Monday, April 28, 2008

And Again, I Gird My Loins For Travel

Yes, I'm leaving town. Again. As you may have surmised, I am not ecstatic about this, but I'm a sap, and let my conscience guilt me into agreeing to help the family again. At least this means I get to see Iron Man with Alex, so it isn't entirely crap. So before I depart for the Land of Sporadic Blogging, a meandering post. It's a metaphor for me using back roads to get where I'm going, because it's ostensibly more peaceful, except I eventually get tired of driving and slide into "Fuck this, I'm going 70 in a 55 zone" mode (which just means I'm driving like every other person in Missouri, so insert joke of your choice about Missourians being desperate to escape). Or it's just representative of my inability to get to the point.

I've been thinking about Marvel's Superhuman Registration Act. Yeah, that whole thing is passe, Skrulls are the big thing now, but I don't care about that. It seems as though there's two ways the Act could work, but they seem mutually exclusive. naturally, Marvel has decided they aren't, and has placed both options in play. On the one hand, the Act could apply to any person that wants to fight crime, but not be an actual cop or fed or whatever. You want to wear costumes, you sign up with SHIELD, go through their training program, get assigned to some place and there you are. (Brief aside: Do you think SHIELD has placed super-teams in other countries, a worldwide version of the Fifty States Initiative? SHIELD is supposed to be an U.N. agency these days, not a U.S. one, so it would make sense, to the extent any of this does.) This option would exclude people with powers, but no desire to do the hero thing, like Cloud 9.

That's more of a "Superhero Registration Act", but that really seemed to be the issue at hand, so that doesn't seem like a bad thing. The other option would be a more truly "Superhuman Registration Act", and it would apply to anyone classified as superhuman. Of course, Reed Richards noted (during the Simonson FF) that "superhuman" is rather difficult to define, and that's true. Is it required you have some sort of visible ability that "normal" people wouldn't have? So would that mean people like Echo, Hawkeye (both of them), Tony Stark (and would his classification change with the Extremis) and Frank Castle are exempt? None of them have powers.

All of that lead me to a different question: Are Iron Fist and Dr. Strange superhuman? Or maybe "superpowered" is a better term. They both have these extraordinary abilities, but they're learned skills, in that sense not much different from Hawkeye's archery skills. Danny Rand went through a grueling set of trials, but as we've seen, so have many others. Likewise, Dr. Strange isn't the first Sorcerer Supreme, and he won't be the last. You could look at either of their skill sets as being the equivalent of a diploma. They went somewhere that taught specific skills, took the coursework required, and and now they have these abilities which demonstrate their qualifications in those particular disciplines. I'm sure Danny could teach lots of people to kick ass like him (even if he couldn't teach them to make their like like a thing of iron), and if a snobby surgeon can learn magic, I imagine there's any number of other people that could as well.

I think this came from me reading through my Rurouni Kenshin volumes again, because you frequently see people doing things in that series that normal people probably couldn't. Characters outrun horses, block bullets fired from point blank range with the hilt of their sword, disintegrate boulders larger than sumo wrestlers with a single punch, and on and on. But there aren't any radioactive spider bites, weird mutant genes, or rocket from another world involved. The characters simply worked their tails off to get that freaking good at what they do. So theoretically, anyone could do that, if they're willing to put in the time. So does it qualify as "superhuman" when it's the result of a lot of hard work?

Alright, I've gotta run. Now where did I put my donut seat cushion?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

You Can Never Find What You Want At These Things

Sorry about the lack of post yesterday. Family business drew me away from home before dawn. The real downside was I missed the first day of the Cape Comic Con. I talked to Ken and he seemed pleased with the crowd. Unfortunately there was some sort of miscommunication as to the rules for Saturday's Heroclix tournament, and that left some people a bit miffed. Hopefully they came back on Sunday and had some fun. I was there today for about three hours, and I had a pretty good time. It was pretty quiet early, but Cape usually is on Sunday mornings (I think everyone is either asleep or in church). By the time I left in the early afternoon, it was picking up, which is encouraging. I didn't take any pictures though, so no pictures of casual Stormtroopers. I was too busy making up for lost back issue searching time to bother with photography. I even went to the trouble of making a list of titles and relevant issues I was searching for.

Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be much of what I really wanted, as my search for later GrimJack issues was almost entirely unsuccessful. Did get ahold of #75, but I'm not entirely sure what's happening. A fifteen issue gap in your collection will do that for you. Where are those other damn trades IDW? Look, I'm sorry I didn't buy the earlier ones, but I already have those issues. But if you get the trades going again, I'll buy them, I don't have the issues that were coming up next. Anyway, the party in the past was pretty funny. Did I say funny? I meant creepy.

Plus I filled in some of the gaps in my Spider-Girl collection. That introduced me to perhaps the oddest sound effect ever, *gitz pittle*. To prevent any dirty suggestions, I'll tell you it's the sound of stifled laughter. And I got some of that Simonson FF run, the part with Galactus devouring the entire universe in the future and the Dreaming Celestial. I have to admit, I can't follow most of the science speak Reed's spouting off about (Existentialators?). It is nice to see Reed apparently getting real emotional about losing Sue and threatening a Celestial though. He needs to lose his temper a bit more often.

Against the comments of just about anyone I've ever seen review it online, I picked up the Engelhart/Breyfogle Hellcat mini-series. The idea of Son of Satan being the son of Satannish, who's a minion/child of Dormammu uh, confused me mostly. Seems needlessly convoluted mostly. But those Breyfogle fights were very pretty, though he really likes white backgrounds during them. That seemed a bit odd.

I picked up a Spider-Woman issue, the one with this nifty cover over here, and I'm surprised to learn Morganna Le Fey is one of Jessica Drew's foes. Is this the same sorceress Dr. Doom is always trying to make deals with, because that would seem to indicate Spider-Woman's batting a bit over her head. Like if Baron Mordo was one of Spider-Man's major enemies.

Unfortunately, I couldn't finish up my collection of The Ray (which I've really got to sit down and read in one sitting when I do, as all the time travel and sudden siblings have got my head spinning every time I read bits and pieces), so that was a bit of a bummer. The one thing I didn't grab that I thought about was a trade version of the Nocenti/Adams Longshot mini, but they've resolicited that recently, right? But it's probably for the best, I had already spent more than I really should have, I suppose. Now I have to get back to going through what I did buy. Night.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Partially Joyful Reunion

Hi Calvin! {Hello ABP. Find UnCalvin yet?} No. I was getting close, but I came back so I could read your comics. {Let the villain escape so you could read comics. Outstanding.} This won't take long, and how far can he get? He's in a balloon. {As far as you know. He could have landed at a private airstrip and absconded in his private jet by now.} He has a private jet? {He could have one. He's pretty loaded.} Well it doesn't matter. I'll track him down no matter what! {Good for you.}

So are you going to get off the couch and help? {Nah.} I thought we were a team. {You talk as you type, and I'll make sarcastic remarks that belittle your decision making abilities. That's a team.} Hmph. Well Quasar didn't get her girlfriend back, so I think she could use a Hug. The same for Starlord's entire team, since they're either brain dead or sad about someone being brain dead. {And they've been mostly shuffled off deck for the Guardians of the Galaxy. Except for Rocket, of course, as raccoons are very useful.} I think Monet needs a Hug for her hair. {I like her new hair. Very DragonBall Z.} But it would take too much work to keep it that way. {No it wouldn't. All she needs is a good electric shock every morning.}

Fine, it would be easy, and she should keep it. Happy? {Eh, not particularly.} Grr. High Evolutionary gets a Bonk for running away. I want to give Eiling a Bonk too, for thinking he's so clever. {I'm sure he doesn't think that anymore. Not sure there's enough left of his head to bonk.} They said it was growing back, so I just have to be patient. {Sure you wouldn't rather hit him right on his brain? Might be more effective.} Ew. {Wuss.}

Why can't you be helpful? {Fine. I think you should, Applaud Warlock and Tyro for showing up to reverse the Phalanxization of the Kree.} See, that's a good idea, and I will do that. {Maybe you should bonk Ronan for being ready to kill his people.} Well, it's a little extreme, but he meant well. {Molly-coddler.} Name calling won't change my mind. {It's still a fun way to pass the time.} I think Captain Boomerang Junior deserves Applause for helping Deadshot, and Rick Flag was clever, so Applause for him too. {Ah, Rick Flag. Captain Cardboard.} Stop being mean! {Fine, I'll be asleep instead.} Good! Go to sleep then! You're just dragging things down! Maybe I should go hang out with UnCalvin! {Whatever you do, do it quietly. I need to get some sleep before I leave town tomorrow.} Oh boo hoo! You have to leave town for a day! How awful! {See, now you're being hurtful.} Well, I'm just under pressure, and you aren't helping. {Sorry. How about some Applause for Guido? That was pretty cool when he made the giant boulder fly over the innocent bystander.} You're right! That was awesome! I'm off to find UnCalvin! See you next week! {Alright then. Be careful.} Pssh, no problem!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I Don't Need You To Tell Me To Do A Meme!

So far as I know, nobody's tagged me for this "swap DC and Marvel creators" deal that I first became aware of over here, but that won't stop me from taking up space on the Internet by voicing my opinions! Though really, I don't think this is so much a switching of Marvel and DC folks (since I have no idea who's exclusive), as it is me just trying to come up with books for writers to write they haven't before, based on my best guess at what they liked to do. So do keep that in mind. Oh, and you DC bloggers need to stop trying to foist Winick on Marvel. He already wrote Exiles for them. Send him to Image or something, sheesh!

And speaking of Exiles. . .

John Ostrander on Exiles. I figure the general formula of the book (pre-Claremont anyway) was largely Suicide Squad + GrimJack, so who better for it? Plus, Ostrander likes to write about identity and how you define who a person is, and a book where it's easy for a character to run into a very different, alternate version of themselves could provide a lot of opportunities for reflection upon that. I'm not sure about the artist. I think we need someone with strong figure work, but also the ability to draw really weird landscapes and machines and stuff, since you could make each universe run by whatever rules you'd like. Ditko could draw some pretty freaky stuff, if his Dr. Strange was any indication. Not sure how easy he is to work with though. If not, I'd take a Grummett or Alan Davis. I like both of them. You can suggest another artist if you'd like.

I want to put J.M Dematteis on something where he can explore the differences between what parts of themselves people show others, and what they keep secret, as well as the differences between how we perceive ourselves and how we actually are, and how our pasts shape us (things I remember being common in his Spectacular Spider-Man run). I think a Nemesis series might be a possible subject, since he was a master of disguise and all, you could look at what parts of him show through when he portrays others, and what parts he can dispose of easily. Another possibility could be Deadman, if you argued that he retains a little piece of the people he possesses, you could show that change him over time. Or perhaps focus on Rogue, with all the people that used to run through her head. Ooh, or Clayface!

Nobuhiro Watsuki has never written any American comics to my knowledge (he reads a lot of them though, or he used to). He did write Rurouni Kenshin, my favorite manga, and I think the wandering fighter who struggles with his past might work well with Shang-Chi, or maybe Richard Dragon. Possibly Iron Fist, but I didn't see the streak of really weird ideas in RuroKen I do in Immortal Iron Fist, but Danny has a goofiness about him that's similar to Kenshin's.

Kurt Busiek/George Perez on Titans. I figure putting Busiek at the helm means we'll get a revival of some of the Haney concepts, which does have the potential to backfire horribly, but should also save us from yet another story about Titans versus evil counterparts. I'm not even reading Titans books anymore and I'm sick of that nonsense.

Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning on Adam Strange. I'm sure there was someone else I was thinking of for this, but I can't remember, so Plan B. DnA are doing pretty well with Nova as sole cop in the Marvel Universe. Obviously with all the Green Lanterns (Kyle Rayner is the one true Green Lantern! Death to all pretenders! That ought to provoke a reaction.) that won't work at DC, but let's twist things a bit and say that Rannagar drifted into that Vega Sector the Lanterns weren't supposed to enter (though they can now apparently), and so there isn't any intergalactic space police to help. It's just Adam Strange dealing with those spiders, angry Rannies, angry Thanagarians, and all the other assorted weirdness Adam Strange usually runs afoul of. Let's say Ron Lim on the pencils.

Jim Balent on Supergirl. Kidding!

Oh, I just remembered who I had thought of for Adam Strange originally, Bill Mantlo. I figured he made ROM work, and he'd come up with all sorts of strange thing for Adam to defeat. But not really possible, I suppose.

I'd kind of like to see Akria Toriyama (Dragonball) on Young Avengers. Scratch that, make it Runaways. It might be a little too light-hearted, but I think the Marvel Universe has enough angst these days so that's not such a bad thing, and he was pretty good at convincing the reader that the characters you were reading about were actually friends, even if some of them could exasperate the others at times. I'm straying way off the original point of this, aren't I?

Brain K. Vaughn, Faith the Vampire Slayer. Just throwing it out there. If you're going to throw it back, keep it above the belt. In terms of Marvel/DC, Amazing Spider-Man. And I know he's already worked on the character extensively, but I really enjoy Mark Bagley, so I'm putting him back. Sorry Mr. Bagley.

I feel it's desperately important to put Walt Simonson on something, but I can't decide what. Dr. Strange perhaps? I think he could give the Sorcerer Supreme's duties the sense of scale they merit.

Joe Casey's been doing a lot of projects at Marvel that seem designed to stick to the essentials of a character/concept, so there's got a big name at DC that needs a similar treatment. The Martian Manhunter perhaps, something to wash the stink of J'onn's last mini-series out of our minds (I apologize if you enjoyed that mini-series).

This'll be the last one, I think, and it's Frank Miller. I'm not sure whether I believe the folks who say Miller's trying to make a point with All-Star Batman and Robin. You know the point I mean, where he's trying to show them that the Batman in the Dark Knight Returns wasn't one for other writers to emulate, but was meant to be a cautionary tale? Whether that's his goal or not, I'm pretty sure he's having a lot of fun with the title, so let's give him a character he can go even farther with. The Punisher. A MAX title natch. Because if you're going to the trouble of getting Frank Miller, you sure don't want to waste him by having him constrained by any age limits or codes or stuff like that. With John Romita Jr. on the art, so it'll come out monthly, and we can get even more Internet flame war inciting goodness when he makes Frank Castle into a freaky beatnik who actually killed his own family while trying to pawn his wife's jewels or something (and the whole thing about mobsters at the park was just some fantasy Frank concocted and bought into).

I think that's all I have right now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What I Bought 4/23/08

I'm back home. Again. But only briefly. Again. I have got to quit agreeing to help the family with stuff. Diamond didn't ship some of Ken's stuff, so I don't get my Ultimate Spider-Man. I suppose I could pick it up tomorrow, but I might just wait until I get next week's comics. Which is either a damning indictment of my current interest in Ultimate Spider-Man, or a sign I'm just tired. Also, Diamond didn't ship Ken his reorders of Batman and the Outsiders, so I'm S.O.L. on that front as well. So we're left with three books from last week, and is that even really worth the trouble? I suppose it is.

Annihilation: Conquest #6 - The good guys win, some of them die, which was kind of a bummer. I liked one of the newly deceased, and why couldn't it be Adam Warlock? I've got no time for him. The ending gives some idea of where things are at, now that things are settled, but I think it's mostly a preview for Guardians of the Galaxy, which I was already sold on so, I don't know.

I can't help feeling disappointed in Conquest, because somehow it just doesn't measure up to Annihilation. It was still good, generally enjoyable, but not on the same level as its predecessor. There's something about how the story unfolded, it just didn't resonate with me to the same extent. Maybe I need to see more of the Kree's efforts to rebuild their empire after this, and what happened with the parts of space controlled by Ravenous and the Annihilation wave? What are they up to now? I notice that amidst all the races trying to get past the barrier the Phalanx erected, there wasn't any mention of the Shi'ar. I really wish Brubaker and the X-writers would quit bogarting the bird people so they could get in on this. So maybe it's a case of my expectations not matching the goal of the story.

Suicide Squad #8 - That was pretty neat. I like the organized chaos of the Squad's battle against Eiling and his followers, where something is happening all over the place, and what happens in one locale can have a sudden effect elsewhere. Plus, it was nice to see William Heller get blowed up real good (having found a copy of his first appearance in Suicide Squad #4, I'm even happier he got wasted). The two pages of Deadshot carrying out his objective in the time it takes to say "Maurauder", along with Boomerbutt Jr.'s arrival where probably my favorite parts.

Of course, the mini ends with a bit of a thud for me, mostly because, as I've said previously, I'm not really interested in Rick Flag, so what he chooses to do with regards to his earlier life isn't of much consequence, though thinking about it now, his issues are similar to some of the ones Ostrander explored with GrimJack, about what makes a person who they are (Gaunt had that problem frequently, with the numerous resurrections and all). But Rick Flag is no GrimJack, at least, not to me. But that's a minor quibble.

X-Factor #30 - Man, I must be in a funk. I can't even be bothered to post the picture of this month's cover, and it had Arcade on it. That's not a good sign. X-Factor attempts to survive in Arcade's MurderWorld: Mutant Town Edition, and they spend their time the way most heroes that tangle with Arcade do, trying to take the offensive, only to get surprised, and have to retreat until they can try again. It's interesting to see how disjointed the team is, with Monet just taking off after Rictor without waiting for anyone else, and Guido and Jamie getting quickly separated, the team clearly lacks cohesion (not that they've ever seemed to be a well-oiled fighting machine). They do come together near the end though, and I wonder what was the cause of that?

I kind of like the antagonist's reasons for what he's doing, as it isn't just the typical "Mutants are freaks, they gotta die!" spiel. There's bits of that here, but mostly he's less scared of mutants replacing him and his kind in the world, and more scared of returning to where he came from, without any assistance from mutants whatsoever. And of course Arcade is just offering a service, as I don't think he cares one way or the other, as long as he gets paid to have some fun, he'll go along with whatever his employer wants. So X-Factor was probably my favorite of the week, though none of the books were bad, it was just the strongest overall of the three.

OK, hopefully something intelligent and comic-related tomorrow.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Brief Interlude

Narrator: {Calvin's currently-empty apartment. It's dark, but the computer hums quietly. The front door opens. UnCalvinPitt slips in.}

UnCalvinPitt: I can't believe he told that little panda to watch me! And he told his audience I'm unreliable! What a two-faced jerk. Says he'll give me a chance, then goes bad-mouthing me to his furry friend. It's time for him to learn speaking ill of your "same, but not" person always bites you in the end.

{UnCalvin sits down at the computer.}

UnCalvin: Wow, he actually left it on and stayed logged in so I could post if I wanted. That was nice of him. Wait a second, I'm supposed to be mad at him! He's clearly mocking me, leaving his computer on is his way of showing he doesn't think I'll show up! How dare he?! I'll destroy his audience by spoiling all of this week's comics, Ha, ha, ha! So this week, we saw the end of Annihilation Conquest, which ended with a massive victory by. . .

{A dark figure leaps from the shadows and bites UnCalvin's ear.}

Adorable Baby Panda: *muffled* Not so fast!

UnCalvin: Ow, ow! Let go!

{UnCalvin manages to pry ABP from his ear, and holds him at arm's length.}

ABP: This is how you use the opportunity to blog, to try and spoil comics? And to spoil comics two days after they've hit the shelves? That's not just evil, it's sad.

{A look of confusion crosses UnCalvin's face.}

UnCalvin: Comics already came out this week?

ABP: That's right! What do you have to say for yourself?

UnCalvin: *internal monologue* Think quickly, man. The panda's so cute, it's hard for me to avoid giving it a hug, and if I do that, it's all over. *out loud* Me am no UnCalvin. Me blog to spoil comics.

ABP: Huh? I know you were planning to spoil the comics, I want to know why.

UnCalvin: Me. . . going. . . to. . . spoil. . . comics! *internally* Come on, take the bait!

ABP: Oh, this is like a Bizarro thing. You mean you weren't going to spoil the comics, right?

UnCalvin: Yes, yes, that's it exactly!

ABP: Well then, I'm sorry I attack- wait a minute. If you were like Bizarro, then you would have said "No, no" right now! And I've read Calvin's archives, you never spoke like that before., although you also never have the same voice two appearances in a row. You're trying to trick me!

{ABP bites UnCalvin's hand, and is thus able to escape his grasp. ABP tenses, preparing to strike.}

UnCalvin: What are you going to do?

ABP: *grinning, mocking UnCalvin's early "Bizarro voice"* Me am not going to hurt you badly.

UnCalvin: Wait, which parts the Bizarro speak. The "me", meaning that it's really me that'll do the hurting? The "not", meaning you will hurt me? The "hurt", meaning you're really going to hug me? The "badly", meaning you will hurt me, but not very much? All of them, or some odd combination of them?

ABP: *rests chin on paw, creases brow* Um, well, I'm pretty sure I was Bizarroing the "not", meaning I was going to hurt you badly, but that really is a difficult language to use. Maybe I should have said "You am not going to hug me nicely"? That would reverse. . .

{While ABP ponders the intricacies of Bizzaro's language, UnCalvin slips towards the balcony.}

ABP: . . . but I still think I have to use "me", just to make it clear who's going to be doing the action. Hey, where'd you go? Dang it, he used grammar to confuse me!

UnCalvin: *laughing* That's right, and now I'll escape in my remote-activated hot air balloon! Farewell, Foolish Baby Panda! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

ABP: *shouting* A hot air balloon? Why? It's so old fashioned!

UnCalvin: *shouting* My car's receiving regularly scheduled maintenance! Besides, this is classic transportation, the vehicle of the idle rich!

ABP: *shouting* Yeah, idle rich cavemen!

UnCalvin: *shouting* Shouldn't you be trying to stop me, instead of mocking lighter-than-air travel?

ABP: *shakes head* I already did! You won't be able to destroy Calvin's blog now! And, I've got your scent, so I can find you any time I want! You better sleep with one eye open!

UnCalvin: *shouting* You think I'm defeated?! There are a thousand ways I can ruin his blog! This is only the beginning! From now on, I'll devote my life to destroying you! You've just made an arch-enemy, you blasted furball!

{And with that, UnCalvin's balloon drifted over the horizon. Until next time.}

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Little Calvin & Hobbes, A Pinch of For Whom The Bell Tolls

I saw Pan's Labyrinth for the first time last night, though I'm having a bit of difficulty deciding how to discuss it. That I enjoyed it is probably worth mentioning. I liked the designs of the unusual creatures we meet during the movie. I think I need more viewings to draw connections between each of Ofelia's tasks, and the ongoing struggle between the fascist (or Francoist) captain and the rebels who are ostensibly communists, I suppose, since that was the opposing side, though I wonder how many of them ascribe to that philosophy, as opposed to simply hating the fascists.

I like that the movie seems to raise the possibility that everything Ofelia sees concerning the faun and the fairies could just be her imagination, or might simply be indicative of the inability of the adults to perceive things as she can. Or maybe it's all other humans that lack her level of perception. We never meet any other children, so we can't really test whether it's a case of children beng more aware of the fantastic, hidden things around them.

I'm surprised as to just how evil (or maybe just completely certain of his superiority and correctness) the captain is portrayed. Until his last few moments in the movie, I felt nothing but digust towards him, and anything that frustrated or defied his will was worth cheering about (even if that was usually bad news for whatever was doing the frutsrating). I hadn't bothered to check the rating, so the level of violence demonstrated caught me off guard (I wouldn't have though you could collapse a man's face with a bottle). I wonder if it's meant to relate to children's tendencies to see things in extremes, good or evil, little gray, and so the rebels are shown to be people struggling to survive in caves, deeply concerned about each other, but willing to die to change things, while the Captain and his men are usually smug, and fairly unconcerned with inflicting pain upon others.

It's a beautiful movie, with a bit of ambiguity at the end, allowing you to choose which ending you would prefer, depending on your mood or what you want to get out of it. I'm not sure what it says about me, that I want to go with the more fantastic, magical ending, but can't shake the creeping doubt that the more "realistic", sad ending was the true one. Which is silly, since no one's told me it was one or the other, and I should just go with the one I prefer. I'd really need to watch it again to get more out of it, I believe, and I just might do that.

Then there was 28 Weeks Later, also viewed last night. I enjoyed it's predecessor, and I had high hopes for this one, but I didn't feel altogether pleased with it. I think the problem was it used basically the same theme as 28 Days Later, namely that whether they're "infected with rage" or not, people are capable of committing vicious and violent acts against other people. All the infection seems to do is remove a lot of extraneous reasons (such as fear or greed). Plus I'm not sure why we needed a sequence of someone (n this case an infected human) jamming their fingers into a person's eye sockets in this film, after we already had one of those in the first one. I'm not certain whether these films are meant to be an indictment of militaries given their tendencies towards less than warm and fuzzy tactics (the captain in 28 Days Later promising his soldiers women to keep morale up, or the scorched earth, kill everyone infected or not policies in 28 Weeks Later). It certainly doesn't make them look very heroic, but few people do come of looking that way, in either movie, and the ones that do tend to die horribly, so it may be more of a statement on what people find neccessary to survive. Still, I was disappointed. I suppose zombie movies just aren't really my cup of tea.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

An Odd Follow-Up

I finished The Gentle Axe, by R.N. Morris last night, and it seemed worth discussing. It's amurder mysterty, set in Russia during the 1860s, that begins when an elderly woman comes upon a man in Petrovsky Park who appears to have hung himself. There's a suitcase nearby with a dwarf stuffed inside it, who appears to have had his head cleaved open by an axe. And there just so happens to be an axe on the person of the apparent suicide. As you might guess from all my "appears", and "apparents", that's not how it went.

What's interesting about the book, to me at least, is that it's set in the universe of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, and the main character is the same Porfiry Petrovich that investigated the murders in that piece of classic literature. I wonder, if this common, that other authors revisit characters from works? I know Tolkein's son(?) has completed some of his father's works, and I think the same is true for Asimov, but a, as far as I can tell, random author, revisiting that world strikes me as odd.

Unfortunately it's been, geez, eight years since I read Crime and Punishment, so my recollection of it is a bit hazy (I think I also threw out the essay I wrote over it years ago, so no help there, even if I was in a position to look over it). At any rate, this offering feels more straightforward than its source material was. I suppose that's forced by us not knowing the murderer at the start. When there's no mystery as to "who", then you can spend your time investigating their reasons, their reactions post-murder, their justifications, and perhaps what they represent in the larger scheme of things, as it relates to their homeland. When you don't know whodunit, in theory that's the whole point, and the narrative focuses more on that, providing clues, false trails, seemingly irrelevant bits that become important later.

Morris does spend some time exploring psyches, primarily that of another young, starving student, who goes by the name Virginsky. He comes up in the course of Porfiry's investigation, and the investigating magistrate takes an interest in him. Virginsky's a complicated (perhaps too much so) character. He says he's a law student, says he doesn't believe in souls, hates his father, has a strong sense of pride, except when he doesn't, refuses to help Porfiry smoke out the killer, even though it would protect him and gain him three meals a day, but has no qualms with pretending to be capable of translating philosophy texts to get some money so he can eat. He's disraught over the death of his friends, except when he isn't, contemplates suicide, and fears a person he sees following him, because he believes them to be his future self, and he doesn't want to see what he's become. He's an absolute mess, and probably gets more attention than he deserves, given his relative importance to the mystery.

He is, however, very important to Porfiry, for the ways he reminds the magistrate of Raskolnikov, and I suppose that's where his use comes in, as this book seems primarily a way for Morris to have a little fun exploring Porfiry's character. I can't attest to how similar he is to the Porfiry in Crime and Punishment, but any changes might be explainable as being the result of the whole Raskolnikov case, which apparently was important enough to Porfiry that others recognize the effect it had on him. I can't be certain, but I think Morris is suggesting that Porfiry is developing some sort of health problem as the story progresses, since he seems to be blinking an awful lot by the end. Oddly enough, the copious amounts of cigarettes he smokes don't seem to be causing too many issues, other than one obvious case of a lack of wind. As a detective, Porfiry is a bit Columbo. He likes to play silly, or act very calm and conversational, and then spring the trap shut. There's a moment where he very nearly cracks, which struck me as a bit much, but I suppose it was meant to be a situation where his style of entrapment blew up in his face.

It's an easy enough read, and I was easily engaged by it, though I couldn't really tell you good of a murder mystery it was. It's probably easily solvable if you're good at those, I was lost until the end, and I'm still not entirely sure how everything tied together. It seemed there were connections between characters I hadn't picked up on, and I'm partially inclined to blame it on the focus on Virginsky's character, as it may have deprived those other connections of proper screen time. But that might have just been me. So it's fortunate that I enjoyed the character work, especially Salytov, who seems like a Harvey Bullock type: fairly competent, full of bluster, with a short temper that leaves him in a poor mood to put up with garbage from anyone, though Salyotv is more, haughty than Harvey I'd say. Again, I can't verify how similar he is to his portrayal in the earlier work, but he makes for an amusing straight man to Porfiry.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Requiem For Failed Air Forces

Guess what? It's a combo post! That's right, two completely different subjects for the price of one! Aren't you lucky pups?

Requiem for a Dream - Watched this at Alex' this afternoon. Would not advise watching it unless you are fine with being depressed, or have something that will lighten your mood planned for afterwards. It focuses primarily on four people, with different dreams, all of whom suffer setbacks due to substance abuse. There's an older woman, happy that she's been selected to be on TV (a game show, I think), who wants desperately to lose weight. Her son (Jared Leto), and his friend (Marlon Wayans) have decided to actually distribute cocaine so that they can live on easy street. Leto also hopes to use the money to fund his girlfriend's (Jennifer Connelly) hopes of opening a store featuring fashions she created herself. Things start well, but as you might imagine where drugs are involved, it goes downhill rapidly. Marlon winds up incarcerated, and I'd say he made out the best of the three. I can't understand what the point of the show the older woman always watched was. It seemed like an infomercial about losing weight, but it also seemed like a gameshow, and she kept seeing herself on it, and I don't know what it was all about (I understand she saw herself on it because she was completely wacked out, but what it was meant to represent eludes me).

There's some interesting camera effects, with split screens for characters who are right next to each other, but they don't seem to be showing what's happening at the same point in time (one is running ahead of the other). There's also a lot of shaky camera, less to indicate people being strung out, more for people who are just under stress. And there's a sequence of shots when people take something, that explains a similar sequence I saw on an episode of Sealab 2021 (the Stimutax episode, for those who watch). That was pretty nifty, but that end of the movie, where it keeps hopping from one character to another is just like a parade of misery. In fact, it's depressed me so much, I'll need to put some mood elevators in my milk before we continue. One moment please.

AH, much better. Relax, I don't even use cold and sinus medication (stuff never works when I do use it), so I'm not turning to pills now.

Why Air Forces Fail, edited by Robin Higham and Stephen J. Harris - I'm pretty sure I mentioned this at some point, back in junior high and high school, I was very interested in aviation, especially military aviation, with a particular interest in World War 2. I just find that time period, with the level of development in plane design from wood and fabric biplanes, all the way to jets in roughly six or seven years, fascinating. This book - a compilation of essays by different authors - doesn't focus exculsively on World War 2, but that is what a lot of the essays deal with, each one concerned with a different country. What's interesting is how countries can take completely different attitudes towards air power, and yet both fail.

France was probaly the major air power after the First World War (or at least #2), but by the Second World War, they probably weren't even in the top 5 or 6. Part of that was a desire to have one type of plane to do everything, meaning it didn't do anything particularly well. Another part was that their production systems still relied on skilled artisans, as opposed to assembly line construction, limiting the amount of aircraft that could be produced, and how many varieties you could have (since it would take time for a worker to become familiar with each type). But one of the major problems was that the air force was kept beholden to the army, and was seen only in terms of how it could support the army. The idea, of sending fighters out to go search for enemy bombers was pratically unthinkable, as planes were to scout out enemy positions, provide coordinates for artillery, and maybe do a little close support strafing or bombing.

In contrast, the British went the other way, and left the Royal Air Force autonomous of the army and navy. This made communication and cooperation between the different branches rather difficult, since neither side would want to subordinate themselves to the other, seeing as they were supposed to be equal. The other problem, at least initially, was the British has emphasized the wrong qualities in their planes. They concentrated on pursuit, and defending the homeland, but in the early stages of the war, that didn't do much good against the German blitzkrieg, which was all about ground forces working closely together with air forces, to strike in a manner that crushed their enemy. The British were actually, from a strategic perspective, better off once they were driven off the mainland, and forced to defend England against bombing raids. That's what they had prepared for, after all.

There are several other essays, covering Poland, Israel, the Soviets, the U.S. (just in relation to their failures at Pearl Harbor and the Philippines), even Argentina during the Falkland Islands' War, which is notable in that the air force had to do almost everything, even though they had been expressly forbidden to even do training flights over the ocean. So now, they have to fly from mainland bases to the Falklands, trying to take out British ships or Harriers, and their pilots can't navigate over the ocean. They have no instruments for it, and they've never had a reason to learn how, since they weren't supposed to be here. It really makes me feel bad for them, because thir own country put them behind a massive 8-ball.

So if you have any interest in that sort of history, I'd recommend the book. The essays aren't that long, there's always a discussion of where more research is needed, and extensive lists of other sources to look for on each topic.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Making A Post, Before I Go-Go

As soon as this post is done, I'm leaving town. Again. Sigh. It's going to be close to two weeks absence time, but I hope to be back in town for new comics on the 23rd. Expect sporadic posting until then. UnCalvinPitt did say he might drop by, but he is a thoroughly unreliable fellow, so who knows whether that'll materialize.

Anyway, here's the thought of the day. During 52, Ralph Dibny confronts Supernova, and they have a conversation where Dibny makes it pretty clear he knows who Supernova is, and tells the mysterious hero that he ought to let Wonder Girl knows who he is, or at least who he isn't, since she was convinced Supernova was actually Conner. However, at no point does Dibny say who he thinks Supernova is, at least, not that I can remember.

So the question is, was Ralph Dibny right? I mean consider that Supernova involved Booster using a super-suit cobbled together from various gizmos other heroes used, that he was able to get because he was working with a time traveler. Could Ralph have actually figured that out? What do you think?

Until, well, actually, whenever I post again (hopefully tomorrow).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Made Sure To Let ABP Know This Time

Darn right. {See, I wasn't planning to ditch you.} Then let me come along. {NO. I'm not bringing you anywhere near those dogs. They're savages.} I like dogs though. {Well, by the time I get back here, I probably won't, so I'd prefer you'd didn't see that side of me.} Oh. Well don't hurt them! {I'm not going to bloody hurt them, I'm taking care of them! They're just demanding. Very demanding. Now can we change the subject? I have to start packing.}

OK then. Bonk for Arana for being sneaky and plotting to use Spider-Girl for something. {She's been hanging around Carol Danvers too much, all that Initiative duplicity rubbed off.} No, Carol wouldn't have taught her that! It must have been a Skrull Carol! {NO. We are not bringing Skrulls into the equation here. Do not mention them.} Why? Are you a Skrull? {Now how am I supposed to answer that? No, I'm not a Skrull! Do you see me changing shape?! Get on with it!} Fine! Don't have to be rude. Bonk to Max Lord for trying to make Superman kill people. He's a Skrull. {Don't start that. . .} And Rayne gets a Bonk, for killing that unwilling suicide attacker. {What? Oh come on. He died with a smile on his face, talking about getting to see an angel before he died. And if you don't want to get blown in half, don't attach bombs to your chest. You think we're attracting the notice of government agencies right now?} Maybe.

I think Gamora needs a Hug, she really seemed out of there for awhile. {But she already got a hug from Nova.} Well, I'm probably a better hugger than he is. I don't have spikes all over my outfit. {Given her interest in stabbing things, Gamora probably digs the spikes.} Probably not. I think that suicide attacker needs a Hug. What's left of him anyway. Superman probably needs a Hug too. He's going to be so sad when he finds out all the bad stuff he did. {Great, so we're going to get yet another "Superman cries" image? Fucking spare me.} I thought you weren't going to use bad language around me. {And yet I slipped. It happens.} Then, can I read The Punisher, since I'm already hearing bad words? {NO.} Phooey.

Well now I don't feel like applauding anybody. {Fine, then we're done. See you in two weeks.} No wait! I feel like Applauding Spider-Girl for not wanting to fight until Arana said bad things about her dad, then beating Arana real good. {Great. See you late-} And I want to Applaud Tyro for being clever, and Nova for doing his best to keep his word, and Drax for thinking he could destroy the Technarch, that was cool. {You're stalling aren't you?} And I want to Applaud Rayne because she was really good at kicking bad guy hind end, and Booster and Beetle for not dying. {We're handing out applause for not dying?} Yes, I am. Oh, and I want to Bonk Hawkman for being a jerk and not listening to Booster and Beetle. {OK, I can't argue with that at all.}

Are you trying to push me out the door? {If you don't go know, you might never go, and you really do have to go.} Can I come by and just stay for awhile? I could water your plants! {I don't have any plants. But, I did tell UnCalvinPitt he could do some blogging while I'm out of town. If you're here, you can keep an eye on him.} Will do!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

What I Bought 4/9/08

Ken was describing this week as being small, in terms of the number of titles released and how few big titles there were, but it's the biggest week I'm going to have all month. I'm not quite sure what that means, if anything, other than I have unusual taste. As unusual as someone who sticks almost exclusively to superhero comics about DC and Marvel can be, anyway. Which isn't very unusual at all, is it?

Amazing Spider-Girl #19 - How very odd. The cover is numbered wrong. It says this is issue #17, but the one Skrull variant Ken got had the numbering right (yes, Skrull variants on a book that has nothing to do with Secret Invasion. I'm already hating this event, just for these stupid variant covers). Don't know what that's about. In this issue, May gets bored watching Gene Thompson practice football, considers becoming a cheerleader, and gets attacked by Arana, who wants to test Spider-Girl, for the purpose of using her later, probably against Black Tarantula. Based on her behavior, I'd say Arana hung around Carol Danvers and the other Initiative types a bit too much.

I like May's attitude through all this. She's seriously trying to devote more time to Gene, since their previous relationship did fall apart due to her tendency to miss dates. During the fight with Arana, May's trying not to fight, just to find out why some people were spying on her. She tries to leave multiple times, only to have Arana continuing to dog her steps. It's only when Arana starts speaking ill of Spider-Man (which I assume was just a trick, not her actual feelings) that May rises to the bait, and handles things quite smoothly, I must say.

I like that DeFalco/Frenz provide some action in what I think is largely a set-up for the next big arc. They made sure to update us on the outcome of all those mob bosses that got arrested the previous issue, as well as what's up with Hobgoblin, Mindworm, and Black Tarantula. We see what's going on in May's everyday life, and where she's at mentally as Spider-Girl. It was a solidly good issue.

Bloodrayne: Prime Cuts #2 - Ah, the closest I come to supporting indie comics, I suppose. I dig this cover, if only because there are about three different ways I interpret it. 1) She's gesturing towards the creature, in sort of a nonchalant "ta-da!". 2) She's about to get attacked by it, and is flippantly dismissing it as a threat. 3) It almost looks like she's about to pet it on the side of its head. The previous issue had two stories, this one has three, and they were all enjoyable. The first involves Rayne's attempts to steal a nunchaku that belonged to her evil father. A nunchaku with the power to summon demons from other realms, which is really something I'm surprised hasn't appeared in Immortal Iron Fist yet. Then there's a mission involving chemical shipments being made to a company. Finally, we get a story from the perspective of a worshiper of Rayne's father, who just happens to be part of a kamikaze group. I wonder, in stories written from that perspective, what's more common, that the kamikaze has doubts, or that they are totally into sacrificing their life for {insert cause here}?

Of the three, the one involving magic nunchaku was probably my favorite, just for the oddity of that bit. The thing I liked about that story and the second one was that it shows Rayne's more than just a berserker type that runs about hacking and slashing until everyone's dead. She does her research, knows what she's dealing with, and how to use that to her advantage to shorten a fight. The last story is pretty good too. A little sappy, but there's a bit of humor, and the sappyness is nice, if only for it's novelty in these stories. Rayne's not much for sentimentality, so it would pretty much have to come from another character. Each artist is a little different. Bilbao (first story) is reminiscent of Albuquerque from Blue Beetle, Calero (second story) has a style that looks more painted (don't believe it is though), and Campos exaggerates facial expressions more, but that works for a story dealing with the mindset of someone supposed to kill themselves for a cause. I enjoyed this quite a bit, with each story doing something a little different, and seemingly being complete in of themselves, rather than feeling like a small part of a larger story. And yet, they could all be incorporated into larger stories later, it's just that isn't the only level they could function on.

Booster Gold #8 - Bloody hell, I'm running long, aren't I? Booster and Beetle join the resistance, such as it is. They attack Checkmate headquarters, and things go very poorly, at least in part because Hawkman's too busy being a dick to listen to Blue & Gold. They flee and decide to try and put together their own group to save the world. Uh, good luck with that fellas. Oh, and the Time Stealers are up to stuff, and so is Rip with Booster's ancestors in tow.

Query: Why is Anthro wearing a jacket similar in style to Mr. Terrific's? One thing that strikes me as odd, when discussing the plan, Booster mentions they want to break Max's concentration for one moment, because that'll be enough to get Superman out from under his control. Yet, there's a moment during their attack, where Max is clearly concentrating on controlling someone else, then on avoiding one of Booster's blasts. So, that wasn't long enough. You'd think seeing other heroes he knows and cares about would be enough to do the trick, but this is starting to seem like Xavier level telepathy. Man, I hate telepathy as a power in comics. I wasn't that enamored with this issue, but I think next issue will be more to my liking. Hopefully.

Nova #12 - This was nice, because it's all about characters being presented with a seemingly "either/or" situation, and finding a way to do both. A fullgrown Technarch has returned to Kvch, here to challenge it's offspring, Tyro. Warlock wants to take Tyro and flee, but knows that won't suffice. Nova can buy enough time for Tyro, but at a cost. Or is a cost required? Warlock couldn't help Rich with the Phalanx. Or can he? Tyro can't defeat his siredam, or can he? That's part of the fun of comics about the struggle of heroes, right? To face an impossible situation, and overcome it? Well, we got that in spades here. Good times.

As I understand it, Wellinton Alves is coming back to the book for art chores soon, since Pelletier is moving on to Guardians of the Galaxy. And that's fine. Alves' art grew on me, especially when it involved telepathic Russian dogs, so that's cool. But I don't know that his style would have worked as well for this story, because I just enjoy how Pelletier captures the facial expressions of Warlock and Tyro, and I think that may be the result of his more exaggerated style (I don't want to say "cartoony", and I'm not sure "simplified" is the right word, either). We are dealing with a species that are extremely malleable in form, so it makes sense their faces would be highly expressive, and they really were. I would probably name this my book of the week, if I were to steal that from Chris Sims, which I won't, because he has legions of fans who would probably devour my soul. But if I did, then, this book would be it.

The Punisher #56 - The Special Forces guys get their ducks in a row, and trying to get a bead on Castle, so they can box him in and finish him off. There's a brief interaction with Castle and a couple of the guys, which seems to confirm that Castle will not, in fact kill them, but it looks like next month is the earliest we'll learn whether Castle might just be in over his head.

I kind of like the sequence where two of the soldiers walk through a hit Castle made, breaking down what he did, and where applicable, discussing why he would do it. I'm a little surprised though, that there weren't any accompanying images of the attack going along with the description (like when Castle pieced together a fight he had with Barracuda in #51, based on his injuries and what the doctor's had said), but it still works pretty well just with images of the aftermath. I also liked the part where one of the generals noted they're banking that these soldiers can stop Castle because he won't kill them, but they (the generals) are also soldiers, and they're pretty damned concerned he'll kill them. It was an alright issue, but it would probably win Weakest of the Week, if I were doing something like that. Which I wouldn't because I usually don't read enough comics to bother with such a designation.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

This Back And Forth Is Getting Tiring

I'm back home ahead of schedule! Hooray! But I have to go back this weekend! Boo! But I get to pick up this week's comics on Wednesday now! Hooray! And that's all I've got for that. Try to close on a high note.

Feeling a tad addled from lack of sleep (again?! Will I ever get my clock back on schedule?), I'm going to forgo the book post I had plan for awhile (probably until I'm back on the road), and discuss two more movies I watched that I hadn't seen before. It really is nice to have a friend with an extensive DVD collection, just as it's nice for him to have a friend always willing to be the designated driver (that'd be me).

Talladega Nights: I may be a tad fuzzy on this, since we were watching it at 2 in the morning and Alex had noisy, drunken guests show up part way through, so I missed some of the jokes, I think. That, after said noisy guests left, lead Alex and I to ponder how it is the two of us can talk throughout the movie and still hear and follow everything, but when it was just one of the guests talking, we couldn't hear anything. We concluded we've learned to talk around the dialogue, rather than over it.

Anyway, Ferrell really enjoys playing these clueless guys that follow their own blind and dumb drummer. Or maybe he hates playing them, but keeps doing it because it gifts him with a fat wallet. Could be either way, I suppose. I enjoyed Gary Cole as Ricky Bobby's 'miserable, transient' father, and the interaction between Ricky and Cal, especially once Ricky has decided he hates Cal, except he keeps forgetting when Cal offers to come by to visit in whichever vehicle Ricky misses the most. The stuff about "phantom fire" got tedious after awhile, and I'm thinking I had to miss some of the development of the subplot with the "bookish, yet hot" secretary, because she seemed to appear out of nowhere late in the movie (I know she'd been in the movie earlier, but not that significantly). Personally, I blame the noisy guest (really, there was only one of them being noisy). Or Alex' dog. But not the meatloaf, that was good stuff. Where the hell was I?

I'm trying to decide though, would this movie qualify as a satire? It seems to be making fun of aspects NASCAR culture (the endorsements, for example), as well as some of the broader cliches of sports (winning is all that counts/if you aren't first, you're last and the bit with the interviews of "famous" people in the crowd), but I'm not sure whether that tone was consistent enough to qualify. Like I said, I was distracted during the viewing.

Just Friends: I have no idea why I chose to watch this to pass time until Alex managed to wake up (I'm also not sure why we always agree to meet at his house at 10, when he's never awake at that point). I suppose this movie would have fit in well with that whole discussion about the "nice guys" that was making the rounds several months back, since that seemed to be the whole point. A couple of things about the movie. It's interesting that at times, I found it painful to watch Chris character make a fool of himself in his attempts to woo his idol of affection, but I didn't have any difficulties watching Ricky Bobby act the fool. Maybe because he was more oblivious to what was happening, while Chris seemed aware that everything he was trying was failing miserably.

Secondly, I found it kind of odd that Chris and Jamie (hopefully that doesn't surprise you) could wind up together given his drunken outburst at her place of business, which culminated in her punching his lights out, and someone being happy they got to throw Reynolds into the snow while saying 'And stay out!' I did laugh at the guy being happy about that, though I don't think he said it forcefully enough. He's been waiting years to say it, he really ought to have sold it more. And I've wandered off-topic again. What I was getting at was, was Chris actually a nice guy, ever? Did he legitimately care about Jamie, or was it always about getting in bed with her? I like to think he was a nice guy, back in school, but allowed dissatisfaction with how things turned out to make him bitter over the years, which finally spilled out there in the bar, when he started calling her a tease. I'm less certain how much of that good person (has less negative connotations associated with it than "nice guy", don't you think?) is left, but there were moments when it showed through (his concern about sex potentially ruining their friendship being one part). I couldn't really recommend this one, not that I actually recommended Talladega Nights either, but I figure you're more likely to have seen that already if you were going to.

The Village: I know, I've already watched this movie, and discussed it multiple times, but there are certain scenes I like, so I keep rewatching those (usually while trying unsuccessfully to get Alex up and moving). I've been trying to figure out, at the end, when Noah attacks Ivy in the woods, what's his intent? Is he actually trying to hurt her, angry over her liking Lucius, or is he still just playing a game?

Must sleep now.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Odd Little Quick Post

So here's one for you. Have you ever known someone whose eyelashes turned white or gray?

It can happen to the hair on top, the beard and mustaches, the eyebrows, the hair in various locations elsewhere, but I can't recall ever seeing anyone with eyelashes that naturally turned those colors. Of course, they might have been coloring them (can you do that, or would there be too great a risk of getting the stuff in your eyes?), but it was something that I thought of yesterday..

I'll just let you mull that over.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Nonsensical Spelling Idiocy

I'm getting ready to leave town for about a week. There may be posting, but it'll be as sporadic as it was last week, if it happens at all, so take that for what it's worth.

Before I left though, I wanted to get something off my chest. It's something that annoys me, but the fact it annoys me makes me even more annoyed. For some reason, I get really aggravated when people, while referring to the Green Goblin and assorted family, misspell "Osborn". I'm not usually that much of a spelling jerk. I might notice if someone uses the wrong form of "there/their/they're", but it's not going to lead me to dismiss their points, or want to snark at them about their poor grasp of the English language. But for some reason, people spelling "Osborn" as "Osbourn", "Osborne", or "Osbourne" gets to me. Not enough to call them out in the comments of the post, mind you, but there's always a brief instant where "It's Osborn, you twit!" flashes through my brain. Then I start yelling at myself for getting so damn nitpicky and away we go.

I'm not sure what it is about that particular name. I suppose part of it's just that snooty fanboy, looking down at the people who don't know how to properly spell the last name of one of Spider-Man's greatest foes. Man, I really despise that fanboy part sometimes. The other part might be because "Osbourne" reminds me of former Cardinals pitcher Donovan Osborne, and that guy was a constant source of frustration with his frequent injuries (which always seemed to happen when the Cardinals really needed a healthy, competent pitcher, which Osborne normally qualified as). So perhaps the misspelling is causing my brain to make other connections, leading to associative anger that's not actually related to the spelling in question. Or maybe it's something else.

So there you go. You can mull over that until the next time I post, whenever that winds up being.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Surprise Panda Appearance!

CalvinPitt: Man, I was watching Sniper this afternoon, and that scene with the corkscre- aaah!

Adorable Baby Panda: Flying Tackle Attack! THUD!

{Man, what the hell?} You were just going to leave town again without letting me know weren't you? {What? No? I called you. Didn't I?} No! {Oh. Sorry about that. Things come up sometimes.} Well, I haven't gotten any time on the blog in weeks and it's not fair! {Fine, fine. Better do it today then. I have to leave again tomorrow.} Really? Well, OK then! I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready!

{You need to stop watching Spongebob. It promotes stupidity, burger flipping, and irritating neighbors.} Phooey on you. I'm giving the Outsiders Bonks because they didn't fight like a team, but I'm giving Metamorpho a Hug because he got shot into space. {One good thing though, it means the shuttle crew won't run out of any essential elements with him around.} Really? Could he make something, and have it last separate from him? {Actually, I don't know. Given the general level of DC characters' powers, I'm going to say yes.} Geo-Force gets a Hug too, because he found a place he belongs. {Maybe now he can get a little appreciation.} Hey, maybe we could start a Geo-Force fan club! {Let's not go crazy here.} Nuts. Well, I suppose Jaime and the JLi gets some Applause for being cool and saving the day, and Guy gets a Hug for being paranoid about Batman. {It's understandable. He's not even in our universe, and I'm paranoid about Batman. At least he can get here.} Are you sure? He's Batman. {Yes, but he's not Deadpool, and Deadpool > Batman. We might have to worry about Ambush Bug, though. Be on guard.}

I think Liz and her mom both needs Hugs, and I want to give Magneto some Applause. {Uh, run that one by me again?} Well, he came to find Liz so she could meet her dad, and they could talk. That's nice. {Yeah, but I think he's just trying to keep one of his soldiers in line, while adding another one to his forces.} Sure, if you want to be mean to Magneto, but I think he wanted to bring the family together again. {But he wasn't going to bring Liz' mom along! That's just breaking up the family on different lines!} Whatever. I'm giving the Blob a Hug, because of the mean comments in your last post. Just because he's isn't really skinny like all those X-Men, everybody makes fun of him. {Well, being really large and immobile isn't the best power. I can see how you pandas would identify with him, though.} What does that mean? {Well, you're both largely sedentary, and roly-poly, so you know.} Oh, weight jokes, huh? {No, no, more like body shape and activity level jokes.} Why you - {And that's all the time we have for ABP this week folks! Bye!} Hey wait a *screen goes black*

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

What I Bought 4/2/08

I looked through Secret Invasion #1 today, and I just don't have the energy for this Skrull stuff. Maybe it'll be super awesome, but it feels a bit like a One More Day for the entire Marvel Universe, and that's not something I'm really looking forward to, even as dissatisfied as I am with the current 50 States Initiative Marvel we've got now. For the first time since I dropped the title, I seriously considered buying this week's Amazing Spider-Man. Skimming through it, it seemed entertaining, Wells didn't make Peter seem to be as much of a loser as he'd appeared on skimming through earlier stories, and Bachalo's art didn't feel as confusing as it has when I read X-Men comics he drew. Still, I don't feel I can show financial support for One More Day induced stories, so sorry Messrs. Wells and Bachalo. No knock against either of you. As to what I did purchase, there was nothing new for me this week. There were three books left over from past weeks, so I'll just talk about those instead.

Batman and the Outsiders #5 - That was kind of fun. Breaking into the base, fighting superpowers-for-hire, trying to stop shuttle launches, some friction between the newest team member (Green Arrow) and one of the old guard (Metamorpho). Plus, the Dibnys doing their Boston Brand impersonations. You think their getting this kind of role has anything to do with the Deadman name being on a Vertigo title, since characters that go over tend not to get much play in the DCU? Eh, probably not, and they're having fun with it, so it's all fine with me.

I really like Lopez' artwork. Very pretty, very clean, seems to have a lot of energy to it. I'm still not sure what the grand scheme the Outsiders are trying to stop is, beyond the fact there's some highly advanced weaponry getting launched into space that Batman wishes to stop. I like that the team doesn't feel like much of a team right now. Characters aren't sure they can trust each other, aren't sure why some of the others are on the team, Grace and Thunder don't get why they aren't on the mission, and so on. And it carries over into the fight scenes, which are a bit chaotic because there doesn't seem to be any sort of plan. Everyone is just attacking in their own way, with no apparent strategy behind it. As a final note, I think Geo-Force did more in this issue than during his entire stint in Justice League, for what that's worth. Good for him.

Blue Beetle #25 - You don't really care what I say here, do you? You're all convinced it's beyond awesome, so there's really not much for me to say, right? So Jaime Reyes is very clever, and is fortunate enough to have friends in the caped community to help care for his loved ones while he's out saving the world. I'm curious to see what happens with the relationship between the Scarab and Jaime now that it's, evolved, awoken, whatever. Probably be a little like Nova and the Worldmind, though I doubt the Scarab will get to play cautionary voice of experience as often.

I like that Guy has the 'most powerful weapon in the universe' on his hand, but he chooses to wade right into the middle of the Reach and start punching them instead. I'm not sure what to make of his insistence that the reason the old JLI showed up to help Jaime is the result of Batman doing something. I imagine Batman enjoys making people that paranoid about him, especially Guy Gardner. Albuquerque's art is a bit scruffier (heavier inked?) than I normally prefer, but it works well enough, and Rogers has set up quite the interesting cast of characters over this first, now concluded arc, and it was a good comic. I don't think I love it quite as much as everyone else (story of my life, I think), but I enjoy it a lot all the same.

Ultimate Spider-Man #120 - I have to tell you, the upcoming story arc that's going to tie in to the Ultimate Spider-Man video game has me seriously considering saying farewell to this title. As if the looming specter of Ultimatum hadn't put my mind on that already.

How do you think Magneto feels about people attacking him whenever he show up? Spidey and Iceman don't even let him finish what he was saying before they start attacking and screaming at Liz to run. What he's saying, for the record, is that Liz' dad is one of his people, and he's here to bring her to her father, as he had promised years ago. Which is kind of nice, I guess, though I suppose Magneto's not doing it for her dad as he is because she's a mutant and he wants to Bogart all mutants.

So Liz runs, then screams at her mom, then the X-Men threaten Magneto, then Liz, MJ, and Peter talk, and that's about it. So, will Liz be showing up in Ultimate X-Men? Probably not, but you never know. I really wasn't feeling the end of this arc. On the one hand, I'm glad it didn't degenerate into this huge fight, with massive property damage, leading Liz to hate all the players involved. On the other hand, there was something about the X-Men showing up on Liz' lawn, puffing up their chests at Magneto, and then basically insisting Liz come with them that felt wrong. I don't think she was forced to do anything (although, Jean Grey's been pretty morally ambiguous at times), but it felt a little like they wanted to scare her into coming with them. "Oh, Magneto's so terrible, you can't go with him! But you can't stay here, either! You need to come with us, we'll give you clothes you won't burn up!" All that is probably true (though how many people from the area actually knew Liz was a mutant until Magneto and the X-Men showed up at her house? MJ, Kitty, Torch, Spidey, Kong. Anyone else?)

So, I don't know. Maybe it's time to part ways with the title. Kind of hate to do it, though.

Next week, lots of reviews of comics that are actually new that week. That is, of course, assuming I can get to the store that week!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

UnCalvin Is Back

UnCalvinPitt: It's been a long time, but I have returned, just like MacArthur!

CalvinPitt: He's not kidding folks, we've had to type and retype this opening sequence until it was just the way he liked it. Originally, I'm sitting here, working on a post about how Arcade is partially Marvel's version of the Joker, when Un here comes staggering in, crying about how he's never on the blog anymore.

UnCalvinPitt: Hey now, we weren't supposed to discuss that! Do over!

CalvinPitt: Forget it! I'm still tired, and if we don't keep going, we'll never finish!

UnCalvinPitt: You forget, I am trained in the arts of combat! Nose Imploding Swift Kick! *FWBOOM* Why aren't you on the ground?

CalvinPitt: Between getting slapped by Adorable Baby Raccoon, and the random muggings FeadPool unleashes on me, I've developed an extremely high tolerance for pain. Have you been reading Iron Fist?

UnCalvinPitt: Yeah, so?

CalvinPitt: See, this is what I've been talking about! How are we supposed to be opposites if you read the same books I do? You're supposed to be reading all the Secret Assault tie-ins, Critical Final, and the rest so people can tell us apart. I'm not good enough at dialogue to get the point across otherwise!

UnCalvinPitt: Sorry. So, what post were you working on?

CalvinPitt: Well, Googum did a post two months ago where he discussed how Marvel has all these different characters that are kind of like Batman, but they use different combinations of his characteristics. And it reminded me of a conversation I heard in the comic book store about who was Marvel's version of the Joker.

UnCalvinPitt: Well, he's a pretty big name villain, so howzabout the Green Goblin? They're always kind of nuts, they're the major foe of each companies' most popular character, and they both kind of run against things that are important to their heroic foe.

CalvinPitt: Huh?

UnCalvinPitt: Think about it. Batman wants to maintain order, Joker's all about chaos. Spider-Man, um well there was something about how Spider-Man's trying to use his powers to help his loved ones, while the Goblin's hurt those they care about, but it doesn't really work.

CalvinPitt: If you flipped it around, it might work with Harry Osborn. He became the Goblin to protect his father's name, and near the end, swore he was going to keep his family happy and together. Meanwhile, Peter's anger is coming out as Spidey, and he's being distant from his wife, his aunt, and his fake parents.

UnCalvinPitt: Oh, I loved that fake parents story. It made Spidey all mad, and he was gonna smash Chameleon with that tombstone.

CalvinPitt: Ignoring your utter lack of taste, and back to the topic at hand. If I recall, one of the guys at the store said Carnage was Marvel's Joker. He's got the body count, but that's all he's got.

UnCalvin: What lack of taste? I read the copies in your collection! And Carnage can't be the Joker. Like you said, all he does is kill. The Joker used to steal worthless wooden coins to make himself look crazy, so he could get into an insane asylum to learn the location of stolen loot from another inmate. Carnage wouldn't have the patience for that.

Calvin: I only have Amazing Spider-Man issues from that story, and that's because of Mark Bagley's artwork, get stuffed. Maybe if Carnage hadn't been overused so much, and could have hung around prominently for longer, he could have gone through different interpretations, and that would given him a better chance.

UnCalvin: You have some issues from other Spider-Man titles too. And I don't know what they could do, because they started Carnage at serial killer who only believes in random, wholesale slaughter. It's seems hard to go more quirky with a character that starts there, without being parody, or a joke story. The Joker does like to kill people sometimes, so I guess they have that in common. But you're pushing Arcade? Based on what? Clothes?

Calvin: Yes, I have lots of other Spidey comics from that time, but they aren't ones focusing on the parents. They're just background plots in those comics. As for Arcade, he has that important thing that Joker himself told Carnage he was missing (in Spider-Man/Batman): style. That's part of what made me like Arcade when I read his first attack on the X-Men in a little reprint book. He's giving his origin, how he was a bored rich kid, who killed his dad after daddy cut off the cash flow, and so he went professional. But it bored him, and he told the ladies 'Any fool can kill. I wanted to do it with style.' That's the key. Arcade has a theatricality about him. Even if it doesn't work, he's still going to have some fun with it.

UnCalvin: But he's not very successful, and he works in secret, and he's limited in his style. it's always about Murderworld.

CalvinPitt: Well, how successful is the Joker at killing anyone other than random civilians used to make us afraid of him quickly? He's killed one of Gordon's wives, and Jason Todd, oops never mind, and who else? Black Mask's "notable" body count seems roughly equivalent. And yeah, Arcade has to bring his quarry to him, which used to involve a garbage truck, which is kind of cool, but I never said Arcade was the Joker in terms of his chaotic nature, just that he had the Joker's flair.

UnCalvin: So who does have the Joker's sense of chaos?

Calvin: Well, Carnage does, to the extent any one-trick pony can be chaotic. Jamie Braddock seems like one of those sorts who messes things up for no good reason, but he might not have even realized he was doing it. I'm pretty sure the Joker is aware of the stuff he's doing.

UnCalvin: What if he's not aware of his actions? Or at least not all of them?

Calvin: Which ones wouldn't he be aware of? Are making a Doombot postulate to explain things that didn't seem Joker-like. "Oh, he was in one of his Unaware states during that story. It's not really the Joker when that happens."

UnCalvin: No, I wasn't trying for that. I'm just pondering inconsequential things. You do it all the time. Maybe the Lizard? Nah, he's either too brainless, or too focused on revenge/helping reptiles rule the world. Hey where are you going?

Calvin: I need to floss while I ruminate on this problem.

UnCalvin: "Ruminate". What a tool. Can't just say "think". Still, I'm doing pretty well at this "same but not" thing. I dislike being called an evil opposite, though. Calvin's not a saint, so obviously I'm not that evil. I might not even be as evil as he is!

Calvin: I wondered when you'd figure that out.

UnCalvin: Wait, I was right? I'm more good than you?

Calvin: Yes, which is why you've lived this long. It was so convenient to have a duplicate everyone assumed was evil who was not, especially one who believed it himself, because then all my illegal activities could be pinned on the one with a preexisting criminal record. But now you know, and I can't take the chance you convince someone this is true. So you'll simply vanish, and the authorities will search endlessly for you. Farewell. *brandishes odd weapon, fires*

UnCalvin: Aaahhhh! Noooooo! *fades away*

UnCalvin: So what was the point of that? Your fictional account of how you wound up with a "same but not" twin?

Calvin: No, I just decided partway through the post to make it about a different realities' Calvin and UnCalvin, rather than about us. I just can't see myself as that evil.

UnCalvin: This from the guy who jokes about how many points you'd get from your car door hitting the elderly on their Hover Rounds as you drive?

Calvin: It's people on bicycles (more points for the ones dressed like professionals!), thank you very much. And I never actually do it. It'd leave an awful dent.

UnCalvin: That's pretty evil.

Calvin: Yes, but I'm just a little more good than bad. You, on the other hand, are the one that came up with a device to unneuter and unspay pets, so that it appears the procedure failed, and the animals have to go through it all over again, so you're clearly much worse than me.

UnCalvin: Hey, I'm giving those animals back their ability to procreate, cruelly stolen away from them by Bob Barker and his legion of followers!

Calvin: I think it's actually Drew Carey now, not Bob Barker, and if you're going to do this for the pets, you might want to get them somewhere the legions of nutcutters can't find themagain .

UnCalvin: Well, it's an Undead Bob Barker, and I'll look into that safe haven. Will you have me back again on the blog soon?

Calvin: Sure, I'm going to be away from home a lot this month, maybe you can fill in for me sometimes,

UnCalvin: Really, I'd love to stop by us the place for a drug lab, I mean, fill in on the blog. Thanks.

Calvin: I have the feeling I'm going to regret saying it was an alternate reality. Should have just shot him.