Monday, June 30, 2008

Look, I'm not Calendar Man, but June 30 has to be either Yak Shaving Day or the Feast of Maximum Occupancy.

Long-term readers of this site probably know this isn't one of those behind the scenes kind of news outlets: for example, while I know Chuck Dixon is no longer with DC Comics, I haven't the slightest on the how or why of that. But Dixon wrote Batman for a long time, moreover, he wrote the best Calendar Man I've ever read. Admittedly, I've read like three; but still, that's a tough villain to have to work with.
Dixon opens with a 60's style Calendar Man getting his big score foiled by Batman and Robin, with period-appropriate art by Joe Staton. Sadly, it's probably the high point of the Calendar Man's career, and things go pretty south for Julian Day from there. Although his lawyer does a good job of selling it, Day is found guilty on all charges, his third offense. This may have been before three strikes laws, but he gets the maximum sentence, which wouldn't make him eligible for parole until after January 1, 2000. For someone completely fixated on the calendar, that wasn't really working for him.

Before that, though, Day gets two lucky breaks...that aren't lucky for him at all. First, he's freed by Bane, circa Knightfall. Although Julian wisely bails out on Gotham, he's picked up by Power Girl, who seems about as concerned as if she was picking up her dry cleaning. Thrown into Blackgate Prison, Day is freed again during the Bat-Quake, but is left starving and helpless in No Man's Land until he's arrested again. This time he gets Arkham.

His treatment would be cruel and unusual in a prison, but in Arkham it's innovative therapy: to break Day of his fixation on calendars, he's put in a cell with no outside light, no clocks, random periods of light and darkness. He's kept without any knowledge of days, months, or years...until March 2000, missing the millennium. Still, that gets him parole, since he was rather a bit on the catatonic side for that, which is what passes for good behavior in Arkham.

Although he had planned a whole Times Square blowup before, with the millennium gone, Day is at first so surprised to be released that he thinks it is another "shrink's trick." But, he's so grateful to have days and nights and the simple joy of marking days off on a calendar, that he seems harmless. Then Batman pokes the bear. He sounds like Judge Dredd here, on recidivism, and probably gives this speech to just about everyone who gets out of Arkham or Blackgate. He might have wanted to save it this time, since it just sets Calendar Man off. (How many villains do you think would be quits if Batman didn't get in their faces?) Day decides he may have missed January 1, 2000; but there are other calendars, and he sets off to have his vengeance on those days.

Day gets a more current costume, a rocket launcher with EMP-generating shells, and a new gang; before setting off on a new five day spree. But not five consecutive days: Calendar Man sends Commissioner Gordon a note with his five days of terror, picked from ancient and obscure calendars. Tim Drake appears a couple times in the story as Batman's legman, to track down the dates.

Calendar Man is pretty successful at first, and seems to be having a lot of fun: shooting down a jet in Y2K homage, kidnapping a pile of models at a calendar shoot, booby-trapping his old apartment for the cops. Fed up, Batman turns up the pressure on the rest of Gotham's underworld, letting them know that he'll be all over them until they find Calendar Man. I have to ask: it's not like Batman was giving the mobsters and crooks a pass before, right? I mean, Bats roughs them up and lets them know more is coming, but even if they deliver Day giftwrapped to Batman, he's not going to be any less harsh on those criminals. There is a brief moment where a boss asks the advice of an old-school criminal, Matches Malone, a longtime secret identity of Batman; who advises "flush the psycho."

So they do: the criminals track down Calendar Man (one of his men broke radio silence to make a bet) and gun down his crew. Batman stops the mob from murdering Day (although, doesn't that leave the lives of the crew on Batman's hands?) then chases down Calendar Man. Bill Sienkiewicz art. Can't go wrong with that.

In the end, Day's found guilty of a mountain of charges from racketeering to discharge of a radioactive weapon within city limits...and two hundred and ten counts of homicide. His lawyer advises if the judge doesn't go for the death penalty, he wouldn't be eligible for parole for eight years. Day starts making plans for December 23, 2012. The day the world ends according to the Aztec calendar, for you non-X-Files fans.

I'll have to look for it, but I think Dixon wrote a similar story with the secret origin of the Riddler. (One of the annuals, I believe.) He can write a good story of a bad guy who is just a wee bit insane, villains who take obsessive-compulsive disorders into their crime gimmicks. I found this one in the quarter bins, but if you want a nice Batman story with good art that doesn't make you read forty other books, take a look for the Batman Eighty Page Giant (July 2000). Written by Chuck Dixon, art by Joe Staton, Manuel Gutierrez and Bud Larosa, Mike Deodato and David Roach, Graham Nolan and Mark Pennington, Louis Small Jr. and Caesar, Dale Eaglesham and John Floyd, and Bill Sienkiewicz. Read more!

Friday, June 27, 2008

"Dummies."
God, my cholesterol has gotta be lower after like five straight boxes of Cheerios, but I keep getting the same two toys...weird looking buggers.

Since I'm going out of my way to avoid spoilers for the Dark Knight, I'm not sure if the movie has the Joker's origin or if they just hit the ground running. So, I don't even know if that's makeup, or if whatever happened to him is a bit spotchier than it is in the comics. All I'm positive of is, there is no way on God's green hell that the Joker should ever get laid again. Harley Quinn included, no matter how insane she is. Green. Pubes. And that's probably not the worst thing in that picture. Blech.

Anyway, have a good weekend! Read more!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I guess that a stapler would've been one way to fix it, but his mom would've given me hell...



The Youngest fell off a trike at a store yesterday--y'know, I don't even remember if that thing even had back wheels--and while at first I thought he was gonna be fine, three hours later he ended up with three or so stitches in the back of his head. He was a little trooper as far as the pain goes, but he did get really squirrelly waiting, and is more fixated on doors than usual lately. The wound wouldn't close right for them to glue it up, and I guess they couldn't use the staple-gun kind of thing for it, so then it took the Wife, two nurses, a doctor and myself to hold him down for the stitches. Again, that was less the pain, then that he doesn't like to be restrained. (You might think who does, but he really doesn't!)


In the end, he was fine, and the hospital was nice enough to give him a very nice Cars toy (that his brother has been not-so-silently coveting ever since) and I had to admit to the Wife that yeah, she's always right. God, helluva week. The Oldest and I are sweating that we're next.


Anyway, let's go to a comic, that makes me glad they didn't use the stapler after all.

Um, this is upside down, so you don't have to flip your monitor! Yeah!
I bought Lunatik #1 and #3 the other day out of the quarter bins, but left #2. I think I even had those two already, but #2's the only one I remembered. Oh, not because it's that great, although it does have a Bill Sienkiewicz cover, but because it guest-starred the Avengers. Well, not so much the Avengers, per se: no Cap, no Iron Man, no Thor...

Lunatik was co-created (with Lovern Kindzierski) by Keith Giffen, creator of Lobo for DC. I wanna just say Lunatik is Marvel's Lobo, although maybe that's not intentional. That's what it is, though. Years later, Lunatik would be a villain in the Drax the Destroyer limited and his little, crabby punk Tinker Bell of a sidekick Skreet would hang out with Thanos for some reason; but their initial appearances give no hint of anything like that being planned. In the premiere issue, we see the origin of Lunatik (such as it is) and see him watching earth TV before he decides to head to earth and kill the old Lunatik, an obscure Defenders villain. Then he tries to check into a hotel, which turns out to be Avengers Mansion. (Jarvis is nowhere to be found this issue, presumably he's putting the moves on Aunt May or being replaced by a Skrull.)

Lunatik gets the bum's rush, and takes his winged sidekick and splits. Except he gets the wrong one, accidentally taking the Wasp instead. Realizing his mistake, he storms back to get Skreet, who quickly became tired of being called "Jan" and defeats Giant-Man. With a stapler.
What the hell? Do all Inhumans have goiter problems, or just Crystal?
Hercules throws down with Lunatik, who is a bit distracted by the...charms of Crystal and the Black Widow. Quicksilver gets stuck with animal crowd control: if Lobo can have a bulldog, then Lunatik can have...a bunch of purple sled dog things.
Quicksilver has really, really had to pee since this whole stupid issue started.
Eventually, all the Avengers are down except for the Black Widow, who knows she's outmatched but would never give up. She has an ace in the hole that she doesn't suspect, though: Bored and hungry, Skreet's ready to split, and clocks the stubborn Lunatik simultaneously with the Widow. Lunatik doesn't wake up until he's in space and on his way to the next issue, and the Avengers are left nursing their wounds, whether to their faces, their hair, or their pride:The Avengers have a breakfast nook?Although this isn't a great comic--oh, let's not mince words, it's not even a good comic--that last page and the hint of a rare smile from Natasha make this a favorite. While I really enjoyed the Black Widow limited series of a few years back, I do occasionally miss the 90's Avengers version. Moments like this are why.

From Lunatik #2, "No Reason!!" Written by Lovern Kindzierski, pencils by Duncan Rouleau, inks by Danny Bulanadi. Read more!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Coulrophobia."

Tell me someone's used this as a Batman title before, and click to enlarge!







This one's going to have some notes, since the Batman in my head is conglomerated from a lot of sources.

The Miller Time/47 Teeth bit probably comes from World's Funnest, the Evan Dorkin written Mr. Mxyzptlk/Bat-Mite romp. Miller himself provides the art for a bit making fun of one of his stylistic quirks that showed up a few times in Dark Knight Returns but more in Sin City. I know Bullseye had fake teeth that he could use for deadly effect, too...

I just read The Killing Joke recently, but can't remember if the chemical plant is ever called by name, or if the name Axis is from the Tim Burton movie.

Out of all the regular continuities--the comics, the movies, the animated series--I don't know if any have ever brought up whether the Joker has feeling in his face or not, but it made sense to me. Of course, like a lot of things I say, it could sound reasonable and still be totally wrong: medically speaking, I have no idea if a nerveless or numb Joker face would even be possible, even if it was bleached white. Batman's comparing the Joker's face to Cap's shield, which refers to (I think) from the Stern/Byrne run, where it's pointed out that since Cap's shield looks like a bullseye, people tend to shoot at it, instead of Cap, even though it's bulletproof and Cap isn't. I had a driver's ed instructor that said the same thing about the headlights of oncoming traffic, that unconsciously, people tend to steer towards them. I have absolutely no idea if that's a bona-fide fact, but I've always watched myself for it.

The Joker's "Dummy" is from a Cheerios box. It's probably no surprise that I eat cereal completely based on the toy. The movie Joker figure is the Oldest's, so I gave him the little one too. Although I'm not a big fan of the character, it's easy to imagine the Joker preparing new crimes and new material at the same time. I also think he would be the sort to feel jealously, a professional envy, of some "rivals." He might be a bigger name than the Ventriloquist, or the Riddler; but every once in a while one of them might have a "performance" that the Joker would then be compelled to "top."

"Jed Reiming" is a play on Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman. I've never read it, but great name.

I mentioned it before once, but R'as al Ghul had his own evil circus. Probably a front for the League of Assassins, but only one of the seemingly dozens of evil circuses in comics. And even at the non-evil ones, you've got dead or mutant acrobats. The mutant kid from the sideshow, of course, would be Nightcrawler.

Although I wrote most of this at work, and knew most of the toys I was going to use for it, I could think of several toys I could've used, if I had an unlimited budget and could teleport action figures to my house as needed: I haven't bought the Movie Master Henchman toy, and probably wouldn't pay full price for him, bolo tie or no. I don't think I've ever had a Clown figure from any of the Spawn lines: the design always seems bizarre to me, and I can't stand John Leguizamo. I could've used a Krusty the Clown or Sideshow Mel, or a Killer Clown from Outer Space, or that clown kid from Halloween, or a Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses. Hell, unless I get a bee in my bonnet before I start this one, I don't even have the DCUC Harley Quinn yet.

I did almost buy another Clownface, for matching henchmen, but decided against it. And the Movie Masters Batman just seems a hair too small; but I didn't want to use a mismatched Batman to that Joker.

Of course, in my toys' world, Batman and the Punisher are on the same earth. In retrospect, I don't like that line: I think that Batman may be envious that Frank doesn't have to fight the same villains over and over and over some more; but I can't see Bruce going all NRA on us, either. I know in Max Allen Collins Batman issues with the new origin of Jason Todd, Bruce trains Jason in firearms; but while it's interesting to consider the idea that Batman knows guns as well as his own weapons; I prefer the Batman that won't even touch one.

Lastly, Poe Ghostal was doing a Batman/Predator serious piece over at Points of Articulation, and doing a better job than me. When's the next installment, Poe? Read more!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

(Mostly Off-Topic) Family, Emergency.

Sorry to miss yesterday, wasn't in a very blogifying mood: over the weekend, my family was up here to help with some home improvements that I couldn't have even begun without their help. My brother-in-law hooked up a gas grill, and my dad and I worked on some new stairs.

We built them over the old, semi-crumbling cement steps that were there. I say semi-crumbling, since I worked on 'em with a sledgehammer to get some of it out of the way; and they were far more solid than initially suspected. My brother-in-law didn't think they would be concrete all the way through, but I didn't find the creamy dirt center I was hoping to. Oddly, my back feels great now, since after that, everything else feels like a cakewalk.
Thanks, Dad.
The emergency was, on Friday afternoon Sam, one of the bitey dogs mentioned in the header up there, got out and got hit by a truck. I try to avoid cursing around here, so to the lady that didn't stop, and everyone that was honking at the Wife and Oldest: pick your favorite orifice, and cram it. Cram it hard. I would sacrifice every goddamn one of you for that dog.

Luckily, Sam will be OK, although he's going to need surgery on his little dog knee or ACL or whatever. He's hurting a bit, but is soldiering on. We did have to cone him to keep him from licking his stitches, though; which is alternately heartbreaking (Sam can't see who's talking to him, runs into stuff) and hilarious (Sam eats off the floor like the world's cheapest Roomba, Sugarpie tries to help him paw that thing off his head):
You can't tell, but that dog is super-pissed right there, since we had to put a bigger cone on him.
On the other hand, the other day I was getting ready to bail out of work like it was a burning airplane, and I noticed it looked great outside. I couldn't wait to get home, and take the kids and the dogs for a walk, but then realized I couldn't. That was depressing, but I don't know if I felt sorry for Sam or myself.

To cheer up a bit, let's look at some classic Captain America, from issue #300:
The sad thing is, even as old men, Cap and the Skull are still more active than most Americans.
Over the course of eight or so issues, and a helluva lot of subplots and flashbacks (I haven't read all of those, but still.) the Red Skull's reverted to closer to his true age, so he's poisoned Cap, turned him into an old man, and just blown up his henchmen and daughter, and Cap's sidekicks and girlfriend. See, it's important to have interests when you get older...no, the Skull wants to go out fighting his oldest foe. Maybe he can turn Cap into a murderer, maybe he'll get to kill Cap before the poison or old age or Mossad gets him. It's a win-win for the Skull.

And yet, Cap never quits. Even though he hates the Skull and everything he's done and everything he represents, he won't let go of his ideals. The Skull's heart gives out, and he claws Cap's cheek with his final breath.
Eww, old man fingernails!  That's gonna get infected.
A strong death scene, and the Skull was left dead (more or less, excluding a Halloween issue that may have been a fakeout) for about fifty issues.

Oh, and but then there's two separate deus ex machinas: the Red Skull didn't really blow up everyone, that was a trick to goad Cap into fighting. Then, mystic Native American hero Black Crow (predating the terrible band) saves Cap from the poison with a visionquest/inspirational speech about America. Yay. I'm not sure, but does anyone know why some books around this time, like this or Daredevil #200 were normal-sized issues, and others were double-sized anniversaries? Was it based on sales?

Panels from Captain America #300, "Das Ende!" Plot by J.M. DeMatteis, script by Michael Ellis, pencils by Paul Neary, inks by Dennis Janke. Read more!

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Cruisin'."
'Here in my car, I am safest of all...'
'Oh, I'll just do a short strip on Fridays,' I said. Ha!
Do people still cruise?  I have no idea...
Poor Yelena deserved better than getting turned into an Adaptoid or whatever, but that is a character arc you don't see every day.
Out for the weekend, so have fun until next week! Read more!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Didn't this blog used to be about comics?

Well, kinda. It's summertime, the weather is getting nicer, and it's perfect weather to sit in the backyard, put your feet in the kiddie pool, and read a metric assload of comics. But said reading hasn't been translating into blog posts, sadly.

Partly, it's due to my recent selections: I re-read Warren Ellis' Scars, which is a gut-punchingly brutal crime horror (but with no supernatural elements) story, and all twelve issues of Nextwave. Nextwave is fast-paced, funny, and too good for this world; while I think Scars doesn't have so much as a single lighter moment, or even black humored laugh, in the whole series. Incidentally, while I don't have the direct link handy, I saw the trade for Scars is being reissued, and I recommend it if you're a fan of harder-edged crime fiction: keep in mind, it's hardly Law and Order, and is much more violent and bleaker than Fell.

And while I'm a big Ellis fan, I'm not buying No Hero until Black Summer is over. The trade'll be here before the last issue. (I'm exaggerating...maybe.) Ellis is also seemingly taking a page from Mike Mignola's book, and letting other creators play with his creations a bit, like Gravel and Wolfskin. Briefly, Gravel is like 'What if John Constantine was a British special forces agent?' The character may have even started life as a Hellblazer story that DC canned and Ellis reworked, if I recall correctly; although I don't know how much of the initial idea ended up in Gravel.

And Wolfskin, well, if Conan is heavy metal, Wolfskin's death metal. With mushrooms! The first limited series has a plot that's A Fistful of Dollars (or Yojimbo, or Red Harvest...) with a couple smutty twists, and the hero kills everybody--both groups of bad guys, and a good portion of the surrounding countryside--in a berzerker rage in the end. Man, I need to flip through that again before the new one comes out...I think, and this is based off my increasingly shoddy memory, that the rage itself isn't completely shown, just the aftermath: the Wolfskin comes to, bleeding, not sure where he is, and he's apparently turned a farming village into a crater full of corpses.

I may be making both of these sound derivative, and that's not true: they are genre works, and are told using a lot of genre traditions, but they are told well. Ellis might decide to tell, say, a Shadow or Doc Savage styled story (the Apparat single Simon Spector, a one-shot of pulpy goodness); but he's going to put his spin on it.

No scans today, but I should mention: I really like the Jacen Burrows/Avatar house style.


Does lemonade with ice, stirred, have a distinctive sound? Or is it just that people drink coffee out of different cups, and don't stir other iced drinks like pop? An odd thought, but somebody's stirring a glass over here.

On toys: I haven't got to the comic shop yet, and I was thinking about picking up the DC Direct Jonah Hex figure. The comic shop is also just about the only game in town for the DC Universe figures, and I still need Harley and an electric Superman--I'd prefer blue, but the Grodd arm is the main thing if I get him, so either or.

I'm positive I wanted Harley for a strip, but I can't remember what or why now. In fact, last week I finished one that she could've guested in, but I still think I had something else in mind. I need to keep better notes.

Worse, I had an idea for a one panel joke, that would involve buying two other figures. At least. And one of those would just be for the accessory. There's no way I could spring for it. Aw, but it'd be good! Read more!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"Hey, Nyquil Driver."
Just get in the trunk, Chim-Chim.
I was trying to make fun, but hell, I think it has been twenty years...
Chuck Austen tried, but man, that was a long run of not good.
Fortunately, Pool's pants don't come off, since I can't imagine anything more horrible than being mooned by Deadpool.

I feel kind of bad that not only did it not do great at the box office, but I haven't seen Speed Racer yet; but the Oldest and I have been making out like bandits on discounted Speed Racer crap. Seven bucks for the "Real Sounds Mach V" at Wal-Mart, and well worth it for this. (Also, the Youngest got a good couple of minutes of enjoyment out of punching the buttons.) It's maybe not quite in scale for the Legends figures, maybe. I did try the Batman in the background, but I couldn't get him to fit, so it doesn't look like Wayne Industries is going to be buying the patent any time soon. Unless I try the DCUC one, but later.

The helmets are from a ton of figures, although I was looking for a couple I didn't find in time. The Nightcrawler in the car is from the Oldest's toy box, since his tail is removable, and he was able to cram into the driver's seat.

Chuck Austen wrote Uncanny X-Men for a long, long, and really not good run. He had some moments, and some ideas, but in the end, Austen freed more people from the tyranny of reading X-Men than puberty and video games combined.

"Hey, Nyquil Driver" is a line in They Might Be Giant's song "AKA Driver" from the album John Henry. The name may or may not have been changed for legal reasons, but a good song on a great album. Still love "End of the Tour." If I was ever forced onto American Idol, that would be the song for me, no one would know it, and my singing would suck.

This one was kinda knocked out on the fly, striking while the iron's hot and getting a head's up out for anyone else that might want to keep an eye out for a cheap Mach V. It's troubling, since while I sure as hell don't make enough money to pass up a good deal; if toys like this get marched to the clearance aisle, toy manufacturers will stop making them or retailers will simply stop stocking them. I was keeping an eye out for it, but would I have bought this if it hadn't been on sale? Hmm, probably not, unless I was somehow flush with small untraceable cash. As is, I missed a lunch or two, which sounds right about right.

Next week? Batman. Maybe. Unless something else falls into my lap. Read more!

Monday, June 16, 2008

I really need to move this off the top of the pile here.
I don't defend Batman often enough, so hopefully this was worth cramming this into the scanner.
Much later, I thought about this issue again, and in the end, Bruce Wayne seemingly acts like a complete ass to Matt Murdock. It could be that Batman doesn't approve of Daredevil, or doesn't think DD can cut it in Gotham, or could it be Batman doesn't believe Daredevil's blind? After all, DC's heroes don't have flaws like that; and Bruce could simply be offended that Matt would go that far to cover his secret identity. I know there's a Batman/Daredevil as well, so I might have to check it out and see if that was followed up.

Hopefully, the last one from Daredevil/Batman, "Eye for an Eye" Written by D.G. Chichester, pencils by Scott McDaniel, inks by Derek Fisher.

Romita's Joker just doesn't feel right somehow.
Chuck Dixon recently left DC Comics, but here's one from when he had a lot of books from both DC and Marvel: Punisher/Batman, with art by John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson.

On the art front, Romita had done some great Punisher work already, but this was his first published work with DC characters. I think Janson's inks help a bit, but Romita's Joker doesn't quite work for me. Storywise, this follows up on Batman/Punisher, where Frank runs into Jean-Paul Valley, Azreal, the replacement Batman, whatever you want to call him. Unaware of the switch back, Frank gets a bit of a surprise against the real Batman, who doesn't fall for any of his crap.

There's some made-up hacker lingo in a brief, dodgy computer war between Microchip and Robin; Jigsaw and Joker team-up with predictable results (Jigsaw gets his face fixed for at least the second time, just to get it re-jiggered again), and Batman gives a variation of his usual stay out of Gotham speech. But there's also the Joker's theory on the similiarities between Batman and the Punisher: Bats lost someone he cared about as a kid, while it happened to Frank as an adult. It's pretty close to the truth, but I thought it undermines Batman as a character, making him seem broken and childish. Hmm.

Didn't get to the Incredible Hulk yet, but soon. So no spoilers! Read more!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

"This Means Nothing."

Short bonus homemade post, so click to enlarge, then go outside! It's nice out!
Dim the lights, light the candles, chill the champagne, load the pulse rifles...
Oh, that thing has to go back in it's...jar or whatever.
This is exactly how I picture Central Park.  Seriously.  Lobster monster and everything.
Commenter Ace from A Pint of Cool suggested teaming Zoidberg up with Deadpool and Nightcrawler, and after some thought I had no idea how to put it together. At first. After the Alien one, well, the joke came together a bit. Couldn't get a full strip out of it, though, so it's just a weekend post. Will Zoidberg be back? Maybe, although Poe nailed how I'd want Zoidberg around...

The pizza box had been on my eBay watch page for about six months, and my Wife finally got sick of looking at it and bought it for me. Thanks Hon! Read more!

Friday, June 13, 2008

I've typed the word 'Shyamalan' so many times, it's lost all meaning.

A co-worker, actually in the cube next to me, nearly backed into me as I was biking to work this morning. (Or a couple of mornings ago, since I doubt I posted this right away.) It was a clean miss, no harm done, and admittedly I'd much rather be hit on my way to work, than on my way home.

Rambo 4 came up in conversation the other day at work. I was assured that it was violent and awesome, but the sad fact is, I've never seen a Rambo movie. As far as I can remember, anyway: my folks thought they were too violent, and by the time I was old enough, they were passe. On the other hand, I've seen Cobra. Yeah, if you ever wonder why I look sad all the time...Between that and my haphazard recollection of the Rocky movies, when I think of Sylvester Stallone, I think of a Mort Drucker style cartoon rather than anything he's actually done, or anything resembling a real person.

I know my wife wants to see The Happening, and I'm starting to think I don't. M. Night Shyamalan has worn out his welcome with me. And whenever I see his movies for sale (rather than just rent) I can't imagine why you would buy them: I don't think his films hold up to repeat viewings. To steal a line from a friend, watching a Shyamalan film again would be like re-reading an Archie comic. You watch them, wait for the surprise twist, go on with your life. I remember getting hammered with some friends while trying to watch Unbreakable. Want to try the Unbreakable drinking game: drink every time nothing happens. After that fiasco, I was drunk as a lemur and Snatch was the next movie, and I could not get through Brad Pitt's made-up language/accent/whatever he had going there.

I think I'm being a little hard on Shyamalan, and maybe I'll be wrong and the Happening will be swell; but I get mad that Shyamalan has a lot of potential and goodwill that he seems intent on burning. Signs was all right the first time through, maybe, and it does an excellent job of building dread; but it completely falls apart if you think about it for five minutes. I know I'm not the first person to say this, hell, I've been complaining about it for years, but Signs is the crappiest alien invasion ever. Hell, it's not an invasion, it's a pantie raid.

I swear, it's like they all just piled in the car, drove to earth, and started tear-assing around. You know what would've been better than bringing nothing? Anything! Guns! Pokey-sticks! Rocks to drop over the side of their spaceships! (Now that I think about it, if the aliens had one of those medieval cauldrons of molten lead, that would be awesome.) The whole movie builds up to the hand of God showing Mel Gibson's character that there is a bigger plan for the universe; unfortunately, it's a plan involving unprepared, half-retarded, poisonous aliens. (An IMDB message board post posits that the aliens aren't aliens, they're demons or something. I don't know about that, but still, demon or alien, any invasion you can chase off with a garden hose kind of sucks. In theory, I suppose you could quite literally lick the aliens...)

Just so I don't sound completely negative, I am looking forward to seeing the Incredible Hulk this weekend. My Wife was a little sad that the old Ang Lee one was being glossed over a bit (i.e. most people are going to pretend it never happened, like Daredevil, Catwoman, Elektra, etc.) since she liked it. Still, she was up for seeing the new one, so I'm hoping we get to that before the Happening.
Read more!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Bonus post! If you read enough 2000 AD, nothing surprises you.

I've mentioned before how inventive the early years of Judge Dredd in 2000 AD were: for example, the classic epic "The Cursed Earth," featuring Dredd versus a cloned Tyrannosaurus, ran in May to October 1978, some twelve years before the novel Jurassic Park. Not that the novel necessarily steals the idea, but the point is Dredd often seems to be ahead of the curve, probably because the writers have to crank out stories every week.

All this week, though, ads for "The First R-Rated Film from M. Night Shyamalan," The Happening, have been all over the place. I was working on a post for Friday on the subject of Shyamalan and his films, and something about those commercials kept gnawing at me. It seemed familiar, somehow. Like I had seen something about it before. The guys jumping (falling? It looks like suicide, but could be something else) to their death, though, that was it: it's only a split second cut in the ad, and a striking visual, but the jumpers don't seem angry or worried or anything. As if Dying is no big thing.

Suck it, Shyamalan!  Here's how you commit mass suicide! I dinged the "J" off "Judge Dredd" in the title, which is probably an offense...

The mega-blocks of Mega-City One have thousands of inhabitants. In this story, 747 of them commit mass suicide in a lemming-like jump off the roof. Or observation deck, or whatever. (Do lemmings actually do that, or is that a myth? Check it out here!)
I don't usually think of Dredd as a great detective, but you can get pretty good results with psychics, lab guys, no due process...
"The Lemming Syndrome" was only a six page story, and Dredd and the Judges don't find any cause for it other than "the contamination (of) the City itself," as in the stresses of modern life. The Happening may or may not have a better twist...I don't honestly think that Shyamalan stole from this story, but I do think Judge Dredd, and 2000 AD, are often sharper than you might think at first glance.

Script by "T.B. Grover," alias John Wagner; art by Ron Smith. Reprinted in Judge Dredd #41 (Fleetway/Quality).

More on the subject of Shyamalan on Friday, I think.

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"My Least Favorite Action Figure Accessory, Ever."
A joke stolen from Antz, and I hated that movie. Funny how that works out.
Bit of a random one this week, but click to enlarge anyway.
Which one is thinking in that first panel? Doesn't matter.

This is probably something that's occurred to everyone before, but the Aliens and the Borg both have set storytelling rules, and I think the two could dovetail together nicely for a Star Trek/Aliens comic or something. It's almost like following a recipe, but that's not say you couldn't spice it up a bit:

We'll open as the Federation starship USS Doomed receives a garbled distress call from the refugee ship SS Already Screwed, something to the effect of "infestation." Doomed arrives to find the ship non-responsive and drifting, and scans are somehow muddled but seem to show twice as many lifesigns as they should: the refugees, each impregnated with an Alien chestburster. The captain beams over our human (or Vulcan, Trill, what have you) characters, a security and a medical team, which for convenience we'll just call Team Redshirt. Even if security doesn't wear those anymore, face it: just about all these characters are redshirts in this kind of story.

Random character points, go! One of the doctors ("McDoomed") and the security team (make the girl security, filling in our usual Alien kickass woman archetype, and we'll call her "Weaver") have been seeing each other for a couple of months and are pretty serious but have been keeping it secret. Another one, let's say a doctor, is on the verge of washing out of Starfleet since he's developed xenophobia, which Starfleet frowns upon: on a mission with the Tholians, he had an uncontrollable arachnid revulsion, and may no longer be able to deal with aliens. Lastly (since we don't need the full back story on everyone that gets eaten) the security chief is like the Vulcan Sgt. Rock: older than dirt, scarred, but seemingly unbeatable. Weaver is also Sgt. Vulcan's protege, learning at the hands of the master.

Team Redshirt beams aboard, explores for a bit, and is quickly starting to realize things aren't right. They find a refugee kid, glued to a wall in an Alien cocoon, try to free him, and SPLAT! Chestburster blows out of him. Doc X (for xenophobe) freaks and calls the ship, but that just means there's a risk of infection and quarantine needs to be established. Before Captain Doomed gets to do much of anything, the Borg ship shows up. Boom! End of issue one.

The Doomed isn't a Galaxy-class ship, so it's definitely no match for a Borg cube. But the cube goes for the Already Screwed first, broadcasting the usual Borg drone about adding their biological uniqueness to their own. The captain realises there must be something aboard that ship more interesting to the Borg than the usual refugees or Federation personnel, but his attempt to defend them is hopeless, and the Doomed is severely damaged. The captain gets a last message to Team Redshirt: they will try for repairs, then come back for them.

On tricorder scans, Doc X can see the lifesigns on the ship suddenly drop in half, which means they no longer have to worry about the rescue part of their mission. Right about here is the usual point in the plot where they find facehugger eggs: we'll give Team Redshirt enough credit not to get anyone infected. They phaser down the eggs...causing an acid spill, which eats a giant hole in the deck, and they beat a hasty retreat from the forthcoming hull breach. On the way back to a more defensible position, the Borg arrive.

Panicked, Doc X takes a shot at a Borg, which was probably a mistake: the Borg hadn't acknowledged them as threats yet. After losing a couple of team members, Sgt. Vulcan is able to give the Borg the slip with a makeshift flash-bang grenade. Team Redshirt runs back into the Aliens, losing a couple more and getting separated and setting up some vague goals like disarming the core or whatever: Doc X and Weaver headed for the bridge, and McDoomed and Sgt. Vulcan towards engineering. (Along with a few more team members to get killed here and there on the way.)

Meanwhile, the Borg and the Aliens are beginning to duke it out. Both kill each other pretty readily, but so far the Borg aren't able to assimilate the Aliens: their acid blood keeps eating the implants. The Borg lose a few to facehuggers, but they begin to adapt defenses to them. (Grid-like masks, or maybe knight-like visors.) They keep working at each other, like ants playing chess.

Issue two ends with a cliffhanger...let's say, Sgt. Vulcan fights off a pile of Aliens, but is injected with nanoprobes by the Borg.

The third issue is just about ratcheting up the tension and the stakes for the big finish. Even with seemingly heavy losses, the Borg have finally managed to create implants that Alien blood can't dissolve. But that means they have to try to take Aliens alive for assimilation, which isn't going so great. For the artists, a page of two Aliens pulling the artificial limbs off a Borg, then tearing off his facemask...and lower jaw...before shoving his head into a facehugger egg.

Mcdoomed manages to get in contact with Weaver and Doc X (all the rest of Team Redshirt is lost over the course of this issue) and sets up the endgame: either by reactor failure, Federation trickery, or some Borg thing, the Already Screwed is going to blow up inside an hour. Doc X comments that isn't soon enough: he's already tried to fly the ship into the Borg cube and take them all out, but the Borg tractor beams shut that down. Weaver lets X know she has no intention of dying here.

Sgt. Vulcan is quickly made a full-fledged Borg, complete with an arm cannon he could've used before. Joining him are the first three Borged Aliens, with those laser eyepieces mounted (somewhere) on their eyeless heads and grotesque Swiss-army knife arms. But they aren't the big reveal for the end of the third: with their new troops, the Borg make a big offensive push, all the way to the chamber of the Alien Queen. There's no dialog for the last five or six pages of the issue, until an off-panel voice tells the Queen that capitulation is never easy, but sometimes truces, even lasting alliances, are formed by marriages of royalty. Honeyed words, courtesy of the Borg Queen.

(Star Trek: First Contact is probably my second favorite Trek movie, and I have fond memories of seeing it with a crew of friends in a crappy theatre in the dead of winter. For some reason, the Marilyn Manson song "The Beautiful People" always reminds me of it. And Alice Krige creeps the hell out of me now, even in other movies.)

Crap, I wanted to have a Jeffries tube reference here: those date back to old-school Trek, and would be a nice change from the usual ventilation shafts that are a staple of the Aliens movies. But the Already Screwed wouldn't be a Federation ship...

I'm not going to run down my imaginary plot for my imaginary last issue, except a couple of points I wanted: McDoomed is in a position that he's safe and can see the Borg and Alien Queen summit, but can't get out, and looks at his phaser only to realize he doesn't even have enough power left to kill himself. The Borg Queen, giving an obscene kiss to a facehugger, as she attaches it to her own face. And then the scream of the Alien Queen, as the Borg Queen injects her with nanites.

As I wrote this, it occurred to me how much fun it must have been in the late eighties, or earlier for Star Trek, to be able to work on Alien or other licenses properties without an excessive amount of hassle from the property's owners, or being labelled fan-fiction. Again, both the Borg and the Aliens have set rules, and I think they would be a good match-up. And it would inevitably lead to Alien vs. Predator vs. Klingon.

And I broke poor Zoidberg's leg the other day: not his fault, I dropped him. It'll glue back, and he's not a character that needs a ton of range of movement.

Ridiculously long post today, but I saw something yesterday that I needed to post right now, so it'll be up later today! Read more!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Getting another post out of the same comic, thanks to my creeping senility.

I have no idea what caused the 'THKATOOM!' What I was getting at yesterday, but got sidetracked away from, is that in most of the 90's Marvel/DC crossovers, instead of having a big to-do about universes colliding or whatever, they were played as if the characters were in the same continuity and always had been. The exceptions would be more cosmic characters like Green Lantern or the Silver Surfer, but the more "street level" heroes didn't have to jump through those plot hoops.

On the other hand, in the scene above, Daredevil has inadvertently gotten blood on his glove from the crime scene--blood that he would probably be able to smell, but let that go for a second. Batman decides to ask DD some questions. With his fists. Even though, although they've never met, you have to figure Batman knows damn well Daredevil is a hero. This was the nineties, and I think Batman was well on the way to becoming a full blown asshole then.

Wayne has two more girls behind the ones there, but they all have to wonder what's up with this. Later, while Foggy Nelson tries to drum up some business in Gotham City, Bruce Wayne is threatening a blind lawyer than this town ain't big enough for the two of them. Classy, Bruce.

God, I read a lot of crossovers, but here's another from Daredevil/Batman, "Eye for an Eye" Written by D.G. Chichester, pencils by Scott McDaniel, inks by Derek Fisher.

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Monday, June 09, 2008

The Best Thing Two Face has ever done: stopping another Quentin Tarantino wannabe.
Now, if we could keep someone working against M. Night Shyamalan knockoffs...

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Quentin Tarantino, and so is the Wife; but I have vague memories of a 90's glut of Pulp Fiction knockoffs clogging up the walls at the video rental stores. I say vague memories since most of them weren't exactly enduring classics...

Today's panels are from Daredevil/Batman, "Eye for an Eye" Those who haven't read a ton of Daredevil (like every appearance ever) might find his characterization a little off in this one, but it harkens...did I just say "harkens"? It fits, but...anyway, Daredevil's not his usual grim, angsty, brooding self here. This is Swashbuckling Wiseass Daredevil, who most probably figured was as dead as Bucky or Intellectual Homer. Still, this is closer to the old Stan Lee version of the character.
'Lookit me! I'm a gazelle!'
Of course, it also helps that for a Batman crossover, putting the usual Daredevil characterization in would basically mean getting two Batmen in the same story. For his part, Batman is a total dick in this one. In most of the Marvel/DC crossovers, they're played as if the characters are in the same universe and always have been. For instance, Matt has a little flashback to back when he was in law school and faced Harvey Dent in a mock trial. Matt lost, since Harvey always was a golden boy, but the two became friends. So, usually in Two-Face stories Batman is fighting to save his friend, this time Daredevil seems more concerned about him and Batman sounds ready to give Harv the chair.

I have nothing to support this idea; in fact, I know it doesn't work, since I know Daredevil was already getting more "realistic" and less fun when he moved to San Francisco with the Black Widow. (The Widow-DD partnership: canon. DD in San Fran? Never, ever mentioned.) But in the timeline in my head, Daredevil was a blind lawyer who was having the time of his life putting on red tights and roughing up lame supervillains and the occasional mugger and every once in while pretended to be his own twin brother; until his old girlfriend Elektra came back, and Matt's life became the ongoing hell we're all familiar with today.

Yes, googum's not my real name...
Just for my comparison purposes, I checked out some dates to guess the last time DD was fun: Daredevil had a guest appearance on the Marvel Action Hour Fantastic Four cartoon: "And a Blind Man Shall Lead Them," which was based on an old Lee/Kirby issue, was first aired September 23, 1995. This one isn't quite Swashbuckling Wiseass Daredevil, it's more like Swinging Hipster Daredevil. DD has a line to the Four, "And if I don't make it...it's been a little slice of heaven." Try to reconcile that with the Frank Miller Daredevil. Go on, I'll wait.

Karl Kesel and Cary Nord were on the monthly book in 1996, and their run included a DD/Absorbing Man brawl, and a great Spider-Man guest spot right after the whole clone thing. Daredevil/Batman came out in 1997. And I put a stamp on a letter and mailed into Stan's Soapbox in 1999 (Nerd!) and asked the Man himself about it. (Among other books, I have it in Rampaging Hulk #6.) Never did get my No-Prize though. Just sayin'. Read more!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

"Day late, Dollars Short."

June 6, 2009: That makes it three years since the release of the remake of the Omen. And...no one cares. So, we'll be talking about something else, yeah...especially since I'm a day late there.

"Well son, the funny thing about regret is, it's better to regret something you have done, then something you haven't done. And by the way, if you see your mom this weekend, tell her..."

That's been my tagline over at Oafe.net for about ever. It's cribbed from the live version of Orbital's "Satan," a song probably better known for playing over the opening credits of the movie Spawn. I have no idea if the spoken dialog's something the brothers Hartnoll threw together themselves, or if it's sampled from a movie or something else; but the fact remains that it's good advice. (Usually. Not a hard and fast ironclad rule, though...)

So, let's apply it to toys, shall we? Today we've got some links to toys I passed up when they were on the shelves, yet covet fiercely now. (As opposed to figures I covet fiercely yet have never actually seen, like that Super-Skrull I wanted.) For example, a Babbage's next door to my old job a few years back, had a Muppet Show Pigs In Space playset on sale for months. $9.99. Never picked it up. To this day, I'm still kicking myself, since I would've loved cramming Kirk, Spock, and McCoy in there.

Similarly, while I bought far more of the new Masters of the Universe than I had ever expected I would, I missed Castle Greyskull. Ordinarily, I could accept that, but it was marked down to less than $9.99. What the hell was I thinking? Well, the Wife thought she was pregnant...OK, that's a pretty good reason.

A better reason, than "Meh, he's sort of cool. I guess." Poor Steel wasn't deemed worth the ten bucks Big Lots wanted for him, the one time I would ever see him. The variant for Bishop was even cheaper, but I skipped him since he was a colossal tool. Only now, sadly, do I realise the inherent comedy potential of Bishop, colossal tool. (That seems to be his current role in Cable and the X-Men books; Cable was another character I similarly didn't buy right away.) Hell, I probably should'a picked up X-23 as well: not a character I love, but a character I'd doubtless love mocking, although I was beaten to the punch by Fanwank!

It would probably have still been out of scale now, but I'm sorry I didn't pick up the 9-inch scale Homer Simpson, if for no other reason than Pinchy. Ah, Pinchy...there's still a lobster-shaped hole in my heart. I need a moment...

Ahem. Anyway, the point of all this is, while it may seem like it sometimes, I don't buy every single damn toy I see. And sometimes I regret it, either because I can see the whole left in my collection, or I get the bright idea for a joke for a figure that'll cost me now. Toy Bender had a discussion about being broke, but trying to get the figures you want on the shelves right now. Sometimes, you get lucky and find it on sale later; sometimes you pay through the nose further down the road.

Anyway, I'm a day late here, but since I've been on a four-day blogging schedule lately, I thought maybe trying single-panel gags on Fridays would get me back on track. So, I'm going to try that from now until whenever I get writer's block and quit or I forget. Here's a crappy joke:
My Oldest son really liked playing with this figure. Really liked.
Panda and Clownface, from Jason Pearson's Body Bags and Legendary Heroes, were on sale for five bucks at Wal-Mart. In fact, I damn near bought another one, but not for scalping purposes. Can't say until that strip comes up...

Oh, and one more random, but marginally related item: I was in the mood to see a zombie movie yesterday, so at Blockbuster I was surprised to see a new Day of the Dead on the racks. Like Dawn of the Dead from a few years back, this wasn't quite a remake, but more like a retelling ("re-imagining" is a term that makes my stomach churn); but unlike Dawn, it's not very good. No, that's not right: while finding this in the video store without having even heard of it before didn't set off any warning bells, but the previews did: uniformly crappy looking low budget horror films. Now, a lot of low budget horror can be creative and terrifying, but these--and the new Day--were not only charmless, but also have just enough computer graphics to abuse it. The first time I saw a zombie jump ten feet straight up and crawl along a roof ala Dracula or Spider-Man; I cursed out loud in my living room.

Sweet Zombie Jesus, the terribleness of the new Day of the Dead saddens and sickens me. Zombies using tools to hit at a roof. Zombies "running" via sped-up film. (28 Days Later introduced the idea of faster "zombies," but later films ran it into the ground.) Bud...I had thought this version was going to be a prequel, and Bud would become the zombie soldier domesticated in the original. (Watch the original. Seriously.) Instead, he's a vegetarian zombie. Who remembers how to fire a gun. Apparently, because he really, really wants to.

Rrrr. Sometimes, when reviewing or discussing comics, I sometimes bite my tongue a bit, since the writer may have worked hard on that material. But this time, I not only want to badmouth this movie, I want to warn everyone I can to avoid Day of the Dead: there's better crappy zombie movies out there. Read more!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

RE: Fun in the DC Universe. (And other things.)



I don't know if it's dead exactly, but it's been out for a while, and I'm not sure I see it coming back soon. That's a broad generalization over a bunch of varied books, but I don't think I've bought a regular, DC universe title on a monthly basis since Countdown to Infinite Crisis.

The worst part? If you have a good pile of Impulse, Flash, or older Teen Titans issues; you will probably stumble across a ton of panels just like J'onn's there, where the older hero or mentor laments how Bart's headed for an early grave unless he uses his head. All fun and games until it actually happens...


I scanned this one in, um, about a year ago, but now that's J'onn's allegedly dead, better throw it in now. That and I'm kinda tired...good news is, last week I bought Steve Niles and Kelley Jones' Batman: Gotham After Midnight, and it was a solid, straightforward story that doesn't expect me to buy or read anything other than the next issue. So, even though I'll be dodging the rest of the latest Crisis, there's a year's worth of comics.

From Adventures in the DC Universe #13, "Sometime in New York City" Written by Steve Vance, pencils by John DeLaney, inks by Ron Boyd.



I would've taken the Hammer's elective at Miskatonic, but I had a required in Sanity Check.
This is supposedly still a comics blog, but I'm not sure I read any comics this week until today. Slow week for me: I picked up the last issue of the Abe Sapien mini and some quarter books. I bought the first issue of Wildcats 3.0 and the Brendan McCarthy Solo issue...again. I liked 'em both, but it was disappointing to realize, oh, yeah, that's in the basement somewhere.

I bought two back issues of Marvel's Lunatik, and hell, I may have had one of them before too. #3 has a Sienkiewicz cover, and #1 has the origin. Short form: every time you see the word 'Lunatik,' read 'Lobo.' (Issue #2 has an Avengers fight that's actually pretty entertaining, but I know I have that one...)

And lastly, I picked up three more issues of Kelley Jones' the Hammer. I need to re-read the first series and the Hammer's origin again, but if you're a fan of Lovecraftian horror, it's for you. The class in the panel above is at Miskatonic University, for example.

I've read most of the Hammer, and while it has it's moments, compare it to something like Hellboy and you see it's flaws: The Hammer isn't as personable. Although he's fighting to protect earth from the Old Ones, he takes a bit more of a long view/big picture approach, concerned with saving the world but not every little person on it. The book also doesn't have the oddball suppporting cast that Hellboy built up: the human characters in the Hammer are usually, in typical Lovecraftian fashion, doomed sad-sacks. The titular Outsider of this last mini-series is trying to save earth so the Old Ones don't come pouring through it to his world, but can't understand why earth's stupid primates aren't helping him, which leads to several murders.
Gas prices aren't that bad...
Still. The art is moody and creepy and scary. And while it's often grim, the Hammer sticks to it's Lovecraft roots. I'll find the first ones some other time, and see if I change my mind. Panels from The Hammer: The Outsider #1, story and art by Kelley Jones. Read more!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

See, this motivates to replace my tires more than any silly tire gauge could...


Zombie Roadkill 2
Originally uploaded by googum
The zombies this time are from a mess of lines: the army guy is an Al Simmons from a Spawn series, and there's a Blair Witch figure from McFarlane's Movie Maniacs as well. The Marvel Legends Zombie (from the Monster boxset) has his back to us, and there's a couple of the Mutated Senator pack-ins from the first X-Men movie Jean Gray. And a House of the Dead zombie that was a boss...named Johnny? I don't remember, since he's been holding a guitar as "Kurt Cobain's corpse" for several years in my collection.
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It was fun setting this up, but smashing zombies in the Bashin' Beetle would be the best afternoon ever.


Zombie Roadkill 1
Originally uploaded by googum
Like I said, I originally set these up as I couldn't believe I own a Bashin' Beetle, but don't have a Marvel Legends/DCUC scale Batmobile, Fantasticar, or anything. The Beetle's a MOTU vehicle, so it's just a hair small here, but so are this first batch of zombies, the old Toy Biz Resident Evil line.

Typo in the first text box is friggin' killing me, since at this late date I'm not about to redo it...
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