Thursday, May 31, 2007

On the Emotional Power Spectrum

Right. So according to the last few Green Lanterns, there is an emotional spectrum and each emotion can be manifested into a sort of energy that can be channeled by alien super-science into controllable devices.

Right now, the spectrum has been mapped out thusly, with a faction manipulating said energy for their own ends.

Yellow = Fear = Qwardians
Green = Willpower = Guardians
Violet = Love = Zamarons

And then in the latest issue, the Zamaron leaders noted that the further one goes from the middle of the spectrum, the easier it is for a "host" to be consumed by their power. Hence the reason why all of their Star Sapphires went a bit loopy.

But the Zamarons also made reference to a prophecy and how they must learn to master the whole spectrum. This begs the question... what else is on the spectrum?

Well, I think Red is easy enough to puzzle out. Anger or Hate - whatever you want to call it. Something set directly apart from Love.

Blue, to continue the trend, is probably Depression. Which is a rather poor thing to defend the universe with. What do you do? Command your blue ring to play Morrisey songs until the bad guys surrender?

No clue what Orange and Indigo will do. But it does make me wonder about what Corps we may see at the end of this. ;)

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 5/31/07

AMAZONS ATTACK #2 - You know - I want to enjoy this story. Really. But am I the only one who just wishes they'd cut to the chase so we can get to Gail Simone's Wonder Woman?

I doubt it. Because somehow, nothing happens in this book that you don't know about if you're reading Wonder Woman (God help you), Countdown or Teen Titans.

Still, I am somewhat heartened to see that one company cares enough to TRY and do a cohesive crossover that actually makes sense. I just wish it was a series that took full advantage of the idea of the Amazons declaring war on the USA and wasn't bogged down with a HORRIBLE Wonder Woman book that has Diana and Nemesis arguing like Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd.

COUNTDOWN 48 - This was the first issue that I thought was exciting.

That's not to say I didn't like the other issues but this was the first one that I thought REALLY was pushing the promises that were made before this title started (i.e. an action movie set in the DC Universe). Which is weird as the main thing I was looking forward to in this book was the scenes with Flash's Rogues Gallery and this was the first issue without any such scene.

It remains on the pull list, though. Because Jimmy Olsen with super-powers, the death of a New God and all that jazz have me willing to wait for the build.


DAREDEVIL #97 - Damn you, Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark! Why do you have to keep making good books so I can't write Marvel off completely?

This book is intense, well-plotted and provides some genuine surprises every issue. The artwork is picture perfect too, no pun intended.

What happens? Well, if you really must know a reformed villain goes mad, Matt Murdock experiences trouble at home and in the streets of Hell's Kitchen. And if the conclusion is any indication, Matt may be burying yet another love interest...

If that doesn't get you to buy this book, I don't know what will!

GREEN LANTERN #20 - Okay. I'm totally jazzed about the idea of the emotional color power spectrum that is being postulated here. Enough that I'm going to do a whole other post about it later.

I also like how Carol Ferris gracefully takes herself out of the picture once she thinks Hal has moved on. What a shame the whole thing has to be spoiled with the news that she's divorced now. Don't get me wrong - a little romantic tension always makes a book more interesting. I just forsee this becoming one big super-powered Archie comic with Hal as Archie, Cowgirl as Betty and Carol Ferris as Veronica.

What? The fly-boy who sleeps around, the hot blonde who is also one of the guys and the rich brunette with the love/hate relationship. Don't tell me I'm the only one who noticed it or is at least the first to comment on it. :)

Can't wait for Sinestro Corps, though.

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #6 - I have similar feelings about this book as I do Amazons Attack. I appreciate the concept and I like the characters - but I want them to get it over with because the story is decompressed to the NTH degree and I'm more interested in the questions that aren't being answered - such as why Superman seems to have been visited by a different Legion than the Legion of the Legion of Superheroes title written by Mark Waid. Still, there's a lot of good character moments here - my favorite being Liberty Belle asking Wonder Woman about which single guys on both teams she'd consider going out with.

MAGICIAN APPRENTICE #7 - With a good deal of relief, I can finally give up this book. I wanted to give it a chance as Raymond Feist's Magician was one of my favorite books as a teenager and the artwork in the first few issues of this series was pretty good. But then Marvel bought out the company... and clearly whatever arangement they had for Raymond Feist to approve every issue personally was thrown out the window.

What makes me say that? Because this issue offers us our first look at The Mordehel aka The Dark Elves. Now because of D&D and certain characters in popular fantasy, it is assumed that all Dark Elves have ebony skin and white hair. And the Dark Elves that we see in this comic are colored in such a manner.

One small problem: Feist went through great pains in this work (and later books) to note that it is near impossible for a human to tell the difference between a light elf and a dark elf by appearances. Indeed, the only notable difference was an undefinable feeling of unpleasantness that dark elves inspire and the fact that they usually kill humans on sight.

I refuse to believe that Feist, who has always been one of the most protective of authors when it comes to his works, would sign off on this comic, take the money and run.

Regardless, they won't be taking any more of my money.

TEEN TITANS #47 - The promise of a Duela Dent funeral... and Countdown's two-page funeral had more time for mourning than this book that shows everyone standing around a grave on the cover.

Who do I talk to at about protesting this? Because Deula had just been turned around in Teen Titans not ONE issue earlier and she had so much potential as a character ready to be used...

... only to go evil - not the silly prankster evil she did before but actual EVIL evil - and then get killed off as part of an effort to do something with Jason Todd other than to have him serve as a Deus Ex Machina in Judd Winick books.


Is it just me, or...

Does THIS...

...look suspiciously like her?

Incidentally, that's the preview "concept" art from the upcoming Supergirl artist.

Bit of an improvement, I think... even if I am going to be waiting for Captain Boomerang to start looking like Peter Petrelli...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Looking To The Stars - What's in A Name?

HEROES, NBC’s surprise hit show of the season came to a close this past week and fanboys everywhere are already clamoring for the Second Season to begin. But rather than join in the general speculation on what is coming next, I’ve decided to take something of a look back.

You see, I never gotten around to testing a theory put forth that all of the main character’s names have some sort of special significance relating to their personality or destiny. In fact, I seem to recall one of the show’s writers saying this was true in an interview. But I never got around to looking all the names up in a baby name book... until now.

Claire Bennet - Directly the French word for “Famous”, the original Latin word “Claire” means “bright” or “clear”. This seems meaningless until one considers what else is bright and clear that relates to Claire’s role in the show. Considering Claire’s status as a symbol of hope – a beacon, if you will – to so many of the characters (her father, Peter, the future Hiro), it seems likely that Claire’s name is appropriate in this metaphorical context. “Bennet” is Latin for “blessed” which is also an accurate description of Claire’s ability and the circumstances of how she survived a fire as an infant. Indeed, I believe Claire’s mom used the word “blessed” when she found out about Claire’s power in the Company Man episode.

Gabriel Gray - The man who would be Sylar has a fairly obvious Biblical name, being the name of The Angel of Death. Gabriel translates literally in Hebrew as “the Might of God”, suggesting great power which is also fitting of Sylar. The color Gray is, of course, synonymous with questionable but not quite evil behavior. If one views Sylar not as a human but as an animal and his actions as those of a predator hunting prey because of a biological imperative, then one could make the case for his being in a “gray” area with his killings, which were – at first –limited only to people with powers who Sylar thought were not using them wisely. With the final episodes, however, it has become clear that Sylar DID become completely evil by any scale.

D.L. Hawkins - There has not been, in so far as I can find, anywhere in the show where the meaning of D.L.’s initials are explained. His name, on Mohinder’s list, is also listed as just “D.L. Hawkins”. I do recall reading somewhere that one of the show writers thought his first name MIGHT be Daniel. This does seem to fit as Daniel is Hebrew for “God is my judge” – a fitting sentiment for D.L., who seems willing to do anything to save his family while caring little for what others think of him. As for his last name, Hawkins means “hawk-like” which certainly does describe D.L.’s confrontational attitude when it comes to going after people he thinks have wronged him.

Hiro Nakamura - Hiro’s first name seems to have a triple meaning. First, it is an obvious homophonic pun (i.e. Hiro sounds like Hero). Secondly, Hiro is a Japanese word meaning “generous” – which certainly does describe Hiro’s giving and self-sacrificing personality. Finally, it was revealed in the comic that Hiro was named after the Japanese city of Hiroshima – which we all know was hit with an atomic bomb as part of an American effort to end World War II. Hiroshima is, in fact, referenced numerous times in the show and comics. Both Isaac and Hiro compared what they saw of the future New York Explosion to the Hiroshima bombing and Angela Petrelli tries to steel a reluctant Nathan by reminding him that Harry Truman didn’t want to use the atomic bomb but thought it would save more lives in the long-run, similar to what The Company hoped to do by allowing The Explosion to occur. Hiro’s being named for a disaster he is trying to prevent the reoccurring is definitely a dramatic irony of sorts. Nakamura, translated literally into Japanese words, can mean “village in the middle” – a reference to Hiro’s family having always been in the center of the the events involving powered individuals, perhaps?

Isaac Mendez - Isaac’s name seems to be meaningless or dark comedy when one considers the Hebrew meaning – “He will laugh”. Certainly, Isaac has very little to laugh about over the course of the show. Between his fighting an addiction to heroin, his girlfriend leaving him, his increasingly disturbing visions of the future, his inadvertently signing on with the wrong team (i.e. The Company) and his twice-fated death, it could be argued that Isaac has the most grim and depressing lot of any character on the show. And yet, when his destined death does come, he isn’t afraid or angry. In fact, he’s smiling right before he dies as he tells his murderer that he’s already seen the future – and how he is the one who stops Sylar. In this sense, it seems that Isaac’s name is not a hint to his personality so much as it is a note about his fate. In a way, the precognitive Isaac’s own name is a prophecy. Mendez is Spanish for “cleverness” which does seem to describe the intuitive Isaac.

Jessica - a name whose origins are apparently hotly debated by onomatologists around the world, the first written record of the name is in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. It is believed by some to be derived from the Hebrew name Jesca (alternatively spelled Iesca or Iscah) which means “foresight”. While this is usually used, in the original Hebrew context, to refer to someone who can see the future (hmm.. Iscah is almost Isaac…) it can also refer to worldly wisdom and knowing how things will likely play out. In this sense, the more worldly and sensible Jessica (at least, compared to Niki) seems aptly named.

Matt Parkman - I didn’t even need to look this one up, for some odd reason. Matt is short for Matthew which is Hebrew for “Gift of The Lord”. To make sense of this one, consider Matt’s power – mind-reading. Now consider two more things. First, that the word the word for “gift” also means “talent” or “ability”. Then consider what “power” might the proverbial all-knowing, all-seeing God have that makes them all-knowing and all-seeing? In this sense, Matt’s power could be seen as the literal gift (or ability) of God. The surname Parker is an archaic English word referring to a lawman who protected royal parks from poachers – a fairly lowly position for any law man. Matt, when the show opens, is in a similarly low position in his job as a traffic cop in Los Angeles.

Micah Sanders - an alternate spelling of Micha, which in itself is a shortened form of Michael. Michael, translated literally into Hebrew means, “Who is like God”. El is, of course, the Hebrew for God. So taken by itself, Micah in Hebrew means “without-equal” or “God-like”. Given Micah’s ability to talk to machines and the power that could give him over an increasingly mechanized world, it seems certainly fair to say that Micah could potentially become an all-seeing, all-knowing figure. For more information on Micah’s last name, see Niki.

Mohinder Suresh - This one took some finding, but evidentially Mohinder is a variation on the Hindi name Mahendra. Mahendra is made up of two words – “Maha” meaning Great and Indra, being the Hindu god of weather and war. This seems completely unrelated to the mostly peaceful personality of Mohinder until one reads up on their Indian mythology. Indra was the most human of the gods and was known for his heroic but brash character. While Mohinder does not have any powers, he is certainly meant to be the “everyman” figure on the show – the most human – and brash certainly does describe most of Mohinder’s actions which are made more out of enthusiasm than wisdom. Indra was also the king of the gods, so perhaps this is a reference to Mohinder someday becoming a leader among the powered individuals of the world? This seems increasingly likely given that the surname Suresh means “lord of the gods” in Sanskrit.

Nathan Petrelli - A shortened form of Nathanael, Nathan is Hebrew for “gift” with Nathanael meaning “Gift from God” This certainly does seem to describe the mostly-arrogant Nathan’s attitude regarding himself. As for his surname, see the entry for Peter for the details and note that out of all the characters Peter wasn’t directly connected to, Nathan was.

Niki Saunders - Taken from the Greek Nike (goddess of Victory), this may just be a simple reference to Niki’s eventual winning out over her other self. But is it really that simple? Niki is also an Afghan word meaning “goodness” – a reference to Niki’s status as “the good twin”? Niki, broken into two Japanese words (ni ki) can mean “two souls”. Sanders is Greek for “defender of men”, which is certainly what Niki is trying to do for the men in her life.

Noah Bennet - The infamous and mysterious H.R.G. finally had his full real name revealed in the final episode. So what does it mean? Well, apart from the obvious comparison to the Biblical Noah (an ordinary man chosen to usher in a better world), Noah is the Hebrew word for “peace” or “rest”. This certainly seems to be in line with Bennet’s goals of protecting his family from The Company and living as normal a family life as possible. And given his rather amazing luck in some circumstances, he certainly seems to be as blessed as his surname suggests.

Peter Petrelli - Both Peter and Petrelli come from the Greek work “petra”, meaning “rock” or “stone”. It is frequently used in reference to foundations (as when Jesus dubbed his apostle Simon with the name Peter and declared that he would build his church upon that rock). Drawing a parallel between the two Peters seems fitting as Peter has, in a fashion, become the foundation of the HEROES universe as the great common link between most of the characters.

Simone Deveaux - Simone is a feminine version of Simon, which is Hebrew for “listener”. Deveaux is French for “valley”. Apart from an argument that Simone was a listener to the crazy theories of Peter and Isaac regarding their powers early on, it appears that Simone’s name is as empty and lacking in meaning as her character.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 5/23/07

Kind of a light week this week, so I'll limit my comments to one sentence each.

BIRDS OF PREY #106 - Oh, how I love Ragdoll.

COUNTDOWN #49 - Please tell me Trickster is giving the money back to the homeless kids next issue.

FANTASTIC FOUR #546 - Dwayne McDuffie needs to be writing everything at Marvel.

HELLBLAZER #232 - If Green Arrow: Year One is half this cool, it will be a revelation.

WONDER WOMAN #9 - Are we done yet?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Fairly ammusing.

They have a notice up now that they are suddenly in need of new management.

Ya think? ;)

Monday, May 21, 2007

This is officially the greatest thing ever.

Yes. Even greater perhaps than the most recent HEROES.

Which, quite simply, rocked.

All I will say is one word: SPARTANS!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Does this look like it means what I think it means?

Apparently the Kurtz of Kurtzness + 20 really WAS posting on Marionette's blog.

And what is more, if you check one post back, he's apparently posting here now as well.

I had actually started this post BEFORE I got the message about the message he left for me. But I see no need not to ask this question here, especially since we may be able to get a straight answer from Mr. Kurtz himself.

I quote from Mari's blog

I found your blog post via Journalista and got interested in the comments because, frankly, Matt Morrison is posting in here. He really makes me chuckle. So, let me address a couple issues directly and see if maybe I can't help you understand where I'm coming from.

So, apparently the Kurtz of Kurtzness freely confesses to having nothing better to do than Google my name and see where I'm posting?

EDIT: Actually, from the proceding post it appears he has truly DOES have nothing better to do today than argue with me. Thankfully, I have a full weekend planned and will be nowhere near the computer until Monday night. See ya all later!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

In which I slay a troll...

Mari hardly needs my protection but I cannot abide people who continue to miss the point after having it explained to them three times - Once by Mari, twice by me.

I know I shouldn't feed the trolls - battle not with monsters and all that - but there's something in my character that cannot abide people who display a wilful and rabid refusal to use their brains.

It's the librarian in me.

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 5/16/07

Yes, I know the column came out before the Fast Thoughts this week.

Ironic, no?

Well, between two job-interviews keeping me from being able to write and barely having time to get to the comic shop on Wednesday before work, you're all lucky to be getting this before the weekend.

ALL-STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN #5 - Has it truly been over a year since we last had an issue of this book? It hasn't been long enough.

Honestly, I'd like to believe the theory that Frank Miller is attempting self-parody and that this whole series has been one big in-joke that him and Jim Lee have planned. I find this preferable to the idea that Frank has either stopped giving a damn about his craft or has descended into some form of dementia.

That being said... I wouldn't mind seeing him write a Plastic Man series. His take on Plastic Man here is actually very good. That's the only character he manages to capture though and I can only assume the reason that the whole of the Feminist Blogosphere isn't attacking this book en mass is because they've decided it's far too easy a target.

CONAN #40 - A semi-sequel to the original Robert Howard story The Scarlet Citadel, this tale centers upon two evil wizards who plagued Conan joining forces to deal with Cimmeria's favorite son in this flash-forward tale to Conan's days as King of Aquilonia. A top notch issue with a funny (yes, funny) ending, though these constant one-off issues are breaking up the flow of the on-going story of Conan moving towards his eventual destiny of kingship. Still, with a story like this it is not nearly as annoying as it has been in past months. On the bright-side, the long-awaited (by me at least) adaptation of Rogues In The House begins next month.

COUNTDOWN #50 - A bit duller than last week, but I seemed to enjoy this issue a little more than most of my colleagues thus far. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a good Rogues scene. Though I must admit I am curious just how Jimmy Olsen knows who Dick Grayson and Jason Todd are... did Superman tell him? And if he'll let Jimmy know that, why doesn't Clark trust him with his identity?

FABLES #61 - It's still the best damn book to come out every month.

FLASH THE FASTEST MAN ALIVE #12 - A bit trippy reading this AFTER Countdown, where Trickster and Piper are being asked to prove themselves to rejoin The Rogues when here they are, thick as thieves (pun very much intended), helping Inertia and the rest of the Rogues with their wicked, wicked plan. Still, it's nice to see this book finally going somewhere after running in place for the first six issues. And I loved the scene with Kadabra/Inertia scene where both characters - both arrogant sons of witches - bounce insult after insult off of one another.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #9 - Is it just me or is Ed Benes' work becoming more and more Liefeldesque? Maybe it's just the inking and coloring. Still, it's nice to know where Hawkman has been the last year (rebuilding Thanagar in the wake of the Rann/Thanagar War) though I am still deeply disturbed by the revelation of a Carter/Power Girl romance.

Not that there's wrong with the idea, save that Carter is the ultimate he-man macho type and I can't see someone as willful as Kara falling for someone like that. Then again, opposites DO attract...

The Roy/Hawkgirl romance still seems forced, though...

RED SONJA #22 - I am officially bored with this storyline. How bored? Not even zombie pirates can make me care about Sonja's sidekicks or this other female pirate who, after months, STILL has nothing to do with the main story. Honestly, they need to cut bait and soon and get Sonja back on the road to adventure by her lonesome, as it was meant to be!

SUPERGIRL #17 - Okay. My mind has been completely blown in a good way by the last page. And hey, let's give it up for the art team for drawing teenage girls that actually look like fit teenage girls.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #109 - Such a joy to see Kingpin being written as Kingpin should be.

ULTIMATES #13 (VOL. 2) - This book and All-Star Batman come out the same day.

Don't tell me that's a coincidence.

It's Ultimates. It continues to be Ultimates. Either you like the mindless action-flick on paper or you don't. And I don’t. I can't help but wonder why nobody seems to do anything about Hawkeye killing a woman in her hospital bed, even if she IS a traitor to her team and adopted nation. And what's up with the flashback ending showing Steve Rogers with his girlfriend before the war?

Looking To The Stars - The Stature-tory Rape of Mary Jane Watson

I suspect I may well be the last comics blogger on the Internet to comment upon this scandal involving the Mary Jane statue.

This is not, it should be noted, due to any lack of timeliness on my part but rather a desire to avoid redundancy in the face of the writings of so many other bloggers more qualified than me to talk about how this scandal is affecting the female comic fans of the world.

I’m a white guy from Texas and while I like to consider myself more sensitive and socially aware than most men who meet that description, that still doesn’t qualify me to speak for the women around me - much less the feminine gender as a whole. And yet, my thoughts have been requested enough that I have decided to risk redundancy for the sake of popular demand.

So where do I stand on this alleged abomination?

Well, I don’t think it will be a surprise to anyone that I believe that this statue is sexist, degrading and an insult not just to women but to thinking people of either gender.

My colleague Paul Sebert did an excellent job listing some of the more alarming elements of the statue in his own humorous yet detailed fashion. And a number of other blogs have charted the rather troubling news that Sideshow Collectibles and Marvel Comics have been deleting respectful, non-threatening letters of complaint regarding the statue from their blogs in order to keep the Feminist Uprising repressed. But what truly disturbs me is the on-line reaction of some of the male comic-reading populace to the scandal.

Go to the blogs of Devil Doll, Ragnell and just about any page linked off of When Fangirls Attack! and you will find a metric ton of insulting, derogatory and just plain hateful posts by men who are attacking these women for daring to express their opinions. Thankfully, most of these opinions are poorly thought out and are as capable of holding water as the Holey Pail. Still, here are some of my favorite common complaints along with a rebuttal.

Q: Why are you complaining about some statue when there are real serious issues you should be worrying about, like sex-slavery in Russia or forced female circumcision?

A: Would you go up to Mother Teresa and say “Why are you feeding the hungry when there is a rain-forest to be saved?” Of course not. Is fighting world hunger less noble than saving the rain-forest? No. So why would you argue that one form of protest is more important than another? You wouldn’t – unless you were against feeding the poor for some reason and were trying to stop people from doing it. The fact of the matter is that the portrayal of women in the media IS part of a larger number of serious issues (abusive relationships, teen suicide, drug use, eating disorders) and that changing how the media depicts women is a noble pursuit. Besides, by this logic all the male comic bloggers should quit writing about why Wolverine could easily beat Batman in a fight and start writing about boys being forced to become camel-racing jockeys in Saudi Arabia.

Q: It isn’t like that many women are into superheroes anyway, so why bother listening to these women who are clearly just a vocal minority?

A: Tell that to the large group of teenage girls I saw by themselves, no dates or boyfriends, seeing Spider-Man 3 as a group at the opening midnight show. Tell that to the large number of women who watch Heroes every week. You take a look at the Nielsen ratings, they’ll tell you that Heroes routinely tests well among PEOPLE 18-34. Not just men. Women too. Women are interested in superheroes although it seems that certain comic companies are less than interested in catering to them. Regardless, the audience is there.

Q: What’s the big deal? She’s wearing more than most female superheroes do in their costumes and women in comics are supposed to look sexy.

A: As far as sexual objects go, what we oppose is the objectification – not the sex. The issue with the statue is not that MJ is depicted sexually. The issue is that she is depicted in a sexist fashion. And as anyone who has experience dealing with the female gender personally can tell you (forgive my assuming that you haven’t known the pleasures of the flesh with a lady) there is a world of difference between sexy and sexist. Lynda Carter, as Wonder Woman, is sexy. Power Girl, flexing her muscles, is sexy. Mary Jane, bending over to show off her thong and breasts while doing her man’s laundry… barefoot and in pearls… is sexist.

Q: What’s wrong with wanting to look at a hot chick with boobs?

A: Nothing. Although I would dare say that spending $125 on a statue of an unrealistically proportioned fictional woman purely for the purposes of satisfying one’s masturbatory fantasies indicates a high level of social dysfunction, a lack of imagination and an overabundance of free money that would be better spent on pornography featuring real women, psychiatric help or perhaps etiquette lessons so one might have a chance of learning how to treat a real woman in a socially acceptable manner.

So listen up Spanky and all the rest of you would-be He-Man Woman-Haters Club members – Darla and the rest of the girls are in the clubhouse. They like it inside the clubhouse. And they aren’t going anywhere.

And you boys can cry to your mommies about how mean those girls are being to you, making you listen to their point of view. You can whine to your friends, assuming you have any, about how your dad says there’s nothing wrong with treating women like objects. And you can bitch to anyone who will listen that the girls need to learn how to take a joke. You can protest and posture all you want boys – that doesn’t make you men.

Real men respect strength in others. They don’t fear it. And the fact of the matter is that every single one of you are boys are heart and the time is long past for you to grow up. So quit your whining, get back in the garage and fix my damn car!

Tune in next week! Same Matt Time! Same Matt Website!

Friday, May 11, 2007


Mini-Marvels sum up World War Hulk and Illuminati.

Nice to see there's one person at Marvel willing to take the Golden Boys to task.

Looking To The Stars -The Week In Reviews For 05/14/07

Amazing Spider-Man #540
Company Name: Marvel Comics
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Ron Garney

I'm one of the few who seems to have, for the most part, enjoyed JMS' time on Spider-Man. I liked the whole "bond to Spider totem" idea, mostly because Peter DOES fit the mold of an Anansi-style hero so well and JMS spun the story in such a way as to say "This is just a theory. It doesn't mean it is right." To my mind, JMS was also the only writer who did a convincing job of explaining how Peter wound up joining The Avengers.

Still, I've been off this title for a while simply because it wasn't worth my time to deal with reading any more Civil War tie-ins than necessary. But the word that Aunt May might be shuffling off to The Great Beyond (again) was enough to bring me back for a bit.

I've missed good Spider-Man stories so much.

Granting that the concept of Peter losing it has been done before and that the only reason we have this whole "Back in Black" storyline is because of a desperate attempt to tie in the comics to the Spider-Man 3 movie, this isn't all that bad and JMS has taken the hand dealt to him by Marvel editorial and made lemonade out of lemons. And the final scene with Kingpin - who is not the least bit shocked that Peter was able to track down his men - classic.

One thing though: I hope that someone - in either one of the Spider-Man books or in Daredevil - references the fact that Matt Murdock sprung Wilson Fisk AFTER he went out of his way to try and kill Peter and his family. That's gonna be one heck of a conversation between old friends. And my conversation I mean gratuitous Marvel-style hero fighting. :)

Grade: B

Countdown #51
Company Name: DC Comics
Writer: Paul Dini
Artist: Jesus Saiz

Oh, so much to like.

* A truly evil Duela Dent
* A good Red Hood
* Trickster and Piper, back to their "good, but not TOO good" selves.

And of course - an explanation for "The Monitors" that have been popping up here and there in the DC Universe, watching various characters and trying to kill others. It seems that they are, quite literally, continuity cops - killing off anyone who dares travel outside of their proper universe and anyone who continues living despite reality insisting they should be dead.

Which goes a long way to explaining why they were looking after Dick Grayson (who was supposed to die during Infinite Crisis), Donna Troy (who is, herself, a gestalt of every Donna Troy that ever existed in the Universe), Kyle Rayner (who jumped between realities during the Ion mini-series and was supposed to be the Green Lantern of Earth 8) and now Jason Todd (who was brought back to life thanks to a punch to reality).

So far, so good.

Grade: A

Green Arrow #74
Company Name: DC Comics
Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens

I'm reviewing this one after having had a few e-mails asking what I thought of the attempt to try and bring Ollie and Dinah back together in three issues. Morbid curiosity and the part of your brain that makes you slow down to look at car crashes did the rest.

First things first; the cover of this book and the blurb on the DC Comics site have jack and squat to do with the actual issue contents. "All of Green Arrow's secrets have been revealed to the citizens of Star City…threatening his tenure as mayor!"

The truth is that the "Ollie fighting for his political life" story has been put completely on hold and isn't even mentioned in this issue. This is probably for the best though as out of everything going on in the book, this is easily the dullest storyline. No, the major brunt of this issue centers upon Ollie and Dinah's pillow-talk following a 40-hour marathon love-making session in the wake of a Sam/Diane style argument following Brick and Merlyn's escape.

Now, ignoring any issue one might have with the idea that two professional vigilantes & former JLA members would stop following a hot trail and allow the bad guys two days to regroup and plan while they play kissy-face... the dialogue between Ollie and Dinah is actually pretty good. I wish Dinah seemed more impressed with the idea that Ollie was willing to wait forever for her than the fact that he has been celibate for over a year but that's a minor quibble.

The truth is that being given only three issues to try and bring comics' most passionate couple back together after the events of the last five years would be a daunting task for any author and the sudden "I just realized how much you've changed" moment is probably the only way this could ever work given how little contact the two have had of late.

And McDaniel's artwork is looking a lot better than it did when he first started on this title. He even manages the difficult (for him, at least) trick of drawing an attractive Dinah Lance. Don't get me wrong - I like McDaniel's work and his Nightwing run was classic - but drawing attractive female figures is not his strong point.

Honestly, this isn't that bad all things considered. Sure, it's slapdash and forced. But as far as slap-dashed and forced books go, it's about as good as it can be.

Grade: C

Jack of Fables #10
Company Name: Vertigo Comics
Writer: Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges
Artist: Tony Akins and Andrew Pepoy

Genius. That's what it is. Sheer genius!

Okay. Enough Wile E. Coyote quotes.

Seriously, I can't say a bad thing about this book. And I risk repeating myself describing all of the good things in this book. So I will just say that everyone should be reading it if they are not already.

Grade: A

Red Sonja: Vacant Shell
Company Name: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Rick Remnder
Artist: Paul Renaud

Am I the only one who thinks the Zombie meme is officially overdone? Between Marvel Zombies mania (which my colleague Paul Sebert commented upon earlier this week) and the countless independent horror titles that seem to cover the same territory over and over and over again, you can't go to the comic shop without their being some new zombie title being thrust upon you.

So here we have a story which is, at it's heart, Red Sonja fighting zombies. And yet, it is so much more than that. The plot detailing how the zombies were created and the chain of events that brings Sonja to become involved in stopping them is a nice twist on a genre that is usually limited to "here be monsters, slay them".

I can honestly say that this issue surprised me. I think it will surprise you too, whether you are a fan of fantasy comics, zombie comics or just good writing.

Grade: A

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Some Thoughts on GA/Black Canary

I was going to save most of my comments for when the first issues came out, but since the previews are out and I've found something that inspires me to write, I have decided to let inspiration run wild.

Dear GOD, the Black Canary book looks awful. I don't usually notice the art on some books but this... oh, the opening splash page made me snap to attention.

She looks like a ship's figurehead and he looks like he should be wearing a diaper and standing before a pink heart.

I'm also distressed that, after the image in 52's Origin Of The Justice League, that this story suggests that Dinah WASN'T a founding JLA member.

And naturally, I'm worried that Ollie is being written as a jerk. I mean, even accepting the fact that he's old-school Ollie... he's too much of a jerk. I wonder why that could be? Well, an interview at Wizard On-Line sheds some light.

“Why on Earth would Dinah marry Ollie? Considering that he’s cheated on her at least twice, three times—I’ve lost count—does that make her a weak character if she would go back with him after all that? - Tony Bedard, Writer of the Black Canary mini-series.

For the record, Ollie has only cheated on Dinah ONCE. And that's under really iffy circumstances. But hey, I've already written the book on that one - no need to repeat myself.

The rest of that interview is worth reading though. You get to read how every major writer who has worked with Ollie and Dinah in the last 40 years feels about them and the upcoming wedding. I find it interesting that out of all of them, Mike Grell is the most hopeful and even he thinks they'll have a rough time of it and Judd Winick is unable to talk intelligently about marriage, and instead says something regarding exactly how Dinah and Ollie are... well,

They’re randy. They’re tough. They are a couple, like, “Let’s get boozy and do it in the kitchen!”

Which explains a lot of this weeks' Green Arrow #74... ah, but I'll save that for the column.

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 5/09/07

No Fast Thoughts this week. Look for a Big Reviews column later this week.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Further Thoughts on Spider-Man 3.

There seems to be a plague of idiots who, during the scene where Mary Jane and Harry kiss, start shouting out "WHORE!" At least, most of the message board posters I talk to have made note of this happening at their theaters as well.

Now this disturbs me on a number of levels, one of which is that nobody said a damn thing about Gwen Stacy kissing a total stranger, as far as she knew, before her boyfriend, her father and most of Manhattan.

But even more disturbing to me is the fact that these same idiots at my theater CHEERED when Mary Jane got slapped later on. Actually cheered.

I think about this and the statistic that one out of every three teenage girls today are in an abusive relationship with their boyfriend and I get downright depressed.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Looking To The Stars - Spider-Man 3, In Review

It occurs to me how changes in my career seem to coincide with the release of Spider-Man movies.

In the summer of 2002, I saw Spider-Man on opening morning at the Palace Movie Theater in downtown Fort Worth, just after a job-interview at the Bass Hall Theater in Fort Worth. In 2004, I saw Spider-Man 2 at the new stadium theater at the local mall, shortly after my promotion to a senior sales position with the company I worked for then. And now, I find myself gaining a full-time position with benefits at the library I work at now the day before I went to see Spider-Man 3.

This has no direct relevance to anything, save the realization of how much my life has changed within that five year span of time and where various choices and decisions have taken me. And those ideas– choice and how life changes – are the major themes of Spider-Man 3.

But before we get into the heavy discussion, here’s a key to the aspects of the film that we will be examining.

PLOT: The big SPOILERS BEWARE part. A basic summation of the story.

INFLUENCE: A measure of how closely the film follows any direct original source material.

CHARACTERS: Are the characters written well and true to the form presented in the original printed page?

ACTING: Separate from Characters, this is a measure of how skilled the acting is regardless of how "true" it is to the comic book personality of the character.

ARTFULNESS: Nice touches and beautiful artistic shots in the cinematography.

FX: The flashy whiz-bang material and how it looks.

COMIC BOOK GUY QUOTIENT: Another big SPOILERS BEWARE section. Nit-picking over anything relating to "how it SHOULD have been done" and general Monday Morning Quarterbacking.

OVERALL: The broad summary of how I felt about the movie in general.

PLOT: For once in his life, things are going Peter Parker’s way. He’s going steady with dream-girl Mary Jane Watson. He’s doing well in his classes. And Spider-Man has become enough of a local hero to warrant a day of his own as well as being awarded a Key to the City. Of course since this is Peter Parker, this peaceful existence doesn’t last.

The police reveal that the robber who Peter was told killed Uncle Ben wasn’t really his killer and the real murderer, Flint Marko, is on the run. Marko himself becomes an even bigger menace after fleeing into a test site and gains the power to shape-shift and bond with the earth itself. Dubbed The Sandman by the press, Marko becomes an immediate problem for Spider-Man, personally and professionally.

There’s also trouble in Peter’s work life, as a new hot-shot photographer named Eddie Brock begins sniping Peter’s gig snapping pictures of Spider-Man and becomes his chief rival for a full-time staff photographer on the Daily Bugle staff. J. Jonah Jameson says the job will go to the first person who can get photographic proof of Spider-Man committing a crime.

And Peter’s relationship with Mary Jane begins to fall apart as his duties as Spider-Man limit the time they can spend together and Peter’s new found excitement about his celebrity status makes him unable to listen as Mary Jane experiences problems with her own career as an actress. Couple this with Spider-Man’s alleged romantic connection to popular model (and Peter Parker’s physics lab partner) Gwen Stacy following his saving her life and an impassioned upside down kiss before half of New York and you have a relationship in serious trouble even after Peter’s failed attempts to propose.

These romantic troubles are pounced upon by Harry Osborn - Peter’s best friend and son of the Green Goblin – who finally acts on his belief that Spider-Man killed his father and transforms himself into a new Green Goblin while playing Mary Jane against Peter in his secret identity.

And then there’s the problems presented by the mysterious black goo leaking out of a meteorite that lands near Peter and MJ on a quiet night of star-gazing. A goo that is quite alive and bonds to Peter, creating a strange black Spider-Man suit that enhances Peter’s powers and creates a blinding euphoria when he wears it… even as it makes him more and more ruthless fighting against The Sandman and Goblin.

Give it 10 for 10 for going all-out. Despite the rather wordy summary I have above, the plot blends together seamlessly and none of the threads remain untied, just like a real spider’s web.

INFLUENCE: Unlike the first two movies, there’s not really one single issue that can be defined as the basis for the story here. Elements of the plot are taken from across a wide range of issues, with the MJ/Gwen triangle being taken right out of the Stan Lee playbook, Harry becoming the new Goblin being taken from the works of Gerry Conway and J.M. DeMatteis and the introduction of Venom coming right out of Amazing Spider-Man #298-300.

Curiously, a lot seems to have been taken from the 90’s Spider-Man animated series, including the idea that the Venom Symbiote came to earth on a moon-rock as well as Eddie Brock being reinvented as a photographer rival with a grudge against Peter Parker rather than a corrupt reporter with a grudge against Spider-Man.

Regardless of the source material, the story feels like it was taken from the pages of just one Spider-Man comic though, so let’s give it 10 for 10. The spirit that went into the first two films remains as strong as ever.

CHARACTERS: With a very few exceptions, all the characters we know and love are as we would expect them to be. The Peter-MJ-Harry triangle continues to go strong. J. Jonah Jameson and the rest of the Bugle support team are picture perfect. There are, in fact, only three major deviations from the comic book portrayals.

Flint Marko is give much more depth and back-story than he has in the comics, having a sickly daughter who is his impetus for turning to crime. While Marko has usually been shown as one of the more decently-minded bad guys (not killing when possible, not robbing people who couldn’t afford it and even reforming and becoming a hero for a short time), he was never given much motivation past being a crook who never thought about trying to do good until The Thing suggested it to him.

Gwen Stacy, too, is different being much less of the Betty to MJ’s Veronica and more of her own woman. While I do vaguely remember the Gwen Stacy of the old Stan Lee books doing some modeling work, she was a simple student first and foremost rather than the seasoned professional model seen here. She was also very shy and controlled and not the kind of girl who would tongue-kiss Spider-Man in front of her father, boyfriend and half of Manhattan.

And lastly, the change that is most likely to send various purists hiding in their basements, cuddling up with a copy of Spider-Man #300 and saying “no… the Precious… we loves it and hates it!”… Eddie Brock. No longer the weight-lifting reporter whose career was ruined after his serial-killer expose was proven to be a hoax after Spider-Man captured the real serial killer, Eddie is now a rival photographer to Peter at the Daily Bugle and an effective “dark mirror” character.

All of the best Spider-Man villains have always reflections of Spider-Man. Green Goblin was everything Peter wanted in a father figure and wanted to be as a scientist corrupted. Doctor Octopus was a man of science Peter admired transformed into a monster by his own genius. And now we have Eddie Brock, who like Peter is becoming so absorbed in his career that he has begun to ignore his girlfriend and eventually becomes so enthralled with his own power that he risks destruction. He is Peter, without any sense of responsibility. And when he becomes Venom, he is power without responsibility incarnate.

The kicker is that all of these changes actually add to the characters rather than taking away from them. The only problem is that very little is done with Flint Marko and Gwen Stacy once we are introduced to them, with Marko being given little to do but fight Spider-Man and brood over his daughter’s locket and Stacy filling the generic Barbie doll role to a degree that Dunst never did. Let’s give this one a 7.

ACTING: Let’s go down the list, shall we?

Peter Parker - Half and Half, actually. Maguire does a bang-up job on his scenes as Peter and Spidey, suffering only during the scenes that require him to look “cool” after bonding with the symbiote. I’ll grant the idea that Peter would be likely to have a skewed view of coolness and probably WOULD overdo it to some degree once he is free of all his inhibitions. That being said, Maguire’s performance whenever he is “bad Peter” or during the soon-to-be infamous musical numbers is grating in the extreme. And while the man can reportedly cry on cue, he cannot look convincingly confused about his girlfriend dumping him. 5 out of 10.

Mary Jane Watson - A lot of fans come down on Kirsten Dunst and I’m not sure why. I’ve already heard the usual accusations on how she is given nothing to do but look pretty and be rescued but that’s less true of this movie than the other two films in the trilogy. I didn’t keep a running time count, but I would guess that MJ gets the most screen-time here than she did in the first two films. She certainly gets more screen time alone, with the film being just as much about her problems with sharing Peter with the world and her job problems as it is about Peter fighting various villains. And Dunst, thankfully, has the power to hold our interest during these scenes. 9 out of 10.

Harry Osborn - Second only to Maguire in the scenery-chewing department this time around, James Franco actually does a fair job playing Harry in all but one scene. Unfortunately, this scene was the biggest inspiration for laughter in the theater I saw the film in and it kills much of Harry’s credibility as a criminal mastermind capable of truly messing with Peter’s head as he was in the comics. I refer to the scene where Peter tells Harry (who has threatened MJ into dumping Peter) that MJ has dumped him for some other guy and Harry tells him, with faked tears that flow into over-the-top evil smiling as he enjoys his pie, that HE is the other guy. 6 for 10 here.

The Sandman - Sadly, Thomas Haden Church is at his most expressive and animated when he is being rendered as a CGI sandstorm. He has the look of Flint Marko, to be sure, but he seems more annoyed than truly desperate as the hardened criminal turned natural disaster. 3 for 10 here, as he really doesn’t get much to do but look confused when he isn’t destroying things.

Eddie Brock - The standout surprise of the movie, Topher Grace took a lot of flack from Spider-Man purists, being regarded as a better fit to play Peter Parker than Tobey Maguire (They probably wanted Laura Prepon as Mary Jane, too…) and an absolutely horrible choice to play Eddie Brock. And were Eddie Brock the muscle-bound dumb jock he was written as in most of his appearances, they would be right. Thankfully, the Eddie Brock presented here is a much more interesting and developed character than his comics counterpart and much more fitting of the “dark mirror” role that Venom was supposed to fill. 10 for 10.

Gwen Stacy - The most thankless role in the whole film, anyone who attacks the writers of the Spider-Man series for not giving Kirsten Dunst much to do had better bitch and bitch hard about Bryce Dallas Howard’s turn as Gwen Stacy. Because if ever there was an example of a character existing only as a prop for other characters, this is it. Seriously, here’s the blow by blow list of where she shows up in the movie.

1. Seen in Peter’s physics class to establish – hey, she’s in Peter’s science class.
2. Saved from a horrible death by falling at a modeling gig by Spider-Man, used only to establish that her jerk boyfriend Eddie is more interesting in snapping pictures than her safety and to set up…
3. She Introduces Spider-Man at the big awards ceremony and is encouraged to give him a big kiss, thus fueling Mary Jane’s worries about Peter moving away from her.
4. Shows up unexpectedly at the same restaurant where Peter is trying to propose to Mary Jane, sparking a huge fight as MJ is quizzing him about kissing “that girl” in public.
5. Gets taken out on a date by Peter to MJ’s workplace, purely for the purpose of making MJ jealous.

Then again, it’s not like Gwen Stacy ever had much more of a personality than “helpless maiden” in the original Stan Lee stories. And Howard gives the material a lot better performance than it deserves. Which, it turns out, is a good choice as the little touches in Howard’s performance make the character interesting in what brief moments she has. I particularly like the fact that she goes to Mary Jane and apologizes after it becomes clear that Peter is less interested in her and more interested in showing off to Mary Jane. 7 out of 10 for effort.

And The Rest - Rosemary Harris is still a delight as Aunt May. Bruce Campbell turns in his best cameo yet as a snooty head waiter. James Cromwell does a nice, brief turn as Captain Stacy -Gwen’s dad AND the cop who gives Peter the bad news about his Uncle Ben’s killer. And J.K. Simmons steals the show as “Jolly” J. Jonah Jameson.

Give it a 7 for 10 overall. There’s some lackluster performances, but nothing bad enough to sink the whole film.

ARTFULNESS: Sadly, this is where the movie falls apart. Sam Raimi is a great director of characters and spectacles but cinematography has never really been a strong point in his films. Indeed, some scenes (the bit with two policemen investigating a dump truck full of sand while hunting Flint Marko comes to mind) appear to have been filmed with a hand-held “steady-cam” that is anything but steady. It’s not quite “Blair Witch”, but it is distracting enough compared to the smoothness of other scenes to be a distraction. The editing also seems to have been rushed, with some cuts coming far too quickly for the audience to perceive what is going on. Still, most of the movie does look gorgeous though I have to ask how many shots of Spider-Man standing before an American Flag we really need to get “Okay, he’s the good guy!” 6 out of 10.

FX: The FX are most effective when things are slowed down enough for us to marvel at the sights, such as the scene where Peter works his way through a pile of falling debris to save Gwen Stacy.. Most of the movie is nice to look at and the effects are amazing. Still, some sequences (such as Peter’s first fight with Harry) move far too quickly to be appreciated. 8 out of 10 overall, though.

COMIC BOOK GUY QUOTIENT: I’ve already covered most of this with my character notes about Venom not being a big hulking mass of muscle, Gwen not being an innocent virgin and Sandman having a daughter. The characters are there, really – the details are just different. Quite honestly, the purists will have little to complaint about unless they are die-hard Venom fan-boys. Still, 7 out of 10 for the changes they did make.

OVERALL: A solid 8 and highly recommended. It’s not as good as Spider-Man 2 was, but ain’t that always the way with trilogies?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 5/02/07

Expect a Spider-Man 3 review before weekend's end.

Oh, and in totally irrelevant to the comics industry news, I'm finally working full-time in my Secret Identity as mild-mannered librarian Matt Morrison.

52 WEEK #52 - Here it is. The moment we've all been waiting for.

Is this a perfect story? No. Did all the questions we need answered get answered? No.

Do I care in a story where we find out that old Captain Marvel villain Mr. Mind is a baby Cthulhu capable of devouring all of space and time? HELL NO!

So... yeah. The DC Multiverse is back, 52 Worlds strong. Which 52? Well, I'm sure this will get mapped out eventually but here's the ones we know about for sure.

Earth 1 - New Earth (i.e. where most of the DC Comics take place)
Earth 2 - The JSA Earth, where Huntress is Batman's daughter.
Earth 3 - The Evil Earth Prime. Home of Crime Syndicate of America.
Earth 4 - Charlton Comics
Earth 5 - Old School Captain Marvel
Earth 10 - Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters
Earth 17 - Unknown, save the Knights are riding weird white monster mounts through the rubble of another civilization.
Earth 22 - Kingdom Come
Earth 50 - Wildstorm Comics (Gen-13, WILDCATS, Authority)

One more thing: I want more adventures of Ralph Dibny: Ghost Detective!

ASTONISHING X-MEN #21 - The one X-Men book I'll read, and not just because it seems to annoy the piss out of the people who read all the other X-Men books. Like Grant Morrison before him, Joss Whedon is dragging the X-Men concept into new territories. About the only thing you can guarantee with each new issue is that there will be something to make you go into squeeing fanboy excitement at the sure coolness or appropriateness of the moment.

GIANT SIZE RED SONJA #1 - A value for the price, though I would have favored more of the new material and less of the remastered and recolored reprints of classic Roy Thomas tales. Not that I hold anything against Roy Thomas - far from it - but I had read some of these tales before and apart from one story I believe was originally told in the old Savage Sword of Conan magazine, none are particularly hard to find. Still, it's worth getting just for the one new story... a continuation of the story from the Red Sonja #0 issue, with the barmaid who aided Sonja's enemies in an ambush against her setting upon her own path of revenge.

GREEN LANTERN #19 - You know, I should be worried that they are taking the Emotional Color Wheel concept that begat Parallax and are running with it. I mean, it's a silly, old-fashioned concept... unworthy of the great concept of a man with a ring that let him do anything... except affect things that are yellow.

Nah, unlike many of my brethren I actually LIKE the concept of an emotional spectrum with Yellow as Fear and Green as Willpower. It's completely and totally unsound scientifically but... it's comic book physics.

So in this issue, we find out that long-time Hal Jordan villain Star Sapphire is also connected to this color spectrum. Billions of years ago when the alien Guardians who created the Green Lantern Corps, a number of females (dubbed The Zamarons) from their species struck out on their own. The exact reasons for this have never been fully explained... until now.

Basically, they were concerned about the Guardians taking a Jedi Order approach to their plans to police the universe (no fear, but no love either) and they set out to create their own guardians using the Violet light manifested by the Power of Love and (Cue the Huey Lewis music) and the

But the power proved all-consuming to any connected to the crystals, so the Zamarons relied upon deceit to control the women the crystal possessed, making them think they were to be Queen of their homeworld. They also gave the crystals only to the girlfriends and wives of male Green Lanterns in the hopes that The Guardians would see their good works and realize their folly.

Problem is, apart from the connection to all-consuming love tends to make most women crazed dominatrixes (I've had that happen a few times) that the means by which a world gets "saved" by a Star Sapphire involves everyone being frozen in amethyst.

So it all gets explained. Why The Star Sapphire only possessed two (now three) of Hal Jordan's girlfriends out of all the women on Earth... why their powers seemed so similar to those of the Green Lanterns and... oh yes... why the Zamorans are now gathering up an army of women to bond to their Sapphires.

I trust in Geoff Johns to pull this off. I just fully expect a revamped Rainbow Raider once this is all said and done.

TEEN TITANS #46 Duela Dent isn't dead. Much happiness.

And yeah... while this doesn't even begin to fix all the damage that has been done to Slade's character in the last year, it's a good first step.

Can we believe that Slade Wilson would honestly set up an evil Titans team and lead a fight against the latest incarnation of the group, purely so that his own children would fight against him, remove any doubt of where their loyalties stand and give them the family he couldn't provide?

The Slade of five years ago, sure. But not the Slade of today. Too much twisted evil has been done in the name of a character who was a killer and a mercenary, but one who still had something of a code of honor.

XENA, WARRIOR PRINCESS - DARK XENA #1 -The Cthulhu tributes continue this week, with this "What If?" (I think) story about Gabrielle meeting one of the Old Ones and bargaining to bring Xena back to life and put things back "as they were before". The catch being, of course, that Xena comes back as the ruthless, amoral warlord she was before she met Gabrielle and... well, hilarity occurs.

I saw the twist coming a mile away (the story title is Dark Xena, for crying out loud!) but the story is an ammusing tale regardless. I'll definitely be picking up Issue 2.