Tuesday, August 29, 2006

On 2 August, 2006

Still catching up...

Reading music: Riverdance: Music from the Show

--Warning: Spoilers ahead--


The All-New Atom #2: Well, okay, I kind of wish this issue had an essay question to answer, like the last one, but the Scientific Method theme makes up for it. It's as though, for Ryan, becoming The Atom is a grand experiment. At least, he wants it to be as he tests ants as a means of transportation and the parameters of the size-changing ability. He observes the powers, tests them, and sketches atomic fire rockets on napkins whilst eating "Chinese" food. The scientific method doesn't quite line up with the process Ryan is going through, I don't think, but maybe it's not really supposed to. After all, Ryan soon dons brightly-colored spandex and dashes off to learn the life-or-death science of superheroics. And that requires a different method altogether.

Do I Know What I Just Read? Yes.
Do I Care? Yes.


Doll and Creature #4: With macabre political commentary (sort of), and lots of 'splosions, the wonderfully morbidly amusing Doll & Creature concludes. I hope there will be a sequel.

Do I Know What I Just Read? Yes.
Do I Care? Yes.

Liberty Meadows #37: Comic strips don't get much more juvenile than this without losing the funny, do they?

Do I Know What I Just Read? Sure...
Do I Care? Kinda.


Fantastic Four #539 is, of course, a Civil War zone. This one focuses on Ben and his home street. Thinker and Puppet Master team up yet again to lay a complex trap for the opposing superhero strike teams. As the villains work to light a fuse on Yancy Street, they discuss their anger management issues and mutual hatred of the Fantastic Four. Stuff naturally goes sour, pushing Ben over the edge and out of the fight entirely.

Note: Sue, Johnny, and Reed are conspicuously absent here.

Do I Know What I Just Read? Yes.
Do I Care? Yes.

On 23 August, 2006

Okay, this is just unusual. Not much of interest from Marvel this week. Go figure.

Reading music: Riverdance: Music from the Show

--Warning: Spoilers ahead--


Blue Beetle #6: Blue Beetle and the Posse take the good fight to a metahuman compound that rings of the 198 prison camp over on Earth-616.

But there are two characters I feel like I ought to know. There's the burly tattooed fella on the red motorcycle, and there's the mysterious Dr. Strange type who keeps popping up out of thin air. Who are those guys?

Do I Know What I Just Read? Yes. Mostly.
Do I Care? Yes.

Justice League of America #1: I have seen that first page floating around the blogosphere for what seems like months and, well... It's even weirder in print, and it is not comfortable. Maybe discomfort is what they were going for, but... Geez, it's weird.

Of all the stories here, Red Tornado was the most touching. Diana, Clark and Bruce voting on JLA members was entertaining, too. As for the rest, I have no clue. Eh.

Do I Know What I Just Read? Generally speaking, yes.
Do I Care? Not really, no.

Wonder Woman #2: I like that Diana is this woman confused about what her role in life ought to be. Very existential and very human, that. I like that, on top of the "Who am I?" stuff, she's managing the whole big sister/mentor role by watching over the two women replacing her as Wonder Woman, and she's maintaining a new job as a government agent.

I am going to posit that it is taking both Donna and Cassie to replace Diana as Wonder Woman, but that may be as shaky as Diana's secret identity, seeing as it's based primarily on this one comic. (I had no idea there even was a Wonder Girl.) Oh, and Kingdom Come. At any rate, in Kingdom Come, Diana is characterized as having two roles, right? That of a warrior, and that of a teacher/peacemaker... Something like that. (I can't believe I'm writing this. I shall probably be smote by the collective feminist comics blogosphere or something.) At any rate, in Wonder Woman, Donna (in the middle of a battle) calls herself a "kinder, gentler Wonder Woman." That's probably kind of tongue-in-cheek, but however it's meant, Donna still shows she has a sense of humor. Meanwhile, Cassie displays a quick temper and a less-than-forgiving nature. Are the attitudes of Donna and Cassie sort of representative of what Diana has to balance within herself?

Or not. It's a very fun, very pretty book though.

Do I Know What I Just Read? Yes.
Do I Care? Kind of.

IDW Publishing

Supermarket #4 (of 4): The relationship between the two families (the Yakuza and the Swedes) is a bit confusing. A fake rivalry that disguises an alliance?

At any rate, whatever the deal is with the organized criminals, Supermarket #4 is an unexpected but strangely satisfying conclusion to Pella's story, complete with a great car chase and surprisingly little bloodshed.

Do I Know What I Just Read? Yes
Do I Care? Yes


Elephantmen #2: "Shock Crock!" A Howard Stern parody interviews Crocodileman Elijah Delaney. There is goofy banter, and there is the question as to how Elijah lost his tail. And whether he likes scantily-clad human women, of which there are two. That ends rather poorly. But what else do you expect from a Howard Stern parody?

"Behemoth and Leviathon." Okay, this is just odd. An epic battle between Hip Flask (I think) and a... That's not Elijah, is it? It would explain how he lost his tail, but honestly, that reptile looks more like something out of Jurassic Park. At any rate, it's narrated by Job. As in, the Book of Job, or parts of it. Weird contrast.

Do I Know What I Just Read? Pretty much, yeah.
Do I Care? Sort of.


Women of Marvel Poster Book: Okay, so I'm guessing there won't be any "Men of Marvel" poster books. There should be, in all fairness, but no. At least there's variety here, anyway, with all manner of reprinted images from various artists, most of whom are not named Greg.

In case you're curious, the following is a listing of all posters and artists, verbatim, from the inside front cover:
She-Hulk by Mike Mayhew
Spider-Woman by Andrea DiVito
Ms. Marvel by Frank Cho
X-23 & Psylocke by Randy Green
Black Cat with Wolverine by Joseph Michael Linsner
Rogue by Rodolfo Migliari
Invisible Woman by Steve McNiven
Wolfsbane by Josh Middleton
Misty Knight & Colleen Wing by Khary Evans
Arana by Mark Brooks
Emma Frost by Greg Horn
Jewel by Mark Bagley
Mary Jane with Spider-Man by Takeshi Miyazawa
The Women of Marvel by Greg Land
Black Cat by Terry Dodson
Dazzler by Michael Ryan
Dagger with Cloak by Josh Middleton
Mystique by Mike Mayhew
Power Princess by Gary Frank
She-Hulk/Jennifer Walters by John Buscema
Psylocke by Josh Middleton
Ms. Marvel (House of M) by Terry Dodson
The Women of Marvel by Mike Mayhew
Ultimate Invisible Girl, Marvel Girl & Vision by Brandon Peterson
Storm by Michael Turner
Blink & Nocturne by Adrian Alphona
Spider-Woman by Joe Sinnott
Black Widow by Greg Land
Spider-Girl by Ron Frenz
Sersi by Rick Berry
Shanna, the She-Devil by Frank Cho
Kitty Pryde by John Cassaday
Rogue by Chris Bachalo
Polaris with Havok by Billy Tan
Phoenix by Greg Land
The Women of Marvel by Bruce Timm
The book might be worth unstapling for Steve McNiven's Sue Storm, though I have no idea where I'd display it, if at all.

Week's most memorable moment: Pinata (a.k.a. Cinetico), a member of the Posse, describes her powers in Blue Beetle #6. (It's like something out of Nextwave...)

Tentative checklist for 30 August, 2006
(*Indicates a title I've preordered.)
*All New Official Handbook Marvel Universe A To Z #8
*All Star Superman #5
CSI: Dying in the Gutters #1
Civil War Young Avengers & Runaways #2 (Of 4)
Mythos: Hulk
*She-Hulk 2 #11
Snakes On A Plane #1 (Of 2)
*Ultimate Fantastic Four #33


On 19 & 26 July, 2006 -- Part II: Everywhere Else

Catching up. Part I is here

Reading music: Kitty Donohoe, This Road Tonight; Leahy, Lakefield

--Warning: Spoilers ahead--


Blue Beetle #5: Jaime Reyez makes a truly public debut as Blue Beetle. I think it's good publicity. He still doesn't have complete control over the Scarab, but he does manage to save a baby from a bizarre religious demon creature. We learn more about the Posse, and Jaime learns (at long last) he's the only one hearing the voice in his head. ("I'm not crazy. I just hear this voice in my head!") Inasmuch as the main storyline focuses on the Posse and La Dama, the two Brenda pages seem kind of thrown in. They're good bits, just oddly placed. Blue Beetle is consistantly good, and it's probably about time I added it to my standing pulls.

Do I Know What I Just Read? Yes
Do I Care? Yes


Elephantmen #1: "See the Elephant." I'm not a fan of any portrayal of George W. Bush as an utterer of wise words, but it's easy enough to put the inside cover page out of mine and focus on this little vignette of innocence lost. Or gained, or never had, or... something. The Elephantmen, creations of a mad scientist, are born and bred to be soldiers, and like many soldiers who have been to war, they have regrets and trouble integrating into society at large. That's the case with Ebony, at least. He has disturbing bloody flashbacks, and they are triggered by Savannah, a young girl in pink, the very picture of innocence. And maybe she's the key to unlocking some sort of innocence in him. It's a sweet story, actually.

"Just Another Guy Named Joe." A vignette from the perspective of a man who resents the Elephantmen and their place in society. This is a short one, very dark, and somewhat tricky to get a real handle on, at least here. Call it a small window into a big fictional world.

Do I Know What I Just Read? Yes
Do I Care? Yes


Black Panther #18: Iron Man and Cap are too royally cheesed off at each other to stick around for the ceremony. It's a shame they miss it, too, because ceremony consists of Ororo and T'Challa making dramatic entrances, then going to the spirit realm to face the judgement of the Panther god, who slobbers all over Ororo, finds her tasty, and says she's cool to join the club. After the ceremony, Spider-Man fights a drunken Man-Ape, and the newlyweds receive an invitation to Latveria from a surprisingly cordial Dr. Doom. So ends Marvel's wedding season. And divorce season? Just around the corner!

Do I Know What I Just Read? Yes
Do I Care? Kind of?

She-Hulk 2 #9: So J. Jonah Jameson is insane. His son and his new daughter-in-law aren't exactly thinking at full capacity, either. (Why else would they elope? In Vegas? With an Elvis impersonator??? This is more entertaining than the T'Challa-Aurora and Jessica-Luke nuptuals, but it's also more disappointing. Maybe that's the point.) Mallory and Awesome Andy are under the same spell as the newlyweds. Naturally, that leaves Pug tearing his hair out, as he is perhaps the only major character who is compos mentis. And he knows it. Poor Pug...

Do I Know What I Just Read? Yes
Do I Care? Yes


Snakewoman #1: The, well, the hissing and such is justa wee bit corny, and Jin (Jessica's roommate) is a tad two-dimensional. In spite of that, though, Snakewoman endeavors to answer a question of trust. Consider the men. Raj, the new neighbor, seems nice enough, but Jessica is wary of him. Maybe her trust is "delicate," but this time she's probably right to trust her judgement. I takes a surprisingly short time for her to find him in bed with her boy-crazy roommate. Then there's the man in plaid, Brinkley, an eccentric regular at the bar where Jessica works. He seems to know Jessica's schedule, tips only her, and writes prophetic poetry for her. And he bothers some people. She trusts him though, knowing that he's harmless. It's the nice-looking gentleman with the golden bracelet who throws her. The Naga within her, maybe, makes her drop her guard. He turns homicidal, and so does she. Later, with blood on her hands, she is confused, frightened, and cold. Her judgement has failed the heck out of her. That's where this first issue leaves off, with a frightened woman not ready to come to grips with a dual nature.

Of course, green and purple seem to be her colors of choice. Go figure.

Do I Know What I Just Read? Yes.
Do I Care? I do want to see where this is going...

Week's most memorable moment: Mallory Book and Awesome Andy relax in She-Hulk 2 #9

Saturday, August 19, 2006

On 16 August, 2006

Okay, so I'm a month or so behind. But then, so is Marvel, and they are actually working with deadlines.

I have to live up to some linkage (Thanks, Kalinara), though, meaning it's time to get current and worry about catch-up later. It's usually the other way around, and that never works.

Ohh, I'm also having trouble settling on a new avatar. Sheep? Shulkie? Or should I go back to the porcupine? Or find a suitable Gert Yorkes image to crop and resize? Decisions, decisions...

Reading music: Leahy, Lakefield

--Warning: Spoilers ahead--


Nextwave #7: Warren Ellis tackles Marvel Mysticism, conjuring a demon from the Dank Dimension who eagerly accepts payment in United States currency and Suicide Girls. Demonic forces are unleashed, and of course Nextwave has to deal with them, and of course the demons explode beautifully. (It wouldn't be Nextwave without explosions!)

Before the explosions, though, we see: Dirk Anger sinking deeper into his drug-addled depression; see Monica and Elsa speculating about Captain America's sexual orientation; and Aaron Stack literally hooking himself up to a keg.

Memorable dialogue:
Elsa: What's our E.T.A. to Shotcreek?
Monica: Couple of hours. I just wish the Marketing Plan was more specific about this one.
Elsa: Yeah. "Magic deal." What do you think?
Monica: Could mean anything. Tabby said there was a "Magik" in the X-Men.
Elsa: Didn't Tabby also say that Magik was dead?
Monica: Like that matters. X-Men come back more than Jesus.

Do I Know What I Just Read? Yes.
Do I Care? Yes.

Runaways #18 & 19: Oh, Mr. Vaughan. How could you? Why did it have to be her of all characters? *sigh*

Still, hers is a hero's death, and while the Children of the Pride are diminished in number and spirit, they haven't lost their sense of purpose. They've gained a member in Xavin, too, and not a moment too soon, because there's demonic trouble ahead, and Victor still has to take a crash course in Leapfrog piloting.

The Runaways try to deal with their teammate's death, of course. One confides in the Leapfrog; another in Xavin; a third in Victor. Xavin him/herself is also trying to deal with the probable death of two planets, something that doesn't help matters.

It's a lot of good stuff to take in. As usual.

Do I Know What I Just Read? Yes.
Do I Care? Yes.

Ultimate Fantastic Four #32: Yes. The light at the end of the dark tunnel is here: the conclusion of the (aptly named) "Frightful" arc and the end of the Millar-Land run. Maybe the new team will bring back some of the magic Ellis and Bendis put into this title.

'Cause in spite of the mystical Atlantean ritual Dr. Doom (in Reed's body) uses to draw the alien out of Johnny Storm's torso, this is decidedly non-magical.

Reed (in Victor's body) deals with the Zombie Four using maggots. (Brilliant!) And Victor eventually takes back his own body in order to play hero, capturing the world-eating alien within himself and leaping into the zombieverse. Boy! Zombies, explosions, and aliens, but... Nah. It's just a little too much. And it's over. Yes.

Do I Know What I Just Read? Yes.
Do I Care? Eh.

Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual #2: Between this and Nextwave, it is Stuart Immonen week! Lovely! And energetic! And fun! (Let's review. Immonen: Fun. Land: Not so much. Or in the words of my AP English class not so way back when: "Beowulf good, Grendel bad.")

Anyway, Annual #2 goes back to the fun and the magic that got me started reading FF in the first place. It's the return of Dr. Molevic, the terribly disgusting Mole Man, plus an introduction to a few of the other Think Tank members. This little group of geniuses is led by none other than Strange Josie, slightly misandric inventor of the Stealth Corset.

Ultimate Mole Man, though. He has a thing for young scientific genius. Specifically, he has a thing for kidnapping them and dictating to them his life story. His hilarious bio recounts early scientific endeavors and devolving his baby sister into a lungfish.

And on. He has quite the bio. The story fluctuates between Mole Man's narrative, and monster-bashing a la Fantastic Four. The Think Tank crew, meanwhile, becomes another heroic team, riding to the rescue with Lemurian-style death weapons. There's even a moral. (Sort of.)

Thank you Mr. Carey and Mr. Immonen. You both rock.

Do I Know What I Just Read? Yes.
Do I Care? Yes.

Oni Press

Wasteland #2 focuses on a brewing religious conflict. The wandering protagonists struggle to live off the land, and through it all they worship "Mother Sun" and "Father Moon." (Talk about your symbolic role-reversals. I love it already.) At Abi's request, the village Sun-Singer recounts the legend of A-Ree-Yass-I, an apocalyptic Noah's Arc style tale featuring the aforementioned celestial gods. A flood, an almost empty sky, and a poisoned ocean (among other things) set the people on the path to redemption. That's what the Sunners believe.

But the Sunners are heathens in the eyes of Newbegin's ruling church. And the church is not to be trifled with. Even if the villagers can survive their trek through the desert, will they survive their destination?

It'll be worth finding out.

Do I Know What I Just Read? Yes.
Do I Care? Yes.

Week's most memorable moment: I am a sucker for badass Sue moments, like this one from Ultimate Fantastic Four Annual #2.

Tentative checklist for 23 August, 2006
(*Indicates a title I've preordered.)

Blue Beetle #6
Elephantmen #2
Women Of Marvel Poster Book (???)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Exercise in Microfiction

Swift, a blue blaze on winged feet, leaps through and past the flashing sirens'
call. Cries for help come early to one with the sense of velocity.

Ancient gray stone and pillars arrive in an instant, and a gaping maw of a door. An instant more, and the speed sense guides Swift to a chamber of clocks, all stopped. And in the center of it looms a shade, the alarm tripper. Widdershins. Swift pauses to meet the gaze of stop watch eyes, but quickly averts it.

The shade's cloaked right hand rests upon its jeweled timepiece quarry. The left hand begins to gesture, and stop watch eyes stare at the figure in blue.

Swift, always impatient, leaps past Widdershins into a dusty grandfather clock. The loud clang interrupts the spell, and Widdershins spins sunwise to silence the echoes.

The sirens draw closer. Widdershins, unbalanced by the spin, struggles to concentrate on a new spell. Swift focuses on the enemy, rocking imperceptibly on heels and toes.

This time, Swift is more patient. Widdershins focuses on the clocks surrounding them now, and slowly with surprising stealth one second hand clicks backwards. Then another. Then another, and Swift senses a pause of time no noise can interrupt.

They are beyond noise.

They are not beyond movement, though, in a field of time out of time, and Swift moves. Widdershins, whole attention on jewel-encrusted prize, does not expect a collision at Swift speed.

Knocked back, Widdershins drops both clock and field. The uniforms storm and secure the exhibit, place silver bracelets on the ever-patient Widdershins. Stop watch eyes never leave the door.

Swift is gone as though Swift never was. Other sirens beckon, after all. But they will meet again. They always do.