Thursday, April 30, 2009

Considering Mary Jane's Past

Today's post concerns Amazing Spider-Man #259. I don't actually own it in its original form, just as a Marvel tales reprint, but that's good enough, right? Anyway, the issue is primarily Peter and Mary Jane walking through a park. See, MJ has just recently revealed that she knows Peter is Spider-Man*.

Peter is, as you might expect, concerned about this, since he considers Mary Jane to be a tad flighty, but MJ assures him that she'll keep his secret. From there, the issue sort of rolls into MJ revealing her family history to Peter. How her dad and mom married young, how dad, took a teaching job at the university, just to tide him over until he finished the next Great American Novel. Except it turns out he didn't have that in him, and he kept moving the family around looking for something to help. Eventually MJ, her mom, and older sister leave in the night, and start staying with relatives, and things sort of stabilize. MJ's older sister Gayle, repeats their mom's decision, marries her high school sweetheart early in college, and then surprise, he can't handle law school and a baby at the same time! Then their mom gets sick, and eventually MJ just sort of breaks off contact with her sister.

Anyway, the whole story is supposed to, I guess explain MJ's somewhat oddball behavior. She explains she had a tendency to play the class clown, or the free spirit that never let anyone get her down., with the former probably feeding the latter. Being a goofy sort is, I suppose, an easy way to be noticed when one is the new kid and needs to make friends, but if they act that way all the time, then it probably gets hard to show it when you're feeling blue, because you've created the impression it never happens.

Here's what I'm trying to get at. Mary Jane had, to my (extremely limited and maybe this whole thing had already been demonstrated to be false several years before this issue came out) knowledge, been primarily a party girl, kind of self-absorbed (possibly) type up to that point, though she would demonstrate moments of impressive insight or compassion from time to time**. With the addition of this backstory, it makes the happy-go-lucky personality more of a facade. Do you think that was a good idea?

One the pro side, I guess it mirrors what Peter does himself. When he puts on his mask and swings into the night, he's a different guy, all jokes and jibes. Yet, they're often designed to cover how nervous or even scared he is. That's his facade, just like the party girl is apparently Mary Jane's, so it can function as a level of connection between them. Plus, I suppose having such a nonchalant attitude towards most things could be seen as somewhat naive, given what we, as the reader, know goes on in the Marvel Universe, and Spider-Man's life in particular. We might look at Mary Jane and think 'How can you be so relaxed and upbeat? Don't you know what he's been through***?!'

On the other hand, I don't think it would be such a bad thing to have a character that focuses on the lighter, brighter side of life. They aren't necessarily unaware of the bleaker things that go on, but they choose not to focus on it. I think that could be depicted not as someone running from the pain in their past, but as someone who simply made a decision to view life that way, because they honestly think it's a better way to go. I know there's still the heavy risk of the character seeming hopelessly naive, especially in the Marvel Universe where things so often take the worst possible route they could, but I think that's why such a character could be useful. Someone who notices that it isn't all terrible, and while Peter's over here moping about this month's rent, or Aunt May being mad he dropped out of college, here's Mary Jane pointing out that the sun is shining, he stopped the Rhino from robbing that bank, he can sell the pictures to help pay the rent, and Aunt May still loves him, even if she's a little mad now, so no need to be so glum, chum.

So let me hear your opinion, if you have one.

* At this point, I think it was something she had just recently tumbled to (after the Puma attacked Pete in his apartment maybe), but then Kurt Busiek wrote a story years later that said MJ was staying with Aunt Anna the night Uncle Ben was killed, saw Peter run into his house, and saw Spider-Man crawl out Pete's window moments later, so she'd actually always known. I don't know if I like that, personally, but I'm also not sure whether that's still part of canon. {Edit: Well, I asked, and was answered. Kurt Busiek did use this in an Untold Tales of Spider-Man story, but is not the originator of the concept. It was Gerry Conway who originally established it in Spider-Man: Parallel Lives. I knew I recalled Mr. Busiek using it, and for some reason assumed he came up with the idea, probably because I'm not familiar with Parallel Lives. Those gaps in my knowledge get me every time. My bad.}

** I think one example would be after Gwen had died, and MJ's trying to talk to Peter and he lashes out, telling her to get lost because she never cared about Gwen, and MJ realizes he needs someone right then, so she stays, in spite of what he said.

*** Though, depending on when you decide she realized the truth about Peter, the answer could be no, she really didn't know what he'd been through, because he was holding it in.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Here I Go, Being Suspicious Again

I didn't read War of Kings: Darkhawk #1, but based on #2, it seems as though this Raptor fellow showed up, with the large Hunter Drone right on his/her tail. What I'm wondering is why that Drone showed up now.

It's supposedly sent by enemies of this Fraternity of Raptors, but why didn't it find Talon (the more experienced Raptor) sooner? He/she said they'd been dormant for thousands of years, which is pretty much the definition of "sitting duck". Why didn't the drone attack Talon then? I thought perhaps it was because Talon was dormant, and so not giving off an energy signature for the drone to track, but 2 questions arise from that:

1) If the drone needs an active suit to track, then why had it never found Darkhawk? He's been a character since 1991, which is closing in on 20 years in our time, which has to be at least 3 or 4 for in Marvel-Time. So that wasn't long enough for the drone to find him, but this Talon had awoken just recently and the drone found it already?

2) Talon said it and Chris are the only two left, and no Raptor has been active in millennia. So either all the other Raptors were killed before they stopped being active, or they went into dormancy and were destroyed. In which case, it raises the question, again, of why the drone couldn't find Talon and destroy him/her before it got up and running again*.

Basically, I'm suspicious of this Talon. It's awful convenient how Talon and the drone arrive at Chris' house at the same time (or if theyw ere already fighting, that neither one was able to destroy the other before they reached the house). Talon says the Raptors are supposed to safeguard galactic culture, and that things are now badly off-course. So why did they go dormant in the first place? If they'd been active, they could have stopped things from going askew when they started, rather than trying to act now. Plus, there's the vagueness of the term 'galactic culture'. Whose culture? Everyone's? The Kree, the Shi'ar, the Badoon, Earthlings, the Xandarians?

Also, there's the solicitations for the Ascension mini-series that suggest Talon's going to do something severely morally questionable, and Chris is going to be left taking the fall, which gives me the sense the Fraternity of Raptors are a lot like the Second Foundation: Things are only OK if they're going the way the Raptors want, and if not, then everyone's expendable to get things back on the path they want. Poor Darkhawk.

* I guess I could accept the "space is really large" explanation, but then I wonder why you only use one Hunter Drone, isntead of sending massive swarms of them out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Is It Still Lurking In The Distance?

When the current volume of Guardians of the Galaxy started, the first issue ended with Mantis speaking to the recorder device they have set up. She mentioned how she can see the future, but can tell her team what's coming, and specifically, she can't tell them that one of them will betray the rest in nine months. I think she said nine months?

Has that happened yet? I was thinking about it today, and I don't think it has. I suppose Star-Lord having Mantis mentally convince some of the team to join up could be considered a betrayal, but that had already happened, and Mantis was describing knowing of this betrayal as a result of her precognitive abilities, which wouldn't be necessary since she took part in it. Drax did kill all of them during the Secret Invasion arc, though he had his reasons and it didn't last, and nobody seemed terribly bothered by it. Cosmo might be considered part of the team, and he was harboring Skrulls during that same arc. Again, he had his reasons, and everyone seemed to get over it was they understood his reasons.

Honestly, I don't think a big enough deal was made of those events for them to be the betrayal. Most likely, it hasn't been nine months yet for them. You know how time in the comics moves more slowly than it does for us, and it's been less than a year for us. So it's probably still on the horizon, though I wonder whether it'll come during War of Kings, or in what comes after.

There is another possibility. Starhawk came back from the future to prevent certain things from taking place and dooming his/her time. I'm pretty sure Mantis admitted at some point that she couldn't perceive the future as it relates to Starhawk. So maybe Starhawk's unexpected arrival has changed things sufficiently that the betrayal never takes place at all.

Monday, April 27, 2009

More Extensive Cape Comiccon Recap

And I'm back to what passes for home these days. Hoo-ray. So let's talk convention.

The AC did seem to be doing a better job holding up on Sunday, as Alex didn't have to flee outside at all. Smaller crowd on Sunday, so it was a bit more subdued. There was still a fair bit of activity, and Ken was pretty busy making announcements about how this table was lowering prices for the next x units of time, or reminding folks to swing by and check out Artists' Alley, or some of the tables for the independent creators.

Around 3 or so Ken was at one of the entry tables, and ended up discussing how things were going with myself and maybe 3 other friends of his. From what he could tell, the gamers were just as happy as could be with their set-up, and they did have a pretty good turnout, especially Saturday. From his perspective, as the guy who basically sets most of this up, he said he had more fun than he had in previous years, and he was certain of about a 5% increase in attendance. I don't know how significant that is compared to other conventions, but I imagine growth is certainly a plus. He did feel he'd been too enamored with the size of the venue he booked. What I mean is, this year's location was considerably larger than the Student Rec Center used the previous two years, and Ken felt he got a bit overeager as a result. He figured he had 60,000 square feet, might as well use all of it. The problem from his perspective seems to be that it spread things out too much, the crowd was too diffuse, and he that sapped the event of "energy", in some way he couldn't define.

My guess is when the people are in closer contact with each other, they can sense each others' enthusiasm, and it sparks their own, which other people pick up on, and so on. Like mob mentality, but in a positive way, with people get excited and festive, I suppose. Personally, I very much prefer the space that was available this year. The previous two conventions, the aisles were so narrow at times it was more prudent if you were on your knees going through a long box to go under the table so you weren't being bumped into by feet. Also, you might recall that at previous conventions, I ended up leaving after a couple hours, because the crowds overwhelmed me. That didn't happen this year, even with the larger turnout, as conditions were spacious enough I didn't feel hemmed in. So I'll disagree with Ken on that, though Ken said that from the feedback he'd received, about 95% of the people who had attended in previous years thought this year's convention was better, so if the greater amount of space was a factor, then I imagine he'll take it into account.

The thing Ken seemed most concerned about was the success of the vendors. He felt that 15 of them had made what he called 'big money'*. That was the same amount as the previous year. Problem was, the show had 28 vendors this year, as opposed to 18 in 2008 . I don't know how the others made out, since not making 'big money' doesn't mean they lost money on the trip, necessarily. I know he said one vendor in particular got fed up and just left part way through Saturday, and I think that was a first for the Cape Comic Con, so Ken said he needed to think about that this week. I think he may just have to cut back down on vendors, wait and see if attendance numbers continue to grow. If the show keeps growing in popularity over the years, it might be able to get more vendors to the "big money" territory, which will make everyone happy.

While discussing this, it was brought up that this is kind of capitalism exemplified, with all these people selling similar products right next to each other, and in that situation, the cream will rise to the top. I guess that's true**. You either need to have product the others don't, or your product has to be in better condition, or (and probably most importantly) cheaper. There was one vendor who was selling individual issues 1 for a dollar, but going 10 comics for $5, I was perusing his boxes, as was this young woman whose friends call her "Squeak", apparently***. As we were looking, Ken was periodically announcing that other tables were raising their discounts, and she never even looked up, because she said the prices at the her current location were still better, so why go elsewhere when she was still looking here? That vendor had a hook, in this case low, low prices, that compensated for the fact he was one of the schmoes that can't be arsed to organize his stuff****.

So that's mostly Ken's perspective, at least insofar as I'm privvy to what he was thinking. What about me? Well, I had a fine time. Part of that was just getting to chat with Ken for awhile, which I hadn't had the opportunity to do since last September. Part of that was bringing Alex, who had never attended a comic convention before, and had a blast. One of the things that's good about Alex is he doesn't hide his feelings much, so when he gets amped up for something, you will become aware of it, and it can be infectious. I didn't find too many comics that I was searching for (including largely whiffing on some comics I was seeking on the behalf of a coworker who couldn't make it), but that freed me up to spend money elsewhere (more on that in a bit). There was a fellow selling food and drinks, and he seemed to do brisk business on soda, and his corn dogs were popular based on what I saw. I know Ken devoured a plate of nachos he bought on Saturday, to the extent we were picking on him for spilling cheese on his shirt, and advising other friends who walked up to make Ken wipe (or just go ahead and dunk their hand in the cheese themselves) his hand first before shaking. Alex bought a drink called a Lemon Shake-Up, which he found disappointing on Saturday, but proclaimed good upon further reflection Sunday. Of course, when I asked if it was $2.50 good (that was how much if cost), he replied that no, it was about 80 cents good, and then I questioned whether you could call something "good" if you thought it was only worth a 1/3rd of what you paid, but we didn't get far with that conversation.

Originally, we were going to be a cosplay duo, Alex as Vash the Stampede, me as Nicholas Wolfwood*****. He couldn't really get the costume set up, so he went as the Spirit, looking rather dapper in a black shirt, red tie, and black hat. We didn't have time to find him a domino mask, so he just used my red sunglasses. It made me sort of the Bizarro Spirit, because I was rocking a white shirt (no tie), a red hat, and my black sunglasses. Sadly, no photos currently exist******. There was one fellow in a spectacular Predator outfit, which Alex did wisely get a picture of, unlike yours truly. Lots of kids rocking looks from Naruto, your standard Jedis and Stromtroopers, and a Pimp Vader. That's right; Darth Vader with a pimp cape, pimp hat, and possibly a pimp cane, which would also double as a pimp lightsaber. OK, I don't actually remember if he had a cane or light saber, but he really ought to have.

Then there was the Silk Spectre. While I was waiting for Ken to finish an announcement so we could chat a bit, Alex resolved to go and get a picture of her. Whether he was going to be in it or not, I don't know. He said he walked up to her, got close enough that she started to smile and probably offer a greeting. Then he opened his mouth to say something, and based on his gestures, basically spasmed, closed his mouth, and retreated, leaving a confused cosplayer in his wake. I was stunned. That's the sort of crash and burn I'd have, not Alex. I couldn't get him to approach again, even the next day, when she showed up as Poison Ivy. Guess I should have gone with him the first time. Oh well, it's a funny story to relate, and it balances the scale for Alex laughing about how ill I looked when I disembarked from that second carnival ride on Saturday.

Everyone I talked to was very friendly, and Alex went over to meet Gary Friedrich, and eventually I took their picture together. Alex loved that Gary smiled so much, and described him as the 'sweetest old guy ever'. So that was good. I mentioned that the money not spent on comics went elsewhere. Well, the "elsewhere" was Artists' Alley, not a place I'd visited in any of the previous conventions, but Sunday I thought what the heck. Actually, if I'm being honest, I noticed that on Sunday most of the artists didn't seem busy, and I wanted to throw some business their way, hopefully keep their opinion of the show high. Yeah, silly, but I get something out of it (art, conversation), they get something out of it (money, some time chatting with folks about their work), and Ken gets something out of it (happy people at his convention on both sides of the tables). That's a win-win-win, right there.

Alex and I purchased two pictures a piece from Terry Huddleston, Alex opting for a Punisher picture, and a Fantastic Four group shot I thought was pretty nice. Me, I knew I'd be giving Mr. Huddleston money the moment I say the Scarlet Spider picture, and then I found a Moon Knight, and well, like I told him, second-tier characters need love too*******. Then we visited Alan Schell's table, and he was selling 8.5" x 11" pieces for $2 a pop, so I grabbed 10 (the Punisher and Nightcrawler were for Alex). Schell's style is slightly more simple than Huddleston's, more Super Friends sort of, but it's still highly expressive. He had Iron Man in the Silver Centurion armor, so I was sold right there! And he had a Guy Gardner (which I also purchased, as Guy has his arms folded across his chest cockily, with one eyebrow raised and a smirk on his face. He's still sporting the bowl cut, but that's OK, it's a pretty Guy pose).

The last stop for me on the artist alley was Brandon Rout. I've resolved to try and collect sketches of the Nicieza/Bagley New Warriors, and when I walked by his table earlier, something about his style caught my eye, so I decided to start with him. It's probably not proper form, but I asked him if he had a preference. There wasn't anyone else in line, so I figured he might not mind. He said he was partial to Namorita or Speedball, and I figured, let's go with Speedball, because how often will you find an artist that wants to draw him? I think Brandon did a pretty sweet job. He drew it, inked it, colored it right then and there. It took awhile (Alex and I actually went to Schell's table while we were waiting, then came back), but I think the full body, color shot of Robbie bouncing and smiling was worth the wait********. About that point, I felt I'd probably spent enough money for a weekend, and Alex was also restraining himself from spending anymore, so we called it a day, had some dinner, and we drove back to his house.

I thought it was a great weekend, personally. Purchased some nifty art, visited with folks I hadn't seen in some time, gave Alex a good morale boost. I'd say that's definitely a weekend well spent. Right now, I'm waiting for Alex to call me back, because I asked him if he wanted to give an official quote for this post about his experiences at the convention, so I'll add that at the bottom, assuming he hasn't forgotten. Still, I can throw in this little exchange he and Ken had on Sunday.

Ken is at one of the entryways, greeting folks, accepting the cash, marking hands for reentry, etc. Alex and I are standing nearby (I think I was waiting on the Speedball pic at this point), and I might have asked Alex if he was enjoying the weekend. His response was 'This is the most fun I've had in months.' Ken overheard and gave me that odd look he has, where he tilts his head, sort of raises one eyebrow while squinting his other eye at me, and nodding, the look saying "Did ya hear that? Sweet!" Then Ken looked at Alex and asked 'You didn't just get out of prison recently, did you?' We all burst into laughter. So if Alex doesn't get on the horn, that's his quote. Not a bad one, as those things go.

{Edit: OK, here's Alex, direct from his text message to me} 'My first and certainly not my last Cape Comic Con was an awesome adventure full of the nicest people doing what they love. It was an experience I would love to live a thousand times over and an expedition that opened my imagination once more. Thanks, Ken!'

* Which I assume means enough profit they feel buying table space at the convention was a good idea, and are positively disposed towards the con.

** I've only taken one economics class, and that was at 8 a.m., so I don't think I remember any Econ I didn't already know beforehand.

*** This really amused the vendor, who kept bringing up that it's the same name one of his wife's friends named her cat.

**** I found copies of Nightwing #107 in four different longboxes, for goodness sakes!

***** Though it's one of those cases where I'm going along with it because of how fired up Alex is, rather than out of any eagerness on my part. I'm too self-conscious.

****** I always forget to take photos when I really ought to.

******* Though Mr. Huddleston stated Scarlet Spider is still pretty popular. Hear that, Ben Reilly? You live on in our hearts!

******** Maybe I should have asked if he could have Speedball bouncing over a discarded Penance costume, as Brandon seemed to dislike that character path as much as I do.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Book Post Which Arrives From Nothingness!

Probably not what you're expecting, but surprise is the spice of life. Or is that variety? Well, something is a surprise in part because it's variation from the norm, so it all connects, in some fashion.

Chasing the Dragon, Domenic Stansberry - Despite the title, they aren't any references to chasing dragons, or confronting them, or anything like that. Dante Mancuso works for 'the company', and gets an assignment to return to his hometown of San Francisco, under the cover of returning for his father's funeral. He's to set up a drug deal between two men, so they can be bsuted by the DEA and whee, everybody wins. Naturally, things go awry, standard bolierplate about not knowing what the company is up to, and who is working at cross-purposes to you, and whether it's time to get out, and so on.

And things from his current assignment are highly connected to his previous life in San Fran, back when he was a cop and ruined his career trying to expose the truth about a big case, and he winds up working with a current cop, the standard honorable cop who loves his family, but sees the strain he puts on them with his work, to try and take care of things. I wouldn't say it's a complete success, maybe not even a success. Evil is sort of punished, but Dante until decides to let some of the people responsible skate because they're old, and what purpose would it serve to destroy them now? Well I don't know Dante, what purpose did it serve for them tod estroy the lives they did when they were younger? Why should they get a pass, just because they're geriatrics? That's ageism, implying old people can't stand up to their proper punishment. I say they can take it, but Dante's feeling nostaligc, fed up with his job, attracted to his old girlfriend, and so on.

I think I bought it because I was intrigued by the idea of Dante trying to play a role for these friends and family he hadn't seen in years, while he worked at his own things. THat didn't play as large a role as I would have liked, though, so bit of a disappointment.

Beggars In Spain, Nancy Kress - Apparently sleep is just a waste of time. The book revolves around the premise that people are getting their children genetically modified in vitro, adding desired traits, removing undesired, and one particularly rich, driven fellow wants his daughter given the recent modification that means she doesn't need sleep. Ever. And he gets it, but there's a surprise when his wife accidentally has two eggs fertilized (an extra one showed up abruptly during the rpocedure, or something) and that daughter doesn't have the genemods. From there the story follows Leisha, the Sleepless through the first 83 years of her life, and the varied prejudices encountered by the Sleepless. They're smarter (usually added on), they're more logical, less prone to flights of emotion, they have the added advantage that they can just keep working while coworkers or fellow students grab Zs, and not sleeping somehow keeps your immune system in better shape, so their bodies actually regenerate. They aren't immortal, but they're the closest thing their world has ever seen.

So naturally, people hate and fear them for their advantages. Many Sleepless advocate cosntructing their own Sanctuary, where they'll live and conduct business from, safe from hatred, while others, such as Leisha, try to continue operating out in the world. Which elads to friction, especially as the government ups the load the wealthy and prosperous Sleepless must carry (by the time Leisha hits her 60s, most people live fairly well on the Dole, and school and work are largely voluntary, and rarely taken advantage of). Eventually, the Sleepless isolate themselves from any of their own that won't show solidarity against the Sleepers, and move their Sanctuary to a refurbished satellite, where they begin making preparations for the day the U.S. pushes them too far. Lots of comparisons made by the characters to Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War and the American Revoltuion.

As near I can tell, the gist of the story is that people can change. It may take time, but it can happen, and so the important thing is to never stop striving to help that process. Don't force them to change, but encourage it, certainly. It was an OK story, though it seemed like ana wful long way to go for that lesson. There's probably also something in there about how it's very easy to become the thing one proclaims to despise, in an attempt to feel secure.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Quick Check-In After Day 1 Of The Convention

The drive to Alex' went fine. Friday evening was alright. Saturday morning started poorly, because it took an extra two hours to get Alex to wake up, then we couldn't find his glasses. Traffic was still surprisingly light, and the weather was nice, so the drive to the con was still pleasant.

As for the con itself, hopefully, the AC will be doing its job a little better tomorrow, because it was pretty stifling. Alex seemed constantly on the verge of overheating. There were more vendors, artists, gamers, and so on than ever. Even with the increased vendors, I'm still not finding much of what I'm searching for. It doesn't help that many of these vendors are not familiar with the concept of arranging their product for ease of searching. I'm not even asking for labels on the long boxes, but how about making a token attempt at alphabatizing the boxes? Pretty please?

Still absolutely going back tomorrow. Must bring more money, must commission at least one piece of art. Must first decide what the hell to commission (Spidey? A Classic New Warrior? Spoiler? GrimJack?).

Alex very excited to attend first convention, had good time, bought several older Fantastic Four comics. Unfortunately, Alex suggested we visit the carnival around the corner. He made it through one ride (The Scrambler), and we had climbed into the Round Up when he decided he was about to be sick and bailed, leaving me there to very nearly get sick. Apparently, we're too old for things which spin me right round, baby, right round, like a record, baby. Lesson learned.

Friday, April 24, 2009

It Wasn't Nearly As Terrifying As You'd Expect

Two nights ago, I have this dream. I'm in my grandmother's house, and so is the Hulk. Big, green, not Banner-smart, but a little more articulate than "Hulk Smash!". For some reason, my grandmother's basement was now a sewage treatment plant, and I was fighting it out with the Jade Giant, which is kind of cool. I made some kind of attempt to immobilize the Hulk by jamming sai blades into his deltoids*, then stupidly let off with the pressure so I could try and slash Hulk's elbow ligaments. Yeah, that didn't work.

At some point, Green Hulk becomes Mr. Fixit Hulk, and since he was kind of a mean bastard, I decided it was time to run. I charged out the front door, and who should be fleeing alongside me but Banner himself. We went opposite directions down the road (him east, me west), and then I look back at the house. Fixit wasn't ready to let things drop, so he was giving chase. He jumped over the entire road, the barb wire fence on the other side of the road, landed in the cow pasture**, and began racing after me.

On a mountain bike. This was after his attempts to use roller blades to pursue me where thwarted by the lawn. But grass proved no problem for Fixit's much too small mountain bike. He just made that thing hop right over the lawn, and the road, and landed in that field, and started tearing after me. Really, if he hadn't been chasing me with the intent to smash, that would have been pretty neat, you know?

I'm heading out for the weekend. Going to the 2009 Cape Girardeau Comic Convention with Alex. I'll try and post over the weekend, but no promises. Have a nice weekend!

* I know that came from the Millar/Romita Jr. "Enemy of the State" arc in Wolverine, because Elektra did the same thing to Logan.

** As you might have guessed, my grandmother lives in the country.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Where Are My Dinosaurs Who Eat Green People?

So this July marks the one-year mark since Johns and Katz left Booster Gold. Now, this might be a bit premature, but we have seen the solicitations up through then, so I'd like to ask: Where is my Brainiac 5-Eating Tyrannosaur? The Booster Gold 1 Million issue that concluded Johns and Katz' tenures on the book had one of those nifty little pages with the previews of what was to come.

I can't remember all of the glimpses we got (and I don't have the issue handy), but I know there was a scene of Robin wanting to know who it was that was dressed up as Batgirl, and we had that one, at least sort of.

There was one of Cyborg Superman proclaiming this would be the day Booster Gold died, which, nope haven't seen that. That one might be coming, though, with the "Day of Death" story, I get the feeling Booster's going to be running around having to prevent deaths, and maybe he has to stop Hank Henshaw from re-killing Superman during that whole story from the end of the Reign of the Supermen. Or maybe it's a Blackest Night tie-in*?

Then there was Booster and Brainy fleeing a T-Rex, with Booster saying he was getting sick of the carnivore. I thought for sure we were getting that during the Dixon 2-parter, because when Alfred shot Rip and he fell back into the Time Sphere, didn't it zip him off to the Mesozoic Era? I figured with Rip unavailable, Booster would have to find another big brain to guide him and they don't get much bigger than Brainiac-5.

Or, Brainiac 5 would have come looking for Rip, since Rip had Daniel sucker-punch Brainy so they could steal a Time-Sphere. Sure, Brainiac-5 is a highly intelligent fellow and would probably recognize that there was an important reason for Rip to do that, but still. Most people are going to be a little annoyed if someone shows up in their lab and essentially mugs them. Thus, Brainiac-5 might come seeking answers, and if he wants them, well Booster doesn't know what happened, but if the Green Genius will help him find Rip, voila, answers for everyone!

I guess they'll get around to it eventually. Maybe. I hope.

* Though what side would Henshaw land on in that? He was in the Sinestro Corps, but he wants to die, and they didn't come through for him on that score, so would he try another side? Not the Black Lanterns, surely, since they seem to be making people undead. How about the Orange ones, since they're about the greed and Henshaw is primarily concerned only with ending his own life, and doing whatever it takes to achieve that, to hell with anyone else?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Looking At Some Solicits

Marvel and DC have their solicitations up for July, and I'm just going to make a few comments. Sound good? Fantastic, glad to have you on board.

- I see Mark Bagley's moving to a 4-issue stint on Batman after Trinity. Good for him; a nice high-profile book, and one that's had a few difficulties with artists meeting deadlines from time to time*.

- So this Wednesday Comics project. I understand that the pages are considerably larger than your standard American comic, so it's not 16 pages in the sense those Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes things were 16 pages. Still, I have to think that $4 price tag is going to be a stumbling point for some people. I guess it ultimately depends on how many of the creative teams or characters you're interested in, and whether that's sufficient to justify the cost.

- I'm guessing Moon Knight is canceled, seeing as it hasn't been listed in the solicits for June or July? I can't say I'm surprised; the last time I looked, its sales were about where She-Hulk's were when they announced it was being canceled, so I kind of figured it's days were growing short. I know Moon Knight has a loyal (if small) fanbase, so I wonder whether there simply aren't enough fans, or if it was something else that dropped the sales so low. I know there were considerable delays during the Huston/Finch initial year on the book, so maybe fans grew tired of waiting, or were turned off by the violence (there was an awful lot of that if I remember), or it just didn't tie in with enough Big Events.

- And I'm guessing Immortal Iron Fist is joining it on the block, since it's also missing in action, though there's an Immortal Weapons mini-series, so I guess that's five more months of martial arts goodness.

- So many solicitations for Norman Osborn being up to no good, and they all set my teeth on edge. Norman's reached that Superboy-Prime territory for me, where I don't care what gets rid of him, I just want him gone. But no, everywhere you turn, there he is, pulling another fast one. Hey, the X-Men are disobeying me, well I'll make my own X-Team! With blackjack and hookers**! Then I'll have them fight my Avengers team, so the X-Men look bad! And I'll put the Hood in charge of the Initiative, just because! It's to the point I want Gyrich to step in and put a stop to all this nonsense, with the power of bureaucratic red tape.

- I see there's going to be another War of Kings-related mini, the two-issue Warriors. Sadly, it does not appear to have anything to do with the New Warriors, or Guy Gardner's bar***. I can't figure why they changed the pattern they had going with their cosmic events. With Annihilation, there was the Prologue, then the 4 four-issue mini-series focusing on specific characters, then Annihilation proper. Conquest was basically the same, but sub a 4-issue arc in Nova for a mini-series. But with War of Kings, they start with a 4-part Kingbreaker mini, release what was essentially the prologue**** while Kingbreaker's in progress, start up a 2-part Darkhawk mini as well, then start War of Kings before Kingbreaker or Darkhawk have finished, immediately start Ascension, and now Warriors. Plus various issues of Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy (and apparently a Mighty Avengers issue?). I don't know that it doesn't work as a way of arranging an event, but I though the other way worked pretty well, so I'm not sure why the shift. I'm guessing it allows them to focus on specific character's reactions to things happening in the main mini, without devoting time in said main mini to the reaction.

- I'm very pleased to see Marvel putting out trades of their '90s stuff. I placed an order for that Spider-Man 2099 trade that came out this week, and now I see New Warriors Classic Volume 1? I have a pretty set-in-stone rule about not buying things twice, and I worked diligently to collect the entire Nicieza/Bagley run (and succeeded), but that is tempting. Decisions, decisions. 'Course, there's also that Essential Peter Parker, Spectacular Spider-Man Volume 4. Hmm, so many choices, not nearly enough money. Never enough money.

* Though I guess that applies to many books at both Marvel and DC, so I shouldn't really single out Batman. But it's fun to pick on Batman, or his book.

** Actually, forget the X-Team and the blackjack.

*** I don't know what Guy's bar would be doing in the Marvel Universe, but heck, they keep talking like this war will make the universe implode, so let's say the implosion somehow sucks Warriors into Knowhere. That would be fun.

**** That'd be Secret Invasion: War of Kings.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Can't Tell Your Other Dimensional Realms Apart Without A Program

OK, so there's Limbo, realm ruled at various points by Belasco, Illyana Rasputin, Amanda Sefton, probably some other folks.

Then there's Limbo, the place Rom, Greatest of the SpaceKnights, sends any Dire Wraith stupid enough to cross his path*.

So, same Limbo, or different Limbos? If they're the same, then the X-Men might want to take a closer look at Illyana, 'cause she could be a Dire Wraith, and we don't need those freaks running loose in the Marvel Universe again**. If they're different Limbos, well then, somebody has trademark infringement issues to be concerned about.

Well, Wikipedia says they're different places, so trademark infringement it is. And trademark infringement issues can only be settled through war! War between Demons and Wraiths! I'm not sure why the demons would care, but it seems fairly easy to get to Earth from their Limbo, so I have to think the Wraiths would be interested in that. Plus, magic is apparently easier to use in Demon Limbo (or "Otherplace"), so the Sorcerer Wraiths would be more than eager to exploit that.

Granted, there's the issue of how the Wraiths get there, but if Kang/Immortus can have a place in Wraith Limbo they can come and go to as they please, I'm sure the Wraiths can come up with a way to make it to Otherplace. Maybe they could design a spell to have themselves drawn towards the demonic energy. Or, since time operates differently in Otherplace, there might be a loophole around the Wraiths being trapped in a dimension outside time***.

* Excluding the ones he just outright killed, of course.

** Or do we? No, we don't. They could kill Norman Osborn for us, then be destroyed while impersonating him. That would be helpful.

*** I think that would have the added benefit of explaining why, if the Wraiths can escape Limbo, they don't just head back to Earth (or somewhere in that universe) directly. It would be like "You can't get there from here, but you can reach this other there from here, and from the other there you can reach the first there, which is the there where you wanted to be along".

Monday, April 20, 2009

It Doesn't Seem Like A Promising Sign However You Look At It

Take a moment to consider the image below if you would.

I apologize for the glare at the bottom, this is a photograph, and I was trying to use the sun as a light source to avoid the glare stronger inside lighting would give off, and obviously it didn't quite work.

The image is from Deadpool #9. The barely visible word balloon at the bottom says, 'Because I love you.' It's Deadpool speaking to Black Widow #2. He teleported into Thunderbolts' HQ, they fought, he abruptly kissed her, she asked why, and that's the answer.

That's kind of an odd image to show when someone says "I love you", isn't it? It's not Yelena, in case you were wondering. She doesn't wear a skull mask, a flowing skirt/dress thing, weird bangles/bracelets at the wrists, or a hood. So what the heck's that all about?

Most of all, it looks like Death*, as she was portrayed in the Marvel Universe before they decided she should look like she does in Gaiman's Sandman series. Is it a sign that Deadpool loving you is a kiss of death? Nah, Siryn's still alive, and so's Cable, so probably not. Is it meant to signify this could get Deadpool killed? More plausible, since this is someone code-named "Black Widow" who is tasked with capturing and/or killing Deadpool. That's probably not the best person to be making declarations of affection towards**.

The third possibility I came up with was that Deadpool's hallucinating. It's not drawn in the somewhat more exaggerated style Medina favors for those scenes, but there's a chance. As I understand it, Deadpool sort of wooed Death at some point, so maybe he's getting confused as to which person he's talking to. He's dealing with someone who wants to make him dead, he sees them as Death, it's understandable. I make that mistake all the time***. The problem with that idea, besides the art issue I mentioned above, is that earlier in the issue Deadpool was going on and on about how he was sure he could make it work between him and Black Widow, so I don't think it's a case of mistaken identity.

* That was my first impression, but the second one was that it looks like Taskmaster in drag, and well, if they didn't seem to hate each other so much I could see Deadpool going for that. Though knowing Deadpool, he'd have let that slip at some point already.

** Unless you're sure said declarations will give them pause, enabling you to escape/kill them first.

*** Granted, I'm not telling the people trying to kill me I love them, but seeing them as Death itself certainly helps me run away faster so it's a mistake I can live with.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

They're Fashionable And Tactically Useful!

I was thinking, Rocket Raccoon needs to get his jet shoes back. I think they'd look good with his current uniform, and provide valuable paw support. The Guardians teleport into all sorts of weird locales, and you never know when you might wind up in a Land of Linoleum, which observation of my father's dogs suggests would be difficult to find purchase on. Last thing you want to have happen when you try to jump out of the way of some projectile is for your feet to slip out from under you and leave you where you were.

Beyond that, it's just good sense to have a flier on your team. Air superiority can be crucial in a battle and what with Phyla and Adam Warlock off doing their own things, the Guardians don't have a single airborne member. Given Rocket's penchant for large weapons and his small size, he'd provide considerable offense, while presenting a miniscule target for the enemy target. It's the kind of help the Wasp or Yellowjacket can lend the Avengers, except Rocket's probably going to be bringing more pain, to a wider array of foes than either of them could. Plus, for a being with such a high level of tactical sense, being able to look over the entire battlefield can only be a benefit. He could even use Groot as a launching pad! You know, start out riding on Groot, usuing some very large piece of field artillery or something, then, as the situation requires it, switch to a (slightly) smaller weapon and take to the skies, raining plasma energy hell upon the poor fools who though they could match skills with him. Can't you just picture it? Doesn't it look so awesome in your head*?

Then I see the cover for Guardians of the Galaxy #15. Well, I guess a jetpack is OK. It probably provides more propulsive power than the boots (though I bet the boots allow for greater maneuverability), and there would also probably be less chance of setting Groot on fire, since it's easier to angle the jetpack away from the bark-encrusted bruiser than the boot jets. 'Course, that's offset by the increased chance of igniting his own tail. I bet Cosmo would get a good laugh out of that.

The first image is from the Rocket Raccoon #1, and which I found posted by Googum here. And no worries, I'm not a dastardly hotlinker (as I've heard that practice is frowned upon in the blogosphere). I punched "Rocket Raccoon" into Google Images to find a shot of Rocket using the boot jets, and that was the first image that fit that criteria. It was on the third page of results, but at least all the other results were actually for Rocket Raccoon, rather than random raccoons, or irrelevant rockets.

* Does it look like something out of his mini-series, or is it an entirely new vision of awesome?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bit Of A Climax To End The Volume On

Deadpool #8 is an interesting choice to end Deadpool Classic Volume 2 on. Wade's spent the prior issues trying to change his ways, whether it's taking jobs that don't require killing (such as being hired by Typhoid Mary to bust her out of the mental ward Daredevil got her committed to, rather than the job by Mary Walker to kill her, and by extension, Typhoid), or resisting his desire for revenge against Dr. Killbrew, one of the Weapon X scientists responsible for many, many painful experiments on Wade.

'Course, it hasn't been without it's difficulties. He really only spared Killbrew because Siryn said she couldn't believe he would actually be so heartless as to kill a man who had just helped him*, and she intended to stand there and watch him do it if he really intended to**. And he did bring Weasel along with him on the Mary jobs, so that he could kill Mary and they could collect the money for that job if Typhoid didn't pay them for springing her. But, you know, baby steps.

Anyway, having freed Typhoid, Deadpool embarks on a mission to help Typhoid deal with her various issues, which lead to the Deadpool/Daredevil Annual of 1997, since Typhoid's issues would naturally involve the man who sent her to the looney bin in the first place***. It's pretty ambitious, but Deadpool sees some of himself in her, and figures he knows how to help her. It doesn't quite work out, because she targets more people than just Daredevil, and kills a number of them, and Daredevil won't accept that it's his fault she's killed all these people****. Wade figures this has helped her, and takes her back to San Francisco with him, figuring now that she's confronted her demons, she can move forward.

That's not happening. Typhoid breaks Wade's wrist, steals a sword and leaps out a window, vowing to kill someone every 20 minutes, unless Deadpool, the "hero", stops her. She kills one man, Wade stops her from killing a priest, and saves a 3rd man when she throws his sword at him, but while he's busy quipping with the guy he just saved, she breaks another fella's neck. Whoops. All the while, mocking Deadpool's belief that he can be a good guy, calling him "hero" over and over, until Deadpool loses it and beats her to a bloody pulp. Then he tells some of the bar patrons to call for help, and leaves, asking if any of them want to play hero.

And that's the last issue in the trade. So it's sort of a downer, since it hints Wade might just start backsliding, now that Typhoid has rather forcibily reminded him that his skill lies in the taking of lives, not the saving of them, and he can really only try and deny that for so long before it's going to shine through. On the other hand, it has me eagerly anticipating the next volume, because now I want to see whether he goes into a violent tailspin, or if he can hold steady, maybe learn something from the experience.

* Because Deadpool's healing factor was crapping out, and Killbrew knew it and helped him get it up and running again.

** Which I guess makes Wade a bit of a kindred spirit with Spike, since each of them is trying to be better for a lady. Except Siryn's considerably more supportive of Deadpool than Buffy was of Spike (at least until Season 7) and I'll stop right there before this turns into another rant about all that, and aren't you glad?

*** And apparently knocked her out a window way back in his early vigilante days, even before he had his horrible yellow-and-red costume.

**** Her reasoning being he knocked her out the window when she was just Mary, and that was the trigger that created Typhoid, so everything Typhoid, and I suppose Bloody Mary (the third personality that Ann Nocenti added to the mix in Spectacular Spider-Man #213-214) did is on his head.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Stop Ruining My Uniform With Your Sword Graffiti

Back in junior high and high school, I used to watch reruns of the old Zorro show. The one from the '50s, with Guy Williams as Zorro? The Disney Channel would show them at 11 or so each night, and there wasn't very much else on, and I didn't hit the hay until midnight on average. Plus, if my dad was still up, it was something we both enjoyed watching.

I was a big fan of Sergeant Demetrio Lopez Garcia (who was played by Henry Calvin, that's him on the left in the uniform), though the poor fellow was stuck as the comedy relief. He was a favorite target of Zorro when it came to leaving his mark, whether it was on the wide belly of Garcia's shirt, or the equally wide seat of his pants. I have to imagine that Garcia caught a lot of grief from his various commandants for that. Thanks heaps, Zorro.

The rough thing for Garcia was that he wasn't a bad person. In fact, I think he was actually a nice guy. Unfortunately, he found himself taking orders from evil guys, and I imagine the idea of the firing squad (or whatever the punishment would have been for insubordination in early 19th Century Spanish California) did not appeal. And sadly, I can't see Garcia being successful at many other walks of life. He doesn't seem industrious enough to make it as a farmer or merchant, and he'd drink up all his wares if he was an innkeeper/tavern owner. Can't see him entering the church either. So probably not a lot of options left.

So the commandant comes up with his latest brilliant scheme to capture Zorro, usually involving rounding up the peasantry on spurious charges, but who has to carry it out? Sergeant Garcia. And so who gets spit at, and called names by imprisoned peasantry? Sergeant Garcia. And who always seems to be the first guy that has to try and duel with Zorro, when "the Fox" arrives to right some wrongs? Yep, Sergeant Garcia, along with Corporal Reyes (Don Diamond), who probably has it as bad as Garcia, because the Sergeant did tend to take out his frustrations on Reyes, usually right after the Commandant had taken his frustrations out on Garcia*. Though Garcia's anger was typically limited to calling Reyes a 'bobozo', or however you'd spell that.

What's sad is that as inept as Garcia and Reyes apparently were, they always did seem to be the guys who came across Zorro in the middle of one of his, hmm, what would you call it? Missions, rescues, I kind of like "capers", since he takes a rather light-hearted attitude to the whole thing, and it was technically illegal what he was doing.

Whatever, they always seemed to come across him, especially since they always seem to be patrolling at night. Now, if they were really as bad at their jobs as the commandant thought, wouldn't you assign them duties during the day, so they'd be off-duty at night, and someone more competent would be around when Zorro was likely to come a-callin'? Dude is pretty nocturnal, you know. From this, I think we can only conclude that Garcia and Reyes were the best soldiers present in the 'pueblo Los Angeles'.

Really, it's probably the same for them as it is for a lot of comic book villains. They fight top-notch heroes and always lose, so we think they're a joke, but pit them against someone more second-tier, and they could probably be fairly dangerous**. OK, it didn't usually work out that way for Garcia and Reyes (though I recall a few times where Garcia helped Zorro with some random bandits or whatever), but I'd imagine they actually became fairly adept swordsmen, just from having to fight Zorro multiple times a week, and they probably figured out a few things about teamwork. OK, probably not, but ya never know.

I wonder about Garcia's friendship with Zorro's alter ego, Diego de la Vega. Diego certainly seems to act as though he likes the Sergeant, and I imagine Garcia appreciates that there's someone in the pueblo who seems to understand that whatever order he's carrying out this week really isn't his choice, and he'd really rather not be doing it. Given the chance, he'd rather sit in the tavern, drink some wine, maybe chat with people a bit. And I'm sure Garcia appreciates that Diego is seemingly always willing to share a bottle of wine with him. The trick is, Diego is sharing the wine to get Garcia to loosen up and explain what's going on, not just what Garcia's doing, but why he's doing, and how it relates to whatever cockamamie scheme the commandant has cooked up to catch that blasted Zorro this time is. He's using Garcia as an unwitting informant***. It's for a good cause, enabling Zorro to free the unjustly imprisoned people, and remain free so he can continue to defy the corrupt commandant (or whoever he's up against at the moment), still, he's playing on Garcia's love of wine, and probably the fact that Garcia doesn't have a lot of friends.

I guess Diego must consider Garcia a friend, because I'm pretty sure I remember Zorro mortally wounding at least a few people in the series, but Garcia was never one of them, which, considering the number of fights they had, has to suggest something. Whether it's that Zorro likes Garcia too much to actually hurt him, or that Garcia simply isn't a considerable enough threat, I don't know.

* Which reminds me of Corporal Klinger's line about Major Winchester and how he believed the chain of command was for beating enlisted men with. It's an ugly ladder of mistreatment.

** I'm thinking of Captain Boomerang in
Suicide Squad as one example here. Yeah, he always loses to the Flash, but that's The Flash, the Fastest man Alive. Who he's fighting with nothin' but boomerangs. Give him someone not quite as overwhelmingly powerful and he could do some damage.

*** As much as I like Sergeant Garcia, and think that against someone other than Zorro, he'd probably be more effective, I'm not operating under any illusion that Garcia has figured out Diego is Zorro, and is just playing along. He's no Commissioner Gordon.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Smatterings Of This And That

These are, as far as I know, unrelated, and none of them really merit their own post, so I'll just toss them all together.

- I've been thinking of the word "circumvent" lately. In the most specific sense, how I would attempt to depict it in Pictionary, which I played with some of the housemates a couple weeks ago. Except "circumvent" never cam up, and a lot of the times, it's not even that, the word just pops into to my mind, no connection to whatever else I was mulling over.

- I was listening to some music earlier this afternoon, on my Pandora Avant Garde Jazz station. The thing I feel like I notice about a lot of the songs is the background instruments that only come in occasionally, and how a lot of times I think they're actually a random noise from my surroundings. One of the songs I was listening to had something in the background that I thought was the blinds smacking against the window frame. I find that kind of distracting, but maybe it would be less so if I weren't listening to the music while reading blogs. Maybe jazz demands/requires my full attention to work.

- Problem with pleasant spring days like today is that the wasps are out, and they keep flying in my window. No, there's no screening, and no, that's not my fault. I don't really have anything against wasps, since they don't seem interested in stinging me, but if I let them hang out in here, next thing you know they're building nests, and with lots of wasps, the possibility I unintentionally rile them up and get stung increases, so I've had to kill three intruders already. Or was it four? I've been at this so long, the deaths have all started to blur together. . .

- Dream last night involved Peter Parker in prison, acting as a hitman for the Kingpin. Despite being in prison, was able to wear a John Travolta style Saturday Night Fever, white jacket and pants over a black shirt combo, accessorized with an Uzi on a strap slung over his shoulder outside the jacket. Subtle, Pete. Also, Pete walked up to some person (the guy he was meant to kill?) and said 'Fat Eddie's back', and he was referring to himself. Furthermore, it looked as though it was drawn by Frank Miller, circa his work on Daredevil.

- Still an improvement from the preceding dream, where I was engaged in a rooftop rifle shootout with John Malkovich's character from In The Line of Fire. Considering that "Booth" was more than a match for Clint Eastwood, I guess my dream self should feel lucky he didn't get shot, and stopped Booth from killing whoever it was he was after this time.

- Did anyone else see the article on Todd Marinovich in Esquire? That was some kind of crazy stuff, especially his story about the guy who injured himself in a pickup game, then started dying when Todd gave him some heroin for the pain, and Todd swears he could see the guy's spirit leaving his body. I agree with the person I saw discussing it on Deadspin: at least Marinovich isn't trying to blame anyone else for the less than exemplary path his life has taken. It seems like I should feel worse for him, but it seems like he did so much of it to himself, and I have friends who had worse hands dealt to them, that handled them better, it's kind of hard. Be nice if he could actually get himself straightened out and stay that way long enough to help some people avoid the way he went

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Late, Late, I'm Terribly Late

CalvinPitt: {There you are. Come on, let's get started.} Adorable Baby Panda: What's the hurry? Calvin: {I've got places to be, and people to try and impress with my professionalism. No time, no time, so hop to it.} ABP: Can I read that Deadpool trade first? Calvin: {You can read it when you're done. Heck, take it home with you if you'd like.} ABP: Really?! Calvin: {Sure. Consider it a loaner. Just get on with it.}

Well, all right! Sad Namora gets a Hug for being sad, Bucky gets a Bonk for destroying Jimmy's helicopter. {Understandable confusion. Cut Bucky some slack, and throw the Sentry some applause.} What did you say?! You aren't Calvin, are you? I'm onto you UnCalvin! CHOMP! {Yeow! What the hell, fuzzball? The Sentry threw that pompous Temugin into the Hudson River. We can't give the man a little love for that?} Oh. Yeah, I can Applaud the Sentry for that. I'm still keeping an eye on you. {Swell, now kindly remove your teeth from my hand.}

Deadpool gets a Hug because that Black Widow is never gonna love him. Deadpool: [Don't you say that! She totally kissed me back! Sort of!] She's just trying to trick you, Wade! She trapped the Taskmaster when she thought he was you! [No, she knew he wasn't me, and trapped him because he tried to break the everlasting bond we have, like how red meat stays in your digestive tract for 15 years] {Oh, fer pete's sake. ABP, let Wade have his hope. Wade, stop making comparisons between love and disgusting and probably inaccurate biological processes. Please.} Taskmaster gets a Bonk for being stupid and getting caught. {Deadpool, was that aprt of your brilliant plan?} [Uh, sure it was. I'm the Planmaster.] {That's a "No", then.} I'm going to Applaud Taskmaster because he agreed to help Deadpool, though. {He's doing it for a cut of the money Osborn owes Wade.} [Yeah, not like it's out of the goodness of his skull-faced heart. Skinflint, charging me for using grappling gun.] I'm still applauding him!

Vulcan gets a Bonk for being crazy and mean. Crystal gets Applause for helping sick people. Wendell Vaughn gets Applause for trying to help Phyla, and for helping Rich. [That's just how we Protectors of the Universe roll. A noble group we are. With great hair, too.] {Wade, you're not a. . . nevermind. Go on, ABP.} Norman Osborn gets a Bonk for taking away Director Gruenwald's job, and Dr. Necker gets Applause for trying to help Rich, and a Bonk for being part of AIM. {Well, that's a little closed-minded. Just because, she's part of AIM, she automatically has to get hit? What if she was working to bring down Norman Osborn?} [Hey, that's my job! I sent him mocking faxes and everything!] {Please, Deadpool, you'll never pull it off.} I'm not listening, la, la, la! I'm going to Bonk Lord Oblivion, because he has some big evil plan, and he has to be stopped. {I think you're punching out of your weight class on that one, kiddo.} I can do it! Nothing can stop me! [That's right! The furry one is still young, and so is still invulnerable!] Really? [Yep. Until you hit 20, you can't die. It's a rule.] Wow! {Wade, stop lying to impressionable children. OK, I've got to get out of here. ABP, here's the trade. Enjoy, but bring it back next time I see you. Deadpool, see you when I see you, and uh, good luck dodging Bullseye next month.} [Sure, yeah, see you later, wait, what?]

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

What I Bought 4/13/09 - Part 2

And we're back! There was something else in the package I found at the post office yesterday, which I was most pleased to find. I'm talking Deadpool Classic, Volume 2! Thrill to Deadpool trying to help Typhoid Mary with her mental issues! Roll your eyes at T-Ray being an obnoxious twit who thinks he's dangerous (I'll believe he's dangerous when I see it, and thus far, I haven't seen it)! Retch at the hideous color scheme sported by Taskmaster in issue #2! All this and more is contained therein, and we'll get to it. . . some other time. New comic reviews now!

Guardians of the Galaxy #12 - Maelstrom has the Quantum bands, and feeds Phyla to the Dragon of the Moon, the Wendell Vaughn shows up and tries to fight Maelstrom, which doesn't go terribly well until Drax cuts Maelstrom's hands off. Wendell gets the Bands back, and Phyla comes bursting out of the Dragon's stomach, Heather (Moondragon) in tow, and sporting a somewhat different color scheme on her costume. All the heroes go back home, so everything's groovy now, right? Except this is all part of some larger plan by Lord Oblivion, or Giant Cosmic Entity #3,472. Hmm.

People really seem to freak out a lot in this issue. Every time your turn around, someone's mouth is wide open and they're screaming "Oh my God!", or some derivation thereof. Heck, even Drax gets a little wild-eyed when it looks like Phyla's dragon chow. Which just emphasizes the seriousness of the situation, when even Drax is losing his usual stoic demeanor. Actually maelstrom handles losing his hands with more aplomb than anyone else handles most any sudden development in this issue.

I want to gush over Wes Craig's art a little. There are around 5 full-page panels in this issue that I would love to scan and throw up on my desktop as a wallpaper. Wes Craig draws a very cool and suitably terrifying dragon, and it's face almost always remains in shadow, like the true horror of it can't be comprehended by us (or the characters). Also, there's something about how he draws Maelstrom that gives him that "creepy evil" vibe, like Ragdoll only less amusing. I think it's the grin he sports almost constantly.

Nova #23 - For the longest time I thought that was Vulcan on the cover. I don't know what his costume looks like, it's a guy with brown hair and glowy hands, so I figured with War of Kings and all it was probably the lamest Summers brother. It's not Vulcan, though, as events here tie-in with the Guardians issue I just discussed. Rich's body is falling apart as a result of all those months carrying all the Nova Force around. He seems rather calm about it, while everyone else is trying to save him. He'll need a new source of power to reverse the effects, Phyla's abdicated the position of Wearer of the Quantum Bands, and Wendell's already Quantum Energy so he hardly needs bands to harness it, so hmm. Yes, you guessed it! Or if you didn't, I'm not telling you!

Meanwhile, the Nova Corps is leaving Earth orbit to get involved in the Kree/Shi'ar conflict, and Robbie isn't happy that he's relegated to tactical. He wants to be on the front lines, blasting alien scum, man! We also learn something about the fabulous Dr. Necker which Rich doesn't like learning, and Norman Osborn shut down Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S.?! The monster! It's just too awesome for him, so he's totally jealous, the jerk. Decent little set-up issue, the prelude to major cosmic slugfests to come. I am ready to see Andrea DiVito drawing interstellar conflict again. Crank it up to 13, people! Whoo! Who needs Blackest Night? Besides all those looney Green Lantern fans, of course? *rolls eyes*

War of Kings #2 - Yes, Lilandra, a blaster will really work wonders against Gladiator. Sigh, no wonder she can never hold onto the throne. The Shi'ar are dropping Nega-Bombs allover Kree Space (and I thought Nega-Bombs were a Kree weapon), the Kree aren't too happy with their new rulers, but Crystal wins them over with some compassion and quick talking. Maximus rolls out some new weapons of major devastation, and Vulcan is displeased.

I'm not sure what it means, if anything, but Crystal's tears are colored so they look like blood. Or oil. Jeez, it's a good thing the Inhumans left the Moon before Earthlings found out they cried oil. They would never have found any peace. It's kind of amusing that one of the Shi'ar ships is actually called "Domination Through Superior Firepower". I guess Vulcan killed all the creative people in the Empire. He would.

War of Kings seems like a story of constant escalation. One side brings out a big weapon, the other side unleashes a bigger one. Back and forth, back and forth. At some point, I need to back up and look over all the cosmic stuff and try and figure out what Abnett and lanning are really putting together here.

War of Kings: Darkhawk #2 - Never received first issue. Not bothered at all by this. Darkhawk's home destroyed by giant robot. Darkhawk assisted by person in similar suit to his, who keeps calling him Designate. Turns out the Darkhawk (I'm not calling them "Raptors") armors were created eons ago to 'serve as architects of the unviersal fate'. Criminey. Darkhawk's one of the last two, and they need to get back out in space and do their job. Oh, and Chris' anger management issues are related to his incompatability with his amulet, which is trying to give him information he can't comprehend. Or something. Bugger.

I have no clue how much of this startling new information about Darkhawk is based on anything from his earlier stories. Granted, I'm going off his series from the '90s, but I don't recall a real anger problem (though he was kind of edgy in the Nova Secret Invasion story, but not totally out of control coocoo bananas), or any sense the suit was trying to feed him information, so this seems like a bunch of unnecessary crap thrown onto the character. I can't say I really like the art. The panels seem too close to the action too often, to the point it muddles thing. I never had a sense of the scale of the threat compared to Darkhawk, or where the characters were relative to each other during the fight.

The two parts of this I enjoyed most were the cover (go Brandon Peterson!), which I think looks really cool (Though I'm unclear what he's walking on. Cooling lava?), and the extra material they included to justify the $4 price tag, in this case, the 2nd issue of his ongoing series from the '90s, where he fights Hobgoblin, and has a brief team-up with Spider-Man. Oh, I enjoyed that so much more than the actual new story, it isn't even funny. Sorry 'Hawk.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What I Bought 4/13/09

Well look at that. The comics had been sitting at the post office since the middle of last week. I am now convinced someone at the housing lost the notice. Accursed housemates. Wait, hang on a sec. *dons blue coat with hood, opens window to let in the breeze, causing coat to flap/billow, adds large metal glove* ACCURSED HOUSEMATES! *shakes metal fist* Much better. So, comics now, War of Kings-related stuff tomorrow, non-War of Kings stuff today. Forward!

Agents of Atlas #3 - So the mysterious gun-toting guys in the '50s are connected to portals leading to another world, one that's pretty desolate. And they're after Jimmy's fair lady, Suwan. Norman Osborn likes what he sees of Atlas' weapons production, the Winter Captain (I think Len coined that term) does not. So, Agents/Captain America throwdown next month?

The part I was most interested in was what I assume was the explanation for Namora's violent outburst last issue, and it wasn't quite what I was expecting. Assuming this is the explanation. The reason I was most interested in this part was it dealt with the fact Namorita was Namora's daughter, and that Nita died right before Namora came back, and that would probably make Namora kind of sad. And angry, since we're talking about an Atlantean, and damn near everything makes them angry. So I really liked that sequence, even if I still wish Millar hadn't gone and blown Namorita up. Seriously, a mother/daughter Atlantean ass-kicking squad would have been pretty cool, right?

I still really like the art in both parts, though I'm surprised how similar Clayton Henry's art seems to Carlos Pagulayan's. I think it must be Jana Schirmer (the colors seem to soften the linework somehow, or maybe they just don't ink over the pencils?), or maybe Henry's trying to stay close to Pagulayan's style, to keep things consistent? Either way, both Henry and Gabriel Hardman's work is fine with me.

Amazing Spider-Man #589 - Hey, it's my first Amazing Spider-Man issue of the year! It's all because of the Spot. Here, the Spot attempts to kill a Russian gangster for reasons not readily apparent. Well, maybe they were if you'd been reading the title regularly, but my guess was it was a money hit, and it's not. Anyway, Spidey is trying to get the dirt on Ivankov, while the Spot just seems to want to kill Ivankov, and Spidey's having a bit of trouble with Spot, plus the fact Ivankov won't admit to his wrong-doing because he's not afraid of Spider-Man, a trait not shared by the non-criminals in the Marvel Universe. Proving once again, your average person in the Marvel Universe is a putz.

Three things I liked from the issue: One, Spot's confession and explanation note. Two, Spot causing Spidey to punch himself in the face. Three, Spider-Man's "Christian Bale as Batman" voice attempts. I guess that one is contingent on you having seen the last two Bat-movies, or at least knowing about them to work, since you have to auditorialize (like vizualize, but with your ears) it yourself, but I have seen the flicks, so it works for me.

I couldn't quite get into Paulo Siqueira's art. There's nothing bad about it, per se, it kind of reminds me of Phil Jimenez, but it feels like there are too many tiny, thin lines on faces, which just kind of didn't work for me for some reason. Again, not bad art, just my preferred style, I suppose.

Thunderbolts #130 - We're stepping out of alphabetical order, since this lead into Deadpool #9. Deadpool works to elude the Thunderbolts, gets himself a teleporter, gets ambushed by the T'Bolts, oops I mean, ambushes the T'Bolts, and hits on Black Widow, version 2.0.

OK, there's some switching back and forth that I don't totally follow. The Deadpool issue explains some of it, but I'm still not clear on everything. Still, it was amusing, if not laugh out loud funny. I'm impressed that Deadpool's white exposition boxes know so much about ants. Must have been watching Animal Planet, unless Discovery started an "Ant Week" tradition I don't know about.

I like some of the postures Bong Dazo has Deadpool assume through the issue, like when he sees the grenade landing right in front of him, or the last page where he asks Yelena out. They're kind of goofy, and I can't decide whether that works against the story arc or not, but it's kind of cute.

Deadpool #9 - OK, part 3 of Magnum Opus.Wade has another fight with the T'Bolts. We find out who his partner is, though I'm still not clear on when his partner was in Avengers Tower. Was it the partner the whole time? Were they ducking around corners and switching off? I don't know. Deadpool draws out the Thunderbolts and attacks them, while simultaneously trying to woo Yelena, which I guess if Wade can have three-way conversations in his head, he can handle that. Personally, two-voice conversations in are the limit in my noggin. Regardless, Deadpool's partner gets captured, though I'm also unlcear on whether the Thunderbolts realize that isn't actually Deadpool or not.

I am a bad person, because I found the 'Dude, she wants to flank us! That's not a good thing!' internal exchange hilarious. Or maybe I'm not a bad person, I just have a poorly developed sense of humor. Yes, let's go with that. I was also entertained by the partner's attempt to imitate Deadpool. It's harder than you might think, though if you've seen my clumsy attempts, maybe you know how hard it is. Mostly liked Paco Medina's pencils, the panel of Wade trying to fly a plane while shooting and talking on a cellphone was amusing. Still, I don't feel like he really incorporates the surroundings into the action very often. Paladin gets the drop on 'Pool, but I can't tell whether he dropped from the sky, or hopped up over a ledge, or what, 'cause there's no background. It kind of bugs me. And, there was a panel where it looks like Yelena has a bead on Wade's head, but she apparently missed with the shot, but it's kind of hard to tell. I really like Medina's work at times, but other times it feels like he could be doing better. But maybe not on a monthly schedule.

Immortal Iron Fist #24 - I'm not sure I'm ready for an Iron Fist who believes the way to a better world doesn't involve kicking people in the head. I mean, that's blasphemy isn't it? Still, that's what we get with Li Park, the pacifist Iron Fist, who fought Shou-Lao the Undying because there was nobody else. And then tried to protect the people his way, only to have to protect them the way most Iron Fists do. Which could be kind of a bummer, though I guess it wasn't so much that he despised fighting, as he simply didn't think it solved any problems. So it's not a absolute refutation of his world view, just one in this particular circumstance. And ultimately, he plays Moses for the villagers he saved (though he makes it to the Promsied Land along with them).

They just keep coming up with new uses for the Iron Fist, don't they? Though I guess this is just the hypnosis trick Orson taught Danny, on a large scale. Kind of interesting to see how the Iron Fist expresses itself through the user's personality. Or I think that's what it does. I need to look into that more, perhaps, before I'm sure of that. It's been awhile since Kano drew Immortal Iron Fist (back during the Tournament of the Heavens, Kano handled the flashbacks to Wendell and Davos' friendship). The art looks a little different. Smoother, maybe with fewer lines, and the lines that are there don't seem as dark, don't seem to stand out as much. It makes things calmer, reflecting the pacifist dreamer the story focuses on?

War of Kings stuff tomorrow!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pandas Work Even On Holidays

Adorable Baby Panda: Why didn't you ask me to hype the convention wth you? I would have done it for 5 dollars. CalvinPitt: {I thought pandas would be above shilling things for money.} ABP: Well, the older ones won't do it, but I could use money. I want to buy some soda. Calvin: {No. No caffiene for you.} ABP: Aw, please? * uses sad panda eyes* Calvin: {Cut that out!}

Fine. *pouts* I'm not sure I feel like reading comics now. {Here, I'll split a chocolate bunny with you. That help?} Yeah, a little. I'll give Michelle a Hug, and hope she found some place she likes. But I think I ought to give her a Bonk too, since she shut Skeets down. That was kind of rude. {Well, she was disraught.} It's still rude. {Well, yeah.} I think Deadshot gets Applause for keeping his promise not to kill people, and I'm giving Insignificus a Hug. He needs to feel better about himself. {I think he does feel pretty good about himself.} Huh? {I think he likes being the underling type. He's a little too adept at that ludicrous groveling to be unhappy with his life. He's too quick with it.} I don't know about that. {It's just a theory, and either way, it's your show, kiddo. Could you give Jeanette a whack for killing, though?} She said she didn't agree not to. {Hey, she put her hand into the center with Scndal and Floyd. That's a silent agreement.} I don't think so. {Fine. *mock-pouts* I'm not sure I want to share anymore of my chocolate bunny with you.}

But we ate it already. {What? Aw, dang it!} Sorry. *giggles* I think Deadpool needs a Hug, since he got tricked, and now the Punisher is after him. {Like the Punisher ever kills any significant characters. Last I checked, Norman Osborn is still breathing.} He could hurt Wade a lot, though. {Wade can handle pain. He's tough. Actually, where is Wade?} I found him in his freezer a few days ago. He was saying something about "hope", and how black really wasn't Wolverine's color, but it looked really nice on Warpath. And that Nate had let himself go in the future. {So, he's deliriously imagining himself on an adventure in the future?} Pretty much. {There are worse ways to spend time.} Like what? {I don't know, having to eat chicken and waffles all the time?} I like waffles. {Do you like them enough to eat them everyday? With chicken?} Not really. {There you go then.}

I guess all the Exiles ought to get Hugs, since they all died. {Almost died.} They're dead to their universes! {Point.} Woo, I win again! {Win? What are you talking about?} Well, I got a point, and you haven't got any, so I won something right? {Not if you don't improve that woo, you didn't. You got to let that woo fly, like this. WOOOOOOOOOO! Ha, point for me!} Then we're tied. Sudden death! {Wait, what are we doing again?} Uh, I don't know? {Me, either. Draw?} Sure. *they shake hands*

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Let Me Put My Huckster Hat On

It occurs to me I have been remiss in my duties. We're only two weeks away from the 2009 Cape Girardeau Comic Convention, and I haven't plugged it once so far. Somehow, I'm sure you are all to blame for this.

OK, you're probably not to blame. It's on me. So, you know, come to the convention. I know it's short notice, but it'll be fun. There's more info at the website. Hmm, lacks enthusiasm. Hang on, let me try again, and channel my inner Stan Lee this time. I hope you appreciate this because they say every second of channeling your inner Stan Lee costs you one minute of your life*. It's just too much power for ordinary mortals to control safely.

*takes deep breath*

Guten Tag, Loyal Readers! Are you ready for the Greatest, Most Incredible Convention of Our Times? This one has everything: Comics! Guests! People in elaborate and probably impractical costumes! You might just see the Impossible Man walking Rex the Wonder Dog on a leash**! It's craziness of the Groovy Girardeau Genre, the likes of which you won't find anywhere else! And a ticket is only $5 for a day! Five dollars?! Can you deny the irresistible pull of such a fantastic deal?! The fact I called it "irresistible" ought to give a hint as to the answer to that question! In fact, let me repeat that: The pull is IRRESISTIBLE. It's fun the likes of which you won't equal anywhere else! Be there, Faithful Followers!

*gasping, wheezing* Well, I think that was about 5 hours shaved off my life. Hey, it takes longer for me to come up with it than it does for you to read it, you know. Ugh, I feel a little logy. Costermongering*** just isn't my style. And no, I'm not being paid for this. I mean, would you pay for that paragraph? Maybe I needed a paid testimonial from Deadpool. Or would that get me sued? Eh, he's busy in the future right now.

Anyway, like I said, the convention's in two weeks, the 25th and 26th. I know it's not a lot of notice, but I'm sure you can find a way, if you believe. Just clap your hands if you believe, and maybe tap your heels together while you're at it, and I know you'll find a way. Heck, while I'm at it, I'll mention the town of Charleston (which is about 40 minutes south of Cape) is having their Dogwood Azalea festival the weekend before the convention. I don't know what all that entails, but if your interests include landscaping and horticulture, as well as comics, then maybe you ought to just take a week long vacation. Just throwing it out there.

OK, I'm sure the panda will be along tomorrow.

* Warning: Channeling of your inner Stan Lee may cause severe damage to respiratory system, including spontaneous collapse of the lungs, and abrupt accordianation of the larynx. May also rupture duodenum or shatter ribs. Always remember to stretch and take several deep breaths before utilizing your inner Stan Lee. If you begin coughing up blood, please contact emergency services immediately.

** Depending on the venue's pet restrictions.

*** Thanks,!