Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Brighter Light Casts Darker Shadows?

Cove West brought this up in his comment to yesterday's post, and it was something that also occurred to me while making said post. Has Superman redeemed any of his foes? Offhand I couldn't think of any, but I'm not well-versed when it comes to Superman's history. I have a hard time considering Hiro - the teenage Toyman - as evil, more just irresponsible, plus I don't know whether he counts as a "foe" or not, since I've never actually seen him battle Superman. Bizarro's been helping some heroes in that Rann-Thanagar thing recently, but I'm not sure his current personality (meaning, childlike) really counts as evil, either. Maybe one of his earlier depictions, but then there's the question of whether that version tried to redeem itself, and whether or not I could tell if it did*. I'm sure there's someone, but I don't know of them. So I wanted to point out that everything here flows from me currently not knowing of any

To me, it seems Superman mostly serves to inspire other heroes to be better heroes. Steel (John Henry Irons version, at least) was inspired by Supeman. I think Matrix Supergirl was trying to honor him during his death, and busted Superboy's chops about decisions she felt didn't meet what the S-shield stands for. Jaime Reyes is impressed by him, I think Power Girl looks up to him, and so on. Which is fine. Anything that inspires the heroes to try and be better at what they do is good, right?

Still, it's odd his villains don't turn over new leaves, isn't it? I've seen Superman described as representing the best of humanity, so shouldn't that include redemption? The idea that even if you've made horrible decisions or mistakes in the past, there's always a chance to make amends, change your ways, and that other people will give you that chance? Is it that, if you have the best qualities of humanity, you wouldn't require redemption, and so it doesn't really fit into the story? I can't claim to be a big Superman fan, but I'm pretty sure that if one of his regular foes, say Metallo came to Superman and said he wanted to try and help people, Superman would encourage that and support him, because that's who he is, always trying to encourage the better qualities in those around him, right?

Perhaps since Superman symbolizes the best of humanity, his enemies have to symbolize the worst, and that several traits that block their redemption. Jealousy or envy of Superman, so that the idea of following his example would be abhorrent to them. Or an ego so great as to preclude them from seeing the error of their ways. Luthor doesn't seeing anything wrong about expending all this energy on trying to destroy Superman, or discredit him, or whatever his plan of the month is. He sees it as a useful occupation, because Superman's presence blocks him from something*. If you can call him an enemy, Manchester Black chose to try and drag Superman to his level, rather than the reverse, then killed himself when he failed.

Of course, if Superman has hordes of enemies that have redeemed themselves, this probably all goes up in smoke, but it was the answer I came up with, so I thought I might run it past all of you.

* I just find Bizarro kind of confusing. He's Superman's opposite, so he's evil. Or he's stupid. But he has Superman's powers. Plus some extras. Sometimes. I don't think I've read enough with him to keep track.

** In the past I think Luthor's felt accolades her deserved were given to Superman, or he's been wary of Earthling dependence on this alien for protection, or he wants to commit crimes and naturally Superman is a roadblock to that. I don't know which it is these days. The second one, I think, given the
New Krypton arc.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Redemption Of The Villains

This started with me thinking about Spider-Girl. Or Spider-Man. I can't recall which lead into which. I think I was trying to remember how many of Spider-Girl's foes have actually turned over a new leaf. The reason being, in my early comic reading years, Spider-Man had a host of former enemies who had reformed, or were trying to reform, that would pop-up semi-regularly when Spidey needed an assist. Black Cat is the obvious one, but there was the Prowler, Rocket Racer, Will O' Wisp, the Sandman, and the Puma. I think Gerry Conway was the one writing most of those stories, either in Web of Spider-Man or Spectacular Spider-Man.

So I thought to myself, that's pretty impressive, a half-dozen of Spidey's enemies that started helping him fight crime. It must be something about Spider-Man. Then I remembered that the Flash villain Pied Piper went legit for awhile, Two-Face has tried to play hero at least once, Catwoman, Harley Quinn apparently reformed enough that Bruce Wayne endorsed her release from Arkham. About every other week, some old foe of the X-Men shows up, claiming they've changed their ways, from Rogue, to Magneto, Mystique, Emma Frost, Juggernaut, so on and so forth.

OK, so the redemptive arc is a time-tested writer's friend, used throughout the decades. Question this raises with me is, does it mean something different, depending on whose villain it is? With Spider-Man, it's probably related to the whole "power and responsibility" ideal that permeates his story. They have power, use it irresponsibly, but Spider-Man, through word or deed, convinces them to try something different, to use their power to help others. And in what is perhaps also a reflection of his story, they struggle. Sandman, for example, had a less than superb stint with the Avengers. The Puma, who was really only helping out of a sense of owing a debt of honor to Spider-Man, eventually lost control to his animalistic side, and returned to a life of murder. Prowler's personal life, Rocket Racer has to find some new leit way to pay his loans now. Nothing is ever easy.

Is it any different with Batman, or the X-Men, or the Flash? Actually, Flash is the one I'm most curious about, how Piper's dropping the evil shtick would fit in with Wally's story.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Takes A Lot Of Confusion Out Of It, I Imagine

Final Crisis is basically over now, I believe. As you are probably aware, I wasn't buying it for a variety of reasons, but I have been following it online, because the discussion can be entertaining. I don't mean the discussions that boil down to people calling Morrison overrated, or describing the book as incomprehensible, arguing with the people that chide their reading comprehension skills. Those don't go anywhere useful. I'm thinking more when people actually describe what they didn't understand, or what they think they understand, and then other people either agree, disagree, clarify, or whatever. It's made the series sound as though it would make more sense to me if I read it some time in the future, to the point I might even do that when the collections come out.

No guarantees, mind you, but I find that if all I hear about a work of fiction is how deep/complex/multi-layered it is, the more, intimidated I am by it. Papafred used to try and convince me how great Neon Genesis Evangelion was, discussing how there are all these clues scattered about related to major developments that occur later, plus all the Judeo-Christian symbolism in the series, without going into detail to avoid spoiling it. I didn't show any interest in watching it, so eventually he did start going into more depth, giving examples which made it sound more interesting to me. When one of his other friends asked to see the series a year or two later, I decided I did want to watch after all.

Maybe it's as simple as me not wanting to feel stupid, or wanting a more relaxed viewing. If someone lets you in on the hints before you begin, you don't have sit there poring over every sequence, every bit of dialogue searching for the hidden meaning. Now that search can be fun. I've done it here on the blog periodically, Patsy Walker: Hellcat is the current most frequent subject, I've taken film classes that were all about deciding what you thought the meaning of the film was, then searching for things in the film that might support that reading. Fun though it may be, it's more taxing (to me, anyway) than simply sitting there and reading or watching it strictly for enjoyment, screw symbolism or deeper meaning, because I do sit there and debate with myself over whether such and such actually means anything, and that's not something I'm always up for.

Maybe it's reading a mystery where you read the answer first. It takes the suspense out of it, but you can still appreciate how the creator helps or hinders your reaching the solution, and whether they did so intentionally.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Well, Marvel Is Big On Noir Stuff These Days

So why not a gangster-themed villain? I guess one could file this as another exercise in trying to find a use for a villain we haven't seen recently. Again, I'm drawing from JMS' Amazing Spider-Man, since he seemed to enjoy introducing villains, using them once, then moving on. I already talked about Shade, so I thought I'd take a whirl at Digger.

Digger was thirteen mobsters killed decades ago at a supposed peaceful meeting by an associate mobster, who had their bodies dumped in out in the Nevada desert. Flash to the present, a scientist wants to study gamma radiation as a potential starting point for life, uses a gamma bomb, and surprise, it some causes the various remains to merge together into a big green, angry conglomeration of thirteen mobsters, bent on revenge. Spider-Man ended up protecting the man responsible (while taping him admitting to the crime), and defeated Digger by keeping after him until he expended the gamma radiation powering him, causing him to basically fall apart, and drift away down the sewer.

OK, so he's dead right now. Big deal. This is the Marvel Universe we're talking about, there's gamma radiation allover the place there. Wouldn't be too hard for him to be exposed to sufficient amounts to allow Digger to reconstitute himself. Let's set aside Digger trying to get revenge on Forelli (the mobster that killed them), or Spider-Man. Those are obvious stories, right?

While he was around, Digger spent a little time reading whatever newspapers drifted by in the sewers, so he knows a bit about what's happened in the world during his absence, so he/it isn't completely "man out of time", but Digger certainly didn't adjust well to the times, very much a "things were better in our day!". I think there's some potential there, show Digger deciding to put together an "organization" and run it in what they would consider the "right" way, and how they conflict with modern rivals. Would there be difficulty recruiting people that met their standard? Would the way they ran things present a different sort of challenges for the heroes that would try and oppose them? Daredevil deals with organized crime a lot, so Digger might be a potential problem. Sure, Digger is probably way over Daredevil's weight class, but that's never stopped the Man Without Fear before*. Does the Falcon still focus on street crime, 'cause he could be another possibility.

The issue is that Digger basically fell apart once already because the gamma radiation powering ran out, so that would probably have to be an ongoing concern for them. There might be something in having what's left of Digger wash up somewhere else. Say in Africa, here's about this advanced country calls Wakanda, figures maybe they'd having something he could use, tries to barge in there, runs afoul of this new Black Panther. T'Challa fought the Hulk once upon a time, so this wouldn't be a bad warm-up for whoever is taking over the role. I suppose you could gear the stories towards Digger working to acquire/expose himself to sources of gamma radiation to keep himself going**. If he weren't busy running from Norman Osborn, it sounds like the sort of thing Iron Man might deal with. So maybe Hank Pym could look into it in his place. I'd suggest the Mighty Avengers, but they might be a bit much for just Digger. Other possibility: Digger joins the Thunderbolts, or some similar program in exchange for assistance with his problem. Probably results in him becoming Metallo-like, with a gamma power source stored on him somewhere.

Of course, the question arises how one convinces a body made of a baker's dozen of mobsters to work for the government. Here's one thought I've got: the minds/personalities/spirits the inhabit the body aren't static, frozen in time. They can learn, they can change, if they wish to. Maybe some of them have caught a glimpse of what's waiting for them, and would prefer to delay that day for as long as possibly, maybe even try and make amends for past misdeeds. Ideally, this would apply to some, but certainly not all of the personalities. In this way, you get an internal conflict in the character, and what desires are predominant depends on which one can gain control at a particular moment. I recall that Ellis' Thunderbolts had considerable infighting and politicking, mostly Moonstone trying to get more power, undermine Osborn, but struggling with Songbird, who doesn't trust her at all. Now you could get all that, in one character, with the different mobsters fighting amongst themselves, forming temporary alliances, things like. Remember, these guys were from roughly seven different criminal organizations***, and were sitting down to try and make peace when they were murdered. Their hatchets may not have been buried yet. That would make for a volatile, unpredictable character, whether operating as they head of a group, as a loner, or as part of a team.

Another thought: The death/decomposition while fighting Spider-Man, caused Digger to lose some personalities. Some of them had a lesser desire to survive/get revenge/whatever, and they've moved on. But when Digger reforms/resurrects, he/it gains personalities of any bodies that happen to be nearby. It would be a bit like Terror Inc., where he would add body parts as necessary from what was available around him, only personalities. This could potentially happen anytime they recharged, depending on their amount of damage they sustained previously, and whether there were any bodies nearby. Probably not feasible if one were to go with the "government provided constant gamma source" idea****. It would add a level of malleability to the character, similar to how Solomon Grundy isn't the same every time he emerges from that swamp. I don't think you'd want to change Digger too much, but it might be fun to add certain personality traits or interests, see whether they add something to the story, then keep or discard. If a personality wound up being disliked by the rest, there might even be the possibility of a story about Digger trying to reject that part, and problems that might cause depending on what it brought them.

So that's what I have at the moment. Also, I'm trying to come up with a good label for these posts, but I'm not sure what really describes it well, besides something like "fanwankery", thanks but no. I thought about "Villain Rehab", but that implies they're broken, or that I'm capable of rehabbing them, which which is more than a bit presumptuous. Any ideas would be appreciated.

* See battles with Ultron, Namor, Hogun the Grim, etc.

** I figure Digger can read up somewhere on what's put him in his current situation and work from there. Or he could go back to the site he was born at, and question some of the scientists that are probably still poking around their test site.

*** The six heads of the organizations, plus their lieutenants, plus Forelli's lieutenant, who arrived in his place, and was back-stabbing Forelli.

**** Though if you played Thunderbolts more like Suicide Squad, where anyone could die at any moment, you could have Digger deciding whether or not so and so would be worth adding to their little collective.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What? Another Hoop? Oh, Fine *Jumps*

One thing that occasionally annoys me when it comes to video games is when a game presents you with a specific objective, but then proceeds to throw more and more roadblocks to be cleared before you can finish said objective. I think the level of annoyance probably relates to how entertaining if find the roadblocks, or perhaps how specific they are, or how well they flow with the game. I described one example annoying roadblocks previously, so that gives you some idea what I'm talking about. Just scroll to the "Gripes", and that first paragraph about cookies, and landmark stones, yeah that's a pretty fair summation.

Well, I eventually traded that game in (more out of frustration with boss battles you were specifically not supposed to win, but which you couldn't lose too quickly), but I've been confronted with a similar scenario in DragonQuest 8. My little ka-tet (if I may borrow from Stephen King) has been chasing this evil wizard, to remove a curse from a kingdom. The evil wizard has ventured into a cave filled with an unnatural darkness. To go in and find him, we need to find a special mirror which will reflect the sun's light in such a way as to dispel the darkness. OK, that's not so bad. We even have some idea where to start looking for said mirror. Super! We land on the continent in question (though we have to land at the opposite end from the kingdom in question and hike through many skirmishes, as one is wont to do is these sorts of games), and reach the kingdom. The king tells us that if we want the mirror, we have to help his son through a rite of passage, where he travels to the royal hunting grounds, kills a large lizard, and takes its heart. Sure, that seems fair. Not like we could expect to get a magic mirror for nothing, right?

We help* the prince pass the test, though he still stupidly buys a larger (probably fake) heart to impress his father with (not realizing the King saw him do that, and not realizing his father didn't care about the size of it), and so we get the mirror. Except, it has no magic in it, it's just an ordinary mirror, not really helpful for the problem at hand. Well, the old court wizard lives a ways off, perhaps he could help, and off we go, more skirmishes until we reach the wizard, who tells us sorry, there's nothing he can do. However, there's a dragon that lives in the sea near a natural bridge that likes to blind its enemies with a flash of light.

Yeah, now I've got to go fight this dragon, but have one character hold the mirror, and hope the dragon deigns to try and blind me with light**, so I can catch the light and have a functional magic mirror. I haven't really played since I talked to the wizard, because I found that a bit disheartening. I was really hoping the wizard would be the answer to the problem, but nope, sorry, the princess is in the next castle and all that. I shudder at what else might suddenly impede my progress once I get the mirror up and running.

I would be inclined to simply chalk this up to as just part of the RPG style, much like racing games and first-person shooters have their own quirks, but I know I've played a couple of other RPGs that didn't have these sorts of dilemmas (or if they did, I don't remember them). I think the difference was that those games might not offer a specific solution, preferring to let me roam through the surrounding area and find the solution myself. it might take a while, but since I was piecing together what exactly I needed to do, it didn't feel as though the game was leading me on.

* By that I mean we do all the work, because the prince is a lazy slob, and has an extremely limited reserve of courage.

* As opposed to using science, I suppose.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Poking At Song Lyrics To Amuse Myself

Well, the downpour of freezing rain has begun, so I'd best get something posted before the power inevitably goes out. Here's hoping that's a reverse jinx*.

'Are we humans, or are we dancing?' The radio station my coworkers seemed to have settled on keeps playing the song that line is from, and it keeps gnawing at me, so here we are.

Seems like a false dichotomy. I mean, does it really have to be one or the other? Can you switch back and forth, so that you're dancing, then you stop and you're human again? Is there a lag time, where you have to cool down for awhile before you become human again? Why is dancing considered inhuman?

If, as I saw described online, "dancing" refers to us being controlled by forces beyond our control, versus being humans with free will, well then I continue to question why use dancing. The song asks if we're a noun, or a verb, and those are the only two options. Adjectives demand representation! They suggest 'Are we human, are we dancing, or are we squishy?'

In a somewhat more serious vein, I do get the idea that when one dances, they move in a manner at least partially dictated by the music or rhythm that's being played, and thus, are relinquishing control of themselves to something else. That's all well and good, but dancing is also a form of individual artistic expression, is it not? And individual expression would be an attribute of a free-thinking, independent "human", right? Perhaps, "puppets" would have worked better, though I suppose that would be rather cliched.

* A jinx is when you say something you hope will come true, but now you've ensured it won't, right? So that was really just a jinx, wasn't it? Sure, I'm saying something I don't want to happen will, but I'm still expecting that expressing confidence it will happen will cause it not to occur.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Something A Bit More Serious Than Usual

I'm having some difficulty starting this. Perhaps best just to start at the beginning, which is Gundam Wing. One of the central conflicts is the pursuit of peace, and the problems that arise from the differences in how people define "peace", and how they pursue it. The main characters are teenagers who have decided to fight an organization based on Earth that they feel is unfairly restricting the lives of the people living in the colonies humans have constructed in space*. They fight so that the people don't have to, and believe (initially) that if they can destroy the offending elements, it will bring peace to the colonies. Other characters think of peace as something where the aristocratic ruling class runs the show, 'cause democracy and liberty are dangerous ideas**. Still others believe that war will bring about peace because if the battles are horrific enough, people will realize the futility of war, and they'll get sick of it. And then there's one person pushing total pacifism, and that's the one that intrigues me.

Can total pacifism work? Looking through the Stanford Encyclopedia's entry on pacifism, this sounds like absolute pacifism, as opposed to contingent pacifism***. Where a government would deny itself the use of force as a method of dispute settlement. Gundam Wing suggests it only works if everyone**** is on board. After all, if you're having a dispute with someone, and they bring a bat with them, and you stand there, unarmed, determined to talk it out, there's very little to stop them from caving your skull in and doing as they wish. So is the key to get everyone to agree to sit and down and talk things out, to get people used to talking with their enemies, rather than just blowing them up, and can that actually happen? Our history suggests probably not, because if you just kill everyone on the other side, you get everything you wanted, but if you talk things out, with an eye towards a compromise that will satisfy everyone*****, well you probably had to sacrifice something you wanted, and who wants to do that?

If a country preaches total pacifism, then they can't have any sort of military, even as a defensive force, can they? The entry on absolute pacifism suggests there is some belief that violence is OK as self-defense******, so perhaps a defense force is allowed. Except, if you have a military, even if it's just for protection for outside aggression, there is probably a temptation to use it, or there can at least be a perceived temptation by your neighbors. Then they get nervous and arm themselves, ostensibly to defend themselves from you, and what if one side decides they have to attack preemptively? Pacifism would seem to be at risk if only because people can be fearful and prone to abandoning ideals when they get scared.

Additionally, can someone who supports the idea of pacifism fight to protect it? If one thinks that country and its ideals are that important, they'd want to defend them, but that would run contrary to the ideals one wants to protect, wouldn't it? If one begins to fight, that's a signal they've given up on a peaceful negotiation, which doesn't seem very absolute pacifist. Contingent pacifist, I suppose, fighting on the grounds that the harm done by this fighting will have greater benefits for the long-term.

I am really surprised at how many different kinds of pacifism are out there. I guess I always perceived it as "no fighting, period", but it can have a broader range than that, I suppose.

* For example, after the assassination of a prominent person who was working towards more peaceful relations between Earth and the colonies, this organization restricted contact between the colonies, effectively turning them into isolated islands, separated by superior military force.

** I'm paraphrasing, but that's essentially what one character spouts off at a get-together of like minded types.

*** Or perhaps skeptical pacifism. The argument there is, if someone attacks you, and you kill them on the grounds it was self-defense, well, how do you know? They hadn't actually killed you, so perhaps you could have settled things peacefully. That's the gist of it, anyway.

**** Meaning everyone that group could come into conflict with.

***** At least satisfy them enough they don't take up arms again.

****** Apparently based on the grounds that absolute pacifism is an ideal, that everyone will fall short of, if only by the basic requirements of nature that require something living to perish so that another individual can survive by eating it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

No More Chips Before Bed. Or, More Chips Before Bed

Odd dreams last night. There was one that was something out of Resident Evil 4, with Leon and Ashley Graham, and the hordes of guys wearing hoods and robes, and wielding scythes and such. However, about the time our heroes jumped down some well, the Black Cat showed up, falling down the hole with them. And she was interested in Leon, who was me occasionally (sometimes I was viewing it 3rd person, sometimes, 1st person). I don't know what that was about.

Then it shifted to something completely different, involving Norman Osborn using Ultron for something nefarious. This bothers me because it means my subconscious has bought into this crap about Norman Osborn being a serious player who can command the respect of villains far above his weight class.

Anyway, Nick Fury was going to use War Machine (sporting a sort simplified design, like what you might see in that Brave and the Bold cartoon) and Ant-Man to do something. I assume it had to do with Ultron, but since it was a dream, who knows. What's weird is, Fury was giving Pym a hard time, talking about how he could have chosen to send any of the other Avengers*, but he chose Pym. I guess the implication was that anyone could do what Ant-Man does, and this is where it got weird. Hank said he found that doubtful. Fury, for example, perhaps could listen to and understand what ants were saying but could he communicate with them? At that point, Hank kneels down, and he's looking down at this small group of ants, who are wearing clothes. Like bow ties, and bonnets and they're carry their babies in wrapped in blankets, and they have parcels with them and all that. Ant-Man says, 'Could you explain to them the concept of individual freedom?' And he's crying a little, and the ants all look either sad, or grateful, or worried. It's like a group of, refugee ants or something, expelled from their colony for buying into Pym's lessons about freedom. Yeah, terribly melodramatic, I know.

That part wasn't explicitly stated in the dream, I'm just extrapolating based on what I can remember of a dream from over 12 hours ago.

Anyway, War Machine is getting set to blast off, or be teleported or something, so Hank tells the ants they need to get off the pad, and one of the ants replies that Hank should be careful, he looks tired, which was clearly true, everything about the look on his face, his posture, even the way i heard his voice in my head, suggested someone completely burned out**. Anyway, the ants move off, and the Teen Titans - in some weird amalgamation of how they appear in Tiny Titans, and their designs in the Teen Titans cartoon - promise to look after the ants. Except, as our heroes depart, someone captures the ants in a glowy blue bubble, and they vanish in a portal, with raven trying to track it. And all that turns out to be a ruse by some red-haired lizard lady name Malmuth, or something similar*** designed to trap Raven in another dimension. For some reason.

So yes, I either need to not each chips before bed (probably the sensible decision), or I need to eat more of them (for more dreams like this). That second option is awful tempting.

* It had to be the Marvel Adventures version, because Fury mentioned Giant Girl, whichIi know because Pym made some comment about her only being able to grow, as though that doesn't convey any other advantages. Oddly, my brain described Wolverine as the one with "lots of powers", and Spider-Man as the "bouncy one". Spidey has more powers than Wolverine though, doesn't he? And I know who Fury meant with each comment, because a little picture popped up next to each description as Fury rattled them off.

** I think this was my feelings poking through, because I woke up on Friday morning feeling like crap. It was one of those days where I wanted to fall back in bed two seconds after I got up, plus I woke up sweaty and dizzy. Even though it was the same time getting up, and the same time going to bed, I felt exponentially better when I woke up this morning. Restorative power of cool dreams I guess.

*** It wasn't pronounced like "mammoth". It was more, Lovecraftian outwordly force somehow, but I can recall the pronunciation well enough now to spell it right.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Perhaps A Rousing Game Of Tiddlywinks?

You know, the X-Men used to play baseball a lot, and the East and West Coast Avengers used to have softball games against each other. I've seen Paul Jenkins and Dan Slott write stories about a lot of heroes getting together to play poker for kicks.

Do the DC heroes get together and do things like that? I know Ollie told Kyle Rayner that he and Hal used to watch boxing matches together, but I'm talking any sort of actual activity by the heroes. Say, the old hands of the Justice Society playing hoseshoes or shuffleboard, Young Justice having paintball wars, things like that.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's More Money Either Way, But Still . . .

At the end of A Few Dollars More, Colonel Mortimer is riding into the sunset, and Monco has loaded quite a few dead bank robbers into a wagon, and has begun riding in the opposite direction. As he does, he comes across the money Indio and his boys stole from the bank, which our two bounty hunters moved during the night. Monco pauses for a moment, then reaches over, pulls the satchel out of the tree, swings it over his shoulder, and resumes his course.

My question is this: Did Monco return the money to the bank, and take the $40,000 reward for it, or did he just keep the stolen money? I can't remember how much was stolen, so I can't weigh the amounts he'd get from one choice or the other.

On the one hand, he has to turn in all those corpses to get the reward money for them, and since bank robbery (and murder) probably upped their bounties, he would probably get asked about the money anyway, so it might be easier to just turn it in.

On the other hand, there was something about the way he deliberately pauses, looked at the money, then seemed to decide "Why not?" before reaching out and grabbing the bag, that suggests to me he decided to just keep it for himself. Anyone asks, he never found out where they stashed the money, as he was too busy killing a dozen guys* by himself**.

* For the record, I'm counting everyone killed in the big gunfight, plus Nino, who was stabbed by Groce, plus the fellow killed by Indio, and the fellow Indio framed for that, plus Wild, the hunchback that Mortimer shot earlier. But not the three that Monco killed during the bank robbery scene, since he couldn't really turn those guys in at the time.

** I imagine he would leave Mortimer out of it. If Monco mentions that he teamed up with somebody, and that somebody isn't present to collect their half of the bounties, that could be problematic for Monco.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hellcat Continues To Drive Me Daffy

For the purposes of today's post, I'm not talking about Patsy Walker: Hellcat #5 being delayed until the second week in November. I'm only getting comics every two weeks anyway, so I guess a delay shouldn't matter as much now*. So no Cornelius Potfiller this time.

Cornelius Potfiller: How very cheeky of you, young man! To summon me forthwith by invoking the title of that delightful publication, only to inform me my services are not desired?

Calvin: Summon you? Are you a demon or something? If so, then begone! I banish then, by the power of Smith & Wesson! *levels handgun, pulls trigger*

Cornelius: I say, most unsporting! *Falls over*

Relax folks, I just hit him in the shoulder. He'll get the best treatment the 19th century had to offer. So he'll probably be missing an arm next time he appears. *rimshot* Was that rimshot worthy? Ah well, where was I? Right, Hellcat. See, I'm fairly convinced that Kathryn Immonen is driving at something with this series, and I'm think I'm going nuts chasing after it. I read #4, and say to myself "Gee, Ssayong's (the heir Patsy was sent to rescue) face looks kind of similar to Reuben's (Patsy's fashion major neighbor from #1). And she's struggling against the path her parents want for her, much like Reuben didn't follow his parents. Could Patsy be hallucinating this?"

Then I says to myself, "Didn't Patsy's mother try and turn her into the center of a money making empire, with the comics and various liscensed merchandise. And didn't I read in Essential Defenders Vol. 4 that Patsy got a bit tired of that**?" Also, the heir, who appears human, is dating a Yeti, which is a sort of monster. And Patsy was married to the Son of Satan (or Satannish, if you go by what Engelhart wrote, for whatever difference that makes). And the series makes references to Patsy's suicide, with the wolf calling her a "manslayer" and saying that her (Patsy's) people die in many ways, for many reasons. A short while later, Patsy stumbles across an SUV that sort of looks like the one she's driving***, and the wolf tells her it's her grave. Which is kind of odd since the SUV doesn't have the same paint job as the one she's in, and has a magazine she didn't have at the time (but a magazine that explains why she believes the map is actually a calendar).

Plus, there's something about the calendar (probably it calling her "sexy", and berating her when she removes her mask and it can actually see her face) that reminds me of the goofy guy she ran into at that bar in #1. The one that kept trying to come onto her, so she hit him with her mug? Which, if there was a connection, might explain his initial hostility upon her losing the mask. Then there's the guy who gave her the snowmobile ride, and also presented her with the SUV. He looks exactly the same, but he acts as though he doesn't know anything about a snowmobile ride, which is either him being a snarky jerk, or extremely significant. And that's pretty much where I'm at with this series right now, swinging between everything have importance, and none of it really meaning anything, I'm just reading my own idiosyncrasies into it.

* I'm not certain that's the response Marvel would want, but it's the one these verdammt delays are prompting.

** I don't have that particular tome with me at this time, so I can't confirm, but I know they went into Patsy's history after her mother died in that volume.

*** What this really makes me think is that maybe this isn't Patsy's first attempt at this quest. The witches said that all their roads lead back to their home now, thus they can't find their heir. So if everything leads back to where it started could Patsy have tried this before, died, and is trying again without realizing it?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Guess That Means He Was A Good Villain

Time for a little schadenfreude discussion. Nice thing about Evangelion is that it has three endings. Not sure this was the way it was originally planned, I've heard there was a lot of fan discontent about the first ending, so they made another, and then another, I guess. What's nice is, they're all kind of widely disparate endings, so you can just pick the one you like best. One is sort of a reset button, another is an end of the world sort of scenario, and then there's Shinji's Wacky Dream World. See {SPOILER!} Shinji is basically allowed to decide the fate of the world by a being that's level of power essentially makes them the Hand of God. Each ending represents a different decision by Shinji, reflecting a different mindset at a different moment in the period of time when he was being asked to decide.

The Wacky Dream World is my favorite. There are no evil monsters, so no need to pilot giant death things to fight them. Shinji's an ordinary school kid, has some friends, has both his parents, has a cool teacher. Plus, in this world Rei Ayanami acts 180 degrees from the way she behaved throughout the series*, which is highly entertaining. So it's a very cheerful sort of place, not to an absurd degree, mind you. The various inanimate objects aren't bouncing and swaying in tune with a jolly melody which fills the air, but comes from nowhere, or anything like that. It's our world, I think, with it's somewhat more mundane problems than "giant monster appears from nowehere tries to destroy entire city" they frequently faced.

It was only a couple of months ago I realized something about the ending that made me like it even more. I mentioned on Saturday that Shinji's father is a terrible parent, in addition to being an evil, manipulative bastard. There aren't many fictional characters I've wanted to see get their comeuppance more than Gendo Ikari. Iron Man, post-Civil War, for example, doesn't even come close**. Well, in Shinji's Dream World, all we see of Gendo is him sitting at the breakfast table, face hidden behind a newspaper he's apparently reading. He does not move during the brief moments we see him. His only response to comments directed to him is a "Hmm", or a grunt***.

It occurred to me, what if Gendo was trapped? The world has changed according to Shinji's whims, into a world he thinks will be better. People that died are alive. People that were in comas are not. People he wouldn't see if they had their original job are now in jobs where he can see them regularly (Misato, who was his commanding officer and guardian, is now his teacher). Still, there appear to be some limits. Asuka is supposedly his best friend in this world, but she can be pretty abusive towards him, and certainly a bit bossy. That's how she was in the world originally, so it seems he can't shake that image of her, even when he's trying for a better world****.

So I think to myself,what a wonderful world. Wait, that's not right. I think to myself, the only side of Shinji's father we've ever seen Shinji exposed to is a cold, distant manipulator, one completely willing to throw his son into battle with no training, and discard him the moment Shinji steps out of line. There is nothing in between, no father-son bonding or connections. Shinji either receives orders from his father and is then dismissed, or is told how disappointing his insubordination or weakness is. So maybe Shinji can't conceive of his father as a warm, loving, supportive human being. The best he can do is see him as not being a manipulator and jerk, and the only way to achieve that is to have him do nothing at all, the way Wally West did to Inertia. I doubt Shinji would have done it consciously. He was undoubtedly more focused on the fact he'd have his mother back, or have a normal life. It might not even occur to him what happened to his dad. After all, when he sees his father in the Dream World, Gendo largely ignores him, and doesn't interact with him. So pretty much what their relationship was before.

I have to say, the idea of Gendo Ikari being forever trapped in that seat, staring at that paper, unable to say or do anything, well, I just really enjoy the thought of that. Even if he has all sorts of brilliant schemes, he can't do a thing with them. He's just stuck. Forever.

* For the majority of the series, Rei behaves less like a human than Commander Data from Next Generation. Which was a big part of the reason I liked the character, actually, because I thought she was sort of learning how to be more human, or at least more expressive with her emotions.

** I like that part of how Marvel (or Matt Fraction) appears to be trying to rehab Tony's image is by putting him in opposition to the guy who stole his job, who is really evil and deranged. See Tony's a good guy, he's trying to resist Norman Osborn! Like him again, won't you? Uh, no. There are a host of people I'd rather see defeat Norman Osborn. Cyclops for example, and you know how I feel about Cyclops.

*** Something along those lines. It's been five years since I've watched it, which is why me thinking of this now was kind of startling.

**** The antagonism takes more of the form of friendly needling though, where before, at least at the beginning, she seemed to truly dislike him, and resent the hullabaloo over his skills as a pilot.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm Clearly Being Silly Here

So Batman shot Darkseid with the same bullet that killed Orion to kick off this whole Final Crisis hoobadijoob. It occurs to me you don't typically reuse a bullet that's already been fired. The casing, sure, you can save those, reload them, and fire them again later if you know how. The part that actually gets fired through whatever it is you shoot at? That's usually a bit messed up, not really suitable for firing again.

I dig that apparently they showed Batman picking up the round and storing it in the ole utility belt*, then he busts it out and busts the proverbial cap in Darkseid's, um, upper torso region, I guess. For those of you that might have your copies handy, was the round he picked up still looking flawless? I mean, it did have to go through Orion before impacting in the pavement, and that dude is pretty tough***. Yes, it was a bullet fired backwards in time, using a copy of Metron's chair as the crosshairs, and also containing a horrible, mutagenic virus****, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be exactly like an ordinary bullet fired from an ordinary gun!

So obviously, I'm being tongue in cheek here, which I wouldn't normally feel compelled to say, but this is Final Crisis we're discussing, and that always seems to get things riled up. I'm just curious. I have to say, I haven't been reading Final Crisis, and I don't find myself terribly interested in the outcome (more than I was for Secret Invasion, though, which is saying something coming from a Marvelite such as myself), but it does provide some entertaining fodder for this here blog.

* Where did he find the gun? I'm legitimately asking, 'cause I haven't read it, you know. I'm guessing he found it sitting on a table in one of Darkseid' lackey's labs, since they were busy being dead or otherwise distracted. It seems like it was kind of large for him to have it hidden on him somewhere**.

** Maybe if he was rocking the Norm Brefoygle-style 20-foot cape. You could hide a family sedan in that thing.

*** By which I mean, his physical structure is dense, making it difficult to injure him. Maybe I should have said nigh-invulnerable isntead, but that's the Tick's line.

**** The Morticoccus virus was inside the bullet, right? And it was released, right? I mean, Desaad-in-Mary Marvel tagged Wonder Woman with it, right? How did the baddies get ahold of it, since Batman had the bullet it was delivered in? It clearly wasn't released by the bullet being fired, or the infection would have started much sooner, at the place where Orion died. Or it would have started in the future and worked backwards, so that in a sense, the first infected person might appear seconds after the bullet was fired, but more people would become infected every second, since the bullet would continue to spread the virus as it traveled into the past, and so those newly infected people in the past, would lead to more infected people in the present/future, right*****?

***** See, that's the kind of stuff that makes me hate time travel. And my own brain does it to me. Just for that, I'm gonna get blind drunk, that'll learn it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I Want To Let This Sink In

The Arizona Cardinals are in the Super Bowl.

Fear the Buzzsaw that is the Arizona Cardinals!

Fear them! *shakes fist*

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Looking Into Deserving Happiness

This is related to that tangent I went on in Thursday's post about whether Martin "deserved" to get the happy ending or not, given his past actions. It's not a serious investigation of that, because I don't know what I could say about it. Is happiness something that's deserved, or that could be denied on the basis of what you do or don't do? I guess it is, in fiction at least, since stories often end with the antagonist not getting what they wanted, and the audience is OK with it because that character was bad, so to heck with them. Or we're sad when the protagonist meets a poor end because they deserved better, and so on. It goes on in real life as well, when people talk about how so and so doesn't deserve that, whether it's something positive or negative. I'm not sure what that's related to though. Empathy and jealousy? Belief that there might be someone out there that pulls the strings, and really they ought to know better than to {insert whatever series of events one might find fair or unfair}.

There's one fictional discussion of this that I think of frequently, and it floated up to the front of my mind on Thursday, so I figured now's a good time to get it out here. Some of you may be familiar with a manga/anime called Neon Genesis Evangelion. I watched it with Papafred (who was probably on his 20th viewing of the series or so by then) about five years ago, and that's where my mind's at today. On the surface, it's a show about some kids piloting giant monster-things (called Evas) to fight and kill other monster-things (called Angels). There's a lot more to it, but any other relevant points will come out as I go along. At one point in the series one of the supporting cast (Suzuhara) is tapped to become a pilot. In his first test run, his Eva goes berserk, with him trapped inside. The main character, Shinji, refuses to fight, because he might hurt his friend. Shinji's dad, who's the man in charge and an utter bastard, locks Shinji out of the controls, enagages a sort of autopilot for the Eva, which succeeds in killing the berserk one. In the anime, Suzuhara loses an arm and leg. In the manga, he winds up dead.

Shinji loses it and threatens to destroy the base, his dad short-circuits that plan, and Shinji is discharged from the service. There's another attack, and a recurring character by the name of Kaji grabs Shinji and gets him to a shelter. They start conversing and Shinji talks about how sick he is of the fighting and how he just wants to be happy, and Kaji's response is Shinji doesn't deserve to be happy. He is alive at the cost of Suzuhara's life. He could have fought, maybe defeated the Angel and saved Suzuhara, but wouldn't accept the responsibility, and now his friend is dead. Thus, he forfeited the right to happiness. It's harsh*, but Kaji's speaking from experience. There was a cataclysm 15 years previously, and in the aftermath Kaji ran with a group of orphans, living in the remains of an abandoned building, stealing food from a nearby military post. Except Kaji was caught one day, and presented with the "they die or you die" question, and he chose Option A. He did escape and try to warn his friends, but by the time he arrived, the soldiers were leaving, and his friends were dead. Their lives for his, and so to his mind, he's in the same boat as Shinji. Their lives are no longer there own, and they need to be spent doing things to atone, thus Shinji needs to go back to fighting and protect the world. It's very Spider-Man in that way, presented more bluntly, since I don't recall say, Matt Murdock, flat out deciding Peter can no longer be happy because Uncle Ben was killed by The Burglar Spidey didn't stop.

Well, OK, if Kaji feels that way, I guess that's his call, but he does like Misato, Shinji's commanding officer and the closest thing the kid has to an actual parent**, and she likes Kaji, so what about that? If someone could have happiness by being happy with Kaji, shouldn't he help them acheive that, and just be grateful he attains happiness by proximity?

This is where I think Kaji gets too broad with his view on things for me. See, Misato was at the origin of the cataclysm, because her father was part of the crew studying it and she was visiting. As things go awry, she's injured and knocked unconscious. Her dad puts her in the remaining escape pod (single-seater, naturally), and sends her on her way. He dies for her, and to Kaji's way of thinking, she doesn't deserve any happiness either. Which is kind of asinine really. Unlike Shinji, who chose not to fight, or Kaji, who chose to tell the soldiers where his friends were, Misato made no decision. She didn't get the chance. Now, she didn't like her father much, he was one of those "my work is too important for silly crap like my family!" scientist types, so maybe Misato would have chosen to save herself. Smacked him with a pipe, jumped in the pod, and given Daddy the finger as floated away. We don't know. I always find that to be the hole in Kaji's train of thought, that if a friend throws him/herself on a grenade for you, it counts the same as if you threw them on the grenade to save yourself.

Although, that ties back into how I perceive the characters, and the attachment (or lack thereof) I form with them. Misato's one of the few characters in the series I acutally liked. She plays at being the party girl, as a defense mechanism, but she's also one of the only adults in the series that actually seems to care about the well-being of the pilots, while I get the feeling everyone else views them as expendable weapons to save their own hides. So I root for her, and the idea that this guy, who vaguely reminds me of Gambit - with his stubble and rougish style - doesn't think they should try and be happy together because neither of them deserve it, well that annoys me. Shinji's whining and constant indecision over whether he will be a pilot or not, whether he wants his father's approval or not, well indecision over damn near everything really***, prevents me from really feeling too bad for him. I don't wish ill upon him, but he wasn't even trying to find a way to save his friend during the fight, he simply refused to do anything.

I'm not sure why that particular scene resonates with me. It's a depressing way of viewing life****, and maybe I was surprised to see a character damning themselves along with the person they were trying to give a kick in the pants to. Or it could be I just found his logic dumbfounding and I didn't like him lumping a character I root for with himself. I'm curious what the creator's intent was with that scene, because the more I think on it, the more I think Kaji hasn't thought this through enough, is probably using it as an excuse to keep his distance from others*****, and it starts to hurt his argument from my perspective. Perhaps Shinji shouldn't be listening to this guy, and should just continue on as he was. That wouldn't have worked well for the story as it wound up proceeding, though.

* Though to be fair, Shinji needs a periodic kick in the pants. He has self-esteem issues, and positive reinforcement is good, but sometimes they don't have time to build him up, and just have to push him forward.

** Shinji hadn't seen his dad in a decade when the story begins, and his mother's dead. When Shinji initially refused to pilot an Eva, Gendo sent him away, disgusted. Shinji is only useful to Gendo as an obedient weapon, and beyond that means zilch.

*** Which is something I haven't sussed out. Shinji quits and rejoins, and quits again, and I'm annoyed with him. Spider-Man periodically swears Spider-Man no more, only to start web-slinging again, and I like him. I haven't figured out what the difference is to me between the two.

**** Is it Objectivist? You lived because they died, that's wrong, regardless of circumstance, end of story.

***** That's true of practically everyone in the series. They're all emotionally-damaged goods, and none of them seem capable of sustaining close, serious friendships for any extended period of time. Supposedly (going by stuff I've read on the Internet) the creator of the series was dealing with serious depression issues while making it, which might explain a lot, if true. Not saying it is or isn't, just saying it's a possible explanation I've heard.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Do The Sound Effects Harm His Credibility?

I had something more substantial planned for today, but I can't seem to focus so tomorrow for that. For today, I was watching Iron Man, and Tony has announced Stark Industries won't be making weapons anymore. Shortly afterward, Pepper is watching some financial analyst guy assess the situation, and the guy is, well "over the top" is probably understating it. He compares Stark Industries to the Hindenburg, compares the fate of the company to his smashing a coffee mug with a baseball bat, and employs numerous sound effects throughout.

OK, I've seen this guy on TV before, so I know he has an actual show where he discusses the world of business. Is he like that on the show all the time, or does he occasionally tone it down and have serious conversations with experts about the effect of this layoff, or this merger? If he's always making with the noises and physical comedy, is he someone people in the field take seriously? I imagine he would use those methods to keep people interested in economics and commerce, but it doesn't seem it would lend much weight to his arguments. Perhaps he's operating by the ESPN school of "Guy who yells loudest is right".

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Then Who Is It, Martin?

I was watching Grosse Pointe Blank two nights ago, and I reached the scene at the reunion where Martin does battle with Felix La PuBelle, the assassin that already attacked him at the convenience store earlier in the film. After an intense (and entertaining) hand-to-hand battle, Martin kills Felix by stabbing him in the throat with a pen. Points for creativity, Mr. Blank. About that time, Debi comes up the stairs looking for Martin, and comes across Martin kneeling over a dead body. As you might imagine, Debi is a bit shocked by all this, and all Martin can say is, 'It's not me.'

What the heck does he mean by that, I wondered? He said it once before in the movie, during a job in Miami. At that point, his target is pleading with him, promising to stop doing whatever it is he's doing that's made Martin decide to kill him. In that situation, 'It's not me' ostensibly refers to this being a job to Martin, and that the person the target needs to be talking to is the one who hired Mr. Blank, whoever that might be. So that frames it as an excuse for Martin. I don't think he's explaining himself to the target, so much as reaffirming his choice with himself. He can do it because it's not personal. He's calm about it, clothes are neat, hair in place, it's just no big thing.

The second time, though, he's speaking to a witness to his killing a person, a witness he happens to like quite a bit. Quite how this is supposed to work as a response to Debi's look of shock and horror, I'm not sure. Is he trying to say he didn't do this, he just happens to be there in front of this corpse, holding a bloody pen? So I think Debi (and the earlier target) are supposed to represent Martin's inner self, an inner self that's grown tired of killing for money*.

This time, well, it's still an excuse, but now he's trying to convince himself that all the violence around him isn't something he's actively contributed to. He's a bystander, caught in a maelstrom of blood and death not of his own creation. Which, of course, is a load of crap, and I'm sure he knows it. His clothes are a mess, his hair is mussed, he looks sweaty, clammy, generally unhealthy. Whatever disassociation he's built up internally to do the jobs over the years is falling apart, and it's taking its toll on him.

And it only gets worse as things progress, because then the guns that are there because it's a job start getting pointed at the people he cares about**, which rather forcibly reminds Martin that he's been subjecting people to this kind of loss for years, and even if it wasn't personal for him, it certainly was felt on a personal level by those assignments' loved ones. And by the end of that skirmish, Martin doesn't look good at all. He's not only sweaty and pale, he's bleeding himself this time. The barriers he built keep falling, and he keeps looking worse. Ultimately though, that unhealthy, injured state was transitory, because he looked fairly healthy by the end***. Which suggests the wounds had to be uncovered before healing could begin, suggesting Martin's been damaged for awhile and just hasn't recognized it, visits to a psychiatrist or no.

The question in my mind now is, when did that start? He says he was sitting there on prom night and realized he wanted to kill someone. And he chose to leave town and go somewhere (the military) which would presumably help him harness/come to grips with it in some useful way****. Was the problem something predating all of that, something that allowed Martin the, as he put it, moral flexibility to recognize he wanted kill someone, and yet not be terrified of that realization? Or was it something that built up gradually over the years of doing that, when he'd learned something from the killing? I have difficulty deciding whether some of Martin's reasons for what he's done are rationalizations, or if they're somewhat sound reasons. There are times he sounds as though he's certainly thought things out, but I suppose that doesn't mean it couldn't all still be horse hockey.

* Or killing in general more likely.

** Well, I'm not certain how much Martin actually cares about Debi's father. Like he said, he might be saving him because he has a newfound respect for life, or it might simply be due to his being in love with Debi. Of course, by choosing to save Debi's father, and take him home, Martin does put Debi in the line of fire, so he ends up with someone he cares about as a target. Though I suppose if Martin had just driven off with Debi's dad, Grocer would have gone after Debi to try and lure them back.

*** And it occurs to me that rooting for Martin Blank is not unlike rooting for the Secret Six. After all, he was a hired killer. Like Debi said after the reunion, he shouldn't get to be with her, should he? That gets into whether or not the taking of a life removes any "right" one might have to happiness, and whether that depends on circumstance. I throw that in because I imagine there are at least a few people in the world who would say taking a life is always wrong, reagrdless of the circumstance, and yes, one would forfeit the right to any happiness at that point. Though that raises the question of whether it's within our control as to who does and does not get happiness, doesn't it?

**** I guess. I've never been in the military, so I don't know if it helps people with certain impulses actually harness them. And then there's the question of whether harnessing it is the right move, or whether it's better to find some way to excise it entirely.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Trying To Make Sense Of Comic Book Science

In Guardians of the Galaxy #8 we learned that Ronan had the scientists of the Kree Empire rebuild the Babel Spire the Phalanx initially constructed in Annihilation: Conquest Prologue #1*. Ronan recognized the Kree weren't exactly at their best right now, and the barrier the spire creates would hopefully provide some protection. Plus, it needs an energy source, and that means he had a use for all those damn Skrulls trying to secretly invade his empire**.

Of course, the barrier created by the Spire wound up being more of a Maginot Line*** than a {insert manmade defensive structure with greater direct success rate}, considering that Star-Lord made it to the Kree homeworld**** and the Inhumans went around it so easily, it might as well have not even been there.

That seems a bit curious. Consider that in Nova #4, Rich opened a stargate and hauled butt for the border of the Kree Empire once he learned the Phalanx had taken over. He hit the barrier and got crisped. OK, so teleportation involves hopping into some other dimension, then popping back into the one you started in at a different point. The barrier may have cut Kree space off from the rest of the universe, but that doesn't extend to those other dimensions. Except that leaves me wondering what the hell a stargate is supposed to be then? It's obviously some form of faster than light travel, if Rich can cross the distance between star systems in less than an hour. I was under the impression that it was equivalent to a hyperspace jump, like the ones they have in Star Wars. In both cases, one has to adjust for the gravitational influences of stars, planets, various other sources of significant matter*****.

Perhaps it's a matter of the "distance" removed from the universe in question. I haven't seen teleportation depicted as being affected by gravitational forces. Teleporters travel through a dimension far enough removed from their home universe that the forces present in said universe don't interfere with their travel. Stargates (or hyperspace) is just outside the home universe, so it can be interfered with by those forces.

The Phalanx barrier cut Kree space off from the rest of the universe, such that nothing could get in or out (except Rich opening a stargate as he was flying into a star, and that lacked accuracy and control). There was no communication between those inside and outside, the Quantum Bands couldn't draw from wherever their energy normally comes from. So I guess the answer is that the barrier forms a sort of gulf between what's inside and what's out, and stargates normally can't cross it. Stargates are an RV when the bridge is out, and teleporters are a helicopter.

Well, I feel better. Not really.

* It's funny, Babel Spires are normally formed from the Phalanx themselves, and signal their Technarch "parents", but here it was formed from corrupted Sentry robots, and created a barrier. Guess we chalk that up to Ultron being in charge.

** I like how Ronan was insulted - without really showing it - by Star-Lord thinking they'd need his assistance to deal with Skrulls. The Kree haven't been fighting the Skrulls to a stalemate for thousands of years by luck.

*** I know, that isn't really fair to the Line, since it did force the Germans to attack Belgium first, as planned, and it was ultimately beaten by aerial bombing, which it wasn't prepared for. Still, for the amount of time, effort, money, and hopes they had in that thing, it really didn't meet expectations.

**** I assume the barrier was up when Quill dropped by. The spire was already rebuilt, and certainly appeared to be up and running.

***** Wonder if that includes dark matter?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Don't Give Up Now!

When I reached the end of last week's Secret Invasion: War of Kings, I was a bit disappointed in Ronan. He lets Medusa just take his hammer, and then kneels before Black Bolt*. It seemed too easy for the Inhumans, given Ronan's extreme sense of duty to the Kree Empire. Take a look at his recent resume:

- Willingly surrenders himself to Kree authorities on trumped up charges, even when told by the arresting officer that they would totally understand if he blew them off.

- Despite having been found guilty of trumped up charges and stripped of his title, still fights with his fellow Kree against the Annihilation Wave. When he decides the House Fiyero are running a poor campaign, kills their representatives on the front lines**.

- Then journeys back to the Kree homeworld to convince the rest of House Fiyero to see the light. Learns they've signed a backroom deal with Annihilus' chief lieutenant, Ravenous. Smashes Ravenous' face like hamburger, kills remainder of House Fiyero. Assumes control of Kree Empire, as they lack other options, and the people will follow him.

- When the Phalanx conquered the Kree, Ronan decided the best option was to unleash an army of Sentry robots. He was willing to kill his people, rather than let the Phalanx control them.

Yet here, the Inhumans barge in, kick butt, and Ronan doesn't even try and stop Medusa from taking his weapon? Doesn't even try one attack on Black Bolt? I get that Black Bolt is a true king, and Ronan always saw himself as simply a regent, just keeping the seat warm, but still, these are the Kree we're talking about. They jailed Bug because he got his mack on with some of their women, thus contaminating their genetic purity. Like Rocket Raccoon said, to the Kree, everyone else is a lower lifeform. But they'll accept some Earthlings, whose ancestors they genetically altered, as their rulers? Especially after they had half their empire taken by the Annihilation Wave, and then were conquered by the Phalanx, this can't do their pride any good. I could see there being a 50% chance of the people accepting this if Ronan pitches it to them, and a 50% chance they'd turn on him, declare him a traitor for allowing weapons the Kree created*** to now rule their creators.

Really, I'm just stunned he gave up so easily. Seems unlike Ronan.

* Doesn't have quite the same ring to it as "Kneel before Zod", does it?

** Not during a battle mind you, during a planning session.

*** And subsequently abandoned/forgot about/left alone until they decided they needed them, but I doubt the Kree would see any significance to that. We created you, we own you forever, 'cause we're the Kree.

Monday, January 12, 2009

It Probably Wouldn't Jibe With The Point Of Brand New Day

I saw a cover that promised the New Avengers were going to have to fight it out with Osborn's Dark Avengers. I really don't care too much about that, but the cover showed Spider-Man squaring off with someone that is supposed to be the Dark Avengers' Spider-Man. I imagine he's wearing the symbiont, though whoever it is reined in the alien, given the absence of huge teeth or a really long tongue. I suppose this team is even more public than the Thunderbolts, so Norman needed someone who can control the symbiont better, less attempted cannibalism in front of cameras, and the like.

Anyway, what I thought about was Spidey, during that battle, offering to let the symbiont join with him again. Everything I've ever read says it wants Peter, first and foremost. More than Brock, or Gargan, or whatever sucker it happens to latch on to at any particular moment. And given some of the folks on the Dark Avengers, Spidey could probably use a power boost to get through that battle.

Yeah, it's unlikely Spider-Man would ever willingly bond with the symbiont* again, and doing so would probably go against the tone that Brand New Day has tried to establish for Spider-Man. After all, if being married is going to cut down on his ability to have girl trouble, what's being permanently bonded to an alien goo-thing going to do? Though I suppose you could hi-jinks where the symbiont gets jealous of whatever girl Pete happens to be dating, or gets sore if he spends too much time hanging out with Harry. Still, seeing Norman Osborn in a position of considerable power, in spite of all the things he's done, might just make Pete a little depressed, perhaps a little frustrated or desperate. I doubt Norman would expect Peter to willingly pair up with the symbiont again, so that would probably be quite a surprise.

* Assuming the Dark Avengers' Spidey analogue is wearing the symbiont, as opposed to one of those Iron Spider suits. Those do have camouflage abilities, but they were also Stark tech, so according to Secret Invasion, they all should have crashed and burned when the Skrulls got more openly aggressive. Plus, Norman already had the symbiont, and I can't imagine he would let a weapon like that out of his grasp.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Might As Well Hash It Out

I mentioned yesterday that I occasionally feel odd rooting for the Secret Six, given their past histories. It's silly, in a certain sense. Yeah, the entire team has killed or maimed people at some point, but, you know so has Frank Castle*. For that matter, so did Clint Eastwood in any number of his movies. Well sure, you say, but those were bad guys, but at least some of the people the Six have disposed of were criminals, right?

As much as I pick on it, Bane's parental concern for Scandal isn't the issue. I think it's little things (and isn't it always little things with me?), how they react to random people they come across. I distinctly recall being put off by Deadshot pointing his gun at the hotel staff - who had offered him one of those lemon-scented, hand moistened towels - and demanding one of the aforementioned towels. While those towels do sounds quite pleasant, it wasn't as if the employee had disposed of the towel. he was standing there, still holding it, waiting for Floyd to stop his vomiting (and internal monologuing) long enough to respond in the affirmative or the negative about the towel. Even that feels like an odd reaction to me, because I wasn't really bothered by Floyd robbing the convenience store in #1**.

I think the difference in the two sequences is that one person just happens to be around Floyd, while the other is actually trying to be helpful to him, and Floyd still points his gun at him, when really, all he needed to do was take the towel. I find myself comparing it to the Punisher in the Man of Stone arc, when he learns a lot about Zakharov from that journalist, and then warns the journalist to go home, for his own safety. The journalist didn't listen, and Zakharov had him killed, but Frank at least tried to help him out.

It's that lack of compassion towards random people that makes my rooting for them, or feeling empathy for them, more difficult. Not impossible, and not frequently, but every so often they remind me they aren't nice people. Which is as it should be, since they aren't really nice people, even to each other (sometimes). If they were, the book probably wouldn't be as interesting, but it does produce a certain disconnect for me with the characters.

* I wouldn't be surprised if Frank's body count exceeds the Six' combined total.

** I was a little disturbed by his response to Catman's "lost child" hypothetical, where he seemed to equate not going out of his way to run the child over with "helping". For some reason, I thought that was cold, even for Deadshot.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

2008 Comics In Review - Part 4

This is the end, my only friend, the end. Got a bit maudlin there, didn't I? ABP had more chores and Wade is probably busy with Tiger Shark, so you just get me. That means I get to bore you with some stat stuff I wouldn't have been able to get to with the others around. Lucky you. As you might have noticed, I'm buying less than I used to from 199 comics in '06, to 144 in '08. Marvel's piece of my wallet's is shrinking, down to 68.75% in 2008 (compared to 85% in '06, and 87% in '07). As you might imagine, DC's taking up most of the vacated space, from 7.4% in '07, up to 26.4% in '08. Yeah, I have a lot of time on my hands, why?

The Punisher #54-63: Ennis' run ended, and my purchasing of the title ended a few months later. And now they're starting the book over, which they might have been better off doing immediately after Ennis wrapped up his run.

High Point: First, the beginning of #57, when the Delta boys have found Frank's base, and figure they've got him, with their tasers and tear gas. Except Frank knew they were coming, and he's got a gas mask too. And night vision goggles. And a bat. Restrained beatdown ensues. Second, the end of #54, when Frank has returned his daughter to her aunt for safekeeping, and she wants to know about O'Brien (her sister, the baby's mama). Frank tells about that morning in Afghanistan, and then says 'Memories like that, I try and kill. But you might do something with it, if you like.' That was a terribly sweet and terribly sad scene, that pretty well sums up what Frank's willingly done to himself.

Low Point: I'm thinking the end of #62, the 'And she is dead' thing. That felt overdone to me.

Robin/Spoiler Special: I think I bought it because it was a slow week for me, and because I do like Spoiler, and I'm glad she's not dead. It wasn't anything special.

Secret Six #1-4: It's weird book. I feel odd at times, rooting for this bunch, given the crap they've done in their lives. I swing between being amused by Bane's concern for Scandal, to being touched, to being disturbed. The book has action, laughs, grossouts, amusing dialogue, appealing art. I'm not sure it's a good idea for the first arc to be 7 issues long, though. Feels like it might be drawing things out too long.

High Point: I'm partial to the scene in the convenience store where Deadshot teaches the would-be robbers the proper method, then takes the money (and smokes) himself. Floyd has all kinds of issues doesn't he? After that, it might be Mammoth's turn as a trustee prison guard in #2. I didn't realize he was that stupid, but he's high comedy, I tell you.

Low Point: Eh, I can't really think of one. Sometimes I feel like the thing in #2 where Catman is trying to figure out what it was Batman ate was drug out too long, but others time I like it because it was Catman getting under Batman's skin, and we can always use more of that, right?

Sgt. Rock: The Lost Battalion #1: I don't think Tucci's doing anything particularly wrong, he's going for a realistic, respectful portrayal of the World War 2 soldier, but from the first issue (and the parts of subsequent issues I've skimmed in the store) it hasn't felt like Sgt. Rock. More a generic World War 2 sergeant. I saw Tucci threw the Haunted Tank in for #3, but viewed from an outside perspective, where the ghost is a "who knows?" aspect.

Suicide Squad #6-8: I canme back when there was less focus on Rick Flag, and more focus on going on missions. I think the problem was Ostrander was exploring the question of what makes a person who they are with Flag and the revelations about his past. I've seen Ostrander do this previously with GrimJack, a character I liked a lot more. No real interest in exploring it with Mr. Flag.

High Point: Flag scaring Waller a bit was nice, but I'm giving it to Captain Boomerang Jr. saving Deadshot from Maraduer. Close second actually goes to the discussion between Twisted Sister and Windfall on the way to their mission. it was twisted and a little depressing, but kind of hilarious. I may need professional help.

Low Point: Hmm, can't think of one.

Terra #1-4: Went for it on a whim. Figured Amanda Conner drawing, Power Girl guest-starring, there were many worse things to spend the money on.

High Point: I enjoyed Power Girl trying to teach Atlee some things about life on the surface. While PG should know about that stuff, she spends so little time in her civilian identity, it's probably beneficial for her too.

Low Point: The big villain fight at the start on #4 seemed almost perfunctory, like they had to have it. I think I would have preferred Faulkner working more quietly, exploring first, maybe causing problems inadvertently, rather than going nuts because his girlfriend got smashed. His curiosity, combined with a certain level of amorality, could have been interesting. Well, amybe we'll see him again.

The Last Defenders #1: I couldn't get behind the premise of the mini-series, I think. That the Defenders have always fallen apart because they've never landed on that magical, perfect lineup, and that Kyle Richmond is better off as the financier, rather than an actual superhero.

Ultimate Spider-Man #118-122: After buying the series since #3 or so, I finally dropped it for a number of reasons. One, Bendis' previous multi-issue arcs didn't feel as well paced as I'd like, with endings feeling rushed (that Goblin arc especially, he spent too much time on Carol Danvers screwing up, I thought). Two, the upcoming multi-issue arc was going to heavily involve symbiotes, and I wish Bendis had stuck to his original guns and left Venom out (I remember those early letter pages, where the fans were screaming for Ultimate Venom - no I wasn't one of them - and Bendis -or whoever was answering the letters - kept saying "no plans at this time", but then there Venom was, and then they wanted Carnage, and we got him too, and it was just, sigh). Three, Ultimatum was looming, and I wanted to get gone before Loeb destroyed everything. And I wasn't loving Immonen's art. Not that it was bad, I just didn't enjoy it as much as Bagley's.

High Point: #121, where Peter has to explain why his and Kitty's baby project got destroyed, and his reaction to the extremely generous grade they received.

Low Point: I'm a little surprised at Magneto showing up, chatting with Liz and asking her to come with him, then just leaving calmly. He wouldn't have cared if he had to fight the X-Men. Also, the X-Men seemed awfully pushy and aggressive. We'll probably find out later that Jean was manipulating Liz' mind. Sounds like what Jean would do.

X-Factor #27-32, Layla Miller, The Quick and the Dead: Messiah CompleX ended, and Layla was gone. Then Rahne left. Even bringing Arcade couldn't boost my enthusiasm. The double whammy of unfinished looking Stroman art and Secret Invasion was enough to send me running.

High Point: The Quick and the Dead. Probably because I had a lot of fun analyzing Raimondi's art, the body language of the characters' during Pietro's hallucinations. Arcade's 'Fail. Safe. Which word did you not understand?', plus Rictor's punching him in the face was kind of amusing too.

Low Point: I wasn't terribly pleased with Rahne leaving, but I think it was the end of #32, when the team has settled into life in Detroit, and things look nice, and then we see Madrox' big message to Val didn't work and all his yadda-yadda about being a step ahead was bunk. That was a tad frustrating.

Young Avengers Presents #6: It was Matt Fraction, writing Classic Hawkeye, with art by Alan Davis. Plus, we were introduced to the phrase 'Central Park Carriage Ninja', and reminded that you never tell Clint Barton that he can't make that shot.

There you go, all done. Resumption of usual posting stuff tomorrow.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Calvin Appears Lost In Thought

{I'm not lost, just trying to understand any part of the "Tim Kurkijan is the father of Tony Kornheiser's child" thing on PTI today.} Oh. I don't think I can help with that. {I don't think anyone can, so don't sweat it too much. Got your chores done, I assume?} Enough Mom let me visit today. All this sweeping and farming is tiring. {Chin up, bucko. Gotta give a good showing this week.} Why? {You know why. This is the last of the weekly reviews for awhile.} What?! {I told you that already. I'm headed back to the boonies, which means comics every two weeks. At least your mom won't be able to complain I'm keeping your from your chores and studies.}

I don't feel much like hugging or applauding now. {Start with violence then. See if that gets your motor running.} I think Black Bolt has to get a Bonk. The Shi'ar weren't hurting him, so he shouldn't have killed them. {And it helped kick off an intergalactic war.} I want to Applaud Scandal because she wanted to save Bane, but I have to Bonk her, because she cut Deadshot for no reason. {That applause was a little weak.} I'm trying! {Geez, sorry.} Bane gets Applause for being tough, and a Hug for getting hurt so much. I'm going to give Ronan a Bonk, because he just gave up. Why did he do that this time? {Thank you! That's exactly what I've been wondering!}

Thursday, January 08, 2009

2008 Comics In Review - Part 3

Deadpool: [So where's our furry clump of cute?]

CalvinPitt: Under house arrest. Intimidating Mama Panda was not pleased that ABP was ignoring chores to hop over here for these posts.

Deadpool: [I'll pull off a daring rescue for half a million.]

CalvinPitt; Thanks, but no. Even if I had that money, I'm not getting you or myself on her bad side. I've been there before. There was growling, and unfriendly teeth very close to my throat.

Immortal Iron Fist #12-21, Orson Randall and the Death Queen of California, Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death: Art difficulties are the story here. David Aja was largely absent from the last few issues of the Brubaker/Fraction (and eventually just Fraction) run, due to either some health problems, or because his wife was pregnant, I can't remember which. Either way, there were other things which demanded his attention, so the art was not quite where it was. Then Travel Foreman became primary artist to go with new writer Duane Swierczynski, and for some reason, his work doesn't seem as nice as it did when he was drawing flashbacks sequences in the earlier issues. Not sure what the deal was there.

High Point: I think the 22-year punch delivered in #21 by Wah Sing-Rand, plus his subsequent saving of the believers of K'un-Lun has to go here. Don't get me wrong, Danny Rand punching a train and making it explode was plenty cool, but it was already loaded with explosives, so it really wasn't going to take much to make it go boom. [He punched the train? Just throw a bunch of mines on the track.] I don't think Danny had any mines. [Then drive your car into it at high speed, but the only people that should be in front of trains are the people you throw from them. Like Billy Crystal.]

Low Point: The Mortal Iron Fist wasn't a bad idea for a story, but the art wasn't helping as much as I'd like, and I had some issues with how Danny won the battle. [Getting crazy always works in a fight! It's what made Wolverine into the big, multi-title appearing success he is today!]

Moon Knight #20-25: I started buying it for the Mike Deodato drawn battle with Werewolf by Night, and I've stuck around for the running battle with the Thunderbolts. Of course, now he's going to run into the Punisher, and that may test my tolerance for the Punisher outside the MAX bubble. Say Wade, maybe you should hunt down Jack Russell. I bet there are a lot of people who would pay big money for a werewolf. [Sure, I love dogs. Like Air Bud, how does the dog shoot a basketball? How does it pass the ball? Is it the Stephon Marbury of sports movie animals?] Are you going to keep referencing old movies all day (and I don't believe Marbury is a good example anymore)? [Yes.] What about my suggestion? [Not until someone hires me for it. What good is it to have a werewolf in a cage, waiting for someone who wants to buy it?] You could teach it tricks, or poke it with a stick. [Hmm. . .]

High Point: I really liked #20. The battle with the werewolf, what it helped Spector realize about himself. Although, he seemed more stable in that flashback than he does in the present, maybe because of Marlene. The way he tricked Bullseye was pretty good too. The sort of reconciliation with Frenchie and Ray was nice too, since he had been kind of an ass to them.

Low Point: Still, the covers had been hyping the Bullseye/Moon Knight fight for two months beforehand, and Spector spends the entire fight running. I know that's what he'd been doing against the rest of the Thunderbolts, but that was 5-on-1, all of them with some superpowers. This is just Bullseye. I know, he's super nutso, kill-you-with-anything, but is the threat level elevated that much? I'm just not buying it, but I haven't bought Bullseye as a threat since I read Daredevil #200, where DD kicked the crap out of him with one arm in a sling. Kind of hard to take him seriously after that.

Ms. Marvel #23, 24: I just gave up. Secret Invasion was coming, and I couldn't figure out where Mr. Reed was going with it. Carol wants fame, then she just wants to be a good hero. She wants everyone to follow the law, except when she doesn't. She wants to be hardcore, but doesn't want to accept responsibility for it (though I think later she admitted she let Puppet Master blow himself up, when she hadn't mentioned that before). The Aaron Lopresti art was swell, but he was leaving the book, so that was one less thing holding me there. [But you still have to like how that sash sits on her hips.] Yes Wade, you're absolutely correct. [Why will she team up with Spider-Man and not me? She's a former secret agent, so am I. She's pretty, I'm disfigured. We're like Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy.] She will Wade, she's just waiting for the right mission, I'm sure of it. Everybody wants to team up with Deadpool. [I'm not an idiot you know.] I just wanted to cheer you up.

Nova #10-20, Annual #1: Rich found Warlock, stopped the Phalanx, ran afoul of the Silver Surfer, fought Skrulls with Darkhawk, and is watching the Worlmind make poor decisions. I'm looking forward to War of Kings getting Rich back out in space.

High Point: Rich deciding to save everyone on Obrucen was nice, his heart-to-heart with Gamora was kind of sweet. I think I'll tap his brief team-up with Super-Skrull, where they trounce some Skrulls, then Rich destroys a Skrull warship. For non-Nova coolness, the part where Rich is explaining to the surfer why he needs Galactus to wait, and the Surfer closes his eyes, and just like that, he's shielded all the escape shuttles from the electromagnetic distortion, and they can leave. Excellent demonstration of how powerful the Surfer is now.

Low Point: I wasn't a big fan of the Annual. A little of Nova's past, some hallucinated future, some weird fight with the transmode virus making some construct out of the ground around them. Not really that great. Though he did remember Ko-Rel, the first new Nova recruited since Rich became Nova Prime. Be nice to see her get a mention during the current recruitment drive. [I could be a Nova. I look great with a bucket on my head.] I don't think you're an average member of the species, Wade. And I'm not going to ask where you learned how you look with a bucket on your head.

Patsy Walker: Hellcat #1-4: Oh what to say? I love this mini-series. It's beautifully drawn, it alternates between silly and serious, and it doesn't just hand everything to you on a silver platter. On the downside, it's driving me insane trying to figure out what deeper meaning Immonen is driving at. i keep seeing different little things that make me think this or that, and I just can't put it all together. [It makes perfect sense. Just listen *Wade begins gesturing, but not making any sound*] Wade, what are you doing, you didn't say a word. [The white caption box was talking, weren't you paying attention?] Deadpool, that's a visual gag! We're doing a text piece! It's like trying to do Keystone Kops on the radio! [Good morning Vietnam! *throws a grenade over his shoulder* KABOOM!]

High Point: #1, How Patsy deals with rude people in a bar. Her exchange with herself in #3 when the forest is catching on fire (Great! I can see the headlines now. Hellcat burns down Alaska. Iron Man says, "It's not my fault." "Is too," says Hellcat.) How she deals with a naughty giant wolf that knocks over her vehicle. Her devious and manipulative nature.

Low Point: That three-month wait between #3 and #4. Sure, it gave us Cornelius Potfiller, but that's really not going to balance the scales. [Not with your writing skills.] Gee, thanks Wade. My self-esteem needed that punch to the kidneys. [I could give your body a punch to the kidneys, make a matched set.] No.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

What I Bought 1/7/09

Bad luck for the store today. All the store's copies with the X-Men: Manifest Destiny cover had the pages of next week's issue of Spider-Man/X-Men (or is that X-Men/Spider-Man?). Whoopsie! Wonder if that was a widespread problem, or just localized?

Secret Six #5 - Bane deals with the consequences of his response to Junior's "You die or they die". Jeanette interrogates Cheshire. Deadshot treats the hotel staff somewhat shabbily. Well, shabbily by my standards. He didn't shoot them, which is practically pleasant by Floyd's standards, I suppose. Team skirmishes with more desperate, incompetent villains, and we learn the truth about Junior.

I'm having a hard time understanding how Junior is so dangerous. I get that Junior lacks scruples or limits in any significan way, but can't even stand without a crutch, and has a body that looks to be a mangled mess. The issue ends on what's meant to be a tense standoof, but it would seem to be a simple matter for Lawton to just shoot Junior. Bang, bang, one problem solved. They're going to have to do that eventually, you just know it.

I'd really like to talk more about Nicola Scott's artowrk, but I'm not certain what to say. It's not a flashy style, but it's effective, I think it's pretty, though it has the requisite gruesome factor when necessary. I appreciate Jason Wright's coloring, because the shadows are there when you need to darker mood, but for the most part he keeps things bright, almost cheerful. That might seem at odds given what goes on in the book, but I think it works for a title about people who do occasionally awful things, and are rarely troubled by them. The dark deeds don't constantly weigh on them, and so it isn't all doom and gloom.

Secret Invasion: War of Kings #1 - What is it with Marvel and combining the names of different events for the titles of comics? They gave us that House of M: Civil War mini-series, and now this. Is this going to be a thing they do now? Black Bolt decides the Inhumans are done hiding, and they're going to kill lots of people. So they kill some Skrulls, then go around (with ridiculous ease) the Phalanx shield the Kree put back up, and take over. Oh, and they gave the Shiar an excuse to attack the Kree, and Vulcan's wearing robes like he's Tiberius, or Caligula or something (I vote for Tiberius, since I've read he was a unpleasant sort, and Vulcan's brief cameo is spent partially complaining of the dark mood he's in).

Gripes I have. One, Ronan. I'm going to save that for another, extended post of griping, but for now, he gave up too quick. Two, is Black Bolt really this powerful? They've got a device which amplifies his whisper enough that it can make their entire city (which is now a space battleship) move at superluminal speed. They captured the energy of his whispers and use it as protective armor for their soldiers, and bullets for their weapons. If he's that powerful, why couldn't they have him kill the bleeping Sentry before he decided to get cosmic with himself? And yes, he's angry, but he's being a tad reckless. "La la, I'm off to kill some Skrulls! Oh, those Shiar ships say we're in their territory? I'll, kill them too! La, la!"

I'm not sure who I'm supposed to be rooting for here. I actually felt the worst for the Skrulls, who were in full retreat before the Inhumans fried their butts. Not sure that's what the War of Kings braintrust is shooting for. I guess I should end on a positive. Paul Pelletier draws a really cool looking giant city/space battleship.