Sunday, January 31, 2010

Taking A Look At A Couple Of Covers

When I first saw the cover for Amazing Spider-Man #619, I thought it reminded me of another cover, one that it might be homaging. I did a little looking around on Grand Comic Database, and found the cover I was thinking of. Let's take a look.

Here's the Spider-Man cover, with the cover for Captain America #332 on the other side. That's the issue where Cap turns in his uniform and shield, rather than be a government tool*. The Spider-Man cover is by Marcos Martin, the Captain America cover by the team of Mike Zeck and Klaus Janson.

Hmm, they aren't as similar as they were in my head. The pose is similar, though Spidey's palms are turned upward more, They each have blood/red fluid streaming around them, though Spider-Man's interacting with it more, as it's running over him and pooling in his hands, but you can see the red is moving around the Captain's feet. Of course, Spider-Man is surrounded by dead people while Captain America stands alone in front of a flag, but it holds a similar meaning. Spider-Man wants to protect everyone, so the dead around him would be a failure. Cap wants to serve America, and by extension, its people, but with the color running out of the flag, it suggests something's gone wrong. Cap isn't able to protect them anymore, because he can't be Captain America anymore.

I think the poses suggest different things. Spider-Man's says "sad or depressed" to me, while Cap suggests fatigue. I think the difference is in the faces and the hands. You can see more of Spider-Man's face, and the eyes seem sad to me**. Cap's face is hidden, and his arms are hanging down at his sides more. Spider-Man can hold his arms at a 90 degree angle, palms facing upwards, but Cap can't even muster that much energy. He can barely curl his fingers, and as he's looking down in their direction, I see it as him looking at his hands, trying to gauge if he can go on fighting.

* Which unfortunately leads to the tenure of John Walker, future U.S. Agent as Captain America. Unlike Rogers, Walker is very good at being a tool.

** I'd imagine that the blood pouring over him, which reminds me of someone caught in the rain, is also contributing to my impression of him as being sad.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

About This Week's Burn Notice

I know Michael Westin is supposed to be a good guy, helping people in need. Still, I got a real kick out of the show he put on trying to make Omar find Rincon for him.

The suit. The low voice with all the vague but dramatic pronouncements. The Eastwood glare. And of course, the bit where he snaps his fingers and explosions follow. It was very over-the-top, but also very entertaining watching Omar and his boys jump.

Gilroy put it best, such panache. Jeffrey Donovan plays a strange man with uncertain motives well. It was sort of villain you might see in a comic, the rising threat in the Gotham underworld.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Zorro Season 2: Now With Shorter Storyarcs!

I think that's the biggest difference between the 2 seasons. Season 1 had the 13 episode Monastario arc, then the 26 episode Eagle arc. Season 2 has several 3-5 episode stories, with no interconnection between the antagonists.

They start with Diego and Bernardo arriving in Monterey to decide whether they should send for the 17,000 pesos that Lee van Cleef tried to steal, and end up investigating who's the ringleader of the attempt to get all that money. Then the focus shifts to Adjutant Rico, who is trying to impose what he sees as a sort of order on the citizens, but instead inspires a vaquero into open resistance, with Zorro having to frequently get between them, either to save Joaquin's life, or stop him from doing something that will make things worse for the peons.

Then Diego's old friend Don Ricardo shows up, and he and Diego fall into a war of pranks, trying to sabotage each other's chances with a senorita. Of course, the senorita has eyes only for Zorro, which riles Ricardo more than Diego. It's also during this mini-arc where we learn Alejandro knows his son is Zorro, and has known for some time. I think having another person in his confidence is why we see more Zorro bleeding through Diego's popinjay* facade.

Once back in Los Angeles, Diego's Uncle Esteban appears (played by Cesar Romero), who's a "get rich quick" type, and this includes trying to marry into money, a practice Zorro objects to. So we get Zorro vs. the Joker. Actually, that arc left me the most sad, because I hoped that Esteban would surprise Diego and Alejandro, and truly love the senorita he courted, but Zorro's instincts are always correct, I suppose. Then a young girl arrives from Spain seeking a caballero father who doesn't exist. Then an American mountain man comes out of the hills and draws the ire of a Spanish gentleman.

I thought perhaps we'd have a logner arc to end the season when a corrupt King's Emissary comes to town, trying to sell royal bonds to fund the war effort**. He doesn't think much of the place until he sees the haciendas and the wealth the caballeros have. At which point he starts planning to get ahold of that wealth for himself. Even sucks Sgt. Garcia in, and makes the poor sergeant the most hated man in town, until Garcia defies him and risks hanging. Or the firing squad. Whatever the penalty for treason was. That's not quite the end for that fellow, but he learns Zorro's identity in the next episode, and well, that's a kiss of death if you're an enemy of Zorro. Three people unmasked him, and they all died within five minutes.

After that, there's a 4-episode bit about a captain, named acting governor after the governor is injured in a carriage accident, deciding he'd like to be governor for good. Then 3 unrelated episodes round out the season.

I wonder if they went this route because the audiences didn't like how long the Eagle arc went in season 1, or if they just thought the better of trying a similar thing again. Perhaps the audiences demanded more permanent comeuppance for the villains, so unlike with Monastario, whom Zorro could have killed several times but did not, the villains in Season 2 have shorter lifespans.

* At least a couple different people in the series refer to Diego as a popinjay, usually to convince whoever they're talking to that he's not worth worrying about.

** Diego makes comments during the season that it's the 19th Century, and the Emissary calls England Spain's mortal enemy.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Working To Beat Looming Snow

Calvin? {Yeah?} I'm sorry about biting your ear last week. {It's OK. I wasn't using the right ear for anything.} Well, then thanks for letting me borrow this umbrella. {It was no big deal.} Are you mad at me? {No, I'm just playing it close to the vest.} Oh. You're still wrong about Reed Richards. {Now, wait just a minute!}

So much for playing it close to the vest. Hugs for Harry Osborn and all those people Aunt May kicked out of her house! {Her house was burned down.} A villain did that! {I know, but I think she has the right to be angry.} Oh, well, yeah, I guess. I'm not giving her a hug. {Fair enough.} Carlie Cooper needs a Hug too, since her dad didn't tell her he wasn't dead. Spidey gets a Hug for what Mysterio put him through. Mysterio's going to need a Hug soon. {He'll get away with it. He's keeping a distance from the whole thing for a reason.} You think so? {Yeah.} Mysterio gets Bonked then! Yuri Watanabe trusts Spider-Man, so I'm giving her some Applause.

I want to Applaud the Luminals for being useful, and give Drax and Moondragon Hugs for what they went through. {Rocket Raccoon! Let's hear it for the tactical genius!} Yes, Applause for being clever. I think I have to hit Star-Lord, since he didn't ask to use Knowhere. {Lives were at stake. They might have said no.} Ends can't always justify means. {He stored them in the safest place possible. He tried to be careful while operating under a time crunch. Otherwise, he might have failed and that creature would be on the loose killing people indiscriminantly.} I guess.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What I Bought 1/27/2010

Back to the small weeks. Back in the summer, it was the middle of the month that was quiet for me. Now it's the ends. Kind of weird. The UPS guy was late again this week, so Customer Jack was helping Store Owner Jack get the shipment inventoried and on the shelves while several fellows stood around, waiting to grab their stuff. It reminded a bit of the junkies you see roaming the streets in GTA: Vice City. Not a flattering comparison, I know, but it's apt. No, I wasn't milling about aimlessly! I was helping the Jacks get books on the racks, because it's neater that way and I'm a bit of a neat freak in that way. It doesn't extend to dusting and sweeping mind you, but I like to have stuff in an orderly state.

Amazing Spider-Man #619 - I didn't mention it, but last week's cover was pretty nice, with Martin using the plaid pattern of Mysterio's costume as a net the other characters were caught within. This one is nice too, in that it's a very striking image, Spidey standing there with blood running over him.

Carlie's father explains why he isn't dead, as he was apparently believed to be. Spidey helps the cops fight Silvermane and his Maggia guys, except, oh no, Spidey killed one of them! Or did he? He then runs into former Spidey crime boss foe The Big Man, and in the scuffle all the bad guys shoot themselves, and the Big Man turns out to be. . . Captain Stacy, the long dead father of the almost as long dead Gwen Stacy?! Oh, well now that's just stretching it too far, but Mysterio's OK with that. Meanwhile, Aunt May is being mean to people other than Peter Parker, and Mr. Negative is planning to deal with Spider-Man.

If I weren't as familiar with Spider-Man history as I am, I wonder how effective this would be. I'm only aware enough of the Big Man to know he's been gone for a long time, maybe since before Romita Senior drew the book. I think Slott provides enough in the dialogue to let the reader know the basic, important details, but maybe that's me filling in details. I like the idea of Mysterio as taking power without anyone of the people being aware he's their boss. You don't see the guy who sets up the special effects, and if he's really good, you might not even realize what you're seeing is an effect, so it's nice. Marcos Martin? What do you want me to say? I don't know if he draws the sound effects into the panels, or if that's the letterer (Joe Caramanga). Whoever it is does a swell job.

Guardians of the Galaxy #22 - That's a creepy cover.

The Universal Church of Truth is pouring the belief energies of a planet of 9 billion followers into the creature Moondragon is trying to keep trapped within her. Since the creature feeds on such energies, that's making it harder for her to keep it under control. Enter Star-Lord and the Guardians, who have gotten a bit creative in their attack plan. And good news, the Luminals actually did something useful! It was bound to happen eventually. Also, the High Priestess' attmept to immobolize Drax did not work the way she hoped. The good guys wins, the creature is released from Moondragon under controlled circumstances, and sent back home.

Then there's the last page. It's simultaneously "Oh crap", especially the bottom two-thirds, and "Hooray!", that'd be the top third. I'm wondering how it came to pass, whether Star-Lord screwed up, or if it's part of some larger plan by Kang. Man, that'd be cool if this was some larger Kang plan. Brad Walker's on the art, I hadn't noticed this in previous issues, but this month he heavily uses panels with fairly wide white spaces between them. Also, once the fighting kicks off in earnest, his panels start becoming more disorderly, overlapping, becoming odd parallelograms and tilting at strange angles. I'm guessing it's meant to convey the chaos of battle, but it's not a technique I remember him using before. Guess I need to pore over previous issues.

That's all for me this week, so share your thoughts on the books, or the books you bought in the comments, if you'd like.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

No Matter Who They Are, Youths Won't Listen To Their Elders

Reading Nova #33, we learn that Sphinx summoned Nova and the other heroes to fight against a younger version of himself. Old Sphinx is dying of "temporal cancers", which are a result of all his time traveling. He wound up in the Fault, and brought his younger self there to convince him to do things differently, so as to spare Old Sphinx his fate. Young Sphinx refused to do whatever it was Old Sphinx requested.

For the moment, I'm going to set aside how Young Sphinx can change the fate of Old Sphinx, when typically such an attempt will only result in the formation of a new timeline where things go differently, while the old timeline remains. Maybe it has something to do with the Ka Stone, which can shape reality. I was more amused by Young Sphinx' refusal to play ball, and his self-assurance that whatever happened to Old Sphinx couldn't happen to him. Except, Old Sphinx is Young Sphinx, give or take six thousand years. I assume Young Sphinx is banking on getting that second Ka Stone, and becoming so powerful the forces that crippled his older self will not affect him.

This headstrong nature of the young has been a recurring theme in the series. Nova wouldn't listen to the Worldmind when it insisted he should give more thought to finding a proper place to deposit it, and the end result was it went a little crazy from trying to keep Nova from going crazy.

Robbie Rider wouldn't listen to his older brother about the dangers of the Nova Corps' rapid rebuilding, or Richard's warnings that Robbie wasn't cut out for being a Nova. End result is Richard's on his own in his conviction something's up with the Worldmind, the Nova Corps throw themselves into the War of Kings, and get slaughtered.

No matter how many times Nova urges him to calm down and think things through, Darkhawk keeps charging full-bore into battle, without regard to strategy or the strength of the force they're up against.

Now we've got one Sphinx not listening to his older self, too focused on gaining a second Ka Stone and becoming an even more incredible force. I'm betting that having two Ka Stones would actually accelerate the onset of the problems Old Sphinx is afflicted with, making things even worse for the villains.

Monday, January 25, 2010

He'd Have Fared Better With A Six-Shooter

I started watching Season 2 of Zorro today. I'm still in the early stages, so Alejandro jasn't learned his son is Zorro yet, and in fact, they've been in Monterey, rather than Los Angeles the entire time.

The bit that made me most excited, outside of Seargent Garcia getting a couple of legitimately nice moments, came in the first episode. Diego and Bernardo have traveled to Monterey on behalf of the people of Los Angeles. A Don Vegundo has proposed everyone in California pool their resources to ensure more regular shipments of supplies to California. Diego's responsible for delivering Los Angeles' 17,000 pesos. Except he's attacked in his hotel room immediately, by bandits demanding exactly 17,000 pesos. Which leads into some investigation by Diego, and Bernardo getting in trouble.

The part I geeked out over was that one of the bandits was none other than Lee van Cleef. "Angel Eyes" from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. He didn't get much dialogue, and he didn't make any return appearances that I saw, but he did get to be the fellow who duels with Zorro in that episode, and he opts to wield both a sword and a knife. It doesn't help much, but it's not a bad idea, if you aren't confident in your sword skills, to have an extra weapon.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Memory Is A Tricky Thing

One of the other things I received over the holidays was the complete Walt Disney Zorro series, which has been collected in a rather nice set. The DVD box for each season is in a metal tin, and there's a little picture of Guy Williams in costume in both, and hat pins. I love hat pins! I finished watching Season 1 this morning and figured we could chat a bit about it.

The last time I talked about Zorro, I was focusing mostly on Seargent Garcia (Henry Calvin), and I commented on how often Zorro ends up leaving his mark on Garcia's uniform. Oddly, I didn't see a single time in all of Season 1 where Zorro actually does that to Garcia. He prefers to leave his mark on doors, satchels, things of that sort. But in every episode, the theme song shows Zorro slicing a "Z" into Garcia's shirt, so perhaps that's what I'm thinking of, or they're saving all those for Season 2.

Also, I remembered Capitan Monastario being around longer. He's the villain at the start of the series, but he's finished in Episode 13. From there on, it's all about the mysterious "Eagle", and trying to deduce his plots. So the Eagle arc runs for 25 episodes, with the Eagle himself not making an appearance until the last third of that, and not actually coming near Los Angeles until even later. Actually, I thought more of the episodes would be standalone, done-in-one episodes, but almost all of them tie-in with an overarching story. Example, in the first episode, Don Ignacio Torres is accused of treason, and Zorro helps him, with Torres fleeing to the mission to seek sanctuary. There are four episodes shortly after that which are almost all about Monastario trying to get Torres out of the mission, and Zorro trying to prevent this.

It was interesting to see how often the villains fall at the hands of their associates. Sometimes the associate is trying to assist them with a dirty trick in a fight, and sometimes they've dirty-dealed said associate, and receive payback in return. But Zorro never deals the finishing stroke to any of them. Not Monastario, not the false Commandate Ortega, not the Magistrado, not the Eagle. I'm guessing there's meant to be a lesson there about the danger or futility of greed and maliciousness. Diego's father Alejandro kills more men in Season 1 than Zorro, as does Seargent Garcia. I'm not sure what that means, except perhaps that Alejandro is a respected member of the community, and Garcia is a solider tasked with protecting the pueblo, and they only kill men trying to do them harm, while Zorro is a shadowy vigilante, and so perhaps it's best he doesn't start killing, as that might turn the people's opinion of him Better to focus on rescuing those being oppressed, while disarming the soldiers, or leading them on a merry chase.

If you count Garcia, who is acting Commandante at times, there are 4 different Commandantes in Season 1. Monastario, who disgraces himself when he can't convince anyone Diego is Zorro, his replacement is killed the same day he arrives, while making a speech of his intentions outside the cuartel. He hadn't even unloaded his stuff yet. Then the fake Ortega, who dies. Then Capitan Toledan who is actually a good fellow (his wife is another matter, she's Naive Evil) who gets transferred away to another pueblo after not too much time.

One thing that puzzles me is Don Alejandro. More than once he expresses disappointment that all Diego seems to care about is music, poetry and literature. He wants Diego to take greater interest in the community. Except Diego does this. I don't mean as Zorro. As Diego, he frequently questions the evil leader of the moment as to the purpose behind his actions, and attempts to politely convince him that he's in error. The Evil Leader in question, being evil, doesn't listen, but it's not from a lack of attempt to persuade him on Diego's part. Diego urges his father not to take part in a committee of vigilance designed to deal with what the Magistrado assures them is bubbling unrest among the peasants, and to not try and lead an attack on the cuartel to free the wife and daughter of Don Torres when Monastario tries imprisoning them to make them talk.

He is taking an interest, just one that advocates nonviolent resolution to the problems facing the pueblo. I'm not sure whether that's what bothers Alejandro, or whether it's that Diego keeps disagreeing with him. It's a bit like the Odin/Thor relationship in the comics, where Odin wants Thor to assume more repsonsibilities, but in Odin's mind, the only acceptable responsibilities involve Asgard. When Thor chooses to defend the inhabitants of Earth, because he feels his responsibility lies there, and in the process doesn't answer the call at Asgard, that's unacceptable to Odin and he gives his son a bunch of grief about it. Because Odin's a jerk. I think Alejandro wants Diego to be a man, to take a leadership role in Los Angeles, but only in the narrow definition Alejandro thinks in.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

So, They're Adding Those Amulets To The List?

The last page of Nova #33 had the younger Sphinx deciding the best way to counteract the old, crippled Sphinx' army of catspaws (Nova, Namortia, Black Bolt, and Mr. Fantastic) was to summon a team of his own. So he dusted off Man-Wolf, Moonstone, Ulysses Bloodstone*, and the Basilisk. Oh, and the evil Darkhawk that ambushed Nova at the beginning of this arc.

The first four all have something in common, with each other and the Sphinx. At least, they do if what I read in Thunderbolts #46 is still in continuity. That comic taught me that the stone that gave then Thunderbolt Meteorite (aka, Moonstone, aka Norman Osborn's Ms. Marvel), was a shard of some gem that was part of a 'lifestone tree' created by a group of advanced species. The plan was the gems would empower members of each of those species, and they'd serve as Guardians of the Galaxy**. It worked for awhile, until all the members were retired, dead, or whatever. The species decided to send the gems away someplace they'd be safe, which naturally didn't work. The ark was attacked, damaged and the gems were scattered and broken, with a bunch of shards just happening to land on Earth. Funny how that works out.

Point is, Moonstone, Man-Wolf, Basilisk, and Bloodstone all apparently derive their powers from shards of those various stones, whose abilities they've unlocked in different ways and to different extents. For that matter, the Sphinx' Ka Stone is also a shard of one of those gems***. So I'm guessing those four being summoned by the Sphinx is not a conincidence.

What about Evil Darkhawk? Back in the day, Darkhawk's amulet wasn't included in the list of shards which empowered humans. Of course, that was when the Darkhawk armor was still something designed originally for an interstellar crime boss. The origin's a bit different now, so Abnett and Lanning could be adding those amulets to those list. It would sort of fit. The Fraternity of Raptors was created to serve the Great Purpose, protect the Shi'ar Empire, which is sort of related to the original purpose of the Lifestone Tree (and the Shi'ar were involved in its design).

Or, Evil Darkhawk just tagged along. For some reason, Darkhawk's been invisible to the Sphinx and generally immune to the forces in play. Something to do with his amulet. Presumably, the same would apply for his counterpart. The Raptors have access to that Datasong, which seems to enhance their level of perception, so maybe Evil Darkhawk saw he hadn't killed Chris Powelll and Nova as he hoped, and saw that Young Sphinx was going to recruit some allies to help him accomplish that end, and so Evil Darkhawk got him/her/itself in the right place at the right time to hitch a ride to the big fight.

* Father of NextWave member Elsa Bloodstone.

** I think that was the job description, not the team name, but who knows? Maybe we'll learn that some iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy from the 30th Century went way back in time and inspired those various races to undertake the project.

*** Which considering his abilities to warp reality, makes you wonder how powerful the complete gems were. The Sphinx is strong enough that Reed Richards once asked Galactus to come to Earth and save them from Sphinx, and he just has a little piece of it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Character's Potential Realized

Marcos Martin's pencils weren't the only I reason I opted to buy this week's Amazing Spider-Man. Don't get me wrong, I like his artwork, but it's not a guaranteed buy all by its lonesome. The other selling point was the story features Mysterio.

I like Mysterio as a character. His costume is really strange in a cool way. I like his being a stunt man/special effects master gone bad. It provides room for him to play the master of convoluted death traps, or to make the hero question their sanity, with plenty of room in between. Plus, there's something about him challenging a super-hero with literally smoke and mirrors. It's gutsy, and shows a certain self-confidence, I think.

Funny thing is, I don't own any Mysterio stories. The only comics I have he appears in are Sinister Six stories, and those aren't really going to showcase his skills, surrounded as he is by people made of sand, or with metal arms, or whatever.

I used to own Spider-Man Unlimited #4, where he sets a guy with a Spider-Man costume, has the guy bust a fake crime and get unmasked in the process. The guy holds press conferences to explain himself and becomes wildly popular, while Spidey stews. It's kind of an interesting idea, sticking it to our hero by messing with the public perception, and Mysterio has the technical knowhow to mimic enough of Spidey's powers that the public (who we must remember are morons because this is the Marvel Universe) will buy it. I think it goes downhill after that. Peter figures out that rival photographer Lance Bannon has some inside track on the whole thing, follows him to a meeting with a source, and follows that guy to Mysterio. Mysterio sets giant Spider-merchandise on our hero, but chooses to stick around rather than vacate the scene. The whole thing wraps up with Mysterio trying to shoot Spidey in the head with a finger laser and mssing, then getting dropped with one punch, and Spidey exposing the whole situation to the public. So there's some parts there I like, but on the whole, not that good.

Hopefully the current arc will be an awesome Mysterio story I'll treasure forever.

Here's my question to you: Is there a character you've always liked in theory (or conceptually, or liked the potential of, however you want to phrase it), but has never been in a story you really enjoyed? For the heck of it, is there a creative team you think would be the perfect duo to make a great story with that character?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rainy Days Are No Deterrent For Applause

I'm all wet! And cold! {Yeah, the puddle you've left on the floor is hard to miss. Here's a towel, and then toss this sweater on.} A sweater? I'll look silly! {Yes you will. That's the price you pay for not bringing an umbrella.} It wasn't raining at my house! {You have to learn to think ahead. See what may be coming down the pike, but is not yet in view. *adopts Foghorn Leghorn drawl*You should write that down, it's good stuff, I say, it's good stuff.} Yeah, yeah.

{Don't be so gloomy. At least the sweater doesn't have any silly designs on it.} I guess. {That's the spirit! Go Team Panda!} Well, Peter Parker needs a Hug, and Mr. Negative needs a Bonk. Aunt May is a good employee, he shouldn't use his powers on her. {So he should disembowel her to keep her quiet instead?} No, he should stop being a bad guy! {Well, yes, in a perfect world he'd do that, but the Marvel Universe is pretty far from a perfect world.} *grumbles* Fine, I'm also giving Bruno Karnelli a Bonk for being a dumb mob boss. {Wait, so you're hitting criminals for being unsuccessful and being successful?} Well, they are crooks! {So are you going to hit all those Maggia guys, and Negative's Inner-Demons?} No, they aren't worth it.

I'm giving the minke whales Applause because they convinced Namora to save those guys on the ships. {*snorts derisively*} What? {Yeah, like whales are really that nice.} Huh? {They're malicious killing machines! I've seen those killer whales, they torment their prey like giant cats! Cetaceans are pure evil I tell you!} O-kayyyy. I'm going to give Wolverine a Bonk for not telling the rest of the Avengers that Atlas are good guys. Spider-Man gets some Applause for being right about the Growing Man and Atlas.

I'm giving Power Girl a Hug for putting up with Vartox and some Applause for helping him save his people. I'm also giving Vartox a Hug for wanting to help his people, but he gets a Bonk for being a big dork. {See, I'd think him being a dork would make you want to hug him.} He's not a dork in a loveable way, but in an irritating way. {I thought he was both, depending on how much bravado he was putting forth.} Well, it doesn't matter, he's already getting hugged. {I suppose.} How did you not see the blurb for the next issue at the bottom of the last page? {Huh?} It tells you Dr. Sivana's going to be involved, and you said yesterday you didn't know who the old bald guy was! {It does? *looks at blurb* D'oh!} *laughs* Good job reading the whole page! {Well, I don't normally read those blurbs for the next issue! I guess I ought to start.} Yes you should. {Oh, don't try and play the solemn master with me!}

I'm giving Nova a Hug, because he can't tell Namorita what's going to happen to her. {He ought to.} Reed said not to! {Who cares what Reed Richards says? He built a Negative Zone Prison! He neglected and belittled Sue to the point she developed an evil split personality! He killed Ben Grimm once! He saved Galactus!} Hey, saving Galactus worked out, he stopped Annihilus! {Bull, he destroyed a lot of the Annihilation Wave, but Nova is the one who stopped Annihilus. With an assist from Phyla.} But Galactus helped make that happen! {That's not the point! The point is, Reed's judgment is suspect!} Not about science stuff! {This is a matter of the heart! Science is irrelevant!} But this may be a Reed that hasn't done all those things yet! {See, now you're moving the goalposts. That's cheap.}

Are you going to argue with me about everything today? {You're the one arguing with me!} Am not! {Are too! Give me back my sweater!} No, I need something to keep me warm for the trip home! {That isn't going to help! It'll soak the water up like a sponge, and smell like wet panda for a week!} Are you saying I smell? {If the Smelly Baby Panda shoe fits. . .} Why you!

*sounds of fighting and arguing*

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What I Bought 1/20/2010

It's a moderately good-sized week of comics for me! Hooray! Four whole books! In other news, it rained around here today. Which means people driving stupidly. That was one of the things I liked about living near the comic store (and university), I could just walk. Saved gas, weather doesn't bother me as much when I walk as when I drive, and I felt less exposed to random acts of vehicular idiocy. Which is backwards, since a pedestrian doesn't have a car frame or air bags around them to shield them from a collision. I guess because I move slower than a car, I had to make sure I had more room to cross streets or whatever, so caution makes up for the lack of my own Iron Man suit.

Amazing Spider-Man #618 - I don't know about you, but to me, Marcos Martin and Mysterio seem like a match made in heaven. Pity there's not more actual Mysterio in this issue. It starts with a list of dead Maggia guys, and how they went. Then we shift to Mr. Negative's ninja guys trashing a Maggia casino, only to be saved by Spider-Man. Which means Spidey catches grief from your average citizens, who are unsympathetic to Spidey's explanation that he has to protect everyone.

Aunt May stumbles onto her employer, who is actually Mr. Negative, up to stuff, and he does that thing he does where he makes people evil with a touch. Or whatever his power is. So May then says harsh words to Peter, and is probably going to destroy her marriage if she doesn't get fixed soon. I wouldn't want to be married to a vicious old lady like Evil Aunt May. Then we learn how Mysterio's involved, and a character I didn't know was dead appears to not be dead. Actually, I didn't even know the character existed, which is the risk you take when you only buy a title once in a blue moon. Which isn't to say Slott does a bad job getting me caught up. I was able to follow most of the plotlines I'm coming into halfway, it was just that particular last-page reveal fell flat. Might be Mysterio's involvement, which suggests fake-out.

Marcos Martin, what to say? He is a very good artist. The page design is well done, and things flow very well from one panel to the next. I mean there is something in the panel which naturally draws your eyes to the next panel, and from there to the one after it, and so on. Really outstanding.

Avengers vs. Atlas #1 - It's another Jeff Parker-penned Agents of Atlas mini-series! Yes! But man, couldn't they have found a different cover artist than Humberto Ramos? His art bears little to no resemblance to the art contained within! Well, at least he's not Greg Land.

The story has two different threads. On one side, the Agents are busy cleaning more messes within their organization, then some seemingly random Lava Men invasion. Meanwhile, the New Avengers deal with the seemingly random appearance of the Growing Man. Then the Agents show up, tracking some distortion, which sucks the Avengers in and leaves in their place. . . the original Avengers! Well, the Avengers version 2.0 (no Hulk, Captain America). At least Atlas won't have to waste a bunch of time explaining they aren't actually bad guys. Then there's a back-up piece where Namora trashes some guys who claiming they're killing whales for research purposes, but may not be (I wasn't clear if they were bullshitting or not), but shows mercy because one of the whales she saved asked her to.

Well, I was entertained. Gabriel Hardman draws the main story, and I think it looks good, though it still has a bit of that Alex Maleev/Michael Lark grittiness to it I'm not sure fits with a story involving time fluctuations and talking gorillas. Takeshi Miyazawa drew the Namora story, which surprised me. It's a more simplified style than Hardman's, but still expressive and detailed when it needs to be, Miyazawa just doesn't need as many lines, which is nice. I hope these back-up pieces are going to be a regular feature for this mini-series. Makes me feel like I get more bang for my 4 bucks.

Oh, and Jeff Parker continues to remember Spider-Man is actually smart, and write him accordingly. Good news all around.

Nova #32 -Why did Brandon Peterson switch to this computer-generated looking style? When he drew some of Brian K. Vaughn's Ultimate X-Men stories, his art was nothing like this. I didn't love it then, but it was better than this. It's too shiny, plastic looking, like cheap toys.

So yes, the Sphinx has added a Namorita to the fray. Reed Richards tells Nova he can't warn her about Stamford and getting blown up, but Reed Richards is a monster who stands against love. OK, it's because he's concerned about the stability of the time stream. Then the Sphinx attacks, driving our heroes inside a pyramid where they're trapped in some sort of What If machine. Except for Darkhawk, who still seems to be immune/invisible to the Sphinx. Then we learn who would actually challenge someone with a reality-altering Ka Stone like the Sphinx, and that person has his own catspaws, who all have something in common.

Well, I'm definitely interested. I like the sheer scope of Rich's What If? scenario. it starts with canceling out a stupid mistake he made earlier in his career (well, more of a dick move then a mistake), but it goes from there, correcting a lot of the disasters of the last few years in the Marvel Universe (Civil War, War of Kings, Annihilation, Secret Invasion). He's thinking big, which is interesting, the number of things he feels he could/should avert. Andrea DiVito's still on the pencils, and I think everything looks fine.

Power Girl #7 - Power Girl and Vartox stop the Ix Negaspikes. Then Vartox starts turning on the charm again, and Power Girl agrees to have dinner, though she's smart enough not to drop her guard. And hey, she's sporting the outfit from that Adam Hughes drawing of the Ladies of the DC Universe! You know, where Selina's the only one in black, and Batwoman's wearing pants?

Ahem, Vartox' attempts at being smooth don't work, but his earnestness actually improves her opinion of him, a little. I think. Finally, Vartox gets around to explaining why he came looking for Power Girl, and I'm still not entirely clear on how they solved the problem Vartox' people were facing, but they did. Yay! Also, Satanna is gearing up to attack Power Girl for defeating the Ultra-Humanite, and she's teamed up with. . . some creeping looking bald guy with huge red sunglasses?

I would say this was a funny issue. Not laugh out loud funny, more goofy smile funny. Vartox is such a cornball with his overconfidence and silly exclamations, that he keeps Power Girl swinging from exasperation, sympathy, and amusement while she's around him. And she helped an entire planet. Well, she helped the non-pirate Yeti portion, while thwarting the hopes and aspirations of the pirate Yetis, but there are no perfect solutions I suppose. Plus, we're introduced to Satanna's sidekick, Angry Badger Scientist!

That's all the books for me. How were your books this week?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Talk Extensively About Brisco County Jr.

I'm sorry that yesterday's title didn't have much relevance to the post. It was going to refer to a set of thoughts I originally started in the post, then decided to save for today. Then i forgot to come up with a new title. Whoops.

OK, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. I was watching the DVD with all the special features on it this morning, and one of the things the writers and actors brought up was that with the series, they were trying to create of combination of the old Western serials, and the old sci-fi serials. Which might explain why I was struggling to figure out which Western hero Bruce Campbell's character Brisco County Jr. reminded me of. He's not a mostly quiet and grim person, ala Clint Eastwood. He's not an imposing authority figure like John Wayne, or a goofy singing cowboy like Roy Rogers*. He's not a Lee van Cleef, Charles Bronson, Gary Cooper, or I assume, Randolph Scott.

Assembled masses: Randolph Scott?! *all remove their hats as heavenly chorus sings 'Randolph Scott!'*

Yeah, that guy. Brisco actually reminds me of Zorro. Serious when it's required, but with both romantic and playful streaks as the situation allows. Maybe with Brisco that relates to those sci-fi serials, or maybe that's just Bruce Campbell being Bruce Campbell. It works, because the series isn't played too grim. One of Brisco's interests is seeking out 'the coming thing', as the story is set in 1893-1894, the dawn of the 20th Century nearly upon them. This works nicely with his stated motivations for pursuing John Bly (Billy Drago) and his gang. Even though they killed Brisco's father while escaping custody, Brisco is adamant he's after justice for them, not vengeance. If it was the other way around, it would imply Brisco was stuck in the past, concentrating on what's already happened, which is more High Plains Drifter in tone. Brisco takes the work seriously, but is determined to not be consumed by it.

While Brisco does meet people over the course of the series with whom he has past history, he also meets many new people, many of whom have new ideas. There's Sheriff Aaron Viva (Gary Hudson) of Hard Rock, with his idea of "day glasses" to address his sensitivity to light, and being able to walk up to the window of a restaurant, request food, and have it brought right out to you, so you can continue on your way. Or there's Professor Wickwire (John Astin), with his "inner space suit" and "lighter-than-air-ship". There's seemingly always something new being cooked up for Brisco to encounter, which encourages his positive outlook and tendency to roam.

There are villains of course, some menacing, others amusing, some that can be both. One of the major driving points for the story is the pursuit of John Bly and his gang, and in the first 20 episodes it's typical for an episode to focus on just one member. I get the feeling Bly's gang was much like the Defenders, with him as Dr. Strange: If he needed them, he'd put out the call and they'd show up. Otherwise, they might run amok pursuing their own interests. And every villain has his own style. There are counterfeiters, pirates, safecrackers, strongarm types, daredevils, gamblers and so on. There are also several unaffiliated (as far as I can tell) bad guys who show up for maybe one episode, like Frenchy Bearpaux or Utah Johnny Montana.

The two recurring villains are John Bly himself, and Pete Hutter (John Pyper-Ferguson). It's funny, in the commentary, all the other actors insist that Billy Drago is the nicest guy you'll meet, but that he is terrifying to be on screen with. Campbell says Drago can go long periods of time without blinking, and he does have an intense stare, plus his teeth seem sharp and narrow somehow, so when he smiles you get the impression he's thinking about ripping your throat out**. He moves with this loose-limbed gait, as though he's the most relaxed guy in the world, which I imagine is related to how confident he is he'll succeed at his plans. There's also something about his voice I can't place, a certain dead quality to it. He's gets emotions across fine, but it's like there's something missing from him. I may just be projecting, based on what I know about the character.

Then there's Pete. He's the comedy relief villain, but he also gets the best lines in the series, so he's like a little slice of the Earthworm Jim show set loose. 'I scoff at your moronic interpretation of hoosegow architecture!' being just the first one that leaps to mind. Despite being frequently at odds with Brisco (or Buuuuuh-risco, as Pete pronounces it), Pete's not totally evil. He's never killed a man***, and he's never violated any agricultural quarantine laws. Beyond that, he can be mixed up in nearly anything, but they never go as planned. Pete's the sort of character that gets tricked and used, but can't figure that out until he's already in trouble. Though he is very adept at surviving apparent deaths, to the extent his not being dead becomes a running gag, as does his attachment to his gun, called "Pete's Piece". Do not touch Pete's Piece! Pete, for all his bumbling, is a bit of a kindred spirit to Brisco, as Pete also knows about subjects you wouldn't expect an outlaw to be well-versed in, such as Impressionism and existentialism. He's not as focused on the future, but he he is well aware of the wider world.

Brisco has his allies, from Socrates Poole (Christian Clemenson) who serves as the go-between for Brisco and his employers, to Lord Bowler (Julius Carry) who starts as a rival, but later joins forces with Brisco, to Brisco's horse, Comet (which was actually five horses, each with specific purposes). With Poole, you have, to borrow from the Buffy universe, a Wesley figure. The uptight fellow out of place in the adventuring, but who slowly grows into it. Poole is never at home out in the wilderness, but he does get smarter about how much a horse can carry, and more eager to assist Brisco.

Bowler is good at his work, and the sort who tries to hide his better nature underneath cynicism. He might have come by that honestly, as Bowler's part Native American, part African-American, so I'd think he dealt with prejudice prior to meeting Brisco. Still, Bowler's a good fellow at heart, though he's less interested in the coming thing than Brisco is, but he does think of the future, just in more personal terms, such as what he'll do when he retires from manhunting.

I couldn't discuss the series without mentioning the ladies. There are quite a few women in the series, from traveling singers to mail-order brides, lawyers, sheriffs, blacksmiths, and spies. Yes, most of the swoon into Brisco's arms at some point in the episode (I'm not positive on this, but I'd say he kissed at least 7 different ladies in the course of 27 episodes), but he's the hero, and I guess that's to be expected. And they're typically good at what they do, and if they need Brisco's assistance, it's because the situation is beyond their normal experiences.

Not that it doesn't get him into trouble now and then, especially with Dixie Cousins (Kelly Rutherford), the recurring romantic interest. She's the traveling singer, but she has connections with more than one member of Bly's gang, and she's not above getting her hands dirty to deal with a problem. This means Brisco finds her on the opposite side of a situation from him, or there's at least the possibility she's playing him. Which makes her a bit of a wild card. She likes Brisco, Brisco likes her, but their goals aren't always compatible. Still, the chemistry is there, which is a plus. It'd be rough to have this recurring relationship and it doesn't seem genuine.

I'm not going to say much about the orb, because I don't know what to say. Whatever the plot requires, the orb can facilitate. It does tie-in with Brisco's looking to what's coming, though that isn't apparent for awhile. Watching the series, I was surprised to see the arc with Bly wrapped up before the end of the season. It seemed the sort of thing you'd end with. Then I heard during the commentary that the show was canceled off-season, so they hadn't realized one year was all they'd get, so they went ahead and started up another way for Brisco and Bowler to get involved in hijinks. It didn't come into play much, but there were only 7 episodes to use it, so it probably needed more time.

For some reason, the last two episodes had a bunch of NFL players as guest-stars****, including Terry Bradshaw. I was intially critical of Bradshaw's performance, but when I remembered I'm not supposed to be taking this completely seriously, it got better. Bradshaw helped that along by telling his elite crew of trackers to "huddle up" before an attack, and later giving a fiery speech about being winners, and how America loves winners, and so on. It broke my own attempts to view his as a serious, grim threat, and I sat back and enjoyed the show.

I don't know if that's as long as the post last June about The Invisible Man, but it felt like it. Comic reviews tomorrow, assuming the UPS guy doesn't screw the store over again!

* Perhaps Roy Rogers wasn't goofy. I don't really know. But you tell me he sang a lot, and wore sequined shirts, and I'm going to think goofy.

** See, I kind of hate saying that about a guy when everyone insists he's a swell guy. it sounds mean, but I guess it's credit to how good an actor he is.

*** Well, he's never been found guilty of murder, but I was sure he killed one of his guys in a botched attempt to gun down Brisco in a duel in the first episode. Maybe it doesn't count as murder since they both fired?

**** One of them was former 49ers linebacker Ken Norton Jr., playing an expert tracker. I think he says his first line in Spanish, and they provide subtitles. After that, he speaks in English, but they still provide subtitles. So he's ordered to follow Brisco and Bowler as they make an escape, and replies "That thing leaves no tracks.", while the subtitles say "The situation seems intractable. Don't you agree?" I was cracking up.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I'm Not Sure Who He's Most Like

I finished watching The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. today. Brisco did eventually fire his gun in episode 6, though episode 11 is the first time he actually shot someone. That's offset by the fact he put a bullet down the barrel of a rival's gun in episode 10.

Yeah, Brisco's one of those erratic as the story demands it marksmen. When the story requires that he run for his life from a group of armed gunmen, then he can't shoot well enough to injure or disarm them. When he needs to pull off a nice shot at the climax, there's no problem. Maybe he's just a lousy shot when he's not standing still.

I'm surprised we never saw his horse fire a shot. Hey, Comet can get a train ticket, play chess, and open safes, firing a gun ought to be cake.

I've a lot more thoughts on the series, but I need another day (or maybe more) to order them.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Getting To Know GrimJack - Manx Cat #6

As the Manx Cat mini-series ends, so does this series of posts. Dang, I liked having a guaranteed post each month. Oh well.

Page 1 - There is a group of saurian mercs called the 501st Samurai Salamanders. Despite calling themselves samurai, they do not carry swords. They are BlacJac's major competition as far as mercenary outfits go. Some of Gaunt's basic rules of combat are hit 'em hard, hit 'em fast, and keep moving. Transdimensional Police (TDP) hoverbikes are equipped with some osrt of cannon between the handlebars.

Page 2 - If Gaunt thinks you won't show mercy, then neither will he. Another of his basic rules of combat? Gaunt's able to fly a hoverbike while firing a handgun at enemies around him.

Page 3 - Gaunt will sometimes follow "Texas rules". Not sure what that means. A reference to showing no mercy?

Page 4 - BlacJac had at least one guy in his group called Toejam. Guy has respect for Gaunt, calls him 'Mr. GrimJack'. If BlacJac won't come out of his sanctum during a fight, that's unusual.

Page 5 - Another of GrimJack's rules is to help the living, then bury the dead. A shadow of Mannachs is still visible in the flames emerging from the compound. GrimJack knows a good theif, in this case Darlin' Lil, will find the quickest way into a place. GrimJack knows she feels drawn to the Cat.

Page 6 - Gaunt doesn't think he ever finds the easy way. Lil's not happy to be there, but she's aware that the Cat is what's calling her.

Page 7 - GrimJack's not above stealing a kiss if he thinks it'll help the situation. Also used to women reacting angrily to him doing that.

Page 8 - Lil is not fazed by the prospects of fighting a crazed giant shapeshifter.

Page 9 - Rhian, mentioned is #2, was a girl Gaunt loved, that he left behind in Pdwyr, when he went to fight in the Demon Wars. When he came back, she, her father - Maethe, the wizard who was his mentor - and everyone else had been killed by demons. Mannachs is trying to use these memories against him, but it doesn't work. Gaunt's used to the memories, has he been torturing himself with them for 20 years?

Page 10 - GrimJack not looking forward to fighting a mind-controlled and bloodlusting best friend.

Page 11 - Gaunt tries to break Mannachs' hold on BlacJac by making him angry. Is he basing this off past experience, or is it just anger is what he knows best? Insults BlacJac's independence, manliness to achieve his goal.

Page 12 - BlacJac may have issues with his father. His father had a skull face (or mask), and a big ole Uncle Sam hat. Gaunt says the priority is stopping Mannachs, rather than saving BlacJac. Gaunt seems to move back-and-forth between being a big picture guy, and a little details guy.

Page 13 - Or was he trying to convince himself? He's trying to get BlacJac to snap out of it so he doesn't have to kill him. Mannachs likes causing pain, likes hearing Bob the Gatorlizard sing his pain. BlacJac does not approve.

Page 14 - Bullets not useful against Mannachs. It's easier for Mannachs to control people when they sleep.

Page 15 - Despite what's going on, BlacJac is willing to let GrimJack get away with not explaining what's happening, and to fight a horde of Mannachs' slaves all by himself.

Page 16 - Mannachs barely remembers meeting GrimJack in the past. So, Mannachs' is powerful, but not all-knowing. Or all-remembering. The St. John Knives do hurt Mannachs. Mannachs remembers St. John of Knives.

Page 17 - Gaunt can solve problems without shooting, stabbing, or hitting things. We saw this in #3, but it bears repeating that there is power in song.

Page 18 - Mannachs calls itself the Mistress of Dreams. It can be put to sleep itself.

Page 19 - When Mannachs falls asleep, it reverts to the Manx Cat statuette.

Page 20 - At some point, BlacJac killed a controlled Johnny Aristo. Contrary to his discussion with GrimJack in #2, BlacJac also believes in showing mercy sometimes. Goddess likes for BlacJac to keep his palce clean, or at least not burning and partially exploded.

Page 21 - Shapeshifters can be killed by decaptitation. Darlin' Lil may like bad men. Or she may want to kill GrimJack for this whole mess. Gaunt's apparently never going to tell BlacJac what was going on. BlacJac's idea of payback is to blame the mess on GrimJack.

Page 22 - GrimJack considers Munden's Bar a dive. He is willing to pay his debts, let Bob stay there. GrimJack considers Munden's Bar home now.

Alright, that's a lot of things to learn about a character and his philosophy in just six issues. Not to mention all the things we learned about the world GrimJack lives in, and some of the people he shares it with. Which is pretty neat from where I stand. It tells a complete story, but there's all these other threads and histories just hinted at, which can either pique your interest, or can be ignored without impeding the main story.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

2009 Comics In Review - Part 5

This is the last of these Year in Review jaunts for the year. I felt like posting various lists of my favorite comic stuff, and that's all this is. I'll try and keep the longwinded explanations to a minimum.

Favorite Ongoing Series of 2009 (minimum 6 issues released in 2009):
1) Guardians of the Galaxy
2) Power Girl
3) Agents of Atlas

Favorite Mini-Series of 2009:
1) Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter
2) GrimJack: Manx Cat
3) Immortal Weapons
4) X-Men vs. Agents of Atlas

Favorite One-Shot of 2009:
1) Deadpool: Games of Death

Favorite Trade Paperback of 2009:
1) I Kill Giants (I know for certain I bought this in 2009)

Favorite Single Issue of Each Ongoing I Bought at Least 6 Issues of in 2009 (I'm not ranking them against each other, just singling them out as my favorite overall issue for each title):
Agents of Atlas #5
Booster Gold #20
Deadpool #13
Exiles #3
Guardians of the Galaxy #18
Immortal Iron Fist #24
Nova #28
Power Girl #4
Secret Six #8

Favorite Writers of 2009:
1) Jeff Parker
2) John Ostrander
3) Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning (I'm not sure who gets credit for what, so they share the spot)
4) Gail Simone (I'm not always a fan, but sometimes she really hits the right notes for me)

Favorite Pencilers/Artists of 2009:
1) Wesley Craig
2) Amanda Conner
3) Paul Pelletier
4) Nicola Scott
Honorable Mentions - Shawn Crystal, Timothy Green II, Dalibor Talijac (I like all three, but none of them drew more than 3 comics I bought this year, so I didn't think the output was high enough to rank them against the other 4)

OK, I can't think of anything else to rank, so that concludes the 2009 Year in Review posts! Whooo! Let's hear it for concluding!

Friday, January 15, 2010

2009 Comics In Review - Part 4

We return to this, and finally reach the back of the alphabet. I don't know about the rest of you, but I tend to keep my new comics for a calendar year stored separately from my larger collection, until after I finish these posts. Then I figure out what I'm keeping and add that stuff to the larger collection, and then decide what to do with the rest. This year, I think I'll wind up keeping 80-85 of the new comics, whereas I kept 95-100 from last year's haul. I don't know what to attribute that to. Some of it's probably related to me buying so many Deadpool comics this year, but not all. Did I take more chances, only to wind up disappointed? Or am I just being more picky about what I keep? It's more likely the latter, knowing me. I'm trying to fight against the packrat tendencies I inherited from my father.

One other thing. I mentioned in an earlier introductory paragraph how there was only one penciler who drew at least 10 issues of comics I purchased, and that was Paco Medina, 11 issues of Deadpool. The rest of the top 5 would be Nicola Scott (8.5 issues of Secret Six, and yeah I counted pages drawn to estimate that. I was bored that night). Andrea DiVito (8 issues of Nova), Brad Walker (7.5 of Guardians of the Galaxy), and Amanda Conner (7 issues of Power Girl) and Paul Pelletier (6 issues of War of Kings, plus 26 pages - basically 1 issue - of Secret Invasion: War of Kings). Hey, I went to the trouble of tallying those up, I'm not going to pass up the opportunity to toss them out there for kicks.

Power Girl 1-7 - I had my doubts intially about this title. The first arc was not great, as Ultra-Humanite's motivations seemed to change within a single issue, but there was a nice "day in the life of" story, then the alien party girls showed up, and Power Girl got to solve the problem by doing more than just punching, putting the fact she's a trusted super-hero to work. Then Vartox showed up, and I really want to see how that story plays out.

The book's had the same creative team for each issue. Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti writing, Amanda Conner taking care of the art. Having a book that can keep the same people on it is wonderful.

High Point: I'm fond of #4, because I like seeing Power Girl and Terra interact. Plus, Power Girl later headbutted a rampaing monster, and sometimes, direct solutions are the best. Or at least the most entertaining. That scene where she tried to wash her cat was pretty funny, too. I have to at least mention #7, because it introduced me to the Blue Snowman, and I'm always up for a villain who has awesome tech and uses it to steal jewels, gold, or money.

Low Point: It seemed as though in the first issue, it went from Ultra-Humanite planning to trade Power Girl in exchange for the city, to him threatening the city so she'd let him transfer his brain into her body. I didn't quite follow the shift. Still, if the low point came right off, then it's only been uphill since then, right.

Secret Invasion; War of Kings - Black Bolt decides it's time for the Inhumans to kick some ass. So they hunt down the remaining Skrulls and, as far as they know, exterminate them. They also destroy some Shi'ar vessels, which gives looney toon Vulcan an excuse to go to war. Meanwhile, the Inhumans are busy conquering the Kree, but not canceling out that marriage between Crystal and Ronan, to Crystal's distress.

It's a space book, so as you might expect, Abnett and Lanning were on the case as writers. Paul Pelletier drew about 2/3rds of the book, and Bong Dazo (who for some reason, didn't get his name on the cover) drew the rest.

Secret Six 5-16 - I don't enjoy this book as much as I think I ought to, and I'm not sure why. I find (or have found at some point) all the characters intriguing or entertaining over the course of the run. There have been particular issues or scenes I really like, but story arcs I felt cold about. Maybe I'm too much of a goody-goody, since the book makes no bones about the fact these are at best, morally ambiguous people who do both good and bad things as they see fit.

Gail Simone wrote every issue except #15, which was written by John Ostrander. Peter Nguyen drew #16, Jim Calafiore drew #15, Carlos Rodriguez drew #8 (except for 3 pages by Amanda Gould), and 5 pages in both #13 and #14. Nicola Scott drew everything else, before I assume, being shunted over to that Blackest Night: Wonder Woman mini-series. Bummer.

High Point: There's some competition, but I'm going with #8, the date night issue. I'm a sucker for those "day in the life" issues, I admit it, but it was kind of nice to Liana discussing her view on the world with these three people who have very different experiences from her, and even Deadshot was nice to her. He only promsied not to kill anyone, but he refrained from making fun of Liana's views, which was kind of sweet.

Low Point: There's not a particular moment that leaps out. Oh wait, I just thought of one. The final page of issue #5. That reveal of Junior. Gads, that's going to compete with the old gypsy trying to gumbite that girl in Drag Me To Hell in my nightmares. I never needed to see either of those things.

Shang-Chi Master of Kung Fu - It was a big one shot, with four different pieces to it. There was Jonathan Hickman and Kody Chamberlin's story about Shang-Chi and Deadpool in a crazy bike race. There was the subtitled Mike Benson/Tomm Coker and C.P. Smith where Shang-Chi deals with the sort of stuff that comes with being the Master of Kung Fu. Charlie Huston and Enrique Romero had Shang-Chi meet and old friend. And Robin Furth and Paul Gulacy gave us a story about Shang-Chi completing his training. The whole thing was OK, though the motorcycle story was more about Deadpool and how many crazy ideas Hickman could add, I thought.

Street Fighter Legends: Chun-Li 1-4 - This was my first foray into comics set in the Street Fighter unvierse, and it's not exactly an origin story, more it adds some stuff into the gaps in Chun-Li's history. I'm guessing there hadn't been much exploration of her time as a cop before her father was murdered and she joined Interpol.

The comic's well done. Ken Siu-Chong writes, and Omar Dogan draws, and I think they both do good work, but because the comic takes place before certain events that have to happen, it limits what can happen in the story a bit.

High Point: I liked Li and her partner chasing after the two slightly incompetent crooks in the first issue, with the one guy forgetting to reload his gun after a robbery. It was funny, plus there was kicking, and that's always a plus.

Low Point: The big showdown with Sagat at the end of #4. This is where that problem about certain future events being set is a problem. See, our heroes can't do much more than annoy Sagat. They certainly can't beat him, because he has to suffer his first loss at the hands of Ryu, and that hasn't happened yet, so he can't lose here or he won't be unbeaten when Ryu beats him, you dig? I suppose I should have considered that going in, and the scene's not a bad one, as one of the characters faces a crisis of conscience that's been brewing and that was well done, but I was still annoyed.

Thunderbolts 131, 132, 139 - The first two issues I bought because it was a crossover with Deadpool. I guess I shouldn't have bothered, and should have instead looked at it as a test of how helpful Marvel's recap pages actually are. That's why they're there, right? Andy Diggle wrote those, and Bong Dazo drew them.

The other issue I purchased because it had the Agents of Atlas in it. Which is no surprise since Jeff Parker's writing the book now. The question is whether I'll buy next week's conclusion to the story, because I did not care for Miguel Sepulveda's art, or the coloring for that matter. That may end up keeping me away.

War of Kings 1-6 - The Inhuman/Kree Aliance (plus an assist from the Starjammers) versus the Shi'ar. With bit parts for the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Fraternity of Raptors. Abnett and Lanning doing the writing Pelletier doing the pencils.

This is kind of like the Street Fighter mini-series for me. It was well done, but left me a bit cold. I like that it doesn't play favorites between the sides, that both of them are threatening the unvierse, and both of them are run by people too stubborn or cocky to stop what they're doing. I like the potential that's been set-up for Cosmic Marvel, but then again, I liked the set-up after Annihilation, and to a lesser extent, Annihilation: Conquest too. The question is if they'll let things settle long enough to do something with it. Since this is Marvel, the answer is probably no.

High Point: Single moment is from #3, as the Starjammers and Guardians try to rescue Lilandra. As the fight rages, we have Imperial Schmoe Smasher rushing in, with the line 'Accessing hyper-strength upload from my exospecs.' Then he's greeted with a punch and Drax' 'Accessing fist.', followed by more punching. Hilarious. Also, I enjoyed the interactions between Ronan and Crystal throughout. They cared more about the Kree than any of the other members of the Royal Family, and while I'm not sure about Crystal, I think Ronan came to regard it as more than just a ceremonial marriage.

Low Point: Again, nothing really leaps to mind, though I think it's strange that the Royal Family would make this T-Bomb Contingency, and only tell certain members about it. Medusa and Karnak knew, but not Crystal or Gorgon. Do they not count? But really, the series killed, at least for now, Vulcan. I'm going to be hard-pressed to find fault with it.

War of Kings: Darkhawk 2 - I never received the first issue, but considering how little I enjoyed this one, not much of an issue there. I guess the Fraternity of Raptors is a ncie idea, but the retconning of Darkhawk's origin still annoyed me, along with how hard they push this thing about Chris Powell having anger management problems caused by the amulet apparently.

C.B. Cebulski wrote it, with I assume input from Abnett and Lanning. Harvey Tolibar and Paolo Pantalena drew the issue, and two artist might explain why the armor looks so different from one scene to the next, as they draw things like the helmet and wings very differently. I don't think that's a good thing.

X-Men versus Agents of Atlas 1, 2 - Venus goes missing, so the X-Men try to steal Cerebro so Bob can use it to find her. The X-Men object. Fighting and telepathic wackiness ensue. Namor stops the fighting by being Namor. The Agents locate and rescue Venus, and I think that leads into the backup stories in Incredible Hercules.

Jeff Parker writes both issues, but just because it's only two issues, that doesn't mean they can't use 700 artists. Issue #1, there's Carlos Pagulayan, and Chris Samnee for the backup story that appears (but is not actually) set in the past. Then you get to #2, and in addition to those two, you add Carlos Rodriguez and Gabriel Hardman. OK fine, only 4 artists.

High Point: I like the back-and-forth between Wolverine and M-11. I like Namor being himself, bossing people around in a loud voice, and making sure everyone knows how annoyed he is that they can't do anything without him. I also like Jimmy Woo kicking Cyclops in the head.

Low Point: I wasn't clear on why Xavier was in the infirmary, or how it was his mind seemed to get sucked into the mess of shared memories between members of Atlas and the X-Men.

OK, I have one more part I'm going to do tomorrow, and then we'll see what I can come up with after that.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Where We Bicker Over Many Things Unrelated To Each Other

CalvinPitt: {So your problem is he was using steroids without an appropriate medical reason for the amounts he used?}

Adorable Baby Panda: Well, he was breaking the law!

Calvin: {OK, I can go with that more readily than all the stuff about disrespecting the game, and the fans, and tarnishing people's memories, and so on. That just reeks of that entitlement that's a step away from "He raped my childhood!"}

ABP: You wouldn't know about that, would you?

Calvin: {Of course I would! You were here when Civil War and One More Day were going on. You know I was well-versed in shrill possessiveness of things which don't actually belong to me!}

ABP: I don't think that's what those folks are saying. And I was being sarcastic again.

Calvin: {And I'll tell you, again, to quit trying to put me out of a job. Sarcasm is my side of the street, bucko.}

Yeah, sure, whatever. {Wait a minute. You don't even care about sports! Why were you arguing with me about this?} 'Cause you said we needed something to stretch the post out? {Oh right. Sorry. I'm getting old and feeble, so my mind's not what it used to be.} Neither is your hairline. {Cheap shot. Even Deadpool wouldn't have taken said that.} Yes he would have! {OK, yes he would have. But you shouldn't emulate him.} But he's so cool! I can totally stab and shoot people like he does! {No you can't! Your mother would tear me apart if you do that! Actually, my knees are shaking just thinking about it. . .}

Let's talk about Secret Six then. {Thank you.} I agree with you, Nightshade needs a Bonk for punching Bane. That was a waste of time. I'm giving Bane some Applause because he told Alice she did a nice job. {Positive reinforcement for his positive reinforcement?} Yes. {Nice choice.} Are you positively reinforcing my positive reinforcement of Bane's positive reinforcement? {Uh, hang on a sec, *mumbles to self, draws little diagram in the air* Yes?} Cool. {Hang on, there was someone I had in mind, uh Virtuosa. Now I can't decide whether she should get a hug because her meeting with her idol went so poorly, or a bonk for trying to beat Ragdoll by making him contort himself.} Well, that does sound like waste of time, but I'd rather give her a Hug. {Fine. Can you bonk Catman for biting? That's cheap.} Biting isn't cheap! It's a good strategy! {You never hit anyone I ask you to anymore. What happened, you used to be cool.} I'm still cool, and I'm still not hitting him. {Shoot.}

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What I Bought 1/13/2010

The temperature here has actually gotten above freezing each of the last three days. Prior to that, it hadn't topped that level since New Year's Eve. I'm sure that's not unusual for folks up in Minnesota, but it's a bit atypical for this neck of the woods. In other news, this was a very small week for me. Naturally, next week I'll have something like 5 books, but just one this week. It's a bit of a bummer, but it does mean today's post will be quick, and I can get back to watching my complete set of the Adventures of Brisco County Jr. It's funny, I've finished the first three episodes, and I don't think he's fired one shot.

Secret Six #17 - Look at that cover. Bronze Tiger looks like some kind of giant werecat. It's a travesty. OK, it's not that bad, but it's not good. This comic follows up from last week's Suicide Squad #67, as Amanda Waller finally lets her legion of Multiplexes starting burning the Six's base, while the rest of the Six try to defend themselves against the Squad, then against Black Lanterns.

Certain questions I had while reading. What was the deal with the gargoyle? The Six's base in called the House of Secrets, which was one of DC's old horror titles, so were live gargoyles a feature of that place? Why would Nightshade be kicking and punching Bane? Why not make a shadow gorilla (or something), and have that pummel him? It'd be considerably more effective? Have Count Vertigo's powers always been able to cause hallucinations? I thought he just screwed with your physical equilibrium, not your emotional state, but he's got Bane seeing a bunch of creepy, laughing Batmen.

I think there's also at least one coloring error. Black Lantern Yasmin says she sees Rick Flag trying to overwhelm his fear with Will, but the picture shows green with a tinge of red, which is Rage. Shouldn't it be yellow peeking through? Or were they saying Flag represses his fear very well, but his rage, not so much? I did think the similar panel on the next page of Deadshot, where it's mostly black with just emotions bare cracking through was well done. Calafiore does his typical work as pencilier. Draws a decently creepy Black Lantern, makes sure everything is clearly represented, but nothing spectacular.

I would like this story a lot more without the Black Lanterns. Just Waller being her controlling self, trying to drag Deadshot back in, and destroy the Six while she's at it. As a result, I like all the parts of this issue that revolve around that concept quite a bit. It's not that the Black Lantern stuff is poorly done. I like Yasmin's dig at Rick Flag, and I will admit the idea of a Black Lantern trying to similarly mess with The Wall's emotions is intriguing (mostly because I'd like to see the BL's reaction when it fails). On the whole though, it's not my cup of tea. Still, there's at least half a comic here I enjoyed, for what that's worth ($3 apparently).

That's the week's comics for me. Blog at ya tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

2009 Comics In Review - Part 3

Some silly statistical stuff about my comic purchases this year. Like I said, I bought 144 comics this year, which is the same amount I bought last year. The number of DC comics dropped from 38 to 26, Marvel increased slightly from 99 to 104, and all other publishers doubled from 7 to 14 comics. It's not a conscious choice, other than I decided to give a Street Fighter comic a chance (I'll get to that in Part 4). I'm not sure why there's less DC exactly, beyond the obvious that there were fewer comics I was interested in, which is probably connected to my disinterest in Blackest Night or Battle for the Cowl. One thing the increased amount of Marvel comics tells me is I need to be more discerning because a lot of those aren't making it into the collection.

Immortal Iron Fist 22-27 - This is the fourth Marvel title I've covered so far that was canceled this year, and it won't be the last. Danny Rand and the Immortal Weapons found the 8th City, learned the horrible secret behind the people trapped there, and tried to do the right thing. Also, HYDRA destroyed Danny's company, and he proposed to Misty Knight, who is pregnant.

Duane Swierczynski wrote all the issues, and Travel Foreman was the primary penciler in all of them except #24. Issue 24 focused on Li Park, the pacifist Iron Fist, and was drawn by Kano (the artist for Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter). Other than issue 22, Foreman shared penciling duties with other artists in every issue, starting with Tonci Zonjic and Timothy Green II in #23, Juan Doe in #25 and 26, and David Lapham and Timothy Green in #27.

High Point: #24, the story of Li Park and his fanciful vision. It was interesting to read about a reluctant Iron Fist, one whose inclination was to settle things without fighting. It's a bit sad he wasn't able to be successful that way, but it was still a nice story, and illustrated another use for the Iron Fist, though I'm guessing he's the one who Orson Randall adopted the hypnosis trick from. Plus, I like Kano's art more than Travel Foreman's.

Low Point: The final issue, I suppose. I enjoyed all the stories Swierczynski wrote during his tenure on the book, but the art tended to frustrate me, and in this issue, it was especially irritating. The art seem undetailed, like Foreman and Lapham were rushed to finish, and the colorist tried to help by making backgrounds shadowy blobs.

Immortal Weapons 1-5 - The mini-series that immediately followed the cancelation of Immortal Iron Fist, each issue focusing on a different one of the other Weapons, with a short story about Danny Rand and one of his students searching for her brother serving as a backup feature in each issue.

Swierczynski wrote each part of the backup, and Foreman drew two of them, but then it switched to Hatuey Diaz for the last three parts. Not sure why. Diaz prefers larger panels and more closeups on characters than Foreman, though they both seem to favor using lots of little lines, but their styles don't seem that similar. As for the main features, Fat Cobra was written by Jason Aaron, with Mico Suayan, Stefano Gaudiano, Roberto De La Torre, Khari Evans, Victor Olazaba, Michael Lark, and Arturo Lozzi on pencils. Cullen Bunn wrote the Bride of Nine Spiders story, with Dan Brereton on pencils (and 3 inkers scattered throughout). Rick Spears wrote of Dog Brother #1, with Timothy Green II on pencils. Swierczynski and Khari Evans covered Tiger's Beautiful Daughter, and David Lapham teamed with Arturo Lozzi to teach us a bit about the Prince of Orphans.

High Point: Maybe I'm a sucker for Timothy Green's art, which I enjoy even though he also uses many little lines, but the Dog Brother #1 story was my favorite. Part of it might be its grounding in historical events, or the clarity of his purpose. With the other weapons, its less clear what their purpose is, beyond serving their particular city. This gave Dog Brother #1 something beyond that, and in general his seems a different Weapon from the others. The Fat Cobra story was more amusing, but on the whole, I'll stick with Dog Brother.

Low Point: I was disappointed in the Bride of 9 Spiders story. The art didn't help. I thought maybe everything looks skewed because the characters are hallucinating throughout, but even before all that starts, the characters look odd. I guess if the goal is to keep the Bride a figure whose motivations are a mystery it works, but if that's the case, I don't think the art helped, because she wasn't drawn as being mysterious, more as an odd woman.

Marvel Adventures Avengers 36 - Tigra releases a genie at a swap meet, and the genie wants revenge on the Hulk for something he hasn't done yet. Tigra struggles with the temptation to try and wish the problem away, based on her fear the wish will go awry. Paul Tobin writes it and Jacopo Camagni handles the art, and it was kind of fun. I didn't laugh, but it was nice to see Tigra have a good showing.

Marvel Assistant-Sized Spectacular 2 - The tag is a bunch of assistant editors can't get their bosses to listen to their ideas so they get together in an elevator to pitch their ideas to each other. It wasn't as funny as I hoped, though Luke Cage crying over the closing of the neighborhood Cuban sandwich shop was a little amusing. Wyatt Cenac and Todd Nauck handled that story. Adam Warren and Hector Sevilla Lujan gave us a story about Galactus' mostly benevolent daughter living on Earth. Chris Yost and Joh James handled a quick monster battle starring Elsa Bloodstone.

Moon Knight 26-30 - And here's the 5th title I was buying this year that was canceled (OK, I think this is the last one). If it hadn't been canceled, I would have dropped it anyway, as the last arc left a bad taste in my mouth with its ending. Mike Benson and Jefte Palo handled all 5 issues.

High Point: There's a scene in #29 involving Russian mobsters, who are in Mexico to establish a business relationship. They're relaxing in their suite, complaining about the lack of girls, their disinterest in the local girls and local food, when a housekeeping lady comes in with more drinks. One of the mobsters decides to grab her rear, and compliments her on it. Then he dies, because it was actually the Punisher in a wig, and he's a Russian mobster, and shooting Russian mobsters in the head is what Frank Castles do the best.

Low Point: Issue #30. Moon Knight is going after Alcantra, the guy who tried to use him to get his daughter out of police protection so she could be killed before she turned evidence against her dad. However, by the time he gets their, most of the guards are dead. The Punisher is there, helping himself to Alcantra's booze, but he didn't do it. Moonie reaches Alcantra, and on the ceiling is the one who did, the Toltec, who likes to chop Alcantra's soldiers up. He and Moon Knight eye each other, and Moon Knight leaves so Toltec can do as he pleases. That's it. Moon Knight does nothing to Alcantra, and there's no big showdown with the Toltec. I felt completely hoodwinked. Boo!

Nova 21-32 - The Worldmind set up shop on Ego, the Living Planet. This didn't end well. It also started mass recruitment of people for the Nova Corps, then immediately threw them into War of Kings. That didn't end well either. Richard had the Nova Force taken from him, and learned without it, he was going to die. Wendell Vaughn let him borrow the Quantum Bands until Rich could get the Nova Force back and fix the Worldmind. So now the Nova Corps is rebuilding, slowly. They've run into Monark Starslayer, and now Nova and Darkhawk have to contend with the Sphinx.

Like Guardians of the Galaxy, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning handle all the writing chores. Wellinton Alves drew #21, Kevin Sharpe handled #25, 29, and 30, and Andrea DiVito penciled the rest. By the by, when Kevin Sharpe penciled Nova #25, he was the 8th different penciler the title had - in its first 25 issues. That's Supergirl level artist turnover, and I didn't even include the two other pencilers used on Nova Annual #1 in early 2008.

High Point: Moment of badass comes from #26. The Worldmind's been offline, leaving the rookie Centurions on their own, and they're in trouble, calling for help. Imperial Guardsman Warstar tears through the hull of the wrecked ship they're hiding in and proclaims 'Warstar is here to snap your neck in the name of Emperor Vulcan.' From off-panel comes 'Authorize lethal force', and Warstar's done. Nova Prime is back on the field, ladies and gentleman. Other moment is from #28, as Nova smooth-talks King Blastaar into letting Nova leave with his injured brother and some prisoners. This scene added Nova to the list of cosmic heroes that riled Blastaar in 2009.

Low Point: There wasn't an issue I particularl didn't like, but in general, I was overjoyed when Nova got back into space. I was really tired of him being on Earth, and was glad he escaped before the book could get sucked into Dark Reign bullshit. Yeah, slapping Dark Reign on the cover would probably briefly help sales, but that doesn't mean it would be better to read. So let's say #23, since that was the last issue before he received the Quantum Bands and had a way to get away from Earth.

Patsy Walker: Hellcat 5 - It's kind of a bummer this mini-series ended back in February, since that means it'sbeen so long I've kind of forgotten how much I enjoyed it. Of course, if it stayed on schedule, it would have finished in 2008, and I could have raved unreservedly about it then. Oh well. Hellcat gets Ssangyong to go home, gets Ssangyong's dad to quit running away, and gets the girl's mothers to ease up on her a little. Patsy may have developed the ability to use maigc, rather than just sense it. Kathryn Immonen and David LaFuente handled writing and penciling duties, just as they did for the first four issues.

Phantom: Generations 5 - Like that Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth issue, I didn't order this, but it did show up in my shipment when I was out in the boonies, so here we are. It was a bit different, as the art and writing weren't combined. There would be one page with story (Written by Martin Gately), and the opposite page was a single drawing depicting something described on the story page (drawn by Enrique Alcatena). This was the story of the Phantom pursuing a crazed pirate from the Mediterranean all the way to the Sherwood Forest, all as the pirate grows steadily madder. Throw in some released jungle critters, and it's not going to be easy for the Phantom.

All right, that does it for today! Since tomorrow is New Comic Day, I'll be holding off until Friday for Part 4. It's going to be a lot like Part 1 was, I think, with lots of titles, most of which won't have very many issues.

Monday, January 11, 2010

2009 Comics In Review - Part 2

Fewer titles to get through today, though I'm not certain that means things will go any faster. More issues per title, so more to discuss in that manner. This year, I bought 144 new monthly comics (as usual, I'm not going to try and factor in trades or back issues, since I don't keep meticulous records of when I bought such things), and there was only one artist who drew 10 of those comics (the answer to who in this post!). Which might not be surprising, since there were only 5 titles I purchased at least 10 issues of this year. Still, I don't know if it means there just aren't many artists who can keep to a monthly schedule, or if more books are shifting to rotating artists because they can tell different kinds of stories with them. Or they using different artists to illustrate different time periods in the same issue, as Agents of Atlas did.

Deadpool 6-18 - The book stayed pretty heavily immersed in Dark Reign this year, which made a certain amount of sense, as it established that Norman Osborn killed the Skrull Queen with info Deadpool was gathering for Nick Fury, which Norman stole and used to aid his rise to power. So Wade contended with Killer Shark, the Thunderbolts, and Bullseye, the last one eventually paying him to lay low. In Deadpool's world, this means becoming a pirate, then trying to join the X-Men, which unfortunately tipped off Norman that Deadpool's not dead after all.

Daniel Way wrote all 13 issues, and Paco Medina drew 11 of them. That would be the answer promised in the opening paragraph. Aren't you glad I got to it quickly, rather than making you wade through the entire thing? Shawn Crystal handled the two-part story where Deadpool looks into a career in nautical thievery.

High Point: It was pure filler, but the extended hallucination in Deadpool #8, where we see a skewed version of Jack and the Beanstalk, starring Norman Osborn as a stupid giant. I laughed a lot. As far as an actual story, the pirate arc. I think Crystal's art makes characters look stranger, more exaggerated, and that works well for Deadpool, with his madness and all. Credit to Medina, he's better at altering his style some for the hallucinations. I wish he'd do it more often.

Low Point: The Thunderbolts arc, I guess. I mean, the X-Men arc felt a bit pointless, because I thought it was supposed to be about Deadpool being himself and seeing if the heroes would accept him, and I'm not convinced he did that, instead playing into what they expect of him. Still, the Thunderbolts arc was pointless, and I've never figured out when Taskmaster was inside Avengers Tower during the initial battle. He says he was there, because he says in Deadpool #9 he's not going back, but I never got the impression he was there at all.

Deadpool 900 - I couldn't decide whether to include this with the ongoing, since it shares its title, or with Deadpool Team-Up, whose numbering seems to follow this comic's. Ultimately, I figured I'd just keep it by itself. A grab-bag issue with several short stories by different creative teams of various levels of humor and interest to me. Also, they included an old Deadpool Team-Up that revealed before he gained the healing factor, he was an up and coming sumo wrestler. Sure, why not?

As far as creative teams go, we have Jason Aaron/Chris Staggs (alien abduction gone awry), Fred van Lente/Dalibor Talajic (battle with superpowered mimes), Mike Benson/Daimon Scott (visit to a psychiatrist), Joe Kelly/Rob Liefeld (Deadpool checks in on a 20-year old bet, and kills a man by jamming a live dog down his throat), Duane Swierczynski/Shawn Crystal (making fun of CSI), Victor Gischler/Sanford Greene (what happens when you meet Doc Ock on a sea cruise), Charlie Huston/Kyle Baker (Deadpool ponders his existence), James Felder/Pete Woods (that old issue they included). I was fond of the mime story and the CSI one myself. The former, because mimes as adversaries is good fun, and the latter because, even though I've been known to watch such procedurals, they can be kind of ridiculous.

Deadpool Team-Up 899 - Fred van Lente and Dalibor Talajic combine their talents to have Deadpool and Hercules confront their inner fears at the hands of Arcade and Nightmare (whose design reminds me of one of the villains from the first season of the anime Big O). It was sort of mildly funny, not as much as I was hoping for with Arcade in the mix, but we can probably chalk that up to unrealistic expectations on my part. It was a complete story in one issue, and our heroes don't spend too much time angsting over their problems, not when they can be celebrating a victory in Tijuna. Is that how you spell that? That's how it is in the comic, but it looks wrong. Hang on. Whadda ya know, that is the proper spelling.

And with that, we're done with Deadpool!

Audience: *Raucous cheering*

Except for a brief bit at the end of the alphabet. Sorry.

Audience: *Booing like they were Patriot fans at yesterday's playoff game*

Exiles 1-6 - Another title Jeff Parker wrote that was canceled within the same year it started. I don't think it's his fault, as they started this volume two months after the end of Claremont's New Exiles, and I think that title really killed fan interest in the Exiles. Probably needed to lay fallow for a couple of years. Maybe creating all new characters for the team, as Winick mostly did would have helped too, I'm not sure. Marvel and DC fans don't seem to be huge fans of new characters these days.

Anyway, before the title ended, the Exiles saved mutantkind in one reality by wrecking an alliance between the X-Men and the Brotherhood, and saved all humanity from a rogue Cerebro. Then they learned the truth behind the Exiles and the multiverse, at least for right now. Jeff Parker wrote all the issues, Salva Espin drew issues 1, 2, and 6, as well as most of #3. Casey Jones drew the rest.

High Point: I really liked the first issue, especially the bit where Morph explains the deal with the multiverse (as he understood it), and why the Exiles are needed. I think it was all the forms he took as he gave his lecture that amused me, the sort of '20s sports fan outfit he came up with as the Panther asked what would happen as they fail. That outfit, combined with 'That's the spirit, go Team Exile!' makes me laugh every time. Alternatively, the Panther's sucker punch of Havok in Exiles #3. Because Havok needs to be sucker-punched often.

Low Point: All that exposition about Kangs and the Panoptichron really confused me. Probably not Parker's fault, since I think he'd have teased it out more slowly if he had time.

GrimJack: Manx Cat 1-5 - John Gaunt, aka GrimJack, retrieves the Manx Cat, which draws the ire of another thief, the person he stole it from, and other interested parties. Which drags Gaunt deeper into the mess, where he realizes the Cat is more than a bauble, and sends him into the past to learn the truth behind it, and possibly meet a previous version of himself. Maybe.

The original GrimJack team of John Ostrander and Timothy Truman are on the case here.

High Point: Issue #3. Gaunt fights a possessed rival, fends off the advances of a shapeshifter, starts to understand the power of the Manx Cat, and we learn of the existence of the Kucinich Ring, which I think is the concept of the year. Plus, for newbs to the GrimJack universe, it provides a bit more insight into his past, letting us know some of what he's lived through.

Low Point: Nothing comes to mind.

Guardians of the Galaxy 9-21 - Much as Deadpool was mired in Dark Reign, this title was involved in War of Kings from the start of the year nearly to the end. I can tolerate it more in this instance, since the same minds, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, are behind this title and War of Kings. This title also started the trend for 2009 to be the year Marvel's cosmic characters get on Blastaar's bad side (presumably 2010 will be the year they face the consequences), aw Phyla-Vell bring Moondragon back from the dead, though lose the Quantum Bands. We saw Adam Warlock save the universe from the Fault, but lose himself, and several teammates. We saw Star-Lord potentially be used by Kang, and Phyla not help the Guardians of the Galaxy's relationship with the Kree.
Abnett and Lanning wrote all the issues. I'm not sure who is responsible for what, so I guess it's a true collaborative effort. Carlos Magno drew half of issue #9, Brad Walker drew the rest of that issue, and all of 7 others. Wesley Craig handled the remaining 5, and while he could stand to improve his clarity in big crowd fight scenes, he knows how to draw weird, wild stuff, big stuff. Which is the kind of thing you need for a book like this, set out in space, where you run into weird stuff all the time.

High Point: It's a tie. The first 2 issues of the year, with the rest of the team trying to find and rescue Star-Lord, and Star-Lord trying to not help Blastaar escape the Negative Zone was a lot of fun, as Blastaar can be a pretty funny guy, as he attempts to act like a smart, imposing king, but can't quite pull it off. Also, it added Jack Flag to the team, a character who is legitimately feeling out of his depth with the cosmic stuff. The other story would be #16 and 18, as Starhawk draws half the team into her future, shows them what the War of Kings will bring about. Then the team gets bounced from one reality to the next, as most of them are at different ages, except Jack Flag, who is gradually fading from existence. Old Geezer Star-Lord, plus the Badoon creating a force field to preserve a little of the universe, by enslaving Celestials to serve as a cage around an engine they built from the dying Sun. That would be a strong runner-up for my concept of the year.

Low Point: I'm tempted to say the big fight at the end of #19, since it killed several characters I liked, but I'm pretty sure there's going to be some time travel stuff going on that will be able to reverse it, so I'm not too bothered. You know I'm right. Kang was involved, and what about Jack Flag's destiny to die saving existence? So maybe issue #20, with its heavy focus on Moondragon, who I'm not terribly interested. Plus, it (and #21) have continued the trend of the Luminals being complete morons, who always put their foot in it. Which is getting tedious. Hopefully, Cynosure is going to do something good here soon, but I'm not betting on it.

Tomorrow, slightly more titles than today, because there are more canceled series for me in the middle of the alphabet!