Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hunting Trolls Is A Thankless Job

I'd been meaning to see Trollhunter for some time, in that way where it isn't urgent, but every so often something would remind me of it and I'd think, "Right, i wanted to see that."

The story starts with three journalism majors trying to track down a mysterious bear poacher in Norway (where only a few people are given permits to hunt bears). It soon turns out that Hans is in fact hunting trolls, and that he works for the government as sort of a troll wrangler. Track them, observe them, kill them if need be. He lets the kids tag along, record him working, tells them what he does and how. Because he's tired of it. The pay is shit, the workload is far too much for one person, his bosses are unreasonable stupid bureaucrats. In other words, it is a typical government job.

The movie incorporates various stories about trolls into it, although I don't remember the one about trolls being especially sensitive to the scent of someone who believes in God. But the moment where I realized why he was leading three goats onto a bridge he knew a troll was under, that made me laugh. There's one death that leads to a change in our cast of characters, but it comes so late the new character doesn't have much chance to make an impression. She gets stuck with being the person who doesn't believe, which we already had the original three college kids for in the first half-hour.

The film does a good job of fleshing out what the job of troll hunter would involve, from paperwork to ways to keep them contained, to their biology, and so on. It was unexpected, but there's a scene where we learn Hans keeps the diagrams of the placement of boulders in a particular field, because trolls sometimes meet there to battle by chucking rocks. So he can tell if any fights have occurred recently. That was a nice scene. Otto Jespersen, who plays Hans, gives the character a sad, weary air. Kind of like Quint from Jaws, but not crazy. Basically all he has is dealing with these trolls, but it's a tiring, shitty job, and by its nature as a government job, there are things he's been required to do that weigh on him. He wants out, but he cares about both the trolls and people enough to want to do his job properly.

Monday, January 30, 2017

So Much Indecision Over The April Solicits

With April's solicitations, I'm finding a lot of books where I can't decide if I want to get them or not. I feel like usually it's a more straightforward "yes" or "no". With DC, the question of Justice League of America is still hanging there. Problem being, the book is going from a storyarc where they fight the Extremists, to a maybe one-off issue that focuses on Lobo. I'm starting to think my earlier description of it as Batman and the Outsiders was off, and it's really more Justice League Extreme. Which is not an improvement. At least there's still Cave Carson and his cybernetic eye.

Elsewhere, there's going to be an Atomic Robo Real Science Adventures mini-series. I tried one of these back when it was still being published through Red 5, and felt let down by the structure. Having 4 stories each issue, mostly broken into 4 or 5 page segments, just didn't work. The stories didn't build momentum. This time it looks as though it'll only be two stories, so maybe at 10 pages a pop it'll work better. Assuming that's how it'll be set up.

There's also a Street Angel After School Kung Fu Special hardcover being released. I enjoyed the Street Angel collection I bought last spring a lot, and I think this is all new material, so I'll almost certainly pick this up at some point. But maybe not immediately.

There's also the continuing Empowered mini-series, the Steven Universe ongoing, and Copperhead, but those are all almost certain purchases. I've been thinking about buying Giant Days, but feel like I should get the earlier trades first, so I'm caught up. Knowing my luck, if I do, the book will go on a hiatus for a year+ like Copperhead did.

And then there's Marvel. The issue with Marvel is less about books I'm debating whether to pick up, as it is books I'm debating dropping. I'm pretty sure I'm going to skip Deadpool for the entirety of this crossover that deals with Shiklah going to war against the surface world, but I'm not sure if I'll come back after. I came back after Axis, and I don't think that was a bad idea, but I'm less sure about the book lately. The pacing is pissing me off. I'm not sure if I'll still be buying Nova, or Great Lakes Avengers. With both books, I can see the potential for them to do something that I'll end up enjoying a lot. Finish reading the series and say, I liked what they did there. I'm just not sure the probability of that is real high.

Am I going to buy Gwenpool or not (I guess we'll find out this week, since this is when I was going to start). Along those lines, it appears they are giving Iron Fist another ongoing (rather than a one-shot), so am I going to buy that or not? Am I going to pick up this new Ben Reilly series? Peter David usually does OK for me for awhile, and Bagley's on art (although, Jesus, that new costume. Well, costume design has never been what I'd call a strong point for Bagley). Maybe I should swap out the three books from the previous paragraph for these three and call it a day. Hmmm.

It's not all confusion and uncertainty. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is still here, and Patsy Walker aka Hellcat is still not canceled. Hooray! The solicitation for Ms. Marvel did ruin the mystery behind the villain in the current arc. Of all the times for Marvel's solicit writer to not just use that stupid [CLASSIFIED] thing they're so fond of. Monsters Unleashed ended, only for Marvel to immediately start an ongoing based on it, and a yet another event, with Secret Empire. Marvel, would you give things a chance to breathe, for maybe five minutes?

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Foyle's War 6.2 - Killing Time

Plot: Are you ready for an episode about racism? No? Too bad, because Major Wesker, the commander of the American base near Hastings, has come with a request. he would like some of the pubs in town declared white G.I.s only, and others for the black soldiers. Because there have been some brawls in the bars lately, you see. Foyle is, naturally, opposed, but is outvoted by everyone else. We can derive some satisfaction that a couple of the local notables on the committee who voted in favor are later robbed by a man and woman who seem rather angry at those who did well financially from the war.

Concurrently, a man named Tommy Duggan returns to town. Tommy was a boxer, but also a conscientious objector, so he's been in Scotland on work crews during the war. Now he's back and wanting to take up where he left off. But some people aren't so keen on seeing him box, and his hopes of marrying Mandy Dean are complicated by the fact Mandy has fallen for an American G.I. named Gabe, and had a child by him. And Gabe is African-American. So Mandy has been booted from her home by her asshole mum, and is currently living at Adam and Sam's struggling guesthouse. Mandy is finding it difficult to cover expenses, and Adam, unaware of the millions of dollars he'll make in America in 65 years, is getting ready to give her the boot, over the protests of both Sam and Lucy, one of the other lodgers.

Meanwhile, Gabe is waiting for his turn to go home, but he isn't idle. He's trying to get Mandy to agree to marry him, and convince Major Wesker to sign off on the affidavit approving it so Mandy can get her visa and come back to America with him. Wesker doesn't seem eager to help, but in the face of Gabe's resolute attitude, and Wesker's own creepy appreciation for how pretty Mandy is, he agrees to put the paperwork in motion. Unfortunately there's Sergeant Calhoun of the military police, a bullet headed racist bully, who is determined not to see any black men hanging around white women, let alone marrying them. Even to the point of accosting Mandy on the street and telling her stories of what will happen to Gabe back home when he's seen with a white woman.

So it's rather curious when Calhoun allows the black G.I.s in to watch the illicit bareknuckle fighting ring he operates on base that evening, since he normally doesn't. Of course, the MPs soon start hassling Gabe's friend Paul, and then it turns into a brawl between white and black soldiers. When Calhoun wades in, Gabe gets a few hits, then wisely runs like hell into the woods nearby. Unfortunately, while in pursuit, Calhoun and his men find the corpse of Mandy Dean. And the brass, as Wesker explains to Foyle, are only too willing to pin it on Gabe and call it a day. Good thing Foyle doesn't take the same approach, and that Mandy being a British citizen means it's a matter for British police, rather than the American military, G.I. base or not. Of course, until things are sorted, there's still a baby with one parent dead, and another in a cell.

Quote of the Episode: Gabe - 'It's OK to be scared. But sometimes you just gotta close your eyes and jump.'

Does Foyle go fishing? He did at some point, since he brought Sam the fish.

Things Sam can do: Tell that Sgt. Calhoun to go fuck himself (more politely, but it boils down to the same thing). Look after a baby for awhile. Stand up for a struggling single mother.

Other: Early on, Wesker explains the black G.I.s are bored and have nothing to do since they can't be used on the Continent. Why? Because the Jerries don't like being bossed around by them. My response is, who gives a fuck if they don't like taking orders from black men? They're Nazis. If they had their way, they'd have killed every last black person on the planet, right alongside the Jews, the Romany, the mentally and physically handicapped, the Slavs, and so on. If they don't like taking orders, send them to the Soviet Union in place of those Russians from last week. The Nazis can see how much they like a bullet in the head instead.

While I appreciate Mr. Foyle's trying to be a good ally, I do wonder at his statement that Great Britain doesn't practice segregation. Perhaps not within the boundary of the island. I imagine, were you to ask some of the native people of Britain's many colonies in the 1940s whether segregation was practiced, they might have a very different answer. He's right to stand against it, regardless, but that was something that occurred to me.

Calhoun's a pretty awful human being. Not the worst by any means, unfortunately, but this is a guy who coerces a confession from Gabe for Mandy's murder by literally threatening to kill his child. And intimates that he has already killed other children in this war. Maybe he's talking about artillery hitting towns or something, but he asks whether it matters if you throw fire on a child, or a child on the fire, so I don't know. The fact Sam shut down his attempt at shitty humor at the dance takes a different light considering what we have to consider him capable of in light of later statements. Not that he was any sort of a winner up to that point, but you started to wonder if he isn't just psychopathic.

Right, so there was a dance in town during the episode. Most of the people at the guesthouse went, save poor Mr. Hains with his one arm, who was stuck looking after baby Catherine. I wasn't clear on whether they asked ahead of time, or simply set the bassinet in front of him and left. Anyway, the dance is initially just locals and white G.I.s Then Gabe, Paul, and a couple of their friends show up. Everyone kind of stops and looks, and most of the guys decide to leave. But Gabe stays, and dances with Mandy. And Sam grabs Adam, and Lucy grabs another fella, and two other couples follow, and there's this nice scene of these four couples dancing slowly around Gabe and Mandy, a protective circle from the obviously pissed Calhoun and other honkys.

It's mitigated somewhat by the next scene, which is Foyle finding Gabe on the roadside the next morning, beaten to a pulp by his fellow Americans once he left the dance. Reality intrudes harshly. And when the fight breaks out at the bareknuckle match, I have to imagine it was a deliberate choice to have a lone black man running through the woods at night, being chased by a bunch of white guys (whose job is theoretically to enforce rules, but are mostly abusing their power to suit their hate, and of course, the rules are already tilted against Gabe and the other black soldiers) with blunt instruments.

I really like Obi Abilli's performance as Gabe. There are plenty of times you can tell Gabe is scared, but he has this combination of resignation and perseverance, and awareness. Because this is all stuff he's lived through his entire life. He doesn't get explosively angry, even at the beating he took after the dance, because unfortunately, it probably isn't the first. He hates Calhoun, and rightly so, but knows he's stuck within the army's rules, and society's. So he can't fight back for the most part, he can't even really argue back at him, but he can stand tall and refuse to be intimidated. The only way Calhoun can make him give ground is to literally threaten to burn an infant alive (sounds like Calhoun should have been fighting for the Nazis, although he never did specify whose children he killed). When Wesker tries to scare him out of pressing forward with this idea of marrying Mandy and getting her a visa, Gabe keeps his cool, but remains resolute. He knows he can't tell this Major to fuck off, but he isn't giving up. Yeah, he knows it would be suicide to return to South Carolina, so he and Mandy will try their luck in New York. He's probably heard all the arguments, all the pushback, and he's ready for it.

The infuriating thing is, Wesker was never going to keep his word. Gabe and Mandy did everything the rules required, played nice, and were still going to get screwed over.

Tommy Duggan is frustrating in his own way. I understand his objections to the war, the reasons why he thinks it is ultimately not going to change anything. But he's proprietary towards Mandy, even though she hasn't given any indication she has feelings for him. Even when he tries, at one point, to apologize for stating that no one would want her now, he still insists that maybe they could be together if she'd give the child up for adoption. Ignoring the part where Mandy doesn't want to be with him. I don't think that ever sunk in for him, frankly. But he did some good at the end, with a push from Sam.

I think Sam should ditch the guesthouse and Adam (the two made some stuttering steps in the direction of a relationship), and go into social work. She has the energy for it, the willingness to go and try and talk to people who don't want to hear it. She's never shied away from risky situations, albeit usually because she doesn't realize how dangerous they are.

Friday, January 27, 2017

What i Bought 1/25/2017

I really didn't expect to do Wednesday's post until I sat down, and found I couldn't focus on any of the other possible ideas. I had to get it out there and out of my system. Well, that's what I originally started the blog for, albeit for less serious topics.

Only one book at this point. Maybe I'll have some others before next week's releases, who knows.

Deadpool #25, by Gerry Duggan (writer), Scott Koblish (artist), Nick Filardi (colorist), Joe Sabino (letterer) - Wade, don't have your daughters fight with pitchforks for your love. They'll probably both stab you, instead.

Wade sent Ellie to where he thought he buried Shiklah, but she finds Doc Samson instead. So big fight, a monster is unleashed, The Old As Hell Iron Fist is temporarily eaten, Ellie appears to be killed by Warda, but her mutant power makes that a futile effort, and Preston agrees to take up residence in Warda's mind and play conscience to her. Which sounds annoying as hell, frankly. If a person were the contrary sort, they might actively try to be worse to spite the new tenant in their skull. But hell, I shouldn't expect good plans from a senile Deadpool.

There's also a lot of reference to the battles Wade and Shiklah will be having in future issues, but are in the past in 2099, and to what will probably be the ultimate end for HYDRA Cap, and some other stuff that we haven't seen yet. I was honestly pretty unmoved by all of it. Little curious about Wade and Iron Fist being pals, but Danny always has been a bit of a chump. The reveal of where Shiklah actually is did work, though. It was kind of sweet.

Related to that reveal, I would expect Wade's innards to look worse. The healing factor in constant battle with the cancer and all. Wade having no pupils even when not wearing the mask is a little strange. Maybe's he's actually blind. Daredevil's probably laughing if he is, or Wade thinks Daredevil is laughing. And I feel like there's a sequence near the end of all the fighting that got confused. Wade makes a crack about planning to have Ellie as Warda's babysitter. In the next panel to the right, he finishes by saying that now he's going need Warda to babysit Ellie instead, and says this while his nose is bleeding, which is wasn't doing two panels previously. But in the panel below the first one, Warda knees him in the face while saying his jokes weren't funny, and wondering what Shiklah saw in him (Wade's response is that he was good at cunnilingus). The panel to the right of that, she calls him a gross old man and punches him.

Based on dialogue, I think it's supposed to go left-right, diagonally down to the left, then right. Based on the art, I think it'd from top to bottom, the diagonally up to the right, then down. I'm not sure which one is correct. The fact either could work theoretically is either smooth work, or a mess. You decide.

I did like that Warda's mask and suit are made of the malleable hexagonal pieces, and as the battle continues, they start to become distinct and fall apart. She's not sure she can actually kill innocent people, but killing her father doesn't seem to get what she wants. And she can't kill her half-sister, and she can't get back her mother, and being Deadpool isn't getting her anywhere.

Overall, not a bad story in theory. The execution was uneven, but it had some good parts.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Reinforcing My Determination To Stay Out Of Psychiatric Hospitals

In retrospect, I'd have been better off going to bed than sitting up to watch Archivo 253, but last Friday was a day for bad decisions, I guess.

It's a bog-standard "found footage" horror film about these three guys who are ghost hunters who sneak into a former psychiatric hospital in Mexico City that had been closed for no stated reason 3 years earlier. For some reason, the leader, Diego, decides to bring his girlfriend, Isabella, along. I guess because she thought it sounded fun, but that of course just adds to the inevitable body count.

The movie opts to tell us right at the start that the four were never found, and the hospital was torn down within a year of their disappearance. Someone else, possibly one of their friends who stayed home and looked after Charly's dog, is going around doing interviews. I guess it was taken for granted we'd have already given the lot of them up for dead. Fair enough.

It's a bit muddled. There are spirits, but there's also someone or something still alive and running around in there. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be a demon, a corpse the spirits were possessing, or your standard person who's been trapped in a place and become some feral, psychotic killing thing. Diego seems antagonistic towards the spirits for reasons that aren't explained. One point when they detect some kind of energy, and stop to ask questions, he gets extremely aggressive with it. He asks it to light up more lights if it's an evil spirit, and it does. Then he asks it to show itself some other way, and just keeps repeating that question with increasing aggression. I don't know what the deal was with the cistern full of hair in the basement, or when they wake up in the room they were camping in and find hair all over the floor (and Diego missing again).

The movie keeps killing the characters off-screen. They vanish, someone runs around screaming in panic for awhile, all you see through the camera is a blurry wall or whatever, they find the person, blerp, the person's neck is broken and they're just hanging in mid-air. Oh, well, OK, scratch another one off. I kept waiting for something to happen, some big shock or scare, and the movie kept opting for nothing, or little things that did have much impact, but oddly, did work at reinforcing the notion they should get out. They don't of course. So by the time things did start to happen, I'd already checked out.

Maybe the most effective scene was at the very beginning, when the other person, whoever it is, was interviewing an old patient of the hospital, I think. A guy whose eyes didn't seem to track together, like they were looking at two different things. And out of the blue, he asks the interviewer if this is about 'those four'. We don't see any reply, but that was a little unnerving for how it came out of nowhere. Maybe he just read about the disappearances in the paper and drew the connection, but it created the impression he knew something somehow, because he was still connected to whatever was in the hospital ruins. But the rest of the film didn't live up to the unease that created, sadly.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I Guess I'm Taking Time To Post This

Wasn't what I thought I'd be discussing, but it's been at the forefront of my mind for days. 

There's been a lot of discussion in the last few days about punching Nazis. Since this is a country that is supposed to be about free speech, there are some concerns about punching people because you don't like what they're saying.

I support punching Nazis. I understand the arguments people are making against it, but when dealing with a group that is advocating genocide of other groups, there isn't room for reasonable discussion. The Nazis think they should be able to kill entire groups of people, simply because they exist. What are you going to discuss or compromise with them, that they can only kill some of that group?

The world tried compromising and negotiating with Nazis in the 1930s, the parts of the world that weren't studiously ignoring them, anyway (the U.S. would fall in the latter category). You might recall how successful that was. Time and again, the other powers gave way, figuring maybe this time it would be enough to satisfy the Nazis. Let them retake control of the Ruhr Valley. Let them take Austria. Hand them the Sudetenland on a silver platter. It was never enough. They kept trying to take and take, and were only stopped by fighting back. Years of fighting back, by a vast array of peoples, many of whom died in the process. Because the Nazis will kill or grind beneath their heels everyone else if they can, if they are allowed to do so.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Still, Chainsaw For A Hand

A friend got me the first season of Ash vs. Evil Dead for Christmas. I may have some thought on it down the line (this is where you ask where those other posts about Steven Universe are, and I tell you to shut up), but I did have a different question for the audience.

When it comes to the events of Army of Darkness, is Ash an unreliable narrator?

The entire movie is presented to us as Ash relating the story to his coworker at S-Mart. Given Ash's tendency to try to avoid culpability for his screw-ups, or admit them only grudgingly, plus how much he likes to talk up his abilities, I wonder how much we can trust his version of things.

Most of my doubts stem from the preparations he makes to defend the castle. Teaching the remaining defenders some fighting techniques. Turning his car into a steam-powered mega weed-whacker, building explosive arrows with the aid of what looks like high school chemistry texts. You could probably even throw in his being the only one who can survive in combat against his evil duplicate. Although in that case, he was fighting largely on the defensive, and won through a fair amount of luck.

What brought the question mind was the Ash in Season 1 doesn't really show that level of ingenuity, but he does show the ability to try and bullshit about how much he has things under control. The bravado - I'm not sure whether it's false or not, because I think he might really buy into - is an integral part of his character, but it does make his version of events suspect.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Sinking Feeling The Retcon's A Ways Off

One thing about reading comics set in a shared universe is different writers and artists have different styles and different takes on characters. This is not news. Some of those never go beyond the one who started them. I don't feel as though Mark Waid's take on Daredevil has gained a lot of traction, for example. Maybe it will down the line. Sometimes, what gets introduced sticks. Whether it's good or not depends on who you ask.

But if you aren't a fan, it's never a good feeling when you see other writers starting to adopt that version of things. While it's contained to that one book, it can be annoying, but hopefully easily ignored (unless that's the only book the character appears in). And hell, that writer or artist can't stay on the book forever, right?

Once it starts to take hold in other books, it stands a better chance of becoming the accepted norm. It's not restricted to a small corner any longer. It's spreading roots out and taking hold over a wider range. The more other stories that version of the character gets involved in, the more characters it interacts with, the harder it is to take it out, reshape it, or revert it to an earlier state. Not impossible, obviously. If we're talking superhero comics (and that's mostly what I'm thinking of here), you've got shapeshifters, possession, mind control, time travel, alternate universes, linewide reboots, all kinds of things to explain your way out of it. But it still requires taking the time to use one of those to explain it away.

I think I prefer the approach Marvel takes sometimes, where they simply don't reference a particular event in a character's history once it's passed. If you liked it, it can be disappointing to see it ignored when there are times it could or should come up, but at least it isn't being actively erased. Because then someone has to write another story countering the story that did the erasing, which gets kind of messy. And if you didn't like that particular story, well, it's being ignored by subsequent writers and artists, so they seem to agree with you.

But that gets harder the more widespread the event or characterization shift gets. It was relatively easy with, for example, the story in the '90s where Peter Parker's parents came back, only to be revealed as artificial creations of the Chamelon's trying to learn Spider-Man's identity. Granting that Spider-Man had a whole mess of books at the time to use that concept, it was still relatively contained. If the Spider-writers essentially kicked it under the rug and left it at that, there wasn't anyone else who had used it where it needed to be explained away. You get Cassandra Cain popping up crazy and evil and leading the League of Assassins in Robin, and Teen Titans, and Supergirl, it gets a little harder to revert her back to being a good guy without having to deal with the "how" and the "why" at least a little.

I don't have any big point with all this. It originally started as me being bummed out the Black Cat as a crime boss thing seems to be really taking hold, with Hellcat and Power Man and Iron Fist both using the idea, meaning it's moved beyond the Spider-corner of the Marvel U. But I didn't want this to be another screed about that development. So it turned into me musing on the nature of changes taking hold, and how easy or hard it can be to reverse them later.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Foyle's War 6.1 - The Russian House

Plot: It's June of 1945, and Foyle is wondering why he is still Detective Chief Superintendent of the Hastings' police force (in their new, much larger, much sunnier station house). The answer, he learns, is there's no one else available, or if there is, they don't want to try and follow him. Either way, Foyle informs his bosses he will be gone in four weeks, come what may.

Still, he'll be busy. As some trucks transport prisoners through a town, two of the prisoners decide to disembark. One, Ivan Spiakov, is able to escape. The other, is not so fortunate, and chooses to jump off a bridge to his death, rather than be recaptured and sent home.  Soon, Foyle's old commanding officer, a Brigadier Wilson, now with the War Office, shows up, asking Foyle to track down this "dangerous animal" of a Russian. In the meantime, the "dangerous animal" makes his way to the home of a Sir Leonard, a notable artist who employs Ivan's friend Niko as his groundskeeper (and Sam to take care of everything inside the house). Ivan convinces Niko to get him some money, so Ivan can make it to the Russian House in London, but can't convince Niko to come along.

Still, Niko is concerned, in spite of Sir Leonard's assurances that he will adopt the 17-year-old so he can remain in England (to the consternation of Sir Leonard's estranged son, Maurice Jones, fledgling Labour Party politician). And to top things off, Sir Leonard had promised a man named Tom that his job as groundskeeper would still be there when he returned from war. Well Tom is back, didn't pick up on the cues of his brother, and, heh, surprise, no job for you. As it turns out, Sir Leonard didn't move quickly enough, because the soldiers show up for Niko, who takes to the hills, as both Maurice and Tom (with a loaded shotgun) look on. And when Sam arrives in the morning - having been away for the christening of Milner and Edie's daughter - she finds Leonard shot dead.

The murder falls in Milner's jurisdiction as the chief detective in Brighton, but just as he's getting started, here comes Foyle. Foyle's contacts have suggested that if he wants to find Ivan, he should check with Niko at Sir Leonard's. Both Foyle and Sam are somewhat taken aback by Milner's abrupt manner with them, and quickly set out for London, for the Russian House. By this point, Ivan has already been found lodging by Monsieur Duveen and his assistant, Alexander Anokhov. Then he was promptly found and arrested by the British Army. Hmm. Still, Niko is in the wind, and despite Wilson trying twice to get Foyle to give up, Foyle's locked in. Duveen isn't forthcoming, although he does a poor job of concealing that Ivan did show up there.

Sam visits the hotel Ivan was staying at, which lets her confirm it wasn't the hotel manager who tipped off the Army, as Wilson insisted to Foyle, and she meets an Adam Wainwright, who runs a struggling guesthouse back in Hastings. Or will be, if the he can get money for repairs from the unexploded bomb that fell through the roof. Really, he ought to be getting ready for Spring Training for the Cardinals, and 70 years into the future, but he has bigger problems than temporal displacement. When Foyle shows up to get Sam, a man with a silenced pistol shows up as well, and Adam catches a bullet in the shoulder. Foyle and Sam flee, find themselves cornered, and are only saved by Anokhov, who had observed Duveen meeting clandestinely with Wilson's subordinate the night before. He clues Foyle in to what Ivan and Niko feared so much, so it's time to confront Wilson. And there's still the murder of Sir Leonard to solve.

Quote of the Episode: Foyle - 'Just a question of two incidents colliding.'

Does Foyle go fishing? No, but he receives some helpful information from another fisherman.

Things Sam can do: Shopping, housekeeping, managing the household budget, convincing a young man to confess his actions.

Other: Maurice is pronounced "Morris" here, which I don't know that I've heard before. I've always heard it pronounced closer to "More-reese". Like in that song about the pompatus of love. The episode ends with the Churchill government being ousted in favor of the Labour Party. Which makes me think of the book Small Wars, Faraway Places. This was probably the start of that 'cradle-to-grave welfare socialism' the author complained about. I wasn't sure about Maurice's exact politics, but they were the cause of his and his father's estrangement. Of course, Sir Leonard had a huge-ass house, so he was probably fine with the status quo as it was.

Sergeant Brooke transferred back to London, FYI. Andrew is also in London, up to who knows what. hanging around coffee shops writing bad poetry to impress girls like it's post-World War 1 France, no doubt.

The reason the three men didn't want to return is because they had heard what happened to a ship full of Russians who had been repatriated. Namely, that they were machine-gunned. Because Stalin. I had thought these guys had been fighting for the Soviet Union originally, were captured by the Germans, and then later used against the British and Americans. This episode positions them as White Russians, who were fighting against the Soviet Union because they hate Stalin. Either way, they're going to be killed when they get back to the Soviet Union. And Britain's plans to get back all of their POWs the Soviets wound up with are not going to come to fruition, based on what I read in The Forsaken. A lot of Allied prisoners wound up in Soviet gulags, while their governments sat on their asses and did nothing.

I should tell you now I'm going to be making stupid comments conflating the Adam Wainwright Sam meets here with the Adam Wainwright who currently pitches for the St. Louis Cardinals for as long as he's in the series. Which is the remainder of it. So you're just going to have to deal with Time Travelin' Adam Wainwright. Adam was shot in his right shoulder. Hopefully this won't diminish his already flagging velocity any further. Also hopefully 1940s medicine didn't fuck things up too badly. Maybe this was the shoulder injury he had when he was still in the Braves' minor league system.

Adam spent the war working in Bletchley Park, on something sufficiently classified he can't discuss it with Sam. But it most likely involved code-breaking or building a computer somehow. Maybe Major League Baseball got the wrong guy in that whole mess where the Cardinals' now former scouting director hacked the Houston Astros' databases.

OK, enough of that. As it turns out, Sam was also, among other duties, working as a model for Sir Leonard. A nude model, no less, despite some reservations of her part. Which only got worse when Milner and his men were nosing around to see if any of Leonard's art had been stolen. And then Foyle shows up, which is even worse from her perspective. Foyle at least makes a couple of jokes about it being a possible motive and refrains from any judgments.

The more I think about, the more it bothers me, because Sam was clearly not comfortable with the work being exhibited, and yet Leonard was planning to go ahead and do so anyway. And Sam, who is clearly still trying to find some sort of calling she feels comfortable in, may not have felt she could insist. Oh, Leonard seems like a well-meaning artistic type, but he's still a pushy enough guy to disinherit his son over a difference in politics, so I could see him firing Sam if she protested too severely. But he's dead now, and the art is probably in evidence for the time being. Although if or when it's released, I imagine there'll be quite the demand. Dead artists and all.

Milner's struggling with being the one in charge and establishing himself as his own guy. So he tries not to be drawn into banter with Sam, and he pushes back rudely against Foyle's presence. It's unnecessary, especially since Foyle tells him right off he's not there about a murder, but a runaway Russian. That said, Foyle's speech to him at the end of the episode felt like him being a bit of a dick. Yeah, Milner should have just apologized the first time, rather than saying 'I probably owe you an apology.' But Foyle's giving him grief because Detective Perkins, Milner's subordinate, addressed Foyle without being spoken to first, and Milner didn't back up Foyle's rebuke? Get the fuck out of here with that crap. That's the sort of nonsense where an arbitrary system says I'm better than you, so you have to defer to what I want Foyle usually pushes back against. All the times his superiors tell him to drop something, or some politco or businessman insists he is too important to suffer consequences. Foyle doesn't just accept that, so for him to get peeved that Perkins had the temerity to speak to him with something other than, "Shine your car for you, guvnah?" is pretty obnoxious.

Friday, January 20, 2017

What I Bought 1/11/17 and 1/18/17

Wednesday I had a question in mind I was going to ask everyone in this opening paragraph, and I've forgotten it. This happens a surprising amount of the time, which is too bad, because these opening paragraphs could use the help.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #16, by Ryan North (writer), Will Murray (writer), Erica Henderson (artist), Steve Dtiko (artist), Rico Renzi (color artist), Travis Lanham (letterer) - The John Allison variant was the only available option at the store, and there was friggin' Brad in the lower corner among the Squirrel Girl foes. Nice touch not having Doom there. He wouldn't show up and be recognized as a "defeated foe".

The story tracks Doreen from birth, thru learning she can speak to squirrels, to saving the Hulk from the Abomination, to her 20th birthday party with all her friends. Said party is crashed by the Red Skull, who is quickly trounced, though I refuse to believe that Tony Stark has never uppercutted a bad guy through the ceiling. Also, given her approach to concussions, I imagine Doreen could have a long career as an "independent" physician for an NFL team. "Nah, you don't need to come out of the game, it'll wear off."

Doreen as a little kid was appropriately adorable, and 10-year old Doreen's Dazzler poster and Thing clock were cute touches. It's important for kids to learn that it is always Clobberin' Time. I wish someone had told me that when I was 10, how different things might be. I'd probably be in jail. Wait. On other topics, I feel like Erica Henderson's version of the Hulk owes a lot to Mark Ruffalo. Mostly the last page with him, as he's taking the Abomination while refusing to share credit for the win. The chin, or the look on his face before he jumps off. It's mostly not a look I associate with child-speak Hulk.

Doreen's stated love for Nancy Drew and being a detective in the 15-year old sequence makes me want to see the creative team do a mystery story. Put her and Nancy in a "haunted" mansion, or solving a series of thefts from the university commissary, something.

Avengers #3.1, by Mark Waid (writer), Barry Kitson (penciler/inker), Mark Farmer and Rafael Fonteriz (inkers), Jordan Boyd and Wil Quintana (colorists), Ferran Delgado (letterer) - Ah, there's the average citizens of the Marvel Universe I remember, chucking garbage at the heroes.

The public is unconvinced by the Avengers, but they trounce the Mad Thinker with Cressida's (or Avenger X) help. Now the public loves them, but Cressida is sowing doubt among their ranks, and when Pietro storms out at her suggestions, she remotely boosts Ox' power, and Pietro gets his ass beat by an Enforcer. I like how Ox doesn't even notice anything is different. He just seems to assume it makes perfect sense he can beat up Quicksilver. On another note, was Hawkeye this much of an ass to Jarvis back in the day? I know that a question that starts with, 'Was Hawkeye this much of an ass. . .' is almost certainly answered "YES," but the extent he's abusing poor Jarvis is surprising. That said, I'm eagerly anticipating Jarvis' revenge, whatever form it takes.

Credit to Waid, though. I was worried Cressida was going to fall into the trope of the shy girl who doesn't really understand her powers. Where she's scared and hiding things because of it. Instead, she's using that as a cover, so that the Avengers don't look to closely at how her powers work (and the lack of a scientist on the roster surely isn't helping there), and don't question all the things she so innocently suggests to them about their teammates. And she's made them reliant on her, so they've stopped building teamwork and cooperation.

I don't know what happened to that guy Ox was beating up. Pietro pulled him away, but I don't know where he left him before losing the fight. And Ox walked off with Fancy Dan and Montana under his arms. Hopefully he got to a hospital, because his face was looking pretty pulped. Kitson makes the miniature Awesome Androids regurgitating more miniature Awesome Androids look kind of gross, which does seem like it would be gross. On the other hand, he overemphasizes those parts of Pietro's hair that stick up slightly when viewed through Daredevil's radar sense. It looks like Pietro has Batman ears, or Wolverine hair.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Osborn Would Never Expect To Be Attacked With Colored Tiles

The Icepocalypse wound up being somewhat of a dud, which is fine with me. I spent the weekend mostly comfortably inside, relaxing. Mostly relaxing. I spent too much time on Marvel Puzzle Quest, which is probably not a good idea for how irritated I can get with it.

It's one of those games like Bejewled, where you try to match up three of the same colored tiles. In this case, matching the tiles represents an attack made by a comic character against an opponent. The goal is to knock out their three-person team before all of yours do. The characters even level up, and have special attacks earned by collecting a certain number of particular colors. There's even a story to the whole thing, loosely based around Dark Reign, Osborn being boss of all superheroes, forming his crappy Dark Avengers, consorting with various criminals. They added in something about an alien mineral called Iso-8, which Osborn is using in experiments on mutants. I think that's mostly in there to provide a different brand of generic cannon fodder, and as an excuse to involve the X-Men as playable characters.

When the game is going well, it's a lot of fun. You can put the different characters' special powers to use to boost each other. It's a pleasant feeling when you use Black Widow's Widow's Sting (which costs 9 blue tiles) to stun the opponent so they can't do anything, and then, before it wears off, use Hawkeye's Take Aim power to get enough blue tiles (plus a critical attack bonus) so the Widow can use it again when it wears off. Very handy, especially against enemies that are 50, 60 levels higher than my characters.

Which is one problem I have with the game, that the levels increase on the enemies really damn fast, faster than I can level up my characters simply by progressing through the story. I guess maybe if I only used the same three characters all the time, but what's the point in having a couple dozen options if I'm only going to use three?  So I had to keep going back and playing earlier levels to try and boost my characters up enough to match up. Wasn't expecting to level grind when I started this game.

The weird thing is, I tend to find the fights against generic characters tougher than the ones against Dark Avengers. The generics rarely actually move tiles, but somehow they also get credit for the tiles I match, and they have irritating special powers that can do a lot of damage, especially when I'm at a 60-level deficit. They convert some yellow or blue tile into a countdown timer, and the harder I try to match those and get rid of them, the more of them they throw on the board. So you get situations like Thor or the Juggernaut being wiped out by a Thug with a Pistol. That happened a lot.

So it's frustrating at times. I repeatedly get fed up, turn it off, swear I'm done. But it's really easy to convince myself that if I just got the right layout of tiles early, I can get a strong start and pull it off. Sometimes it even works out exactly like that. Other times, it seems like no matter how good of a move I make (because you can get a nice chain reaction of matches if you play it right/get lucky), it only succeeds in setting the computer up for some massively damaging string of attacks on me. I mutter, "This thing is rigged," a lot. But it can sure eat time, which is probably a good enough reason to let it drop for a while.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

What I Bought 1/12/2017 - Part 2

I'm typing this last Friday, as much of Missouri braces for Ice Deathstorm: The Slip and Break Your Butt-Pocalypse. Maybe Icepocalypse is better. Either way, by the time this posts, hopefully I have emerged unscathed.

Great Lakes Avengers #4, by Zac Gorman (writer), Jacob Chabot (artist), Marissa Louise with Tamra Bonvillain (color artists), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - I keep thinking Flatman is getting ready to scratch under his nose, rather than making the "ssh" motion.

Bertha and Good Boy brought Snerd back to their HQ and tied him up in the closet. Snerd tries to justify his actions by arguing he's making real changes and improvements, and so what if a few people get hurt. Unfortunately they can't prove any of it, and they weren't supposed to be superheroing anyway, since Connie hadn't gotten the injunction lifted. But Snerd does a little too good of a job arguing the strength of his position, and Good may have killed him. I guess he was still making noises when they tossed him in front of the hospital and sped off. And he survived a gunshot wound in the chest in his flashback, so maybe he has healing  powers?

Story took a dark turn there in a hurry. I thought Chabot's art in the panel where Good pounces on Snerd has a resemblance to '50s horror comics. The stories where the asshole main character gets a bad surprise comeuppance right and the end, maybe a cackling narrator to finish things off? I think it's the look of horror on his face, combined with the shading for Good's musculature. Maybe also the shades of orange Louise and/or Bonvillain used, and all those emphasis lines around the edge of the panel. Or maybe it's just because it's a werewolf pouncing on someone with intent to kill them.

Overall, Chabot did a fine job as fill-in artist. He draws Bertha a little more pear-shaped than Robson, but close enough. Maybe there's just less definition in her upper body. He dialed Connie's facial expressions way back, which is a plus. She can still look angry enough to tear off your face at times, but she doesn't look that way all the time here. Ditto for Snerd, although I was less bothered by him looking like he was so angry he was about to mess his drawers. Still, it wouldn't make sense as his expression in every situation. Sometimes a guy needs to look more smug, or conniving, or just scared. I do notice Mr. Immortal's stubble is gone, thank goodness. Going to assume Flatman stopped a bought him a razor. Oh, and the drunk guy from last issue does not seem to have joined the team. Oh well.

Deadpool #24, by Gerry Duggan (writer), Matteo Lolli (penciler), Christian Dalla Vecchia (inker), Guru-eFX (colorist), Joe Sabino (letterer) - I wouldn't be surprised if Preston shot Wade in the leg there, just for partially blocking her view. Or just because.

Wade provides the cure for the disease he got from Stryfe, for which Stryfe expects him to kill some people for him later. Didn't wade go through this once already with Vetis, the demon? Whatever, worry about it later. Wade realizes Madcap faked the call from Ellie to get him there to infect her, and uses that to track Madcap to a HYDRA base because Madcap is riding around on Bob. Deadpool tells Madcap everything he thinks he knows about himself is a lie (must have missed that issue), Madcap triggers explosives, tears loose from Bob, and escapes.

He fucking escapes. So this carnival ride is going to continue? Duggan is starting to try my patience. I was pretty much ready to be done with Madcap, and hey, Wade could still be stuck dealing with fallout from whatever Madcap got up to disguised as Deadpool. But no. On the plus side, I think we've established Preston might be almost as into Cable as Wade is, given she keeps referring to him as a "silver fox".

The assault on the HYDRA base was pretty good, for the sheer fact neither Wade nor Preston were messing around. In one panel, Preston smashes through a ceiling, and as she bloodily jams a pipe into one HYDRA guys shoulder, she's bringing her LMD-knee down on another's head, popping it like a water balloon. I don't know if the eyes would go shooting off in opposite directions like Lolli drew, but it's a distinctive image to be sure. And then you get one HYDRA guy asking to be arrested, and Wade shoots him. So the last HYDRA guy tries surrendering to Preston, and she punches through his chest with a line about being off the clock.

I should probably be more bothered by these things. Those guys were surrendering, and that does bug me, but 1) It's not like I'm surprised if Wade makes choices I find morally questionable. 2) Preston is pissed and after the being who nearly killed her husband and children. 3) The surrendering guys in question work for HYDRA. They are basically Nazis (or Nazi collaborators). However much I might laugh at the antics and misfortune of HYDRA Bob in Cable/Deadpool, HYDRA is bad news, and these guys signed on to further that, even if they're doing it for the healthcare or whatever. Also, in that universe, they signed on for encountering costumed types. Sometimes they get Spider-Man or Captain America and it's off to jail. Sometimes they get Wolverine or Deadpool and it's off to the morgue, assuming there's anything left of them.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Jars Are No TVs When It Comes To Improvised Weapons

Having seen American Ultra over the weekend, yeah, they wasted Walton Goggins. He just laughs a lot, loses a couple of teeth, and gets a speech at the end that hammers some theme of the film in a remarkably unsubtle manner. Not much to work with there.

His character is a possible psychotic the CIA turned into a killer for them, and is one of many Topher Grace tries to use to kill Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg), who years ago agreed to be used for an experiment in exchange for getting out of prison. Eisenberg's memories of this were buried, but when he was about to be killed as a loose end, the agent in charge of the project uses the trigger word, and he proceeds to lay waste to most of the killers sent after him. Major assist from Kristen Stewart's character who was his handler and decided to stick around and watch over him/be his girlfriend.

The end is kind of crap. Eisenberg, who was after all, taken advantage of in a time of desperation by the government and used, first as a lab rat, then as a killer, is targeted for execution because Topher Grace is an asskissing toady who wants a promotion. Eisenberg, having refused to die, ends up working for the CIA again, killing people, as the only alternative to being taken into the middle of nowhere and shot twice in the back of the head. Bill Pullman, who runs the CIA, gets a nice killing machine, rather than some bullets in the face. I mean, what's that say? If you're experimented on and used by the government, your only hope is to lean into it and continue to be a useful tool?

Oh, and Goggins' character is almost certainly running around loose. In a more optimistic movie, I would hope that Mike showing mercy helped Laffer and he isn't busy turning into Steve Buscemi's character from Con Air. But this isn't exactly a film that encourages that interpretation.

Granting that my perspective is somewhat skewed by years of watching characters in action movies take extraordinary amounts of punishment and keep going, I did wonder at how easily Mike was able to defeat some of the trained killers in the supermarket. I'm not sure whether a metal dustpan is that effective as a stabbing implement. But the one I noted most was I think he took out one guy by smashing him over the head with a jar of something he just grabbed off a shelf. I think it was pickles. One shot to the head, and the guy dropped. That happened a lot, albeit usually with things more suited to the task than a jar.

There were some good scenes in the film, Stewart and Eisenberg both did fine. Nothing great, but I'd been meaning to get around to seeing it for awhile, so mission accomplished.

Monday, January 16, 2017

What I Bought 1/12/2017 - Part 1

The beginning of the year has been pretty Marvel-heavy. I expect that'll change over the second half of the month.

Nova #2, by Jeff Loveness (writer), Ramon Perez (writer/artist), Ian Herring (color artist), Albert Deschesne (letterer) - Inside, it's more Sam rescuing Richard than what you see here.

Sam finds Rich under attack by the Cancerverse thing that came out of him last issue. The two drive it back into a tear, then Sam takes Rich to the Champions to confirm Rich is who he says he is. Although I'm at a loss as to where Sam got a sample of Rich for Amadeus to compare the live person to. That's pretty creepy, like Tony Stark keeping Thor's hair to make a cyborg clone creepy.

As usual, the heroes of Earth are morons who have no clue Richard saved the damn universe like 17 times while they were busy punching each other over legislation. He attends Sam's family get-together, which seems a little odd - 16-year old kid brings mid-20s(?) guy to family thing - but it seems to pass without comment, and they fly to Knowhere to visit Cosmo. Then Death's Head attacks them, along with two other guys I don't know.

I like how Richard and Sam play off each other (and putting them together neatly eliminates my complaint from last month about there not being enough Rich). Richard is the veteran, but he's been away, he's a little confused, a little unsteady, and Sam gets to be the stabilizing influence. Perez and Loveness are managing a nice balancing act there, so far. And we'll have to wait and see why Richard is unwilling to admit the creature came from him. I'm sure it's part of the reason he's alive again, why he saw the "tear" to drive it into and Sam didn't, but Rich ought to know hiding that stuff doesn't help anything.

OK, I know I said last month I liked Perez drawing Rich's shoulder things as being modular, and I do, but they're getting a bit large. As in, they're starting to reach Cable-level shoulder pad size, and that's not a good sign. The variety of aliens in the bar was nice. I especially like the gooey thing with the one eye in the center of the panel on page 17. And Sam;s body language in that panel where Cosmo tries to explain calling Rich his favorite Nova. But hey, Rich did kill Annihilus like a boss. And he was a New Warrior, and that's much cooler than being an Avenger. Those dorks let anyone join, including Sabretooth.

Ms. Marvel #14, by G. Willow Wilson (writer), Takeshi Miyazawa (artist), Ian Herring (color artist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - Well, gee, I'm not sure I'm rooting for Kamala after she made Richard sad in our last book.

Kamala's online RPGing takes a worrying turn when one of her guildmates says something that suggests he knows where she lives. She tries tracking the guy down, but the player claims his account was hacked. Soon, someone who can control machines is attacking her remotely with cars and construction equipment, and knows Kamala is Ms. Marvel.

Kamala is making the classic Batman mistake of distancing herself from her support network when she;s under stress. Granting that Bruno is gone, and Mike is in a bad way, she turns away from her family, and I guess going to Nakia or Zoe is out. At least as Ms. Marvel. She could have gone to her friends as Kamala, and asked for some help. Yeah, I don't know what they could do against this guy, but she barely even considers getting help, which is a bad sign. I'm also not sure she should have dismissed Maxwell as a suspect so quickly. It probably isn't him, but if this enemy is as good with technology as they appear, they could easily figure out she was trying to track them and pretend someone hacked them.

Interesting choice for her to ride the ferry in Embiggened form. Keeps people at a distance, but also makes her more visible, a more obvious target. Also, her deciding to deal with the car attack by getting bigger and meeting it head-on seems a little unlike her. The way there's a panel that focus on her arm and torn costume after she jumps out of the excavator doesn't seem like a coincidence, either. Overall, she isn't acting like herself, at the time all the things she thought she could rely on are crumbling beneath her. Around her? They're crumbling, regardless. She can't seem to fix any of it, can't patch things up with Bruno, help Mike, trust Tony Stark or Carol Danvers, she's angry, she's frustrated and impatient, and she's trying to deal with things directly that don't seem like they can be.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Foyle's War 5.3 - All Clear

Plot: Trigger warning for suicide, again.

The American Major Kiefer (see "Invasion") has returned to Hastings, but he's not doing well. He's haunted by a lot of dead G.I.s, deaths that were covered up. This has made him short-tempered with everyone, a stark contrast to most of the people in town, who are eagerly awaiting the announcement that the war (in Europe) is officially over.

Meanwhile, the Hastings constabulary office prepares to be closed down and transferred to a new location. Milner is waiting to hear on a promotion, and waiting for the birth of his and Edie's first child. Sam is trying to find a new job, and Foyle is preparing to return to retirement. But first he'll have to contend with a committee formed to prepare for the revelry that will follow the announcement of war's end. Also on the committee are Martin Longmate, local hotelier and prospective politician, is planning a big party, Dr. Ziegler (who seems sure he knows Longmate from someplace), Edie's doctor, Major Kiefer, and a Mark Griffiths, who seems very troubled, and who Kiefer seems to detest for some reason. Also present at the first meeting is Longmate's assistant, Janice Hilton, whose husband Edward is home at last. Edward won't speak much of his experiences, but he knows Janice isn't telling him everything, either. And Janice is soon to learn Longmate is looking for a new assistant, even interviewing Sam. over dinner, to see if they can 'get along.' Sam fortunately dodges that bullet.

Griffiths condition continues to worsen as someone starts leaving pictures of tigers pinned to his door, and mailing him sand. It's putting considerable strain on him, to the point Dr. Ziegler prescribes him some sleeping pills. Within a couple of days, Dr. Ziegler is stabbed after leaving another meeting of the committee. Within a day of that, Mark Griffiths has committed suicide. Kiefer might know something about what drove Griffiths to that, but he's not talking, and there's no sign he's connected to the death of Dr. Ziegler.

And in other news, Andrew comes home. He made it through alive, although a bout with sinusitis has wrecked his vision to the point he won't be flying anymore. And he's trying to patch things up with Sam.

Quote of the Episode: Andrew - 'You don't have a leaflet on love.' Sam - 'No, but I've quite a few on desertion.'

Does Foyle go fishing? Indeed he does!

Things Sam can do: Make tea, cut Andrew down to size (at least temporarily). She's not at home in the advertising world, though.

Other: Polly Maberly is playing Edie in this episode. Caroline Martin had the role previously. Edie wanted to name the child "Winston", but fortunately, they had a daughter. Who will be named "Clementine". I guess that's an improvement.

As it turns out, Kiefer was in charge of a group of American G.I.s preparing for D-Day off the coast of England one night that were jumped by German E-boats, and 700 soldiers died, with the whole thing hushed up for morale. Which is an actual thing that happened in reality. In-story, Griffiths is the major in the signal corps who didn't check to make sure the radio was set to the proper frequency, and so the warning about the E-boats was not received. Foyle can thank Miss Pierce for that information.

There's a point, after Andrew has come home, he and Foyle are sitting and talking, and Andrew brings up Sam. He discusses his poor decision-making, tries to excuse it with being miserable training pilots, admits things didn't work with the other young lady. Foyle is kind of looking at him out of the corner of his eye, even though they're seated facing each other, and then, very simply, quickly, and directly, says, 'You weren't very kind to her.' As much as I enjoy those scenes where Foyle will rattle off everything illegal or immoral a character has done, in this exasperated, sarcastic tone (he gets a good one on Longmate near the end of this episode), I've always liked that brief rebuke. It's simple, straightforward, and easily conveys his disappointment in Andrew.

At the same time, when Andrew first appears, as Foyle is fishing, Michael Kitchen manages a very obvious smile, without seemingly lifting the corners of his mouth. I don't know, he doesn't smile in a way I would normally categorize it based on his mouth, but it's still very obvious he's happy. I thought that was pretty impressive.

Also in this episode, we learn Foyle can drive, he simply prefers not to.

Not sure what will happen with Edward and Janice. Janice had a child with Longmate, Edward found out, there was an argument, he did strike her, so who knows. Edward is still trying to adjust to being out of the military, and it's not entirely clear he wants to adjust, that he wouldn't rather be back there. I don't know if he wants to stay with Janice, or if she should stay with him after that. Probably not, since she doesn't want to have the child adopted, and I'm not sure how great a dad Edward will be to a child not biologically his (or maybe even to one that is biologically his). He mentions at one point he's thinking about moving, it wasn't clear if he was going to do that solo or not.

Anyway, the war is over, but the show is not. Now we're going to explore England after the war, and eventually England in the midst of the Cold War.

Friday, January 13, 2017

2016 Comics In Review - Part 5

The final part. One thing I'm finding a struggle this year is how to define some of these books. Is that Mark Waid/Barry Kitson Avengers thing a mini-series? What should I consider Henchgirl? If Darkwing Duck never comes back, should I think of that as a mini-series, or just a swiftly dying ongoing, like you'd get from Marvel?

Favorite Ongoing Series (minimum 6 issues purchased this year):
1. Uneatable Squirrel Girl
2. Patsy Walker aka Hellcat
3. Henchgirl

I didn't expect it to end up like that. There were enough issues of Squirrel Girl I was unsure of I thought Hellcat would win, but the current Black Cat arc reversed that. There weren't many books in consideration this year. I dropped Black Widow. Deadpool and Ms. Marvel were both extremely up and down. Which left Darkwing Duck, which I wouldn't put on the level of the books I did pick.

Favorite Mini-Series:
1. Wynonna Earp
2. Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love

This was a generally unsatisfying year for mini-series. There was nothing that really knocked my socks off. But Wynonna Earp was solidly readable every month, and I still have to see if Deadman is going to stick the landing or not.

Favorite One-Shot:
1. Deadpool: Last Days of Magic
2. Locke & Key: Small World
3. Suicide Squad: War Crimes

This was a solid category. I didn't even put that Blue Beetle Rebirth issue in there. Locke & Key came in ahead of Suicide Squad because I felt like the art and writing worked together better. I liked the story in War Crimes better, but the art held it back.

Favorite Trade Paperback/Graphic Novel (anything I bought in 2016 is fair game, regardless of publication date):
1. Tony Cliff's Delilah Dirk: the King's Shilling
2. Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca's Street Angel
3. Paul Grist's Jack Staff: Everything Used to be Black and White
4. Norm Breyfogle's and mostly Alan Grant's Legends of the Dark Knight: Norm Breyfogle Volume 1

It was pretty close between #3 and 4. I like Breyfogle's art better, but the quality of the stories he illustrated were a lot more variable than the ones Grist wrote and illustrated. Although those Batman stories are interesting in contrast to his portrayal in more recent years.

Favorite Writers:
1. John Ostrander
2. Paul Grist

I think Ostrander wins by default any year I buy something he wrote. May have that written into the blog constitution. Or would that be the fundamental lows of this blogiverse? Gerard Way and Jonathan Rivera are a strong candidate for next year if Cave Carson holds up.

Favorite Artists (minimum 110 pages):
1. Chris Samnee
2. Brittney L. Williams
3. Mike Hawthorne

Honorable mentions: Takeshi Miyazawa, Michael Avon Oeming, Reilly Brown, Shawn Crystal

That top 3 was pretty tough. Didn't fit James Silvani or Erica Henderson in there. But even if I found Black Widow ultimately disappointing, it wasn't the fault of the art.

Also, I recognize it isn't fair to put a minimum page limit on the artists to qualify, when no similar requirement exists for the writers. But then, I don't include artists that might make it based on back issues or trades like I do with writers. So the artists that are in play get a much smaller field of competition. Honestly, these categories are getting to be a real mess. I definitely need to keep better trac of what back issues I buy in the coming year, so can I factor those into things somehow.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

2016 Comics in Review - Part 4

I keep track of how many pages are being drawn by the different artists in the comics I read. I set 110 and 154 pages as benchmarks, for reasons I no longer recall. I mean, I remember those equal 5 and 7 22-page comics, but why those number of comics were the lines I drew escapes me. This year, James Silvani (132), Chris Samnee (120), and Scott Wegener (132) all reached 110 pages. Deadpool had three different artists reach 110 pages, with Mike Hawthorne, Scott Koblish, and Matteo Lolli. I guess it balances out Ms. Marvel getting zero artists that far.

Ultimately, three artists reached 154 pages: Kristen Gudsnuk, Erica Henderson, and Brittney L. Williams. I do wonder about including Gudsnuk, since Henchgirl was a webcomic originally, that she published one page at a time over months some time ago, but if we're going to start making those kinds of corrections, the blog legislature will have to form a committee to inspect the issue, then draft a bill, there'll be arguments. Or they'll adopt the Baseball Hall of Fame approach and leave it vague and up to the personal code of the voters, meaning me.

At any rate, Williams narrowly edges out Henderson, because Unbeatable Squirrel Girl occasionally let other artists draw one-page flashbacks or dream sequences, so congratulations to Brittney L. Williams. As I prize artists who can consistently produce quality work on a monthly schedule, this is actually sincere, even if it will not help her in any way.

Roche Limit - Monadic #1-4: Michael Moreci, Kyle Charles, and Matt Battaglia brought the Roche Limit story to a close with most of the cast from the first two mini-series trapped inside some kind of simulation the aliens were using to understand human individuality, so that they could copy it. Minus the capacity for self-sacrifice. Then they were defeated (maybe) by human capacity for self-sacrifice.

High Point: Matt Battaglia's colors continued to be the most vivid and eye-catching part of the series. The combinations of purple and black when outside, versus the sickly brown and green inside the house inside the city, versus the relatively normal color scheme where Sasha was. There's still a possibility reading all three mini-series back-to-back-to-back will help.

Low Point: The story felt a lot like Dark City. The previous mini-series strongly suggested the aliens were already back on Earth, so does blowing up their larger fleet in space really make much difference? Considering there's no indication anyone on Earth knows there's anything to be worried about? In every issue, there would be several pages where Charles' artwork got rushed and characters would be indistinguishable from one another, or you couldn't even tell what the heck was supposed to be going on.

Suicide Squad - War Crimes: One-shot by John Ostrander, with art by Gus Vazquez and Carlos Rodriguez. The Squad tries to retrieve a former member of the U.S. government who was abducted by a mercenary super-group to be brought before an international tribunal. The Squad has its usual issues with things not going smoothly, exacerbated by their typical backstabbing. A solid one-off story, though it's hamstrung by some issues with panel-to-panel continuity and proportions.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4-15: Ryan North and Erica Henderson, plus Rico Renzi as colorist. Jacob Chabot drew one issue, and several other artists did one or two pages here and there. Squirrel kept a Dr. Doom of the early 2000s from conquering the 1960s, had that team-up with Howard the Duck I mentioned, fended off the amorous advances of Mole Man (not to mention the boneheaded truther nonsense of friggin' Brad). Nightmare tried attacking her in her dreams, she and Koi Boi defeated the Swarm (if you chose correctly), and then she and Ant-Man kept Enigmo from taking over the world.

High Point: The trading cards are always good. North has a good grasp on Doctor Doom. Taskmaster got a better showing than I expected. I'm still hoping friggin' Brad becomes a recurring nuisance. Erica Henderson draws some comedy bits extremely well, and some of her fight scenes are pretty great too, although she doesn't get as much opportunity to show that off. There are just a lot of bits and pieces, even in what I'd call the weaker issues, that I really liked.

Low Point: Eh, I didn't love the Howard the Duck crossover. There were certain elements I enjoyed, but overall, I could take over leave it. The issue all about computer science got too bogged down in teaching us computer science.

Wynonna Earp #1-8: Beau Smith was back writing Wynonna for comics, with Lora Innes and Chris Evenhuis as the artists, and Jay Fotos as colorist. There was a demon cartel that harvests organs, a guy who infected a mall to show off his weaponized zombie plague, a confrontation with the Clantons (and taking on a family heirloom), protecting a werewolf and his family in witness protection, and a brief vacation with Valdez.

High Point: There are times I think Smith tries to get too clever with his dialogue, and it becomes clumsy. Mostly he walks on the right side of that line. I really like Valdez as a character, reminds me a lot of Cassandra Cain. Innes gives Wynonna a certain cheekiness, a playful smirk in body language, even when it isn't visible on her face, that really seems to fit the character.

Low Point: I didn't really care for Agent Dolls. Partially my general distaste for authority figures, partially that the constraints he put on Wynonna seemed contradictory, like he was trying to break her, but Smith wasn't really presenting it as such, because he didn't want us to outright hate Dolls. I got a little more used to him in later issues, so this is a lukewarm low point. But the book was generally solid.

And that's it for that part. Tomorrow, I wrap this up with arbitrarily ranking titles and creators to suit myself.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2016 Comics in Review - Part 3

I already discussed the high proportion of Deadpool comics in this year's haul. Overall, Marvel was at 73, which is one book less than 2015. The percentage (60.83%) is a little higher than the year before, since I only bought 120 new comics in 2016, versus 124 the year before. Still, Marvel has landed between 70 to 80 comics in 5 out of the last 7 years (2012 and 2014 being the exceptions). DC had 11 comics (9.17%), which is its lowest total ever, but still a slightly better percentage than 2007 (7.41%). Third-party publishers combined for 36 books, which is a new high, in total and percent. IDW accounted for 15 of those books, which marks the first time I've had any non-Marvel publisher edge out DC by itself on new books. The remainder were split pretty evenly between Scout, Image, and Joe Books.

Howard the Duck #6: This was the second half of a crossover with Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, as they try to keep from being killed by a lady who wants to hunt animal-themed superheroes. The crossover was not my favorite part of Squirrel Girl's book, but this issue did give us Howard in a DC-themed supersuit, and his catchphrase, "eat bread and kick head," so not a total loss.

Illuminati #3-6: The book got canceled the issue after I dropped it, not really a surprise. The Hood's attempt to build a gang of super-crooks collapsed entirely, because he's bad at pretty much everything related to crime. So Joshua Williamson got that right. I enjoyed Shawn Crystal's art, especially in the fight scenes and how he worked the sound effects into the page. Plus, Kev Walker drew one issue, I like his art.

Locke and Key - Small World: Ampersands always cause formatting problems, so I'll just use "and". I reviewed Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez' one-shot return to their work a couple of weeks ago. A little spider got inside the little dollhouse, which meant there was a giant spider running around the actual house. It was a well-illustrated story and enjoyable, but inessential story. Just something playing around within the universe.

Ms. Marvel #3-13: G. Willow Wilson is still writing, and Ian Herring has been consistently doing the color work, but the artists have shifted. Takeshi Miyazawa drew most of five issues, Nico Leon drew three, Mirka Andolfo drew the two most recent issues, and Adrian Alphona drew one, plus parts of others. Not a great year for Kamala. Had to fend off HYDRA a couple of times, failed in her attempt to use mad science to be everywhere, had a falling out with Carol Danvers and most of her friends over Civil War II.

High Point: Herring's color work does a lot to maintain a similar feel for the book, in spite of the rotating cast of artists. Bruno's various attempts at mad science are usually good for a laugh, especially since they gave Miyazwa and Leon opportunities to add all sorts of little details. The collapse of her friendship with Bruno was very sad, but it worked.

Low Point: Wilson has this irritating habit of introducing these potential subplots involving the supporting cast, then doing absolutely nothing with them. Kamala's mom knowing she's a superhero, Aamir's strange powers, Nakia's growing frustration at the distance between her and Kamala. The stuff gets introduced, then forgotten for months, if it ever even gets mentioned again.

Nova #1: We'll see if I keep buying this. Ramon Perez' art is impressive, and Ian Herring is doing some lovely work on the colors here as well. But there's going to have to be a lot more Richard Rider in this book.

Patsy Walker aka Hellcat #2-13: Kate Leth wrote every issue, and Brittney L. Williams drew all of them except for issue 6, which was Natasha Allegri. Megan Wilson and Rachelle Rosenberg have gone back and forth on color duties. Patsy set up her temp agency, thwarted Arcade with She-Hulk's help, then dealt with She-Hulk being put into a coma in Civil War II, has kept fending off Hedy's attempts to mess with her, and is currently struggling with the Black Cat.

High Point: I'm a sucker for issues with Arcade, so #6 was a particular delight, although Allegri's art was variable. Sometimes it was excellent, other times I think her colors overwhelmed her linework and made things look muddy. But when it was good, it was real good. Patsy's explanation to a furious Arcade that she does Krav Maga and is, like, crazy strong cracked me up. I also really like how Williams draws Jubilee's mist form, meaning a fluffy pink cloud with sunglasses and fangs.

Low Point: The current arc with the Black Cat has been a letdown. Felicia as a crime boss was always going to be a hard sell, and her scheme seems so vague and pointless, which isn't helping. Also, I don't like Ian's crimefighting outfit at all. Losing She-Hulk from the cast hurt, although Leth has rolled with that by adding Jubilee, who plays off Patsy differently from Jennifer Walters.

Tomorrow, the remainder of the alphabet. Not very many titles. A couple of mini-series, a one-shot, one ongoing.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2016 Comics in Review - Part 2

This is not the most Deadpool comics I've bought in a year. That was 2009, when I bought 23 or so (depending on whether I count that Master of Kung-Fu one-shot that had one story featuring Deadpool). This is, however, the highest percentage of my comics Deadpool has constituted, at 17.5%.

Deadman: Dark Mansion of the Forbidden Love #1, 2: Sarah Vaughn, Lan Medina (with an assist from Phil Hester on the second issue), Jose Villarubia, and Janice Chang. Boston Brand trapped in a strange castle with two ghosts (or one ghost with two sides), and Bernice, who is alive but can see ghosts. It seems Adelia met a violent end, but it's unclear how or if Deadman can help her, or protect anyone else from her.

Deadpool #5-20, 22, 23: Gerry Duggan writing, with Mike Hawthorne (with Terry Pallot's inks) and Matteo Lolli doing most of the pencil work, Scott Koblish handling the issues set in 2099. Nick Filardi colors Koblish's work, Guru eFX, Jordie Bellaire, and Ruth Redmond doing most of the other issues. Wade failed to stop Madcap once, then was preoccupied with trying to kill Sabretooth over mistakenly thinking he killed Wade's parents. Then there was a Civil War II tie-in arc where Wade's company, marriage, Avengers team, and basically everything else fell apart. Now he's trying to deal with Madcap. There were 3 issues set in 2099, which have annoyed, intrigued, and kind of bored me, in that order.

High Point: Once I realized all the fights in the CW2 story arc could have been easily avoided and resolved nothing, they were pretty funny. My favorite scene was actually the fight between Wade and the Black Panther. Hawthorne really drew the hell out of it, and I got to see Wade hit T'Challa upside the head with a toilet. Oh, and Solo's attempt to imitate Deadpool was hilarious, although the best line was still Wade's: 'I don't know where everyone got the idea I like Mexican food to the point of Tourette's.'

Low Point: The current Madcap arc hasn't felt very well paced, and the Sabretooth arc felt pointless and padded out itself. Plus you knew they weren't going to let Deadpool actually kill Sabretooth. Also, the Mercs for Money were never fleshed out in any way to play up how they reflected Wade. And these $10 issues have been a letdown. The extra stories don't do enough with the limited pages they have, which is why I skipped the last one. I certainly don't give enough of a shit about Shakespeare to pay that much for an issue of Wade riffing on the Bard.

Deadpool/Cable: Split-Second #2, 3: Fabian Nicieza and Reilly Brown wrapped up their story, which mostly involved resetting Cable to something approaching his default factory settings. It was sweet to watch Deadpool, when he's tasked with killing all these alternate Cables to preserve the timeline, instead keeps saving them, because Cable is important to him. But the time travel stuff reached headache-inducing nonsense partway through.

Deadpool: Last Days of Magic: Duggan and Koblish brought us this tie-in to the Dr. Strange event, as the Empirikul attack Shiklah's kingdom, and are only driven back by the sacrifice of Wade's friend, Michael. Which was an extremely touching scene, and one more step on the steady disintegration of Wade's life.

Descender #9-11: I forget sometimes I was still buying this book early in 2016. Lemire and Nguyen brought the cast to the machine's secret home, and TIM met his "brother", who rapidly grew jealous and the last I saw, was trying to kill him. But the book was moving too slowly, and focusing on things I didn't care about, so I dropped it.

Great Lakes Avengers #1-3: Zac Gorman and Will Robson started up the GLA again, in Detroit, where there's a super-villain who is also a politician, using other villains to drive out residents and lower property values, so he can make a killing there with economic development stuff. I think that's what he's up to. It's not a bad book, but I'm still trying to figure out what it's going to be. Probably will depend on how they deal with this councilman villain.

Henchgirl #4-11: Kristen Gudsnuk had Mary given an evil serum, which made her into an fairly effective villain, even when she was trying to be good. This ultimately wrecked her life, and she stole a device to go back in time and improve her life with her knowledge of the future. That didn't work either. And the effort by her friends to develop an antidote inadvertently led to a sentient carrot army conquering the city.

High Point: Mary as evil was entertaining. She's mad dog killer type evil all the time, but she's indifferent enough to the suffering of others to be reckless and awful even when trying to be good. The addition of her sister and parents added some angles to the whole thing. Coco being continuously stymied in trying to relate her really long and boring tragic backstory.

Low Point: The sudden emergence of a carrot army was, well, not out of left field. Gudsnuk had been teasing the carrots for a while, but it still felt like an odd development with everything else.

Tomorrow a little of everything. A one-shot, an ongoing I didn't stick with, a couple of other things.

Monday, January 09, 2017

2016 Comics in Review - Part 1

Here we are again. If you've been here a while, you know how these work. If not, the first 4 days are me working through all the titles I bought, talking about some of the people who worked on them and what the stories were, what I liked and didn't like. The fifth day will be a listing thing. The opening paragraphs will be various statistical stuff I feel like discussing.

Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire #5: Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener, with Anthony Clark on colors, had Robo save the world from the Biomega threat (for now) with the aid of a leftover Nazi death satellite. Majestic-12 is still lurking, Jenkins is still missing, and we'll see if Robo's plan to stick to world-changing science holds (it won't). All in all, an enjoyable conclusion to that mini-series.

Atomic Robo The Temple of Od #1-5: As is normal, Clevinger and Wegener wrapped up a story in the present, and started one in the past. This time, Robo travels to Manchuria during World War II to try and rescue a Dr. Lu from the Japanese Army and keep his zero-point energy reactor out of their hands. Complicated somewhat by the fact he doesn't speak any of the languages anyone else does.

High Point: Clark's done some really gorgeous color work with all the weird energy effects. The Ghost Bandits have been pretty funny at times. 'We're losing too many trucks. And my hat.' Wegener's artwork has been up-and-down, but the good stuff, combined with Clark's colors, has been outstanding. That one panel showing the progression of Robo's fight with the two super-soldiers was some good work.

Low Point: The pacing is off, as though Clevinger is leaning on the hilarity of the Ghost Bandits too heavily. It feels like there could be more going on with all the forces in the area, but the Soviets only started to get involved partway through issue 4.

Avengers #1.1, 2.1: Mark Waid, Barry Kitson, Mark Farmer, and Jordan Boyd bring us the adventures of Cap's Kooky Quartet, as they struggle to deal with not being particularly powerful, and the public's extremely vocal doubt of their ability to protect the world. Having gotten their butts kicked by the Frightful Four, they've had their ranks bolstered by a young woman named Cressida with impressive, but dangerous powers. I don't know whether this counts as a mini-series or an ongoing, since I think it's just going to be the one storyarc.

Black Widow #1-6: Waid again, with Chris Samnee, Matt Wilson, and Joe Caramagna. Natasha steals from SHIELD and goes on the run to find the Weeping Lion who is trying to blackmail her. She ultimately does and puts him under her thumb, while also finding out the Red Room is pumping out more young girl assassins.

High Point: It was a sparse issue, but #1, with Natasha's escape from the Helicarrier was really well-drawn and paced. A lot of good work with action there. Samnee and Wilson's combined efforts were strong throughout, and I especially liked the particular shade of red Wilson seemed to favor. It always makes those panels leap off the page.

Low Point: The story felt pretty much like every other Black Widow story I've read, and none of those have ever interested me enough to get me to stick with her as a lead character, either.

Blue Beetle #0, 1-4: I'm going to include the Rebirth issue here, since it feeds into the ongoing. Keith Giffen, Scott Kolins, and Ramon Fajardo have brought Jaime Reyes and his supporting cast back, sort of. They also added a retired Ted Kord, and an ominous Dr. Fate to the mix, but it's not entirely clear how everything else connects to this "Horde".

High Point: The book has a bit of a horror vibe, with dark forces swirling around the most of the characters are either unaware of, or can't really understand. And the scarab has its own motivations, possibly not so benign for Jaime. I'm not sure it's the best way to go with this book and cast, given audience expectations, but taken on its own, it's intriguing. And it's nice to see Ted Kord.

Low Point: Unfortunately, the cast is extremely hostile and unpleasant, which makes it a chore to read when you hate the characters. Brenda seems to be getting it worst, but to varying degrees, it's happening to everybody. Could be intentional, an effect of the scarab's presence, but I don't feel like Giffen and Kolins have really hinted at that much yet.

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #1-3: Cave Carson does indeed have a cybernetic eye. He also has his daughter Chloe and his friend, Wild Dog, along with him on an adventure to see what the company IGX is up to in the subterranean kingdom of Muldroon.

High Point: Oeming's done some fantastic panel layouts, combined with Nick Filardi's color work, has made for some strong visuals, in the action sequences and the quieter moments. Jonathan Rivera and Gerard Way are setting up some potentially interesting dynamics among the three protagonists, and the idea to put Wild Dog, of all characters, in the mix, seems random, but is working pretty well so far.

Low Point: I don't care about those Super Powers bits Scioli's doing at the back of the book, and they might be why it's $4 instead of $3 per issue.

Darkwing Duck #1-6: James Silvani and Aaron Sparrow returned to Darkwing Duck, first with Negaduck taking over the new St. Canard prison, then capturing an extraordinarily powerful bug, and finally with a trip to a comic convention.

High Point: Seeing Gosalyn cosplayed as Darkwing was sweet. There are some funny gags in almost every issue. Silvani is a consistently solid artist, who can do the exaggerated cartoon expressions when you need it, but also dial it back for the moments that require that.

Low Point: Issue #5 was frustrating for being a retelling of a story I read 20 years ago. Granting that they're using it as a refresher (or intro) for fans to a character they clearly have big plans for (plans which may not come through, since I haven't seen the book in a couple months), it still felt like an inventory issue.

And that's it for Day 1. Tomorrow, Deadpool. And some other books. But a lot of Deadpool.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Foyle's War 5.2 - Broken Souls

Plot: Just to be safe, trigger warning for suicide.

Where to start? Fred Dawson returns home after 5 years as a P.O.W. His wife and son are still there, though his father has passed away. There's also Johann, a German P.O.W. on a work program of sorts, helping keep the farm going. Fred is having some difficulties adjusting: to the improved food, his frostbitten feet, the fact his son doesn't know him, the fact his son seems very comfortable around Johann.

There's also a teenage boy, Tommy Crooks, who has run away from his father in London and returned to the countryside where he stayed as an evacuee. He's seeking a Sir John and Lady Muriel, but their estate has been turned into a psychiatric hospital. Still, one of the doctors, a Josef Novak, is able to direct him to their cottage. Novak has his own concerns. One of his patients, a Peter Phelps, is struggling with the results of his work as a bombardier. The fate of Novak's wife and daughter is also weighing on his mind, as he confides to one of his chess pupils, Foyle. Novak was in Paris for a conference when Hitler invaded Poland. The last he heard, they were transferred from a ghetto to a place called Majdanek.

Also at the hospital is a Dr. Worth, but he won't be there long, as he's received an appointment at Cambridge, though no one seems happy for him, or sorry to see him go, least of all the head of the hospital, Dr. Campbell. Or maybe Novak least of all, because while playing chess with Foyle, he reads something in an article Worth published that causes him to leap from his chair snarling, 'I'll kill him!' And then Dr. Worth is found stabbed in his office the next morning.

Foyle begins trying to pull things together, including why Novak suddenly decided Peter should be transferred to an asylum, but then Novak, in the span of ten minutes or so, goes from mildly distracted, to cutting his wrists in the tub. All he can tell Foyle before being rushed to a hospital is that it was what Worth said.

Tommy's father has reached town, but attempts to speak with his son are deflected by Sir John and his shotgun. Fred is growing increasingly angry at Johann's presence, even accusing Rose of infidelity. Johann's attempts to play peacemaker only make things worse, leading Rose to decide they can't have Johann working there any longer. But coming upon the sad farewell only makes Fred angrier, and he tries to attack Johann. When that fails, he almost attacks Rose, but opts to drink heavily instead. Novak has since been released from the hospital, beds being scarce, and returned to work. He's able to help Tommy understand the incident that caused him to run, and even tries to get Foyle to join him for a Bing Crosby picture, but Foyle declines.

In the night, Johann escapes the P.O.W. camp, and is found dead in the river the next morning. And Foyle hadn't even solved Dr. Worth's murder yet, and here's another, seemingly unrelated one. Fortunately there's a witness to this murder, but Tommy Crooks has gone missing again.

Quote of the Episode: Novak - 'No, the point is someone did imagine it and then made it a reality for my family and countless others.'

Does Foyle go fishing? No, it appears he was spending part of his retirement learning chess, though.

Things Sam can do: Track down a boy that doesn't want to be found. No good at picking soccer teams.

Other: Sam and Brooke both like Bing Crosby. Foyle and Milner do not. I'm with Foyle and Milner, myself.

At one point, describing what happened when Tommy ran off, his father says of Tommy, 'He started creating,' and then his dad walloped him one. I have no idea what "creating" means there. He had already mentioned he started a row, then Tommy does whatever that is, and then physical violence. I don't know, shouting, throwing stuff?

There's this whole subplot about picking winners for the World Cup, and some team from Port Vale manages a stunning victory, or something. I dunno, none of it meant a thing to me, but it keeps popping up throughout, and it seems vaguely relevant since Sergeant Brooke compared his and Foyle's methods of choosing as science versus chance, respectively. And that idea comes up more than once.

As it turns out, Sam and Rose are friends, and after Rose's falling out with Fred, she spends the night at Sam's. Then Johann turns up dead. Sam wisely mentions this to Foyle before he questions Rose and Fred, but then Rose tries to lie about the reason why she spent the night at Sam's, which, seemed unwise. Foyle let it pass, but still. I guess it's smarter than Novak saying, "I'll kill him!" right in front of a cop. On the plus side, at least Sam didn't lose another friend like she did Gwen in "War of Nerves".

The difference in how Foyle handles questioning Novak when he's a suspect, versus Fred, was pretty noticeable. Especially since at one point Novak even suggests Foyle is allowing their friendship to interfere in carrying out his duties, and Foyle dismisses the possibility. But he's much more gentle with Novak, who granted had been through a lot. But so had Fred. It's October of 1944 at this stage, and Fred was captured at Dunkirk. That's no picnic, and Foyle's blunt treatment was disappointing.

None of which excuses Fred's behavior towards Rose. No call for nearly hitting her, and though things seem to be better by the end of the episode, I have to wonder about it. Him accusing her of cheating on him, more than once, combined with almost hitting her, would be kind of an ugly phantom in their marriage. I mean, even at the end, when he's acknowledging that the loss of Johann was hard for her, he still asks if anything happened. I understand his anger that while he was a prisoner at the tender mercies of the Nazis, Johann's in England, working on Fred's family farm, playing with Fred's son, getting homecooked food from Rose. That's not a happy realization.

Foyle never seems worried that Novak killed Dr. Worth, and I'm not sure Milner entirely agrees. Which is rare, but you can tell Milner's choosing his words carefully when he talks about Novak around Foyle. The fact the doctor tried to take his own life is suggestion of something to Milner. As it turns out, Majdanek was a concentration camp, and the Worth Novak referred to was an Alexander Worth, a BBC correspondent traveling with the Soviet Army when they liberated Majdanek, and found the horrors that were typical of the Nazis. And then the newsreel that ran with the movie showed footage from Majdanek, which sent Novak into the night, where he encountered Johann, who brusquely knocked him down and shouted at him in German. And, as Brooke puts it to Sam at one point, Robert's your father's brother.

Science versus chance. Brooke mentions it, and so does Novak in reference to his life. He argues that he believes in free will, and yet the most influential moments in his life have been by chance. Chance that he was separated from his family when Hitler invaded Poland. Chance that he met his wife at all. Chance that he liked Bing Crosby and Foyle doesn't, because if Foyle had been there, Novak wouldn't have run out into the countryside alone and wouldn't have encountered Johann. But it's still free will, isn't it? Foyle made a choice that he doesn't like Bing Crosby. Novak made a choice to attend that conference. Johann made a choice to try and get back and either see Rose, or find some way to fix things between her and Fred. Hitler made a choice to do the horrendous things he did. It's not that free will doesn't come into play, it's that you can't know what choices other people are making simultaneously with their free will, and how those are going to interact with your choices.

Maybe that's what's frustrating Novak. He's trying to help Peter Phelps come to grips with both his past trauma, and the results of his actions as a bombardier, but he can't tell how choices others make are going to factor in, and he fears that renders all his and Peter's efforts useless. Even people trying to do good can be left doing horrible things to try and stop worse things.