Sunday, October 31, 2010

We'll Start With Magic, Then Shift To Team Dynamics

I'm not clear on what the issue is for Black Alice's powers while she's in Skartaris. She says her powers are still there, but she can't sense anyone magical to steal powers from, such as Wonder Woman. I understand her not being able to sense Wonder Woman, since Alice is in a separate dimension. Then why not steal Giganta's powers? She used them once before, and Giganta (and Jeanette) are both in Skartaris, so there shouldn't be a distance impediment. When the two teams began fighting, Alice did threaten to swipe Jeanette's powers, but she had that stone knife hidden behind her back the whole time, which suggests to me she was bluffing. It could be she still has her power, but something about Skartaris is blocking her ability to sense power, even when the person is right in front of them.

Or it could be Alice was trying to make amends to Scandal, which would be encouraging. She flew off the handle at Scandal in the previous arc, falsely accusing her of being interested in Ragdoll romantically, and swiped Etrigan's powers to attack with. After she calmed down, Alice admitted it was foolish and she was sorry, so this might be a conciliatory gesture. Scandal did ask the rest of the team to not kill Jeanette if they could avoid it, after all.

The Secret Six are usually presented as an odd little family. They argue, they backstab, they try to kill each other, but they also look out for each other in their own ways. Deadshot goes to the doctor for Alice's father, and makes him call her up to say there is no way her messing around with Raven's powers gave her dad cancer. It's probably false, it's probably not going to get Alice to put in more time learning to be careful with other people's powers, and Deadshot threatened the doctor at gunpoint to make it happen, but it was an attempt to make her feel better, and it worked, in the short term, at least.

Alice joined the team originally because she needs money to support her father, and the fact she felt responsible for his having cancer likely contributed as well. I wonder if being told it isn't her fault would cause her to rethink her current employment, maybe seek out a less hazardous job. The team did, I think, receive money for investigating (and killing) the cult leaders that killed Mr. MacQuarrie's son, but their track record of getting paid is lousy. It would be an interesting resolution if her lack of guilt made her too well-adjusted to be part of the team, right as she's building some tenuous connections with teammates who aren't Ragdoll.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Smattering Of Thanos Imperative Related Thoughts

- It's been noted throughout Thanos Imperative that while Thanos is vital to saving the universe, he's also Thanos, and is really dangerous as well, especially since he seemingly can't die. If he can be brought down, he could be locked up, but Thanos is pretty smart, he figure out how to escape eventually. So convince Thanos to stay behind in the Cancerverse when things are done. Death will have returned to that universe (assuming Thanos succeeds in killing Mar-Vell), but it's still a universe filled to the bursting with life. It'll take time to get things back on an even keel, and an angry Avatar of Death could speed things along. Plus, the Death in that universe is different from the Death in the Marvel Universe, so it's a whole new Death for Thanos to cozy up to and impress with large amounts of killing.

- The idea that Death and Life are connected isn't a new one, nor is the idea that it could be ugly if either one grows too much stronger than the other. Still, I like how connected they've been in this cosmic struggle. For Life to win out, Mar-Vell still needs to kill someone. For Death to balance the scales, that same person has to live, whether they want to or not. Death also needs Mar-Vell to die, but it's to be expected that death would play a part in its own victory.

- Before Thanos killed him, Drax was described as an Avatar of Life. Adam Warlock was considered the same before he became the Magus, and perhaps afterward as well. He still worshiped life. First off, it makes me wonder if Phyla could have averted what's coming by killing Drax, since he's an Avatar of Life, or if it had to be Adam specifically. I'm guessing the latter, since Drax didn't have grandiose schemes of destroying Death. He's quite the practitioner of Death, after all.

- Which brings me around to the second point. Adam and Drax were both Avatars of Life, but they went about things very differently. Drax protects/serve life by destroying the Avatar of Death. Adam Warlock, at least in this incarnation, protected life by trying to seal the Marvel Universe up, so things outside the universe couldn't get in and wreak havoc they might intend. To that end, he took control of the Universal Church of Truth, so that 1) they'd stop interfering in his work, and 2) he could use their resources to do his work more effectively. Contrast that with Drax, who might work with teams, but tends to operate alone when it comes to Thanos. Drax fights Death with death, Adam was fighting life, with Life (the belief energy of his followers). Drax actively sought out his target, while Adam reacts to problems. A tear in the fabric of the universe appears, Adam and the Guardians (or the Church) go there and close it up. When Adam tried to act to avert the disaster, going after Emperor Vulcan before the War of Kings destroyed the universe, he was soundly thrashed and sent packing. Adam Warlock helped set Thanos' return in motion, because he was worried his Magus personality would emerge and need to be stopped. He set aside his personal distaste because he perceived a greater threat. When he reached Thanos during Annihilation, Drax couldn't wait two seconds until Thanos had freed Galactus to kill him, and thus jeopardized the entire universe. He was too focused on the immediate problem, and didn't think of the larger picture. I can't decide whether he'd begun to do so in Thanos Imperative or not, because Thanos is an ally at the moment, but he might be the bigger problem. It would be interesting if he adopted Adam's approach, and it got him killed.

Maybe there's something there about Drax representing the so-called lizard, brain, the basic, emotional responses, while Warlock is the more reasoned, logical portion. Both of them are a part of us, as living beings, and life comes in many different forms, so it makes a certain amount of sense there would be more than one Avatar of Life, and they'd address different problems, or have different approaches.

- These days, there only seems to be one Avatar of Death at a time. There was Thanos, and Drax killed him, so there was no one for a time. I think Moondragon becoming an actual dragon, as the Dragon of the Moon grew stronger, was a step to fill the void, but Ultron stepped in (in a sense, Ultron, unknowingly, filled Drax' role for a moment). Then Phyla took the job to get Moondragon back, until she was killed by Thanos, as he reemerged. Maelstrom's been around, but doesn't seem to have a physical presence, he's more an intangible puppet master. But Death, whatever form it takes, ends the same way. The person is dead, all the way dead (as opposed to mostly dead), and it doesn't matter whether Thanos disintegrated them, they were hit by a bus, thrown from a bridge, died of old age, whatever, end result is the same. It can take many forms, but they all wind up in the same place.

Friday, October 29, 2010

From An Abstract To An Evil Choo-Choo, What A Step Down

I want to talk about the Galactus Engine. It's a giant thing, looks sort of like a train with centipede legs, has Galactus' skull on the front. It burst through the Fault from the Cancerverse at the end of Thanos Imperative #2, and it's been slugging it out with regular Galactus and all the other high-level cosmic "Abstracts" since then.

The Silver Surfer said it's the Galactus of the Cancerverse, weaponized, which I'm guessing means this was done to Galactus, rather than it's the form he naturally took in that universe. I'd also guess Mar-Vell was behind it, but why? I can understand trying to shut Galactus down. It's a universe where no one will ever die, so they'll need all the habitable space they can get. Galactus devours worlds, including ones people could live on. So they stop him from doing that. It might take some time, but he can't kill them, and eventually he'd exhaust his energies and be overwhelmed. It raises two questions for me, though:

1) Was Cancerverse Galactus offered immortality before he was weaponized, or no? I could see Galactus rejecting the offer, recognizing the fundamental wrongness of a universe without death. That's even though he's clearly a survivor. Survived the death of his universe, keeps on going no matter how little he may enjoy what he does to survive. Still, he's been portrayed as a fundamental power in the universe, one who bridges the gap between Eternity and Death, maintaining a balance between them. That could make him either too powerful, or too aware of the risks in the offer to accept. Or perhaps no offer was made at all. He may have been regarded as potentially useful, but too dangerous to extend the Many-Angled Ones' gifts to.

2) At any rate, now he's an engine. What's he running on? What's the engine providing power for? The engine probably provides power to destroy their enemies. As for what it runs on, I wonder if Galactus can draw energy from things that can't die? I don't believe the freedom from death extends to actual planets, but what of the people on them? Would their bodies resist being broken down into the energy he consumes, or would their consciousness persist even after they were turned into pure energy? Galactus tried eating the Elders of the Universe once, after they tried killing him. He ate them even though they couldn't die, but it didn't take, and they escaped, though Death erased some of them from existence.

But since the inhabitants of the Cancerverse can't die, could they serve as an eternal fuel source for the Galactus Engine? He breaks them down, and draws some energy from it, but they regenerate, so he breaks them down and draws energy from them again, going on forever. In the end, it's just adding a middleman, because I'm betting it's the Many-Angled Ones that empower the folks, so it's probably their energy the Engine would be running on.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thanos Has To Love Death By Staying At A Distance

I'm on a Thanos Imperative kick, and may be for the next few days. I've been giving some thought to Thanos bemoaning his fate in Thanos Imperative #4, after he survived Drax' anti-matter charge assassination attempt. He said that Death had rejected, that he could never be by her side again. Considering how often Thanos proclaims his love for death, that's a big deal for him. He even goes so far as to say that's she's merely using him for her own ends, the same as she's doing with the Guardians of the Galaxy.

I think he's looking at it the wrong way. Thanos has always been trying to do things for Death to prove his love for her, and earn her affection in return. Kill this group of people, conquer this world, gather the Infinity Gems. The thing is, Death never needed any of that stuff. That half of the universe Thanos killed with the Infinity Gauntlet? They 're all going to die someday, anyway. Thanos may have sent them along to Death sooner, but she would have claimed them eventually. He gave Death nothing it couldn't have taken on its own.

Now though, Death needs Thanos. Mar-Vell can destroy her utterly, as he did the Death of his universe, and her only defense would be an Avatar of Death powerful and wily enough to beat Mar-Vell. Phyla could have spared him this (that might have been interesting, her facing off with an evil version of her pop*), but I think when she failed to kill Adam Warlock before he could become the Magus, Death realized she needed a more experienced hand. Who better than her most devoted Avatar?

This is actually Thanos' best chance to impress Death. This time around, he's not some guy trying to impress her with flashy stunts, that stuff is in the past. Now he's her knight, and his immunity to death is her boon to him, like a nice horse or an awesome sword. She's asked Thanos to slay the dragon threatening her realm because he's who she trusts the most. It's not as though there aren't other insanely powerful mass killers she could have drafted. There's Maelstrom, Morg, the Tyrant (if he isn't still alive), there's probably a dead Kang somewhere she could have hauled in, but no.

Yes, it's rough that he can't see a way to be reunited with Death. But Thanos had it pretty easy in this relationship. He did something, and could say he did it because he loves her, even though it's something (conquering, killing, taking power) he'd do anyway. But where was he when the Grandmaster had stolen her power and taken control of her realm for his stupid games? Thanos didn't set things right, Hawkeye did**. This is harder for Thanos, because it involves doing something he doesn't want to - live - because it's what she needs him to do. That's how it is with these things. The knight wants to stay with his lady, but he goes on the quest on her behalf, because he does love her. Talk is cheap.

If Thanos wants to look on the bright side, he can consider the possibility that Death may be able to rescind the immortality she's granted him once the danger is averted. Their separation may not be forever like he thinks.

* I'm not sure it's as interesting as what we have, with Thanos getting to play the hero, even though he still represents Death, and Mar-Vell as the villain. Probably better as is, since we avoid any potential Daddy issues stuff that would like have been played out with Phyla vs. Mar-Vell.

** By getting the Grandmaster so fixated on a game of chance he stopped concentrating on keeping Death imprisoned. Go Hawkeye!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Nice Thing About Having An Evil Mastermind On Your Side

Said Evil Mastermind can usually come up with good plans to defeat your enemies. The Evil Mastermind probably has plans in mind to screw you over as well, but if you're lucky, they'll wait to unveil those until after your enemies are dealt with.

Case in point, Thanos. At the end of Thanos Imperative #5, Thanos and the Guardians of the Galaxy are battling Cancerverse Mar-Vell and his Revengers, mystically-enhanced versions of Thor, Ms. Marvel, Captain America, Iron Man, and Giant Man*. Mar-Vell and Thanos are enemies, regardless of which universe each hails from, so they squared off. It's at the end of the issue that Thanos drops the bombshell: He isn't here to destroy Mar-Vell, he's here so Mar-Vell can grant him death. Since Thanos is the Marvel Universe's Avatar of Death, that's precisely what Mar-Vell needs to do to rid the Marvel Universe of Death forever, thus enabling his masters to gain a stronger foothold in the Marvel U.

As "Oh, crap!" moments go, that was a good one. I was pretty surprised, and definitely worried - until I remembered this is Thanos. During Annihilation, even when Thanos was Annihilus' research and development guy, he installed a failsafe so he could cut Galactus loose if he needed to turn on Annihilus**. From what I recall of Thanos Quest (his hunt for the Infinity Gems), it was largely Thanos appearing to take one approach to victory, but really having another strategy in mind entirely. Back-up plans and duplicity are part of who he is.

Right before Mar-Vell and Co. showed up, he was trying to psychometrically determine how the Necropsy goes. That's the ritual Mar-Vell used to destroy his universe's Thanos (destroying Death in the process), it's what he'll use to destroy this Thanos, and it's what Thanos has to use to destroy Mar-Vell if he's going to reset the balance and thwart the Many-Angled Ones. The problem was he spent a page and a half trying unsuccessfully to get the Guardians to scram***, and by the time he abandoned that strategy, Mar-Vell had arrived. There was no time for him to discern what he needed to do. He and Mar-Vell are evenly matched, but the Guardians are massively outclassed power-wise, so the odds they could drive off the attackers long enough for him to figure it out are slim.

The beauty of this is Thanos will get Mar-Vell to show him exactly what he needs to do to Mar-Vell. It can work because he didn't warn the Guardians, and they know how angry he is about being alive again, about how even Drax with an antimatter charge couldn't kill him. They haven't yet seen any indication Thanos can be killed, but if there was something that could do it, a mystical ritual designed to eradicate Death would be a pretty good bet. So they're going to be convincingly distraught, which sells it to the bad guys.

It took me until today to realize Thanos can pull this off because he knows the Necropsy really can't kill him. Prior to that, I figured he was banking on his power being sufficient to escape being the subject of the ritual, and instead sacrifice Mar-Vell.

* Quasar teleported in with the rest, but I didn't see him during the fight.

** Don't feel too bad for Annihilus, though. He was planning to double-cross Thanos, too.

*** It occurs to me now, but it's interesting that he would tell them to leave, rather than simply killing them. None of the Guardians of the Galaxy present have the means to kill him. It's iffy whether Mantis and Cosmo can shut his mind down if they combine their powers. He doesn't think he needs them, and he's Thanos. Yet he gave them the opportunity to run, which would get them out of Mar-Vell's line of fire.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What I Bought 10/24/2010 - Part 3

I heard a commercial on the radio that described planning a wedding as one of the most exciting times in a woman's life. It went on to mention how it can also be stressful, and so ladies should hire the wedding planner in question for assistance. Is planning a wedding really exciting? I could see the actual wedding being exciting, but I have a hard time picturing planning one as anything but a huge pain.

Power Girl #17 - The actual cover says at the bottom "Enter: Batman!" Except Batman showed up in last month's issue, so he entered then. The other thing I noticed is the use of two little triangles for the colon. It fits with how pointy practically all the other letters are, but it looks a little strange. The triangles point downwards, so it's almost a map telling you that after you read the word "Enter", read down the page, not up.

Batman helps Power Girl track down Benjamin Vitale, the 6th most prosperous arms dealer in the world. He sold the device which merged with the 3rd most prosperous arms dealer in #14 to become a big purple guy for Power Girl to fight. He confirms he left the device in Antarctica for a week, which sends Power Girl down there, which is how the story gets back around to the fight she was having at the start of #16, a fight which takes up the second half of this issue, and ends with Power Girl meeting a dark-haired copy of herself. I think. It's more a Super-Adaptoid thing than a clone thing, I think.

This was actually my favorite issue of Winick's work on the book so far, but that's entirely based on the first half, where Power Girl teams up with Batman. There were a couple of humorous bits - such as an armored goon trying to blast Power Girl in the face at point blank range, and the result of that - and I found the back-and-forth between Peej and Grayson entertaining, along with how their styles compliment each other. There was a panel on page 3 where she thinks to herself how Grayson actually seems to enjoy fighting crime (in comparison to Bruce Wayne), and I'm not sure if Basri was supposed to draw Grayson smiling or what. He's not scowling, and the corner of his mouth might be turned up in a slight smile (or I might be projecting), but it isn't an image that screams out "Character is having fun!"

The problem was the latter half of the issue, where Power Girl constantly yelling at Nicco to provide some intel on who she was fighting, and Nicco babbling uselessly for multiple panels got old real quick. It made the fight feel like it was on a loop, though the fight itself didn't help. Both combatants keep hitting each other, gaining and losing the advantage for a page or so at a time, but the fight seems static. Power Girl comments that her opponent is getting faster and stronger, but she doesn't seem to be presenting anymore of a problem for Power Girl than she did at the start. Half of a good issue is still better than none, though it isn't enough to keep the book on my pull list. Five months was more than enough time for Winick/Basri to convince me to stay, and they couldn't do it.

Secret Six #26 - Do Bane's proportions seem off on that cover? I can't decide whether his head is too big for his shoulders, or his arms are too long for his legs. I think his arms look too long because he's sort of hunched over. Also, the knife and the huge moon behind him are making me think of Texas Chainsaw movies. Which doesn't make much sense, as he doesn't have a chainsaw, but Bane as Leatherface worked in my brain somehow. If one was going to go for that - and I don't know if Luvisi is - October's the right month for it.

Waller learns from Spy Smasher why Bane's team was sent to Skartaris. At least we know why they cut Waller out of their decision-making: she wouldn't go along with it as readily as Spy Smasher. Bane's group has conquered one group of people, who provide an overview of the political climate, which I assume was established in that Grell Warlord series that was going recently, or maybe it's from the original Grell Warlord stuff. Tremor leads the other Six into Skartaris, provides some information on the geography and wildlife, is unnerved by Shirtless Catman, then saves Shirtless Catman from a creature that looks like a combination of an octopus and those angler fish that live in the ocean depths. The two teams meet, the two teams fight. Some of them fight anyway, as Bane refuses to fight Scandal, and in fact helps her win, which, wow, did not see that coming.

Deadshot's figured out who the current Mockingbird is, so that might simplify things for when Luthor hires them, though I'm curious to see what Deadshot might do when he gets back home. I'm not sure about Catman's mental state. One moment he seems feral, unable to recognize anyone, the next he seems in control. Not chatty, but able to walk calmly next to his teammates. Maybe the feral bit is only supposed to be coming over him in battle, in which case it'll be interesting to see how things go next issue, since he was trying to kill Dwarfstar the last we saw of him in this comic.

Thanos Imperative #5 - Can Gladiator fire beams from his hands? Looks like he's getting ready to on the cover, and I wasn't aware he had that power. The look on Quasar's face is a bit strange, I'm not sure how to describe it.

First off, I was right about something! Cancerverse Scarlet Witch is working against Mar-Vell, and accepts her incredibly painful death to send Thanos and the Guardians to where they need to go to perform the Necropsy. My being right about that would be more impressive if I hadn't read the Realm of Kings one-shot, I admit, but it's so rare I make a prediction that's right, let me enjoy it for a moment. Moment's over. The assembled honchos of the Marvel's space empires tell us the fight goes badly, as things even more powerful than the "Galactus Engine" are waiting to burst into the Marvel Universe. Then all the leaders engage in a round of Insult Star-Lord, at which point Nova decides he's going find and help Star-Lord, to hell with the rest of them. I love that, how casually he blows off Medusa when she orders him to stay. Afte everything he's been through, Richard Rider takes orders from no one. He does lend Quasar some Nova Force to help out at the front lines. The last page of the issue would appear to be very bad news for the Marvel Universe, whether Nova makes it there to help the Guardians or not.

I was disappointed it doesn't look like Namorita will get to take much of a hand in the fighting. I don't want her to get killed again, so perhaps it's for the best, but Rich could have loaned her a little Nova Force too. She has more combat experience than any of the Nova Corps rookies he asked Quasar to lead. As last page cliffhangers go, I don't think this one worked quite as well for me as #3's apparent Thanos death (which didn't take). It definitely had me going "Oh, crap!" for a moment, but this is Thanos we're talking about, so my mind quickly came up with less dire explanations than the obvious one. One thing I realized while I was reading this is I'm enjoying it much more than I thought I would. I was afraid I was into diminishing returns territory with Cosmic Marvel events, but I think this has been my favorite one since Annihilation.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What I Bought 10/24/2010 - Part 2

Two things I ordered didn't show up. One is Black Cat #3, which could make the review I'll be doing of Black Cat #4 inaccurate. The other was Bruce Wayne The Road Home - Batgirl. I'm fine with that. From all I've read about the issue, Bruce Wayne is back in the present. . . and still a manipulative jackass. I'd hoped his experiences adrift in time would teach him the importance of positive relationships with his allies, but no. Still has to be the puppet-master, making everyone's decisions while letting them think they're making their own choices.

Black Cat #4 - I love the design of the covers for this mini-series. Felicia holding something, and Spider-Man off-screen webbing it to stop her. My first thought is always that she's stealing it, but after this story, I started thinking perhaps she's returning it, or she just needs it to stop a villain, and Spidey is assuming the worst.

Felicia rescues her mother from Vasili, and her crew poses as movers to abscond with all the Kravinoffs stolen stuff (plus Felicia's mom). Cat makes Vasili look very bad in the eyes of Mama Kraven, but can't bring herself to let him be killed. She facilitates his escape, and manages her own as well. Vasili's luck keeps getting worse because Ana Kravinoff hunts him down, her father at her side. That surprised me. I'd heard Kraven reacted to his return by deciding he'd better run through the jungle, and don't look back. There's a little chat near the end between Peter and Felicia, then it's back to work for the Marvel Universe's premier cat burglar, and I really love the job she's pulling at the end.

Nitpick: The recap page has it wrong. It says Felicia's friend Tami impersonated her and was captured by Vasili, but in the story, it's Kyoko, another member of Felicia's group. Nitpick over. Even missing a chapter at this point, I love this story. I like Felicia's pride in her work, her bit of cockiness, that even though she's a thief, there's enough of a good person in her she wouldn't let the Kravinoff matriarch kill Vasili right in front of her. Whether that's Peter Parker's influence, or simply who she is, I don't know, but it's nice. I like that Jen van meter gave Felicia a crew, and made the story more than just an offshoot of Spider-Man's stuff with the Kravens. It's tied in, and that bugs Felicia, and worries her, but she's the one Vasili ultimately crossed, and she's the one he has to deal with.

I like that during Felicia's fight with Mama Kraven, when someone is hit, the background goes from the wood-paneled walls to a sort of sickly orange. It gets my attention, makes me notice those panels, the violence in them. Not sure why that particular color, though.

Darkwing Duck #5 - In one issue, Darkwing goes from beloved by the entire city, with announcers proclaiming they want to kiss him right on the mouth, to Public Enemy #1. Even Spider-Man couldn't experience a change of fortune that fast. It's not Darkwing's fault, at least not this Darkwing. NegaDuck and old Scrooge McDuck enemy Magica DeSpell are abducting and brainwashing Darkwings from other dimensions, and sending them on rampages through St. Canard. You know, terrorizing the populace, aiding and abetting fugitives, ruining visits to the Natural History Museum. On the plus side, Darkwing helps his old girlfriend Morgana out of the funk she seems to have gone into after he retired (and broke up with her since he dates her in superhero identity only). She's a witch, so that's some magic on his side now.

Until Brill and Silvani brought her up, I'd completely forgotten Darkwing dated a witch. Then I see the panel of them sharing a dinner over a tombstone and it's like "How'd I forget that? I knew that!" The knowledge was lost back there somewhere in the recesses of my mind. On the writing side, I liked the bit where Gosalyn feels the answer to every problem presented in class is "lasers", and a page later, we see the police in pursuit of a crook, desperately wishing they had lasers. Silvani gets to draw Caveman Darkwing, irate spiders, Comissioner Gordon as a dog thing, robots with ties and chefs hats, and rose and chocolate monsters. He does a good job on all of it. I will say Darkwing looks tired a lot. Bags under his eyes and such. Could be age, could be trying to get into the swing of crime-fighting after 18 months in retirement.

Hawkeye and Mockingbird #5 - Hawkeye takes care of Crossfire, and even though it's kind of brutal, I like the arrow with multiple arrowheads connected by a wire for restraining villains. A bolo arrow would be less bloody though, wouldn't it? Meanwhile, Mockingbird tries to keep Evil Phantom Rider busy until good Phantom Rider can exercise all possessing Phantom Rider spirits. Which he does, until he's shot by Crossfire, apparently not restrained well enough, and the jar the spirits were trapped in breaks, and the evil one escapes and Jaime Slade is possessed again, and it's Phantom Rider/Mockingbird again. Mockingbird wins some small victory, and Hawkeye maims Crossfire. Ouch.

See ripping out a toll like Crossfire's cybernetic eye is a task better reserved for folks like Deadpool, or Taskmaster, though I'm not surprised Hawkeye did it. He was all "I'm gonna kill lots of Skrulls!" during Secret Invasion. Then it was "I'm gonna kill Osborn!" during Dark Reign. A successful maiming doesn't feel out of line, though at least he found it troubling. Those warm, fuzzy moments of last issue vanished in a hurry. Our heroes seem to be going their separate ways, which I'm not sure is wise. I understand Hawkeye doesn't feel cut out for this type of stuff, but if Mockingbird's going to get away from the loving death stuff Phantom Rider accused her of, it might help to have someone around to help with that. I don't think Dominic Fortune meets those criteria. I suppose she's the only one who can change herself though, so that's what she'll have to do.

I hadn't originally ordered issue 6, but since the book appears to be ending with that issue, I'm debating whether to check it out after all, to see how McCann wraps things up. I'll make that decision when I'm standing in front of the racks.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

What I Bought 10/24/2010 - Part 1

Played a hunch, and it worked out. I've mentioned before the post office in these parts is only open for an hour on Saturdays. By the time the mail carrier leaves the note in the mailbox telling me there's a package at the post office for me, it's been closed for two hours. So I went there directly yesterday, because if the comics weren't there, no harm, no foul. They were there, plus there was another package full of candy waiting for me as well. I shared that one with the coworkers. It goes against my greedy instincts, but everyone else has been sharing candy, so I figured I might as well get in the spirit.

Batgirl #14 - Supergirl's bored, so she comes to visit Batgirl in Gotham. While enjoying a film fest, an experiment gone awry at the 'requisite super-collider lab' causes Draculas to leap off the screen and attack people. It's the World Finest versus an overly dramatic celluloid representation of the Lord of Vampires!

I didn't realize Kara and Stephanie had become friends, but it's a nice touch, and so was Kara's excited reaction to Earth college. I wonder what the equivalent for college on Krypton is, though. The Draculas coming off the screen was a clever little problem to deal with, but it felt too easily handled. It was mostly depicted over a two-page spread showing their pursuit of various Draculas. I liked the photo booth one myself. Garbett's artwork felt rougher than it was during "The Flood" arc. Don't know if he was rushed, or if Trevor Scott as the inker that's the difference. I think if I'd liked the art a little more, I'd have enjoyed the issue more. As it stands, the execution didn't match the concept.

Batman Beyond #4 - "Hush" is halted in his attempt to kill Catwoman by Old Man Wayne controlling a Bat-Robot. Which Hush promptly defeats, forcing Wayne to blow it up. Terry learns what happened to Dick Grayson, then confronts Hush, with poor results. Also, one of Amanda Waller's top scientists has flown the coop.

We learned who Hush was, and I was wrong. None of my guesses were right, though a couple were in the general ballpark. There is cloning involved, just not of any of the people I suggested. The story's been pretty interesting thus far, with everyone Terry meets as Batman either doubting him, or telling him to get far away from Bruce Wayne. Not bad advice at all. Bruce is hearing the bell tolling, which I think is making him push harder, be more reckless than is typical. I wonder how much this story is following the stuff from the Justice League Unlimited cartoon. The clone thing seems drawn from there, but Beechen's Amanda Waller seems harsher than the old version we saw in that episode that revealed a truth about McGinnis. Of course, this Waller is still active, and that one was retired, so there's time for her to mellow.

Batman Beyond #5 - I dig that cover. Very WW2-era propaganda. All hail the Great and Glorious leader of the Worker's Revolution, Hush! Or not.

Batman is saved from bloody death by the new Catwoman, following field medic instructions from old man Bruce Wayne. Wayne also clarifies a few things for me when he tells us she's Multiplex' daughter. I couldn't figure if all the Catwoman's that jumped Hush last issue were duplicates, illusions, or if she just came from a big family. Now her comment about not being Catwoman just because she's a burglar makes sense. She can make up to nine dupes, so she has nine lives in a sense. Let it never be said I don't catch on eventually.

Meanwhile, Dick Grayson comes out of retirement and saves Waller's rogue scientist from Waller's goons, then we learn exactly what escaped Cadmus that is on the loose in Gotham. By the time that's been sorted out, though, "Hush" has helped himself to Mad Stan's weapons cache, Old Man Wayne's Bat-Robots, and is prepared to solve Gotham's crime problems - permanently! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Sorry.

About Ryan Benjamin's art. It's solid, but some of his faces need a little work. There were a few panels where Barbara Gordon looks like she's had a stroke, or simply that her brain's no longer in residence (it's the same vacant, slack-jawed look my grandmother had the last few months of her life). I do like his rendition of McGinnis in the costume, and how Catwoman's helmet seems to be set up so the lenses she has for eyepieces can be partially obscured by metal which slides into place like eyelids, or to look reminiscent of dilating pupils. It makes the mask more expressive, and it would make sense for a burglar who has to be prepared for surprises like rapidly changing light levels.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Reasons Behind MacQuarrie's Manipulations?

This is a few months late, but somehow I kept forgetting to discuss it. The Secret Six arc from issues 19-22, where Mr. MacQuarrie hires people to kidnap Cheshire and Catman's son, why did he drag Catman into it?

I understand having the child taken. He wants Cheshire to suffer, because she's responsible for the death of his wife and daughter. But he hires the Six to save his son, while having her son taken. Then they try and have Catman kill his teammates to extend his son's life. Catman refuses, tracks the three abductors down, and kills them before reaching MacQuarrie again, who had appeared to shoot himself fatally in the head, but it was apparently only a flesh wound. Then MacQuarrie tells Catman the child's been adopted by some other couple, and he admits Catman was supposed to be killed during the course of all this.

There's certain things that don't make sense. Why try and make Catman kill his teammates? Why bother to drag Catman or the Six into it at all? Is it guilt by association? MacQuarrie hates Cheshire, Thomas Blake had a child with her, so he needs to suffer, the Secret Six work with Blake, so they have to suffer as well? I was thinking this was a contingency plan, one MacQuarrie wouldn't implement if the Six saved his son from the cult, but he told the Six the cult left his boy to bake in a metal box, which indicates he already knew his son was dead when he hired them.

Maybe involving Catman was about how painful it is to have hopes dashed. By alerting Blake to what's happening, MacQuarrie provides Cheshire with hope her son will be returned. It's something she can hold onto, until, if things went as MacQuarrie planned, Blake was killed, which she'd have heard about somehow. As it turns out, Blake survived, but he ended helping destroy her hope, so it hurts her even worse. It still doesn't explain trying to make him kill his teammates, since that would have ended things before Cheshire could even find hope.

I wonder if MacQuarrie had learned of Blake's childhood, with the abusive, domineering father who Blake stabbed, if not killed. If he understood that's were Blake came from, then he may have been banking on it to drive Blake's decisions. That Thomas Blake, having experienced life with a "well-meaning" but ultimately evil parent, would agree that it's better to get a child away from that? Thomas' mother could never quite work up the nerve to do that, and she and Thomas both suffered for it. Is he giving Blake the opportunity to do what MacQuarrie would consider the just or heroic thing, because he knows Blake's mother didn't do the same for him*?

It's possible MacQuarrie was simply doing what he described in #19. He said he has the money to feed five nations, but spends it on vendettas instead. Contrary to what he tells Blake, maybe he knows he's not a hero, he's just a bitter man striking back at the person he blames. And if he can make others suffer as well, then so be it. He refuses to suffer alone, everyone should be in as much misery as him. He has the money to manipulate all parties involved, so he does. I don't think, though, that he did all this as he did because he could. Trying to make Blake kill his closest friends, then having him brutally slaughter three men, only to present him with the opportunity to rip Cheshire's heart out (metaphorically)? It feels too purposeful, but at the same time, it seems so complicated it would have been easy for things to go awry. Blake tries to kill his teammates and dies before he can ever give Cheshire hope of even revenge. Deadshot reacts to MacQuarrie drawing a gun and puts one between his eyes, killing him right then. What if Blake won't make the call, and still demands to know where his son is? Would MacQuarrie tell him, let Blake damn his son to a dangerous life**, or just laugh at him, unafraid of anything Blake could do to him?

* While we're at it, I think breaking Cheshire by making her believe both her kids are dead may not have been smart. Now lots more people are going to die because MacQuarrie had to have revenge. Is that just, their families die because his did as well?

** Though with the way supervillains have been destroying cities lately, living with one might be safer. They'd be more likely to know if Prometheus is about to blow up a city than an average person.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I'm Still Considering The Gaming Possibilities

A month ago, I looked at what DC characters I'd like to see Heroclix of who hadn't received a figure thus far. This month it's Marvel's turn. There's more than 5 characters, but I may be able to group them into five categories. I don't have any idea if any of these characters are likely to receive the honor anytime soon. The next Marvel set is supposed to be X-Men themed. or mutant-themed, I forget which.

Guardians of the Galaxy: I'm mostly interested in the Abnett/Lanning version, and there's only two that haven't been hooked up: Jack Flag and Cosmo. Jack ought to be pretty easy to represent. Charge and Leap/Climb for movement, Super-Strength for attack, Toughness and Combat Reflexes on defense. Nothing spectacular, but a solid secondary attacker. Cosmo, would be more of a ranged attack piece. Mind Control, Telekinesis, Incapacitate, Psychic Blast, maybe Barrier and Super Senses for defense, probably some Outwit. Since he's a dog, you could throw Blades/Claws/Fangs, though I can't remember Cosmo actually biting anyone seriously so far.

If you're more into the original GotG, Charlie-27 and Martinex still need to be represented. If the '90s version is your preference, Nikki and some of the later additions to the team could be selected (though Rita DeMara, the female Yellowjacket who came back to the future with them from the 20th Century, does have her own figure. It's from an old set, though.) And there's Deathcry, who was on Star-Lord's team in the early stages of Annihilation: Conquest. They weren't the Guardians of the Galaxy then, but one could throw her in, if they wanted

Great Lakes Avengers: Well, here are some mutants. There are three members of the team that have figures, but it's Hawkeye, Mockingbird, and Deadpool, and "Great Lakes Avenger" is probably not the description most people think of when it comes to those three. Why not Bertha, Flatman, Doorman, and the rest? They produced the entire U-Foes roster in Web of Spider-Man. I'm not sure how they'll capture Squirrel Girl's ability to defeat anyone, while still representing her powers relatively accurately, though. I'm not sure of the best way to represent Mr. Immortal, either. They did give the most recent Wolverine figure a power to regain health every turn, so maybe give Mr. Immortal that, since he's hard to keep down, even if he's not hard to hit?

New Warriors: There's two members from the Nicieza/Bagley run still waiting for their turn: Rage and Silhouette. Rage shouldn't be hard, the standard "brick clix", maybe ramp up his attack and damage values as he gets beaten up, since I think he got stronger as he grew angrier. Sil would be another close combat attacker, but more of the kind you keep on the periphery, picking off opponents at the edges, while Rage is in the middle of things. I think one of the older Batman figures has a power (Out of the Shadows) that could represent her ability to merge with shadows for traveling from place to place, and there used to be a feat (Camouflage) that characters with Shape Change could use so you couldn't shoot at them if they were adjacent to blocking terrain, which would represent her melting into shadows to avoid attacks.

X-Factor: The original bunch are well-represented. No surprise there, since they're the original five X-Men too. I think all of the crew from Peter David's first run have figures as well, though it's been awhile since Havok or Polaris had new ones. The current detective agency crew is short a few pieces, namely no Siryn or Monet. Rictor's never had a figure, either, powered or depowered. I thought Layla had a bystander token (basically a pog that people used to fill out teams, or to suit their desire to make things comic accurate), but I can't find any sign of it. These are some mutants they might actually make for the next set, assuming they don't load up the set with five versions each of Wolverine and Cyclops.

Triathlon, Stacy X: I can't imagine there are many other folk clamoring for either of these two (especially Stacy), but they'd both fill out some teams I want to run. Triathlon's a member of Atlas now, and I'd run a "Joe Casey's Uncanny X-Men" team. All the other members - Wolverine, Iceman, Archangel w/bird wings, Nightcrawler, Chamber - are available.

The thing I like is that even though none of these are big name characters, I can entertain the notion they might get made. I wouldn't have expected Lionheart to get selected either, but it happened in the Avengers set. I was probably one of a handful of people actually happy about that, but they released a Thunderstrike in that set as well, and I know that made at least one of the guys I played against happy as well. I don't know how many of the creators are fans, but they seem to embrace that idea that all characters are somebody's favorite. And even if you don't care for a particular character, they might still be part of a team you want to field, or have an interesting dial you'd find useful in matches.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tales From The Woods #3

Rock breaks carsonite.

Carsonite bends hacksaw.

Hacksaw, however, does not cut rock. Never choose hacksaw. Unless paper is somehow in the mix, because hacksaw can cut paper. But paper doesn't tend to be a factor.

Something to keep in mind.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What's Frank Castle Get Out Of The Afterlife?

Late in 2008, Marvel released a Punisher: War Zone mini-series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. In it, there's a sequence where Frank asks the fellow who's been after him why he thinks Frank would be haunted by the people he kills. His next two lines are 'I send them to Hell. I sleep just fine.' I saw the page originally in one of Chris Sims' "Ask Chris" columns, and I've been thinking about it periodically since then. Last week, it struck me as strange that the Punisher basically admits he believes in Hell. I've been sorting out my thoughts on that since then.

My thinking was Frank is focused, but also very practical about what he does. He tries to bury the emotional part of himself, because it'll make him stupid and get him killed more quickly. For as many as he kills, he's knows there will always be more criminals, long after he's dead. Even while he's alive, there are numerous ones he'll never catch up to, and the most he can hope for is what he does might give them a moment's pause. He knows he's gone too far down this path - willingly, it's worth noting - to turn back, which is why he can't be part of the life of the daughter he learned he had with O'Brien. It's not so much that Frank couldn't believe in an afterlife, but more I didn't think he would bother to. He's focused on his mission, and doing it efficiently as possible.

Today, it occurred to me that War Zone was under the Marvel Knights imprint, the same as the "Welcome Back, Frank" mini-series Ennis and Dillon did several years earlier (which lead to a Punisher ongoing under the Marvel Knights heading, and eventually the ongoing Ennis wrote in the MAX imprint). At the very start of "Welcome Back, Frank", Ennis addresses Castle's previous status quo: acting as a killer of paranormal stuff under Heaven's direction. Ennis deals with it quickly, basically stating "Yeah, it happened, but Frank's alive again, back to killing mobsters and such. Moving on!" The idea that Frank Castle believes in the afterlife wouldn't come as any surprise, considering he'd seen it, acted in service of it, even.

I'm not clear on what connection there might be between Ennis' Marvel Knights and MAX Punisher work. Costumed superheroes are never mentioned in the MAX stuff. Neither is the Russian, or Frank once making a French military officer drop a nuke on an island. However, Frank's SAS buddy Yorkie Mitchell showed up in both titles, though more often in the MAX book. Still, MAX imprint Frank believes in something, too. In Punisher: The Tyger one-shot, at the end, as Frank begins his war on crime, he thinks to himself that he'll show them something not made by God. it's a reference to a scene earlier in the book, when Frank attends a poetry class as a kid. After hearing Blake's "The Tyger", he asks who made the Tyger, because he doesn't believe it could have been made by the same being that made lambs, meaning God*. It could be a product of his upbringing he hasn't shaken, the same way there are certain things he learned as a kid he honed as he's grown older.

There's always the possibility that Frank believes because he likes the idea that after he's done with the crooks, they wind up someplace worse, where they suffer more than he could ever inflict. By and large, Ennis' Punisher doesn't torture. When he does, he doesn't hold back, but it's rare enough that it even worries him how easy it was. Normally, he's trying to do things as quickly and cleanly as possible, so there wouldn't be time to drag it out. So those he kills could fall under the category of "At least it was quick", if that's a consolation. But he can tell himself there's more waiting for them on the other side.

I don't think that's it, though. He's killing them, and that should be satisfaction enough, in its own way. It's another scene in the MAX run I was thinking of as evidence of his beliefs I think is the reason. At the end of the "Up is Down, Black is White" arc, Frank's captured Nicky Cavella, the mobster who dug up the remains of Frank's family, urinated on them, then sent a recording of it to major news stations. Frank went wild for a bit, not killing civilians wild, but being much more showy and careless (with himself) in how he did things. Now though, he's leading Cavella into the woods, and he thinks to himself (I don't have it in front of me, so paraphrasing) that the clouds had gone and he could think clearly again. He remembers Maria and the kids are someplace people like Cavella can never touch them.

That's the key to it, because Castle isn't just the Punisher, unstoppable, remorseless, emotionless killer. Frank Castle, husband and father, is still in there, but buried as deeply as possible. Because when that part of him comes to the surface, takes control, he gets careless. He does things less intelligently, puts himself and others at risk. It isn't a strict revenge thing, because that would end with the ones responsible for his pain**. It's a mission that doesn't end with the death of one criminal, but hypothetically ends with the death of all criminals (though it really ends with Frank's death), and so emotion can't enter into it. In that way, the belief that his loved ones are somewhere else, in peace and happiness, safe from the sort of violence that killed them, is a soothing measure for that emotional part of Frank. They aren't simply dead and gone, they're dead, but in a better place, so he doesn't need to be angry over them. It keeps that part of Frank Castle quiet, so the soldier can do what he has to, how he has to do it.

* The teacher, a priest, responds that God made everything, and that's all there is to it, as far as he's concerned.

** As it did for Jenny in the Widowmakers arc. She'd trained herself to be very good at killing, but once she killed the specific people she hated, there was nothing left for her, and she killed herself.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

DC And Its Suicide Squad Collections Are Turning Into Lucy With A Football

So DC is soliciting a Suicide Squad trade now, rather than a Showcase Edition. Which is fine, I'd rather have the color art anyway. Do you think it'll actually be released though, or will it vanish into the aether like the Showcases did the last two times they solicited those?

I ask because after the last time that happened, I reconciled to tracking down the series in back issues. If they're going to produce trades, well, that simplifies things for me a bit. Not like there aren't plenty of other series out there, thus far uncollected, for me to spend time hunting down.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Improbable Suggestions For Films That Are Never Happening

Probably because I've started rewatching my Brisco County Jr. DVDs, I was thinking about Bruce Campbell this weekend. More precisely, Bruce Campbell as a villain in a movie. I'm sure he's done it before, and I either haven't seen the film, or don't remember it*. I was thinking he can do charming, and it's the kind of charming where the audience can also be sucked in, rather than the kind where the audience sits there wondering how the characters are getting fooled. he can do brash, smug, and most importantly for where my brain went, grandiose. Thus, my brain concluded Bruce Campbell should be Dr. Doom.

I don't know if Campbell can do an Eastern European accent, but that didn't stop Julian McMahon in either of the recent FF flicks**. If Campbell can do the third-person stuff, the big speeches, the style, the accent isn't that big a stumbling block.

OK, so then my brain recalls this Morgan Freeman quote Roger Ebertused in his review of Red. Freeman said he liked playing villains because they're usually the most interesting characters, and you know they'll still be around at the end of the movie. Which means we need Super Villain Team-Up: The Movie, starring Morgan Freeman and Bruce Campbell. Hey, I like Bruce Campbell, but you know Morgan Freeman's getting top billing there.

I can't decide who'd be a good villain for Morgan Freeman to play, though I'm thinking Vandal Savage. I know, different comics company from Dr. Doom, he's just the first character I thought of that has the age that Freeman could play him. Vandal, in the comics I've seen him, is portrayed as having a good level of intelligence, and the ability to manipulate people, probably because he has thousands of years of observing human nature. He can be coldly sadistic and/or practical, but also be outright brutal. He might try intimidating someone, or tricking them into doing his dirty work, or even (as he did with the Ray) try to be their friendly mentor, but he might also decide to just kill someone if they're a problem. Morgan Freeman can easily do the "older mentor figure" part, but it might be fun to see him let loose and crack some impertinent underlings head open.

Hmm, maybe Bruce Campbell could be Count Vertigo? The Eastern European accent thing is still a stumbling block, but that's one classy villain.

* For example, he was in Congo, which I have seen at least a couple times, but I have no memory of him. Tim Curry, I remember, but not Bruce Campbell. I didn't remember he was in that Tom Arnold McHale's Navy movie either, until I was saw it while at Alex' over the summer, but that may have been my brain trying to blot out the memory of watching McHale's Navy. That also had Tim Curry in it.

** McMahon would be someone who plays the sort of charming that seems to work on the characters, but not the audience. At least, that was how it went on the few occasions I watched Nip/Tuck.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Will The Pricing Change Get Me Buying More?

About this pricing thing Marvel and DC are doing. If I'm following it, DC's dropping the price on all their single issues back to $2.99, but also cutting two pages from each issue, so down to 20 pages from 22. I'm less clear on what Marvel's up to, but it sounds like they aren't doing the $4 first issue for series that are normally going to be $3, and maybe aren't releasing any new ongoings at $4 an issue. But series that are at $4 an issue currently (the big Avengers books, for example) are staying there.

I doubt DC's plan is going to expand my pull list, since it's never been price that's prevented me from buying one of their ongoings. Rather, it's always been lack of interest, which tends to render the cost irrelevant. I am curious to see what the page decrease is going to do. Writing for the trade still seems common, so I wonder if losing 12 pages over 6 issues will cause writers to move stories along faster, or if they'll stretch stories out over more issues, have them go 7 issues to get back those pages. It could be interesting to see if panel count per page goes up as page count declines.

As for Marvel, they'll still need to release more ongoings I'm actually interested in for it to matter much. Of course, there have been 8 ongoings from Marvel I was buying that were canceled since the start of 2009, so marketing comics to me is clearly not a good strategy, but perhaps a few more bones tossed my way?

Just dumping the $4 first issue might help, because I know there have been titles in just the last few Previews (and probably other farther back) where I was considering ordering them until I saw the extra dollar for the first issue. If it's something like Heroes for Hire, where Abnett and Lanning have built up plenty of goodwill with me, then I'll deal with it. They're pretty much the only writers or artists with that much cachet with me (and maybe Jeff Parker), so for everything else, there's going to have to be something else - me being really fond of the starring characters, for example - for me to bite. Once I skip the first issue, I'm in essence telling myself I'm not that interested in the book, so why bother to buy #2? At $3, I'm more likely to say, "Sure, I'll give it a whirl."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

There Are No Incompetent Wingmen On This Flight

It's rare, but Amazon does occasionally recommend something I'm intrigued by, such as Sky Odyssey. I do like flight games, and here was one I'd never heard of. I looked up a review of it, and was impressed enough by said review to order it. The review said there were two potential stumbling blocks: The graphics and the steep learning curve. Graphics don't usually matter much to me as long as they don't make the game look broken (you can jduge for yourself, the image is pretty typical), and as far the steep learning curve, they weren't kidding.

Sky Odyssey is a little different than any other flight game I've ever owned because it's not air combat. The story is that somewhere on Destin Island is the Tower of Maximus, and within it, the city of Eden. How they know this I'm not sure, since no one who set out to reach it has ever returned, and it's shrouded in clouds that would make spotting it from the air impossible. Satellite imagery, I suppose. The point is only the bravest and best pilot could reach the fabled land, and that, apparently, is me (or you, if you're playing). So the game is a series of missions where the pilot flies from place to place among the four islands (of which Destin is one), seeking ruins which will provide clues to the location of Maximus.

There's a lot of flying through ravines and caves, and dodging falling rocks is a common occurrence. There are other missions thrown I think just to change things up. One mission involves dropping supplies to various base camps, another requires you to refuel from a moving train because your plane sprang a leak, and you don't have enough fuel to make it otherwise. That's actually the second mission in the game. That was a pain. You'll fly through forests, over active lava vents, amongst powerful thunderclouds, the developers threw about every natural phenomenon they could think of at you, probably to compensate for the lack of any intelligent opposition. There's no rival trying to sabotage you, or ancient sect to keep you away, just you trying to make it through the levels.

In a lot of ways, Sky Odyssey feels like an older game, where certain things have to be done just so if the level is to be beaten. It can be frustrating, maddeningly so, but I was always excited and relieved whenever I could beat a level, especially if I could manage a good grade in the process. They assign you a letter grade after each level, based on the time it took you, the number of checkpoints you passed through, and how many acrobatic points were accumulated (I'm usually too busy struggling to stay alive to worry about acrobatic points). The checkpoints are a nuisance though, since they don't act like checkpoints in most games. If you die, you don't restart from the last checkpoint, you restart from the beginning of the level, which can get tedious if there's one particular point that keeps tripping you up, and you have to keep flying 9 minutes before you can try it again*.

If you make it through a level with a "B" or better, you can select parts to add to your aircraft, but only once per level. So you can't get a new engine for the Swordfish biplane, then replay the level with the Me-109 and get a new cockpit. They do let you mess around with the color schemes, and there's a limited design function where you can create new emblems for your planes. I made a sad panda face.

There are a couple of other modes, including target mode, where you try to fly through targets in a set amount of time, and Sky Canvas, which has you flying through rings to make pictures. I made a very nice face, but my infinity symbol needs some work. The controls are not my favorites. The game seems to want you to use the PS2 directional pad (though it may just be a matter of hitting the analog button to use the joysticks). There's a second set of controls, but neither the instruction booklet, nor the tutorial will tell you what they are, so they really want you to use the default settings. I got used to the D-pad, but I wouldn't say I was ever proficient with it. No doubt there were numerous cool-looking near misses that took place solely because I was having trouble diving and turning simultaneously.

* My example would be the level where almost as soon as I left a ruin, my engine caught on fire, and I had to try and float downriver on the pontoons attached to my plane. Keep in mind, this was the first level the pontoons had been used, so I was still adjusting to how the affected the aircraft. For the record, pontoons slow down the plane, make takeoffs take longer, and makes it hard to tilt the plane on its side, as the weight of the pontoons keeps trying to bring the plane upright again.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Making The Good Guys Work For The Bad Guys

There are two games - Okami and Persona 3 - I'm playing right now that seem to be reaching the same point*. In each, I've been running around, beating various monsters that have endangered the populace. It's been good: Saving lives, getting stronger, earning the love and adulation of the grateful masses**.

Except now it seems that was a mistake. By killing all these boss monsters, I've created an opening for the rise of an even greater, more devastating evil. It's frustrating, because, for one thing, I didn't know that was going to happen, and for another, what was I supposed to do even if I did know? Was I supposed to not kill Orochi, the multi-headed dragon, who would become god-like if he consumed 100 maidens? Of course not. That's what makes it such a good plan by the bad guys. I couldn't very well ignore these lesser, but still significant threats, but now I'm faced with the Lord of Darkness in one game, and Death itself in the other. A multi-headed dragon is small potatoes, comparatively.

I'm surprised I don't see that ploy more often in superhero comics. A mastermind villain tricking the hero into doing their dirty work, like the Avengers-Defenders War. Dormammu and Loki tricked those teams into gathering all the pieces of the Evil Eye, allowing Dormammu to gradually take control of the heroes' dimension. It's not as though comic book writers don't enjoy sending waves of challenges at heroes these days. They prefer to present it as a way to exhaust the hero so the mastermind can win more readily. That seems to fit with the shift in villainous schemes, where it's often about revenge on the hero, rather than some larger criminal plot.

* I thought Wild Arms 3, another game I'm working through, was going to go the same way, but it didn't. I'm not that far along yet, so maybe things will change.

** In Okami I'm praised, anyway. The heroics in Persona 3 are done secretly, so no one is showering us with gifts and cheers.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Watching Ice Road Truckers Is Stressful Enough For Me

I haven't watched recently, but during the summer Ice Road Truckers was one of the only shows I made it a point to catch when it was on. I suppose I'm impressed by people who'd willingly drive up and down mountains on roads made of ice, when I don't even like driving on regular roads that have ice on them. Plus, it's never certain what problems will show up each week. Maybe there'll be an engine breakdown, or an avalanche, a blizzard. There was the one episode Ray was freaked out because his son had a dream and warned Ray to watch out for bridges and left turns, which has to be unnerving driving 500 miles at night, in the winter. I don't know if caribou migrations have posed a problem yet, but they could.

If migrating animals do cause problems, it'll probably be Alex that gets bogged down by them. He just seems to have bad luck that way, though maybe it's his cautious nature that slows him down more. He'll actually stop to tighten down a loose strap, and of course Hugh is able to pass him while he does and give him crap about his misfortune.

It's not that I wish misfortune on Hugh, but when I was at my friend's a few weeks back, I saw the description for that week's episode. It said Hugh was going to be busted for speeding, and yeah, I fist-pumped. Hugh's that guy always pulling stuff and managing to get away with it. He doesn't put chains on his tires because he wants to save time, so then he drives in the opposite lane up an incline for better traction. Which would be OK if he bothered to get on the radio and let oncoming traffic know he was doing it, but he can't be bothered. Then the trucks coming downhill getting surprised by the truck coming uphill in their lane.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

If Lex Messes With The Wall, He's Gonna Lose Some IQ Points

Lex Luthor is going to hire the Secret Six to take on Vandal Savage in a couple of months. I'm curious whether he'll approach them as himself, or hide behind the "Mockingbird" cover ID he originally developed.

I'm more interested in whether Lex knows Amanda Waller's been using that title to send the Six on missions for some time now. I can (as usual) make arguments both ways. On the one hand, he's Lex Luthor, really smart guy, and I could see him keeping tabs on the Six and things related to them, since they had been useful cat's paws before. I certainly don't see him having any trouble getting into whatever government databases might hold such information if he wanted it. On the other hand, Luthor's also pretty arrogant, so I could see him not sparing the Six a second thought after they had initially ceased being useful, or simply not believing anyone would use an identity he created (if they could even learn of its existence, which he might doubt they could).

I favor Luthor knowing, if only because I'm curious what he thinks about it. He may not even care, as long as the Six are still available for his purposes. But I think he might not approve of someone using his method to manipulate people he once manipulated. It wasn't for nothing he was tapped as a temporary Orange Lantern. He wants it all for himself, no sharing.

I'd like to see Luthor and Waller square off, whatever form that might take. Lex is the super-genius, but I think the Wall is meaner and more stubborn. I was going to say Lex had the edge in ruthlessness, but I'm not sure. Waller can be just as ruthless when she has something to do; she just has the decency to feel bad about some of the people she hurts or sacrifices. Which doesn't change the fact she'll consider Rick Flag or whomever expendable if the situation calls for it, not so different from Luthor.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Annexing New Lands Is Too Much Trouble

As far as I know, it still Amanda Waller as Mockingbird sending the Secret Six on missions. This time, to stop the other Secret Six from annexing Skartaris in the name of the United States.

This makes perfect sense to me, as conquering a territory that can only be reached through a dimensional portal located wherever that portal is at doesn't seem feasible. Communication would be a pain, and Skartaris would need representation, which means you've got to find a scantily clad barbarian type who is willing to travel to Washington D.C., and possibly even wear a suit or dress while doing so. There's the vast amount of new species that will have to be catalouged and likely protected, since they aren't found anywhere else, versus the desire to exploit its resources. There would be squabbles over whether to use Skartaris as the dumping ground for nuclear waste, or prison convicts. Hey they already tried sending them offworld, why not inside the Earth? That's going to tie up the legislature. It's more trouble than it's worth.

I'm curious why Waller is sending one team to stop this from happening, while Spy Smasher sent another bunch to make it happen. Interdepartmental rivalry? Spy Smasher could be off her gourd, acting without authorization. She strikes me as a "Whatever I deem necessary" type. Like DC's version of Henry Gyrich. Waller would seem to be the one with official backing, since the bunch she's sent is being offered full pardon, but it's possible Spy Smasher has similar backing, but from different officials.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I'm Hoping Cancerverse Scarlet Witch Is Nice

I had this idea while reading Thanos Imperative #3. The last page of #4 may have killed it, but I think there's still a chance it could happen.

In the third issue, the Scarlet Witch of the Cancerverse reports to Mar-Vell that one of their teams of heroes picked up a signal, went to investigate, and hadn't been heard from since (that would be the Cancerverse Defenders, who were destroyed by Thanos in the previous issue). Wanda requests leading a team to investigate, which Mar-Vell approves. She even throws a little dig at Cancerverse Iron Man about not doing his work properly.

The idea I had was that the Witch was going to be the one organic being in the Cancerverse somewhat resistant to the influence of the Many-Angled Ones and their Avatar, Lord Mar-Vell. In the Realm of Kings one-shot from last year, she's the one who releases the Marvel Universe's Quasar after he'd been captured by her teammates.

The way I figured it, Wanda has used magic in the past, and seemed to be invoking the names of beings like Ch'thon, which sounds like the sort of thing that might be related to these Many-Angled Ones. So that history of interactions with them would give her a certain level of immunity. Not enough that she turns down the immortality they offer, but maybe enough she maintains her own mind, isn't so slavishly devoted to Mar-Vell as the others are. She can play at it well enough; that time she spent in the Brotherhood under Magneto probably taught what bossy savior-types like to see in their subordinates. The whole time, though, she'd be looking for an opportunity to turn the tables. She might be working with the Artificial Intelligence Resistance, or she might be operating solo.

Either way, she'd have to be patient, because until someone or something came along that could kill Mar-Vell, there was no way to turn things around. But with Thanos, an honest to goodness Avatar of Death on the scene again (albeit one from a different universe) there'd be a chance. She couldn't just slip off on her own, so she makes it seem she's being the dutiful solider, even takes the time to make it look like one of the truly loyal (Iron Man) isn't doing his due diligence.

The whole thing is sporting a major leak after the end of the fourth issue, since she and her squad have shown up and War Machine's already shot the Vision in half. There's still hope, though. For one, Wanda's hanging back near the hole her team just burst through, as the rest of the "Revengers" charge in. She could be staying out of the line of fire, or preparing to shoot her former allies in the back while they're preoccupied with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Second, she didn't bring along anyone who is actually a threat to Thanos. The most powerful member of her squad is War Machine, and enhanced by Lovecraftian horrors or not, he's not beating the Mad Titan*. So bringing a group ultimately too weak to do the job could be her way of appearing loyal to Mar-Vell, while actually working to undermine him.

I think it'd be kind of nice for the Scarlet Witch, who hasn't had the best go of it in the Marvel Universe the last six years or so, to be the only one who didn't let the power corrupt them. To be risking her neck working amongst her former friends to find a way to set things right. We'll see, though I'll have to wait a couple of weeks.

* We know they can't beat Thanos because he can't be killed now, but in theory Wanda wouldn't know that, so she couldn't work it into a plan.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

There Must Be Other Names In Her Rolodex

Reading through Power Girl #16 I was a little surprised Power Girl would go to Batman for help. Not entirely, since I've seen the solicitation for October's issue so I knew he was showing up then at least. I know I shouldn't have been surprised she called him "Dick", since all the heroes at DC refer to each other by first names these days, but I've never thought of Power Girl and Dick Grayson being particularly close.

I know Dick Grayson is supposed to be the cheerful guy who's friends with all the other heroes, but I didn't think they crossed paths much. I had thought she was in Europe with the Justice League while he was on the Titans, then when she was in the JSA, he was running the Outsiders and sticking to the shadows more.

I'm mostly curious why she doesn't turn to her friends in the Justice Society. Couldn't Mr. Terrific help track down her stolen money? Is that representing that split in the JSA, where we have the Justice Society and the All-Stars? So Power Girl's on one side, and doesn't feel comfortable asking for help from folks on the other team (not sure how I'd reconcile that with her brief team-up Mid-Nite against the Blue Snowman)? It could just be a sign of her desire to handle things herself, which she mentioned to Terra at the start of the Palmiotti/Gray/Conner run, though turning to Batman is hardly handling things herself.

I don't know if Max Lord is behind the embezzling of Power Girl's funds (though his mind control powers would explain the divorced mother swiping her money, fleeing the country, then dying of an "overdose), but if so, Batman being involved makes a certain amount of sense. Diamondrock mentioned a few weeks back that Bruce Wayne will be back from his time jaunt soon, and he ought to still remember Max Lord existed. He was an original member of the JLI, founded by Max Lord, and it's the few remaining members who are trying to stop Max. So until Bruce makes it back, it might make a certain amount of sense for Grayson, as Batman, to help out a member of the JLI, with a potentially Max Lord-caused problem.

I don't know, do you think there's a similarity between Power Girl and Dick Grayson? They both try to live up the examples set by older heroes, though Batman was (obviously) more of a mentor to his ward than Superman was to Karen*, and Dick was much younger than Karen was when she reached Earth. They've both lead teams, both been Nightwing (Peej during that story in Kandor in the early stages of the current Supergirl title, and maybe some other times I don't know about). They both get written with lots of angst periodically, Grayson when a writer wants him to mope about Bruce not loving him, Power Girl about her frequently changing origin. Still, they usually seem to really enjoy themselves, fighting crime, saving people. Dick Grayson obviously enjoys dating, Power Girl likes gory horror flicks. They like being super-heroes, they like enjoying the world they protect.

* In this universe anyway. Maybe in the Earth-2 she originally came from, he was an active presence in her life after she reached Earth.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Atlas Came In Peace, And Actually Meant It

I mentioned it in passing yesterday, but I was pleased to see Jimmy Woo and the Atlas crew solve the problem with the Echo World without resorting to potentially lethal violence. Not that I'm necessarily opposed to the heroes killing their foes, depending on the circumstances and the hero. But Marvel (and maybe DC, I'm not sure) seems to have this attitude where killing by heroes is generally frowned upon - as long as the foe looks reasonably human (X-Force would be the obvious exception, but we're aren't supposed to see them as heroes are we?). Ms. Marvel will kill Super-Skrulls like she's in a video game. but not Norman Osborn*.

Jimmy's not immune from that himself. During Secret Invasion, he had Venus singing to Skrull soldiers to lure them into the ocean where they would drown amidst a lovestruck stupor. Venus couldn't bring herself to do it**, and while Jimmy said her understood, he then told M-11 to death ray the Skrulls instead, which M-11 did. Granted, Jimmy's looking at things from a 1950s perspective, and from the monster comics I've seen from back then, invading creatures were shown no mercy.

Then there's the inhabitants of Echo World. On the one hand, you could consider them worse than the invading Skrulls. The Skrulls were supposedly offering to share the world with Earthlings, it was just the Skrulls would be in charge. But it's not as though they were Annihilus, out to exterminate all indigenous life. The Echo Worlders don't actually want to live on Atlas' Earth, but they do try and manipulate people so that they'd kill large quantities of themselves and render portions of Earth uninhabitable, which is a bit more malicious.

At the same time, the people of Echo World have their lives constantly disrupted by these impressions or echoes of the people on the other Earths. It's not a situation they caused or asked for, and it makes their lives more difficult and terrifying, since they don't know when some ghostly looking tank is going to suddenly appear in the middle of their homes during dinner. They don't wish to conquer Earth, only to have it stop wrecking their lives on their world. You could argue the Skrulls still had it worse since they had no homeworld, but I'd think there have to be planets out there somewhere the Skrulls could settle and thrive on that aren't already inhabited. It's a big universe***, though knowing the Skrulls' luck, they'd just get settled and Galactus would show up.

It is nice to see Jimmy take that approach, and it fits, since he isn't like the past rulers of Atlas. He wasn't raised as a ruler, or a conqueror, he was raised as a regular kid who made himself into a law enforcement agent, then a secret agent. Someone whose purpose is to protect others from those who would do do them harm, rather than the person inflicting the harm (until the people agree to follow him). With the Skrulls, he handled things the way most of the previous leaders of Atlas would have. He fought the Skrulls, and killed them. So this is perhaps the point where Woo really comes into his own as leader, starts keeping his promise to Master Plan to do things his own way, rather than mimic how his predecessors handled things. And Jimmy's way is to try and help, so there's no need for conflict, rather than destroy the potential threat.

* Though I think it was her reason for not killing him that bothered me most. Namely, that she 'was better than he was'. Not that I disagree with her self-assessment, but it didn't seem like a line of reasoning she'd follow. If she had abstained from killing Osborn because she needed to get back and help her teammates, and couldn't spare the time to kill him, I'd have bought that. Or if she worried that killing Norman - a duly appointed official of the government - would make things worse for a superhero community already mistrusted by the public and the government, sure. Carol Danvers strikes me as a pragmatic sort.

** And thumbs down to Jimmy for trying to get her to do that. It's the exact sort of thing she used to do back when she was just a siren. Sure she's come to grips with her past, but that doesn't mean he should encourage her to reenact it.

*** And it would suit the Skrulls sometimes preference for sneaky. It's a sometimes preference because they prefer big splashy battles when the story dictates they stop being sneaky so the heroes can punch them a lot. Anyway, quiet, out of the way world they could rebuild on, where no one would be looking for them. As opposed to Earth, which I think every sentient species in the universe keeps one eye on, since you can never tell what those crazy Earthlings are gonna get up to.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Back After Another Long Absence

Calvin: {So, how've you been?}

Adorable Baby Panda: Fine. School started, it's not very interesting.

{Oh yeah, been there, done that.} The math is interesting. {That is not a sentence I've heard often.} But you can make the numbers do almost anything! {And I find that maddening. The covariance of the variables divided by the variance of the independent variable equals the slope of the regression line. Of course it does.} We aren't looking at anything like that. I was talking about factors, and area of a circle, stuff like that. {Oh.} Yeah. {Can we please talk about something other than math?}

Sure! All of Atlas is getting Applause for solving the problem with the Echo People peacefully. And Gorilla-Man gets a Hug for being happy with who he is. Deadshot already got a hug from Alice, so I don't have to do that, but I guess he could get some Applause for trying to be nice. {He did threaten to kill the doctor.} Yeah, that deserves a Bonk. {Trifecta for Floyd Lawton! Now what about Scandal? She was trying to be nice, but she was still offering to kill Catman.} That's what he wants, so it's probably a good thing. It doesn't seem like something to applaud, though. {We could ignore it.} Yes! Let's give Nova a Hug instead.

{Well, all this positivity is great, but surely some people need to be hit.} Always. Catman was being selfish, trying to make the cats kill him, so that's a Bonk. {Can Mar-Vell get one? Besides being evil, he's kind of a smug jerk.} So am I hitting him for the evil, or the smugness? {Can't it be both?} You bet! Bonk for Cancerverse Mar-Vell! I missed this. {No hitting evildoers at school?} I hit a classmate who was cheating on their spelling quiz. My teacher said that wasn't the right thing to do. {Nobody likes a snitch.} I didn't snitch! {Oh, well that explains it. Your teacher just saw you hit another student.} Oh. {Now what do we do about Drax and Thanos? Drax couldn't let it go, and endangered his universe. But Thanos killed him, and also endangered the universe.} Drax was overwhelmed, he couldn't control himself. {So that's a no to hitting Drax?} Well, he is dead. That's punishment enough. {And Thanos?} He's depressed over being dumped, and it was self-defense. {He still put the entire plan at risk!} He's Thanos! You can't expect restraint! Actually, Cosmo needs a Bonk for mocking Thanos' pain. {What?! Madness! That school has brainwashed you!}

Thursday, October 07, 2010

What I Bought 10/5/2010 - Part 3

Today I'm looking at one comic from an ongoing series, one from a mini-series, and a one-shot. And I have nothing else for an intro!

Secret Six #25 - It's probably my affection for fighting games that makes me like that cover. I do find it interesting Black Alice isn't among those pictured.

Bane's team tries to force a guy to be more favorable towards his wife in their divorce settlement. Then Spy Smasher demands the team go on a mission for her. That mission is apparently to annex Skartaris for the United States. Yeah, I foresee no problems making that work. Meanwhile, Catman's trying to get himself killed, but instead he and the rest of the group are grabbed by people acting under Mockingbird (read: Waller's) orders, and sent to stop Bane's team. Also, Deadshot does something nice for Alice, in his own way, of course.

I'm surprised Bane's team went along with Spy Smasher. She had what, some dudes with guns on boats? Giganta fights Wonder Woman, I'm pretty sure she could handle that. I am really eagerly waiting the moment when Dwarfstar lets slip he had Ryan Choi killed, and Giganta does something painful to him. I'm sure I'll be highly entertained, even though I shouldn't be. I love the look on Floyd's face when Alice hugs after receiving good news, and that Scandal cares enough about Blake to offer to kill him herself, so the lions don't have to.

Thanos Imperative #4 - Thanos did die, but doesn't stay dead, which doesn't make him or Drax very happy. Drax, on the other hand, looks like he will stay dead, which didn't make anyone, even Thanos, very happy. Also, it told Lord Mar-Vell where to find Thanos. Oops. Except the group Cancerverse Scarlet Witch took out last issue found them first. Oops again.

Nova's plan to take a small strike team and hit Mar-Vell kind of worked. They rescued all the temporal anomalies that had been abducted, including Namorita (who I'd like to see do more punching of bad guys). That's good. The bad is Mar-Vell kicked Nova's ass, shattered the Surfer's board, and blew up his ship after he and his folks departed to go get Thanos. Rescuing is good, but that strategic victory didn't happen.

I'm curious if there'll be a reason Richard was able to get back up. Mar-Vell said he hit Nova with 'an eternity of living, inextinguishable pain', but Nova was up and going before the end of the issue. Either the Worldmind took the hit (even though it's not housed in Richard anymore), or that Abstract making contact with his mind in the previous issue did more than clue Richard in on where the head bad guys were.

Sepulveda's artwork is still up-and-down for me. I liked the panel of Nova trying to zip around Mar-Vell at high speed and blast him from multiple angles, but I've always been a sucker for after-image shots. But the shots when Drax tries to make another run at Thanos didn't look to good. The look on Drax' face seemed silly, and I couldn't figure out what he was doing with that one hand he was sort of reaching towards Thanos with. Was he going to claw his eyes out?

Valkyrie - Hotel employee is dropped off balcony by twisted male guest. As a paramedic tries to use the defibrillator on her, she's also struck by lightning and Valkyrie's back in play. Shes' confused, wants to know who killed, wants to know who she is, who she was. Goes to the Wasp, which I found a little strange. I know they worked together a few times, but I figured she'd seek out Hellcat. They were teammates for a long time. Janet advises Val to follow her heart, while being I'd say too cavalier about Valkyrie's situation. I know people come back from the dead often in comics, but when one of them clearly seems confused, fewer jokes about how Oklahoma is a fashion Don't might be wise. I thought Janet was smarter than that.

Val tries to track down the paramedic, winds up fighting the guy who killed the hotel employee whose body she inhabits, the guy being Wrecking Crew member Piledriver. Whups his butt, and whisks the paramedic off to the hospital for medical treatment.

I'm confused about this. So all those times Valkyrie was on the Defenders, the actually Valkyrie's soul was trapped in Niffelheim somewhere? It was strictly some mortal woman's soul inhabiting the body, plus maybe some man-hating stuff thrown in by the Enchantress? But now, Brunnhilde's soul has been freed (or was freed during the last Ragnarok, and was brought back by Thor now), and it's strictly her inside that body? Or maybe there's also a part of Valerie, the hotel employee as well. Brunnhilde seems to remember all the past adventures, but the story seems to be saying she didn't take part in them. Like moving into an apartment and finding photographs of parties the previous inhabitants had there.

Great, now my head's hurting. That may not be this Valkyrie stuff, but I don't know that it isn't.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

What I Bought 10/5/2010 - Part 2

For three hours this afternoon my computer wouldn't/couldn't connect to the Internet. "No connectivity", it said. "Typical", I thought. Comics arrive, and now I can't post. As you can see, things have corrected themselves. They must have, because nothing I tried worked. It's strange, though, the computer and router haven't moved in the last 6 weeks, had worked fine that entire time, and no one else was having problems. Just one of those things.

Gorilla-Man #3 - Ken and Banda find their target's camp, are captured, but with a little luck, and a little help, they end up winning out. Ken finishes telling Banda the story of how he became a gorilla, and soundly rejects an offer to be returned to human form.

I'm torn on how I feel about this mini-series. On the one hand, Ken Hale did have some cool adventures as a human, and the idea that he was driven to seek immortality only once he had things he cared enough about to not want to lose them was pretty cool. On the other hand, he has cooler adventures as Gorilla-Man, so a mini-series that was strictly him jet-setting around the world, kicking butt and being cool, might have been even more fun. Caracuzzo's art still isn't a style that's a favorite of my, but I think the rough edges of it work well for a story about a guy who doesn't live a glamorous life, and enjoys getting his hands dirty. I appreciate it, even if I don't love it.

Hawkeye and Mockingbird #4 - So our heroes did survive the explosion, with a little willpower, some luck, and judicious use of Hawkeye's trick arrows. Oh, and Dominic Fortune survived because of some healing ability. Or maybe he's immortal, since he flatlined, then came back before they could do anything to revive him. The group takes stock, makes a few calls, and starts putting the screws to Crossfire and Phantom Rider. There's a fight at a museum, damaging priceless fossils, and the good guys called in a little mystical support of their own.

This was my favorite issue of the series so far, probably because everybody doesn't seem to hate each other. Clint and Bobbi actually tried talking a little, and Hawkeye's annoyance with Fortune's flirting with Mockingbird seems more good humored now, and less like to result in the guys fighting each other. They don't all have to get along, but for awhile there everyone seemed to actively despise each other, and it was hard to believe their work was worth the aggravation. McCann didn't have the ghosts of the good guys haunt Phantom Rider the way I suggested last month, but Bobbi did use a mental link between her and the Rider to mock him/her/them a bit, which was amusing. I liked that they got in touch with old West Coast Avengers teammates when they needed a hand. It's a little thing, but it seemed like a nice touch.

Power Girl #16 - The issue starts with Power Girl fighting some guy in the Arctic. She unmasks him at the end of the fight, and I guess recognizes him, but we don't see his face, and the issue doesn't return to that point, because it flashback to the end of last issue, when disgruntled coworker Nicco accused Karen Starr of being Power Girl. He proves he's right, they argue about her motivations and methods, he quits. She enlists Batman (Dick Grayson) to help her track her embezzling employee down, which they do, and the cover tells that story. She manages to convince Nicco to work for her super-hero identity, rather than her civilian one, and is preparing to head to the Arctic when the issue ends. So I guess we'll catch up to the fight next month.

I can't figure why Power Girl had to move at super-speed to stop Nicco. Hasn't she ever watched Clark Kent stumble about to avoid blowing his secret identity? It really couldn't have been that hard to move slightly faster so she could dodge, but make it look more like she tripped in her heels or something. I know that hiding who she is isn't Power Girl's style, that she wouldn't appreciate someone threatening to shoot her, and I love her for that. But I thought she was trying to make a go of the "secret identity". If so, well, it's not always going to be easy, she has to work at it a little.

Alright, tomorrow three more reviews, which I hope will be more positive than these. Granted, these weren't as negative as I thought they'd be before I started, but I think the ones coming up will be even more positive. Will they be more positive than those from Tuesday? I don't know.