based on the illustration that accompanies the words, so perhaps it's not that big a deal to read the words on the screen and try and interpret meaning from what the actor is doing as they speak (gets a little harder when the captions are running noticeably behind the actors).

On the other hand, my friend Alex enjoys comics (or he used to), but he's not the overall reader that I am. And unlike me, he's not a big fan of reading while watching TV, as I learned when we tried to watch Excel Saga together. The English voice for the main character makes my head hurt, so I wanted to watch it in Japanese, but he had no interest if he had to read subtitles, and it's hard for me to do anything else with that sqwaking going on in the background, so we eventually agreed to watch something we could both enjoy in English instead. So maybe it's less a comprehension of words and pictures together, and more a reading thing.

Monday, March 10, 2008

It's Such An Odd Lineup - The Kooky Quartet

Even though I've never read an actual comic with that lineup (besides a flashback in Thunderbolts #9) there's an Avengers lineup I've always been intrigued by, the one called "Cap's Kooky Quartet".

It was Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch, the last three making their first appearances as part of the team. The first time I'd heard of them was Avengers #27 (the second volume, with Busiek/Perez), because it was a 100 Page Monster, with various old issues as extra material, and sense the actual story in that issue dealt with a new lineup, so did most of the reprints. One of the reprints actually went through the history of the Avengers lineups, as part of a news broadcast (being watched by Benjamin Grimm, no less). As an aside, I like that Avengers lineup changes are so publicly announced that the media reports on them.

During the news report, there was a mention of a time (Avengers #16, I think) when Thor went back to Asgard, and Giant Man, Wasp, and Iron Man all had personal business that meant they couldn't be Avengers. So Iron Man sponsors this hotshot sometime foe of his, and Pietro and Wanda just show up, asking for an opportunity to change their ways. Poor Cap is coming back from a mission with Rick Jones in some South American country dealing during all this, and gets back just in time to find out he has to lead a cast of rookies. Good luck, pal.

I think the thing that sold me on it was that as the newscaster mentioned this roster, they had a picture of that squad fighting Dr. Doom. I remember gawking at that, wondering how that team could beat a person of Doom's power (besides the obvious answer of "It's a Doombot"). I know the Scarlet Witch was set up where she could pretty much do whatever the plot requires, but it still seems like a woefully underpowered lineup for the Avengers (which makes me chuckle when I think how people said the same thing about the pre-Sentry New Avengers lineup). Which is part of the attraction, I think. As the Avengers, they face severe threats, and it's fun to see how teams overcome that with strategy, teamwork, luck, or whatever. It's part of what I've enjoyed about what I've read of Tony Bedard's work on Exiles, the team doesn't win through overwhelming power, but through some usually clever plan. It's that "gritty underdog" archetype so common to sports movies.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Time Makes Fools Of Us All

You know how sometimes when you see someone yawn, it makes you want to yawn as well? If today was any indication, I'm apparently susceptible to dog yawns as well. I was out walking this morning, and as I went by a house, I observed a dog in the backyard yawning. Once I finished chuckling at how its tongue kind of unrolled as it yawned, I found myself yawning. Seemed a bit odd.

Anyway, I don't have a particularly inspired post today, just something I read in Avengers #275 that made me chuckle. It's not really a fair thing to chuckle at, because it was accurate when Roger Stern wrote it, but it is funny how things change.

The Absorbing Man and Titania, having been thwarted in their attempts to catch a plane out of New York after helping trash Avengers Mansion, have informed Zemo of this difficulty. Zemo takes it all in stride, and asks them to go to a hospital where some of the Avengers have been sighted, in this case, Wasp and a comatose Hercules. Crusher and Titania show up and begin terrorizing the people at the hospital, and the Wasp decides that she and Scott Lang/Ant-Man (who showed up at the hospital to see if he could help) have to stop them.

Scott's response? 'We have as much chance of stopping those two as Spielberg had of winning an Oscar!' Yes, I'm easily amused, but it's interesting to see what a difference 20 years can make. To their credit though, our heroes did defeat the villains. Which, now that I think of it, doesn't reflect so well on Spider-Man (who's the reason why the baddies didn't make their flight). He couldn't stop them, but Ant-Man and the Wasp could? Then again, Spidey was outnumbered, and Absorbing Man had to heft a loaded passenger plane over his head to make Spidey give up and leave, so extenuating circumstances. Also, I think Roger Stern may have amped the Wasp up, powerwise, when he got the book. I'm just rambling now I think.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

This Isn't How I Pictured It Going

Yeah, the gameplay went even worse this week than it did last week. At least last week, there were little success I could point to, like hurting Kingdom Come Superman. This week, it was a repeat of the last game from last week, where I just couldn't hit anything.

I tried a Doom Patrol team, and I had this lovely plan of using Mento to telekinetically move Robotman, then Cliff could use Charge, and smack the enemy. Problem is, Robotman's movement was not so great, and my opponents basically stayed far enough away it wouldn't have been feasible. Then when I actually got close enough, I just couldn't catch a break. I'd push a character to attack someone, and roll snake eyes. So I take damage from that, in addition to the damage I got from pushing (going two turns in a row). Or I would attack and miss, and use my one reroll, and get the same roll I got the first time. Oh, and they kept Outwitting my defensive powers, so they could more readily smack the crap out of me.

So that's really all I've got to say about that. Oh well, I've got a whole week to try and come up with a new plan, so hopefully I'll have better luck next week. Until tomorrow.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Can't See Through This, Too Much Bamboo

Woohoo, you got all these comics for me? {No, I bought all these comics for me. You just get to read them. Some of them. You are not going through all of them for today's post.} Why not? {Because we'll be here all night if you do, and I'm not prepared to do that.} Fine.

Well, the Thing needs a Hug, with the mutating and all, and so do all those villains that tried to attack the Fantastic Four in Washington D.C. They didn't even know what they're doing. {But just think, when they're old and gray, they can sit back and tell their kids about the time they kept part of the Fantastic Four occupied for about five minutes.} I don't think they'd want to tell that story. {Better than Stilt-Man telling them about how Ms. Marvel zapped him in the junk six times once.} I guess. Oh, Valkyrie gets a Hug too, because everyone hated her coffee. {Better learn to make better coffee then.} She's a fighter, why should she know how to make coffee?! {I bet Iron Fist knows how to make coffee.} He does not! {Yeah, you're probably right.}

Mr. Hyde gets a Bonk for beating up on Jarvis, and Titania and the Absorbing Man each get a Bonk for trying to attack a man in a coma. Dr. Light gets a Bonk for being kind of a coward. {I don't know, I kind of prefer him this way, as opposed to his post-Identity Crisis style.} Nighthawk gets a Bonk for attacking people just because they want to be Defenders. {He likes being leader, I think, and this was going to threaten that, because he figured some of those guys might have better credentials than he does. From a leadership perspective though, I'm not sure he had anything to worry about.} So see, he was being a jerk. {No arguments there.}

Reed gets Applause for shutting down the Superhuman Registration Act. {Until he decided to help put it into action.} But that's not in any of the comics you bought, so I can't judge that! {Damn right it's not in any of those comics I bought! I don't support the adventures of Reed Richards, Stark's Futurist Lackey!} OK, OK, just calm down. {I am calm! I am the model of mental health, why do you keep saying I'm crazy! I'm not crazy! Don't make me burn this place down to prove it!} I didn't call you crazy! {I know, I'm just messing with, as is my wont.} Butthead. {Ouch.} Well, no Applause for you, but Hawkeye gets some for trying to help the Thunderbolts turns things around. {And for shooting U.S. Agent in the face. Can't get enough of that.} I don't think that's so great. {Clearly, you haven't read enough comics with U.S. Agent in them.} I think She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel need some Applause for both trying to help the Thing, and not destroying the hospital during their fight. {Are you sure we should applaud them for not destroying property?} What's this "we"? I do all the applauding, so I decide who gets applause and for what, the same way I decide who gets bonks, if you catch my drift? {Caught like a lazy fly ball. Satsified?} Yeah, I'm good.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Gift Basket Might Help

I was reading New Teen Titans #5 last night, and Raven tells the Titans about how she first went to the Justice League for help against Trigon. Unfortunately, Zatanna tells the Leaguers that she senses evil within Raven, and so this may be a trap. Not surprisingly, this means the League is not going to be lending a hand.

I wonder though, did Zatanna ever apologize to Raven? You know, a little, "Hey, I'm sorry I told the League there was evil within you, and so we shouldn't trust you, even though you were telling the truth about an evil force moving towards our universe, bent on conquest. Friends?" True, Zatanna was right about the evil, Raven admits as much, but really, they're the Justice League, they get lured into traps all the time. Heck, Hal Jordan probably got trapped multiple times a week, just by villains putting up signs saying "Ladies Night" over the entrances to their secret lairs. And they always escape. So what's one more trap, if that's what it would have turned out to be (which it wouldn't have, but obviously the JLA wasn't aware of that)?

Of course, I'm not clear on whether the League outright told Raven thanks, but no thanks, or whether Zatanna's comment was enough for Raven to figure she needed a new plan, leading her to give up on using the League on her own. That might make a small difference, but really now, I think everyone has some evil in them. That doesn't mean they can't sincerely want to do good, or that you shouldn't trust them.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What I Bought 3/5/08

This is going to be an uneven month. All told, there's 12 comics coming out I plan to buy. Eight of those come out next week, so be prepared for lots reviews on the 12th. However, all of zero of those comics were released this week, so what to do? Well, a customer of Ken's was trying to unload some of his collection, and Ken had set about five longboxes out last Friday, which I went through, with the idea the stuff I found I'd buy today. I love back issues, you get so many more comics for your money. I got 2 dozen for less than a dollar a comic. So just some quick things about each of them, as I sit here reading them.

Avengers #275 - Wasp and Scott Lang protect comatose Hercules from the Absorbing Man and Titania. Meanwhile, Zemo has Mr. Hyde beat up Jarvis, and rips up Captain America's picture of him and Bucky. Not too bright there Baron.

Batman and the Outsiders #5 - Teen Titans guest appearance! Robin tells Batman that he's a better team leader, what with not being a jerk and all. Or something like that. Dr. Light is in coward mode, though not quite a total pushover.

The Defenders #62 - Be a Defender for a Day! Nighthawk is absolutely losing his shit, Hellcat's being a flirt, and nobody likes Valkyrie's coffee. Oh, and Turbo, being a moron, convinces a bunch of the other heroes to help him try and capture the Hulk. Now I have to find #63, because I want desperately to see that blow up in their face.

Doctor Strange #62 - Strange, Wong, and the Nightstalkers against the Lord of the Vampires. Roger Stern has written some damn good stuff, hasn't he? But really, I just picked it up for the cover. It looked really cool. The groovy story was a happy bonus.

Fantastic Four #336 - Where the FF get attacked by a bunch of villains clearly not suited to fighting the premier family of the Marvel Universe, and Reed Richards makes an impassioned (and fairly reasoned) case against a superhuman registration act, pointing all sorts of flaws that Quesada and the gang neglected to hammer out in the most recent round.

Marvel Knights #2 - Oh, I'm getting so close to having all of Dixon's Marvel Knights series. Unfortunately, this isn't the issue where Punisher tries to fight Thor's old enemy Ulik, just the issue before it. It is fun to watch Castle rile up Daredevil, though. DD makes it so easy, too.

New Teen Titans #5, 7, 11 - I'd read some things on blogs here and there that the Titans never seemed to win any significant battles on their own when Wolfman wrote them. I've got The Judas Contract in tpb form, and it didn't really dispel that notion, so I grabbed these to expand my sample size a bit.

New Warriors #12 - Good news everyone! I've finally got the entire Nicieza/Bagley New Warriors run! Go me! *total silence* Well, I thought it was good news. . .

Power Girl #2 (of 4) - I was curious. It looks like this was when they made her some offspring of Arion, or else that's what this mini-series was going to establish. Can't say I approve of the giant triangle earrings she wears when in costume, but it was the '80s, I suppose. Weird times.

Spectacular Spider-Man #94 - Cloak, Dagger, some oddball enveloped in energy in the center of the cover, it piqued my interest. But what do you know, Peter had a supporting cast, and he wasn't involved with Mary Jane, and it didn't require, aw you know the rest.

Thunderbolts #9, 12 - 20, 23 - It's Kurt Busiek writing a team book, with Mark Bagley drawing it. Yeah, I think I'd be interested in checking that out. Boy howdy, Busiek knows how teach a fella about the history of the Marvel Universe, that's for sure.

The Thing #36 - The cover said She-Hulk versus Ms. Marvel (the Sharon Ventura version, not the Carol Danvers one), and I said "Sold!" I'm shallow, I admit it. Although The Thing has a fairly disturbing saliva strand thing going on on that cover. I'd show it to you, but I can't get the Grand Comics Database to load, so I can search their archives. {Edit: Now I can get it to load, and here's the cover. See what I mean?}

So, not too shabby of a haul, if I do say so, myself. I'll have to spend some time going over these in more detail, but it's already taken me like four hours to do this post, what with me typing it as I read the comics.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Time Travel Posts Always Give Me Headaches

I've been kicking this around for a few weeks, so let's see where it goes.

During Messiah Complex, Bishop was rather intent on killing the special baby, because it lead to the misery and squalor that he grew up in several decades later. I'm uncertain about what he hoped to accomplish with this. Did he think he could change his past, avoid that horrible childhood he had? Or was he aware of Kang's 3rd time travel law, which said that any attempts to change the past simply create new, alternate timelines, and don't actually affect the one you were trying to change? Oh, and hat tip to Dwayne McDuffie's last Fantastic Four issue for telling me that law exists in the Marvel Universe (I think I was first introduced to the concept through DragonBall Z, I didn't know it was a commonly used sci-fi approach).

But thinking about Kang's law, started me thinking about all the characters that come back in time to avert some horrible future, yet never seem to succeed. No matter what Bishop, or Cable, or Rachel Summers, or whomever else try, it never seems to make much of a difference. There's always another person showing up, telling the X-Men that the future is a bleak place.

Somehow or the other, that lead me to the idea of psychohistory (Which is something I picked up from Asimov novels, and also didn't think had reached wider use), which Reed discussed at the end of that same FF issue, how you can't predict the actions of individuals, but it's OK, because one person can't actually change history by themselves, they get canceled out by other individuals (does that mean Spider-Man's fighting crime is futile?), and it takes at least 4 people to do actually change things.

This lead me to start thinking about how Cable has often surrounded himself with people to help him accomplish certain goals, like the X-Force squad, and his cabinet members once he established Providence. In contrast, Bishop and Rachel seem to more often join pre-existing groups, but not act as the driving force for that group, rather they sort of go along with whatever missions that super-team is involved in. Which makes me wonder whether Cable has been more successful in his attempts to alter (preserve?) the future than those two have (actually, I'm not sure how much time Rachel spent trying to do that).

It's interesting that in Messiah Complex, both Bishop and Cable are making their plays solo. Each has their own plan, and they basically keep it to themselves. Bishop's decision to do so is understandable, since unless he wanted to team up with the Purifiers, he wasn't likely to get a lot of support for his "kill the baby" platform. But as I've (repeatedly) stated, it made little sense for Cable to go it alone, since he has any number of people he could have called on for assistance. Deadpool (which would draw Agency X into the mix), Domino, Prestor John, his former head of security (whose name escapes me), any of which would have improved his chances. And interestingly, he was only ultimately successful in spiriting the child to safety after he gained the support of Xavier and Cyclops, and the X-Men by proxy, in other words, he had a group working with him to the same goals.

Of course, he's on his own now, if the covers for his brand new solo ongoing (on sale this week!) series are any indication, and so it might be interesting to see if he can continue to make a difference all by his lonesome.

Monday, March 03, 2008

The Hunted Are Doomed

I flipped through the channels last night and came across Doom on TNT. Due to stupidity, I went ahead and watched it. Big mistake. I was dismayed to learn that it wasn't bad in the way that lets you have a blast mocking it, it was just bad. Eh, that might be too harsh. I imagine that if Alex had been here, it could have been properly mocked, so maybe it was bad enough to enjoy poking fun at it. It's just so hard when you don't have someone else to banter with.

I think they wasted the Rock on an overly serious movie. I used to watch a lot of pro wrestling, and while I never cared much about his matches, I was always glad to see the Rock with a microphone, because it meant guaranteed laughs. And most of his movies seem to have a light-hearted moment here and there, but not this time. I imagine they felt since this was based on a hardcore game, there could be no room for amusing scenes. Unless I was supposed to be laughing during the extended scene done to look like you were actually playing a game. I didn't, but maybe that's what that was about. Probably not, but I'm trying to give benefit of the doubt here.

Fortunately, the movie ended, and by then USA was showing The Hunted, which I find to be much better entertainment. It's practically an extended chase scene, but it's very well done, and I like how Tommy Lee Jones plays his character. Not much for talking, and clearly not comfortable in the urban wilderness. He paces, rubs his hands a lot, pays only minimal attention to those around him, clearly a guy who just wants to go back to his place out in the woods. Also, the fight scenes between he and Benicio del Toro are simplistic, very efficient affairs. There's no spin kicks or fancy flips, just a lot of grappling and attempts to choke the other into submission. It's fighting by guys just looking to win, without style points, and without wasting any more energy than they have to. Plus, they battle with homemade knives at the end, which is pretty nifty.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

In Twenty Years He'll Be Running Liberty City

Given that the scholarship edition of Bully is due to be released this week, it seems like a good time to discuss the original version, on the off chance you were unsure whether to purchase it for your current gen console, and said to yourself, "Hey, I wonder what Calvin thinks about the game? I need him to tell me whether to buy it or not." As I'd hate to disappoint you, I had better get to it.

You're the new kid at school, and you've got the misfortune to be befriended by the resident Lex Luthor, Gary. Most of the story-related missions revolve around currying favor with one of the cliques (Preps, Greasers, Townies, Jocks, Bullies, or Nerds), or getting revenge on one of said cliques, all as part of a scheme to become ruler of the school. In your free time, attend classes to make your life easier, buy clothes, woo the ladies (or the guys), race bikes, go to the carnival, or just cause random mischief. There is a curfew, and even if you don't care about that, it's best to be in bed before 2 a.m., lest you pass out in the street.

Keep in mind that the people in this world exhibit age and gender bias, so you'll get in more trouble if you attack little kids or girls, than you will for fighting guys your age. And authority figures like it even less when you shoot them or other adults with potatoes. But you can always try escaping, just be aware that authority figures have a tendency to appear out of thin air to catch you. If all else fails, head for the water. You can swim quite easily, and they won't follow you into the water, so you can just wait there until things calm down.

The story is a bit weak, in the sense that you keep hearing that Gary is causing trouble, but until things actually go to hell, you only see him one time after he dissolves your partnership. Of course, that one time was enough to leave me with a jonesing for beating his face in, so it probably would have annoyed me if we'd kept crossing paths, only for me to not get a chance to mop the floor with him. I would have liked to at least seen some more evidence of his schemes Also, if you're hoping to gain allies through reasoned negotiation, forget about it. Jimmy Hopkins negotiates by pummeling all those who oppose him. But come on, this is from the GTA people, you couldn't possibly be expecting discourse to solve your problems (although you can talk your way out of little infractions, if you've gotten far enough in English. So get your butts to class!)

As for me, I enjoy just riding my bike all over town, jumping cars, and punching random adults. What? I think it's fun to have a bunch of cops chasing after some kid on a bicycle. So yeah, if causing mayhem is up your alley, go for it. Buy the game. C'mon, you get a bottle rocket launcher as a weapon, and you get to smash tombstones! Just think of it, you can ensure that some poor ghost never rests peacefully, how can you refuse?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

If It Had Been Up To Me To Stop The Anti-Monitor, We'd All Be Screwed

As I mentioned Wednesday, the latest Heroclix set, Crisis, was released, to much eager consumer response. Today was the start of the Crisis event, which is going to run for about the next 3 months. If my performance today is any indication of how it's going to go for me, it'll be a long 3 months, but at least it'll give me something to post about. We only had four players, so everybody got to play each other. I probably didn't help myself by just picking figures I liked, without giving much consideration to how they might work together, but it's a sealed event, so you aren't sure what you've got to work with until you open the boosters. I ran with Uncle Sam, Red Arrow, and Nightwing.

Round 1 found me up against a team of Batgirl, Jack and Ten, Rip Hunter, The Accomplished Perfect Physician (damn Morrison and his long character names!), and Dolphin and Earth-2 Lois Lane pogs. Rip Hunter proved to be the main problem here, as any time he forced me to reroll my attacks, I missed. And when that wasn't screwing me over, his and the Perfect Physician's Super Senses defense powers were making me miss. Sam did manage to wipe out Jack and Ten with one five damage punch, and Red Arrow shot down the Physician and the Dolphin pog, but was basically struggling to survive Rip and Batgirl's assault when time expired. Nightwing had little success at anything. Final score, a loss on points, 219 to 127.

I pretty much knew I was screwed before Round 2 even began. For one, I've never beaten the player I was up against. Secondly, he had pulled the absolute beast that is Kingdom Come Superman, and paired him with Kid Flash and the Congo Bill/Congorilla pog. Not having any better strategy, I sent Sam and Nightwing across to try and battle Supes, figuring Sam had high enough damage to actually hurt him, and Nightwing had Incapacitate, so maybe that could stop his attacking. He sent Kid Flash over to keep Red Arrow busy while Superman went to work. Nightwing knocked out Congo Bill, and Uncle Sam somehow survived Superman swinging two objects at him (keep in mind, Supes has a 12 attack, I had a 17 defense. He only had to roll a 5 with two die and he would have probably killed Uncle Sam). Meanwhile Kid Flash hit Red Arrow once, but Roy was able to kick young Wally in the face on three consecutive attacks, and knock him out. Of course, Superman had smacked Sam 2/3 of the way down his dial by then, and Sam chose to run, mostly just to bring Superman in range of Roy's attacks. It even worked for a moment. Roy hit Superman, actually did 2 damage, then got hit with a hot dog cart for 7 damage and died. Sam and Nightwing got knocked out soon after. But hey, at least I hurt the old bastard. Final score, loss by knockout out (all 292 points of my team, versus 60 of his).

So I lost Round 1 by not being able to hit, Round 2 by overwhelming power, and so Round 3 completed the trifecta. My opponent hadn't been able to hit successfully hardly at all in his first two matches (in fact, scored no hits against the Superman/Kid Flash team). So naturally he couldn't miss against me, and Uncle Sam continued be mostly ineffectual as an actual attacker. The turning point was probably when my opponent pushed three members of his team (the Wolfman/Perez Wonder Girl, Ace, and Hawk and Dove) to swing their objects at my team, and all of them hit. Nightwing died, and Red Arrow got knocked off his best clicks. At that point it was 2 against five, and like I said, my heaviest hitter didn't feel like hitting, so I was screwed. My entire team got wasted, and I didn't knock any of his figures out.

I was really hoping to have better results for my first Heroclix results post, but it wasn't to be. Demoralizing, is what it is.