Monday, March 30, 2009

Thoughts on HEROES, Season 4, Chapter 8 - Into Asylum

Word from the TV Guide summary is that Claire and Nathan flee to Mexico while Peter and Angela are supposed to hide-out in a church - asylum, of course, referring to the religious and political practice of granting sanctuary and refuge. The other big story based on the previews is that Danko and Sylar may form an unholy alliance since both of them are working toward the same eventual ends for different reasons - kill as many powered people as possible.

We shall see.

8:00 - So, quick recap of the last few episodes that will be relevant to tonight... Danko finding Eric Doyle gift-wrapped, Angela escaping a drag-net with Peter and Claire escaping the drag-net with Nathan. No surprises so far.

8:01 - When did Claire have time to get her bangs done? Ah well... actually that does make kinda sense if she's changing her appearance.

8:02 - Gee... I wonder WHY she'd be reluctant to stay with you, Nathan. Jerkass. If Claire goes and turns him into the cops for attempted rape and the series ends with Nathan rotting in a Mexican prison, I think we'll all be a lot happier.

8:03 - "That's not why I saved you. I want answers." Yeah - Peter being less and less in touch with his empathic side is looking more and more likely.

8:04 - Yay! More Noah/Danko dick-waving!

8:05 - So there is the proposal. But c'mon - we know that Sylar is the one who killed the agents... right?

8:06 - What the... how did Sylar get there? Unless... was the math teacher he just killed a teleporter/time freezer like Hiro? If so... holy shit....

8:09 - "Nice speech." I love snarky Noah.

8:10 - Am I the only one who thinks that Noah knows a LOT more about what is going on with Sylar right now than Danko thinks he does? Because I find that much preferable to the idea that Noah is - once again - unintentionally sowing the seeds of his own destruction, like he did before with Sylar.

8:11 - "I sold my kidney. Both of them. Twice". Hee hee hee.

8:12 - Nathan? Do yourself a favor and shut up now. Like the eskimoes said to the air conditioning salesman, "We're not buying it!"

8:13 - Wow! The Petrellis are Catholic. Who knew? Interesting.

8:14 - Okay - Nathan is holding the Idiot Ball now - trying to win a drinking contest instead of selling his daughter's jewelry. Or - I dunno - letting the dainty looking woman who theoretically should be able to metabolize the alcohol before it can affect her - enter the contest instead of you.

8:15 - "You'd be amazed what you can do with a lifted ID badge, a 4 dollar tie and a Baltimore accent." Now there's the Sylar we know and love.

8:16 - "He's a shapeshifter." Again... I'm calling bullshit on this and am willing to put money down that Sylar is the real killer and that he's just trying to sow dissension in Danko's ranks so he can "save the day" and convince Danko to go for the partnership.

8:21 - Well, holy crap. Sylar was telling the truth. Now there IS a twist I didn't see coming! Unless it turns out THAT guy was Sylar...

8:23 - And now we see Nathan demonstrating how most of us coped with watching Season 3. And Claire is showing the savvy she used to show fairly often.

8:25 - Heh. Never really thought about it... but Sylar IS a bit of a drama queen, in the sense of how he enjoys playing a role and manipulating people.

8:28 - Are You There, God? It's Me, Peter. And yeah... Peter seems to be coming to a revelation regarding his anger and his issues with his family.

8:30 - Wow. Actual tension. Seems like forever since we've seen it.

8:35 - Nice little detective scene here. I realize I'm not commenting much but that's because there's so little to say about this other than "This is good." and describing the action.

8:37 - BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Good one, Claire!

8:38 - "I was Cassandra". Ooooh... good literary allusion.

8:39 - And in case you doubted where Noah's loyalties still are... there's your proof.

8:40 - BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I like this shapeshifter's sense of humor.

8:44 - "He's a better you than you." BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

8:45 - And Claire-issa explains it all (I'm sorry... I'm sorry!) for those of you who can't guess how regeneration = cannot get drunk.

8:47 - And for those of you who couldn't guess it, the whole reason Nathan gave Claire a pass had nothing to do with buying off Noah and was all because he felt guilty about not being there for her when she was growing up. Wow. I am feeling so much non-sympathy for him right now, I don't have the words to describe it. Is it wrong that I'm thinking Claire should probably consider just how much HIS organs would be worth on the Mexican Black Market?

8:48 - Yes, Claire. First the blanket... and then a pillow across the face!

8:49 - Okay, that was dark. And twisted. And actually kinda awesome. I'm just trying to figure out HOW Sylar can do it without the cutting and everything. I'd bet we'll see a repeat of the lost scene from Season 2 where he pulls a guy's brain out through his nose... but that wouldn't explain the blood on the hands.

8:53 - And finally, Nathan admits that he bit off more than he could chew and that he's screwed up. Cry me a river.

8:54 - And now Claire is giving the drunken, "Pity me" jackass a sarcastic pep-talk. Yay Claire!

8:55 - Sister?

8:57 - *sighs* Well, I guess he IS a better way home than the bus, Claire.

8:58 - I don't think Noah is buying this for a moment.

8:59 - And we have unholy alliance.

9:00 - Next time - Grave Robbing!

The Final Word: Not a bad episode by any means. Lots of good character moments here but I can't believe anyone is going to be feeling any sympathy at all for Nathan at this point.

He's brought this all on himself and has gone begging to sympathy from the last person in the world who would or should give him any benefit of the doubt at this point. Actually, he was so whinny in this episode... I would rather see him die than Mohinderance at this point.

I know. I'm shocked too. And I think I need a drink....

Spider-Man Comic Banned in Nebraska... For Showing A Woman In A Bikini.

SOURCE: Spider-Man Faces Being Banned In Nebraska Public School

While I usually make it a policy to support my fellow librarians and fight censorship in every form, this case is clearly the librarian's fault for having bought materials for an elementary school library without reviewing them first to see if they were appropriate.

Because stunningly - as this one library system is finding out - NOT ALL COMICS ARE FOR KIDS!

So I can't say that the outrage over Spider-Man comics of an inappropriate age-level being bought for an elementary school library is altogether inappropriate or shocking. What does shock me, however, is the particular graphic novel that has inspired this offense and the reason why it has been singled out.

Amazing Spider-Man Vol 2: Revelations. Seriously.

Not the Todd MacFarlane Spider-Man books featuring bondage play with the web fluid.

Not the Mark Millar Marvel Knights: Spider-Man books featuring Electro, his shape-shifting prostitute girlfriend and the suggestion that Electro has a taste for being buggered.

Not even Spider-Man: Reign which is remembered less as a half-assed attempt to write a dark-future Spider-Man story in the Frank Miller Dark Knight Returns style and more for the revelation that Peter Parker has radioactive semen and that "his love" gave Mary Jane cancer and killed her!

No, it was Amazing Spider-Man Vol 2: Revelations.

What was it in the book that the mom found so objectionable? The graphic but realistic depiction of the 9-11 attacks and the effect on New York City? Aunt May joking, when she finds out the truth about Peter's secret identity, that she had always thought he was gay or a cross-dresser and that his being a superhero never occured to her?

No. Much worse than that...

Svendsen claims that when her son brought the book home he found an image of a woman in a bathing suit and went, as 6- year olds normally do, “Ohhhh!” The images about which Svendsen are protesting show a very shapely redhead in various states of undress. This woman is quite possibly Mary Jane Watson, long-time love interest to Spider-Man’s alter ego, Peter Parker. Lending credence to this idea is the fact that in one scene, the woman is being photographed on the beach during a photo-shoot.

A woman in a bikini?! That's it? That's the objectionable material that everyone is going crazy over?

*face palms* Good thing the kid didn't wind up taking Teen Titans home. I can only imagine what Mom would have thought of Supergirl's short skirt and Wonder Girl's belly-shirts.

Honestly, I agree that the librarian should have known better. But out of all of the many reasons why J. Michael Straczynski's Amazing Spider-Man should not be in an elementary school library, women in bikinis isn't even in the top ten!

I mean, Betty and Veronica wear bikinis more often than not now. Would anyone argue that those books contain inappropriate sexual content?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 3/25/09

And The Rest...

CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #9 - First of all, let me say how happy I am to see Joseph Michael Linsner doing the covers instead of Frank Cho. Amazingly, given Linsner's skill with drawing beautiful, voluptuous women and reputation as a cheesecake artist first and foremost, he has not descended into the depths of fan-service that Cho did in his capacity as a cover artist for this title. Good on you sir!

Things continue on much as they did from the last issue, with Conan continuing to adjust to life as a soldier and getting a Klingon Promotion to an officer position with the front-line troops who usually suffer the heaviest losses. Naturally this suits Conan just fine.

This issue - as with the one before - is setting the ground for an adaptation of the classic Robert Howard story Black Colossus. So far things are looking very promising and I can't wait until the next issue, when we will hopefully get to see one of my favorite moments in the entire Conan mythos portrayed.

KULL #5 - A week late but I finally got it. And I want this as a regular series to go alongside Conan.

Kull often gets accused of being a proto-Conan. But while Howard did revise his last unsold Kull story ("By This Axe, I Rule!") into his very first Conan tale ("The Phoenix On The Sword"), the two were remarkably different heroes and two very different kings. While Conan gives only a cursory interest to the matters of civilization after his ascension to the throne, Kull throws himself into truly understanding every aspect of the new world he has entered into. Kull believes there are things he does not understand and must strive to do so, even as he strives to temper his warlike nature. Conan, on the other hand, is more than willing to reduce that which he does not understand to a simpler level - by the point of a sword if necessary.

I can say little about this story, save that coming as it does as a continuation of a classic Kull story it does an admirable job of fitting the Howard style and that I will be sorry to see it go next month.

JACK OF FABLES #32 - More aftermath from the destruction of Mister Revise's concentration camp for Fables and a number of disturbing revelations. The least disturbing of which is the fact that Jack is apparently the bastard son of Prince Charming and a half-literal. Who is the mom? Well, that would be telling and giving away the most glorious joke in the whole book. I've said it before and I'll say it again - if you aren't reading this book by now, you should be.

WONDER WOMAN #30 - THIS is the issue of Wonder Woman we were all waiting for when it was announced that Gail Simone was taking over the book. Because this issue, more than anything that has been done with the character in Simone's run - or indeed, any Wonder Woman story I've ever read - has established just how awesome a character Wonder Woman is and how utterly badass (for lack of a better word) she should be portrayed as being.

It all comes down to one four-page spread in which Diana...

1) arrives on the doorstep of a Secret Society of Supervillains hideout in Gotham City.

2) takes out a tank waiting for her in the lobby by throwing the front door at it

3) causes Felix Faust, upon witnessing this, to declare "I'm out" before he teleports away from the building as quickly as possible. Let me say that again: the sight of an angry Wonder Woman terrified a man who deals with demons on a regular basis.

4) takes down Shrapnel - a man of living scrap metal - in about five seconds

5) causes Phobia - a woman with the power to cause others to hallucinate their worst fears as reality - to have a panic attack without even touching her.

6) apologizes to T.O. Morrow for the damage to the building, as he whines that he built it to withstand a nuclear blast... just before throwing a scrap of metal INTO the wall next to Morrow noting "You might want this back then. I think it was the steering wheel."

More please. :)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Some Good Things To Look At...

I didn't mean to spend so much time writing two mostly negative reviews. So before I go out for the night (I have a show to perform at this evening) and return tomorrow to cover the rest of the comics I picked up this week, here's some good things to check out.

Atop The Fourth Wall - quite easily the best comedic critic video-blog since The Spoony Experiment, Lewis Lovhaug does for Amazons Attack! what Noah Antwiler did for Yor, The Hunter From The Future

Amazons Attack! #1-2
Amazons Attack! #3-4
Amazons Attack! #5-6

Harley Quinn: A Masochistic Bimbo Who Screwed Her Way Through College - a very thoughtful analysis of the character and The Joker that is one of the more intelligent bits of commentary I've read in a goodly while.

Justice League #31 - A Review

In which a preview gets more attention from outraged fans than the actual story.

A lot of people are talking about this issue. Not because it foreshadows the up-coming (and long-delayed) James Robinson Justice League book. Not because of the Justice League disassembling... again.

No, they're talking about the first seven pages (well, six now that they've pulled the page where Wonder Woman was apparently drawn in place of Black Canary) of the new Justice League and the apparent exposure of Green Arrow's suffering at the hands of his abusive wife, Black Canary.

There's a lot of discussion out there about how horrible it is that one spouse punching the other is being played for laughs. There are several blog posts regarding how there is no way this kind of thing would be tolerated if the shoe were on the other foot and it were Ollie punching Dinah for embarrassing him. And there's also a considerable number of message board threads about Dinah's "homophobic" slam of the Ollie/Hal relationship.

Most of this discussion is, to my mind, a lot funnier - in the ironic sense - than this scene.

Yes, spousal abuse in any form is wrong. Yes, Dinah is a trained martial artist who could easily kill Ollie with her bare hands if she wanted too. And read straight, this whole scene is a horrifying indictment of a relationship where a man is beaten repeatedly by an abusive wife and his best friend witnesses this and just laughs it off, going so far as to say “you deserve to be beaten.”

Nevertheless, there's no real malicious intent here - just three old friends who, because they are so close, will crack jokes that only they could get away with, even in the middle of an argument.

Dinah even says as much - “You don’t get to joke about this, Hal” - when Hal tells Ollie “She doesn’t even know about half the stuff you’ve done.” Later, she tells Ollie that he can't joke his way out of this when he remarks, after Dinah accuses him of not supporting her, "You've got my support. I'm just offering Hal my quiver.... you know, maybe there IS a little homoerotic tension in our relationship."

But seriously: does anyone out there really think Hal Jordan would stand by and make jokes if he thought anybody was actually in actual physical danger? Does anyone - with the exception of Andrew Kreisberg. - believe Dinah Lance lacks the control and ability to hit a grown man with just enough force to knock him down without bruising him? Does anyone - with the exception of Judd Winick - think someone as willful and quick-tempered as Oliver Queen is just going to lie there and take a real beating?

I doubt it. And yet, that doesn’t take away from the fact that - no matter what the intent - this whole scene isn't funny.

It isn't funny because we’re supposed to be amused by a man being beaten up by his wife. Ignoring the abuse angle and the fact that Dinah could seriously injury Ollie if she wanted too, it still doesn't work as comedy. This is still negative reinforcement of stereotyped gender roles. I.E. "Ha-ha! You got beaten up by a girl!"

And the fact that this is coming from Hal Jordan, who has gotten his butt handed to him on numerous occasions by Star Sapphire is kind of funny. But not in the way McDuffie intended.

It looks bad anyway you slice it though. The art says action even as the dialogue says comedy and I can think of a thousand ways that the intent could have been made a lot clearer. Have it made more clear that Dinah sucker-punched Ollie in the stomach to knock the wind out of him rather than having him depicted as being knocked off his feet. Put more of a playful gleam into Dinah's eye after Ollie's crack about hoping for some rough sex. Even having Ollie say “Yes, Mistress” sarcastically after Dinah says “Don’t make me smack you again.” would help even if it did inspire a new wave of fanfic I’d rather not read.

And yet, despite all this, I’d still rather have McDuffie writing Green Arrow/Black Canary instead of Judd Winick or Andrew Kreisberg.

So now that THAT is out of the way, how does the rest of the issue play out? Not so good.

Hal gives voice to a several thousand disgruntled Justice League fans and notes, in describing the last 2 1/2 years of story-lines that "We haven't saved the world. We haven't even protected it... We've done nothing."

Personally, I think this is a bit harsh given that they DID fight The Legion of Doom, who probably would have wound up endangering the world a bit had they not decided to kill The Justice League first... but still fairly accurate given that all of Meltzer's run involved personal non-world-treatening business and even McDuffie's plots were continually side-lined by The Crossover Of The Week.

Dinah goes to talk to Barbara Gordon, who says - long friendship between Dinah and Hal completely ignored - that Hal is a jerk who has no respect for Dinah and that he'd never pull the "form a new JLA" stunt on Bruce or Clark, leading me to wonder just when did bluefall start ghostwriting Oracle dialogue for Dwayne McDuffie?

(Actually, if bluefall were writing this, it would be better written, Ollie probably would have died on page 4 and the issue would have ended with Barbara and Dinah in a honeymoon suite in Massachusetts.)

We then get a montage of Dinah asking other League members on if they are going to stay in the wake of everything that happened during Final Crisis. The short answers are...

Hawkgirl - now shacking up with Hawkman. Still on the team, for now.

Red Arrow - depressed after being dumped by Hawkgirl for Hawkman, he quits and tells Hawkman (who apparently wants to rejoin) that he can have his slot, which leads to a dirty joke Roy immediately apologizes for voicing to Dinah.

The Flash - despite not actually having been on the team for more than a few seconds, Wally says he hasn't got the time what with raising two kids who are as fast as he is AND being on The Titans.

Wonder Woman - busy with events on Themyscria. No detail is given past this, but it is no shock to those of us who have been reading her book.

Superman - busy with things on New Krypton. Again, no surprise for those reading his books.

Black Lightning - Sir Not Appearing In This Issue, we are told that he - per Batman's wishes in the event of his death - has quit the JLA to take over running The Outsiders.

Red Tornado - not returning Dinah's calls.

This leaves Dinah with John Stewart, Vixen, Zatanna (who may or may not be on the team and was mostly there as a favor to Bruce) and Dr. Light (who has only been on the team since last issue). Faced with four bickering teammates who are torn between trying to reconcile with Hal and his new group and trying to beat some sense into Hal and his group, Dinah announces - to the shock of everyone - that she is dissolving the JLA.

Of course there's another issue solicited for next month so we know that this isn't really the end of the JLA, especially with James Robinson's book not due out until summer. So this cliff-hanger is ultimately as meaningless as most of this book.

Still, there are some things about this book that don't suck. While a lot of McDuffie's attempts at humor fall flat, the lines that do work, such as Dinah's comment on how The Fortress of Solitude isn't easy to get to and Clark's reply that "that's sort of the point", are pretty good. A lot of the character moments, especially the Dinah/Roy scene, are quite enjoyable. And the artwork by Shane Davis is a lot better than the Ed Benes pin-up work that has been par for the course on this title for too long.

The Final Word: A rather forgettable issue that has gotten a lot more attention than it deserves thanks to a rather inappropriate and nonsensical attempt at humor in its' opening pages. All the more unfortunate and nonsensical since the book is basically setting up a series that won't be coming out for at least another two months, if that. Decent artwork and a few good character moments but not much else. Hal Jordan says it best in describing The League's recent lack of action - "We haven't saved the world. We haven't even protected it... We've done nothing."

Oracle: The Cure #1 - A Review

Been a while since I've done a full-length review of a book. But this time, I think it is warranted. Why? Because this is easily the worst book I've read since Liberality For All.

How bad is this book? So bad that I don't even need to address how badly out of character Barbara Gordon is written, the cheesecake artwork or the gratuitous shower scene (There are enough reviewers on When Fangirls Attack! who have got those angles covered already) to pick apart this book on violations of continuity and common sense. What follows is a list of every single thing in the book that made me go WTF?

1. Barbara moved into a new apartment with inadequate power needs for her equipment and inadequate accommodations for a woman in a wheelchair.

It's pretty well established at this point that Babs owned numerous safe-houses in case she had to relocate in a hurry. Even if she didn't, it's also a matter of record has enough cash saved up from looting the accounts of criminal organizations to pay her agents a decent living wage so they could be a full-time hero if they wanted to so finding a wheelchair accessible apartment with WiFi and a decent power grid should be cake.

2. The Calculator is the father of Wendy from Teen Titans?!

This just seemed kind of off to me, given that most of my exposure to the character has come from Birds of Prey, where he was always portrayed as an obsessive, anti-social geek with no life outside of his super-villainy.

But I've gone on-line since originally reading the book and confirmed that, according to Teen Titans (which I don't normally read), The Calculator IS the father of Wendy and Marvin. Yes, THAT Wendy and Marvin. The ones who were introduced into Teen Titans as a tribute to the two characters from the original educational Superfriends cartoon.

This just confuses me even more. First, that The Calculator ever managed to procreate in the first place. Then, because he would further give a damn about anyone besides himself, let alone an apparently estranged daughter that he had no contact with.

3. Barbara out-sources her hacking.

I can see her communicating with other hackers. I can see her keeping tabs on other players in the field. I cannot see her asking someone else to take a look at something and then asking someone else to keep an eye on the first agent. Granting that Babs needs to sleep sometimes and that no matter how brilliant a programmer she is there are some things she can't have run on automatic... everything between Oracle and "Cheese-Fiend" just seems wrong.

4. Looking for the Anti-Life Equation on the Internet.

Why?! Why is the ALE on the Internet in the first place if everything that happened in Final Crisis (save Batman's "death") was rewritten to have never happened? Why is Babs looking for it after a glimpse of it nearly killed her? Her trying to destroy it would make sense but we never do get an explanation. And why is Noah trying to find it when his apparent goal is saving his daughter when the ALE is essentially destructive?

5. Barbara Gordon has no idea who "Babbage" is until it is too late.

Yes, Calculator uses Babbage as an call-sign. Granting that it's totally in character for him to flaunt his intelligence like that, it's totally unexpected that Barbara - even ignoring her perfect photographic memory - wouldn't know off the top of her head that Babbage = Charles Babbage = creator of the first calculator. I still remember that from my 7th grade Introduction To Computers class!

6. Barbara is ignorant regarding a popular MMO.

I don't expect Barbara to be an active World of Warcraft player or anything but I would expect her to keep up on the hot social-networking sites and popular trends in on-line living.

Actually, now that I think about it, I can totally see Babs having 300 bots running simultaneously, using them to finance her operations by running a legitimate gold-farming business... but this is why I'm not writing for DC Comics.

7. The Useless Shadow

So Babs has a gamer named Chaos Larry follow Cheese-Fiend into the Second Life MMO she's playing on, despite the fact that Babs is perfectly capable of watching her every move from her own computer and in fact does. So why bother with the shadow in the first place if you're already watching her?

8. The Calculator's Crystals

Apparently they're part of some weapon that allows him to make people go all Scanners through the Internet. But... HOW?!?! How do they manifest in the game?! Why does the avatar scream along with the woman in real life? If it's sonic-based, why doesn't it hurt anyone else in ear-shot in the game or anyone listening to the action In Real Life?! And... why am I still looking for logic in this book at this point?

The Final Word: Bad Art. Bad Characterization. And it's more concerned with Teen Titans continuity than Birds of Prey. What the hell?!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thoughts on HEROES, Season 4, Chapter 7 - Cold Snap

We know from the ads that this episode is supposed to feature Tracy heavily, which is kind of a "no-duh" given the title.

Word is that REBEL is supposed to be unmasked this time too. Smart money was on Micah even before we saw the clip in the ads where it appears Noah believes that Tracy can be used to track REBEL... which Tracy potentially could do as Micah's aunt.

This episode also marks the first episode since Pushing Daisies' Bryan Fuller returned to the show as head writer. So here's hoping tonight is even better than Season 4 has been - for the most part - so far.

8:00 - Right. So, last time... Bennet points Danko in the right direction and exposed Nathan, Hiro and Ando go to "save Matt Parkman" and find there is a second Matt Parkman - Matt's son, apparently. And Tracy was screwed over by Nathan.

8:01 - New from Gillete - the Mach 4 Turbo! (See.. cause Danko is shaving and we're getting a lot of close-ups....)

8:02 - And there's the puppet-master Eric Doyle, all strung up and gift-wrapped! Sylar is getting creative!

8:03 - And Noah is having trouble shaving too. That's got to be symbolic of something...

8:04 - Oh wait... maybe Noah was the one who got Eric Doyle? I can see him doing the stringing up and the bow as a joke. Then again, if it was Noah, he wouldn't have been anonymous given that he needs a way to bring Danko to heel NOW.

8:05 - Wait... so is Angela involved with REBEL or not? My guess before now was yes... but now I'm not so sure.

8:06 - Wait... so apparently Danko was rehired now that Nathan has been outed as a metahuman. But they still left Noah in charge? Or is Noah still in charge? So many questions... but I'm glad they're intelligence questions that have a chance of being answered.

8:07 - And yeah... Mohinder is still as clueless as ever. Nice to know some things don't change.

8:08 - No jokes about how hot Ali Larter looks in the heat lamp room, please.

8:10 - Ah. Recent management changes. So Noah IS still in charge.

8:11 - Yeah - typical Noah plan. Use the powered killer as bait for everyone else.

8:12 - Baby Matt Parkman... SO clueless, and yet so funny. And trust Ando to be the one to figure it out. Could this be the start of a new HEROES BABIES spin-off? :)

8:13 - "I'll be warm mommy". Hee hee hee.

8:14 - The baby has a power! And he's a technopath too! Hey... maybe the baby is REBEL...

8:15 - Ah. And now they come for Angela. Nice fake-out with the vision, too... "Rebel Rebel". Never figured Noah for a Bowie fan.

8:16 - Fast recovery time on that drug. Mohinder, Matt and Daphne are freed. And yeah - I so like Matt being smug about how Tracy should have waited for them as he EASILY mind-controls all the guards into seeing an empty hall.

8:17 - For the record: I don't believe for a minute Noah didn't account that maybe Tracy freeing some of the other captives. He's trying to bust some of the other Heroes out... mark my words.

8:21 - Ah. But Tracy ran off AFTER they all got out. No surprise there. And no surprise that Noah is more concerned about Tracy and REBEL than finding Matt, Mohinder and Daphne. Assuming he was even able to do that with Matt masking them all.

8:23 - Ah. Matt using his wife's name to see Daphne treated. Nice. Of course Mohinder wants to run too because - stupidly and like Tracy - he doesn't realize the Matt is probably his best chance at staying free right now

8:24 - The baby Genesis device. Nice. But I can't believe Hiro is so stupid as to think he can take the baby, leave a note for the mom and NOT have problems come up. Actually... wait. This is Hiro. Yes I can.

8:25 - Still, nice character moment with Hiro talking about how he saw his mom die...

8:26 - Heh. E.T. tribute for the win. And Janice is still not nearly as dumb as... oh, 90% of the supporting cast.

8:27 - So called it! Micah is REBEL! Or is working with them if REBEL is more than one person.

8:31 - Heh. Angela has a friend. And they referred to the shoplifting incident from the pilot! Wow... actual adherence to continuity. Nice.

8:32 - Anyone believe for a minute they actually got Swoozie Kurtz for such a small part? Me either.

8:33 - I can't believe for a moment that Janice would actually believe - as far gone as Matt went - that he's actually become a terrorist. Actually... wait. Yes I can.

8:35 - Ha-do-ken!!! Didn't know Ando could do THAT with his lightning. And neither did he, apparently.

8:36 - Wait... did the baby just start Hiro's power again? And hey... another fun note. Apparently if Hiro is touching someone when he freezes time, they become immune

8:37 - BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Wheelbarrow for the win. So Hiro can freeze time but not teleport. Wonder if that's permanent or if the baby has to be touching him for his power to work at all? Maybe if he's touching Ando while he's touching the baby....

8:41 - "You told them I was Gwen Stefani"? BWAHAHAHA!

8:42 - Oh NOW Daphne starts questioning the "destiny/vision-quest" thing. Fine time for them to get rid of the one new character from Season 3 we actually like!

8:44 - Micah mentions a "she"... "she thought you might be followed." Angela? Angela's friend? Both? Or maybe Monica is about to come back too?

8:46 - Heh. And Peter is there to air-lift his mom out of danger. Looks like Peter can control if/when he absorbs a power now.

8:50 - I love how Micah knows the difference between a revolution and a rebellion and corrects Tracy on the Che Guevara comparison.

8:51 - And yeah... I guess fighting those heat lamps DID give her a chance to boost her powers.

8:52 - Oh crap... I didn't expect them to kill her off. And just as she was becoming - forgive the pun - cool. Ah well... any bets on how soon until we see Barbara make an appearance?

8:54 - Heh. Shades of Lone Wolf and Cub here...

8:55 - Daphne back in Paris, looking somewhat regretful about all of this. And... holy crap, Matt can fly?!?! How the... what the.... psychically learning how to copy other heroes powers like he did with the precognition?

You know what? I don't care! That's cool! Unless it turns out this is a dream sequence.

8:57 - Oh hell... it IS a dream sequence. Well, close enough. But since it looks like Daphne might be dying in the hospital...

8:58 - Oh damnit. That was so manipulative... and so sweet. But DAMMIT.. again... why did they have to kill off the one good character to come out of Season 3?

8:59 - Heh. Crown of liberty. Nice bit of symbolism there...

9:00 - I just realized. They just killed the only two new characters to come out Season 3 who were still around. And both of them were women. And both of them died in order to add more trauma to a male character's life. Tracy dying to save Micah. Daphne having been shot - six episodes ago - trying to save Matt, and now existing mostly to give him one more reason to seek revenge on Nathan and everyone else responsible for going after the HEROES. That really sucks...

The Final Word: I'm torn. On the one hand, there were a lot of great moments here and some of the best cliffhangers going into commercial ever. And a lot of long-neglected characters got some much needed attention. Lots of revelations here which expanded the universe and explained a lot of the rules of reality.

On the other hand, we see two characters die. Well, one of them MIGHT be able to survive but that would be even cheaper than the death.

It gives little away to say that they were both female characters who died due to injuries sustained while saving a male character. It's hard NOT to get a WiR vibe from this episode... even if one of the deaths came as a point of redemption and the other came to a character we thought was dead for most of the season anyway.

I foresee a lot of pissed off fans, regardless.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 3/18/09

A very light week this week, particularly since my FLCS got shorted on Kull #5...

HELLBLAZER #253 - Scab comes to a conclusion and with it comes an explanation of how all the randomness of the last two issues fits together. Seems that at some point in the past, John was paid by a factory owner to hex a union head into taking a bribe and now the curse has backfired on them both

I can't say I'm all that excited with what Milligan is doing with this book so far. It isn't bad by any means but it isn't as great as I expect a John Constantine story to be. As far as threats go, a mysterious rash seems an unworthy challenge for someone who has fought The Devil himself and gone toe-to-toe with Merlin and won.

I'm also not too crazy about the idea of John actually doing spells for hire, ala Harry Dresden. Yes, I know he's done similar things in the past but most of those jobs involved recovering magic artifacts or John tricking a person into thinking he had done something. John actually having enough magic power to give the evil eye just seems wrong somehow.

There's a lot to like here though. Milligan refers back to the Paul Jenkins run on the book and we get to see John's uncle who raised him after his father was sent to prison again. And Milligan's story - though it does seem to have been written entirely as an excuse to make a play on both meanings of the word 'scab' - does a fairly good job of evoking the feel of Modern Britain and the political issues of the last decade as Jaime Delano did during the late 80s. But this only serves to reveal another problem - this story feels somewhat unstuck in time.

Apart from the reference to Dani and Rich, this story could be set at almost anytime in John's career. Indeed, John's younger appearance as drawn in this issue and the fact that his Uncle is still alive and appears to be in early middle-age (about where John should be, actually) suggest this to be taking place sometime far before the mid-life crisis John seemed to be suffering during the Diggle and Carey runs.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing but it does make me wonder if Vertigo has completely abandoned this book's attempt to have one year of comic pass for one year in real life and if we are really going to work to John's foretold death, which should be coming in a few years if I recall correctly.

RED SONJA #42 - A lot of action this issue, with not much else happening. Oh, I could tell you of the on-going story with Lady Sonja - apparently a reincarnation of Red Sonja - and her quest for the magical Blood Legacy gem. I could tell you about the wonderful action scene in which she fights a horde of various martial artists. But all of this would just be window-dressing for the end of the book and the part where Red Sonja summons Cthulhu so she can fight him.

Yes, that's right. Red Sonja summons Cthulhu so she can fight him!

Okay, it's not actually Cthulhu... but it is close enough for government work. And she needs to do it as part of some ritual to help her track the Blood Legacy, so it's not like she's summoning it JUST to fight it. But it's still pretty awesome as far as sword and sorcery goes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Syfy? It's an Acroynm for "Screw You Fanboy Yokels!"

SOURCE: Sci Fi Channel Has a New Name: Now, It’s Syfy

Clearly this is all part of a cunning plot to throw-off the people at Upset With Sci-FiChannel and force them all to register a new Yahoo Group.

I also love how someone has already registered "syfy" as a slang term for syphilis on Urban Dictionary.

EDIT: According to no less a luminary than Warren Ellis, syfy is actually a versatile Polish word meaning "zits, filthy and scum". My own research indicates that it literally translates to "poxes", according to The Free Online English to Polish Translator anyway. And numerous websites are reporting that syfy was already a Polish slang term for syphilis, but that may just be wishful thinking.

Still appropriate either way, whether it be poxes, syphilis or filthy scum.

EDIT OF THE EDIT: Penny Arcade Picked Up On This Too...

A Story From This Past Weekend At All-Con.

I spent most of this past weekend at All-Con, helping my friends at Deranged Comics & Pipoca Bizarre with their booth. Got quite a few good war stories.

I feel safe in talking about this one since - while it is leading to an upcoming Deranged Comic - what I have to say is likely to be totally unrelated to the content of said comic.

At one point, I found the flyers for Doc and Halo's comics displaced by this other flyer. Lime Green. Far too large to honestly be called a flyer for something that didn't have a comic printed on it. And quite possibly the most gloriously insane thing I've seen in quite some time.

This group is for fans that have been upset with programming on the SCI-FI CHANNEL.

The cancellation of information shows like SCI-FI BUZZ, SF Vortex, Inside Space, Anti-Gravity Room, etc.

Putting on a program like John Edwards who claims to contact the dead that has been exposed as a fraud on several occasions.

Putting on movies like Braveheart, Cape Fear & Dante's Peak that DON'T fall into sci-fi, fantasy, horror category.

The SUDDEN CANCELLATION of their highly acclaimed series of FARSCAPE in September, 2002.

Putting replacement shows(actually GARBAGE) like DREAM TEAM, TREMORS:The SERIES, SCARE TACTICS on the SFC.

Many fans are upset with the new BATTLESTAR GALACTICA mini-series coming in Dec., 2003 which has so many changes from the original like Lt. Starbuck & Lt. Boomer are now FEMALE characters instead of MALE characters which it was originally.

Many s/f fans are upset with the way the SFC management is running things especially with BONNIE HAMMER who has run the channel since early 2000.

This group is for you.

I checked this group out and it is - and forgive the generalization, but if anybody can say this without being hateful, it is me - a bunch of geeks huddling in basements, wanking-off at the fact that The New Battlestar Galactica is ending before bowing to a statue of Richard Hatch, singing praises that he is apparently backing a TRUE Battlestar Galactica Reunion movie while wailing that he is making it hand-in-hand with The Powers That Be at the Sci-Fi Channel before sinking into a quivering mess whispering "No... The Master loves us... LOVES US!.... Nobody loves you...GOLLUM! GOLLUM!"

For the record, Cape Fear IS a horror movie. A very good horror movie. It may not feature nude co-eds being impaled a machete or the razor claws of an undead janitor - but there ARE horror movies that don't feature copious amounts of blood and entrails just like there is science-fiction that doesn't involve aliens.

And Farscape... dear gods, the Firefly fans aren't this obsessive. Seriously! I asked a couple of Browncoats and they think you're sad.

And do I even need to begin to address the issues with a group that doesn't have any reason in their mission statement to hate Battlestar Galactica other than... oh my many gods... they're actually revamping the show to reflect the fact that women are allowed to hold combat roles in the military now, so why wouldn't the same be allowed in the future?

This is not meant to be praise of the Sci-Fi Channel. Not by a long-shot. I have very few hard and fast rules in my life but one of them is that the most horrifying words in the English language are "Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie". And we are talking about the people who thought it was necessary to make a sequel to the Dungeons and Dragons movie. That in itself should be a hanging offense in any geek court.

But come on! There's constructive criticism and then there's... THIS.

I think William Shatner said it best...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 3/4/09 &3/11/09

Two relatively light weeks worth of comics.

BATMAN CACOPHONY #3 - I'm a bit torn on this whole mini-series, particularly this issue.

One the one hand, Smith writes a GREAT Joker and the insights into the character here run deeper than anything done with the character in the comics in the last decade, almost equaling the insight given in The Dark Knight And the scene in which Batman tries to talk reasonably with a momentarily sedated and sane Joker - while heavily recalling a similar moment in The Killing Joke - moves past that scene while also borrowing from the conceit proposed in J.M. DeMatteis' Going Sane and Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns that without the existence of a Batman, The Joker has no reason to exist.

"I don't hate you because I'm crazy. I'm crazy because I hate you. And your death - preferably, but not necessarily, by my hand will mean an end to my reign of terror in Gotham. When you're gone, I'll stop hurting people I don't know. I'll stop with the mayhem and the murder....Yes, I want to kill you. And then? Then we'll both finally be free."

Smith also writes a great Batman, having reduced the hero to his core essence in this issue as he explains not only why he doesn't kill his enemies but also why he won't allow them to die either. It all goes back to that line from Mark Waid's Kingdom Come - "More than anyone in the world, when you scratch everything else away from Batman, you're left with someone who doesn't want to see anybody die." Batman says as much here as he is left with a slowly bleeding Joker on the rooftop of Police Headquarters.

On the other hand, while Joker and Batman are spot on, all the other defined characters are a little off... particularly Jim Gordon, who - while being perhaps the only person in the world to have more reason to want to see The Joker dead than Batman and Oracle - I can't see ever telling Batman to just stand there and let The Joker bleed to death instead of getting him to a hospital. Jim's had his own chances to kill The Joker and he's never taken them. Heck, he was the one who went out of his way to save The Joker after Batman briefly lost control during the Hush storyline. And I somehow can't see Bruce feeling too disgusted about "borrowing a good idea" from a professional criminal. After all, if memory serves he's been using icing compounds based on Mr. Freeze technology for a while now...

Overall, not a bad little mini-series. Your mileage may vary depending upon your tolerance for Joker making jokes full of sexual innuendo admits cartoon references. ("Shoot him now! Shoot him now!")

DOCTOR WHO: THE WHISPERING GALLERY ONE-SHOT - A harmless little one-shot dealing with the usual Whovian themes of emotion conquering logic. Not that bad but not that good either. Only for the Who completist.

EX MACHINA SPECIAL #4 - The only one of the Ex Machina specials to fall flat and one of the few Ex Machina stories to fail to satisfy. Less preachy than an episode of Captain Planet, this special - which centers upon Mitchell Hundred's dealings with a man who claims to have the power to talk to plants like he talks to machines - accomplishes little to make an activist's point about the failure of the comic book industry to embrace recycled paper.

The story is actually much better than it sounds in abstract but there isn't any real thrust to the story apart from the Pro-Green message. I'm the last one in the world to complain about such a message on a serious topic but a little more action would have been nice.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #34 - Lots to catch up with here too.

* Despite his wishes to avoid his xenophobic homeworld - now under-siege by the Sinestro Corps - Sodam Yat returns to Daxam to liberate it, along with his partner Arisia.

* Mongul wins his battle for control of the Sinestro Corps, ripping out Arkillo's tongue in the process so that he "will be seen and not heard from this moment forth".

* Kyle and Soranik continue to develop their relationship, outlawed by The Guardian's Third Law about Green Lanterns loving one another.

* On a far distant planet, the many children kidnapped by Kryb begin to cry out for the mother figure they can no longer sense, thanks to Kryb's imprisonment by the Star Sapphires.

* The Green Lanterns try to imprison their first Red Lantern and it doesn't work too well.

FABLES #82 - A perfect examination of people's reactions after a funeral.

Personal story time. A little under a year ago, my friend good Daniel died. It was very sudden and in the days afterward, most of us still couldn't believe that it had happened. Some of us expected that it was all a scam to get out of paying his student loans. Some of us thought it was the set-up to a practical joke where he'd laugh at our foolishness in believing he was really dead.

And one of my friends had a dream - which she told me because she, Daniel and I were all great Doctor Who fans - that she dreamed Daniel hadn't really died but that he had to fake his death to save the world and was saving the universe even now alongside The Doctor.

It was a silly dream, of course. And yet, it was the type of thing - reality aside - Daniel would have done for a chance to sail among the stars.

My point in all this is that it is all too human for us to refuse to believe that our friends are really gone and to think of stories of how they might still be alive. And ironically, in this book where the stories are people, they are all too human too in the death of one of their own.

And that is why this book is the best on the market today.

SECRET SIX #7 - A worthy conclusion of the first story arc. But for my money, the best part of all came at the end.

Ragdoll: But we are your friends, Jervis! If we weren't, would I have found your hat for you like this, amonst all this all the death and bloodshed?

Mad Hatter: My hat! My hat! Give it to me at once, candy stripe!

Ragdoll: Of course I will, Jervis. But may I say one solitary word, first? *tossing the hat off of a bridge and into the bay below* "Fetch!"

Mad Hatter: I really very much dislike you a great deal, sir.

Ragdoll: *smiling* I know.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Thoughts on HEROES, Season 4, Chapter 6 - Shades of Gray

The title suggests that we're finally going to get to meet Sylar's Daddy. I'm guessing since they went out of their way to cast an actor like John Glover that he WON'T be dying this time. Still, whatever gets them to end the endless road-trip and allows me to devote my precious time toward the good storylines.

8:00 - Okay. Catch-up time. So Hiro and Ando are on the way to save Matt Parkman, Sylar is out to kill his dad, Peter is on the run (well, on the fly, really), Nathan's operation has been exposed to the world and Matt has been turned into a human bomb by Danko.

8:01 - And - oh yeah - Puppet Master Eric Doyle is asking Claire for help.

8:02 - I don't think ANYBODY is buying that he really wants to reform.

8:03 - Oh boo-hoo-hoo. You gonna cry now, little puppet master? Gonna cry?

8:04 - Looks like Danko is starting to put 2 and 2 together regarding Nathan saving Peter. And Nathan - to his credit - is actually trying to do the right thing. For once.

8:05 - Yes! We must shoot the man with the volatile explosion strapped to his chest. Never mind that he is obviously frightened and is trying to talk to us instead of shouting out threats! You'd think they'd call out the bomb squad instead of the sniper team.

8:06 - And of course Danko sees Nathan's arrival as a way to take out two annoyances at once.

8:08 - Ah. Looks like REBEL is at work again.

8:09 - Mind read the bomb-squad technicians to learn how to disarm the bomb... yeah. Here's a question: WHY AREN'T THE BOMB SQUAD TECHS TRYING TO DISARM THE DAMNED BOMB THEMSELVES? Especially given that they were perfectly willing to let an unarmed Senator get within arms reach of the "dangerous terrorist" who is screaming about how he was forced into the exploding vest.

8:10 - And the bastard Nathan comes back just in time to see Matt screwed over again.

8:11 - Geez. I never thought I'd be happy to see Sylar after a Parkman scene this season.

8:12 - Man. Lionel Luther looks like shit! (Sorry... it had to be said)

8:13 - I'm sure that Sylar is just contemplating whether it's a better revenge to let his dad slowly of cancer or just kill him now.

8:14 - And yeah - blackmail against blackmail, with Danko having footage of Tracy saying "You're one of us, Nathan!" and Nathan having his proof that Danko is doing even more illegal and immoral things in the name of "fighting terrorists" than he is by running this whole group in the first place.

8:18 - Just in case you forgot - Ali Larter is still in this show.

8:19 - And yeah - Noah points out that Nathan is acting like an idiot. The voice of reason as always.

8:20 - Yeah. I'm not buying this "I've been helping you all this time." act either. I know it's probably true and I still don't believe it.

8:21 - "What can you tell me about Nathan Petrelli?" "He was lousy in bed." BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

8:22 - Of course the torture is probably going to start, now that she's refused to talk. Ten bucks we see her on a rack before the end of the episode.

8:23 - Excuse me... I'm going to be busy laughing for the next two minutes as I contemplate anyone who looks like Hayden Pantierre working in a comic book store.

8:25 - "The guys are all staring at you! Of course you can sell comics!" I'd be upset about this stereotyping of my people if it weren't 100% true and the explanation for about 75% of the women employed by the Friendly Neighborhood Comic Book Store I used to work at.

8:28 - Awww... daddy is a psycho killer with the power to steal powers too. And now they're bonding over the slaughter of animals. Isn't that touching?

8:32 - Okay. We didn't think for a moment that Noah was really going to sell out Angela, did we? Just checking.

8:35 - LOVE that Claire/Noah talk. Nice to see them being separated isn't ending that.

8:37 - And Danko is going to meet Angela. I almost feel sorry for Danko. Actually, that's a lie. But I feel like I should feel sorry for him.

8:38 - Ah. Well, I'd hoped he'd go out a foot shorter. But yeah... that was BEAUTIFUL.

8:40 - I was wondering how long it would take to get to this - Dad wanting Son's powers because of The Hunger. And it coming down to dad wanting the healing factor. Obvious, really.

8:42 - Daddy Gray can whistle people to sleep! NICE! Of course we all know that - like with Claire - this isn't going to kill Sylar.

8:43 - During the commercial, I just realized something - Hiro and Ando REALLY did a sucky job on that whole "Save Matt Parkman" thing.

8:47 - Nice fake out. I guess they WILL kill John Glover after one guest spot.

8:48 - Heh. Slow evil death. Knew it! And I love how he's taking the stuffed rabbit as a memento.

8:50 - I see no problems with this whatsoever. Of course this is going to come back and bite Nathan in the ass eventually.

8:51 - Hmmm... camera is back there filming this. I imagine that's going to come into play shortly. Wonder if REBEL can access those security cameras?

8:52 - FLYING MAN!

8:53 - Okay. Here's how I think it will play out. Noah will lie to protect Nathan. REBEL will hijack the video footage showing the truth and Danko will be arrested for attempted murder. We can hope, anyway.

8:55 - Here's the park bench again. And Claire pushing the limits of Neutral Good. And yeah - so not reformed.

8:56 - Oh, THERE they are! "No thank you." BWAHAHAHAHAHAH!

8:57 - Ah. THAT Matt Parkman - Matt's son.

8:58 - Uh.. Mohinder? Nobody asked for a voice-over or for you to come back. You go bye-bye now.

8:59 - Oooooooh! Sylar waiting for Danko. The agents going after Claire with Nathan saving her. It looks like Danko is still fired and Noah is still in charge. Lord knows what Nathan's status is now.

9:00 - NOOOOOO! Not two weeks!

The Opening Credits Of Watchmen

Despite my Feminist issues with how Silhouette's death is portrayed, I cannot deny that this credits sequence is a finely directed piece of art. So if you haven't seen the movie yet - or just want to watch this again - here is the opening which seems to have wowed even those who didn't like the movie that much.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Thoughts On Watchmen: The Movie

How did I feel about it?

Let's do this in good and bad stages. And though this should go without saying, do not click on the links below unless you have read the book AND watched the movie.


1. Looks Like A Movie, Feels Like A Novel. A Russian Novel...

The biggest problem with the movie? It tries a little too hard to be a faithful adaptation of the book. Now, I know that may sound blasphemous to some and confusing to others but let me explain. It's obvious they put a lot of effort into getting as much of the book as possible on-screen but it doesn't look like much thought was put into exactly what should go on-screen.

Alan Moore himself pointed out the dangers of too-much detail in a film adaptation of a book in a recent interview. Oddly enough, he was talking about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and not Watchmen but the same principles seem to apply.

"The things I was trying to instill in those books were generally things that were only appropriate to the comics medium. They were only about the comics medium, in a certain sense. To transplant them to the screen is going to chop off a good 30 or 40 percent of the reason why I wanted to do the work in the first place."

This is the grand irony of Watchmen. It is very faithful to the source material but in his efforts to get as much of the source material on screen, director Zack Snyder has created what is effectively a three-hour PowerPoint presentation on the Cliff Notes version of Watchmen.

There's no delicate way around it so let's be blunt - this movie is, at points, a little slow.
I admit that may be because I've read the book and knew what was coming for most of the movie... but I noticed very little gasping or audible reaction from the people around me as the movie went on.

The action-scenes all seem overly long with director Snyder's trade-mark slow-motion effects. Many of the action scenes are extended beyond what we saw in the comics - particularly The Comedian's death, which opens the movie and Veidt's battle with a would-be assassin. And the opening credits scene - while beautifully shot and set - has nothing to do with the main story of the movie though it does give us a lot of sly references to the books, such as the revelation that The Comedian was the true assassin of JFK.

And speaking of the opening credits...

2. I Can't Believe It's Not A Music Video!

There are a LOT of music-video moments throughout the movie, where a dominant song is played over a scene in order to suggest mood or place in time.

The effect works in some scenes, like the opening credits in which we see the history of the 1940's Minutemen heroes laid out to Bob Dylan's The Times They Are A-Changin'. In other points, like when K.C. And The Sunshine Band's Boogie Man blares as The Comedian is shooting protesters during a 1970's flashback, it doesn't. And in the case of Nite Owl/Silk Spectre's overly-long sex-scene - which is set to Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah - the effect is laughably awful.

3. The Devil's In The Details

Like the film-version of The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy from a few years ago, Watchmen tries and fails to achieve a difficult balance between being accessible to those who haven't read the book and devoted fans of the book. There are many images and moments which will mean something to those who have read the book but will be totally meaningless to somebody who hasn't. And the dedicated fans are likely to be annoyed at the minor details which are included in the final film while sacrificing some fairly major ones.

Example #1: The eventually destruction of New York does give us the scene where news-stand owner Bernard and comic-reader Bernie hug desperately in the face of their impending doom. In the book, it is a powerful moment given the slow evolution between the relationship of the two characters and their eventual friendship and the common ground they discover. In the movie, it is two random people who the sharp-eyed viewer may have been spotted in a blink-and-you'll-miss moment during an earlier establishing shot.

Example #2: The details of Walter Kovac's transformation into Rorschach are changed, with Kovacs' killing a kidnapper/murderer with a meat-cleaver to the head rather than by trapping him in a burning building. In the book, this scene is very cinematic and very symbolic as we see the depths of Roraschach's new-found resolve to punish evil as he waits for the building to burn while white smoke billows up and makes random shapes against the black sky. Just killing the man with a cleaver seems... anti-climactic.

4. Sexism Or Satire?

Quite a lot has been written about the lack of Feminist perspective in Watchmen. Certainly the book has a greater percentage of male characters compared to female characters, with only three female superheroes and none of these characters are particularly well developed. Laurie is defined almost entirely by her relationships to the male cast. Her mother Sally is a headcase who fell in love with her attempted rapist, with the implication that she dressed up in a sexy costume to fight crime because "she was asking for it". And all we know of Silhouette and her life comes through another character talking about her death.

This can be explained (and somewhat forgiven) by the fact that one of Alan Moore's goals with Watchmen was to satirize the cliches of Silver Age comics while examining and explaining some of the sillier aspects of those stories. Like why a woman would wear a swimsuit and high-heels to fight crime. But Snyder seems to have missed this angle of the story and - as he did in 300 ironically aggravated the problem with his attempts to ensure more equal-time.

You might recall that in that 300, Snyder introduced a subplot not in the original book where Gorgo, Queen of Sparta, attempted to field more troops to aid her husband through politicking. The problem was that this effort to bring a feminist perspective to 300 was negated when the strong-female icon surrenders her body to the whims of a rapist. In a similar vein, we learn about Silhouette in the opening-credit montage but we get no more information than Moore gave in the brief description Rorschach gave of her life.

How do we learn about Silhouette's life in the movie? Through two scenes with no dialogue. One shows her replacing the sailor in the famous Alfred Eisenstaedt photograph of a sailor kissing a nurse upon his homecoming from WWII. The other shows her and said nurse, bloody and suggestively dressed, stretched out on a bed with "Lesbian Whores" painted in blood on the wall behind them.

Neither of these moments were, it should be noted, in the original book and their addition does nothing save to add unneeded shock value or serve as pornography for a particularly disgusting breed of fan. One supposes they needed something to make up for the cutting of the Kitty Genovese scene.

5. Adrian's Not A Villain! Really!

I don't know if the problem was direction or with actor Matthew Goode... but those who didn't read the book will easily be able to pick out Adrian Veidt as the villain of the piece based on the way that he caries himself and acts. Goode plays Ozymandias as cool and dispassionate to the point of being near-Autistic - a far cry from the ever-smiling charmer of the original book. It was meant to be a shocking surprise that this man could possibly come up with the plan that he did, much less put it into action. The film Ozymandias never smiles and he'd certainly never demean himself by shouting "I Did It" and jumping up and down as his plan succeeds.


1. The Ending

It never occurred to me before, but Nite Owl and Silk Spectre's reaction to Adrian's plan succeeding in the book basically comes down to "We're powerless to do anything and there's a bear-skin rug here. Wanna fuck?" In the movie, Nite Owl vents his rage in a much more convincing manner.

2. When The Music Works, It Works.

Distracting as the music is at some points, it is pretty cool that they played the Jimi Hendrix cover of All Along The Watchtower as Night Owl and Rorschach get ready to storm Adrian Veidt's fortress, given that the song was quoted in the book during that scene - "two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl".

There are a few other songs mentioned in the book which are used in the movie, such as Nite Owl's ship playing Billy Holiday's You're My Thrill during the apartment fire scene. And in one of the more few additions that works, a muzak version of Tears For Fears' Everybody Wants To Rule The World plays during the scene where Adrian Viedt meets with several American car company CEOs to discuss his plans for renewable energy. Would that more of the music had been so subtle.

3. Good Production Values

There's no denying that the movie looks amazing. The special effects are dazzling, with Dr. Manhattan being the best CGI creation since Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But more than that, the sets... the costumes... the whole package looks marvelous.

4. Definitely Deserves The R-Rating

There were some fears that the movie might be "nerfed" in order to try and get it down to a PG-13 rating. Of course we all know that Dr. Manhattan's glowing blue schwanz has made it into the movie intact. But so did all of the other adult situations, for better or worse. Leave the kids, grandparents and conservative brother-in-law at home if you're going to see this.

5. Rorschach.

Jackie Earle Haley nailed the part, plain and simple.

The Final Word? Out in the theater lobby afterward, I heard one tween say that it was like watching The Passion of The Christ without sub-titles. That seems as good a description of what the movie is like to someone who hasn't read the book as any. And as for those who have read the book - just stay home, reread the book and wait for my review of the even-longer director's cut that is promised for the DVD before spending any money on this.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Ages of Comics Defined

Because one person demanded it, a reprint of a column from the days of yore!

I’m often asked, both in e-mail and at work, about the various “ages” of comic books. Ages, in this case, refers to the various eras and epochs that can be used to classify the various defining moments in comic book history. Many newbies to the comics game and even some of the people have been at this a while are confused exactly what terms like “Golden Age” and “Silver Age” mean.

This confusion is well founded, for like most matters in our little hobby, the subject of ages is open to debate. Indeed, it is heavily debated and discussed at length by other scholars and comics historians. Sadly, settling the matter is not nearly as simple as going by the printing size of the comics in question: the criteria used for the design of the “Golden Age”, “Silver Age” and “Current Age” protective bags. Many different events are held up as “the story that changed it all” and such distinctions are made upon a historian’s favorite comic company or character as much as they are any historical relevance to the genre.

With that in mind, here is my guide to the generally accepted ages of comics.

In The Beginning...

Ignoring all discussion of cave paintings being an early form of comic book and the points that many periodicals in the 1800s featured illustrations to go with their short stories, it is generally accepted that the first comics as we know them today were published in the early 1900s. It began when newspaper publishers realized there might be a market for collections of their most popular comics. This lead to the publication of original material in the same format and the art-form began to develop.

The Golden Age: 1938-1949

Perhaps the only point that the majority of scholars agree on is that the release of Superman #1 in 1938 started what is commonly known as the Golden Age of comics. While Superman wasn’t the first vigilante with powers beyond those of an average man, he was the first one to develop a major following and fueled the creation of hundreds of other super-powered heroes.

Superhero books were popular throughout World War II, with heroes such as Captain America fighting Nazi Ubermensch. Still, superheroes were but one genre among many at this time, with war comics depicting ordinary soldiers still just as popular as the adventures of The All Star Squadron. Indeed, after the war ended the superhero genre began to slowly become less popular.

By the start of the 1950’s, all but the most popular of the superheroes had lost their titles. Later writers would parallel this decline of the genre with the McCarthy hearings and say in retro-historical pieces that most of the superheroes retired after WWII rather than give up their secret identities to a dangerous demagogue. It is here, as we enter into the 1950’s, that we encounter our first major point of contention.

The Silver Age: 1956-1970?

The Silver Age came about as a direct result of the creation of the Comics Code Authority, which allowed little leeway in what could and could not be shown in books that might be read by impressionable young children. Faced with the prospect of bloodless westerns and horror comics without horror, many writers and publishers turned to the one genre that still allowed them to show some excitement; superheroes.

Most mark the start of the Silver Age with Showcase #4, published in September 1956. This issue marked the first appearance of Barry Allen, the second man to be called “The Flash”. Allen’s creation came about as a result of a desire to retool some of the old superhero concepts into more scientific models. This mirrored the new emphasis on science and math in the public school system at a time when we were all still worried about the Russians getting an death ray into orbit. This would later lead to revamps of other heroes, such as changing Green Lantern into one of a corps of intergalactic police officers armed with technological rings rather than a train engineer with a magic lamp.

Still others, mostly Marvel Comics fans and devotes of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, point to Fantastic Four #1 as the true start of the Silver Age. They point out that Fantastic Four was a landmark book, depicting for the first time heroes who really didn’t want to be heroes. Whereas most heroes of that time took great joy in their powers and in serving humanity, the Fantastic Four were composed of…

1. A war veteran turned into a hideous, by most accounts, rock monster.
2. His best friend, a detached scientist who’d rather be in the lab than trading blows with bank robbers.
3. Said scientist’s girlfriend, who wanted nothing more than to be a normal mommy.
4. Said girlfriend’s teenage brother, who was more interested in retooling his car and using his powers to pick up women than he was in saving the world.

Personally, I fall into the former camp. I’ll be the last person in the world to disrespect the contributions that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby made to the genre. Lee was the first writer to try and put real problems and complex personalities into his characters. Kirby was one of the spiritual godfathers to the genre, who revolutionized the way perspective was used in comic panels and no mean writer himself.

Still, it cannot be denied that while The Fantastic Four WERE an important contribution to the tone of the Silver Age, they were created in response to the popularity of the Justice League of America. The Justice League of America was made primarily of retooled Golden Age superheroes, including Barry Allen; The Flash.

Still, as heated as the beginnings of the Silver Age are, there is even greater debate as to what event marks the end of the era. Most those who argue the subject generally agree upon the end of the Silver Age falling within the same rough span of a few years but there is little consensus as to what specific event marked the end of the Silver Age and the age that followed.

I say “the age that followed” because even the name of this age, and its’ very existence is a point of contention among comic historians. There are some who put the end of the Silver Age even further back than the early 70s, marking its end with the death of the hero who they believe started the Silver Age. Barry Allen sacrificed himself to save the universe from being ripped apart at the seams in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8 in early 1986.

1986 would prove to be an important year in the comic industry and the start of the last agreed upon turning point for an age to start with. But that is getting ahead of ourselves, as we still have the most argued upon age to deal with.

The Bronze Age: 1970ish to 1986

The most contentious age of the four rough ages that comics’ history is divided into, this one boasts a number of “beginning” points. The only major agreement between all those who argue one major event over another is that most of the comics of this time began to tell more mature, reality-based stories than anytime since before the introduction of the Comics Code.

Indeed, many of the “starting points” involve books that were published in defiance of CCA guidelines in order to tell a story that could make a difference. Many mark Amazing Spider-Man #96-98 (May 1971), where Stan Lee wrote a subplot about Harry Osborn’s problems with pill-popping and Peter saving his “tripping” friend while wondering how he could do such a thing to himself, as the start of the Bronze Age.

A scant three months later, DC would go one-step further in Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85, when they revealed that Speedy (sidekick to Green Arrow) had become a heroin addict while trying to infiltrate a gang. While Marvel got their anti-drug issue out first, DC won more attention for being more specific about what drugs were involved (heroin vs. “pills”) and in giving the addiction to a teenage superhero rather than the superhero’s best friend.

Green Lantern/Green Arrow itself is held by some as the start of the Bronze Age. The book had been simply Green Lantern until Issue #76, when it was taken over by the new team of writer Dennis “Denny” O’Neil and artist Neal Adams.

O’Neil had the idea of teaming Green Lantern with fellow JLA member Green Arrow, whom he wrote as an idealist liberal like O’Neil himself. He then began to push the genre by doing stories centering upon political issues and moral quandaries. No more would Green Lantern fly off to stop intergalactic bank-robbers; not when he had to reconcile his soul with the difference between upholding law and order and serving justice. Who should he help? The property owner attacked by his renters or the young man arrested for protesting against the landlord who was kicking him out of his home to sell the land for a huge profit?

O’Neil’s work on Batman during these same years is also heralded by some as the start of the Bronze Age. In these years following the release of the purposely campy Batman television series, the Batman comics suffered from the same type of cornball humor and hackneyed plots. With the introduction of new villains such as Ra’s Al Ghul, O’Neil slowly turned Batman back into The Dark Knight Detective with a heavy emphasis on the dark. The giggling criminals were put to the wayside for a bit as Batman was made into a James Bond figure; saving the world through the use of keen intellect, raw cunning and a heck of a lot of wonderful toys.

Still, what is probably the most popular “start” point for the Bronze Age is The Death of Gwen Stacy (Amazing Spider-Man #121, June 1973). Countless writers have marked that event as a major turning point in the life of Peter Parker which still haunts him to this day. Indeed, writer Kurt Busiek based the last issue of his famous “Marvels” mini-series around her death and titled the last chapter “The Day She Died”, paralleling her death with “The Day the Music Died”. As much as the death changed Peter Parker, it would shape the comics-reading public even more. Marvel Comics had broken the unspoken rule that the hero ALWAYS saved the girl at the last moment and it was truly a momentous occasion.

And there are dozens of others points that can and have been argued as the start of this new age of comics. Conan The Barbarian #1 (1970) brought a hero who had no qualms about killing into regular publication for the first time in years. Giant Size X-Men #1 (1975) is often held up, as it introduced the first major superhero team made up of an international cast.

Still, for my money, I have to agree with the infamous Unca Cheeks of the much missed Unca Cheeks Silver Age Comics Site in that the defining end of the Silver Age and start of the Bronze Age had nothing to do with a comic story. It had to do with the movement of a legend.

In 1970, amid arguments of unfair treatment among other problems, artist and writer Jack Kirby would leave Marvel Comics, the company that he had helped found as Timely Comics and helped grow to new heights in the 60’s, in order to continue his work with his former competition at DC Comics. Marvel was never quite the same after Kirby left and DC grew all the richer for his years of experience. While some of Kirby’s creations are looked upon with a fair amount of ridicule today, his creation of ‘The New Gods’ and ‘The Fourth World’ left a heavy mine of material that has been put to good use by countless scribes since. And lets not forget, he created Darkseid who is probably the best new villain Superman has had in the last fifty years.

Still, it is widely agreed that no matter what kicked it off, the Bronze Age did come to a definite end in the mid-80’s with the introduction of the first inter-company crossovers. While crossovers were nothing new at this point, doing a major story featuring dozens of characters from several books was.

Marvel was the first to attempt this with ‘Secret Wars’ (1984), a story in which Spider-Man, The Hulk and several members of the Fantastic Four, Avengers, Defenders and X-Men were pulled from the Earth by a being called The Beyonder, who wished to test the strength of both “good” and “evil” in an epic battle on an abandoned planet.

A year later, DC Comics would publish the twelve-part story ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’. The story centered upon the villainous Anti-Monitor, ruler of the Anti-Matter Universe, who attempted to destroy the myriad of matter-based realities. Many heroes were killed and numerous Earths destroyed. In the end, only one universe survived and the refuges of the various destroyed worlds were absorbed into the reality of this new Earth.

This was as much a house-cleaning project as it was an attempt to match the success of Secret Wars. DC scrapped the history of numerous alternate Earths in an attempt to make their comics more accessible to new readers who wondered why in some comics Batman was married to Catwoman and in others he wasn’t.

This brings us to 1986 and the books that lead to the creation of the next age of comics.

The Modern Age/The Dark Age: 1986-1996.

There are two books which it is generally agreed ushered in the fourth age of comics: ‘Watchmen’ and ‘The Dark Knight Returns’. Both of these comics were mature, thoughtful and definitely darker looks at the superhero than had ever been seen before. Watchmen was particularly gruesome, having starker portrayals of death, sex and adult subject matter than any mainstream comic beforehand. Still, despite its more graphic content, DKR was all the more shocking as it took two of the most familiar superhero icons in the world (Superman and Batman) and set them to war against one another in a dystopian future.

Both comics were critical and financial successes, inspiring a great deal of commentary from critics outside of the traditional comics-reviewing media. Spurred on by this success, the publishers began trying to market more titles exclusively to adult audiences.

DC had the most success with this, establishing the Vertigo Press imprint to better label their more dangerous properties. This included such notable series as The Sandman and Hellblazer, both of which started out as standard DC titles. Never making the jump to Vertigo, but no less controversial, was Mike Grell’s Green Arrow, which drew sharp criticism and high praise for its’ accurate, if unsettling, portrayals of vigilante justice and the violence involved.

Marvel never had the success with an adults-only imprint that DC did, but this didn’t stop them from trying. As the age progressed, violent heroes like Wolverine and The Punisher became more popular, with the latter hero supporting several titles at the height of his popularity.

The anti-hero as a figure would eventually become the paradigm of choice for many creators and many more traditional heroes had darker sides grafted onto their personalities, no matter how poorly this fit their character, in an attempt to be more “gritty”. In one particularly grievous example, the Green Lantern Hal Jordan, who had been given superhuman powers for being the bravest and most honest of men, would have his background changed so that he had a drunk-driving conviction and was responsible for the death of his best friend.

Image Comics, founded in 1991, would go to press with a stable of original characters made up of almost entirely of anti-heroes. While Image’s comics sold quite well initially, they drew sharp criticism from some for excessive violence and poor writing.

Despite this, many of the more established comic companies began trying to imitate the success of the new kids on the block. Artists with styles similar to the “Big Seven” artists who founded Image Comics were given job preference over the more traditional artists in the hopes of winning over new readers. New gimmicks, such as restarting titles with #1 issues and alternate covers were tried, to win the dollar of the many comics fans getting into a burgeoning collector’s market. And then came what many say was the final nail in the coffin: character death events.

The precedent was there long before even Image was founded. It was 1988 when DC conducted a telephone poll to determine if Jason Todd, a street kid who Bruce Wayne had adopted and trained as the new Robin after the old Robin left for college, should be killed by The Joker as part of an on-going storyline. The fans chose death, with a mere 72 votes out of thousands deciding the world’s most famous sidekick’s fate.

The death of Robin proved to be a sales bonanza even as armchair psychologists decried what such a vote said about our society. They would be strangely quiet some four years later, when DC Comics did it again with a story that came to be known as “The Death of Superman”. Batman was put through a similar ringer, having his back broken and being permanently crippled during the “Knightfall” storyline. While both heroes would eventually recover (Superman was later revealed to be in a coma and Batman was healed by a chi-channeling doctor), the third of the classic DC Comics heroes to undergo a “death event” that year would not be so lucky.

Hal Jordan, whose home town was destroyed during the events of “The Return of Superman”, went mad and wound up destroying The Green Lantern Corps as he tried to get the power he needed to “put things right”. This would eventually lead into ‘Zero Hour’, a sort-of sequel to ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’ spanning all of the books DC Comics published then and centering around all of the heroes of the universe trying to stop Hal Jordan from using his newfound power from destroying the universe, so that he could rebuild paradise and in-effect, play God.

DC was far from alone in this kind of gimmick-based writing. In what is perhaps the most reviled storyline of all time, it was alleged that the Peter Parker we’d been reading about for years was not really Peter Parker, but a clone of the original who had been “killed” and thought to have been a clone himself before his body was stuck in a smokestack and assumed incinerated. This would eventually and painfully be resolved some years later, but not before Spider-Man’s sales fell to new lows.

In short, writing fell to the wayside in favor of artwork. Gimmicks of both story and artwork ruled the roost. And traditional heroism would be replaced by an “the ends justify the means” attitude.

The Current Age/The Renaissance: 1997 to Present

Some argue that we are still trapped in this era of barbarism. Avengers is soon to start over with a new #1 after several of the team members are due to die as part of the “Avengers Disassembled” storyline. Despite a major crash in the late 90’s, the collector’s market spurred on by several artists still continues albeit it not as strongly. And despite all attempts by decent people everywhere, Youngblood continues to be published as a small-press independent title.

Still, there are some signs that we have truly progressed out of the Modern/Dark Age and that a new movement has begun. Change occurs slowly, of course and as we have seen, there were some long transition periods marking the changes between the various ages. It is my belief that we are now entering a Fifth Age, where we are somewhat the wiser for the mistakes of the Dark Age and ready to move forward with that knowledge to create something new and wonderful as a tribute to our roots. Like the Italians who looked back at the great artistic and scientific achievement of their Roman forebears, we are on the verge of a Comic Book Renaissance.

But what event shall we say marked the beginning of this era? I can think of two to start with...

1. Kingdom Come - 1996. Probably the most influential Elseworlds within the last 10 years, this story was plotted by Mark Waid and Alex Ross as a direct response to the increasing darkness in the comic book industry. If you haven’t read it by now, you really should as the story’s moral about the importance of heroes not stooping to the same methods as the criminals they fight against is more relevant in the post 9-11 era than ever before.

2. Grant Morrison’s JLA - 1997. It all began with a simple idea; why not make the Justice League like it was in the good ol’ days? All the big-name superheroes fighting against major, end-of-the-world disasters, once a month, every month? Simple. To the point. And bloody brilliant when a mad Scotsman named Grant Morrison pulled it off. Best known for his work on various Vertigo mature titles, Morrison showed that it was possible to do a smart, mature modern superhero title with an old-school touch.

So what do you all think? Was the “Dark Age” really all that bad? Is there some story besides Kingdom Come or the new JLA that shows a shift away from the values of the Dark Age? Are we really entering a new age of enlightenment? Or are we, to quote the preacher from Blazing Saddles, “just jerking off?”

Wow. I really need to write an update for this, looking back on the halcyon days when we thought Avengers #500 was the end-all of just how bad Brian Michael Bendis' writing could be.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Thoughts on HEROES, Season 4, Chapter 5 - Exposed

Now here's the question... will the title refer to superhumans in general be exposed to the general public, what Nathan's team is doing being exposed or will Nathan's status as a superhuman be exposed to his team?

Last Time: Matt, Peter and Mohinder kidnapped Noah to find out who was backing the government's efforts to capture superhumans. They found out that it was all Nathan's idea, that his field commander Danko is taking over more and more of the show and that Noah - who had signed on only because he thought he would be running things and that they would be containing powered people until they could find a permanent cure - was responsible for saving Daphne's life.

What they didn't find out was that Noah is also a deep-cover agent, working to bring Nathan's group down from within on Angela's behalf.

Mohinder gets captured and is given an ultimatum: help develop the cure or we start killing people, starting with the helpless women we have in custody before we move on to you and your friends.

And hiding out again in Issac's loft, Matt begins to paint the future... conjuring up grim images of a Washington DC in flames and Matt himself with a dynamite vest.

8:00 - Okay. Recap shows Sylar and Luke looking for their dad. Recapping Nathan telling his men about the fugitives, Peter nearly killing Danko, Claire saving the comic book guy Aquaman and Noah getting kicked out of the house. And, oh yes, Daphne is still alive.

8:01 - Heh. I like how Aquaman to be smart enough to realize how silly it is trying to hide out in a strange city with the government having the power and authority they have right now to have found him in the first place. Give Claire points for trying to be Harriet Tubman, though.

8:03 - Nice fake out with Muggles going after the sandwich under the bed. Of course Aquaman bungles it up anyway by making noise inside the closet.

8:04 - And here comes yet another Danko/Nathan dick-waving contest over lethal-force/non-lethal force. With Noah chuckling all the while, with Noah playing the villain by pointing out "They kidnapped me, drugged me, and mind-raped me. What makes you think I won't shoot them myself, orders or no?" as Nathan looks for sympathy from Noah.

8:05 - Heh. Peter being the smart one again... trying to get Matt to stop painting but eventually relenting on saving Daphne as a next step.

8:06 - Hmmm... someone hacking into Mohinder's computer to deliver a message, the address of where Daphne is being held and a warning, telling them that The Feds are coming. Micah being REBEL is looking more and more likely.

8:09 - The geeky guy is the new boyfriend? Yeah, I don't think mom is buying it.

8:10 - No. Mom DEFINITELY isn't buying it. And given everything that's been going on with Noah lying to her... she's REALLY not happy with Claire. Moreso about the lying than endangering them even more by bringing a wanted fugitive into their home.

8:11 - And yeah... Luke doesn't want Sylar to see his dad for some reason. Not that I - or Sylar - cares. And Sylar wants in at some abandoned road stop for some reason.

8:13 - Claire is trying the Peter Parker "we were trying to protect you - that's why we lied" speech. And Sandra is being a LOT less nice about it than Aunt May was when Peter finally told her the truth. And, of course, the Feds are already there. And they're watching Claire, suspecting that she WAS involved in Aquaman Alex's disappearance.

8:14 - "I have a plan. I just haven't thought of it yet." *face palm* Claire, Claire, Claire... when did you absorb the stupid from Peter?

8:15 - Speaking of which - Peter copies Matt's power, figuring they have a better chance infiltrating a building with two mind-controllers than with one mind-controller and a flyer who MIGHT be useful if they can get to the roof to escape. Peter is now officially my favorite character again.

8:16 - And sure enough... Peter is right. Two telepaths are better than one. But they have cameras everywhere and it doesn't take Danko, Nathan and Noah long to figure out what is going on.

8:17 - Of course Matt has this covered and has all the armed guards he and Peter walked past blocking off the hall. Awesome. Wait...Holy crap! This is the second time in as many episodes that the good-guy's plan actually worked! Matt so totally owned that smug nod at the camera monitor.

8:21 - Heh. Sandra is officially the coolest mom ever. Making a fake ID AND giving fashion tips for the fugitive on-the-go.

8:24 - Okay, so Sylar remembers this place and having been there once before. And here comes a B&W flashback. Not that I care.

8:25 - Awww... and he's tearing up the diner to get the toy car he lost so many years ago and now he remembers his father and having been abandoned here. And this is supposed to be poignant, I suppose. But it's just stupid and trite as hell.

8:26 - Ooooooh! Watchmen preview! Now THIS I care about!

8:30 - "How do I look?" Like an even douchier version of Sylar.

8:32 - Ooooh. So close to a kiss there. Bet you felt that, eh Claire?

8:33 - Good thing they don't have powered people in the government team. Cause a telepath would SO see through this ruse in seconds.

8:34 - Yet more evidence that Micah is Rebel. Bad news is that Daphne has been moved to a medical facility. Good news is that Rebel is able to hack the computer and gets all the evidence they need to prove that Nathan's group is doing very, very illegal things onto a drive for Peter. Of course, am I the only one cynical enough to think - especially in light of this news story - that the revelation of illegal incarceration of American citizens wouldn't be nearly that big of a deal?

8:35 - And of course Noah is the one to come up with a plan to deal with Matt; telepath's basic five senses get more easily overwhelmed when they are using their powers. So crank up the sirens and the lights.

8:36 - And... Matt is caught. But Peter gets away... with the evidence. Hopefully Peter will have the sense to go to the media rather than try and trade it to Nathan.

8:37 - And... more B&W flashbacks. Yawn. Yes, we KNEW this was where it Sylar's dad sold him to Sylar's uncle and we all saw this coming from the minute we saw Sylar pull over.

8:38 - Of course Sylar's dad having killed his mom...and having done it the same with with a telekinetic lash to the forehead in the parking lot of said pit stop... that we did NOT see coming.

8:42 - And Angela denies being Rebel or helping them. Or Peter. She also notes that she'd never bite the hand that feeds her with Nathan giving her immunity to what the government is doing. Of course we know that's BS and Nathan seems to be thinking that too.

8:43 - Okay. Peter IS trying a trade - Daphne and Matt for the files - but balancing it against the threat of giving it to the media. Here's hoping that Peter pulls an Ozymandis here and is doing both... or has some other trick up his sleeve.

8:45 - And we're back to the "way too dark" HEROES lighting here. How much you want to bet there is a pool and that Danko's agents aren't nearly as thorough as Bennet is about knowing a target's powers?

8:46 - Can I call it or what? And there is the air-trade kiss that we saw last time in the previews. Nice.

8:47 - Alright Peter! Making the meeting spot a news studio parking lot. Naturally Danko is planning treachery. And I love Noah's "dur-hey" look at Nathan when he says "Remember: Peter can read your thoughts now."

8:48 - Of course Noah remembered that. And of course he gave Peter a warning by thinking it. But Nathan showing up to pull an air-lift and get Peter out of there before Danko could start snipering Peter... that I did not see coming.

8:52 - Yeah. Peter is not buying the whole "you'll be taken care of thing". Of course given what happened the last time he trusted Nathan, can you blame him? And that's ignoring that Peter can read Nathan's mind now and see the BS trail. One touch and Peter is off and flying again.

8:54 - Oh, GO PETER! He did it! He passed the whole thing onto the media anonymously. Looks like the whole thing IS exposed, except the existence of super powers.

8:55 - And HERE is the Sylar we know and love! Giving Luke the smack-around he sorely needs and then letting him live to go back to his mother... because to Luke, that is SO much worse than killing him. And now he wants to find dad... to kill him.

8:57 - And, oh-crap.... THAT is how Matt winds up in a suicide bomber vest in the middle of DC. Danko doped him up and set him up.

8:58 - Still, Claire is feeling good and has done some good. Except...oh shit, there's Eric Doyle - aka The Puppet Master. Somehow he survived the Primatech fire. And now... he's looking to Claire for help, thanks to a tip from Rebel. On the bright side, that means there's a good chance Meredith survived too.

The Final Thoughts: A lot more action than last episode and nearly as good. I'm loving the show again, though I'd be happy with a lot less Sylar being emo. Hopefully this will be the last of it.