Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Something I noticed in the new Birds of Prey trade...

My library just recently got a copy of Birds of Prey: Club Kids - without my prompting, I might add. I'm happy to note that they corrected the mistake, which every other Green Arrow fan on the planet and I ranted about a year and a half ago.

So to recap for those of you coming in late to the party...

1. Shado is not Connor Hawke's mother.

2. Ollie Queen was raped by Shado. He did not willingly cheat on Dinah.

3. Ollie never ever cheated on Dinah until the Judd Winick run on his book. And experts agree with me when I say that there was no evidence Ollie and Dinah were even back together when this "cheating" occurred.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Thoughts on HEROES, Season 4, Chapter 4 - Cold Wars

Word is that we're going to get a lot of flashbacks this time, including a LOT of Noah Bennet stuff. Don't hurt my feelings none, but with a title like that I hope we get at least some update on what is going on with Tracy.

8:00 - Quick recap of everything Noah was involved in, especially everything that makes it very unclear as to what side he is on. And Matt wanting revenge...

8:01 - Wow. Matt being the smart one and explaining the limits of his powers. And yeah... I can already see Mohinder going back to being Mohinderance. Ten to One he winds up selling out the rest of the team.

8:02 - And in case you forgot this from last week... here's how they did it. Petrelli's Three, as it were.

8:03 - And yeah for once, a good guy plan worked flawlessly! And... cue flashback.

8:04 - So, Noah wanted to keep The Company going out of responsibility but Angela backed out because she was sick of "The Game" and she wanted to put her family back together. She urged Noah to do the same. And Noah admits that wanting to keep The Company going is just as much about him not being able to live any other way as it is feeling like he has to do something to stop the bad people with powers.

Very complex. Very nuanced. And totally fits with my beliefs about how hypocritical Noah is for telling Claire to just live a normal life when he's totally unable to do the same thing, for pretty much the same reasons.

8:06 - Yeah. Looks like Matt just took an alignment step to True Neutral.

8:10 - And yeah... more tension between Hunter guy and Nathan.

8:11 - Okay... first confirmation that Daphne actually is dead. There was the hope she had just been shot and captured but... yeah. Matt would have been able to tell if that were the case, wouldn't he?

8:12 - You know, Mohinder picked a really funny time to rediscover the Hippocratic Oath. Or Hypocritical Oath given the Mengele-level experiments he was pulling last seasons. But whatever.

8:14 - And yeah... Nathan insisting that he can cover this all up and that he's eventually going to cure everyone once they are contained. Noah pointing out all the problems with that.

8:16 - 7957 - wonder if that's significant. Birthday? Wife's birthday? Must look up Jack Coleman's birthday.

8:18 - For those of you playing the D&D Alignment game at home, the Lawful Neutral (Mohinder - stepped up from Lawful Evil last season) is whining at the True Neutral (Matt), forcing the Chaotic Good (Peter) to play peacekeeper between them. Except something doesn't smell right here after everything Mohinder has done...

8:19 - "Try not to kill one another". We should be so lucky, Peter.

8:20 - 10 to 1 this is a trap, somehow. And am I the only one who notes the irony that Peter is pretty much giving them all the evidence they need that he really IS a terrorist?

8:21 - See, I'd like to think this is intentional on Noah's part... but I know it's more than likely Nathan had Noah's unit bugged in case he wound up going rogue. Again.

8:25 - Nice job mobilizing a team from across the country in minutes. And nice escape job, Peter!

8:26 - Ah... building 2-6. Not Twenty-Six.

8:27 - And yes, in case you didn't get it already, Hunter is a mutant-hater. And yeah... he doesn't like Noah either. And yeah... another wrinkle - Noah signed on when he thought he was going to be in charge.

8:28 - "How else am I going to randomly bump into old acquaintances?" Hee Hee.

8:29 - And... big shock. Noah tried to recruit Mohinder and turned him down. And he didn't bother to tell anybody that this was coming. And Matt is rightly pissed. And now we know what Mohinder is suddenly so considered about medical ethics.

8:30 - And this is all the distraction Bennet needs to escape.

8:31 - And... there's an escape! Way to go, Mohinderance! Your indecision has doomed everyone... AGAIN!

8:34 - So Matt doped Noah up to deaden the pain - not to make it harder for him to resist. That explains why they weren't worried about the drugs making it harder for Noah to think clearly and therefore harder to read.

8:37 - And yeah... Noah preaching the virtues of humanity to a sociopath who has none. I can't wait until Sylar gets a hold of this guy.

8:38 - And here goes Peter into another trap...

8:39 - Or not. Say what you will about Nathan's Nazis, but they are a lot more efficient than most government-contract employees.

8:43 - Can I say that I like how much more competent Peter is this season? Thank you.

8:44 - I know this is going to blow up somehow. Can't kill the main new bad guy this early. And Peter is too smart to fall for this "kill me and I get what I want" line. Yeah, I can't believe it either - Peter being smart AND competent. I love this Series.

8:45 - Ah yes... another Brother To Brother talk. Of course Peter doesn't believe a word of it but does decide it isn't worth letting his friends get caught. And he doesn't leave without shooting Hunter non-lethally.

8:47 - Okay... apparently Matt couldn't sense whether Daphne was dead or not. But I don't believe for a minute that Noah is telling the truth either. And Matt has no good reason to believe that either at this point.

8:48 - Which, naturally, means that he IS telling the truth. And what is more, he's the only one who saw to it that Daphne was taken care of. No surprise there.

8:49 - Holy crap... did Mohinderance just do something heroic? And die in the process? I might have to take back nearly every nasty thing I ever said about him. Well, a few of them anyway...

8:50 - And... the skipping thing just happened at the worst possible time... did Peter just snatch-and-grab Matt?

8:53 - Oh, dammit. He survived! Ah well... I didn't think they'd really kill him... but if they were, it would have been doing something stupid and heroic like that.

8:54 - And here comes the Lawful Evil appeal to Lawful Neutral... "we're going to cure everyone" thing. And Nathan blackmailing Mohinderance with the lives of everyone. Yeah... if you didn't think Nathan really had really gone bad, here's all the evidence you need.

8:56 - And if you really believe for a moment that Noah has completely gone bad here or that at the very least Claire won't wind up doing a Luke Skywalker "I know there's still good in you" speech at some point, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

8:57 - Ha! Is one minute too long to wait before saying "I told you so"? Because I did tell you all just one minute ago that Noah is just going even deeper in cover. Although I didn't expect Angela to be working with him but it makes sense that she'd be working to stop Nathan after everything that just happened.

8:59 - And yeah... not sure where Matt and Peter are set up... but yeah... that looks worrying, even though you think they'd know by now these paintings rarely mean exactly what they show. Although the painted floor was a bit much...

9:00 - And yeah... looks like the Hunter is going rogue. And that Claire is starting a romance with Aquaman... or that he'll be kissing her to let her breathe indirectly at some point. Either way - score one for the Comic Book Guy with the lame ass power!

The Final Thought: It's like Season One, all over again. Cynics may say that's because they're stealing some of the best imagery (like the painted floor and the visions of doom) but I think it's because they are finally putting the focus back on the characters and not on the plotlines.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 2/18/09

In which I name the most awesome moment from each book as we look at Hellblazer, JLA, the Red Sonja Annual and the very last issues of Comic Foundry Magazine and Birds of Prey.

BIRDS OF PREY #127 - Honestly, I'm almost relieved that this book is being put out of its' misery at this point. Bedard didn't do a bad job on the title, really... but it was nowhere near as awesome as it should have been coming from the guy who did the Black Canary mini-series two years ago.

Still, all of The Birds get their moment to shine here and this is about the best you could hope for in a conclusion to the series... even though the conclusion does little more than set up the upcoming Oracle mini-series and there's nothing to stop The Birds from reforming later. Which I really hope they do - Manhunter needs something to do and Misfit is too cool to trap in limbo or damn to the Teen Titans.

The Best Moment? A tie between Misfit fighting Gizmo (DARK VENGEANCE!) and Black Canary's reaction to Calculator saying he doesn't want to hear anything except screams. (Five Words: Canary Cry For The Win)

COMIC FOUNDRY #5 - It ended as it began - with a big "F.U." to Wizard Magazine on the cover. Not so much of the usual comedy material but that seems to be fitting for a final issue. And with pieces by Matt Fraction and interviews with Bryan Lee O'Malley & Grant Morrison, it's not like I can really complain about the content.

Rest In Piece, Comic Foundry. Every time I see a kid mock Rob Liefeld, I'll think of you.

The Best Moment? The introduction in which Editor Tim Leong notes that this issue had "More talent here than all of Wizard World Dallas". A statement which I can vouch for as being accurate, if somewhat upsetting as a DFW fanboy. The loss of what is - sadly - the best non-Manga comic convention that DFW had still stings... even if I didn't go last year because I was more of a celebrity than half the guest list.

HELLBLAZER #252 - Milligan is still spinning his wheels a bit, telling us two stories which are connected only by a word at this point - Scab.

We get a fair bit of the English politics of the Delano era here with an anti-Labor Lord getting visited by the ghost/zombie of a Union leader he may have had killed off. Meanwhile, John deals with a strange scabby growth that is covering his chest as well as a creature who seems to be his current girlfriend's aborted child from several years earlier, reborn as a scabby nightmarish youth.

The artwork is competent but seems ill-suited to the Hellblazer style. And while I can see Milligan building toward something in the story, Scab seems like it will read better as a trade than as a monthly mini-series.

The Best Moment? John holding back the tears as he tries to figure out how to lie to his girlfriend about just what came after her, knowing that the likely truth will upset her more than he can stand (and kill any chance he has of keeping the relationship going)... all while burning the scabby corpse of what might have been her baby.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #30 - McDuffie doing what he does best - telling a good, action-packed story with his own creations as well as the toys in the Justice League box. You know it's a good story when Superman pushes the metaphorical dark side of the moon away from the Earth to save the solar system... and that's not even the high-point of the book!

The Best Moment? The good Dr. Light gets back her natural powers and then goes on to own The Shadow Thief. Take that Judd Winick!

RED SONJA ANNUAL #2 - A classic old-school Red Sonja story with some of the best Red Sonja artwork in recent memory. The plot is a basic thing; Sonja acts as body guard for a magician who is trying to save the last of the great dragons of Hyboria from a rival who would harvest their bodies for spell components. A simple story but classic Red Sonja was never that complicated. This issue should be a hit with those fans who are unhappy with the current "new" Sonja storyline in the main book.

The Best Moment? Sonja's speech about her father teaching her how to hunt and to honor the beasts they killed as she finds a dragon callously butchered by the evil wizard in an effort to claim the beast's heart.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Thoughts on HEROES, Season 4, Chapter 3 - Building 26

Last Time: Peter, Matt, Ando, Hiro and Mohinder form X-Men Team Blue. Sylar gets a sidekick. Claire gets contacted by Le Resistance. Tracy winds up in "The Box". And Nathan finds himself alone at the top of a house of cards with an increasingly annoyed Noah Bennet on one side of him and a trigger happy psycho marine on the other.

7:55 - Still on MSNBC at the moment. Keith Olberman's interviewing Harry Shearer about the new HD-Intro for The Simpsons while discussing how the media will obsess over meaningless trivia while important news is neglected. This would be worrying if I weren't sure the irony was intentional.

8:00 - I just noticed how better lit the show is now. Either that or my new HD TV is really giving me a better picture.

8:01 - Hey! Lyle is still alive! And Noah is now a "consultant". That sounds about right.

8:02 - I think Mom/Sandra is rather suspicious about just how straight Claire and Noah are being about everything being normal now. And yes - Noah likes the Brown. ;)

8:03 - Yeah. I'm with Claire being rather skeptical about just how safe her family is now in ignorance compared to all the other times they were ignorant and "safe". And this is a cool idea - forcing Claire to live the secret identity lifestyle to stay under her dad's radar.

8:04 - The Haitan is still at large. And the psycho marine is trying to sow dissension against Nathan. Big surprise.

8:05 - Born To Be Wild. I like the soundtrack this season.

8:06 - "Okay, TECHNICALLY I'm a serial killer." Hee-hee.

8:07 - "A girl in a comic shop." Gods, can we please stop encouraging this cliche?!

8:11 - Um - Claire? I think he can hear you...

8:12 - Okay, I guess he couldn't. Guess Alex isn't a speedster or a flyer. And allow me to call bullshit on a comic shop clerk being able to own a car that nice, even in California. Believe me, I know.

8:13 - Not to nitpick but - if their accounts got frozen, how did Hiro and Ando get to India? Or does that only apply to the bank accounts of the heroes from the USA since Nathan and company don't want to set off the alarms of the Japanese Government that a rather notable and rich citizen has been kidnapped?

8:14 - I missed most of this thanks to my local NBC affiliate's random skipping-signal problem, but I got enough to sense that Ando just broke up the wedding that Hiro need to be at to get his powers back. Or so he thinks...

8:15 - I like this touch - Nathan getting put on the hot-seat explaining to the pencil-pushers exactly why he needs a few billion dollars for anti-freeze walls and heat-lamps.

8:18 - Oh gods, just what we wanted after Season 3 - MORE Sylar pathos. Gag me.

8:19 - Ummm... yes, go file charges! Get the attorney general! But don't - you know - do anything about the woman who is chained down and is being tortured RIGHT NOW! Insert "Typical Government Employee" joke here.

8:24 - Oh gods. Alex is Aquaman. Only without the fish-whispering.

8:27 - Go Ando! Even though I'm sure everything will work out the way it was supposed to in the drawing, Hiro really needed to hear that it isn't always about him. Again. Good thing because it looks like he needs Hiro's help.

8:28 - And yeah... Claire sucks at the secret identity thing. Of course we knew Bennet would figure it out sooner or later but I expected him to get it before Killboy Powerhead Psycho Marine did.

8:29 - Wow. Listening to all this talk about having a plan, motivation and not doing things indiscriminately... And to think I always had Sylar pegged as Chaotic Evil. Looks like he's more Neutral Evil. Or an acting coach.

8:31 - Another nice action scene here.

8:32 - Or not. So much for Sylad.

8:36 - Looks like the wedding is still on and Hiro will get his chance to play hero after all. And the stupid skipping is happening again.

8:38 - And we have the image. Hiro may not have gotten his powers back... but I think he DID learn how to be a hero without them.

8:39 - "Do you have any idea what will happen if they think I can't control you?"

"That's the thing, Dad. You can't." BURN!

8:40 - Why do I get the feeling Tracy is about to screw everyone over accidentally?

8:41 - *sighs* Can I call them or what?

Of course it would be too easy for Nathan's plans to fall apart THIS early in the season. And thankfully, this isn't totally unbelievable since Tracy has no reason to believe that anyone would come to rescue her after having been abandoned three times in a row (Peter, Nathan, and wasserher name the new pencil-pusher)

8:43 - I just realized - no Matt, Mohinderance or Peter so far in this episode. This bodes well for the promise to limit the number of storylines per episode this Series.

8:46 - If only it truly were this easy to get full government funding for necessary government programs.

8:47 - And yeah... Claire using the one screw she has left to twist. I didn't think she'd get to this so soon but good on her for doing it.

8:48 - Oh SHIT! The one person on the show who is even worse to make angry than Noah... Sandra.

8:49 - And wow... never occurred to me that Noah might be being blackmailed into helping Nathan. Or that Nathan purposely let Tracy escape so that he could save his plan. David Xanatos has NOTHING on Nathan right now. That's the evil manipulative bastard we know and love.

8:50 - And yeah... THIS is the Sylar we know and love. I think I can tolerate the angst from earlier given that I'm pretty sure that "Memory of My Dad" thing was a total bluff. And here's Sylar... getting Sylad for his powers. Waste not, Want Not, after all.

8:53 - Good boy, Hiro. Lesson learned. Too bad you couldn't have learned this last season before you started screwing around with your dad's safe because you were bored with your current destiny. But hey - whatever works at this point.

8:55 - Ummm... okay, granting that Claire had a point and that he DOES deserve to be kicked out... he's still going to be on the show, right? Right?

8:56 - And Claire is hiding Alex the Comic Book Guy in her room? Can you say "lucky bastard?"

8:57 - Oh crap... he DID save Sylad? No way! He's just keeping him warm because a second set of eyes is useful now, even if he DOES have a Government Tracking computer and one of their radios. Soon as he meets his dad... all bets are off. Ah well... at least the music is still rocking. Talking Heads for the win.

8:58 - Oh crap. Nathan didn't free Tracy - it was Killboy Powerhead? I take back my previous statement of approval. I thought it seemed a little too out of character for Nathan to actually plan something like that.

8:59 - Is that Matt who did this? Because this totally echos how Bennet caught Matt back in Season One.

9::00 - Oh, it is! Oh dramatic irony!

The Final Verdict: Despite a few pointless twists at the end that played with things a little TOO much, I enjoyed this episode. The cool moments (Sandra laying down the law on Noah, the kick-ass action scene with Sylar and Sylad vs. a crap load of federal agents and that last scene with the three we didn't see all episode) more than off-set the iffy ones. And things are looking VERY good heading into next week with an episode that will reportedly be All About Bennet.

New Heroes Comedy!

Are you wondering why Nathan is going out of his way to protect Claire, despite her complete unwillingness to "play ball" with his plans, when it would be a lot easier to just imprison her or shoot her in the back of the head?

It's not because he's better than that. It's not because of any paranoia that she needs to be spared or the world will be destroyed. It's not even because he doesn't want to piss off Noah Bennet.

Nancy Grace: Hello, I'm Nancy Grace. Tonight we continue our coverage of the tragic disappearance and probable murder of Claire Butler; All-American Girl and Cheerleader. Now, we have been covering this story non-stop for the last three days here on Headline News. But we still haven't been able to get any information from The Butlers themselves as Mrs. Sandra Butler refuses to return our calls.

Lou Dobbs: Clearly she's taking this situation very hard.

Nancy Grace: Yes, Lou. However - late breaking news - we HAVE learned that the father - Mr. N. Butler - apparently left his job as a shift-supervisor at a local copy store several months after a violent altercation with the franchise manager. Awfully suspicious, don't you think?

Lou Dobbs: Mighty suspicious, indeed, Nancy.

Nancy Grace: Oh yes. You know, if I were prosecuting this case, I'd be looking at him. VERY closely. Just look at this man - that intense expression peeking through those Keith Olberman glasses... you know he has something to hide.

Lou Dobbs: But what about the rumors that Claire Butler has been seen in the company of Peter Petrelli, the infamous "crazy" brother of popular head of the Congressional Homeland Security Committee and Junior Senator of New York Nathan Petrelli?

Nancy Grace: That does bare investigation as well but my money is on the father killing and probably raping his own daughter. His perfect, pretty daughter.

Lou Dobbs: Well... moving onto other news - The Japanese government confirmed reports today that Hiro Nakamura, a young CEO has vanished mysteriously...

Nancy Grace: Uh, Lou? I wasn't done speculating on what Mr. Bennet might have done to his daughter.

Lou Dobbs: But Nancy, we have another story here about a mysterious disappearance.

Nancy Grace: Shut up! I'm busy talking about an American girl! A pretty BLONDE American girl!

And just a reminder...

Looking To The Stars is a satire published by Matt Morrison, and is not intended maliciously. Matt Morrison has invented all names and situations in its' satires, except in cases when public figures or fictional characters are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental, or used as a fictional depiction or personality parody (permitted under Hustler Magazine v. Fallwell, 485 US 46, 108 S.Ct 876, 99 L.Ed.2d 41 (1988)). Looking To The Stars makes no representation as to the truth or accuracy of the preceding information.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 2/11/09

Featuring Batman #686, Fables #81, Green Arrow/Black Canary #17 and Green Lantern Corps #33.

BATMAN #686 - Like most people, I picked this one because Neil Gaiman wrote it. At least, I imagine that's the major reason most everyone picked this one up. That's not to disparage Andy Kubert's pencils (which are excellent) or the rest of the art team for their contributions, but let's be honest - Gaiman's name on a comic is a license to print money.

A lot of people have been comparing this story, Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader? to the similarly titled Alan Moore story Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?, which detailed the last days of Superman going into Crisis of Infinite Earths. I think a more apt comparison, however, is to compare this to The Wake - the final chapter of Gaiman's masterwork The Sandman.

Why? Both stories take place at a funeral where the honored dead is - on some level - still somewhat alive and we see the supporting cast, heroes and villains alike, drop their grudges to tell stories in honor of their fallen comrade/enemy. And a dream-like quality infuses the atmosphere of this comic even before we get to the seemingly contradictory stories as we see a Gotham City and Crime Alley unlike any we've seen before, yet we are told - by a ghostly Batman - that he somehow knows this is Gotham and Crime Alley. Much in the same way we just "know" things to be true in a dream.

I had thought that the mysterious presence walking alongside Bruce might be Daniel or Morpheus or maybe even Death until I saw the feminine form when Bruce asked "Are you Death?" and the figure responded "I don't think Death is a person, Bruce." That's not an answer or a denial but it doesn't sound like the type of thing Death would say in an attempt to be cute. Of course I could be wrong and likely am. Either way, this book is well worth picking up if you have any interest in Batman, if only for Alfred's tale of the true death of Batman and the real story behind his various villains origins.

FABLES #81 - A fitting end for one of the series' best characters. I can't help but note a little irony in the flowers decorating his grave, given the royal drubbing he gives one of the series' heroines as she confesses her love for him and he gives her a bit of truth she didn't want to hear. Truly, still one of the best books on the market.

GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY #17 - The good news is that Dinah doesn't get made into a helpless victim during the main story and indeed gets a chance to save Ollie and herself from the knife-wielding assailant in issue #15.

The bad news is... well, the special Origins story at the end of the comic pretty much undid whatever goodwill I might have had for this book, depicting as it did the moment in which Dinah discovered the Canary Cry.

Now, I'm not sure exactly what the canon story behind Dinah discovering her powers is (I believe it's discussed in detail by a number of angry Black Canary fans over at scans_daily, where you can also see a scan of this whole section) but I know enough to know that it never involved her "pulling a Rogue" and nearly killing a classmate in a scene that mirrors her apparent deafening of a random musician.

And it's a minor point compared to this, but as a Green Arrow fan - I'm a little peeved at Ollie getting a very cool (no pun intended) scene where he puts out a fire using the good ol' Cryonic Arrow and he credits the idea and the technology to Mr. Freeze. Because The-Powers-That-Be at DC Comics apparently it's impossible for Ollie to have an original idea for a gadget that didn't get ripped-off from Batman or a Batman villain.

And the less said about this new villain who is an obsessive Green Arrow stalker, the better.

Avoid this book like the plague from now on.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #33 - Quite a lot of stuff going on here, building up to the War of Light and The Blackest Night. In quick order...

* Mongul, now empowered by multiple Yellow Fear Power Rings taking over the xenophobic planet of Daxam and turning it into a new base of operations for The Sinestro Corps.

* The Green Lanterns lose hundreds of members in the aftermath of The Guardian's new edict that Green Lanterns are not allowed to love other Corps Members - physically or emotionally.

* Kyle Rayner and Soranik explore their feelings for each other in the wake of their respective visions of their one true love after meeting a Star Sapphire.

* Kyle begins work on a mural depicting the history of the Green Lantern Corps, including the fallen Lanterns.

* Green Lantern Saarek - who is also a ghost whisperer in addition to his powers as a Green Lantern - has a meeting with Star Sapphire Miri Riam, in which he delivers a message from her dead husband and her attempts to grant him a vision of his true love leave him seeing "Nothing but Black."

* Mongul fights former Sinestro Corps trainer Arkillo for leadership of The Sinestro Corps.

* Sodam Yat - a.k.a. The Daxamite Green Lantern known as Ion - is contacted by his mother regarding Mongul's takeover of his home planet.

Despite the many storylines occurring at once and the soap-opera style of the stories, this is a most enjoyable book. The only problem with this book is that - for obvious reasons - it isn't very friendly to new readers. Still, if you like the space opera genre, this is a must-read series.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Latest Bit of HEROES Comedy...

By virtue of this being too funny and accurate, we hereby decree that from this day forth, Luke - Sylar's teenage sidekick as of last night's episode of HEROES shall be known as...

Sylad, The Boy Microwave!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Thoughts on HEROES, Season 4, Chapter 2 - Trust and Blood

Last Time: Innocent people with superpowers are being abducted by the United States Government and shipped off to somewhere unpleasant in circumstances which are not at all inspired by any real world events and most of the cast is on a runaway plane...

7:55 - Switch from MSNBC to NBC and President Obama's press-conference is still going on. Will NBC stick with this historic press conference and delay the show? Let's see...

8:01 - And here's the quick catch-up with everyone being tased. It just occurred to me Peter should have shouted "don't taze me, bro!" (I know... I know...)

8:04 - And... plane appears to have made an emergency landing. Broke apart. Some people escaped. Wonder who...

8:05 - Ah, well Hiro is running. Runs into Mohinderance and Matt, who are apparently still buddy buddy. Apparently Matt hasn't heard about what his roommate was up to last season...

8:06 - Bad time to have a vision but luckily Mohinderance and Hiro know what the white eyes mean. And yeah... Matt is, amazingly, smart enough to realize that he isn't going to get a chance to try and mind-control the mob here.

8:07 - Aha! I knew Bennet had something else going on here! "Things are more complicated than you can imagine." Well, if Jeph Loeb had a hand in writing this, that's no small wonder...

8:08 - If you had any doubt the Defense Department was involved - missiles! The solution to all problems!

8:11 - And yes - if only to try and make Nathan seem SOMEWHAT sympathetic after everything else - he chews out the decision to call in an air-strike on a plane full of mostly helpless civilians and we find out that Mr. Marine Grunt Field Commander is a mutant-hating psychopath.

8:12 - Ladies and Gentleman - Peter Petrelli telling someone to quit their whining! I appreciate the irony even as I rejoice in Peter's new attitude.

8:13 - Okay, that bit with the Redneck shirt was priceless! Of course what are the odds that the clothes will actually fit?

8:14 - Hmmm... Daphne and Hiro are still talking. That's convenient but understandable given Hiro WOULD be the type of person to trade Christmas Cards with his ex-Nemesis. If he celebrated Christmas, that is. You all know what I mean...

8:15 - Yeah. Hiro is definitely Lawful Good. But why is Mohinderance wearing Freddy Kruger's sweater?

8:16 - And... yeah. Actual drama. And another big question... how exactly is Matt doing this? I have some ideas, which I will share later...

8:17 - What the.... new characters? Or did we just suddenly switch to some Lifetime movie?

8:18 - "No, I'm going to torture them in front of you." Saw that line coming but... yeah. It's good to have Sylar back as a bad guy.

8:23 - Nice logic there - he must be alive because I'm supposed to kill him! Nice to see someone remembering the future visions for a change.

8:24 - And yeah... Peter AND Tracy both want revenge. I'm liking this team-up.

8:25 - "I'm not going to be your excuse anymore." And yeah - turns out I was mostly right. Bennet still thinks the people with powers need to be controlled but Claire being spared was a condition of his coming to work with Nathan. And he SO played the "I know what you really are" card and threatened to tell Killboy Powerhead Marine that his boss is a filthy mutant.

8:28 - Holy crap that was... an awesome scene! And apparently Nathan is in the hot-seat with somebody over what just happened.

8:29 - Okay. Fun is fun but seriously... we don't care about the Sylar and his daddy subplot right now... especially after we just saw Daphne get shot down and Matt go crazy.

8:30 - Huh. Didn't see THAT coming. Looks like Sylar is going to get close to his new friend.

8:36 - "What are you going to do?" "For now, nothing.... I'll do what I can." Ah... so it looks like Column A is a possibility after all. Because if Nathan is uncomfortable with a bunch of trigger-happy grunts trying to kill Claire, Bennet SURE AS SHIT is not going to take this lying down.

8:38 - You know... I'm honestly not sure who is going to betray who here... is Tracy going to sell Peter out? Is Nathan going to show up with a small army? Is Peter going to see all the sudden but inevitable treachery coming and take out everyone? Okay, maybe not the last one, but that would be cool...

8:40 - "If that's a coincidence, God's improved his sense of humor." Good line. And I think Sylar is looking to take on an apprentice...

8:42 - Should I be the least bit disturbed that I feel more sympathy for the kid at this point than I do the tortured soldier?

8:46 - Heh. That line about letting someone live being a big deal - priceless.

8:48 - "He's not my brother anymore and he's not your boyfriend." Cold, but cool... and accurate.

8:49 - Ah-ha! Double the double crosses. Tracy is about to sell Peter out, Nathan lies about coming alone and Peter was playing everyone playing "the crazy brother" so he could get close to Nathan and get the perfect means of escape. I think Peter just became my favorite character again.

8:50 - And yeah. If looks could kill, Tracy would freeze Nathan in a second. Bennet let Peter go. Nathan thanks him. And Bennet sure looks like he'd like to say "I didn't do that for you, asshole."

8:56 - So Matt, Peter, Ando, Mohinderance and Hiro are forming the X-Men. Sylar is on the way to a Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. And Claire is at home... looking bored.

8:58 - The house would be empty without you. Yeah, well except for your younger brother who we haven't seen in about half a season... but why quibble.

8:59 - Hmmm... wonder if that's Peter sending the text? Or maybe even West. Lord knows he'd be up for "fighting the robots".

9:00 - And yeah. Big surprise - Nathan was talking to Angela, asking for help and she just told him to go fudge himself.

9:01 - And Nathan's line there about good people not being able to control themselves... that's definitive Lawful Evil.

9:02 - Whew. Looks like Tracy will live for one more episode at least, based on the preview. That's a relief. One blonde Fridging per episode is enough.

The Final Thoughts: To every Lost fan who has been going on and on all week about HEROES was obviously going to become a Lost rip-off after last week's episode with the plane crash... fudge you. Seriously.

It's back, baby! Yeah!

Random Heroes Theories, Going Into Tonight...

Why did Peter's powers change? Didn't Arthur say that the forumla would restore Peter's abilities after Arthur took them away?

My guess is that Peter's power is the same as it ever was; just more limited.

A quick flashback or two before I explain.

We already know that a person's emotional state can alter their ability to use their powers effectively. Hiro spent the middle-third of Season One powerless after failing to save Charlie because his confidence was shot. Niki couldn't use her own powers because she didn't think she was strong enough to fight Jessica.

Now think back... what's the first thing we see Peter doing when we saw him in A Clear and Present Danger? Failing to save someone's life and then muttering about how he needs to be better. That he needs to be stronger...

Now consider the nature of Peter's power and how it is dependent on his ability to connect with people on an emotional level. Peter went through a LOT of emotional trauma in Season 3, with everything culminating in his having to kill his own father (never mind that Sylar stopped him - Peter still fired the gun and made the attempt), nearly being killed by Nathan and pretty much having his faith in his mother and Nathan being basically good people deep down shot.

What kind of effect would having your entire family turn on you have on a person? It'd mess up your head a little, to put it mildly. Especially if you are someone who, like Peter, puts so much value on your relationships with your family.

So with all of that baggage and his general faith in people in general shattered by the Future he saw where superpowers became readily available to anyone and the world got ripped apart as a result... is it any wonder that Peter has become more insular, more cynical and self-absorbed to the point that - when failing to save someone's life - his big concern is not the loss of the life but his own inadequacy?

So that is why Peter now needs a physical connection to copy a person's power and why he can apparently only connect with one person at a time.

Why is Angela helping Nathan? Didn't he turn traitor on her when he joined forces with Arthur in Season 3?

Yes, but it's not like she's in a position where she can expose Nathan and his plans without exposing her own crimes.

Even if she did care to reveal the reality of super-powers to the world, it would be all too easy for Nathan to dismiss her as being senile and "telling stories", especially given Angela's carefully constructed facade as an eccentric if harmless rich lady with a penchant for shoplifting. And thanks to the events of Season One, there's already a public history of insanity in the family with Peter - the one person who is likely to give a damn about helping Angela - having been publicly painted as a suicidal, barely functional lunatic. With Nathan's apparent status as a media darling, he probably wouldn't even have to pay off a doctor to have Angela placed "under observation".

My guess is that Angela is biding her time, knowing that Nathan has just enough morality left to need encouragement that he is doing the right thing. By sparing his family the tortures he is inflicting on the rest of the the world, he can convince himself that what he is doing is necessary and that he is not evil. This would also partly explain...

Why is Nathan going out of his way to keep Claire from being sent away with the rest of the powered people? As Claire herself points out, Nathan has nothing to threaten her with and he has to know by now that - like Peter - she is too idealistic to be bought off.

Even if we ignore Nathan's need to keep telling himself he's a good person by sparing his family (when possible, of course - he turned on Peter easily enough), there is one other factor to consider: the Batman of the HEROES universe - Noah "Badass" Bennet. Which bring us to ask...

Why is Noah helping Nathan anyway? Noah was trying to destroy The Company because of the threat they represented through the end of Season 2 and only worked for Angela in Season 3 because of the greater threat presented by the Level 5 Escapees... so why is he suddenly hip to tampering with the lives of innocent people?

I can see at least two possibilities.

A. Noah is planning to bring Nathan's group down from the inside - He already tried this, with some success before Mohinderance flaked out on him - in Season 2 with The Company. And now - in a position of some authority - he's in the perfect place to bring together everyone he knows is trustworthy or who has a grudge against Nathan.

B. Noah is trading his expertise for Claire's safety - Even with Noah's change of heart regarding The Company, he's still just afraid of super-powered people enough to think that something like The Company is necessary. Depending on how much he learned about the aftermath of Season 3, I can see him coming to the same conclusion as Nathan - that even the well-intentioned people with superpowers can cause just as much damage as the would-be criminals. He is somewhat conflicted on this though, at least regarding people who he owes his life to - remember the conflicted look after he shocked Peter?

I'm leaning a little more toward it little of column A but mostly column B, simply because it would explain why Nathan would try and keep Claire off the plane. At least, keeping her off THAT plane - the one Noah was flying. Because Nathan knows Bennet well enough to know that the minute Claire is endangered (well, much as she CAN be endangered), all Hell will break loose. And if you don't think Bennet has a copy of Nathan's file and all the blood information to prove that he's a metahuman in his files at home... well, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 2/4/09

COMIC BOOK COMICS #3: If you only buy one comic with a scene depicting Adam West at an orgy this year, make it this one!

This time we go into the history of The Comics Code Authority, the creation of Mad Magazine, science-fiction pulp's increasing influence on the medium and - in a quick jump into the future - the Pop Art movement of Warhol & Lichtenstein and the hipster's loving mockery of comic culture.

Whew! That's a lot of ground.

As usual, Van Lente and Dunlavey give us a funny and educational read. But more importantly, they give us a balanced look at more well-known events and figures of this history. For instance, at the very start they describe Dr. Fredric Wertham's noteworthy accomplishments as a psychiatrist and the good he did as a progressive activist before raking him over the coals for his biased and unscientific "study" of comic books and juvenile delinquency. Van Lenter and Dunlavey also describe Wertham's complaints which had some merit (negative portrayals of non-Caucasians, unrealistic female body images and excessive BDSM imagery) and the ones (comics teach kids how to commit crimes, Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin are obviously gay) which were a little more out there.

We can only hope this same unbiased view remains next month as we go into the heated world of 1960s Marvel and that the book doesn't go into describing how Saint Kirby and Saint Ditko overcame The Devil Stan Lee.

KULL #4: It's barbarian kings fighting snakemen with all the blood, guts and weird horror that you'd expect from a comic book adaptation of a Robert E. Howard story. There's not much else that needs to be said except that if you are the sort of person who enjoys that sort of thing, you'll enjoy this. Good story. Great art. Can we have this as a monthly, please?

RED SONJA #41: This issue is all exposition but it is well-written and sorely needed exposition after Brian Reed's first story arc, in which many people died over an apparently powerful but ill-defined mystic doodad known as "The Blood Legacy".

Apparently The Blood Legacy is a magic gem with a long history of death attached to it that may or may not contain the blood of The Creator God and may or may not have been the first weapon. It also seems to wind up in the hands of red-haired warrior women more often than not and may have been stolen from Cthulhu (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) at one point.

While this grand history may well have been better told at the start of the new series before we had a few dozen people being killed over the thing, I must say that this book is finally starting to build toward an epic scope worthy of the grand tradition of Robert E. Howard and Roy Thomas. And - you know - redheads in scanty armor fighting Cthulhu are always awesome.

SECRET SIX #6: Another issue - another "do not spoil the sudden twist at the end" ending. Of course we all knew that a "sudden but inevitable betrayal" was bound to happen but I honestly didn't see it coming from this character or their being able to take out the rest of the team so easily. Damn good scene there, Simone.

We also get some background for Jeanette, find out that The Mad Hatter (who rather has a grudge after the events of the Secret Six mini-series) is out for the blood of his old teammates and even get a quick history of the new Secret Six, describing the events of Villains United and the Secret Six mini-series from MH's perspective. There's also a revelation about a new uber-powered baddy who is manipulating The Mad Hatter which bodes interesting things for Green Lantern: The Blackest Night... but of that, I will say no more.

This book is one of the best ones on the shelf right now. Pick it up before it goes the way of Manhunter and Birds of Prey.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Thoughts on HEROES, Season 4, Chapter 1 - A Clear and Present Danger.

We're back. And they're back. Let's see where it goes from here.

7:53 - See first commercial for new Season (I skipped the Super Bowl one). Looks interesting, although I wonder how bad things have gotten for Noah to have any interest in saving Mohinderance after... oh... everything that happened in Season 2, let alone what he probably heard Mohinderance did in Season 3.

7:55 - Dammit! The skipping is starting again!

7:56 - Okay. Gone for the moment.

8:00 - Three months later. Nathan is somehow in charge of Homeland Security. Tracy hasn't talked to him in two months. And naked Ali Larter. Good start so far.

8:02 - Okay... agents protected against freezing, thanks to some special Snake-eyes style ninja suit. Tracy is the first one. VERY good start so far. And we cut to commercial after 3 minutes? They're quickening the pace if nothing else.

8:06 - Back in Tokyo. Shades of Ghostbusters - converted Firehouse for a base. And yeah - this is perfect, if predictable. Hiro trying to be a second-hand hero despite his power loss and Ando being rather sick of Hiro trying to turn him into the hero Hiro walways wanted to be, complete with secret base, costume and motorcycle. Ando, still being the smart one who realizes just how useless a lone superhero whose only power is enhancing other people's powers is in a fight. Especially with Hiro as your back-up.

8:08 - New York. And wow - looks like we've got Peter back to his usual self. Paramedic. Saving lives. Wishing he could do more to help save lives and, not surprisingly, missing his powers.

8:09 - Hmm. Claire is still in NY with Angela helping her pick colleges. Naturally Claire is less than thrilled about the idea of a normal life. And of course, genre savvy as she is, Claire knows that Sylar is still out there. Even if they DID find dental records. And The Company is apparently dead, even though Noah is apparently still going out on "business trips".

8:11 - The Fallout 3 theme? And yes, Sylar is still alive. And in Baltimore. Which is only slightly better than dead.

8:12 - Awwwww... it's Sylar's long last real daddy. Or is it?!?!

8:16 - Hey, it's a Matt and a Daphne. Matt is a bodyguard. Daphne is a bike-courier. Matt wants to live a normal life. Daphne is a little reluctant. And Matt is still having visions of Usutu, for some reason.

8:18 - Okay. Any doubts about Nathan going bad are gone. He's getting ready to "take down" his own brother and Matt - probably the only two people he knows with powers who are least likely to be a threat to anyone.

8:20 - Ah-ha! So THIS isn't his real dad either. Called it! But it is his uncle. OR IS HE?!?

8:22 - Just in case the political commentary earlier with Nathan being in charge of Homeland Security and talking about dangerous people being brought under control was too subtle for you... we have an Iranian talking about the dangers of the government trying to control people deemed dangerous.

8:24 - Oh, crap! He's still alive! I mean, I know he was still alive. But it still sucks to see. So why didn't Mohinderance go back to India if he's trying to lay low rather than staying in New York City?

8:26 - You know... that was a very effective little action scene. Even if I'm confused as to why the hell Noah would be helping Mohinderance escape.

8:27 - Ah. Cause he isn't. Again, I'm torn. Because Noah is the epitome of badass. And yet... he's clearly working for the bad guys. More than likely it's just because Nathan agreed to keep Claire out of it, which has always been Noah's priority one. And after everything with Sylar last year, I can see Noah losing patience with all the decent metahumans he knows (i.e. Hiro, Peter, Matt)

8:31 - Peter finds Nathan. This is not going to end well. And now I'm wondering if we're back on track from Season One, with Nathan betraying "his own kind" and being on the road to the Presidency, with Sylar on the way to replacing him.

8:32 - Peter is sounding very bad ass here. And I just realized that his scar is gone. Obviously he's met Claire at least once since Season 3 ended. And Peter, for once, isn't holding The Idiot Ball as he refuses to tell Nathan what powers he has.

8:34 - An illusion? So... not a ghost. And Matt is getting precognition to go with his telepathy? Well, I guess somebody had to even if I'm fuzzy on how.

8:35 - Hiro as Oracle. This feels oddly right.

8:36 - The Ando cycle is a chick-magnet. "It's the car, right? Chicks dig the car." Yes, I'm just as ashamed to make that reference as you are to get it.

8:37 - And... Hiro gets kidnapped. Oh, this is going to cause a scandal if the Japanese government ever finds out about it. American soldiers kidnapping a citizen on foreign soil?

8:40 - Claire and Matt in the drawing? And a drawing of Daphne and Ando? Bit late to realize what that dart was, though.

8:42 - I like this new attitude on Peter.

8:43 - Apparently Peter hasn't seen Matt in the last few months. Either that or they are being subtle about the telepathy, assuming he's reading Nathan's mind here.

8:44 - Yeah. Definitely no telepathy. You'd think Peter would learn about hugging family members he has active disagreements with by now. And is it just me or is Noah looking more than a little bit conflicted on bringing down Peter?

8:45 - Ah. So Sylar's daddy is a Taxidermist. OR IS HE?! (I'll stop doing that soon, really!)

8:46 - Apparently Elle's powers make Sylar immune to tasers. Logical, although I'm a bit lost as to how they've been able to track him.

8:51 - Ando? The password is Ando? I would have guessed Charlie first.

8:52 - And yeah... Claire being tough as ever, pointing out that Nathan has nothing to threaten her with and the "free pass" buys him nothing.

8:53 - Ah! Claire was playing up being drugged. Makes sense because there's no way any sedative should have that much effect on her metabolism.

8:55 - Looks like we have some new faces here... and Peter apparently has to do skin-to-skin contact to absorb a power now. That's interesting and it also makes him a little less powerful, but still a threat.

8:57 - Yeah. Peter has totally gone badass now. And Noah is flying the plane?

8:59 - You know - this is a bit of a false cliffhanger since, you know, we know Peter can fly. Unless he can't store the powers he copies anymore...

The Final Verdict: Ladies and Gentleman... the magic is back. And HEROES is worth watching again for reasons other than to see how much worse it will get.