Sunday, April 30, 2017

Earthworm Jim 1.6 - Upholstered Peril

Plot: Bob's attempt to feed Jim to a shark fails utterly, and back in Jim's HQ, there is a mysterious couch. A couch which quickly ensnares Peter, turning him into a couch potato, which is happening to people across the world. It's down to Jim and Grayson, the local boy genius and head of the Earthworm Jim fan club. Grayson's job is to trace the subsonic signal he detected controlling the furniture, and Jim's job is to do what he does best, destroy stuff, Peter and the couch in tow.

The signal is traced to the North Pole, where Jim finds Professor Monkey-for-a-Head has booted Santa from his workshop, and is preparing for the second phase of his plan. Which involves using a giant, rolling recliner tank thing to take over the world, starting with Jim's hometown of Terlawk. Peter has finally broken the couch's hold on himself, but he and Jim seem pretty outmatched until they're back up against the world's biggest cesspool and Jim gets a flash of inspiration.

The mid-episode interlude involves Psycrow imploring the public to be on the lookout for people suffering the scourge of superheroism, so they can receive treatment. it ends with Jim leaping in from off-screen and calling Psycrow a 'pointy-beaked squeezehead' before opening fire.

Quote of the Episode: Jim - 'I've got lots of evil furniture to fight! I can't spend all day on the throne!'

Times Peter turns into a monster: 1 (5 overall).

Cow? Yes, and it's mutated, with antlers and a red nose. All this super-science is releasing some weird radiation into the air.

Other: There was no word on how many people are in the Earthworm Jim fan club. Also, Jim likes stamp-collecting, though he has to work to keep Peter from licking them for the taste of glue.

The intro for the couches is to show people going about their everyday routines only to be drawn in by the couches's power. One of the outtakes we see is two guys in a car discussing what they call cheese in France, so Pulp Fiction. But they made the Sam Jackson character a white guy, but with the same hair. Seems questionable.

We learned a few things about Professor Monkey-for-a-Head. His father was killed by a fruit cart, so the prof hates those. He gets nosebleeds above 10 feet, which explains that Lifestyles of the Villainous interlude in episode 1.2 where we see the Professor lives on a space station. No gravity, so no height, right? And he handpaints the designs on his wooden furniture, which shows a real appreciation to craft.

There's a bit about Santa trying to get a commercial space rented to use as a new workshop, only to be turned away be a realtor who wants proof the elves have green cards. This guy caring about if it's going to be an illegal sweatshop is the least believable part of the cartoon about a giant worm in a super-suit fighting a guy driving a recliner with tank treads.

The real flaw I see with the couches is that they make people want to endlessly munch on snacks, but don't provide snacks. Then the couch either needs to loose its hold so they can get more, or the person is going to keep getting angrier, which is going to snap them out of the haze.

Friday, April 28, 2017

What I Bought 4/26/2017

Out of the 5 books I was at least considering buying this week, this was the only one I could find here in town. The others will have to wait until they arrive in the mail next week. In other news, it's very impressive how quickly Nick Spencer has put himself on my, "Don't buy anything this guy does" list. He's like Homer using "Line Inspector!" at Mt. Splashmore.

Ben Reilly; The Scarlet Spider #1, by Peter David (writer), Mark Bagley (penciler), John Dell (inker), Jason Keith (color artist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) - Ben's attempts at a second career staging puppet shows with real people is off to a rocky start.

So this Ben Reilly, having survived the Clone Saga he created, is trying to regroup in Vegas. The new costume was one he stole off some guy he mugged in a hotel room, and he's being haunted by a hallucination of himself in the original Scarlet Spider costume, and himself as the Jackal. Angel and Devil, respectively. He's got a plan to approach a Cassandra Mercury, some bigshot he provided a clone of her dead child to, but she's less than friendly towards him. Also, Kaine is hunting him, because that's what he does, stalk Ben Reilly.

And Ben seems to be trying to collect his own little family, only instead of Aunt May, he finds June, an elderly woman with a slot machine habit and a husband who declares himself dead to her. he may or may not be trying to cultivate something with the redhead he saved from a mugging, although giving her the gun the guy was using, while demanding money for saving her, is a curious approach. I can't tell if it's meant to be a sign of how warped his perspective is, or simply part of some larger plan. Have people he can be around who won't rat him out, out of fear or indifference, so he has places to live.

I read in a recent column by Brian Hibbs that Marvel releases something like 75 different titles each month, which jibes with my general impression while reading solicits that Marvel has too many goddamn books. This is probably one that has no real business existing, but here it is, for now, and I kind of like it. A lot of that is based on potential, the possibility of where it could go, what David and Bagley could explore through Ben Reilly.

One of the things I liked about the old Ben Reilly was him trying to find a place in life, and the difficulty that arose from the fact the place all his memories and instincts told him to occupy was already taken by someone he was a copy of. Which made him superfluous, and left him struggling to find meaning and direction. This Ben thought he'd found something with his cloning people and passing them off as reviving the dead, and that got blown to bits by that same guy whose existence means this Ben can't occupy the spot his memories said he should. He's struggling between trying to distance himself from the Peter Parker part of himself, but isn't prepared to abandon everything about that guy, and isn't so sure about his past actions either.

It's a little weird being able to see Ben's smile through the mask. That's more of a Deadpool thing. Especially since at time all signs of his mouth vanishes entirely. But I like the fact Ben's almost absent from the panel of him breaking a member of the group trying to rob the casino's wrist. You can see his arm, but nothing of his reaction or emotions, just the anguish (though the mask) of the robber. And in the next panel, he's breaking the gun in half, trying to show off for his "Aunt June", and the robber is falling off panel, already forgotten. He's not really any part of Ben's life, they just happened to cross paths for a moment, Ben broke the guy's wrist, interaction over.

Although the robber is visible again after the threat is over, down on the ground, holding his wrist, ignored by everyone else in the panel. It's an effective statement about Ben - although the part earlier where he shot the mugger in the knee with his own gun for calling Scarlet Spider "Spider-Man" after Scarlet expressly told him not to probably covered that too - and the people he's surrounding himself with. June is only interested in herself, her particular fixation, and Mr. Slate is focused on his work of keeping the casino running smoothly for Ms. Mercury. And among people like that, there's no compassion or concern left for others who made bad decisions. Which Ben is probably going to need, by probably doesn't think he deserves.

Anyway, yes, I'm staying with the book for now.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Low Expectations Carry The Day Again

Kill Command didn't let me down nearly as bad as Tank 432, because I didn't have nearly the expectations going in. I was just wanting to watch a standard sci-fi/action horror film (think Aliens), with a crew of military types struggling to survive in a situation where they're badly outclassed.

In this case, the squad is being sent on a training exercise to a facility owned by a company that produces automated robotic weapons. One of the weapons has gained is self-aware, and is supposed to learn and adapt, and has decided it wants some real soldiers to train against. And because the military is closely tied to it's defense contractors, it was remarkably easy to get a team sent there.

It's kind of fun to watch the soldiers wipe out the initial laughable forces put out for their "training", only to have the real threat then turn their tactics back around on them the next day. And arguing that it wants to see how they respond to an increasing threat, so it can learn and adapt from that, is a decent enough handwaving for why it doesn't simply kill them all the first time it has the upper hand.

Accompanying the team is a representative from the company, Mills, who has a chip thing which lets her connect with her companies' network and equipment (which includes most of the soldiers' guns), and also enables her to walk. I wasn't always clear on where she stood. She spends a lot of time insisting she doesn't know what's going on, but I was pretty sure she knew the robot became autonomous at the start of the film. But there's a scene, as the soldiers are destroying that first "test" of their tactics and abilities, where she encounters the robot, tries to access its network, and gets hacked herself. So I wasn't sure if she wasn't telling because the company didn't want her to, the robot had prevented her from doing so, or for reasons of her own. 'Cause she seems to have decided she cares about some of the soldiers, especially the sergeant, Drifter, but she's not being nearly as helpful as she could be.

There is a little something in a brief exchange between her and Captain Bueks, about what her goal was with this project, and why he is a soldier. It doesn't get expanded on much, nor does it really address how her goals might not matter much to the company she works for, which ultimately is going to have some say in what happens with this, but it was something. Low expectations!

At least a few of the soldiers lasted long enough for me to care about them. Naturally, most of the ones I cared about did not survive. I'm not saying they're extremely fleshed out characters, we're talking about the gruff captain who just wants to save his men and doesn't trust technology, or the sergeant who is cool under fire and a little more trusting, the rookie corporal who's kind of an idiot. But it's at least the bare minimum.

It does suffer from that thing where the enemies initially seem entirely resistant to the soldier's weapons, but the longer the film goes, the more of them the soldiers are able to take out, without upgrading their firepower. The main robot remains pretty overwhelmingly powerful, but the smaller ones it controls as firepower initially shrug off the Captain's rounds like they're nothing, but by the end, are being shot up by the dozen. They needed either to make them a little less tough at the start, or not throw so many of them out there for the big final battle.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Pickins Are Slim in July

The July solicitations didn't offer much to me. Secret Empire will still be a thing that's happening, but on the plus side, none of the title I plan to buy will be tying in yet. Take that as a win. Squirrel Girl and Nancy are traveling to the Savage Land in their book, which ought to be good.

Although I have this weird suspicion Ryan North is going to spend a lot of time in the book discussing various things about the Savage Land's existence which don't make sense, even allowing for alien technology. Hopefully it will be entertaining lampshading, it usually is.

On the down side, my hopes for the returning villain in Ms. Marvel to be the evil bird with Edison's mind were dashed. The returning villain is the freckled fascist from the Civil War II tie-ins. I could have done without Becky showing up again, certainly so soon after her being sent off to jail. You'd think HYDRA Cap would have tougher prisons.

Outside Marvel, Cave Carson continues, and Justice League of America is doing a story returning to The Ray's recently added home town, so it's probably a story focusing on him, which maybe means I should care? Deathstroke is also forming his own team of superheroes because of a head injury as I understand it, which is kind of interesting. Is that going to end with him recovering and then shooting all the heroes in the head (even though two of them are his kids)? Yeah, probably, unless he stabs some of them.

I had wondered how many months in a row Copperhead would ship before needing a skip month, and the answer is "four", as there's no issue listed for July. I had figured it would be five, which would conclude the third tpb, but not quite. Other than that, Wynonna Earp Season Zero and Real Science Adventures if I'm still buying those. But I just did not see anything else that caught my eye.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Being Crushed By A Tank Might Be Preferable

I tried watching Tank 432 because the premise of a team of mercs taking refuge inside a tank sounded promising. Maybe it was going to be like the ending fight scene in that Brad Pitt movie Fury. It was not at all like that.

The mercs have taken/rescued two people with sacks over their heads, who turn out to be young women. The whole group is being pursued by enemies, or perhaps just one. One that appears suddenly from nowhere, and isn't bothered by bullets. Now I'm thinking supernatural being, maybe these are his brides? "Outgunned soldier-types against the paranormal" isn't new, but it can be fun to watch. Mysterious Guy keeps his distance, always just pops up to spur their panic a little.

The team finds another young woman inside a shipping container sitting at some abandoned farm, and their leader orders her brought along as well. They take cover inside an armored carrier sitting in the middle of a field somewhere, and take refuge, but seemingly trap themselves inside. With no water, a wounded man, weird tapping noises coming from outside, a medic whose response to every situation is to jam people with sedatives or give them pills, and a leader who doesn't lead, only writes endlessly in his notebook. The tension rises, things aren't as they seem, and things end poorly.

It's a dull film, given all that. There's tension, but there's rarely any payoff. There isn't that ebb and flow where the tension breaks with some bit of action that changes the aituation or presents new problems, so the tension can rise again. It appears and then sits like, like a fart in a closed room. I kept waiting for something to happen. Unless you count the soldier who really needed to poop, and finally he does. And then falls backwards into it 30 seconds later.

The mass freak out at the end seems to be because it's the end of the film, rather than built up to properly. The hints and clues were there, but they weren't pulled together properly. So the end is a dud of a payoff for sitting through the film. I think it was an attempt to not simply sit there and spout exposition at us at the end, which is fine, but maybe a little exposition would have helped. Some reason to care, some better sense of the point of the whole thing.

The movie presents the whole thing as the threat really being inside their heads and they don't know it, but the external threat does exist, they just don't understand what it really is, either. The film is trying to do one thing, but undermines it at the end.

Monday, April 24, 2017

2017 Cape-Con Recap

The day didn't start well, because whatever sinus infection my coworker came down with last week transferred itself to me midway through Friday and was in full effect by Saturday morning. Not great to deal with during the 3+ hour drive, combined with intermittent rain. It was bad enough that on the drive home, I had to wear my sunglasses even though it was completely overcast and raining, because the light was making my head hurt. But I made it.

It didn't seem as crowded in the main hall as I remember it being last year, which isn't great. But I stepped outside three times during the day including when I left, and every time, while there were people leaving, there were other people driving up and coming in. So maybe there was a steady churn. At some point I'd like to watch an aerial shot of the crowds inside the convention, see if there's a pattern to where they concentrate at certain times. I might walk past an artist's table at one point, and there's a huge crowd, and circle around 10 minutes later and it's empty. But now there's a bunch of people in an aisle a couple of rows over. Does seeing the crowd draw more people in, or send them away (you can guess which it does to me)?

I did not find the recently released comics I was searching for, so that narrator from Friday's post was correct. What a jerk. I did find some issues of Solo Avengers I was looking for, a couple of issues of Incredible Hulk, JSA All Stars, and some Marvel Comics Presents. There's a stretch in that book where Ann Nocenti keeps throwing Typhoid Mary at different characters, mostly Wolverine or Ghost Rider, which are at least interesting in theory. And you never know when they get a strong surprise artist in there, like Gene Colan or young Jae Lee drawing a story about the Beast.

I did not ever work up the nerve to actually talk to Mike Grell. I know, he's there to interact and talk, and sell some artwork, but I felt like I wasn't knowledgeable enough about his work to really talk with him. I just know enough to know Mike Grell is a big deal in the comic world, which is enough to make me not want to stand there shifting awkwardly from one foot to the other, trying to decide if I can buy a print or if I have a good question (fortunately there were a lot of other people not suffering from my social anxiety). It's one of those times I needed Alex there, since he can talk with anyone. But there was no chance of him waking up early enough to hit the road before 6:30 a.m. the way I planned. And I was not inclined to alter my plans to anyone else's whims this time.

I stopped by Brian Rhodes' table to pick up his new comic Six Legs, No Heart, which reminds me a bit of some of those '70s short stories Stephen King might do. What was that one about the rat-infested tunnel and the work crew at the factory? Night Shift? I bought three more prints from Brian Koschak, and I need to make it a point to hold back a little more money next year to commission a sketch from him. I did commission a Starfire sketch from Lorenzo Lizana, who drew the Darkhawk sketch for me last year. Learned that he was a participant in the same contest that got Mark Bagley hired by Marvel back in the day, and then spent several years in toy design for things like Mars Attacks! and the Lost in Space movie, before making his way back to comics. That was kind of cool, because I read about artists working in TV or movies when they aren't in comics, but I never really understood what that would entail.

I bought this really great Two-Face from Matthew Miller, who drew my Amanda Waller sketch last year. He had done one drawing of Harvey Dent, another of Two-Face, cut up the Two-Face side, then glued it on in a shattered mirror style to the Harvey Dent picture. The description doesn't doe it justice, but I had to get that one as soon as I saw it. I picked up a couple of Overwatch-related pieces for Alex, though that involved asking the artists who certain characters are. I basically know the little zippy on the box art, Tracer, and that wasn't one of Alex' favorites. We'll see if they suit him or not. I worry he might have wanted more badass, and these are going to trend towards cute, but oh well. One of those pieces came from Nick Minor, and going through his sets of prints, I realized I have more artwork by him than anyone else at this point. It was like, 'Got that one, ooh that looks- wait I have that, got that one, there's one I want!' I just really like his style.

It isn't all to my interests, but I do appreciate the variety of vendors. People selling comics, people selling arts, or jewelry, or cosplay stuff, or toys and other collectibles, or food. And I feel like there's a good balance between them, in terms of providing something for everyone. Obviously I would prefer nothing but people selling back issues or artists, but this is for your kids' amusement (the kids!)

I saw one table selling Heroclix, which was a disappointment, but I probably don't need to spend money on pieces for a game I never play anymore. But I might take it up again someday! There were a couple of other vendors I'm used to seeing I didn't this year. I don't know if they decided not to show up, or they were too late reserving a table.

On the way back, I stopped at a gas station and after I answered the guy behind the register's, "How's it going?" with "Not too bad," he said I looked like I had a bad day, based on my mumbled response. I told it was just my understated style, then wrecked my attempt at nonchalance when I put my bag of chips in my coat pocket and they tumbled out before I got out the door. But I made it halfway across the parking lot before I realized, and by the time I got back in, another customer had found them and returned them to the counter. That was embarrassing. *sad trombone*

But it was a really good day. Long, but really good.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Earthworm Jim 1.5 - Conqueror Worm

Plot: Having survived a death trap of Evil the Cat's, Jim showed off the Terlawk Mall to the Mighty Hamstinator. The Hamstinator got a little too excited in the copy store and tried to photocopy Jim, producing a smushed and blurry picture, which wound up in the landfill. Where it is naturally exposed to toxic waste, causing the copy to become a 3-dimensional, green version of Jim, bent on causing mayhem, robbing banks, and stealing condiments. Jim, suffering from a frozen yogurt hangover, believes he's developed a split personality and turns himself in. And is promptly sentenced to several life sentences in prison, minus his supersuit, with a cellmate who uses him as dental floss.

Meanwhile, Evil Jim wreaks havoc and possibly takes over the world. He at least has Congress declare him King, which, lets face it, our Congress would probably do in a heartbeat. Evil Jim: He's a strong leader, bleats Mitch McConnell's neck jowls. Good Jim, realizing Peter was right about it being the work of an evil twin, escapes from prison, right as Peter and Snot try to bust him out. They eventually meet at the lab where Jim's suit is being researched, only to find Evil Jim waiting. His attempt to kill them Goldfinger style fails, and Jim has to rush to stop his doppelganger from destroying the mall. Which he does, with yogurt.

And in the interlude, Bob the Goldfish learns how an educated populace is a danger to despots. Or he learned the lesson of not giving people super-powers without some way to control them. Either/or.

Quote of the Episode: Peter - 'I'm just the sugar, but I'm gonna barf too! And the jelly! Jelly barf!'

Times Peter loses control: 1 (4 overall).

Cow? Yes, an enormous cow destroyed the mall. If it had waited 10-15 years, the economy would have saved it the trouble.

Other: I think this is the first episode Peter used the 'I must not fear, fear is the mind killer. . .' mantra. It won't be the last. I think it's also the first episode we've seen Jim utilize spinning his head really fast so he can hover like a helicopter. Although it was Evil Jim that did it, as he was in the process of dismantling the Army like he was the Hulk.

Peter's puppet show to describe his angst to Snot (which is where the quote of the episode comes from) was, uh, really something. But he's constantly having characters tell us how they feel. That makes me feel angry!

During Jim's escape from prison, he demonstrated a worse sense of direction than Bugs Bunny. He also helped four lions escape captivity, so that's something.

To escape Evil Jim's death trap, Jim has Peter pull him from the suit by grabbing Jim's head with his foot, then implores Peter to, quote, whip him. Causing Peter to raise an eyebrow until Jim explains he means use him to a whip to pull the off lever for the laser. Peter, uh, Peter's got an interesting mind.

I was feeling kind of down partway through the episode, because the show seemed to be doing a much better job keeping Evil Jim as an opposite than I do in my stories. Then Jim pointed out Evil Jim should love losing since Jim hates it, and Evil Jim brushed that off with, 'Don't be so literal minded.'

Evil Jim loves drinking orange juice right after bushing his teeth, which is just horrible. That sensation is the worst. But there'll be no orange juice or toothpaste in prison, Just that large fellow using Evil Jim for dental floss.

Friday, April 21, 2017

What I Bought 4/20/2017

1-for-2 on the new comics this week. Maybe I'll have some luck tracking down the stuff from the last two weeks at Cape-Con tomorrow. Looking for comics at a comic convention? That's just crazy enough to work!

Narrator, three days from now: It didn't work.

Ms. Marvel #17, by G. Willow Wilson (writer), Takeshi Miyazwa (artist), Ian Herring (color artist), Joe Caramagna (letterer) -  I've really enjoyed Nelson Blake and Rachelle Rosenberg's covers for this story arc.

Zoe has to deal with school after all her unsent texts to Nakia were leaked by the virus, but her friends are there for support, which makes it a little easier. Kamala's plan for dealing with the virus involves getting her online guildmates to come to Jersey and play nicely on the game so the virus will learn to be nice instead. The plan sort of stumbles when Kamala runs into a parade, and the virus first possesses people, then manifests as a physical being itself, but she punches it into temporary oblivion.

I don't understand what went on at all. Last issue Kamala went to a spot with no one else around, no machines, or networks, to tell the virus to shove off when it had nowhere to jump to. But there were, according to Mike, thousands of copies of the virus that hadn't been overwritten by the niceness attack at the time she ran into the parade. Which is why it's still possessing and attacking people, but then I don't understand what Kamala was hoping to accomplish by getting to a secluded place again.

So the specifics are fuzzy to me, but the overall idea is a good one. The unintended consequences of casual cruelty or anger, things we create growing in ways we didn't intend or anticipate. But also the capability of people to come together and work towards a good end. Also, I laughed at how Kamala's attempt to disperse the crowd resulted in a panic. Superheroes yelling at you that you're in danger would tend to make a person freak out.

All the odd background details Miyazwa puts in there continue to amuse. Mike's apparent fascination with someone called "Sleep Guy", going by the posters over her bed. And the collection of oddballs in the Founder's Day parade. orange Bear Suit Guy. Scuba Guy. A guy on stilts wearing a lampshade over his head (and a shirt with a light bulb on it). Maybe that stuff is normal for those sorts of parades. I don't think I've ever been to one, so hell if I know. Also, I think Miyazawa went heavier on the inks in the panel where the virus emerges from the giant screen. More hash marks, thicker lines and shadows in places. Makes him look more ominous, and maybe out of place.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Violence Set To Music Sticks With Me, Apparently

Simple question for a post tonight: What are songs you link with a particular movie? Not songs written for that movie, but preexisting ones the film used, and now you think of that film when you hear the song?

I was watching a show with a bunch of music videos, and realized I hadn't seen several of the videos before. Instead I had scenes from films I associated with the songs.

At this point, both Salt-N-Pepa's "Shoop" and DMX's "X Gon' Give to Ya" are linked with Deadpool, for example. Or The Beat's "Mirror in the Bathroom" is tied to the high school reunion fight scene from Grosse Pointe Blank.

So what are some for you?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Related 'Cause I Don't Understand Kids

Two tangentially related thoughts:

There was, a month or two back, a thread making the rounds on Twitter about how basically none of the major comic publishers make any comics suitable for kids age 5-7. Even the comics based on TV shows ostensibly for kids that age apparently had too many panels, too much dialogue, too many cultural references and in-jokes kids of that age wouldn't understand.

My initial reaction was that this was a load of bull, and not giving kids enough credit. I was introduced to comics when I was roughly five, and we're talking Claremont X-Men and Tom DeFalco-written Spider-Man comics. Neither of whom are authors known for brevity, and I won't claim to have understood everything (I had an issue from Kraven's Last Hunt, the one where Peter digs out of his own grave, and I sure as hell didn't know what was going on), but I understood enough to keep going. Though comics then would have generally done more to catch up the new reader each issue than comics now.

So I wondered if the writer wasn't selling kids short on their ability to comprehend and stick with a story. But I figured I didn't know, so leave it be.

Flash forward a couple of weeks, my TV is on and Teen Titans Go! is playing. Because if you have your TV on Cartoon Network at any point during the day, there's a 70% chance Teen Titans Go! is playing. I don't hate the show, though I find the jabs at the fans of the earlier Teen Titans show tiring, but sometimes it's funny, and sometimes it's just annoying, and the line is thin. But it's not for me, given the number of friends I have who tell me their kids or young nephews love it. And that's fine.

I don't remember which episode specifically I was watching, but it was one of the ones with the terrible "moral" at the end. There are a lot of those, where one of the Titans or the entire team do something awful or completely ignorant and the episode treats it as the right thing. Like the Titans becoming villains because being heroes was interrupting their goof-off time. Or eating unhealthy foods and wasting money to kill off their future selves who had come back to force them to eat better and be thrifty to prolong and improve their own lives (which, to be fair, I found pretty funny). Most anytime Robin's competitiveness causes him to behave like a dick, or the show rewards the other characters for willful ignorance. Etc., etc.

Whichever episode it was I saw, I wondered to myself if kids watching recognize the show is trying to be funny, and that the kids shouldn't try to apply the "lessons". My gut feeling is they do, because they know the show isn't trying to be serious, but I can't be sure. This isn't a pearl clutching thing, I'm not worried the kids are being corrupted, more just curious about how they perceive this versus how I do. Most of the cartoons when I was young were pretty aggressive with their messages of everyone getting along (except the bad guys, who were Bad), any differences being settled with everyone learning a valuable lesson at the end, drugs are bad. That kind of thing. A different experience.

I'm not drawing any sort of conclusion from either of these things, other than the one in the title of the post, which I already knew. But it was something I'd been mulling over for a few weeks.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Another Lukewarm Movie Review

Something else I did over the weekend at Alex' was watch Suicide Squad. Most of it. Well, part of it.

I could see some things in there that were good. Will Smith's personality didn't match a Floyd Lawton I was used to, but Floyd as he was presented in the '80s comics might have been a hard sell to audiences. And I tend to like Will Smith, so it's fine. Margot Robbie was Harley was OK, in that I thought she did well with what the film gave her. That feeling Harley's almost always either a) amusing herself, or b) trying to play everyone. Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, had some of the naked self-interest and sleaziness I enjoyed with old Boomerbutt, but maybe I missed the points where he showed more of Boomer's dangerous side.

I'm not sure why they went the direction they did with Enchantress (Cara Delevingne), with that outfit, and the swaying, and at one point I think she started talking in rhyme. Did they figure the look with the pointy witch hat was too silly? Or did they not want Margot Robbie to get lonely with the sexualization? Especially strange given her brother was this giant, almost armored, fiery looking guy. Hard to see the relation. Viola Davis did alright with what she was given as Amanda Waller, though, again, not quite all that I was hoping for. The whole bit with the binder full of files on the characters was kind of clunky as a expository device, but that's not Davis' fault. I did end up skipping the next bit of the film after that because I'd read that they go over all that stuff again right afterwards, which seemed stupid and pointless (I think I was also watching Star Trek Beyond and Jazz vs. Clippers at the time).

Every scene with Jared Leto in it was unpleasant. He's trying for this effect, but it's too obvious he's trying with how he moves to emphasize certain things. Course, I didn't see any point to having Joker in a damn Suicide Squad movie anyway. I know they figured it would goose interest to have a villain the public at large knows, I just don't care about that line of thinking. If we're dealing with a universe where Mistah J actually gives a shit about Harley as this one does, Waller wouldn't be stupid enough to put Harley on her team where she'd have to expect Joker to show up. In the comics, where the Joker would be too busy trying to kill Batman to care, she might try it, but here it's just a dumb decision.

Beyond that, I wasn't sure how much characterization was the movie and how much was me filling in gaps with stuff I know from comics. I thought it looked as though Diablo and Killer Croc might be turning into pals at one point, Diablo being the one who wasn't going to tease Croc about his appearance, but I'm not sure about that. I think, given time, this was a combination of characters that could make something interesting, but it didn't come together. Maybe use the time wasted on Joker on some of the rest of the cast instead.

I do appreciate that they went with a weird kind of threat, with an evil spirit possessing someone and trying to form a gateway back to her dimension and rule both. That's kind of out there, not mundane, not bickering about politics, so credit for going for something there, even if I'm not sure that's really a good mission for the Squad. It seems more like the kind of clusterfuck that would develop abruptly during some other, slightly more grounded mission they went on. Trying to stop some rival government's metahuman force and things get out of hand. Still, it was something.

I guess at some point I should try to watch the whole thing in one go and see if I like it any better, but it's hard to get fired up at the prospect of doing so.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Just Arguing About Smashmouth In Cracker Barrell

Spent the weekend at Alex, so did not get as much done as I intended, but it was a good weekend. On Saturday, we were having breakfast with one of his other friends on who was hanging out with us, and a music argument started up.

 I don't remember how it started, but Darren was speaking disparagingly of the music of the '80s and '90s, and the 2000s as well, he was undecided which of the three were the two worst decades for music. Especially in comparison. For the record, Darren's a little younger than me, so it isn't as though he grew up through the '60s or '70s, which he touted as being much better. He seemed annoyed especially by what he felt was a large number of one-hit wonders.

Anyway, he somehow settled on Smashmouth as indicative of everything bad about the more recent eras, because they made, quote, 'the douchiest song possible,' which I think was a reference to "All-Star", but could have been "Walking on the Sun". That everything was about just trying to cobble together something that would be super-popular, and there was no artistic drive involved.

Which, hell, could be true, probably even is true, but I countered - out of contrariness than any desire to defend Smashmouth - by asking if he believed that, for example, Creedance Clearwater Revival had made every one of their songs from a place of deep artistic vision. He conceded the point, sort of, though he and Alex both argued that CCR was writing their own songs, and there weren't a bunch of producers involved.

Again, sure, that's true for all I know. And I'm not going to try to argue for Smashmouth over CCR, but that wasn't really what I was interested in. I was more interested in the idea that the music from before Darren was alive was better than the stuff he lived through. It reminded me of the discussions about pitchers I see in baseball arguments. About why pitchers today can't throw as many innings as pitchers used to. But the arguments - while also ignoring differences in the game, ballpark dimensions, tape study, better drugs, whatever - cite the few pitchers who were able to do that. The Bob Gibsons, the Nolan Ryans, and so on, but ignore the legions of pitchers who were contemporaries of those guys who never came close. Who managed one, maybe two of those years, and then collapsed, or the guys who blew out their arms in the minors and never got close.

Survivorship bias. We look back and see the pitchers or bands that made it and think that's all there was. But for the stuff we lived through, we remember the ones who didn't have sticking power, and so there seems like a much lower percentage of big successes. Darren remembers all these one-hit wonders and bands he liked when he was younger he now knows were terrible, and sees an ocean of crap. But if he'd been alive in the 1960s, he'd have encountered a bunch of different bands he would have loved that faded into obscurity or that he hated once he got older.

Which doesn't dismiss his feelings about Smashmouth, but it was a discussion I enjoyed. Plus it prompted Alex to pose a poll online about Smashmouth vs. CCR just to tweak Darren, which CCR ultimately came from behind to win (after Darren posed a video of Alex scratching "Down on the Corner" on his turntables), which was funny to me.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Earthworm Jim 1.4 - Day of the Fish

Plot: We open with Jim and Peter in peril from the Queen and I'm not typing that name. They escape thanks to the suit's little known inflation capability causing a chain reaction. After, as Jim plays cards with some other heroes, he grouses at the lack of heroic deeds to accomplish. So when Peter announces they're out of sugar, Jim leaps at the chance to acquire some from the nearest planet.

Unfortunately, that planet is La Planeta de Agua, ruled by Bob the Fish, who is himself bemoaning both his lack of arms and the useless stupidity of his fish subjects. Jim's arrival offers a solution. Also, dinner. Jim initially overcomes Bob's cat goons, but is caught by surprise and set to be cooked while Bob uses his suit to conquer Earth. But the cat cook is an idiot, and Bob left Jim's rocket behind, so Jim can rush to confront Bob at what the fish assumed was the seat of the world government, the World's Largest Aquarium (just so happens to be in Jim's town of Turlawk). Jim succeeds in reclaiming his suit thanks to the power of higher education, defeats Bob, and returns to his compatriots, with no sugar.

In the mid-show interlude, Evil the Cat faces a horrible disappointment in the world of love.

Quote of the Episode: Bob - 'How many times have I told you, I am not to be used as a projectile!'

Times Peter transforms: 0 (3 overall):

Cow? Yes.

Other: Turns out Jim is an excellent poker player, which I wouldn't have expected. He doesn't seem like he could bluff effectively.

So Bob's planet's name is pronounced in Spanish (and always followed by a shout of "Arriba!" from so unseen voice), but Bob has a distinctly Southern good ol' boy accent. Which feels like some kind of commentary, especially given Bob's inflated sense of his own importance and tendency to expect others to compensate for his shortcomings. Also the fact that the fish don't seem to pay much mind, or don't understand, anything Bob is trying to accomplish. They'll float there are listen, but they don't do anything. Bob could only be ruler of a world filled with inhabitants too dumb to know what he's saying or be able to doing anything with it one way or the other.

The poor cat tasked with cooking Jim at least made an understandable failure. Who among us hasn't tried to prepare a dish by simply substituting the thing we're cooking in place of some other ingredient? He just messed up which half of "pot roast" needed to be replaced with "worm".

They introduced the Aquarium by comparing it to another failed civic works project in Terlawk, a world-class university, still waiting for its first student. I figured it was a one-off joke about the folly of small towns trying to ill-advised projects to boost the economy, but it actually played into the story beyond that.

Friday, April 14, 2017

What I Bought 4/12/2017

Only able to get one out of three books this week. Make do with what we've got.

Unbelievable Gwenpool #14, by Christopher Hastings (writer), Myisha Haynes (artist), Rachelle Rosenberg (color artist), Clayton Cowles (letterer) - Can't decide if Gwen actually paid for that stuff or not. Although I'm also not sure who Kate is aiming at. The angle of the arrow doesn't really line up with Gwen, but that seems to be who Kate is looking at.

Gwen asks Sarah if she can at least give Gwen's dead friend Cecil the ability to interact with the physical realm again, if not bring him back to life. Sarah can't, but she can detect a possible solution, and provides a portal to it. The solution is a gem, held by a bunch of dwarves in Los Angeles, being tracked by Kate Bishop. Unfortunately, Sarah's portal leaves Gwen and Cecil trapped in the trunk of a car. How can an incorporeal spirit be trapped in a car? It's the Ghost Rider's car, as he's also after the dwarves. The whole thing turns into a mess, and Cecil winds up trapped in the gem, which Ghost Rider takes off with. So Kate and Gwen will try tracking him down, and hopefully Cecil doesn't listen to the Spirit of Vengeance talking to him inside the gem.

Gwen seems to be trying to make amends for her poor and hasty decisions at the start of the series, but at the precise moment some of her other decisions are about to come back to haunt her. Not just what happened to Cecil, but also what she had Dr. Strange do to give herself a history in that world. Is it a case of how sometimes you make the best choice you can under a deadline, and have to deal with the consequences, or is it that Gwen failed to even consider the possibility of consequences? She thinks it's all a fiction, a gave she can manipulate because she thinks she knows the rules. And I think what Hastings is doing is showing there are rules in play Gwen either didn't realize existed, or didn't stop to factor in.

Haynes' art seems more simplified than it was in issue 11. That might be the thicker lines that are getting used at least part of the time. The pages with those definitely have a rougher look to them than some of the others. I thought the page where Gwen leaps into the bathtub portal looked really good, but the shading and level of detail just doesn't look as good on most other pages. The action sequences are kind of stiff. Ghost Rider seems unable to bend any of his joints in a more than minimal amount. he's swinging around these chains, but there's no sense of any exertion or movement. Ghost Rider seems like the biggest problem, and I wonder if Haynes just struggles with the character. And I have a similar feeling about Rosenberg's colors, which makes me think one of the two is affecting the other, and I can't tell which way it's going. Again though, the colors seem flatter in the second half of the book, so maybe the whole thing was rushed.

Taken on its own, not a good issue. As the starting point in a larger story, it puts a couple of interesting pieces in place. I wasn't really dying to see Gwen interact with Kate Bishop or Robbie Reyes.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Escalation Will Bring It To This Point Eventually

Yesterday a coworker and I started discussing the upcoming 8th Fast & the Furious movie. I can't remember what prompted it, but we got into talking about the constant search for new ridiculous sequences - from tanks, to massive cargo planes, to jumping between skyscrapers, now fighting a submarine - compared to where it started. My coworker mentioned it started to get really crazy once they added the Rock, and I mentioned they added Jason Statham*.

So my coworker said he wished they put Statham in as his character from The Transporter films, do an official crossover. I said sure, Automotive Movie Shared Universe, and let's throw in the Mad Max films***.

Then he suggested adding in Cars, which in retrospect, I don't know. We're going to give the cars sentience with the crazy stuff these characters put them through? Lightning McQueen was capable of feeling pain, right? But at the time I said, in that case we should throw in the Transformers movies to which, was a terrible idea, no reason to taint these other franchises with a Wahlberg.

Still, putting Dom and his family against a bunch of sentient machine-based lifeforms that are also ancient engines of destruction would also qualify as the next logical step in the series.

Maybe "logical" isn't the right word.

* I found myself rooting for him in the last movie, even though he was the bad guy, because he's fighting Vin Diesel and the Rock, and those guys are way bigger than him. I mean, the Rock is like three times bigger than Statham, it's hard not to root for the relatively little guy up against the dude with a bicep the size of Montana, even if the little guy did start it**.

** Assuming that you don't buy, "You killed my brother while stopping his various criminal enterprises" as a valid justification for Statham's character's actions.

*** Which came to mind because The Ringer had an article up about their suggestions for the next four films in the Fast & Furious series, and while I didn't bother to read the article, the image they had to accompany the link was of Vin Diesel and Charlize Theron as Furiosa from Fury Road.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

What I Bought 4/4 and 4/7/2017

Couple more books from last week. One is wrapping up a mini-series of sorts, and the other was me giving the second issue of an ongoing a chance.

Avengers #5.1, by Mark Waid (writer), Barry Kitson, Mark Bagley, Sean Izaakse, and Ro Stein (pencilers), Mark Farmer, Scott Hanna, Mike Perkins, Ted Brandt, Sean Izaakse, and Drew Hennessy (inkers), Jordan Boyd, Matt Tackey and Wil Quintana (colorists), Ferran Delgado (letterer) - After last issue I wondered how many people they'd need for the next issue, but I didn't envision it would get this bad. 4 pencilers, 6 inkers, and 3 colorists. For one 20 page comic. Jesus Christ.

As it turns out, the Kooky Quartet was only mostly dead, but the remaining Original Four helped them fake their funeral as a trap so they could take down Cressida themselves. Easier said than done since she's copied their powers for a bit, but she makes the number 1 mistake Avengers' foes make: She dismissed Hawkeye. Exhausted and disoriented, she runs, straight into the remainder of the Frightful Four, who take a little vengeance. I assume this all ties in with the story Waid and Michael del Mundo are doing in Avengers Whole Numbers with Kang, but I have no idea how. So from my perspective it's a fun but inessential little story, which is fine.

But the art is a mess. The coloring shifts wildly from one page to the next. The sequence starting with the funeral up to the point the battle moves into the mansion is in this color scheme dominated by blues where all the characters faces are extremely pale. Then you turn a page and the colors have shifted to something much brighter. But it also signals a change in artist, and the faces take on a distinctly unfinished look. And the shifts continue like that throughout. At least everyone has a sufficiently distinct design there aren't any problems telling who's who, but it definitely disrupts the flow of things. Not exactly sticking the landing there.

Iron Fist #2, by Ed Brisson (writer), Mike Perkins (artist), Andy Troy (color artist), Travis Lanham (letterer) - Here we see Danny entering the section of town known as "Artist is Running Behind and Hasn't Drawn It Yet". It's very quaint in how old-fashioned it is, nothing there, just like in the moments before the universe came into existence. Can't get more old-fashioned than that.

The island of Liu-Shi has several Masters, and Danny is being set against them one at a time. A mysterious Master Wolf waits at the end, though Danny doesn't look as though he'll get past the Master Rat at this rate. Also, his chi is being reignited by the fact he's somehow absorbing the chi of the masters he defeats. Which is creepy and really should have triggered the warning bells, but this Danny seems like a junkie, jonesing for his power back. This is all part of Liu-Shi's plan to take K'un-Lun's place as the 7th City of the Heavens. Will it start only connecting to Earth every 7 years if it manages that?

Danny losing his chi isn't unusual. Davos seems to steal it away every six months, which forces Danny to get it back simply so Davos doesn't kill people with it. But Danny's rarely shown as someone desperate to get it back. It's a burden on him, that he'd just a soon be free of. Instead of having the expectations of his parents, he has the expectations of this entire, strange city weighing on him, while still regarding him as an outsider. The fact Danny frankly sucks as a protector doesn't help. His first opponent called him a fraud, and he's got some points. Danny's the first Iron Fist not to win the Tournament of the Heavens and he lost in the first round, the first match. K'un-Lun's been destroyed how many times on his watch?

So having a Danny rushing into this to get the power back, with no issues about what might be happening to the fighters whose chi he absorbs (didn't Davos nearly kill him doing that once?), it's not a great look for him. And doesn't he draw his chi from somewhere? It's not a supply within him, it's a vast ocean that's he's connected to and can pull from. Drawing from these guys shouldn't be doing anything to undo whatever is blocking him from that.

Artwise, Perkins and Andy Troy are doing a couple of interesting things. When Danny enters the village to fight the Rat Master, the final panel on one page the border is red, and the red extends into the panel to fill the outlines of the rats that are coming at Danny from both sides. On the next page, as Danny gets tossed around, the Master's hand is in the panel, but as an outline with no color or detail. A white void. I won't say I understand the significance of it, since his hands are colored in for the panels before and after that one, so maybe it's just a mistake, but it's distinctive. A presence announced by absence, something not right or out of place.  Beyond that, a lot of shadows, heavy use of black in most scenes, a dark book. Fits with the story.

The fight with the first Master varied in pacing a bit. The early stage, when Danny's mostly getting trounced, had more of that interrupted, here are a series of moments feel, and as the fight goes on it gets more into one panel leading to the next and then the next. I wouldn't call it great fight choreography, but there's not much back and forth. The Master kicks Danny's ass until Danny dodges one punch, then unleashes his own barrage that wins the day.

As usual, my curiosity about where things might go is grappling with my feeling that I'm not really digging it enough right now over whether to stick around to find out.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Things I Base Canon On

Until a couple months ago, I never even considered that Han Solo was bullshitting with his "Kessell Run in less than 12 parsecs" line from the first Star Wars. Part of that is probably because it's Harrison Ford. I expect that of course his character can do cool shit like, make a smuggling run in a shorter distance than anyone else. Well, it sounded cooler when he said it.

And there was the time Morgan Webb on X-Play explained that the "12 parsecs" works because the Kessell region is a star cluster with intense gravity which can disrupt hyperspace travel, but the Millenium Falcon was fast enough to fly closer than most ships without that happening. Like if you can run fast enough to run across a lake as opposed to having to go around. Anyway, it seemed like a perfectly reasonable (by comic book quasi-science standards) explanation to me.

Beyond that, the spaceships have always been the part of Star Wars I was most interested in. The same thing that made me interested in World War II aviation. Speed, maneuverability, freedom. The two pieces of Star Wars related things I own are Star Wars: Rogue Squadron for the N64 and The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels. The latter was an interesting window into the various books that made up the Expanded Universe, but more relevant to this, the book said the Millennium Falcon had a 0.5 hyperdrive rating, which was the best of anything they listed. So that meant it was the fastest, which meant Solo's claim was legit.

You think I'd have read the backs of enough superhero trading cards to know not to trust such things, but here we are.

As it turns out, the script for the film outright says Obi-Wan is unimpressed by this obvious and poor attempt at bragging. It's meant to be bullshit on Han's part, him trying to impress what he thinks are a couple of rubes. Which, it fits with Solo as not being nearly as cool or as clever as he thinks he is, but it's still a letdown. The Internet: Ruining Everything You Enjoy A Little More Each Day.

I guess I could tell myself the ship can manage it, Solo just never tried it, only considered. Or he did make it, but it was sheer luck or a complete accident rather than any great skill on his part or the ship's. And being Han Solo, he naturally tries to pass off a total fluke as going exactly as planned (while Chewbacca tries his best not to have terrible flashbacks nearly dying on that run).

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Fine Day For A Trip To The Ballpark

Out of the blue last week my dad asked if I wanted to go to a Cardinals' game. After much struggling on his part getting the tickets bought, we headed out on Saturday. The weather was excellent, the traffic wasn't too bad. We wound up sitting a level closer to the field than we have in the last few games we attended. More critically, the people around us weren't constantly getting up all through the game, in contrast to our experience last summer.

The Cardinals beat the crap out of the Reds, which was nice. Nothing against the Reds, just nice to see a win, especially with the Cardinals on a three-game losing streak going into the game. Michael Wacha started, which was cause for concern. Wacha got consistently battered last season, and was effectively useless the last two months of the 2015 season. He's probably only in the rotation because Alex Reyes had Tommy John surgery at the start of Spring Training. But outside of a rough three-batter stretch in the 4th inning, where Wacha got the ball up and each batter made solid contact, he cruised. Even Matt Adams badly misplaying a ball in the second inning, netting Zach Cozart a triple, didn't come back to bite him.

But Matt Adams in left field, yeesh. The general manager said at the end of last season the team needed to focus on shoring up their defense, which was shit last year. Signing Dexter Fowler and moving Randal Grichuk to left was meant to be a move in that direction. But with Stephen Piscotty out, and Grichuk moved to right field, Incompetent Boob Manager Mike Matheny is playing Matt Adams in left. Keep in mind Adams has only played at first base since he reached the majors in 2012, and Matheny has been his manager that entire time, and should therefore, you know, remember that. And he has a backup outfielder on the team, Jose Martinez, but no, play the converted first baseman in the outfield.

As if keeping up with the Cubs wasn't going to be hard enough, the Cards handicap themselves with this dumbass manager.

On the plus side of the ledger, the Reds trotted out Bronson Arroyo and his 85 mph fastball to start. And Aledmys Diaz was the second batter to face him and put one over the fence. Then did it again in the 4th, with two men on, in almost the exact same place. There was one sequence that was pretty funny, when Grichuk lead off the 4th and ultimately struck out. Arroyo kept throwing pitches either in the mid-80s or mid-70s, and Grichuk was out in front of ever single one. It was like he thought Arroyo could rear back and throw 95 and kept expecting him to do it.

Anyway, Arroyo lasted 4 innings, and then was pinch hit for by another pitcher, which was curious. Brandon Finnegan hasn't distinguished himself as a hitter, but maybe the manager was determined to give some guys the day off, even from pinch-hitting. They brought in Robert Stephenson, who sounds like a random player generated by a video game, and he proceeded to walk 6 batters in less than two innings. The Cards let him off the hook in the 5th, but were able to scrape together a few hits in the 6th among the walks to drive in 3 more runs. After that, Wandy Peralta came in and got the Reds through the 7th unscathed, but Drew Storen gave up another run in the 8th.

Being up 9-1 by the end of the 6th allowed the Cardinals to sub out a lot of their starters, which means Molina actually got some rest. Probably won't happen again for two months. Greg Garcia got to play, which was fine with me. I'd like for him to get more playing time, given his defensive versatility and ability to get on base. Adams was blessedly subbed out by the 6th for Jose Martinez. Matheny, not content to be outdone in curious pinch-hitting choices, used pitcher Adam Wainwright in the 8th, who got a single off Storen and scored the team's final run. At least Wainwright hit very well last year (he had 7 doubles, a triple, and 2 home runs), although Jhonny Peralta was presumably still an option off the bench. I like watching pitchers at least try to hit, so it was fun. The DH concept can burn in hell.

Matt Bowman pitched an efficient 7th, Jonathon Broxton threw nothing but fastballs in the 8th and gave up a two-run home run. Which meant I had to make some cracks about "Pork n' Beans" Broxton, except I forgot I gave that name to him as his 1930s ballplayer nickname, not as a hobo nickname. Plus my dad I thought I was implying Broxton was Southern by saying he'd have to sit downwind of the barrel fire that evening. I don't know.

My botching my own joke aside, it was a lovely day all around.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Earthworm Jim 1.3 - Assault and Battery

Plot: We open with Jim and Peter bolted to a huge rock by Professor Monkey-for-a-Head, as he prepares to incinerate them with a laser. Jim fails to break the shackles, but instead lifts the rock, stumbles around, and drops it on the professor. The next morning at home, Jim makes sure the paperboy hits the damn porch for once - by lifting his entire house and using it like a baseball glove. And then the super-suit stops working, right as Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-for-a-Butt arrives in town with her army, determined to get the suit. Time to flee, but not inside the house like last week. This time they head for the International House of Haggis, where they have a chance for Jima and Snot to venture into the suit's workings to find the problem. It's a simple problem - the battery is drained - but since the suit was powered by the Battery of the Gods, getting a replacement could prove difficult. If they an survive an assault from the Queen's insect warriors.

Fortunately the day is saved by the mysterious Johnny-Dactyl. Unfortunately he then leaves in a snit when his personal sound system screws up during his big entrance. Still, it's enough of an opening for Jim and Peter to get back to their home and find a listing in the Phone Book of the Gods. This leads to asking a boon of a trio of schmuck Gods, and being forced to answer a riddle. Having successfully answered the riddle, Jim is back to full power, which still may not be enough to take down the Queen. Unless he can unleash the awesome might of the Slow-Motion Sports Movie Moment (not what they call it, but I can't think of a better description).

Quote of the Episode: Jim - 'At last I was a player in the big game of life. Too bad I hadn't read the rules on the top of the box.'

Times Peter Loses Control: 1 (4 overall).

Cow? Yes.

Other: This is the first haggis joke of the series. Where Peter develops a taste for the stuff, right up to the point when he's informed what's in it. I think I'd actually forgotten about this joke.

The riddle was, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" I quite like Jim's answer, and so did the gods, although it was Japius, God of Puns, so take with a grain of salt.

The Gods also gift Snot with a nose flute, which plays horrible, horrible music. High-pitched and off-key, tortuous to poor Peter, although Jim enjoys it. Of course, as Peter notes, Jim doesn't have any ears. And last week he was more resistant to the Reeking Beasts because his didn't have a nose. Tune in next week as they have to walk across hot coals and Jim is unfazed because he doesn't really have any feet.

Jim's slow-motion sports heroics celebrations crack me up, but I like sports movies, even if they all have roughly the same plot.

The short bit in the middle of the episode this week is a pitch for Psycrow's School of Nefarious Villainy, where he'll teach you the ABCs of making threats, and provide a support group to help you feel confident in yourself as a villain. Which is a pretty good system, remembering to think of the emotional aspect of villainy as well as the technical side. I wouldn't have expected that from Psycrow frankly. I was thinking more like Mr. Langley's course for Monorail operators in that one Simpsons episode.

Friday, April 07, 2017

What I Bought 3/25/2017 and 4/4/2017

A couple of books from outside Marvel and DC. One is midway through a miniseries, and the other is an ongoing returning after a long hiatus.

Copperhead #11, by Jay Faerber (writer), Drew Moss (artist), Ron Riley (colorist), Thomas Mauer (letterer) - Some don't greet unwanted guests with pies to the face, they just shoot them.

At the end of the previous issue, Sheriff Clara Bronson had entered the Mayor's office and found him dead. So now comes the attempt to determine the killer. His last appointment was with a local bigwig, and he doesn't particularly like the sheriff, so she lets her deputy, whose name is Budroxifinicus (generally called "Boo") go first. And he quickly gets installed as the new Mayor. Whether he's trying to sucker the bigwig, or this is his way of getting one over on the sheriff remains to be seen. The sheriff also has an old ex show up, and there's a dangerous escaped convict who probably has an unhealthy fixation on her somewhere in space.

In retrospect, I should have reread the first two trades, because I can't recall who "Ford" is in his day job. I do recall the bigwig calling someone looking for dirt on Bronson, and that someone implying the sheriff kills people who try that shit, which I guess was Ford. Besides that, Faerber did a good job at least outlining all the basic connections. The coroner's also the doctor, and a drunk. The bigwig doesn't like the sheriff, she and this convict have history, the guy named Ishmael looking after the kid is an "Artie" (artificial human), but manages to work most of that in smoothly over the course of the issue. It's not exposition that grinds the book to a halt.

Moss is new to the book, as cover artist Scott Godlewski was the original series artist. Moss does well, nothing too flashy. I think Ron Riley's colors help the book maintain a largely similar feel to the earlier issues. A lot of very dark nights, and day scenes with a pale pink tint to the sky. At certain points the colors feel slightly washed out, like there's just a bit too much sun. I think Moss needs to draw Boo larger, though. Until the last page, he doesn't really dominate panels or pages the way I recall him doing. Could be that's the point, that as Mayor he has some power over Clara and that lets him assert dominance. He and Riley also like to portray Mr. Hickory (the bigwig) with the brim of his hat shadowing his eyes, so that they appear as empty white circles. At least, they like it enough to use it twice in two pages. There's a good contrast between those pages and how he's drawn on the final page, in his more solicitous public persona as he meets Clara. He's facing us more fully, no hat or anything shading his face, no devious grin, just more open in appearance, even if it's a false impression.

Empowered: Soldier of Love #2, by Adam Warren (writer), Karla Diaz (artist), Ryan Kinnaird (co-colorist), Nate Piekos (letterer) - Well, they may be tangled in the plots and hair of a resentful magical princess, but at least Ninjette still has her beer.

Emp has been pulling together a theory about what's with all the cape-types hooking up, and it involves a strange event where a bunch of teenage girls got magic powers, and one of them hates her job and is on the loose. Which is exactly correct, and the Soldato del Amor intends to mess around with some sort of Super Shield thing designed to protect the city from catastrophe, and instead use it to trap the inhabitants of the city and eradicate all love forever and ever. And most of the heroes are too busy making out or texting each other to do anything.

It's that middle chapter where all the pieces get moved into position for the big finish, and there's a lot more explanation of what's going on and why. Which is not the most fun to read, especially with the various Superhomeys incessantly texting each other constantly. If this is what life is like for the Soldato, no wonder she hates love so much. And I'm in complete agreement with Ninjette, that calling someone "Daddy" as sexy talk is nauseating. Like when guys call their wives "Mother". Colonel Potter always did that on MASH, and it just seemed weird. She's not your mom, don't call her that!

I did enjoy the sequence contrasting Soldato's original glee at learning she's a secret magical princess, with her utter disgust at the role she's trapped in 10 years later. The top half of the page, with bright pink background lighting and literal sparkles around her face as she cheers. Then bottom half, with a dull beige, off-white background of hotel walls, as she sits on the bed with her e-cig of Amor and sullenly stares into space. The constant scowl (except when she's sneering) she carries as she goes about her business is a nice touch too. And having her voice balloons change color when she's in costume and speaking the Language of Love rather than her typical Spanish, of which I can piece together maybe 40%.

Look, if she was speaking German I'd have a chance, but she's not. It's not my fault I'm not the right bilingual.

OK, it is my fault because I didn't take Spanish, but I didn't know in high school I'd someday need to translate a magical floating pangolin's speech bubbles.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Undersized, Adorable, But Not Too Bright

I'm going old school for this version of the made-up team, back to the original NES. It was a little tricky, between my not having actually owned all that many NES games, and several of the ones I did own were licensed properties (read: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle games, mostly), so a somewhat limited field of candidates.

The Leader: The Paperboy (Paperboy) - He probably would have fit well as The Rogue, but I didn't feel like I had a better option. And what we know about this kid is he's dedicated and will see a job through, not to mention fearless to the point of being crazy. He gets repeatedly attacked by the personification of Death and throws newspapers at it, like it was some stupid yappy dog. He's good at snap decisions and quick reactions.

Now, will all that translate into being able to lead a team? It's questionable, and if this team were comprised of more abrasive personalities, it could be a problem. Especially if a mission or quest blows up in their faces because the remarkable paperboy didn't have a clue what to do, or decided to be petty or just plain mean at the wrong time. Because he could be extremely dedicated and responsible, but he could also decide he was going to throw papers through every window on the street, and at everyone he saw along the way.

The Muscle: Little Mac (Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!) - Does this qualify as a licensed game? Eh, they did a version without Tyson, so I'm going to argue it's allowable. I suppose I could have picked one of Mac's opponents, maybe get Piston Honda dishing out TKOs from Tokyo, but let's avoid the questionable cultural stereotypes if we can. Also, they clash with the "short in stature, but not in courage" aesthetic I seem to have settled on.

Little Mac, little guy, big punch, pretty solid head all things being equal. Yeah, you can one-shot KO him if you catch him with the a good uppercut, but consider that those are usually being delivered by people two or even three times heavier than him. If he fought people in his own weight class, he'd probably be undefeated.

Not that he can count on weight class restrictions on this team, or any kinds of Marquis of Queensbury rules. Hes gonna have to slug it out with people with weapons, armor, and no compunction against continuing to punch him once hes down. On the other hand, there's nothing stopping him from doing that either, and nothing constraining him to a ring either. Not that Mac seems fond of moving much. A little to his left or right, jump to throw a knockout shot, that's about it. He's going to have to show a little more flexibility, get outside the box, er, ring. I mean, what was all that running in the pink sweatsuit for if he's going to stay rooted in one place?

At least we know he has no problems taking orders from a guy on a bicycle.

The Fun-guy of Mystery: Toad (Super Mario Bros. 3) - That's a terrible pun, poisoning by bad mushrooms would be preferable. Toad was a playable character in Super Mario Bros. 2, and a solid one at that. But I never owned that game. I did have the first Super Mario Bros., where he just keeps telling Mario the princess isn't there, and the third one, where he bemoans the various kings being turned into various creatures. Oh, and he keeps tempting Mario with various games of chance. Hopefully Mario doesn't have a gambling problem, or Toad's an enabler.

One of his roles isn't so much a game of chance as him simply presenting Mario with three treasure chests and telling him to pick one for some sort of power-up. It would really be more efficient in Mario's quest to defeat Bowser if Toad just told him what was in the chests, or hell, gave him all three, but Toad's no doubt looting the Princess' personal armory/treasury for this stuff, and doesn't want to be any more wasteful than he has to be.

So it's hard telling what Toad will specifically bring to the battle. Will the Paperboy get himself a racoon tail and the ability to fly? Can Little Mac get a mushroom and turn giant to lay the smack down? Or will Toad pull out that stupid Music Box when there are no Hammer Brothers around to put to sleep with it? Can anyone on this team convince him to cut the bullshit and just give them the best option, or is it Toad doesn't even know what that is? He takes orders, he doesn't make decisions. Maybe he can't, or won't.

The Guy with a Boat: Kirby (Kirby's Adventure) - Maybe Kirby should have been The Leader, but it's hard for me to picture the pink ball as leading much of anything. The whole plot of Kirby's Adventure is him questing to find the Star Rod so the citizens of Dream Land (including him ) can get back to having dreams during the after-lunch feast naps. While restful sleep is important, Kirby is at this point, mostly motivated by someone removing his comforts. Kirby'll fight monsters, Kirby will save the day, but won't really be out looking for trouble. Keeping him interested is going to be a challenge. Probably have to wake him up for a fight, or pull him away from the dinner table. 

Kirby landed this role because of the Warp Star. Despite its tendency to drop off passengers by crashing into the Earth and send them tumbling, it still seems easier to control and direct than a Warp Whistle. And the kid's bike can only hold so many. Kirby is a wild card on his own, given his ability to inhale enemies and swipe their powers. Turn into a fireball, shoot lasers, gain a hammer, an umbrella, or even a UFO (that UFO power was sweet). Of course he could get a dud, but Kirby usually learns quickly which powers come from which enemies. And even if he finds an enemy he can't take powers from, he could still digest them, or spit them out at another foe. Plus he looks adorable, so it's a good bet enemies will underestimate him initially.

As for their enemy, it's a treacherous one. It's going to stir up trouble in one place initially, but in such a way the team will have to either split up to handle it, or prioritize one problem over the other. Threats to a city water supply that requires to different, hard-to-acquire compounds to neutralize. Igniting wars by stealing artifacts, while also undermining all the involved parties' leaders. And what's worst is the enemy will have presented itself as a friend an ally. When our team succeeds in thwarting his plan, he'll openly share in their successes. And when they fail, he's going to be laughing at them.

You might have noticed I skipped over The Rogue. I figured after all this time of Rogues who might turn on the team, we needed one who actually would. And this motherfucker, posing as best friend to man as a way to get his jollies, reveling in his invulnerability. There's no question he's going to turn, because he was never really on their side. He's always been just setting them up to fail.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

We Aren't Buying What You're Selling

Marvel had themselves a meeting with some of the retailers to try and figure out why their sales are tanking so hard. There were some mentions of the pricing of certain books at $6 or even $10, and Marvel's trade collections being pricier than other publishers, or people being sick of constant events. The one that has gotten the most notice was the comment about customers not liking diversity. Books starring women, or nonwhite characters.

Once it got noticed and started catching some heat, Mr. Gabriel, the VP of sales who made the comment quickly stressed that wasn't Marvel's position, oh no. It was what they were told by the retailers. Either way it seems to be pointing the blame for the poor sales at the customers. If only they would buy more of our comics, our comics would be selling better! Well no shit. I want to point out that if the comics were cheaper, perhaps the customers would be more inclined to try things they otherwise give a pass to. That would certainly be the case with me (and I'd probably be more forgiving of a book I spent $2 an issue on, rather than $4). But that doesn't seem to be the case anecdotally. Cheaper books carry a connotation of being unimportant, and a segment of the customer base has been trained to only care about "important" books*.

I've found the newer characters hit-or-miss, personally, though Marvel really does need to be focusing on courting potential readers besides me. They've already got some of my money. A lot of the nebies I'm indifferent to, a few I dislike, a few I really like. Just like with the new characters that came out in the '90s, or the '80s, and so on.

G. Willow Wilson made a point that if you want people to be invested in this new legacy character you're selling, maybe don't crap all over the character whose legacy they're inheriting. Make it seem like it's a codename/title worth assuming. Wilson made it clear Kamala Khan really looked up to Carol Danvers, that she felt Danvers was a great hero, and that taking on the name "Ms. Marvel" was a big deal for Kamala. That she felt a responsibility to live up to that name.

But in a lot of cases, the preexisting character kind of gets dragged through the mud. Making Sam Wilson Captain America isn't a bad idea, but then making Steve Rogers a HYDRA agent out for world domination is. Taking on the mantle of Captain America should be a big deal, but deciding the guy who originally made it a big deal has secretly always been a bad guy kind of undercuts that. Sam's not trying to take a name that carries weight and build upon, go in directions Steve Rogers wouldn't have considered, he's trying to rehab it. Wasn't that a big part of what Kyle Rayner had to struggle against, that he inherited the title of Green Lantern after the writers made Hal Jordan a murdering lunatic? That certainly didn't help Kyle's acceptance from fans of Hal.

I sometimes strongly dislike Kate Bishop because I feel Clint Barton is being written like an increasingly incompetent putz to make Kate look better. In reality, I think the writers just think Clint should be written as a moron, separate of whatever they're trying to accomplish with Kate Bishop, but it's not always easy to keep that in mind. And if I think the character I like is getting the shaft (no pun intended), I might not be real happy with the character I think is benefiting from that.

Marvel spent the last couple of years trying hard to push the Inhumans as a big deal. There wasn't any demand for this, but in theory, it wasn't a horrible thing to try. You can never tell when you'll find that magic combination of a writer/artist team with a strong vision the fans will love. The problem was it also felt like Marvel was shoving the X-Men into the background. The X-Books still had 5 titles (a heck of a lot better than the Fantastic Four), but there was the sense they were being sidelined in favor of characters Marvel had movie rights to, and the fans were just expected to go along with it. And the fans didn't. If the Inhumans' titles had been better, maybe it would have worked, but as it stands, fans weren't buying it. The Inhumans couldn't become a tentpole franchise like the X-Men were, simply on the strength of Marvel wanting it to happen.

You could probably put Bruce Banner's recent death in Civil War II under this heading. Amadeus Cho's book had already established Banner wasn't going to transform again, and that was that, but Marvel went ahead and killed him anyway. Which I'm sure was more about feeling the need for the shocking death mid-event, but if you're a fan of Banner, maybe you see it as him being taken off the board entirely so Marvel can give the name Hulk to other characters and push them. To give you no other option if you want a Hulk fix.

I know there's a segment of the customer base that is gonna want things just a certain way, like they were in (time period that individual has strong positive feelings about). I'm that guy sometimes. And That Guy may never buy in to the legacy character. Maybe because they feel strongly about the earlier character. Or they just won't buy a book with a lead character who is part of an underrepresented demographic. Or maybe the new character just doesn't connect with them. Marvel should keep trying Also maybe find more people who aren't straight white dudes to write some of those comics. But at a minimum, try not to dump all over the last guy who held the title in the rush to make the new one the Greatest Thing Ever.

* I have still never figured out if it's that Marvel (and DC) trained us to only care about important books, by trying to tell us we needed to buy every comic with "Disassembled" or "Infinite Crisis tie-in" stamped on the cover, or if we trained them to slant their publishing lines that way with what we bought.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Find The Plans, Buy The Galaxy A Couple Years

While I was visiting Alex, after completing errands, his roommate wanted to watch Rogue One. Which spared me from seeing any more of We're the Millers, so that's a win of sorts. Spoilers, probably.

It was OK, I suppose. One of my first reactions when it was over was that it was kind of shitty Jyn didn't get to shoot Krennic, who was responsible for the death of both her parents. Instead they give that chance to the captain guy whose name I never remembered at any point during or after the film. For someone Forest Whitaker's character claimed was the best soldier he had by age 16, there were a lot of points where she didn't seem very good at it. Also a lot of dudes telling her what she ought to be doing with her life in the film.

On the other hand, I could see the argument her revenge on Krennic was buying into the rebellion enough to make a rousing speech that convinced a bunch of people to go with her on the big mission at the end, which is how the Alliance gets the Death Star plans and ultimately is able to destroy it. Although Krennic was already in the process of losing his baby to creepy CGI Peter Cushing, but still, Jyn was instrumental in fucking his day up pretty severely.

Didn't quite know what to make of them not at least trying to reach a shuttlecraft or something. Try to get off the planet before they're killed, make some kind of token effort in that direction? Granting that they're wounded, come on, at least try.

Chirrut and Baze (Donnie Yen and Wen Jiang) were my favorites. Chirrut gets to be the blind badass which is almost always cool, and Baze has this tired amusement towards Chirrut. He knows Chirrut is going to get them into trouble, but he's ultimately going to have his back. They aren't quite a grumpy old married couple, but they're close. I had seen enough online to know Vader's in the film - holy shit was that "Don't choke on your aspirations" line terrible - and I half expected Chirrut and the other to run up against him. Probably better he didn't. That could have been a terribly disillusioning fight for Chirrut, before he, you know, died.

Kind of interesting seeing how fractured the Alliance was, the different interests and fears they had, militant wings versus those still thinking they could talk, or not wanting to try and fight a war they were unequipped to win.

I don't have much else to say on the film. I don't really need to see it again.

Monday, April 03, 2017

They're Certainly Fools In April

*April 3rd, at Calvin's apartment. Calvin leans against the breakfast bar, arms crossed, tapping his foot impatiently while staring at the front door. Clever Adolescent Panda is behind him in the kitchen.*

Calvin: {C'moooon, hurry up with those pies. Pollock will certainly be here any time now!}

Clever Adolescent Panda: Then stop wasting them on innocent people!

Calvin: {It's not my fault! I don't normally get this many people at the door.}

CAP: You're lucky the Jehovah's Witness was so forgiving about you accidentally knocking him over the railing.

Calvin: {Well I was sure it was Pollock in disguise, so I put a little something extra on the throw.}

CAP: So it wasn't an accident is what you're saying.

Calvin: {Pollock would have recovered and landed gracefully on her feet!}

*The panda's response is to shake its head and tsk loudly. Silence reigns for a few minutes.*

CAP: I think we're being too obvious just waiting for her to walk in the door.

Calvin: *Calvin turns to face the panda* {We tried subterfuge the last time we tried the pie gag, and you ate the pie. The time before that, I got pied. No being sneaky. We see Pollock, we throw pies, we have a good laugh.}

Voice from the window to their left: Unless Pollock dropped in before you were ready.

*Pollock is coming in through the window. What an unforeseen turn of events, said no one ever.*

Calvin: {What are you doing entering through a window like that menace, Spider-Man? You better not have damaged the screen!}

Pollock: *sighs with condescending patience* The screen is undamaged, which is more than we'll be able to say about your face in a few minutes.

*Clever Adolescent Panda surreptitiously removes a pie from the oven, but Calvin waves it off with a shake of his head, which he keeps Pollock from noticing by holding his hands out in a placating gesture*

Calvin: {That's pretty hostile. What's the problem?}

Pollock: You ruined my plans again, you witless buffoon. First you stopped buying Deadpool, just as he was about to help me retake my company by ruining it. . .

*Flash to two months ago. Pollock and Deadpool stand in the alley across from ExpanCo headquarters. It's dark, a little breezy, pretty quiet on the streets, though.*

Pollock: Are you sure you understand your task?

Deadpool: *impatiently* [Yes, I've blown buildings up for insurance money before.]

Pollock: I told you I don't need the building destroyed. We just need to damage it enough to hurt the companies' reputation and standing. No endangering lives.

Deadpool: *making wanking motion* [Sure that seems a reasonable request in this case of industrial espionage and stock manipulation. Only hurt people economically by taking their jobs. I'll leave half the explosive here, in this nondescript container.]

*Deadpool is referring to a "Toys for Tots" box*

Pollock: Perhaps locked inside the van would be better.

Deadpool: [Fine, just like a capitalist, hoarding everything for yourself. *throws explosive in the van* Now can I be violent?]

Pollock: Absolutely.

*As Deadpool prepares to cross the street, he begins to fade out*

Deadpool: [Oh no, Calvin must have stopped buying my high-selling comic book and so I'm fading back into my dimension! Also I'm talking like a Silver Age DC Character.]

Pollock: *contemplates kicking van, opts for deep breathing instead* If you want your former business ruined, you have to do it yourself.

*Back in the present day*

CAP: You still haven't gotten to that?! I gave up waiting for you to ever call me to help.

Pollock: I took care of it, but I followed Calvin's advice to threaten some of the major shareholders with painful death in exchange for their shares. Except that one stubborn, elderly gent I had committed by impersonating his son, who I had abducted ahead of time.

CAP: *A little dumbfounded* What?

Calvin: {Jeez, that's pretty messed up, dude.}

Pollock: *sneers* Oh yes, psychiatric hospitals make you uncomfortable don't they? With your mental state, I'm not surprised. Anyway, I was embracing my inner super-villain, as I believe you suggested.

Calvin: {Sounds like you should be thanking me then, which doesn't make me feel as great as I'd hoped. Of course, in my head you following my plan also meant the end of you whining about not having control of your company.}

Pollock: Yes, all was going well. Employee morale was back up. We were getting back into wild science, and then you started buying Gwenpool.

CAP: Don't tell me she started showing up.

Calvin: {And I did that the same time I dropped Deadpool.}

Pollock: But he didn't make a real appearance until a month or so after you started buying the book.

*Flashback to one month ago. Deadpool reappears in the middle of the same street he vanished from. And is immediately run over by a bicycle. Wade picks himself up, shoots out the tires, and spends five minutes beating the bike messenger.*

Deadpool: *finished punching for the moment* [Where is Pollock? Where's the van with the rest of my explosives? The building doesn't look damaged at all! She must have been captured and is being held prisoner! Don't worry, I'll save you, not because you're a damsel, but because we're friends and you won't pay me if you get blown up along with the building. So rescue first, then destruction. Or simultaneous. Whichever.]

*As Wade shoulders his bag with the remaining explosives and rushes the building, we return to present**

Calvin: {Oh.}

CAP: *stifles a laugh* Sorry. It is kind of funny, and you did hire him to damage the building.

Pollock: Yes, and my insurance is comprehensive, if costly. But I can't let this pass without some revenge.

Calvin: {Beating me up is a little much for an honest mistake, though, isn't it?}

CAP: Yeah, and it's not very challenging, either.

Calvin: *turns to stare at the panda* {What the hell does that mean? And whose side are you on?}

Pollock: It means you're a clumsy oaf. But it's a fair point, and I think I can do something a little more in keeping with the spirit of the occasion.

Calvin: Don't put a hole in the wall! I don't want to lose my security deposit!

Pollock: No, instead I will delete all the apps off your smartphone! And then lock it so you can't add any more!

CAP: *leaps forward aggressively* You monster! It will only be able to function as a phone then. And maybe as a camera!

Calvin: {And a paperweight, which is most of what it does now.}

Pollock: *removes some small device from her coat pocket, begins tapping on screen* I doubt you'll be so sanguine once I remove the Osprey Alert!

Calvin: {Wait, stop! They don't sell it any more, I won't be able to get it even with a new phone!}

Pollock: *laughs maliciously* I know! I had it removed because, well, because only three people bought it, not profitable at all, but the fact is I just put it on the market in the hopes you'd buy it so I could get access to your phone! You didn't read the Terms of Service! Hahahaha!

*Pollock continues tapping and deftly backflips away from the panda's attempted tackle. Then a frown crosses Pollock's face*

Pollock: Do you really not have anything else on this phone but Osprey Alert?

Calvin: {What part of it mostly functioning as a paperweight didn't you understand? I'm quite content to use my flip phone for phone-related activities.}

CAP: Ha, you didn't count on Calvin's natural desire to minimize contact with all other life in the universe! And you should been more worried about my fist's desire to make contact with your face!

Pollock: Oh, how witty, spend long thinking that one up? It isn't over yet, my access to Calvin's phone goes farther than you'd think.

*Pollock swipes a finger across the screen and Calvin's phone sprouts six thin, wire legs from its side. It turns to face Calvin, electricity crackling from one of the plug-in ports, then leaps for him. Calvin ducks, and the phone goes flying into the kitchen. Calvin scrambles towards the panda in the living room, only to be kicked in the side by Pollock and sent tumbling down the hall. Clever Adolescent Panda's second tackle attempt is more successful, and drives Pollock into the side of the dining room table. Calvin rolls up to see the phone lunging for him again.*

Calvin: {Ack, crazy phone, crazy phone!} *Calvin kicks at it, but the phone hops straight up, and lands on his leg, sinking the wire in, then shocking him. The panda, having hopped onto the breakfast bar, sees this and dives to the rescue, pulling the phone off. Pollock comes around the corner into the hallway.*

Calvin: {Switch opponents!}

CAP: What?

Pollock: Are you seriously going to challenge me?

Calvin: {Bet on it bunky, I've been taking yoga. I'm as strong and flexible as Gumby and Hercules combined!}

*As the panda tries to corral the phone and grab a frying pan or pot to smash it with, Calvin charges down the hallway, fist raised. Pollock crouches low to duck the punch, and punches him directly in the face, sending him back down the hall near the guest bathroom. Calvin tumbles his way inside and slams the door.*

Pollock: Oh, that's just sad, but I really should have just gone this route in the first place. It's so much fun.

*Pollock steps to the door, and as she goes to kick it in, Calvin pulls it open. Unbalanced, Pollock does a split, half-in, half-out of the bathroom, and a bucket of water falls directly on her head. Calvin promptly smacks the side of the bucket as hard as he can. Pollock howls. Calvin steps over and out of the room.*

Calvin: {It worked, it worked! Get ready!}

*The panda has successfully smashed the phone, and picks up the pie that was ready some time ago from where it was kept hidden on the floor. Pollock wobbles down the hall, wet and disoriented with her ears ringing.*

Calvin: {Aim at the thing on the ceiling!}

CAP: Huh?

Calvin: {Just trust me!}

*The panda hurls the pie at the white ceramic cylinder on the ceiling. It shatters, and falls to the carpet, plastic bits and batteries everywhere. Nothing else happens.*

CAP: Where's the trap?

Calvin: *unconcerned* {What trap?}

CAP: What was that supposed to accomplish?

Calvin: {I just wanted you to smash the smoke alarm. It went off repeatedly yesterday when I was cooking and pissed me off.}

CAP: What is it with you and smoke alarms?

Pollock: *gaining composure* Really, have you no respect for the destructive power of fire?

Calvin: {Of course I do, I'm a wildlife biologist, I love the destructive and regenerative power of fire. I just really hate that loud shrill beeping the alarm makes.}

CAP: *exasperated* But that was the last pie we had!

Pollock: Ha-HA!

Calvin: *shrugs* {Eh, we got her with the bucket of water over the door gag, and nothing in the apartment I cared about got destroyed. I'm satisfied with that.}

CAP: I guess that's true.

Pollock: Perhaps I'm not done with you.

Calvin: {The phone's destroyed. It's 2 against 1 now.}

CAP: *with a wicked grin* Or, I could always come pay a visit to your offices again. Check out your break room, see how morale is holding up.

Pollock: *blanches* You wouldn't dare.

CAP: I'll bring Cassanee again, too.

Calvin: *shrugs again in a "whatcha gonna do? expression*

Pollock: *disgusted look* You're trying so hard to be indifferent, it's driving me nuts. Fine, I'll withdraw for now, but just you wait. I'll have my revenge on you all!

*With that, Pollock sweeps down the hall, pausing to give Calvin a contemptuous look, and lunge slightly in his direction to gauge the panda's reaction, before turning and leaping smoothly out the window.*

Calvin: {I'm hungry.}

CAP: Well I'm not making any more pies.

Calvin: {There's oatmeal raisin cookies there on the countertop.}

CAP: *munching a cookie* You think Pollock is going to try for revenge?

Calvin: {Probably. She got her company back, so she'll refocus. Hopefully with less emphasis on punching me. I'm getting too old for that shit.}

CAP: Yeah, I miss crazy science attacks.

Calvin: {Well, that stuff is hard to come up with sometimes.}

*Unbeknownst to either of them Pollock is hanging from the windowsill listening*

Pollock: Oh, I'll give you "crazy science", just you wait you miserable, smarty-pants fleabag.

Someone down in the courtyard: Hey, what are you doing hanging up there? Get lost before I call the cops!

Pollock: Crap. *Drops to the ground, sprints across courtyard to playground equipment, scrambles up the slide and leaps from the top* Don't mind me, I'm just one of those parkour-loving young folks! Ha, look how unconventionally I get from one place to the next!

* Editor's Note - See the story of Deadpool ruining Pollock's day while just trying to help in a story I might write someday, if I feel like it!