Friday, October 31, 2008

Nothing Is Scarier Than A Giant Rock!

In Batman: The Animated Series, there was the episode "Almost Got Him", where several of Batsy's foes gather to have a bull session about how close they've come to killing Batman. When it comes time for Killer Croc to share, he regales us with the story of how he lured Batman into a quarry. . . and threw a rock at him. Not quite Two-Face's tying Bats to a giant coin and flipping it into the air where he'll possibly be crushed.

By the end of the episode we learned that Croc was, in fact, Batman in disguise, trying to learn where the Joker had Catwoman, as he had captured her after she foiled his most recent attempt at eliminating the Dark Knight. Just this week, I started to wonder whether or not the story Batman told while playing at being Croc was true. Did it actually happen, or did Bats just make up something that sounded dumbd enough the villains would believe he was Croc?

Granted, Croc in the series was no rocket scientist, but he had enough brains to lead a gang for awhile (until Bane beat him down). Still, it's likely his fellow rogues, lacking Croc's physical gifts, regarded him as a simpleton. And he did prefer to handle things with his bare hands.

So what do you think? Was it a true account of a confrontation between Batman and Killer Croc, or just something Bats came up with on the fly?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Could Batman Be Bat-Manipulating Again?

It occurred to me this afternoon that Batman could be the one who hired the Secret Six to pull off this little mission of theirs. Yeah, I know, slow on the uptake. Just let me go with this, for sanity's sake.

The person paying them is doing so anonymously. The anonymous client wants them to break Tarantula out of a meta-prison because she has something that is of great importance to the criminal underworld. Batman has Huntress contact Catman, specifically to warn them off the job. Not only that, she specifically tells him that Batman knows about the whole thing. And even though this call is ostensibly to warn someone she cares for of approaching danger, Huntress hates having done it. Seems a bit odd.

Except, the warning doesn't deter the Six in the slightest, and actually induces Catman to come to Gotham and square off with Batman, to tell him they don't scare. Once Catman arrives, Batman offers them double their fee if they walk away, which insults Catman a little bit. That's how you might deal with some common criminal, who truly only cares about the money, and Blake is looking to be something more. Batman says that if they do this job, he will shut down their operation permanently. But when Catman immediately replies that they've already begun, what does Batman do? Does he pull out all the stops to defeat Catman and send him to jail? Does he call the JLA (or hell, the Outsiders) and tell them to haul butt to Alcatraz and stop the prisoner abduction? No, he continues his sparring and chit-chat with Catman. Hardly jibes with his earlier statement. Batman says he never bought Blake as a joke, even when everyone else did.

The Six seem to be a contrary sort. The more you tell them they can't do something, the more likely they are to do it. They either wanted no part of "Luthor's" Society, or weren't invited, and rather than run and hide, they decided to instead try and destroy the Society first. It's fairly likely Batman would know this, and that he might see a way to use it. I'm not saying he wants the Six to kill these various criminal scumbags that are going to come after them, but he might see it as a way to get those scumbags out of whatever hidey-holes they stay in, where they can be brought down.

At the end of #1, Batman said no one would be getting out of this with clean hands. He emphasizes especially Thomas Blake, but since he said no one would come out of this clean, that means him as well, doesn't it?

The other possibility I see is that Batman is testing Blake to see if Huntress is right about him. He's placed him in a difficult situation, where his team freed this woman from prison, but are supposedly turning her over to someone who will kill her once they get this "card". Plus, lots and lots of people will be trying to kill him and his group to get at her. So now we see how Blake responds. Which worries me for Catman's moral crisis*, if he makes the "right" choice, but finds out he was being jerked around the whole time, and even if he had made the wrong choice, the Justice League would have shown up and stopped him or something. Though that could lead to an interesting tailspin for him. Not a pretty one (if there is such a thing), but likely entertaining.

* And it has to be a crisis doesn't it, what with this being DC and all.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Do So Love Comparing And Predicting

I suppose comparing Thomas Blake to Shinomori Aoshi yesterday struck a chord with me, so here we are. I've seen at least part of Aoshi's character arc, how he wound up no longer caring, what brought him out of that, and where he went from there, so maybe draw some parallels between the two.

From the flashback in Secret Six #1 it appears Catman lost another family to poachers. This after Deadshot killed the first one he was running around with*. He got a little vengeful on those stinking poachers, which troubles him at least some of the time. As near as I can tell, he went to Africa to rediscover himself after his less-than-impressive run-ins with Green Arrow during Brad Meltzer's time on that book. He was a shell of himself, but somehow found acceptance with these lions, then they were killed. And now it's happened again**. At this point, all he has is the team he runs with, and that's a problem, isn't it? Because he told the Huntress that he and his group were trying to do better, but it was a work in progress. Except I'm not certain his teammates have the qualms he has about certain jobs, so can they actually do "better", in the sense of taking "good" jobs, helping those who need help, stuff like that***? Blake is feeling disconnected, working with people he may care about, but who do things bad enough he can probably divorce himself from those feelings. He doesn't want to be a villain, but he's not certain he can be a hero. He's not even sure he wants to continue existing.

Aoshi got to that state by losing four friends/subordinates, who had fought hard for him. Aoshi prizes loyalty, which is why when he was offered high ranking government positions, he turned them down, because the four were not desired, and he refused to simply abandon those who had fought for him faithfully. Then they died for him, after he had failed to beat Kenshin and claim the title of the strongest. Then Kenshin told him to train and return for a rematch, so he could try and claim the title for those four. Except Aoshi decided the way to do that was to give up caring about anything other than that fight. He allied himself with evil men (Shishio, who planned to overthrow the government and plant himself as ruler), and nearly killed a man who was once his ally. Kenshin eventually got through to him during their rematch, by telling Aoshi that his attempts to divorce himself from his humanity, while using his friends' deaths as an excuse, was dishonoring their memories. He'd made their deaths a millstone around his neck, rather than something which inspired him to greater heights. Plus, Kenshin reminded him there are other people still living that could use Aoshi's guidance, including the 15-year old that's tried to assume his position at head of the clan since Aoshi damn near killed the person that had been running things in his absence.

After that whole sequence, Aoshi resumes control of his group, and sets himself upon trying to be a force for good. He decides he will fight evil, and fight for justice. He's not careless with his life, merely dedicated to a greater cause, and determined to see it through. So where does that leave Blake? The dead lions are his loyal friends who have died. His actions towards the poachers, and maybe even confronting Batman are his questionable actions to "honor" their deaths. They saw something in him that they deemed worthy to stay with them, and so he's going to prove them right by confronting the big, bad Bat, or by scarring the ones who harmed/killed them. That leaves the Six as the friends that are still alive and need guidance. The question, and maybe this is what the first arc is going to cover is, what is their purpose? Is it to make money? Is there a person or organization they want to stick it to? Are they trying to help others? What jobs are off-limits, if any? Blake has to serve as the conscience of the group, but he can't do that until he decides what goal he's pursuing. He told Deadshot he thought he had lost the horizon, so he needs to reacquire it.

That requires someone to help show him the way, though. Aoshi had Kenshin, someone he respects and recognizes as having walked a similar path; Catman has. . . He fought Batman, and while I imagine Catman respects Batman to a certain degree, I doubt he would accept advice from him. He spoke of how Batman holds himself above the people he protects, and Batman's certainty in what he does and how would probably convince Blake they don't have much common ground. I don't think he needs to be following the guidance of any of his teammates, so based off people we've seen thus far, I guess that leaves the Huntress. They like each other, or are at least interested in one another. More important, she's had a long struggle to find peace for herself. She seemed dedicated to venegeance for a long time, but she's found other things now, between working for the Birds and being a teacher. She can relate to Blake feeling alone and uncertain, so maybe she's the one who can provide that moment of clarity.

* It was Deadshot disguised as Deathstroke, correct? that was the big surprise of Villains United? Well, that and Luthor being the mysterious leader of the Six. I say it would have been more interesting if it had been the same Lex running the Six and the Society, instead of one being Lex, and one being Alexander Luthor pretending to be the real deal. It was OK the way it went, but if anyone could use a ragtag group of villains to scare more villains into joining a larger group for protection, it's Lex Luthor, and it's the kind of scheme he'd use, since he'd be the only one who knew the truth.

** Though I'm making an assumption that the pride was wiped out. If that isn't the case, that might be concerning.

*** Assuming that's even what he meant. I'm going off what I remember from flipping through that trade in a bookstore, and I was more focused on Tora flipping out and the Harley/Misfit fight. The Secret Six as the A-Team. Now I wish to hear Bane say something about someone flying Knuckle Airlines, Fist Class.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Trying To Understand Batman

This refers specifically to an exchange he had during his skirmish with Catman in Secret Six #2. During the fight, Catman says he has an advantage, he doesn't care whether he lives or dies. Batman's response is 'Then you have no advantage at all.' The sequence caught my eye, as small, likely inconsequential things have a tendency to do.

The first explanation that came to mind is Catman has no advantage there because Batman also doesn't care about his own well-being. But I can't picture Batman being so cavalier with regards to his life*. He puts far too much effort into training and preparation to not care. Plus, he has all these proteges that, for as much as I bust on Batman for being a jerk, he does care about, and he probably would like to be there for them as long as possible. Not that he's afraid of death, but neither is he rushing headlong to embrace it.

Then I considered whether he meant that he cares whether Catman lives or dies, and that somehow offsets Blake's supposed advantage. Which would certainly be true to the character. Batman doesn't want anyone to die, not even the Joker. The problem is, I can't see how that negates Blake's advantage. It suggests Catman could do throw himself in front of a train, and Batman would exert energy to save him, and put himself at risk in the process, both from the train, and from a cheap shot Catman would likely take, since the opportunity is presenting itself and all.

Third possibility relates to a similar sequence from Rurouni Kenshin. Kenshin is squaring off with Aoshi for the second time, having promised Aoshi a rematch if it meant that much to the guy. Aoshi is really going to town on Kenshin, intent on killing him, and makes it pretty clear that all that matters is victory, and his continued existence beyond that is irrelevant. Kenshin, who has been down that road himself, says that he has strength beyond that willingness to throw away one's life, because he wants to live, to continue helping others, and to be with the people he cares about, and that's why he'll win. Because he cares more**.

That sounds pretty good to me. Like I said earlier, Batman doesn't want people to die, and that includes whomever he winds up saving later that night after the little donnybrook with Catman is finished, as well as the night after that, and the night after that, and so on. He has to survive, because people need him, and that makes him stronger than Catman, who is doing his damndest to give off an air of not caring about anyone or anything, beyond trying to prove (to himself) that he isn't intimidated by Batman.

I've got a few other thoughts swirling about right now, related to what this might mean for Catman, but I need a little time to try and put them together. Until tomorrow then.

* By superheroic standards. I would say he's certainly putting himself at greater risk than most of us, but not so much compared to his allies.

** There's also the reason the reader is aware of: That Kenshin will win because he's the title character. It's annoying how he seems to at least partially defeat his foes by chipping away at their reasons for fighting, until they're no longer as certain of themselves. Believing in yourself and what you're fighting for is a big part of that whole series.

Monday, October 27, 2008

People Could Find Themselves Getting Stabbed Where They'd Rather Not Be

So the Guardians of the Galaxy have kind of fallen apart. Understandable, since they all believe Starlord had Mantis mess with their minds to join in the first place*. They can't trust that they actually believe in the mission, so they might as well leave. If it weren't for the fact the solicitations have revealed Starlord's going to have other concerns, I'd suggest he watch his back. Gamora and Drax may have both walked away earlier, but I'm not sure either one of them is going to forget or forgive this. Then it occurred to me: Would Gamora blame Nova as well?

Actually, my first thought was if Mantis tried to nudge Rich to convince him to convince Gamora. But I imagine the Worldmind would have warned Richard if she tried to get inside his head**, so that wouldn't have worked. Besides, Nova was worried about Gamora, so I can see him choosing to ask her to join of his own volition. Again, though, does she know that?

I don't think it takes much for Gamora to conclude that Nova was in on it with Starlord. Nova was the one working so hard to get her to at least talk to Starlord, and it's likely that when she did, Mantis pushed her to agree. She could perceive that as Nova taking advantage of her opening up to him in Nova #10, as well as her trust in him. She wouldn't expect trearchy or deceit from him, when he appears sincere. Which would probably only rile her even more if she felt he manipulated her.

I think that'd be entertaining, Gamora showing up on Earth, after Nova's head for messing with her, Nova not having a clue what she's going on about, everyone else simply having to get out of the way. Even better, if the two of them start fighting, the Thunderbolts might show up and try and arrest them. Certainly be lots of fighting, and most of it would involve the T'Bolts getting stomped into the mud, which is a bonus as afar as I'm concerned. Added bonus, it might promote a sense of connection between Marvel's two ongoing space titles, which can't hurt. I imagine they have roughly the same audience***, but it could be a nice little piece of shared universe.

* Would Mantis have had to give all of them a push? Phyla seemed down with it, and Adam's the one who seemed to be guiding them where to go, with his talking about fissures in space-time. I wouldn't think they'd need much convincing.

** See Nova's initial encounter with the Harrow in Nova #13.

*** Their sales are pretty similar. Guardians was 6 spots above Nova in September, listed at about 5,000 more sales. If we want to remove the effects of Secret Invasion, we can look at July's sales, where Guardians is 3 spots and 5,000 sales ahead of Nova. Sales tend to drop slowly as a title continues - barring new creative teams, variant covers, and tie-ins - so we can probably chalk the gap up to Nova having been published for about a year longer then Guardians of the Galaxy.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hey Whoa, I Don't Embrace Nothin', Mister

If you've read any Marvel comics this month, you might have seen their two-page ads for Secret Invasion. The one with the three small kids laughing, but one of them is green and has a Skrull chin, and we're advised to "Embrace Change"? I've certainly seen them*.

In addition to being mildly annoying**, it's also creepy. Maybe that's just me. I'm not a big fan of small children, like Dr. Grant at the start of Jurassic Park. The Skrull kid is only weird because it seems odd seeing a child that particular shade of green, but she doesn't really bother more than the other two.

I considered making this post into a joke about how silly it was for Marvel to make "Embrace Change" their tagline for the event, since they're talking to comic fans, and we all know how much we hate change, right? Ha ha ha, am I right? I can't seem to muster the energy to sell that joke, though.

So I'll take a different angle. Judging by the webpage they provide a link to, these are meant to assure the public that the Skrulls are bringing peace and love, and certainly not conquering. Which is all well and good, except for the part where they dropped a bunch of Super-Skrulls in Times Square and started getting kind of bossy. Doesn't really seem to agree with their electronic doctrine. So what's that leave us with? I guess it can serve as spin for after the fact. If the Skrulls actually succeeded in taking over, well, they can assign whatever motives they want, or provide no motive at all, what with them being in charge. if they lose however, they could always point to it and say they really did just want to help, and all the fighting and destruction was the "heroes'" fault.

I suppose it depends on what lasts as a result of Secret Invasion. I think an attempt to deny any malevolence would be a good idea if some of the Skrulls surrender, or beg asylum, and then get outfitted with some gizmo that neutralizes their shape-changing abilities. Which might seem a rude way to treat those begging asylum, but this is the Earth where people who put on costumes to try and protect the public were suddenly getting thrown in jail because they preferred to operate independently, and where mutants have been getting slaughtered by giant robots for being born different for decades. Why should Skrulls get special treatment? At that point the Skrulls couldn't really disguise themselves to fit into society, so their best bet would be a p.r. campaign to convince people that they aren't so bad.

Which sounds reminiscent of the mutant culture thing Morrison, Casey and some others were doing pre-House of M, and we saw what happened there, so that's probably not going to happen. Which is too bad. As a sort of background storyline running through the books, it might be kind of interesting. Or at least not obtrusive enough to detract from the titles' regular stories.

* Even in books that have not a whit to do with Secret Invasion. Can I not even be safe from Secret Invasion in The Punisher, Marvel?!

** I think it was mostly because I read several comics in a limited span of time, and I kept seeing it, and that starts to wear on me. Like how every time I sit down to watch football, I keep being subjected to that damn Little Thickburger commercial. I haven't watched much TV the last few months, but every time I do, there it is.

*** I would say the Skrulls did a fair job of infiltrating Earth secretly, but the invasion really is taking the standard, massive numbers of highly visible soldiers, isn't it?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Use The Mother Box, Shilo

Similar to yesterday's post, I was considering stories with similarities to Final Crisis, since I know many people complained they couldn't understand what was going on there, or what it was all about. It may be a moot point, since I'm not seeing as many of those complaints right now. Maybe Final Crisis is starting to look pretty good compared to Secret Invasion. Or perhaps the people that were complaining have just given up (people on the Internet ceasing to complain about something? Preposterous!), or they're doing so somewhere I haven't seen them (more likely). Useless or not, I already spent a good five minutes thinking about it, so now you can read it. You know, if you feel like it.

So the tag for Final Crisis has been "the day evil won". Well, this is a mainstream superhero comic, so we can be reasonably assured that evil won't still be winning at the end of the story*. So what it made me think of was watching all the Star Wars movies, from Episode 1 to Return of the Jedi, when you've already watched them once. or at least have heard what happens. So you know ahead of time the Jedi Council's efforts to halt the Dark Side will fail, but that eventually the Emperor will fall.

Right now, I think Final Crisis is somewhere around A New Hope. The first 3 issues seem to have been largely about Darkseid's forces getting everything set up, while the heroes are only dimly aware that anything is even wrong. And when they are aware, they don't seem to realize just how bad things are. Case in point: Even as he's lead away by the Alpha Lanterns, Hal Jordan reassures his friends that from now on, only Green Lanterns will be able to get on or off Earth. Whoever killed Orion and attacked John Stewart won't be able to escape. Which is all well and good, except Hal doesn't realize that one of the Alpha Lanterns is one of Darkseid's minions, which makes the blockade somewhat less effective. It's like watching the Jedis try and use Anankin to spy on Palpatine, not realizing the Chancellor will turn that around and convince Skywalker that the Jedis are a threat to peace, and that's he's Annie's friend and confidant, not any of them, so where should the boy's loyalties really lie? The Flashes try to save Orion from getting shot, but apparently couldn't pull it off. The Antil-Life equation is sent out across the world, and the heroes can only protect a few people.

A couple of other thoughts, based on that: If Final Crisis were following a similar story arc, then we can expect this assault by the heroes (assuming that happens in #5) to be a success, but to be followed up by a series of setback (Empire Strikes Back), before the final victory (which based on what I've heard about the novels that come after Return of the Jedi, will be temporary at best).

Other thought: The Trinity haven't accomplished much for the do-gooders thus far. Wonder Woman is one of those human/animal hybrids, Superman is off doing something that needs doing in a Yellow Submarine, and the Evil Alpha Lantern took Bats off the board early on. Is their absence comparable to Star Wars 4-6 with no Leia, Luke, or Han, or does their absence actually mirror the circumstances of those movies? A princess leading some rag-tag rebels, a farm boy fresh off the turnip truck, and a swashbuckling smuggler wouldn't necessarily be the people I'd entrust the overthrow of a Galactic Empire to. But they were what was available. The Jedis were basically wiped out, except for Obi-Wan, who spent his time keeping an eye on Luke, and Yoda who went and hid on a swamp world. The military was essentially under Palpatine's control, and the droids had been deactivated, so no getting them into the fray. So is the lack of Trinity, thus forcing other heroes (like Black Lightning, The Ray, Tattooed Man) to step up, a similar circumstance? I guess we won't really know until the story ends, though a part of me hopes what Superman's involved in keeps him occupied. I'm kind of tired of watching Darkseid play the Kryptonian's punching bag.

Still considering the comparisons: Darkseid is Palpatine, the massive dark power, looking to establish his will over everything. Palpatine uses the Force, Darkseid has the Anti-Life. I think Turpin would wind up being the "Vader" in all this. He's currently sharing a body with Darkseid, so if he could exert control at just the right moment, he could really turn the tide. Plus, you'd have to figure Darkseid wouldn't see it coming, figuring this small human can't override the will of Darkseid, within the shared body. I've read some speculation that Sonny Sumo is Orion, which I think makes him Luke. Since Mr. Miracle sought him out, that would paint him as Obi-Wan, but I'm more inclined to view him as Han. I think it's because he's an escape artist, and that seems to fit with Mr. Fly-By-The-Seat-Of-His Trousers. Then again, Shilo appears to have been shot in #4, so maybe he is Obi-Wan. Who gets to play Han then? The entire Super Young Team, or whatever those kids are called?

This is the second time in 2 months I've done something like this. I just find it highly entertaining for some reason.

* Though I could be very wrong about that. Morrison might just say "Screw it", and go for a major overhaul. It'd be like every hero in the DCU was the post-Civil War New Avengers, hunted and outnumbered.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mayhaps Comparisons Will Aid Thee

Two words I wish I had used in yesterday's post: "Jocularity" and "scuttlebutt".

Moving forward, when I reviewed Patsy Walker: Hellcat #3 last month, I complained that the book was selling poorly, and Fortress Keeper mentioned there were apparently concerns among readers about its incoherence. I've said previously I only understand half of what's going on, so I understand the feeling. For example, Patsy was told she needed the Bear with Antlers as part of her group, but she would have to apologize to it, and to do that she has to find it. She's told it will come if you 'lie by a grave'. Patsy sees a grave*. Undaunted, she marches up to the grave, pulls off one of her (dead) arms, stands on top of the rusted out SUV and beings spouting off various statements about herself. When she says 'Everybody loves me', someone replies 'That is a lie', and hey, it's the Bear with Antlers! It took someone else's discussion of the book for me to realize the spirit that talked to Patsy meant "lie" as in, "tell a falsehood", not "lie" as in, "lay down". On my initial readthrough, I figured Patsy had decided that if she said what she did the Bear with Antlers would be contrary and arrive to dispute the point. She had said she was going to 'do this her way', so I figured that meant she didn't feel like lying down next to a dead body, and so she'd try this instead. I was apparently wrong, but it worked well enough in my mind I could keep going.

I think some readers are more used to writers who lay everything out as they go along, and when confronted with a writer not playing it that way, we start poring over the book again and again, thinking we must have missed the voice balloon or expository caption that will make everything clear. In the process, I think people miss the forest for the trees.

Me? I just keep the basic plot in mind, and trust I'll figure out the rest later. The story is essentially "Unlikely hero gathers band of oddballs to rescue the princess". Like I said once, it's Legend of Zelda + Baron Munchausen. For the gamers among the audience, think of those RPGs where you play some character you wouldn't expect to save the world, and they go through the game meeting other characters, and convincing them to join the group. Which frequently requires you undertake some sort of task to convince them to join up, right? Well, Patsy had to fight the wolf, catch the snow lemming, apologize to the Bear with Antlers, and she seems to have reached a peace accord with the map, leading it be helpful. In video games, you usually have to fight them, or help them complete some task they promised to complete. Same difference.

If you want a more literary comparison (for the non-gamers in the audience), how about Robin Hood? In the version I remember reading, Robin starts out a solo act, but keeps coming across other characters he fights with at first, but eventually convinces to join him in his quest to deal with the Sheriff and Prince John. If you're a Stephen King fan, you may have read the Dark Tower series, then think of it like that. Roland had a quest he (or some greater force) had set him upon, and he gathered others to help him along the way, each having a role to play, and dealing with obstacles to their joining up along the way.

I'm reasonably confident Kathryn Immonen has a point with the particular wordings of things, and how inhabitants of that realm (and the realm itself) react to things Patsy says or does to believe I'll understand it when it's over. For the time being, I just remind myself she's trying to rescue the shamans' heir and stick with that. I think that while the story's in progress, that will be enough, and once it's completed, then I can sit back and put all the pieces together. Because it's almost a certainty we don't have all the pieces yet, so probably best not to get too bent out of shape about it.

* Hers, to be exact. Yes, that's part of the half I don't totally understand, though I have some theories. I'm waiting until the end of the story to try and make more sense of it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What Manner Of Skylarking Has Permitted This To Occur?

Now, a brief word from the 19th Century's own Cornelius Potfiller:

Oh calamatations. This day finds me most vexed. I endeavored to inspect the electronic cataloging of illustrated stories being offered by the Timely/Atlas, oh pardon my error, the Marvel Publishing Company for the forthcoming month. It is a great enjoyment of mine to discern which serials, and how many, shall be available for my purchase each week. But woe and lamentations, my seekings found no evidence of the fourth chapter of the delightful Pasty Walker: Hellcat story listed for the 11th month of this year. This despite it having been solicited with various other (inferior, might I add) products for November several months. While I had accepted its absence in October due to there being no solicitation for that month, this was an unexpected conundrum. Where might the particular issue reside?

Further inspection revealed to me the issue emblazoned with the numeral our neighborhood sausage-maker refers to as "vier" would not arrive at my corner newstand until the eve of Christ's birth, rather than by my family's Day of Thanks, as I had hoped. Upon learning this, my visiage grew as red as the beard of the Irishman I cudgeled about the crainium this past weekend, after he made lewd comments towards a upstanding young lady with whom I had just attended the opening of A Trip To Chinatown. Truly, I was wroth, sending the housekeepers scurrying from my presence in terror. Then in my unrefined fury, I did hurl my Nana's favorite snow globe against the wall. Oh, catastrophe! This miscalculation, combined with the earlier bad news as to the multicolored novella, and with my butler Pittsley delivering the message that a shipment of silks I had planned to sell was hijacked by raiders in Manchuria, sent me into a state of severe melancholy.

Wait, what news is this? Reputable sources inform me that the hero known as the Ray has been observed performing admirably in service of Earth's defenders in another ongoing short story. That encouraging news fills me with new strength and resolve.

Herewith, I shall retain the services of Wilson Wadell, noted gun for hire, to reacquire my silks. It is a mark of my fine bearing that I hire him despite his face resembling uncooked meat which has been trampled beneath a carriage wheel, and that I instruct my servants to make no comments regarding his appearance until after he has departed the premises. Through the rear door, naturally. It would hardly be proper for those jabberwocks at the club to know I consort with a known scoundrel. Perhaps Wilson can resolve this interminable delay in the conclusion of the Hellcat story, without connecting his actions to me, of course. I believe I shall ruminate further on this with a sifter of cognac while I soak in my lithium vapor tub. That should help restore the vigor this chilling drizzle has stolen from my bones. Then, with my mood improved, perhaps I shall adorn my spats and bowler hat, and amble down the promenade, giving silver dollars to the street urchins. *pause* Oh ho ho! A pity the fellows from the club were not present to hear that jest. The merriment would have grown exponentially.

Current Day CalvinPitt: Isn't he great? Give him a big hand. Or, alternatively, throw things at him. I really don't care which, just watch out for his primary housekeeper. She's pretty accurate when it comes to throwing cooking implements from up to a furlong away (her spectacles double a telescopes).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What's Going On With You, Calvin?

So what’s the deal with that post on Monday? {What do you mean?} You were talking about how great Dr. Doom is. {So, he is pretty smart, and I figured he could find a way to use all those rings.} Are you under mind control? {No.} You’re a robot, aren’t you? {No!} I don’t believe you *leaps off table, bites Calvin’s hand* {*Calvin’s hand begins bleeding* Bloody hell, that hurt!} Oh, sorry. I guess you aren’t a robot. {No, I’m not a robot I told you that already!} Then why all the kind words about Doom? {I was just trying to look at it from Doom's point of view, and Doom feels he can accomplish anything.} But he’s evil! {Where did I say he wasn’t? I said what he believes to be the truth, but that doesn’t mean it is, right?} Right. {So we can move on? We’ve got a lot of books here.}

I’d like to, but I’m confused about which Mayday I’m supposed to hug and which needs to get hit. {I think they’re both victims here, so I’d go with a hug for each.} OK, Hugs for both. Wait, that one May threw Gene Thompson around in front of everybody. {You’re right, better give her some applause too.} OK, Applause for that May. Arana needs a Bonk. {Manipulating someone under the pretext of helping them? Yeah.} Mammoth needs a Hug, because he got hit a lot by the Secret Six, and he was trying to be a good prisoner. {Just be careful he doesn’t crush you by accident.} Eep. Bane gets Applause, because he wants to help Scandal with her problems. {If you say so.}

Deadpool gets Applause for teaching those Skrulls a lesson, and for not letting Nick Fury boss him around. Maybe Fury should get a bonk. {Naw, give Fury a break. He’s in extended nicotine withdrawl.} *ABP looks around* {What’s wrong?} I figured Wade would show up when we started talking about him. {Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll show up at the worst possible moment, or the best, depending on one’s desire for drama and conflict.} Everybody on the Outsiders gets a Hug. They were just starting to get together, and now they broke apart. It’s sad. So a Bonk for the Black Glove. {Works for me.} You’re not going to tell me to be careful? {Nah, Black Glove, whoever it is, is a sod. They’ve got it coming. And you’re black and white, so this whole “black and red” thing won’t bother you. Just stay away from the Joker.}

*door swings open grandly*

Oh, there’s Wade now. Dr. Doom, ruler of Latveria, would have words with the two of you. {Oh goody.} I have monitored your conversation, and I am displeased with your *points at ABP* description of me as evil. Doom is not evil, as I merely do what is in the best interests of the world. Cease your typing. Doom does not approve of the design given to his words. Alter the font to something more befitting my vocalizations. Hey, this is Calvin’s blog, you can’t just - {Easy. Let’s accommodate him. I was considering different fonts as a way to distinguish between our growing cast of recurring characters anyway. Try it now.} This is more appropriate. Little bear, you would do well to recognize Doom’s magnificence. How magnificent can you be? The Fantastic Four kick your butt every time! Even Dazzler beat you! {Oh great. Bring Dazzler up. Now we’re sure to die.} That was not Doom. That was a pretender to the majesty of Doom. Doom would certainly never fight Ms. Blaire, as he has a great respect for musicians. As to the Fantastic Four, Richards and his family have never defeated me. I have merely withdrawn from the field of battle to pursue more advantageous avenues. Sounds like excuses to me. You are quite impertinent. *Doom raises his gauntlet, which begins to glow* {If I may interject, Lord Doom, here, ABP has the right to say what he pleases, same as me, same as you. You are free to rebut, but no violence. ABP is a diplomat, just as you are. If you’d like you two can step over there and hash this out, while I try and finish this up.} You are correct. It would be rash of one of my personage to resort to violence, when this child is still young enough to learn of my plans for this world. Come, you and Doom shall converse.

*Door explodes off hinges, slamming into Doom and driving him into the opposite wall*

[Whassup! Would have been here sooner, but I hadn’t seen my fly ladies in so long, had to give them proper attention, you know what I’m saying? What am I talking about, you’re a baby panda and a comic reader, you’ve got no clue what I’m talking about! Wait, do I know what I’m talking about?] {Thanks a lot Wade! Doom just agreed to talk peaceably, now he’ll destroy us all.} *Door falls to the ground* No, the only one who shall be destroyed is the gibbering buffoon. [Eep.] I shall provide a swifter death than you deserve, speck. {Hold it. All fighting happens outdoors. I am not having a repeat of the destruction of my property that came with the Flying Castle Caper! And given Wade's healing factor, the power you'd have to bring to bear to kill him swiftly would probably destroy all my stuff, and the little panda here. That'd be a diplomatic incident for certain.} Very well. In light of that, Doom will agree to battle outside, where he may unleash a properly devastating attack. Clown, know that upon your death, Doom will use your physiology to develop cures for all the world's physical maladies. *Doom strides by Deadpool. Deadpool begins to draw a gun. Calvin glares at Deadpool, and shakes his head. Deadpool reholsters the gun sadly*

{We’re never gonna finish at this rate, and it’s all your fault. Just had to go and criticize Doom.} I’m sorry! Can I make it up to you? {Bonk Norman Osborn twice. Once for the Spider-Girl stuff, and once for messing with Deadpool.} Deal, Bonks for Norman *explosions outside* What about everybody’s cars? {Eh, mine’s parked somewhere else, everyone else is S.O.L.} Bonk for Starlord. Messing with people’s minds is not cool. I can’t decide whether to bonk Drax or applaud him. {Do both. Or neither, whichever floats your boat. I doubt he cares either way. Applaud Cosmo though. He really was a good dog after all.} Applause for Cosmo, Applause for Drax. I think Gamora needs a Hug, because she still looks all messed up. Frenchie needs a Hug too. {Oh definitely.} Should I bonk Venom? {I don’t think he’s done anything to merit it this month. However, it’s Norman Osborn’s fault Frenchie is sad, so you could hit Norman a third time.} That might give him brain damage! {I’m willing to take that risk. Besides, he’s evil. Remember how you feel about evil?} You’re right, another Bonk for Norman!

*Deadpool leaps back into the room through the doorway, looking not so much the worse for wear*

[Aw yeah, who’s the man? I killed Dr. Doom!] Doombot. {Totally a Doombot.} [What? No! It was the real Doom!] He didn’t smell organic at all. {He couldn’t turn his head, either. Everyone knows Doombots can’t turn their heads.} [Story of my life.] {Hey, don’t be down. Killing a Doombot is still pretty good. How’d you pull that off?} [Grenade boomerang I bought online. It was from the estate sale of some guy they were calling Boomerbutt. I guess that explains why Doom turned his entire body to follow it.] If he followed it, how did it beat him? [While he was tracking that, I hit him with one of the cars out there. Knocked him right into the boomerang’s path.] {Just came up with that on the fly, huh?} [Yeah, it's great when people trust their fellow man enough they leave their keys in their cars. Maroons. Now can I get a little applause?] I already did that, before you or Doom got here. [And I missed it? Aw, can you do it again?] I don’t think so. My arms are pretty tired. {Don’t feel bad, Wade. I’ve got some mini corn dogs if you’d like.} [Mini corn dogs? Woohoo! Pop a funnel in my mouth and pour them in!]

{Editor's note: I started this post in a wordprocessing document and I had different fonts for everybody, including one I think was a bit more regal, yet elegant for Doom, plus one in cursive for Wade, since I figured if everyone else was thinking and speaking in print letters, Wade would be different. Unfortunately, the fonts didn't carry over when I copied it, so you've got the stripped down, crappy, version. I'll try harder next time. Sorry.}

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What I Bought 10/21/08

That's right, it's the Comics Blogowhatchamafloogle's Tardiest Comic Reviews! Can you handle the excitement?

Starting with the books from 2 weeks ago:

Amazing Spider-Girl #25 - So we have a Mayday Parker interacting with friends and family, but it's one having to use her diary to refresh her memory as to important stuff in her life. That would seem to suggest something, but doesn't seem certain why she can't remember these things. Arana is trying to "help" the other May, because she's important to their plans towards the Black Tarantula. Oh, and they're discussing the return of . . . Norman Osborn?!

No. Norman is nice and blown up in the MC2 Universe, let's leave him that way. No returns, I don't care how they're trying to do it (I'm guessing downloading his memory engrams into Peter's brain. Norman would dig that). Why does Norman have to be alive for this? Harry's "gift" of fake parents outlasted his death, why can't Norman's? As for the rest, we've got mind transfers, scared babies, and well, May totally humiliating Gene Thompson was pretty good. Oh, and the ad for Marvel Fruit Pies starring the Sentry and Cranio. Far out, man.

Deadpool #3 - That arc was considerably better than I expected. Maybe because I wasn't expecting much. Wade's true master plan is revealed, as we learn he was even farther ahead of the game than I thought he was. Good job, 'Pool! Of course, it wouldn't be Wade's life without something getting screwed up in the end, but which nefarious villain could be responsible? Oh, him? Really? Woohoo! Unlike Spider-Man, Deadpool might actually kill that smarmy asshole. I like that Deadpool was aware enough to recognize when he has Fury over a barrel, and took the opportunity to make Nicky treat him with some respect. Double good job, DeadCool!

Other good things are that he didn't use the "What's Skrull for {insert phrase}" this issue, and they continue to limit the "Deadpool vision" to about one scene per issue. I think that's a good strategy, doesn't overuse it, but keeps it present in the reader's mind that Wade's brain has a tendency to divorce from reality. Granted, there's also the ongoing verbal sparring between Spoken Out Loud Wade, Yellow Caption Box, and White Caption Box, which serve a somewhat similar purpose, but I think they suggest a different problem. Besides, I laughed at the part where White Box asked what the Skrull scientist was talking about clocks for. With Wade's tendency to go on tangents, you'd think he could follow it more readily (though Yellow Caption Box caught right on). Hmm perhaps that's why I like that, because it reminds me of my own writing.

Still iffy on Paco Medina's art, mostly when it comes to capturing motion. There's one sequence where Wade's supposed to be running, but it relies mostly on the blurring of the background to convey speed, because his posture suggests, well, jogging, basically. Also, there's another panel where Wade is supposed to be ducking, but it looks more as though he's leaping away from an explosion behind him. Still, that sequence where we see what's happening to the Deadpool Skrulls was pretty good. Certainly looked like a nasty fate. Ah, they're bleeping Skrulls, ta hell with 'em.

Secret Six #2 - OK, so why wouldn't Catman let go of the whole "where's that smell coming from" thing? Was he just trying to annoy Batman? That's fine if he was, I just started to wonder why he wouldn't let it drop. Man spent all that time hanging around with wild animals, you'd think he'd smelled worse. So Catman and Batman fight and argue back and forth, and on and on, while the rest of the team does their thing, with their usual mixed results. I like that Ragdoll pointed out that he was best suited to be getting thrown at windows, especially because he was a little put out that Scandal seemed to be horning in on his shtick. By the by, are we supposed to know who this creepy villain in the box is? Is it one of Ragdoll's family, 'cause they really seem to be lacking some bones and such.

Aw, Huntress has been speaking on Catman's behalf. That's so sweet. I hope those crazy kids can work it out. They probably can't, but no harm in hoping. It's an odd little cast. Actually, I'd say Deadshot might be the sanest of all them. It would have been Bane, but after some of his comments regarding Scandal, yeah, never mind. I like Nicola Scott's artwork. I don't know that there's anything spectacular about it, but I think it helps the tell the story, certainly doesn't interfere, and it has the sort of clean linework I'm personally fond of. I will admit, when I saw that piece of little on the gargoyle on page 1 I though, "Oh, that's a nice touch. Even up that high Gotham's is dirty." Then it turned out the litter was there for a reason (so Catman could pick it up and toss it away), and I was disappointed. Just a little.

OK, last week's books. Jeez, this is taking forever.

Batman and the Outsiders #12 - Batman contacts them, requesting assistance. Arrow and Cass aren't sure, and Cass wants to try and trace the code "Batman" sent them. Oops. And someone dies. Man, I liked that character. That's it, RIP officially stinks, because it has resulted in a character I had grown fond of dying. Someone else gets badly hurt and the team disintegrates. Unless Cass won't let it.

Well, I kind of like this Cassandra Cain. Trying to keep Batman's team going forward, not really being able to put her teammates at ease enough to get them to go along. I'm not sure how she's going to go about building her own Outsiders. Beyond Katana and Metamorpho, I'm not sure any of the others would trust her. Benjamin's art seems to be getting rougher. Way too many lines, especially on people's faces, feels like it's being overcomplicated. It's more of a problem in closeups, but there are times when facial features look out of place, and expressions don't necessarily sync with what I'd expect in that scene.

Booster Gold #13 - So, more fill-in issues. Rip's a Starro slave now, oh no! Booster and Michelle must try and figure out what's wrong so they can fix things. They do figure out what caused the problem, but as far as fixing it goes, they were less than successful. And is Remender pulling a Tieri and picking up threads from stories he started on other books? 'Cause these Chonoses (Chronosi?) were in All-New Atom too? Or maybe they were just conveinent time travelers to use.

It's a bit of a contrast from Dixon's story. Booster there seemed to be figuring things out as he went along, doing his best to fix it with what little he knew. Remender's Booster seems to have been on the job a bit longer, 'cause Rip has taught him all sorts of protocols in the event of various bad things happening. Not that it makes an enormous amount of difference, things were still going haywire. Also, I assume next issue will reveal the point of the opening sequence where Michelle has to save just one person from a collapsing building and Booster basically explains that's how it goes some times. 'Cause that seemed like a pretty downbeat way to start a story. On the plus side, Pat Olliffe got to draw Booster Gold ripping Gorilla Grodd's face off. That was amusing.

Guardians of the Galaxy #6 - Drax' brilliant plan is revealed! Drax' reason for frequently visiting the Continuum Cortex is revealed! Cosmo's true motives are revealed! Starlord's duplicity is revealed! Did that somehow reveal Starhawk's plan to destroy the Guardians?! Why can't I stop talking about things being revealed!? Oh, and I guess we know the answer to which member of the Guardians was a Skrull is revealed. I mean, revealed! The answer is nobody. Hmm, I hadn't considered that possibility, but it pleases me.

Six issues in and the team fell apart. Given the team members, he should probably count himself lucky he wasn't stabbed repeatedly. Now we see where they go from here. It looks as though they're shifting from a Mighty Avengers style team to a New Avengers style squad. That's fine, though really, they could have just dumped Adam Warlock and I'd have been cool with it. Also, Paul Pelletier draws a very nice picture of Drax punching Adam Warlock in the face. Go Drax!

Moon Knight #23 - You, know that cover doesn't suggest very good shooting by Bullseye. Sure, he put two in the head, a bunch in the chest, a couple in the crotch, but look at all those misses. Was he shooting while drunk? Also, his smile bothers me. Moon Knight wants Khonshu to take him back, and Khonshu makes it pretty clear he's got more loyal followers than Marc to help. Meanwhile, Norman sends a hate group to Frenchie's restaurant to cause trouble, which draws Moon Knight in (though Frenchie was doing a pretty fine job getting revenge himself. Bit that man's ear off, damn!) Cue appearance of, Venom. Spector, do me a favor, rip Venom's tongue out. I know it'll grow back, do it anyway, 'cause it still irritates the hell out of me that he gets to pass himself off as a good guy.

Once again, it appears that Marc Spector has brought difficulty into the lives of the people he cares about. I wonder how that will turn out. Crawley was going to them, seeking their aid, and they turned him down. Will they end up rejoining the fold, just because they can't seem to escape? Spector's whirlpool of violence just keeps sucking them in. There's a frequent orangish tint to the coloring, especially during violent acts. I vaguely remember that from the few issues of Way's Ghost Rider I bought, so is it something Texeira requests of his colorist? It's a nice effect at times, but at other times, especially when it because a background of solid warm colors, it washes out some of the details in the faces, so they might consider easing off a tad.

The Punisher #63 - Well, that's a hell of a book to end on. What is it with Hurwitz and repeating certain phrases over and over again. In his first issue it was "And they are dead", last issue it was "I feel", and now it's "and she is dead". It's like when Marvel gave McFarlane a Spider-Book of his own and in his first arc he kept reusing that phrase "to rise above", and the sound affect "THOOM". At least that part I understood, since it was supposed to represent primal drums driving the Lizard's savagery. This is just annoying.

I think Hurwitz is making it too personal for Frank, and as a result is turning him into just another vigilante. The point is that Frank isn't just another vigilante. He's gone beyond killing for revenge, and so this thing with the kid feels like a needless addition to the story. It's meant to jack up the stakes, but it didn't succed with me. Also, I'd like for them to ease up on the freaking shadows already. I get it, this is dark and serious and Frank Castle is a man with the Shroud of Death drawn tightly around him. Now lighten up the colors a little! Feels like it overly obscures details. I believe I am done with the Punisher. At the very least until the next writer shows up. Oh, don't be so down Mr. Hurwitz, there's about three or four weeks until the next issue, I might change my mind.

And on that note, I'm runnin' out of breath, so you talk now.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Gotta Collect All Those Rings!

No, it's not a Sonic the Hedgehog game review, though now I wish I'd used that as a title for one of those that I did do. No time for useless self-recriminations, though, we've got to move forward! First, thanks to the commenters in yesterday's post for their help. That shed a bit more light on the series, and I appreciate that.

When I was considering possible explanations for how Despero got so big, it occurred to me that he could probably snag himself some of those nice rings that are popping up all throughout the DCU now. I know, he's busy with Trinity, but he's a determined chap, I'm sure he could multi-task if he felt like it. Offhand, I figured he could use a Green Lantern ring, since he has the willpower to keep his molecules from completely dispersing. He's big on hate, so that gives him a shot at being a Red Lantern, and I imagine a Sinestro Corps ring would come most naturally to him. I figure "love", "compassion", and "hope" would be beyond him. Is the key to being a Black lantern that you are dead, or that you have the ability to create death? If it's the latter, then I guess you could pencil him in for that too. He's a conquerer, so that would probably let him use the orange one (that's greed, right?). Planet conquering despots, always wantin' more *shakes head sadly*. So that covers all colors I know of. 5 of 8, not too shabby for Hulk-Despero.

For some reason, my thoughts turned to how many Dr. Doom could wield, were he given the opportunity. Actually, the reason my thoughts turned to the Monarch of Latveria is obvious: Because all truly enlightened people think of Doom frequently, for they recognize DOOM is the one to lead the whole world into a better place. Yellow's a given. People fear Doom, though only because they don't understand that Doom only wants to help them, protect them from that Accursed Richards! If they'd just stop being so blinded by Reed Richards' parlor trick science, they'd see the truth. But Doom isn't going to kill them for that, no Doom will keep trying to show the way. The way, to a better world. The better world Doom could create, if only DOOM wasn't stymied by Reed Richards and his family circus. But Doom will keep trying. Doom will perservere. So, that covers hope and compassion. DOOM once faced down the very personification of a universe, and claimed its power, so willpower? Check. Doom loves us all so much, that Doom continues to try and rule the world to make it a better place, even though we show ourselves to be unworthy by rejecting DOOM's gifts. Doom's subjects in Latveria know the truth, and that's why they adore him. That's love, baby. Purple. Doom has faced death many times, and is well aware of its tricks. It holds no secrets to Doom, so the black ring will be readily wielded.

Now rage and greed, those are a bit tougher. Those are failings of the human spirit, and as such, are beneath one such as DOOM. But DOOM understands greed, and knows the damage it can cause, and so will ensure that everyone has enough to sustain them, but not any more than that (except for Dr. Doom, because someone has to keep all the leftover resources) to prevent the opportunity for greed. By defying it, Doom demonstrates control of it. As for rage, DOOM has also moved beyond its paltry grip, but there was a time when your future ruler knew it well. At the time immdeiately after that Accursed Richards! sabotaged Doom's attempts to contact Doom's mother, DOOM understood the appeal of rage. To attack one's foes in a blind fury, and destroy them without consideration of the larger picture. But DOOM is not like lesser beings, and so did not submit to rage. DOOM mastered it, as DOOM masters all things.

Well, that's a perfect 8 out of 8 for the Future Leader of the 616-Universe. Wait, what's that? Sorry, the future leader of All Existence. However, it should be obvious to all that Doom won't wear all those rings, because that much jewelry would be gaudy and ostentatious, and thus beneath DOOM. DOOM'S very presence is sufficient to bring awe and admiration from the masses, he needs no rainbow-colored adornments to impress. Our Wise Liege Doom would obviously conceive of a way to combine all the rings into one single ring, or perhaps some sort of family crest emblem one could wear upon their wrist. Not on the chest, that too is too showy and demanding of attention. On the wrist, so it's there, but not overbearing, certainly not fighting with DOOM's regal presence for control of the room. This will also allow for ease of use, provided one has the intellect of Dr. Doom. Thus only DOOM will be able to utilize it, to protect his grateful subjects.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Many Questions About The JLI

Yesterday, I took a little road trip to the nearest comic store to my current locale. Unfortunately, that's still about sixty miles, so we won't be repeating that trip anytime soon. In classic fashion, I chose a Saturday when the town was doing homecoming or something, so Main Street - where the shop is located - was cordoned off for the bands, or floats, or whatever. The Pitt Probabilities strike again. At one point I wound up in an adjoining town, then had to struggle to make it back to some place I had a frame of reference for. And yes, I had a map, and yes, I was trying to use it.

Eventually I was able to reach the store, which I had visited once many, many years before (I think it was in the last decade, actually), and do a little back-issue scrounging. Among the comics I picked up were a handle of the Giffen/Dematteis JLA issues, including the first 2 parts of the big fight with Despero. I have a few questions, though:

1) When Despero first reforms on the space probe, he's tiny and deformed. By the time he reaches Earth, he's massive. Where'd all the extra bulk come from? He mentions that he had been scattered, held together only by his will and hatred, waiting until an energy source helped him reform. So did he draw more strength from the space probe and use that to get large? Or was it that he once had partially coalesced, it was significantly easier to draw the remainder of his molecules back together?

2) What was up with Mr. Miracle? He kept repeating things the people around him were saying. I felt really bad for him in #37, when he showed up and kept trying to introduce himself, and everyone kept blowing him off (because Guy was fighting with what became Power Girl's cat, and it had startled Fire, and she set off the sprinklers). He tried to introduce himself to J'onn and just got ignored, and he looked so terribly sad, with the sprinklers raining all over him. It was actually somewhat of an odd tone shift compared to the rest of the scene going on around him. Did they do that a lot, swing from absurd to depressing and back in a couple of pages?

3) At the end of #37, there was an advertisement for some big event that was going to happen in the Justice League books, Breakdowns. But it wasn't even starting for another 16 issues. That seems like awfully excessive advance marketing. "Hey, be here in a year-and-a-half when we totally shake things up!" Well, OK, perhaps that isn't excessive by today's standards, but it wasn't something I expected in an older comic.

4) I also found the issue where Guy takes Ice to the Ice Capists (or vice versa), and Beetle probably pushes things too far. So which is more representative of the Giffen/DeMatteis issues, the big Despero battle, or Ted messing with Guy when he's promised to behave?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

You Can Never Have Too Many Good Villains

By which mean, interesting enemies for our protagonists to contend with, not villains that become protagonists themselves, though that's fine too, if not overused. Some villains are just better off staying as villains.

I thought what I'd like to try (and it may become a recurring thing, or it may not) is to discuss a villain that only appeared once, and see if they could become a viable recurring foe. Not necessarily for the person they originally fought, just some hero or group of heroes. I figured a place to start looking for possible reclamation projects would be JMS's Amazing Spider-Man run. He did try and introduce a few new enemies, but most of them were one and done, and the one that wasn't (Morlun) perhaps ought to have been.

I decided to start with Shade. If you don't remember him, he was a convict whose cellmate was working to develop a mystical portal to escape prison. When he was ready to try it, Shade, bopped him, and took his place. But the fellow managed to damage the mystical circle, so the portal didn't work quite properly. Shade is can only operate in "our" world for limited periods of time, and has to abduct other people and dump them in an odd cocoon in the Astral Plane to buy himself some free time*. He abducted one of Peter's students, and so Spidey was forced to enlist the aid of Dr. Strange to get to the Astral Plane and save the day, rescuing all the missing people, and leaving Shade stuck there.

So we know Shade has at least moderately enhanced strength, as he can trade punches with Spider-Man. When he's in the physical world, he can turn intangible, and create portals back to the Astral plane, either for himself or with at least one passenger. He thinks he's clever, but up to the time of his defeat, he was stuck working with small-time gangs, because he could remove problems for them, while buying himself sometime in our world. And he's kind of a cocky smart aleck, as he made fun of Spider-Man's intelligence in their initial encounter. I wonder, since he's stuck on another plane of existence, did the secret identity-obscuring deal affect him? He didn't know Peter was Spider-Man, but he knew Spider-Man was looking after some particular students.

So he's strong, has underworld connections, access to a difficult to reach hideout, and thinks he's clever. Also, he's been stuck in the Astral Plane for awhile now, he may have started to learn some things about it. Could he have found doorways to other realms, struck bargains with dark powers in exchange for a way back to Earth? There has to be someone that would be interested in his modus operandi. He's cocky enough to think he could reach an accord with a Dormammu or Hela, or even think he was pulling one over on them. So Shade could be the unwitting harbringer of some assault from a dangerous realm. His opening doorways between worlds could weaken the boundaries, which would certainly suit some people. That would probably draw the eye of Dr. Strange, but he might be a bit too high up the ladder for Shade.

Perhaps his movements could disrupt the Nexus of All Realities? Can someone who feels fear still burn if they're intangible? Though there has to be someone a bit more, um, intelligent to contend with. Hey, we could blame Shade for Zombie Deadpool showing up in Marvel Zombies 3! Oh! Shade tended to grab people he thought no one would miss, the homeless, strung out druggies, kids from poor neighborhoods. Could that get him mixed up with the Runaways? They have a magic user on the team, maybe Nico** can pick up on it. Do any members of the team have friends from before they were a group, that could be imperiled to draw the team in.

Maybe we could portray the Shade as a man desperate to escape this curse. He's seen things in that other realm he'll nevre forget, and he wants out. Naturally, he'd want to retain the powers, because that's money in the bank. So he starts ransacking mystic libraries, trying to find a clue before he has to grab someone else to buy more time. Because he is done going back there for any extended period of time, yessiree. Who else is there in the Marvel Universe, magicwise? Dr. Druid is dead, I'm pretty sure. I guess there's the Enchantress and Loki, but again, that might be outkicking his coverage there. There's Doom, but I'm not sure we should write Shade as being that stupid.

Daimon Hellstrom's out there somewhere, he might be a possibility. Busiek wrote Nighthawk as being interested in the occult after his return from the dead, so he might have some useful texts. Hmm, I'm sensing a Defenders reunion here, get Strange, or Hellstrom if the Doc is still in his pissy "I need to divorce myself from mortal affairs" mode, throw Valkyrie and Hellcat into the mix***, both with mystical elements to them as well. Maybe his activities can endanger the Heavenly Cities, get him a little run in with the Green Mist of Death?

I suppose there's always membership in the Hood's little cabal of super-villainy. The hood itself has a demonic presence he appears able to contact, maybe it could sense Shade and convince the Hood he could be useful. Depending on the level of control Shade has over his powers, that'd be a pretty easy way to get in wherever you wanted. And since he's working with a bunch of scumbags, he shouldn't have much trouble getting ahold of people to trade for more time. Heck, the Hood could use him to remove dead weight from their organization if he wanted. Just drop them in the astral plane, anybody asks, they went for pizza and got caught by SHIELD, the dummies.

I think the key is to not throw the Shade out there as the most super-cool awesome character ever, who is so impotant the event must completely revolve around him. Hopefully, one of these as a story would establish him as a interesting villain that other writers might think was worth using, because you can frame his desires to lead to conflicts in at least a few different ways. I'm envisioning Daredevil or Moon Knight trying to tangle with him right now. DD because I'd like to see how his senses would react, Moonie because I'd like to see if he could maintain his sanity pursuing a crook into the astral plane. Would Moon Knight be able to hold his sense of self together. It's a realm of the mind, so would he split apart? Could he get all his parts back on the same page, would all of them make it back out, and if not, how does that change him?

* Now I'm trying to figure out how he got back from the Astral Plane the first time. He would have needed to escape from it and send someone in to buy himself the time to get out to abduct someone to buy himself, uh, you get the point. Hmm.

** Nico is the one with the staff who can only use a particular phrasing for a spell once, correct?

*** Yeah, putting Patsy and Daimon together is just asking for trouble, but isn't that sort of conflict between the group a foundation of the Defenders?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Now That Just Doesn't Make Any Sense

I was in a grocery store tonight, looking for snacks, because, hey it's Friday, and that means snack time. I hit the aisle with assorted crackers and such, and I see these Cheez-It Twisters. that wasn't what I was craving, but I loked in their direction long enough to notice one of the boxes says it has Cool Ranch and Cheddar, and below that it says, "two Flavors" and "twice the taste" or something like that.

Well, OK, that's fine. However, sitting right next to it is a box that promises "Cheddar and More Cheddar", but it also promises two flavors and more taste, or whatever. How does that work? If you've just doubled up on the cheese, that isn't giving you two separate flavors, it's just providing a stronger taste of the one flavor. Maybe they were different types of cheddar? But the box didn't make any mention of that, so what are they trying to pull?

The poor consumer, purchasing a box of the product expecting two different tastes, and just getting cheddar. . . and more cheddar. Oh, the woe, the anguish! Truly, theirs will be a world of misery and suffering, as dark clouds spread from horizon to horizon, none of the sun's warming rays reaching their skin, leaving them cold and desolate on the inside. Such a shame, such a shame.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Do A Little Song, Do a Little Dance. . .

Get your dead love out of the underworld fast. OK, so it doesn't rhyme well. Even Etrigan has a clunker now and again.

Discussion topic for the day: The story of Orpheus and Eurydice. The basic outline is Eurydice dies, Orpheus travels to the Underworld and convinces Hades and Persephone to give him a chance to get Eurydice out. All he has to do is play his lute and sing, and she'll follow. If they both make it all the way out of the Underworld, they can live together again. But he can't look back to check on her even once until they're both out. If he does, she goes back to the Underworld, and he's out of luck. Naturally, he gets out, but forgets she has to make it out as well, turns around, and well, easy come, easy go.

I know this story has been aped at least once, in that Formerly Known as the Justice League (or I Can't Believe It's Not Justice League), where they tried to get Tora* out, except Fire couldn't help herself and turned around, and there was crying to follow. So I'm sure it's been homaged/copied in other media** as well. But in any of those stories, did the protagonist actually get the person they cared about out of the underworld, or do they always screw it up?

I was thinking that in a comic, you could have some fun with it. Have the protagonist see their love when they show up petitioning to lead them out, but once the terms are agreed to, never show the story's Eurydice until it ends one way or the other. Not in outline or anything. The whole thing to me seems to be a test of faith. If you keep singing or playing your instrument, or talking to them, they'll follow you, and if you go far enough, you'll be reunited in the world of the living. But you only have the word of whomever runs that particular Underworld that will actually happen. But what else can you do. You can't fight the ruler of the Realm of the Dead, you have to play by their rules. So you trust that if you do, things will work out.

By not showing whether Eurydice is actually still back there, and perhaps by throwing in some denizens of the underworld who mock our protagonist for actually believing Hades/Devil/Whoever, you introduce doubt in the minds of the reader, as well as the main character. Maybe you draw the book from first-person perspective, so that we see what the character does, so that when they turn, if they turn, it's as if we're turning as well. We've become too worried to go any farther without checking. Just a peek, it can't possibly hurt. Or it actually works out, and we get to be the protagonist turning to see that we have been reunited with the one we journeyed to some dank realm to retrieve, and everything will be joyous and happy.

Any stories where it actually works out that way? Doesn't have to be in comics, I've just been thinking of it in terms of how it could be presented in a comic. And I'm a bit of a sap when it comes to love, so I'd like to see it actually turn out well.

* I only skimmed through a copy of the trade in my comic store, so I'm not clear on the details, but what was Tora doing in hell? Of all characters, she's one of the last ones I can see winding up there.

** Did you see that post on Comics Should Be Good, where Curran used "mediums" as the plural of "medium" and the comment thread devolved into how that's not proper, and it's supposed to be "media", but other people argued "mediums" is fine, and on and on? I was tempted to make a comment, and use the term "irregardless", because I know that gets the Parsing Police up in arms. I have to tell you though, my dictionary says it works just as well as "regardless". Granted, there's no reason to make yourself write two extra letters, but there is the fun one can derive from tweaking the Grammatical Gendarmerie. But I couldn't come up with a comment relevant to the subject of the post, so I didn't do it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'd Like To Talk To You About A Song

It's a song about me. It's a song about you. It's a song about. . . another song.

Perhaps you are familiar with "An Old Fashioned Love Song", by Three Dog Night? At some point recently, it occurred to me that it is a song about another song, the "old fashioned love song" itself. That seems rather unusual, says I. Whatever could it mean?

I suppose their song could actually be the old fashioned love song, since at least part of the lyrics deal with the emotions and memories evoked by hearing this song over the radio, but then it would be a song about itself, and that's very much a case of eating one's own tail, isn't it? Not that it's out of the question, just seems an odd stylistic choice.

The line that sticks with me is the one from the chorus that says 'You swear you've heard it before as it slowly rambles on'. Could that be referring to their song somehow being a throwback in style to love songs of some earlier decade? Could it be a reference to the song having been written by Paul Williams, who wrote hit songs for other groups during that time period? Could Williams have been suggesting this is similar to the other songs he'd written for other bands, and that's why it seems familiar?

I suppose it could a reference to the commercialized aspect of popular music. Once a label finds something that sells, they jump on that bandwagon and ride it until it falls apart (and probably beyond). I guess that's true of entertainment industries in general. That the song says 'you swear you've heard it before', from which I infer that the listener hasn't heard this song, but thinks they have, because everybody is putting out songs just like it, and has been for awhile.

Yet the music still evokes memories of past events, such as 'the sound of someone promising they'll never go'. Does that mean consumers are easily manipulated, that even though this isn't the song where someone who meant a lot to the listener said something important to them, it can still make them think of that? There's also the bit where they sing about how they're sure it was written 'for you and me', and as the "me" gets stretched out, it's overlapped by the next line, which speaks of building dreams as they listen to the song. It all sounds lovely, but the cynic in me thinks the "me" getting drug out is a jab at audiences claiming some sort of ownership of the songs, because it has a connection to an important moment or place for them.

It's reminiscent of the scene in the Street Fighter movie when Chun-Li relates to Bison how he killed her father and how it changed her life forever, and Bison says while it may have been the most important day of her life, to him it was just Tuesday*. Likewise, this song may have been the moment your sweetheart accepted your marriage proposal, but for the people who made the song (and whoever it is that actually owns it), it's just another song they pumped out lickety-split to make some bank while the group was viable.

That was more cynical than I'd planned.

* Did I give you whiplash with that sudden transition? I'm sorry, it was a flash of inspiration.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Come Not To Eulogize, But To Insult The Assembled

*Note: This post is not particularly coherent. It is also mean, and downright condescending towards people at times. But it keeps me from taking a pickax to my car as a way to vent my fury at other things, so it's for the best.*

Spider-Girl is being canceled. Yes, again. This time, issue #30 seems to be the end of the line. I'm unperturbed about this. First, I'd seen rumors months ago that with its sales the book was only guaranteed up to #30, and I follow the sales figures online, and well, they hadn't gotten any better. They weren't getting much worse, but they weren't in a position where that was sufficient. Also, we've heard this spiel before, and then, surprise!, it's back again. So until I actually stop seeing new issues on the stands, and stop seeing solicitations for the title, I've adopted a believe it when I see it attitude. Third, the book hasn't been particularly wowing me lately. I haven't disliked it (I could have done without a Clone Saga), but I was enjoying it considerably more a year or so ago. At this point I found it a solid book that at least had enough going on each month I felt I got my money's worth. Fourth, 130 total issues is pretty good in this day and age, you know? There are a lot of people online that love Blue Beetle and Booster Gold; do you think either of those will make it to #100? Or Immortal Iron Fist and Nova, for that matter? The book had a nice run, and Mayday will apparently carry on in Amazing Spider-Man Family, so that's something I'll have to look into I guess.

I'm not going to jump on Quesada about this, if you're expecting that. I am curious about a sales decision. When they announced they would be restarting Spider-Girl as Amazing Spider-Girl, DeFalco said he'd been told the book was getting a second chance because it did well outside the direct market. I kind of figured Marvel was talking about those digests they release every so often, the ones that are the size of a manga volume, with six issues for about 8 dollars. To my knowledge, since they started Amazing Spider-Girl, they haven't released any of the stories in that format. I don't figure standard trades of Spider-Girl would do that great on the direct market where the book does not excel, or outside of it, so I wonder about the reasoning behind the lack of digests. But I don't know who made that decision or why, so there isn't really anyone specific to lambast. The online commentators, on the other hand. . .

I see people complaining that they found the book too tame and conservative. OK, I'm going to guess that they mean the book was very old style superhero comics, nothing new or innovative about it. If I were less charitable, I'd assume they meant the book wasn't "edgy" or "extreme" enough, with it's lack of sex and decapitations. either way, I think I would have to tell them *speaks very slowly, very loudly* YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT! I don't recall Spider-Girl or the MC2 Universe in general being marketed as some brand new style of storytelling, never before seen around these parts, that would be sure to kncock your socks off with how NEW it was. At most, it was going to establish a sense of legacy to the Marvel Universe, while telling classic style stories about some "new" heroes doing heroic things and overcoming villains, characters struggling with self-doubt, and the occasional redemptive arc for villains.

If you were looking for something never before seen, well, I'd suggest stepping outside Marvel & DC, and going into the creator-owned realm. I have basically zero experience with the material you'd find there, but I'd imagine the creators are (hopefully) doing things as they please, with regards to story structure, characterization, or whatever it is you felt was too tame or conservative about the MC2 line. If, on the other hand, you were hoping for "extreme" stories, then kindly lift your computer monitor directly over your head, and drop it. If you have a laptop computer, close it, hand it to someone nearby, and tell them to 1) strike you across the face with it, then 2) toss it callously atop your prone form. You want "Extreme"? There's the Ultimate Universe, have a blast. Jeph Loeb is doing extreme with the Ultimates. He's simultaneously doing "incomprehensible", but with the sex and Hawkeye's suicidal tendencies, it wasn't that noticeable. Or better yet, since the 616 co-opted the Ultimate universe's techniques in an attempt to copy their commercial succes, just read some of the 616 stuff. Try Wolverine. Millar had a spider-lady (a spider-girl you might say) knock a guy's head clean off by swinging a gun like a bat. That's certainly not tame or conservative.

That kind of storytelling is all over the place at Marvel and DC. Spider-Girl and the like probably stand out a bit just by not going to those wells so frequently. If you wanted that, you don't have to look hard for it, and not everything needs to be alike, because that would be boring, don't you agree?

Also, can I say I love the person I saw stating that because they hated everything of DeFalco's they've read, that they can't imagine anyone being engrossed by his writing style? What's that? I did just say it? Well, good. Let me further state, if you can't even imagine that, your mental capactity must be severely hampered in some way. We're not asking you to envision development of life on a planet in a binary star system, where one of the stars is a white dwarf putting out intense levels of gamma rays, and the other is a blue giant nearing supernova. All you have to do is picture other people having different tastes in writing than you. That's alright, take your time. I don't know why I'm surprised by that comment honestly, you see variations of it online all the time. I'm sure I did it at some point. "OH, I hate this, so it must be terrible, and no one else could possibly like it either!" It's astoundingly imbecilic. And yet, I can't look away. Does that make me a terrible person*?

That's all I have. I don't know quite where it leaves me, though. Stuck in the middle, you, say? Well, it could be worse. There's clowns to the left of me, jokers to right, so here I am. Stuck in the middle with you.

* This is the point where, if we were on House, Cameron would walk by and tell me that yes, it does make me a terrible person. Hopefully, I would be able to operate the crash cart and give her a nice jolt of electricity to the heart, to see if it would send her flying into the elevator like it did Chev Chelios. So it's for science, you see. Perfectly innocent, and not at all a reflection of my distaste for that particular fictional character.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What's Thanagarian For Crom?

Question: Has Hawkman ever been written a Space Conan? Flying through space, drinking fortified space liquor, smashing space villains with his space mace, getting down to business with space wenches, that sort of thing? I recall Geoff Johns' Hawkman had a fairly violent streak in him, at least some of the time, but I'm not sure whether it was Conanesque, or if he had the other aspects going on.

If so, how well did it go? If it went well, why'd they stop? If it didn't go well, why*? If they haven't tried it yet, do you think it would be worth considering?

* My guess would be Hawkman not setting aside enough time for lovin'.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Posting Rescue Bernard Arrives

Carrying with it the sweet, warming nectar of rum. I mean, something to post about. And now that the Arizona Cardinals have overcome the Cowboys, the refs repeatedly kidney-stabbing them (based on what I read online, since I could not see the game, I'm not certain I mean metaphorically), and their own general, well, Arizona Cardinalness (known in general circles as ineptitude), to win again. Hurrah!

I saw this on Kelvin's blog, which he apparently saw on a friend's blog, and by George, I'm not above using such things to aid me! I was about to say "use such things for quick content", but the way I ramble, there's no such thing as quick, is there?

Favorite regular series?
Nova. Guardians of the Galaxy would be close, but it hasn't introduced anything quite as cool as Cosmo or Knowhere yet, so it's got some ground to make up. I am concerned that future solicitations for Nova suggest he's still on Earth after Secret Invasion, and so GotG may pass it sooner than I expect. Secret Six will probably merit consideration in a few months, but I've only seen one issue so far, and I can't put it up here based on that.

Comic book character you only recently discovered/started reading?
Much like Kelvin, I'm not reading about any characters I hadn't been aware of for some time previously, but I suppose in terms of recent, either Booster Gold or Moon Knight. Booster gets involved in all sorts of unusual and entertaining things, while Moon Knight's just batshit insane, which has a certain appeal.

If you could write/draw one character, who would it be?
See, the trick here is, I'd be afraid to take on anything I truly liked, for fear of doing damage to it. Maybe Nightcrawler, with emphasis on swashbuckling adventure and romance, go for something high-spirited. Not that I don't like Kurt, I just figure he can rebound from whatever I might screw up.

Are you a big fan of multi-issue crossover extravaganzas?
Does Annihilation count? Probably not, since no ongoing series tied directly into the mini-series. So I'd say no. I appreciate the sales boost the titles I like get - though I loathe the people who only buy the title for the duration of time it has BIG EVENT NAME stamped on the cover somewhere, then move elsewhere like locusts - but it feels like events frequently serve to cock the book up, throwing them off the story the writer was working on. Plus, the events sometimes cause changes I find unenjoyable to books I like. Mostly, I can't muster the energy to care about yet another story that will change everything, because this is big serious work they are doing here. Whoo-ped-dee-doo, he said, slowly, and in a deadpan tone of voice.

Last comic book series you dropped and why?
X-Factor. The book had actually felt like it was struggling for about a year or so before, a problem I partially attribute to Messiah CompleX, first because I felt PAD had to speed up the story with the Isolationist to get it done before MC started (don't know if that's accurate, but it felt rushed), then the book loses some core cast members, then Secret Invasion and Larry Stroman (who I really feel needs an inker who uses heavier lines) come along simultaneously, and it just seemed like a good time to bail. It's never a good sign when Arcade shows up and I'm only mildly entertained.

Favorite character?
Spider-Man. GrimJack, the Ray, Cassandra Cain Batgirl and Sgt. Rock have to get some love too. And the original New Warriors. All of them.

Are you a DC or Marvel fan?
Marvel. DC's never even come close to challenging. Heck, this year I'm buying more DC books than I have at any time since I started the blog, and Marvel's still got them beat about 3-to-1. I think my dad's Silver Age DC soured me on the characters as too powerful and kind of dense, and I preferred the Marvel style of "here's how the hero part of their life actively messes up the everyday part of their life", to the point that DC characters I like are usually demonstrating that when I get to know them (the Ray, for instance. Kid wasn't allowed to go outside until he was like 18? Now he's trying to figure out life and reconnect with people? Sold.)

Do you remember your first comic/series?
Amazing Spider-Man #273. The Puma wants Spider-Man's help to defeat the Beyonder. Probably explains my love of Spider-Girl, since this issue was DeFalco/Frenz, and so is her series (though I had no problems with Pat Olliffe, who was penciler the first 4-5 years).

Is Watchmen the movie going to be as good as the comic book?
Haven't read the comic, so you're asking the wrong fellow. When in doubt, I'd say "No" is a safe answer.

Favorite comic book movie?
Not one of the Spider-Man movies, it may surprise you to learn. It's either The Punisher, or it's Iron Man. Punisher had John Travolta getting shot, the Russian (though without his witty commentary), humorous moments, and Roy Scheider. Part of me wishes, when they shot the propane tank for their gas grill, that he'd said "Smile, you son of a bitch." Ah well. As for Iron Man, also had humorous moments, some cool fight scenes, nice character interactions, and it made flying around in a suit of powered armor you built look really damn fun, which is pretty important. (the Spider-Man movies captured that feel with the web-slinging sometimes, but not always. I'm not sure whether it was the level of effects used, or Favreau's decision to show us Tony's face frequently when he's piloting giving us a sense of his reactions. Batman probably sits 3rd. Hey, it gets nostalgia points for being the start of my father and I's tradition of going to see Bat-movies together.

Worst comic book movie?
I'm not familiar with Hellblazer, so I can't comment on how badly fouled up Constantine may have been. Ditto with League of Extraordinary Gentleman. Never saw Elektra, or any of the Superman flicks after the one with Zod (that's the second one, right?). Didn't hate Ghost Rider or Daredevil as much as some people do, so what's that leave? Oh yes.

BATMAN & ROBIN, BATMAN & ROBIN, BATMAN & ROBIN!!!! I hope by saying its name three times to dispel it permanently to. . . where was it Beetlejuice came from again? I know what Schumacher was going for, but I really wish he hadn't.

Character you'd like to see in a movie?
Oh jeez, I'm terrible at these. OK, what would translate well? GrimJack? I think a director could have a lot of fun with a story set in a world where every street can be part of a different dimension, each with different rules. And Gaunt's tendency to take jobs big and small could very easily lead into a story about the hardened old soldier helping out the little guy (Magnificent Seven style), or the guy who doesn't care about the politics, but doesn't like getting used as a patsy by the shadowy overlord types. Bonus points if they include Spook, the girlfriend that's also a ghost.

Series that you'd like to see on TV?
I'd kind of like to see League of Extraordinary Gentlemen as a series. I think it would work better Really, I'd like to see the League I proposed August 14, 2006. Obviously not happening, but I'd still like to see it. Besides that, Suicide Squad. Having a long-running series, allows for the fun with introducing and exterminating ridiculous characters. I demand to see Slipknot's arm blown off in High-def, as I have no imagination anymore, and thus cannot picture it myself! If we're talking solo characters, um Immortal Iron Fist would be pretty cool. Maybe X-Factor, with the "superpowered detective agency" angle, plus the various romantic entanglements, psychological issues, and bad puns. Oh, how the bad puns should flow, like a river of . . . aw crap. What sounds better, "river of blood", or "river of wine"? I suppose wine, since it can taste sort of sweet, but mess you up when overused.

And on that note, we're done here.