Monday, February 28, 2011

The Trackers Weren't Particularly Deadly

Ever see The Chase? Early '90s film, Charlie Sheen, Kristy Swanson? It's not very good, though it has its humorous moments, especially the unintentional use of cadavers as a deterrent to police pursuit. It's a freaking work of art compared to The Deadly Trackers. My dad's of the opinion most Westerns from the '70s were garbage, because they went too far with the anti-hero idea, to the point no one was any good, everyone's motives were suspect. It's like some of the current crap comics, mistaking brutal violence and sexual content for maturity.

We spent the entirety of the film mocking the incompetence of the good guys, the stupidity of, well, pretty much everyone, the unlikeability of the Texas sheriff, played by Richard Harris, who was much better in Unforgiven. Unforgiven was an infinitely superior movie, which doesn't hurt. The one character we liked was the Mexican sheriff, Gutierrez (Al Littieri), who was the most honorable guy in the film. Being a cynical picture, this is portrayed as weakness. Harris pursues the criminals who killed his wife and son for vengeance, with no regard for jurisdiction (he chases them into Mexico without authorization) and generally behaves poorly to everyone he meets. Gutierrez pursues them for murders committed in Mexico, but intends to arrest them and have them stand trial, assuming his witness will testify. Gutierrez helps Harris in tracking the killers, saved him from a misguided lynch mob, cares for him when he's blinded by a gunshot. In return, Harris nutshots him with a rifle butt, holds a priest hostage to escape jail, and whacks Gutierrez over the head with a rifle later.

The ending was predictable, and I wonder what the director wanted our reaction to be. I was happy with it, as all the people who needed to die did, but given how characters had been presented, I think they were going for the sort of "the system is broken" points, ala Dirty Harry. Didn't work that way for me. Harris probably could have won if he'd worked with the system, but he didn't and we see where it gets him.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Should I Trust A Shadow As Evidence?

Spoiler warning for part of Power Man and Iron Fist #2. We're introduced to Tiowa Bryant in this issue, who Victor (he's the new Power Man) seems quite taken with. As the scene draws to a close, it's revealed that Tiowa may also be the mysterious "Noir" who caught Victor's attention (and kicked him off a roof) last issue. The evidence would be that in the last panel she appears in, Tiowa's shadow forms the outline of Noir.

Which seems to settle things, though I can't help being suspicious. We're talking about a character called noir, and the few films of that genre I've seen tend to have characters who keep secrets, who aren't who them seem to be, and there are usually double-crosses and surprise revelations. Plus, between Victor and Tiowa studying theater at a school for the performing arts and the Commedia Dell'Morte, there's quite an emphasis on acting, which is about pretending to be someone you aren't. Assuming another persona. So maybe Noir was using shadow powers to keep an eye on Tiowa without her knowledge.

Yeah, it's pretty unlikely. I'm just surprised Fred van Lente presented us with this mysterious character last issue, and he's already revealed her secret identity to us, if not to the other characters. I expected this mystery of who Noir was would be drawn out over the course of the mini-series, revealed around issue 4, maybe 5. I guess van Lente wants us wondering about the "why?" of her actions more than the "who?". Danny and Victor are still in the dark, so we can watch them try to piece it together, which ought to be interesting. I don't know about Victor, but Danny's never struck me as an ace sleuth.

Posting may be sporadic for the next week or so. I'll try to avoid that, but it'll probably happen.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Dangers Of Triple-Crosses And Distancing Oneself

While I don't doubt Steelbeak's serious about his bosses planning to raise Duckthulhu, I don't think that's the only reason he's enlisted Darkwing's help. I'd bet he plans to use Darkwing to bring down the higher-ups, so he can take control of F.O.W.L. himself. He did bring up the possibility of a triple-cross as a jest, but Steelbeak's arrogant enough to jokingly tip his hand and figure he can get away with it.

He's already playing on Darkwing's ego, complimenting him on his skill and fashion at every turn, emphasizing how fearful his bosses are of Darkwing's interference. If Darkwing has a weakness, it's ego. If he existed in the Marvel Universe, he'd have shown up in response to Lyra's search for the generation's greatest hero, probably even faster than the Sentry did.

And apparently frustrated by the damage to his rep done by all the alternate universe versions, Darkwing's opted to handle this mission on his own. It makes me wonder if this is Brill's commentary on the Batman we've seen up until recently. The hero who through charisma or the importance of his mission, draws people to his cause, but keeps them at a distance and out of the loop. Bruce Wayne seems to have learned his lesson (exclusion of Cass Cain from a recent family movie night being a notable exception), but Darkwing perhaps, has not.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What I Bought 2/23/2011

Jack says the new copy of the Suicide Squad trade will be in next week. I hope so. I'm not sure I can put off buying the damaged one much longer.

Darkwing Duck #9 - This month's issue sees the start of a storyline featuring Steelbeak, the only major Darkwing foe not to appear up to this point. He may not be the only major foe, but he's the only one I remember that hadn't shown up yet. In this case, Steelbeak actually wants to team-up with our hero, as the higher-ups in the evil organization Steelbeak works for are planning to use dark arts to summon Duckthulhu to take over the world. This is apparently a jealous response to how effectively Bulba took over the city with Quackwerks. Darkwing agrees to help, but opts to leave his loved ones out of the loop, which will surely not come back to haunt him later.

I wasn't expecting a threat of Lovecraftian horror, but Brill and Silvani have been mixing the mystical with the weird science consistently up to this point, so I'm curious to see where it goes. Silvani draws an excellent Steelbeak, capturing his sense of style and wit, but also making him look convincingly desperate at times. I loved the page near the end where Darkwing and Steelbeak keep trying to turn incriminating things they said into more innocent remarks. "I was complimenting his hat! 'Nice woik picking out that hat!'" "It's not that nice a hat." Also, I'm glad Brill (or would it be Deron Bennett, the letterer) remembered Steelbeak has that particular, what is that, Joisey?, accent for his dialogue.

Power Man and Iron Fist #2 - Danny arrives to save Victor from his attackers, the Commedia Dell'Morte. There's some fighting, some introductions, a statement of intent from the bad guys, then the cops show up. Danny tries to investigate the private prison company, and fight with some former mutant who fancies himself a Zorro-type. A fellow who was also in a picture Victor found in Crime-Buster's apartment last month. Meanwhile, Victor's attending the Alison Blaire School for Performing Arts but is too distracted by thinking about Noir, the strange person who knocked him off a building last month. Then there's a reveal of an auction of a potentially relevant item, and the guy selling it off.

I'm not sure whether to laugh at Pokerface or groan. Maybe I'll settle for shaking my head. His subordinate intrigues me, though. I'm guessing they're both character Fred van Lente created I'm surprised at how quickly van Lente had Victor become enamored of Noir. But she is mysterious, and people can be intrigued by the unknown.

There's two artists for this issue, with Wellinton Alves handling the beginning and end, and Pere Perez (who I last saw on Batgirl #17), handling the middle section. Their styles aren't terribly similar, as Alves and inker Nelson Periera use heavier shadows than Perez, and the colors in their section are more varied, bur duller. Antonio Fabela's colors on Perez' work is brighter, but with fewer shades to it. I do think that helps Perez' art pop off the page more. Also, they probably should have checked with each other, because Perez and Alves drew the mask people will be bidding on differently, which was sort of noticeable since their different renditions are on consecutive pages.

Anyway, it was an enjoyable issue. We get a little fighting at the beginning, then the story turns to unraveling the mystery and introducing and fleshing out the characters.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuco Has As Many Sides As He Does Names. Or Crimes, For That Matter

One of my favorite scenes in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is the not so touching reunion between Tuco and his brother*. I especially like how it starts, when Tuco moves forward to embrace his brother, sees the cross or rope or whatever around his brother's robe, and hesitates, then gives a big grin and says 'I don't know the right thing.'** It's seems like an accurate statement, but Tuco probably does know the right thing, he just choose not to do it. The grin on his face as he says it is like a silly boy's, sheepish about being caught doing what he shouldn't be, and trying to charm his way out of it.

His brother's exasperated look suggests he's familiar with this tactic, and he's not entirely happy to see his brother. Of course, his brother's just come from burying one of their parents, one who was waiting for Tuco until the end, which suggests a bit of a rivalry. Maybe Tuco was the favored son, and he was the one who stayed longer (his brother left to become a priest before Tuco took up the life of a bandit).

The scene as a whole presents a different side of Tuco. We've seen the scoundrel, the schemer, the doggedly determined killer, but this reminds us he had a family, who remembers him as a different person, which isn't something we can say about Blondie or Angel Eyes. I think there's even a chance Tuco regrets some of his choices. He says that he became a bandit to avoid starving, but his road has been harder than his brother's. Which raises the question of why he chose it, the best guess being he didn't think it would be harder. If you're a criminal, you take what you want or need. What could be simpler? But whether by choice or circumstance, it's lead Tuco to the point where he hadn't seen his parents in a decade, his brother barely disguises his contempt (he still loves Tuco, but he certainly doesn't love what he does), and he's left a trail of wives behind him***. His past associates (like the guys who helped him track down Blondie) are dead. Blondie is probably the closest thing he has to a friend in the world, and they tolerate each other out of necessity.

It's a great sequence, with Eli Wallach going from goofy and playful, to concerned for his brother and family, to reflective of the time that's passed, to mocking his brother's attempts to chide him, to being direct and honest about himself. It adds a lot of depth to Tuco, makes him more than the guy who always seems to draw the short straw.

* My favorite scene is the end, from about the time Tuco rolls up against the gravestone until the credits.

** I also like the line as Tuco begins to unload on his brother. 'Yeah, and as I'm waiting for God to have mercy on my soul - I, Tuco Ramirez, brother of Brother Ramirez.' The emphasis on the second brother always gets my attention. I think it says Tuco's angry because his brother's letting their respective professions get in between them being brothers who haven't seen each other in years.

** His brother brings up the fact Tuco was married, and Tuco's response is a snarled mockery of 'Not just one, lots of them. One here, one there, wherever I could find them.' Which makes me think the first wife, the one his brother knew of, might have been important to him.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Two Different Approaches To Changing Life, And Neither Worked

It's been over a month, but I wanted to get back to writing about the Cosmic Marvel events of recent years. When I started, I was talking about how Annihilation and Thanos Imperative mirrored each other, but couldn't decide how Annihilation: Conquest and War of Kings fit in to the "life vs. death" struggle.

I still haven't resolved that, but I had a thought on how the two middle events compare to each other. In each case, the story involves a major player trying to make a major change to life in the universe. Black Bolt planned to spread Terrigen Mists across the universe, the idea being everyone would become an Inhuman. Ultron was looking to combine what he considers the superiority of artificial intelligence, with a perfect organic body (Adam Warlock), thus overcoming the limitations of organic and artificial life.

Their goals are different, with Black Bolt hoping that if everyone is Inhuman, they'll all stop fighting and destroying entire planets. Ultron's goal is to have an entire troop of Phalanx in perfect bodies at his command, so he can go back to Earth and a) kill lots of people and b) prove decisively that he's surpassed the beings that created him. Black Bolt's willing to carry out this plan even though it'll kill him, while Ultron's plan demands he be in charge (he even requires everyone to refer to him as "Great Ultron").

There's also a vastly different amount of thought behind the two goals. Black Bolt's plan seems to have been conceived of desperation, without much thought to the practicality or logistics of it. Why will making everyone Inhuman stop the fighting? The Shi'ar have fought amongst themselves over who will rule. Pink and blue-skinned Kree have demonstrated hostilites towards each other. The Inhumans had a front row seat for years of mutant-on-mutant violence between Xavier's groups and Magneto/Apocalypse/Sinister/etc. Plus, he already knows the Mists have no effect on the Kree, so who is to say it'll work on the Shi'ar, the Badoon, or anyone else? Then there's the question of how for the Mists to spread throughout the universe, and what other species are going to do when they find out Black Bolt's made this decision about all their existences without consulting them, there's just no chance it was going to work the way he wanted.

Ultron's plan, while less noble, is better thought out, probably because he's worked towards it for years, though it involves some fortuitous happenstance. Ultron's taking a scientific approach, trying out different approaches and seeing how they do. As one fails, he tries another. Hank Pym created him, but Ultron moved beyond the programming, looked upon purely organic life, and found it unsatisfactory. He tried purely artificial (depending on whether you consider using organic beings' memory engrams as a mental blueprint artificial) a few times, and it's never produced a satisfactory result. So scratch it off, try combining his intelligence with an organic form hospitable to him (Tony Stark with his Extremis virus). There's potential, but Stark is still too flawed. Then Ultron's programming, transmitted into space, meets the Phalanx, themselves a combination of artificial and organic life, since they're organic beings infected with the Transmode virus. In a sense, a mass scale version of what he did to Stark. Again, there's potential, but it isn't enough. The Phalanx have no drive, no purpose other than to absorb, and eventually be destroyed by the Technarchs that inadvertently create them. So Ultron takes control through force of will, and sets it up so certain useful individuals brought into the Phalanx will retain the characteristics that make them useful. Now you have Phalanx that still tryo to assimilate everyone, but don't erase what's unique and useful about those they take. Even so, there are still flaws in the forms those Phalanx Select inhabit, and that brings Ultron to the High Evolutionary, and the plan to transfer the consciousness of the most important Phalanx into the artificially-created perfect organic bodies the H.E. designed.

So one plan hinges around a single great event, a catastrophe depending on one's perspective. The other was the result of years of trial-and-error in trying to demonstrate the flaws in trusting natural processes to guide the development of life to the best result. There are a couple of ideas in evolutionary biology about the development of new species. Phyletic gradualism says that species are always adapting and evolving in response to their environment, and given sufficient time, they'll become new species. Punctuated equilibrium suggests that a species remains largely the same for long periods of time, until some event causes the species to split into two in a relatively brief (geologically speaking) period of time. It's not perfect, but Ultron's gradual shift in approach could be compared to phyletic gradualism, while Black Bolt's abrupt decision to change everything would hew more closely to punctuated equilibrium. I don't think it's a perfect comparison (I also considered comparing them to the geologic theories of uniformitarianism and catastrophism, but it seemed better to stick to biology).

That neither plan actually worked as hoped, well, that's interesting. I'd say it suggests one can't force change on that scale, but humans have been shaping the development of different species for a long time (going back to at least selective breeding of domesticated livestock). There are false starts in biology, though. Most genetic mutations, if they change anything about the organism at all, don't convey a competitive advantage. They're more likely to cause an important organ or cellular process to fail. I had a professor who told us once that dinosaurs didn't die out while small mammals survived necessarily because the mammals were superior competitors. If that had been the case, he argued, the mammals would have taken over ecological niches without needing dinosaurs to suffer mass extinction. His answer was the mammals were lucky. They couldn't out-compete dinosaurs the ways things were, but conditions changed, and the changes favored the mammals.

Better to be lucky than good, and maybe that was Ultron's problem (I don't think Black Bolt's plan failed because he was unlucky, so much as it was just a bad plan). Richard Rider made it into Kree space before the bubble went up, and was able to escape thanks to Gamora killing Ko-Rel (which surely seemed like a good thing for the Phalanx, eliminating someone who could remove a valuable weapon of theirs like Nova Prime) and thus returning her bit of the Nova Force to Rich, which enabled him to get out from under the virus' control and escape to get help. Just little things in terms of timing or decisions that cost him, more than any massively huge flaw in his plan.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What Am I Doing Watching A Musical?

I still find musicals strange. Certainly there are people who will spontaneously sing in the course of their everyday lives, but I haven't seen anyone who does so at the volume people in musicals do. Fine, maybe I just live in places that where people are dead inside. Mostly, it's how other people join in, perfectly in harmony with the first singer. It's a hive mind, where one personality has become dominant and overwritten everyone else, so they must all sing and dance. Like Ultron and the Phalanx in Annihilation: Conquest, only resulting in less dead Kree. Except for that Skrull musical, The Importance of Being Deceptive, but most folks don't like to talk about that.

Anyway, Turner Classic was showing My Fair Lady last night, which I hadn't seen, and unlike Gone with the Wind, I actually watched most of this. I missed a little of the beginning, and there were two times during the film I had to change the channel because a particular musical number was dragging on to the point of madness. Eliza's bit about how she could have danced all night had me switching to the Military Channel for a few minutes of a piece on Japan in the run-up to WWII. Her father's song as he faces his looming wedding sent me scrambling to a Burn Notice rerun. I can only tolerate people singing 'Get me to the church on time' so often before I'm ready to leap into the movie and drag him there myself, just to shut him up.

Those issues aside, the movie was more engaging than I expected. I'm not quite sure how, though. It wasn't just that there wasn't much else on; I was actually interested in what was going to happen. Which is strange, because it wasn't an action movie, nor did I find it all that funny (the language expert at the Embassy Ball being an exception), and there was singing, but I wanted to keep watching. Strange. I'd guess I was curious as to what would happen with Eliza. I understood the basics of the story going in, passing her off as a highborn lady (which let's face it, if you're starting with Audrey Hepburn, your work is 75% done before you start), but I didn't know whether it worked, or what happened after.

I don't know what time period it's set in exactly, early 20th Century I suppose (1920s?), but the fashions, ye gods. Especially at the horse race. I'm pretty sure Britain conquered lands smaller than some of the hats those women were wearing.

Also, 'Draggle-tailed guttersnipe' is a pretty great insult.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Why Hide An Eye In Shadow?

That post I mentioned prepping for yesterday? Let's get to it. I don't know why this caught my eye, but it did, so best to accept it and go forward.

Taskmaster appears in 32 panels in Avengers Academy #9. Some portion of his face appears in 23 of those panels. There are only two where both of his eyes are visible. This includes panels where he's looking at Finesse (and us) or just the reader, but one eye is still in shadow. The last panel he appears in, for example. As he tells Finesse to take care of herself, his left eye is shadowed over. He even sports that look in the file photo that comes up when Finesse asks Quicksilver to help her track Taskmaster down.

It's not the hood he's wearing, because the shadows don't cover any other part of his face. I also don't think it's some common technique McKone uses, because it doesn't appear with any other character in the issue, or in the prior issue, even though that one had The Hood in it, who also wears a hood (obviously).

It's more his brow ridge overhangs his eye so much it's kept in shade. Or his eyes are set so far back in his head, it's as though they're at the bottom of a pit where the light can't reach. If only one eye is visible, it's typically the right, though in the panel where he's choking Finesse with a rope and discussing the American Avenger it's the left that's visible.

I thought maybe it was supposed to be something Taskmaster was doing intentionally, trying to keep one eye obscured from the person he's fighting, in case they try to read his moves that way. Considering how Finesse's power works, that wouldn't seem to be of any use. Plus, we aren't always observing things from her perspective, so in those situations, just because we can see one of his eyes, doesn't mean she can. And maybe she can see them when the reader can't.

Looking at the panels where both his eyes are visible. One comes partway through the fight (page 14, panel 1), after she's decked him. Taskmaster is disappointed because she's using moves from some fight between Daredevil and Bullseye that was on TV. He's holding his shield and looking right at her (and us). The second one (page 16, panel 3) comes after she throws his own sword at him, and pins him to some machinery with it. In that case, he's looking at his sword as it just misses his shoulder, but goes through his cape.

Prior to the first panel, Finesse had been doing fairly well. Taskmaster hadn't scored a clean hit, while she'd made contact a couple of times. She got his sword away from him so she could use it (though he knocked it away from her two panels later). Then Tasky criticizes her source material, and goes to work with what he picked up from newsreels. Finesse then turns the tables again, and starts rattling off all the heroes she's actually trained with as she chucks his own sword at him and follows that up with a boot to the face. Taskmaster calls an end to the fight two panels after the sword panel.

It's an interesting sequence, because Taskmaster seems to be goading her on, trying to convince her to unleash her full potential. He gives her grief about only using billy clubs, which prompts her to grab his sword and try and use it on him. After she's clocked him, he continues busting her chops for how limited her reference material (and by extension, her repertoire) is. He then promptly boots her in the face (hard enough to draw blood and knock her mask off), follows up with a punch to the jaw (also drawing blood), and then busts out the lariat. And the whole time he's prattling on about the people he's studied, and how he's taken jobs with the government just to get his hands on more obscure footage. Finesse's rebuttal is to flip him over, and begin describing everyone she's actually fought with, I guess refuting the usefulness of his sources*.

I think the eyes are about how Taskmaster's power works. He sees things (and hears, but that's not relevant here) and can remember them, if they're useful, anyway. I think the panel on page 14, he's looking at her and trying to find anything about her that'll stick, and that's really why her using Daredevil vs. Bullseye moves disappoints him. The panel on page 16, he's seeing that there's more to her than he thought, but it's still more of the same. That's why he calls the fight. He's seen everything he needs to. After that, it goes back to 1 or 0 eyes visible because his power isn't going be of any use here. He just has to hope she can stick in his memory some other way, and in that sense, with the severe limits his memory apparently has, he's half-blind compared to the rest of us. Or worse.

* I don't think Taskmaster fought anywhere near full capability. There's no indication he was injured by any of her strikes. Also, while Finesse may have trained with all those heroes, Taskmaster's fought them, and more besides. With real stakes on the line.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Who's Tigra More Worried About?

I was rereading Avengers Academy #9 as prep for a different post I have planned (probably get to it tomorrow), when a bit of dialogue near the end of the issue jumped out at me.

After Tigra tells Hazmat, Veil, and Striker they're welcome to return to the Academy if they want, Speedball tells her she's a great example to the kids, and if they don't realize it now, they will someday. Tigra's response is 'Thanks, Robbie. I hope you're right. I really do.'

Which part do you think she hopes he's right about? That she is a great example for the students, or that they'll figure that out someday? I figure it's the former. After she has that chat with Robbie, she goes back to her quarters and watches that video of the students beating up the Hood and making him apologize. There's not a discernible expression, except maybe contemplative.

At least some of her anger at the students was that what she badly wants to do, but didn't, they went ahead and did. Her perspective could be that's the only difference, that they went through with it and she didn't. I don't know if she ever had a shot at the Hood when she and some of the other heroes were rounding up the Hood's crew, but I doubt she'd have any trouble getting five minutes alone with Parker Robbins in a windowless room with no security cameras if she wanted to.

Depending on how you look at it, her choice could either be the mature recognition revenge solves nothing. Or it could be she recognized there would be consequences for taking those actions, and she wasn't willing to deal with them. That she went public with what happened to her as a way of dealing with it and helping others is a sign she's recognized the former, but getting past her desire for revenge entirely is going to take time. Which is probably why she wound up watching Robbins get humiliated by the students on video. It's a process.

What Hazmat, Striker, and Veil did suggests they have learned either lesson yet. They thought their actions would accomplish something positive, and didn't realize there might be blowback from it. Since they're sticking around, there's at least a chance they can learn those things, but considering how she's still trying to work through her feelings, Tigra might wonder if she's the right one to be teaching them.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Being A Blunt Jerk Works Sometimes

I have to give Quicksilver credit. Even when he's right about something, and he was right about what he told Tigra of the dangers in expelling those kids for one bad bit of judgment, he goes about being right in a way that makes me want Deadpool to randomly appear and kneecap Pietro. That's the speedster's unique charm, I guess.

It was for the best, though. The other teachers may have done a fine job of explaining why the kids should stay, but they didn't really cover exactly why it'd be a bad idea if they didn't undo the expulsion. Speedball sort of did, but his reasoning was so wrapped up in his own past mistakes (thanks again for that, Mark Millar), it made it easier for Tigra to dismiss. Plus, with someone as headstrong as Tigra can be, the other teachers weren't nearly forceful enough. They were on the defensive throughout the faculty meeting, either because they're not strong personalities, or they were worried about pissing Tigra off.

Pietro can certainly be forceful, and he won't keep his opinions to himself, so the fact he traded insults with Tigra, while also presenting his own perspective, probably gave his argument more weight. He met her anger head on, and shrugged it off with his usual sarcasm. I don't know how much they play up how being a cat-person affects Tigra's personality these days, compared to when Engelhart had her human and feline halves essentially at odds. I'd imagine there was a part of her that was impressed that Pietro didn't back down, didn't try to deny any of the things she said about him (compared to Robbie's protest that he's not agreeing with Justice simply because they're old New Warriors alums). Pietro didn't go submissive, and it seemed to work.

I'm still probably going to laugh the next time something bad happens to him.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What I Bought 2/16/2011

That trip to the store was kind of a bust. No Darkwing Duck. No Doom Patrol. No new copy of the Suicide Squad trade. I did buy some Suicide Squad back issue Jack had, from when they started their plain clothes, freelance period. Which is why it was only kind of a bust.

Avengers Academy #9 - The rest of the teachers convince Tigra that expelling the students who attacked the Hood last issue is not productive. They also must have convinced her that quitting wouldn't be productive, either, because she stuck around after an earlier statement that either the kids were gone or she was. The offending students, well Hazmat and Striker, made a decent attempt at pretending they didn't really care whether they could stay or not, whatever. That felt accurate.

The other plot involves Finesse (with help from Quicksilver, though he quickly loses interest) tracking down Taskmaster, because she wants to learn whether he's her father. There's a fight between the two, which seems to convince Taskmaster she's probably his kid, but there won't be a paternity test anytime soon. If she develops his memory problems that'll probably be the clincher. I'm mostly curious to see if Taskmaster's comment that there's nothing unique or memorable about Finesse will have any effect on her, and if it does, how she'll choose to deal with it. There was also his comment about how sweet a deal her being at the Academy was (which I guess he sees as being similar to his time with the Initiative), and who knows how she'll take that. She's already extorting Pietro, so using people for her own benefit isn't something she has any qualms over.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

If They're Always Fighting Crime, When Would They Watch Educational TV?

Last week in Heroes for Hire, Moon Knight fought a dinosaur. He said it was a velociraptor, but it was larger than him, and raptors were closer to turkey-sized. Though gamma rays so abundantly used, there are probably giant turkeys roaming Marvel Earth. I thought it was a Deinonychus (the green outline), since they have a similar body-type to Velociraptors (the yellow), just bigger. Looking at that picture, Utahraptor might be the smarter bet. Should have remembered being 11-feet long wouldn't necessarily mean being really tall. Not the point.

Point is, it makes sense to me that Moon Knight wouldn't know the difference. He has a lot of personalities, but Marc Spector was a mercenary, Steven Grant an art dealer, and Jack Lockley a cab driver. Which one of those is likely to be well-versed in dinosaurs? As superhero comic readers, we're used to the heroes just happening to know vital bits of information that help them stop criminals*. If the villain manipulates gravity, they know how to circumvent that. If the villain favors plants, the hero knows some vulnerability about those plants that will help turn the tide. People do seem to have a capacity to pick up and retain information that isn't relevant to them. There are plenty of things I remember that I don't know where or why I learned them, but there they are. Superheroes seem to take it to another level, though.

Maybe that's meant to represent something about them. They don't simply rely on their fists or powers, they have quick wits, too. Possibly something about how useful the brain can be in the service of good. Something left over from the Golden Age, when Superman used to deal with corrupt politicians and slumlords and such? Sure, his powers helped, but it was going to take more than punching and flying to solve the problems those threats presented. Being smart, having a wide array of information and knowing how to use it could play an important role.

It does make a certain sense to me that not all heroes would have the same knowledge. The characters have different upbringing, different interests. I'd expect Carol Danvers knows a bit about aeronautics, at least the practical applications (ditto for Hal Jordan). I wouldn't expect Spider-Man knows much about modern art (though I bet he was a dinosaur nerd as a young man, so he'd know that wasn't a Velociraptor Moonie fought). He probably knows more about fashion then we'd think, after living with MJ for years. He may not know how to apply its principles to himself (whatever those principles are, if any exist), but he knows about it. Not every character will be Mr. Terrific or Hank Pym and be an expert in everything.

* Like Paladin knowing the best way to kill a Velociraptor, for example.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Page By Page Look At Batgirl #18

I haven't done one of these since the GrimJack: Manx Cat mini series wrapped up last year, but there were several thing I laughed at in this issue, so what the heck.

Page 1: The flowery script at the top for "Batgirl and Klarion the Witch-Boy in. . .", the border for the actual panel, with hearts and flowers drawn in. Teekl calmly licking blood off his paw, but I really like Steph's expression. The way she's looking sideways at Klarion, with not a frown exactly, but a somewhat unhappy expression, clearly unsure about this.

Page 3, panel 2: Steph asks Klarion if he'd like to make a red-handed quip, or should she? This as Klarion kneels there with a heart in his hand. I only mention it because it's referenced later.

Page 3, Panel 4: Is "Mijakk" a normal sound for Klarion's magic? I tried looking it up to see if there's a significance to the word, and the closest I got was that Mijak refers to a group of people who live in western Macedonia. Maybe it's an archaic pronunciation of "magic"?

Page 4: And Steph's shrunk inside a crystal ball thing.

Page 5, panel 2: Klarion's handkerchief is monogrammed "KWB". I think there's a "W", there's certainly a K and B.

Page 5, panel 3: Two things. One, the sound effects for Steph's grappling hook bouncing around inside the pink ball are "poot" and "pink". Pink is appropriate considering the color, and poot is just a funny word. Second, Steph deciding that if she's small she can fight lice with the Atom. She'd be so lucky.

Page 6, panel 3: Again, two things. First, I love how happy Klarion is at the prospect of an alliance. Two, Steph hates magic, which means she's more a member of the Bat-family every day.

Page 7, panel 1: The text box stating, 'A painstakingly long conversation later. . .' Hey, DC cut the page count down, there's no time for lengthy exposition!

Page 8, panel 3: Klarion's comment upon seeing Teekl (in were-cat form): 'Your hands are all red.' He's going to have to work on his quips. At least it was an accurate statement.

Page 11, panel 1: Klarion's sad face is so endearing. It almost makes one forget it's his fault Teekl was running around tearing out hearts.

Page 13, panel 2: They've arrived in Limbo Town. We have Steph dressed as a pilgrim {Edit: as Jim S. points out in the comments, she's dressed as a Puritan, not a pilgrim}, and the effect for her throwing up from teleporting is 'blarghlegurgle', which is lengthy. And possibly French, judging by the "le" in there.

Page 13, panels 3 and 4: Klarion -Familiars are born from the bonding tree, but there's no way we'd ever make it across the Grundy Fields. . . Steph - Not this time of year anyway. Klarion - How could you possibly know that?

Sarcasm that fails is funny to me, which is strange considering how much I enjoy using sarcasm, but there you go. Actually, it's even funny when it happens to me.

Page 14, panel 2: Hmm, "Non-witch trials"? Makes sense.

Page 15, panels 1 and 2: The exchange between Steph and the owner of the cat they're gonna steal. Steph - Excuse me for being forward, but I just have to ask where you got that bonnet! Limbo Towner - I made it. Are you questioning my craftsmanship? Steph - Yes? L.T. - Well, then I shall question yours! Steph - Good! So long as that takes at least another two minutes.

I love how literally the people of Limbo Town take everything. Then again, if they use magic, it's probably critical to say what they mean, so they don't accidentally burn their house down. Words having power and all.

Page 15, panel 4: I don't get the "Accio fist" comment. I'm guessing it's a Harry Potter reference? But I do like Steph simply winding up and decking the lady. Very Indy vs. the Sword guy from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Steph earns bonus points for doing it while dressed as a pilgrim.

Page 16, panel 2: "The Coupling has begun!" How can you not be happy when you see the smile on his face? Well, I guess it makes sense if you've been dragged along into this like Steph was, but as spectators like us, how can you not be happy when you see the smile on his face?

Page 16, panel 3: I'm concerned how much I'm reading into the dialogue from the cats in the crystal, especially considering the dialogue is 'Meow?' 'Meow.' I'm hearing that second one like a male version of how Catwoman might say it when she's flirting with Bats.

Page 16, panel 4: The sound effect for teleporting away from an angry mob? "Porrrrrtl". Effective. Also, 'Rest assured your cat shall return a man!' 'It's a girl.' 'A Wo-man!' Only took you two tries Klarion. Then again, how does Steph know for sure? They're magic cats.

Page 17. panel 4: This wasn't a funny bit, but it's cute how as Klarion looks into the globe on the two cats, their tails are forming a little heart. Awww. Had I not laughed so much up to this point, that might have made me 'blarghlegurgle'.

Page 18, panel 2: I know it isn't a nice word, but 'harlots' is one of those words I want to be able to use more often in conversation, along with 'poltroon' and 'blaggard'. Also, 'Cheese it, buckles'? Anyone that uses "Cheese it" as a phrase (a list that includes such luminaries as Bender Bending Rodriguez, Steph, and. . . me, sometimes?) is A-OK. What do the chevrons on Steph's shirt represent? I was thinking it might be military rank, but it's upside-down for that, isn't it? Too bad, it gave me this thought of Steph time-traveling (that's what she could do while teamed-up with the Atom! He used to time-travel, I've seen it in my dad's comics!) and teaming up with Sgt. Rock and Easy Company. That's a horrible idea. Might work better with Cassandra, actually.

Page 19, panel 1: Let's see. Klarion looks horrified, Steph's closing her eyes, Francisco looks stunned, and then there's the bald, shirtless guy with the bow and wings, and a towel around his waist cheering them on. At least someone enjoyed it.

Page 19, panels 2, 3, and 4: I wouldn't have expected Steph to taste like Christmas, whatever that means. It did keep Klarion from turning Jordanna into a frog. Ugh, not those chalky heart things! At least buy some cookies!

Page 20: They walk off arm in arm, happy and satisfied with their work. Then the last panel tells us 'And they lived happily ever after. . . for exactly five more minutes. . . at which point he turned Jordanna into a frog.' You could call that a lack of self-control on Klarion's part, but it's probably a valuable lesson for Jordana.

Monday, February 14, 2011

What's Valentine's Day Without A Chase Sequence?

I had this idea, of how it would have been fun if the cat Klarion and Batgirl found for Teekl was actually Stinky, aka Power Girl's cat. Admittedly, I don't know why two folks in Gotham would travel to New York to find a mate for a feline familar's Coupling, and it assumes Max Lord hasn't had Peej's cat killed (and claimed the White Lantern Entity told him to*) but minor details. I pictured either Teekl reverting to his cat state upon being presented with Stinky, or if the situation was desperate enough, Klarion turning Stinky into a werecat for a little while.

Either way, I pictured it leading to an amusing chase scene. They swipe Peej's cat off the balcony or windowsill (not knowing it's hers, naturally), she gives chase, they realize what they're up against, but can't do anything about it because the Coupling's already begun. Steph's trying to explain they really just need to borrow the cat for a little while, Klarion's making things worse with various comments, and probably striking back at Power Girl if she makes a crack about punching him back to the Mayflower, or he thinks she's disturbing The Coupling. Power Girl's ticked because between her company being embezzled from, and friends dying, and Max Lord cloning her, she's sick of being messed with. Eventually everything gets sorted out without too much property damage.

Then I remembered Peej called Stinky Mr. Cat once, which suggestsit's a he, and so is Teekl, and so that might not be what Teekl's looking for. Then again, Teekl's a magic cat, so maybe it wouldn't make a difference. Teekl did come from a Bonding Tree, and some plant's flowers have both sets of parts (which comes in handy if there's no other members of the species around to pollinate with), so. . .

* That damn entity is going to be Max' Parallax, isn't it?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Patience For Tempestuous Southern Belles Is What's Gone

Turner Classic was showing Gone with the Wind last night, which I'd never seen before. I still can't really say I've seen it, because I went to bed with 90 minutes to go. I was tired, and I wasn't keen to see another guy make a fool of himself over Katie Scarlett, especially as he was supposed to marry her sister. I disapprove of that chicanery on the part of both characters.

Scarlett's attitude surprised me. I didn't expect her to be so selfish and irritating. In some ways, that might be for the best. I had an image of her being some demure belle who tended to faint and swoon into Rhett's arms. Scarlett only seemed to swoon when it suited her purposes. Her deviousness and determination were fairly impressive, though she didn't seem to have the patience to see things through. That still doesn't make her a character I want to see experience success.

Every so often she'd do something that impressed me, like standing in waist-deep water under a bridge to keep the horse quiet as Union soldiers rode overhead. Those actions were still being taken in her own self-interest, but when placed in situations where there was no one else available to do something, she stepped up. Her resolve to hold onto the family land in the face of several problems would have earned my respect, but I don't think swiping her sister's betrothed is the way to go. I know, she promised she'd do whatever was required to ensure she'd never be hungry again, but still dirty pool.

Mostly, I found myself wondering how anyone could stand to be around her for more than five minutes. Certainly her flock of suitors and their lack of dignity was embarrassing.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What I Bought 2/11/2011

My copy of the Suicide Squad trade did come in this week, but it was damaged. Horrors! Actually, it wasn't that bad, and I'd have bought it, but Jack already made the order for a replacement. Might as well wait for it. What's another week or two, right?

Batgirl #18 - Steph has to help Klarion the Witch Boy with a couple of retrieval missions. First, they have to track down Teekl, Klarion's familiar, who is looking for a hookup. He had found one, but Klarion - fearful of losing his friend - blocked him by turning him into a werecat, which makes finding a proper mate a little harder (though surely there are werecats in the DCU). They travel to Limbo Town, where Klarion's from, to find another familiar for Teekl to hit things off with. It works, at least as far as giving Teekl a chance for "The Coupling". No word yet on whether he'll ditch Klarion permanently for her or not.

Is this a normal portrayal of Klarion? The only other story I've read with him was in Chase, and he seemed more devious, and at the end of the story, definitely more malevolent. I don't mind so much if this is out of step, because that other style wouldn't have lent itself to an amusing Valentine's Day tale.

I thought this issue was hilarious. I usually find Steph's inner monologue amusing, and Klarion's such a different person from her their conversations are rather odd. I loved the pages where Dustin Nguyen did his own coloring. The rest of the book looks fine, it's his usual high quality work, but the painted sequence (which I guess refers strictly to the part in Limbo Town, or do the opening and closing pages count also?) was outstanding for how much it made Limbo Town different from Gotham, and how much Steph stands out amongst the typical residents.

Heroes for Hire #3 - Paladin is busy checking up on Misty's acquaintances, until he tries it with Iron Fist, who objects by beating Paladin up (though Paladin does better than I'd expect). Meanwhile, Moon Knight investigates a club where a crook is bringing in girls abducted from the Savage Land for nefarious purposes. Oh, and said crook is also bringing in dinosaurs for animal fighting entertainment purposes, so Moon Knight must fight a Velociraptor. Well, that's what he says it is, even though it's much too large to be one, ala Jurassic Park. My explanation is it's actually a Deinonychus (I'm really impressed with myself for being able to spell that without looking it up), which were 11-foot long dinosaurs in the same family as the Velociraptors. I wouldn't expect Moon Knight to know the difference. Too busy watching The Flintstones. Or else Velociraptors are that large in the Savage Land. Why not, it's a tropical jungle maintained by alien technology in the middle of Antarctica! Or these are some descendant of Velociraptors that have grown to a larger size because there was an ecological niche available.

I'm bothered by how Danny acted. He's hurting over the phantom pregnancy. Fine. He and Misty agreed to stay away from each other. Fine. But if she's in trouble, how could he not be willing to at least make sure she's OK? Paladin has to offer to hire him to get Iron Fist interested. I'm just going to blame this on the stupid stupidness that was Shadowland.

Power Man and Iron Fist #1 - That is. . . an incredibly dull cover. What, did Marvel decide DC's January theme covers were a good idea? They were not.

Our heroes help to keep a West Indian Carnival in Brooklyn from being disturbed by violence perpetrated by the Don of the Dead. That guy was in van Lente's recent Taskmaster mini-series, wasn't he? Later, Danny finds out his and Luke's old office manager is in prison, accused of murder. Danny wants to believe she's innocent, but isn't positive, while Victor (Power Man) is certain she's been railroaded and is going to investigate with Danny or without. This leads to him investigating the victim's apartment, being shot with some sort of shadow bullets by someone called "Noir", and falling off a building in front of someone who appreciates opera, I guess. Meanwhile, Danny has actually unearthed something that makes him believe Jennie is innocent. Oh, and he's in a relationship with the daughter of the man who killed his father. They're sleeping together, at least.

Having not read the Shadowland mini-series that introduced the new Power Man, I appreciated how van Lente works to fill in the gaps. I think I have a pretty good idea of Kevin's personality and powers, and I had no idea who Jennie Royce was, but van Lente covered it in panel. On the art duties is Wellinton Alves, who I haven't seen much of since the end of his stint on Nova. He still does that thing with energy where the swirls make me think of Spirograph patterns, which is nice. I think someone (Alves or inker Nelson Pereira) goes a little heavy on the shadows, because the faces end up looking lopsided. As though the shadows make the head smaller in that spot.

R.E.B.E.L.S. #25 - Vril Dox is captured and ends up with a Starro on his face. Lobo has given chase, not to rescue Dox, but to find the lady who smelled like a Czarnian to him last issue. He does find her, but I can't imagine it'll end as neatly as the last page suggests. While Lobo chases her to Dox, Adam Strange rounded up the rest of the group to chase Lobo, figuring that'll lead them to Dox. Except that's precisely what Starro the Barbarian is counting on, and so that'll probably go poorly starting next issue. Starfire noticed that Captain Comet's been drinking, so we'll see if he tries to fight evil drunk. That rarely works. Vril's son, who insists on being called Brainiac 3, has been left in charge of getting Tribilus up and running again. Tribilus needs the help, what with a giant axe buried in one of the slots? vents? in the top of its head.

This is mostly a set-up issue. Characters are being moved around to get ready for what I presume will be lots of fighting and conflict next month. Which fits with Starro's plan, which seems to be about drawing the good guys to where he wants them, while he strikes behind their lines. I don't having anything new to say about Claude St. Aubin's art. Starfire is still drawn as being very tall, which I like. Lobo still looks too clean to me. Maybe a few flies buzzing around would help. Space flies, naturally.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Snow's Receded, So I Went

I did buy my comics today, I'll get to those tomorrow. Jack had The Expendables playing when I came in, so I saw part of that, starting about where Dolph Lundgren tries to kill Jet Li. It didn't hold my attention as long as I'd thought it might. After the automatic shotgun came into play was where I started flipping through my books instead. Maybe it needed more witty one-liners, but all the shooting, explosions, and people getting entire limbs taken off by a single swing of a knife blurred together. I guess it was a sound decision on my part resolving to not pay actual money to see it.

One of the other fellows in the shop had the animated Superman/Captain Marvel (or Shazam, whichever) movie with him, so that got thrown in next. The main feature wasn't bad, though the guy who brought it in thought Black Adam sounded Russian. The flick mostly had me reflecting on the rather messed up state of the Marvel family these days, at least in the main DC Universe.

There were at least two other short features included on the disc. I thought The Spectre was pretty good, though making that guy's seat belt disappear just before his car crashed seemed like a bit of a dick move even for the Spectre. I thought, geez, if you wanted to kill him with blunt impact trauma, why not make the road into a wall, rather than a ramp? It turned he did it because he wanted the guy outside the car so he could then send the car after him, Christine-style. One of the fellows watching thought The Spectre would make a good live-action film, but I'm not sure the sort of elaborate, terrifying, and appropriate deaths the Spectre favors would translate well in live action. Do you think it could work?

I was planning to leave by the time Green Arrow started, but ended up staying around long enough to see it. If you like seeing Ollie have a hard time of it, this would probably be up your alley. There's even a Suicide Squad alumnus in there, though not quite sporting his usual outfit.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Need My Arcade Fix People

I still haven't gone to get comics. It decided to snow yesterday morning. I was jogging and the roads looked fine at first, but the longer I jogged, the harder it snowed, and the worse the roads got. Moral of the story: Jogging makes bad weather happen. I should never have put that piece of Mjolnir I swiped from that guy's car horn in my shoes. I don't think the road's have been cleared completely yet, and it doesn't seem worth risking it. Maybe all that time in the boonies only getting comics every three weeks taught me patience.

I had wondered why I hadn't seen the Arcade: Death Game mini-series listed in the new releases yet this month, and it turns out it was canceled, and it'll be released in May as Avengers Academy Giant-Size. Which is kind of annoying. It's still coming out, but I have to wait a few more months, and I was looking forward to an Arcade story. He has his crazy charm, and his particular style means a creative team ought to have some fun with the death traps he concocts. On the up side, it'll turn out a little cheaper as a one-shot than it would have been as a three issue mini-series.

I wonder how differently it'll read as a one-shot, though. One thing I'd expect with the mini-series format is there'd be cliffhangers at the end of either issue 1 or 2, if not both. Cliffhangers don't work for me in a collected format because I tend to read really quickly so by the time I register the cliffhanger I'm already turning the page and there's the resolution. With the separate issues format, I reach the end of the issue, then I have to wait a month (or two weeks) for the next issue. It ramps up my excitement because I don't have the next part there with me, and I want it.

Admittedly, that only works for the first read-through. After that I have all the parts, and can read them consecutively, so it's no different from reading the story as a trade or one-shot in that sense, but then I can appreciate different things about the story I didn't reading it piecemeal.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

A Hypothetical On A Snowy Day

Hypothetical question for the day: There's a title with a particular creative you really enjoy. Would you prefer the creative team leave on a high note, or remain on the book until they've told every story they've got. The former option means the run probably holds together better as a whole, and leaves the reader with fond memories of all those great stories, but still wanting more (and believing the team had more they could do). With the latter option, you (as the reader) will get to enjoy more good stories, but there'll also inevitably be more clunkers, and things may not wrap up as neatly as you'd like*. This assumes the choice of whether they stay or go is ultimately theirs, so we don't have to worry about them being transferred to another book, or if it's a creator-owned title, them having to drop it to do for-hire work that pays better.

Me? I'm greedy. For example, I'll take every GrimJack story Ostrander and Truman (or Mandrake, or Flint Henry, but it started with Tim Truman) see fit to toss my way. I might not love what I get as much as the Trade Wars story, or Killer Instinct, but I'd rather have the chance to read it and see for myself.

* Not neatly as in, every last little question and mystery is answered. More in that it serves as a fitting cap for the stories they were telling and the themes they explored.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

I Shouldn't Think About The Sentry, He Makes Me Stupidly Contemplative

I had a little fun at The Sentry's expense last week, because that's one of things I do here. Like griping about Batman and raving about Marvel's cosmic books. To be sure, it was a bit much for Bob to immediately assume that if someone is searching for that generation's greatest hero, they mean him, but that kind of self-confidence seems necessary for The Sentry. He has to believe he's really that good, because if he starts doubting then he becomes less useful, and eventually he's crying bed while Captain America yells at him to get up and come help. It's kind of self-sustaining; if he believes in himself, then he's more effective, which in turn feeds his confidence. If he stops believing in himself, then he falters, which in turn makes him less confident in himself, and so on.

Or maybe it works another way entirely. The rules that govern the Sentry's powers seem to hold steady for roughly the same length of time as Deadpool's attention span. Right now, it may be that confidence is bad because it means he's more active, which encourages the Void, or it makes him less careful, which gives the Void a stronger grip, or who knows what. It wasn't really what I meant to discuss.

That sort of presumption isn't limited to the Sentry, though. Most heroes manifest it to some degree, just by what they do. They throw on a costume and fight crime, evil, injustice, based on their definition of what those terms mean. Even if they enter a situation unsure of who's in the right, they're confident they can sort it out in the midst of dealing with the problem, and that they'll make the right choice. Super-heroes tend to be run up against problems where both sides are right, or both wrong, or both right and wrong, or there are multiple sides and each has arguments legitimate and otherwise. Sometimes the hero can help, sometimes they conclude they can't divine a solution, but they start out believing they can fix things, and past failures don't stop them from involvement in later problems. The hero's beliefs might shift with experience (which is only natural), but they'll still trust in their judgment.

Maybe that's necessary. If the hero isn't sure they know what's right, they can wind up as Hamlet, endlessly waffling over what would be the right thing to do, and by the time they decide, it's too late. The Sentry's maybe just a more obvious example, where his confidence in himself directly relates to whether he'll be able to get the job done*.

* He's not the first or the last, since Cornell went that route with Captain Britain, making his powers tie directly into Braddock's self-confidence, and I think Hal Jordan's been through some stretches where his ring didn't work terribly well in the pre-Parallax days because he didn't trust his judgment.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Love Is Turning A Guy's Face Into A Belgian Waffle

Watching Bane try to cope with the difficulties of a first date last week, I was surprised by how awkward he seemed. Bane's always seemed at least fairly clever. Clever enough to devise a plan where Batman essentially beats himself, with Bane delivering the coup de grace. Somehow that added up in my head to him having more charm*. But I figured Gail Simone was just exaggerating for comedic effect, and it worked, because the whole sequence was pretty funny.

Then I remembered the credo Bane stuck to early in the series, that he would only do what was right. He didn't always hold to it, taking Venom after he'd repeatedly described it as immoral, but he had clear reasons in his head as to why he would do something wrong at that moment. He hasn't brought it up much lately, which is just as well, since it would have been tedious for him to be constantly reiterating that mantra, but I assume it's still in effect.

So what if Bane opted for the direct approach because he felt it was right? Maybe he regards "charm" as deceitful. Now some people are naturally charming, friendly, pleasant, and so on. Bane, not so much. Bane making sweeping romantic gestures like bowing and kissing hands, comparing her eyes to moonlight, whatever, that wouldn't really be him. Being deceitful may be the right thing at times, Bane's been fine with members of the team going undercover to complete missions, but he seems to prefer to be direct. Says what he feels, says what he thinks, deals with problems in a hands on fashion**. Maybe he figures there's more honor in that.

Regardless of his feelings towards Liana, Scandal likes her, and Bane cares about Scandal. And they've set him up with a friend and coworker of Liana's. That being the case, Bane might see his being open about his intentions and the purpose of the gifts as the most respectful approach. Spencer has a clear idea of Bane's intentions, at the least. If he behaved differently, it might give her a different first impression, and that might make things strange (or frightening) if he behaved more naturally later. Best to be clear about who he is from the start. He might have been a little too awkward for that explanation to carry the day, but it's worth considering.

* That and a vague recollection of a story where he worked with Ra's al Ghul for awhile, and it looked like he might get hitched to Talia. She was dead set against it, but I think he showed the sort of earnest kindness that Ronan showed to Crystal, that it'd be more than a show marriage. Suffice it to say, it never materialized, which is for the best. Bane deserves better than being hitched to Talia.

** Do you think he regrets how he went about breaking Batman? Maybe he wishes he'd strode into the light in front of Bats one night and simply challenged him.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Griping About Writers, Then Thinking About Batman

Hey, tonight's the Super Bowl! If you don't care in the slightest, skip to the next paragraph. Hopefully after today I won't have to see any more sports stories about how much sportswriters hate not being able to cover the Super Bowl is sandals and Hawaiian shirts. They're being paid for this, yet they think people want to read (or hear) them bitch about how the game should only be held in places like Miami or Vegas, because snow is antithetical to the Super Bowl. Never mind we're talking about American football here, with it's history of Ice Bowls, frozen tundras, tough guys delivering big hits while steam billows off their heads. Nope, snow means the writers can't hit up restaurants and parties as easily as they like, so it's automatically bad, and ought to be outlawed. I'm not surprised when Peter King does it, since he'll devote football column space to complaining about the free coffee the hotel he's staying at not being satisfactory. I'm disappointed in Wilbon though, with all his talk about being from Chicago and how tough people there are, doing it as well. He's lived too long in Arizona, I suppose.

Not what I intended to post about, so let's get to the proper topic shall we? When Terry was fighting the Justice League in this week's Batman Beyond, Bruce (who was coaching from the Batcave), described Aquagirl as being Terry's greatest challenge, because she's the one he likes. After Terry opted to try and work with the JL, rather than fight them, Bruce admitted to his dog that Terry was right, but remarked it would have been fun to beat them again.

It's possible he was referring to the episodes of the series where first Superman, then the rest of the team, fell under Starro's control and Terry had to fend them off alone. Or he was referring to some time back when he was active where he beat down the Justice League of his time. So let's pursue that second possibility, for kicks. Do you think there's anyone Batman's ever worked with on the Justice League he would find difficult to fight because he liked them? It would have to be someone who wasn't a primary threat, because anyone that dangerous he'd take out early, before he could start worrying about how he felt about them. Which rules out anyone like Superman, Wonder Woman, or J'onn. He'd probably enjoy pummeling Hal, Guy, Hawkman, or Ollie, maybe Booster and Ted as well, if they'd been irritating him a lot that day. Maybe the Elongated Man?

Bruce is probably too serious about his work to have to worry about those sorts of personal feelings. If he'd decided the Justice League needed a beating, he'd set those feelings aside before he even started. Maybe you can think of someone.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

McGinnis And His Relationship Situation

I wonder if Adam Beechen's planning to set up a love triangle between Terry, Dana, and Aquagirl. Terry's already dating Dana, and things had been going well with Gotham being quiet after "Hush" killed most of Terry's foes. But once he has to get back into action, they're back to the old days where Terry runs off, ostensibly for just a short time, but Dana ends up stuck waiting for him. Which understandably irritates her and strains things between them. Because she doesn't know he's Batman. Why he hasn't told her isn't clear, beyond the most likely explanations of "It'll put her in danger somehow", and the more people who know, the more risk there is to Mr. Wayne's secrets. Though Terry's just asking for trouble if Dana ever does find out and learns that Max has been in the loop a long time. Dana won't be very happy with Max either, I imagine.

Then there's Aquagirl, who seems to be the one member of the League Terry likes, and the one member that likes him, or at least the one willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. She doesn't know his secret identity, but she knew him well enough to guess some of the hostages were important to him, and it was her offer to help that convinced Terry to try and work with the League, rather than keep fighting them as Bruce advised. Terry admits to her he doesn't trust many people, and she responds she hopes he'll trust her.

All the trust talk makes me suspicious. Terry clearly doesn't trust Dana enough to tell her, for whatever reason, and here's this other lady, already involved in the superheroic profession, and she's offering her trust to him, and it feels like there's going to be problems.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Not Having To Distinguish Colors When Concussed Might Help

The Justice League in Batman Beyond has a Green Lantern in its ranks, as is fairly typical for Justice Leagues. Do you think his ring has the weakness to yellow?

I don't know where Batman Beyond sits in continuity with the current Lantern books. It would be a future, obviously, but not necessarily the future for those books, since the Multiverse is back and all. It's possible Kai-Ro could be a GL in a universe where they never figured out the way around the yellow vulnerability.

But Batman Beyond was originally a cartoon, and I can't recall if the issue with yellow was every brought up in any of the cartoons of the last 15 years or so. Sinestro showed up in Superman and the Justice League cartoons, but I don't remember his ring being yellow being established as a way for him to take advantage of a flaw in Green Lantern rings. Sinestro's advantages tended to presented as he was more experienced and ruthless, but his ring was equal to a GL ring, no more.

The cartoons tended to present the weakness of the ring as its user. If the user doesn't know what they're doing, or can't put sufficient will into it, the ring is useless. So the yellow impurity may not even exist in that universe. I guess I got on that track because Kai-Ro was created for the cartoon back before Johns did all this adding and revising of the concept, and I'm curious if Beechen would adopt some of those changes, or leave them out.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

What I Bought 2/2/2011

The store was pretty quiet when I got there yesterday. I guess people didn't feel like getting out, but we didn't get any snow or ice here worth mentioning. It was windy and cold, though. Maybe everyone had other stuff to do. I was skimming through the new Previews and saw there'll be a new Rocketeer comic solicited in the next issue. I bought the hardcover collection online last fall, so I'm mildly intrigued by the possibility of new Rocketeer stuff.

Batman Beyond #2 - The book starts with a heroes fighting each other sequence, where Bruce directs Terry on how to pummel the Justice League. This is even more pointless than most superhero dustups, because Terry throws the first punch, but is also the one that calls a truce, as he eventually decides it'd be better to get the League to help him, rather than waste time trying to fight him. With some grumbling, differences are set aside, and a nearly-forgotten passage leads the heroes into the mall, where the disgruntled former employee has seemingly harnessed the full power of the gizmo that merged with his arm last issue. Which means Terry's mom and brother have been turned into copper statues. Because it makes them less demanding hostages.

I'm possibly being too harsh on the opening fight. It does illustrate how Bruce's hangups and residual ill will towards the League make life more difficult for Terry. Still, the primary purpose seems to have been to limit the resident Green Lantern's effectiveness, so that the heroes operate under a handicap. I'm not as fond of Benjamin's art this month as I was last month. There are some good panels in there during the fight and some of the facial expressions are nice, but there are times character's faces seem undefined, or they look different from one panel to the next. Also, I think Barda needs to be taller.

Secret Six #30 - I'd been wondering if DC was really dumb enough to release the 2nd part of a 2-part story two weeks before part 1. Turns out they aren't. This is actually Part 1, and Doom Patrol is Part 2. On another note, that's a nice looking Cliff Chiang cover. I know it's just a pin-up cover, and normally those annoy me, but it does look pretty.

A lazy, directionless young man inherits his grandfather's criminal empire, and after recruiting his friends (and deciding crime was best in the '50s and '60s) sets his sights on having a base in an exploded volcano. The Doom Patrol just so happen to live on an island with a volcano that could, with proper use of explosives, serve as just such a base. To that end, Eric hires the Six to keep Doom Patrol busy. Violence and insults ensue. There's also Scandal and Liana's attempt to set Bane up on a date with one of Liana's coworkers. Which doesn't entirely go well, but Bane seems to have made a positive first impression on her.

I have to give Eric credit, he didn't waste any time. He has the Six attacking the Doom Patrol within two weeks of learning what his grandfather left him. I would have tried to work that particle cannon his granddad mentioned in there somewhere, but unless it's stashed on the heli, Eric's saving it for another day. The infatuation with the '50s and '60s is a little surprising. It reminds me of the Arcudi/Mahnke Mask stories, where whoever wore that mask would abruptly starting crooning Sinatra, or talking about how great he was. I guess his grandfather really made it sound great.

She-Hulks #4 - Our heroes capture the Mad Thinker and Klaw. Hooray! But the Wizard has utilized some the amenities he was afforded for being a snitch to escape Gamma Base, if not his cell (though he must have escaped the cell eventually. Then he attacks Lyra at the school dance, and things end sadly, which was a surprise. I kind of figured Lyra being revealed as a She-Hulk at the dance wouldn't go over smashingly (no pun intended), but it actually went worse than I expected. I was figuring Amelia was putting on an act when she told Lyra they should be friends, and it was going to be something out Carrie (the public humiliation part, not the mass murder of poltroonic teens with pyrokinesis part).

I see the point Wilcox is trying to make, though I thought Jen's career had been less filled with bystanders fleeing her in terror. I know she was Savage herself at one point, but that's a while back, ignoring that story Johns wrote in his Avengers stint, which I'm comfortable doing. How about you? Setting aside the surprise of just how much of a downer the ending was, Wilcox and Stegman did a really good job on this ongoing-that-was-demoted-to-a-mini-series. I didn't any feelings about Lyra prior to this, but I'm interested to see what happens to her, and how she and Jen continue to interact in the future.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Then He Flew Back To The Watchtower And Cried

While I was at the comic store today, I took a minute to skim through a copy of Savage She-Hulk #2, the mini-series from 2009 that brought Lyra into the Marvel Universe. I thought she seemed more mature there than she does in She-Hulks, but all she did was fight Jennifer Walters, which is something she's good at. She wasn't trying to be an ordinary human, or avoid detention, situations where she's out of her element. Also, the artist of that issue (either Michael Ryan or Aubrey Sitterson) drew her as having more mass than Ryan Stegman does. That makes her look older, too.

That wasn't the primary thing that caught my eye. Over the course over Lyra's fight with Jen, she mentions she's looking for this generation's greatest hero. Naturally, she can only mean the Sentry. Well, that's what the Sentry thinks anyway. He overhears this, tosses Jen halfway across town, and introduces himself as the person she's obviously looking for. Fortunately for all of us who loathe the Sentry's insertion into the Marvel Universe as everybody's bestest friend ever, Lyra completely shoots him down*. Unfortunately, she shoots him down by stating she's looking for Norman Osborn. Little bit of a whiff there.

It's a reminder of how malleable history is, I suppose. Depending on who writes the history books (or which history books survive) people could actually think Norman Osborn is a hero, rather than a loon who once wanted to be a crime boss but mostly succeeded in wrecking his son's life.

* I think Fred van Lente wrote that sequence purposefully, but even if it wasn't meant as some commentary on the status certain writers were trying to place upon Bob Reynolds, it was still funny.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Back To Making Our Own Solicits

Sally has suggested we return to the idea of taking a cover and devising our on solicitation for it. Since I'm feeling a bit pressed for content myself, I'm game. I do wish Guy was using a wrench or some other blunt instrument, though. Oh well.

Warriors Bar on Oa has a ghost problem. A Stooge Ghost problem, to be exact. Yep, the ghosts of the Three Stooges have dropped in and possessed some of the Lanterns! How will Hal respond to Guy calling him a "chowderhead" and pulling his hair? Will Kyle be able to stop saying "woo woo, woo woo" and barking randomly at Soranik? And will he ever get to eat that oyster soup? Will the Guardians close down Warriors after being caught in the inevitable pie fight? Will Sinestro use being cracked over the noggin with a ladder by Hal as pretext to resume hostilities? What happens when the ghost of Shemp appears, demanding equal time? Will Salaak, Arisia, and Kilowog be able to set things right, or he will they even notice anything out of the ordinary?

I don't know who would be responsible for all that. I guess if ghosts are involved Nekron would be the easy answer, but I'd rather not go there. Maybe Control Freak from the Teen Titans cartoon, or the Prankster, taking some time off from harassing Superman. Though if anybody needs to be pranked, right now it's Superman.