Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Discussing The Invisible Man A Little More Seriously

Assuming "seriously" is the proper word to use here. I already did the jokey post about it a week and a half ago, but I felt like talking about it a bit more in-depth.

The gist is that Darien Fawkes (Vincent Vintresca) is a thief, he gets caught robbing the elderly fellow as I described, and is sentenced to life in prison. Fortunately, he has a genius brother who needs a human test subject for a government project, and it'll get Darien out of prison. The project being the insertion of a gland into Darien's brain that produces a chemical they call Quicksilver, which bends light, making the person, ta da!, invisible (and there are a few other benefits). Then they find out the gland also secretes a sort of narcotic that reduces Darien's inhibitions, making him kind of nuts, but of of the scientists has developed a counteragent that will temporarily (maybe six days) nullify that effect. Then we learn that scientist, Arnaud (Joel Bissonnette) is actually a weapons' supplier to terrorists, and he wants the plans for the gland, people die, Darien goes on the run, and ends up working for the Agency, who commissioned the project. It's not what Darien wants, but the gland can't be removed without killing him, and the Agency are the only ones he can get counteragent from, and he'd rather not go crazy.

So there are certain allowances that have to be made to continue the series, such as not being able to remove the gland safely. On any occasions when Darien might have a way to get rid of it, that avenue inevitably closes up. Likewise, the temporary effect of the counteragent provides a reason why Darien doesn't just accept that he has the gland and go do what he pleases, instead working for the Official, who he doesn't much care for.

One of the nice set-ups is that even though the Agency has apparently existed for quite some time, it is (currently, at least) a small, underfunded agency. They have two dozen employees at most, only five of which garner any significant face time (Darien, the Official, Eberts, Hobbes, and Claire, also called the Keeper). The underfunding is frequently used for comedic effect, as the Official and Eberts scramble to balance the budget, appropriate more funds, conceal where they spent $17 million (that'd be the Invisible Man project), and generally hamstring Hobbes and Fawkes in their various work by pleading poverty when a little cash needs to be spent, say Hobbes needing a calling card. The other side of it is that because they're always strapped for cash, they will take almost any investigation, including those from outside the government sector. It's a convenient way to provide a variety of conflicts for them to struggle against.

In Season 1, they are two recurring antagonists, Arnaud, and Chrysalis. Chrysalis is your standard shadowy multinational corporate entity that is working towards some purpose, in this case preparing for some major catastrophe (which they will probably help to engineer). Among their activities were trying to scare a superstitious South American president into approving a chemical weapon defense system for his country, kidnapping highly intelligent people from various private sectors and freezing them, and trying to get Fawkes on their side. They have at least one super-soldier of their own, a woman by the name of Allianora, whose lungs were altered so she can hold water and air in them, allowing her to walk up to people, liplock them, and then flood their lungs with the water. Creepy. She and Fawkes are supposed to have this romantic tension, possible because of some connection they feel over both being artificially engineered freaks, stuck under the thumb of their makers, but I didn't feel it as I watched the episodes*. Maybe that was the point, though, since they were constantly in conflict, or pretending to work together, on to backstab each other for their agencies, that whatever they might feel was trapped under all the requirements of the job. Or they just didn't have the critical chemistry. It happens.

I prefer Arnaud as a villain to Chrysalis. With Chrysalis, Allianora is the representative we see most often, and half the time she's helping Darien, so it undercuts her as a villain. Plus, their motives are vague, and I'm uncertain if in Season 1 we actually see the top dogs, or just the equivalent of a sectional manager. Aranud, in contrast, is his own man. He's alternately devious, charming, playful, and vicious. When he was part of the gland design team, he was the brilliant but funny scientist. He's also the guy who, when Darien caught him copying the files on the project onto his own flash drives, hit himself on the head with a fire extinguisher so it would look like Darien went Quicksilver mad and attacked him, thus discrediting the one person who realized what he was up to. And this is the same guy who can woo a neurosurgeon into believing he's a federal agent, so that she'll help implant a new gland into his head (when he pieces together how to make a new one). And when he was trying to retrieve a chip with data files on the gland which Darien forced him to swallow, he actually cut open his own stomach and removed it by himself, no painkillers obviously, since he'd want to keep a clear head.

Yet for all his class and viciousness, he's a bit like a child, growing frustrated that Darien saw through his act (because a con recognizes a con), and he prefers to engage in wildly elaborate schemes to get what he wants. For example, using a former Russian mobster to lead Fawkes and Hobbes to a supposed arms dealer, so Arnaud can chase Fawkes (Aranud is wearing thermal glasses of some sort), shooting at him, run out of bullets, then drop a gas grenade which actually contains some form of flu virus that will make Darien so sick he'll be rushed to a special hospital for government agents who can't afford to go under anaesthetic around people not cleared for what they might say, except, Arnaud has captured a killed a doctor who works there, so he can use said doctor's fingerprints and retinal scan to sneak and abduct Fawkes when the procedure is about to start. Whoo. Gimme a second to let my fingers rest. Ok, I'm good. But I love that. Yeah, it's ridiculously over elaborate, when Arnaud could just trail Fawkes, leap from a van, club him unconscious, then take him somewhere and operate**, but it shows class, style. Arnaud is not some common leg-breaker. This is a man who finances his weapons dealing by running a beautiful casino in Mexico, so he is going to do things a certain way. Really, I guess he figures the more he plans it out, the less likely some random factor will put the kibosh on things.

I might as well say a few more things about the characters. The nice thing about Fawkes is that he's not a brainless criminal, but he's not a genius. He did go to college for a time, but as he put it, it lost its luster after his brother earned his third doctorate. He's intelligent, with a love for quotes, and the pastime we most often see him engaging in is reading, one time a philosophy journal, another time he mentions he started subscribing to Scientific American***. Still, he's not all-knowing, so he can serve as the instigator of exposition, since espionage, interdepartmental bullcrap, and medicine (areas Hobbes, Eberts, and Claire are well-versed in) are not things he's familiar with. At the same time, his history as a criminal helps him see through people, which can be valuable, though it leads him to be needlessly secretive with both Hobbes and Claire, because he tends not to trust them when he should.

To be fair, in the early-going he has very little reason to do so. Claire (Shannon Kenny) insists he refer to her as the Keeper, even though she knows his name, and Hobbes (Paul Ben-Victor) resents that Fawkes makes more money, even though he's a rookie, and Bobby Hobbes has worked for practically every agency in the country (and been fired from them for various reasons), and he has to hold this rookie's hand. So in the early episodes, there's a lot of tension between Fawkes and Hobbes, sniping at each other, Fawkes eagerly pulling disappearing acts without warning Hobbes, so that Bobby's left standing there alone and confused, and a general inability to work well together. What's good is that over the course of the season, they do start to form a bond, as each one is willing to stick their neck out for the other, and they develop little patterns. So if Claire makes some comment about them not being able to understand the science behind something, they'll engage in a little back-and-forth about whether that was an insult, and it sure felt insulting to me, and I don't think she really means to be rude, all while she's standing there staring at them. In the last few episodes they start messing around with different high-fives and complimenting each other if one adds a little twist to it. So the series doesn't have them automatically become buddies, rather it's a gradual process, probably aided by the fact that neither one of them has anyone else to turn to.

Bobby's an interesting character. He probably should be a highly paid, highly decorated agent, but he suffers from rampant paranoia, and a tendency to need validation, so he shoots himself in the foot. Also, he has a bit of an ego, so he's his own greatest hero. The paranoia leads to odd proclamations, which leads people to dismiss him when they shouldn't, and the need for some positive reinforcement brings him into conflict with Eberts, the Official's right-hand man. They frequently snipe at each other, especially if the Official has just delivered a cutting remark in Hobbes' direction, which Eberts usually enjoys, and I think Hobbes is irked that he does all the dangerous work, and Eberts just shuffles papers. Still, Paul Ben-Victor gives Hobbes the right feel, where you can see he's dangerous and cool under fire, but he can also be a funny guy when the heat isn't on. And there's one episode where Hobbes gains super-intelligence, and Victor gradually removes the emotion from his voice, so he's speaking in this gravelly, dead sort of tone. Very spooky compared to how he'd been before.

Also, Bobby and Claire seem to develop a bit of a relationship over the course of the season, and it actually works. Maybe because it doesn't progress as far, or as fast as the Fawkes/Allianora thing, and because it lack the air of doom that hangs over that one. Hobbes has a tendency to make jokey come-ons to Claire, and as she grows more accustomed to he and Fawkes, she gets less bothered by them, and more amused, recognizing they're just part of his personality. I think maybe she responds to his loyalty to people, and they may bond over a mutual concern for Darien. All I know for sure is late in the season they're chatting and Hobbes abruptly comments that she looks great in those pants and she makes the sort of shocked face that's more "I can't believe you said that in public, you goof", and less "I can't believe you said that, you perv". So at the least, they've built a sort of camaraderie, which is nice to see, because it means everything isn't strictly about how characters react or get along with Darien, they have their own things going.

Holy crap, that turned out to be a lot more words than I expected. If you made it all the way through, I thank you.

* That has to be really hard though, to convey you and this other person are attracted to each other, when it's just a job, and you may not know anything about each other, or you may not really like the person.

** Fawkes points this out to Arnaud at the tail end of that sequence I described above, claiming when he gets the chance to kill Arnaud, there won't be any playing around. When Aranud leans down a laughs about that, Darien punches him right in the nose, then gets the crap kicked out of him by Arnaud's Brainless Thugs of the Week.

*** That had more to do with him trying to keep his eyes open for ways to remove the gland, though.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Place Your Bets For The Great Downfall!

Who is going to bring down Norman Osborn? It has to happen eventually. The New Avengers are after him. Spider-Man as a solo player is gunning for him. Throw in the Agents of Atlas, Moon Knight, Songbird, Iron Man, maybe Deadpool in a roundabout way, and I'm sure the X-Men will take notice of him now that he's going to start screwing with their reputation. Maybe Speedball gets out of wherever Moonstone shipped him off to and brings the hurt. Then there's the villains like Doom, who at some point will have to be fed up with being ordered around by a loon.

Maybe it will be a plucky reporter*, like Ben Urich, who will (again) have to educate the citizens of the Marvel Universe that hey, Norman Osborn is evil, and crazy, and it is a bad thing for Osborn to have any power, let alone as much as he does. Or Betty Brant, she's been working hard to be a big-time reporter, right? Maybe Peter Parker will bring down Osborn through the power of the camera. That would be pretty sweet actually. Norman's (mostly) hung up the Goblin costume, and trying to present a legit face to the public, so Pete beats him through his civilian occupation.

Norman could always just self-destruct, but that would be a weak payoff. After all he's done, I think it would be better for the readers if the heroes actively defeat Osborn, rather than essentially stall until his house of cards falls in on itself.

Maybe it will be some unforseen factor. Perhaps Rocket Raccoon will zoom down from space, shoot Osborn in the face, then teleport back out. Problem solved, and once again we are reminded that when you want something done right, call Rocket Raccoon.

* Please do not let Sally Floyd be the savior of the Marvel Universe. If my choices were between Ms. "Captain America is out of touch because he doesn't use MySpace" ending Osborn's Reign, and Osborn staying in power indefinitely, I will take the guy with stupid hair running the show. And this is coming from someone who has reached the point he really wishes they never brought Norman back from the dead.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Legend Grows Slowly

Something else that interests me about The Question is how much of an unknown the character is to his city through the first 18 issues. Outside of Izzy O'Toole, who starts out as the dirtiest cop in Hub City, then becomes the cleanest, nobody seems aware of the Question's existence until they meet him. At one point when he's trying to protect O'Toole from a killer, he has to fight his way through some cops because they have no idea who he is. He doesn't inspire fear in the criminal element because they don't know who he is either. It usually takes a few pages for someone to notice he doesn't have a face.

Unlike Batman, who had people muttering about giant bats, and reporters asking cops if there was some sort of night vigilante, nobody seems aware of the Question. No reporters are asking O'Toole or any of the politicians about him. The criminals aren't discussing him in hushed tones, or making plans to draw him out and eliminate him. I think it's supposed to indicate just how massive a job improving Hub City is going to be, that one guy can only do so much, and his influence can only spread so quickly.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

An Angry Question?

Some months back I bought the first trade volume of the O'Neil/Cowan Question series, and I bought Volumes 2 and 3 at the same time I picked up Essential Defenders Volume 3. The Question is what I'd call a solidly good series, at least through the 18 issues I've read, as it covers the difficulties in affecting change, on both a personal and metropolitan level. Denys Cowan's artwork is pretty nice too, more than capable of depicting Hub City as a grimy, rundown mess, and of illustrating the frequent fight scenes.

The series is giving me a lot to think about, but for tonight, I felt like talking about The Question #15 in particular. There will absolutely be spoilers, so now you're forewarned. There have been a series of murders in Hub City recently, each victim a black male, each left hanging. Into this enters Loomis McCarthy, a private investigator who visually reminds me of a more unkempt Harvey Bullock, and who is even more unpleasant as a person. Among his less endearing personality traits is a serious racist streak. Vic Sage figures Loomis might know something useful, but quickly finds the P.I. so distasteful he can't even hang around him long enough to dig for information. In fact, he comes to suspect Loomis, whose presence in town wasn't known until after the murders started, as the perpetrator.

Loomis seems oblivious to Vic's unease around him, always glad to see Vic when their paths cross. Until Loomis makes another racist joke in front of a black cop, who proceeds to kick Loomis' disheveled hind end, as Vic looks on. When Loomis wants to know why Sage did nothing, he explains he was being saved the trouble, which leads Loomis to use less than flattering terminology to describe him. Vic switches to his Question garb, now more sure than ever McCarthy is involved, and ends up trailing him to the man actually responsible, as McCarthy had pieced the truth together on his own. Sage then makes a news report detailing what he learned, and this is where it gets interesting.

Loomis shows up at the station, and tells Vic he didn't mean it yesterday when he said what he did, and he understands that Vic stayed out of it because he knew Loomis could handle it*. Vic loses his temper and lays out how much Loomis digusts him, and reiterates that if the cop hadn't thrown a punch, he would have. The man responsible for the murders appears, tries to shoot Vic, and well, Loomis takes the bullet. He can't figure out why McCarthy did it, and I find it pretty curious myself.

Why would Loomis McCarthy do that for Vic? The larger story reason is probably to illustrate that even people we might regard as terrible people are capable of noble acts. The fact he died for Vic, leading another person in the newsroom to describe Loomis as a hero probably served a purpose in tipping Sage off the balance he'd been working to maintain since his time with Richard Dragon. A man Vic had written off as scum, one the Question might very well not spit on if he was on fire, had turned around and saved Sage's life. If the people you think are the problem are capable of that, how does you figure out who you're supposed to be saving, and who you're supposed to be fighting?

In story, I think it tells us something about Vic Sage. Not so much his views on things, but more what's inside him. I think we can deduce that whether he admitted it or not, Loomis McCarthy was a lonely guy, as he has the sort of nature that would probably wear on people quickly, even if they agreed with his politics. The cosntant crude jokes and drinking would probably not be found endearing by many people. So why look to Sage as a potential friend? Sage has a lot of anger and self-rightousness inside him, it's a large piece of what drives him, and he has to struggle to control it or he winds up in trouble**. Maybe Loomis had a lot of anger inside as well, at himself, the world, whatever, and in Vic Sage, he thought he saw a kindred spirit. Sure Vic might say he wanted to pound Loomis' face in, but maybe the P.I. figures Vic just says that to maintain appearances, so he doesn't have to take a lot of guff from other people. Inside, Loomis might think Sage was just like him. If Loomis felt that way, contrast that with their outer appearances. Loomis is short, out of shape, constantly sporting stubble, he drinks, he smokes, his clothes are rumpled, and he works as a private investigator, which is probably not the most highly respected position. Vic is tall, athletic, reasonably attractive, keeps clean-shaven, wears clothes that are at least in good condition (I'm not the person to judge how fashionable they are), and he's a well-respected as a reporter that gets at the truth, and isn't afraid of speaking it. He may be what Loomis wished he was, or thought he could be, and so he wants to be around Sage, maybe some of that will rub off on him.

* Even though Loomis was pretty obviously losing before the cop's partner was able to restrain him.

** Which is the case over the next story, where Vic keeps behaving impulsively, because he's too angry to be calm, and it keeps getting him in over his head.

Friday, June 26, 2009

This Might Take The Nova-Green Lantern Similarities A Bit Far

Last month, in Nova #26, Garthan Saal appeared before Malik Tarcel as Tarcel was held captive by the Shi'ar. Tarcel was the one named Nova Prime after Richard Rider was booted out of the Nova Corps, and his active debut as Nova Prime went less than spectacularly. Saal was the last person before Richard Rider to house all of the Nova Force, though he did so without bringing the Worldmind along for help. Funny thing about that, Saal went nuts, and became a real terror for awhile.

Now, apparently, he's back*, and I am concerned. I kind of hope I'm wrong here, but I see the return of Garthan Saal as signaling the imminent formation of a Anti-Nova Corps, or a Super-Nova Corps. I could see Saal somehow having held onto some of the Nova Force he once wielded, so that he is actually a repository equal to the Worldmind, and he gets his own little troop together**. I know the Nova Corps is the Marvel version of the Green Lanterns (without the predilection for head trauma), and that's cool. Hey, I laughed when Richard said he doubted anyone would be foolish enough to bring a Living Planet into the Corps, wink, wink. I wonder if Richard having his own Sinestro Corps to have to contend with might be pushing it.

Now, there's a good chance that's not at all what Abnett and Lanning have planned, and even if it was, I trust them to make it work. Saal could set himself up in opposition to the Nova Corps, but do so by pointing out to the new recruits that the Worldmind manipulated them into joining***, then threw them into the middle of a war without sufficient experience and little regard for their lives. He could promise a "better" way of doing things if they joined up with him. He could still be running a peacekeeping force, but they'd probably be more aggressive, actively trying to shape events rather than just help those in need. Or Abnett and Lanning could go some other way and I would probably dig that as well.

I think I'd rather see Nova helping people in new locations, meeting new peoples, and new threats. My absolute favorite arc of Nova so far has been the two-parter on Knowhere, and other than the fact that Celestials (one of whom's head was the foundation for Knowhere) were previously established, I think all the characters in that story were new. Garthan Saal in charge of his own army is a new twist on an old enemy, but I don't know, I think I'd rather see Richard dealing with an intergalactic crime lord, for example. There have to be a few out there somewhere, and it would be a little different challenge for him. He's a cop, so crime lords should be within his purview.

* Assuming Tarcel wasn't hallucinating. It occurs to me that if the sane part of the Worldmind could communicate with Richard through it's memories of Rhomman Dey and Ko-Rel, then the Ego-tainted crazy part could communicate with Tarcel through the memories of Saal.

** Sadly, I remember someone on scans_daily complaining back when Rich briefly tangled with the Silver Surfer that Nova should totally not be outclassed by the Surfer, and providing examples of what Saal was capable of with all the Nova Force. Well, this would settle that, since it would mean Rich only had 50% of the Nova Force. Not that the concerns of random scans_daily member should be of that much importance, but it was something I remembered as I was typing this out, and I thought to myself, perhaps that explanation would shut their complaint-hole.

*** By controlling their thoughts, and controlling their endocrine systems so they'd be receiving a constant flow of endorphins, which would make them associate their positive feelings with being a Nova.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What Was Grayson's Problem?

I can't quite bring myself to call him Batman, you know*? Maybe I could use "Batman", because if it was good enough for Bane to use when Jean Paul took on the mantle, it's good enough for me to use towards Nightwing, right?

Seangreyson suggested that "Batman" might have come on so aggressive towards Booster because he was sure Batman would have something in place to stop a time traveler from breaking into the Batcave, yet he clearly did not, and that puts some pressure on Grayson to make certain Booster doesn't abscond with his file**. That makes a lot of sense. Dick Grayson's only been Batman for about five minutes (discounting previous stints), it really wouldn't look good for him to let the Cave be robbed already. And if the thief was Booster Gold, well, that's just embarrassing. Damien would never let him live it down***.

There's also a jokey reason for Dick Grayson to be acting that way, and it still involves living up to Bruce's example. Remember, Batman has a tradition of appearing in other characters' books and being rude to them, telling them to get out of the costumed hero business, making decisions that affect their lives without consulting them first, and generally acting as though they should be damned fortunate he didn't knock them out on the spot for being so incompetent. So Dick has quite a past record to measure up to. He was even practicing before he took over as Batman. He showed up in Secret Six #9 and chewed Bane, Catman, and Ragdoll out for how they stopped the "kidnapping of important capitalist children" plot. Now that he has taken over, he's stepping up his game since he progressed from making ominous threats (that he probably couldn't back up) to actual physical violence. Which is a bit much, perhaps, but hey, he's still settling into the role. I'm sure he'll find the proper balance soon.

* Might be similar to how I never really think of Ben Reilly as Spider-Man. I don't know whether it's because I don't expect Dick Grayson to stick as Batman, anymore than Ben ultimately did as Spider-Man, or if it's because both of them had their own identities previously, and those are the ones I think of them by.

** Something I liked from the issue was how casual Booster seemed about realizing who was wearing the cowl. He figured out it wasn't the Batman he talked to about his time travel work, but when he deduced who it really was, he seemed almost disappointed, like he expected someone cooler to have taken over. It was almost a diss, with the 'Oh. Nightwing. Grayson.' I half expected a follow up dismissive "pfft".

*** I wish Damien had been there. It would have been great to see Skeets tase the little snot, or ram him.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What's Rip Up To?

Because he's certainly up to something. What was he doing at that place at the End of Time? He was looking for someone, and expecting trouble if his drawn weapon indicates anything, but who was he looking for? My guess would be he was looking for the Time Stealers, since we haven't seen them since Ted Kord went back to get shot in the head by Max*.

What strikes me as really odd is, Rip narrowly escaped the Black Beetle's attack, and clearly seemed to recognize it was Black Beetle attacking him, yet he didn't say anything to Booster. Not one word about it, just hey, you need to get to the Batcave and recover those photos Batman had of you. Can't let anyone know you're actually a halfway decent hero. Which left Booster to be surprised when the Black Beetle shows up and starts trying to kill him and "Batman".

What does Rip gain from that strategy? It seems like Black Beetle's plan involves eliminating Rip Hunter, I'm guessing because his knowledge of how time works would present the greatest threat to whatever other schemes BB wants to unleash. I think he's realized he can't figure out who Rip's parents are, but he's guessing they were heroes, and so he's going to kill as many heroes as he can until Rip Hunter ceases to exist. I think that's what he's planning. Obviously Rip can't tell Booster that he is Rip's dad, since I'm sure that would mess with the intergrity of the Time Stream, but that still wouldn't explain why he wouldn't at least warn Booster about the Black Beetle.

The best guess I have is Rip is counting on Booster's typical behavior. He figures Booster will be able to at least piece together what BB, if not necessarily why, and will go charging into the past to stop him. That will keep BB busy dealing with Booster (and whatever he's trying to do at that time), and Rip will have an opportunity to make preparations. Like maybe sneaking onto a ship belonging to the Reach, and borrowing the device that removes the scarab out of someone, perhaps?

* We have seen the Ultra-Humanite in the pages of Power Girl, but it might not be the same Ultra-Humanite. The Time Stealers may have chosen a U-H from a different universe. There are fifty-two to choose from. Even if they chose the one from New-Earth, they might have taken him from much earlier in his career, or much later, than the present day.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

OK, Maybe There Won't Be A Reckoning

Adorable Baby Panda: I got a question.

: {Shoot.}

ABP: Why was the title the last time I came by talking about a reckoning?

Calvin: {Heh, whoops. Well, originally, I was going to berate you for not helping me when UnCalvin attacked me.}

ABP: I was busy!

Calvin: {*exasperated* With what?!}

ABP: *looks at ground, kicks dirt bashfully, mumbles* Fingerpainting.

Calvin: {Oh. I can't argue with fingerpainting. It's OK, I just figured you were keeping an eye on UnCalvin, you two being arch-nemeses and all.}

ABP: I always do! I just lost track of time.

Calvin: {*shrugs* It happens. Now stop bringing dirt into my room. If you want to kick it bashfully, do it outside. And don't let the screen door slam on your way out, oh dear, I've become my parents, NOOOOOO! *runs out*}

ABP: Calvin, wait! I'm on my own again?

He needs to learn to find his center. Or have some ice cream. Ice cream helps. Now I want ice cream. But I am tough, so comics first! I think Thor gets a Bonk because he wouldn't help Beta Ray Bill. I don't know if Bill is doing the right thing, but Thor is his friend, and he should either help Bill, or try harder to make him stop. I think I have to Bonk Bill too, because destroying that planet was too much. I know Galactus was going to eat it, but at least it would have been used! Now it's just broken! I'm giving Deadpool some Applause for his haiku, and I would Hug him for beating up Bullseye, but he might be wearing that meat suit, and that was nasty. Bullseye gets a Bonk for saying he would kill the guy he told to chop up and grind Deadpool's body. That's not how you get people to do the job right!

I'm giving the Black Beetle a Bonk for killing Robin in the past. {Everyone kills a Robin eventually. Black Beetle just wants to fit in. He doesn't have any friends, you see.} Calvin, you came back! Can you go get some ice cream? {*flabbergasted* That's all you have to say?} Please? {*grumbles* Fine. Acts like I'm made a' money, rassin'-frassin'. . .} Gee, Calvin sounds mad. Maybe because it's real hot outside? The ice cream will help. Booster Gold gets some Applause because he figured out who Batman is in three panels. Maybe it was easy to guess, but I'd be too surprised to think about it. Power Girl gets a Hug because her head is being cut open, and the Ultra-Humanite gets a Bonk for cutting Power Girl's head open, and holding Manhatten hostage, and for working with that Satanna lady. {Did you ever catch up to her?} *smacks forehead* No, I didn't! I totally forgot!

{Aren't you a little young to be forgetting everything? Maybe you ought to check your fingerpaints for toxins.} I can't right now! I need to go find her and bring her to justice! {Not before you eat this ice cream. I went and got it, you eat it.} Right *starts gobbling ice cream* {Bad idea.} Don't worry, pandas never get brain freeze, we train ourselves to ignore that probl - Owww! {Sounds like someone needs to train a little harder, eh? Maybe ease back on your arts and crafts?} I guess so *rubs forehead*

Monday, June 22, 2009

What I Bought 6/22/09

It's another two weeks worth of comics to review! Yippee! It only totals five books! Uh, well, a least it won't be as much work as it usually is.

Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter #1 - Let's see, in this issue Bill and Thor defeat a tidal wave by hitting it really hard, Agent Brand flirts with Bill (Hank McCoy's gonna be jealous), Bill kills a major intergalactic weapons designer, smacks one of Galactus' Heralds around, and destroys the planet Galactus was preparing to eat. Oh stop fretting, the inhabitants had already fled.

This comic has everything I want out of a story starring Beta Ray Bill, except maybe for a little romantic subplot with Sif (I think they're a cute couple), but there's no time for that, even if Sif were around. There are bold pronouncements, massive displays of physical force, imposing enemies, and lots of talk of honor and doing what is right. They even threw in the first appearance of Beta Ray Bill to help justify the price tag. It's Walt Simonson Thor, and you can't go wrong with that. I have to say, if I hadn't looked at the credits, I would never have realized Kano was the artist. Maybe because Beta Ray Bill is a very different character to draw than what Kano illustrated in Immortal Iron Fist, but there are places where his art reminds me a bit of Oeming, and others that remind me of Andrea DiVito (especially parts involving Stardust or Galactus).

Booster Gold #21 - Booster must travel to the Batcave to grab those photos of him trying to stop the Joker, so that no one else learns of his role as Time Stream Protector. Except Dick Grayson Batman is there, and he takes offense to Booster's attempted pilfering. Then the Black beetle shows up, then Grayson vanishes. And in the back-up, Jaime Reyes fights a giant robot and deals with his two best friends having a lovers' spat. Nothing like being in the middle of one of those to make you hope for robot army attacks.

Grayson really seemed to come on strong, didn't he? Bit more aggressive than I'd expect. Sure, Booster appears to be stealing from the Cave, but I'd imagine Batman would have found some way to prevent that if he wasn't OK with Booster being there, right? Booster's a time traveler, you say, but we're talking about Batman, and he supposedly 'always had a plan', so time traveling wouldn't matter, he'd set out the Bat-Anti-Time-Traveler-Spray, and that'd be that. Also, something seemed different about Jurgens' art this month that I can't put my finger on. It has to do with faces, and I'm guessing it's because Norm Rapamund is credited with finished art, but I can't define what it is.

I don't have much to say about the Blue Beetle back-up. It was fine, I didn't feel like the extra dollar was a rip-off, so that's a plus.

Deadpool #11 - What you can't tell from the image I'm using is Deadpool's saying 'You missed', which is a nice touch. Deadpool narrowly avoids being chopped to pieces by some butcher friend of Bullseye. He also gets that arrow out of his brain, and it does start to function properly, eventually. Note that when I say "function properly", I mean by Deadpool's standards. He fights with Bullseye a bit, we see each of them as children, telling the rest of the class what they want to be when they grow up, and by the end, Deadpool appears to have solidly established the upper hand. Good show, Deadpool!

Oh, and Deadpool's brain saves him by reciting a haiku. No, I'm totally serious. I mean, it's a self-conscious haiku, as opposed to the ones that Scipio finds that I assume are not actually written to be haikus, but can be uttered in a haiku way. Still, Deadpool's haiku served as a precognitive warning which saved him from an earth-shattering KABOOM! So yeah, that was cool.

Power Girl #2 - I wound up with the Adam Hughes' cover. I would have preferred the Amanda Conner cover, since it relates to the story, but I didn't specify with my Comic Book Guy, so it's no biggie. As an aside, what percentage of Adam Hughes' commissioned sketches do you think Power Girl comprises? You think he ever says to himself 'Boy, I wish, instead of Power Girl, someone would ask me to draw Night Thrasher for once'? I don't know why I'm wondering about that, but I did, and now my wondering is preserved in all its glory on the Internet. Forever. Or however long things last on the Internet.

Ultra-Humanite wants to put his brain in Power Girl's body. Understandably, Power Girl would like to prevent this. They fight, she wins for awhile, then she kind of screws up and makes fun of U-H for having body image issues, he flips out, and she gets beaten senseless. Oops. See, I think if Power Girl had asked Spider-Man, he would have told her it's better to mock the villains when you aren't within their grasp, so it's harder for them to smack you repeatedly. Oh well, something for her to remember for the future.

Then there's a recapping of Ultra-Humanite's origin, with his freaky-deaky lab assistant, who I guess became that Satanna lady Power Girl and Terra beat up in the Terra mini-series. Anyway, he was sick, but brilliant, they transferred his brain to his current body so he could live, and I guess he's sick of living in a gorilla body. Well, that's understandable, though I'd think it might have been easier to make a clone body to transfer his brain into. Then again, I guess if that were easy, the Brain would have done that years ago. Maybe a nice android body then? Take Red Tornado's. Nobody will miss him.

Street Fighter Legends: Chun-Li #3 - So Shadaloo (that's the bad guys) are planning something. The good guys can't figure out what it is, but are trying hard to correct that. Chun-Li's dad talks to an old associate of his who used to be a killer, but since he dropped out of that profession, he doesn't have an inside track to the underworld anymore. Chun-Li and her partner try stopping some Shadaloo goons from robbing a laundromat, but Chun-Li gets distracted when her partner starts being physicallt aggressive with a wounded suspect, and the other one escapes. Which really seems to be Chun-Li's fault, but her partner apologizes, so whatever. They do figure out what the bad guys' target is, but since the bad guys overhear them figuring that out, it's time for immediate liquidation, sniper-style.

Lest you think it was all police officers running down leads, there was an old man stop a massive guy's punch with a single finger, which also damaged the big guy's arm somehow. And there was a fight scene at a museum unveiling for terracotta warrior statues, because a famous martial arts movie star did the unveiling. Hmm, I wonder if people come up to Jet Li randomly on the street and try to fight him? Tthat would get annoying as hell after awhile, wouldn't it?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Count On The Defenders To Bring The Weird

I ordered Essential Defenders Volume 3 last week, it arrived this week, I've done one cursory read-through so far*, and there's one sequence, very early in the volume that I keep thinking about.

Nighthawk's been captured by the Headmen. The Headmen are a group of intellects trying to take over the world, whose powers derive from their heads, which often don't jibe with their bodies. So you have Dr. Morgan, who developed size-changing gas before Pym, but only succeeded in shrinking the bones in his head, so his skin sags, Dr. Nagan, who put his head on a gorilla body (you may remember him from the Negative Zone prison in Guardians of the Galaxy #9), Chondu the Mystic, who eventually winds up with a freaky monster body including a horn, wings, and lampreys for arms *shudder*, and eventually Ruby, whose head is a featureless red sphere, from which all sorts of unpleasantries can spring.

One of their plans had already been thwarted by the Defenders, so before they proceed with their next big scheme, they'd like to learn some more about the Defenders, maybe remove them as threats if possible. So they remove Nighthawk's brain, and leave it in a vat of preservative chemicals. Nighthawk's brain still works, but it's devoid of any sensation, and it seems as though he would have gone a little mad, unclear on what is and isn't reality**. I'm not sure if Steve Gerber had more planned with that, and left the title before he had the chance or not, but it could have been interesting to see Kyle wig out periodically during a fight. Mostly though, he just spends the remainder of Volume 3 being angry about stuff.

Anyway, Nighthawk's brain is out, and Chondu's brain is in, and he skirmishes with the Defenders a bit, and loses, because he tries to duel Dr. Strange mystically, and that's not going to work. The Defenders decide to attack the Headmen, but need to keep Chondu out of trouble, so Strange moves Chondu's consciousness into the body of a fawn the Hulk brought with him from the Ozarks***. Then he transfers the consciousness of Jack Norriss into the brain of Chondu, which is inside the body of Nighthawk.

And Jack Norriss is only there because the Defender Valkyrie inahbits the body that used to be his wife, Barbara, and Jack seemingly can't get it through his skull that Barabra isn't home (though I think Barbara resurfaces at some point in Volume 4, when the team dies and goes to fight in Asgard), so he keeps expecting Valkyrie to respond romantically to him like Barbara would, and she keeps not responding in that fashion, which gets frustrating for both of them****.

Then the villains gain the upper hand and do nothing to actively harm the heroes, instead opting to tweak their minds so they'll unwittingly further the Headmen's goals of conquering the world through economic and political maneuvering. And then Nebulon, the Celestial Man enters the mix, and Dr. Strange kidnaps the President, and shrink rays are employed for the purposes of societal observation, and it's some fantastically weird stuff.

* I figure the next step is to start over with Volume 1, and just read everything up through Volume 4 and see how it goes.

** Though Dr. Strange isn't terribly helpful on that score, remarking that reality is different for everyone, and given what's he's been through, Kyle Richmond no longer perceives reality the same way, thus he isn't technically in reality the way he was previously. Gee, thanks Doc, I'm sure that made him feel so much better.

*** See, the Hulk was enjoying nature, when these drunk hunters show up and kill the fawn's mother, even though it's a game preserve and they aren't supposed to hunt there. The Hulk wraps one fellow's gun barrel around his neck, then picks up the other one (who had started praying) and tosses him across the lake. The guy skips like a stone until he slams headfirst into a tree. Somehow, neither one dies. Hey, I prefer the Hulk to not have killed people when he gets riled, but even I'm dubious about that one. The Hulk picks up the fawn, promising to care for it, but is smart enough to know he 's not smart enough to do so. Thus, he leaps his way to New York for Dr. Strange's help.

**** I wonder if Dr. Strange ever looked into fixing that part of Valkyrie's enchantment where she couldn't fight women? That had to be a bit annoying. Sorry, Val, none of our enemies have a Y chromosome, guess you better sit this one out. Sure you've got the Hulk, and he'll fight anyone, but he's not entirely reliable, you know? Heck, after Dr. Strange leaves the team and Nighthawk assumes de facto leadership, the Hulk seems constantly on the verge of pounding Nighthawk into paste.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

This Is A Piddling Thing, But What The Heck

What kind of accent do you think Booster Gold talks with? Is it his natural one, or is it something he's developed trying to ape speech patterns of the 20th and 21st Century? I could see Booster having Skeets determine what accent would be most appealing when pitching various merchandise, then trying to adopt that to suit his purposes.

Accents don't seem to be brought up much, beyond the Claremontian style of having characters identify their ethnicity with what are I guess supposed to be phrases and exclamations of their native locales. It makes sense, with comics not typically being an audio experience, describing someone as having a Queens accent* might not do much for the audience. For example, I'm not really sure what constitutes a 'Queens accent', other than I imagine it sounds pretty dissimilar from whatever Midwestern accent I speak with**.

Back to Booster. He's from Gotham, albeit the Gotham of 500 years in the future, so I'm guessing some sort of Middle Atlantic accent, probably with traces of various other linguistic types in there (look at me, trying to talk like I know something about linguistics), to account for a blending of cultures over time***. It's not really of any importance, I was just wondering.

* What made me think of this was that JMS' Amazing Spider-Man issue with the tailor, where the tailor said he asked Spidey for help because he's a local guy, and when Spider-Man asks how the tailor knows that, the tailor responds 'Ask me again with that Queens accent how I know you're local', or something to that effect.

** I assume I speak with a Midwestern accent, excepting the moments I attempt other accents for kicks, having been in the Midwest my entire life.

*** It might be a mistake to assume that differing cultures continue blending and settlign their differences over time, but then again, this is DC rather than Marvel, so it's probably OK to bet on a promising future.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Things I Learned From The Invisible Man, Season 1

Take notes, this'll be on the final. The essay final. *Audience groans* Oh? Fine, don't take notes. I mean, I was going to make it an open-note final, but I guess you can just work from memory.

- Never burgle in a community populated dominantly by the elderly. If you're caught, everyone in the courtroom will be old (except your soon to be ex-girlfriend), including the judge, bailiff, stenographer, and the entire jury, and you will be screwed, because there's nothing the elderly like better than sticking it to the youth.

- If you insist on burgling an elderly person's home, and they enter the room while you're in the process of blasting open their wall safe, and the explosion induces a heart attack, leave immediately. Do not attempt to resuscitate the person you were robbing. For one, you're wasting valuable escape time. Secondly, your efforts to revive them will only lead to you being charged with molestation, in addition to robbery. Like I said, the elderly are vindictive.

- If you are a burglar by trade, don't tell your girlfriend you work for UNICEF. Especially don't tell her mother you work for UNICEF. Pick a less noble profession, like mime, or reality show contestant, so you being charged as a elderly molesting burglar won't be such a huge shock/disappointment.

- If you wind up with a biosynthetic gland in your head, which enables you to excrete a light-bending substance, essentially rendering you invisible, keep in mind there will be a catch. Most likely, the gland will produce a chemical which will drive you mad without a counteragent, leaving you working for the agency that commissioned the creation of the gland just to stay sane.

- Also, the removal of the gland is likely impossible, if you want to survive the operation. Get used to seeing potential solutions snatched away by cruel fate at the last moment.

- If you end up working for the aforementioned agency, don't be surprised to learn that you aren't their first such experiment, that the early ones may be crazy, and you will be expected to fight them.

- If you run that agency, and your new invisible agent is periodically insubordinate, and distrusts you, your best bet is to publicly ignore the insults, and treat his suspicions as a joke, making him feel stupid. Make comments about how you wish he could convince your superiors you were that smart.

- If your child only has imaginary friends, arrange for them to witness an assassination. Other parents in the neighborhood will feel bad for your child, and convince their kids to spend time with yours. The new friends will be like a form of therapy for your child, so the problem takes care of itself!

- If you claim to be psychic, and tell someone they need to kill themselves immediately, because they're about kill their partner, and they do neither, simply remind them they haven't killed their partner yet, so that, you know, in 50 years, when they buy their partner a hot dog and he chokes to death on it, you can still claim you were right. Note, they will think you are a complete asshole for that, though.

- Former marines that are infected with a disease that aged them from 30 to 70 in less than an hour will bite when cornered. Always wear protection.

- If you commissioned the creation of a biosynthetic, invisibility causing gland, and the first person you installed it in went crazy and had to be put down, make certain to check for and eliminate any memory RNA from that person in the gland before installing it in the next test subject.

- If the Chinese government kidnaps you, cuts open the back of your head, and drains a considerable quantity of the invisibility-causing chemical out of you, do not expect them to offer you a cookie or even any juice afterward. Because they're jerks.

- Anytime a person gains a sudden spike in intelligence, they will become distant and rude towards their friends and coworkers. They will also watch five TVs at once.

- People who want to steal your invisibility gland will use labyrinthine plans to do so, possibly involving gas grenades designed to make you really sick so you get checked into a special hospital, where they are impersonating an important surgeon, so they can kidnap you and then get what they want. They will never simply drive up, conk you on the noggin, throw you in the van, and immediately perform surgery. So you have that going for you.

- More people have thermal goggles than you might expect, so be aware of what others are wearing, even while invisible. This will lower the chances they can surprise you and throw a net over you.

- If you run an underfunded government secret agency, it's OK to travel to a known arms dealer's casino, and use your invisible agent to rig the games so you win 1.5 million dollars.

- It's not OK for said invisible agent to steal $5 million for himself, and if he does, you should withhold the counteragent which keeps him from going murderously insane until he hands that cash over to you, so you can spend it on your budget, naturally.

- If he goes murderously insane, rather than admit your mistake, and send his partner to bring him in alive, bring in outside agents, and tell them it's OK to kill the now insane invisible man. Remember: Being the boss means never admitting you mishandled a situation.

- Oddly, people really enjoy mimes, but not when the mime's act includes being ruthlessly beaten by invisible fists. I know that seems counter-intuitive, but it's true.

- If an attractive person from a shadowy organization that previously tried to kill you, suddenly wants to sleep with you, they are actually trying to use that as an opportunity to infect you with nanobugs that will give away your location at all times. Always use protection. I know I told you that earlier, I just want to impress it's importance upon you.

- The reason people can't find Bigfoot is because it has a natural invisibility-causing gland as well.

- If you are a person dedicated to studying Bigfoot, a large half-man, half-ape creature no one has apparently ever captured, and you propose the invisibility gland as the reason none have been captured, all the other people who devote their lives to studying the never captured, half-man, half-ape will laugh at you. Because everyone needs to feel superior to someone.

OK, you don't have to remember the last two, since they were from a Season 2 episode that was included as a bonus. As for the rest, memorize it, and be prepared for that essay. You'll find out what the prompt is when you show up for the final.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Discussing A 35-Year Old TV Show For Kicks

Back when it aired frequently on FX, I watched M*A*S*H quite a bit. I had the free time, it was usually funny (well, the early seasons were funny), and heck, my roommate liked it too, and it's always nice to find something everyone can enjoy. At some point I started to wonder how Henry Blake would have fared if he had to deal with Major Charles Emerson Winchester III. It never happened, obviously, since Blake was discharged (then apparently shot down on the way home) well before Frank Burns went round the bend*, which opened up the spot that Winchester filled. By that point, Colonel Potter was well established in command.

So I watch Winchester gripe and moan about how he wants out of Korea, and back to Tokyo, or preferably, Boston, and I watch Potter calmly deflect those requests, and I think about how much more difficult Blake would have found that.

Colonel Blake had trouble fending off Majors Burns and Houlihan, and those two were idiots compared to Winchester, though Houlihan did have more pull with the brass. At the end of the day, if Henry didn't acede to their demands, they just went over his head**, and so Henry could get some piece for awhile, which is all I think he really wanted. Besides, whatever problems Burns and Houlihan were causing, Hawkeye and Trapper would eventually outwit them, and ease the pressure one Henry***. Winchester seemed like a more forceful personality, one that could have overwhelmed Henry, and the Pierce/Hunnicut combo only seemed to have about a 50% success rate in their battles with Charles, so it's not for certain they could have forced him to back off.

I remember one point shortly after Winchester had arrived, and subsequently was trying to leave, he told Potter that his father knew Harry Truman. He didn't like him, but he knew him. Potter just smiled at the threat, and responded that Charles should have his dad talk to Truman, then Truman could talk to Potter, and they'd see what could be arranged, but until then, and he stopped smiling at that point, Winchester was staying put. End of discussion. I can't see Blake being able to marshal that kind of resolve. At best, he might be able to fumble, stall, or make vague promises to look into getting Charles a transfer to an extent that would placate Winchester for a time, but I don't know how long he could hold up under a repeat of those barrages.

* I mean in-story, not that Larry Linville, the actor who played Frank Burns, went around the bend.

** Which is I guess the military equivalent of tattling.

*** When they weren't the ones applying pressure themselves, either because they wanted him to do something, or their antics were getting him in hot water. Honestly, they were pretty crappy friends to Henry Blake, always making him out ot be the bad guy if he didn't go along with them, even though he was the one who always wound up covering their butts when they did something stupid.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Just Keep Seeing More Potential Beatings For Star-Lord

First off, thanks for the responses to yesterday's post. I received The Invisible Man Season 1* (which I'll probably get around to discussing after I finish it) a couple of weeks ago, and I've been working my way through. The pilot episode has commentary, and I was debating whether to watch it, and I realized I've never really watched the commentary. Actually, aside from different endings, I hardly ever look at any extras at all. Might have to get around to it one of these days.

Anyway, Star-Lord. Last time he and Ronan the Accuser met, it wasn't very friendly. Star-Lord thought the Kree might need help with the Skrulls, which insulted Ronan a little. Then Star-Lord told Ronan to destroy that Babel Spire the Kree constructed/powered with Skrull corpses, and Ronan kicked his ass, then threw him into the Negative Zone. Nicer than killing him, I guess**.

Star-Lord was rescued, Ronan handed control of the Empire to the Inhumans, and then got married. Then he got beat up by some Imperial Guardsmen. Now, while he's convalescing, Phyla went and grabbed Crystal to use as leverage against the Inhumans, to make them stop fighting. Which does not appear to have worked. Regardless, Phyla is on Star-Lord's team, and Ronan strikes me as the sort who doesn't waste time disciplining subordinates if he perceives the problem to come from the top. During Annihilation, when he wasn't satisfied with how the Kree were fighting, he didn't go around killing foot soldiers, he went and killed the people giving the orders (members of the House Fiyero, a group he later completely eradicated when he learned they were planning to surrender to the Annihilation Wave). So it's possible that Ronan won't be looking to vent some frustration in Phyla's direction, but in Star-Lord's. Even if he believes Quill when he says that was absolutely not something he wanted to happen, he still didn't keep enough control of his team to stop it from happening, and Ronan might just decide to express displeasure over Star-Lord's leadership deficiences.

Man, Peter Quill has been making friends left and right lately.

* The series from 2000, as opposed to one of the older versions.

** Though Ronan only refrained from doing that because he didn't want to have to put Star-Lord through a trial before execution, where he might be elevated to martyr. Better for Peter Quill to vanish entirely.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Just Out Of Curiousity

For those of you that watch TV shows or movies on DVD, if there's commentary, do you watch it?

If so, do you always watch it, or does it depend on who is providing the commentary?

Monday, June 15, 2009

I Must Be Getting Really Dense

OK, so I already copped to my delayed understanding of what Rahne wasn't telling Madrox when she left last week. This week I have to admit a comprehension breach with regards to Immortal Iron Fist. It's not as old, but it's probably more embarrassing.

Immortal Iron Fist just concluded the 8th City of Hell arc. Smack in the middle of it, just after Danny has learned there's another Iron Fist trapped in the city, we have an issue devoted to Li Park, the pacifist Iron Fist. Even though his name was Li Park, and the imprisoned Iron Fist had introduced himself as Quan Yaozu, for some reason I kept thinking Li's story was Quan's.

Never mind that Quan is described as the first Iron Fist, and when Li fights the dragon there are comments that describe how the dragon had been fighting challengers for years, and that Li was the first victor to pass out after the fight. With the former, I think I convinced myself that though people had been challenging the dragon for centuries, nobody had won*. As for the latter, I'm guessing I just glossed over that. Really, what this did was remind me of something I learned with the Brubaker/Fraction run on the title. Namely, that I can make a lot more sense of it when I can read an entire story all at once, rather than one issue a month.

I think there's a couple of reasons I didn't pick up on it until last week, one within the story, one not. The one that's not is that up to this point in the run, Immortal Iron Fist hasn't done one-shots about past Iron Fists in the middle of an arc. The Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay story came in between the conclusion of the "Immortal Iron Fist", and "The Tournament of the Heavens" arcs. The story of Bei Bang-Wen came after "The Tournament of the Heavens" had concluded, before the final Fraction/Aja issue which was kind of a capstone. The story of the Iron Fist of 3099 ran between "The Mortal Iron Fist" and "The 8th City of Hell" stories. The Orson Randall stories all took place in separate one-shots or Annuals. So maybe I figured this was just part of the overall arc.

In story, I think I felt like a pacifist Iron Fist would fit with the story, though the exact arc shifted as the story took surprise turns. A guy who never wanted the title or the power sacrifices himself to save his city, condemning himself to a lifetime of torture at the hands of the beings he's locking up. He bears this, suffers it, because he thinks fighting it would be pointless. Then I thought it could be a story about how after so many years trapped in that miserable place, he'd been driven mad, and would destroy the same city he'd gone into Hell to preserve. Given how K'un-Lun seems to regard Iron Fists as transitory and replacable**, it would be fitting that they'd be bitten in the arse by one of their weapons they'd discarded so carelessly. Especially since his sacrifice, being trapped there with true monsters, was tainted when the Yu-Ti started throwing anyone into Hell he pleased.

Actually, it still seems like the stories fit together. Li Park saved many Chinese peasants by bringing them to K'un-Lun, which in turn helped the Heavenly City whose populace had been ravaged by disease. Now here was an Iron Fist, also returning to the city, and also bringing many people with him, but this time they were people who'd been betrayed by their city, tossed away and forgotten, and so this influx could destroy the city.

* Which ignored the fact that the Shou Lao the Undying was one of the monsters the first Iron Fist had to vanquish to protect K'un-Lun, so obviously at least one Iron Fist had to have beaten it before Li.

** You fight the dragon, inherit the power, use it for awhile, then die and someone else takes the title, on and on, and the citizens probably don't care too much who it is, as long as they have an Iron Fist.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

There Must Be Some Part That Isn't Weapons Development

About the Atlas Foundation, of Agents of Atlas. We've seen they're quite busy building weapons that don't work to try and cozy up to Norman Osborn, all so they can bring him down, of course. Which is fine, it's an admirable goal, Osborn's crazy and power-hungry, which is probably not a combo that leads to a long run at the top, but can do considerable damage in a short period of time.

However, I was wondering if we'll see signs of more humanitarian projects the Atlas Foundation is involved in. I know Jimmy Woo's experience is as a FBI agent, ferreting out criminals and bringing them to justice, and so he'd naturally focus on that. The Atlas Foundation is composed of dozens, maybe hundreds of different business all across the globe, giving Jimmy a finger in plenty of different pies. Surely a few of those could be work on, I don't know, bio-engineering more water-efficient crops for arid, hungry regions, or cheap, clean, alternative power sources for developing nations. We have seen Namora draining the oil from sunken ships so they can't pollute the ocean, and collecting sunken warships loaded with munitions, and those are positive actions. We don't know what they might have planned for the oil, or the munitions, but it's still useful to get them some place safer. Maybe some other stuff like that?

Granted, Jimmy is trying to keep Atlas looking like an amoral* group as a smoke screen, but there are probably ways to spin those sorts of projects to maintain that veneer. Or, hide their existence from people who Jimmy better off having unaware of them. Like I said, Jimmy has access to lots of companies (assuming he didn't dissolve them when he took over from Golden Claw), maybe he could have the projects broken up amongst different companies, so on the surface it seems to be a bunch of little, unrelated departments, not critical to their respective companies, scattered across the globe. There would only be a few people, really high up, that would be aware of the connections, and would take the disparate parts and put them into the really useful whole.

I know that's not really what the book is about, and most readers probably wouldn't be interested in that stuff. I'm not saying devote a story arc, or even an issue, to those projects**. Just a quick mention in every so often, an underling brings Jimmy (or Bob, perhaps) a status report? I figure Agents of Atlas is about good guys pretending to be bad guys to get the bad guys, and how difficult that can be to accomplish. At the end of the day, Jimmy and Co. are still heroes, and this would be a way for them to help people, besides just beating villains. They'd be improving people's lives long-term, which is not something every super-hero has the capacity to do***, but a super-team with a shadowy, worldwide conglomerate at its fingertips does. It would be another way to show they were making progress in using the Atlas Foundation to improve things. Plus, it would be another way Jimmy would be keeping his word, when he told Golden Claw that he was going to do things differently.

Just a thought.

* I'd say evil, but it's to form a partnership with Osborn, and Norman doesn't see himself as evil, and so might not necessarily see the people he allies himself with as being evil either. They'd simply possess the proper vision.

** Though maybe a quick story about the Agents investigating someone sabotaging one of their nicer projects?

*** Beyond the obvious method of saving a person's life, thus insuring they remain alive, which is a better chance for their long-term prospects than being dead.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I Have No Idea How This Would Play Out, But I'd Like To See It

In War of Kings #4, Talon shows Emperor Vulcan how the Hierarchy of Raptors are helping Vulcan out. Namely, they've supplied Blastaar with a Cosmic Control Rod, which he's used to open a portal from the Negative Zone into the regular universe, and he's leading his troops against Ravenous's and his little empire*. For whatever reason**, Ravenous had declared war on the Shi'ar, and given Vulcan was already picking a fight with the Kree and anyone else within range, the Shi'ar really can't handle yet another challenger.

First off, I like that Blastaar's doing this. He had an arrangement with Ronan, who helped get Blastaar back to the Negative Zone and conquer it, in exchange for, I guess, keeping Ravenous from getting any more troops from the Zone, and thus not being able to resume hostilities with the Kree. Except, as Blastaar explained to Star-Lord, Blastaar and Ronan both know it was a temporary alliance, and if was only a matter of time and opportunity before one back-stabbed the other. Blastaar simply found his opportunity first. So I dig that.

What really interests me is the idea Blastaar might look up Star-Lord. Peter did betray Blastaar when he was supposed to be helping lay seige to the Negative Zone prison. And when Blastaar expressed his displeasure with that, Peter and Jack Flag did shoot Blastaar in the face, which I doubt hurt him, but surely didn't improve the mangy ruler's disposition. Then the Guardians of the Galaxy arrived and teleported Peter and Jack out just as The Living Bomb Burst found them again***, thus inflicting further Vergeltung Unterbrechung**** on the angry, furry guy.

Well now Blastaar's in Star-Lord's home universe, with his Negative Zone army, and his own cosmic control rod. Assuming Talon is right, and Ravenous' bunch will be toast in a week, Maybe Blastaar could take a little time to look up his betrayer, Star-Lord? Considering the Guardians will have probably just finished (or will still be) skirmishing with all those angry Imperial Guardsmen and Inhumans that popped up in Knowhere last month, that could be a pretty rough battle. Which means it would probably be a really fun battle, too.

* For those not up on their Cosmic Marvel, Ravenous was the equivalent of Annihilus' Herald, and roughly as powerful as one. With Annihilus dead, and his offspring still just a infant, Ravenous is serving as a regent over the territories Annihilus' forces gained in Annihilation, which includes half of what used to be the Kree Empire.

** Maybe he figured the Shi'ar were so busy they were vulnerable. Maybe some of Vulcan's troops strayed into the wrong territory, though I get the impression the Shi'ar didn't actually instigate the fight with Ravenous. I don't see Ravenous caring that the Kree are under attack, unless he wants them to survive as a buffer between his realm and the Shi'ar.

*** "The Living Bomb Burst". That's a pretty cool nickname.

**** That's German for "Retribution Interruption". I was gonna type, "Retributionus Interruptus", but I thought that looked stupid, so hey kids, bilinguality!

Friday, June 12, 2009

When Opposite Personalities Clash!

I think it's a fairly common trope in fiction to have two characters who are very different interact frequently, probably for a comedic effect. You have the straight-laced, neat freak, and the more slovenly, free spirit type, and hijinks ensue as they respond each other and various situations. The Odd Couple, for example.

Sometimes in movies*, because the writers felt there had to be a definite arc to the story, the interactions between the two personalities prompts a shift in one of the two characters. For example, in Knocked Up, the sort of aimlessly drifting character has conceived a child with the very career and goal-oriented lady, and eventually decides he needs to get his act together, get a real job, a real place to live.

So, here's what I'm asking you. In stories that revolve around those sorts of personality conflicts, if one of the characters undergoes a change, which is more common, the Type A loosening up, or the Type B growing up/getting serious? Or is the most common result both of those things happening, each character changing a little based on the influence of the other?

* Especially in romantic comedies

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Wheels Grind Slowly

For a reason I can't recall, I was thinking about X-Factor #28 this morning. That's the post-Messiah CompleX issue where Rahne leaves the team. I was thinking about the scene where we see Jamie react to Rahne letting him know she's leaving. Jamie freaks out about it, and says something about having thought she was his friend, but he guesses he was wrong*.

That gets Rahne a little riled, and so she explains the vision Tryp the Eldest hit her with back in X-Factor #11 (12?Either way, she told us, through Doc Samson, what it was in X-Factor #13). The vision where she killed Jamie and Layla on their wedding night**. So she's sure that Layla (at that time lost in that crappy future) will be back, and she needs to get away from them so it won't come true.

After she lays this all on him, Madrox has an internal monologue where he decides that she's still hiding something, that this vision isn't the only reason she's leaving. I can't recall whether my initial reaction to his suspicion was befuddlement as to what else it could be, or doubt that Madrox was correct. Sure, Jamie is supposed to be a private eye, but he never absorbed the duplicate he sent out specifically to learn how to be the world's greatest detective, so I had my doubts as to how good he actually was.

Anyway, I didn't really give it much more thought, choosing to read on and focus on Madrox picking fights with those bigots, and Rahne's various goodbyes. Then I guess it just fell to the recesses of my mind. Today, for whatever reason, it finally hit me, the thing she was withholding was her joining X-Force. That's it, isn't it? For whatever reason, I had just assumed while reading the story that the other characters knew that's where she was going as well as I did. But I'm not sure how many X-Men know about the Stabbity Kill Team, and given how little love Cyclops has for Madrox, there's no way he'd let Rahne spill the beans about his assassination squad.

Well, it's good to know that all I needed was a shade under sixteen months to put that together. Go me!

* I don't have the issue in front of me, so I'm working off memory. That was the gist, he was mad she would leave, and she didn't seem to care enough to explain why.

** Jamie and Layla's wedding night, not some other combination of the three characters.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Architectural Splendor Is Lost On Me, Too

I finally got around to watching In Bruges last night, so let's discuss that.

Ray (Colin Farrell) has committed some sort of criminal act with a gun he afterwards chucked into the Thames. As a result, his employer, Harry Waters (Ralph Fiennes), has ordered both Ray and his mentor/handler Ken (Brendan Gleeson) to lay low in Bruges, Belgium for a time, and await further instructions. Harry sent them there because he has some fond memories of the place, so it's really like a gift vacation, which Ken seems appreciative of. He's very eager to see the sights, the art, take a canal ride, visit the church which contains a phial which supposedly has drops of Jesus' blood, the whole nine yards.

Ray is less appreciative. His first line in the film is to describe Bruges as a shithole, and his opinion of it improves not a whit throughout the film, even if he does find some things to interest him, such a Chloe (Clemence Poesy), and Jimmy (Jordan Prentice) the midget, I mean dwarf, who is starring in a film being shot in Bruges.

We eventually learn what the job Ray performed was, what Harry wants done about it, and how Ken feels about the whole thing. We learn what's up with Ray about a half-hour or so in, maybe less, which was nice because I was just started to get irritated with him. Up to that point, he acts very much like a small child that's been dragged along to someplace he doesn't want to be. He fidgets, drags his feet, is snippy with people, and constantly looks to be on the edge of tears. Once you learn what he did, it makes a bit more sense.

The movie shifts between moments of Ray and Ken reflecting upon their lives, what they've done, what they should have done*, to moments of absurdly dark humor. So Ray asking whether Ken believes in the afterlife, leads into Ray discussing the only good man he ever killed (a popsicle man), and Ray dismissing it because the man came at him with a bottle which could be deadly, and how it would be different if he'd used his bare hands. Then Ray points out hands can be deadly weapons, if the man knew karate, at which point Ray becomes incredulous because how the hell would the bleedin' popsicle man know karate? Is he fuckin' Vietnamese**?!

The movie is littered with moments of importance, that suddenly go awry. What makes this work is, I think, that the characters themselves seem angry about it. Whether it's because they were having a serious discussion, and now they're discussing the odds a popsicle man knows karate, which is not the point, or they were focused on something they have to do, and their contact keeps asking if the proper word for what he's describing is "alcoves". In some cases, they're having a pleasant, almost happy time, and suddenly someone's children are insulted, or somebody starts talking about an impending race war, or whatever. At one point, a character proclaims he isn't likely to shoot someone here in front of a thousand Belgians (and the tourists of various nationalities), but said character, maybe ten minutes later, has no problem chasing someone through the city firing at them. It's hard to tell whether he's really determined, or just an idiot.

The movie seems to be partially about when is it too late to change. Is it too late for Ray, or could he be saved? What about Ken, or Harry, or Chloe? They've all done less than noble deeds, but does that mean they're too far gone?

One of the apparent joys of Bruges is that it's apparently a very well-preserved medieval town. While on the canal ride, for example, Ken points to a hospital that was built in the 1100s***. I'm sure that the locations chosen for several of the scenes have significant meaning to the scene itself, but like the title of the post says, they're largely lost on me. There's a bell tower that plays a role in a couple of scenes, but I'm not certain what it's supposed to symbolize.

One thing I did think I noticed, that I'll end on, is Ray and his coat. it's a black coat, and through the early part of the film, he keeps it bundled tightly around him, hands shoved into the pockets, as if he's bitterly cold. As the movie progresses, Ray meets Chloe, makes a decision about what he'll do, then has that decision taken away, and then has to try something else, all before the climax. As these things happen, I think he stops holding the coat closed around him. He may button it closed, but he's no longer jamming his hands in the pockets, and eventually, starts leaving the coat open more and more, exposing a clean white shirt underneath. If I'm remembering that correctly, you can make of it what you will.

I would say if you haven't watched it, and you're presented with the opportunity to do so, you really should.

* Most of this is Ken, who's older, and so a bit more reflective. Ray largely keeps his feelings about his own actions internalized, or at least, doesn't speak of them seriously.

** Ray seems fixated on the Vietnamese, as he keeps bringing them up in various discussions. Them and to a lesser extent, the Pakistani.

*** I'll admit, the idea of hospitals in the Middle Ages in Europe surprised me. For some reason, I've always kind of pictured that if you were sick, people basically threw up their hands and figured you were dead. I ought to know better, but there it is.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

There's Such A Thing As Too Much Mystery

With Moon Knight concluded (for now), I'm left wondering about this Toltec character.

What did they (since Toltec's gender is unrevealed) have against Alcantra, that would lead them to kill lots and lots of people with large bladed weapons? Were they like the Punisher, killing criminals because they're criminals? Are they doing because they worship a god who demands death, like Moon Knight? And what was the point of the Toltec being in the story? Were the Toltec and the Punisher meant to represent two different paths Spector/Lockley could (has?) walked, the man who kills evil because it's evil, and the man who kills because his god demands it? That could be, but I can't be sure, because I don't know the Toltec's motives. And if that was a correct analysis, then what do I make of Moon Knight's actions?

See, I can't quite figure out what's supposed to be going on in this story. Moon Knight faked his death to elude the Thunderbolts, and went to Mexico. Because he had to go somewhere, I suppose. By the end of the story, he's learned that Norman Osborn has even more power than before, and seems resolved to return to New York and do something about that.

But what? Kill Norman? Set aside the odds of Moon Knight making it past the Thunderbolts, the Dark Avengers, the Sentry and whatever else Norman would use to protect himself. Heck, set aside the likelihood that Moon Knight can kill Norman Osborn if he reaches him, what with Norman being the Green Goblin, and apparently having appropriated some armor Stark left behind to boot*. Let's say Moon Knight reaches and defeats Norman, and has the opportunity. Is he going to take it? Near as I can tell, he killed no one in this arc. Beat the stuffing out of lots of people, but killed nobody. The Punisher killed people. The Zapata Brothers killed people. The Toltec killed a whole bunch of people, but Moon Knight did not.

So what the heck does it mean? Did he deem the people he was facing not worth killing? Did he figure with all the other killers around, he didn't need to? Or is he rejecting all of it? That seemed to be the case, when he confronted Alcantra, then came face-to-face with Toltec, and rather than kill Alcantra himself, or defend him from the Toltec, Moon Knight simply walked out, seemingly washing his hands of the whole affair. That sounds like a guy through with killing, so what will attacking Norman Osborn accomplish?

* We've already seen Moon Knight against the Green Goblin once, in the Avengers Annual of 1987, and Moon Knight got his butt kicked. And since that was a Green Goblin that was dead, well that wasn't even Norman Osborn, but Bart Hamilton, a third-rate Green Goblin**.

** Yes, I'm sure it was meant to be Norman Osborn, since he was supposed to be dead at the time, and believe me, I wish they'd left him that way, I'm just having some fun. Either way, Moon Knight vs. Green Goblin = Moon Knight getting capped.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Can't Trust Those Space Magicians

So, for those of you reading Guardians of the Galaxy, what do we make of Adam Warlock? More specifically, what do we make of his sudden pigmentation change during the fight with Vulcan? He turned purple, which is the same color as the Magus*.

It happened when, by Warlock's own admission, he had been severely drained of his powers by Vulcan. It persisted through the remainder of his battle, until he returned to Knowhere and Moondragon commented he looked pale. In the very next panel, Adam insists it's nothing, and he's back to his usual golden brown.

Suggests to me that it's a disguise spell that he unable to sustain with Vulcan absorbing his energy, but having stolen the power of the Imperial Guard's magician, he was able to recast it. Additionally, he seemed somewhat colder during the battle than he normally was. Sure, he's usually kind of a pompous jerk, but his 'Boo-hoo. Life hurts sometimes.' line was a bit more callous than I'd expect of him.

Also, this is the first time we've really seen Adam on his own in awhile. He's been with the Guardians, or at least Gamora or Phyla almost constantly since he was awoken back during Conquest. During that time, he seems to have acted in a way consistent with what's expected of him. He used the same sorts of prophetic, vague comments that Gamora mentioned once seriously annoyed her. No one saw anything out of the ordinary about him. Now he was surrounded only by enemies, and all that seemed to be gone. Maybe it was because he was hurting, or because after all the boasting he'd done about stopping this war, he pretty much fell on his face when confronted with Vulcan.

Still, it makes me wonder if the person in the cocoon the Church of Light has is the real Adam Warlock after all, and Phyla and Moondragon unleashed the Magus on the universe. In which case, Phyla might not end up being the betrayer Mantis saw after all.

* Who, as I've mentioned before, is the embodiment of the evil Adam Warlock cast out of his own soul. Thus the Magus is pure evil, powerful, and bad news.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Thinking About Comic Cities

A couple of months ago, there was a bit of discussion about cities in comics, in terms of fictional ones versus real ones. What I mean is, there are people who prefer DC to Marvel, and part of what they enjoy is that DC comics are frequently set in cities that were created from the minds of the writer and artist. Sure, those cities, be it Metropolis, Gotham, Opal City, Central City, whatever, probably owe some of their style to a city that exists in our world, but they're also their own unique entities, which is part of the appeal, as I understood it. THe city can reflect the characters that live in it, and what they represent.

Conversely, for some of the people that prefer Marvel, they like that the cities used are ones that exist in our world. Usually it's New York, but the X-Men have spent a couple different stints in San Fran, the West Coast Avengers were in L.A., Thor set up shop in Chicago for a time, and so on. By using cities the readers know and can visit, it provides a sense of connection between the reader and the characters, in theory.

It occurred to me that Marvel's cities are to me, largely as fictional as DC's. I've never been to New York City, or L.A., or San Francisco. I've spent maybe 3 days in Chicago. I know those cities exist, but I don't "know" them, in the sense that I've lived in them, thus I'd recognize their unique quirks, and then be able to recognize those in a Marvel comic set there, prompting the aforementioned sense of connection. I don't have any idea how similar the New York City of Marvel is to the New York City here in our world. Even if Marvel N.Y.C. is presented as a perfect copy, I wouldn't realize that, so it still wouldn't feel real to me. Maybe it's because I'm focusing on the characters, and when I'm reading about a guy climbing walls and swinging on webs he created himself, I don't feel like it could be my world.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

There Shall Come A Reckoning!

Adorable Baby Panda: Hey Calvin!

Calvin: {I'm not up to it tonight. You'll have to handle this alone.}

What's wrong with him? Well, I can handle this easy. You guys can help. I'm giving Iron Fist a Hug, because something happened to his company while he was gone, and he got shot. Nova gets Applause for saving the Wolrdmind, and Cosmo gets a Hug because he's going to have a hard time protecting Knowhere with all the Shi'ar and Kree that just showed up. Oh, Robbie Rider gets Applause too, because he decided to go and rescue the other Novas. It isn't smart, but it's brave, and that's good. I think Jimmy Woo can use a Hug, since he's losing a team member. Scandal Savage gets some Applause for helping Bane. Lilandra shouldn't have walked down the street like that, but she probably could still use a Hug.

I kinda wanna hit something right now. Deadshot gets a Bonk for shooting Mina. He should have shot the guy in the white suit. Just in the knee! Or the foot. It would serve that guy right. He gets a Bonk too. I'm giving Adam Warlock a Bonk for being kind of mean, and Phyla gets a Bonk for being really stupid and taking hostages. Moon Knight gets a Bonk for not doing anything. What is he, a Watcher? And so does the Punisher. He was just getting drunk. Bonk! Deadpool gets a Bonk for shooting out the window in Outlaw's new apartment. She just moved in there. That was fast. How did she find another place so soon?

Friday, June 05, 2009

What I Bought 6/4/09 - Part 2

Let's get this done, shall we?

Moon Knight #30 - That was a dud. Moon Knight enters Alcantra's compound, finds many dead guards. He finds the Punisher, who is not responsible for the dead guards, and is just sitting there drinking '40-year-old Macallan'. Then he leaves. Moon Knight finds some guards who are still alive, beats them up, finds Alcantra, then the Toltec drops from the ceiling, and Moon Knight leaves the room so the Toltec can do whatever he/she/it wants with Alcantra. Oh, and Moon Knight may be planning to go back to New York and take out Osborn.

So ultimately, Moon Knight did jack spit? Yes, he saved Alcantra's daughter initially, but the Zapatas protected her as much as he did. He didn't stop Alcantra, I can't tell whether he's prepared to be the killer Khonshu desires or not. 'Cause if not, why bother going after Osborn? Whatever, the books done, and if/when they start it up again, I won't be there.

Nova #25 - Rich tries to defend himself against Egomind's attacks, and eventually reclaims the majority of the Nova Force, which gives him the opportunity to fry Ego's mind, freeing the Worldmind. It appears Ego preyed on Worldmind's desperation for a safe haven, offered itself, then took over and took advantage. Meanwhile, Robbie and Qbit decide they're gonna try and rescue they're captured Nova brethren. And Malik Tarcel, who was Nova Prime, is tortured by the Shi'ar, and then greeted by Garthan Saal. For those of you not up on your Nova history, Garthan Saal was the last person to house all of the Nova Force, and was driven mad by it. Thus Rich's frequent concerns that he'd go bonkers from housing all the Nova Force.

So, not only is Richard back in space (hooray!), he's back to being Nova Prime (hooray!), and his brother is trying to be a hero (good luck, kid), and now we have the abrupt arrival of Saal on the playing field. Not sure what to make of that, but I'm sure it's nothing good. Kevin Sharpe handles the art chores, which is kind of disappointing, because I like Andrea DiVito's work, and DiVitio had only been on the title for three issues before we have a fill-in. Or is Sharpe the new artist? Either way, Sharpe's the 7th or 8th different penciler the books had, in just 25 issues. His work feels a bit like a combination of Wellinton Alves and DiVitio (considerably more DiVitio than Alves), with maybe a bit of Scott Kolins' thicker linework thrown in. I think he draws Rich too beefy, personally.

Secret Six #10 - OK, so Evil Slaver Guy is Evil. Bane is having nightmares, and Scandal helps him through it, for a night at least. Aww. Evil Slaver Guy hires the Six to protect some biohazard artifact thing. Oh, and Luthor's i.d. of Mockingbird is mentioned, to the consternation of the team. I don't know what's going on exactly, but I get the feeling Bane comes a little closer to killing Deadshot every day. Or, he comes closer to being killed by Deadshot every day. Depends on the writer, I suppose.

So that was all very well and interesting. I like the little touch Nicola Scott had with Jeanette. When she pulls that widow's band away from her neck, you can see the mark that shows she's been wearing it for a really long time, which is nifty, I think.

War of Kings #4 - So Lilandra challenges Vulcan's claim to the throne, which means the Shi'ar should be having a civil war. But that might have been cut shot before it started, and it looks as though Chris Powell's going to take the heat for it. Poor guy. Even so, her presence has been making things harder for Vulcan, so just when you think things might be looking up, here comes that stupid Talon with good news from Emperor Whiny Summers Brother #3. On the plus side, Crystal and Ronan seem to be growing closer, that's nice.

I don't know where this thing is going, which could be a good thing, or not, considering there's only two months to go. It could mean the story is spiraling out of control, getting too large, or it could just mean Abnett and Lanning are really planning to disrupt the status quo in Cosmic Marvel, and thus there won't be much in the way of neat resolutions by the end of War of Kings. On the art front, I normally like Pelletier's artwork, but for some reason I really don't like how he draws Darkhawks. Maybe he makes the armor look to form fitting, where I always kind of figured it to be more like Iron Man armor, little bulkier, less muscular definition in the torso. Also, there were a couple of scenes where I thought he faces in the background looked rushed.