Monday, December 29, 2008

Dragonball Z isn't the only place to find a Spirit Bomb.

SOURCE: 'Marley' leads pack on Christmas weekend

There was one lump of coal amid the Christmas cheer: Lionsgate's "Spirit," Frank Miller's PG-13 adaptation of the Will Eisner graphic novel and the holiday's fifth wide opener, had to settle for ninth place with a four-day cume of $10.4 million.

Because who would have thought opening an over-the-top, sexy, violent Sin City-style adventure movie at Christmas would ever be a bad idea?

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 12/24/08

The last batch of new comics of the year.

Crap! That means I need to pick out by best of 2008 picks...

KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE #145 - The comics were funny, as usual. I particularly liked all the nice touches as to how B.A. used the previous campaigns to build upon his usual game world - all while apparently putting the screws to his players even as they cheer about how Bob's old character is being worshiped as a god while another of his characters went on to establish a splinter-group religion in an unforgiving terrain.

But the real surprise - for me at least - was that my letter on the Kenzerco forums regarding the firing of Noah Antwiler was printed. And even more surprising was how badly it was mangled by someone who apparently doesn't understand the difference between sarcasm and irony. Seriously. The version in the magazine omits my disclaimer of ironic content (included only because I know that few get Swiftian humor these days) and changes (irony) to (sarcasm).

The original letter is up here, and goes a little something like this.

WARNING: The following post contains irony and the use of sarcastic ranting as parody. The irony-impaired are advised to use caution before reading this.

(irony on)

Gaming the Movies stinks!

Seriously. We lost Gamers Rant for this?

Instead of the brilliant comedy and sarcastic kvetching of Noah Antwiler, we are - thanks to the whining of a few people who aren't trusted to handle sharp objects (my personal theory for why the "dotted-line" failed) - now being treated to a column that gives us gamemasters advice on how to strip-mine various geek movies for material for their role-playing games.

Because apparently there are a lot of game masters out there who have no idea how to rip-off movies and TV Shows for game fodder, whom have been demanding such hot tips as "You could easily recycle some of the gangs from the movie, such as the Disco Boys, the Red Eyes or the Susies" for their comedic superhero games." and they needed an entire three-page column on how to do this.

Wow. Thank you, Jim Davenport. Thank you for this great service you have done for the gaming community - devoting three pages to giving instructions on how to do what 90% of all hack gamemasters already do!

(irony off)

In all seriousness, I think the new movie column is a poor substitute for The Gamer's Rant. Not only does it lack the humor that I read KODT for - it's also fundamentally useless as a column since all of it's advice boils down to "Rip This Off For Your Game" (which I don't think most GM's need someone to tell them to do) and it's reviews read like transcripts of the old Chris Farley Show skits on Saturday Night Live (Remember when you walked across the broken glass in Die Hard? That was awesome!)

I'll still keep reading the KODT, of course. As a customer who buys through my FLGS instead of the website, I already know - by The Powers That Be's own admission - that my opinion is worth less than that of those of other fans. But I have too much self-respect to troll the boards and I'm happy with Noah's work at The Spoony Experiment. KODT'S loss in the Internet's Gain.

RED SONJA #40 - And here it is - the new status quo. Lady Sonja as a sort of Avatar of Morrigan (the name isn't used, but the general description of Red Sonja does fit) with Red Sonja as a secret identity, Osin the geriatric Barbarian Bard as her sidekick and a long-running quest to get some magical doo-dad before Sonja's treacherous sister and her scoundrel lover can.

It isn't my Red Sonja but it is by no means a bad story. And we still have the monthly features in Savage Tales for those of us who prefer a more Conan-ish Sonja. Definitely an underrated title.

WONDER WOMAN #27 - Okay, I'm officially lost. I'll confess to having not studied the Wonder Woman mythos as closely as I have some aspects of DC Comics history. And I freely admit to having not read the better portion of the Titans/Young Justice oeuvre. But is it just me, or do Donna and Cassie seem REALLY out of character here?

Seriously. Donna being all hard-core, bad-ass "this is how a proper Amazon must act"... is that how she is now, after the... what is it, the third or fourth rebirth/reimagining?

I don't know. The last time I read anything she was in regularly was the Wonder Woman comics that came out just after she and Kyle Rayner broke up in Green Lantern. But my vision of Donna has always been that of a slightly less uptight Diana, who treated all the Amazon ritual stuff like a lapsed Catholic treats Christmas.

And while I've heard quite a bit about how Cassie's characterization in Teen Titans of late has been so off-course they had to hand-wave it as being mind-control (funny how often this happens to the teenage heroines, isn't it?), I don't really see Cassie - who if I recall correctly - got schooled on the Amazon thing a LOT more than Donna ever was requiring a lecture on bearing up under pressure.

And I'm still unclear as to where we're going with Space Zeus, Athena dying (wasn't she more powerful than him now?) and all of the Amazons apparently being hand-waved out of the normal lives they were magically waved into during Amazons Attack so that we can usher in Zeus' new defenders of Olympian ideals. Which, if we're going to be accurate to Greek myth, is going to involve a whole lot of drinking, rape and nude male wrestling. Probably not in that order.

I suspect it will all be clear in the trade...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 12/17/08

BIRDS OF PREY #125 - What should have been a charming "old-school" story in which Babs and Dinah team-up, in person, to bring down one of the creepier members of techie-villain group The Syndicate is ruined by the artwork of Scott McDaniel. I'm not one who believes that all artwork must be full of cheesecake shots and pin-up work but is it too much to ask for somebody who can actually draw women to be given the art chores on Birds of Prey?

At least the art distracts from Tony Bedard's dialogue and the heavily forced idea that Babs is apparently suffering some kind of crisis of faith in her own abilities following her nearly getting beaten to death by The Joker last issue. Apparently this is mean tot set up the character-redefining Oracle mini-series nobody asked for. At least we won't have to suffer through this for much longer...

CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #6 - More of the same, though the story is moving forward. Conan's adventures intercut with tales of his adventurer grandfather. This time Conan comes home and plays storyteller regarding his own adventures, reunites with his mother and hears tale of how his grandfather came to settle down, due to a woman who promised him adventure enough at home - Conan's grandmother, of course. Though it seems Truman is now writing for the Trade, the issue does not suffer for it. I suspect though that this tale may, like Conan's own tales, be all the better told in one sitting.

EX MACHINA #40 - This may well win my pick for issue of the year. A meta-textual treat staring Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris themselves, as they go in to pitch for the job of doing a comic book based on Mayor Mitchell Hundred's administration. There's quite a few in-jokes here, such as "BKV" being mistaken for Brian Michael Bendis (which would piss me off as much as it does him) and the "finished comic" that eventually shows up on the last two pages. Give you a hint - if you're a fan of Wildstorm in general and The Authority: Kev in particular...

One question - is BKV's girlfriend's name Ruth? I just want to know if the issue name is a bad pun...

FABLES #79 - Still the best overall book every month, bar none. Go get the first trade if you haven't read it already.

HELLBLAZER #250 - An anthology comic of five stories involving John Constantine and the holidays. Well, four stories involving the holidays and one that has sod and all to do with anything. Let me give you the run down and we'll make like it's Sesame Street.

One of these things is not like the other...

* "Happy F****** New Year" - a story by Dave Gibbons, in which John is pressed into recovering a stolen Egyptian artifact only to wind up rushing to stop the sacrifice of a baby on New Years Eve.

* "Christmas Cards" - a story by Jamie Delano, in which John stands witness into a Christmas Eve poker game between a ruthless card shark and a man desperately trying to win the money to buy his daughter out of sexual slavery.

* "All I Goat For Christmas" - a story by Brian Azzarello, in which John is hired to end the curse on the Chicago Cubs.

* "The Curse of Christmas" - a story by Peter Milligan, in which John is pressured by a pushy ghost into investigating the mysterious deaths of three politicians who all died mysteriously during The Queen's Christmas Eve address.

* "Snow Had Fallen" - a story by China Mieville (a British sci-fi writer who is apparently my generation's answer to H.P. Lovecraft, according to the biography I found), in which John is called in to investigate an industrial accident and the plague of demons hounding an Anglican orphange in the shadow of a purification plant at Christmas.

If you guessed that four of these writers are Brits and one is American, you're close. If you guessed that four of these writers are respected masters of horror and one of them had a run on Hellblazer that was so disastrous that most John Constantine fans pretend it never happened, spot on.

Still, if you're curious about Constantine and looking for a good jump-on issue, this is it. Just skip the bad poetry and John fighting a giant goat demon in an American Sports bar.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Thoughts on HEROES, Season 3, Chapter 13 - Dual

Duel? Dual? Nobody seems sure.

One thing is certain - they have an uphill battle getting me to keep watching into Season 4.

7:59 - LAST TIME: Sylar killed Elle, killed a human lie-detector, killed Arthur and generally acted more like himself than he has all season. This was a great relief until I remembered that most of the season was squandered with a bunch of soap opera drama regarding his parentage and his powers that ultimately changed nothing! Meanwhile, Hiro is trapped and powerless in the past while Ando, Matt and Daphne are working on a way to rescue him. Claire just got blasted back to the future after preventing herself from being given the catalyst. And Nathan, Tracy and Mohinderance are now building an army of dirt-stupid, PTSD-afflicted super-soldiers.

8:01 - Sylar narrating. Nice speech here.

8:02 - Heh. Watchmen moment there. "You're too late, Pete. We injected a dozen marines already."

8:03 - NICE fakeout!

8:04 - And... Sylar's back. And not happy with "mommy". But with Bennet, Claire and Meredith there... and Sylar pulling the Saw act, ready to show everyone they're all monsters too.

You know... that's actually a neat little conceit.

8:07 - Dammit! I know it's icing over, weatherman! Quit interrupting the show!

8:09 - WHEW! They didn't interrupt the show. And yay - Claire believes her dad can fight Sylar. Nice pep-talk.

8:10 - "And now I'm talking to a pigeon!"

8:11 - Nice to see Matt finally remembering his roommate. And our only hope of saving Hiro is Mohinderance! Well, Hiro is screwed...

8:12 - Peter's becoming quite the Bad Ass Normal. And... wow. Knox and Flint working for the good guys. Okay - it's for the wrong reasons but Peter needs all the help he can get.

8:14 - Wow. Matt being the voice of reason and NOT an idiot about injecting yourself with an untested formula. This is a day for miracles.

8:16 - How much trouble can Hiro cause without his powers? Oh... quite a bit. :)

8:17 - "I'd like to give him a good spanking". I can hear the fan-fic being written already.

8:18 - Sylar wangst. "I could have been a nobody." And yet, I find this much more appealing and real than the characterization we've had the rest of this Season.

8:23 - Okay. I know this will come back to bite Bennet in the ass... but yeah, use the desperate killers as bait for the other desperate killer. Definitely acceptable losses.

8:24 - Yeah. A speech on morals and ethics from the guy who has been kidnapping random people off the streets of New York, putting them in cocoons and experimenting on them. Broil his ass, Flint!

8:25 - And - yeah. All the other desperate killers got punked. Bad.

8:26 - And... the Puppet Master got Sylar!

8:27 - Well, for a bit.

8:28 - Oh GODS that is brilliant! THAT is the Sylar we know and hate. But I know Bennet is going to find a way out of this.

Bennet injected Meredith full of adrenaline, making her unable to control her fire. He put her in a room and then locked Bennet into an air-tight Level 5 cell. The choice? Kill her to stop the fire from eating the oxygen... or kill himself to save her.

8:33 - THAT was sudden. Tracy with the body freezing for the win.

8:34 - Oh... Wow. Ando doesn't make Red Lighting.... he's a booster! Fits my theory of how the formula just amplifies a person's natural personality or wants. So Ando - the ultimate support player - just became... the ultimate support player. :) So... yeah. Daphne can time-travel now.

8:37 - I said it before and I'll say it again. Jack Coleman. Bruce Wayne. Batman: Dark Knight Returns.

Claire fought her way past Sylar to try and unlock the door. Naturally, Sylar broke the panel. But Sylar didn't count on Bennet having Meredith touch the bullet proof glass, him weakening it with one shot and Claire breaking the glass with her body. :)

8:38 - And again - thankfully - the weather-man waits until the commercial to tell us that yes, yes, yes, Dallas is icing over. Insert joke about Heroes being good again and hell freezing over.

8:42 - Oh, wow. He fired her. Didn't see that coming.

8:43 - "How do you know about Einstein, Einstein?" Priceless.

8:44 - I love Hiro running as his dad says "Go to bed". :)

8:45 - And that's how it got split in the first place! :D

8:46 - "Like a Flash." That was so cute I don't mind the bad pun or the reference.

8:47 - Hee! Of course a samurai is forbidden from striking a lady. But Tracy is no lady.

8:49 - And yay! Peter gets his powers back and does the stupid, but moral thing by saving his jerk-ass idiot brother. And yes, Mohinderance is doused in flammable formula and left in the burning lab. I'm not naive enough to think they actually killed him - we couldn't be that lucky. But oh he is going to suffer for his stupidity.

8:52 - And here we go. Sylar alone with Angela. And Angela playing mind-games.

8:53 - And yes... lie-detector time again. And yes - Angela is a monster. But she knows who Sylar's real parents are. And she's telling the truth.

8:54 - And Claire just got him. Back of the head.

8:56 - You know... there's no reason I can think of that Claire can't try and carry Meredith up a few floors before she goes off. It's not like she can be hurt by the fire. Of course then again jostling her at this point might set the "bomb" off. Hmmm...

8:57 - And yeah. Peter did the right thing. And Nathan is still an asshole.

8:58 - Yeah. I knew it. He survived. And is apparently back to normal. And now he's working with Tracy.

So here's the final tally sheet, for those who want the big summary.

Peter: Has his power back. Dunno if he got back everything he's ever had but he can, at the least, fly.

Nathan: Lost everything except his Senate seat. Is now using his authority and his knowledge of The Company to track down and secretly imprison every person with powers he can, similar to what he was doing as President in Season One. Creepily, this goes along perfectly with what Sylar said Nathan was doing BEFORE Sylar replaced him in the original Dark Future in Season One. Though I am still smarting on how his motivation goes from "give powers to a bunch of people to make the world a better place" to "get rid of all the people with powers to keep them from throwing their weight around" in the course of a week. Of course given that he just had his plans blown up by two rogues and his powerless brother...

Claire: Got dad's respect. Grew to love her birth mother. And oh yes - killed Sylar. Probably.

Bennet: Still a cool bastard and the person Most Likely To Take Down Anybody. 10 To 1 he'll be the first against the wall when Nathan makes a play to bring down all the rest of the HEROES.

Angela: Alive, for what that is worth. The Company appears to have been set back quite a bit, but at least they don't have to worry about all the Level 5 escapees. Well, all the ones that aren't still on the run, anyway.

Hiro: Powerless, but he destroyed the formula so it can't be used again.

Ando: Now has the power to increase the effectiveness of other people's powers.

Matt: Free to pursue guilt-free relationship with Daphne. Probably wondering where the hell Molly is.

Daphne: Redeemed herself in her own eyes. Free to pursue guilt-free relationship with Matt.

Sylar: Probably dead.

Meredith: Probably dead.

Mohinderance: Unfortunately not dead. Possibly back to normal. Appears to have hooked up with Tracy to salvage what is left of Pinehearst, even though they have no formula, no samples and a burned-out building with a bunch of dead marines in it.

Tracy: Fired. Apparently hooking up with Mohinderance to salvage what is left of Pinehearst.

The Haitian: Ummm... he got out of Pinehearst before it burned up, right?

The Final Verdict: Okay. I'm going to stick around for Season Four, if only because it looks like Micah is coming back. And because Nathan as the big bad should be interesting.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thoughts On Final Crisis: Final Crisis #5

p. 1-6 - The Trial of Hal Jordan begins and ends with a good deal of efficiency. This scene is actually a microcosm of the Green Lantern books in general. Everyone is focused on Hal. Guy and Kyle do all the hard work. And John is absent, doing the most thankless work out of the four off-camera. So what have we learned kids?

* The Earthers are always right.
* The Guardians are arrogant, blue idiots.

p. 7 - Okay - so Checkmate (at least, the part Amanda Waller is running) wants The Next Question to join their team of non-super heroes.

p. 8-9 - And yeah. Darkseid broods as his followers kiss-up. And the Female Furies dressing, if you care about that.

p. 10 - JSA fighting the minions of Darkseid. I didn't know Tempest was still alive...

p. 11-13 - Hey! Mr. Miracle isn't dead. And apparently they painted their faces that way for a reason. Something to do with the circuit The Tattooed Man had last issue?

p. 14-15 - Kalibak the Tiger-Man and his folllowers.

p. 16-17 - And... there's the heroes. I recognize about half of them.

p. 18 - Hey! There's John Stewart!

p. 19 - And there's Crazy Mary Marvel. With Black Adam trying the lighting gambit to depower her.

p. 20-21 - And it doesn't work. And Freddy tries fighting her but doesn't do too good. And the tiger-men show up to help her as Tawny Tiger shows up to help Freddy.

p. 22-24 - Okay. The crazy artist kid is locked up with everyone else immune to Anti-Life and... one of his drawings is of the female Monitor. So I guess he was the exiled Monitor. And then some guy completes a Rubik's Cube in 17 moves and things get weird.

p. 25 - Hmmm. Calculator is about to get hung for treason just after someone messed around with a Rubik's Cube. That can't be a coincidence, that being his symbol and all. And yeah.... Lex is looking WAY too cowed. 10 To 1 Lex is responsible for the leak to the superhero resistance.

p. 26-27 - Darkseid rises as Kara figures something out... and then heat-waves the sides of Mary's head... did a Mr. Mind get inside her?

p. 28 - The Green Lantern cavalry are free-falling into the big black hole where Earth is and the art is all Black Hole Sun as they do so.

p. 29-32 - And... Darkseid is risen, half the world is under his control... and the Rubik's cube causes The Monitor kid to be reborn as "The Judge of All Evil".

Clear as mud?

Green Arrow/Black Canary #15 - In Review

After a year-long story arc in which Ollie and Dinah were forced to play second fiddle to Batman in their own title and Connor Hawke was turned into a generic martial artist with a healing factor, most Arrowheads were glad to see Judd Winick step off the book.

Saying that hopes were high for this issue, Andrew Kreisberg's first on the title, would be putting it mildly. Shortly after #14 was released, bold proclamations were made. No more would Ollie be portrayed as a poor man's Batman! No more would Dinah be limited to the role of eye-candy, ring-chasing bimbo or hostage! Everything would be better, right?


*bangs head against desk*

They couldn't even let us have ONE panel to dream, could they?!

*sighs* At least it's just a knife to the throat and not a sword in her mouth this time. Still... you'd think they'd know better than to open with this! Unless... is it a fake-out? Is this a feint so Dinah can lay the smack down?

YES! It was a feint. And the smackdown was lain! Could we get some sweet-talking from the two love-birds?

Awwww. That's picture perfect. Okay. Fade to black and print it.

*whisper whisper whisper*

What? What do you mean there's another page left? Oh.. well, okay. Run it!




Oh, HELL no!

Bad enough that Dinah spent most of the last year in her own book not doing anything! Now they have to portray her as being criminally negligent regarding her superpowers, injuring innocent people!


At least we still have Justice League of America...

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 12/10/08

One bad thing about my new job - I have to close Wednesdays. I report into work just as my comic shop is opening. I get out an hour after the comic shop closes. And my comic shop - the closest one to my work place - is 20 miles away. And with traffic on the freeways being what it is in the middle of the day, it takes my entire lunch break - if I'm lucky - to get there and back to work.

So yeah... look for future installments of Fast Thoughts on Thursdays.

Still... today was worth going in for. I got the last two of Green Arrow/Black Canary #15 - one for me and one for my Canary loving girlfriend. And Final Crisis #5 is out. But they will each get their own separate, special reviews. For now... the rest of the comics!

AMBUSH BUG YEAR NONE #5 - It's Ambush Bug vs. Dan Didio. If you need any explanation past that, you're beyond redemption.

Well, okay. If you must have a list of random things...

* Dan Didio joins with The Source Wall.
* Dan Didio becomes a Monitor
* The evil Ambush Bug of Earth 3
* Ambush Bug on Earth Frank Miller (a.k.a. Earth Peach Schnapps)
* The fabled Blue Pencil of Schwartzamotto that grants the power to remake the face of a universe.
* Darkdidio.
* A list of the six things all cross-overs need which this one forgot until now.

No appearance by Major Spoiler, but I guess we can't have everything.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #31 - And the winner for the creepiest comic all week is... THIS ONE! For the final panel I can't bring myself to scan, in which a pregnant Green Lantern is going into labor, all while being held hostage by the baby-napping Sinestro Corps member Kryb as well as four brain-washed Green Lanterns. Kryb loves babies, you see. Enough to kill parents to see their children properly raised.

And yeah - showing the same wisdom that has been the hallmark of their decisions lately, The Guardian solution to dealing with a serial killer who attacks married Green Lanterns and parents is... to outlaw Green Lanterns dating, marrying or loving one another.

Do they not get the Star Wars movies on Oa? You'd think Kyle would mention the Jedis and say "Bad idea." They'd listen to him! He's the torchbearer!

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #27 - A lot of the Milestone Comics heroes return. And Dwayne McDuffie takes on the thankless task of trying to fix the female Dr. Light that Judd Winick F.U.B.A.R.ed. But for my money, the best part of the issue is THIS.

Yes. Dinah stands up to the Big 3. And it's magic - especially given her treatment lately in her own book.

SECRET SIX #4 - It's official. Paternal Bane officially creeps me out more than Ragdoll. The urge to steel an ice cream truck as a getaway vehicle from a crime scene and then gorge oneself in gravy and prostitutes in Vegas is far more natural and less damaging to my sense of sanity than Bane saying "Scandal, you are allowed ONE ice cream treat of your choice."

This is a good book, though I'm more interested in the various random criminals in Lady Vic's gang of hired killers. Indeed, I would like to see an entire issue devoted to the new female Crazy Quilt. Because that is how I roll.

Watchmen Footage From San Diego ReEarthed

Watch it quick. We don't know how long this may stay up.

And is it just me, but with the mustache and the cigar as a young man... doesn't the Comedian look like Groucho Marx?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thoughts on HEROES, Season 3, Chapter 12 - Our Father

I am trying to look at the positives.

Mohinderance is definitely a bad guy beyond redemption at this point. Sylar is back to being an evil lone wolf, as he should be. Nathan is back to being the asshole brother while Peter is back to being the idealist trying to save the world. And Bennet was such a bad ass last week - even granting for the bit where Hiro saves him and his family - that they have had to redefine the definition of the word bad ass to accommodate just how bad ass he was.

Tim Kring writes his first solo script since the Season 3 premiere. Can he begin to turn things around?

7:36 - No skipping pictures this week. I think we may have an honest-to-goodness Live Blog this week!

7:56 - Still clear so far.

8:01 - Yeah - that's about what I'd sound like if I were to meet Hayden face-to-face. Not Japanese - asking about train stations and bathrooms.

8:04 - Huh. I called it. Hiro is the catalyst - not Claire. Maybe.

8:05 - So Hiro's mom had a power too. She's a healer. Then if Dad being a probability manipulator is still in continuity (it got revealed in one of the extra scenes on the Season 2 DVD) then it's pretty much a given his sister would have a power too.

Sorry - this came up in conversation with friends earlier in the week and how the questions coming up regarding supporting characters we don't see are more interesting than the main storyline.

8:08 - Okay. I HATE seeing Elle gone as she was one of the few characters who actually had a story that was going somewhere AND because I love Kristen Bell. That said... it's good to see Sylar back.

8:11 - Why do I sense that Peter is going to try and pull a Luke on Arthur's Anakin?

8:12 - Hey, who's the blonde? Oh yeah... I forgot Ali Larter was still in this show!

8:13 - Oh snap! Nathan pulling rank on his dad... of course we know this will end in tears, even if he is insisting that he is going to do good with his dad's plan and chews Tracy out for working behind his back.

8:14 - Intelligent Design - ha-ha-ha!

8:16 - You know - it's a good thing the Dr. Who paradoxes about touching your past self don't apply here. I'm still sure that going back in time to teach your mom how to handle a baby probably isn't a good idea.

8:18 - Hmmm... Human Lie Detector. Cool power idea we haven't seen yet. And wow... "This won't hurt a bit.... got me!"

8:19 - "Cake!" I've missed the evil Sylar. :)

8:23 - Huh. Nathan actually screening each person on his army personally. You might actually think he's making a serious go at this.

8:24 - "If only I was more than human..." Yeah. NOT a good sign.

8:25 - "What are you, a cop?" Hee hee. And yeah... telepathic cop wins again. And hey - they found that sketch-book awful fast.

8:26 - Yes. Thank you Daphne.

8:27 - So for those of you keeping track a 28 year old man with a 10 year old mind is pretending to be the chef in the house he grew up in. And yeah... he's getting to hear his dad insult his actual 10 year old self. Amazingly, this synchs up really well with what we know of Hiro's childhood in Saving Charlie.

8:29 - I'd be worried if there were anything Bennet could actually do to hurt Claire.

8:34 - You know... this will probably cause bad things to happen but... damn this bit with Claire and her dad as a young man is a good, touching scene.

8:36 - And this also - with Hiro and his Mom - is also a good and touching scene.

8:41 - Mr. Kring? I can't say that all is forgiven after everything that your negligence caused this season. But after that 10 minutes of TV... I'd like to give you the chance to try and fix it.

8:45 - Another nice scene. The Haitian saying that silence betrays someone. Discussing what it is to make someone powerless and to kill your family...

8:47 - For those who are wondering how Arthur knew to be there to stop Claire and Hiro, because I know SOMEONE is going to ask? He's a precog, remember?

8:49 - Okay... glad as I am to see Hiro alive... that's such a cop out. Still, it's nowhere near as contrived as most of what has happened this season... so yay another character I like not being killed off senselessly!

8:51 - It looks like the goo from Ghostbusters 2.

8:54 - You know... they could have given The Haitian a gun too in case Peter wussed out. I'm just saying.

8:56 - Why am I expecting a repeat of that scene with Willem Dafoe in Spider-Man?

8:57 - Oh sure... NOW Mohinderance learns to use test subjects first instead of injecting himself.

8:58 - Well, he broke the glass with his chair but... yeah. Definite Dafoe moment.

8:59 - So, good news... Arthur is stopped and Sylar isn't really a Petrelli and Peter - I think - has his powers back. Bad news - Nathan is giving superpowers to potentially unstable grunts under the guidance of a power hungry temptress and the world's most incompetent mad scientist.

The Final Verdict: Kring reminded us of what made this show great in the first place - the relationships between the characters and how great power just makes life complicated. For the first time in a long while... I'm really looking forward to next week's show.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 11/26/08 & 12/4/08

The week of Thanksgiving, all the comics I got were for my girlfriend. This week, all the comics I got were for me. Kinda funny, that.


Line Of The Issue: "Hear that sound? That's Black Canary's motorcycle. Six other pissed-off heroes are right behidn her and about to walk in. Wanna show them too?" - Misfit, to The Joker, after being told that he just killed Barbara and asking "Wanna see?"

Fans of Barbara Gordon and all other Bat-fans take note - this is a must-have issue. I've ragged a bit on Tony Bedard - justifiably, most think - for some of the stupid, over-the-top villains presented as part of the ruling class of techie town Platinum Flats. But I can forgive all of that for the moment in which Barbara Gordon manages to get back at The Joker in the perfect fashion. Highlight the text below if you really want to know...

Barbara smacks The Joker in the teeth with an escrima stick, breaking most of his teeth and ruining his famous smile. Eye for an eye, tooth for a leg justice at its' best. And while Joker has kidnapped a dental surgeon and had his teeth repaired in the issue denouement and the only thing that saved Barbara from being killed after that was the timely intervention of The Birds, I still count it as a moral victory. Barbara, for better or worse, embraced her physical changes and refused to become a victim whereas The Joker couldn't deal with the effect of a physical assault changing who he was and went out of his way to put things back to normal while denying the original attack. In the end, Barbara proved she was stronger than The Joker.

Given BoP's cancellation, this panel seems oddly bittersweet.

It's okay, Dinah. You've got a writer who will actually let you do stuff in your own book again starting next week!


Line Of The Issue: "The problem with non-intervention is that someone always ignores it." - The Seventh Doctor

At last - it all gets explained. Well, sort of. There's still a lot up in the air but at least most of the inaccuracies and inconsistencies I noticed before have been explained away with one revelation. Highlight for the spoiler.

The Doctor isn't really trapped in a museum devoted to him but is under some form of psychic attack by the same bug creature that attacked Donna in the 4th Season episode "Turn Left". All the inaccurate things from before - Martha calling herself a doctor when she hadn't become one yet and the phrase "There's something on your back" sounding familiar when The Doctor didn't hear that said until after Martha stopped traveling with him among them - were hints that something is up and The Doctor is trying to stop his memories from being erased using the Museum mind-scape as a battle ground.

As before, the highlight of the issue is the flash-backs with older incarnations of The Doctor. While this issue's flashbacks aren't quite as execiting to me as last issue, I'd put that down to my loathing of The 6th Doctor and my unfamiliarity with the 7th rather than any fault with the stories themselves. The 6th Doctor is every bit the blustering loud-mouthed con-man he should be though the 7th Doctor seems oddly subdued given what I know of the character. Still, should be an interesting read when we get to the virtually unknown 8th Doctor in the next issue and return to the Christopher Eccleston days as well.


Line Of The Issue: Next: I eat some tacos. Oh, and I win the war, then everyone stands around for three issues telling me how fantastic I am as they give me more medals. Oh, and in the issue after that? All three of them -- at once.

Still the funniest damn book on the market, bar none. Not much else to say.

This one is for an old friend - a simple man of simple wants, who, like Jack, dreams of being able to tell attractive women to fix him tacos and wait for him at his place.


Line Of The Issue: "No need to Bob... He umm... inserted it (Bob's severed arm) into your, um, body for easy "carry-all retrieval". - Sara, retrieving a fallen party member's body, after being reminded to be sure to get his severed arm as well after a an ape attack.

The plot thickens in the Hard 8 offices with Waco Bob joining Jo Jo Zeke in quitting his job. And in the Knights campaign, their past continues to haunt them as they find out the helpful villagers caring for them are cultists of a thief god religion started by one of Bob's old characters.

And yes - the replacement movie column for Spoony's "Gamer's Rant" STILL sucks. This month "Gaming The Movies" instructs you on how to spice up your Car Wars campaign the bargain-bin DVD in the making "Death Race". That's assuming, of course, you still have a copy of the 1982 RPG around and are willing to sit through a movie that has less plot than most video games these days. Of course that's probably a given if you're one of the people who kept trolling Jolly Blackburn into firing The Spoony One.

Mr. Blackburn - I know you probably can't bring Noah back. But couldn't you at least replace his column with a gamer movie column that is funny?


Line Of The Issue: "Curious you did not object when MY garments were taken, Bob Kellerman." - Sheena, to her environmentalist sidekick, as he is forcibly stripped by cannibals.

Query - is it fan service when your attractive female lead is stripped of everything save her jewelry and a few strategically replaced floral leis for reasons which are, at best, ambiguously related to the plot, if...

1) her male companions receive the same treatment.
2) there are no gratuitously posed shots or splash-pages during the entire scene she is effectively naked.
3) the one part where her lei slips and you see a flash of butt crack, is illustrated in a long shot and there's nothing sexual about the moment.

I find myself torn in considering this question. Because there's very little reason for Sheena to go through with this plan where she allows herself and her companions to be captured without fighting by a group of Nazi-worshiping cargo-cultist cannibals in order to buy them time while awaiting the collapse of a dam she thinks is coming other than to allow for a cheesecake scene where Sheena (and her companions) are stripped down to nothing, prepared and then tied up basically naked over a hot fire.

And yet, despite this contrivance, the artwork doesn't even approach the cheesecake-ridden excesses reveled in by other books starring blonde jungle goddesses. Sheena is depicted as being competent and in-control the whole time - not a helpless piece of eye candy by any stretch of the imagination,

That, along with the brilliant plotting, wonderful comedic timing and characterization which makes plans like this seem feasible is all I need to recommend this book to any comic book reader. Thank goodness that at least one of Will Eisner's creations is in the hands of a writer who know how to uphold his legacy and write a heroine who can be sexy without being trashy.


Line Of The Issue: "I gave you an order, soldier. You were to observe the saboteurs, not screw around with them on some *%##$ magic clam shell." - Director Steel, to Nemesis, regarding a photo of him and "enemy of the state" Wonder Woman.

Could somebody who has been reading all the New Gods books and everything connecting Amazons Attack explain something to me, please?

It was my understanding that The New Gods had taken the Olympian Pantheon hostage and that their apparent absence and abandonment of The Amazons in their time of need was what spurred Diana to abandon her position as champion of the Olympian Gods and start seeking favors from a South Seas deity. And I can swing with that.

Explain to me then why the Olympian Gods are now returning home after having apparently been cruising around deep space - IN A FREAKING SPACESHIP - and are curious as to why their home is trashed and they can't seem to remember who they are/were? And apparently Athena is now about to die since she used the last of her power to make the last of their champions (I assume that's Diana) immortal again.

I suspect all will be explained shortly but I'm still very confused.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Yahoo's Worst Comic Book Movies List

My comic reviews for the last two weeks will be up tomorrow.

In the meantime, enjoy this and my second-hand observation.

SOURCE: The Worst Comic Book Movie Adaptations

Fairly good, solid list. But is it just me or do you see this...

... and think Black Canary even knowing who the actress/character is?

Yes, I know there's no fishnets. It's still damn close.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Heroes Live Blogs To Continue.... For Two More Weeks

Part of my reason for stopping the blogs was because I thought this most recent episode was the last new one for a while. I've been informed that there's at least another two weeks of new episodes airing before the break begins.

Fine. I'll cover this until the natural end. It's possible they can turn things around, free the show of Loeb taint and that maybe, maybe, MAYBE they can still salvage this thing. My hopes aren't high, but I suppose that in the interest of fair journalism - such as it is - I should watch the whole thing before writing it off.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thoughts on HEROES, Season 3, Chapter 11 - The Eclipse, Part 2

The local NBC station's skipping problems continued. In fact, it was worse last night as the signal had black lines running through a blue-tinted, barely visible picture. Hence, I have had to wait until this morning before work to watch the last new episode for 2 months and decide if I truly have had enough.

6:55 - Sponsored by Comcast? Oh gods... is THIS going to crash too?

6:56 - Okay. So The Eclipse depowered everyone, Hiro thinks he's 10, Daphne can't walk without her powers, Claire is dying, Elle and Sylar are still psycho and Peter and Nathan get dragged into a side-quest to recruit the Haitian to their party, with Nathan getting captured by voodoo cultists.

6:58 - "I still want to prove I can be a hero without my powers." THANK YOU! At least Peter is being written on form again.

7:00 - Sandra takes Claire to the hospital. Seems her entire body is infected and Claire honestly never has been sick in her entire life (well, apart from that one stint in the hospital after she survived a car-crash...) Whoops.

7:02 - And... we're back to lovey dovey NON-Psycho Elle and Sylar. You know it's a bad sign when the season has gotten to the point where the most sympathetic characters are two of the villains. Still, you have to admit this line is Metatextual.

Sylar: Scary and unexpected.
Elle: What? Our powers going away or us (getting together)?

7:05 - Okay, Bennet waited until NOW to take the shot. Why? He had a clear one before during the make-out session and it's not like he couldn't snipe from that distance. His nickname in The Company according to the comics was Eagle-Eye. Elle is wounded.

7:15 - Ten-minute break for breakfast following loading problems with the NBC Player (Thank you again, Comcast!) Back now.

7:16 - Hey! Nathan speaks French! And if you didn't need any more proof that a man who named himself after a god of death was a bad guy, he's also a slaver and whoremonger of teenage girls.

7:18 - Am I the only one who thinks it's totally appropriate that Mohinderance - great scientist that he is - appears to be reading from a children's science textbook chapter on Eclipses?

7:20 - "You keep talking, but all I hear is 'blah, blah, blah'." Yeah. I think the writer's frustrations ARE becoming metatextual at this point. And yeah - this is a freaky long-ass eclipse if they expected Mohinderance to have time to study it like this.

7:21 - I love that Flint is trying to menace people with a lighter.

7:23 - Oh, not only is Bennet also an amoral sociopath in his own way... he's also a chronic liar who will lie about anything to the woman he loves. Yes. Okay. We get this. Will you please stop trying to hammer the point home about the only character left who exudes any sense of competence?

7:25 - "What are those?" Looks like Matt is carrying the idiot ball this week if he doesn't know what braces are.

7:26 - Wait! How did she get a track medal if she's never been able to walk? Unless that medal Hiro stole was Special Olympics... aww, now I wanna go back and see if it was!

7:28 - Ladies and Gentleman... I give you the first time ANY plan Mohinderance has put into effect has actually worked! Cheer while you can - it looks like they're bringing Maya back.

7:30 - Okay. Damn me but I did like the Comic Book Guy reference. "Best. Day. Ever." Even if it really has gotten to the point of "We're looking at now, Now. We can't go back to then. We missed it. Just now." and "Wait... let me see the script!"

7:33 - Yeah. Typical Sprawl-Mart. I honestly think you could get a half-naked, wounded Kristen Bell in the door with nobody noticing until one kid walks down the medical supplies aisle. Did anybody else feel the urge to make a Black Friday joke? No? Good.

7:34 - Board to the head! Hey, this is WAY too easy. And how did Matt know to check the comic book store for Hiro? Oh yeah... it's small-town Kansas. I guess you could just ask if anyone saw where the two Japanese guys went.

7:35 - I just love how the guys running the comic book store are smarter than... oh, MOST OF THE REST OF THE CAST regarding how The Eclipse works.

7:36 - "I don't want to grow up!" I'm a Toys R Us Kid!

7:40 - Oh gods... and now we get the preachy "why aren't we doing more for the third world" moment. Don't get me wrong - Nathan gets a good, short speech here... but it's just so out of left field. And apparently he doesn't speak enough French to say something the girl would understand...

7:45 - Another player crash. And Peter is being the most heroic - and most stupid - hero again. I'd complain but this is actually the best we've seen him lately. Nice how all the guards just suddenly disappeared.

7:46 - Heh. Amazing. The make-up people actually managed the impossible and made Hayden look truly awful. Why do I get the feeling Sandra is going to do something very cool/stupid?

7:50 - Okay. If they actually go the way this is going... and is sticks (which I doubt cause it looks like it's sunny outside again) this will be positively Shakespearean. Claire is dying and Bennet missed it because he was busy killing Sylar by slitting his throat after beating the crap out of him. Knowing Bennet, I'm amazed he didn't try cutting his head just a little with the Exacto-Knife. Just for the sake of form, mind you.

7:51 - Okay. Claire is dead. For the moment. Could be that soon as the sun is back up she'll heal again but... hey, I'll play the rube for the moment.

7:52 - I knew it. Of course that means Sylar is going to heal too but... DAMMIT!

7:53 - Her dad didn't look 10-feet past the porch? Seriously...

7:54 - The creepy crazy "why me?" girl shit is getting really tired. Am I right? Daphne kicked so much ass when they introduced her and now she's all whiny emo "I'm a thief and I'm worthless..." and Matt is playing the "I can save you" asshole card to the hilt.

7:56 - Okay. I'm going to nit-pick (like I haven't been already) - how does Peter know how to shoot like that? He's a nurse, a virtual pacifist and we know from the endless "You aren't your brother" comparisons from Season One that he, unlike Nathan, was never in the military.

7:58 - Velocity Damage and Point-Black Mind Control attack at Level 10 for the win. (Sorry. That will only mean something if you've played Silver Age Sentinels)

8:02 - Oh gods... creepy Mohinderance rattler music. And did he just leave a mash note on her doorstep?

8:03 - "You didn't grow up. You read comics and eat junk food."


It wasn't enough to call all the people watching the show live "dips*its" - now they have to go and insult the only demographic the show has left - hard-core comic fans who will watch anything relating to superpowers and comics, no matter how bad it gets.

8:05 - Message! Message coming in for you! All that is missing is someone saying "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility." And... huh. A scene between Hiro and Claire. Yeah, that IS a first.

8:10 - Okay. THAT was awesome. And for those of you playing at home, here is what happens.

* Bennet apologizes for not being there for Claire. She all but tells him to stuff it because she died.
* Bennet puts two and two together and asks where her mom is (huh - no questions about your son?) only to find that Elle and Sylar have taken her hostage.
* Sylar - who is sorely annoyed - pins Bennet to the wall and starts slitting his throat after - surprise surprise - Bennet says (and he's probably telling the truth) that Arthur and Angela were both lying when they said he was their son and that Elle was partly responsible for denying him a normal life.
* Hiro teleports in, grabs Sylar, comes back, grabs Elle, comes back, grabs Claire. "Save the cheerleader." Leaves again.

8:15 - Ha! I knew it! Last issue Isaac had prepared in advance. Take that everyone on who doubted me!

8:17 - Find the bike-messenger. Find the story. Doesn't have the same ring as "Save the Cheerleader, Save the World." - does it? Of course it does give Daphne and Matt something to do besides - I dunno - ask the time-traveler to go back to Isaac before he died and asked what the hell he saw.

8:20 - Oh hell... another preachy message. Nathan preaching the America is Policeman of the world idea in something that I don't think can be called metaphor at this point since he's proposing giving super-powers to "the right people" and talking about all the poor, third-world countries that are sinkholes even without an invincible man who thinks he's a death god taking over. Peter, quite rightly, thinks this is a dumb idea because he knows damn well that trying to force peace isn't going to work. Annnnnnnnnnnd... this brings us to setting up the alternate future where Peter is a wanted terrorist who blew up the Pinehurst labs and Nathan is a daddy's boy running for high office. And all of this came about because Nathan finally found his heart and it told him to do the exact same thing his dumbass, amoral first-season self would have done. Gag.

8:21 - And - wait a minute - where did Peter's scar go?

8:25 - *face palms* Mohinderance went back to Arthur. WHY?!?! Oh yeah - only hope of cure. Blah blah blah. Monster inside you something you have to take care of. Yada yada yada.

8:30 - Okay. Fine. Sylar finally reasserts himself, says nobody really changes (even though the writers sure jerked him around enough this season) and he kills Elle. And Kristen Bell - god, I love her - but she looks and sounds way too much like she's "enjoying" having her head cut open, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

So yeah... nobody has died so far and nothing has really changed except Elle dies. Suckage.

8:31 - And... Claire gets to see how she was given to her father and... how it really was just an assignment! That's not helping, Hiro!

The Final Verdict - Every character I care about has been rendered meaningless or killed off and the whole effect of the season has been... what? Nothing has changed except Hiro is effectively 10, Nathan is working for the bad guys (again), Peter is powerless in pretty much every since of the word, Matt has a love interest and Elle is dead. They finally crossed the line into bad melodrama.

It seems that Season 3 will actually be a full season this time, despite rumors of Season 4: Fugitives starting in February. If it turns out that the next episode has something to offer and advances the story in some way besides pointless, artificial "Who's My Daddy?" drama and I hear that something good is actually happening... maybe I'll review the second half of the season after the fact.

As it is, the live blogs are over. And I'm done with HEROES.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tim Kring Admits They're Making It All Up As They Go Along

Normally, I'd be loathe to quote from a source as disreputable as Ain't It Cool News. But since this actually explains a lot of last night's episode - and the whole Eclipse - thing...

SOURCE: Showrunner Kring: No More
References To HEROES’ Caitlin!!

SOURCE:Tim Kring Says Heroes Is Fine, It's the Audience That's the Problem

When the fan asked if Peter would ever acknowledge Caitlin or express any grief over what seems to be her dire fate, Kring replied, "No, we passed it. We leapfrogged it." He added that when the idea of returning to Caitlin was brought up, they asked, "Really? Are we going to risk that? We have enough stuff to [deal with]."

So... yeah. The Irish girl Peter fell in love with? We're not going to see her anymore. Because there's too much stuff going on. Because the audience is so much more interested in the whole world-blowing-up thing than in all of the wonderful, sympathetic characters. And because there is no way Peter - the most empathic person on the cast - who just lost this woman he loved in a crapsack future, what, A COUPLE OF WEEKS ago on the show's timeline, is going to be interested in bending Heaven and Earth to save her?

Kring, I defended your comments that DVR was killing the serialized drama because - unlike all the people at Ain't It Cool News or Topless Robot who quoted you in part and spun it around that you hated the show's fanbase - I got it. I got your point.

Your point was that TV Shows are ratings dependent and that it's very hard to keep a fanbase coming back, week after week like in Ye Olden Times, when there are people who record the shows to watch later in a block, watch them on-line (as I did this morning) or download them from bittorent sites all around the world, so they don't have to wait 3 weeks for the BBC to broadcast it. I get that. And since the only thing that gets monitored is the Nielsen system which only monitors who is watching a show as it is broadcast live, odds are the system ISN'T recording the numbers of your audience accurately.

That being said - there IS no defense for calling the only people who are apparently convincing the network that anybody is watching the show and thus keeping you employed "...saps and the dip****s who can't figure out how to watch it in a superior way."

Still, you did apologize for the way you put that earlier. And because this last episode honestly does seem to be turning things around for a lot of the characters, I'm going to give it one more chance with next week's episode.

I would give you one piece of advice, though. Based on one of your comments, it seems that you realized - on some level - that the show lost its' way a while ago.

"I was primarily fascinated by the origin story. Once the original story is over, and the character has no more questions about what's happening or existential drama, then the questions become just about plot, and then it becomes harder for me personally to connect to."

So go back to the original idea for Season Two. Get a whole NEW cast of people who aren't sure what is going on as they manifest powers and throw them into a crisis as they rise to the occasion. Anything to end this endless stream of the same six people becoming more and more powerful and more and more hokey, soap-opera twists being mined to death.

Thoughts on HEROES, Season 3, Chapter 10 - The Eclipse, Part 1

My interest is waning and I heard about a Tim Kring interview that may piss me off into never watching the show again. But we'll save that news until after the blogging... just in case.

7:58 PM - Oh great... the skipping thing is happening again. Worse than before. Blogging On-Hold Until I Can Get an episode download on-line.

8:48 AM - Letting my conditioner soak a bit. I see that the episode is finally up on Let's do this.

8:53 - Okay. Arthur has Precognitive Drawing now (second-hand from Peter or from Mr. African Issac?) and we get a few images here.

Two men falling over a jungle (Nathan and Peter?)

A man holding a gun kissing a blonde woman in a cell (Sylar and Elle?)

A man talking to two other men (Hiro and Ando are the men on the right, but who is the one on the left?)

A man holding a young woman, who is bleeding profusely (Bennet holding Claire?)

An eclipse

I'll admit that some of this is obvious given the commercials from last week... or the episode last week ... but hey, let's see how it plays out.

8:58 - Am I the only one creeped out by Sylar's dad saying "it's a good pairing"? Like he's already thinking about their super freak babies for forming "ze Mastur race"!

8:59 - Wow, the Company base is just SWARMING with activity now when it was completely empty last episode. And Claire asks the question that everybody has already asked "Why is it always me?"

9:02 - Okay. So Matt is going off looking for Hiro, Nathan and Peter are going after the Haitian and Claire is going to partner up with Bennet. Where is Daphne, though? With Matt, probably since he can't get around too fast.

9:03 - Baron Samdei? Haitian villain naming himself after the voodoo god of death? Into drugs and slavery. I totally had that guy as the main villain of my last superhero RPG! Okay, I called him Papa Loa, but still... you owe me a check, Kring!

9:05 - Just what I wanted. More of Mohinderance being a whiny bitchface. Oh, you need the catalyst. Maybe you should have thought of that before you injected yourself with an untested serum!

9:08 - Oh hell - so the Eclipse DOES change the powers thing up. Somehow. Ick. Still, did anybody else just cheer when Mohinderance said "I'm going to die?"

9:12 - Matt describes Hiro as a walking do-over. I'm guessing he got this from Angela's files because there's no other way Matt should know that. And Daphne is being all whiny about being a betrayer and a liar and going all psycho girlfriend, Bella from Twilight "I'm so worthless I don't know why you put up with me" - yeah, I'm sure this is REALLY helping calm the nerves of all the people afraid of this show becoming less of a WiR fest and more of a Faux Action Heroine show. As it is, Claire (and to a lesser extent Angela) are the only dynamic female characters.

9:15 - Easiest search mission ever. And yeah - Masi Oak saves/steals the scene again. Of course now I'm annoyed that... ah well, who's to say that Matt CAN fix Hiro even if the comic says he's supposed to?

9:18 - Wow. Claire being uncharacteristically bitchy to her dad. Look, NOBODY buys that she's upset about him being a semi-amoral hunter of super-powered folk - okay?!

9:21 - And yeah - crazy girlfriend act again. And she's off. Also, you'd think Matt would know that openly reading someone's mind is NOT a good way to establish trust. Then again, he is kinda overwhelmed, over his head and... well... being Matt Parkman.

9:24 - Oh hell... NOW they decide to start having Elle act like herself, stirring up shit just for the hell of it and challenging authority? Well, anything to kill a few acts, right?

9:26 - On the other hand, if it brings Sylar back to being the psycho-bad guy he SHOULD be... go Elle!

9:28 - Oh gods... Moon controlling everything... uncontrollable changes... they're all werewolves!

9:31 - Wow. Actual decent acting. How I've missed it. Even if it is giving me 'Fight Club' flashbacks.

9:33 - Okay. Time out. When did Nathan tell Tracy his plans? When did she get all the way across the country back to the Company base in New York when she was in California with the rest of Arthur's team in the last episode? For that matter, HOW did she get back across the country that quickly? And why would she be stupid enough to take a phone call from Arthur INSIDE THE COMPANY BASE if she's honestly being a double agent?

Oh right. Because the plot demands it.

*sighs* At least Angela is back on form and already knows something is up.

9:38 - Okay, so that drawing WAS Matt talking to Hiro and Ando. And the Eclipse is starting, it seems.

9:39 - And just so we get it, because apparently people have been complaining about the future paintings not being obvious enough... we get to see each of Arthur's drawings with the people it is meant to show.

* Peter and Nathan take a fall.
* Matt, Ando and Hiro are trapped in Kansas.
* Elle and Sylar are back to being their insane selfish selves
* Mohinderance has put himself into a cocoon (Dammit! This means he isn't going to die, doesn't it?)
* And Claire and Bennet are bonding through violence - which apparently won't end well.

Should I even bother pointing out that Claire dying and everyone losing their powers totally negates the alternate future we've seen for this season? Just checking.

9:44 - Ick. Mohinderance covered in slimy white goo. And I think we just got a barely concealed nude shot. Ah well - I'm sure my friend Elizabeth is loving this scene, at least.

9:46 - "The first day you flew, wasn't there an eclipse?" Umm... no, Peter. The first day he flew was six months BEFORE that. You should know - that was the first time you had a prophetic dream.

Wait - didn't a LOT of the characters start manifesting powers before the Eclipse? Claire ran into the burning train car before it. Peter was hovering a little around Nathan. Niki was smashing people with her super-strength as Jessica before that. And Isaac was painting the future WAY before that. Not to mention all the countless Company agents and elders who have been using their powers consistently for the last 30-40 some odd years with no adverse effects.

And come to think of it - wouldn't there have been a partial/total eclipse of the sun SOMETIME within that 30-40 year span? If Eclipses had an on/off effect on superpowers, wouldn't Arthur and Angela know about it? Wouldn't they think to mention this to all the people they are sending into the field? Or maybe even say "You know what kids - we're going to take a break for a few weeks." Hell, that'd even be the perfect way to do the mid-season break that is coming up and then start again in January with the new status quo.

So either The Eclipse causing powers is total bullshit or they are freely ignoring continuity at this point. Hell, it could be both at this point.

Nice thing about watching this on-line. I can take the time to ramble about this in-depth. Ah well. Back to the show.

9:55 - Hmmm. Peter's become quite the expert on Haitian culture.

9:56 - "Why are you turning your head sideways?" - BWAHAHAHAHA!

9:59 - Wow. The Petrelli boys actually fighting like brothers. Haven't seen the two of them acting like this in a while again either. I kinda like it.

10:01 - And at last - the truth - and it's suddenly plausable. Claire isn't really mad that her dad is an amoral killer. She's mad because he was always leaving her and what kicked off was him leaving her this season when she really needed her dad who knows everything to explain everything. I can swing with that.

10:03 - Okay. I thought Matt finding out he didn't have powers was funny. But I LOVE Sylar's look of perplexed confusion as Bennet goes to town on him. And Claire is wounded, yes, but this is hardly serious. Shoulder wound isn't that bad as long as it gets treated.

10:08 - And yeah... Bennet being smart and the writers actually explaining WHY he doesn't take her to the hospital. Cause cops ask questions and "what do we say once her powers do come back?"

Huh. So certain he is. Bad Yoda impression I do, hummm?

10:10 - I just realized this is one long-ass eclipse. And Matt is determined to save Daphne. Ummm... save her from what, again? Her dad/granddad whoever that guy was didn't exactly seem like a huge threat.

10:13 - And... Mohinderance is back to normal. Not dead. Dammit! And he's going to find Maya. Double Dammit! Thankfully, before I completely get pissed off, Arthur and Flint come in and make it clear that Mohinderance ain't going nowhere, no-how.

10:16 - New Comic Book Day! :D Hee hee.

10:17 - Yes, the minds behind Robot Chicken in a quick cameo as two guys running a comic shop in Kansas. And if you had any doubt as to the Jeph Loeb influence still dominating the scripts - "We have plenty of Red Hulk for everyone."

Oh, Jeph. I loved your Batman work but no... you just crossed the line into Bert I. Gordon territory.

10:18 - I just realized - they are literally pulling the Mel Brooks hero "Let me see the script!" gag. For real. And in seriousness. Well, serious as Hiro and Ando ever get, anyway.

10:19 - "All of our questions will be answered." And if you believe that, I have a well-lit, well-stocked comic shop in Kansas I'd like to sell you.

10:32 - Slight break to wash conditioner out of hair and fix lunch.

10:33 - Slight pause again as I go check HeroesWiki to confirm that yes, nothing was said about The Haitian having a brother before in any of the webcomic stories based around him. Of course there is nothing to suggest he couldn't have a brother, save that the story suggests his family consists of The Haitian and his father.

Okay. I'm going to stop pausing to do research now. Really.

10:36 - Ah. How Shakespearean. Two pairs of two brothers in conflict.

10:38 - And wow... stubtle - well - subtle as this show ever gets - symbolism. Bennet has his glasses off to be the caring father. Puts them back on and you can see his expression steeling. Like he's putting on a mask...

Brainflash - they ever make a Dark Knight Returns movie? Jack Coleman is Batman.

10:39 - I'd expect Sandra to be a little less passive about this. Still, Bennet knows he has his chance to end Sylar (and maybe Elle) once and for all. So he's taking it. Good for him. Because it would be so poetic - once Sylar finally does die - for him to be brought down by a person with no powers.

10:44 - Wow. I admit - I did not see that coming. Without her power, the Speedster can't even walk. Lucky she was "home" when that happened. But wait, if that's what she was before... does that mean her power is artificial and The Company gave it to her?

10:46 - And Claire is bleeding out again?

10:47 - Okay. I first saw Sylar screaming while bent over a counter and I have to admit, I thought for a moment "Man! Bennet does take his revenge seriously." I know. I am a bad bad man.

10:48 - And YES! Confirmation that even without The Hunger, Sylar is a bad, bad man.

10:49 - Okay. Bennet? Don't miss. Seriously.

The Final Verdict - If you had any doubts that they are, in fact, making this all up as they go along, doubt no more. Still, it seems like the show is starting to get back on-track with most of the artificial character drama from this year having been dispelled and most of the characters sounding like themselves again.

If nothing else, I'll tune in next week to see how Sylar's impending death (please, please please) gets resolved.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Yahoo Hates Mohinderance Too!

SOURCE: Write 'Em Off

Everyone's favorite unscientific scientist turned freakish monstrosity and Doctor Monreau wannabe Mohinder(ance) Suresh is #2.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 11/19/08

AMBUSH BUG: YEAR NONE #4 - Ambush Bug kills Dan Didio just after Dan takes responsibility for everything going wrong at DC Comics. What more do you need to know?

CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #5 - More flashbacks to the days of Conan's grandfather but at least this time there's a lot of good action in the past AND present. The last few pages don't speak well of Conan's homecoming... but do speak well of an interesting issue #6.

DOCTOR WHO: THE FORGOTTEN #3 - Pia Guerra goes off art duties and the art and the art goes into the toilet. The 10th Doctor looks like an anorexic Elvis impersonator, Martha looks nothing like the character from the show. Even Tom Baker is unrecognizable except by virtue of his hat and scarf. Even then, the scarf is FAR too short. A pity, because this series was enjoyable enough, even if it IS a Martha-Era 10th Doctor story. At least Tony Lee's story still holds up and the characters sound like themselves even if they don't look like themselves.

EX MACHINA #39 - Should I feel the least bit ashamed that I was rooting for fighting liberal "Trouble" here and was hoping she'd humiliate the Republicans royally?


The series goes into the endgame and I can't wait for the next issue.

HELLBLAZER #249 - John finds out that he's been getting his strings pulled and who has been behind not only his recent troubles but most of his problems throughout life. It's somewhat ironic that the revelation presented here may annoy some old-school Hellblazer fans but they are likely to be the only ones to get what is going on anyway. Personally, I have no problem with the idea and at the very least, it isn't quite as continuity breaking as Brian Azarello's unfortunate run on the series. And the final page is pretty much the sum total of everything you need to know about John Constantine.

RED SONJA #39 - I still don't get if Sonja is amnesic or if she's just being reborn or what. At least it will all be settled next issue. I hope.

SAVAGE TALES #10 - The Red Sonja story is the highlight, as usual. Two-parter with Sonja going on a quest with a legendary general in honor of an old friend. And a historical Hercules tale that stacks up surprisingly well with the Marvel version of the character - heroic and a womanizer, but no less noble for it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thoughts on HEROES, Season 3, Chapter 9 - It's Coming

8:01 - Recap time.

8:02 - Yay Ando!

8:03 - Oh crap... I don't know how Arthur did that. If he erased Hiro's memory using telepathy or... oh crap... have we seen The Haitian lately?

8:04 - Of course Arthur knew Sylar saved Peter. Unlike most of the cast, he isn't an idiot.

8:05 - I know this won't stick. I know that we did not just see Sylar get vaporized by Elle. They wouldn't be smart enough to do something that cool. I am starting to suspect, however, that all the theories about Elle and Sylar hooking up are getting pushed forward, in spite of all common sense and the inherent contradictions.

8:09 - And 10 to 1 Claire's eventual turn to the dark side is because Peter is pushing her away and trying to keep her innocent.

8:10 - Oh.. the fire-starter and the fear manipulator are trying to intimidate a girl who can't feel pain. Yeah, this will work REAL well.

8:11 - Granting that she did that before... damn, that was bad ass.

8:13 - *sighs* Solar flares... it's the solar flares that ignite the powers. It's lame but the fact that Mohinderance is ignoring it as being possible lets me know that MUST be the answer.

8:15 - Damn. I was hoping Daphne had quit the double-agent thing.

8:16 - Yeah. Peter leveling with Claire and her not buying it. Saw this coming.

8:18 - Peter, you'd better be saving her.

8:19 - My friend Keith just paged me to remind me that I had proposed that Arthur had the slightly more advanced version of Sylar's power... so good for me guessing that, since Arthur seems to know all about the Hunger.

Which is great... except I suggested Arthur had the advanced version of Peter's power. Which, if Arthur is suggesting Sylar needs to get in touch with his empathy to take powers without giving into The Hunger, means that Arthur, Peter and Sylar all have the same power.

Which would be cool and make a lot of sense genetically... except that means there was nothing for Peter to take except psychosis when he want to the future and was told he had to take Sylar's power in order to learn how to time-travel without screwing up the timeline.

Which means that either Arthur is lying or the writers really are making it all up as they go along. Take a wild guess which one I am betting money on?

8:23 - And... we're back to having Hiro and Ando as comic relief again. Which works really well... especially with Hiro being a true idiot man-child now.

8:25 - Kristen Bell in chains and Sylar asking to be hurt. I can hear the fanfic being written already. The way she's moaning and gasping isn't helping either.

8:33 - And yeah... Nathan is back, finally.

8:34 - Join me and we can rule the galaxy as father and son... it is your destiny!

8:35 - I don't know what I hate more - the fact that Sylar has been made into an even greater munchkin character... or the fact that Elle is going to totally crush over Sylar from now on. If you needed any proof that Jeph Loeb was the dominant force on this season, there it is. EVERY single female character has either been killed off or made emotionally dependent on a male character.

8:36 - I knew it. :)

8:37 - See, this is why Peter kicks ass and is my favorite out of all the heroes left. He doesn't need powers to do the right thing - He has heart, brains (most of the time) and knows that setting off a fireball in a methane-filled sewer is a bad idea.

8:42 - Awwww... aren't they a cute pair of psychopathic electromaniacs?

8:43 - And... Dad watching, even creepier.

8:44 - The source of all knowledge. Heh.

8:45 - Ummmm... okay. The "confused by all of this" ice-queen is suddenly pushing for Nathan to go along with his dad because at least it's a plan, even though Nathan is quite rightly skeptical about the whole thing.

8:46 - Annnnnnd... we turn the one decent new character this season - who hasn't been killed yet - into an unlikeable power-hungry bitch. Again... Jeph Loeb influence.

8:48 - Okay. Interesting - psychic wounds causing real-world injuries.

8:52 - "A woman will betray you at every turn." - is Frank Miller writing these scripts now?

8:54 - I'd be pissed about the whole "love conquering all" thing being cliched if it weren't for this being a violent rebuttal to the general cynicism of this season

8:55 - Yay! Peter and Matt not being idiots!

8:56 - Next Week - The Island of Doctor Mohinderance.

8:57 - Yes. Even the ten-year old Hiro knows that Marvel Comics today suck. And as if you didn't need any more proof that Jeph Loeb is behind all this... a reference to his Red Hulk storyline.

8:58 - And... the good guys, all together again. And it all starts coming together. And somehow - in all of this - Claire is the key to everything... AGAIN.

9:01 - And.... next week, everyone loses their powers. Why? Ummm... cause it's dark.

Final Verdict: A lot I liked. A lot that pissed me off, too, but not enough to make me swear off the show, yet. For those who care, here's the team run-downs as they stand now.

The Company: Angela, Peter, Nathan, Claire, Matt, Meredith, Daphne, Bennet

Pinehearst: Arthur, Sylar, Tracy, Elle, Knox, Flint

Hmm... something odd I just noticed... Hiro and Ando are, for the moment, not officially on anyone's side. But the way I laid it out, the teams are set in fairly obvious antagonist pairings.

Angela/Arthur = the elder statesperson leading the team.

Peter/Sylar = the empaths... apparently

Nathan/Tracy = More a clash of wills here, but Tracy is everything Nathan used to be.

Claire/Elle = cheerleader/outcast feud. More pronounced in the comics. The tank vs. the blaster.

Matt/Knox = The cop vs. the criminal. They were supposed to have some sort of past confrontation but that got edited out of last week's episode due to time problems. Still references to it in the on-line bonus materials though.

Meredith/Fint = Fire vs. Fire. Brother vs. Sister.

That just leaves Daphne and Bennet on the good side without an opposite number. But Hiro has already declared Daphne his nemesis. And Ando has been developing into quite the Badass Normal, having enough of an idea on how Hiro's powers work to describe how they work. Nowhere near as cool as Bennet, but still...

Problem is I can't see Hiro or Ando signing on with Pinehearst given what just happened with Hiro's memory. But it ALMOST makes sense, doesn't it?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 11/12/08

Light week this week. But lots to talk about, regardless.

BATMAN: CACOPHONY #1 - No surprise - this being a Kevin Smith book - there's more dialogue than action. What is surprising - at least to those who have missed his previous work with the DC Universe in Green Arrow - is that Smith's back-and-fourth dialogues actually suit The Joker very well.

The opening scene - where Deadshot and Joker talk through a glass wall as Deadshot is getting ready to kill Joker - is classic. And while some may criticize the scene for being overly talky, Smith captures the spirit of both characters perfectly and it makes perfect sense for them to be so "business-like" regarding impending death.

If it weren't impossible given when this had to have been written, you might think Smith had based his Joker on Heath Ledger's portrayal. His Joker is a true dark comedian, seeing humor where none exists, ready to do or say anything for a laugh... including references to necrophilia, prostitution and buggery. You don't think he really WANTS to have his way with Batman's corpse - but he'll sure as hell talk about it to throw people off balance.

We don't see much of Batman apart from one scene - probably the most Kevin Smith scene in the book - involving 90's throwback Mr. Zsasz. He's running out of skin to keep tally on and... well, if he weren't a maker of orphans, I'd almost feel sorry for Mr. Zsasz making the unkindest cut of all. Shalom!

GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY #14 - Fellow Arrow-Heads! Our long national nightmare is over. Judd Winick is off the book!

It's such a glorious thing, it's almost enough to make me forget that Judd Winick - as a parting shot - has destroyed Connor Hawke.

Seriously. In the span of three issues - Connor Hawke has, somehow, developed some form of selective amnesia that has literally turned him into Generic Martial Arts Guy.

Every vestige of personality that made him unique (vegetarian, Buddhist, pacifist) has been erased. He can't remember most of his past but he still remembers that Ollie abandoned him and his mother (DAMN YOU WINICK!) And he forgot how to use a bow. And - oh yeah - he has a healing factor now.

And did I mention that Dinah doesn't do a damn thing in this issue apart from look sad, hug Ollie and then talk with Ollie while pulling pin-up poses in her lingerie?

Andrew Kreisberg has his work cut out for him. Here's hoping he can salvage something from this mess.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #30 - The plots thicken. We get our first look at the home base of the all-female, Love-empowered Violet Lantern/Star Sapphire Corps. Kyle Rayner leads the charge against the child-kidnapping Sinestro Corps member Kryb. And Guy Gardner admits to having a thing for beautiful women giving him orders. Puts a lot of his encounters with Power Girl in perspective...

FABLES #78 - As everyone in my superhero RPG campaign can tell you, that is NOT Mr. Dark.

I have no idea who he is... but Baba Yaga coming back from the dead can't be a good sign.

And wow - sucks to be Boy Blue.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's Official: Our New President is One Of Us

Of course, we all knew that McCain was anti-D&D. But until now, I hadn't heard anything about Obama's position on the disenfranchisement of Geek-Americans. Well, wonder no more!

SOURCE: Barack Obama, fanboy

Yes. Barack collects Conan comics and Spider-Man. This brings to mind several questions.

1. Does he read the current Dark Horse series or is he an old-school fan?

2. Where does he stand on the issue of super-power registration?

3. When will he speak out against Joe Quesada's defilement of the Spider-Marriage?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thoughts on HEROES, Season 3, Chapter 8 - Villains

Back after two weeks... can this show regain the momentum it was starting to build?

8:01 - And... recap. What makes people good and evil? Hiro taking the Magical Mystery Tour and seeing the past while drugged out of his gourd.

8:02 - Apparently Mr. Petrelli absorbed a telepath at some point.

8:03 - Okay. So Meredith and Flint are relatives - and there's Thompson. Apparently that's how Meredith got caught up in the Company... but how does that put her in Odessa, in hiding, where Claire found her?

8:05 - And Elle met Sylar just after he killed for the first time and stopped him from killing himself?

8:06 - Oh hell... Twilight ads? Ick. For those of you somehow not familiar with Twilight at this point, all you need to know is that it is written for emotional 14-year-old girls and that it violates the Eddie Izzard Vampire Truism (i.e. If Sunlight Doesn't Hurt Your Vampires, Then Your Story Is Bullshit)

8:09 - Annnd they finally reconcile the "Forgive me Father For I have Sinned" graffiti that didn't jibe with what we saw in Sylar's apartment in Season One. Too bad this kinder, gentler Elle doesn't jibe with what we saw of her in Season Two.

8:10 - "Cute Meet". Hee Hee. So... wait... Sylar's power is transferring powers... or so they think? Maybe Mr. Petrelli and Sylar have the same power only refined...?

8:11 - "Pie." Hee Hee.

8:12 - So Meredith became a Company Agent, which explains a lot... to say nothing about why she might wind up in hiding later so close to Claire... tying up a lot of loose ends now.

8:14 - And the Nathan flying flashback.... we've seen this. I guess it HAS been about a full year now, hasn't it? Six Months ago... to Four Months gone... which means that most of the Season Three has taken two months. That fits.

8:15 - "Time to choose a side." Nice fit of a line.

8:16 - It just occurred to me - Hiro has NO idea who most of these people in the vision are... The Petrellis, sure. Sylar, yes. But Elle, Bennet and Meredith are totally Greek to him.

8:19 - So what could drive Mom and Dad apart? Oh, how about one trying to kill their children?

8:21 - Oooh - metallic skin! Nice.

8:22 - What I'd give to have Kristen Bell at my door offering me pie. Indeed, imagine the fortune you could make on a business that delivered nice, hot pie to you door in the hands of a perky blonde? Must investigate further.

8:25 - "Yeah, I got tackled by some invisible man..." No, it's not Claude. He was long-gone by this point. The Company MUST have some other invisible man working for them.

8:26 - Oh BOOO! So now it turns out that Bennet was indirectly responsible for pushing Sylar over the edge. One more forced sympathy point for Sylar and yet another Heel-Turn for the original show Heel as they try and switch Bennet from being the Bad Ass Normal everyone loves to being an honest to goodness Villain. Gag me.

8:28 - Am I weird? Am I the only one who likes Bennet better than Sylar and wants to see the man rocking the Horned Rimmed Glasses take down the supposedly most powerful character on the show?

8:29 - And... yeah. Turns out he was going to kill his son to protect his empire.

8:33 - Something disturbed Hiro... another dream-walker? Angela, maybe?

8:37 - Hmmm... I wonder if THAT is the train that caught on fire and derailed which Claire ran into in the first episode?

8:38 - Heh. Cool. The healer can reverse telepathic manipulation. But why is Lindermann doing this to help Angela when Mr. Petrelli is doing all this to cover his ass? Guilt? Man, what is this... give all the bad guys a moment of decency night?

8:39 - Okay, they are STILL running with the idea that Claire is 14? I thought they finally decided she was 16-17? Still, this kinda works. If you go with her being a newborn when the Company found her and almost 1 year old, she could be 15 on the verge of 16 and able to drive when her family moved to California. Yes, I know I am thinking way too hard about this.

8:40 - Okay and now Thompson - one of the more unrepentant bad guys from Season One - is letting Meredith run in a moment of weakness. Laaaaame.

8:41 - Can I call it or what? Claire in fiery train.

8:46 - So his power is BREAKING things telekinetically? Or just making things break?

8:47 - Yes. Yes, you fool... you ate the poisoned soup!

8:48 - Yeah... I REALLY believe he's going to let the lightning girl go and keep the breaking things guy.

8:49 - "He actually exposes the brain..." Yeah. Fascinating. Aren't you the guy who is usually gung-ho about - you know - stopping the assholes who abuse their powers?! Noah was never this much of a mindless drone before.

8:50 - And... wait, in Season One, didn't Noah outright say they had NO IDEA how Sylar was doing what he was doing and the only thing that he showed signs of having was telekinesis?

8:54 - And here is how the death got faked...

8:55 - And Elle is being uncharacteristically compassionate for a alleged diagnosed sociopath here.

8:56 - And there we go - how he wound up paralyzed and near dead.

8:57 - Wait... when did Hiro find out who Flint was?

8:58 - And - oh hell - they killed African Issac? And... how did he get there? And - oh yeah - take out the only other person with powers who might be able to stop him...

8:59 - And... the eclipse means something now? Oh hell... *face palms*

The Final Verdict: Well, they explained things well enough... but a lot of characters are WAY out of character here. And I really don't like the mystic angle that's being implied by The Eclipse somehow being involved in super-powers in a non-symbolic manner in the preview.

Not-So-Fast Thoughts - Comic Reviews for 10/29/08 and 11/05/08

Between things going on Halloween and this past weekend - which was, amazingly enough NOT spent at Wizard World Texas - it was a while before I picked up my comics, much less read them.

FINAL CRISIS: RAGE OF THE RED LANTERNS- More of a Green Lantern tie-in than a Final Crisis one on the surface, this continues the events of The Sinestro Corps War. And not only do we get to see a mess of Red Lanterns, we also get a look at what appears to be The Controllers getting ready to establish the Orange Lanterns and the very first Blue Lantern. So... yeah. Not a good jump-in issue but a continuation of the greatness that we've come to expect from Geoff Johns.

FINAL CRISIS: RESIST - I should have known better than to buy a Greg Rucka book sight unseen... but I thought this was going to tie-in to the much more enjoyable Final Crisis: Submit. It's not that it's all that bad, really, but a bit of a tough plow for those of us who don't read Checkmate and are wondering when Snapper Carr became a teleporting secret agent. Still, for those Kirby fans who were afraid that Final Crisis would not feature EVERY crazy idea The King had while working at DC Comics, have no fear... by the end of the story, Mr. Terrific is leading an army of OMACs against the New Gods.

GIANT SIZE RED SONJA #2 - Lots of good, short stories here to enjoy. A character-defining quickie where Sonja is separated from the more traditional literary amazons by being paired up with a true man-hating psychopath... an illustrated version of Frank Thorne's famous "Red Sonja Stage Show" drawn by the man himself... and a classic "Red Sonja vs. Undead Wizard" story by Roy Thomas himself. The only one that falls flat is a very strange and very creepy story involving an angel falling to Earth, falling in love with Sonja and then screaming as he is dragged back up into the Heavens as he begs Sonja to come with him. Overall, a fine issue.

GRANT MORRISON'S DOCTOR WHO #2- A darn good read, even if this IS a Sixth Doctor story and the ending is in no way possibly in cannon. Second Doctor fans will want to check this out for the heroic end of Jamie. Grant Morrison fans will want to check it out because... well, it's a good read and rather easy to follow even with the inclusion of a shape-shifting penguin.

HELLBLAZER PRESENTS CHAS: THE KNOWLEDGE - Last issue of this mini-series came out this week. I finally got the rest of it shortly before this. And I really wish I hadn't have bothered. Don't get me wrong - Chas is a great supporting character. But even with a story centering around the Cabbies of London sitting on top of a secret that keeps a demon imprisoned in the roads of London and John completely out of the picture, save for the scenes showing just WHY he is out of the picture... Chas just doesn't hold the interest very well.

And the scenes at the end of this issue, where he extols the virtues of a simple life, ring somewhat true... the whole thing seems a bit tilted given that Chas is made out to be some sort of virtuous paragon because he refuses to cheat on his shrewish wife... even though All His Engines - a story which no less an expert than Neil Gaiman considers to be the quintessential Hellblazer story - showed Chas cheating on her easily and almost running off to America with the woman involved. Of course I'm picking nits, but that's rather a big one to pick given the popularity of the story and how relatively recent it is.

JACK OF FABLES #27 - You have to love any book where the living spirit of the Deus Ex Machina shows up to save the day and everyone is pissed off that he won't do more, because it would kill the story.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #26 - While the idea of an alternate-reality Justice League fighting to restore a reality that might erase them from time has been done before (Indeed, Dwayne McDuffie wrote The Once and Future Thing episode of Justice League Unlimited), this issue is a good one. Comic History Fans might get a chuckle out of "The Brown Bomber" - a character who seems to have been created as a parody of DC Comics' original idea of an African-American superhero before Tony Isabella slapped some sense into The Powers That Be and convinced them that a redneck who transformed into a super-powered Black man was a BAD IDEA. I'm a little confused as to where this leaves Animal Man (are his powers coming from Anansi now too?) but still... good read.

KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE #144- The comics are good as always. The new movie column is an abomination. Seriously. Instead of the brilliant comedy and sarcastic kvetching of Noah Antwiler, we are - thanks to the whining of a few people who shouldn't be allowed to handle sharp objects - now being treated to a column that gives us gamers advice on how to "game" various geek movies for material for their role-playing games.

Because apparently there are a lot of game masters out there who have no idea rip off movies and TV Shows for game fodder who have been demanding such hot tips as "You could easily recycle some of the gangs from the movie, such as the Disco Boys, the Red Eyes or the Susies" for their comedic superhero games.

I'd protest but Jolly Blackburn and company have made it clear that they'll only listen to the hyperbolic exclamations of everyone who is willing to devote time to trolling their message boards claiming to have stopped reading the magazine rather than the people who actually buy the magazine. And I have no desire to demean myself by saying that I will no longer buy the magazine, am burning all my back issues and that I will not rest until Jim Davenport is living in a cardboard box under the freeway.

KULL #1- A new Kull the King mini-series. Soon to become a regular series? We can but hope, because this first issue - as Conan #0 did several years ago - perfectly defines Kull as a character while separating him from Robert Howard's other famous hero. Whereas Conan is a definitive man-of-action who has no problem with splitting hairs or skulls as needed, Kull is an educated warrior, trying to raise himself above his barbaric past. A must read for all fantasy fans.

RED SONJA #38 - My patience is starting to run thin with this "bold new direction", even if I am intrigued as to how they are going to end this and if/when they will return to the status quo.

SECRET SIX #3 - I'm not sure what I find more disturbing: on-the-wagon, paternally protective Bane or just-plain Ragdoll. I really wish they had found someone other than the "dear gods why has nobody killed her yet" Devin Grayson creation Tarantula to be the centerpiece of this story... but given the average mortality rate of the guest stars in this series, I figure it's only a matter of time...

SHEENA, QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE: DARK RISING #1 - The good news is that - apart from one fan-service shot while she's doing a back-flip in the middle of an action scene (unlike most rich American heiresses, Sheena DOES wear proper undergarments) - there isn't any gratuitous cheesecake artwork in THIS Jungle Girl book. The bad news is that the interior art isn't all that good. The story is as good as previous Sheen installments though, but one wishes they would find a good, steady artist and try and keep this book coming out monthly.