Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 05/14/08 & 5/21/08

Because you demanded it!

BIRDS OF PREY #118 - Tony Bedard returns! And just as I was getting used to Sean McKeever. There's honestly nothing really all that bad about this issue but there's not a lot to redeem it either. Bedard deserves credit for doing probably the most interesting idea yet with the earth-bound incarnations of the New Gods with The Dark Side Club. But that doesn't forgive the fact that continuing the Black Alice/Misfit conflict is pouring gasoline on a dead ember and hoping for a fire. And the revelation that Alice and Charlie are blood relatives is cliched to the point of being painful. Not a good start...

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #24 - Almost in stark contrast to Birds of Prey, this is a book I feared would be cliched which managed to surprise me. Sure, we were all worried when the solicits said that Mongul the Second was cultivating an entire planet of the parasitic, telepathic Black Mercy plants - but this story shocked me as almost no page time was given to depicting the dream worlds of the two captured lanterns and - oh shock of shocks - Guy and Kyle were actually depicted as being smart enough to know what a Black Mercy is and use their powers to defend against it accordingly. And as for the last-page revelation regarding what a Black Mercy truly is... well, I don't think ANYONE expected that!

HELLBLAZER #244 - I can't do this book justice by trying to describe it. Suffice to say, Andy Diggle is continuing to rock this book back onto it's foundations. And what is more, he managed to bring back Ellie; an old favorite member of John's supporting cast with a wink and a nod. Though I'd sure like to hear the story of just HOW she is free of Hell's grip, especially after the working over John gave her nearly ten years ago, I am content enough with Diggle's explanation for why she doesn't hold a grudge against John.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #21 - Much like his run on Fantastic Four was spoiled by a need to connect to Post-Civil War Marvel, I wonder what Dwayne McDuffie's JLA run might have looked like had he not been forced to bend his stories to conform to a series of big events (GA/BC Wedding, Tangent Universe Special, etc). Hopefully it would have been a lot more stories like last month's Wonder Woman/Flash team-up against Queen Bee or this issue which - despite being a direct lead in to Final Crisis - is still the best examination we've had of the Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman relationships in a while (Yes, that includes Trinity!) Anxious as I am for James Robinson to take over, I will miss McDuffie on this title and wonder what might have been.

KNIGHTS OF THE DINNER TABLE #139 - Say what you will about Brian, but I think that the better part of him actually was trying to do the right thing in this issue. Okay, yes - he got a brand new character with a whole lot of benefits out of the bargain... but he still had to kill his character. And he chose to do so as a hero.

RED SONJA #33 - I had been hoping for a nice, normal Red Sonja issue to talk about this month after the bru-ha-ha of last month's "What If?" I might as well hope for the moon, for all the good it is doing me.

This entire issue might as well be titled "Red Sonja in Hell", because that's basically what it is. Sonja tormented by the people she failed to save. Sonja tormented by the friends who died because of her. And Sonja pinned down and threatened with rape by every man she ever killed.

Never mind the fact that her traveling companions from her final question - and ever warrior who ever aided her in battle and died beside her - show up to save her, heal her and vow to stand beside her no matter what. It's still a wee bit on the creepy side building to that touching moment.

SERENITY: BETTER DAYS #3 - Like "Those Left Behind" before it, this Serenity story gets confused in the last chapter. And what is worse, this time the story isn't resolved as the two conflicting forces are attacked by third force that is never identified or even speculated upon. And the final scenes - rather than building upon the characters we love - adds whole levels of unpleasantness to both Simon, Inara and Mal. You can do better, Joss. Seriously.

WONDER WOMAN #20 -There's something seriously wrong when Wonder Woman reads more like Red Sonja then Red Sonja. Or am I the only one disturbed to hear Wonder Woman trash-talking Beowulf and saying he's too ugly to be a whore? I can see Red Sonja saying that to a rival male warrior but not Diana - even though, if the final pages are to be believed, Diana isn't really herself in this story. It's a bit weird but I still like it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Re: DCU: Decisions

My friend Patrick passed this one on to me.

SOURCE:DC Comics To Release Politically Themed Book Before Election

Even before I read the article, I just knew The Judd-ass was involved.

But even if he weren't, I'd agree with most of the posters on Newsarama that this series is a Very Bad Idea. But I don't believe this is a bad idea because DC risks alienating some readers by saying that Superman is a conservative and Batman is a liberal or vice versa. I think this is a bad idea because for the vast majority of characters, this kind of series is just plain redundant.

You know why they've never done a story like this before? Because all of the big name heroes have traditionally been too busy to worry about politics. Apart from doing what he can to help support honest politicians in Gotham, Batman has never been very political. Bruce Wayne is more likely to funnel his money into charities or do his own good works rather than give money to a politician and trust them to do good. And Superman has made it a point in the past NOT to endorse any politician.

And this is ignoring the countless characters who we know what their political affiliations are already simply because of their very nature (i.e. Wonder Woman = social liberal/feminist) or because it's already been established (i.e. Green Arrow = Prius-driving ex-hippie). So really, this series does nothing to develop those characters.

But even if - for the sake of this story - they were to break with tradition and have Supes or Bats make a statement on this issue or that, I don't think there would be any truly shocking revelations in this series. We can guess where certain characters will fall based on their actions and histories very easily.

I find it hard to imagine Batman not being in favor of stricter gun-control laws or that Superman would support any candidate who favors the death penalty. Because Batman hates guns and Superman believes in second chances. Even with more minor characters like Martian Manhunter or Aquaman, you can figure out where they'd fall with about five seconds of thought. Is Aquaman an environmentalist? Does Martian Manhunter favor amnesty for illegal aliens?

Quite honestly, this is something which is a lot more fun to argue about with your friends than it is to read about. And that is why this story is going to fail.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Problem With Martha Jones

I wrote a bit about this on one of my other blogs. But since I had another thought on it - and since we're going to be a bit content shy this week since I'm going without my comics - I thought I'd post it here.

I recently had a chance catch up on the new Doctor Who and watch the Third Season. I've been meaning to do this ever since the new Doctor Who comic started and the reason for that is Martha Jones - the Doctor's latest companion.

The new series started with an episode called Rose - centering upon Rose Tyler - a 19-year old shopgirl in London who still lives with her widowed mother, has a casual boyfriend named Mickey and is painfully ordinary. Rose's life is changed forever thanks to a chance encounter with time-traveling, world-hopping Doctor and she impressed him enough with her courage and willingness to be a hero when nobody else would stand up for him to invite her to come with him.

This was a brilliant way to start the series and whatever may be said of some of his more recent decisions regarding the show, Russel T. Davies deserves credit for this point. In bringing back a legendary show and making it accessible to first-time viewers, he needed a good entry point. By bringing in Rose as the focus of the show, he was able to go hog-wild on the rest of the usual Doctor Who weirdness for the old-fans guilt free. As Rose was growing used to the whole new universe around her, so did the new fans.

Even the more skeptical of the old fans like me came to like Rose as she brought back another aspect of Doctor Who that appeared to have been lost in the new series; she brought The Doctor back to being a person, not a force of nature. It is clear that The Doctor has been traveling alone for quite some time and that the time alone has changed him as much as The Time War. He doesn't seem to like people very much and seems to be saving The Earth out of habit as much as any true love or respect for all life. As the first season went on, The Doctor softened a bit and went from being this hardened, sarcastic and embittered warrior into a harder, but still recognizable version of The Doctor we grew up with. This culminated in his regeneration into the David Tenant doctor - who was generally kinder, but still capable of disturbing harshness as witnessed in The Christmas Invasion.

But back to Rose Tyler. She and the Doctor both had an equal effect on each other. The Doctor exposed Rose to a literal universe she had never dreamed of and Rose grew far beyond being a shopgirl. She helped him to rediscover the part of himself that was capable of relating to others - to be a true healer instead of a hero who just fixes things. You can't deny that theirs was a powerful relationship based on mutual discovery, no matter how you may feel about how the love between them was one-sided, purely romantic or simply two best friends who know each other completely and complement one another perfectly.

So it was unlikely then that anyone could step into the void that Rose filled and do a good job. The Third Series seemed to acknowledge this itself. First, when Martha herself described herself as being "The Doctor's rebound". Second, in the final episodes, when The Master said of Martha - "You used to have companions who held the time vortex in their head and now this. Pathetic."

So why did Martha go wrong? Here's a quick list.

1. No Character Growth As Time Passed

Rose developed and changed as the series continued, starting out as a confused shopgirl but growing into a heroic woman who could look Daleks in the eye with a smile on her face. Martha, for better or worse, never really changed until the very last episode and most of her hardening took place over a year that took place completely off-camera. And while she apparently decided, in that time, that she had better things to do with her life than spend eternity pining over a man who couldn't love her back, that didn't stop us from getting an entire series of her being wowed by one kiss and then whining about "why can't he love me?"

2. Mary Sue-ism

Rose got a lot of complaints about being a Mary Sue. "Oh! Rose wound up charming a Dalek, took control of the Space/Time Vortex and literally rewrote reality so the Dalek's never existed, got to kiss The Doctor and got basically got the closest thing to a declaration of love that anyone could out of him!"

Fair enough. Rose, DID do a lot more than previous companions. However, Rose had to WORK for all of that to happen and would have died several times over if not for the Doctor's intervention. Pretty much every time Rose did something to save The Doctor, she had to fight to do it. And there were quite a lot of times when Rose was uncertain or incapable of doing anything effective. If Rose were a true Mary Sue, she'd never doubt herself, everything would have come easy and she ever would have had anything really bad happen to her.

Compare that to Martha who - in the third season finale - became the great last hope of the Earth because there was literally nobody else left to do it. And she would have been totally useless if not the key and the knowledge The Doctor gave her. Hell, they had to hamstring The Doctor AND Captain Jack in order to give Martha a chance to prove she COULD do something useful.

In the end, Martha had hordes of strangers telling us how great she was when she became the only person who could save the universe. But Rose just showed us how great she was, in defiance of everyone (her mother, her boyfriend and even The Doctor) who said that she couldn't save the universe.

3. The Mark of a Hero

In the end of the First Season, Rose defied her mother and insisted that somebody had to save The Doctor after he sent her back to her own time without her consent. She persuaded her mother and boyfriend - who had no reason to trust or even like The Doctor - to help her with breaking into The TARDIS so she could become the cavalry.

In the end of the Second Season, with her family in danger and The Doctor captured by hostiles, Rose bit her tongue about her mom being in danger but accepted that there were bigger stakes. Then she acted on her own and was fairly self-sufficient in breaking into a secret alien-hunting facility. Even after Torchwood caught her, she was never really helpless or dependent on anyone else for survival and was able to fast-talk a group of Daleks into sparing her.

In the end of the Third Season, with her family in danger and The Doctor captured by hostiles, Martha pitched a fit about her family being in danger, walked into an obvious trap while telling The Doctor that he couldn't tell her what to do and then had The Doctor hand her the solution to their problems... and even then, Martha needed help to move around and actually accomplish anything as she spent a year getting the plan to work.

Rose was equal parts Kim Possible and Biggles. Martha was Dr. Whovey from Horton Hears a Who.

4. Love, Actually

Ironically, despite being younger and probably more inexperienced, Rose was a good deal mature in how she handled her relationship with The Doctor than the older, maturer Martha.

Rose seemed to start building a romantic attraction to The Doctor in the Second Season. In the episode where she encountered Sarah Jane, she asked The Doctor point blank about why he didn't let this woman who obviously loved him stay with him and he said - basically - that as much as he may like a companion, he can't spend his whole life with them even if they spend their whole life with him and that would hurt both of them too much to consider it.

Rose takes this in stride and in a later episode (The Satan Pit) she's the one to bring up the subject of how they MIGHT consider living together and trying a normal relationship if they are doomed to be stranded in one time - a notion the Doctor dismisses not because of the idea of a relationship but because of the idea that he could ever live a normal life.

By the end of the Second Season, the two seem to have reached an acceptance of their relationship and there is definitely romantic love if not sexual love. The penultimate episode, Army of Ghosts, actually opens with a scene of the two watching a beautiful scene, The Doctor asking how long Rose will stay with him and she says "Forever" with no protest from him. Rose has decided that she can live with spending the rest of her life with The Doctor and he - for better or worse - seems to have accepted this as well, though he hasn't vocally acknowledged his feelings for Rose. Feelings which are made all too apparent in Series 3.

In short, Rose grew into her relationship with The Doctor and was mature enough to address how it changed from friendship to love directly.

Compare that to Martha, who falls in love after one kiss and then spends the better part of the season alternating between flirting with any other attractive man who pays her any attention and whining about why The Doctor can't love her.

Redefining My Tolerance Line Again.

I consider myself to be an intelligent and tolerant person. My list of People Who I Can Not Ever Take Seriously Because Of Their Beliefs is limited to six groups. In no particular order...

1. Anyone who preaches that one skin color is better than another.

2. Anyone who argues that one gender is superior to the other. (Remember this one - it will be important in a minute.)

3. Anyone who preaches that one religion is better than the other "because mine is the one true religion".

4. Anyone who would willingly vote for Ron Paul. (Sorry if that offends any of you, but I used to live in the guy's district and he IS a racist wackjob. I don't care if he does want to cut your taxes and legalize weed.)

5. Anyone who mindlessly submits to authority because of a badge, a fancy hat or a uniform. This goes double for those who believe that military service should be a requirement for holding public office or the right to vote. This goes triple for those who believe this despite having never served themselves.

6. Anyone who argues for lowering the age of consent to the point where pedophilia is legal.

I can now add a seventh group to this list, having read this.

7. Anyone who equates male feminists with unicorns and other make-believe creatures.

Because the minute someone mocks my existence is the minute I get to stop taking them seriously as an intellectual equal.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Random Thoughts On A Comic-Loving Librarian's School Visit Or Why Jenny Doesn't Read Comics.

I'm a librarian. I have Summer Reading Programs to promote. I have a bunch of free comics to give away thanks to my local comic book shop and their FCBD Extras. The one helps with buying silence at the elementary school as I talk about the other. And lo, did I make these observations.

1. There was a serious lack of honest-to-goodness child-friendly books this year. And by child-friendly, I mean actually written for kids as opposed to being written on a child's reading level. And there's an especially appalling lack of books that might interest young girls.

Case in point: my store didn't even one copy of Amelia Rules; a great book for elementary-school age kids and one of the few FCBD books with a female protagonist. We also didn't get Neotopia, which I have yet to read but understand is all-ages, very good and has a female hero. I got a few (i.e. a dozen) Owly, but that's really only good for pre-readers and 1st and 2nd grade. X-Men centers on a new female character, but is written for Teens. So what does that leave us out of the "Gold" comics for younger readers that feature female characters on the cover?

Archie's Pal Jughead (Betty and Veronica guest-star) and Tiny Titans.

2. There are few constant things in this ever-changing world but these few constants do bring me comfort. One of them is that Archie comics are pretty much the same as they were when I was a kid and kids today will still take anything other than an Archie comic if it is available.

3. This includes Tiny Titans, which is quite possibly the worst book for kids I've ever seen. The art should be in the dictionary next to the word "condescending". The jokes, such as they are, are even worse than the bad pun humor in Teen Titans Go! But worst of all, the book presumes you already know who all of the characters are but doesn't give any introduction at all to the characters. Which is rather important if you're to understand why Lil' Ravager moaning about her dad, Mr. Slade, becoming principal, is a big deal.

4. Am I the only one who thinks that the meta-humor that dominates Tiny Titans might be tolerable if it centered on the kids annoying their principal (Captain Underpants meets Bart Simpson style) and each issue featured Robin shouting "Hey Mr. Wilson!"?

5. Bad as Tiny Titans is, it's still better than Marvel's cynical Iron Man/Hulk free "comic book", which is actually just a catalog for upcoming Iron Man and Hulk mini-series and trade-paperbacks. It's the FCBD equivalent of sending away for a Lil' Orphan Annie Decoder ring and finding out that the big secret message is "Be Sure To Drink Your Ovaltine". It's a commercial!

6. Still, there is some hope. Witness this exchange between two girls as they were picking out the books.

Girl #1: All the girl comics are gone!

Girl #2: No, there's still some Iron-Man.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 05/07/08

In which I say very little about the comics but say a good deal about the stories behind them. Do not read this if you haven't seen The Third Series of Doctor Who.

CONAN #50 - An awesome end to the series, though I find myself perplexed as to exactly why the book is starting over with a new #1 as Conan The Cimmerian. I can think of two reasons, though I can't guess if one is better than the other.

The first reason is that #1's tend to sell better and that Dark Horse just wanted to give one of their best titles a shot in the arm. This would seem likely, except that Conan hasn't really been suffering in sales.

The other reason that occurs to me is that Tim Truman - while doing a good job on the book since Kurt Busiek left - inherited a ton of running plot-elements that, by necessity, had to drive his own writing in order for the book to fit with Busiek's run in terms of pacing and tone. With this issue having neatly tied up the last of Busiek's threads and Conan sick of the Eastern Realns, this leaves Truman free to start fresh and begin telling his Conan stories, freed somewhat from the yoke of what came before.

Either way, this is a good time for new readers to jump on this wonderful book.

DOCTOR WHO #4 - So, how soon before the comics catch up with the show and we lose Martha for Donna?

Don't get me wrong - I think Martha Jones had the potential to be a great character. But I think most of that potential got wasted as the writers of The Third Season of Doctor Who - in an effort to soothe the Rose Tyler fans who might be reluctant to embrace a new companion - pitched their scripts in a way as to show just how great and wonderful Martha is.

Which would be fine except that instead of endearing Martha to the fans - many of whom had just started watching Doctor Who and had come into it at the same time that Rose was introduced as a character, creating a natural "she's new to this like me" equation in most people's heads - it made her into a border-line Mary Sue. The reason I say border-line is because while everybody talks about how great and wonderful Martha is, she doesn't really do anything to justify this talk. Despite being a medical doctor in-training, Martha was still given little more to do than be the damsel-in-distress who the Doctor needed to rescue (Gridlock, 42, Daleks in Manhattan). And I think it is telling that the most popular episode of the season - Blink - is the one in which Martha is almost completely absent.

Apart from giving The Doctor CPR in 'Smith and Jones', trying - and for the most part failing - to look after an amnesiac Doctor in 'Human Nature' and the contrived circumstances which made Martha the last hope of humanity in 'Last of the Time Lords', she didn't do a blessed heroic thing in the whole season. And even in this last, "finest moment", you have to believe that Jack Harkness and The Doctor would be willing to hang around an entire year waiting for Martha to set up the audience for the biggest stage production of Peter Pan of all time in order for Martha to be seen as a heroic figure.

There's also the fact that in a lot of ways, Martha and her family were a virtual clone of Rose and her family, only we weren't given two seasons to get to know them and come to like them despite their faults. Everything with Martha was rushed in an attempt to make her Rose's equal.

For instance, Rose was - at first - horrified by the idea that anyone would think she and The Doctor would be "involved" but she came to fall in love with him in the middle of Series 2. Martha, by contrast, fell in love with The Doctor after one kiss.

All in all, I agree with The Master: "... such a disappointment this one. Days of old, Doctor, you had companions who could absorb the time vortex... This one's useless."

Why do I mention all of this? Because this issue of the comic is a perfect mirror of those episodes of the show. Martha doesn't do a blessed thing other than get dragged around, bitch about The Doctor not liking her as much as he liked Rose and being the generic person The Doctor explains everything to in order to show off how clever he is. Lazy, lazy writing and I may have to drop this book if it doesn't improve.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The 4 Even Creepier Comic Book Characters of All Time

SOURCE: The 6 Creepiest Comic Book Characters of All Time

Should I be the least bit saddened that I can think of four even worse characters to round this out to an even ten?

I suppose so. Regardless, please enjoy or be horrified by The 4 Even Creepier Comic Book Characters of All Time

4. Arion

Creepy Because Of: Magical Incest/Forced Pregnancy/Magical Rape

It's a fact of life in fantasy worlds and superhero comics: most wizards are dicks. Even the relatively harmless and friendly ones like Gandalf are quick to remind their friends that you shouldn't meddle in their affairs, because they are subtle and quick to anger. Sure, they'll bring the fireworks to the party. But they'll also be threatening to spoil an innkeeper's beer or to turn harmless gardeners into something unnatural once the Guinness runs out.

On one level, this is understandable. They spend years studying things that most of humanity is ignorant of and cannot even begin to grasp; like graduate students, only much more useful. After all, if you were Doctor Strange and you were engaged in daily struggles to protect reality from invasion by things that would cause most of your fellow heroes to vent their bladders about two seconds after seeing them, wouldn't you be a little annoyed by Reed Richards showing up unannounced on your doorstep and asking for help with this "scientific phenomena I have yet to adequately explain yet" every time he invented a new star-gate?

On the other hand, most of these wizards take their annoyance with the stupidity of everyone around them and use this as a license to do whatever they want in the name of a vague "common good", because they know better than you. And no magical character illustrated this truth better than Arion, who just recently became a full-fledged villain of sorts in Kurt Busiek's Superman. However, all of his recent activities pale in comparison to his actions as a hero in which he...

a) manipulated Power Girl into thinking she was his granddaughter from the ancient days of Atlantis and that he brought her forward in time to save her from a plague that threatened her life.

b) used his magic to impregnate Power Girl without her knowledge or permission, so that she would give birth to a great hero who would be needed to save Atlantis.

c) later admitted to having lied about Power Girl being his granddaughter or Atlantean and - before dying - noting that he had done so as a promise to her mother. This turned out to be total bunk after it was revealed that Kara was Superman's cousin from a parallel Earth...

3. Grimbor The Chainsman

Creepy Because Of : Bondage.

The guy calls himself "The Master of Bondage". Do you really need any more explanation than that?

Honestly, the concept behind Grimbor is not a bad one and it is possible that he might have been used in a less creepy fashion in another time and another place. After all, there's a lot of potential in the concept of a master of traps. And you have to give props to someone who - with nothing but sheer inventiveness and a near-obsessive eye for detail - created a series of devices that enabled him to single-handedly take on The Legion of Superheroes.

So where did it go wrong? Well, part of it was because he was introduced back in the Mike Grell years when everyone was wearing swim-suit style costumes that were even less suitable for crime-fighting than skin-tight Spandex. And the other part of it was that in his first appearance, he was partnered with a woman called Charma. Charma had an unlikely mutation that caused all men to obey her every command and all women to want to kill her. She used her powers to throw The Legion off-balance in one way or the other as Grimbor (a respectable lawman she ensnared with her powers) did what he did best.

As unsettling as this is, things got full-blown creepy at the end of the story when the pair was defeated and it was revealed that Grimbor had constructed a special device that canceled out Charma's powers and left her helpless.

It got worse in later appearances when we found out that Charma was killed in prison after her restraints were removed, her powers kicked in and the female population tore her apart - literally. The news reached Grimbor - who still loved Charma despite the knowledge that she had used her powers to cause him to love her - and he swore revenge on The Legion and showed up two more times before vanishing into limbo, only to be resurrected for bad Legion Slash-Fic and... gods help us... The new Legion of Superheroes Cartoon.

2. Comet

Creepy Because Of : Bestiality/Mind Control.

Proof that there is no creepy classic comics idea that cannot be made worse by having Peter David write it, I present to you the Post-Crisis Comet.

I won't go into the full back-story of this version of Supergirl. Suffice it to say, those who thought that Supergirl couldn't be made any more complicated after she was reinvented as a shape-shifting artificial life-form from a parallel universe were proven wrong after Peter David bonded her with a Satan-worshiping teenage girl and then turned them both into an angel.

In that same spirit, Peter David introduced a new Comet. This Comet appeared, at first, to be a Sepiroth clone with horse-legs and ice-control powers. It was never revealed if he had any other horse-like anatomy, though it was presumed that if he did this would go a long way toward explaining just why Supergirl seemed to fall head over heels for him in record time.

But it turned out that the truth was far more complicated and far more stupid than any "hung-like-a-horse" joke.

The truth was that Comet was another angel - just like Supergirl. An angel who had been formed by the fusion of a Hispanic lesbian stand-up comic and an unfortunate jockey turned superhero, who had been trampled to near-death by a horse, given the powers and partial anatomy of a horse by a super-villain group and then died on one of his first missions after rebelling against the villains and setting out to become a superhero.

Oh, and did I mention that this angel had the power to control the force of Love? And that he/she/it used to make Supergirl fall in love with he/she/it?

Yeah. Yeah.

1. Marcus Danvers

Creepy Because Of: Mind Control/Rape/Forced Pregnancy/Incest

You can read a summary of this story elsewhere. It appeared in Avengers #200 and is easily the sickest thing I've ever seen, by far. Oedipal doesn't begin to describe it.

The short version is that Marcus is the son of Carol Danvers (aka Ms. Marvel) and that Marcus...

a) was the result of his father - the villain Immortus - using his vast powers to create a pocket dimension, where he took as a mate a woman who could have been Ms. Marvel's twin. Despite being a virtual god, he still couldn't get laid without using machines to mind-control his chosen lady.

b) was left to his own devices in the pocket dimension after his dad erased himself from time (don't ask) and - with an idealized image of what his mom had been like and no moral guidance to tell him otherwise - he decided to use dear old dad's machines in order to do as dad had done and mind-control a woman into sleeping with him.

c) made arrangements for his chosen woman (Carol Danvers) to be impregnated WITH him, making her both his mother and his lover.

d) mind-controlled her into becoming a submissive bimbo who was ready to follow him back to their his pocket dimension.

What truly made this story horrible is that all the rest of the Avengers found out about this and not a damn one of them did ANYTHING when Carol announced her intent to leave Earth forever to go and stay with her son/lover forever.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 04/30/08

DC UNIVERSE #0 - The good news is I don't feel ripped off because - thanks to the generosity of Lone Star Comics in South Arlington - I didn't have to pay for it.

The bad news is... well, this preview book isn't worth 50 cents. And while I don't seem to be as overwhelmingly gloomy as some of my colleagues in the blogging community about some of the revelations to come forth here, I must admit that I can't see this doing much to build enthusiasm for Batman: R.I.P. or Legion of Three Worlds.

I am, however, repressing a mad cackle at the idea that Gail Simone appears to be getting ready to write a Wonder Woman vs. 300 Spartans story. And Blackest Night is looking better and better.

But as for Final Crisis... ah, well.... they've been hinting at it enough. And with Bucky and Uncle Ben back it's not like anything is truly sacred anymore.

Check it out for yourself:

EX MACHINA #36- I don't know who this new "villain" is, but I think I'm in love.

GREEN LANTERN #30- Secret Origins continues as we see Johns further revamp and modernize the classic "How Hal Jordan Became Green Lantern" story while reconciling it with Alan Moore's story "Tygers", all while foreshadowing quite a bit of the upcoming "Blackest Night". The one downside is that if you're not a Green Lantern fan, this may be impossible to keep up with if you haven't been reading since Sinestero Corps War.

JACK OF FABLES #22- Another divergent tale as we hear a story of Jack in the Old West as he turned bandit and lawman Bigby Wolf shows up to bring him home. I can't imagine there being anyone reading this book who isn't also reading Fables... but on the odd chance that there is, you'll want to pick up this issue too.

Ten Thoughts Of Varying Depth On Iron Man

THE SHORT AND SWEET REVIEW: It is good. Robert Downey Jr. is perfection. He really makes Tony Stark a sympathetic figure and that's coming from someone who usually can't stand Iron Man as a concept or character. Well worth seeing on the big screen. In fact, I imagine it won't look half as impressive at home. Also, be sure to stick around through all of the credits.

1. Yes, they do use the Ozzy music.

2. The final words of the movie are "I am Iron Man"

3. Robert Downey Jr. is perfect as Tony Stark. Not a bad thing to say about him.

4. All the casting, in general, is great. They picked a great actor for Rhodey for the inevitable sequel when War Machine shows up. (They're already hinting at it.) And Jeff Daniels - as the big baddy - manages the impossible in playing a comic book villain who doesn't chew the scenery.

5. Gwyneth Paltrow is great as Pepper Potts. Yes, I know what you're thinking - why such a big, respected actress to play Tony Stark's secretary? Trust me: the movie will make it make sense. And here's to them sticking true to the comics and not forcing a romantic relationship between the boss and the loyal secretary but keeping the tension there.

6. Something they didn't stay true to? Jarvis - rather than being a sarcastic British butler - is Tony's electronic personal assistant. I don't know if they thought they were already too heavy on supporting cast (Pepper, Rhodey... even Happy Hogan for Pete's sake!) or if they thought people would say "Oh - he has a butler doing everything for him just like Batman!" Either way, it's a little thing that only the most die-hard of fan-boys will complain about given how much they got right.

7. Something else they didn't stay true to from the comics? The Mandarin, in this case, is a Genghis Khan admirer who runs a terrorist group called "The Ten Rings". Presumably they were afraid of offending people with the portrayal of a magic-ring wearing Chinese warlord.

8. That brings up the one flaw with the movie. Tony Stark is forever changed and decides to get his company out of weapons manufacturing after he sees the lives that are being ruined by the weapons he designed and sold all of his life. And the Iron Man suit is his way of trying to create a non-lethal solution to armed conflict - rays that knock people down but don't cause lethal damage.

Great. Super. Wonderful... except that what he does in an effort to make amends really does nothing to address the large number of people who wouldn't have turned to terrorism/freedom fighting had it not been for his warmongering in the first place. And all of The Ten Rings are killed off before any attempt at rehabilitation/reconciliation can be made, so it's a moot point.

Still, it seems odd for the movie to bring up the issue without trying to rectify it at all. Then again, how can it? It really can't. There's no easy solution to how you make something like that better. Which is actually the first honest step anyone has ever made to making Tony Stark a sympathetic character in any medium. He knows that he's screwed up and he knows that he can never make up for what he has done. All he can say is I'm sorry and move on.

9. The best Stan Lee cameo ever as Stan Lee stretches his acting chops and plays a non-speaking Hugh Hefner. Seriously.

10. So why should you stick around during the credits? Three Words: Samuel Motherloving Jackson.