Tuesday, January 31, 2006

On Giving In

This is it. This is the last one from me. I swear to all the gods of Asgard and Olympus. Really.*

Always remember:

(I was actually going to do a Hawkeye tribute, too, but forgot to bring my copy of Avengers: Disassembled, that I might scan the perfect image. You're not missing much.)

*Unless the darn thing's still active tomorrow, in which case, uhm... I might.

Monday, January 30, 2006

On Addictive Memes

Okay. One more, then I'm done. Maybe. (Sense of humor? What's a sense of humor?)

Always remember...

Image source
The Meme

Friday, January 27, 2006

On Bandwagon Jumping

Always Remember...


Image source
Update: More on that from Dorian.

and one more

Just doing my part to keep this meme going like everybody else.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

On 25 January, 2006...

Disclaimer: I am a newbie to the world of comic books, and don't have enough knowledge or experience to discourse intelligently about them, really. But practice does make perfect. Just don't take these as critical reviews -- just reactions. First impressions, mostly.

I'm including notes about where I read each, under what conditions. Environment affects mood, which in turn affects how you read something and what you get out of it as a result. Variables. It's the scientist in me.


ULTIMATE X4 #2 (of 2): Oh, the art. The Ultimate FF actually look their age in this. Rhona Burchill doesn't look as creepy as she ought to, but that's a small complaint. Getting a break from Greg Land is a treat in and of itself.

I'd say it was light-hearted for an Ultimate book, but since I only pull one of those right now, it's hard to know for sure. Worth a reread on its own first, then back-to-back with the first issue. If only for another dose of Ultimate Sue's attitude about Ultimate Kitty Pryde.

[First read to "Riverdance: Music From the Show" (Bill Whelan), hastily, during a guiltily-taken work break. Wednesday, in cube.]

SUPER REAL #1: It finally came! I'm not sure how many weeks I had to wait for this one, and I was actually about ready to give up on it. But it came, and it was well worth the wait. The tone of this book is perfect, like a related series of televised vignettes. Makes sense, for Reality TV meets Comic Book. Should hold up to multiple readings, and worth preordering.

[First read after work Wednesday, in cube. Put away Capercaillie (?) midway through.]

ALL-NEW OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE A To Z #1 -- ABRAXIS to BATWING: Won't read this in one sitting. First looked at it in-cube on Wednesday. Nice reference. I'll probably look through it more closely before deciding whether to add the full series to my pre-orders.

THE THING #3: What can I say? Dan Slott is at the top of his game. The Savage Bruce robot was a nice touch. Not to mention the resolution of the Thing versus Mechanical Hulk battle. Will The Constrictor go Super-Hero? Will Alicia and Ben get back together? Is Matt Murdoch playing Matchmaker? Only time will tell. I'm done speculating about Slott's plotlines. (No, I'm not. Just... done speculating out loud.)

[First read Thursday evening, cloistered in bedroom. No music.]


NEXTWAVE #1: Warren Ellis' tone is strong as ever. And crude. This is good, funny, and completely irreverent. And that's okay.

I have a few questions, though. Wasn't Monica Rambeau nice once upon a time? And is this canon? If so, was MARVEL MONSTERS: FIN FANG FOUR non-canon? Because I'm confused as to Fin Fang's status as of now. In FIN FANG FOUR, he was shrunk down to more-or-less human sized, depowered, and put to work as an irritable chef in a Chinese restaurant housed (I think) in the Baxter Building. In NEXTWAVE, he's giant, irritable, powered, and not good anymore. What gives? I liked him as a grumpy chef, and may have to invoke Krypto-revisionism on this point.

And shouldn't they credit Hokusai for The Great Wave on the cover?

Still, a fun book. I'll probably wait for the trade, though.

[First read Thursday evening, cloistered in bedroom. No music.]

Dollar bin

GUARDIANS #1 (Marvel): Published September, 2004; written by Marc Sumerak; art by Casey Jones; colored by David Self; lettered by Dave Sharpe. As far as I can surmise, based on Comiclist.com, this series only lasted a mere four (or, if they finished off the arc, five) issues. If anyone knows different, let me know, because the concept isn't bad.

A group of kids, play-acting at being space-based superheroes, investigate a shooting star, only to find a dog attacking a cute, E.T.-like alien. They rescue the alien, and "Captain" Vince continues to play-act in the presence of the alien, who takes the fantasy as truth. Said alien rewards Vince with a medallion, and leaves.

Cut to present day. The friends have disbanded. Vince has been expelled from college for attacking an assistant professer. Everybody, including his childhood friends, think he's delusional about the falling star incident. Meanwhile, in another part of the universe, the aliens are having problems, and we close with the lead alien heading determinedly for Earth, presumably for help from the "Guardians."

Not a bad concept, and I kind of dig the art. Very clean, young style. But not worth back-issue hunting for, either. I doubt there's even a trade. Oh well.

[First read before work, Thursday, whilst eating lunch and listening to Riverdance again. Headache.]

HERO double feature -- Issues 1 & 2 (DC): Published June, 2003; written by Will Pfeifer; art by Kano; colored by Dave Stewart; lettered by Ken Lopez; Cover by John Van Fleet. I'm told this series, what exists of it, is collected in trade. Not interested, though. It's a bit too dark for me.

Very dark. Guy with a hard-knock life in a dying town is in a phone booth, talking to a counselor on the other end of a suicide hotline. The guy contemplating suicide recounts how he came upon a strange artifact that gave him various superpowers, and how he manages to screw up with those superpowers. Dark. I feel bad for Jerry, but... No. I can do without.

[First read Thursday evening, cloistered in bedroom. No music.]

MIDNIGHT MASS #1 (DC Vertigo): Published June, 2002; created and written by John Rozum; pencilled by Jesus Saiz; inked by Jimmy Palmiotti; colored by Noelle Giddings; lettered by Ken Bruzenak; separations by Digital Chameleon. This looks to be an eight-issue limited series, and god I hope that A. they finished the series and; B. they stuck them in a trade. Because this is good.

The first comic books I cut my teeth on were, for the most part, horror. It's way too early for nostalgia, but it's nice to look back once in a while, even if the time frame is better measured in months than years.

Jenny (a common name, even in comics) has just been hired as an assistant to the Kadmons, a husband and wife (I think) team of paranormal investigators. The town of Midnight, Massachusetts is, of course, haunted, and Jenny encounters ghosties and ghouls before she even starts working for her new employers.

And she has a secret of her own. Something the Kadmons don't know about, that probably should have been disclosed. We don't know it either. Next issue? I hope so. Buffy meets Vertigo. Love it. I do hope there's a trade.

[First read Thursday evening, cloistered in bedroom. No music.]

Ultimate Showdown

Godzilla! Batman! Jackie Chan! Chuck Norris! Shaq! Doc Ock! A Care Bear! Good guys, bad guys and explosions, in The Ultimate Showdown. Watch it now.

Art and animation by Shawn Vulliez
Music and lyrics by Neil Cicierega

(Yes, I have linked to this on the sidebar, but felt it deserved its own post. I love what these guys do with Flash.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

On Innocence

A coworker of mine (a fellow student until she finds a "real" job) and I were talking one day about our unseasonably warm weather. It was in the 40s, maybe, and sunny. Not exactly normal for mid-Michigan in January. (You know you're from Michigan when it's 40 degrees F. and you think that's warm.)

This naturally led to thoughts of global warming and half jokes about the impending apocalypse. We're both students of environmental science (her more than me, technically), so this was a natural place for the conversation to go. With me so far?

At this point, I was immediately thinking of DC Vertigo's THE EXTERMINATORS, which had just come out. The whole Man versus Nature theme. It really made sense in the context of our chat. Really, it did. The next day or so, I brought it in for my coworker to read.

THE EXTERMINATORS centers around a reasonably bright ex-con who is starting fresh with a job at his step-father's pest extermination business: Bug-Bee-Gone. Throughout this first issue, Henry muses about Man's place in the world, about fighting nature in a battle (a war, even) that humankind will inevitably lose. He also eviscerates a raccoon, much to his horror and the admiration of his coworkers.

My own coworker's reaction was, essentially, "And I thought you were so innocent." Between the language and the graphic violence (which I had prepared her for), I guess I was surprised at her surprise.

It's kind of funny. Not about the book, though that's funny too. About me. Most people aren't completely innocent. Babies, little kids, some mentally impaired people... They're innocent yes, but most of us? Not particularly innocent. Thing is, I may be more innocent than most. I don't drink, smoke, do drugs, date, even go to parties that don't involve family. By American standards, I really have no life. But we all do have our things, don't we, with which we escape innocence?

And comic books? What a good, safe way to not be totally innocent.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

On Accidents of Circumstance

RUNAWAYS Vol. 2, Issue 10. Cloak transports the Runaways from California to the Big Apple, in order that they might assist him in identifying the person who attacked Cloak's partner, Dagger, injuring her and sending her into a coma. Cloak is falsely accused, and the Runaways are resourceful and good at working under the radar. They partner up, Gertrude, Old Lace (in the form of a dog), and Victor go one way, Nico and Chase another. Nico and Chase catch a glimpse of the coolest superheroine ever to grace the pages of Marvel comics, and Nico gets excited. Chase, on the other hand, is not so impressed.

--or get born into a family of mad scientists, Chase?

This one panel really did get me to thinking, though. Just how much of one's life path is dictated purely by chance? We always have a choice, yes, but choice tends to be limited by ability, and ability, to a large degree, is random. Personality. Physical ability. Intelligence. These things are shaped in large part by nature. Genetics, upbringing. I'm leaving the nature versus nurture debate out of this because, frankly, it doesn't apply. It's random any way you slice it. If it's not your family's genes that form the basis of who you are, it's how they brought (or are bringing) you up. And upbringing is a factor of your caregivers' personalities and experiences, which for them is also fairly random. Besides, who chooses one's caregivers?

Confused, yet? Don't worry. I'm kind of confused, too.

So, as far as I'm concerned, Chase didn't choose to be born to evil mad scientist parents any more than, say, Jennifer Walters chose to be born into the same family as Bruce Banner and eventually exposed to gamma radiation. Both characters were provided with what they (personally) needed to become heroes. They didn't have to use what they were given to that end. But they did, didn't they? They both worked to get where they got, and that's not chance. That's choice.

Well, they chose their path with the materials provided them, unless you don't believe in free will at all, in which case they're still on equal footing. Aren't they?