Thursday, March 31, 2011

This Idea Would Require DC To Use The Ghost Detectives First

When they were alive, did the Dibnys ever have a detective team-up with Doctor Thirteen? I kind of doubt it, since Ralph and Sue were pretty much mid-tier characters, and the Doc was practically non-existent for a long time, but I figure you can never tell. There was that story in Blue Beetle where Traci whomped Eclipso-housing Jean Loring for what Jean did, and that made it pretty clear Traci had been close with them. Maybe she and her dad were called in on some cases with Ralph and Sue. Or they went to the same investigator conventions.

I do think it would be kind of fun for them to work together now, Ralph and Sue being spirits, and Doctor Thirteen being generally skeptical about such things*. Plus, Traci could come along. I imagine Ralph and Sue would be impressed by her being a sorceress** now, as it strikes me they'd be the cool aunt and uncle, in contrast to her dad's more stuffy, contrarian nature.

Ralph and Sue could show up at crime scene because there's some occult significance to it***, while Doctor 13 is called in by some relative who suspects more base motives (money, fear of past misdeeds being exposed). It turns out they're both right (perhaps the murders would unwittingly bring about the unleashing of some Elder Being), but the fun's hopefully in the process to reach the conclusion, and the solution. If the writer wanted to, having Traci there could provide an excuse for Jaime to tag along, which could lead to the inclusion of Paco and Brenda, or the JLI crew, depending on the preference.

Adding the JLI might make it too crowded, and lead to temptation to write a punch-up, rather than a mystery, but I don't know which group would irritate Doctor 13 more: the teenagers, or the superheroes.

* Reading the end of Azzarello and Chiang's Architecture and Mortality, I think he's more prepared to accept ghosts might exist, in very limited and specific cases, but his default setting is still that it'll be some Scooby-Doo style hoax.

** Would sorceress be an accurate term? "Witch" seemed inadequate, plus it tends to carry negative connotations.

*** I think that happened at the end of 52. I know they were at a crime scene, but I can't recall if there was an occult component to it, like symbols marked in blood on the floor.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tales From The Woods #5

Working up in the hills as I do, I wasn't expecting to run across a coot. I don't mean "coot", a grizzled old man living in a shack with his shotgun and corn whiskey. That wouldn't surprise me at all. I mean coot as in American Coot. It's a bird common to wetlands, riverways, and so on. Not on ridge tops over 5 miles from any significant body of water.

Yet here it is. It's early April, and I'm not on my usual site. We're short a couple of techs, so everyone's picking up slack, and that means handling a couple sets of traps on another site. And here's this coot, sitting alongside the trail at not even 7 in the morning, matching my stare with those red eyes it has. I wondered if I'm going loopy, but there's work to do, so I went on to my traps.

On the way back, though, the coot is still there. I still had my own site to get to, but this was too strange to ignore. I knelt down for a closer look. The coot leaned back a little, but that's all. I reached out with my hand rake and poked it. I still half-expected it to vanish before my eyes, but the rake makes contact. The bird is really there. In response to the poking, the coot raises up on one leg for a moment, while keeping its other leg tucked beneath it, but it didn't flee. It kept watching me steadily the whole time.

It was kind of hypnotic, but I remembered I had work to do. Out comes the camera (which I actually remembered to bring for once) and snapped a few pictures. It's so rare for a bird to hold still long enough for me to photograph it. Usually, the go out of there way to dart behind a tree just as soon as I get them in frame. I advised the coot to get itself to someplace it belonged, and got on with my day.

That afternoon, back at the office, I saw the pair of coworkers responsible for the other sets of traps on that site. I was pretty sure it was their trail I was following, so I asked if they saw the coot. Blank stares, and I'm back to wondering if I'm loopy. The coot was right next to the trail, less than a foot away. It wasn't hiding, how did they miss it? I haul my camera back out quickly, and there's the photos, and there's the coot in the photos. I felt relieved, and you can laugh, but it's empty and lonely out in those woods, even with a silent partner tagging along sometimes. The coot had been there when I went by, but they hadn't noticed it when they passed through later in the day. I reasoned maybe it took my advice and went elsewhere, but I couldn't shake the feeling - based on how it held that leg, not to mention how it didn't take off when I crouched down two feet away - that it couldn't leave, even if it wanted to.

We were still shorthanded the next day (and for the next two weeks), so I had the opportunity to check. I found the coot. It was a little farther from the trail, back under the branches of a downed tree, still visible enough I wondered how my coworkers missed it. More relevantly, it was dead. What's strange is there's no sign anything tried to snack on it. The neck is broken, and there are any number of predators around that could have killed it that way, but it's unlikely they kill it and leave it there. They'd kill it to eat it, which would mean they'd either drag it someplace else (like a den), or rip it up and chow down right there. Which means something killed it just to kill it.

It's not the last time I met a coot in the woods, though.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Honor Amongst Thieves Is Sarcastic, After All

Watching Once Upon a Time in the West yesterday, the thing about Frank that bothered me the most was that he tried to foist the killing of the McBain's off on Cheyenne and his gang. Which is ridiculous, of course. Frank's a reasonably intelligent bad guy, and why not mislead people?

Still, there's something about that tactic that bothers me. I guess I prefer villains who are so good at what they do, there's no evidence of who is responsible, or the ones who act brazenly, not caring if you know it was the, because they don't think they can be stopped. Trying to cast blame on someone else is such a punk maneuver, something a scared little kid would do. Or Max Lord. Making everyone think ted shot himself, that's low.

I have more respect for Frank than Max, though. Frank doesn't try and fool himself into believing he's working for some greater good or higher purpose. He looks out for #1. If that means following Morton's orders, so be it. If it means humiliating Morton when the opportunity presents itself, that's fine as well.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Man Does Need To Trust His Pants

Wobbles: You know me Frank. You can trust me.
Frank: How can you trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders? the man can't even trust his own pants.

About two minutes later, Wobbles was dead in the desert.

I watched Once Upon a Time in the West this afternoon. I'd only watched it once since I got it for Christmas, and that was in January. I kept meaning to watch it again and review it, but to do that, you have to set aside about 3+ hours. Unless I was going to try live-blogging it, which I didn't.

There are a couple of plots, for those that haven't seen it. A woman named Jill (Claudia Cardinale) hjas traveled west to see her new husband's home for the first time. Except he and his three kids are dead, supposedly at the hands of a man called Cheyenne (Jason Robards). Cheyenne doesn't take kindly to have the murder of a kid pinned on him, and arrives on her doorstep, as they both try and figure out why her husband was killed. Added to this is an unnamed man with a harmonica, who is pursuing a man named Frank (who is the one who actually killed the McBains). Everybody's problems swirl together around the construction of a transcontinental railroad, and are generally settled with lots of shootin' and killin'.

I've been under the impression that this was the epic sort of Western Leone wanted to make, and with the success of the earlier Eastwood westerns, he could get the budget and actors he needed to do it up right. I don't know if that's an accurate impression, though Henry Fonda was certainly a bigger name at the time of the film, than the actors Leone had for A Fistful of Dollars or The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. That being said, I still enjoy those* more than Once Upon a Time in the West. Part of it (a lot of it, probably) is I prefer Eastwood to Bronson. I like Harmonica well enough**, but I like Joe/Manco/Blondie more. There isn't really anyone in this film that brings the manic energy that Eli Wallach did as Tuco. Cheyenne has a bit of it, the cheerful, sometimes friendly exterior hiding a serious potential for violence, but he's not the same. Which is for the best, because I don't know if Robards could play a Tuco character as well as Wallach did, and if he couldn't, it would be ugly to try. It wouldn't have fit the tone of this movie as well, either, since I think Leone was going for more serious, less comic this time around. There is a bit of dark humor, but there aren't many laughs.

Henry Fonda being a villain still strikes me as horribly off somehow. It actually makes his viciousness more effective, because I keep thinking how unusual it is to see a Henry Fonda character behave this way. I expect him to snap back to be a honest, upright trustworthy fellow like in 12 Angry Men. Or even the uptight arrogant fool he was in Fort Apache. Doesn't happen, though.

Claudia Cardinale does get a larger role than any female character did in any of the earlier Leone Westerns, but shes' still relegated to being caught in the midst of all these guys and their power struggles. In that regard, she's not terribly different than Marisol in A Fistful of Dollars, the woman Ramon took away from her husband and son because he wanted her. Jill constantly has guys barging into her home, making demands, trying to take what's hers, and she can't really do anything about it. When Frank forces her to auction the land, then uses his men to scare all the other potential buyers so he can get it cheap, she isn't able to do anything. It comes down to Harmonica and Cheyenne.

Personally, I've always liked, as far as women in Leone Westerns go, Conseulo Baxter, the matriarch of the Baxter family in A Fistful of Dollars. Her husband may have been the "sheriff", and supposedly leader of one of the two gangs, but she was the one who ran the show. Joe went to her first with information on the Rojas', not her husband. When her husband was uncertain, she told him straight, give Joe some money, and he did it. I've wandered off-topic somewhat.

Leone still has that tactic where if we can't see something (because it isn't in the shot), the characters can't be aware of it, either. He did that a lot in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (as when Blondie and Tuco completely miss they're riding up on a massive Union encampment), somewhat less so here, but it still pops up occasionally. It's an interesting technique, to tie their awareness to ours, though the characters are actually even more hamstrung, since there are times we can see something they (or at least one of them) can't. We know where men are hidden to take care of Frank (and so does Harmonica), but Frank himself doesn't.

One thing I love about the movie is the music. Ennio Morricone strikes again. I love the piano (or is pianee? pianny?) combined with the plucking of a guitar (or is it a banjo?) that makes up Cheyenne's theme. It even incorporates whistling later on, which is a nice touch. I could see Cheyenne whistling it randomly to himself out in the wilderness (he doesn't do that, but I could see him doing it). Harmonica's theme is haunting, which is appropriate. I'm not as big a fan of the rising, operatic bit they tend to use for Jill, but it easily distinguishable from the others, which help set her apart, it's more refined and cultured than the others, which fits since the railroad station she'll own is going to help the progress of civilization, hopefully. Plus, it's an more hopeful, uplifting theme. Harmonica's is spooky, lonely, something that would send chills down your spine if you heard it echo out of a cave. Cheyenne's is sort of jaunty, but also has a plodding pace. Maybe it's in no hurry to get where it's going, or maybe it has nowhere to go to begin with.

Even if I don't like Once Upon a Time in the West as much as some of Leone's other Westerns, I'd still highly recommend it to a Western fan, especially if you like Leone's work. So you can make your own comparison.

* The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and For a Few Dollars More for certain. Once Upon a Time in the West might be ahead of a Fistful of Dollars.

** It's certainly convinced me more characters need to carry musical instruments with them to help announce themselves.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Given Enough Time, My Brain Will Sort Its Own Puzzles Out

Do you sometimes find it easier to remember something if you stop consciously trying to do so? My dad's frequently says that's the key for him. He's trying to remember the name of some Mussolini biographer, or a particular relief pitcher from the Herzog-era Cardinals, and he can't call it forth. So we move on, talk about something else, like why I was asking about Mussolini biographies, or John Costello and Ken Dayley, who were also relief pitchers for the Herzog-era Cardinals, and after a few minutes, the name (or date, or whatever) will come to him.

I don't know if there's any scientific basis for it at all, possibly something about the subconscious mind's ability to pull things from long-term memory more easily*. It happens with me too, though sometimes it takes hours (maybe even days), and other times five minutes. Two nights ago, I had this sudden image in my head of someone shouting "Shut up! Just shut your mouth before I shut it for you!" Not at all sure why that came to the forefront, but once it did, I was struggling to figure out where it was from.

I was able to get an image in my head of first a voice balloon. OK, so it's from a comic. That narrows it down. It came to me a little more, the character was a girl, great, and the image was black and white. So a manga I read, probably, but it felt wrong, and I couldn't find any volumes that had it right (mostly I couldn't find a character that looked like the one in my head). After awhile, I managed to get my mind off it, focus on the task at hand: trying to be beat Persona 3 again (I'm gonna fail to max out all the Social Links again, and it pisses me off).

Finally, when I climbed into bed, the image righted itself. A color image, a girl with black hair, wearing purple, and the style looked so familiar. Then I recognized it as Alan Davis' work, so I started to ask myself what I comics I own he drew, and almost before I finished the thought I had it: Young Avengers Presents Hawkeye #6, part of that mini-series Marvel did a few years ago to try and keep the Young Avengers active in fans' minds until Heinberg could get back on the stick again. The only issue I bought, because it was going to have Clint Barton in it, Alan Davis was drawing it, and I was pretty high on Fraction that point from Immortal Iron Fist.

I'm glad it came to me, because otherwise I know it was going to keep popping up until I figured it out.

* Like what Bruce Lee said about when the opportunity presents, he doesn't hit, it hits all by itself.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Maybe Danny's Better At His Secret Identity Than I Thought.

There was something that surprised me in Power Man and Iron Fist #2, but it took a month to sink in. At the end of the issue, as we're about to meet Pokerface, one of his minions* mentions that Danny Rand has applied to attend the auction. The minion is concerned because intel suggests Danny is Iron Fist.

What surprises me is that based on how he says it, Danny actually has a secret identity. That it may be suspected he's Iron Fist, but it isn't known for certain, the way people know Tony Stark is Iron Man**. But it's accurate, at least in this mini-series. Vic's mom doesn't seem to know her son works for Iron Fist, so I guess he does have a secret identity.

I suppose it surprises me because I've started picturing Danny as being kind of like Kyle Rayner. Nice guy, friendly, sweet, heroic, but a little careless about things like secret identities. I feel like it wasn't any sort of a secret in the Ostrander Heroes for Hire series (too lazy to figure out where those particular issues are at the moment), and considering all the trouble his company had, with HYDRA and being bought out from under him, and his being a fugitive Avenger post Civi War and Dark Reign. Stark, or Osborn, or Gyrich, one of those dorks would have thrown it out to the public to make his life difficult. Plus, he seems like a bad liar. Couldn't bluff Jerwyn at all about using his expense account to fund Luke's Avengers during the Brubaker/Fraction stuff.

It does seem like lots of people know, though. That El Aguila guy knew from before Danny walked in the room. I guess when considered as a percentage of the world's total population, the vast majority still don't know. It just so happens the few people who do are major players in his life.

* I'm highly intrigued by those minions. What are they? Probably robots, but the way the float, with their coattails fluttering behind them makes me think of ghosts. Ghost minions would be pretty cool.

** Excepting the times when Jim Rhodes is Iron Man, or when Tony makes everyone forget he's Iron Man.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pity The Character There To Do Something Conveniently Stupid

I was watching Iron Man earlier this week, the big fight scene at the end specifically. During the portion of the fight on the freeway, what was the guy on the motorcycle thinking? He tried to drive in between two metal men who were duking it out. And for his foolishness, his bike was yoinked right out from under him by Stane and used as a cudgel. At least he was wearing a helmet.

I've never ridden a motorcycle before, so I don't really know much about the experience, so maybe the helmet has terrible peripheral vision. He simply didn't realize what was on either side of him. Still, he ought to have been able to see Tony and Stane while they were ahead of him.

If he really had to get wherever he was going, he could at least have gone around them. There were other lanes. Some people are just like that, though. They want to stay in the passing lane, even if they aren't driving nearly fast enough to justify it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

What I Bought 3/23/2011

Well this is it for me as far as new comics go this month. I'll figure out something for the next two weeks.

Power Man and Iron Fist #3 - I like that cover. It's suitably ominous, with the shadows of people with guns in the bottom corner, the hero memorabilia on the opposite side, and Danny and Vic's glowing fists in the center offsetting the darkness. They also worked the title into a blurb on the cover. Above the title it says "What Fate Befalls" then you have the title (Power Man and Iron Fist), and directly below that, "At The Twilight Idol?!" It's a nice touch.

Danny and Joy Meachum attend this Twilight Idol auction. Vic shows up as well, as a guest of Ms. Tiowa Bryant, who Vic suspects is Noir. Once they reach the auction, things rapidly go south, as everybody splits of and starts getting suckered. Pokerface offers Danny the name of the person who sold him the mask, if he correctly guesses how many drugged-up homeless folk Vic can defeat. Vic gets in that fight because he's told it's the only way to save Danny. And Joy agrees to give Pokerface insider info on some missiles her company sold to NATO to save both of them. Then Noir attacks Danny at the very end. A lot going on.

I like how van Lente gives us Pokerface's origin very quickly. It took less than a page, but basically told us what we need to know. The rest comes out in the story. One thing about Vic's fight that confuses me. He beat 38 guys, and then what, they didn't send any more? There weren't anymore to send? Pokerface describes it as his "final tally", but Vic's still standing so it isn't as though that's all he could defeat. I guess it's all the cannon fodder Pokerface had available. Danny should have asked for clarification on the stipulations before betting.

About the art. Alves and Pere Perez are splitting art chores again, but it's less of a smooth division this issue than last month. Perez handles the first 5 pages, then it's Alves from 6-12, then Perez for a page, Alves for 5, then Perez again for the last 3. There's no particular division of plots, where say Alves draws Vic's fight, and Perez draws the rest or whatever. it is interesting how even with the same colorist (Bruno Hang), Perez' art looks much brighter, or at least shinier. I'm guessing he uses much lighter inks on his work than Nelson Pereira does on Alves' pages.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Update on that Heroclix Thing From Last Week

I mentioned last week that the store was shorted on their Heroclix orders. Turns out the part of their order was sent to a different warehouse, and so by this week it had arrived. Hooray! It does sound like that's all there 'clix there are though. Guess demand was higher than anticipated. Which might be good for the next set, though on a nationwide scale I don't know if demand carries over from one set to the next. I'm sure there are people who will always buy a case, or half a case, but I imagine there are lots of people whose buying habits are determined by what's in each set.

I don't know if it's still this way, but the patrons of Marvels and Legends used to be heavily tilted towards Marvel, so Ken always had to order a lot more of say, Mutations and Monsters than Crisis. I'm like that, to be certain. The last two Marvel sets (Web of Spider-Man and Giant-Size X-Men), there have been about 45 pieces I was interested in, all told. The last two DC sets (Brave and the Bold, DC 75th Anniversary), about 17 all together. I think the next DC set may be Superman-themed, so we'll see if the level of interest holds, increases, or decreases.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Not A Tale From The Woods, Surprisingly

I watched a duck try to murder another duck yesterday.

I'd already known the ducks at the pond near my house were a little strange. Last summer I learned they had a taste for Fritos, but only as long as the person tossing them out was seated. I think they belong (or belonged) to someone in the neighborhood, because they're present year-round.

Usually they seem to get along, swimming around the pond in a loose grouping, sitting on the shore together. Yesterday though, something was up. I (and a nearby puppy) observed what seemed to be two ducks, one white, the other black-and-white with a pink bill, fighting over something. The body of the black-and-white one seemed deformed, until I realized there was actually a second, smaller mottled duck in there as well. The reason I hadn't recognized it before was the little duck's head wasn't visible.

Eventually the situation became clear, though the motivations did not. The white duck was biting the little duck's head and holding it underwater, as the little one kicked and struggled to escape. It's head would appear, it'd try to swim away, but the white one would still have a grip, and would shove it back under again. The large mottled duck was attacking the white duck, and just as I was going for a stick to throw at the white one (never a rock around when you need it), the white duck let go (or lost its grip). The little duck fled to the opposite side of the pond. The large mottled duck started chasing the white one, apparently interested in driving home a point.

Eventually they scattered to the middle of the pond when the puppy decided to come to the water's edge to get a closer look (and a drink). From over there, they started rearing out of the water to show their chests and flap their wings. By that point I wasn't sure if they were trying to impress me, the puppy, or each other. Whichever it was, I don't think it worked. The ducks each went about their business, the puppy wandered back across the road, and I continued my walk.

This used to be such a nice neighborhood. Now we have attempted avicides, in broad daylight no less.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm Overthinking Barber Shops Now

I was watching Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes again last night. This time it was the introduction of Wonder Man, out for Tony Stark's head, a goal I can get behind. There was also a lot of Thor and the Wasp making fun of MODOC's, shall we say, unusual, proportions?

The bit that sent my brain off and running was when Nick Fury brings Captain America to a SHIELD facility set under a barber shop. The ride the chairs down to the facility so Fury can give Cap his motorcycle from WWII back. I'm pretty sure this was a part of SHIELD's set-up back in the '60s comics, and one that carried over to at least the '80s*. This raised some questions for me.

Does it operate as a regular barber shop? When they entered there was only one customer, and he was actually an agent, since after they sat in the chairs, he got up, put on his shades, and went to stand in front of the door. Could I walk in, ask for a haircut, and get one, or would they pretend they were booked solid? Obviously, they can't send any agents down if there are civilians in the store, but how do you keep average folks from randomly walking in cause they need a trim? Does SHIELD hire barbers, or do they train their agents to be able to pass as barbers? Do they just send them to barber college for that, or are there people in SHIELD who teach them? There's weapons training, code-breaking, and how to use a straight razor.

Are all SHIELD agents required to use their barbers for haircuts, or can they go where they please (assuming their haircut meets whatever sort of standards Fury sets). If they use SHIELD barbers, do they have to pay, or is it complimentary? Can retired SHIELD agents still get their hair cut there**, and do they get a discount as well? If the shop has non-agent customers, does the money earned count towards their annual budget? If so, would Fury encourage them to get more customers, so they'd have more funds in case of government cutbacks, or does he want less, so they can request more from said government?

Since I'm sure HYDRA knows where SHIELD keeps its bases, have they ever tried setting up a competitive location across the street, to draw away customers? It lets them keep an eye on SHIELD, if SHIELD does use revenue from the shop towards their work, it hurts that effort, and if HYDRA can avoid doing anything evil, SHIELD can't touch them, so it's a bit of mockery. Naturally, HYDRA wouldn't be able to resist implementing a mind control conditioner scheme, and the next thing you know, Fury smashes through the window blasting stuff with laser pistols, but it'd be nice while it lasted.

* There was an issue of West Coast Avengers where Mockingbird wanted to see Fury and visited such a place. Though it was more of an upscale boutique than a barber shop by that point.

** Assuming any SHIELD agent actually survives to retirement.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Finally Got Back To The Finale

I meant to talk about the Burn Notice season finale months ago, but I kept getting distracted and pretty soon I forgot all about it. I happened to catch a rerun of the first half of it earlier this week, and there's no time like the present.

It's kind of funny I went to the trouble of writing a post about how much I like Tyler Brennan as a foe for Michael, only for him to wind up dead before the halfway point of the finale. That's Dead Larry for you, always killing people. I must say, Larry's arrival was a real surprise, though it made a certain sense once I thought about it. Brennan would keep tabs on Michael, in case he wanted to use him again, so he'd learn about Larry, his connection to Michael, and how much effort Westin has to expend keeping Larry from going on killing sprees every time he drops by. If Michael's busy holding Larry back, he can't do anything about Brennan.

I shouldn't have been surprised that Dead Larry would kill Brennan, but I was. I was used to Brennan having things planned out well enough I didn't he'd let Larry get that close. I put too much faith in Tyler Brennan's intelligence, which is the same mistake Brennan made. At least it didn't get me stabbed to death.

I do wonder if we'll see Larry again. Each time he's appeared, he's had a job to do, but he's also been trying to recruit Michael, because he believes they're the same inside. Even though Michael's went against him each of the two previous times, he let Larry escape both times. Larry could tell himself Michael was still fooling himself about his true nature. Now Mike's left Larry to likely be arrested by the cops. I have no doubt Larry can escape the police once they get him someplace Sam can see him through a sniper scope*, but I doubt he harbors any more illusions about Michael teaming up with him in the freelance killer business. Which could make Larry very dangerous. He doesn't care about Mike's brother or mother, or about Fi, and I think he hates Sam. The only thing that stopped him from killing them was he wanted to be Mike's buddy. If that's out the window, so is Larry's restraint.

* As an aside, as much as I enjoy Larry as a character, I was a little disappointed Sam didn't just shoot him. He wanted to, and heck Fiona got to kill Carla at the end of Season 2 like she wanted.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Meeting Past Or Future Selves Can Be An Awkward Reunion

One thing I'm curious to see after this fight with Korvac is what being a future version of themselves for a time does to the students at Avengers Academy. I guess it's been confirmed by Gage or someone else connected to the book that one of the cadets is going to go bad. I don't if that means they'll decide to go bad, but can be talked out of it, or if they'll straight up choose evil and that's that.

I haven't developed any sense for who it might be so far, beyond suspecting Mettle or Reptil. But those suspicions are almost entirely because they seem like the least likely candidates so far. It might be interesting (and fairly natural) if spending some time in a version of their future selves, with the knowledge that comes with that, might sway a few of the characters one way or the other. They weren't sure about being a hero, but now they see how it turns out and they like it. Conversely, they see what their life as a hero is like, see the regrets and missed opportunities it's brought them, and decide it's not worth it.

Maybe some of the future versions Carina selected are villains. We only had the last page to see them, that doesn't tell us much. I could assume that Striker's facial hair means he's gone evil, but it's just as likely poor taste on his part. If they are villains, that could have a similar effect. They see the thoughts they have as villains, and it scares them, or they see the confidence and success they have as criminals, and decide that's the path for them.

I wonder if the experience will have any effect on the future selves chosen. Will they remember being yanked into the past, having their bodies hijacked by a younger them to fight Korvac? What would that do to them?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Please Sir, May I Have Some More Information

Are DC's Flashpoint mini-series solicits working for you? This whole "FLASH FACT! {Brief, vague statement!}"

It's certainly better than the "TOP SECRET" or "CLASSIFIED" solicitations Marvel would do sometimes for Siege and Secret Invasion*, where they tell you nothing, maybe not even who'll be working on the book. We know the creative teams for these** projects, at least. But is the short description of the hook for the mini-series doing enough to grab your interest?

I'm finding them too vague myself. I'm somewhat interested in the Secret Seven one, but I'd like to know more than "One among them will betray them all!" before plunking down my cash. I wasn't that enthused about Flashpoint to begin with, so I'm probably not the target audience.

What about you? Does the air of mystery heighten your anticipation? Are the creative teams listed what has you most excited, and you'll trust them to deliver the goods?

* Did DC do some of those for Blackest Night, too?

** Or we know who they plan on using. Remains to be seen if everyone holds up their end of the bargain.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What I Bought 3/16/2011

I had four books left for the remaining three weeks of March, and three of them came out this week. That'll make for a pretty dull next couple of weeks.

Avengers Academy #11 - So Veil threw the switch to bring back the Wasp last time, but it turns out to not have been the Wasp at all, but Carina Walters. The daughter of the Collector and one-time wife of Korvac, dude who once killed the Avengers. Korvac wants her back; she doesn't want to be with him, a bunch of Avengers show up to fight him, while the cadets try to hustle Carina someplace safe (even though she's more powerful than any of the Avengers). She details her history to the cadets, then pulls a reverse Days of Future Past (she places the cadets' minds in future versions of their bodies, as opposed to Adult Kitty Pryde's mind landing in her teenage body), and sends the kids off to fight Korvac.

This was an exposition heavy issue, but if it hadn't been, I might have had a hard time following things. I know diddley-squat about Korvac, and less about Carina. Then again, there isn't that much to know. She's powerful, but has a history of being manipulated by guys who are more powerful. She's tired of it. Korvac wants to control everything, including her. I'm curious to see what it is about the cadets that enables them to defeat Korvac. Considering his power, I doubt it's him being unfamiliar with their abilities.

Who told Adult Striker that facial hair was a good thing? He looks like a complete tool. Or Tony Stark, which is the same thing.

Darkwing Duck #10 - Brass knuckles and a stick of dynamite? How does that work? Are the knucks to stun them long enough to light the TNT and run, or to defend himself with until he's ready to throw the dynamite?

DW and Steelbeak elude Eggman pursuit and make their way back into the base. They're confronted by Femme Appeal, apparently yet another F.O.W.L. agent who is against the "Raise Duckthulu" plan. The three are then attacked by a walrus robot. Gosalyn and Honker have also infiltrated the base, with mixed results, and Morgana and Launchpad are looking into rumors of Duckthulu's arrival while trying to track down Darkwing.

It's looking more and more likely that Darkwing's being duped, what with Morgana receiving messages about a "purple pawn" and all. Imagine how much more effective the heroes might be if they were all working together on the problem, rather than separately. This is why it's important to work with the allies you've developed, instead of cutting them out. It keeps you from wasting time.

Normally, I really like Silvani's artwork, and there were several nice pieces in here (the visual gags with F.O.W.L.'s top-of-the-line gear, including the alligator briefcase especially), but the double-page spread of the inside of the base was a letdown. A lot of it looked hastily-drawn, or like it hadn't been inked. I honestly wonder if we're supposed to be underwhelmed, as a joke, but I don't think so.

R.E.B.E.L.S. #26 - Kind of a blah cover, especially since none of those aliens surrounding Dox are in the issue.

Things may be falling apart for Starro on one front. Lobo killed Stormdaughter. At least everyone is convinced she's dead, and Lobo should be pretty good at killing by now, but this is comics so you never know. Smite is broken up about, Starro is not. Starro rejects Smite's plant to hit Lobo with all the Lobo clones, so Smite goes to fight him alone. Starro, not concerned, orders the clones hidden somewhere else, and he and Dox go to Rann to see how things are going there. Answer, his starfish are taking control of many people, so it's going quite well. Brainiac 3 is trying to get Tribulus up and moving again, while avoiding getting a starfish clamped on his face.

This felt like another exposition-heavy comic. Not to the extent of Avengers Academy, but there were a few consecutive pages devoted to Lobo's past, as best the characters know it. It was relevant to Smite's plan, but it didn't seem entirely necessary to rehash all of it. Daniel HDR drew the first half of the issue, and Claude St. Aubin the latter half. Their work is actually very similar; I'm not sure I'd notice a difference if the credits didn't tell me there was one. I don't know whether HDR purposefully mimicked St. Aubin, or if the credit goes to inker Scott Hanna, or colorists Rich and Tanya Horie, but it's good work.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dodging Idiots In The Fog For 'Clix

There was fog this morning. Which, as far as adverse weather conditions go, is not too terrible. I'd rather deal with fog than heavy rain, and I certainly prefer fog to frozen precipitation. Still, I'd hope people would have enough sense to turn on their headlights when driving in fog, especially considering it wasn't that long after sun up. I can guess at the reasoning of those who don't. The lights don't really help them see anything. Which ignores how the lights help everyone else see them, and thus, avoid hitting them. I suppose they aren't concerned about my vehicle impacting theirs, but I'd think they'd want to be certain large trucks could see them to avoid smashing them flat.

In other news, the Giant-Size X-Men Heroclix set was out today, which brought several guys to the store to pick up their pre-orders. The unfortunate thing was the store was shortchanged on its orders. They received enough for the majority of the pre-orders, and set aside some for the upcoming sealed event, but I think about 40% of the shipment didn't arrive, and won't arrive based on what I was hearing. Any extras that are left over will go to the big distributors, to ensure they get 100% of their orders, and everyone else gets screwed. I don't see how Wizkids/NECA screwed it up that badly. They had the pre-order figures, that should have been a baseline minimum to produce, then certainly make extra on the hopes/certainty there will be others coming in to buy who don't pre-order. It happens. A friend has just introduced them to the game. Or they wanted to see what figures were in the set before deciding whether to plunk down the cash.

It doesn't hurt me any, since I get mine by purchasing extras from the other guys, but it stinks for the store, and for all the folks who did want to buy some boosters. I bought a dozen figures off Preston, which covered about 75% of what I really wanted from the set, a pretty successful result for looking through his leftovers. Of course, most of the ones left are the Super-Rares and they'll surely be pricey, but I'll get to them eventually.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Puppet Master's Master

So who's behind the creation of the new Heroes for Hire? After the first issue I was sure it was Puppet Master, since he was talking about how Misty was going to clean up the streets for him. Issue 4 has him on the phone with someone else, though. Someone who supplied him with technological components to make his control of Misty more effective. Which suggests it's that person's interests Misty is being used to aid. Puppet Master has likely taken to hiring himself out, and this mysterious person is his current client.

OK, so who else would want the streets cleaned up? My cynical, ridiculous take was Steve Rogers, having truly gone evil after being placed in charge of basically all heroes. Like I said, ridiculous. I hope. I don't know a lot about Misty's past, so I'm not up on old enemies that might enjoy using her for their own ends. I read about a Master Khan in Byrne's Namor work, but he was out to conquer the world (and kill Iron Fist), so this is a bit small scale for him. Her Wikipedia page mentions a couple of crime lords. John Bushmater's supposed to be dead, and his brother was a member of the Serpent Society, which doesn't seem quite right for this.

So far, they've dealt with a dealer of Atlantean narcotics, mystical firearms, and a Savage Land-based slavery ring and animal fighting operation. What do they have in common, besides being criminal activities involving exporting things into the U.S.? It sounds like it could be the work of some isolationist type, trying to keep the country free out what they would deem evil outside influences. Possibly well-meaning, but misguided and overzealous. Or they could be a complete group of looney-toons, and this is just the start. Like the Sons of the Serpent, perhaps.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What's He Do In His Free Time?

This came to me out of the blue yesterday, so let's run with it.

In the Batman Beyond universe/era/continuity, Barda is a member of the Justice League. She's the big gun, or big stick, I guess, if you figure the kid with the power ring is the big gun. What's Scott Free up to? Far as I know he's never been mentioned in the comics or the cartoon.

I doubt he's dead. For one thing, he's Mister Miracle. He'd figure out a way to escape Death, right? Death of the New Gods aside, and that's not in play in this universe that I can see. For another, I'd expect Barda to be a lot grimmer if her husband was dead. Not that she's a barrel of laughs normally, but I'd expect her to be harsher, more abrasive if she'd lost him. I'm sure he and Barda are still together. He doesn't seem to be part of the League, though I'm sure if they asked he'd assist on a case.

Simplest answer is he's still doing the escape artist bit, mostly for kicks. I'd imagine the League has some sort of fund set up so its members don't need regular jobs, which would cover Barda and Scott. That might get dull eventually, if he can't find any new challenges. The other possibility (besides perhaps becoming an instructor and teaching cops or secret agents some of his tricks) is he's a homemaker now. He does the shopping, the cleaning, the cooking, and he's there waiting cheerfully for Barda when she gets home from kicking bad guy tail.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tony's Indignation At His Armor Being Called Quaint Was Hilarious

I've been catching episodes of Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes whenever I can, though that's lead to a piecemeal viewing experience. Last night "Kang the Conqueror" was running, which I hadn't seen previously, and there was a lot to it I enjoyed.

Right off, Captain America's reading an article on Tony that refers to Stark as a "futurist". Which leads to Tony, in his slightly condescending way, describing to Steve what that means, how Tony's developing technology for the next century, like transmitting and receiving information wirelessly, rather than through computers. Which leads to Steve (who is having one of those raw egg protein drinks for breakfast, grossing out Tony) stating 'I like newspapers. For instance, this one has a picture of you fighting HYDRA, and anyone can tell from this picture that you don't know how to fight.' Cue Tony being offended, which puts the two of them in the ring together.

Two things I enjoyed about the scene:

1) That Hawkeye and the Hulk came downstairs to watch, and get a real kick out of Tony getting stomped.

2) The first two times Tony tries to hit Steve, we see Tony start to throw a punch, we hear someone make contact, and then Tony's on the ground. I like that Tony can't even see Steve's punches coming.

On the downside, Hank, Tony, and Reed Richards made a Negative Zone prison in that universe, too. And they staffed it with Ultrons. At least their creation is equally on Tony's head, rather than just on Hank's*. Hank's argument in favor of the prison is that since it's in an anti-matter universe, even if the bad guys escape their cells, there's nowhere to go. Great. What happens when one of the villains decides he doesn't care anymore (or thinks it's a bluff), and tries to break out. He gets annihilated by the anti-matter, which then flows into the prison through his escape hole, killing the rest of the prisoners. Oh well, hopefully it sets up an Avengers/Annihilus fight down the line. I don't think I've ever seen that.

Kang's shown up to kill Captain America, who isn't supposed to exist in the 21st Century, and whose presence will lead to Earth being destroyed in a Kree/Skrull war. I don't think I follow the line of reasoning that says it's Cap's fault aliens wipe out the planet, but Kang really only cares because the destruction of the Earth in the 21st Century kind of wrecks his empire in the 41st Century.

It was a nice touch Tony was able to operate Kang's time chair because some of it's components are based on Stark's technology. A reversal of Busiek's Kang story, where the military tried to use Sentinels against Kang except, oops, he'd been involved in the design of some of the technology the mutant-killers were based on, and he naturally left himself a back door.

The part I found funniest was as Kang's beating on the Avengers and proclaiming his intent to kill Cap, Hank, Thor, and the Wasp show up and Thor shouts something about if Kang wants to kill someone, then try to kill them. The Wasp starts to charge forward saying, 'That's right!' then comes to an abrupt stop with 'Wait, what?' I burst out laughing right then. Unfortunately I was brushing my teeth at the same time so I spent the next few minutes cleaning up toothpaste.

* I've seen one of the later episodes, so I know the decision to use them for combat was Tony's idea, and Hank strenuously objected. Well, not strenuously, maybe, but he objected.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

He's Not Building A Genocidal Robot, Trust Pym A Little

In Avengers Academy, Veil has the idea that if she does something heroic, she'll be forgiven for assaulting the Hood and recording it. To that end, she opts to throw the switch that will allow the Wasp to come back from the scattered energy form she is now. Considering Pym held off on this because he isn't sure how solid Jan's grip on reality would be after months at the level of Abstract Entities, this won't end well.

The thing that bothers me about Veil's reasoning is she seems convinced that if she gets thrown out of the Academy, she's doomed. Her atoms are losing cohesion, and one day she'll just drift apart, like Shadowcat's nearly done a couple of times. Now I've given Hank Pym a lot of grief over the years (not as much as the writers, mind you), but I don't buy for a second that he'd stop helping her just because she wasn't at the Academy anymore. I don't think Pym's problem has ever been a lack of desire to help others. It's usually that he's worried he's not strong/good/smart enough to help, and the poor decisions that insecurity leads to. I could buy Pym working his tail off, but not finding a solution to her problem, but that he'd simply leave her in the lurch? Short of another nervous breakdown, I don't see it happening.

Of course, veil's a teenager, and I remember enough about those years to know I didn't usually want to admit my concerns to others, especially authority figures. I have to think the fact the teachers haven't been forthright with the students about why they're really there (namely, concern these kids will go villainous) is the issue. Withholding that creates a tension and lack of trust that affects everything that's said and done, or how they're interpreted. If they fear Veil's going to go evil, why would they help her? We know it's because they're heroes and that's what they do. Witness Pym developing a way to keep Crusher Creel in prison that doesn't involve drugging him constantly. Creel's certainly never demonstrated the sort of altruistic streak that might encourage one to care about his plight, but Hank listened and helped anyway.

Friday, March 11, 2011

What I Bought 3/9/2011 - Part 2

More reviews! For some reason, rather than split the books up by which week they were released, or just going through alphabetically, I split Marvel off from the other stuff. Don't know why I did that, really.

Annihilators #1 - This is the book I've most been looking forward to so far this year. Big surprise, Calvin is excited for a Cosmic Marvel comic with a backup story about Rocket Raccoon and Groot.

In the main story, Ikon, the SpaceKnight who appeared at the end of Thanos Imperative - Devastation, proceeds to whup up on our heroes, as a demonstration of how this team is too powerful to succeed. The team sort of seems to agree, but before they can go their separate ways, a disturbance in the Dark Nebula is registered. The Dark Nebula is where the SpaceKnights keep the Black Sun which powers the Dire Wraiths sorcery. The Dire Wraiths were the top threat on Star-Lord's "To-Do" list. Off the team goes, but they seriously underestimate Doctor Dredd, and the Black Sun appears in the skies over Galador (the SpaceKnights' homeworld). In the backup story, we learn what Rocket's been up to since Thanos Imperative ended, until he's attacked by a killer clown made of sentient wood. Which leads to him hitching a ride with U.S. Ace to Groot's home to look up his old friend. He learns a few surprising truths about his Groot, and I suppose he'll have to rescue him from the mechanical woodpeckers next month. Heh. "Guilty of Tree-Son".

I liked the art in both stories, but I think the colors aren't helping Tan Eng Huat's work in the main story. For a story like this, with cosmic heavy-hitters playing for big stakes, I think the colors ought to be brighter, pop off the page more. Quasar's Quantum Band constructs are this very pale, dull yellow, so they don't capture the eye at all, which feels wrong to me. Timothy Green II is drawing the backup, and his style is slightly simpler than I remember from his earlier work. I think he's thickened his lines slightly, but mostly, he's simplified his style, fewer light, thin lines on faces and such. That might be because most of the characters are aliens, and he goes fairly weird with the designs, rather than human-shapes with bumpy foreheads or whatever. Nathan Fairbairn's colors are very bright, really helping the art seem more vivid. I mean, this is weird and wonderful stuff they're dealing with, why dull its impact with bland colors?

Avengers Academy #10 - See, I like the colors on this cover. This is the sort of thing I'd like for the main Annihilators story. Anyway, Hazmat gets to spend the day with Leech, whose mutant ability to drain powers means she can go outside with out her containment suit. A nice gesture from Hank Pym, but it winds up being more bittersweet than he intended. The other story involves Veil, who is understandably worried about being kicked out, especially after she brings up Speedball's involvement in the Stamford incident. As is apparently typical for her, she takes the worst possibly approach to making things right, by sneaking into Speedball's room to gauge his mood before trying to talk to him, where she learns he's cutting himself. That's comes out during a visit to Stamford, and the way things play out gives Veil the idea that if she just does something heroic, she'll be forgiven for her past screwups. Yeah, setting out with the goal of being a hero always ends well.

Sean Chen is the artist for this issue, and he's fine. The only thing that bugged me was how muscular he drew Speedball. Maybe Robbie's been working out. After all, if he's bigger, it gives him more surface area to cut himself and charge up his Penance powers. That's another of those things I'd as soon never see referenced again, like the whole Tigra/Hood thing. Thanks loads, Millar and Jenkins.

Heroes for Hire #4 - This issue mostly focuses on what the Puppet Master is doing to keep Misty under his control. How he dredges up specific memories to settle her down by either making her happy, or depressing her to the point she quiets down. Except he seems to keep bringing up the same ones, and I think Misty's starting to figure out something's wrong. So he gets more extreme, but in a way I'd think would really convince her something was up. She's suddenly under attack from Danny and all the heroes she's been cashing in favors with? Then again, with Skrulls, mind control, and demonic possession as regular occurences, that might seem less strange in the Marvel Universe than it would here. Misty does wake up and smack Masters around a bit, but her escape is cut short by his trump card.

Robert Atkins illustrates this issue, which is a little strange because I thought Walker could do more than three issues in a row. I felt like with Guardians of the Galaxy, he got up to at least five in a row a couple of times. Maybe not. Atkins is a fine artist, his style isn't quite as unique as Walker's, so he doesn't exaggerate anatomy quite as much, and he's not as creative with his panel layouts (especially during fights). He does have pretty excellent continuity from panel-to-panel in his fight scenes, though, which is always appreciated here. Also, I didn't know Misty had weapons built into her bionic arm. Makes perfect sense, though.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What I Bought 3/9/2011 - Part 1

Yes, I had enough comics over the last two weeks to figure it was worth splitting them up. Unfortunately, it means there'll only be 4 books for me the remaining three weeks this months. Oh, and that new copy of the Suicide Squad trade came in last week, so I have that, too. All it took was me being away for a week and a half!

Batgirl #19 - There have been a series of attacks on banks in Gotham, conducted at super-speed, but with only a small amount taken each time. Wendy resumes her duties as Proxy, as Steph and the Grey Ghost run into the speedster Batgirl encountered briefly two issues back. He trounces them easily, but is forced to flee before he can beat them up any worse. Wendy does figure out why Slipstream is only taking a little money each time. I'm not sure why what he's planning is any smarter than simply robbing each bank blind as he hits them. Surely as he's started to break into the banks, the others have heightened their security, but it hasn't mattered. Perhaps it's about more than simply grabbing and having lots of cash.

The cover lists Dustin Nguyen, and he does draw the cover, but the interiors are actually by Ramon Bachs, whose style feels like it's somewhere in between Nguyen's and Pere Perez. It's not as simplified as some of Nguyen's work, but the angularity of some of the faces, and some of the expressions remind me of his work a little. Steph's lips did seem abnormally large this month, though. Goldie Hawn-like, which kept distracting me.

Batman Beyond #3 - Batman and the Justice League defeat the Matter Master. Or maybe they just keep him busy until he suffers the side effects that might come with integrating a matter-altering weapon into one's body. Terry agrees to join the JL, but on his terms, which the team surprisingly accepts. Warhawk objects, but I expected Barda to bristle at McGinnis' tone as well. In the subplot department, Dana is frustrated that Terry's resumed ducking out on her, her brother's getting out of jail in a week, and a former Gotham detective is accusing Dick Grayson of being Nightwing, which will surely lead to questions about Bruce Wayne and from him, to Terry. We'll see how that goes.

I wonder why Beechen opted to have Terry agree to join the JL. My best guess is he plans to send Terry out of Gotham more often, get him globe-trotting the way Bruce has frequently in his history. Might not be a bad idea after he shredded Terry's gallery of Gotham foes in the mini-series. In art news, Benjamin's art is slipping a little more each issue. At one point, Micron uses a pipe to pin Matter Master down, trying to keep him from using his hands. Matter Master's rejoinder is that his power isn't in his hands, but the art shows him grabbing the pipe with his hands and turning it into phosphorous. Some of the angles are kind of strange as well, like the image is being distorted by intense gravitational fields.

Darkwing Duck Annual #1 - Two stories in this comic. The first is by Ian Brill, with art by Sabrina Alberghetti, and it deals with Darkwing trying to track down Quackerjack, who has gotten considerably angrier since the days of the cartoon, presumably because of that time Negaduck dissed him as not being tough enough for a villain. His plan involves turning online game players into toys, which he'll sell. Darkwing learns a little about "Jacky" from a girlfriend he had during the Quackwerks days, and tries to at least get Quackerjack back to his more goofy past, but it doesn't quite work out that way. It has a sad end, but it's a very good story. The other story was written by Tad Stones (who was one of Darkwing's major creators, if not the sole creator), with art by James Silvani, and details Gosalyn's search for a pet, and turns into a time travel story. In a surprising twist for me, the characters in the story are more confused by the standard paradoxes than I am. Because I've opted not to think about them. Better that way.

This is the first interior work of Alberghetti's I've seen, and I quite like it. The established characters are all clearly recognizable, but she brings her own style, so it's not simply an aping of James Silvani. Her DW seems to have even more pronounced cheeks, but his plumage is a bit smoother. I love the look on Quackerjack's face as he's used like a puppet by his animated new and improved Mr. Banana Brain. It's very much "Something is not right here". I was surprised at Bril's writing of Darkwing in that story, because it reminded me a bit more of the cartoon, where Darkwing wasn't nearly as clever as he thought he was, and tended to get shown up by Gosalyn. That hasn't been quite as prevalent in the comics, and I wonder if this marks as shift in how Brill will write Darkwing, or if he felt it was a better approach for a done-in-one story.

Secret Six #31 - Bane really might want to get his left arm looked at.

Two plot threads in this issue. Scandal decides it's time to get off the pot and bring Knockout back from Hell. Except the card is missing. She figures out who took it, confronts him, but he escapes to Hell. Black Alice, having been to Hell previously, shows the rest of the team a way to get there, but wisely opts not to follow. There will be fighting next issue, I'm sure. The other thread involves some wackaloon abducting Liana, who was already depressed because Scandal blew her off at the start of the issue. He claims he's not out to kill or rape her. That's nice. He is, however, going to "deprogram" her. It will likely involve Tabasco in her eyes. While I'm sure Ragdoll would enjoy that, I highly doubt Liana will.

I don't know where this arc is going to go. It's not a bad start, and I'm sure the Six' confidence in their ability to handle whatever Hell throws at them will bite them in the rear. I'm surprised, as angry as he is about things, Ragdoll can put on the cheery/insane front he usually does around the others. Maybe the monkeys help. And what the heck is that painting on the wall in his room? With the person's mouth being stretched open and stuff pouring out. My first guess was Hieronymus Bosch, because I've heard his work could be pretty disturbing, but it's just a guess.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Would Citizens Of Gotham Notice A Difference If The Doom Patrol Moved In?

Hi. Sorry about the lack of posts the last two days, but I was traveling again. I really must finish that personal teleportation device to save myself time. I did manage to stop by the store today and pick up my comics. Jack put Doom Patrol #20 in there, I'm guessing he had it confused with last month's issue, the Secret Six crossover.

I flipped through it before putting it back, to confirm whether it was the issue I wanted or not, and I came across Batman giving Negative Man a ride to the outskirts of Gotham. The Doom Patrol are trying to find a place to stay, and sent Negative Man there to ask Bats if they could set-up in his town. He said no. Among his reasons was he feels the DP mostly deal with attacks against them, rather than actual threats to others, and Gotham doesn't need that on top of everything else. When Negative Man queried whether it would be accurate to say most crime in Gotham is attacks against Batman, Batsy's response was "No." Then he drove off.

What do you think? What percentage of crime in Gotham do criminal schemes against Batman comprise? I'd say almost all of the big stuff has to be about the Bat, because who would be stupid enough to take on a massive criminal enterprise in Gotham, when they could pick a different large town with a less competent (and less numerous) vigilantes? OK, so there are lots of loonies in Gotham, who apparently like being criminals there, so maybe it's lower than I think. Still, in terms of destroying the city, polluting the water supply, or generally racking up large body counts, I'd say 77%.

There's all the other crime, though. I can't recall how the exchange went exactly, so Batman may have been referring only to super-villain type crime, which would exclude most of this. But for the heck of it, lets throw it in. The muggings, insurance fires, domestic disturbances and so on. That's probably a lot more numerous (there only being so many lunatic super-villains), and while individually they don't match Ivy's latest attempt to tear down Wayne Tower with trees, they add up. In that case, the amount of criminal activity that's directly related to striking at Batman is probably closer to 3%, or some other comparatively low figure. Can't be higher than 10%, though the percentage of financial damage to the city (in repairs, lost revenue through lower tourism or businesses not being open because they have to be scrubbed clean of Joker gas)is probably higher. Maybe 23%? I'm really just pulling numbers out of the air, it's more about what they are relative to each other, I suppose. The percentage might go up if we add attacks on other members of the Bat-family, but a fair number of those seem to wind up being the villain wanting to hurt Batman by killing a protege.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Perhaps This Is The Danger Of Tenure

I'll have to write review of Persona 3 at some point, maybe after I play it a 3rd time. The nice thing about the second time through - besides having a better understanding of the game mechanics - was how much better the story held together. It took me 85 hours to beat the first time, but that was spread out over almost two years. I might go 2 or 3 months without playing, so I lost track of plot points and character motivations. This second go round took about 50 hours, but I did that in two weeks. It was nice to actually remember what a character was talking about when they made reference to some past event.

One thing that struck me this time was how unprofessional a lot of the teachers are at the high school the characters attend. One teacher who becomes aware that one his students has been missing for over a week. He may even know she was last seen being locked in the gym by some of the other girls. Still, rather than let anyone know, so a search could be conducted, he tells everyone she's at home, sick. I'm not sure what he told her parents. She doesn't have a great relationship with them, but surely they noticed she was gone for 10 days.

Another teacher was supposed to hold onto money collected from the student body by Student Council, but used it to catch a taxi when he missed his train. Then he "forgot" to replace the money, which lead to the Treasurer coming under suspicion. He only confessed at the point she angrily confronted him.

One of the main character's friends falls in love with a teacher. She encourages the infatuation, apparently finding it amusing or self-gratifying (as she apparently bragged about it to other teachers). Right up to the point he tells her he wants to marry her, and he's willing to move to another city entirely with her, if that's what she wants. Oh, and she was engaged to another fellow the entire time.

The protagonist also strikes up a friendship in an online game with what turns out to be one of his teachers. The height of professionalism, she spends most of her time complaining to me about other teachers, gossiping about them (the one I mentioned above, who almost had a relationship with a student? She pads her bra! Gasp!). She's also fond of passing out drunk on park benches, and of drinking to goofy excess in general (though I never saw any indication she was drunk at work, or even hung over, so she has that going for her). Oh, and it turns out she's also attracted to one of her students, though she doesn't make any outward signs of it in class.

Most of the other teachers seem OK, with their problems being limited to disorganization, or standard kookiness, things I've seen in plenty of my teachers. Somewhat strangely, the teacher for the class on magic and mysticism has his act together more than any of the others. He always seems to know what he's talking about, and to have his materials ready. Maybe his interest in those subjects makes his mind better suited to deal with the underlying effects of the Dark Hour.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Am I Still In The West? Guess So

Two nights ago, I watched Five Card Stud, with Dean Martin and Robert Mitchum. For better or worse, I came in about the time the townspeople and miners are starting to freak out over a spate of recent shadowy murders.

My dad fell asleep, and Hooch was sitting near him, so I couldn't get the remote control to look up info on the film*. Anyway, Robert Mitchum's character is a preacher that has recently arrived in town, and he visits a cemetery to lay flowers at an unnamed grave. There's a fellow waiting nearby we've seen earlier, who seems content to sit and watch as things spiral out of control. This fellow Nick (played by Roddy McDowall) tells Mitchum who he needs to go after next, for the murder of the man in that grave.

Watching the scene, where Mitchum seemed familiar with Nick, but Nick seemed somewhat cruel and uncaring, somewhat snide, I formed two ridiculous theories. One, Nick was the ghost of the deceased, using Mitchum to achieve vengeance, perhaps by haunting him. What's more, Nick was in a different form than he had been while alive, so he could observe his revenge up close, even interact with people without them getting wise to what was happening. Which is an idea that says I've watched High Plains Drifter too many times.

The second idea was that Mitchum was actually God (more likely an angel), and Nick was the Devil, encouraging Mitchum to punish the killers (as might be an angel's duty). The trade off - and Nick's ulterior motive - would be the state of fear and chaos the town descended into**. Road to hell paved with good intentions and all that.

The truth of the matter was completely unsupernatural, which I'm sure would have been obvious if I'd watched from the beginning. It's for the best. I'm not sure I want to know how a Western of the '60s would handle that second idea especially. It'd likely be disastrous, though it might be interesting to see Dean Martin try to bring the killing to a close in that situation. Actually, a Western of today probably wouldn't do much better.

Even having watched Rio Bravo several times, it's a little strange to see Martin in a Western. Doesn't fit with the picture in my head of a guy in a suit singing, a martini glass in hand. Which is probably a largely inaccurate image itself, and I don't even know where it comes from. I don't believe I've seen him in any films but Westerns, I can't recall any old footage or pictures I've seen of him, but that's how I picture him. He didn't have a singing scene in the parts of Five Card Stud I saw, though he did perform the opening and closing theme.

* Well, I could have taken the remote, it wasn't physically impossible, just unwise. Hooch is very protective/bossy at night, so if I stood up and moved in that direction, he'd pitch a fit, his barking would wake up Dad, set Charlie to barking, and spooked Maggie, which would make her snap at Hooch, at which point we've got two stupid old dogs fighting with each other. I stayed in my seat.

** Looking at it now, sounds like Needful Things, which I only watched once (and read once as well), but that was more than enough, even as someone who likes movies Ed Harris is in. The ones I watch, anyway.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

It's Always The Stupidity Of Others That Ruins Things

The 1956 version of Around the World in Eighty Days was on last night. I found it irritating that Princess Auoda kept thanking Phileas Fogg for saving her life. Maybe she was watching a different movie than me, but I'm pretty sure Passpartout was the one who kept her from being immolated on a funeral pyre. He disguised himself as the deceased rajah, so he could pretend said rajah was back from the dead, panicking the assembled masses, and they could flee. Fogg was a spectator throughout.

It seems strange that they arrested Fogg when he reached England. I get they thought he robbed a bank before he left on his journey. Then he booked passage on a ship out of New York headed to Venezuela, with which Britain has no extradition treaty. Except it turns out Fogg bought the ship he was on, so he could order the skipper to pilot it to Englad. Kind of blows a hole in the "fleeing the authorities" idea. Perhaps they wanted to keep him locked up while they solidified their case, but they'd had over two months while he globe-trotted to assemble evidence, and he was back in England. How hard was it going to be to keep tabs on him, after their man managed to keep up with him all the way

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

I May Be Giving The Entity Too Much Credit

I brought this up last week at Sally's blog, but I might as well mention it here, too.

Max Lord's been running around, making trouble ever since the White Lantern Entity thing brought him back. He has his supposed reasons, like his mother being in Coast City when Mongul and Cyborg Superman came to visit, but the gist of it is he thinks he's doing the right thing. What's more, I think he has reason to believe he was brought back to life by the Entity to fulfill a certain purpose, like the other poor schmoes (Carter and Shyera, Boomerbutt, so on). So Max probably figures it's OK, he's just following orders (with his own personal approach, no doubt).

My theory is the Entity is playing Max. Max thinks it's his actions and goals that are important, but what if it's actually the response they prompt from others that's the key? Max may be getting set up for a huge fall and doesn't even realize it. Considering that he seems to have these big plans, and seems to fell pretty clever and justified in his actions, it'd be a nice reversal for him to wind up being the puppet.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Legal Considerations And More Westerns About Vengeance

Here's a question for you. Can circumstantial evidence be overwhelming?

We were watching Charlie Chan in London last night, and the attorney of a man facing hanging for murder described the trial that way, There was no concrete evidence, but the the victim and the accused were heard having an argument and that sort of thing was apparently enough. It feels like circumstantial evidence, by its definition, can't be overwhelming. You can have a lot of it, but it's all still reliant on other evidence and inference. I mean, the Brits considered it sufficient, but inhabitants of a fictional 1930s London can hardly be considered a definitive decision.

Then there was Chato's Land, where Charles Bronson plays a half-Apache who lures a posse into the desert, initially trying to lose it, but then opting for vengeance when they find his home and commence with rape and pillage. I was sorely disappointed by Jack Palance's character, who showed a startling lack of spine (also craziness) for a Jack Palance character. He could have kept things much less bloody if he had curbed the looney toon racist, faux-religious jackoff and his brothers. By curbed, I open to anything from pistol-whipping to just shooting them.