Sunday, July 29, 2012

Burn Notice 2.15 - Sins of Omission

Plot: Well, Michael knows who hired Derek Poole to blow him up. Even considering it's Victor, who works for Carla, Michael still wants to make friends. Just in case, he's moved his mom into his loft, which she is predictable unhappy about. Further complicating matters is the arrival of Samantha, a thief who also was engaged to Michael at some point. Yeah, Fi and Madeline loved that revelation.

Turns out Samantha's son (who is not Michael's) has been abducted by Tyler Brennan (Jay Karnes). He's used the boy as leverage to force Samantha to steal guidance chips for him. She needs Michael's help to get the chips back, so she can return them before their absence is noticed. Which gets a little tricky when Brennan shows up for the swap having strapped a bomb to the boy's arm. Yeah, he's that kind of guy.

New plan: Have Mike and Fi approach Brennan as themselves, only they're angry at Samantha for double-crossing them, and want to help Brennan block her attempt to recover the chip. This plan is complicated by the fact Brennan doesn't trust them - at all. They make it work with some ad-libbing (that even includes Victor).

Amidst all this, Michael has to navigate several conversations with Fiona and Madeline, while also trying to set up a meeting with Victor to get answers.

The Players: Samantha (Michael's Ex-Fiance), Brennan (Black Market Trader/Evil Son of a Bitch). The titles are getting kind of judgmental these days.

Quote of the Episode (We're doing a twofer, because it's my blog): Sam - 'If half this crap is true, Victor's a lot like you, only with, you know, rabies.' Brennan - 'For the record, punkin, I'm exactly as smart as I think I am.'

Does Fiona blow anything up? Well, Michael blew up a lot crap when they returned the chips, so it's a question of whether Fi made those explosives for him. Probably.

Sam Axe Drink Count: 0 (45 overall). Just as well. Sam's been hittin' the bottle pretty hard recently.

Sam Getting Hit Count: 0 (11 overall). But nobody much has been hittin' him. He hasn't played as many Annoying Guys recently.

Michael Fake Laugh Count: 0 (7 overall).

Other: Michael and Fi don't use aliases this week. I do wonder, when Brennan says that based on Michael's rep, he (Brennan) ought to have a larger gun, is that based on Michael's actual rep, or the stuff the Burn Notice people smeared him with? I mean, Mike's a pretty bad man as it is, but the stuff they say he did is really ugly.

I can appreciate Sam's attempt to both lighten the mood, and defend his buddy from the wrath of Maddy and Fi, but it was the wrong time Sam. The wound was too fresh.

I got annoyed with the back and forth about whether Charlie was Mike's son. He asked when she first mentioned him, and she said no. After Charlie's rescued, Michael points out the boy is too young to be his. As if she didn't already tell him that. And then they go through it one more time at the end. Did they all develop Alzheimer's or something?

Also, during the sequence in the changing room, what was with the slow undressing and jazzy music? I thought I'd stumbled onto late night Cinemax or something for a minute there.

When Michael tased Victor, how come he wasn't zapped as well? he tagged Vic in the neck, and he had a hold of Victor's face at the moment. Fi's experience with Ivan in "Comrades" says that should have dropped both of them.

Two things I like. When they hear someone approaching the loft, Mike, Sam, and Fi all go for guns and get Maddy behind them. Madeline, not content to rely on them, grabs a big ole knife. The other bit was how Michael starts the episode telling Carla (and us) everything he's done to find his killer up to that point (excluding any mention of Victor). even though he's actually telling the truth, Carla doesn't believe him. I love that he's lied so much, she won't even buy the truth from him now.

Despite all that complaining, there was quite a bit I liked in this episode. Samantha is clearly trying to banter with Michael, probably how they used to, but she doesn't quite get that he's different now, so it's sort of one-sided. And the whole thing lead to a heartfelt scene with Fiona at the end, which was nice. Victor's a lot of fun, mostly because Michael Shanks plays him as so mercurial. He sounds legitimately angry when he calls up Michael after the shooting. Once Mike explains, Vic seems fine with it. Excited even. He's always bouncing around like he's giddy, though he talks through gritted teeth a lot, which is an interesting contrast.

The real draw for me is Brennan, though. I've said this before, but I love Brennan as a foe for Michael, because he doesn't care about Michael. All the other serious threats he tangles with have some vested interest in Michael specifically. Not Brennan. He has other goals, and Mike is either a tool or an obstacle. Nothing more. And he doesn't trust Michael, so he isn't one of those guys duped into thinking he's making the smart play. When Brennan gives up the chip, he knows that's what Michael wanted, and he doesn't want to do it. He simply has no other choice. Which makes him dangerous, because he's the bad guy who escapes knowing he's been played. And he knows exactly who did it.

Also, that pool table was beautiful. He should have taken it with him.

Next week, Season 2 comes to a close. Will Michael convince Victor to help him?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Let's Talk Favorite N64 Games

This is one is actually pretty tough because the N64 worked out pretty well for me. I've said it before, but there were only two games I absolutely regretted buying, which isn't bad out of 20.

5. Starfox 64
4. Resident Evil 2
3. Super Smash Bros.
2. Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time
1.Goldeneye 007

Let's see, flight combat game, survival/horror, fighting game, adventure, first-person shooter. That's sort of a lot of diversity, even if most of them boil down to shooting something.

I still feel a little odd ranking Goldeneye above Ocarina of Time, but it's not so much a measure of quality as it is how much I enjoyed the game. And Goldeneye has all those wonderful multiplayer memories tied to it. Which is really the big theme of the N64 for me. 3 of these games had at least part of their appeal tied to their multiplayer options. Starfox isn't to the same extent as Goldeneye and Smash Bros., but it was a flight combat game so it had its own advantages. There are at least 2 other games in the running for that 5th spot - Mario Kart 64 and Wave Race - and they also both had multiplayer.

This was the first system I had where that was really a consistent option, and I guess this means I took full advantage of it. Granted, it doesn't account for RE2 or Ocarina, but those were both very good games in their own right (setting aside RE2's lousy camera), so they had more than enough going for them to earn their way in regardless.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Can't Get Away From Bad Feelings Any Which Way

I thought it was interesting Green Arrow had a story about people trying to cope with the hard times so soon after Angel & Faith looked at the same topic. The take different approaches to it, though.

With Green Arrow, the people seem desperate to escape their lives entirely. It doesn't seem likely each person had all the skills Dr. Cognate was claiming before they reached him. So they've been programmed with the ability to play music flawlessly, or cook in a style you prefer. That's different from the people who came to Drusilla, at least in theory. Her followers seem like they came looking to rid themselves of a particular trauma they felt was keeping them from living their lives. The idea being once that pain wasn't holding them back, they could move forward. I don't think Faith intended to give up being a Slayer, she just wanted to stop being vulnerable to father figures.

Drusilla's method is to remove a particular painful moment, while Cognate's was to make them incapable of having what he deemed negative emotions. Which, if the process worked, would presumably be a long-term fix, whereas there was nothing to stop Dru's followers from walking right into another emotional disaster on down the line.

The trick is, neither of them seem to work entirely. Some of the people Drusilla helped lost control and began killing people. I'm not sure if the others did go back to their lives, or if they lived around Dru all the time. For all Cognate's claims he removed a lot of suffering from people's lives, they didn't seem terribly happy. Pauline was trying to kill herself, and most of the others in his workshop seem lost. Stumbling about, scratching at itches he says they shouldn't have, pulling their wires. It reminds me of the second Matrix film, the part about the first Matrix being a perfect world, and thus being roundly rejected. People recongize something's wrong if there's never any stress.

There is the complicating factor that some of Cognate's patients may not have been strictly organic to begin with, but it isn't clear how much of a difference that makes. They still seem to feel dissaffected by their lives, confused and listless. That could be because Cognate didn't realize they were mechanical, and so his treatment doesn't work, or if it's an unexpected side effect, that they're more human than was intended.

It is kind of interesting that both processes involved surrendering free will, whether that was the plan or not for Dru's folks, and yet neither one is really effective. The ineffectiveness seems to suggest running away from pain - or supressing it - isn't going to accomplish much. Which leaves facing it, accepting it, but somehow not letting it wreck their lives. How is the attempt to abandon free will connected? It could be that by surrendering all control of their lives, they leave themselves at the mercy of whoever they've relinquished control to. Meaning those people can destroy them, whether they mean to or not. Dru isn't likely to be the best choice for guiding other troubled people, and Cognate was clearly being worn down from the demands placed on him. He may have started out frustrated that he couldn't help people (while also wanting to make some cash), but he clearly hadn't considered how much responsibility that entailed. It shows in how he treats them, comparing them to toasters, calling them spoiled, needy children. He's stopped seeing them as people who deserve respect, and they've largely lost the will to do anything about it, because they gave up those decision-making powers to him when they signed up. They basically set themselves up for it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Watch Those Low Ceilings When You Swing

Watching a coworker try to cut up a partially submerged tree while standing in chest deep water, I found myself wondering if they've ever done Texas Chainsaw Massacre underwater? "20,000 Bloody Leagues Under the Sea", or something like that.
Somebody must have at some point. It makes it so much easier to explain why the hapless victims don't simply flee the lumbering killer when they're trapped within a confined space. Space ship, undersea facility, boat with a distinct lack of lifeboats, it comes out to the same thing. I suppose an explanation for why there's a chainsaw in an undersea facility might be required, but it can't be that difficult. There's a greenhouse, it has sentimental value, it was sealed in the watertight comparment of some boat full of logs that conveniently sank near where the facility would be built some decades later.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On Removing Whales From The Beach

It occurred to me this weekend that if we had powers like the title character in Hancock, most of us would get beached whales back in the water like he did.
Sure, you could pick the whale up, carry it in the water, and set it down gently. But then you get you pants and shoes wet. Actually, you probably end up completely submerged. It's a whale, it needs quite a bit of water. You could pick it up, and fly it out, then set it gently into the water, but it's still probably going to splash you, and it might be hard to hold on to, since you know the do-gooders are trying to keep it from drying out. You probably have to get under it and fly with it on your back, which is certain to be messy.

And besides all that, what's to stop the whale from getting confused and swimming right back to shore? Then you have to start all over. No, the proper response is to grab it by the tail and just fling the sucker. Gets it well away from the shore, gets the point across this isn't a good place to be, and it's less muss and fuss for you.

Just be careful not to hit any day sailers.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It Would Help If Faith Were More Sure Of Herself

The more I think about, the more convinced I am Angel has no intention of stopping in his plan to resurrect Giles, no matter what he told Faith about needing her there to stop him from going too far.

This isn't terribly surprising since Angel, like Willow, has a tendency to put the blinders on when he's sure he's right. He's more than willing to justify actions that are brutal, uncaring, or reckless because he's sure he's right. Still, he told Faith he wanted her with him on this because she wouldn't let him go off the rails. But that's just it, he told Faith.

Not that Faith is shy about expressing her opinions, but it's usually in a loud, sarcastic fashion. Which means it may annoy people, may even embarrass them, but they won't really listen. Which is part of why Faith does it. I don't think anyone has ever asked for her thoughts on something, and actually meant it. She's rarely been entrusted with much decision-making responsibility.

To be fair, she's made some royal screw-ups just in her own life, so putting her in charge of anyone else could be legitimately questionable. Though that's true of basically everyone in the Buffyverse (they've all made hash of their lives at one point or another), I think Faith takes it more to seriously than some of the others, and so I wonder how much she trusts her judgment. I mean, she's asking Willow, who is not exactly an unbiased observer, having made a similarly dubious decision, and who needs to stay on Angel's good side to get what she wants. But Faith needs the input, because she isn't used to be in this position.

Can she recognize when Angel's gone too far? Can she make him listen if she does? Does she really want to? Because Faith would like to have Giles back, too, in spite of what he told her. Angel knows that, and he's clever enough to use it. Let Faith think she's his leash when she doesn't have any control at all.  It gives him the appearance of having thought this through, of having considered the possibility of failure, when he's ignored it entirely.

I expect to see more tension between them as Angel gets closer to achieving his goal. It'll get harder, they'll have to do more to get each piece, and Faith will try and get him to slow down, to give her more time to think. But he's not gonna want to slow down.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Corporate Ethics May Not Be A Joke To Everyone

For as much as I gripe about parts of Green Arrow, Ann Nocenti's writing continually intrigues me. Currently, she has Ollie in China trying to buy back control of his company. But the offer on the table requires him to hand over his outstanding facial recognition software, to someone he's fairly sure will use it for nefarious, probably human rights repressing purposes.

Oliver balked at it almost immediately, and did so in a way that lead to a fight almost right after, but I like the situation he's faced with. His company is about to fail entirely, people's livelihoods are at stake, and it's his fault. He didn't let his company get sold off, no, but it happened because he thought with his groin and his ego, and flew off with the Starlings. Which let this Emerson sleaze fake Ollie's death and take control of Q-Core, then promptly run it into the ground (out of maliciousness or incompetence I'm not sure).

Now Oliver can fix it, but it would require him to do something he finds morally objectionable. So what does he do? I really don't know. I'd have the same objections he did, but if it were my fault a bunch of my former employees were about to lose their jobs, I'd feel like I had to do something to reverse it. Ollie doesn't ever specifically say that's why he's doing it, but between the comments his support staff made, those whispers at the charity function, and the fact he's doing it all, I think that has to be weighing on him. I mean, he's not even convinced this is a real crisis. He thinks it might be his father, with yet another test to prove Ollie deserves his inheritance. Despite his suspicion, despite his frustration with these hoops he sees his father as having placed in his path, he's still going. That could be him refusing to back down from a challenge, but I think it is him trying to make up for past mistakes. Quite how he's going to manage that, I don't know.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Burn Notice 2.14 - Truth and Reconciliation

Plot: Somehow, Michael's gotten in touch with crooked manager at the Cayman Islands bank the money used to pay the bomber came from. The guy agreed to come to Miami with information on the person the account belonged to. Surprise! He's been killed and replaced by an assassin. Who falls off the parking garage before Michael can get anything out of him.

That avenue closed to him, Michael's time is unfortunately occupied by one Claude Laurent, in Miami from Haiti. Claude is after a man who imprisoned and killed his daughter, then fled to America and is enjoying his ill-gotten wealth under a different name. Michael wants nothing to do with it, until Sam guilts him into it with stories about Haitian prisons. So Michael presents himself as an employee of the company which built the prisons, there to help cover Mr. Duman's tracks once and for all. The idea being Duman will provide any paperwork confirming his identity, expecting Michael to clean it up somehow, only to find it's used to get him arrested. Or something. I wasn't totally clear on the details, but whatever, it craps out (as these things usually do) forcing the team to try a different, more fun approach.

After all this, Michael's found a storage facility connected to his assassin, and it's while checking that out he finally sees the man who tried to have him killed. And it's Victor?! His "wrangler" from 2.6?

The Players: Gustavo (Cayman Islands Bank Manager), Jean-Pierre Duman (Thief/Killer/Fugitive), Gary (Human Smuggler), Victor (Guy Who Tried to Kill Michael).

Quote of the Episode: Claude - 'I do not want safety, Mr. Westen. I want justice.'

Does Fiona blow anything up? No.

Sam Axe Drink Count: 5 (45 overall). Sam's alcohol consumption has gone way up the last month.

Sam Getting Hit Count: 0 (11 overall).

Michael's Fake Laugh Count: 0 (7 overall).

Other: I don't care for this episode as much as the previous three. Part of it is it feels like they should have just gone for abducting Duman from the start, save themselves all the subterfuge. The other part is I don't tend to like the bitchy clients. You know, they come to Michael and basically nag him until he helps, then complain when he doesn't produce results fast enough. They came to him, he didn't seek them out. If they're unhappy, they could just go find someone else.

I know, Claude's grieving over his daughter, and struggling with a guilt complex because he doesn't feel he did enough to save her when she was alive. But having gone this long, having seen Michael risk being shot on more than one occasion for him, I think he could quit being a pain in the ass.

More important, Michael's found the man who tried to kill him, and it's someone who works for Carla. Or did. Now Mikey's got to sort this out before Carla gets wise and decides he's more trouble than he's worth. Which will probably require him to actually catch Victor. So get someplace Vic can't show off his parkour skills for starters.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

How Do You Get Past The Little Blue Bouncers After They Kick You Out?

All yesterday's post's griping about the pointless killing of Vixen to get John Stewart and Shayera together aside, the story did have the possibly planned for effect of making me curious to see the origin for the future Justice League's Green Lantern.
If you have read the story, John kills Shadow Thief with a bullet made from Nth metal, fired from a gun. Quite where he got the bullet, I'm not sure. He already had the gun out before Shayera came to offer her assistance, but I suppose it could have been an earlier gift. Anyway, the end result is the Guardians take his ring - unimpressed with his argument that he didn't break the rules because he didn't use the ring to kill anyone - and basically turn their back on that entire sector, until such time as they think Earthlings have grown up a little bit. Which is the sort of massive overreaction I'd expect from the Guardians. They're a bunch of dipsticks regardless of the universe.

Aren't there other inhabited worlds in the sector besides Earth? What are they supposed to do? And what about Kyle Rayner? Kyle got a ring in that universe, during the Superman cartoon. And Katma mentioned him in a Justice League episode where she was busting John's butt about how poorly he was using his ring. To be fair, she wasn't really complimenting Kyle, expect by saying John was doing even worse. So maybe Kyle washed out. Or perhaps the Guardians abruptly snatched away his ring, and when he asked, they said, "Talk to John Stewart."

Be honest, we can all see the Guardians doing that. I could see them doing it while Kyle was traveling between star systems and leaving him to die out there. OK, maybe they wouldn't leave him to die, but I wouldn't be surprised if they dropped him on whatever world happened to be handy. Knowing Kyle's luck, it'd be Czarnia, or Kanjar Ro's home.

All that being said, I'd like to know what it was about the young kid that's wearing the ring in the future that convinced the Guardians to give him a ring. I have a hard time looking at the state of that world, given how Gotham was before Terry McGinnis became Batman, or how Metropolis probably went in Superman's absence, and concluding Earthlings demonstrated how, as a whole, they were ready to be let back into the club.

The kid could be an alien, I suppose. No reason he has to be from Earth, just because he looks like an Earthling.

Friday, July 20, 2012

If The Universe Has a Sick Sense Of Humor, What's That Say About Its Creator?

I understand not everybody can get someone to look after their kid, and so maybe it's unavoidable you have to bring the little one to work. But a library is not the place to bring a squalling, hyperactive toddler! I'm about ready to clothesline the kid next time he runs by.
In other angry news, I still hate the direction Nguyen and Fridolfs went for Warhawk's origin in Batman Beyond Unlimited. Part of that is that killing Vixen was so unnecessary. People have relationships end for reasons other than death. Their priorities change, they change, they decide aren't a good match long-term. It happens.

But the other thing that bugs me is the whole predeterministic aspect of it. Remember that issue of Brave and the Bold JMS wrote? Where Zatanna has the premonition of Barbara Gordon being shot, and rather than do anything about it, she and Wonder Woman take Babara out for a night on the town? The attitude seems to be it's supposed to happen, so it can't be changed. Zatanna's one, half-assed attempt to do so, actually helps it come about because she suggests Barbara should stay home from crimefighting to have dinner with her father more often. And of course, Barbara got shot while having dinner with Jim Gordon.

Yeesh, that was such a dumb story.

Now, here we are with John Stewart, back from the future. He's met his son, the one he had with Shayera (Hawkgirl). He's even told Hawkgirl about it. But John's not going to be led around by the nose, by fate. He's still with Mari (Vixen), he loves her, he's going to stay with her and see how things play out. And that's why they're having dinner at a cafe when Shadow Thief shows up and kills Vixen to get revenge on John. Fate apparently counted on John Stewart being a stubborn fellow.

If he'd only broken things off with Mari, it would have been Shayera getting killed. Which wouldn't have been any better, though it would have made more sense for Shadow Thief to strike at someone he might actually hate. And it would have been a case of someone bowing to what appears to be destiny, only for that to keep it from ever coming about. That seems a little different, the protagonist throwing a wrench into the works by going along with the larger plan.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Superhero Universes Have Their Own Special Support Groups

I love the idea of a Robots Anonymous existing in the DC Universe (as seen in Green Arrow #10). It's a world where Cyborg is a member of the Justice League, who are loved worldwide. At the moment. I think.

I'm not sure whether R.A. is for people who need some support for their decision to go mechanical, or for people who have regrets and need help coping. It could be both, though that seems potentially volatile.

Still, why wouldn't there be people who tried it in a world where it's clearly possible? Maybe not because they love Cyborg (or the Transhuman, or whoever), though I'm sure he has his fans, but just because they think it looks cool, or it's something to, or maybe it was an attempt at a prosthetic limb. And naturally, there'd be consequences to that decision. They might regret it, after it was too late to go back. Their family might disapprove, so they either hide it, which causes problems, or they're open with it, and have to deal with a lot crap from the family, which causes other problems.

It's one of those little touches that makes sense for a world like the DC Universe that seems to fit perfectly. I think the Marvel Universe version is the Descendants Remender introduced in Secret Avengers, who as a group who fear their extermination at the hands of what they perceive as authority figures, fit perfectly in that universe.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why Can't Steph Brown Be In Smallville?

So why do you think DC scrapped Stephanie Brown in favor of Barbara Gordon being Batman's partner in the Smallville comic?

It just seems kind of silly. Smallville's a separate universe, so it doesn't seem like it should matter that Batman has a female partner who isn't Barbara Gordon. Has Barbara really been a partner/sidekick for Bats other than in the cartoon universes? Oracle started out working with the Squad, and later lent her expertise to the Batcrew, so that doesn't seem like the same thing. I don't know, maybe New 52 Batman had Barbara as a sidekick for awhile too, wedged in amongst all the Robins.

And if it really did matter, if having Steph was somehow going to confuse all those new readers just getting their heads wrapped around Barbara Gordon, then why is it Alan Scott as Green Lantern in Earth-2 instead of Hal/Guy/John/Kyle? That book is much more closely connected to the new 52, yet it's apparently OK to use different characters there. All those poor new readers' heads must be spinning.

Or maybe not.

It's too bad, really. As much as I'd like to see either Steph or Cassandra Cain show up in the new 52, I'm frankly terrified of which creative team might get ahold of them. Cass could wind up with Beechen again, or Winick. Liefeld. Lobdell. There's a long list of writers I prefer stay the hell away from characters I like, and they unfortunately outnumber the ones I have some measure of trust in. When it came to Stephanie Brown, Bryan Q. Miller was absolutely on the "trust" list.

Not to be, though. For whatever the reason.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What I Bought 7/13/2012 - Part 2

I got an e-mail telling me there won't be any Earthworm Jim DVDs being released. I'm guessing you all didn't come through for me by putting in your own orders. Or maybe you did, and it's the rest of the world that dropped the ball. Oh well, saves me 20 bucks.
Dial H #3 by, China Mieville (writer), Mateus Santolouco (artist), Tanya and Richard Horie (colorists), Steve Wands (letters) - I hope I'm not mispelling people's names. I wrote my notes down much too small. My father would laugh at that comment, along with every other teacher who ever complained about my tiny handwriting.

So I'm coming in partway, just as the dial gets shot by some goons. But Nelson, who has been using it, gets saved by someone I figured was Element Woman, carried over from Flashpoint, but is actually called Manteau. She ahs her own dial, and knows a lot more about them than Nelson. Something to do with advances in telephones being linked to a mysterious "O". There's also a scientist and a reptilian faced fellow trying to bring someone back from somewhere, using people who are connected to an event as doorways. That seems connected to the dials, or the heroes at least, but I'm not sure how. All the same, it's very intriguing, and surprisingly easy to follow. I know, I'm short on details, but I feel like Mieville covered the broad strokes. Perhaps I showed up just as he decided to start asnwering questions? Mateus Santolouco's art works really well. His people look like real people, Nelson looks like your standard chubby schlub, for example, which makes these heroes, who are all very strange, stand out all the more.

I think I'm going to be very glad I took a chance on this series.

Green Arrow #11 by, Ann Nocenti (writer), Harvey Tolibao (artist), Richard and Tanya Horie (colorists), Rob Leigh - Ivan Reis covers are a major step up from Howard Porter ones. Well, the cover for issue 9 was good, but the others, not so much.

Two people calling themselves Dark Arrows rob a charity function, planning to redistribute the money to the less fortunate. Ollie doesn't agree with robbery, so he stops them, but does have to qusetion if he's really helping the people who need it with the actions he takes. While he chews on that conundrum, he flies to China to try and broker a deal to buy back control of his company and save it. He blows that in about 2 pages, but at least he did so out of principle. That's progress, of a sort.

So Tolibao's back on the art chores, and on the good side, the art's basically easy to follow. I don't agree with some of the choices of which shots should get lots of page space. The one of Ollie being lit on fire really wasn't dynamic enough to justify stretching across two pages, while also getting the most vertical space. I'd have preferred more room for the series of panels at the bottom, which do more to advance the story.

Resurrection Man #11 by, Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), Jesus Saiz & Javier Pina (art), Jeromy Cox (color), Rob Leigh (letters) - Mitch and Kim infiltrate the Lab to rerscue the Transhuman. Except the Transhuman's working with the Lab to help trap Mitch. He doesn't manage it, but he slows them down long enough for the Body Doubles to show up and kick Mitch's head in. Again. Mitch needs to learn how to fight. He gets his butt kicked more than Peter Parker did in Ultimate Spider-Man, back when I still read that.

For a book that's ending in 2 months, that's appalingly little forward progress. Which has been the book's biggest weakness, really. That and excessive meandering (the Gotham and Metropolis issues really look like a waste now). Jesus Saiz and Javier Pina are sharing art duties somehow. I don't know who is doing what here, either. No indication they split up the pages, or if it's a breakdowns/finishes thing. It all looks pretty good, that's something the comic has going for it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

What I Bought 7/13/2012 - Part 1

Yes, I stopped by the comic store on Friday. It's only about 2 weeks worth of books, so this'll only be two parts. Let's get to it shall we, I'm kind of working against a deadline here.
Angel & Faith #11, by Christos Gage (script), Rebekah Isaacs (art), Dan Jackson (colors), Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt (letters) - I didn't have time to find a picture of the Isaacs cover, but grumpy Angel is very amusing. Actually, he smiles quite a bit in this issue. It's disconcerting how much I enjoyed seeing him smile. Change of pace from brooding I suppose.

Willow thinks Angel's plan to resurrect Giles is stupid and self-serving. Angel thinks the same of Willow's plan to use Conner to reach Quor'toth and reintriduce magic to Earth. Naturally they agree to help each other in their stupid quests, Conner agrees to help, and Faith isn't forceful or certain enough to get anyone to listen to her. I think bludgeoning would help. At least my fears that Willow would be rude to Faith were unfounded, and Gunn showed up. I like Gunn.

Self-deluded fools must be endless entertainnment for higher beings. Us, in this case. Still, this will obviously end in disaster, as everything Willow attempts does. I really enjoyed the body language Isaacs gave Angel in his dorky hoody. Maybe that was just because of all the sun, but I prefer to think he was out of his fashion element, like me in a tux.

Rocketeer Adventures 2 #4 by, Louise Simonson (story), Walter Simonson (art), Bob Waicek (inks), Jordie Bellaire (colors), John Workman (letters) for "War Hero"; David Mandel (story), J Bone (art & colors), Shawn Lee (letters) for "Cliff Secord, Warlord of Blargon"; John Byrne (story & art), J Bone (colors), Neil Uyetake (letters) for "Fair Game" -  So what did we get this month? The Simonsons present Cliff with a dilemma of how to best serve his country while simultaneously helping a war bond drive and stopping a German bomber from attacking D.C.

Mandel and J Bone send Cliff to another world where he misunderstands everything and the people are glad to be rid of him. Considering they were planning to eat him, I don't feel too bad he blew up their hospital and public school by mistake. Remember kids, when you find an injured stranger, send them right back where they came from!

John Byrne has Cliff save the King and Queen of England from an irate Irishman. Very irate, judging by the amount of explosives he had. And in all three cases, Cliff gets Betty angry at him, though it was hardly his fault he got zapped to another world. As for the rest, I think he knows he outkicked his coverage with Betty, and the fear that she'll "wise up" one day makes him too pushy. That and he's just a hothead with a mouth that's much faster than his brain.

Defenders #8 by, Matt Fraction (writer), Jamie McKelvie w/Mike Norton (artists), Domma Aymara (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letters) - Remember during last week's Atomic Robo reviews, I said I'd been too hard on Fraction about John Aman? Forget it. He's veering into Red Hulk territory these days.

The Silver Surfer was the only thing that kept Aman from wiping the floor with the entire team. Decause Dr. Strange can't handle a guy who turns into mist, obviously. Oh, and T'Challa died last issue. I thought he just passed out from his injuries, but no, Aman/Fraction killed him off like a punk. Ted Kord got a better death. Also, can you call it going to war when there's exactly one person living in the country you're attacking, because apparently Aman killed everyone else. Then, when all the frogs are brought together, it's a Concordance Engine in disguise, and Aman sends the Defenders somewhere. Hopefully somewhere he isn't. Aman's absence would improve the book greatly.

Though Jamie McKelvie and Mike Norton's art don't hurt either. I don't know which of them to credit for what, but they do nice work. Very clean lines, the action's well represented, though there did seem to be a bit of a snafu with Felicia and the Satan's Claw. She's wearing it, then she's getting ready to put it on because she thinks she's about to be attacked (which she was). And that was a very neat boneyard, but I suppose Aman has to do something to pass the time. Hopefully, they get to draw something other than him in subsequent issues.

Tomorrow, nothing but DC books. I don't think things will end on any more of a positive note, but there'll be some happy comments in there.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Burn Notice 2.13 - Bad Breaks

Plot: Michael set Barry on the trail of the Cayman account, but Barry got caught. And by none other than Season 1 pain in the ass, Jason Bly! Oh goody, he now has enough on Barry, and by association, Michael, that Mikey's blackmail file is no longer an effective detterent. In the meantime, he'll get Michael's loft condemned for toxic mold, and risk his life by making snide comments about Fiona. Really, Bly, you can't use that file if you're dead.

This harassment continues to the point Bly follows Michael to a private bank, where Priscilla works. Michael had been advising her about a guy she met online, and now it turns out that man is actually a bank robber. Which leaves Bly and Michael amongst the hostages. Which would have worked better if Bly hadn't gotten aggressive, then gotten shot. Though it gave Michael an excuse to pass himself off as a doctor, which gave him an excuse to be messing with pills, which came in handy.

Outside the bank, Sam and Fiona are trying to figure out how to help Michael when the plan keeps changing. They're also squabbling because Fi can't believe Michael didn't call her for help first, and Sam can't stop gloating about it. Considering this mess drew Sam away from a beautiful, wealthy woman who owns a brewery, I can't see why he's so happy about it.

Ultimately, the power of teamwork mends fences between Westen and Bly, ad Bly even tells Michael what he found out about the account. Which isn't much, and he tripped an alarm, so whoever it is knows Michael's looking into him.

The Players: Jason Bly (Government Agent), Prescott (Bank Robber)

Quote of the Episode: Michael - 'I'm not gonna attack them. They're just going to have some very bad luck.'

Does Fiona blow anything up? Prescott's truck, which is good. Between Bly's crack, and Sam's ribbing, she was gonna blow something up.

Sam Axe Drink Count: 1 (40 overall). Well, I wanted Sam to have more to do, and he got it. Sorry Sam, didn't mean to break up something special.

Sam Getting Hit Count: 0 (11 overall).

Michael's Fake Laugh Count: 0 (7 overall).

Other: Kind of interesting that Bly showed up again so recently after Fiona and Michael's recent, whatever. He showed up at Michael's loft last time, the morning after the first got back together.

I really do feel sorry for Sam. He and Angela could have been great together.

I like the idea of Michael doing small jobs we never see. My coworkers and I were discussing that while watching Season 5. Given the number of times he declines payment, or takes very little, it's amazing he can throw around the cash he does to Seymour, Barry, Fi and Sam's contacts. I speculated he finds people's lost pets and stuff all the time, but since those jobs go off without a hitch, we don't see them. You don't show the character brushing their teeth unless something significant is going to happen there, that kind of thing.

This is a really great stretch of episodes right here, where I've enjoyed the basic story of the week. "Hot Spot" had the style aspect I really dug. "Seek and Destroy" had Michael switching sides partway through, and using his initial role and Chandler's state of mind to drive him where he needed him to go. "Bad Breaks" has Michael pulling off all these little sabotage tricks on the robbers, gradually whittling down their numbers, taking away their resources, throwing off their schedule. It's like Die Hard, but with less killing. And no Alan Rickman, which is a minus, to be sure, but not a completely insurmountable one. My favorite part has to be the two-man radio game Michael and Sam play on Prescott at the end. I can't necessarily see it working in real life - certainly not without the boost it got from Fiona - but again, it makes for good entertainment. Theatricality and deception.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How Could You Depict That?

One of the things that's been enjoyable about the current run of Daredevil has been the emphasis on how Matt's senses shape how he perceives the world. The radar sense, the hearing, the lack of eyesight. It presents a different picture to him than most would get. Which makes me curious as to how they'll depict things for the upcoming issue.

All his senses are shut down (or blocked). He's completely dead to the outside world. So how do you go about showing that, while still giving the reader a clue what's happening? Besides doing the story entirely from other characters' points of view, obviously.

Do you focus on what's happening inside Matt's mind? Does he struggle to perceive anything, and make things up to fill in the void? Or do they concentrate on what that kind of sensory deprivation does to his mind? Switch back and forth between what the Latverians are doing to him outside and the gradual disintegration of his sanity from not knowing inside.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Baseball Codes - Jason Turbow

The Baseball Codes is all about those "unwritten rules" you hear about if you watch or listen to sports and sports-related discussion. When is it OK to throw at a batter, what methods for stealing signs are acceptable, things like that. My dad gave the book to me, and it has some entertainment value in the stories and anecdotes that Turbow (and Michael Duca) have filled the book with. Some of them I remember, some are before my time.

As for the actual discussion of these codes, that was less interesting because it becomes abundantly clear that players, managers, sportwriters, and fans simply skew the rules to be whatever they need to excuse their actions, while condemning those of the opponent. I mean, people can't agree on whether so-and-so was right to throw at that other guy, or if Ben Davis was right to bunt for a hit and break up Curt Schilling's no-hitter. I say he was, because it was a 2-0 game, so with him on base, the tying run was at the plate. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. So it all comes off as a bit silly, even for something dealing with a game.

There's also a rather tedious bit at the end where they discuss the deterioration of the Code, which sounds a lot like nostalgic "players today play for money, they don't care about the game like the old-timers do" bullcrap I can do without. So I'd advise giving it a readthrough for the stories alone. Just skip the last chapter and you'll be fine.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Surviving Digestion Isn't Much Trouble For Mr. Miracle

I don't know how some people post more than once a day. I'm typing this Sunday and my brain's melting. I mentioned I'd be without regular Internet access soon. Well, that starts tomorrow. So I've been trying to get things lined out ahead of time. I did 4 Burn Notice posts last Sunday, 4 more yesterday, plus the DC and Marvel comic review posts. This is the second post this morning. Yeesh.

Anyway, I figured it would be too late for this, but then they skipped the Justice League story in Batman Beyond Unlimited this month, so I still have time. So, I expect Mister Miracle to reappear by the end of the story. We were told (and shown) he strapped himself to a missile and launched himself at the Serpent, only to be swallowed by it. Now, does anyone really think Mr. Miracle can't escape that? Escaping death is what he does.

Making this the one time he can't escape would certainly be one way to emphasize how badly things are going, but still, the fact the combined forces of Apokolips and New Genesis couldn't stop it would cover that base. I expect Scott Free will make some sort of triumphant appearance at a critical moment, as it turns out he's been working away at the Serpent from within this whole time.

Of course, it could simply be a case where nothing is as it seems. I mean, Highfather appears to be Darkseid now, and Darkseid is dressed as Orion, so clearly something has gone wonky since they used the Anti-Life Equation. And it was Darkseid who told us Mr. Miracle was dead, so we have to at least question the source of the information.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What I Bought 7/6/2012 - Part 3

Upon further reflection, I may have been overly harsh towards Fraction about John Aman in yesterday's post. It has been previously established Aman can exist and do damage on a spiritual plane (or against spirits, whichever). He still shouldn't be this successful given the power of some of the people arrayed against him. I know Strange ain't what he used to be, but come on.

Atomic Robo Real Science Adventures #2 has apparently never shown up at the store. Which is disappointing but not devastating.

Atomic Robo Real Science Adventures #3 by, Brian Clevinger (words), Matt Speroni (colors), Jeff Powell (letters), and Ryan Cody (artist for "To Kill a Sparrow"), Guruhiru (artist for "Tesla's Electric Sky Schooner"), John Broglia (artist for "Leaping Metal Dragon") - This is why it isn't devastating. Having Robo to read, albeit out of order, is better than no Robo at all. So, your opinion: Is Robo mimicking the Shadow or the Spider on that cover?

They shifted the format a little this month, cutting it to three stories (plus a reprint from Volume 1). The ongoing stories are still just 4 pages, which is still hampering the momentum. "To Kill a Sparrow" does a little better since we see Sparrow and Artemis not only elude capture, but capture their attempted captors, and we learn what their mission is, which may have been established in issue 2, but I haven't read that yet, so I wouldn't know, would I? "Leaping Metal Dragon" is just Robo learning how to use his strength more efficiently by kicking posts. He makes sarcastic comments, Bruce Lee responds in a calm, but teasing manner, that's about it. "Tesla's Electric Sky Schooner" is the real winner, since it's a complete story which introduces us to Tesla's team of adventurers (as mentioned in Volume 3), while on a mission to destroy a war zeppelin. And as my love for the Blimpmaster and Colonel von Zeppelin might tell you, I like stories where bad guys use airships. I don't know what Brunel intended it for, but that's OK. The story certainly made me want to see more of their adventures.

All the artists do a fine job, especially Guruhiru, since their story gives them the widest array of things to draw, but again, I want to give credit to Matt Speroni, the colorist, for giving each story it's own look that matches the story. "To Kill a Sparrow" is set during a grim period of war, in occupied France, at night, so everything is very dark, greys and blacks, matching their furtive movements and grim faces. The Sky Schooner story is much brighter, sharper color, enhancing the art and giving the story the feel of an animated feature. Leaping Metal Dragon fits somewhere in between. It's not sepia-toned, but there's a faded aspect to the colors that suggests a flashback, and also gives the story a placid feel, which makes sense. Even though Robo's being frustrated and snarky, he's still not fighting for his life, simply learning something new. It's not (yet) the high-risk situation he normally finds himself in.

Atomic Robo: Flying She-Devils of the Pacific #1 by, Brian Clevinger (words), Scott Wegener (art), Nick Filardi (colors), Jeff Powell (letters) - You probably can't make it out in the cover image I'm using, but the person in the jetpack painted a shark tooth grin on her helmet. The WWII aviation lover in me appreciates the nod to the P-40.

Robo's test-flying a jet in 1951 when he's attacked by odd craft. He's then saved by several people in jetpacks. People who turn out to be women. Women who have a secret base on an uncharted island, where they fight using the stuff various nations left behind after the war. The people they're fighting against are also doing this, and some of them aren't willing to accept the war is over. These someones also found the She-Devils island, so that'll be bad. And Robo may object to his wrecked jet prototype (looks like an F-86, sweet!) being classified as "salvage". So we'll see how that goes.

I was going to comment about Robo's surprise at his rescuers being women, but I don't want Clevinger to show up and yell at me. I mean, it'd be cool if he commented, but preferably not to rail against me. Frankly, it isn't really that frequent, and I had come up with an explanation that worked in my head, but still probably better to move on.

So, yeah, it's an interesting start. Air pirates are always fun (as attested to by Crimson Skies being in my Top 5 XBox games, as you will see if I ever get around to a Favorite Games: XBox post), and I like the idea of there being long-term repercussions to war beyond those we normally associate with it. I think Scott Wegener likes drawing flying scenes. At the very least, he's quite good at it, so one hopes he enjoys it. Also, the panel where we see the view Hazel told Robo about works very well. Even though we're seeing it from somewhere outside, rather than flying over it, Wegener and Filardi really sell it with the placid ocean, the scattered stars, and the silent islands jutting up from the ocean, all in these muted reds and deep blues. Beautiful panel.

Like I said, Atomoc Robo review day is always a happy day. Now I have to consider whether I should add that "aviation" label I keep thinking I've added when I'm adding a "sherlock holmes" label. And maybe a "sergio leone" label while I'm at it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What I Bought 7/6/2012 - Part 2

Moving on to the Marvel portion of things, I find myself happy to see the back of the tie-in to AvX.

Daredevil #14 by, Mark Waid (writer), Chris Samnee (art), Javier Rodriguez (color art), Joe Carmagna (letterer) - No, Daredevil doesn't meet Dr. Doom in this issue. I suppose that would conflict with Doom being a sort of good guy these days in FF. Man, that seems like a really stupid plot development, he said without having read the issues to see how well it's been sold by Hickman and Co.

Matt's been brought to Latveria because by messing with Megacrime, he screwed with Latveria's economy. So the Minister of Finance has sentenced him to be flooded with nanobots that will gradually shut down all his senses. Yes, even the radar sense. So Matt has to try and get the hell out of the country before he's completely cut off from the world around him. That last page is just a killer. Also, Foggy isn't happy about what he found in Matt's desk last issue.

Waid's Doom is a cruel bastard, but that's par for the course with Waid and Doom, I suppose. Chris Samnee is back on pencils, which is nice. He's similar enough to Paolo Rivera it maintains the feel of the book, and he's a good artist in his own right. It's that happy look on Matt's face that makes the last page such a killer.

Defenders #7 by, Matt Fraction (writer), Terry Dodson (penciler), Rachel Dodson (inker), Sonia Oback (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer) - Another collage of characters in front of a vague colored background cover. You know, I know the Dodsons can do better covers than these. Sigh.

Two plot lines this month. In one, Felicia steals a Satan's Claw for a group of oddballs using it as a test. She passes, they send her to the country of Z'Gambo (which I've never head of, but assume already existed in continuity) to steal one of those magic toadslike the Black Panther uses some times.

In the other plot, the Defenders (minus Namor this month) arrive in Wakanda looking for advice on how to get into Z'Gambo and get that Concordance Engine away from John Aman. Except Wakanda has a treaty to not even discuss such things, one that is apparently considered broken even if the discussion is with dead people. So Aman shows up, trounces the Panther, and this means war so I guess the Defenders can go in if they want now. And that does it for the Dodsons' last issue on the book, I believe. They do their usual solid job. It's not spectacular, though the Surfer does look appropriately strange after drinking the juice compared to the rest of the issue.

Fraction is trying way too hard to sell Aman as a big-time player. Beyond the fact it feels vaguely ridiculous some of this stuff he's doing, it's made it so there is absolutely no way I buy that Iron Fist will be able to carry out his vow to kill Aman. The gap between them is looking so wide there's just no way. It'd be like Spidey beating Thanos in a fistfight at this point.

Secret Avengers #28 by, Rick Remender (writer), Renato Guedes (artist), Matthew Wilson w/Jeremy Mohler (color artists), Chris Eliopoulos (letterer) - And once again the cover is the best part of this issue.

The Vision manages to free his teammates from the mind control, except the Phoenix is here, so that doesn't do much good. Turns out the guy behind all this was Mar-Vell's nephew, who believed this would remove the stain to their name caused by Mar-Vell siding with Earth all those times. Whatever. The team attempts to stop the Phoenix. First Carol gets her Binary powers back for a hot minute, but the power rejected her, I think? Not sure why. Then Braddock makes a go of it, only to be tossed aside by Mar-Vell who is convinced the Phoenix will leave once it reclaims its energies from him. Which it does, and it does leave. Whatever.

Cripes am I glad that's over. I couldn't deal with anymore of Remender's love letter to Mar-Vell. And this whole bit where Carol's pleading with him not to do it, jeez, spare me. Like I said last month, that might be part of her past, but if so, I'd never seen it before so for me, it comes off more like some crap Remender made up to help make Mar-Vell look awesome. Like when they decided the Sentry had sex with Rogue, and doesn't that make him cool? No, it doesn't, piss off. I sure hope we're not going to get more of this Mar-Vell worship in Carol's new series. I couldn't tolerate it.

Well, that was thoroughly negative way to end the post. But tomorrow is Atomic Robo review day. That will surely be a happy time.

Monday, July 09, 2012

What I Bought 7/6/2012 - Part 1

Alright, it's comics! Originally, these were supposed to show up a week earlier. At least, that was the plan I had in mind. Things never work out how I expect, though, so here we are, with the DC selections. Still no Dial H, though. Hopefully I'll get that sorted out in the next week.

Batman Beyond Unlimited #5 by, Adam Beechen (writer), Norm Breyfogle (artist), Andrew Elder (colorist), Saida Temofonte (letterer) "Legends of the Dark Knight: Jake"; Derek Fridolfs & Dustin Nguyen (writers), Eric Nguyen (art), Temofonte (letters) "Beyond Origin: Warhawk"; J.T. Krul (writer), Howard Porter (pencils), John Livesay (inks), Randy Mayor (colors), Temofonte (letters) "Superman story" - Still no title I can find for the Superman part. Then again, I said last month I was going to try ignoring it. Except I forgot by the time the comic came.

This is a format I can work with. Three stories instead of four, so one gets 20 pages. In this case the Batman story, which is exactly how I'd like it to work out. We'll get to it. The Superman story involves him helping out the new Supercop guys, but finds him unable to stop the theft of data on their nanotech, because she anticipated how he'd respond to a threat. Which is clever, I suppose. I'm not sure about Krul going with Smart Solomon Grundy as a crime lord, though. And Porter's art is still awkward and misshapen.

Moving on! The Warhawk story quickly details what's up with Shadow Thief, why he killed Vixen, and then John Stewart kills him. Which gets him booted from the Green Lantern Corps. John's argument he didn't use the ring for killing is apparently unpersuasive. Big surprise, the Guardians are rigid dorks. There's some other stuff about Warhawk helping liberate Thanagar, then facing prejudice because Thanagarians are even bigger ungrateful dicks than your standard Marvel Universe inhabitant. I suppose I shouldn't complain about a story that concludes in 20 pages, but damn, that went fast. Nguyen and Fridolfs may have spent too much time recapping the future John Stewart saw in Part 1, because they really crammed stuff in for Part 2. Oh well, I wasn't really interested in Warhawk's origin, but it wasn't a bad story, pointless Vixen killing aside. Which is a big thing to set aside.

The Batman story is concerned with a guy who used to be part of Derek Powers' (aka Blight) security force, and beyond that, secret unit within it who handled special missions for Powers. Including the murder of Terry McGinnis' father. This particular agent fell apart after doing that, and has mostly given up on life, until he stops some kids from robbing his apartment and realizes he can contribute to the world. The punchline (as hinted at by his repeated mention of his great-grand uncle) is that his last name is "Chill". And that ancestor, he killed two people who haunted him forever, too.

Oh brother. Look, I like the general arc of the character. It's not a new one, kind of Spider-Man like, but that bit about his great-grand uncle is entirely unnecessary. Why tie it together like that? That aside, it's a good story. Breyfogle kills it on the art as usual, especially the page of Batman beating down Jake. Very well put together. Elder's colors are all bright and crisp, which is nice. I know it's a Batman story, but you can make things dark and moody without making them murky and indecipherable.

Ultimately, all three stories had good points, but had certain things which held them back.

Green Arrow #10 by, Ann Nocenti (writer), Steve Kurth (penciller), Wayne Frucker (inker), Richard and Tanya Horie (colorists), Rob Leigh (letterer) - Howard Porter's Ollie needs to drop a few pounds.

Ollie saves a woman trying to commit suicide. A woman who says she's a machine, and even has certain machine components under the skin. Ollie finds a man who makes very human-looking robots for different purposes, then returns as Green Arrow to find that these were all people who chose to abandon humanity for one reason or the other. They asked to be turned into machines to get away from their pain. Or so the man says.

Huh, so that's kind of strange. It made no reference to all the things that went on with Ollie's company while he was presumed dead. Maybe that was cleaned up between issues? It's an interesting story, kind of similar to the "Daddy Issues" arc that wrapped up recently in Angel & Faith. A bit more obviously of a messy ending than that story had, since we don't know how many of them chose to try and reclaim their lives, and how many are willing to go on as robots. All in all, it's another interesting issue that taps into Ollie's various problems, and maybe also looks at how we shape our own memories to suit ourselves. Or maybe it's how perception shapes reality. I'm not sure. Steve Kurth steps in for Tolibao, and I'd consider him a step up. Kurth isn't a flashy artist, but everything is easy to follow and understand, which is the more important factor.

Resurrection Man #10 by, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (writers), Jesus Saiz (artist), Jeromy Cox (colors), Rob Leigh (letters) - The cover is a blatant falsehood. Mitch doesn't find the lab this issue. He finds the Transhuman's old set-up instead, and I was not aware the Lab took the Transhuman in issue 5. I knew he teamed up with the Body Doubles to try and attack Suriel after she took a crack at Mitch, and he got beat down, but I didn't know what happened after that. Maybe I just missed it.

While examining the digs, Mitch and Kim Rebecki are attacked by a host of angels this time. They're determined to make him come with them, though how they'll manage that without killing him, I don't know. It's a moot point as someone from Hell shows up disputing their claim. Rather than do the smart thing (grab Kim and run for the Lab), Mitch tells both sides if they give him a week, he'll go with whomever can get their claws on him first. Well then, nothing like a deadline to get one moving.

Unlike the last issue, Jesus Saiz draws this entire comic, which is very nice. Shadow-form Mitch looks pretty cool, the fights with the angels are well done, and that guy from Hell is kind of creepy. Not terribly so, but the background behind him makes up for it. Jeromy Cox' colors keep things nice and neat as well, which is nice. Since Mitch is a shadow for much of the issue, Cox has to make sure everything else is bright enough he stays well-defined, which he does. I'm still curious why the angels seem to favor, what would you call that? business casual? A full length skirt, with a partially unbuttoned blouse? I guess if you can fly, you don't really need a lot of range motion for your legs.

This is the plot line I've been most interested in, Mitch's soul and why everyone wants it, so this issue was a nice return to the early form of the series for me after a few slow months. Hopefully there'll be more of this even as he reaches the Lab, as I can't imagine both sides will actually honor the agreement and stay out. Or there could always be another 3rd party to step in.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Bur Notice 2.12 - Seek and Destroy

Plot: The hunt for Derek Poole has lead Michael and Fiona to call upon the services of Seymour, the gun runner from 2.7 (Rough Seas). Not something either of them are happy about, but it's still their best step. Unfortunately, this means actually being in close quarters with Seymour, who can't stop trying to play love doctor and get those two crazy kids back together.

Yes, the post-near death experience sex has not magically brought them back together, as neither one of them seems to be clear on what they want at the moment. Sam has some opinions on the subject, though he's at least smart enough not to voice them around Fiona.

In the meantime, Michael needs to raise some cash so he doesn't owe Seymour money. Which leads him to take a job for Chandler, and art dealer who has someone bugging his phone and going through his files. That someone turns out to be his secretary, whose father was a painter Chandler worked with, then killed. He has her father's last painting, and she wants to find it before he can sell it. Which means it's time to crank up the paranoia.

The Players: Seymour (Arms Dealer), Chandler (The Client), Bianca (The Bomber's Girlfriend), Orr ("Security Consultant"), Derek Poole (Bomber for Hire)

Quote of the Episode: Michael - 'Melanie, whatever you're up to, it's not worth stabbing me with a letter opener.'

Does Fiona blow anything up? I'll assume it was her who destroyed Chandler's car.

Sam Axe Drink Count: 8 (39 overall). Geez, Sam needed more to do in this episode.

Sam Getting Hit Count: 0 (11 overall). He also missed out on beating up Orr, though.

Michael Fake Laugh Count 0 (7 overall).

Other: Michael's identity this week is "Miles Parker". Funny he needed a fake i.d. for a legitimate job, since he can't offer any references.

Orr was played by M.C. Gainey, who played John Bly gang member Big Smith on Brisco County Jr.

I do like that Fi and Michael haven't magically gotten back together. Just last episode, Michael was hinting the cover identity he met Fi under was simply a fabrication, and the person she loved may not even exist. Which was a load of bull, but it's still probably playing in her mind. Plus, she's been through this with him enough to be wary, and it isn't as if Michael's been free with his feelings on the matter. All that being said, I did enjoy Seymour's attempts to play matchmaker. It kinds of cute how much he envies them. I mean, I'm sure he likes his big house filled with attractive women, but he clearly wants to be an action hero like he sees them as. Which is why he tries to hard to help and be part of the crew, hoping they'll let him in. Saly, not going to happen. He's a little too much of a space cadet, though the bit with the blowtorch was hilarious.

Past that, I like that Michael was already sort of playing a role while he was working for Chandler, and so he simply rolled with it when he started working against him. It's not like a lot of his jobs, where he's trying to undermine the guy from the beginning, while appearing helpful. He fully intended to help the guy at first, then found out he was a murderer, and here we are. This is also another entry in the Season 2 trend of bad guys cleaning up their own messes. We're up to 6, possibly 8 if you count Raul turning evidence to save his own life in 2.2, and Felix fleeing Miami before Tony Soto gets him in 2.11.

Anyway, Michael's found his bomber and had him shipped to Suriname. Now it's a matter of finding them man who payed him through a secret Cayman account.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Patience Has To Pay Off Sometime

I was talking on Thursday about how it used to be common for me to keep buying books for a long time after I'd stop enjoying them. Some of that I'm sure was inertia - I'd been buying the book for awhile, and it was just routine by then - but most of it was that treacherous foe, hope. You know, thinking "It's gonna get better any minute now." So I keep buying it, and it keeps not getting better, and eventually I catch on that things aren't going to improve.

Here's my question for you. Has staying with a book you were disappointed/dissatisfied with ever paid off? Has one ever actually gotten better for you?

I've been trying to think of one myself, but it's tricky. These days most titles don't last long enough for it to be an issue. They either get canceled before quality hits a lull, or before they've been in a rut long enough I can think about dropping it. For a lot of the rest, I ended up dropping them, so if they turned around, it didn't happen fast enough.

I considered Nova, because there was a stretch when he returned to Earth for Secret Invasion that persisted for several months that I wasn't a huge fan of. I'm pretty sure there are multiple issues I reviewed where I mentioned how badly I wanted him to get back into space. Eventually DnA did send Nova back into space, and the book picked up for its last year. That being said, the book wasn't ever in any danger of being dropped, because it wasn't bad, just not as good as it had been.

The best example I could come up with was Ultimate Spider-Man. There was a period, '04 and '05, something like 20-30 issues, where the book went through this dark patch I didn't love. Ultimate Carnage, Gwen dying, Peter breaking up with MJ, the Hobgoblin arc, the Warriors arc. Those last two weren't bad, but they were too padded out, even by Bendis' standards. Warriors was an 8-part story that could have been 5, easy, and Hobgoblin could have 4, probably even 3, and I think that killed the impact of what could otherwise have been a pretty affecting story. The one slightly more upbeat story in there was that Freaky Friday deal with Spidey and Wolverine, which wasn't a bad idea for a 2-parter, but doing it immediately after Gwen died was poor timing.

There was definitely some dissatisfaction there, but the Silver Sable story was a little better, I really liked the Deadpool story (even if I hated Ultimate Deadpool, which looking back, maybe that was the point), There was a Morbius story that was, not bad, and hey it was only 2 parts, so it wasn't stretched out! Clone Saga was, well, that was overlong and kind of a mess, but it had some good parts to it, and I liked the Ultimate Knights arc that was Bagley's send off. It's not my favorite stretch on the book (I think that might be the 20 issues between Ultimate Venom and Ultimate Carnage), but it was a significant upswing, so I'm glad I stuck around for that. If X-Factor is any indication, once I drop a book, it's even harder to start buying it again than it was to stop.

That's my story, but what about you?

Friday, July 06, 2012

The Seven Percent Solution

As my dad was at least as dissatisfied with Game of Shadows as I was, he suggested we watch The Seven Percent Solution last night. I may need to make a "Sherlock Holmes" tag at this rate.

This one is a little odd, since it involves Holmes eventually teaming up with Sigmund Freud, after Freud spends some time treating Holmes for a coke addiction. It also takes the approach that Moriarty was not some massive underworld genius, but is instead responsible for one act that has earned Holmes' ire. It wasn't what I was afraid it was going to be, which was good, I guess?

As Holmes begins to come out of his worst stages of addiction, he gets drawn into the matter of one Madame Devereaux, another patient of Freud's who narrowly escaped abduction. So the second half of the film revolves around the attempt to save her while struggling with the occasional cravings for smack.

It's a well-done movie, other than the swordfight on top of the train looked very obviously fake. I thought Holmes' addiction vanished startlingly fast near the climax, but perhaps that's for the best. It might have seemed a bit contrived to have it kick in at some critical moment, and I suppose we can take it to mean that once Holmes was drawn into the case his mind was sufficiently diverted. The bit of the film I found most surprising was Robert Duvall as Watson, which is not a role I'd necessarily see him in. Not that he hasn't played the sage sidekick plenty of time, but Watson's a bit more refined than most of the roles I associate Duvall with. Though I could see Duvall playing a Watson similar to Jude Law's version, easily slipping into rough and tumble drinking and gambling.

Nicol Williamson does an excellent job as Holmes, even if it took me some time to adjust to a blonde Sherlock. He has a lot of twitchy, manic energy early in the film, but there's a period in the middle where he has this listless melancholy. The slump of the shoulders, the quiet, slow movements, but there's this had to describe sense of his being drawn in on himself, after spending the opening third of the film filling each scene with his presence.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Impossibility Of Me With 4 DC Ongoings

Late January of 2011, I noted that adding Batman Beyond to my pull list meant I was buying 4 ongoings from DC.simultaneously. This was a rare occurrence that had only happened once before, a 2 to 6 month period in late 2004/early 2005 when Batgirl joined Robin, Teen Titans, and JLA (which was the book that got dropped first).

As it turned out, the second occurrence didn't last any longer than the first. Flashpoint came along, R.E.B.E.L.S. was canceled, and I was back down to three, after only 5 months. Which is where it hovered most of the past year. There was a month where I was down to Resurrection Man, but things gradually built back up, to the point where Dial H made 4 ongoings.

Things being what they are, that couldn't last, and so Resurrection Man ends in September. Which would knock me back down to 3 ongoings after - survey says! - 5 months. Which is probably just coincidence, but I do find it kind of funny. Not Resurrection Man being canceled, that's disappointing, if unsurprising, but the fact I don't seem to pick the books that can last. There's always something on the verge of being axed these days. It started at Marvel, really in 2009, and crept over to DC in the last year or so. Prior to that, most books left my pull list because I finally lost patience with them after an extended period of dissatisfaction. It took a long time, usually about 2 years, but it would happen, eventually. Now most titles don't last 2 years before being canceled, rebooted, getting a new, less appealing creative team, whatever.

I'm not sure whether that's a better or worse development. If it was only titles I wasn't enjoying, it'd be saving me from myself, which would be good, but obviously the axe isn't so discerning.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows

Watched this Monday night. Maybe it was just me but too much slow-motion. Especially during that artillery barrage in the forest. It wasn't anywhere near the amount there was in say, Sucker Punch, but I found it much more annoying here. But I had no expectations Sucker Punch would be good, while I at least hoped A Game of Shadows would be. Those hopes were not realized, let's say that.

I wasn't watching intently the whole way through, but that's part of the problem. The movie failed to grab my attention sufficiently so that I wouldn't be more interested in what I was reading on the computer simultaneously. I thought they overdid it with the costumes Holmes wore, and just too many explosions. I think I'd have preferred more sneaking about, less blowing stuff up and running about madly.

It's not all bad. I like Jude Law as Watson. His air of long-suffering keeps Holmes from being completely insufferable, because there is someone to point out that Holmes' is rather self-absorbed and prone to not really concerning himself with others' feelings. It's that thing about there being someone to point out the character's bad behavior I was complaining about yesterday. At the same time, Watson is also clearly a good friend to Sherlock, and not such an uptight sort that you can't want things to go well for him. If he were too stiff and full of himself, we'd want Holmes to jerk him around even more, deflate him some. But Watson's a pretty relaxed guy given the opportunity, so I end up rooting for him.

That bit with Holmes and the mountain pony, where they played the theme from Two Mules for Sister Sara, that was an interesting choice. It was funny, but it definitely came out of left field on me. It's fortunate my dad was there, or I'd have been driven mad trying to recall where I heard that music before. Wonder what possessed Ritchie to do that.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

I'm Not Hopeful About This Guest Appearance

I haven't seen Angel & Faith's June issue, but I've had concerns ever since Willow showed up on the last page of May's issue. It's not that I'm worried Gage will do something horrible to the character. No, I'm more concerned he'll have her say or do something that will really piss me off. Namely, that she'll engage in what seems to be the Core Scoobs favorite pasttime: looking down their noses at everyone else.

It's something they love to do to Faith, and I can't imagine Angel killing Giles' has left them kindly disposed towards him. Of course, it isn't as though Willow has a leg to stand on in that regard, not after Season 6, but hell, that's never stopped them before. Season 6 was nothing but Xander, Willow, and Buffy holding everyone else to standards they failed to meet themselves. Seriously, Xander summoned a demon that made people dance until they spontaneously combusted. He's responsible for more deaths in that episode than Faith ever has been. Does anyone ostracize Xander for that? No, and I'm sorry but he ought to know better by then. He's messed with magic before, seen Willow use it rashly, seen the aftereffects of Giles' ill-spent magic use. He can't use the "didn't know better" excuse, can he?

I have started to wonder if everyone in the Buffyverse knows Xander is too mentally deficient to be held responsible for his actions, but no one bothered to tell the audience. If I'm supposed to cut him that sort of slack, it'd be nice to know.

I don't mind so much if characters let their friends (and themselves) slide on things, since it isn't atypical behavior. I give people who have proven trustworthy in the past more leeway than people who haven't. It's the fact that no one else ever calls them on that behavior that irritates. It creates a disconnect between what I see - a person behaving in an unacceptable fashion - and what the writers and characters are trying to tell me I'm seeing, a person justified in acting the way they do. Which is not a pleasant reading/viewing experience, especially if I'm awaiting comeuppance.

Monday, July 02, 2012

A Quick Thought On The Janus Directive

I recently finished tracking down all the parts of The Janus Directive, the crossover that ran between a bunch of DC's government/espionage-related titles back in the '80s. I haven't sat down and read it all in order yet, but just having a chance to actually read all the parts helped make sense of it.

Of course, not all the issues are as essential as others. Captain Atom #30 in particular is basically a waste. It's the final chapter, but the extent to which its connected is General Eiling goes on vaction to relax after all the recent stress, but not before sending Amanda Waller a note "congratulating" her on being made probationary leader of Suicide Squad. That's it. So glad I wasted 80 cents on that. It's nice to learn the "tie-in" that doesn't really tie-in isn't strictly a product of the 21st Century.

It does make me wish Waller had the opportunity to set off Eiling's head bomb in the Suicide Squad mini-series Ostrander wrote in 2007-2008. Make it like that Porky/Daffy cartoon where Daffy's the game show host who doesn't give Porky enough time to asnwer the questions and keeps amking him 'pay the penalty'.

Waller: Say Wade, what's the traditional meditation beverage of the Warlords of Okarra?

Eiling: Uh. . .

Waller: Time's up! *BOOM*

I suppose I shouldn't side with Waller so completely, since she did play things too close to the vest with the Janus Directive, pretending to be the imposter Kobra sent to dispatch her, getting a lot of people killed. But I can kind of understand her thought process, if not agree with it. You'd think the recent debacle with Rick Flag would have taught her not to keep everyone out, but she didn't have a lot of time to process those lessons before this all started, so maybe that's the problem. I think she was primarily concerned with rooting out and stopping the threat, but she was also a bit too wrapped up in doing it her way.

Still, that's better than Eiling, who I've always seen as a guy who talks a good game about loving his country, but is ultimately worried first and foremost about himself. More power and influence for Wade Eiling is the most important thing, and it just so happens serving his country is the method he perceives as the best to achieve that. He's a more self-serving character, who compounds his greed and selfishness by not being open about it.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Burn Notice 2.11 - Hot Spot

Plot: Michael's on the trail of the man who set the bomb at his place, and within the first five minutes he's swiped the security footage from a storage facility that would capture any traffic headed to or from his balcony. From there, it doesn't take long to spot the likely perpetrator, and Fi sets off to track down demolition experts who work for the city. Which leads to one Derek Poole.

While all that's going on, Sam comes to Michael with an easy gig to score some Dolphins' tickets. A friend of his, Coach Martin (Michael Irvin), has a player being hunted by the leader of a local carjacking crew, Felix Cole. Felix made a grab for Corey's 15-year old sister, and Corey beat him with a bat. As criminals tend to take that personally, Michael and Co. will have to find something else for Felix to worry about. Which is how they end up posing as a rival crew who just moved into town. The question is whether the involvement of Felix' boss will hinder or aid their plans. . .

Oh, and Michael and Fiona may have gotten back together. Or, maybe not, judging by that awkward morning after surprise for Michael.

The Players: Corey and Tanya (The Clients), Felix Cole (Gangtser/Pervert), Tony Soto (The Boss)

Quote of the Episode: Sam - 'So the big, bad burn notice lady is a step behind you. You think it's gonna stay that way?'

Does Fiona blow anything up? No. She nearly dies in a house fire, but no explosions.

Sam Axe Drink Count: 5 (31 overall).

Sam Getting Hit Count: 0 (11 overall).

Michael's Fake Laugh Count: 0 (7 overall). He doesn't seem to be faking luaghter much lately. Perhaps he stopped feeling the need to.

Other: Michael's name this week is "Johnny".

Fantastic quote from Sam. 'I work plenty hard, lady. I just make it look easy.'

I am curious how, if Carla keeps close enough tabs on Michael to have her black SUVs ready to screech to a stop at his location on a moment's notice, she hasn't gotten suspicious about Fi's nosing around, and nearly dying in a booby-trapped house. Does she simply not consider his friends worth observing? Also, the ear rings she wore when in her first chat with Michael this week were really gaudy, in a tacky way. Perhaps that's simply my distaste for large ear rings. They just look ridiculous dangling there. Like a damn wind chime on her ear.

I couldn't figure out what that thing was Felix was wearing under his open shirt. It was like the lower half of a shirt, or a wrap for damaged ribs or something. Very curious.

While it seems preposterous to do all they did for Dolphins' tickets (at least get tickets to a good team), I love this episode, on style points alone. The mysterious, stylish cool cat characters are always fun. Like Michael said, there's an element of theater to an offensive campaign, and theater makes for entertaining viewing. The bit where he readjusts his glasses after roundhouse kicking the guy. The, 'We work in Miami and you - you work someplace else.' Great fun. That being said, burning through the engine of that GTO with thermite is a crime against automobiles. Just mean.

Next week, the hunt for Derek Poole continues. Will Michael and Fiona sleeping together cause problems?