Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Killing Monsters With A Shield Instead Of A Sword

Remember when I talked about Genji: Dawn of the Samurai immediately following one boss battle with another? Genji's got nothing on Rygar: The Legendary Adventures.

In less than the last half-hour of the game, Rygar fights dual-sword wielding Icarus* on an island in the sky, then leaps after him into Tartarus to finish the job only to be confronted with a five-headed monster. Instead of the heads being dragons, or snakes, something mundane, they were human baby heads**. Fire-breathing human baby heads. That was followed by about five minutes of running across paths in Tartarus and fighting cannon fodder, before I battled an invisible Minotaur. I don't know why it was invisible, it just was. Right after that, Rygar is forced to fight the product of Chronos trying to form a new body by merging with Rygar's mother***.

The game calls the monster "Echidna", but its head is more similar to Moasaurus (an illustration of which I've included in the post). It has huge, useless paws, and two long tentacles, like a squid. It also has lightning powers, and can send out swarms of spiders that release poisonous fumes when killed or they suicide crash into Rygar. Beat that, and Rygar has to square off with Chronos himself, who is a dual sword wielding floating skeleton in a suit of armor. Metal. Beat that, and you win. Good thing, as once again I was one hit from death when I triumphed. It's too bad, I find that diminishes the sense of accomplishment, and replaces it with relief. It's better than coming close to victory only to fail, but it's too near a thing to enjoy right then. That's what end game cut scenes and the credits are for.

There's a save point after the Minotaur fight, but no spot where the health is replenished because I reached a different level or anything similar. Health boosts will come along if you're lucky, but have to try and ration those. I didn't win by any flashy or clever method. I kept summoning up the Siren, one of the beings the various Diskarmors can call forth, to freeze them with her powers. It hurts them a little, and keeps them in one place long enough for me to hit them some more. I wasn't as good at avoiding attacks with Rygar as I was in Genji, but Rygar's not as agile as Yoshitsune, either. And the times I remembered I was carrying a shield, and should perhaps try blocking attacks, they were attacks I couldn't block.

The backstory is kind of insane. Something about Alexander the Great going too far, and when Aristotle and a woman they both may have loved tried to rouse the people against Alexander, it backfired. And now some of the folks are reincarnations, and I'm not sure who Rygar's dad was, Julius Caesar, I think (his name's Caesarion), and I'm not sure how that's supposed to tie-in with the Hellenic stuff, but there it is. Fortunately, that stuff only really comes out if you a) bother to read the tablets and scrolls you find, and b) if you pay attention during the overly dramatic cut scenes. If you want to ignore all of it, and just focus on "save princess****, kill ugly monsters" that works pretty well, too.

I wish there was more freedom to use the Diskarmors various skills. You can swing from place to place with it, or use it to scale ledges, or pull things towards you. That could be a lot of fun in a wide open explorable environment, like what they had in the Spider-Man 2 game, or Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. You are able to go back to earlier places in the game once a power-up has been acquired, so Rygar can reach things he couldn't before, but it's still pretty limited.

* Not the cutsey one from Nintendo's Kid Icarus, but a shirtless blue guy with the lower half of his face covered with cloth.

** Not that each head was an entire human baby. Each head was simply the head of a human baby. Still very freaky looking. I think Rygar died a couple of times before I got past how freaky it was and could fight back successfully.

*** Who is Cleopatra. Yeah, and Icarus is the soul of Aristotle corrupted by the blood of Chronos or something to that effect.

**** Ever since X-Play pointed out the resemblance in their review of the game years ago, I can't look at the princess in Rygar without seeing Britney Spears. I don't know if it's intentional or not, but it takes me out of the game, because it amuses me for a moment.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dealing With The Dead Is Always Dicey

A few days ago, I managed to be both Echo Night Beyond and Genji: Dawn of the Samurai in one evening. Turns out the boss battle immediately followed by a boss battle was the end of Genji. Which was fine with me, since I was one hit from death myself when I won. I doubt I could have beaten even one ordinary enemy without dying. There's nothing else for me to say about Genji I didn't say back in December.

As for Echo Night Beyond, I was maybe halfway through when I started playing that day. I played for a couple of hours and called it quits right before a difficult bit. A walkthrough I was checking gave me the impression that was the last hard spot in the game, so I went for it. I made it through relatively easily, and the only trouble I had from there on was because I hadn't picked up a piece of paper with an official letterhead in the early stages. At the time, I was more concerned with not being killed by the little girl ghost, and then I was busy being happy I hadn't been killed by the little girl ghost. Looking back, I find it a little funny that the ghost I'd have the most trouble appeasing would be one hung up on bureaucracy.

As I mentioned, the last dangerous point comes not too far after the midway. That's because, as I moved through the station, I used the ventilation systems to clear away the fog. In the fog, all ghosts are angry, attacking the moment they become aware of Richard. Once the fog is dispelled, they cease to be a threat. The upside is as the game progressed, I felt more secure. The downside is the game loses some of its horror feel, because there are fewer and fewer places I need to worry about. I'm still on edge every time I enter those locations (and I make it a point to hustle through them as quickly as possible), especially when the fog is thick and my searchlight can't do much, but the station doesn't seem quite so ominous.

There was one other spot where I was nervous. Near the end I found a room with three bodies trapped behind a frozen door, two of their ghosts standing outside the room. Both ghosts told me, in no uncertain terms, to get out. Even though there was no fog, these spirits were angry at me in particular (turns out my character is heavily involved in what went wrong), rather than being enraged by whatever properties the fog has, and I wondered if they might decide to attack. It would have been a complete reversal of the rules the game had played by up until then, but I wasn't prepared to rule it out. They didn't attack, though, and I was able to give them something that convinced them to move on. It was a tense moment all the same.

I can't tell how many ghosts know they're dead. A lot of them want things of no emotional significance. Food, liquor, proper paperwork. One ghost was seated in a sealed jail cell, awaiting release. You're a ghost, just float out! Additionally, several of them talk about heading back to Earth once they've been helped. Maybe Earth is meant to represent Heaven, with them trapped in Purgatory. Or maybe the bottom level of Hell. It's cold on the dark side of the moon (though we have to be on the lit side, since the Earth is plainly visible), also airless, dead, generally unchanging. I don't have the impression any of them made it to Earth, at any rate, since they vanish in a flash of light. So perhaps Earth is simply a stand-in for a better place.

There are four different endings to the game. Two endings if I don't help all the ghosts (or if I do and don't accept the android's master key to the sub-basement where the Big Reveal awaits), and two if I do help all ghosts and find the Big Reveal. Beyond that, which the ending depends on whether I answered "yes" or "no" to an offer. I wouldn't say any of the endings are terribly satisfactory, since Richard winds up alone or dead in all of them. There is one with the potential to reshape reality, but it'll kill him to do it, so not much point. Which isn't to say he won't do it; the Big Reveal has probably left Richard feeling a little fragile.

I like the multiple endings aspect, but it's a little too easy. Silent Hill 2 had the same idea, but set it up so how I played throughout the game could decide things. Did I show interest in a particular character or not? Did I read all the notes on a certain ritual? Did I take care of James, or play recklessly? It was a more involved process. With Echo Night Beyond, I saved after freeing the last ghost, then went directly to the observatory and chose "yes". Then I restarted from that save, headed to the observatory and chose "no". Then I restarted again, went to get the master key, found the Big Reveal, went to the observatory, said "yes", then restarted once more so I could say "no". It was a little too simple to trigger the different endings, but they were all variations on the same theme, so maybe it didn't matter.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Player Makes The Journey, The Game Finishes It

Right before my last trip, I beat Dreamfall: The Longest Journey. It didn't feel particularly impressive as victories over video games go. The ending was so herky-jerky. I thought the game was over. Then it appeared as if things were simply jumping ahead a few months, and I'd pick up from there. If a sequel appears*, it probably is where things will start, because then the game did end.

The "Evil is triumphant" ending doesn't provide a feeling of accomplishment, either. Over the course of the game, I controlled three different players. Kian is arrested as a traitor to his people, and will be shipped back home, where he'll face a show trial before his likely execution. April Ryan wound up stabbed in the gut and fell into a swamp. Zoe was trying to save April, find her friend Reza, and stop Waticorp's plans to use their Dream software to control people. April's dead (maybe), Reza probably is as well, as Zoe knows someone's impersonating him, Waticorp's released their new dream program, her friend Lydia is either imprisoned or on the run, and Zoe's in a coma. There's a certain amount of hope. Kian isn't dead yet, we see April fall into the swamp, but no one bothered to confirm her being dead, and Zoe's dreamself is still active. Since that's the part of her that moves between worlds anyway (as opposed to her physical self, which is how April does it), she can still be an active player.

The problem is, there's no sign of that follow-up on the horizon. Which wouldn't be a terrible problem, normally. I'd like to see what the creators had planned, it's their brainchild. I could always make up an ending on my own. That's where the sense of history I enjoyed as I played works against me. Since there was a previous game, characters would reference events from that, and maybe even things that happened in between the two games. It provided a sense of a larger world. It leaves me feeling I don't really understand the rules for this universe, so I don't quite know what an appropriate ending would entail.

When I first talked about the game in February, I mentioned I had a hard time stopping, because there'd be a few minutes of gameplay, then some cut scenes. It made it seem easy to make progress. As the game continued, I became disenchanted, I felt more a bystander. More and more, the story seemed to occur as I sat and watched. That was the real issue with the ending. I walked all three characters to roughly the same place, then had to sat passively as their fates were decided. No opportunity to resist or escape, even if it would have been futile. It became less a game, more a movie. It's similar to what I've felt watching other people play the Metal Gear Solid games in the past. 20 minute movies of people explaining their tortured past or evil schemes while the player sits idly. It starts to feel less like something I'm taking an active hand in, which is not really what I'm interested in when it comes to video games.

* They announced a Dreamfall: The Lost Chapters in 2007, but nothing's come of it so far. Even if it does appear, I'd probably have to venture into computer gaming to play it, as it certainly isn't coming out on the XBox. The 360 maybe, but then I'd be buying a new console.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rambling About Silly Sci-Fi Flicks

If various channels hadn't been showing it practically every day this month already, I'd find it funny I came across Independence Day on TV the same day I mentioned it in my unfavorable review of 2012. As it is, I was maybe more surprised it was only showing on one channel. The only part that still holds up for me is when Goldbloom and Smith decide to launch the nuke, and since it'll blow them up too, they go ahead and show themselves to the alien in the control booth, waving jauntily while they prepare to blow up its ship. It's silly enough that no part of my mind wastes time on its absurdity, it's obvious.

Watching the movie, I couldn't understand the Secretary of Defense. He didn't tell the President one of this species of alien's ships had crashed on Earth decades ago, but that could be interpreted different ways, so it isn't a big deal. But why is he so resistant to Goldbloom's cockamamie plan? Yes, it's ridiculous that they're going to fly this ship that crashed decades ago up to the mothership, and upload a virus into the ship from an Apple laptop that will disable all shields for a few minutes, and armed forces worldwide will take down all the ships in that minimal amount of time. But what have they got to lose? The aliens (and in addition to everything else, did they need to be telepathic?) already made it clear they plan to exterminate humanity, so the worst that happens if it fails is everybody dies. Which was going to happen anyway.

Later, Predator 2 came on, and it occurred to me just how overkill the self-destruct thing is. It's actually kind of cowardly, or at least a fine example of a sore loser. The Predators are big game hunters, but I'm not aware of many human hunters who, when the Cape Buffalo has gored them and they're about to die, pull out a grenade to try and take their prey with them. Given the level of destruction from that wrist device, it might be more accurate to say humans don't call in an air strike when the buffalo gets them. If it was a smaller explosion, I could buy that the Predators were trying to cover their tracks, but the bombs take out ten square blocks, so that explanation doesn't work for me.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It Wouldn't Be A Trip To Alex's Without Bad Movies

There were two movies I watched over my week away I hadn't seen before. Unfortunately, neither of them was any good. Not that I was surprised by that. I'd heard enough about both to expect it. What did surprise me was how one the films was even worse than I expected, but the other had so little effect.

2012 - I ended up watching parts of this at Papafred's house after I was eliminated in the first two minutes of our second game of Bang!. If this had come out the same summer as Independence Day, I'd bet the younger me of back then would have loved it. The explosions, the nearly constant fleeing, the destruction of notable landmarks, yeah, Early-to-Mid-1990s Calvin would have eaten that up, no doubt. Now though, as I watched them fly their little twin-engine prop plane through the rift that had opened underneath them, and saw a subway come flying out of a tunnel into the chasm, to most likely slam into the opposite wall (though I can't rule out the train landing safely in the part of tunnel on the other side and continuing on, just for the sheer absurdity of it), I was thinking, "Oh come on." I was also thinking about how, yeah, an adolescent me would have loved that.

I couldn't find a reason to care about any of the characters, except to note that some of the deaths seem sort of mean-spirited. Like the movie was saying "This person doesn't deserve to live for Reason X, Y, or Z". Maybe if the movie could have done things in a ludicrous enough fashion for me to laugh, it could have worked in the "Horrible enough to be funny" way some movies do, but it was lucky to inspire eye-rolling when it could manage to hold my attention (I kept wandering into the dining room to check on the progress of the game). Ultimately, I wasn't moved in any particular way while watching this. The fact it was CGI didn't help, but I didn't feel the danger the characters were in while things fall down around them, and it seemed as though catastrophes were always willing to wait just long enough for the protagonists to find whatever they needed to keep moving.

A bit like a video game where there ought to be a self-destruct countdown starting, but the villain waits until you've found or done something to trigger the cut scene where he starts the self-destruct. In this way you make your narrow escape with whatever it was you needed, when the villain could have started it sooner and possibly deprived you of what you were after. It can work in a game where you're aren't perhaps aware the villain is watching, but in this case, where the threat is the world itself, it seems odd, they have enough time to find someone Cusack knows with a huge plane and can takeoff just before the ash clouds arrive.

Punisher War Zone - I'm not going to even harbor the notion this was a good film, but I wonder if it would have worked better for me as a mindless action movie if I'd watched with a different mindset. It's sort of the same problem I think I had with Shoot 'Em Up. I was expecting more of Ennis' Max title work on the Punisher, but it wound up feeling like his Marvel Knights Punisher, which hasn't aged as well for me (especially in comparison to the Max stuff). The accents on the bad guys, the hamming it up of Jigsaw and Loony Bin Jim, some of the violence, and the use of Detective Soap, Frank's tendency to wander around in public view wearing his Kevlar vest with the Punisher symbol on it in plain sight, rather than at least obscuring it under a coat. All of it seemed to be telling me to not take it seriously. The attitude of the Punisher and some of the cops (Budiansky, in particular) says the opposite. They seem to be taking it all very seriously, so maybe I'm supposed to be as well.

If it had been some random movie about a vigilante, it might have worked better for me, but for someone who loves the Ennis Max stuff, it had me sitting there saying things like "Oh, Frank would never shoot people while swinging upside-down by his ankle from a chandelier", or "He wouldn't rush in like that without doing more prep work", or, "Why not use a grenade, or draw them to you?" and so on. At least Alex wasn't enjoying the movie, or he would have gotten pretty annoyed with me. Maybe he did anyway, but I think he was enjoying shredding it too much. So this one did make it to the "Horrible enough to be funny" category.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What I Was Doing While I Wasn't Posting

The last week's been pretty active by standards, I'm going to run through it for kicks.

- Thursday of last week I left town to go visit my buddy Alex again. An hour after he gets off work, we're driving to Columbia to pick up his DJ equipment, which he left at a friend's (and fellow DJ) house when he was there the previous weekend for a gig. By then, another DJ has asked to first rent Alex's equipment for a gig, then asked if he'd also like to play. I didn't really want to, since it meant more driving late at night, but it gives him the chance to make a little scratch, so I relented.

- For whatever reason, Alex didn't believe his friend when she told him the gig was at a bar frequented primarily by same-sex couples, but they weren't pulling his leg. It was like every other bar I've ever been to, if you wondered. People were drinking, there was loud music, at least one TV had the captions on, so I could at least follow what was happening (though it was set to Comedy Central, not ESPN, that was different), and I was only there because I was tagging along (or chauffeuring, depending on how you look at it) with Alex. It's funny, I've never been in a bar where there's a rowdy drunk who has to be thrown out. I wonder if I'm not at the right ones, or if that's just less common than I think. I've only ever seen stuff like that at the New Year's Partys I used to go to when I let Alex decide where we'd go, which were frequently at private residences.

- Alex thinks the bartender was trying to get him drunk, but I'm pretty sure the DJs just get cheaper drinks. Either way, Alex did wind up drunk (he was at the "keep repeating the same statement" drunk, not "stumbling about" drunk, or "belligerent" drunk, thankfully), but at least held up until his set was done. He slept most of the drive home, the lucky bugger. Wish I could have slept, not that it would have happened even if he weren't drunk and sleepy. We were in my ride, and I'm the only one who drives it. Reached his apartment about 3 A.M. on what would have been Friday morning by then.

- Woke up later on Friday morning, learn from his sister (who shares the apartment with him) that she's going to the hospital to be induced, which doesn't sound good. Sure enough, "induced" means they're making her have her kid right then. Something about high enzyme levels in the liver, and the possibility of seizures. She and the baby came through it OK, though, so now Alex is an uncle. Took a while for that to sink in with him. Kid has red hair, inherited from somewhere on the dad's side, which is in a permanent mohawk (all efforts to get it to lie down having failed). He's cute, I suppose, though I'm not the best judge. Babies just make nervous.

- That occupied the afternoon and most of the evening, but on the way back from the hospital, Alex and I stopped at the home of one of his coworkers. That's always awkward, because on the phone, she's always eager for us to visit, but by the time we arrive, she's sullen. Maybe Alex spends too much time talking music and dieting with her husband, while drinking, and since he's getting drunk, she says she has to stay sober to watch their son. Which is admirable, but she gets cross with her husband really easily, and the whole thing becomes uncomfortable, so I'm eager to leave. Plus my CD player went on the fritz after 7 years. Wouldn't respond to buttons being pushed, then wouldn't shut off after the engine was off and the keys out of the ignition, which is normal for some vehicles as I understand it, but not mine.

- Saturday, Alex and I visited the Natsucon Anime Convention. I think we spent as much time trying to find the place as we did looking around once we were there. The address the gave leads to a different place in Google Maps, so we had to ask a random guy at a 7-11 where to go. Once we got there, we found it much more chaotic than the Cape Convention. I'm not sure it was better attended, since all the rooms things were happening in were smaller, but if felt more crowded, louder. More expensive, too. We'd keep finding DVD sets we were interested in, only to find we could get them significantly cheaper online. I'd made a list of stuff we wanted, plus its cheapest price on Amazon before I left town, for just such occasions, though I was hoping for a bargain. Maybe if we'd waited until Sunday? I did pick up some nice artwork, and Alex bought a nifty Captain Hook sketch, of all things, but we left inside 90 minutes. Oddly, Alex was being more bothered by the crowds and noise than me. Not that I wasn't bothered, but I was able to sort of thread my way through, or shut it out as necessary. Alex is the social butterfly, so I really didn't expect the crowds to get to him. He complained of it not being as laid back as the CapeCon, and there being too many 'young people', which makes me wonder when he stopped thinking of himself as young (I have a pretty good idea when I stopped thinking of myself that way).

- Left the convention, visited old roomies Papafred and Tomato for the first time in a year. We had a barbecue, played some games, talked quite a bit. I gave Papafred the Texiera Ghost Rider sketch I bought for him at CapeCon this year, which was a hit. Alex showed off a bit of his music, especially to Joe, who's a musician in a band himself. Maybe they'll collaborate on something. Left there about 11, were asked to stop over at the home of one of Alex's aunts for awhile. Naturally they're all drinking and discussing the new baby. I don't care for liquor, which meant for the second time in a month and a half, someone I only know through Alex called me a wuss because I wouldn't drink. That gets really old. Not in the sense I'm going to break down and drink, but old in the sense I'd like to smack them, but know it's not a good idea. Did she his aunt fall out of her chair, when she wasn't getting massively offended at everything everyone said to her. I just tried to stay out of it, fray-adjacent, to borrow from the Buffy universe.

- Sunday, the most boring day. Woke up in the morning to a thunderstorm. Hoped it wouldn't wake Alex, so he wouldn't freak. Hoped in vain when it felt like the thunder was sitting on the house. He got us all the way to my vehicle, the idea being we'd hide in the basement of his work until it had passed, before he checked the radar and saw the worst was past us. We went to a Mexican restaurant in town, then Alex (who had slept most of the morning), slept most of the afternoon. His aunt (probably still hungover) and uncle showed up to start rearranging his sister's room to make space for baby stuff, so Alex and I cleaned up his room. This mostly involved throwing stuff away, and tossing stuff to keep on his bed as we pulled it out of the closet. He slept in a chair in the living room the next two days, because it took us that long to get around to putting stuff back.

- Monday, his two aunts and his grandmother come by to continue rearranging stuff, and bringing in baby clothes. The aunts are fine, the grandmother is a pain in the ass. For whatever reason, she has a contempt for Alex she doesn't bother to disguise, which mostly makes me want to hit her. Or at least scream at her to shut the hell up. I'm not sure whether it would be better for me to do that, or Alex. He couldn't stand to be around her long, so we left to go visit his sister at the hospital, which went well. By the time we returned to his apartment, the family was gone. We spent the evening watching the 3rd season of Avatar: The Last Airbender. No, I'm not going to see the film. Nothing I've seen or heard makes me think that would be a good idea, and I own the series, so why bother with crappy film versions? Then we watched Men Who Stare At Goats, because he hadn't seen it yet. He laughed a lot, so at least the depressed mood his grandmother put him in was alleviated.

- Tuesday, sister returns home with baby. I even held it for a bit, chatted with it. I'm not doing those baby noises, "goo goo" crap. I told him with his mohawk and tendency to keep his left eye closed, he should be a punk rock pirate. Just as nonsensical, but it makes me feel like less of an idiot. Finished cleaning his room, ate lots of chicken, tried watching Below, which he hadn't seen either. This didn't work so well, partially because he kept falling asleep (Alex is much like my dad; he can and will fall asleep any time), partially because another storm rolled through and freaked him out, partially because he won't stop texting on his damn phone. Why did I even put the fucking movie in if he wasn't going to watch it? He's the one who was all excited it to see, then he barely pays attention! At least when his 5-year old cousin pulls that stunt, you can excuse it because he's 5.

- Wednesday, drove home. CD played seemed to be working almost normally, so I theorized that in hot weather, Alex and I are are combined psychic operative, like in Men Who Stare at Goats. It happened last summer when my passenger window wouldn't work properly for a week I visited him, but has been fine since. Theory somewhat wrecked when CD player refused to turn off, after keys were removed, even 20 minutes later. Forced me to buy a new one sooner than I wanted, because I wasn't risking the thing draining my battery by staying on all night sometime. Got that done after purchasing comics, but the installation guy left one of his tools in my vehicle, so I had to drive back up there yesterday to return it. The universe seems insistent of making me drive more than I want. I need to learn to teleport.

I'm probably forgetting some stuff, but that's the big things from the last week. Not exactly the restful time I would have preferred, but Alex always draws me into random shit, as he noted earlier this month.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Summer Doesn't Go By Nearly As Fast When Sweating Your Tail Off

Adorable Baby Panda: What are you up to?

Calvin: {I was checking if that classical station I liked listening to shifted to some other spot on the dial. No such luck More time spent listening to CDs while in the car, I guess. So how's your summer?}

ABP: Busy. I built a tree house, and went to the beach, and played baseball and went camping.

Calvin: {Wow, sounds like a lot of fun.}

ABP: It's really training disguised as play. Learn to build outposts, familiarize myself with our enemies' habitat, improve my accuracy with throwing weapons, and work on survival skills.

Calvin: {It sounds a lot less fun when you put it that way. The demands of being in a relentless war with penguins. Are you having any actual fun?}

ABP: Yeah. I learned field medicine, it was neat. If you ever get hit by shrapnel from an ice-and-mackerel mortar, I can fix you up! Oh, and I've been with my friends the whole time, that's fun. We make funny comments and get into hijinks that annoy our parents.

{Uh, great? Can we move to happier topics?} Sure! Hush needs a Bonk for stealing all the other villains' bits. {Terry needs one for getting too excited about having a Catwoman.} Yeah, but he has to deal with Bruce Wayne, he ought to get a Hug with the Bonk. {You could hit Old Man Bruce Wayne.} Uh-uh. {Why? Because he's old?} No, because he's scary. {Point. Hey, how about some Applause for Catwoman, a villain not worried about vendettas or murder sprees, just trying to make a buck? It's refreshingly old school.} I suppose.

{How about some hugs for Power Girl's employees? They don't even know why their boss seems preoccupied with stuff other than her company being taken away by the filthy bankers.} I don't that's fair to bankers. {Not fair to lose your job because a coworker embezzled all the company's money, either.} I thought she was going to turn up dead. {That just means she had a partner who killed her after she served her purpose. Probably Max Lord, that nose-bleeding bastard.} I thought you weren't going to curse around me. {If you're dressing field wounds, you're going to hear profanity anyway.} Teach me some others! {No. I'd prefer other people be responsible for your corruption, so your mother's on their case, not mine. Now howzabout the Hugs?} Sure, fine.

{You don't seem enthused by my suggestions.} They're fine, I just wanted to learn more swears. {I'm sure you will, someday.} But Creedance says someday never comes! {Fine, you'll learn them in time. Better?} Not at all. {Too bad.} When do I hear what you've been up to this summer? {They'll be a recap of last week up tomorrow. It was too eventful not to discuss. You want to do something that's not training disguised as fun?} Yes! Can we watch movies in the air conditioning while eating junk food? {Do Catholic bears relieve themselves in the Vatican?} In its restrooms, yes. {Huh. Learn something new every day.}

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What I Bought 7/21/2010

If I sang "reunited, and it feels so good", would that be awkward? Yes? OK, forget I said it then. At least for once when I return from a trip I don't feel like hell. Nice change of pace.

Atlas #3 - Atlas investigates what happened to the original 3-D Man, and find more people possessed by whatever it is controlling them. The possessed folks are looking for crystal shards, and "trionics", of which Delroy is the only one apparently. Before Atlas can really make any sort of plan, they find everyone in their base has been possessed and is attacking them. Then these would-be conquerors get smart and remove two big guns from the equation, so Delroy's going to have his work cut out for him. There's also a backup story detailing M-11's early days.

I can't put my finger on why, but this volume of Atlas hasn't been working for me as well as the earlier ones. I don't think it's the inclusion of 3-D Man. I like Hardman's art and Breitweiser's coloring, the dialogue's fine, the threat is sort of intriguing, but something's missing. It's frustrating.

Batman Beyond #2 - I did pick up the first issue before I left town, so I'm up to speed. One of Terry's foes (and his family) is killed with umbrellas, but no one seems to buy that it's the Penguin. Terry's unable to capture an all-new Catwoman, then runs into what appears to be Hush at the home of the Calendar Man.

The back-and-forth between Bruce and Terry reads about right, though Terry feels a bit more chatty during fights than I recall. Not that he didn't make with the comments, but I don't remember him being quite this level of motormouth. Maybe he was just excited about the possibility of having his own uneasy romantic relationship with a Catwoman. After the Ten/Royal Flush gang debacle, you'd think he might learn. Ryan Benjamin's art is better than I recall from his issues of Batman and the Outsiders. He still seems like a strange choice to illustrate a mini-series where the designs were done by Darwyn Cooke, but it's not too shabby. His Terry's a bit young, but Bruce seems suitably wizened, and the Catwoman fight/chase works pretty well. Darker colors don't help the clarity of his work, though. All the red and green city lights illuminating the fight with Catwoman help me follow along, but the flashback to Bruce's last go round with Hush, and the fight in Calendar Man's room are in all dark blues and blacks, and things are more muddled, especially during the flashback I was having trouble picking up what was going on. The narration helps, but it'd be nice if the art could do more of the heavy lifting.

Power Girl #14 - The bank is seizing everything they can from Starrware, to make up for all the money they're owed thanks to Power Girl's seemingly corrupt accountant. She and Booster have a little argument when she doesn't remember Max Lord, and he doesn't seem all that concerned about her problems. Then she runs into a big purple bio-weapon guy, who becomes more formidable as things progress, which is bad news for her.

I liked this issue a little better than the one before it. Power Girl trying to talk with the bio-weapon first, figure out its goals, maybe settle things peacefully, was a nice touch. As much as she likes beating up bad guys, she's also been aware of the damage those kinds of fights cause, and has consistently tried to talk things out first. Nice to see that hasn't been abandoned. Basri's art is still OK. It's an uphill battle, replacing Amanda Conner, and the background detail and range of facial expressions aren't there, but there are some good expressions in there, and the fight scene was decent. I still think the coloring isn't helping. Everything is too soft, muted. It doesn't help the art make an impression.

That wraps up reviews for the week. Let's see, awards. All three books are in the running for Best Obscured Villainous Scheme, but I'm giving it to Power Girl, since I'm pretty sure the problems with her company are part of a larger issue, but it's less clear than the other books. Atlas wins Best Bad News For the Heroes Last Page (going by the main story, not the backup).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Making Requests Again

I'm not planning on buying Shadowlands, so I suppose it doesn't matter, but I think it'd be swell if at some point during the story, Spider-Man kicked Daredevil's butt. In my mind, I see him fighting his way through about 50 ninjas (well, a big swarm of them, it doesn't have to be 50), then fighting Daredevil and trouncing him convincingly.

I know, I know. Beating Matt Murdock to a pulp isn't likely to make him realize the error of his recent ways*. So Spidey beats him up, then they talk things out over coffee, eggs, and hash at some diner. It could even become a beautiful, sunshiny day as they talk, telling us Murdock's finally leaving the dank, depressing hole (so dark even his radar sense couldn't keep him going in the right direction) the writers have kept his life in for the last, what, 7, 10, 25 years? OK, that's a bit much. Besides, we all know Murdock's life is never going to start looking up. Unfortunate, but that's how the winds blow.

I recognize that given the disparity in their power, Spider-Man beating Daredevil in a fight would be a "dog bites man" story. Except it always seems to go the other way, to the point one might start to forget that yes, dogs can bite men. I know I have three different stories where Spider-Man gets beat. Each story tells us Daredevil barely wins (or manages a stalemate), and he usually takes advantage of Spider-Man's temper to get him swinging wild, but I'd think Spider-Man could manage the outright win at some point.

It could even have significance attached to it, if one were so inclined. Have Spider-Man keep up his usual running commentary of annoying jokes and retorts while he fights a grimmer than normal Daredevil who throws ninja hordes at Spider-Man, rather than settling things himself. Both characters have been through a lot recently. Spidey's been stuck in this Gauntlet/Grim Hunt mess, plus that previous year (or however long) Osborn was practically running things had to be stressful. Daredevil, well his life has basically been hell for quite some time now. He gets a happy moment here and there, then someone dies, or goes crazy, or Bullseye blows up a building of civilians, or Wilson Fisk avoids jail again. It could be framed Daredevil finally broke under the stress, forgot who he was, and Spider-Man didn't, and the belief Spider-Man would have in himself would make the difference.

Just throwing it out there. I'm leaving town for about a week. New post next Wednesday, I think. I hope wherever you are, it's less sticky than where I am. If it's more sticky, get out of there, the air is glue.

* This assumes this whole thing isn't some master plan on his part to get the upper echelon of the Hand to leave themselves vulnerable by letting them think they're manipulating Murdock. Even if that's true, I think the other heroes might want to talk to Daredevil about his methods. Constructing his own underground prison is a bit questionable. At least it isn't in the Negative Zone.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Death and Imitation

The end of Hawkeye and Mockingbird #1 had Mrs. Morse telling Hawkeye that her daughter Bobbi had been dead for years. The start of the second issue shows us we're dealing with the "hero fakes their death to protect their loved ones" gambit. A slightly more extreme version of how most costumed types handle it, simply not telling their loved ones they are vigilantes. Thanks to Hawkeye, the plan goes kaflooey, as he brings her family to see her, and her mother winds up shot by the end of the issue. Whoops.

Anyway, the faking a death tactic isn't unusual in comics, so I really should have expected that to be the result. For some reason, though, I was expecting a different revelation. I thought we'd learn that Bobbi Morse really is dead, and Mockingbird is someone else. No, not a Skrull. Maybe an old friend of Bobbi's, or a coworker, or heck, maybe a random agent Fury wanted to assign a safe identity. So he gives her the name of a prior agent who passed away, whose family won't be endangered, and this will subsequently protect Mockingbird's identity.

It's not a new idea for stories, because I've seen it before myself*, but it could put things in kind of an interesting light. Hawkeye's been worried that Mockingbird is shutting down, and she won't talk to him. So he tried to find her family, because maybe that would help. Except they aren't her family, and Clint would have to realize he didn't know her as well as he thought. You'd hope this would cause Hawkeye to reevaluate things, maybe make more of an effort to study things before he tried to help her again, but it's more likely he'd get huffy and offended**.

It works with her codename, since mockingbirds imitate the calls of other birds, as a way to keep as many species as possible from setting up shop near their nest. She'd be pretending to be a dead person to protect anyone from her past life she might care about. Plus, it makes for a sort of interesting Russian nesting doll situation, where you have a Skrull impersonating a woman using the name of another woman. Deceptions within deceptions, though I suppose the Skrulls would have figured it out when they copied her, which could produce interesting results. Would knwoing their subject was pretending to be someone she wasn't alter how the Skrull would behave? Would it behave like Mockingbird-pretending-to-be-Bobbi Morse, or more like Mockingird, period? Even if she's just using the name as a cover, I'd think taking someone else's name would produce some sort of change in how she acts.

* Gundam Wing, for example. One of the pilots is called Trowa Barton, the name of a fellow he worked with on the assembly of what eventually became his mech The real Trowa was killed in a disagreement with some of the other staff over a plan to drop space colonies on the Earth. The guy who went through the series being Trowa had no name he could remember prior to that, and he agreed it was as good a code name as any.

** With some reason, since this would mean she was lying to him about this even when they were married. He wouldn't even have known his wife's real name. Could be cause for anger.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More Than Two Piles To Sort Memories Into

I've been thinking about characters with memory loss. It came up as I watched the anime Noir over the last few days, and it came up again this morning when I started playing Arx Fatalis. You have a character with no knowledge of who they are (maybe they remember their name), but they possess impressive skills when it comes to fighting or killing. Jason Bourne, Wolverine, those kinds of folks. But even though they're proficient in the use and maintenance of firearms, first aid, martial arts, infiltration, whatever, they haven't retained any personal memories. What's their favorite color, their first kiss, what their best birthday was, where they went to school, so on.

I started wondering if those characters retain memories unrelated to their work, but also aren't memories with a strong personal component*. If you asked them about the American Revolution, could they tell you about it? Do they know who Mick Jagger is (or whichever entertainer is suitably notable in their world that most people are aware of them)? Do they remember high school algebra**?

It seems the character is usually vexed by how they can recognize which people in a room know how to fight, or that they know how to dress bullet wounds, yet they don't know how they ended up where they are, with the skills in question. But not everything a person knows would fall into either of those categories. I don't think knowing "I coulda been a contender" is from On the Waterfront would be useful for an assassin, but it's also not knowledge I have any strong connection to, which are the kinds of knowledge and remembrances that are forgotten/wiped out/blocked/whatever.

That seems like it could be fun, the character gradually realizing they remember certain random things, but not others, and perhaps trying to use what they can recall as a thread to find other memories.

* It came up when the character in Noir with the memory issue, Kirika, didn't recognize the name Prince Myshkin, from Dostoevsky's "The Idiot", indicating she didn't have any knowledge of Russian literature. Unfortunately, I can't blame the fact the name was only vaguely familiar to me on memory loss.

** For some reason, the question of whether they'd remember algebra has been foremost in my mind. I guess I don't think of alegbra as something vital to the work of finely honed killing machines, so it wouldn't be part of the operational knowledge they retained. Which means I didn't believe my teachers when they told me algebra would be useful in everyday life.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Nobody's Good In This Movie, Be They Crazy Or Smart

Because I didn't bother to read the back of the DVD case before I started watching Nobel Son, it was not what I expected. I was figuring it would have a kid struggling to find his place. Then he meets a girl who helps it all make sense, and maybe he and his parents find common ground, and maybe not. I wasn't expecting that in the first five minutes I'd see both a man's thumb lopped off with a meat cleaver, and Alan Rickman's O-face. Not sure which was more unwelcome, actually.

Rickman plays Eli, an insufferable, philandering jackass of a chemist, who is guaranteed to only become more insufferable now that he's won the Nobel Prize. His son Bradley, who is a disappointment to Eli because he's pursuing a PhD in anthropology with a focus on cannibalism, works up the nerve to talk to a girl at a poetry reading (City/Sharon Hall, as played by Eliza Dushku), spends the night with her, then is kidnapped as he tries to catch up to his parents, who have already left for Stockholm. The kidnapper is Eli's illegitimate son, from an affair with the wife of one of Eli's chemistry buddies from the '70s, whose work Eli stole and passed off as his own (and is what earned him the Nobel). From there we have double-crosses, double-crosses of the double-crossers, what I would consider improbable car assembly sequences, more kidnapping, people being committed, and either a death or a suicide by Danny DeVito. It looks like a suicide, but I'm not positive that's not a set-up, since the original kidnapper, Thaddeus, was talking to him in the scene prior, and at the very least, put DiVito in a fragile enough state of mind to do it.

I don't know what to think about the ending. A couple of characters probably get the ends they deserve, but since practically everyone gets in on the double-crossing eventually, I have a hard time thinking more people didn't deserve bad ends. Which is strange. I don't normally have a problem with protagonists turning the tables on their opponents, like in High Plains Drifter. The difference is I don't think the Stranger went on to some happy life after he finished wrecking the people of Lago, while some of the characters in Nobel Son clearly will. They're wealthy, living in tropical beach paradises or having relationships with people they actually like, and it seems wrong. They don't show any real doubts about what they're doing, so I have a hard time believing the "good guys" are any better than the "bad guys". If they had been focused solely on setting things straight and bringing the bad guys to justice, a happy ending would have been fine, a proper reward for a good job. They seem out to profit from the whole thing as much as the criminals.

There's a line Bradley uses twice in the film. Roughly, it says eating the dead isn't evil, it's recycling. What's evil is to eat a man alive. I think it's supposed to refer to Eli, since he needs people around him to feel better about himself. Whether it's from them stroking his ego, or making him feel wanted by having sex with him, or him bolstering his own self-image by putting them down (which he does constantly, to almost everyone). He takes what people have, their self-esteem, self-worth, and destroys it in service of himself. At the very end, he's initially alone in a classroom, and he seems almost thoughtful, and I thought perhaps he'd learned something. Then one of his female students came in to ask him a question, and he started making moves on her, so he's still evil, I guess.

I wonder if Bradley is any better, though. He used his mother's (Mary Steenburgen as Sarah) concern for him to make the initial ransom demands work, because he wasn't certain his dad actually cared. Still, he's using affection she gives freely, while putting her through hell, as she didn't know where he was, if he was safe or not, how calculating or sloppy his kidnapper was. She's clearly under strain, to the point when a newslady on her lawn calls the house wanting a statement, Sarah draws a revolver from a desk drawer, aims it at the reporter through the window, and tells her to get off the lawn before Sarah blows her head off. Bradley is just excited about getting his money and sticking it to his father. Maybe he figures it's OK since he'll be coming home, and he'll be fine, but he really does spare much thought for what he put Sarah through/ Seems at least a little evil to me.

There's one other exchange that struck, when Bradley visits City late in the film, and tells her we all make choices. City responds that some times the choices are made for us. I wonder who wasn't making their own choices. Eil, as far as we know, definitely was. Is the movie arguing that based on the person Eli was, Bradley, Thaddeus, and Sarah didn't have a choice, that they could only respond the way they could? His belittling of Sarah and Bradley, his disregard for Thaddeus brought things to the place they were, and so there was only one path to take? I think there were enough other ways to approach things (Sarah divorces Eli long ago, Thaddeus approaches Eli directly, shows his udnerstanding of chemistry, forms their bond honestly, Bradley accepts his father is a dick, goes on with his life, and when he's able to strike out on his own, cuts Eli out of the equation directly), that I can't go along with it.

I don't think George (DeVito's character) made his own choice. I think his OCD (with at least a small nudge from Thaddeus, if not more) made his last decision. I'm inclined to place City in the same category. She seems to be on her own wavelength most of the time, and I really feel like she's being guided by Thaddeus a lot. When she's herself, she tends to speak in poetry, and everyone around her is just confused. It's like Thaddeus has her on a script, except she can't stay on it, and sometimes the ad-libbing works (around Bradely, who is infatuated with her), and sometimes it doesn't. I don't have a sense she's actively shaping things.

I can't recommend it, certainly not as a purchase, though if you can rent it cheaply enough (you'll have to decide what that means), you could give it a whirl. Maybe it'll appeal to you more than it did to me.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Road To Credibility Is Harder For Some Villains Than Others

Due to my unfamiliarity with him, I've been having trouble taking Crossfire seriously as a threat in Hawkeye and Mockingbird. I don't think I've ever read a story he was in, so there's no history to convince me he's a dangerous guy. No, shooting Mockingbird's mother doesn't count. Despicable act, yes, act capable of marking him as a threat to super-heroes? No.

The costume doesn't help either. The red "X" on the eyepiece especially, seems like it would obscure his vision. It's far too wide to serve as good crosshairs. Plus, just a little turn and the "X"es on his costume would become crosses, meaning he's either part of a militant faction of the Red Cross, or some cadet from the Swiss Army that showed up in that one episode of The Tick.

Maybe it's his attitude. In issue #2, he was prattling on to the Phantom Rider about how he was done teaming up with other costumed types. Now he was going to be some major arms dealer, make his cash that way. As if he's the first villain to think of that. As if he's any closer to the A-list than the so-called 'fifth-rate hacks' he used to work with. He really strikes me as the sort of character who thinks he's much better than he really is. Somehow, that leads me to the thought that at some point, he ought to have run afoul of Bullseye, or Deadpool, or Taskmaster, someone who takes a little more pride in their craft, and they'd kill him*.

Hmm, maybe Crossfire is a self-loathing costumed villain? Hates being one, hates being around them, but can't step away from the life? Surely he'd be a less conspicuous arms dealer minus the costume?

* Outlaw shot him in Simone's run on Agent X, but either it wasn't fatal, or it was ignored. That Crossfire seemed to enjoy himself more. He actually had a quickdraw with Outlaw. Perhaps getting shot as a result took the joy out of his work.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

About Steve Rogers' New Shield

What's the story on it? Bucky is keeping the Captain America shield, while Rogers sports some clear plastic-looking facsimile. I don't imagine it's anything as simple as plastic, that's simply what it reminded me of when I saw it in Hawkeye and Mockingbird #1.

I'm a fan of that energy shield he was rocking for a time there in the post-Heroes Reborn world. He had it for the Ultron Unlimited story in the Busiek/Perez Avengers run, for example. The generator for it was stored in the glove, and it could even change forms. I only saw it as a shield or staff, but I don't know if that's the extent of its abilities.

The downside was he couldn't throw it, based on the limitations of the device creating it (a photonic generator?). He can throw this current shield, and Steve Rogers being able to bounce his shield off multiple objects (or bad guys' noggins) is always fun. We have Bucky for that, though, so no reason Rogers couldn't do things a bit differently.

Friday, July 09, 2010

We Can't Waste Time, Eureka's About To Start

Adorable Baby Panda: There isn't much to work with this week.

Calvin: {Sorry. Next week's the busy week for July.}

ABP: You'll be out of town then! I'm going to miss it!

Calvin: {Maybe we can cover them when I come back.}

I hope so. Well, the rich guys who tried to hunt the Secret Six probably needs bonks, but they all died, so there's no point. Phantom Rider needs a Bonk for not letting go, and Crossfire too. Mockingbird will probably need a Hug. {I don't agree with how she handled the thing with her family.} She wanted to protect them. {They don't get a vote?} They wouldn't act the way you'd expect if they knew, and they'd want to stay in touch, and so her cover would be blown. {How awful, family wanting to stay in touch.} The sarcasm isn't helping. {Sarcasm isn't about helping.} Hawkeye should have talked with her first, before finding her family. {She wouldn't talk to him!} It was still bad to go behind her back, so Bonk for Hawkeye. {Fine, then I demand Dominic Fortune get a Bonk for being a sleaze.} He's mourning lost loved ones! {Yeah right. That's probably just a story he made up to seem tortured to help him get into sympathetic ladies' bedrooms.} That's an awful thing to say! {It would be an awful thing to do.}

Thursday, July 08, 2010

What I Bought 7/8/2010

Like that one cat in the song, I have come back. Admittedly not the very next day, but I'm pretty sure the cat only did that to be a jerk, and I'm trying to cut back on that. I picked up several comics from May and June last week on my way to Alex', but I'm not going to include them in the reviews this week. If something about them interested me, I'll hit them some point down the line. So, focusing on new releases.

Hawkeye and Mockingbird #2 - Hawkeye's attempt to help Mockingbird backfires. By the end of the issue it has really backfired. Phantom Rider decides to team-up with Crossfire, Hawkeye keeps trying to help, and Mockingbird and Dominic Fortune do some investigating and beating of thugs.

Well, that bit with Mockingbird's family didn't go how I expected. I should have expected the apparent death at the end of the issue. Little early to have much impact on me. Or I'm so used to supporting character death it's completely ineffective. So McCann's perhaps moving too fast. I feel like that's part of the problem with all this talk about Mockingbird "shutting down". There's a lot of Hawkeye telling me that, but other than the fact she doesn't seem as cheery as I recall from Engelhart's West Coast Avengers I'm not sure I see it. And that could possibly be attributed the different writers, or the different eras of the titles as much as development with the character resulting from all the stuff she's been put through. Maybe it would work better if I'd read that mini-series that preceded this? I don't have a lot to say about David Lopez' art, though I did like the sepia-toned panel where Phantom Rider was ranting about it's legacy. The Phantom Rider in general looks suitably creepy, and not just because of the blank eyes.

Secret Six #23 - I look at the white-haired guy on the cover, I see David Cain, Cass Cain's assassin father. I could see him making a run at the Six for the right price, if he's still doing that stuff. I don't know what his current status is, and since it was probably established by that Batgirl mini-series from 2008, I'm probably better off not knowing. It's not David Cain anyway.

Some stupid rich guys with expensive weapon suits and such decide to hire the Six, only to double-cross them and try to hunt them for sport. This goes about as well for the rich guys as you might expect. Meaning they all die, some more horribly than others. I'm a little disappointed, which is not something I like saying when we're talking things written by John Ostrander. The story works as a self-contained issue, it's just kind of bland. There's none of the usual conflict between the team, though it is kind of amusing to see rich guys waste their money killing (or trying to kill) serious hardcases. I assume it's some sort of payback for jocks whomping them in school.

I was interested to see how Ostrander would write the whole team when left to his own devices. He's collaborated with Simone on some issues starring the whole cast, but the last issue he wrote solo only involved Deadshot, and we know Ostrander can write him. His dialogue style isn't the same as Simone's but I still feel he nailed most of the characters. Ragdoll's not as lewd as he is under Simone, but the frightening absurdity he spouts was there. Not sure about his Catman though. He felt a bit like Bane, or maybe the Punisher.

RB Silva handles art chores, and I don't love it. People's heads seem too small for their bodies (especially Catman's), and there seemed to be some miscommunication between him and Ostrander. The lead guy says all the Six's weapons have been removed (save one bullet in Deadshot's right wrist magnum), but Scandal kills her guy by stabbing him in the face with her wrist blades, which ought to have been removed, right? Or is the point that the guys were incompetent and some how missed them, even though they apparently have some idea who they're up against? Also, could Deadshot hold a minigun previously mounted on a little helicopter thing (I'm really unclear on how big those things are. Smaller than a person, large attack heli sized, somewhere in between?) with one arm? I have no doubt he can shoot down a jet while firing from the hip, it's more a question of physical strength.

For this week's awards, Secret Six edges out Hawkeye & Mockingbird for Least Surprising Death, but H & M wins Best Villain Rant.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Another Discussion Of Good And Evil?

There's that Edmund Burke quote, 'All that is required for evil to triumpg is for good men to do nothing'* I've been thinking, does that mean someone who fights against evil is "good"? As fiction fans (and especially as comic fans) we've all seen stories where the villains team-up with the heroes to take down some greater menace.

The Rocketeer, for example. Late in the movie, the gangsters team up with the Feds to fight the Nazis. Are they good men? I'm sure they think so. Mobsters usually seem to be portrayed as thinking of themselves strictly as enterprising, but strict, businessmen. Simply providing goods and services the public demands, without concern for piddling things like laws. Actions tend to speak louder, and their actions up to that point in the film would point to them not being good. So for that brief moment, and only then, they are good men? That could be it, since we could argue that at that moment, they were motivated by some nationalistic pride**, rather than their usual interest in money. It wasn't driven by purely selfish reasons. Unless it was because bootlegging would be harder in a Nazi-conquered America.

The example I think started this was the conclusion of Buffy Season 2. Spike helps Buffy save the world, but his reasons seemed to be: 1) Screw over Angelus/Angel, because he hates him. 2) Get Drusilla back, and well away from the Slayer. 3) He likes the world how it is, as it is. None of those motives are exactly "good", since one of the reasons he likes the world is all the people there are for him to kill and eat. Still, he did help, to the extent of keeping Angelus from taking a chainsaw to Giles, and keeping Buffy from having to fight Dru and Angelus simultaneously. So I'm not sure one could say Spike was a good person, but he still chose to do something.

I guess the mobsters and Spike were good when compared to what they were fighting against, so it could be a relative thing, but I'm not sure less evil = good. I certainly think a person can go against their typical impulses, so maybe they were "good" in that moment, and that's really all that's required.

That's it for me until next Thursday, I leave it to you to discuss amongst yourselves.

* I'm not sure that's the exact phrasing. I've seen "is that good men", and "all that is necessary" as well.

** Though I'd say nationalism isn't always a good motive. Can lead to isolationism, xenophobia, imperialism. Might get some positive results out of those occasionally, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

We're Back After Another Long Break

Calvin: {Well, it's been another month.}

Adorable Baby Panda: This isn't going to be a thing is it?

Calvin: {Not for the next couple of months anyway.}

ABP: You mean - ?

Calvin: {Yep. We're back to weekly, or nearly weekly, reviews!}

Yesssss!!!! Hugs for everyone! {Let's not go nuts here.} Right, right. OK, Mr. MacQuarrie gets a Bonk, and so does Deadshot. {He's receiving those pretty regularly.} Uh-huh. {So tell me, how long haff you fostered dis hey-treed for de men mit der mustaches?} What?! {Vell, first it vas der Tony Stark. Every veek mit der hitting. Now Herr Lawton.} It's not about their mustaches! And you encouraged the hitting of Tony Stark! {How can dis be? We haff only begun our sessions? How can you blame me? Oh, very troubling, tsk, tsk *Scribbles notes furiously*} Fine, you think I have a problem with mustaches? You have a mustache! {Uh-oh.} Maybe I should hit you! {No, no, that's all right, I think there was a misdiagnosis.} Are you sure? Because I'm looking at your mustache, and I really want to hit you. You may be right. {Excuse me, I'll must go freshen up. *runs to bathroom, sound of a razor* I'm back, and sans mustache!} Huh. {What?} *BONK!* I still wanted to hit you. Guess you were right, it was a misdiagnosis.

{Lousy smarty-pants panda.} Hee-hee. Calculator needs a Bonk, and I want to hit Johnny Storm too. {I'd support that.} Bonk for Johnny! I'm Applauding Hellcat, and Emma is being cool, so Applause for her too. {I don't know, she's lying about her age. Not very well, mind you, but still.} She's not really trying. You lie about your age. {No, I don't discuss it. Different thing entirely.} Uh-huh. All the Cancerverse people gets Bonks. Go clog up your own universe! {They did.} Then stay there! {Can Deadpool get hit?} I thought this was all part of some plan? {It's a stupid plan.} Yeah, it really is. I want to wait to see what happens, though. {You'll need someone else to help there.} You were serious about dropping it? {Yes.} I thought you were just fooling. {No.} Oh. OK, then. {You got over that fast.}

I'm flexible. Venus kept Mr. Lao from eating Delroy, so Applause for her. Max Lord is still a jerk, so Bonk there. I think Ragdoll deserves Applause, just for not taking guff from Deadshot. {Agreed.} What about Catman. {I don't think applause is merited, and even if Cheshire is murdering scum, that seemed kind of harsh. Still, he got all the guys that did it, so maybe bonks aren't right either.} How about the Golf Clap? {You want to keep that?} Sure, mocking applause could be useful. {Yeah, sounds about right. Anything else.} Nothing specific. Hugs for everyone I didn't mention. {Even Boater Hat guy?} Well, yeah. His face was bitten off. {Hmm, point taken.}