Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Shock follows shock!

I'm headed to a wedding in the grim northlands of Upstate New York tomorrow, and I have only the vaguest idea as to when I'll be back. So head over to The World's an Odd Place, where I've put up a Best Of situation to tide people over until my dramatic return.

Oh, and since I like to leave an audience thoroughly boggled...

I dare you to make less sense.

Monday, August 28, 2006

God, making a favicon was more of a runaround than I was expecting.

But now my site's branded like a mid-eighties Marvel comic. So hooray.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

This probably won't even be the most ridiculous thing I do today.

From the comments on the last post:

Oh...completely off-topic post, but when I just looked at your "new" header (with the ROM: Spaceknight "villain" being blown away by the Neutralizer...)...
I couldn't help but think it would be cool to have that figure reclining in the chair in that old (TDK? SONY? Memorex?) ad with the guy sitting in his chair being blown away by the sound.'s a link to the pic.

Now make with the photoshop before I have to do it.


Now you can never say I haven't done anything for you.

It's a Maxell ad, by the way. And he's listening to "Suicide is Painless" by Johnny Mandel, if you're curious.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I get the feeling Cap isn't a hundred percent behind this one.

How much does it look like Cap started celebrating before Thor finished his sentence? "Alright! The Avengers are invading the hallowed halls of - better dramatically thrust my shield in the air before he says 'the bar' or 'the laundromat' - wait - did he say 'Olympus'? Oh, come on! Maybe Thor can go beat up Jesus or whoever, but I was raised religious!"

That or he just had a stroke. Whichever.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Defenders #11: The Defenders vs The Crusades

Say you've just finished a six-issue summer-long crossover between Marvel's two biggest team books. The Avengers and Defenders have been at war for months, with both teams searching for six chunks of a MacGuffin from an old Fantastic Four issue thanks to the deceit of the Dread Dormammu and the... uhm, extra deceit of Loki. With that over and done with, what the Hell do you do next? You just had Thor fighting the Hulk for twenty pages, how do you top that? You're writing a team consisting of three of the most comically overpowered characters in the history of the Marvel Universe (not to mention Namor, Valkyrie and Hawkeye), what threat could you possibly throw at them?

Well, I guess you could send them back in time and put them in the middle of the Crusades. Sure, that sounds about right. Okay, now pretend that you're totally insane and figure that even whole armies aren't enough of threat - they're too mundane for such as Strange to deal with. Say you're Steve Englehart for a minute - what's the biggest threat you can think of?

If it wasn't a giant gnome, then you weren't roll-playing as Steve Englehart well enough.

Of course, you're then left in a quandary: what tops a giant gnome?

More giant gnomes. Duh.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Avengers #109: Hawkeye vs The Dumbest Plan of All Time

If there's anything Marvel villains love more than referring to themselves in the third person, it's ridiculously circuitous means to an end. Like Murder, She Wrote killers, they can't resort to just shooting a guy. No, they have to go back in time and poison their quarry's ancestor, killing him before he can knock up Reed Richard's great-great grandmother, thus removing their enemy from history -- BODY AND SOUL. But they can't do that without stopping by the Baxter Building beforehand and leaving a cryptic note explaining their intentions, because there's no honor in a sneak attack.

Which brings us to Champion. We're introduced to him as he stops a flight departing Los Angeles - not by mundanely having a panic attack or anything, but by leaping out of his limo and grabbing the plane's landing gear. It's okay, we're told, as he owns the airline. See what I mean about ridiculous circuitousness? He could've just called and been like "hey, hold flight 784 to New York" and his underlings would've been all "hold it how high, sir?" because he only employs those with unwavering loyalty to the Champion name, but he had to do it all dramatically. Also, he is wearing a cape. Just in case you weren't sure how committed he was to being dramatic, he put on a cape for the ride to the airport.

Meanwhile, the Avengers have just returned from a particularly ridiculous adventure involving the Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper, potential body-swapping and partial amnesia* (*a comical condensation of our last four instant-classic issues! --Rascally Roy). Vision and Scarlet Witch have finally declared their love for each other after, like, three and half years of the slowest-burning subplot in Avengers history. Quicksilver's been missing since a battle with mutant Sentinels from the sun like five issues prior. Oh, and Hawkeye's been dressed like a cocktail waitress for the better part of a year.

You know the one - mini skirt, blouse cut down to the navel, headband, protomullet? That thing wouldn't look good with boobs involved, and I'm of the opinion that boobs improve a good many things.

It turns out that Hawkeye's been in love with Scarlet Witch for a while (revealed in probably the single greatest two panels of Roy Thomas' run on the book:That is subtlety) so he freaks out, throws on his original, far better costume, and heads out into the city... to brood. This leads to maybe the best soliloquy Hawkeye's internal monologue has ever provided: "I dunno, man... what do I do now? I guess I really didn't love Wanda -- but it's so freakin' hard to lose again! I got kissed off by the Black Widow three times -- first to the Commies, then SHIELD, and now Daredevil... Witchie won't give me a tumble... I mean, what's wrong with me? I've got looks, I'm fun to talk to... why can't I get it on??" Aw, Clint, we've all been there. I've lost more girls than I'd care to mention to Communism and international spy organizations and blind superheroes dressed as Satan.

He decides to go to the park in an effort to get mugged - I swear to God - but runs into Champion. The giant - he's nine feet tall, by the way, I somehow left that out - then offers the archer a gig.Charity? How the Hell does Hawkeye usually make money? Avengers stipend? He went like a hundred issues without even having a civilian ID, here. The guy is circus folk, it's not like he's got a trust fund. If any Avenger could use the money, it's him. Or D-Man.

But I digress. Champion brings Hawkeye to his California retreat and villainously sends the Avengers a forged letter in Clint's name telling the team he's okay. So as to prevent the Avengers from snooping around a place they don't know exists and wouldn't have known anything about at all had he not sent a letter from there. Anyway, Hawkeye imparts all his archery knowledge over the course of a two-panel montage, and Champion decides to play his hand.Yes, in case cape-wearing, plane-stopping and letter-forging hadn't tipped you off, the costume cements the sneaking suspicion I had that this guy just might be a supervillain.

Alright, here's Champion's dilemma: There's a sunken ship, see, and it's got some World War 2-vintage nerve gas aboard, and Champ wants it. The problem is that it lies eleven-point-four miles off the Californian coast, which puts it in American waters by a mere point-six miles. Champion can't get to the gas without the Coast Guard interfering, and so... well, say you were a supervillain, what would you do?

A) Build a submarine shaped like something submarines aren't typically shaped like, say a giant snake or something, and mount a recovery operation underwater and thus literally beneath suspicion

B) Trick a superhero (or better yet, a team of superheroes) into recovering the ship for you, maybe by telling them that whatever was aboard couldn't be allowed to fall into the hands of some vague but threatening enemy, then seize it from them as soon as it's in their grasp, dramatically revealing your villainous intent

C) This:Yeah. He's going to sink California. Because that would technically put the boat he wants to salvage in international waters. He doesn't want to run afoul of the Coast Guard, but he's willing to risk picking a fight with the freaking Avengers. And how does archery factor into this scheme?Oh. Well, at least he admits that this is a hair over-the-top. The Avengers spring Clint at the last second, having realized that something was wrong thanks to the keen analytical mind of the Scarlet Witch:Keep in mind that, according to the narrator, the earlier training montage took "weeks." Wanda's seriously been pondering this mystery for that long. The best part of that panel, though, is Iron Man being a total dick. "Oh, of course the Vision's agreeing with her. She's totally doing him." It's like if Captain America asked how to mix a Bloody Mary and Iron Man answered "vodka, tomato sauce, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and a dash of lemon juice. Garnish with lime" without missing a beat and Thor was all "verily, it doth figure yon drunkard would know."

Anyway, Hawkeye manages to stop Champion by shooting the giant's bowstring as he fires off his California-destroying arrow, causing the missile to fly off-course. Thor immediately freaks out over how awesome a shot it was - it's one of those situations where I like to imagine Thor was thinking "ooh, yon purple-skirted archer doth fired an arrow. As if the Odinson could not have struck low yon giant with a bolt of divine thunder?" and decided to compensate for his innermost thoughts with outward complements in case his dad was watching and still on that whole "humility" kick - but Clint quits the team anyway. And Champion is never heard from again. Which is probably for the best.

Friday, August 18, 2006

It's morphin' time.

Must be a bitch looking for photo reference of Doctor Doom's armor. Proof? Ultimate Fantastic Four #32.Don't get used to that giant pointy thing on Doom's elbow; it only appears on this page and the next. The next time we see the guy, five or six pages later, he looks like this:He is now ready for rollerblading. Rollerblading safely. One page later, and Doom's rocking Kirby-style metal discs on his joints. He keeps those for two pages, before they apparently fall off beaten panels, leaving us with this:Kinda looks like he's wearing the elbow pads from a couple pages back again, but they're less well-defined.And now all the definition on the elbow's totally gone! Sweet!Hey, the lines came back again. How mysterious.

Elsewhere in this issue: the only plot twist is revealed on page two and then played as a surprise on page, like, twenty and Sue Storm apparently uses her powers to make the sleeves of her shirt disappear, functionally turning a long-sleeve blouse into a tank top. Or, I don't know, Greg Land traced two different girls in two different panels. Whichever. I'd rather get a No Prize than be a bastard, myself.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I want a robot

There is a robot that talks like the Master Control Program would if he were a Superfriend (and Superfriends were allowed to make dropping the soap jokes) on the new page of Inertia City Blues. I think it's fair to say I've lost my mind, at this point.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Pieface's Special Dream Journal

Because, like I've said before, I'm a sucker for a good meme.If somebody's beaten me to this one, I apologize.
The next logical one would have to be Tom's List of Good Names for Imaginary Friends.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Who Wants to Be a Superhero

I wanted to hate this show, but it's too Goddamned perfect to even try to describe. I'm almost certain Stan Lee's been doing this for years, quietly training superheroes in a rented warehouse, earnestly talking about how important it is to maintain a secret identity even, nay, especially when the hot girl at the café asks you your real name, but this is the first time he's allowed cameras to film the proceedings, letting the rest of us in on The Man's personal game.

Plus, Stan Lee has a tiny bust of himself on his desk. I'll watch anything with such an outstanding level of hubris, true believer.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Utterly Unnecessary Costume Redesign Theatre

I've always liked Ant Man. I don't know why - there always seemed to be about three size-changing guys on the Avengers lineup until recently, and that's probably two too many - but I liked the guy. Not as much as Yellowjacket, but that's based entirely on the straight-up radicalness of YJ's outfit.

Incidentally, my spell-check recognizes "radicalness" as a word but not "Yellowjacket." That says something about my computer, I think.

Anyway, prior to getting blown up by a zombified Jack of Hearts at the top of Avengers: Disassembled (I still can't believe they blew up Ant Man but left Lionheart alive. The only possible explanation for this is that Bendis didn't read Austen's run, much like everyone else on earth), Scott Lang wore at least two Ant Man suits: Hank Pym's original outfit and a new get-up designed by Oliver Copiel. You can't fault the original suit - that thing may as well say "Jack Kirby Drew Me" on the back, like some kind of really nerdy bowling shirt, and the second one has its charm, I guess. I like the segmented look, but the hat's downright creepy for such a genial guy.

There was one thing I never got about Scott Lang: the guy worked for Tony Stark for, like, ever and somehow never took advantage of it. Stark has hundreds of spare suits of armor lying around - he decorates with them, for God's sake. Helmets used as planters, chest pieces with sheets of plexiglass bolted on to make unbelievably tacky coffee tables, gloves serving as bookends. The guy never uses the stupid things for anything practical, like, say building a suit that could siphon off Jack of Heart's energy output in a way that doesn't end in him exploding. The man's got the most advanced technology in the world serving as his underoos and he can't reduce the Zero Room down to wearable size? Especially when he has an employee literally wearing a belt full of Pym Particles? Way to be a lateral thinker, Tony.

Let's say Tony Stark was feeling generous and decided to give Ant Man a new get-up and went all thematic with it - this is, after all, a man who made new crazy bugpants for Spider-Man.

I always found it weird that nobody ever gave Ant Man an extra set of arms. Spider-Man's had eight limbs a couple times, Doctor Octopus has his four tentacles; it just plays to the theme. As for the helmet, well, you know how the Pym Particles were in Scott's belt? That's kind of stupid. Seriously, they make a cloud around him, held in place by a magnetic field, for crying out loud, and he inhales them. I don't know about you, but I feel like I wouldn't want crazy shrinking gas anywhere near me - you don't want Thor getting dropped down to half-inch size because he happened to be breathing near Ant Man. I figured an astronaut helmet kinda situation would make a hair more sense, which was probably what Copiel was thinking with his redesign, but I threw a window around the mouth and nose so the character'd still look vaguely human.

Also, God help me, I love Jack Kirby zig-zag gloves. They make no sense whatsoever, unless superheroes are way more into double-sided tape than I thought, but damn if they aren't kind of sweet. So the robot arms get the full-on zigging and zagging while the people arms get some suggestive piping.

So whatta y'all think?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Rob Liefeld jokes are timeless

There is seriously nothing unawesome about that cover. Grunge, Fone Bone, Stupid Stupid Rat Creatures, Image logo containing the Cheshire Cat-like visage of Jim Lee - it's a bonanza.

The story's part two of Gen13's thirteenth-issue extravaganza. At the time, the book was so freakin' profitable that splitting one issue into three issues and charging a buck-thirty for each third was actually an alright idea; I think it ended up being thirty-three pages for three-ninety, which is only a minor-league screw job, really. Probably sold like hotcakes to kids with poor math skills. (I had decent math skills. I only own one-third of this thing. I didn't even know the set-up for the ridiculous plot until Chris Sims brought it up today, so this is all his fault. Blame him.)

Anyway, Grunge, a character whose name makes no sense to anyone born after, say, 1994, spends this anniversary issue hallucinating his way through meetings with various and sundry comic book characters with ties to Image. In 13B, he runs into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the beans from Beanworld, Spawn, Madman and Jim Lee in full-on Igor mode (he gives Grunge an x-shaped talisman that he'd gotten from "one of his old gigs" that helped make him the "man [he] [is] today").

After springing Fone Bone from the Stupid Stupid Rat Creatures, who had the poor little guy tied to a spit over a fire, Grunge makes his way out of Freelance Forest and into Image Town. Each Image studio is represented by a different building - Eric Larsen's Highbrow is a bar, where the Savage Dragon is bouncing Wonder Woman and the Hulk because they lack the necessary sense of humor to hang; Wildstorm is a castle; Top Cow is a deserted barn flooding the ground around it with spilled milk. If that doesn't make sense, remember that this is 1996.1996 was a golden age of brotherhood at Image Comics. Marc Silvestri and Rob Liefeld were having a spat with the end result being Top Cow buggering out of Image for a while. Liefeld then, depending on who you believe, either left of his own free will or was chased off by the other Image boys with torches and rake things. Once Rob was gone, Marc came back, but this issue was published at the point where the Top Cow/Image relationship was up in the air and Rob's future with the company wasn't looking particularly Awesome, if you catch my drift. Brandon Choi, you sly dog. Continuing on this incredibly subtle plot thread, Grunge runs into his next set of guest stars:That, my friends, is Goddamned beautiful. Look at their tiny little feet! Their clenched teeth! Their incredibly massive weapons! I know it's passé and clichéd other French words with weird little accents that I have to hit Alt and some numbers to type to make fun of Rob Liefeld, but come on - Black Frag? That's gold.

But, yeah, Roy Thomas used anniversary issues to have every character to ever be called an Avenger fight a Titan of Myth that had previously beaten the Gods of Olympus, Chris Claremont used them to shamelessly retcon Magneto into a vaguely likable character and/or have Magneto kill a submarine, Brandon Choi used them to write cheap shots at Rob Liefeld. And for that alone, there will always be a soft spot in my heart for Brandon Choi.

Finally, fun with the letter column:
Wow, way to answer the question. I guess anyone would crack after getting a million letters asking about Fairchild's rack or whether or not they could be the one to turn Rainmaker straight with their Cheeto-stained masculinity. How the Hell will Tammy Belka find out if anyone makes Wallace and Gromit t-shirts now?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Here's hoping I start a rumor.

Me: Heath Ledger is going to play the Joker.
Matt: yeah, i read that
Matt: i'm not sure how i feel about that
Me: Yeah, actually, neither am I.
Me: He might be good, I've never seen him play totally fucking crazypants before.
Matt: i'm sure he'll probably do a decent job and i can't really think of anyone to play joker off of the top of my head
Me: Crispin Glover.
Me: He's nuts anyway. Just dye his hair green.
Matt: yeah, i actually thought of that too but i think that might be a little too weird
Matt: he's definitely crazy but i don't know if he's the right kind of crazy
Me: Hah hah, I like that Crispin Glover is too crazy to play a guy that kills people with laughing gas.

Some time later, it was brought to my attention that Crispin Glover is a much better pick to play The Riddler. He's totally the right kind of crazy for that. C'mon, throw a domino mask and a bowler on this face and you've got Ed Nygma.

(Yeah, I actually use Comic Sans MS on AIM. I'm sorry. Every time I try to change it, it feels all wrong.)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Super-Soldier Serum is so awesome

Early on in Universe X, Captains Marvel and America find themselves in Limbo, having entered the realm through the giant Atlantean model of Dante's Inferno in the Savage Land so as to grab some Anti-Metal, native to the region.

Christ, there's a sentence you could only write as a comics blogger.

Anyway, our old buddy Rom had a gun that sent its targets to Limbo, so the two Caps are left fighting the bajillions of Dire Wraiths the Spaceknight had dispatched over his career. Just when things are looking... dire, a lone gunman dressed in rags busts out of nowhere to save their asses.

Cap's pretty cool with seeing some lunatic dressed as the Living Mummy using the chest of a guy who'd saved the world as a shield, isn't he? I feel like I'd freak out if a wild-haired beardo rushed me brandishing a ray gun and the torso of somebody I knew.

Well, that's because Captain America takes one look and decides the wild-haired beardo is, in fact, Rom. Now, I'll say a lot for the Super-Soldier Serum - it makes scrawny little white guys into strapping Nazi-punching machines, it's a convenient plot point in the Ultimate Universe and it lets you survive being frozen in the North Atlantic for an indeterminate amount of time. What I didn't know until I read this is that it grants you the power of recognizing the human form of a robot you met maybe twice over thirty years prior based, I guess, on super-hearing. And also super-copyright-awareness, since he went with "the Greatest of the Spaceknights" instead of just "Rom," a name Marvel is no longer willing to pony up the nine dollar likeness rights for.

I don't know what good shooting the Wraiths with the Neutralizer will do if they're already in Limbo; it strikes me as being about as useful as putting a bullet in a dead guy. I mean, it's not going to send them to extra Limbo, or anything. I also don't know how the Hell Rom got to Limbo - he'd ended up there before, but only because he'd been glocked with his own gun, so I will just blame Crazy Wraith Magic or perhaps Galactus. Or the Celestials. Yeah, that's the ticket.