Friday, February 28, 2020

What I Bought 2/21/2020 - Part 2

Another week in the books. Hooray! Hopefully I get more rest this weekend than I did last weekend. But first, two comics to review.

Deadpool #3, by Kelly Thompson (writer), Chris Bachalo (penciler), Wayne Faucher, Livesay, Al Vey, Jaime Mendoza and Victor Olazaba (inkers), David Curiel (color artist), Joe Sabino (letterer) - Bachalo really likes to draw Wade with one pinky extended when he's holding swords. Is Wade trying to be classy? Because it just seems like a good way to lose a finger.

Elsa's bullet dumps Wade in another dimension for about three pages. Then he's back and angry at her, and Kraven's attacking again. Wade consults his trading cards to learn what his "knights" can actually do, then tricks them all into leaving so he can fight Kraven. They fight a bit, Wade is somehow slowed down more by a spear in the gut than Kraven is by a sword running through his torso. Not sure how that works. Then they keep fighting.

Which kind of makes the whole teleportation bullet pointless? We're right back where we were at the end of last issue, minus Wade's knights. I do appreciate they aren't protecting Wade because they particularly like him, since he spends a lot of time insulting them. They just know Kraven would become King if he kills Wade, and that would be bad for all the monsters. Sound reasoning.
There are still some panels where I scratch my head at Bachalo's choices on panel layout, although it definitely feels like he used more of the available page space than last issue. I did like the bit where Kraven is standing on a ledge looking down at Wade, and then later, it's reversed, with Wade looking down at Kraven. The fight between them was solid. The little lines on Kraven's cheek from the force of Wade's punch. Kraven telling Deadpool all that jumping around isn't effective, then immediately getting stabbed, then Wade complaining a page later that he had a joke he couldn't make because his throat was cut.

The overall concept behind the story isn't bad, but the pacing is not the best.

Sera and the Royal Stars #6, by Jon Tsuei (writer), Audrey Mok (artist), Raul Angulo (colorist), Jim Campbell (letterer) - Oh, look at these two, lording their twin-headed dragon over everyone. La-de-dah. It is pretty sweet though, I'm insanely jealous.

Sera returns home to rescue her surviving family, while the Stars go to ask the Pleiades for some guidance. The Seven Sisters have a few options to understand what's been done to the Stars, but it's pointed out that if they simply kill the two Dracos, their spell will be broken. They also know the Dracos are tracking Sera, so Antares goes to help her, while the other two continue on. The helping doesn't go well, as one of the Dracos attacks and does something to that gem that has replaced Sera's heart, causing a shockwave, that devastates her city and kills her father, while her sister is abducted. That's what you call losing on all counts.

I wonder if the Dracos are even behind the problem, or if they're just taking advantage of the situation. Or being taken advantage of by the real mastermind. If there is one. The Demon Star would seem a possible candidate, but I'm wondering if Mitra not up to something. Why place Regulus inside Sera, which limits his ability to act, rather than guiding her to him, so he could be fully awakened like the others? Seems to have backfired a bit if the goal was to give her power to rely on.
Kind of curious about the thought process behind the Pleiades' design. Other than the youngest looking of the seven, they're all basically naked ladies wearing masks with long pieces of fabric just kind of floating. I mean, fine, they aren't human - the conversation about eating between Alderbaran and Antares made that clear - so no reason they necessarily would wear clothes. But then, why the masks? You're not supposed to gaze upon an oracle's true face?

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Doom: Annihilation

Sometimes you want to watch something you don't actually have to pay much attention to. This is where that gets you. Watching a cheaply made sequel to a fairly bad movie based on a video game.

It takes a different approach than Doom did. Ancient gates that allow nearly instantaneous travel between Earth and Mars' moon, Phobos (the locations of the only two gates found so far). Instead of people being infected, and mutating based on being "good" or "evil", or whatever it was that was supposed to be the difference between the Rock and Karl Urban, the gates move through another place where things can attack you and turn you into feral members of the Blue Man Group.

The movie uses the perspective of the characters a lot, because some of them have heads up displays on their visors. Mostly, it's used to show when the ship the Marines used to get there starts messing with the information they're receiving. I feel like the film could have done more with the idea of the ship being hacked/possessed, beyond having it feed them false information and change its voice. Oh well.

Most of the Marines get one character trait or distinguishing characteristic, not really enough to may you care when they start dying. The captain appears to be trying his best Michael Ironsides impression. There's the guy who studied dead languages. Lady who has lucky underwear. Big guy who talks tough but is a coward. It was weird, Coward Guy got really excited that aliens were behind whatever was happening and said they'd learn he was the 'ultra-motherfucker.' But then one of the other Marines yells during a fight that he's the ultra-motherfucker, right before he gets jumped from behind and killed. Seems like you have one guy use it early, he should be the one who dies after using it again. Chekov's Profane Proclamation.

Unless that guy died because he stole the other guy's bit. The Doom universe abhors a copycat, maybe.

The main marine is a Lieutenant Dark, who the rest the squad blames for this assignment because she was guilty of insubordination. I know she let a notorious terrorist escape, and that's what she was insubordinate about, but I kind of tuned out when they might have explained why she did that. Anyway, she's running a bit of a guilt complex once the bodies start piling up, since she figures it's her fault they're there. Wrong movie based on a game to be in for that sort of thing. Non-protagonists don't last long.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

What I Bought 2/21/2020 - Part 1

Dan Didio's out as chief editor or whatever the heck he was. I guess we can all rejoice until they announce whatever person is going to replace him, who will probably be entirely unacceptable. Take your victories and pleasures where you can. In other news, here's two reviews of comics I figured I'd take a chance on.

Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey #1, by Amanda Conner (writer/artist), Jimmy Palmiotti (writer), Paul Mounts (colorist), John J. Hill (letterer) - I was very confused by Cassandra having all Huntress' arrows until I remembered they made her a thief in the movie rather than a super-awesome martial artist.

Harley heads to Gotham because the loan shark she took out a mortgage through had her hotel burned down for failure to pay bills, and kicked the crap out of the guy who acts as landlord. Also, she kind of pissed off Ivy, so it's something to do other than sit around and feel bad about her failed relationship. People try to kill her on the train ride, but Huntress and Cass show up and help. They get to Gotham, Renee Montoya tells Harley to leave, issue ends.

This feels like some weird amalgam of the movie continuity and the comics. All the stuff about Harley and Ivy, and her henchfolk, the old cyborg spy guy, that's from the comics. But all the stuff with Renee, Cass, and Helena seems like its movie stuff. While Conner and Palmiotti take the time to explain some of the backstory for the first group, there's really nothing about the second. Like, how does Harley know Cass, what's their backstory, are she and Helena in an actual supergroup in this timeline. I haven't seen the movie - although Alex told me there's very little sign of Cass being as serious asskicker in it - I don't know what the fuck's going on.

It seems taken for granted I understand why Renee Montoya, who I assume is an honest cop, is trying to send Harley away rather than take her in for questioning about the large number of people she just killed on that train. (It was self-defense, but the police would still want to confirm that, yes?)
I didn't laugh very much, which is how it went the last time I tried Conner and Palmiotti's writing on Harley Quinn, but you can always figure things might change. There were a couple of bits - here bad luck-stricken vacation with Ivy, the bit where she keeps trying to tell the goons what the "F" in Harley F. Quinn stands for (although I thought the eventual answer overdid it.)

Conner's artwork is lively and full of cheesecake as usual. Which is fine. The emotion is there, Harley being a very expressive character, the fight scenes are good, easy to follow, sort of graphic. That's not a complaint, it seems par for the course with the character. Actually, I don't know if a guy getting his head cut off with a sign qualifies as "graphic" these days. Is the violence by itself enough, or does the presentation matter? It's not like they did a series of slow-motion panels of the head tumbling through the air, blood and gore drenching everyone in the room while his tongue falls out the back of his head. But the also didn't do that old bit of just drawing it in outline, or cutting away to show it via his shadow. Anyway, people get beat to death, pencils in the ears, arrows through the skull, that kind of thing.

The After Realm #1, by Michael Avon Oeming (writer/artist), Taki Soma (colorist), Shawn Lee (letterer) - Props to the person who built a massive skull sculpture on top of that skyscraper. Or did they carve it from the building itself?

Oona's an elf. Her people retreated beneath the surface when Loki brought about Ragnarok, although they were able to imprison him and some of his lackeys. Oona wants to return to the surface and find her friend who was left behind, but keeps screwing up her chances by being too impatient or taking shortcuts. In her despair, her mind is contacted by Loki's and he finds the way to free himself. Sometime in the future, Oona's writing all this down as she flees from a living Statue of Liberty. It's trying to incinerate her, so the ectoplasm must have been exposed to a lot of angry vibes.

I'm actually most curious about this goat of hers, Pooka. He helps her, he says because he is magically bound to protect her, and that he's not her friend. And it's his help that gets her kicked out of the Rangers (the only ones who might be allowed to go to the surface) the second time. Which is what drove her back to Loki's prison. Which is how Loki got out. And Oona doesn't know who bound him to protect her. So I'm wondering what the long game is.

Other than that, it's really just a lot of set-up. Granting that the last page could be a pretty effective cliffhanger, I wonder if it wouldn't have been more effective to leap more into Oona's present, and gradually reveal the backstory. Show the moments with the friend left behind and the elves retreating below ground, then shift to the present. You can compare and contrast however competent or do-gooding she is now (if she is a do-gooder) with what a selfish, foolish screw-up she was before. Maybe get a little further into whatever the story is actually going to be in the first issue, considering the next issue isn't out until May.
Oeming doesn't get nearly as wild with page layouts here as he did with Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye. Soma goes with all black backgrounds quite often, especially the further into the story they get. Like there's just an immense void around Oona. Which, if they're in a massive cavern, might make sense.

Oeming's Loki is very, treelike? His horns are branches, his coloration is that of bark, long limbs that project tendrils that look like roots. Is that a more traditional look for Loki? Plants and trees in general seem pretty prominent. Oona's friend had learned to speak with thorns. She was carving his face into a tree when she noticed one of the other Rangers-in-training going to check on Loki's prison, which is when she got the idea of trying to get in the Rangers again.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The Forest

Sarah and Jess are twins. Jess goes missing in a forest in Japan notorious for people killing themselves there. Sarah is certain her sister is still alive - twin sense - and determined to search the forest for her. She meets a feature writer named Aiden that had arranged to accompany a man named Michi who goes on hikes through the forest seeking people who might be lost in one sense of the other.

Sarah is repeatedly warned, and repeatedly dismisses, the notion that it's a bad idea for someone who is sad and hurting to enter these woods, because the spirits of the deceased will take effect on her. She has a lot of guilt with regards to her sister, and sure enough, starts hearing things, seeing things. The attempts at jump scares don't really work. Not sure why, other than the movie might telegraph them too much. Little too obvious something frightening is about to happen.

The film does a fairly good job most of the way through at keeping it ambiguous whether Sarah is really seeing what she thinks she is, or if her grief and worry is acting on her, or if there really are hostile spirits messing with her perception. This extends to her having doubts about Aiden, why he's there, what he's really after. And since we can't be certain if what we're seeing (which is what she's seeing) is real or not, we don't know if he can be trusted, either. And even if what she's seeing isn't real, it's presented in such a way that you see how it wears on her, stresses her out further, puts her in an even worse state of mind.

Monday, February 24, 2020

May's Going in a Lot of Different Directions

May doesn't look quite as exciting as April, but there are still a few new things worth looking into, on top of what's continuing.

Image has the second issue of Michael Avon Oeming's The After Realm. I'll have a review of the first issue up on Wednesday, but long story short, I'm on the fence about picking up the next issue. Stephanie Phillips and Craig Cermak have a new series called A Man Among Ye, about a pair of women pirates. I think I find pirates more interesting in theory than practice, but it might be worth a go.

Dark Horse has the second issue of Spy Island, plus there's a collection of Juan Diaz Canales' Blacksad stories, which I think are noir with talking animal characters. I've meant to check one out from time to time, but never gotten around to it. IDW has a horror comic by Rich Douek and Alex Cormack called Sea of Sorrows. About a bunch of guys trying to salvage gold from a sunken WWI U-Boat, but bad things lurk at the bottom of the sea. Deep sea is absolutely terrifying, so that could be good, although it's really going to depend on the art and coloring I imagine.

DC has more Metal nonsense. I thought we were done with that stuff. No sign of Amethyst or The Deaths of Vic Sage, not that I expected the latter. Grant Morrison's going to have Hal Jordan team-up with the Flash against the the Golden Giants of Neo-Pangea, which certainly sounds Silver Agey as hell at first glance.

Marvel has all sorts of Empyre stuff, naturally. So many mini-series, including one for that thing that used to be Kamala's new costume, plus a one-shot called Celestial Messiah. Wait, someone other than Steve Engelhart is going to try and do something with the whole Celestial Madonna thing? Is that even allowed? The only one that might be of interest is Empyre: The Union, which is written by Jack Staff creator Paul Grist. That might be worth a glance on novelty alone. There's also a Juggernaut mini-series by Fabian Nicieza and Ron Garney, but I can't get a sense of what direction they're going with the character from the solicit.

As far as things I'm still probably buying go, the Black Cat's stolen one of Stark's armors, Else Bloodstone is ill and Wade's going to help her, the Runaways are going to high school, Taskmaster's running afoul of the Squadron Supreme, and the New Warriors are going to fight Psionex (although wouldn't their first foe be Terrax, or the Juggernaut?)

Wicked Things issue 3 will be out, along with the final issue of volume 7 of Infinity 8, the second issue of Rogue Planet, the fourth and final issue of Canopus, and issue 9 of Sera and the Royal Stars. I was hoping to get the first issue of Canopus last week, so I'd have a sense of whether I wanted to keep buying it, but no luck as yet. There's a couple of possible manga releases in volume 3 of Way of the House Husband, and volume 5 of Precarious Woman Executive etc., although I felt a bit like diminihsing returns were setting in one the previous volumes, so who knows?

There were a few brand-new things that caught my attention among the smaller publishers. Jeffrey Alan Love has an OGN through Flesk Publications called Thousand Demon Tree. About a warrior journeying through a dead landscape seeking a Thousand Demon Tree. The book is 96 pages, totally silent, and almost 25 bucks, so I don't know, but it sounds like it could be nifty. Caliber has a book by Stefano Cardoselli called Sunshine Doom 1971, about a crazed pastor meeting a Vietnam veteran who was experimented on at some sort of restaurant or grocery store or something. The solicit says 'Universal Soldier meets Deadpool!' which seems like it could go a lot of different ways. Finally, Black Mask Comics has 12 Ways to Die, a series co-written by Matthew Rosenberg, Ghostface Killah, and the RZA, with a lot of different artists. Rosenberg makes it a hard pass from me in all likelihood, but I feel like Alex might be interested in a book co-written by two members of the Wu-Tang Clan.


Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sunday Splash Page #102

"The New Figurehead is Awful Mouthy", in Captain America #252, by Roger Stern (writer), John Byrne (penciler), Josef Rubinstein (inker), Bob Sharen (colorist), John Costanza (letterer)

The Roger Stern/John Byrne Captain America run seems pretty well-regarded, although it's extremely brief at only 9 issues. And the last of those is an updated retelling of Captain America's origin.

Beyond that, there's a three issue fight with Machinesmith (which is when I think it's established he transferred his mind into a robotic body) that Stern also uses to retcon some reveal 20 issues earlier about Steve Rogers' early life. The issue where Cap debates whether to run for President. This two-parter where Batroc gets Cap called in to stop a crazy scheme of Mr. Hyde's, which highlights Batroc as having some sense of honor and respect for Captain America. Then a three-parter where he and the current Union Jack tangle with the vampire Baron Blood.

Having only bought these comics in the last few years, I'm not sure what's new exactly. Maybe this more morally grey Batroc? This is when future love interest Bernie Rosenthal is introduced as one of Steve's new neighbors. Steve gets a job at an ad agency utilizing his art skills, that might be new. By the time I started reading comics, he was drawing Captain America comics for Marvel Comics. Maybe a little too cute, there.

For the most part, they're just solid adventure stories for Captain America. Byrne's art is still in the style of his I like the most. Really sells Cap as the upright, square-jawed defender of good. Stern writes Cap as someone who hasn't exactly caught up to the times in popular culture (Bernie remarks his record collection is more like her father's), but still has a wry sense of humor when he needs it. He clearly enjoys getting the last laugh on Batroc at the end of this story.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Random Back Issues #20 - Solo Avengers #6

And I'd have gotten away with nuking Algiers, if not for your meddling mercenaries and that damn carny!

Hawkeye's stuck helping Silver Sable on a job, so she'll intervene on is behalf with French authorities after he showed up in the country illegally because he was abducted by his old teacher, Trick Shot, who wanted to commit suicide via archer, rather than wait to die of his terminal illness.

The job in question is to bust into the hideout of the Red Skull. Which you think you'd want more than just Hawkeye and Le Peregrine, champion of France, to handle. Especially since the first operative Sable sent has gone missing. Well, I guess she tried one person and that failed. Now, she's trying two. If they botch it, then it'll be, I don't know, the Prowler, Rocket Racer, and Will O' the Wisp. After that, she'll call the Fantastic Four. Or the Power Pack. Not sure what her stance is on child labor laws.
(Also, I love that Le Peregrine chides Hawkeye for being too noisy, one panel after he loudly announces his name while not knocking out the goon before he fires off a bunch of rounds from his machine gun.)

But this is the crappy knockoff Red Skull, not the one that got a cloned body of Captain America or whatever. So it's really just a matter of beating up a bunch of cannon fodder and recovering a timing device for nuclear warheads the Skull swiped.

I don't know if Clint is tired from fighting assassins, Trick Shot, Batroc, and Silver Sable's goons over the last few issues, or if he's just pouting about having to jump through this hoop to get home, but he really seems to be half-assing it. He purposefully misses the Skull with a bunch of arrows to, as he puts it, add some excitement to Skull's humdrum existence. Eventually he throws a henchman through a glass container full of sand the Skull has, because he loves hourglasses, and whoops, it's Sandman, Sable's other operative. Might have been helpful if Sable told Hawkeye to be on the lookout for him. She's a pretty crappy boss, honestly, something Spider-Man could probably attest to.

Even with the Skull having an energy cannon strapped to his chest (why not use that earlier against the two essentially mortal heroes?), the fight ends quickly after that. Sandman takes care of the nuke the Skull armed as a last-ditch act of spite. Afterward, Le Peregrine tells Sandman that was a bad move, because they were supposed to return the timing device, not break it, and it'll probably come out of Sandman's pay.

Meanwhile, Hawkeye just wants to get home.

{2nd longbox, 42nd comic. Solo Avengers #6, by Tom DeFalco (writer), Mark Bright (penciler), Joe Rubinstein (inker), Janet Jackson (colorist), Jack Morelli (letter)}

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Laundromat

I don't know quite what to make of this movie. It's all about that company in Panama that was exposed a couple of years ago as setting up thousands of tax shelters and dummy corporations so wealthy shitheads can shuffle their money around and avoid paying taxes to anyone.

It's present as Antonio Banderas and Gary Oldman playing the two guys who set the company up, explaining what's going on, and how they aren't bad guys. It's not their fault if someone can't get the apartment they dreamed of in Vegas because a couple of Russians bought it with their probably illegal-gained cash as a way to hide taxes. Or if people use it to bribe officials in various countries to award them contracts for bridges or highways.

It's kind of done like it's supposed to be funny, I guess because these two guys know they're scumbags - or that they're perceived as scumbags - and they want us to understand their point of view. While the movie is actually pointing out it's all really corrupt awful crap, and money completely ruins government. After awhile it's just depressing because you know none of the worst people are ever going to suffer any real consequences, and the people who were screwed by all this are just screwed. I guess except for that one guy trying to blackmail the Chinese government official who got poisoned. He died.

I do wonder if the movie was telling the truth when they point out even the director has 5 of these sorts of companies set up in Delaware. Heck, even the film's writer has one.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Spiked It Before Crossing the Goal Line

I'm into Week 7 of my attempt to weed things out of the comic collection. I've just about made it to the letter "T", though, so maybe soon I'll be through. It has given me the chance to go back through and reread a lot of things I hadn't in a few years, which can be good or bad, depending.

On the "bad" side of the ledger, I was going through James Robinson's Starman, and I got to issue #38, where the new Mist decides to prove her villain bonafides by killing a team of second-tier former Justice Leaguers that made their own French super-team. It's supposed to demonstrate her cruelty, her ruthlessness, her cunning (although I don't exactly buy she could successfully impersonate a member of the team for several days without them all being dumbasses.) It's supposed to be this big step in her taking over her father's villainous legacy and establishing herself as a force.

Except by the time Robinson gets to the Grand Guignol storyarc, when she finally returns to Opal City to confront Jack, she willingly becomes a lackey. Not to the Shade's foe Culp, but to her father. Just falls right in line with whatever daddy wants. Even when he says he's got a nuke and he's gonna destroy the whole city, including her, and the kid she produced by raping Jack Knight, she won't stand up to him. She lets him sweet talk her into handing over the gun, and she dies.

While probably a decent example of how abused children can continually fool themselves into believing their abusive parents actually do care about, it kind of undercuts the whole thing about her being any sort of a "master criminal". That, plus Jack pointing out she's the only one who ever refers to herself that way.

OK, so she's a pretender, a wannabe. What's that make the heroes who got completely bamboozled by her? If Robinson's going to build her rep on their corpses, only to turn around and show she was fooling herself all along, what was the point of killing the heroes in the first place? It possibly builds her up as a threat to Jack in the future, her trying to improve as a villain while he's finding his footing as a hero, but there's not much of a payoff to that. Jack has a longer battle with Culp, and then the real threat turns out to be Original Recipe Mist.

Just seems like a waste of time. There are plenty of other crimes she can commit to convince herself she's a real super-villain, that don't involve murder.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum

I asked for this for Christmas, and I had a day off last week, so it seemed like a good time to watch it. Within the first 20 minutes I was pumped. We see the dog get to safety, John fight and defeat extremely large NBA center Boban Marjanovic in the library (with the Russian literature), and he reenacts the scene from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly where Tuco builds his own revolver from the parts of a bunch of different revolvers.

I was pretty much all-in on the movie at that point, and it held my interest almost the whole way through. I say almost because the extended fight against Zero and his ninja students started to drag on after a while. The fact that most of them are really excited to get to fight the John Wick is funny, don't get me wrong. The part where two of them seem to be taking turns kicking John through every one of the glass cases was kind of amusing. But there's not really enough of a difference between the fights to differentiate them. It feels like the same fight, three times over.

That and I got really irritated nobody would just shoot the Adjudicator. OK, you don't want to piss the High Table off by killing their representative, I get that. But once she's told you they're going to kill you, or take your hotel, or take your kingdom, what do you have to lose? What are they gonna do if you shoot her in the head, kill you twice? As it turns out, Winston has a reason, and I guess John had the same reason, but I don't know why Laurence Fishburne didn't just go for it. He seemed to be feelin' his oats.

The more of these movies we get, the more we see the system doesn't really serve anyone but the High Table. Maybe it makes it easier for the killers to get paid, or get medical treatment, but they're under the thumb of people who change the rules whenever it suits them. There was no rule that said the Bowery King can't give John Wick a gun if he feels like it. But because John ultimately used that gun to kill Santino D'Antonio in the second film, well, now the Bowery King has to be punished. D'Antonio hired John to kill his sister, but there was never any indication he was going to be punished for that. John's only way to stop being hunted by the High Table is to go back to killing for the High Table. It's a massively rigged system.

Which is why Winston warned John not to think he could just dip a toe in this water, kill the little shit that killed his dog, and then step back out. All John's succeeded in doing is becoming the person he was before he met Helen, and ruining the lives of everyone that helps him. Willem Dafoe got killed. Sofie (Halle Berry) is probably gonna be lucky to be alive after John called in that marker. Kind of interesting it was D'Antonio calling in his marker that started this whole thing snowballing, and now John went and did it to someone else. John and Gianna D'Antonio seem like they were friends, he killed her. The Bowery King helped him, that didn't work out too well. The Director took his ticket, despite having valid reasons to refuse, that didn't work out too well, either.

This could (and probably will) work out to John having a lot of people with their own grudges against the High Table in his corner, but it sure as hell looks like him burning everybody's lives to the ground in this ludicrous attempt to keep his wife's memory alive.

Actually reminds me of something Daniel Way did with Deadpool and Wolverine in Wolverine: Origins. Logan starts talking about getting revenge on the people who did stuff to him, and Deadpool mocks him. 'How much revenge, Logan? All of the revenge?' Is John gonna kill everyone, so that there'll be no one else to remember anything once he's gone?

Monday, February 17, 2020

All the Robots are Sad

Just wait, some day we'll teach robots how to lie, and then where will you be? Actually, considering Gesicht there is a robot, a robot cop no less, I'm curious what he would think of an artificial intelligence that could lie.

The 6th volume of Naoki Urasawa and Osamu Tezuka's Pluto starts to tie some of the threads of the mystery together. The identity of the robot that's been destroying all the other, most powerful and advanced A.I.s in the world is revealed, as well as the apparent identity of its creator (although I feel like there's still one more surprise reveal about that guy to come in the remaining two volumes.) Gesicht confronts the creature, but refuses to kill him. He has his own problems resurfacing, and even having escaped the big showdown, that doesn't mean he's safe.

This volume is more effective at making me sad than any of the ones before it. It's a lot of characters that wanted to do the right thing, and were in turn exploited by people who only cared about their own ends. Gesicht's mind was tampered with by people who decided he was too valuable an asset to lose. Sahad's hope of bringing life to the deserts of his country was cast aside for his father's desire for revenge. I especially like how his father describes himself as having lost "everything", when one of his sons is standing right there in front of him.
But even the people who might proclaim to argue for laws protecting the rights of robots don't really believe in the concept. The destruction of all these advanced artificial intelligences is due to their involvement in that war, but given what we've learned, I have to wonder how much authority over their own actions they had? Enough that one of them, Epsilon, refused to be involved. Was a pacifist and stuck to it. But it seems clear they were sent in by humans who regarded them as simply efficient tools to accomplish a task.

The title I gave the post isn't a joke. Urasawa spends a lot of panels on characters being sad. People crying. People looking at the ground sadly. People looking confused and betrayed. Gesicht, his wife Helena, Professor Tenma, Sahad, one of Sahad's friends in Amsterdam, Professor Hoffman, Epsilon. People keep dying. Everyone's efforts to stop all the death are in vain. Gesicht's act of mercy - or is it just him following his programming - doesn't mean he's shown any mercy in return.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sunday Splash Page #101

"You're Making Me Dizzy", in Canceled Comic Cavalcade #2, Steve Ditko (writer/artist), Jerry Serpe (colorist)?, Milt Snapinn (letterer)?

For the record, I'm guessing on Serpe and Snapinn. Really, since DC never intended to sell any of this comic anyway, I don't know if they colored them at all. Serpe and Snapinn worked on the last Creeper story that appeared in World's Finest Comics, so I'm just guessing it would have still been them on this story, which was originally supposed to be Showcase #106.

Anyway, whether it was ever intended to see the light of day or not, this was the last Steve Ditko Creeper story they included in the hardcover collection of his work. He'd switched Jack Ryder to working at a TV station during the World's Finest stories, with a cast of people who routinely get angry with Ryder for being flaky and unreliable. In this case, they end up troubled by a former TV weatherman that feels he got humiliated by his assistant, who then took his job. So the guy cooks up a weather staff thing to take revenge. As you do. The staff also wreaks havoc with the gizmo that controls Ryder's changing into the Creeper (somehow), so lots of near misses on blowing the old secret identity.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Random Back Issues #19 - Our Fighting Forces #124

That plane is still safer than driving in Chicago would be.

Going real old school today, all the way into my dad's comics. There's two stories, the first involving the Losers in their second appearance. This was quartet of soldiers - Capt. Storm a PT boat captain, Johnny Cloud a fighter ace, Gunner and Sarge a couple of Marines - who felt like they were all "losers" because all the men under their respective commands kept dying, while they kept surviving (although there's an issue later on that shows Gunner and Sarge did pretty well in the Pacific Theater).

For this mission, they're sent to retrieve a king from a Nazi-held castle before his people give in to protect him. If it's that important you think they would send more than 4 guys, but sure. The tiny boat they use to cross the Channel sinks almost as soon as they reach the coast. That biplane barely gets off the ground. They run into a Nazi patrol almost instantly and have to shoot it out.

The find the king, he's just a kid, they're making their escape, and to try and slow down pursuit, they blow up this statue of Hitler that's already been erected in the plaza, and then. . .  well, I don't remember. The thing is, they used to include these two-page spreads about some aspect of military technology, like tanks, or U-boats or whatever, and there was one of those in this comic, on the other side of the last two pages of the story. I pulled them out and collected them at one point, but I have no idea where they went. Whoops.
The second story "Parable" is about a British soldier named Shelley, who served in Afghanistan, and became quite popular with the local chiefs because of his skills as a tightrope walker, owing to a story about the dead having to cross to the afterlife on the edge of a sword. Too many sins, you fall. Shelley never falls, so Shelley must be the holiest dude around.

After leaving the service, Shelley went to live with in one of the villages, and when he died, his final words were a quote from Shakespeare, in the language of the Duranis. Honoring both parts without distancing himself from either. It's an interesting story, although I have to wonder if things were ever that peaceful for the British in Afghanistan.

{5th longbox, 39th comic. Our Fighting Forces #124, "Losers Take All" by Joe Kubert (writer), Ross Andru (penciler) and Mike Esposito (inker), "Parable" by Jerry DeFucio (writer), John Severin (artist)}

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Tall Tales - Terry Pluto

Tall Tales is an oral history of the first 20 or so years of the NBA, spanning from when it was created through the fusion of two existing pro leagues, up to the end of the Bill Russell-led Celtics' dynasty. Pluto interviewed former players, coaches, owners, referees, and weaves it into a coherent story. He devotes a chapter to a particular topic, from the earlier days to the later, and lets the participants' memories lay things out. Occasionally he'll add something to either clarify or correct someone's assertion (such as Wilt Chamberlain's claim that Jerry West and Elgin Baylor's scoring both increased after he joined the Lakers, while his took such a step back.)

There are a lot of good stories in there, most of them related to how much of a shoestring sports league the NBA was in the early days. Owners having to book college teams or the Globetrotters as parts of double-headers to get enough fans in the door to pay the bills. Players debating whether they'd make more money selling cars than playing basketball. There are a lot of stories about fights, which is funny considering the players will insist they weren't dirty like the Bad Boys Pistons, just tough. But clean! Then the next sentence out of a players' mouth is about knocking guys teeth out with an elbow.

That is one thing that can get tedious, the number of the players who throw shade at the current (when the book was published, which is the early '90s) players, their style of play, level of play, etc. Lots of guys talking about how they could put up ridiculous numbers if they got to play in the environment the players did in the '90s, that they wouldn't be dunking on people because they'd get clotheslined, so on. Which isn't anything new or unusual; players from the '90s like Barkley threw similar disrespect at the Warriors a few years ago. It happens all the time in baseball (although it's usually the sportswriters talking about how current players ain't shit compared to the Mick or whoever.)

Mostly it's just too one-sided, because the players whose skills or reputations are being impugned don't get to fire back. When it's the people interviewed taking shots at each other, or disputing claims, that's more interesting, because Pluto can get both sides' perspective. When the topic is Wilt vs. Russell, for example, you can hear from people on both sides, and not just about them as a player. Wilt seems to be pretty well-regarded as a nice and generous guy, and Russell less so. Or Russell is just more reserved, less outgoing with people he doesn't know.

'Hot Rod Hundley: I look at my NBA career and I realize that I lost my outside shot and my confidence in it. I don't know why. I do know there were things I should have done differently. But I don't dwell on that. What the hell, I went into the NBA making $10,000 dollars and came out making $11,000, and in between I made two All-Star teams. I was like a guy who goes into the army as a buck private and six years later he comes out as still a buck private, but he's got some great stories to tell.'

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Let's Update the Betting Pool

Back in December, I questioned whether Odessa Drake was correct about the Black Fox killing her father. We haven't seen any more direct evidence one way or the other since then, but we did have Felicia's conversation with her mother in issue 8 last month.

There's one page, where Felicia explains Odessa's accusation, and her mother asks whether the Fox did kill Castillo or not. Felicia says of course not, then elaborates by calling him too much of a coward to risk drawing that kind of heat.

Which sounds like the sort of overly optimistic thing people say in horror movies right before they die. "We found a ride! Everything's gonna be OK! *horrific death*" It's feels like Felicia making the same mistake Spidey always made with the Fox, treating him as a generally harmless old man who just happens to steal things. Even though she knows he'll kill if he really thinks he has to. it's just asking for a moment of crushing disillusionment at the worst possible time. So I'd say that increases the odds Fox killed Castillo, even if it still doesn't answer the question of why he didn't take the book when he did it.

On the other hand, Felicia's mother, for all that she hates the Black Fox, apparently agrees that he cared too much for Castillo and Walter to do that. When even your critics admit they don't think you'd do it, that a pretty ringing endorsement. Unless, of course, she's only saying that to avoid a fight with her daughter. If she can tell she won't be able to sway Felicia, she might say it just to avoid a fight, but that doesn't strike me as Ms. Hardy's style.

And there's the question of if they're both underestimating how badly the Fox wants this prize. He's old, getting older all the time. To the point Odessa couldn't even torture him the way she wanted, because she was convinced he wouldn't survive it. If he thinks he's got a chance at stealing immortality, then he might go pretty far for that.

(I kind of wonder if the Fox didn't hand Castillo over to Dracula when the vamp caught up with him, to save his own skin. Walter Hardy might have already been dead or in prison, but Castillo wouldn't be.)

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, Vol. 2 - Sandra Spanier, Albert J. DeFazio III, Robert Trogdon

By the time covered in volume 2, Hemingway and Hadley have a son, and Hemingway is becoming rapidly disenchanted with working as a newspaperman. Or maybe it was just being a reporter in Canada that did it.

During this stretch, Hemingway gets his collection of shorts stories, In Our Time published, although he spends a lot of letters complaining about how his Liveright, his publisher, won't give the thing a proper advertising push, doesn't supply enough copies, etc. He gets the initial draft of the Sun Also Rises written, but actually submits a shorter book, meant to be satirical, called Torrents of Spring. Mostly it sounds like him wanting to talk shit about a bunch of writers he doesn't think much of, but not having read it - or the works of the people he wants to mock - I don't know if that's accurate. His insistence in several letters on how funny it is strikes me as a load of crap, though.

It's probably more interesting to chart the progression of his relationships with different people. Correspondence with F. Scott Fitzgerald begins, and Hemingway at this stage still speaks pleasantly of Zelda Fitzgerald, or at least doesn't disparage her as convincing Scott to waste his talent. He seems to have a falling out with Gertrude Stein because she won't author a review of In Our Time, and it seems like there's far less writing back and forth between he and his sister Marceline. The letters there are don't show any hostility, so maybe it's simply a matter of them each having their own lives, or there being letters in between that weren't kept.

He does rekindle his friendship with Bill Smith, after they hadn't talked for a few years, with Hemingway encouraging his friend to abandon his job as a salesman and come to France to help run one of the literary magazines Hemingway's friends (erratically) publish. Of course, once Smith actually visits, Hemingway writes to a lot of other people that his friend has pretty much been used up or lost his spark, so there's still that trait of his to be both a really good, and extremely shitty, friend. I don't what exactly it was Smith was or wasn't doing that led to the assessment. Maybe he didn't enjoy drinking and boxing enough.

There's an undercurrent of frustration, about a lot of things. He gripes a lot about the state of Italy, by this point firmly under Mussolini's incompetent rule. About money, about his publishers, about writers and critics he thinks aren't worth a damn, especially if the latter are comparing him to the former (he seems to really despise Sherwood Anderson). The book jacket notes that he starts mentioning Pauline Pfeiffer in the last few letters, when discussing he, Hadley, and Bumby's last winter in Austria. Pauline would end up being Mrs. Hemingway #2, although at this point, he still seems very happy with Hadley and proud of his son, so he isn't vocalizing dissatisfaction with his marriage. Yet.

'But bulls are just like rattle snakes - Gaw - they ain't human and they ain't animals. They got something damn strange about 'em. For 600 years they been bred for viciousness, and speed. They ain't like our bulls. They got the speed of a racehorse, they never move except on the run, and they never back up. Never. They don't do anything to 'em to make 'em sore before they fight. They just let 'em loose in the ring.'

Monday, February 10, 2020

What I Bought 2/7/2020

All the books I want are waiting until the back half of the month to show up. Is it too much to ask that comic companies organize their releases so I get a steady stream of the titles I want each week? Come on now people.

Black Cat #9, by Jed MacKay (writer), Kris Anka (artist), Brian Reber (color artist), Ferran Delgado (letterer) - Felicia, I think you could slip through that gap in the middle. Or go around the claws entirely.

The next item they need for their plan to rob the Guild's coffers is yet another painting, by the same man as the one Felicia stole in issue 1. The last known location was Madripoor, where one owner lost it in a game. To a man called Patch. After a lot of questioning, Felicia finds Patch's old hideout, but someone else already stole his stuff. Some kid that was part of a rebooted Hellfire Club? I dunno. I didn't read Jason Aaron's X-Men stuff.

Logan, sorry, Patch, shows up, and agrees to team-up with Felicia to get all his stuff back. Felicia causes enough problem's in the kid's casino they get a face-to-face, which lets Felicia steal one thing from him as they escape, and send the kid into a panic. I assume Felicia's guys, Doc and Bruno, will pose as the helpful moving company next issue to get all the stuff. What? I've seen that maneuver at least four times on Burn Notice.

This month, it's Kris Anka on the art duties. So is the book just going to change artists every issue now? Felicia looks very classy, although I don't like how Anka draws her mask as two "C"s. The fact they don't form a couple ellipse or oval really bugs me for some reason. Also, Logan looks classy, like surprisingly so. Like he trimmed the sideburns and cleaned up a bit before he came to Madripoor. Does Krakoa have some sort of hygiene rule they're strictly enforcing now?
It's weird, because most of Logan's reactions seem muted, except for one panel where he asks the kid if he wants to go to war. Then he was yelling like the Logan I'm accustomed to. The rest of the time he just looks kind of. . . slightly miffed. Like some rich guy that just crashed one of his 37 sports cars. Is this a thing now, too? Logan doing eyebrow raises more appropriate for Namor? The art is very expressive, don't get me wrong, it's just a lot of expressions that seem wrong for the character. Very little teeth-clenching or snarling.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Sunday Splash Page #100

"Cheaper Than Divorce Court", in Cable/Deadpool #33, by Fabian Nicieza (writer), Reilly Brown (penciler), Jeremy Freeman (inker), Gotham (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer)

Who doesn't enjoy seeing Cable get shot every once in a while? Be honest.

I actually started buying Cable/Deadpool during its Civil War tie-ins. The one and only time that trash fire got me to buy a comic. I had some space on the pull list since I'd hit my limit with Bendis' New Avengers and Adam Beechen's Robin the week before. 

This is when Cable's tendency to manipulate Wade finally hits the fan. Wade makes decisions Cable doesn't approve of - and even knowing why he's making them and why it's important to him - trips him up repeatedly. Humiliates him, actually. Which, rather than getting Deadpool to turn to Cable for help (because Nate couldn't just offer), gets Wade making more poor decisions. I'm not sure how Cable thought literally pantsing Deadpool on worldwide TV, then telekinetically launching him into another country would convince Wade to turn to him for help.

Then Mike Carey took Cable away to be part of his X-Men run (the one where some dumbass decided Mystique and Sabretooth were good people to have on the team). Then Carey destroyed Cable's floating island nation, with old time traveling metal arm guy seemingly going with it. 

At which point, Nicieza and Brown did the best they could, turning it into a rotating Deadpool team-up book. This is the point when Bob, Agent of HYDRA is introduced. Weasel pops up more often, Sandi, Outlaw, and Agent X become more frequent supporting characters. You do what you have to when it's supposed to be a buddy comedy book, and one of the buddies gets yoinked out from under you.

The low point of that stretch for me was Nicieza did a couple of stories involving T-Ray, who I don't care about one way or the other, because Joe Kelly's Deadpool run just doesn't matter that much to. Deadpool is Wade Wilson. Anything else is needlessly muddying the waters. Did people learn nothing useful from the Clone Saga?!

The book takes on a sillier tone minus Cable and his "save the future" gravitas. Bob presents a much different person for Wade to react to, since Bob's two settings are "confusion" and "terrified". There are a couple of issues of time travel hijinks, some matters of the soul with Dr. Strange and Brother Voodoo, a big fight with Wolverine that has several pages of Deadpool's severed head being kicked around while Bob tries to corral it.

Brown's art works for that. His Deadpool isn't nearly as muscular as Zircher or Brooks', to say nothing of Ed McGuinness'. He can still draw people scowling, can still draw violence, but his art seems to fit sillier moments like Wade being flung three blocks by a dinosaur covered in a symbiont.There's a looseness to the pencils that allows for more comic exaggeration.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Random Back Issues #18 - GrimJack: Killer Instinct #5

Maybe so, but you gotta admit it'll fit easily on a tombstone.

As usual, GrimJack's gotten himself tangled up in something big. In this case, his boss in Cadre, that'd be the eloquent Mayfair up there, setting Gaunt up as a patsy in Mayfair's play to seize control of all the security angencies in the city.

Gaunt had been unwinding things steadily with the aid of the only other person to survive the fake mission to kill a politician named Ilsa Kalter, Jo Chaney. That included figuring out Kalter's body was being possessed and manipulated by a vampire named Simone, while Kalter's soul is trapped in a ka stone. Good news is, you can question ka stone's and they can't lie, so they're admissible as evidence. Bad news, Chaney's been a plant of Mayfair's the whole time.

This gets Gaunt thinking about how he keeps taking jobs that let everyone else make his decisions for him, and why. He decides he's done with that, dons the outfit that was his standard for the first three years of his ongoing series.
He has a decent plan. Give the kaa stone to his old cop partner Roscoe. Kalter's soul will help bring down Mayfair and his whole scheme. Plus it earns Roscoe brownie points with his angry boss. Little bit of an apology for costing Roscoe his eye back when they were chasing the Dancer. Meanwhile, Gaunt gets himself out of town for a while until things settle. If he can get past the sentient dinosaurs hunting for him at the train station. Fortunately, John's willing to resort to chemical warfare with his grenades from the "Knights Sewar". I love the random stuff Ostrander and Truman throw into this series.

Unfortunately, Gaunt may have underestimated Mayfair's reach, as the kaa stone gets confiscated, and the whole thing is quietly buried. Leaving GrimJack no choice but to return to Cynosure to confront Mayfair, but his old boss has his own problems. All of his other agents have been turned by Simone and her newest recruit, Chaney. Gaunt's bad luck with women holding true to form. Plus, Mayfair released Kalter's soul, so there goes the evidence against him, if they even make it out.
There was one more issue to go in this mini-series after this, which gets the status quo to where it was when Ostrander and Truman originally started GrimJack as a back-up series in Starslayer. They did one more mini-series, The Manx Cat, through IDW a few years after this one that was set some time after this one.

{5th longbox, 210th comic. GrimJack: Killer Instinct #5, by John Ostrander (writer), Lovern Kindzierski (colorist), John Workman (letterer)}

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Black Gun, Silver Star - Art T. Burton

Bass Reeves was a former slave who became a successful and fairly famous deputy U.S. marshal during the late 1800s into the early 1900s. He operated predominantly in the Indian Territories that eventually became Oklahoma. He's not the only African-American deputy marshal that served in that part of the country, but it seems like he's the best known.

Based on Burton's book, Reeves spent a lot of time arresting people for selling liquor in the Territories where that was prohibited. Not that there weren't murders, assaults, horse thefts, but going by the records Burton turns up in federal archives and various newspapers of the time, bootlegging was a real problem.

The writing style is not the most engaging, as at times Burton feels almost like he's just reciting facts. On such and such a day, Reeves arrested this person for assault. On the next day, he arrested this other person for bootlegging. I'm not sure if that's just his style, or if it's a consequence of the scattered sources he has to work with (there are a surprising number of cases where Burton couldn't find anything about how they turned out.) Occasionally, he'll go on a tangent about someone else, say the primary bailiff for Judge Isaac Parker of the Fort Smith region that doesn't really seem to have any relation to Reeves.

At other times he can be an interesting writer, when he attempts to draw inferences about Reeves from the stories about him. The anecdotes about different ways he would outsmart or capture criminals, or the fact that Reeves would in some cases arrest white criminals the same as Native American or African-American ones, but in other situations, he'd bring a white deputy along with him.

it's also interesting to see, in the cases when there's more than one account of an event, how different they can be. Reeves was put on trial for killing his cook at one point while they were out on a trip. It seems like there was a dog involved, but in some cases the dog was Reeves, and the cook poured hot grease down its throat when it begged. In other cases, it was a random dog following them and Reeves objected to the cook feeding it. Some accounts don't mention a dog at all.

'When Webb looked away, Reeves made his move. He leaped to his feet, knocked Webb's gun away, wrapped his large left hand around Webb's throat, and drawing his own pistol with his right hand, he shoved it into Webb's face. Webb, with a giant of a man choking the life out of him and looking into the ignorant end of a Colt .45 as well, gurgled out a meek surrender.'

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Limits of Nostalgia

What determines whether you're nostalgic for something?

When I was a kid, I was really into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I owned three of the NES games, bought the more initially kid-friendly Archie comic title for about the first 40 issues, saw the first two movies in theaters, watched the cartoon, all that jazz. Same thing with Power Rangers, albeit to a lesser extent and for a shorter period of time, but I probably played the fighting game I had more than any other game I had for my Sega Game Gear.

But even with all the various comics I see coming out for them these days, there's basically no interest on my part to check them out. On the other hand, I bought both the Darkwing Duck series that came out in the last decade or so for as long as they ran. If Doug Tenapel did an Earthworm Jim comic, I would probably buy the hell out of that thing, or at least try it. So it isn't as though I'm immune to holding on to fond memories of stuff from my childhood and trying to recapture some of it. It just seems to be a selective process, and I don't know what my brain is selecting based on.

It could just be scarcity. There is a lot less licensed entertainment for EWJ or Darkwing than those other two things. Same way I like Spider-Man more than the New Warriors, but I'm more inclined to buy something starring the latter than the former, in part because I don't know when there might be another chance. Absence making the heart grow fonder.

A side effect of the scarcity is that you don't seem tog et as many reboots or re-imaginings or whatnot. One Turtles series ends, another seems to pop up immediately, and there may not be any connection between the two. Or maybe there is! Point being, the chances of getting that particular combination of elements I liked when I was younger is not great. With something more limited, there's probably less chance of a reboot, more likely it'll pick up with a status quo and characterizations I'm familiar with. They can always go in a new direction, but at least I'll start out where I know the score.

Although this one is less likely to hold true with the Marvel and DC characters, given how it seems like no one is paying any attention sometimes to what anyone else is doing. Plus, DC reboots things every five minutes these days, which might be part of my growing disinterest in their books. It might have a character I like in it, but I there's not telling if it'll be a version I recognize, because I have no idea what backstory and characterization is in play any longer.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

The Naked Gun 2.5

The third Naked Gun movie used to be on the movie channels all the time when I was growing up, and I'm sure I've seen the first one at some point, but I'm not sure I'd ever watched the second one. Other than the gag about Norbert (O.J. Simpson) getting caught under a bus and winding up in Detroit, none of it rang a bell.

There's a plot in there about the coal, oil, and nuclear industries abducting and replacing the man President Bush the first has given full control over the country's energy policy, so that there won't be a shift to renewable energy sources, but you know that's irrelevant. It's just there to provide the bare bones to hang a lot of jokes on.

Some of the don't land, some do. Some aged better than others. One of the first bits is we learn Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) just received an award for killing his 1,000th drug dealer. Drebin admits he ran the last two over with his car by accident, and was just fortunate they happened to be drug dealers. Didn't really love that one. Hell, even President Bush looked troubled by that one. On the other hand, I laughed at the one with the grappling hook and the guard dog. You know how it's going to end up, but it still worked for me.

Robert Goulet makes a good foil for Leslie Nielsen. It's because he has such prominent eyebrows they really show off his confusion when Drebin says something he can't follow (which is about every other sentence).

Monday, February 03, 2020

Finally A Post-Apocalyptic World For Me

And I don't mean because they have robot gorillas controlled by artificial intelligence.

Volume 1 of Analog contains the first 5 issues of Gerry Duggan and David O'Sullivan's 'cyber-dystopian noir'. I feel like they needed to fit the prefix "neo-" in there somewhere, but oh well. The idea is the Internet has somehow been tampered with so that there's no longer any secrets online. And in the four years since then, no one has figured out a way around that, so if you need things sent secretly, you hire a "Ledger Man", such as Jack McGinnis there.

I don't know why you don't just call them "couriers", but whatever. Jack actually had something to do with the downfall of the Internet, after being approached by some Zuckerberg stand-in named "Oppenheimer", blowing a lot of smoke about needing analysts to pore over all the information online to avert future tragedies (after allowing a foreign power to pay him to tamper in the last election).
As it turns out, that guy is still a problem for Jack, and not the only one. The U.S. government managed to get its shit together (in only 4 years? impossible) and has adapted to the new way of moving information. They'll have Jack and every other Ledger Man's cooperation, or else. Jack also has a black irish anarchist girlfriend who makes her own trouble without needing splash damage from Jack's, and what's left of at least one A.I. that's very curious about people. So there's a lot set up to play out one way or the other.

Jack is sort of glib, the kind of contrary type who doesn't appreciate being pushed around or told to conform, and will therefore cause trouble even as it keeps getting him beat up and thrown in vans. By the time he was being thrown in a van in Tokyo on his way to being thrown out of Japan, I couldn't keep track of which group was giving him the boot. I'm kind of predisposed not to like him, since he's one of those New Yorker asswipes that calls the rest of the U.S. flyover country and thinks the sun rises and sets on their craphole city.

Duggan aims for a lot of dry, unaffected wit from most characters. Two cops find the last surviving member of a gang of white supremacists than Oona (the anarchist lady) killed single-handed the night before hanging from a bedsheet in his hospital room, and their immediate discussion is whether this means more or less paperwork. (Answer: 'More short-term, less long.') Jack's dad tells him not to shoot the last guy that attacked his house because he's right next to the sauce he's making for his meatballs. The mileage varies on that stuff.
O'Sullivan gives most everyone a weary, aged look. It's been hard lives for most of them, and they take their toll. Jack usually has stubble and deep lines running along his jaw and cheeks. I guess that explains the jaded reactions to all the violence, though. The art reminds me a little of Shawn Crystal's, but the people don't look as feral, or have as exaggerated proportions.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Sunday Splash Page #99

"The Case of the Untrimmed Eyebrows", in Cable/Deadpool #13, by Fabian Nicieza (writer), Patrick Zircher (penciler), M3TH (inker), Gotham (colorist), Cory Petit (letterer)

As hard as it might be to believe now, there was a time when Cable was a bigger draw than Deadpool, thus he got top billing in their dynamic duo. They start out at cross-purposes, both after the same prize, and wind up tied together through the magic of comic book science. Cable can't actually get rid of Deadpool, so they end up working together, and just like in all those movies, love blooms.

Well, not exactly, but by their standards, close enough. Wade supports Cable in his plan to try and improve the world, and helps bring him out of his coma. Cable gives Nate a place to stay, up to a point, and tries to help with the memory issues his constantly regenerating brain causes. Cable gives Wade someone to believe in - since Wade certainly isn't going to believe in himself - and Deadpool gets Cable to loosen up a bit. Cable has that tendency to stand a distance, observing humanity as like a giant Rubik's Cube. Little harder when one guy is standing next to you, muttering random shit constantly, and poking you like hyperactive five-year old.

Nicieza writes a lot of exposition and techno-babble at times, which when combined with Wade's non-stop chatter can fill up a page in a hurry. He trots out some of his pet characters - Gareb (Commcast), Shen Kuei (the Cat, who almost everyone treats as like the coolest guy evah) - but he only uses Apocalypse once, which is a heck of an achievement for a Cable book, I'd say. His Deadpool is very much the constant dated references type of humor, which is going to vary in its effectiveness depending on the reader. It mostly works for me, so infer from that what you will.

Mark Brooks drew the first few issues, then Patrick Zircher took over for most of the next two years. He's the one who drew the short straw and had to draw Wade wearing Jean Grey's old Marvel Girl costume (the green one with the short skirt she wore the first time she died). On the plus side, that probably ruined all of Cyclops' happy memories of Jean in that outfit.

Of course, Cable has a nasty habit of tricking people into doing things he wants, rather than simply asking them to do them, which ends up causing some problems for he and Wade. Which we'll look at next week. . .