Saturday, April 29, 2006

"Everybody knows the man's a fool! He's crazy, he sees people that ain't there, and he's always talkin' in circles!"

Mister Terrific has exactly one superpower: he's invisible to technology. Sure, it's vaguely defined at best, but I have to imagine that means that since Batman's night vision goggles register him as a blur and Brother Eye can't see him, he'd be a bitch to photograph.
So is that, like, an artist's rendition?

Friday, April 28, 2006

200th Post Self-Linking Masturbatory Reviews Archive

If any brave soul gives me the names of all the songs that these gimmicked titles are culled from, I'll give them a hug.

You feel my heart, I'm just a moment behind, This Week's Review-do do do, do do do, do do do, do do do, do do

You've started to believe the things they say of you, you really do believe this talk of This Week's Review-hoos

This Week's Reviews may not be Ms Right; she'll do right now

This Week's Reviews dumma dee dumma dah, whack for the daddy ol', whack for the daddy ol', there's whiskey in the jar

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

This Week's Reviewy, quicker than the human eye

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

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

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

What would you think if I sang This Week's Reviews, would you stand up and walk out on me?

You're sick of me, I'm sick of you, let's pull off and This Week's Reviews

You can drive to Riverside and get one, too, and then you'll have an ape drape and This Week's Reviews

You say it's your right, well, it's mine, too. You say you go out every night, what's a This Week's Reviews?

This Week's Reviews better last

Who's mostly goldie down to the tube sock, the same old pimp, This Week's Reviews, nothin' changed but the limp

Drinkin' for eleven, that's This Week's Reviews

This Week's Reviews, Last Week's Reviews, and a couple of tra-la-las, that's how we work the day away in the merry old land of Oz

The president is on the line as ninety-nine This Week's Reviews go by

Two pints of booze, tell me are you This Week's Reviews?

You think it's strange that there's a way of how you look and how you act and how you think; Pretend they're not This Week's Reviews

Police they say my mother, too, a fish from This Week's Reviews above my head at night

Hey, most pessimistic boy in LA, have some Reviews and relax in the shade

I'm Reviewin' with my full capabilities, and now I'm livin' in correctional facilities

42nd Street's got This Week's Reviews, he's a pool-shootin' son of a gun.

Today's Tom Sawyer, he gets high on you, and the space he invades, he gets This Week's Reviews

This Week's Reviews and a curse on this town were all in my mouth

Well, it goes like this: the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift, the baffled king composing This Week's Reviewejah.

The meanest thing he ever did was, before he left, he went and named me "This Week's Reviews."

Got no future, great big past, This Week's Reviews on the rim of my glass.

I said "Pigpen, this here's This Week's Reviews, we just ain't a-gonna pay no tolls."

Got me This Week's Reviews, I want you to know

I always have to steal my This Week's Reviews from you.

I shot a man in This Week's Reviews just to watch him die.

You feel my heart, I'm just a moment behind, This Week's Review-do do do, do do do, do do do, do do do, do do

Dead Girl #4 (of 5): This was sitting in my pullbox from last week. I have no idea how I didn't get it then. Good to see most of the X-Statix and great to see Dr Strange all in love and doofy. Shame he doesn't have the floatie black dot-things on his gloves, though.

Plus, the Phantom Rider gives great advice.

Runaways #15: The team that took out the freaking Wrecking Crew a few months ago is utterly demolished in about four pages by online role-playing gamers and Phlip Michael Thomas. Which isn't to say it's bad. It's actually pretty good. The art's fantastic and the script's got a few great lines, it's just that I still miss Excelsior and feel like that plotline's been dangling for a little bit too long now. I mean, Rick Jones hasn't had anything important to do that didn't involve whacking bracelets together in years.

Catwoman #54: The new Catwoman's major opponents are the Angle Man and the freaking Film Freak. That alone is reason enough to recommend this. And the cover's awesome.

Checkmate #1: How can Alan Scott be out an eye? Isn't he made of magic? Why is he dressed like he's in X-Corp? Why am I making references to X-Men storylines that I'm almost certain will never come up again? Seriously, though, DC should probably rethink having a guy in a smart military-style dress uniform and an eyepatch running their superpowered intelligence organization, 'cause he looks like nothing more than a blond Nick Fury right now. Anyway, the book itself reads more like StormWatch under Jackson King during Ellis' run than Queen and Country, but whatever, a book with the promise of Count Vertigo, King Faraday and Mr Terrific is probably worth keeping an eye on.

Battle for Bludhaven #2 (of 6): If Father Time is, in fact, Uncle Sam, I kind of like Uncle Sam as a militaristic dick. And I sort of like seeing the guy who pops up on the last page. But only sort of.

I have no idea who the new Phantom Lady is, though she's identified as "Ms Knight" and we're told her father is a senator. All of which is strikingly similar to the original Phantom Lady, but I'd have to think that even if she was somehow de-aged, her father'd be long dead, so I guess it's just a coincidence.

I don't get why Major Force keeps getting to come back to life, or why he keeps getting government work even though he always goes nuts and kills somebody, or why he keeps getting to appear anywhere. He has a profoundly dumb name and he's a freaking Captain Atom villain. That's two strikes. He's also directly tied to the whole "Women in Refrigerators" thing. Strike three.

Overall, it's still a scenic route to the origin of a new Freedom Fighters team, and still weirdly echoing No Man's Land.

Astonishing X-Men #14: Cyclops gets therapy. Well-drawn therapy. That's about it.

Villains United Special #1: A cynic would blame most of this issue's cast on the need to maintain copyrights, but I think it's just a love letter to the obscure and ridiculous. Odd Man, the Creeper and the Question on the same page almost make this worth the cover price on its own.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #29: Very good ending to a very silly story. There're still a few huge pills to swallow (Ben Grimm's the only sentient being in "a billion years" not to take up the Skrulls on their offer of free superpowers, for instance. That's just insane), but it's fun enough that it doesn't hurt so much this time around. Thank God this wasn't paced as a six-issue story, though. Three issue-pacing suits Millar pretty well.

Batman #652: Killer Moth! And not, like, Giant Stupid Bug Killer Moth, either. Yippy. There're a few too many "wow, that LAST YEAR sure was INTERESTING" comments, but this story's still doing a bang-up job of more or less establishing the Batman status quo as the one from the animated series. And you cannot fault that.

It's counting down to me not giving a damn.

ONLY X NUMBER OF HOURS TO GO! Evacuate elementary schools, because D-list villains are coming, and they're going to go all explody in the name of realism.

The Newsarama thread on this is a thing of freaking wonder, by the way.

"uh, how does one spell "civil"?"

"That's awesome. Talk about viral marketing!

...they should also do one for Ultimates 2 #13 "

"Why would anyone want to post this anywhere?
No, really. I'm curious."

Obviously, it's to be a total dick. Or to shill. Guess which one I'm doing?

" many heros will pick the side with the hottest chicks?"

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sexual Harassment and You, the Ferris Aircraft Employee

Welcome, new employee, to Ferris Aircraft's sexual harassment orientation, or as we like to call it, "The Menace of the Runaway Missile."Ferris has an unwavering commitment to creating a comfortable office environment for all our employees, and that means keeping all our "runaway missiles" in check.

We find that the simplest way to explain sexual harassment in the office is through a series of visual aids demonstrating What Not To Do.

Just remember: Don't Be Like Hal!
Verbal Harassment:
  • Sexualized nicknames: Do not refer to a coworker not named "Honey," "Baby," "Sugar" or "Hotlips" as "Honey," "Baby," "Sugar" or "Hotlips." While we're at it, calling a coworker of Eskimo-American descent "Pieface" is also right out.

Physical Harassment:
  • Invading a coworker's physical space:
  • Hal knows he is in Carol's citadel-- her private office. What's more, he has clearly sneaked up on her from behind, compounding the level of what we call, in professional terms, "incredible creepiness."
  • Unwanted physical touching:
  • Clearly, Carol is recoiling from Hal, but his encircled arms, dangerously close to her primary external sexual characteristics, prevent all escape.
Verbal Harassment:
  • Sexual Entendres:
  • "You want to keep your employees happy" carries a degree of subtext that, in this context, makes a seemingly innocuous remark into a pointed example of blatant sexual harassment.
Physical Harassment:
  • Invading a coworker's physical space:
  • Once again, as Carol visibly searches for an exit or some type of cudgel with which to brain Hal, he blocks her escape by using his arms as living wall.
Verbal Harassment:
  • Sexual Entendres: Here, Hal is further insinuating that he and Carol will soon be engaging in procreative activities, now threatening to continue his harassment outside the workplace. Carol can now no longer feel safe in restaurants or on rides in the country.
Physical Harassment:
  • Invading a coworker's physical space: Hal is attempting to put his genitals at Carol's eye level. Also worth noting: at no point is it appropriate to sit on your boss's desk.

Remember, new employee, that you, too, can have a successful career here at Ferris Aircraft so long as you always remember: Don't Be Like Hal!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Daredevil #283: "Get that Commie off the book!"

You know how Ultimate covers are almost never, ever a decent barometer of contents? The cover to Daredevil #283 might actually be worse, in that regard.

Granted, when you're dealing with an Ann Nocenti script that's chiefly about the American Dream and the evils of giant corporations, I guess a little symbolism is required to bang out a cover that'd make seven-year-old Jon buy your book. I mean, Captain America and Daredevil trying to lift a giant rock? Positively Sisyphusian! If you're wondering where I'm going with this meandering point, no, there's no giant rock in the story. Which is sort of a disappointment.

Ann Nocenti took over Daredevil right after Born Again, after a fill-in issue led to a couple year's of gainful employment. I get the feeling that if the comics nerdosphere existed in 1990, she'd be taking more flack than a B-29 over Berlin, since she had Daredevil fighting the existential nature of evil far more often than ninjas. Not to mention her knack for inserting her politics in a way that makes Mark Millar look like a sissy. Hell, most of this issue hinges on Cap complaining about US foreign policy, the divide between economic classes and Big Business.

We open on Captain America, aimlessly wandering through an unnamed city in full costume, because, well, if you were Cap and you looked that awesome, would you ever wear normal people clothes? Hell, no, you wouldn't. Besides, as this magazine vendor shows, being Captain America nets you free stuff!Cap, uncharacteristically, begins ranting wildly to no one in particular about America's involvement in Panama and the drug war, hot button issues at the time, sure, but nothing dates things more than incredibly topical references sixteen years later.

Cap's rage is abated by a crowd forming around a man giving a rousing speech about the American Dream. Seems an immigrant had a dream - a dream that there was no more oil industry! A dream about a car that ran on "garbage and a song!" He made his dream car out of plastic from detergent bottles and the metal from coffee cans, and it uses "harmonics." Just go with it.Oh, and it flies. It is made of garbage and it can fly. In the Marvel universe, building something like that's pretty much a supervillain origin story. "They laughed at my flying garbage car! Laughed at me! All of them! Laughing! Especially that accursed J Jonah Jameson! But we'll see who gets the last laugh when they face the terrible vengeance of THE JUNKER!"

And then he'd fight Spider-Man and maybe face ignominious defeat thanks to the timely, but unwanted, intervention of Rocket Racer in a story we just had to call "CAR TROUBLE."


By the way, what's with calling Cap "Captain A"? I can't say I've ever seen that, but I'm totally going to use it in place of "fuckin' A" from now on. As in "Jon, do you want tacos?" "Captain A, I want tacos!"

Anyway, it seems our immigrant, one Victor Cieszkowska, literally dreamed his car into being. He's big into lucid dreaming, and built the car in a trance state. As a consequence, he's got no plans for the damn thing, just a working model. As he's attempting to dream himself up blueprints (I swear to God), he gets a phone call from Immigration. As he's talking to them, he gets a letter from the IRS and an FBI agent shows up at his door. Victor's shaken the status quo so badly with his one public demonstration that Big Oil has sent three different government bodies to his house. As the G-man weasels into the house, a news report calls Victor "mentally disturbed" and claims that the police are searching for him in connection with his earlier public hoax.

Luckily, Daredevil and Captain America are hanging around to tell off the FBI agent and guard the house. That night, while Vic tries to dream himself up something patentable, Cap and DD hang out on the porch and talk. Cap's on a tear about how the rich and the poor hate each other. Daredevil mentions something about people in other parts of the world rebelling in the name of equality and a better life, saying that it's "as if America is lagging behind." Cap responds that "in Berlin, Poland, even in the Soviet Union-- people are making demands and being heard! The world is changing, but America will be the last to change.

"Of course they are attacking Victor," he says, "his car threatens the oil industry." Daredevil stops to think for a second about how weird Cap's acting - why, it's downright subversive! - but he's interrupted by the Living Legend of World War 2 going off on one of those 'this flag is my skin, what does it represent? Blah blah blah' tangents before asking DD what his costume represents.

I'd guess... a devil, but I'm not known for my ability to read subtext.

From the look of things, either Big Oil got antsy after Victor didn't just eat a bullet within ten minutes of getting crank called by Immigration or Marvel editorial mandated one fight scene per issue, because somebody sends a gang of nameless goons to beat the Hell out of the garbage car. Victor's wife warns our heroes that if the car's broken, it can never be rebuilt, and we have conflict.

Cap and DD rush the thugs but forget their primary "Protect The Damn Car" mission, because every time they dodge a pipe or duck a punch, the goon squad ends up hitting the freakin' thing. Way to go, guys. Way to go.

Vic's wife tells the heroes that Victor's gone, but he left a note telling them where he'll be the next morning. I guess there was an address on the note, because the wife doesn't specify. They head there, but apparently went out for coffee or something beforehand, because not only has a crowd built up around the building Vic's standing atop of before Cap and DD get there, the media's assembled. Presumably, they're ready to further demonize Victor in the name of their Big Oil overlords.

But what's this?
Why is Daredevil smiling? What does the Man Without Fear know that we don't?

(And how much does Victor look like Ultimate Norman Osborn? I'll let it go, because if I remember the early nineties right, Mark Bagley was drawing every single book Marvel was publishing.)Victor built a jet pack-type situation! He's now overqualified for the Freedom Fighters. And, thank God, Captain America's had his faith in our country restored. Again. It's a good thing Cap ends up in so many deeply symbolic situations, or he'd be a Communist by now for sure.

If I remember right, this is about the time Cap was all drugged up, explaining his behavior here. "Streets of Poison," or somesuch. What the heck was wrong with Cap? DRUGS. Don't do them! They make you question America!

According to an interview here, Marvel actually received a letter that said to "get the Commie off the book" in response to this issue. A couple of the letters in the back are about as kind:I like how Augie's Want list is pretty much the Daredevil status quo plus Nocenti's own Typhoid Mary. It's almost open-minded. This issue actually opens on Daredevil, well outside Manhattan and his usual supporting cast, hanging out with two Inhumans and Number Nine. I don't know how he'd feel about a story centering on Captain America railing on Big Oil (it's probably dangerously close to "stories about why we shouldn't eat meat" for Augie's tastes), but the deck was pretty stacked against Nocenti in the battle for Augie Pirente's Heart.

Another letter asks why every issue is "a spiritual, social, or political message, and while there is nothing wrong with this, it has definitely taken away from the adventure of the series." But this guy, too, likes Typhoid Mary.

Just goes to show you that you can wank political commentary all over superheroes as long as you throw in a crazy femme fatale in fetish gear and you'll never totally lose the core comic-reading constituency of Guys That Want To See Drawings of Boobs.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The world's most famous utterly obscure Marvel character

Quick! Name a Dr Strange villain!

Probably thinking, like, Dormammu or Baron Mordo or the inability to keep an ongoing, right? Nobody ever says "Shuma-Gorath." To be fair, he's more a Conan the Barbarian villain, actually defeated by the power of Crom (as in "BY CROM!"), but Shuma-Gorath is the thing that ended up acing the Ancient One and massively screwing over the good Doctor, so I'm lumping him in as a Strange rogue.

He's also the weirdest possible choice Capcom could've made to include in the Marvel Super Heroes fighting game. Look at that lineup, there. With the exception of Psylocke, the heroes are all Marvel's most high-profile (though the lack of Thor is sort of glaring). The villains... well, Magneto was all over the X-Men cartoon that was rocking the Hell out of Saturday mornings around the time this game came out, where Juggernaut had also made a few appearances. Blackheart was weirdly in vogue, fighting Daredevil, Spider-Man, Wolverine and the then-hot Punisher and Ghost Rider before becoming an X-Force villain, of all things. Shuma-Gorath, though, had something like eight on-panel appearances ever before showing up here in the dead wrong color.

Seriously. Cat's green, not purple.

See? They palette-swapped him, for some reason. Those wacky Japanese, getting the color scheme of a ridiculously obscure tentacle monster wrong. You'd think that'd be right in their stereotyped collective wheelhouse.

How do you sit down to come up with a list of ten Marvel characters to throw into a fighting game and even think of Shuma-freaking-Gorath? If you said to me "name four villains to put in a Marvel-based 2D fighter," I'd say "Dr Doom, Ultron, Bullseye and the Super-Skrull." Of course, I don't think I'd say "Shuma-Gorath" if I was playing Scategories and had to come up with an octopus trapped in a mountain by Crom with a name that started with "S," so there's that working against him, too.

Anyway, I couldn't tell you if he's a good pick for that game, and there's a good reason for it: I suck at Marvel Super Heroes. I don't know why, but I can't hit any moves in it worth a damn and the fact that I can just as easily play the far superior Marvel Super Heroes Vs Street Fighter means that most of the pictures here will come from the latter.Here we see Shuma attempting to use himself as a taser while fighting Ken, a blond white guy who only speaks Japanese. Or he's just seen a beautiful woman while being directed by Tex Avery, your choice.Now he's using his giant eye as an acetylene torch, which Cyclops does not like one bit. No sir, not one bit. With no quarter asked for, none will be given. Cyclops will strike back with the focused totality of his powers. Welcome to the MEGA OPTIC BLAST, Shuma-Gorath! HOPE YOU SURVIVE THE EXPERIENCE.Like all the X-Men, Cyclops responds to anger with irrational violence, choosing to turn the other cheek right off his enemy's face with optic blasts taller than he is. (Cyclops, by the way, follows up his victories by tossing his visor away, putting on red shades and yelling "I DID IT!" Cyclops rules.)

We'll let Shuma-Gorath get the last word. It's his right, after all, as a giant tentacle monster who ruled the world prior to the First Celestial Host.Damn right.

Friday, April 21, 2006

On the importance of proper speech bubble arrow placement:

Sure, it's a little thing, but when you screw speech bubble arrow placement up, it sure is weird.You know what makes me want to buy comics on DVD-ROM? Captain America and his Amazing Talking Elbows.
I'm assuming that the Wasp is using a hand puppet to implore that the male Avengers save her a copy. Cap's right elbow picked up Stan Lee's love of the triple exclamation point, whereas Lefty is more reserved and focused.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

You've started to believe the things they say of you, you really do believe this talk of This Week's Review-hoos

Daredevil #82-84: I honestly love Daredevil, but I haven't read the book in like five or six years. Did I miss anything?

Pretty much got these because Gotham Central was really, really great when Lark and Brubaker were on the book, and the whole Matt Murdock's In Jail! idea interested me. The actual Daredevil doesn't appear at all, but a fill-in's running around Hell's Kitchen conspicuously fighting crime in an effort to toss reasonable doubt on the government's case that Matt Murdock is the man without fear. Bad things happen to Foggy Nelson, Ben Urich and Dakota North play detective, and Matt Murdock beats the living Hell out of a bunch of convicts. In spite of probably a half-dozen established supervillain prisons in the Marvel universe (I'm pretty sure the Raft's still open, in spite of the Sauron-led breakout that created the New Avengers. I'm pretty sure the Vault's still open, in spite of... Hell, the Answer once broke Dr Octopus out of there. I'm pretty sure The Big House is still open, in spite of half the Marvel universe riding out on She-Hulk. I'm pretty sure Reed Richards opened a prison in the Negative Zone... eh, you get it), Daredevil's in Ryker's Island, which somehow houses the Owl, the Black Tarantula, Hammerhead, Kingpin and freaking Bullseye in General Population. It's a bit of a stretch, but it makes for a good story.

(By the way, if #82's sold out where you are, the shop near me seems to have grievously over-ordered it. So if you need a two-month old comic and you're in the bottom-right corner of Connecticut, there're more than enough copies to go around, from the look of things.)

Robin #149: Another C-list Batman villain's been whacked, but it doesn't seem to be related to the murders in Batman and Detective, and it's a character of a much more recent vintage than Ventriloquist or freaking Magpie. Pretty soon, they'll be down to the gaggle of willfully lame villains Willingham populated this book with a few months ago, and I'll shed a single, manly tear at the passing of Tapeworm.

Karl Kerschel's off the book, replaced by Freddie Williams II, who handles things capably. The solicits for the next couple months make it sound like Beechen's got some good ideas for this book. Maybe he'll show Tim Drake learning advanced freaking genetics and cloning in a high school. They probably teach things like "How To Build a Cave in Geologically Unstable Environments" in tech ed.

Birds of Prey #93: Black Canary's still off learning extra martial arts from Lady Shiva's teacher and the remaining Birds are dealing with the fallout from Crime Doctor's defection from the Society. Gypsy looks unsettlingly like Huntress sans mask; luckily, they don't share panel time. Next month, we get Prometheus. I feel like Simone'll handle the character in such a way that he could live up the potential shown in his first couple appearances. Here's hoping, anyway. Snappy read.

Ex Machina Special #1 (of 2): Yeah, it's pretty much just this month's issue of Ex Machina, but Tony Harris didn't draw it, and therefore it is special. Chris Sprouse turns in some great stuff in a flashback that finally shows us Mitch Hundred's archenemy, Jack Pherson. Pherson's got Hundred's power, more or less, except that he can talk to animals where Mitch talks to machines. The blurb for next month calls him "all-powerful," which is overstating things a bit, but it's still a pretty powerful... uhm... power, when you think about it.

Nextwave #4: The Captain (who looks unsettlingly like a guy I went to school with) got his powers from space aliens he thought were leprechauns and the team fights a Gundam. Still funny, but I kind of miss Dirk Anger.

Machiavelli: Original Gangsta

Not only is this posed like he's in the background of a wide shot in a rap video, he's totally flashing the West Side handjive. And I think that red doo-rag means that any Crips on his turf had best protect their necks.

(Found by my sister. She demanded credit.)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Avengers #320: Any Avengers story with the word "Crossing" in it makes me nervous

Politics in comics are the best. The entire Marvel Universe Cold War is painted with strokes broad enough to land a jet on, with nuclear weapons serving as little more than MacGuffins and superheroes being the real arms race. Good ol' American know-how netted us Captain America, while those godless Reds, off shivering in an igloo made of crime in Moscow, could merely play copycat and dummy up a Red Guardian. The American melting pot meant that the Avengers could boast the membership of Eternals and all manner of white people and extremely white robots, while the People's Protectorate could only hire out... well, Slavic gods and extremely white robots, but who's quibbling?

Which brings us to Avengers #320, cover titled "The Crossing Line (Part 2 of 6). " Apparently, Fabian Nicieza had just seen The Hunt for Red October, because this story's about a stolen submarine. Sure, it's a British sub, but the fact that this is cover dated the same summer that the movie came out makes it real easy to jump to conclusions. A Russian terrorist group calling themselves "The Peace Corpse" (much like Brother Eye's "Eye for an I" verbal tic, I have no idea how people would know they were making a pun when they said their name aloud) (hah hah, it's apparently because I've spent the last 23 years mispronouncing "Corps. Silly Jon) stole the boat the issue prior, leading to an underwater Avengers/ People's Protectorate fight that ended with the interference of those damned Atlanteans.

Your Avengers lineup this month consists of the all-white, almost-naked emotionless variant of the Vision, the incredibly boring Eternal Sersi, the still-mulleted Quasar, Captain America and, oh my God, Stingray.

More on him in a second.

In the Red corner, the People's Protectorate is made up of Captain America's fin-headed Bizarro, the Red Guardian, the robotic Vostok, the... I don't know, dark haired Fantasma (I'll presume she has some kind of illusion-casting powers. She doesn't get a line this issue), the whiny Crimson Dynamo and the Slavic god of Thor rip offs, Perun.

We open on the assembled cast helpfully recapping the last couple pages of last issue. Perun, unable to breath underwater, figures the quickest way out of this pickle is to beat the Hell out of the army of fishmen besieging them, and drops the ax on the lead-off Atlantean.

Now that I think about it, how weird is it that a Communist super team has a god of any kind on it? They're not supposed to believe in god. Perun's mere presence undermines one of the basic tenets of Communism.

'Course, so do super powers, which kinda throw that whole "everyone is equal" thing out the window.

Anyway, with that, the fight begins in earnest. Crimson Dynamo drops some violent hypocrisy on an Atlantean, laser-beaming him while talking about how he'd rather chat than fight.

Vision squares off against Orka, a gigantic, oddly blue and white instead of black and white whaleman wearing a belt to hold up his swimsuit. Vision, predictably, starts talking about his powers.

Can you imagine how annoying it'd be to hang around that guy for, like, a weekend? I can't think of a character that describes their powers out loud more often. "Vision, could you pick up my dry cleaning?" "I have complete control of my molecular density, Captain. I could 'pick up' the moon. Retrieving your garments will be a comparatively simple matter for my synthetic brain." "...yeah, any time after three."

Here, he takes a crack at the always-entertaining Phasing His Arm Into A Guy's Chest And Partially Solidifying It Around Their Heart trick, which is always accompanied by Vision explaining said trick. The Avengers have always been cool with Vision mucking about in circulatory systems, but I'm sure their legal team has nightmares about the off chance of him jamming an arm into a guy with an arrhythmia or a pacemaker or something. How has he not accidentally killed somebody yet?

This time around, Vision's limited reach coupled with Orka's size means that the heart is out of reach, prompting Viz to say, and I quote, "?" Orka's eventually stopped with the aid of the machinery-controlling Vostock, and the battle rages on.

We segue into the stolen submarine, wherein we meet our terrorists. Generic purple Luthor jumpsuits: Check. Angry, evil facial hair: Check. Brackets around text, indicating foreign language (for some reason. That's a convention I've always accepted and have no idea where I learned it): Check. Absurdly stereotyped British tagalong: Check.

Well, they're certainly a '90s comic book terrorist group. Moving on.

If I've learned anything from comic books, it's that submarine torpedo tubes are like revolving doors. Seriously, if you ever need to get aboard a submerged sub, there's apparently nothing stopping you from crawling through one. Certainly no torpedoes in your way. Or anything to keep the water out. Or anyone manning the torpedo rooms. Oh, and there's definitely a way to open the tube doors from the inside. You know, so the torpedo can get back into the sub if it gets nervous. But who cares, it's Stingray!

Stingray is awesome on a purely visual basis. I know nothing about him other than the stuff he says in this issue: 1) He is an oceanographer. 2) He works somewhere called "O.M.I.T," an acronym literally screaming for a note that says, say, "Ocean Mapping Information Team" or something. 3) He knows full well that he's a B-lister or worse. It's nice to hear that from an actual B-lister. I hate it when Spider-Man does it, like those odd occasions where Galactus shows up and he'll be sitting on a rooftop with Daredevil and all I can think is "pussy. You're super strong, you big whiner." 4) His costume freaking rules.

But back to the fight. Quasar and Perun mop up the remaining Atlanteans, who turn tail and retreat. The two teams return to their respective Dr Claw submarines-that-are-also-planes to plot their capture of the stolen sub.

Perun's sort of like if Thor and Hercules had a kid. He's got Thor's lightning powers, but his overwrought dialog lacks the Thunder God's trademark panache, knocking him down to the level of the His Lameness Is Pretty Funny Hercules. The Crimson Dynamo, though, he must be no fun at parties.

"Hey, CD, want a beer?" "One does not drink beer. One survives it."

Cap gets a call from Stingray, letting him know that the sub's surfaced off Newfoundland, and the two teams agree to head there together, leaving the Atlanteans to stew and plot a crappy summer crossover.

From a hilltop, the teams look on as the terrorists hold the sub's crew and Stingray hostage. They threaten to kill a man every five minutes until their demands are met. Cap refuses to negotiate until the sub's nukes are disarmed and the hostages are freed, which would obviously put the terrorists in a rather untenable position. Cap's all about the sanctity of human life unless you're a Commie. I'm surprised he didn't ask Sersi if there was some way she could transmute them into God-fearing capitalists or maybe apple pies and baseballs. However, I do rather like the artificial restrictions put on Sersi's powers. Sure, she can transmute all matter through the use of vaguely-defined magic or something, but only within a certain maximum range. Makes perfect sense.

Lacking the ability take out the terrorists at range (even though they've got a guy that can throw lightning bolts, a guy that can do basically anything Green Lantern can, and a robot that could presumably just ask the nukes to disarm), the teams seem to think they're at an impasse. Vostok points out that as long as the sub's surfaced, they can't launch nukes anyway, and they'd run out of hostages in about five hours. If they just, you know, chill for a while, they'd leave the terrorists in a defenseless position. This, of course, pisses off Cap, who rejects the terrorists offer of killing lots of people.Now that's how you negotiate.
Cap is unmoved, since he's been in comics long enough to know that there's no way Stingray could be killed by a villain that lame. B-listers can only be killed by B-listers or better. And there's also the utter lack of an exit wound to consider.

Red Guardian, furious that a man wearing a costume with a color scheme that'd fit so well in a Soviet-themed team is in peril, decides to forgo negotiations and just beat the Hell out of Captain Yakov Smirnoff and his Legion of Needless Extra Belts, which seems to me to be the most logical plan they've thrown out yet.

Before he can lead his team into some throughly necessary punching, everyone is interrupted by an off-panel voice announcing the arrival of the only thing that could make this model UN meeting a little bit lamer.

Yeah, that's right. They're in Canada. Canada may be huge, but Alpha Flight's always no more than a couple pages away from any fight there. Ever. You can't even jaywalk in Saskatchewan without the whole team showing up and kicking your ass. That there's a lineup to inspire fear. Box, Vindicator, Shaman, Diamond Lil and Puck. I bet those terrorists are just tossing their guns into the ocean in fear of Puck's midget gymnastic skills and Shaman's magic powders. God, Diamond Lil couldn't even be bothered to put on her costume, here. Way to be a professional.

Anyway, this goes on for four more issues. One assumes Stingray got out of it okay.

Friday, April 14, 2006

This Week's Reviews may not be Ms Right; she'll do right now

Captain Atom: Armageddon #7 (of 9): Does anybody remember when some members of the Authority were actually averse to killing things as a solution to a problem? Jack Hawksmoor had a solo Stormwatch story (probably his third or so appearance ever, actually) where he killed a guy and it moved him to freaking tears. Swift negotiated with the civilization living inside of God at the tail end of Ellis's run instead of lighting them up with the Carrier's weapons systems because she didn't like how much her and Jack had been forced to change since they joined Stormwatch Black. They killed clones and invaders from parallel earths, sure, but until Millar took over the book, they didn't all seem to take such baffling pleasure in it. Now, beating things to death is the team's go-to strategy and defining personality trait.

Anyway, the Engineer's fix of the vaguely-defined explosive McGuffin inside Cap last issue apparently didn't take, so she tries to fix things with punching and lasers. Grifter gets involved, because he's the WildStorm universe's Wolverine. Or maybe Gambit. Fight fight fight, Authority angry, Midnighter and Apollo V. Cap next month. Whee. And then another issue after that. Maybe he'll fight Gen 13. Or DV8! Or Tao!

The Battle For DökkenBlüdhaven #1 (of 6): It's One Year Later and Blüdhaven's a veritable No Man's Land after suffering a devastating Cataclysm. It's still irradiated after the Chemo-whammy the Society dropped on it, which makes me wonder why nobody's called in, like, the Ray or Firestorm or Swamp Thing or a Green Lantern (Hell, Kyle and Kilowog restarted life on Thanagar about six months ago, it's got to be within the Ring's powers to absorb radiation) to detox the place. In theory, I guess, it makes for a better story. There're walls around the city, keeping those who'd want to move back in out (someone should just tell them to move to Central City, there's more than enough room for refugees there), but doing a crappy job of preventing the Society from sending delightfully themed gangs of C-listers in to try to rescue a glowing green fetus situation. The group they send in this time is called "The Nuclear Legion" and features six radiation-themed villains, none of whom are the Atomic Skull. Sad face.

Defending the city for the government are three of the five members of the Force of July (replacements for the dead originals, and now calling themselves "Freedom's Ring" because, presumably, they lost a bet) and a to-my-knowledge new version of a Forgotten Hero. There's also a new Firebrand, a transparent set-up for a new Human Bomb, and a character I can only presume is Uncle Sam with an even lamer codename. Get ready for a new team of Freedom Fighters before this one's out, folks.

And the Golem shows up, which is a freaking head-scratcher until you remember that Palmiotti and Gray wrote his book, too.

Ultimate X-Men #69: I have no idea how I missed the last issue. It's in a pull box, somewhere, maybe. Anyway, Lilandra wants to examine Jean Grey to see if she's the Phoenix because she runs a cult that worships said bird-shaped plot point. In return, she'll fund the X-Men, which is good, because Xavier's recently lost government support and no longer has cashflow from the Hellfire Club coming in. There's also a probably-evil new mutant with reality-altering powers hanging about the mansion. And Colossus goes on a date with Northstar.

The scene on the cover, like virtually every issue of the series, has absolutely nothing to do with the content. They should throw, like, a mid-seventies Daredevil cover with Ultimate X-Men trade copy on it out there some month and see if it in any way affects sales.

Or, say, a '90s Avengers issue.

Yeah, that cover actually has about as much to do with the issue as the one they went with. Vision's been punched so hard, he's obscuring the UPC! HOW WILL THEY RING YOU UP NOW, TRUE BELIEVER?

Boy, am I ever glad I learned how to make stupid things in Photoshop.

Ultimate Extinction #4 (of 5): You know, I'd really have liked this Ultimate Galactus thing if it was just this book. I mean, the other two minis were just inconsequential in light of this one. Things happen in this one. I'm probably in the minority on this, but I really wish Ellis was still on Ultimate Fantastic Four.

Superman #651: Still very, very good. Woods is still great, Luthor's still mysteriously working in the sewers Gene Hackman- style, Toyman is still pretty much the version of Toyman from the cartoon. There're three great Superman books on the shelves at the same time, and I can't recall a point in my life where that's ever been the case.

Planetary #25: As always, more than worth the wait.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Off-topic but cool

Spell with Flickr, found via Lifehacker. You give it words, it finds pictures of letters. It's like making a crazy ransom note. opposed to a sane, rational ransom note, I guess.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Favorite Villains: The best teacher is Taskmaster. Experience is just cocky.

Supervillains almost universally require some degree of a goon squad (most of them don't have enough hands to carry all the loot, operate the ridiculous science equipment, point dramatically and speechify), and those goons had to have come from somewhere. Taskmaster runs a goon finishing school, training young, impressionable thugs in the way of polished goondom, arming them with the knowledge necessary to get their asses kicked by Captain America while wearing the same outfit as five thousand other Hydra agents or AIM bucketheads.

That alone makes him a perennial favorite. There's also the fact that his power is fantastic: photographic reflexes, allowing him to imitate anything he sees. He can chuck a shield like Cap, throw those stupid billy clubs around like Daredevil, duel like the Swordsman, juggle like the Death-Throws, hold a giant stick up his ass like Cyclops, go largely forgotten by Marvel editorial for years at a clip like everybody in the New Universe and cook like Iron Chef French. The only reason he loses fights is because he's got a bad habit of pissing off all the Avengers at once, and all the wacky martial arts hijinks in the world ain't trumping Mjolnir.

Plus, his original costume looks like D&D fan art. He somehow looks cool even though his outfit's just a bunch of random crap thrown together. That goes a long way towards making him rule, for some reason.

Friday, April 07, 2006

For Kelvin:

I hate Geoff Johns - Google Search

Facedown in the Gutters: Google's go-to site for Geoff Johns Haterade.

Favorite Villains: There's High-Concept and Then There's This

I'm really not sure how good I've got it because I've never been to an alternate universe where all my friends are evil. I'm reasonably sure I'm an alright enough guy, but I won't be sure until I see a version of me with a goatee stomping on kittens or something for the sake of comparison. Superheroes run into that sort of thing all the damn time, and I always love it, because were it not for the alternate universe, would've never have gotten the highest-concept high-concept villain of all time:


Sure, he's got, like, three appearances lifetime. Sure, he dates from the period where Carter Hall was wearing fingerless gloves like he was Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club. Sure, he only exists in a dream universe created by Dr Destiny, a villain who actually puts the 'D' in 'D-list.' But he succeeded where a thousand DC villains have inexplicably failed for sixty years: He killed Ollie Queen.

I love the idea of Green Arrow. I mean, wee little Robin Hood hat, ridiculous beard, wholly inappropriate weaponry considering his foes, it's a solid package. But the guy's just such a damn whiner that when AlternaCarter finally reached the end of his rope and Power Ringed the skin right off of Ollie's obnoxious skeleton, Hawkman With a Yellow Power Ring became one of my all-time favorite villains.

(Apologies to Darryl Banks on that picture, by the way.)

Thursday, April 06, 2006

So now I have read Infinite Crisis #6...

And this totally doesn't happen:I took "used [the Plot Point Memory Crystal] against his duplicate" to mean "Superboy stabbed the bejeezus out of Superboy Prime with it." Maybe Lex meant that Conner used it as bad-guy-finding radar, which was the case, but I was picturing something much more dramatic. Actually, that's pretty descriptive of all of Infinite Crisis: me picturing something more dramatic than what actually ends up happening.

I do have a five dollar bet with myself that we'll see, somewhere down the line, another version of the Conner/Clark Prime fight where Conner does use the crystal as a knife, like how Speedy's blue arrow was used in Teen Titans but not in the same sequence in Infinite Crisis.

This is because I am a cynic.

This Week's Reviews dumma dee dumma dah, whack for the daddy ol', whack for the daddy ol', there's whiskey in the jar

I was actually talked out of getting the OMAC Project one-shot. I was told it was in no way worth five bucks to see an expanded version of a sequence from Infinite Crisis #6 plus a setup for the new Checkmate book. Was the shop boy wrong? You tell me.

Anyway, spoilers from here on out. You've been warned.

Infinite Crisis #6: Well, that certainly doesn't leave too terribly much for the seventh issue now, does it? Anyway, Batman's little team from the last issue ends up making way more sense than I thought it would (certainly seemed like he brought way too many guys who were utterly incapable of functioning in space for a space mission), and I like his reasoning for inviting Green Arrow, especially in light of the immensely craptastic last arc on JLA. Mr Terrific's sole super power comes into play for pretty much the first significant time ever, leading me to believe that Johns may have actually given him the ability to be invisible to technology five or six years ago just for the payoff here. Maybe I'm putting too much faith in him, I don't know.

Swamp Thing's hand pops up, as does Klarion the Witch Boy, Stanley, His Monster, and like half the Tangent Universe (and I find it intensely sad that I can look at that single panel and think "there's a coloring error on Tangent Spectre").

I can't say too much for Johns, but I can say with confidence that he's made Black Adam into a total badass. Martian Manhunter finally gets some props in the midst of a crisis, which almost never happens. The sidekicks put on a good show against the Big Bads while two-thirds of the Big Three are chatting up Earth-2 Superman and Batman is fighting a satellite with a whole bunch of annoying verbal ticks. I have no idea if anyone listening would know if I started pronouncing "I" "Eye," but if I told them I was doing it, I bet they'd hit me. Though I might start ranking people by relative threat levels out loud. I feel like people should know if they're more or less of a threat than Green Arrow.

And Pete Woods wasn't screwing with me.

Still, four credited pencillers and ten inkers, here. It doesn't really look disjointed, or anything, but damn if that's not a lot of cooks on the broth. Hell, the aforementioned Woods is drawing two Superman books a month, why's it take fourteen people to pull off this one?

Teen Titans #34: Marvin and Wendy? Bad Johns. Bad. No dessert. Bed without dinner. Kid Flash is "retired," Speedy's on an island with Connor Hawke, Beast Boy's in the Doom Patrol, Starfire's lost in space Doctor Smith style, Raven quit and Wonder Girl is off fighting evil on her own since everyone else bailed on her during the 52-year. Robin's been waiting on Cyborg to wake up from a coma or something, so he's assembled probably the lamest Titans lineup since the one Superboy Prime punched the heads off of. Ravager, Blue Devil's kid sidekick (turned into a demon, I guess, back when Baron Blood was screwing with death a couple months back) and Marvin and Wendy, who've been rebuilding Vic for a year now. Because they are clever.

Also, a new Zatara pops up because Johns is apparently trying to shoehorn as much Kingdom Come- related stuff into continuity as possible, we learn that the most recent version of Aquagirl is still alive, and Hawk and Dove still have powers, Day of Vengeance be damned.

Wonder Girl's new costume sucks, by the way.

Oh, and one more thing: Robin has his own cave (in San Fransisco, which strikes me as a pretty dumb place to put an underground anything, thinking seismically) where he's trying to re-clone Superboy. I dunno, he's a smart kid, but it reminds me of that JLA issue where the dissolved League got a new computer from Aquaman. Just seems out of his element, you know? And why wouldn't you just take a crack at cloning Superboy from the pile of Superboy genetic material left from him getting beaten to death? Why go to the trouble of actually using Luthor/Supes genes when somebody already pulled it off? Eh, whatever.

Young Avengers #11: I caught up with the issues I missed on a slow week last month, and I've gotta say I probably like this book more than Runaways, lately. I like references to old Marvel continuity, especially when they go to the trouble of explaining stuff as opposed to doing a sort of wink-wink-fuck-you-if-you-don't-get-it. Also, my boy Super-Skrull plays a key role.

Detective #818: Batman's rogue's gallery is getting cleaned out by somebody with a double-barreled pistol and, as one would imagine from the title and the cover, the supposedly reformed Two-Face is a prime suspect. The back up story's great, with Batman and a naked Jason Bard, and actually has Bats admitting a weakness (he can't really operate during the day and stuff happens then, too), which I don't think he's done since Zero Hour.

Marvel Team-Up #19: Corey Walker's been looking at a ton of Mike Mignola, and it's awesome. Just as good as it always is, which is better than almost everything else.

Haven't read Infinite Crisis #6 yet...

But I did get a copy of Action #837 the other day, and this panel leads me to believe that things do not bode well for Superboy:People only leave stuff behind on memorials. Nothing's on Superman's side of the statue, so I guess while people know he's gone, they know he's alive. Or they just don't take his possible perceived death seriously since they've seen it happen before.

Or Pete Woods is screwing with me. Which is equally likely.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

ROM #68: There's a reason this book isn't called "ROM: Space Diplomat"

After Rom killed off all the Wraiths on earth* (*Rom #66! Jaunty Jim Shooter!), he had nothing better to do than wander about Steve Ditko's increasingly weird vision of space, full of multi-ringed planets and weird-colored splotches. At the beginning of this issue, he runs into a gang of humans riding Scooty-Puff, Jrs (apparently, they're ready for Safe Fun and possibly blowing up Infospheres). Since Rom's life is a never-ending series of excuses for him to philosophize while being shot at, they start shooting at him and he starts philosophizing.

Eventually, Rom is brought aboard the human's mothership, where he meets an old woman that you'd think was an old man were it not for the breasts and pronoun use. She explains to Rom that they come from a planet that was taken over by machines, forcing humanity off-world. Even their ship is mouthy and rebellious, though the chaps on the death-scooters seemed to have them pretty well whipped. They're cool with Rom because, in spite of his toaster-headed appearance, he's half-human, in case you were wondering.I like the ship. He's easily the coolest character in the whole story, all mouthy and insolent. I can totally relate to the ship; I wouldn't want to help a scary old broad dressed as Dracula living inside me, either.

Anyway, prior to the robot Bolshevik revolution, the world in question was "so like paradise that the loss of it makes [Lady Dracula] weep," but they had a problem with overpopulation. To ease the strain all the extra people would have on the world, it was decided that they'd embark on a mission of colonization. However, in a logical leap I can't make heads or tails of, they decide that, in spite of the current surplus of people, space exploration is too dangerous for manned crews. So they build a robot to do the job for them. An intelligent robot. Evidently, they'd never developed the necessary science fiction to let them know that this couldn't possibly end well.

One montage later and the eerily phallic robot is born.Automata heads off into space, only to one day cease transmitting. He's presumed destroyed by all but one scientist, the Jor-El-style doomsayer who told everyone about the dangers of overcrowding. Not wanting to cause more trouble, he decides to keep his thoughts that perhaps the robot simply quit its job to himself.

Automata ends up returning with a matching fleet built in his own image, and they proceed to laser beam the crap out of the population. See, he decided he needed a whole planet on which to build his race, and that the humans would just get in the way.

Lady Dracula tries to talk Rom into killing off all the machines for her, but Rom's in no mood to fight another war. Instead, he heads down to the planet to talk to the robot in charge in hopes of reaching a compromise. His initial efforts to talk to the robot troops are interrupted by another wing of Scooty-Puffs, and a fight breaks out. There's also the fact that Rom's translator looks like a freaking gun, which never helps.

After breaking up the skirmish, Rom makes it to the planet's surface and faces a now much larger Automata.The robot tells Rom there's no way his race and the humans can coexist, and Rom hits him back with some Spaceknight knowledge:Rom's message falls on deaf ears, because as he says "before the final die is cast," the humans attack. Watch what happens next!To put this in perspective, this is like if Theodore Roosevelt's intervention in the Russo-Japanese War ended not with a Nobel Peace Prize, but with Japan sinking into the Pacific while all of Russia exploded. Rom negotiated the end of the world.

Way to go, Greatest of the Spaceknights.

May as well finish the song...