Friday, March 31, 2006

An Eerie Representation of My Future

I've been playing God of War some lately. I guess it'd be a good game if no one had ever made Devil May Cry 1 or 3. Or if I had no knowledge of Greek mythology whatsoever, as I'm fairly sure the game's writing staff learned most of what they know from Xena: Warrior Princess. Anyway, the guy you play as gets buggered off to Hades at one point by way of a stone pillar hurled through his chest by an angry Ares.

Now, if I remember my myths correctly, unless your ass is in Tartarus, death isn't really that terrible. Tartarus was where ironic punishments were handed out like apples from a dentist on Halloween. That's where you get your rolling stones up hills for eternities and your pools of water up to your neck that recede when you want a drink. Tartarus sucks. Otherwise, your options involved wraith-like vampirism of a sort or a general loss of memory. Or the Elysium Fields, which seem pretty keen.

Anyway, the game has you falling into the afterlife and landing on great big structures made of viscera and Doom backgrounds with rotating knives and moving platforms and the same enemies you've been fighting the whole game except now they're on fire.

My point is that, while it's a vaguely inaccurate depiction of the afterlife as the Greeks saw it, it's a creepy vision into what Ironic Punishment Hell would be like for me: a never-ending series of video game jumping puzzles. I can take them in a sidescrolling adventure game, but you put a series of moving platforms into 3D, and I'm going to be muttering obscenities and curses on your name to no one in particular while I die over and over again because apparently my video game depth perception blows.

It's even worse if it's a first person shooter. Jumping puzzles make very little sense in a game where you can see your character's feet, but they're positively in-fucking-furiating when you can't.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

All my life, I've prayed for This Week's Reviews

Here's a sentence I never thought I'd type: "The shop was sold out of Blue Beetle."

All-Star Superman #3:
Superman arm wrestles Samson and Atlas for the affections of Lois Lane. There's also a giant talking lizard. I'm sure the nerdosphere'll be all over this one with more thoughtful commentary than I'm willing to provide, since I'm looking at this one as a silly confection where I'm sure people'll dissect it like it was a freaking space alien on a government base.

Deadgirl #3: Worth it just if just to see Dr Strange's crush on a corpse. I like Strange when he's played as an intensely weird guy, so I've really been enjoying him in this mini. This is totally a Dr Strange story guest-starring Dead Girl, and I find it kind of funny that X-Statix is a more marketable title than that of a forty-year-old character.

Invincible Iron Man #6: Maybe I would've enjoyed this six months ago. I don't know. Art's pretty, I guess, but it reads in about twenty seconds, and I suppose I expect more from books that're unbelievably late.

Batman #651: The Batsignal hasn't been lit in "years"? Really? What about the three or four times they used it in Gotham Central? Maybe Jack Ryder doesn't look up that often. For the second time in two weeks, a Bat-character I thought was dead already is killed. Jason Bard's leg hurts. Batman and Robin fight Poison Ivy, with predictable results. It's by the numbers, but it's more or less all I look for in a Batman story. Don Kramer's Jack Ryder looks like he fell out of a Quitely book, for some reason. Which is weird.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #28: Quick, name a common sci-fi story cliche. How many of you said "alien race that initially appears benign actually plans to eat/destroy/enslave humanity"? Like a third? Yeah, combine that with a time travel story and you've pretty much got this issue.

(Also, Thor couldn't be president. He's not an American. I don't know why that stuck in my suspension of disbelief craw while I let shapeshifting aliens and pills that give people superpowers go, but there you are.)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Printed Remnant of my Gloriously Misspent Youth

What do me and Papa Shango have in common? Well, we're both firm believers in the semi-ancient voodoo arts, but there's more. Both of us are featured prominently in the November 1992 issue of WWF Magazine.

Yeah, that's right.

WWF Magazine. Just to give you a brief window into the writing contained in this veritable Tome of Awesome, I submit this paragraph from their SummerSlam results article:

"Randy Savage had barely retained his WWF Championship against the Ultimate Warrior, but the mind games and sinistrality perpetrated by Mr Perfect and Ric Flair left the titlist more vunerable than ever."

"Sinistrality"? Hell, I'm barely sure if that's a word, but tell me that doesn't sound like an omniscient Marvel narrator breathlessly describing a past battle between the Avengers and, like, Kang.

"Randy Savage Captain America had barely retained his WWF Championship control of the Cosmic Cube against the Ultimate Warrior Red Skull, but the mind games and sinistrality perpetrated by Mr Perfect Arnim Zola and Ric Flair Baron Zemo left the titlist Living Legend of World War 2 more vunerable than ever."

So how'd I end up in such a publication? Well, any of y'all remember Bob Backlund? He was a late seventies/early eighties WWF champ. Fought the likes of the Iron Sheik. Upon his retirement and prior to his... really baffling return to pro wrestling in the mid nineties, Backlund was the wrestling coach at my hometown's high school. Over the summer of '92, he taught the fundamentals of Greco-Roman wrestling to little kids and somebody roped my ass into it.

I imagine I'm not alone in the comics nerdosphere when I say that I wasn't a particularly athletic child.

Anyway, WWF Magazine somehow got wind of this and dispatched a photographer to record for posterity images of Jon, Age Nine, in the Ugliest Shirt in the History of Garments. A word of caution: I'm adorable beyond words. If you're a female of breeding age, there's an off chance viewing the images below will force you to ovulate.
In case you can't make out the horror of that t-shirt, I've taken the liberty of blowing up a portion of the shot.
I rather like that everyone else has a steely look of determination whereas I'm staring at my hands like I was Lady Macbeth. I take some solace in the fact that everyone in 1992 was apparently dressed as a terrifying neon nightmare, though. My outfit's faintly normal when taken in light of Clownpants McChub, seen squaring off with Backlund in the first shot and soft-shoeing in the one below.

Seriously, I don't know what mom was thinking when she bought that shirt. It couldn't possibly have been my fault; I had no money, nor did I pick out my own clothes until I was, like, twenty. I'm just glad I'm not that kid with a mullet sitting in front of me in the bottom shot. That thing's amazing.

At any rate, I retained exactly none of the wrestling I picked up here and could probably be taken in a straight fight by a cripple (especially this one), but how many other tiny-wristed artists can say they appeared in an issue of WWF Magazine? It's one Hell of a conversation piece, anyway.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Weird, off-topic post coming up sooner or later

I'll give you a hint as to the content in the form of a question: What do me and Papa Shango have in common?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

This Week's Reviewy, quicker than the human eye

Robin #148: I like Tim's new costume, I like how Batman acts here, I like the set up for this storyline. I thought a character that showed up here was dead already, but whatever, Superboy probably punched time in the groin and changed history or something. I'm hoping Beechen and Kerschel stick around for a while, because they're a good team for this book.

JSA Classified #10: Boy, that "featuring Green Lantern" blurb employed some hyperbole. This one's all Vandal Savage, all the time. Lantern appears for one panel. With no lines. Anyway, the art feels a bit rushed in places, but the story's fairly interesting if you're big into the character.

Catwoman #53: I feel an intense need to spoiler warning this. I don't know why, no.


Spoiler warning.

I was kinda right about something I'm sure a bazillion people called. Selina's kid is named "Helena." Sure, Huntress is still alive, which steamrolls the motivation I'd attached to it, but, still, I'm very rarely even close to correct about things like this, so I'm going to bask like a lizard on a rock on a sunny freakin' day. Hell, maybe it's a different Huntress.

Batman comes off really well here, too, which makes two books in a week where he isn't a tool. And that's probably some kind of record. (Haven't gotten Batman yet. He's probably not a tool, there, either, God and James Robinson willing.)

Oh, and who amongst us would ever have said, a year ago, that Angle Man was a bad ass? Well, he is. And it's great.

Birds of Prey #92: Hah, the Birds of Prey now have two members I never would've predicted would ever join the group. If One Year Later is good for anything, it's messing with my nonexistent precognitive abilities. And Huntress is wearing a far-less-silly variant on her costume, which is nice. (And Oracle only calls her "Huntress" or "partner." Maybe my "it's not Helena" theory holds water.)

Superman #650: That Adventures Of/ Superman numbering switch is going to screw with me. I don't know when, but I'm certain it'll happen. Anyway, with the notable exception of Clark's "KENT" varsity jacket, this was probably the closest to a note-perfect Superman book we'll see where the title isn't prefaced by "All-Star," and that's saying something, as I think the last time Johns was on a Superbook, he gave us half of "Lost Hearts." And "Lost Hearts" sucked beyond all reasoning. Plus, Pete Woods is the damned man.

She-Hulk #6: Whose side am I on, numbering box? Probably DC's, but whatever. Starfox, my fifth-favorite SNES game and three-hundredth-favorite Avenger, gets plunked for sexual assault, which makes way more sense than it probably should, and hilarity ensues. Greg Horn paints another creepy cover. The new artist, Will Conrad, is really quite good. Pug needs to grow a pair and show Man-Wolf who's boss.

Nextwave #3: Just Goddamn read it. If you don't laugh at something here, I'm sort of concerned for your sense of humor.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Legion Mourns Loss of Brin Londo

Relatives Say Man Killed By Salad Fork

Timber Wolfe Bled To Death After Major Blood Vessels Severed

Relatives say the salad fork was wielded by none other than Mano, the Man With The Anti-Matter Touch. The Emerald Empress was spotting fleeing the scene.

Monday, March 20, 2006

All those who chose to oppose his SHIELD must yield

SHIELD used to be the Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law Enforcement Division, right? I know the acronym's since changed meanings, but the new version is actually even dumber. Anyway, what the Hell was SHIELD the International Espionage Law Enforcement Division of?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Three new pages of my comic

This is what happens when I'm single, bored, and looking for proper work. Absurd comic-making productivity. Go read now.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The corporate world is full of mysteries - Cartoon net to get 'Fantastic' skein

For example, a Fantastic Four cartoon on a Time-Warner network. You know, the company that owns DC. They might have it out for them, I don't know. They did pretty much run Justice League Unlimited into the ground by never, ever advertising it. Maybe they'd just prefer the competition to have a higher profile in the minds of children. Maybe it's some kind of super-clever business model the likes of me will never comprehend.

"Enough is enough. I've had it with these snakes."

Cancel next year's Academy Awards. It'll be too embarrassing for the other movies when this one wins every Oscar in history. Retroactive Oscars. The 1941 Best Picture. Best Makeup, 1989.

Edit: Sigh. It appears YouTube has lost the video, which kills me. Literally.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Wise men say only fools rush in, but I just can't help falling in This Week's Reviews

Freakin' expensive week, considering I only got four books.

Runaways #14: Wherein we cover some of the b-plots that haven't been mentioned in months, and thank God for that. Still no Excelsior. Never thought it'd get to the point where I miss seeing Darkhawk monthly, but since he won't be in Marvel Team-Up again any time soon, I have to hold out for his appearances here.

Ultimate Extinction #3: Damn, a Silver Surfer swerve, right there. Never ever thought I'd be in a position where saying "Silver Surfer is scary" even kind of made sense, but here we are. I like how Ellis writes Captain America and I very much enjoy Captain Marvel, but it still seems like this whole story could've been done in six issues, not three different minis. However, the slow burn is rapidly changing to a... whatever the opposite of a 'slow burn' is. A fast burn. So things are looking up. This'll probably read fantastically in trade.

Teen Titans Annual #1: Okay, so in the last issue of Infinite Crisis, Superboy's in his big bubbly tube and Luthor comes to talk at him and leave him one of those Chaos Emeralds from Sonic the Hedgehog, after which Conner pops out of his tube to assist Dick Grayson in some crimes against fashion. Here, Conner's in his tube, Lex shows up, jaws a little, is confronted by some other Titans and teleports out because he can do that now. The Titans, save Wonder Girl, head off to Bludhaven, at which time Superboy punches his way out of his bacta tank situation and takes Cassie to Smallville so as to plow her like she was the back forty of the Kent's farm. The next day, he heads to Titans tower to see Dick (be glad I didn't go with the Cassie/Titans Tower/Dick/sex joke I was working on, here). Way, waaaay more time passed between Luthor's scene in IC#5 and the opening of Titans #33 than I thought did, is all I'm saying. Made it look like Conner and Cassie had "made love," as Superboy so fruitily put it, at superspeed. I mean, when'd Beetle get killed, DC time? Like, last week?

Lord, the timeline's killing me, lately. The Titans, in particular, seem to be all over the freakin' place. Same with Hal Jordan, John Stewart and Black Lightning. Just keep on poppin' up.

Anyway, it's nice to see Robin get as much respect as he gets here. And it's always nice to see the Metal Men and Plastic Man actually being useful.

'Course, the book was like a month late and credits four pencilers and five inkers (Eaglesham's sequences are the best, as far as I'm concerned). Two writers! Book was made on a freaking assembly line and still shipped late.

Edit: I just now remembered this - I hate that Superboy calls Jonathan Kent "Uncle John." This is solely because my name's Jonathan and I don't know too many of my kind that shorten it to anything but "Jon," sans superfluous H. If there's a more useless letter than the H in "John" in any name ever, it's when girls spell "Jen" with an extra, silent N.

Infinite Crisis Secret Files and Origins 2006: Superboy Prime misses his Earth and is kind of crazy! Superman-2 misses his Earth and also Lois is dying! Alex Luthor is a douchebag! I just saved you six dollars!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Two-pronged post: On Faith and Clever

Prong the First:

For some reason, over the years, I've grown incredibly sick of DC characters who think that magic and religion are merely sciences beyond comprehension. I'm sorry, but when Zeus gets an occasional speaking part, atheism just seems sort of silly. Sure, I thought it was clever when Ted Knight brought it up in Starman, but it seemed to be the only character trait Mr Terrific had going for him excepting "is very smart" for about five years of JSA. I figured Terrific's lack of faith was made moot at the tail end of Lost, when the Spirit King beat him half to death and he saw his wife and son in one of those near death experience vision type things, as he followed that up by freakin' going to church.
But then Infinite Crisis #5 opens on him and Ragman having the same damned conversation I feel like I've read a hundred times. Blah blah, you don't believe in God? But you're on a team with the Spectre, blah blah. "Before my time." (Which is total horseshit, by the way. He's met the Spectre four or five times, by my count, including during his own freaking origin story.) Blah blah, but what about Zauriel? Blah blah. "Blah blah science blah blah." Don't you have faith in anything? "I have faith in my team."

So did Michael walk into that church in Portsmouth and get kicked square in the balls by the priest? He's willing to go to church that one time, but now, he'd rather stand outside and be all "I'm so much smarter than everyone in there." He did a one-eighty on faith and then just kept going 'til he was in the same place he started. It wouldn't bother me so much if both scenes weren't written by the same guy, but they are.

Also, Detective Chimp really ought to take his hat off in church. God hates that.

Prong The Second:

Terrific is, by his own admission in the same scene with Ragman mentioned above, the third-smartest man in the DCU. So who's smarter? Batman and Luthor? Is Brainiac in there somewhere? He's always supposed to be smart, but smart people don't get blown up by Starfire, nor do they take ridiculously circuitous routes to kill Donna Troy and keep an eye on the freaking Outsiders.

What about Ray Palmer? He's pretty clever, but he didn't notice that his wife was Goddamn nuts, even though Carter "I Solve All Problems With This Here Mace" Hall claims he was on to her with his hawk-like twenty/twenty hindsight.

Bart Allen memorized an entire library, but is still stupid enough to need Speedy to tell him who former Titans are ten minutes after she joined the team (same thing happened to Superboy. Had to ask Speedy who Goddamned Jericho was fifteen or so issues after he made fun of Jericho's silly 'fro and was possessed by him. Because, clearly, it doesn't make sense to use the new character as the point of view in a story).

What about Calculator or Oracle? And you'd think Vandal Savage would be smart, what with the several thousand years worth of experience, but then he goes and does something stupid like launch himself onto an asteroid for... some reason and you remember that brother is a caveman.

I say Jack Knight's the smartest man in the DCU. He's the only one with the sense to hang up his gear and drive off into the sunset, ducking all of this Crisis.

'Course, now that I say that, Infinite Crisis #6 will feature Jack fighting Superboy Prime with an old Gravity Rod, or something.

Way to blow your secret ID in front of some ninth-string villains there, Court.

Stargirl is not good at the whole "protecting my secret identity" thing. Earlier in the story this scan came from (somewhere in JSA: All-Stars), her father, a low-level thug in one of the random iterations of the Royal Flush Gang running around the DCU over the past couple years (I count three different versions), called her "Courtney" after she called him "dad." In this scene, she tells him he can't call her his daughter anymore and it's all sad and poignant or something, but then the point of view pulls back to reveal, like, forty guys, including Jack of the RFG, standing there listening.

Granted, the Royal Flush Gang is, by and large, pretty dumb, but you'd think one of those guys would be paying enough attention to figure out who Stargirl is. Maybe nobody cares who she is. Maybe that's it. I mean, I barely care who she is.

Friday, March 10, 2006

C'est la vie, mon ami

There's something weirdly satisfying about seeing things like this:
Gambit in the midst of taking dozens of slashes from an obscure Japanese arcade game character just feels right, you know?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Think of all the things we put him through; in the face of his God would he tell This Week's Reviews?

Hellboy: Makoma or, A Tale Told By a Mummy in the New York City Explorers' Club on August 16, 1993 #2 (of 2): Hellboy gets some and cries, in that order. Two things I never thought I'd see in a Hellboy book, actually.

Captain Atom: Armageddon #6: Should have been exactly this many issues long. Unless the next three issues have an utterly fantastic twist, this shot its load reeeeeal early. And, while I'm bitching, I still hate this costume. I read Kingdom Come for the first time in years yesterday, and the the gold Cap Atom suit sucked then, ten years ago. It's busy and silly and doesn't even have an in-story explanation for its existence and, well, I like the silver one better. So there.

Teen Titans #33: God almighty, this book is weird. Allow me to illustrate.

First off, yeah, Nightwing's wearing one of his old yellow-piano-key-shoulderpad outfits. Because he's using glider-wings to fly about, aided by the thermals created by the crazy Crisis weather, that's why. It makes perfect sense. Second, Superboy's narration reads like a freaking Deadjournal. Not the dialogue, really, just the red-on-black edginess of it all. That's not why I went to the trouble of scanning this bitch, though.

No, I did that because it references an event that apparently takes place in the superdelayed Teen Titans Annual. And also because no teenage boy in the world says "made love" out loud, much less thinks it. Mostly the referencing stuff that hasn't happened yet thing, though. Especially when there's a house ad in the same book saying that the issue in question came out in February.

And this:

'Member when those statues blew up over in Infinite Crisis #5? They got better. Dick Grayson obviously hated Pantha and company, by the way. He's practically grinning while talking about the fact that no one will remember the Titans Superboy-Prime dropped. Nightwing is a dick in more than name.

...yeah, Coheed and Cambria lyrics for the title this week. Way to just use the first song to pop up in the Media Player Randomizer, me.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Nothing Good Has Ever Been Called "Justice League Task Force"

Buckle your chinstraps, kids; this is a bad, bad game. Before we get into it, let me mention that I'm genuinely terrible at fighting games across the board. My formative years were spent without a video game system of any kind, meaning I only played Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat and such at friends' houses, making me a perennial two-up. What does this mean for my fighting game prowess? Well, basically, I can't do that Goddamn fireball motion unless my character is facing left. That's right: I can almost never hit down, down-forward, forward plus punch unless "forward" is "left." If you've ever played any fighting game ever, you will quickly note that game programmers have decided that that combination of buttons is the key to virtually nine-tenths of all attacks.

JLTF came out at a time when making a fighting game was a simple exercise in ripping off Street Fighter, meaning literally every character has a move tied to the fireball motion. And that it sucks. It sucks hard.

Full disclosure: after getting my ass thoroughly kicked by Superman, I turned the difficulty down to a level where I'm pretty sure I could've beaten this game with my feet. It doesn't really make a difference in terms of what I'm about to write, but I just didn't want y'all getting the impression that I'm actually any good at this game.

Your options in terms of character selection are pretty limited. You've got Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash and Green Arrow. Superman's in his traditional costume and his not-so-traditional post-death Supermullet. Bats is in grey and light blue. Wonder Woman's boobs are pushed up to about chin-level. Aquaman's got his orange shirt/green pants/green gloves/giant rocker hair/no beard ensemble going. Flash's belt, for some reason, is well above his belly button, making him look like he's wearing some serious Urkel pants. GA's rocking that truly hideous hooded costume he died in, so there was no way in Hell I was picking him to play through this nightmare.

I went with Batman because if the internet has taught me anything, it's that Batman can beat anybody at any time.
It seems Darkseid has declared war on earth and attacked a missile base. I rather like that the Daily Planet had a little portrait of the Rock and the Chain and the Lightning handy to run on just such an occasion.

Batman hops to and begins his traditional superheroic monologery. By the way, regardless of who you're playing as, the script remains the same because this game was made for eleven dollars.

Batman's first stop is Atlantis, where he immediately begins fighting Aquaman. There is no cutscene explaining why, again because this game was made for eleven dollars.

Aquaman's primary attack is hurling balls of water at me, an attack that is accompanied by the sound those little bone Koopas made when you stomped on them in Super Mario World. I swear to God. He is unprepared for my tactic of jumping up in the air and kicking him in the face. Twenty kicks to the head later, he goes down and...

Yeah, I kicked Aquaman's ass so hard his crotch exploded. Even the fish in back is appalled. He's been driven to a slapstick spit-take.

Batman is befuddled by this turn of events (Aquaman attacking him, not the old exploding cigar trick, as it were), declaring "this is insanity! Why would a fellow Leaguer attack me for no reason?" He decides that his wisest course of action is to try to find another Leaguer, as he is the World's Greatest Detective and hasn't yet noticed that Aquaman doesn't traditionally blow up.

He finds the Flash out in the desert, with another unexplained fight breaking out.

Wally can do E Honda's Hundred Hand Slap, throw little tornadoes and drop a Dragon Uppercut like he was Ryu. There isn't an original idea anywhere in this game, I swear to God. I learn that batarangs, properly timed, can negate tornadoes. I do not know why, but it really isn't my place to ask. Again, the game was unprepared for my Hannibal Smith-style strategies, and Flash succumbs to the all you can eat buffet of kicks to the head I served up. He, too, explodes.

Batman, still confused by the Justice League turning on him, decides to try and find another member, and heads to Metropolis. Because when the Justice League is fighting you at every possible opening, it only makes sense to try and find their most powerful member.

It's worth mentioning that I threw the first punch in every single one of these fights. Maybe there was a "make smalltalk" button I couldn't find, I'm not sure. Imitating every message board discussion on the topic, Batman savagely beats the Last Son of Krypton without taking a single hit in all of round one.

Round two doesn't go as smoothly, with Superman suddenly remembering he has heat vision, incredibly short ranged freeze breath and the heretofore unrevealed ability to hit people so hard they burst into flames. Still, even invulnerable space aliens get sick of taking batboots to the face after a while, and the Man of Steel soon enough becomes the Man Who Exploded Because I Beat the Shit Out of Him. Clumsy nickname, I know, but it suits him.

Batman finally works out that he's dealing with evil doppelgangers, saying to no one in particular that Superman "wasn't a real Justice League member any more than the others were." Still, he continues his world tour, now heading for Paradise Island, where he is mysteriously allowed entrance in spite of his no doubt prodigious masculine endowment. Or perhaps because of it.

Wonder Woman, a true warrior born, actually has a defense against my previously invincible flying kick to the head: she can do a cut-rate version of Guile's Flash Kick, cutting Batman down in the air. Things do not look good for the Dark Knight.

After tagging her with two batarangs, I wonder to myself why she doesn't use her bracelets to block the damned things. Wonder Woman then ricochets batarang number three off her wrists and straight back at Batman. That bitch. Still, she only occasionally remembers that she can do this, and she, too, is reduced to ashes.

After Diana explodes, Batman puts two and two together and realizes Darkseid must be behind this whole scheme, as anything else would be "too much of a coincidence." However, he keeps up hope and heads off to the woods to fight... er... "talk to" Green Arrow.

Arrow, at this point an environmentalist, is surrounded by woodland creatures, from bobcats to elk, who are putting aside their traditional petty differences, like "that guy wants to eat me!" and "I want to eat that guy!" to watch Ollie get his ass kicked by Batman. Even they're sick of Queen's constant bitching and sleeping with their girlfriends, and they don't understand English. Ollie has fire arrows, freeze arrows and some kind of bomb arrow-situation, none of which actually succeed in hitting Bats, and once again, the mighty kick to the fruity goatee wins the day.

Having run out of Leaguers from the character select screen, Batman decides that it's up to him to stop Darkseid and claims he knows "just where to find him."

We cut to the interior of a generic spaceship, populated by generic aliens. Batman is attacked by Despero, a character with absolutely no history with Darkseid that I can think of. Big D's wearing his worst costume to date, which is saying something, as he's been naked for a few years now. It's that green pants/yellow shoulderpads number he had for a few years in the mid-nineties.

My head-kick hits him low thanks to his considerable height advantage and proves to be even more powerful when applied to the groin.

Despero claims that Darkseid only gives useful information to "one trusted servant," briefly making me nervous that I'll have to fight, like, Kalibak or Steppenwolf or something before I remember that this game really, really sucks.

Darkseid's most trust servant? Cheetah. Freaking Cheetah! C'mon!

Cheetah's biggest attack is a variation on the Dragon Uppercut where she'll rush you from across the screen before launching herself up in the air. Of course, since it's telegraphed like all Hell and leaves her wide open to attacks from behind when she's done, it's a simple matter to amend my jumping kick strategy to vault her stupid uppercut and kick her in the back of the head. Over and over again.
Upon defeat, Cheetah doesn't provide any useful information, which I sort of thought was the point of this endeavor, but instead literally licks her wounds and tells Batman that Darkseid's gonna kill him. Well, yeah, I pretty much already knew that. Thanks for nothing, you freaking D-lister.

Batman somehow travels to Apokalips, which is exactly where I would've gone were I looking for Darkseid to begin with, bypassing the whole spaceship full of Despero thing and the sidetrip to Africa to whack Cheetah's occipital lobe around. Darkseid leaps out of the shadows to boast about how he's got one opponent left that Batman could never defeat and we launch into yet another cliche: the mirror match.

Alternate Batman is basically Standard Batman, except his color scheme is darker and he actually knows how to do more moves than the batarang throw. Unfortunately for him, that pretty much just means he can do this stupid thing where he fires a grappling hook above him, disappears off the top of the screen and then falls on whatever point you were standing on when he started the move. Which means if you move at any point after he starts the attack, it'll miss. Evil Batman is no match for Good Batman's symphony of face kicks and he blows up.

Darkseid then decides that now is the time to dispatch Batman with his own hands, and I learn that Batman can block the Omega Effect with his cape.

Oh, also, the Anti-Life Equation is Batman's Boot + Darkseid's Face = Coma.

Batman then declares victory in the name of earth and announces that "whether together or alone, nothing can defeat the Justice League Task Force," a statement that really makes no sense at all, as I don't think one guy really makes a "task force," but who's going to quibble with a guy that just dropped Darkseid?

Darkseid defeated and Justice League presumably rescued from wherever they've been for the duration of the game, we cut to this:

Aquaman and the Flash basically just called me a sissy. I'm crushed.

PS: My spellcheck thinks that "Darkseid" is a misspelling of "mudlarks." That makes about as much sense as Darkseid kidnapping every hero on earth save one, I guess.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Didn't this suck, like, ten years ago? SPAWN/BATMAN

Remember the last time they did this? Mid-nineties? Batman kept calling Spawn "twit"? It's really like saying "remember that time baseball went on strike and they canceled the playoffs?"

Bagwell would've had the home run record that year, I swear to God. And the Expos would've won the World Series.

Point is, it's a callback to a dark, dark time in an otherwise fairly storied history. Granted, DC just did a freaking JLA/Cyberforce crossover (if you still need a copy, I think there're about thirty floating about in my local comic shop, unloved and unsold, hovering in the shopboy's subconscious, begging its way out of the fifty cent bin) and Marvel recently announced some kind of deal with Top Cow, so maybe they know something about intercompany crossovers I don't, but I, for one, would love it if this relic of the nineties would just be allowed to die quietly.

Also, raise your hands if you thought Spawn was pretty much just a toy line at this point.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

But that's the way it goes- in war, you're shat upon. And though you die, This Week's Reviews live on

I'm actually sort of curious as to whether or not people read the titles of these posts and think "that kid listens to some weeeeeird music" or if they just skim on by.

But, anyway, two week's worth of crap, so let's get the ball rolling, shall we?

Astonishing X-Men #13: I like that my suspension of disbelief allows for guys with claws and blue cat-man-scientist situations, but a guy dressed up more or less like Patrick Henry makes me roll my eyes. Oh, Sebastian Shaw, you look so silly. Can't say much in the negative on this one: the setup here would seem to indicate a much more interesting story than the last arc gave us, Whedon's dialogue is still snappy, and Cassaday's art is still Cassaday's art (though a couple of characters have this weird thing going on where I feel like I recognize them and then I realize it's because he's more than likely used the same model before, like the crazy dreamer girl here and Jakita Wagner from Planetary).

Hellboy: Makoma or, A Tale Told By a Mummy in The New York City Explorers' Club on August 16, 1993 #1 (of 2): Somehow, I feel better about typing out that title where me going through the trouble of banging out "All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder" seems like drudgery. Go figure. Anyway, Hellboy walks around Africa, beats up monsters and throws them in a bag. That's pretty much it. And it's great.

(By the way, I bought both of the above and the Jonah Hex Showcase edition at Big Monkey Comics in Georgetown. From Seven Hells Devon, yet. Didn't even cross my mind that it was him until I looked at the receipt and saw his name. Lovely shop, right there. Just thought I'd share.)

Captain Atom: Armageddon #5: I like this book and all, but I can't, for the life of me, see how it could go another four issues. Until about two seconds ago when I looked at the issue number and saw a wee little "of 9" after it, I was pretty firmly convinced that this was a standard six-issue mini and next month we'd get a conclusion. Now I have to wonder what point this has in going on beyond Infinite Crisis if it really does tie into that at all. And it seems like it must. This time around, a good chunk of the Authority shows up and Cap goes on a tour of the Bleed, including a trip to a world full of Nazis and a cameo by the Awesome Android. I take it a new Doctor's taken over since Millar left Authority, unless the guy I remember has started dying his hair and wearing unfortunate purple jumpsuits like the Doc StormWatch ICBM'd to death. Also, going by the cover, Jenny Quantum's grown into the spitting image of that profoundly irritating hairdresser girl from The Real World: Austin.

Both of those things strike me as reasons I should be glad I don't currently read Authority.

I'll skip to the Marvel stuff before I get into anything that really warrants a spoiler warning:

Thing #4: Cute. And also has Lockjaw, which is, for some reason, always good to see, as far as I'm concerned. Watcher steals the book because Watcher is awesome. I'm sort of curious as to when the Inhumans moved back to the moon, but I'm sure the story on that is something so ridiculous I already regret typing out the first half of this sentence already. I'll just assume some pollution-related allegory. Or maybe the Celestials. Or Atlantis.

Or, God help me, the X-Men.

Marvel Team-Up #18: The cosmic reset gets pressed, as everyone assumed would happen, but our heroes kinda get screwed over. I can't tell if this means they're written out of current continuity or not (I'd wager on "no" there, as Darkhawk's in Runaways and X-23 was pimped harder than a Cancun hooker during Spring Break), but certainly the versions of these characters that've been in the future for the last few issues are out of play in the standard Marvel timeline. Which is almost a shame, because, well, check your scorecards:

Terror has skyrocketed from Some Guy On a Marvel Card to Probably Third-Greatest Marvel Character of All Time in my book since the start of this storyline. Darkhawk got to do something other than freak out about his Johnny Sorrow face. Arana died (and still showed up on the covers, even though her sole purpose in this story was to give us a visual demonstration of Terror's incredibly freaking awesome powers). Sleepwalker got the line of this issue ("you seemed to take the brunt of that blow with your face. I am concerned for your well-being") which can't possibly have happened in ten years. Even Gravity and X-23 came off well. And Speedball and Dagger were... they were there. And that's what counts. This whole thing is a solid argument that there're no bad characters, just lazy writers.

Except maybe Slapstick. He's just a bad idea from the word go.

Nextwave #2: Were it possible to have a crush on a comic, I'd totally be writing "JC+NW=4EVA" inside big hearts on all my book covers. If you don't like this, you're wrong and I kind of hate you.

Onto the spoiler-warning-worthy DC content, then, after that thoroughly embarrassing jaunt into my psyche:

Seriously, go away if you don't want things ruined by my anger.

I'd do one of those things where I link to the whole of the post from here but, frankly, I don't know how to, nor do I care to learn. Such is my commitment to you, the reader.

Before we really get into this, apparently three or four local shops, including mine, were shorted their copies of Adventures of Superman #Whatever This Month's Issue Number Is. So boo on that, frankly.

Batman #650: I've got a spoiler warning up there, right? I do? Good. God, nice ending, Winick. Build up, build up, build up, explosion? Explosion we know Batman got out of because this takes place after Bludhaven blows up but before he shows up to ask Dick for help in last month's issue of Infinite Crisis? Yeah, that's satisfying, right there. Like a Goddamn Snickers bar, is what that is.

Batman Annual #25: The origin of Jason Todd. Provides everything but an explanation for why that little white streak he had circa Hush disappears at random. Apparently, Batman had sensors in Todd's coffin to let him know if anyone broke in, but not if anyone dug out. Very, very specific sensors, right there. While I'm glad Ra's Al Ghul was involved (because, well, Jason's been carrying a Ra's knife for freaking months and if that was a red herring, I'd be kinda pissed), the actual method of resurrection is slightly more convoluted than a simple dip in a Lazarus Pit. No, it involved Superboy Prime and punching reality, which I fear is going to become one Hell of an odd deus ex machina over the next few months. Anything you want to change? Superboy punched the crap out of time, and it's different now!

Catwoman #52: Spoiler warning's still in place, right? Good.

Yay! Somebody finally freaking killed Black Mask!

Beyond that, good issue. The examination of how badly mindwiping could screw up a character has been great, especially compared to the reactions of others in the same boat. And Angle Man's been a badass for months, now. When has anyone in the history of comics been able to say that?

Infinite Crisis #5: Geoff Johns really has a weird grasp on super-hearing. I don't care how Goddamn sharp your ears are, you aren't hearing somebody yell "LOIS!" on another planet. Maybe it's psionic, I don't know, but if you're going to show me a guy shouting in one panel and cut to a close-up of an ear in the next, I'm reading that as an ear hearing something until I'm told otherwise. Well, that and the fact that Clark outright says he heard Kal-L. That helps, too.

Anyway, way more earths show up and we find out why damned near every DC book for the last three weeks has ended with multiple iterations of the same character falling into a big hole in space. There's one mystery cleared up, anyway. Oh, and Barry Allen's fallen back into his greatest role of the last twenty years: HARBINGER OF DOOM.

Next month: more fighting, presumably! Possibly a resolution to some of the dangling plotlines from the minis that lead up to this one! Booster Gold further establishing himself as useful BECAUSE YOU DEMANDED IT, I guess! Maybe a hero meets a different version of himself! Vibration used as a plot point! Nostalgia! All this and art by forty different people for some reason! Infinite Crisis #6, probably shipping late for no readily apparent reason!

Detective Comics #817: James Robinson re-establishes the status quo so gloriously I assumed I was dealing with a dream sequence the entire issue and genuinely fear that the next issue of this arc will open with Jim Gordon waking up from a beautiful, beautiful dream.

Edit: Good God, I forgot to do Ultimates 2 #10: Mark Millar hates George Bush and Bryan Hitch draws really, really well. Oh, and Ultimate Hawkeye is more or less Ultimate Bullseye. That's pretty much all you need to know. Sorry to leave you hanging on that one, boys and girls.