Friday, August 31, 2018

Giant Days - Volume 6

If I could come up with a tattoo idea like that, I might actually get one. No I wouldn't, because I'd regret it five minutes later. But it's still clever.

Covering issues 21-24, we see the girls' home burglarized, Daisy's relationship with Ingrid kick off, and Susan's father arrives to care for Susan when she takes ill. There are also difficulties with the next-door neighbor, Susan trying to come to grips with McGraw and Emelia's relationship, and Esther's hunt for better part-time employment. We learn the story of what happened to Daisy's parents. I was expecting something a bit more mundane on that one. Perhaps Daisy's family is drawn to a life of wild adventures. In which case, the inaccurate image Esther had of archaeology might not have been as far off as Daisy said.

Also, the final fate of Susan's extremely unhygienic laptop computer! Allison didn't bring that one up constantly, but he'd mention it just enough for the payoff to work.

As always, if the general description sounds mundane, the joy is in the details that Allison and Sarin (with Liz Fleming on inks, Whitney Cogar as colorist, and Jim Campbell as letterist) bring to it. The different approaches the girls take to searching the house when they suspect the burglar might still be there. Esther's attempt at a eulogy for a person she only barely knew at the end of the volume. Ingrid ruining everything, purposefully. Because she's that sort of person. I'm an unpleasant person, but I have the common decency to be antisocial, so as to spare everyone else from having their Good Times spoiled.

I hope more than five people show up at my funeral.

The character death was a surprise, wasn't expecting that at all. Lots of unexpected developments in this volume! And I'd forgotten the story of how Esther got those stuffed ravens in her room. I've said this before, but things move fast in this book. Esther and Susan are ecstatic to see Daisy with Ingrid here, and 6 issues from now they're going to hate her guts, and nearly destroy their tripartite friendship. Actually, Susan seems to be souring on her within one issue, but still tries to be hospitable towards her. Probably a critical mistake.

Maybe it's random, or just selective memory, but it seems like Allison and Sarin brought their "A" game to the page-ending gags for this stretch. That's a normal approach for this book, to have a conversation or scene culminate in some sort of a joke at the bottom of the page. Sometimes it's a one-liner or some other funny dialogue. Other times it's Sarin drawing some sort of reaction shot or other strange thing.

I've raved about Sarin's work on expressions and body language, but I continue to be extremely impressed by it, so what else am I gonna do but rave about it? I wouldn't have thought of that for a 'being of white hot energy', but considering Susan is sick as a dog and use a dangerous number of nicotine patches, it fits she appears to be getting consumed by her power. I pulled over a dozen single panels or two-panel set-up/punchline bits in here because I liked how they looked or they tickled my funny bone, and I left several out.

If I ever get around to scouring my collection for all the panels and pages that I enjoy, Giant Days is going to require a week's worth of effort all on its own. I don't know when I'll get around to it.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Beyond

The movie centers around a wormhole that abruptly appears near the Earth, and the attempt to figure out what's on the other side. It takes the somewhat interesting approach of not focusing on what is encountered, looking instead at what goes into the mission. Trying to send probes in, trying to come up with a way for humans to survive the journey. Trying to choose people to put through the procedure that will theoretically allow them to survive. Dealing with setbacks.

And once the ship returns, then it's trying to figure out how to get usable information out of the crew, and decide what the information they get really means, and whether they can trust it. This is set against a backdrop of tension due to a bunch of dark spheres that appeared by the dozens on Earth shortly after the wormhole.

The movie is presented as being shot by a film crew following around members of the "Space Agency", and interviewing them and other relevant people over the course of events. Which, considering the film crew was following the head of the Agency as part of shooting some video for employee training, seems suspect? Especially when they get a member of the Department of Defense (with face in shadows and voice distorted) to talk about the Human 2.0 project. The scientists working on said project are allowed to speak on the record about what they're doing, in fairly extensive detail. You would think the government in question - I'm guessing the U.S., because turning wounded soldiers into Robocops to send back into battle seems very much something the U.S. military would do - would demand more details be kept under wraps.

I went in expecting that more of the film would focus on going through the wormhole, and what they find, exploring, problems arise, quick thinking saves the day, that kind of stuff. So I was fairly bored by the film. I appreciate they tried to go a different approach, but sitting and watching people sit and talk about preparing to go into space is not as exciting as watching people actually go into space.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Trying to Branch Out As We Head Towards Winter

The most surprising thing to me in the solicitations for November is that DC actually is putting out a couple of things that caught my attention. No, not the Aquaman-themed Big Event, or the fact that Doomsday Clock is only up to issue 8. If Johns doesn't get on with it, the world is going to end before he finishes this story. Which might be a blessing for all of us.

One item was the Suicide Squad Black Files, a mini-series about a mystic-themed Suicide Squad. The only reason that caught my eye was because Gentleman Ghost is going to be involved with. Hard to go wrong with Gentleman Ghost (I've actually read very few comics with him, but he's just such a cool design). I'm curious how Waller is going to keep a ghost under control. You can't exactly put a bomb in his head.

Problem is, it's a six-issue mini-series (at $5 an issue), where the comic is split between two stories, and the other one is about Kobra trying to take revenge on Katana, which, I don't necessarily have anything against Kobra as a character, but I don't have anything for him, either.


Also, I was looking at the cover to Suicide Squad #48, and is David Williams using Alfred Hitchcock as a visual reference for Waller? Take a look, especially her silhouette, and you be the judge.

The other book of interest was Harley Quinn, where she's going to contend with Minor Disaster, who instead of creating earthquakes and such, makes small, personal disasters. Like texting your ex, and probably getting on stage in front of the entire school in your underpants. Which sounds silly enough to be worth a look.

Marvel is not doing a whole lot. More mini-series, including one about the Black Order, that team of lackeys that run around kissing Thanos' boots. We're going to do a 12-issue mini-series to kill off Old Man Logan. Why? They brought the other Wolverine back, not to mention between his various kids there are like three other Wolverines running around. They're promoting the final issue of Death of the Inhumans with multiple covers depicting Lockjaw being dead. Great plan! Kill the one member of the Royal Family people actually like! I'm not sure what they're going for with the mini-series to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Marvel Knights imprint. Daredevil and a bunch of other characters not knowing who they are? Also, going by the solicits I'm starting to suspect Mayday Parker is going to get short shrift in the Spider-Girls mini-series. The focus, based on solicits feels like it's more on the Spider-Girl from the Renew Your Vows universe. I know it was already a dumb idea to consider buying a tie-in mini-series to an event I was otherwise going to entirely ignore, but now I'm stating to suspect it would be an even worse decision than I thought. Maybe I should buy that one about the two Wasps hanging out together instead.

They're restarting Uncanny X-Men with an oversize first issue that costs $8. And it leads into an event called X-Men: Disassembled! Ooh, enticing. Ironheart is getting her own ongoing, written by Eve Ewing, who is an award-winning poet. I don't know which awards, or how that will translate to writing comics, but bringing in new, different writers is a good idea. No snark, not really something I'm into but I hope it does well.

In books I'm definitely reading, there are two Squirrel Girls running around, Ms. Marvel has a new challenge on the horizon, and Domino's got troubles with Morbius. I am. . . indifferent to Morbius, thought I can't really predict how those two will interact, other than I feel like Domino will annoy him a lot. But maybe not!

I feel like there must be a lot of books missing deadlines because I saw at least a few solicitations I'm pretty sure I saw last month. The Punisher for one, West Coast Avengers for another.

On to other publishers! I didn't see the final issue of The Seeds listed. What the hell is it with these Dark Horse mini-series that they can't stay on schedule? I thought the reason it didn't come out until August, after originally being listed for release in March, was to give enough time for them to make sure it was ready. Hopefully it's just a one-month delay. There's also the second volume of a manga called Wandering Island, although it doesn't actually come out until January, but it was in these solicitations, so I mention it here. I bought the first volume two years ago, the premise was pretty interesting, but I had no clue when another volume might emerge.

IDW is releasing the latest Atomic Robo mini-series, Atomic Robo and Dawn of a New Era. I hope the coloring is better than it was in the last mini-series. At Image, turns out Stellar is a six-issue mini-series that is concluding in November. I was not aware of that. Maybe if it does well enough there'll be a follow-up. I don't know if I'm going to end up buying Infinite Dark, but the second issue is out in November. At Boom, Giant Days sees Esther trying to use her "drama field" to improve her love life, which will in no way go poorly, and in Coda, Serka and Hm are going to confront the Whitlord. So we'll see if I'm right about it being poser just wearing a fright suit.

I'm not going to buy this, but I want to mention they're doing an Archie 1941 mini-series, about Archie getting drafted, I assume. They did Archie as horror comics, why not war comics, I guess?

Last month, I mentioned a book called Transdimensional from Michael Gordon and Henrique Pereira. I wasn't sure about its format, because the way I read the solicit I thought it was a different story each issue. Well, the solicit for issue 3 is identical to issue 2, so I'm going to guess it's a 4-issue mini-series about a single story. Which isn't a strike against it, I just figured I should clarify after my confusion last month.

Ogre is another mini-series I mentioned last month, from Source Point Press. I'm still not sure about it, but there's another mini-series, Monstrous, by Gregory Wright and Ken Lamug that I wanted to at least mention. It seems like, after Frankenstein created his first creature, he was dissatisfied enough he turned to robots instead. Meanwhile, the creature went ahead and created more beings like himself. Now creatures and robots are in conflict and this is going to focus on one creature trying to complete a job for a little girl. The execution will be the real test, but I can't say the concept doesn't intrigue.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

That Night

Alice (Eliza Dushku) is a 10-year old struggling to figure out romance and how to fit in with other kids. Or at least stop being the one they all pick on. With no other useful people around to help, she fixates on her neighbor across the street, 17-year old Sheryl (Juliette Lewis), trying to imitate the older girl and imagining they're friends. Eventually they do actually talk, and strike up a friendship, especially as Alice tries to help Sheryl maintain her relationship with Rick (C. Thomas Howell), who gets derided as a greaser by all the adults in Alice and Sheryl's suburb.

The movie was released in 1992, and there's times it feels very much of its era, especially right at the end when Alice's voiceover explains what she's learned as the end credits music hits. It's also set in 1961, so I always wonder how accurate a picture of the era it is, or whether it's just playing up conflicts for the sake of its narrative. At one point, Rick arrives at Sheryl's home wanting to speak with her (her mother has sent her elsewhere for reasons I won't spoil but you might guess). Rick and his friends won't leave her lawn, so all the neighborhood dads, led by Alice's father, rush over and start a fight, culminating in Rick getting clocked with a shovel. I tend to think of suburban dads as being too much a bunch of weenies for any action beyond passive-agressive looks, or maybe calling the police. Maybe it was different in the '60s.

But parts of it are done very well. Sheryl's conflict late in the movie about who to risk losing builds off losses from earlier in the film. The family situations she, Rick, and Alice have contrast nicely. Alice is not portrayed as one of those movie kids who is way too smart for their age. She does outsmart them, but it's a combination of her being determined, and her parents just underestimating her. They just sort of assume they've told her not to do something, so she won't do it. But her willingness to push back against her parents when they speak ill of Rick and Sheryl felt realistic, as well as how she sees the young lovers as what love is "supposed" to be like, in contrast to her parents, who barely seem to like each other, and have few answers for her questions.

The story is told from Alice's perspective, which makes some of the shots of Sheryl as Alice watches her from across the street kind of odd. It's meant to be Alice seeing Sheryl as this idealized version of what she should try to be, but it comes off as very male gaze when Sheryl's dancing in her room in her bra. I was thinking if they remade the movie today, Alice would probably turn out to be gay, but not really aware of that. She'd be attracted to Sheryl, but not get that, and think it was something else. Especially in the 1960s, when I don't imagine many parents were talking to their kids about homosexuality. Alice's parents get scandalized just finding out the other kids tried to make Alice ask Sheryl about "doing it".

Monday, August 27, 2018

Everyone Knows Somebody

I was going to say this team had a bunch of people who are all independent, prone to just going off and following their own agendas. But that's all the teams I make. I don't gravitate towards characters that like being part of teams. Once I thought about it a little more, each of these characters is the sort who would have a lot of sources or connections. They'd always know somebody that could tell them something or help them out. But each of them would move in different circles, so there wouldn't be too much overlap. Plus their status in those circles would vary.

The Leader: Jet Black (Cowboy Bebop) - Before he was a bounty hunter, Jet was cop, until he was shot in an ambush and lost an arm and leg (later replaced by cybernetic parts). He was a pretty good cop by all accounts (except maybe his ex-wife's). Honest, tough, smart. Not some sort of deductive genius - he has his blinds spots - but he's smart enough. Knows his way around a computer, how to track someone's activity. He's not a hacker on par with Radical Edward, but he does alright most of the time. His trademark was his determination, as he was known as the Black Dog. Once he bites, he doesn't let go.

Jet's contacts would be all his former buddies on the force. They like him pretty well, and are willing to give him what info they can, most of the time. The times they aren't, Jet might know a few secrets they'd prefer not get exposed to the light of day.

He can be grumpy, but he tends to get less extremely angry than his partner, Spike. Spike played relaxed a lot of the time, but when something got to him, it would really set him off. Jet may have just reached the point where he doesn't see the value in reacting like that, or figures he has too many responsibilities to waste time. He's got a ship to keep running, employment opportunities to hunt for, or leads to follow on targets, keeping the ship supplied on an often shoestring budget.

The Rogue: Vash the Stampede (Trigun) - Vash is. . . an idiot. Well, OK, not really. He acts that way, because it's easier. Easier for people to believe he's doing whatever he's doing by accident or pure luck, rather than realize that he's so incredibly skilled he can do these things while acting like a buffoon. This is a man who entered a gunfighting tournament, then was able to make sure no one died by throwing pebbles that diverted the competitors' bullets so they only wounded people, and only one person, sitting right next to him, noticed he was doing it.

Vash is an incredible marksman, in that he can almost always shoot to wound, if he even needs to wound them. A lot of times he can simply disarm opponents. It's fortunate this is a team that for the most part isn't going to mind his resistance to killing. If they're going after bounties, it might be preferable. The biggest issue might be that, because he tends to try using as little force as possible as long as possible, someone else could get hurt in the meantime. He's more than willing to play human shield, but that's not always going to be an option. If someone else on the team gets hurt because Vash was screwing around, there could be hell to pay (although he'll beat himself up about it worse than they will). He's stronger than he looks, fast, with excellent reflexes and sharp senses. His tolerance for alcohol is, unclear. Sometimes he seems like a lightweight, but that might be in comparison to heavy drinkers he's with. Other times, he seems like he's playing opossum. It doesn't seem to slow him down too much regardless.

With Vash, the people he knows could be almost anyone. He's over a century old, and he's helped a lot of people in that time. Little old ladies, sheriffs, young children, bus drivers, single moms. There are entire towns that regard him as a hero who would stick up for him. So, if you need a place to stay (or hide), Vash should have a wealth of options available, although he might resist turning to them if he's worried about their safety.

The Muscle: Sanosuke Sagara (Rurouni Kenshin) - Sano spent his teen years as a fighter-for-hire, taking out his frustration with what the Meiji government did to the Captain of the unit he was part of on anybody he could find that seemed worth the time. Eventually, after meeting Kenshin, he changed his outlook, and now he focuses on fighting people who abuse their power to hurt people with less power. Kenshin was very much about protecting those in harm's way, Sanosuke is more about going at the person causing harm.

To that end, Sanosuke is honest and mostly direct. He's not a bad liar when needed, but if there's no pressing need to lie, he'll say what he thinks and feels. He's impulsive, and can be easily baited into action because, for the most part, he doesn't have anyone to worry about protecting. He's not afraid for himself, so it doesn't matter if challenging some Yakuza is a bad idea or not. Let them try something and see how well it works out. His fighting style is much the same. He comes right at you and you take your best shot. He'll certainly take his. If Vash is going to get injured trying to protect someone on the team, Sano may be the most likely choice, at least early on. I imagine after the first time he does it, and Sanosuke socks him one for treating Sano like a liability, Vash will get the message to just trust him (and Vash will remind Sano of Kenshin in a lot of ways, so they'll probably get along OK eventually).

If Vash doesn't want to risk involving any of his fine, upstanding citizen friends, Sanosuke knows plenty of people of questionable morality that can help. The guys he hangs out with aren't crooks, exactly, but they spend a lot of time hanging around, drinking and gambling. They know who the local bad guys are, they know about what sort of illicit business is going on. While Sanosuke could lean on them if he needed to, he tends to be a pretty fun guy to share a drink with, so people are willing to help him out. They know he has their backs if something comes up.

The Lady of Mystery: Nico Robin (One Piece) - Robin is the character here I know the least, since I kind of gave up on One Piece not long after she showed up. The series was going to be too long, too much of an investment. Just trying to read the online biography I found on her was exhausting.

Anyway, Robin is the calmest member of the team, not easily fazed, unless things get really dire. Vash's idiocy and Sano's temper aren't going to bother her. Even the likelihood Vash will try hitting on her is something she'll handle calmly. She'll be polite, but she's not going to encourage it. I'm not positive if that's indifference. Having seen most every group she's joined end when everyone other than her dies, it may be a necessary cover to avoid attachments. A different approach from Vash playing the fool to disguise his bleeding heart, but leading to the same general point. But it could just be confidence; Robin's likely the strongest person on the team, given her powers. Certainly, she won't hesitate to use that power, up to and including lethal force.

(Vash is probably stronger, given he has enough power to put a hole in a moon, but he almost certainly won't use that power, unless they go up against something that strong. Which I don't think is going to happen, unless his crazy brother is on the loose again. Although some of those admirals in Robin's world are no joke. . .)

As long as Jet shows he knows what he's doing, there shouldn't be any problems there. Robin doesn't seem like she really cares to be in charge as long as she trusts the judgment of whoever is. She has a dark sense of humor, and a vivid imagination to go with it. If one of their teammates gets lost, and they can't hear them anymore, she'll state the person's probably getting strangled, or already been killed and eaten by some monster. Vash is going to be the one most creeped out by that, assuming he isn't already put off by her willingness to snap necks. He'll have to work overtime to end some of these fights before she does in a more permanent fashion.

The thing about Robin that interested me enough to put her on the team was she's a history buff. Her main interest is stone features left over from an old civilization, called Ponyglyphs. I remembered that being her primary reason for throwing in with the Baroque Works criminal organization, a chance to study some that were in a country they were trying to destabilize and take over. I thought having an archaeology expert would be something my teams usually don't have, and bring something a little different to the mix. And I thought she might have all sorts of connections in academic circles, people who were also studying the Ponyglyphs, or other similar subjects. As it turns out, the World Government killed everyone else they knew of that was studying that forbidden subject. Whoops.

But Robin's years of study would, at bare minimum, make her a valuable person to have if you need something deciphered, or to understand what a clue is referencing. If they need to talk to a professor or expert in some historical area, Robin's the best bet to be able to pull that off. Where Sanosuke has a lot of friends who are aware of the criminal underworld, and he has a bit of a rep, Robin was a major criminal for some time (falsely accused, but she stuck with the rep regardless), and was the right hand woman for one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea. Even if those aren't the circles she travels in now, there are plenty of people who know her rep, know what she's capable of. Sano's rep was he'd beat you so badly you saw the aku mark on his shirt for months afterward; Robin's rep is she wiped out six ships and she leaves people twisted and broken in ways they weren't meant to bend.

The Guy with a Car: Kimishima (Scryed) - Kimishima's not in here for his ride, which was a cobbled together mess that couldn't carry the entire team, anyway. Besides, Jet has a spaceship, big enough to hold that car, and Jet's smaller, personal spaceship.

Kimishima is Morgan Freeman's character in The Shawshank Redemption, the man who knows how to get things. He's a scrounger, always hustling. Always looking for job opportunities, always looking for a buck, or something he can sell, or use to fix his car. He's not a fighter, though he'll lend a hand when he needs to. He's got connections, or knows how to make them quickly. He does have a soft spot for more hard luck cases, but only up to a point. He's good at keeping a low profile while more noticeable people (and there are at least a couple on this team) keep everyone else occupied. You need someone to talk their way into a place, or walk around unnoticed in hostile territory? Kimishima's your guy. He'll go in, get what you need, and come back with a half-dozen other useful (or at least interesting) things and the names and numbers of three people that might have work that needs doing or could help down the line.

How they end up together: Vash has been living in secret for a long time, helping in small ways where he can, but trying hard to avoid drawing attention with the sort of city-damaging antics he used to get up to. He has to abandon that because someone pursues a weapon that could endanger the entire planet. Maybe it's his brother, or a government, or some other person out for power, but they're going to tap into the power of the plants, and he figures that's something he needs to handle. He probably encounters Kimishima early on, bums a ride off him, has trouble paying off the debt. And since he keeps wrecking Kimishima's stuff as they get dragged into situations, Kimishima keeps upping the tab, and refusing to call it quits. Plus, he thinks this Vash guy is actually an OK guy, and he shares any bounties they cash in as they go along.

Vash being who he is, can't maintain a low profile, and he accumulates a bounty in his attempts to help others. I'm assuming this is far enough into the future his old $$60 billion bounty was dropped because everyone figured he was dead. That brings in Jet and his new partner, Sano (and a lot of other bounty hunters). They're chasing him, at first, keeping themselves funded by turning in all the criminals they encounter along the way. Sometimes Vash actually catches the crooks, but has to leave them behind when Jet and Sano appear on the horizon in hot pursuit. Other times the three of them team up because they all recognize the criminal needs to be stopped. Eventually they figure out they might as well help this guy who really isn't doing anything wrong other than helping in a way that causes property damage.

Robin gets drawn into all this because the weapon relates to ancient history, and she ran afoul of the big bad while looking for other information in the same ruins. It was a pretty serious battle, one neither one could finish, and he destroyed everything trying to cover his tracks. Which is the sort of thing Robin doesn't forgive, so she's after him, and the others have the means to travel faster than she does, so it makes sense to throw in with them. Especially once she figures out Vash might be a fountain of useful information, assuming she can get it out of him past all the stories about places that served the best pizza toast and locations where he met a particularly pretty girl.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sunday Splash Page #30

 
"Four-in-One Is Not Enough", in Annihilation: Super Skrull #1, by Javier Grillo-Marxuach (writer), Greg Titus (penciler), Chris Sotomayor (colorist), Joe Caramagna (letterer)

Of the four lead-in Annihilation mini-series, I think this was my favorite. The Annihilation Wave has a planet-destroying weapon (not the same one they'd have later one, though), and the Super-Skrull is desperate to stop it before it reaches the Skrull homeworld. Desperate enough to get Reed Richards' help in reaching the Negative Zone, and desperate enough to seek allies there.

Something Grillo-Marxuach does smartly is he shifts the perspective the story is told from between characters. Often, these stories just come from the main character's perspective, and if he's been a villain up to that point, the story reframes him as more of a hero because it's filtered through his perceptions and justifications. Here, we see him through the eyes of characters who both admire and fear him, and see that he's still (mostly) a vicious, ruthless killer. It just so happens that there's another threat out there much worse. He's the lesser of two evils. And he has an element of self-doubt, having failed so many times, having gone from a decorated warrior to a joke openly scoffed at by regular Skrulls (who should be freaking terrified of this guy who can burst their heads open with a force field whenever he wants). It makes him enough of an underdog that it's possible to root for him.

I don't think I loved Titus' artwork at the time, but looking back, it's fluid enough to suit a shape-shifting character. He's able to draw Super-Skrull utilizing the FF's powers in various ways, and his design for the Harvester of Sorrows, which looks like a giant beehive, is not completely ridiculous for an insect-based army.

And with that, I'm out of town for the week, so if you comment on one of the posts set to go up this week and I don't reply, that's why.

Friday, August 24, 2018

What I Bought 8/17/2018 - Part 2

I'll be out of town all next week, but I'm going to try and have posts ready to go. But in case you comment and I don't comment back, you know why. Or I didn't think I had a good reply.

Coda #4, by Si Spurrier (writer), Matias Bergara (artist), Michael Doig (color assists), Jim Campbell (letterer) - I wound up with the Michael Allred variant, because it was the only copy the store had. Too bad, I really liked Bergara's cover.

The bard explains why the Urken were helping the Whitlords destroy the world, and how disillusionment with how it turned out feeds into Serka's heroic deeds. Since the giant will be passing by Ridgetown in a month, she's determined to deal with it, permanently. She's even more determined when she and Hm visit Murkrone, who lets slip there's a Whitlord (or someone posing as one) controlling the giant. We get a glimpse of her other side, the one the bard is determined to erase. It is impressively terrifying, excellent work by Bergara on that design. A lot of shadow involved, but with enough detail to let your mind do the rest. Of course, even if he succeeds, I'm sure there would be dire consequences, and I'm positive he hasn't bothered to discuss this cockamamie plan with Serka.

So, wheels turning. it's an interesting relationship between the two of them. The street urchin thinks the bard prefers when Serka is away, because then he can just have his "quest" to rescue her. Yet he certainly seems to work hard to keep her around him, and to avoid doing anything that might set her off and send her back into the desert. He insists Serka is the best person he knows, and one who could truly save the world if this "Red Rage" wasn't holding her back. Despite his misgivings about her trying the Angel strategy of atonement through ridiculous acts of heroism, he still points out threats for her to face as they travel. So he does somewhat support her attempts to do go, even as he plays the little devil on her shoulder trying to keep her from getting entangled in these other peoples' lives. So perhaps the little girl was correct, he does struggle with complications, and that's why he wants it to just be the two of them, roaming the world, righting wrongs. At some point we'll need to see Serka's perspective on it. Whatever form it takes, all we have so far is the bard's view. As I typed all that out, it doesn't seem like a great relationship. Not enough honest communication, he thinks she needs "fixing", he seems at least a little terrified of what happens if she gets pissed off enough.

For the opening few pages, as the bard gets poetic with the story, Bergara and Doig opt for a more limited color range. Mostly black and white, a little red for emphasis here and there, and some gray or almost sepia tone to break up the black in places. It's a sharp break from the pleasant shades of pink and other warm colors that mark most of the book. It's actually a little surprisingly how generally cheerful the colors are in a book set in a post-apocalypse world. It's a bit of fantasy, or marking the last vestiges of the old world. Bergara uses shadows well to darken things just a bit where he needs to, mostly with Hm, who is working on his schemes constantly.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Comrade X

I visited my dad over the weekend, and you know what that means: Old movies! Although Turner Classic has gone in a direction with their choices that don't really tickle his fancy. He says it's good they're shining a light on actors most people wouldn't get a chance to see otherwise, but it's not working for him.

Comrade X is a mysterious foreign correspondent in pre-WW2 Soviet Union, who somehow gets out reports on what goes on in the USSR, past the diligent censors. I'm sure that drunken layabout, McKinley B. Thompson (Clark Gable) wouldn't know anything about it. But the valet at the hotel he stays thinks otherwise, and is going to blackmail Thompson into ;eaving Russia, and taking his trolley driver daughter, Theodore (Hedy Lamar) along with him. Of course, to do that requires Thompson convince Theodore he is a died-in-the-wool Communist, and that she would be perfect for spreading their mission in the West.

The movie came out in 1940, and so the Soviet Union is shown in somewhat gentler tones than it would be by the end of the 1940s. Not shown positively, everything is breaking down constantly, with no idea when things will get fixed. Theft is rampant. There are still spies and informers everywhere, ready to report you to the Secret Police, but it's played mostly for laughs, Clark Gable outwitting most of them by getting them drunk, or double-talking his way past them. When the correspondents are informed the previous Minister of Information has died in a "traffic accident", they treat it as a joke, business as usual. They don't seem more than mildly annoyed when told they won't be allowed to send out any stories until Comrade X is hunted down.

You do see darker elements, when that brutal power gets directed at innocent civilians and people who actually believe the government stands for what it says it does. The attempts to erase history by killing everyone who might serve as a reminder of it. Still, most of the film aims to dismiss Communism by depicting it as a laughably incompetent form of government, only successful at terrorizing its people.

Gable gets to play the charming but principled rogue, pretending to be drunk and making witty retorts, ready to get the hell out of Moscow, but not willing to let someone else hang for his actions. Lamar is playing the young idealist who has to learn she bet on the wrong horse, but for a while, she gives as good as she gets with Gable. She has him on the defensive for a decent amount of their interactions.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

What I Bought 8/17/2018 - Part 1

With a combination of timing and luck, I've managed to find every comic I wanted this month that's come out. Granting there haven't been that many, with so many books being delayed. Anyway, here's two books at their third issues.

Multiple Man #3, by Matt Rosenberg (writer), Any MacDonald (artist), Tamra Bonvillain (color artist), Travis Lanham (letterer) - Going off the covers we've seen, this is probably the weakest one of this mini-series. It's not bad - Marcos Martin is hard-pressed to do a bad cover - I just don't quite like it as much as the others. The intentionally jumbled nature makes for a mess.

The Madrox army is busting down the doors of the resistance. Jamie gets Forge to build a few time travel bracelets and sends the un-altered versions of those weird Jamie dupes with the powers into the future to do. . . something. Find help, somehow. Then he's captured, and Jamie and Layla's son is executed (Layla is somewhere else, fortunate for Jamies). At least they do that off-panel, although MacDonald isn't really doing graphic violence much anyway. The Mystic Madrox gets one between the eyes and it's a small hole and he falls over. Jamie is brought to Emperor Jamie, they blather at each other, and then the Emperor chops the other Jamie's head off.

I thought Jamie's brilliant plan was going to be to try and absorb the Emperor, the way he did the dupe he fought in Hank's lab. I don't know that it would have worked, if the Emperor is essentially Jamie Prime now, but watching him try it as a big play only to fall flat on his face would have fit with the tone of this book. Think that line from Spaceballs: 'This is why evil will always win, because good is dumb.' This Jamie's a putz. Maybe that's because he's a good dupe produced from an evil Jamie Prime. It's how Emperor Jamie conceives of "good", so any duplicate he creates that's good is a loser. Or Rosenberg just didn't want to write a Jamie that is at all competent.

At one point, Layla's son points out they've lost their Hulk, and Jamie replies: 'Ooooh. The Hulk. That's why he was green. . . I didn't get that for some reason.' At the end of the previous issue, just before Hulk Madrox exploded, Jamie was telling the opposing army they were making a mistake making him angry, which sure as hell sounds like he's making a Hulk reference. He could be making a joke, but it isn't really presented as such, it's more like he's just a moron.

And sometimes that's funny. He tries to block the door with his body, until one of the dupes reminds him what bullets do to doors. His attempts to lie to Emperor Jamie. But there's still that disconnect where the series seems like it wants us to take this at least somewhat seriously - that Emperor Jamie is a Problem and it needs to be fixed - but you can't take this well-meaning duplicate Jamie seriously at all.

Stellar #3, by Joseph Keatinge (writer), Bret Blevins (artist), Rus Wooton (letterer) - What are those little lemurs that have the giant sad eyes? That's what that thing has. Probably knows what happens to the faithful steed in those kinds of settings.

Stellar spends years stranded on her homeworld, just her and that critter on the cover. Then she's attacked by her remaining two friends, altered by Zenith. She's captured and brought to him, and we learn the war that's torn the place apart is actually with an alternate universe. Which Zenith has opened another gateway to, I think. Stellar just wants to go back to the world she was on when the series began, but that's not going to be an option here.

Curious choice to gloss over the years she spends alone in a couple of pages, or maybe to even do that at all. I'm not sure why the time jump was necessary, or what the point of it all is. Stellar doesn't seem noticeably changed, other than her external appearance. She still doesn't want anything to do with Zenith or his plans. She still asks them to leave her alone or she'll kill them. Neither of those points suggests she had come to the conclusion she needed to hunt Zenith down and end things. She wants to leave in peace, and is only involved in whatever is going on when it comes knocking on her door.

It could be the skip forward was to give Zenith a plausible amount of time to get his plans to a certain point. But we don't have any frame of reference for how long it had been since Stellar split off from the group, or how smart Zenith is, so they could have said it took him however long they wanted. We don't have any evidence to contradict it, because about all we know of Zenith is he enjoyed killing with his powers, and Stellar was afraid of him.

Zenith, in addition to modifying a couple of his old teammates with some sort of liquid metal stuff, also found himself some giant robots. Those remind me of the ones from Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which was playing off a slightly earlier era of sci-fi/adventure stories than his other designs, but it still looks pretty good. Their design is different enough from Apogee and Aphelion to show that they're something leftover he cobbled together, while the former teammates look more like something he came up with himself. He'd done the same to himself, only he uses it a little better than they do. It looks like solid armor sometimes, and other points it's more fluid. He throws a punch at one point where his fist extends and it flows around Stellar's arm to hit her in the stomach. Blevins blurs and reduces the detail and contrast in those areas to show their less defined nature compared to the more solid parts of Zenith.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Love and Other Demons - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Sierva Maria is bitten on the ankle by a rabid dog on her 12th birthday. Nothing seems to come of it for months, until she begins convulsing on the floor one day. Her parents, who have ignored her for her entire life up to this point, become convinced she's possessed and take her to an abbey, where she's locked up. The priest meant to perform an exorcism instead falls in love with her, and ultimately ruins his life, while failing to save hers.

Most of the (white) adults in the book fail to understand Sierva. Her parents ignored her to wallow in their own problems, and she was raised by the slaves on the property in their cultures. So they understand her quite well. Unfortunately for Sierva, they aren't the ones in control of the situation, and the people who are just want her to be quiet and docile and conform to their expectations. When that fails to happen, she's possessed. I know, hard to believe the Catholic Church would react to a woman showing independence or defiance with accusations that she's a servant of Satan. Quite possibly the least surprising development in a story in human history.

I haven't read anything of Marquez' since I finished Love in the Time of Cholera 5 years ago, but I remember his work fondly enough that I was looking forward to the times when he goes into detail on a character's backstory. With a lot of other writers, this annoys me, especially if they do so late in the book when I'm eager to find out how it ends. But Marquez has a knack for making it not feel like an unnecessary diversion. It always seems relevant to what's happening in that it usually explains something important about the character. Even if the backstory he's describing isn't anything fanciful or exciting, he writes in a way that it's still interesting. He can write about someone having lived a boring, timid life, and make it the most fascinating couple of pages. Leave you wondering how this person could have lived such a dull life.

He's excellent at giving you a couple of sentences of description of a setting or how a person looks, but leaving enough space you can fill it in with your imagination, which I really appreciate. You can tell enough from what he writes to understand the feeling he's going for, and then you can picture what best conveys that for you.

After the immense disappointment I found Gravity's Rainbow, this was a nice bounce back. It's witty when it needs to be, the characters are distinct and memorable, the specifics of how things play out are a surprise but fit with the overall story.

'A frequent request was that she serve as their intermediary with the devil to ask for impossible favors. Sierva Maria would imitate voices from beyond the grave, voices of those who had been decapitated, voices of the spawn of Satan, and many believed her sly deceptions and attested to their truth in the acta. A band of nuns in disguise attacked the cell one evil night, gagged Sierva Maria, and stripped her of the sacred necklaces. It was an ephemeral victory. As they hurried away, the commander of the raiding party stumbled and fell on the dark stairs and fractured her skull. Her companions did not have a moment's peace until they returned the stolen necklaces to their owner. No one disturbed the nights in her cell again.'

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Annual Summer Ballgame Trip Report

Saturday was the Cardinals' annual Hall of Fame game that my dad and I attend each year. This year, the snag was he couldn't get logged into his account to buy tickets, so I had to. We got there over an hour early because he wanted us to stop in town to run some errands on the way, and that actually put us ahead of schedule. Which meant a lot of sitting and trying not to be annoyed by all the announcements over the loudspeaker. Did see about five people get to throw a "first pitch". Rather than have pitcher Austin Gomber catch them, they should have let backup catcher Francisco Pena do it. Yadier Molina has started the last 27 games at catcher, so at least Pena would get some time on the field.

(Frankly, letting your 36-year old catcher start 27 games in a row in the middle of St. Louis summer strikes me as kind of stupid.)

The inductees this year were Harry Breechen, Vince Coleman, and Ray Lankford. I though I heard the announcer refer to Breechen as the "second-greatest lefthander in Cardinals' history," which I assume would mean behind Steve Carlton. Except I don't think Carlton was really phenomenal until after the Cardinals stupidly traded him. Maybe I misheard. I felt kind of bad for Lankford because he doesn't quite have that signature stat you can point to. Breechen won three games in the '46 World Series. Coleman was Rookie of the Year in '85, stole 110 bases that year, led the league in steals every season he was a Cardinal, went to two World Series (even if he missed one because of that damn predatory tarp). The Cardinals' teams of the '90s weren't particularly good, and Ray was just a very good player for a long time. He's in the Top 10 in a lot of categories for the franchise, Top 5 in home runs. He does hold the record for most home runs hit at the previous Busch Stadium, but that's kind of a wonky stat. Anyway, it was a nice ceremony.

As for the game, they were playing the Brewers, with a chance to overtake Milwaukee in the division and in the wild card race. Things got off the a bad start because Miles Mikolas hit the second batter, Lorenzo Cain, who was displeased. My dad and I didn't know this at the time, but that's the third time the Cards have hit Cain this season. And it looks like Paul DeJong got hit the night before, so possibly retaliation? I don't know. Wade Miley was pitching for the Brewers, and in the bottom of the first, threw a pitch low that I guess was close enough to Tyler O'Neill the ump felt it necessary to warn both teams. Miley was visibly annoyed, and so was his manager Craig Counsell who came out, argued, and was ejected.

Travis Shaw led off the top of the second with a solo home run, to the delight of the two Brewers' fans sitting directly in front of me. Marcell Ozuna led off the bottom of the second with a solo home run into Big Mac Land, so tie game.

The bottom of the third was a ridiculous sequence of events. Kolten Wong leads off with a sharply hit single. OK, that's not ridiculous. Mikolas comes up to bat, clearly going to bunt. Miley tries to pick Wong off first, but first baseman Jesus Aguilar was sure Miley was pitching, and had already started rushing towards home to field the bunt. Wong got back to first easily, and was hit on the elbow by the throw. He left the game after the end of the inning. We joked Miley should have been tossed for hitting an opposing player. Hey, the ump warned them (Miley was not thrown out).

Mikolas did bunt, right back to Miley, who threw out Wong at second. Matt Carpenter hit one to Aguilar, who threw out Mikolas at second, but no one from Milwaukee got back to cover first in time, so Carpenter was safe. Molina swung and missed at strike 3, but the catcher missed it and the ball rolled to the backstop. Molina made it to first, and Carpenter advanced to second. O'Neill hits a pop-up into short right that falls in no man's land, Carp scores, Molina advances to third. Aguilar was closest, although I think the ball was going to be out of reach, but it seemed like he pulled his arm back at the last second. Maybe he thought the second baseman was coming in. Ozuna walked, loading the bases, then DeJong hit a 15-hopper through the middle of the infield that scored Molina and O'Neill. Three runs, all coming with two outs, and Wong's single was the only hard hit ball in there. *Shrug*

The Brewers threatened briefly in the sixth, but got nothing. Miley left after 5 innings, and the Cardinals got to reliever Corey Knebel. DeJong was safe on a grounder to short. Orlando Arcia double-clutched before he made the throw, and it short-hopped, and Aguilar couldn't come up with it. They charged the error to Arcia. Jedd Gyorko drew a walk, then Harrison Bader put one on the gap, scoring both of them while he slid into third with a triple. The throw was offline, so he could have gone in standing up, but nothing wrong with having some fun. Cards up 6-1.

(Bader plays all out and he's fast, and the fans love him. I should, but he took over Tommy Pham's spot, so there's some lingering resentment. I never warmed up to Royce Clayton either, after he took Ozzie Smith's job, and don't get me started on Ryan Theriot taking over from Brendan Ryan.)

Mikolas was done after six innings, not a bad idea given the sixth had been a struggle. My dad was not enthused about the bullpen getting involved. I understand his concern, but the bullpen is a lot better since most of the worst relievers are injured (Luke Gregerson), in the minors (Matt Bowman, Tyler Lyons), or on other teams (Greg Holland). Mike Mayers mostly breezed through the 7th. They brought in lefty Chasen Shreve for the 8th, who faced lefty Christian Yelich, who promptly put on over the centerfield fence. He got Cain out, then Moustakas hit a soft liner into center Bader made a pretty great diving play on. The Cardinals got one more in the 8th, after Ozuna collected his second walk, then scored on a double by DeJong. Daniel Poncedeleon threw a quiet 9th, and the Cards win, 7-2.

They've won the last three games we've attended, and 5 of the 7 we've seen in this ballpark. Other notes:

- The Brewers' fans in front of us left in the middle of the 8th. I was glad they didn't have more to cheer about, because I think they'd have been obnoxious. The Cardinals' fans on either side of us also left sometime in the 8th, which was nice since those seats are pretty tiny. My dad was getting cramped, and I wasn't loving my spot, either.

- The people on my right didn't make it to their seats until the third inning (just long enough for me to think I'd have some extra space), then left in the 8th. I'm not complaining, but what the hell's the point of even coming to the game then?

- The Wave tried to start sometime in the top half of the 8th. Boooo.

- The brewers starting catcher tonight was Eric Kratz, who was the Pirates' catcher in the game we attended in 2010. He's hitting significantly better this year than the .125 he was hitting back then. He's still not hitting well, mind you, just better.

- After Cain was plunked, as he slowly walked down the first base line, yelling a few things in the direction of the Cardinals' dugout, Matt Carpenter and Molina took up positions about halfway between the pitchers' mound and the base line. In case he decided to make a sprint for Mikolas (who was pretty much ignoring the whole thing, or giving the impression of it). I'm pretty sure Cain could get past Molina without much effort, but it's worth a chance. Cain gave no impression he was going to do that, though.

- Matt Carpenter has different walk-up music from whatever it was last year that annoyed the hell out of me.

- Jesus Aguilar had a rough game. Struck out looking to end the first, on a pitch he through was high, so he and the ump argued a bit. Couldn't come up with the pop fly in the third (good hustle, though), or that short-hopped throw in the sixth. Struck out swinging to end the 8th, and slammed his bat and helmet to the ground.

- After that second K, my dad wondered if Aguilar would be fined. Apparently MLB stated they weren't going to tolerate that kind of thing this year? I'm not bothered by it, as long as the bat or helmet don't go ricocheting at some weird angle and injury someone. Guy is frustrated with how things are going.

- There was a guy a couple rows in front of us wearing an Oakland Athletics' cap. Kind of random.

- According to Counsell, when he was arguing with the ump, the ump said they knew there would be trouble this series. Counsell asked if that was the case, why wasn't Mikolas ejected? We know how that conversation ended for Counsell. The ump warning both teams so early was a mistake, though, because then he's backed into a corner. If Miley was trying to throw at O'Neill, he did a poor job of it, so why put everybody on edge? Now if anyone loses control of a pitch, both sides may get riled and then the whole thing gets stupid.

- Although Cardinals' infielder Greg Garcia was hit on the ankle in the 8th by Corbin Burnes, and Burnes was not ejected. Doubtful it was intentional. They're into the 6th inning of Sunday's game as I type this, and nobody has been plunked so far, thankfully.

Past trips to the park:
August 2010
August 16, 2014
August 15, 2015
August 27, 2016
April 8, 2017
August 26, 2017

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sunday Splash Page #29

"At Least He's Not Moping", in Annihilation: Silver Surfer #3, by Keith Giffen (writer), Renato Arlem (artist), June Chung (color artist), Cory Petit (letterer)

Just to warn you now, the next couple months of these are going to Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest related stuff. Expect explosions.

This was one of the four 4-issue mini-series that led into the main Annihilation mini-series, each focused on a different character and getting them to where they needed to be for when the main show started, while kind of fleshing out the scope and direction of the larger story. Here, the Surfer's troubled by the mindless slaughter and devastation of the Annihilation Wave, but is slow to commit himself to fighting it, preferring to be sad about it instead. He's been a party to death on this scale himself, although he eventually rationalizes it that deaths on Galactus' behalf served a purpose. Hey, Annihilus has a purpose to all his killing, too! 

The Surfer finds himself hunted, along with the other heralds, but would end up dealing with an entirely different problem, as he gets sucked into helping Galactus throw down with a couple of elder beings that were inadvertently freed by the Wave and are after Big G for some revenge. And that's how the Surfer wound up back as Galactus' herald for a few years (this series came out in 2006, and that status quo persisted to at least some time in 2009-2010).

This is the only issue I kept. Partially for that double-page splash, and partially because Annihilus' hunter at one point refers to the Surfer as a 'sadly inadequate poltroon', which is just fantastic. So much better than me calling him a "mopey, overgrown hood ornament". I guess Giffen figured he had to have some fun with it. Until I double-checked the credits, I thought it was Alex Maleev on the art chores, but Arlem's style is a bit more sketchy, leans a bit less on shadows. Although this isn't set in a place where shadows would make a ton of sense..

Friday, August 17, 2018

What Kind Of Person Is Clark Kent?

For some reason, I've been thinking about the monologue David Carradine has about Superman in Kill Bill Vol. 2. The one about how Clark Kent is how Superman sees Earthlings, because that's how he behaves to blend in, to disguise himself. Bill describes Clark as weak, bumbling, and a coward.

I don't think a villain in a Quentin Tarantino film is the person to go to for critiques of Superman, but it did make think about how I think of Clark Kent. Firstly, I don't know that Clark is how Superman sees Earthlings so much as he's what Supes thinks is the best way to keep suspicion off him of being Superman. If Superman really meant Clark as a critique of humans, then Clark Kent would act like Steve Lombard (a blowhard who picks on everyone weaker than him), or Luthor (who tries to disguise his jealousy and ego and present a more friendly public face, but can't quite stick the landing.) After all, Clark has almost certainly met more people like those two than he has like himself.

I tend to see Clark as being fairly quiet. Maybe he's shy, maybe he's just comfortable with silence. Good listener, when he isn't distracted. Polite and helpful. Probably helps a lot of people around the office when they need to find some bit of information in the archives, proofreading an article, or just need help lugging some equipment. Even if he slouches while he's Clark, he's still a big guy, grew up on a farm, people aren't going to be that surprised he can carry some boxes. He's probably halfway decent at auto repair, not that he has or needs a car, but I assume he help his parents work on their truck and tractor. He'd know basic engine maintenance, at the least. He'd be pretty popular with a decent amount of his coworkers (my guess is most of them would be in awe or intimidated by Lois, at least initially).

He's not confrontational, takes setbacks and rudeness directed his way in stride. Which might suggest he's laid back, or just calm and patient. Some people perceive it as weakness, others see it as confidence. If he sees someone getting hassled, he may step in, try to mediate. He won't fight (or it won't appear he's fighting), but he won't let the person getting picked on get hurt. People see him as well-meaning, but tell him he should take a self-defense course (including the people he's defending). He can be clumsy, or not, I'm indifferent on that point. If he is clumsy, it probably happens a lot when there's a tense situation and his pratfall provides a distraction.

That covers most of what I can think of at the moment, but I'm not any kind of a Superman expert. So I'd like to hear your thoughts, if you feel like sharing.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Mary and the Witch's Flower

Mary's moved to the English countryside, to her great-aunt's manor, and while following a pair of cats in the woods, finds the mysterious Fly-By-Night flower, which only blooms once every 7 years. Not long after that, she finds an old broomstick at the base of a tree, and she's soon carried into the clouds to a witches' college. For Mary, the nice part there is that everyone thinks she's a prodigy. The bad news is, her power is a result of the flower, and that's what the headmistress Madam Mumblechook and the chief researcher Dr. Dee are really after.

The designs of the buildings and some of the creatures are fantastic. The small cottage the broomstick eventually brings Mary to looked wonderful. I especially liked the different forms Dr. Dee's experiment at the end kept morphing into. Some were just large, gelatinous versions of animals, like frogs, and others were these strange monstrosities.

At one point, when Mary delivers the flower, Madam Mumblechook uses magic just to unscrew the thermos it's in. I started to suspect that, if the people at the college used magic for everything, then Mary's advantage would be that she was used to doing things without it. All their protections and defenses would be designed against magic, and rather than try to blast through a barrier spell over a door, Mary would just. . . turn the knob. That didn't turn out to be the case. Another prediction wrong. It would have been funny, though.

At the beginning of the film, we figure out two things about Mary. One, she's self-conscious about her red hair and how much it makes her stand out. Then she gets to the college where her red hair is a sign of her immense potential and everyone tells her how great she is, which leads to her not getting the heck out of there faster (that and the threat of being "transformed" if she's an interloper). The other thing we learn is she really wants to be helpful and useful, but struggles to do anything properly. A little overeager most of the time. I'm not sure what the payoff was for that. Her being determined to stop Mumblechook and Dee from experimenting on someone, and she sort of managed that, perhaps. She didn't stop trying to help, and she got it right this time.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

You'd Have To Call It A Comeback

Rick Ankiel said a couple of weeks ago he was going to try and get himself in condition to try out for a major league job next year. As a pitcher. Ankiel hasn't played in the majors since 2013. He hasn't pitched in a major league game since 2004. He gave up pitching because the effort it took to keep the monster, the yips, whatever you want to call the thing that made it nearly impossible for him to throw strikes, would consume his life. He thinks he has that under control now. He seemed to come to this conclusion off a brief appearance in a game he played on a team of retired pros against collegiate all-stars. His velocity was nothing to write home about, but he also hadn't been doing any exercises yet to get the arm prepared for pitching. Maybe he can still hit the low-90s.

A writer at the Viva El Birdos site proposed if Ankiel was going to pitch in the majors, it should be with the Cardinals. Mostly, I think, because it would be cool for him to come back to where it went off the rails for this final chapter. There was a fair amount of pushback in the comments. It sounds like a publicity stunt. The team has better options. He'd be taking an opportunity away from some younger player. I'm not sure the folks touting the last two have noticed how poor the Cards' lefthanded reliever options have been this season. If they have pitchers who are good enough to merit being in the majors, they're doing a great Invisible Man impersonation. Still, their points stand. There are plenty of reasons to doubt.

My primary concern is Ankiel would get back on the mound and find out, no, he hasn't got control of the monster. That would be an ugly way for things to go. Now presumably he'd have to prove himself in some workouts first, probably take a minor league contract, and play his way on in Spring Training. If he doesn't have it under control, or the velocity doesn't come back the way he thinks it will, a team could figure that out before real games began.

I'd still like to see him try. I'm at the point with sports where, unless I have a strong rooting interest towards one team or the other - against the Dallas Cowboys, for example - I'm not concerned as much with who wins. I'd still rather see the teams I like win, but I'd also like for them to have players that I find interesting.

That generally means guys that have the capacity to do something spectacular, or maybe that's there something unique about them. There are a lot of players that, if they were on a team I didn't care about, I wouldn't think twice about them. I didn't think much about Jedd Gyorko before he joined the Cardinals, and I probably won't think much about him after he goes to another team. Doesn't make him a bad player, just lacks a certain something that gets my attention.

That was a big part of why Tommy Pham was my favorite Cardinals' player of the last few years. Not just because of how hard he played, or how many injuries he'd fought through to get there, or even because he was outstanding last year. Because with him there was always the possibility he was going to do something awesome. Upper deck home run, or a game where he hits two homers and throws out two guys at home plate (which he did against Philly last year). Great sliding catch, or legging out a triple by running like a madman.

Ankiel is that kind of player. He looked like he could be a future Cy Young winner his rookie year, and then it all fell apart. So he decided to become an outfielder, and he made that work for 6 seasons. At any time out there, he could let one fly and you'd remember the arm he had. Or he could crush a big home run. Besides all that, I'd be rooting for him to succeed, whichever team he was with. If it's a choice between watching Rick Ankiel be a lefty reliever out of the Cardinals' bullpen, or watching Brett Cecil/Ryan Sherriff/Chasen Shreve with that job, I'd rather see Ankiel at least take a crack at it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Mississippi Grind

Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn) is a lousy realtor by day, and a compulsive gambler by night. He usually gambles until he's broke, then lies about it. He meets Curtis (Ryan Reynolds) playing poker one night, and the two hit it off. Curtis gambles when he feels like it, and seems good at it, but doesn't really care when he wins or not. He seems content to drift, but Gerry seems to do better when he listens to Curtis, and he's got debts, so they head to New Orleans where Curtis knows about some big poker game run by an old friend of his.

The movie works because it gradually shows that Curtis and Gerry are pretty much the same, it just manifests in different ways. Mendelsohn plays Gerry as kind of a pitiful schlub, the guy that tries to take advantage of your pity, but is too crappy of liar to pull it off. Reynolds gives Curtis that goofy, kind of annoying charm he usually has in movies, that gets people to go along with him for awhile, until he gets bored or antsy. At their core, both of them use people, they just go about it different ways. Curtis seems happier, while Gerry tends to swing from one end of the emotional spectrum to another, but they're both after something winning money isn't going to give them.

A lot of scenes are set in kind of dingy surroundings, dimly lit bars or houses, lots of smoke, people drinking and not really looking like they're having a good time. Even the places that look a little more high class have that air of being past the sell-by date. Just not quite able to maintain the effort to keep up appearances any longer. That's about the level these two guys are at, ultimately. A good night with the dice isn't going to change that.

I didn't have any expectations going in, but I enjoyed it.

Monday, August 13, 2018

What I Bought 8/10/2018

Two books from last week, which is a decent haul around here these days. Not a lot else going on around here right now. Trying to do some writing these next two months, we'll see how that goes.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #35, by Ryan North (writer), Derek Charm (artist), Rico Renzi (color artist), Travis Lanham (letterer) - I guess squirrels and spiders both have poor depth perception.

By the time Doreen finds Kraven, he and Spidey are in battle. Doreen tries throwing the "power and responsibility" thing in Spidey's face, that Kraven is still learning the responsible side, but Spider-Man is unmoved. Before he can get Kraven, Brain Drain steps in with some load of hooey about if you don't think Kraven can change then you don't believe you can change, and as I said, that's a load of hooey. But Spidey goes to find other crimes, rather than punch the brain in a jar - and really, what's the point of superheroing if not to punch brains in jars - and Kraven goes off to try and work at being a better person.

Doreen's desire to see the best in people is a wonderful trait, and she has evidence of his willingness to do good, but it's hard for me to disagree with Spidey here. Kraven killed Spider-Man and put him in a grave for two weeks. Doreen knows this because she read it on Kraven's rap sheet last issue. Spidey doesn't owe Kraven a second chance for nuthin'. Brain Drain's supposition kind of neatly sidesteps the difference between "can change" and "will change". A penguin can flap its wings, but that doesn't mean it will fly. There's also the question of how many opportunities you're expected to give someone who, you know, hunts people for sport. Second chances are great and all, but Kraven's up to at least his 50th chance at this stage. How many chances is he supposed to get?

I suppose if, as a reader, I didn't already know so much of Kraven's history, all the fighting and hunting and trying kill people, I'd be more inclined to give him benefit of the doubt.

I continue to be like with how Derek Charm draws Spider-Man, and there was some solid beats in this issue. Those silent panels of anticipation, where it's uncertain how things are going to go. Ryan North may just really like that as a writing device, because it was common when Erica Henderson was penciler on the book as well. It is a handy technique. You can build tension, and then have it payoff any number of ways. They used it 4 times just in this issue. A couple of times, both when brain Drain was trying to talk Spidey down, went for jokes of a sort. The silent standoff between Spidey and Doreen ended when the fight continued. The fourth one looked as though it was going to escalate the situation, but then you turn the page and it goes differently. They make it work very well.

Domino #5, by Gail Simone (writer), David Baldeon (layouts), Michael Shelfer (artist), Jesus Arbutov (colorist), Clayton Cowles (letterer) - That's actually a solid cover by Land, setting aside he made Desmond look like Magneto. Overall though, I think Land's batting a solid 3 for 5 on these covers. Maybe even 4 out of 5.

As Domino tries to control her power while fending off a bunch of Shang-Chi's rogue's gallery, Outlaw and Diamondback continue their fight against Desmond and Topaz. With a lengthy break in their where Desmond gives us his tale of woe, how he was tortured by Topaz' dad to amplify Domino's powers, blah blah, hate her, whine whine, all mutants are bad, you know that tale of self-loathing and self-pity. At least adding in the notion that they've absorbed this "we mutants are monsters" vibe gives a little sense to the fact they've targeted Domino. Because otherwise, blaming another test subject in the awful experiment for things outside their control would be a really annoying trait.

I'm not sure what good having control over her power is going to do against Topaz, who can apparently mess with or take away others' powers. Are they saying Topaz' power only works on people who haven't learned to control their abilities yet? Like, she couldn't steal the Human Torch's fire, because Johnny knows how control it? That would make sense, in this coming down to a test of wills sort of way, but that doesn't seem to be how it's been treated up to this point.

I didn't realize Shang-Chi had that many enemies, and I don't recognize 75% of them. Was that Sunturion, isn't he more of an Iron Man bad guy? Works for Roxxon, something like that. The Cat was there, who I only know from Cable/Deadpool as a guy who takes jobs just for kicks, and therefore have trouble picturing him working for these obviously murderous psychos. If he did, why isn't he going after Shang-Chi, who I assume would be the challenge he'd seek?

Michael Shelfer handles some of the art chores (I'm not sure what doing "layouts" as Baldeon is credited, involves). The linework is lighter, definitely not as many thick black lines. So characters look less intense much of the time and much younger. There are some panels in there where Outlaw looks like she's in her early teens, maybe. It's actually kind of strange to see Topaz not looking like she dragged a hot poker over the skin around her eyes. The emotions are still easily readable, just dialed back a couple of notches. The fight scenes are good, nice sense of progression of the action from panel-to-panel. Not sure why Domino was so impressed by Shang kicking one dude in the face, though.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Alternate Favorite Marvel Characters #3 - Deadpool

Character: Deadpool (Wade Wilson)

Creators: Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza

First Appearance: New Mutants #98.

First encounter: X-Force #2. Deadpool fights and loses to Kane, who was only notable for being able to shoot his cybernetic hand at people and choke them with it remotely. Deadpool talks quite a bit, though less then you might think. Deadpool comments that's pretty gross, although one imagines he'd make a more innuendo-laced comment these days. But the issue establishes that he distracts people with talking, people find him annoying, and he has a personal teleportation device.

Two issues after that, he showed up at the tail end of a Spider-Man/X-Force team-up to abduct both Juggernaut and Black Tom Cassidy for "Tolliver". I have never known who Tolliver was or what he wanted those two for. That's not a hint for you to tell me, either. I'm fine not knowing.

Definitive writer: Either Fabian Nicieza or Gerry Duggan. I don't like Duggan's take on Wade and Cable, so that's a strike against him, but I thought he covered Wade's tendency to wreck every good thing he manages to cobble together extremely well. Not surprising, since he gave him more to lose than any other writer. I could see Nicieza's pop-culture reference heavy writing getting on someone's nerves, but I mostly enjoy it.

Definitive artist: Reilly Brown's pretty good, Shawn Crystal worked for the more zany adventures Daniel Way occasionally wrote, and Declan Shalvey drew more haggard, dangerous Wade that worked very well for that particular story. But I'd go Mike Hawthorne now. He's very good at giving Deadpool an expressive mask, he draws a good fight scene, his version of Wade's face is pretty messed up, rather than "relatively normal with some lines in odd places scribbled across it", which is what you get with some artists. If Deadpool's face looks less messed up than Jonah Hex', you're doing it wrong.

Favorite story or moment: Cable/Deadpool #41. Wade and Nate were on the outs, because Cable kept doing his "I'm from the future so I know what's best for you" bit and messing with Wade's life. They took opposite sides in Civil War, so Cable arranged to make Wade look bad enough the U.S. government fired him, even though being treated as a legitimate agent meant a lot to him. Wade agrees to help make Cable look bad in Rumekistan, kind of as payback, Cable reveals he knew it was coming all along and literally pantsed Wade on international TV. Then he hooked Wade's subconscious up to the Infonet, so all Wade's issues he tries to ignore would be able to taunt him 24/7 on every TV screen in New York City. You will not be surprised to learn Wade eventually snapped and started shooting up a bar. With that grasp of human emotions and psychology, it's clear Cable is Cyclops' kid.

So things are bad between them. X-Men stuff leads to Cable's island nation getting trashed and beginning to sink. Sabretooth was loose on the island, because the X-Men thought having him around was a good idea, and is holding Irene Merryweather hostage against Domino. Then who comes dropping out of the sky?

My favorite part of all this, besides how much Wade enjoyed shooting Sabretooth repeatedly, is when Irene and Domino reach the evac boat and tell Cable who showed up.

Look at that. Even old grump Cable, who think he knows everything, is not only surprised Deadpool showed up to help, but genuinely happy about it. He goes to finds Wade, and after launching Sabretooth into the Pacific, they set about trying to wipe any dangerous information before other parties get their hands on it. Cable ultimately teleports Wade to safety before the island explodes.

That is why I was disappointed by how Duggan handled their relationship in "Deadpool Kills Cable" last year. For all they're very different and stubborn people, and for all that Cable can't stop trying to manipulate a guy who has been used and abused by people for his entire life, and Wade can't stop making the worst possible choices to deal with problems, they do still look out for each other when it counts.

What I like about him: I've written a lot about Deadpool, not a surprise considering how often I've bought his various titles and how often Marvel ships his comics. I've used him as a recurring character on the blog, largely as an element of chaos. The panda is too sensible to think of most of Deadpool's plans, Calvin wouldn't have the nerve or the skill. Deadpool's an opportunity to let things get really silly, or violent, as the desire arises.

But what about when people with actual skill use him? Well, he can be funny, and funny in a lot of different ways depending on the writer and artist. Bizarre pop culture references and metaphors, bodily humor, ridiculous props. Meta references to the fact he's a fictional character. I love Deadpool's commitment to branding, whether it's having his logo on the soles of his boots, or brass knuckles that say "DEAD" and "POOL". Even his grenades have been known to have his logo. Just how much he annoys other characters or makes them uncomfortable can be hilarious.

Or there's general absurdist behavior. With Deadpool, any action or decision is within the realms of possibility. He'll fight a Skrull invasion dressed as a baseball team mascot. He famously tried to pick a fight with Wolverine by giving Kitty Pryde the ol' Shoryuken (not a euphemism). He'll dress as a pimp to shake down a bodega to draw out the gang that's already shaking down said bodega. He'll get a bunch of Iron Fist's students to fight a super-villain (sort of) because his body is too shattered to use. He could take a bunch of money and buy a crappy little boat so he can be a pirate. He can decide the best way to keep a succubus Queen from having to marry Dracula is to marry her himself. That didn't end well, but that's the danger of applying questionable decision-making to problems. And he enjoys his plans so much, most of the time, that it's easy to be carried along with his enthusiasm.

His healing factor means he can take a lot of punishment, so you can do something with that. Have Logan decapitate him, then let Weasel spend a couple pages scrambling around trying to pick up the head while Logan kills HYDRA agents. In that sense, he's a very malleable character to the strengths of whatever creative team is working with him at the moment.

That's all well and good, humor's great. The interesting bit is you can flip that on its head and use it to make him terrifying. Like when he brings down ULTIMATUM's helicarrier, and after Coulson congratulates him, Wade explains he just used his plan for bringing down SHIELD's helicarrier if they didn't give him the money he was owed. Coulson clears his throat and goes to a) update Wade's threat level in his file, and b) figure out where that money is.

For all his jokes and zany hijinks, Deadpool is still a highly trained and periodically ruthless killer who is nearly unkillable himself. That guy kills a room full of ULTIMATUM guys and paints the walls with their blood as some joke? That's frightening. You can do jokes about how he doesn't remember fighting Captain America with the Fixer in St. Louis and all of them getting hit with a diarrhea ray. Or you can have him trying to solve how someone killed a well-known terrorist leader, and he figures it out while actually thinking about chimichangas the whole time, because he's the one who killed him, but he doesn't remember doing it. And he can't figure why he did other than, he felt like it. It can be funny to see him running around with his severed arm tied to his body fighting goon squads, until you realize he chewed his own arm off to get free to kill these guys.

Deadpool is very human, in that he falls prey to the same flaws as a lot of us, just in more spectacular ways. Wade wants to be a good person most of the time, but he wants to do it on his terms, when it doesn't inconvenience him too much. He'll take the easy way out sometimes, avoid tough conversations with people he cares about. The reason that move Cable pulled worked so well is because Wade didn't want to deal with his inner conflicts. When he realizes he doesn't know how many people he's killed, then he starts thinking about why he not, and what he even hoped to accomplish with those deaths. And rather than answer that, he lashes out instead.

Deadpool's been victimized a lot in his life. Department K, or Weapon X, whoever, that used him as a guinea pig, then dumped him down a sluice gate into a pile of corpses when they thought he was of no use to them. When someone in charge decided that was a dumb idea, they sought him out to harvest his organs and tamper with his memories, even having him kill his parents just to test how effective their mind-wiping drug was. Logan let him on X-Force, but treated him as a soulless killer, a weapon. You'd think Logan would know what that's like, but he treated his "daughter" the same way, so let's just leave it that Logan's a shitty mentor figure. Cable would hire Deadpool for jobs without letting him know it was him doing it, to let Wade think he had some autonomy. True or not, Deadpool feels like Captain America used him as a gun because Cap himself was old and Logan was busy being dead.

And so Wade has a tendency, publicly anyway, to blame his problems on others. Privately, Wade will acknowledge his own hand in the trainwreck his life routinely becomes, but when he's around others, he'll blame them, or anyone else. Maybe because everybody seems to dismiss the crap he's been through. People always makes excuses for Logan after he murders up 40 guys, how he's been through a lot, suffered a lot. They look the other way for the shady shit the Black Widow continues to do. But Wade feels he doesn't get that acknowledgement. I'd say his consistent friends - Weasel, Blind Al, Outlaw, etc. - recognize it and allow for it, and that Wade ignores that, because it's convenient to him. It's not one of his better traits, but it's understandable, and like I said, Wade does internally acknowledge how he often ruins things himself.

Jamie Madrox mentioned he pulls practical jokes as way to get people to notice him, so he didn't feel alone. I wonder if Wade acts so irritating because it forces people to acknowledge him as a person. They can't just treat him as a weapon to use or destroy, because he's pissing them off too much for that. They have to yell at him to shut up, or tell him how disgusting he is. Which undoubtedly hurts, but at least they see him, the person. Or a version of him, at least, which may be better than nothing.

Deadpool is fully capable of compassion, but like a lot of people, he's selective about who receives. He's more likely to show compassion to those he sees as victims, as opposed to people he thinks have made their own bed. He tried to do a lot for the Kim and the rest of Butler's Korean test subjects, those X-Men he partially created using Wade's body. Wade got them out Korea, got them money, and when their health began to fail, he convinced the X-Men to help. When Beast needed some of Wade's organs to keep them alive, Wade gave them. When the X-Men went temporarily evil - thanks Axis! - Wade found his friends another sanctuary. He'll save a random kid riding by on a bike while he was in the middle of fighting a demon. Just because. When some kind of tampering is making him try to kill Cable, he'll shoot himself rather than let that happen.

On the other hand, when he was trying to deal with that demon, he killed his necromancer acquaintance Michael and sent the guy to Hell so he could bargain with Mephisto. From Wade's point of view, Michael already sold his soul and was doomed to Hell. Wade was just using Michael's bad decision to help the rest of them. Same with Madcap. He was trapped inside Wade's mind, Wade was in a bad place, he tormented Madcap. Later, he tries to make amends when he feels he can afford to, but it's too late. He'll punch random people or threaten them because he's got problems he can't deal with and they happen to be annoying him at the wrong moment. That's not unusual, to take out our other problems and frustrations on people who have nothing to do with them. Although I can also see how having to share your mind with Madcap would get irritating real fast. Wade didn't ask for him to be there.

Deadpool is a good friend. Sometimes. We discussed the efforts he went to trying to help Cable out, and that doesn't cover the time Wade jumped across multiple dimensions trying to find Cable's soul to bring him back to life. Or when he was sent through time to kill Cable, but kept saving his life. Or the time he fought Power Man and Iron Fist to protect Weasel. Gail Simone didn't write Deadpool for long, but when his brain was increasingly scrambled by Black Swan, he had Swan use his powers to help his friend Ratbag instead (also an example of Wade helping someone who was a victim of circumstances outside their control). He worked hard to help Evan believe the best of himself, that he wasn't going to become Apocalypse, and to protect him from Stryfe. He went to the wall for Kim and the others, and he fended off a lot of people trying to keep Agent Preston safe until they could figure out some way for her to have a body. He killed everyone in ULTIMATUM to try and keep his daughter and her new family safe. Which is extreme, but he'd already tried letting their boss live in such mortal terror of Deadpool that he wouldn't think of messing with him. It eventually stopped working, sooooo, new plan. Or old plan really.

And sometimes he's a terrible friend. He kept Blind Al locked up in his house, and kicked the shit out of Weasel when he dared to figure out where Wade lived. He's tried to kill Cable on multiple occasions, even after they became sort-of friends. When Preston came after him, he shut her down and left her mind trapped in a deactivated, trashed LMD until he could get around to telling Captain America to fix her. He treats Bob like his personal punching bag. (Though Bob is an agent of HYDRA, so he probably deserves it, he's been a loyal friend to Wade.) He killed Irene Merryweather for Stryfe to protect his daughter. Wade is leery of letting people close, because there's a lot of ugly stuff in his history, and once they see it, they might not want to be around him. Better to drive them off first, even if he's confirming all his worst fears about himself in the process. He sabotages himself a lot. He's had a good thing, then wrecked it somehow so many times he's convinced it's always going to happen, and then he ends up making it happen. He pushes them away before they can turn against him, which causes them to turn against him.

It's just all very interesting to me because I can't ever be sure which way Deadpool's going to go at a given moment. Even when he's at his lowest points, or things are starting to spiral out control, he can still do something good or kind. And other times, he can be completely cruel and indifferent to the suffering he's inflicting. It isn't as though he has no moral compass - it may be skewed, but it's there - but he'll either ignore it, or justify his actions in some way. Which again, isn't all that different from a lot of us. We may do something unkind, but there were reasons, you see, so we should get a pass. Wade may very well believe he should get a pass - during the fallout from HYDRA Cap, he's been constantly trying to "I was only following orders" line of defense - but I don't know that he really believes it. And I'm positive he knew he wasn't gonna get it.

How aware Wade is of the fact he's a comic book character varies from time-to-time. He's as aware as the writer needs him to be to make a joke. But again, you can flip that to make it terrifying and sad, like when he addresses the audience about their complicity in the hell his life regularly becomes, as his suffering is our entertainment. In those moments, he's also aware of how writers love to give him friends or family, only to pull them away. If not by that writer, like Gerry Duggan did with everyone he gave Deadpool, then the next writer, like when Daniel Way threw out everything Nicieza had established. That has to be exhausting, to know, even just some of the time, that he's stuck on a treadmill of gaining friends only to lose them, and it's ultimately going to be played as his fault. He'll be written to do something shitty and awful that turns these people away - help HYDRA, beat up his friend for crossing a line the friend didn't know existed, neglect his wife - so he can be alone and terrible again. Wade ends up being very good at regrets after the fact, but not so good at avoiding the actions he'll end up regretting in the first place.

Given that, it's not much of a surprise he tries to kill himself sometimes, even though he knows his healing factor (or Marvel) won't let it take. He's stuck in his own Groundhog Day, but he's not ever going to get the happy end where he finds true love and becomes a better person. Every time he does, it's pulled out from under him, and he wakes up back in the hotel bed with the alarm playing the same damn song. Maybe all his bizarre adventures are just a way for him to keep occupied. If he's stuck existing, there's no reason he has to be bored. After all, if he's bored, he might start thinking, maybe about how he's going to live for a really long time, and suffer setback after setback, loss after loss. Misfortune, isolation, hatred, scorn, there's truckload after truckload of that waiting ahead for him. Better just not to think about it. Find something to do today, kick the can down the road. He can always try killing himself tomorrow.

It's this push-pull where Deadpool can be hilarious, or sad, where he can frustrate by tearing his life down around his ears one money, and then do something stupid and ridiculous that almost makes it funny. Where I want to yell at him about his bad decisions, but defend him against any character in-story that tries to give him a hard time or look down on him. I know Wade shoots himself in the foot a lot, literally and figuratively, but I also know that he's done the right thing a lot when no one would have expected it and no one was willing to help. I root for him to get to have friends and good times, even knowing it's all eventually going to fall apart. He's an interesting character in his good and bad times.
Credits! Wade didn't make a great first impression in X-Force #2, by Fabian Nicieza (writer), Rob Liefeld (artist), Brad Vancata (colorist), and Chris Eliopoulos (letterer). Cable appreciates that Wade had himself shipped air mail for overnight delivery in Cable/Deadpool #41, by Nicieza (writer), Reilly Brown (penciler), Jeremy Freeman (inker), Gotham (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer). Deadpool unveils his new DLC alternate costume in Deadpool (volume 3) #13, by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn (writers), Scott Koblish (artist), Val Staples (colorist), and Joe Sabino (letterer). Deadpool's career as a physiotherapist was brief, in Deadpool (vol. 3) #19, by Duggan and Posehn (writers), Declan Shalvey (artist), Jordie Bellaire (color artist), and Joe Sabino (letterer). Everybody wants someone else to solve their problems, then they complain how you do it in Deadpool (vol. 3) #10, by Duggan and Posehn (writers), Mike Hawthorne (artist), Val Staples (colorist), and Joe Sabino (letterer). Wade does a nice thing for his friend, he tells him to get away in Deadpool (vol. 1) #69, by Gail Simone (writer), Arnold Tsang, Andrew Hou, Eric Vedder, Omar Dogan, and TheRealT! (artists), Dave Sharpe (letterer). Deadpool makes sure you can always tell where he's been in Deadpool (volume 3) #17, by Duggan and Posehn (writers), Shalvey (artist), Bellaire (colorist), and Sabino (letterer).