Monday, November 27, 2006

On Meth

So, after Elayne Riggs pointed out that Clifford Meth was actually someone besides a friend of the Cockrum family, in my last entry (it's odd how Elayne only de-lurks long enough to point out yet another way she has perceived that I've put my foot in something rank and odorous, either here or over on my poli-blog, but still, I say good business is where you find it, and thanks, Elayne, for taking on the arduous task of being my personal Egon), I did a bit of research on Mr. Meth.

I'm not going to pass judgment on some guy I've never met, whose work I've never read anything of, based on a couple of columns, a Wikipedia entry, and several interviews of him I've read. Or, at least, I'm not going to state my judgment in print.

However, if I were going to, well, I'd probably based whatever opinions I stated pretty heavily on a couple of quotes I've pulled from said interviews:

Here we have one of the stated interview with Mr. Meth, and in it, we find the following exchange:

McCaw: With all these excellent comic book artists illustrating your stories, why aren't you writing, comic book stories rather than illustrated fiction? Or is that a euphemism?

Meth: I love comics -- the industry, fandom -- and I collect artist friends like others collect comics, but I've always considered myself a real writer, if you'll excuse the expression. I don't write specifically for a visual medium. I write stories you can read without visual aids.

McCaw: You consider yourself a real writer, yet are eager for film optioning. Does that conflict in any way? Or do you plan on adapting yourself to the screen?

Meth: I don't see a conflict. I learned to write short stories by reading the great science fiction masters. They'd be the first to tell you that options give you the money -- and thus the time -- to pursue serious projects. Of course, I'd rather do the screenplays myself, and suspect I might get the opportunity. I've spent the last 18 months working on film projects and just finished a stint working with Peter David on Gene Roddenberry's "Starpoint Academy" for IDT Entertainment. I've also adapted Dave Cockrum's Futurians for the screen, also for IDT.

Um... yeah. Knows all these wonderful comics artists, but doesn't write comics because he considers himself a 'real' writer, who writes stories that 'don't need visual aids'. But writing for the movies is okay, because, you know, it pays well.

And then there's this, from yet another interview:

NRAMA: There is something a little different about this book too, it’s got an unconditional money back guarantee. Who came up with this idea?

Meth: Jim Reeber, who owns Aardwolf Publishing. From day one, he’s been in my corner and has had more faith in my career than I’ve had. He suggested the money-back guarantee as a vote of confidence on my last book, God’s 15 Minutes. As far as I know, not a single book was returned.

NRAMA: For the publisher this is really a losing proposition, since the distributor and retailer each get a percentage. Aardwolf is really going to give back more money then they receive for the book?

Meth: The guarantee is for books bought directly through Aardwolf. I don’t believe that arrangement was made with Diamond, although I do know that smaller distributors like Bud Plant Comic Art have special arrangements with Jim. Shocklines also lists the book as a guaranteed good read.

Now, one of the things I came across as I researched Mr. Meth was this notion that all his published books (which mostly seem to be published through his own publishing company, but what the hell) come with a money back guarantee. I thought this was a pretty cool idea. But, wellllll... apparently that money back guarantee only actually applies in certain very limited, very specific circumstances.

Not passing judgment. Probably a helluva swell fella, our Cliff Meth. And he doubtless has had more experience with Dave Cockrum than I have, and as far as that goes, Dave could well have changed enormously in the twenty something years that have passed since I interacted with him briefly back in the 1980s.

But... yes, as always, Elayne is most correct. Mr. Meth seems to be a well and widely known person in the comic book medium, and I doubtless should have known this. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

In the end, though, Mr. Dave Cockrum is still dead, and whether Mr. Meth's description of him is more correct than my own experiences with him lead me to believe, it matters not. Mr. Cockrum was a fabulous artist and a wonderfully talented creator and the realm of comics is lessened without him, and I am personally saddened that he is gone.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

When dies a Dave

I just read over on Tony Collett's blog that Dave Cockrum has died, at the age of 63, from complications arising from diabetes.

This kind of kicks my ass, for many reasons. First, Dave Cockrum's artwork on Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes and early issues of the All New, All Different X-Men is a big, positive part of my adolescence. Second, I've actually met Dave Cockrum on one occasion, at a mini-con in Syracuse NY back sometime in the 1980s. (I also met Joe Sinnot and George Perez on that occasion, and got harangued by then Marvel Comics Direct Sales guru Carol Kalish.)

Somebody named Clifford Meth, who is apparently a close family friend of Cockrum's, has this to say about him:

For three decades, he was a beloved fixture at comics conventions across the country where he would sketch for a pittance and encourage would-be creators. Those of us who knew Dave personally will remember him as one of the sweetest, jovial, most generous individuals in the comics industry.

None of that reflects my experience of Dave Cockrum at the mini-con where I met him; I spent probably twenty minutes sitting across a table from him, listening to him bitch endlessly about George Perez getting all the attention when nobody would even care if Perez hadn't done New Teen Titans, which was an obvious rip off of Cockrum's X-Men. He also pissed and moaned no little bit about how various writers had done their best to ruin his art over the course of his career; one particular anecdote he told me, about Steve Englehart taking a pair of scissors to one particular page of pencils in GIANT SIZE AVENGERS #2 and physically rearranging Dave's panel sequence, has since been confirmed to me by Steve Englehart himself.

Overall, the impression I got was of a surly, petulant, whiney man-child -- something like the Simpson's Comic Book Guy, gone professional.

Still, Mr. Meth most likely knew Mr. Cockrum considerably better than I did.

I admired Mr. Cockrum's artwork enormously in the 1970s, and having actually met him, well, I'm deeply saddened to hear that he's gone from us.

Plus -- Dave Cockrum was 63 years old? Jesus Christ. Now I really want to just go stick my head in the oven...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Soothing the savage something

YouTube: very addictive.

Here's the latest way I've wasted far far too many minutes of my life that I will never get back:

So, I went looking for some Bruce Springsteen just for Mike Norton. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a studio version of one of my favorite Springsteen songs. However, I did find this pretty excellent acoustic version of the song, featuring Bruce dueting with Melissa Etheridge. Suffer through the annoying yak-yak at the start; the performance is worth it.

Bruce Springsteen & Melissa Etheridge Thunder Road

Then, having posted that, might as well toss up one of my favorites by Melissa --

Now we'll go WAAAAAAY back for one of my favorite bits of 60s pop fluff. There were several versions of the song with several different accompanying videos, but this one unfortunately is the only one I could find with the original song and decent sound quality. Just deal with the video.

One of my favorite 80s bands. Dig on the tune. Ignore the hair. No, seriously. Really ignore the hair. You could hurt yourself otherwise.

From "All You Zombies" to THE Zombies -- a song that's another blast from the past. Enjoy.

Am I a girlie-mon for liking this song a lot? Okay, I'll own it. But I really do like this song a lot.

Yeah, yeah. Shut up. You know you like it, too, you just won't admit it.

Here's a cool little thing I stumbled across -- not only a song I really like but in the setting I originally heard/saw it in.

Yeah, okay, I'm old.

Well, I'm not this old, but I like the song anyway.

And I can't close out without something from BOC. Unfortunately, YouTube's archives don't seem to include "ME-262" or "Perfect Water", but I did find two of my favorite other BOC tunes I'll happily share with you. First up, the Shooting Shark music video:

And I'll close out with "Veteran of the Psychic Wars", set to some weird animation from some frickin' anime show that Cartoon Network runs when they should be showing Justice League Unlimited, instead.


So, you know how it is when you're a long time male comics geek. You've grown up with these costumes, and you don't really even notice them much any more. Well, sure, you notice them... Black Canary and Zatanna look damn fine in those fish nets, absolutely, you notice that... and maybe, when it gets a little bit extreme, like, you know, those shell casings that the Valkyrie wears over her massive boobolas, you kind of go "what the fuck?"

But, for the most part, you just move on by it. Costumes that look like someone spray painted them onto the chick wearing them, check. Martial artists launching themselves across rooftops into deadly combat while wearing stiletto heels, check. Impossibly tight tops with impossibly deep V cuts, check. Whatever the hell that thing is that Wonder Woman never quite falls out of... check.

It's all, as a guy named Bigelow once noted in an entirely different context, part of the show.

Yet even the most jaded eye sometimes... blinks.

So I go to the comics shop last week and I pick up a copy of the freebie ad rag Marvel puts out and I'm glancing over the cover. Mmmm hm, Ultimates Cap [retching noises]. Okay, that must be the Ultimates Sue Storm. I don't understand the gloves, but fine, let's move on by. And underneath there's some of those weird Strazynski grim n' gritty Squadron Supreme guys... you know, like, the Ultimates Squadron Supreme. And there's Hyperion, and the Blur, and...

Whoa. Who's the skank?

It's moments like this that rivet the eye, that glaze the consciousness, that freeze the thought process. You see something like that, and even if you're an old timer like me, who doesn't even blink at what an Asgardian sorceress puts on to fight the Avengers in, still...

You pause.

And when your brain can function again, the first... nay, True Believer, the only thought in it is...

Holy shit, what is she thinking?

I mean, please. I do not know who this character is, what her name is, what her powers are, but honest to Christ -- what woman, living or dead, real or imaginary, has ever said to herself:

"Say, it's time to fight evil -- where's my bustier?"

I really don't know anything about her, but I'm going to take a guess that her powers include telekinesis. Or the ability to project mental illusions. Otherwise, there's no way that thing is staying up.

TK or mental illusions are about the only plausible explanations for how she gets into those pants, too.

Okay. Maybe she figures she'll distract all the villains with the outfit. But if she's a member of a superhero team, you've got to figure her male teammates are all running into walls and chimneys whenever she's along on a mission, too. Even the gay male teammates. Because they're all going "DAY am that's a tacky outfit" and "Good Lord, isn't she cold?"

This calls for hyperspeed

...or a lot more stamina than I seem to have nowadays, anyway.

Let's see. Thursday we did the feast thing. Turkey, fabuloused up by the 'butter buttons under the skin' method we saw The Drunk Bitch do on the Food Channel. She may be a drunk, but she knows how to fix a turkey. Yum yum. Add in the sides -- SuperFiancee's amazing stuffing, incredible mashed potatoes, fantastic sweet potatoes, awesome gravy, incredible corn, wondrous peas, and unbelievably terrific apple pie. All told, a tremendous meal, that we ate while watching the Bucs take a historic shelling on national television from the hated Dallas Cowboys.

Well, it's a rebuilding year. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Friday we saw and enjoyed Casino Royale, the first, but hopefully not the last, quasi-realistic Bond film. No dumb ass high tech gimmicks, no idiotic bimbos with idiotic bimbo names, no world conquering villains with frankly deranged schemes. Just a good script with a plot that more or less made sense, excellent dialogue, interesting character work, and actors that made it all work. I enjoyed it. If I had a problem with it, it was simply that the presentation was so different from previous franchise entries that I had a hard time remembering, or emotionally accepting, that this actually was a James Bond film. But given how generally retarded most past Bond films have been, I can't see this as a bad thing.

We also did some grocery shopping, ate some leftovers, and dropped by the Great Escape, where I picked up the newest 52 and the first two issues of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. I also got some Magic cards, an Ultimates Hulk Unique HeroClix (the 20% off everything in the store got it down from just above my $20 per piece cut off point to something around $16, which was okay) and a copy of the Alistair Sims version of Scrooge on videotape for SuperFiancee.

Today, well, we got the kids back, which is always fabulous. Most of the day was spent taking down autumn and some specific Thanksgiving decorations, and putting up Christmas decorations. I always have a good time doing seasonal stuff with SuperFiancee and the SuperKids, but between carrying boxes up from the basement storage room, wrestling the step ladder up from the basement and out into the front yard, stringing extension cords behind shrubbery, reassembling my artifical tree (which we put outside, next to the front stairs), pounding in nails while balancing precariously on the porch balustrade, hanging garland on said nails, setting up and decorating the Superhero Tree... honestly, I'm exhausted. But happy.

So, that's how my holiday weekend has gone. How about yours?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Battlestar Galactica: The Downside

Originally a really LONNNNNG comment in the previous thread, I'll reprint it here as well, for those who just can't get through my rambling text in that kind of context:

I understand a possible counter argument to my pissy insistence on consistency with known physical law in a space based SF artifact on the movies or TV could well be: "Well, we can't simulate free fall conditions on our budget; do you just want us to not make futuristic space operas at all until a time comes when we have a way to accurately portray different gravity fields? You'll be a long time without SF in the movies and on TV then, buddy!"

I get that, I do. But I'd like some acknowledgement of it, however weak. I'd never hold STAR TREK up as an example of good anything, much less SF, but at least their technology is generally advanced enough that when they say "we have artificial gravity compensators, even on our shuttlecrafts", well, it's bullshit, but they have so much other incredibly advanced tech, you can roll your eyes and move along... and if STAR TREK actually had interesting characters, good dialogue, and intelligent plotting, it would work a great deal better for me.

But I'd still bitch about STAR TREK, because with all that advanced technology, the humanity they represent has not changed culturally in more than cosmetic ways over the next several centuries.

And this is insane. If you had all this stuff -- especially, but not limited to, the transporter technology -- your culture, and general standards of human behavior, would change enormously.

But TV and movie producers don't want to do that, because they don't want their target audience to be alienated. They want us to be able to find characters we can identify and empathize with, and they aren't good enough writers to present the kernel of essentially similar humanity in a radically different cultural presentation.

Most SF writers working in TV and the movies now realize this problem, so they do the opposite -- they keep the technology on their shows as close to ours as possible, or make it a little bit backwards except for very specific and essential plot devices, like, in BSG's case, that which makes space travel possible.

This way, they can keep the characters and their cultural surroundings, including behavior, very similar to our own, as well.

Thus, Adama and his son, Starbuck, the President, various other characters we've seen, all behave in ways that are recognizable to us.
Their relationships are all heterosexual monogamies. They have the same general attitudes towards good and evil as we do. Their culture punishes and rewards the same actions as ours does. They have the same modesty taboos and wear clothing much the same as ours.

They are not only human, but apparently, they represent 12 different human populated planets in distant space who only know of Earth as a legendary myth, who still all largely behave like 21st Century white Americans.

I understand the necessity for it, but one thing that has really been painfully obvious to me in what BSG I've watched so far (the pilot) is the complete and utter lack of anything like original thinking as far as wardrobe or set detail. Adama has what looks to be a samurai sword on the wall of his quarters. Their computer consoles look like something Earth humans would invent and use. They wear what are obviously business suits and military uniforms with minor changes to fashion detail.

Every single thing, every detail, every tool, every weapon, every item of clothing, every artifact of any sort, is all immediately obvious as to its utility and/or purpose to us, the audience. We think to ourselves "Oh, cool, Adama has a samurai sword", and probably most of us don't notice either (a) this is rather like Kirk's collection of antique pistols in STAR TREK II and (b) Adama isn't from Earth and his culture shouldn't necessarily have either samurai or swords in its history.

I would love, once in a while, to spot something truly weird in the backdrop of a show like BSG. A sword is a pretty specific kind of artifact. It is, in point of fact, a solution to certain engineering problems. But an entirely different human culture could, possibly, have created and implemented on a widespread basis a different answer to the same questions, namely, how can you kill another human being relatively quickly in hand to hand combat? A sword is one way to do it, sure, and a sword has a very significant emotional impact to us here in the audience -- but I wouldn't have minded if, say, we'd seen some kind of weird looking staff on the wall instead, and gotten thirty seconds of dialogue between Adama and Lee, or maybe his XO, on how much they miss the old days when men settled their differences with venom-thorns instead of blasters, or something. ANYthing, that would underscore for us that yeah, these people aren't from Earth.

And don't even get me started on how much I'd like to see modern make up technology brought to bear on creating a few obviously human, but just as obviously unEarthly, subraces among the general population. How about some short, tan skinned folk with epicanthic folds? How about a tall, generally thin albino race? Maybe we could have... no, never mind. Sorry. Didn't mean to get started.

But here's the thing -- no one aspect of technology ever exists in isolation; not in a growing, vibrant, healthy cultural matrix. We ourselves have benefited enormously from technological offshoots of the Mercury and Apollo programs; materials and devices that were created specifically to perform the tasks of space flight have also made possible various different advances here on Earth that we mostly take completely for granted, but which have changed our lifestyles, and thus, our behavior, in enormous, if largely unnoticed, ways.

If the Colonials have the staggeringly advanced technological capacity to dwell in space indefinitely with relatively large population bases, this should impact their lifestyles, and thus, their behaviors, enormously. How do they all manage to live together in such tightly limited environments without going insane?

Their military culture, at the very least, must be either far far more savagely conformist, or far, far more tolerant of individual variances in behavior, than our own. Yet it's neither; it seems to be much the same as our own.

I could go on and on, but the essential point that I'm harping on is, technological advances in one area inevitably lead to technological advances across the board, and advances in technology always, always, always alter the way that its users live. Usually for the better, because advancing technology allows increasing population density, and increasing population density forces humans to evolve social mechanisms to deal with it -- usually, but not always, leading to more liberal, tolerant, and permissive cultural behaviors.

Which brings me to my next rueful observation: in the original TV program, the Lords of Kobol (as I recall) was a pantheistic religion. And Colonial culture was different enough from ours back then that it had legalized prostitution, as represented by Cassiopiea, the 'socialator' who was Athena's chief rival for Starbuck's attentions.

Say what you will about the late 70s, or the lack of overall quality of the first BSG, but, still, back then the general culture was one that was willing to tolerate differences from the norm in even the blandest, most mass medium speculative fiction.

In the contemporary BSG, the central religion has transmuted into a very familiar seeming monotheism, and the only sexuality I've seen so far is in the deeply unhealthy relationship between the evil inhuman Cylon bitch and her Quisling partner/victim. As with the apparently unkillable LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT, the message is pretty clear -- "only bad people have sex".

None of this will keep me from watching BSG, but it will keep me from thinking of it as good science fiction. It seems to be an entertaining space opera, but, in many ways, it's just as poorly executed, sloppy, lazy, and subservient to conservative intolerance as STAR TREK ever was. And that makes me sad.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving thanks

What do I give thanks for today? Well, I give thanks for SuperFiancee, as always, but this time, especially, for helping me untangle the obstacles my own asinine idiocy erected against my utilization of YouTube this morning, allowing me to... ah, but we'll get to that.

I'm also grateful for YouTube, although, y'know, they could make it a little bit easier for idiots like me to consume their mind numbing wares. They could. They really could.

And I'm grateful for friends like "Miraclo" Mike Norton, for putting together a YouTube 'mix tape' on his blog that requires response from any thinking being, or, barring that, from me, at the very least.

I mean, bad enough he's profaning the sublime by mixing Ben Fold's Five and Stevie Wonder in with Badfinger and Squeeze, Elvis Costello and Queen, Talking Heads and REM and They Might Be Giants, and, for the love of jebus, there's no Blue Oyster Cult anywhere to be found, and it's enough to make even a strong man weep.

But his haughty refusal to link to a certain Fountains of Wayne song/video -- it shall not stand. Not one second longer.

Such libidinous loin candy as this may be beneath the gaze of the ever intellectually elite Emperor Norton (long may he reign) but I shall link to it... like the dog that I am.

Grab your joystick, rocket men, and prepare for BLAST OFF -- !

Not enough for you? Then let me rectify another of the Emperor's grievous failings, and whisk you all to the Four Wind's Barn, for --

Hey, I could do this YouTube stuff all day long, but SuperFiancee needs some help in the kitchen preparing our sumptious Thanksgiving feast. Let me take a few seconds to note a few more things I'm grateful for on the fly:

I'm grateful for the TV show HEROES. But it's hard to remember that, after the way they jerked their entire audience around in the last episode. They know all we want to see is Hiro going back in time to save the perky redhaired waitress, and what do we get instead? 44 minutes of blah blah fucking BLAH and thirty fucking seconds of the sub plot we all tuned in to see, right at the end of the episode -- and to just heap salt in that wound, next ep is a flashback, so it's at least two weeks, maybe more, before we get what we fucking WANT.

Hey, I know the rule of good serial fiction -- make your audience really want something, and then don't give it to them. But they're pissing me off.

I'm also grateful for friends who boot me off the cliff. See, I'd been hesitant to jump into BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. The last thing I need is yet another series where I'll like all the characters and get really into the whole thing, yet be continually frustrated by stupid plotting and moronically inconsistent background science. This burned me bad on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (although there, it was the moronically inconsistent fantasy elements) and it kept me from watching more than one episode of Whedon's goddam dimwitted Western in space, whatever the fuck it was called.

And judging from what I'd seen on various chat threads, this pretty much sums up BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, too... excellent premise, great characters, fabulous actors, terrific dialogue, and science that only works when the plot requires it to work, and never any better or any more consistently or in any way that might interfere with the plot, either.

Stuff like that drives me insane, and I wasn't going to jump into it, but then Tony Collett gave me the pilot on DVD for my birthday, and now, here I am, yearning for Season 1, while resolutely refusing to ask myself questions like "okay, how in the name of God can these people have artificial gravity when they don't even have focused energy weapons? In fact, how can they build faster than light drive, and the sentient humanoid robots, and gigantic working artificial environments in space that can support thousands of human life forms, and yet, they don't have focused energy weapons or any kind of advanced medical technology or anything?"

And it also makes me sad, because it bodes very poorly for laser bolos, and laser bolos were probably the single coolest element I remember from the first show.

Well, I liked the jackets the pilots wore in the first show, too. In fact, I always wanted one of those jackets.

Anyway, okay, I'll watch BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, but jesus christ, I would like just once to see someone try to do a science fiction show where they pay some attention to actual science, and still manage to have good writing, interesting characters, and entertaining storylines.

And I also give thanks for the SuperKids, and all my other friends, and a fabulous birthday this year (which isn't over yet, but the last round of gifts won't be for a while yet) and the chance to watch the Bucs getting walloped on national television later on today (hey, may as well be grimly realistic) and an X-Box that plays my favorite tunes randomly all day long, and, oh, yeah, the wonderful smells coming out of the kitchen. I better go see what I can do to help.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Marvelous Madigan's Birthday Blaster!

On the
birthday cake
my lovely
for Tony
Collett and I.

Although the official interdimensional day of celebration isn't until Tuesday, my birthday bash officially kicks off today with a small celebration featuring me, SuperFiancee, Tony and Kathy Collett, my buddy Bane, a fabulous home cooked lasagna dinner, and a little game of HeroClix history may well remember as Operation: Destroy Firestorm.

Or that was the plan. In fact, it hit the ground running this morning, when SuperFiancee hauled a box out from under the bed and tossed it in my lap. After opening box after box after box, tearing through layer after layer of wrapping, I finally unearthed -- the Green Lantern HeroClix Collector's Set! Woo HOO! A long distance gift via U.S. Postal Service from "Miraclo" Mike Norton, whose personal phasers are always set on totally excellent. YOWZER! I'm totally Lanterned up!

Too late to switch out my team for the upcoming battle with Tony, although otherwise I would in a heartbeat, and rejoice in the sight of Firestorm the Nuclear Waste blubbering plastic tears right before Ganthet converted him into scattered molecules. (Wait. Ganthet? No. That's a minor little task I'd award to G'nort.) But, my joy in having the set is vast, as is my deep, deep appreciation for unfortunately absent friends. Thanks, Mike. You're a superman among men.

I'll keep updating this one over the coming week, as Marvelous Madigan's Birthday Blaster continues to unfold! FACE FRONT, FRANTIC ONE!!!! MARVELOUS MADIGAN IS ON THE MARCH!!!

Update Sunday morning 11/19/06

The Birthday Blaster rolls on and the loot continues to pile up! Gifts from Tony and Cathy Collett have added the original SciFi Channel BattleStar Galactica pilot miniseries on DVD and three more boosters of Supernova to the haul! I can't, at the moment, remember all the figs I got out of the three boosters, but I do remember an experienced Kid Nova, an experienced Night Thrasher, a Unique Power Princess, a veteran Jubilee, a veteran Drax, an Experienced Shi'Ar Warrior, and an Experienced Aleta. Also, yet another Vet Photon. I think I may have gotten another Badoon, too. In addition, I got a Satellite object token, a Forbush Man pog, and an Extraordinary Day feat card.

In the basement, my thousand point team of Justice League enemies resoundingly thrashed Tony's thousand point Justice League roster. I had Prometheus, the Vet Dr. Light, Amazo, the Key, Giganta, Despero, Felix Faust, and the Thomas Oscar Morrow LE, vs. Tony's Vet Batman, Experienced Superman, Vet Wonder Woman, rookie Flash, Vet Firestorm, Vet Green Arrow, and Martian Manhunter (from the first DC set), along with the Atom LE.

I won't recount a great deal of the battle, although Tony did very well with my alternate JLA team ability, and definitely demonstrated its utility and effectiveness. I was also pleased that the fight wound up speading all over the map, again, largely due to the alternate JLA team ability, which encouraged Tony to pull badly wounded members of his group back to the top of the Daily Planet building, where my mostly non-mobile group couldn't get to them, to preserve the Attack bonus provided to the JLA as a derivative of their total numbers left on the field. Eventually I took him, but he made me work to do it, and before I wiped the last JLAer off the board (that cursed Firestorm, drat it), he managed to use my home grown Warp In feat to have Firestorm and the Flash suddenly appear amidst the imbroglio on top of the Planet building and wreak havoc. Between Flash's HyperSonic Speed and Armor Piercing card, and Firestorm's heavy ranged damage, they took out Amazo, but by that point I'd done a lot of damage and the trend was irreversible.

One sequence I do remember -- early in the battle, the Key successfully mind controlled Superman and had him wallop the crap out of Martian Manhunter with a dumpster. This, apparently, irritated the Gotham Guardian, who had been standing next to his old buddy Clark when it happened. "I've had about enough of you,", the Dark Knight muttered tersely. Whipping out a Bat-grenade from his utility belt, he casually flipped it across the fish pond at the Key, blowing the hapless evildoer backwards off his feet and into Giganta's sequoia-like calf, completely KOing him with one strike.

I will also say this -- if the Atom hadn't attacked a Dr. Light who was wild carding Felix Faust's Mystic TA, and pushed himself doing it, giving himself two clicks of damage, I'd never have been able to take the little sonofabitch out. That guy is annoying as a tie up piece; even a 12 Attack has to roll an 8 or a 9 to hit him when he's still on his first slot, depending on whether's he on Hindering Terrain or not (and he nearly always will be).
Sometime today, if we have time, Tony and I may do a 'rescue the scientists' scenario, but those developments remain to be seen. In the meantime, I'm back into it!

What will the new day bring? Who knows? But the Birthday Blaster rolls on! Stay tuned for updates, True Believer!

Update -- Sunday evening:

What will the new day bring? Well, among other things, it brought a few digital pics taken on Saturday. Two can be seen above, the third should be right around here somewhere, and, yes, isn't it shocking to discover after you've read my words of wisdom all these years that I am actually a dwarf?

While today brought pics, it brought no rescued scientists. In their place, however, there was a three hour tour of several of River City's finer geek shops, in quest of a bust of Stan Lee that wasn't to be found anywhere, much to Tony's chagrin. I did, however, manage to snatch up a copy or two of the new Supernova zero gee map, from Book & Music Exchange, where a sealed booster tournament was going on between half a dozen poor fellows laboring in the darkness of an existence without Doc Nebula's HeroClix House Rules. Poor, miserable fellows. Using Mind Control on figures with Perplex and having to choose between having them use a free action or a move or an attack, when, for the love of jebus, in actual comic books, if Ultron mind controls Captain America, even for a brief period, Ultron gets access to the whole deal. He gets to use Cap's vast experience as a champion of liberty to modify his or someone else's stats, he gets to make Cap move if he needs Cap to move, and he gets to make Cap pummel one of this teammates -- hopefully, that dipshit Quasar -- all at the same time.

Learning today for the first time, while watching some of these games, that WK has ruled that when their rules say you get to control an opposing fig for one action, they mean one action, which certainly included free actions, so utterly appalled me that I had to come right home and rewrite my definition of Mind Control to make it clear -- free actions don't count. You Mind Control a fig, you can take a free action, and still take another action.

Honestly, I just cannot imagine playing more than two consecutive turns under WK's standard rules. Watching other people do it today at two different shops... brrrr. Can't do that.

What I did notice, however, is apparently the first two levels of Ant-Man, Rookie and Experienced, are very common. Every game I watched had a Rookie and an Experienced on it, probably because the rookie has Charge and Outwit, and the Experienced has Perplex. They seem to be popular choices.

Anyway, after the Geek Shop Tour, we landed at a local pizzeria named Wick's, trying to find an adequate substitute for Fat Jimmy's, which turns out to be closed on Sundays. That seemed to work out well. Finally, it was back to Castle Anthrax again, where Tony and Kathy lingered but briefly before setting out for home in Indiana again.

Tomorrow, it's back to work, very early, for what will doubtless be a nightmare Monday. But then, on Tuesday, it's more birthday blaster goodness, as I get to open what I am certain will be a wonderful gift from SuperFiancee, and have German chocolate cake. Yay!

Oh, it should, it must, and it shall be noted, here and for all time: SuperFiancee's lasagna and garlic bread were fabulous, and this morning, she prepared an equally scrumptious brunch for us all of French toast, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, and fried potatoes. If you've never gotten to eat anything SuperFiancee has prepared, you haven't truly lived, and I pity you. I do.

Okay. Battlestar Galactica is in the DVD player in the back bedroom, and I need to go to bed early tonight, and I'm thinking those two things go together like bugs and leather. Or something.

Update early a.m. 11/20/06:

Walked out this morning and discovered an early birthday present from God, or, you know, whatever -- a very light dusting of snow settled all over my immediate reality, turning everything, in that fleeting pre-dawn, streetlamp lit instant, into something just a little bit magical for me.

It wasn't much, but certainly enough to buck me up measurably as I headed on into another Monday morning workday.

Updated 11/21/06, late afternoon

Today it's my birthday! And I'm gonna have a good time!

I am 45 years old today. So far, the only person who has said Happy Birthday to me today, in person or otherwise, has been SuperFiancee. Well, no, wait... the two older SuperKids have both said it to me, too. So what else do I need? Although, to be fair, several friends have already wished me a Happy Birthday somewhat early, and even given me loot! So that's cool.

What I got from SuperFiancee today, besides birthday wishes and [sex scene deleted], is a truly lovely post on her blog and a giant gift box o' goodies.

See, the only thing I really miss about Florida -- well, other than a movie theater across the street and a Boston Market a few blocks away and a swimming pool out in the courtyard, yeah, okay, I'll cop to those, too -- but mostly, the only thing I really miss is frequent care packages from SuperFiancee. During my miserable interval in Zephyrhills (when I had none of the things on the list of stuff I mentioned missing, anyway, as it was all in Tampa), SuperFiancee's phone calls, letters, and CARE packages were really about the only solidly good thing in my life. I had few if any friends locally (there were a couple of people who were friendly to me at work, but I saw them very very rarely outside work, and to me, people being willing to hang with you when they don't have to, and are on their own time, is a much truer measure of friendship than how they treat you at work, regardless of how convivial they may seem there), I certainly wasn't getting laid at all, and my job was straight up hell (worse, in most ways, than what I'm doing now, and that's saying quite a lot).

My social life was, for the most part, nonexistent, other than very occasional visits from my family and even rarer incidents when someone from work might visit me for a short period. I spent most of my weekends watching DVDs I bought during 3 a.m. Wal-mart raids (with the hours I worked, I did nearly all my shopping at Wal-mart at 3 a.m.), and wasting time on the Internet, and reading, and playing clix games with myself.

When, you know, I wasn't hunkered down riding out various hurricanes, anyway.

Now, my life has improved immeasurably in every way since I moved to River City -- honestly, there is no particular in which my life is not better now than it was then. (Well, okay, the Bucs still suck, but they did when I was down there, too.)

But, yes, I missed the packages from SuperFiancee, and if you had ever gotten one of these wondrous gift boxes, you would miss them, too, filled as they were with groceries and junk food and gift certificates and cute little knick knacks and HeroClix and DVDs and books and comic books and games and on one memorable occasion, an X-Box.

So, for my birthday today, SuperFiancee prepared a gift box for me. Ah, nostalgia.

What did I get inside it? Well, actually, she gave me two gift boxes. The first was a fake out; it was small, and contained a birthday card, and many pairs of socks. I had regarded it suspiciously when she brought it in; I knew I was getting a gift box, but this one seemed rather puny, by historically established standards. Once I determined that, indeed, its contents were nothing but a card and socks, I demanded to know where the real gift box was. And it was out in the car. So I brought it in and tore into it and found:

* A copy of a Fantastic Four Masterworks I didn't have (volume 9)

* A Black Bolt Unique HeroClix figure

* A t-shirt of a design I cannot specify, as a few of you may be getting similar ones for Christmas from us

* DVDs of:
Time After Time
Somewhere In Time
Once Around

*The soundrack to Miller's Crossing

* A Giant Caterpillar Magic card (for my Bug deck)

* A copy of Barbara Hambly's Circle of the Moon

* A cool little Fantastic Four pin

* A great deal of junk food -- candy bars, hot chocolate mix, and a package of Keebler's Coconut Chocolate Chip cookies, which I love to an entirely sinful degree

Oh, and I got a card in the mail from my mommy and her husband Carl yesterday, plus an e-card from them, too.

And I get more stuff this Saturday, when the SuperKids come back.

Oh, yeah, and German chocolate cake. And dinner out tonight at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.

So, you know, who's had a better birthday than me? Nobody, that's who. And it is prety much all thanks, in one way or another, to SuperFiancee. So thank you, baby. I love you. You're the best!

And thanks to everyone else who has sent birthday gifts and/or well wishes. I appreciate you all.

Late breaking add ons: Elayne Riggs has been kind enough to wish me a Happy Birthday here, my buddy Nate gave me a very thoughtful post on his new, covert blog (no link, it's invitation only, sorry) and Your Girl Friday wished me a Happy B'day over on my baby's fabulous blog. Much t'anks to alla youse, and from a very steak-replete Highlander, to all a good night.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Opening salvo

Now updated with chocolatey goodness!

As SUPERNOVA came out today, and, you know, it was yet another crappy day on the job, SuperFiancee, Super Adorable Kid, and I stopped off at Great Escape on the way home from work tonight, and I picked up two boosters.

Hopes for at least one Unique, maybe even one of the Zombie Super Rares, were dashed as soon as I got home and dug into them. Still, everything's new to me, and I got no duplicates, and actually ended up with 4 Vets out of 8 figs, so that's a good bit of the all right.

Here's what I wound up with:

Shi'ar Warrior (r)
Super Apes (v)
Justice (v)
Sage (v)
Kang (r/e)
She-Hulk (e)
Drax the Destroyer (r)
Photon (v)

Rick Jones (pog)
Jane Foster (pog)

Overall, I'm satisfied. Yeah, there's some rue in the fact that my first two boosters of a set I almost entirely like the character choice on yielded up two characters I couldn't care less about (Sage, Photon) and one I actively detest (She-Hulk). And I find it interesting that my rookie Kang has an Experienced Kang's dial, making him quite a bargain for the listed price. And I'm annoyed the Jane Foster pog doesn't have Support, and the Rick Jones pog lacks an Avengers TA. But I'm happy to have a vet Justice and one of the Super Apes and even the rookie Drax is a romper-stomper.

One of the things I frequently find baffling is how to display some of the figs that come out, when they don't have strong group associations. In the past, I've had trouble figuring out where to put the likes of Jonah Hex, Deathlok, Ka-Zar, and Adam Strange. With this small pull, I was briefly baffled as to where to put Drax. Finally, I put him next to his daughter, Moondragon, who is towards the back of my rather large Avengers mob on top of the comics bookshelf in the short hallway next to the big bathroom. Either or both of them could just as easily go in the nearby mob of Avengers VILLAINS, but I decided to err to the positive in their case. Just call me a starry eyed optimist.

Other than the one Super Ape, I didn't get any of the figures I really BADLY want from these two boosters, but, well, that's to be expected. Many of them are Uniques (Red Ghost, Karnak, Machine Man, Jack of Hearts, Super Skrull, Korvac, Captain Mar-Vell, Binary, Graviton, Thanos) and others are very high up in the Rare REV rotation (Thor, Silver Surfer, Mantis, Vision). I would have happily traded nearly anything but the Super Ape for an Ant-Man, though. Or a Nova.

Still, they'll come, in time. Although, as to that, I haven't even finished up everything I want to get from SINISTER yet...

UPDATE, 11/17/06:

Four more boosters last night -- he's out of control! Fly, you fools!! -- yielded up... um...

Skrull Warrior r, e
Badoon Warrior r,e
Jubilee, e
Sunspot, e (2)
another Vet Sage
Nocturne, e
Nova, r, v
Ant-Man, r,e
Legacy, r
Red Ghost, U
Korvac, U

And I can't remember what-all feat cards or Battlefield Conditions, but I do remember I got a Satellite object.

Then, tonight, I played a team consisting of the Vet Nova, the Vet Photon, the rookie Drax, and Korvac against Super Drama Teen's Avengers squad -- the Vet Hawkeye (from Fantastic Forces), the Experienced Quicksilver (from Armor Wars) the Vet IC Scarlet Witch, my new Iron Man LE from Supernova, an Experienced Falcon, and a Vet Wonder Man. I beat her pretty badly, not losing even a single piece on my side. Korvac is a monster; with an AutoRegenerate on him, he's very nearly indestructible. I suspect he could have destroyed the entire Avengers squad by himself (which would be continuity accurate, actually). Anyway, it put Super Dependable Teen in a pretty crappy mood.

But tomorrow -- Mission: Destroy Firestorm!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Life is a highway

Off today. Already put up two new posts over at the poli blog. Don't strain your eyes looking for a link in that sentence; if you know where to go, you know where to go. If you don't. well, the fun stuff is over here anyway.

In local news:

This weekend, I get to play HeroClix! SuperFiancee tried to put a birthday bash together for me. Unfortunately, nobody likes me, everybody hates me, except, apparently, Tony Collett. I mean, yeah, suuuuuuuure, Mike Norton and Nate are all like "But, dude, we live hundreds of miles away and can't drive 9 or 10 hours just to play clix with you on your birthday", which to most of you would SOUND reasonable, but I know it's just that they hate me. Or are consumed with jealousy of my status as Fiance to SuperFiancee and Luckiest Man In The Universe, and know they won't be able to conceal it to my face. And...

Wait. I'm starting again.

I get to play HeroClix this weekend! Tony Collett is coming in for my birthday party, and the word is Bane is going to show up, too, although he's being a no fun and won't play clix, he just wants to eat SuperFiancee's excellent dinner. He's a smart, wiley fellow. But that just leaves Tony for me to slap all over whichever HeroClix map we choose randomly. But I will! I've chosen my team and set up their feat cards and victory is all but guaranteed! Oh, such a pummeling as few mortal men have ever witnessed will be enacted in the basement this weekend.

Beyond all that, jesus, my job really sucks lately, but let's not dwell on that.

And the Bucs played very nearly as well as, you know, football players in a Monty Python sketch would be expected to play on Monday Night Football last night. I swear, they should just be adults about it, cancel the rest of their season, and spend the time practicing. They badly, badly need it.

Oh, HEROES was on last night, too. Let's see:

* Hiro jumping into yesterday to save the adorable redheaded waitress should have been the sign off moment. It's the break that's going to keep all of us on pins and needles until next week.

* Apparently, someone gave the various heroes their powers. With Syler running around killing heroes and stealing their body parts, especially their brains, I have to wonder -- is the whole thing just part of some alien cattle breeding scheme? Are metahuman brains tastier than regular?

* Over at Tony Collett's HEROES blog, I did this fabulous post no one is paying any attention to at all, and how is this night different from all other nights? But, anyway, in it I speculated as to exactly what powers Peter (the guy with the Mimic's super power) would have if all the current cast of HEROES got together in one place. He'd be able to read minds, manipulate time and space, fly, instantly regenerate any damage done to him, give off heat and radiation (that's the new guy who showed up last week), and, maybe, if Hiro manages to save the cute waitress, he'd have total recall, too. Also, if Micah and his dad were hanging around too, he'd be able to pass through walls and control machinery. And then I thought, well, what if he absorbs Nikki's power? Would an evil... or, er, less inhibited... split personality immediately manifest?

And then I thought... gee... I wonder if Syler is actually Evil Peter, traveling back into his own past to kill all the heroes?

* I would like an assurance from the writers and producers of HEROES that there is a point in this show, and it's coming soon, where they are going to stop introducing new goddam characters. Because they've reached a point where they can no longer advance every storyline in a single 42 minute episode, and it's pissing me off. And don't try to tell me that they introduced the cute waitress only to kill her off, because we all know she isn't going to stay dead. So we've got her, and we've got Burning Boy, and probably Eden has some kind of superpowers (I'm guessing mind control) and last episode we found out Micah has some kind of powers, and before that, his dad showed up and he has powers. And now it looks like Mohinder has powers, too. All this, in addition to the 7 super powered people pictured in the cast graphic (post below). Either they start doing two hour episodes every week, or they start killing off characters. But I like all the characters, so I don't want them to do that, either.

However, continuing to introduce new characters is a mistake that George R.R. Martin has already inflicted on me in his Westeros fantasy series, and I do not want to see it repeated here.

* I don't understand why the Japanese guys speak Japanese to each other, with English subtitles, but the Indian people all speak English to each other, with British accents.

And that's about all. See ya.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Celluloid heroes

My temptation to call this post “Hiro’s Heroes” is all but overwhelming at this point, but I’m going to hope I come up with something better before I get finished.

I did! Thank God for the Davies brothers.

Random reactions to HEROES, the only TV show I'm watching:

* I was, at first, baffled and intrigued by the stripper character (Nikki). Her power seemed rather freaky – did her mirror image actually somehow come to life, stepping out of the looking glass, as it were, into solid, physical reality, to do the things that the stripper couldn’t or wouldn’t do for herself? And if so, did that mean that the two basically switched places, and Nikki herself was trapped in the mirror, while her alter ego was out rampaging around?

It was with a rather odd, abrupt rush of simultaneous disappointment and satisfaction that I realized, sometime in the second episode, that her power wasn’t anything remotely that Gaimanesque – she’s just The Rose And The Thorn, that’s all. Making The Rose persona an Internet stripper is a very Modern Age updating of the character, but other than that, she’s pretty much a straight swipe – er… tribute. Yeah. That's it. She's a tribute.

* I like pretty much all the characters in the show. And it would actually be hard for me to pick favorites. I like the earnest, somewhat bewildered telepathic cop (Matt). I like the plucky, perky indestructible cheerleader (Claire). I like the idealistic younger brother guy who apparently has the powers of the Mimic (Peter). I’m not wild about the drug addict artist guy (Isaac), but, well, so far he’s been pretty obnoxious, so that’s understandable. I can’t say I admire big brother the politician (Nathan) much, but he’s an interesting and enjoyable character, and pretty clearly has an arc to go through. The stripper is okay, although, honestly, she’s gotten a little whinier lately than I find ideal. And, like everyone else, I find Hiro’s enthusiastic embrace of his powers (which are, admittedly, pretty much the coolest powers any of them got) to be enormously charming.

Having said all that, did they have to make both super-chicks blonde? For that matter, did they have to make the cast so overwhelmingly white? So far, the only black guy in the show (DL) seems to be sort of a creep. Although, with Nikki's kid (Micah) turning out to have powers too, they’re starting to redress that. Hopefully we’ll start seeing that it’s not just white folks that can have super powers.

* Mad props to whoever came up with the idea of putting the comic book by the clairvoyant artist in as a story element. It’s a fabulous visual prop that wouldn’t work anywhere near as well in any other medium.

* Hiro jumped into the future when he beamed himself to New York City? Way cool!

* Hiro’s buddy better not get caught watching strippers on his work computer.

* Figures the Indian scientist guy (Mohinder)'s totally hot little brunette elflike next door neighbor chick (Eden) is evil. She probably has super powers, too.

* Most of the cliffhanger endings in this show have been fabulous, especially Claire waking up on an autopsy table, and Future Hiro coming back to tell Peter how to save the world. But the ending where Peter passes the message on to Present Day Hiro over the phone isn't dramatic at all.

* That bit where Nathan blasts off into the sky, and then goes supersonic? Awesome. I got wood.

* I wonder if Syler, the villain, has multiple super powers? Or if he also has mimic powers, like Peter, and he's stealing body parts from super powered people so he can get a ‘charge’ from them?

* I should really learn everyone's names. It's a problem I have with big ensemble dramas on TV.

And now, I have learned everyone's names, and updated this post, thanks to the wonderful SuperFiancee. Once again... Luckiest. Man. In. The. UNIverse.

Thanks, baby.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

52 pick up

Meant to do this post today, and one on Heroes, but time has slipped away from me (mostly because I slept nearly the entire morning away). I may get to the other post tonight, or not. But, here at the halfway mark, here's a synopsis of 52 to date:

1 – * Somebody broke Ralph Dibney’s house. He doesn’t care. Sue’s still dead. * Rene Montoya is drunk as hell. * Steel is still wearing his armor. Forbids Li’l Steel to be a hero until she earns it. L’il Steel doesn’t like that. What a brat. * Booster is trying to be Superman, until he learns the future isn’t what it used to be. * Black Adam is in Kahndaq. * Sivana gets kidnapped. * The Question replaces Batman, makes first contact with Rene.

2 - * Ralph is tracking down someone who desecrated Sue’s grave. * Booster meets a severely medicated Will Magnus * Magnus talks to T.O. Morrow (what’s this about Red Inferno?) , Morrow notes that someone is rounding up mad scientists * Questions busts in on Rene w/lover, gratuitous lesbo sex! * Booster saves airliner (maybe) * Ralph meets Cassie, she tells him about this goofy Kryptonian resurrection cult *

3 – * Dead Alex Luthor * Black Adam warns Power Girl off of Kahndaq airspace, gets gifts from Intergang, including a ‘beautiful slave girl’, blows Intergang off – Terra-Man ‘likes his style’ * Steel and Li’l Steel arguing about Li’l Steel being a spoiled brat (which she is). Steel gets a call from S.T.A.R. labs, asking him to come help identify a body * Booster vs. Shockwave * Lex reveals his dead evil twin * Black Adam rips Terra-Man in two on live TV * History of the DC Universe starts as back up feature

4 - * Rene on surveillance duty * In orbit, Halo and others looking for missing heroes, find an oscillating zeta beam * Fire bitches at Booster * Question and Rene talk * Steel gets steelier * Kryptonian cult swipes Ralph’s wedding ring * Rene gets a REALLY BIG GUN * Halo beams in heroes, but they’re all fucked up *

5 – Ellen Baker won’t give up hope * Mal and Red Tornado’s body parts are fused * Animal Man, Starfire, Adam Strange marooned on paradise planet (naked Starfire! Woo hoo!). But Buddy says there’s trouble in paradise. Yow! Adam Strange is blind! *

6 – * Booster stages a battle with fake villain Manthrax. Yeah, no way that could possibly go wrong. * Hal and John run into Chinese superheroes The Great Ten, or some of them, anyway. * Someone is covertly spying on T.O. Morrow and Will Magnus. Who could it be? * Black Adam hits Hal. He’s got a mutual protection treaty with China, North Korea, and Myanmar. Oooh, Rocket Reds! Everybody goes home unhappy. * After breaking into Rip Hunter’s apparently abandoned lab, Booster discovers that time is broken, and it’s all his fault.

7 - * Suddenly, crappy art! * Animal Man, Starfire, and Adam Strange squabble about leaving paradise. * Rene feels sorry for herself on Father’s Day. Boy, the Question sure likes to sign her cast. Oooh, Kathy Kane is a dyke! * Ralph goes to see Booster. Booster’s no help. But someone is blackmailing him. Wonder who that could be? * Rene and Kathy are still in loooooooove * Uh-oh! Manthrax is blowing Booster’s cover! Ooooo, now Ralph is piling on. Bad day for Booster. * Starfire meets – Galactus! No, it’s a Sentinel! No, it’s something that just looks like a copyright violation.

8 - * Natasha’s still a brat, but she’s gonna make herself some armor. Unca John is made o’ metal. * Green Arrow stops a thief. Ralph’s visiting him. Star City’s a mess! I don’t care. * Luthor did this to Steel. Oooh, the samples blew up. Cool. * Supernova’s saving EVERYone! * Natasha’s mad. She’s gonna go get powers from Lex Luthor. Not a good plan. * Ooops. Galuctusentinel caught Starfire, Adam, and Buddy in a big net. Bummer. * Yep, Nat’s getting powers from Lex. REALLY not a good plan.

9 - * Steel’s gonna beat up Lex. Wait – Lex has superheroes! And one of them is Natasha! She’s gonna beat up Steel. Cool. * Whoops. Galactusentinel is gonna eat Adam, Starfire, and Buddy. No, wait! They escaped! * The Question tells Rene that Gotham is about to be invaded by Intergang. Batwoman is listening from the rooftops.

10 - * Black Adam meets with his allies. They’re a motley crew indeed. Say, anyone else notice that Black Adam is now the DC version of Namor? Whoops, the slave girl, whose name is Adrianna Tomaz, spit on his face. Not wise. * A powerless (and apparently retarded) Clark Kent jumps out a window to get an interview with Supernova. Great Lois Lane’s ghost! * Black Adam argues with Adrianna. She’s spunky. He likes her. * Clark and Lois at home. Supernova has disintegration beams? Who knows. * Will Magnus and T.O. Morrow chat some more. Will found a Mr. Mynde cocoon in Sivana’s lab – burst open and empty. Hmmmm… *

11 - * Ralph Dibney is jumping members of the Cult of Conner. And his storage unit has been burglarized. * Vic and Renee are meeting with Kathy Kane. Christ, she’s got huge tracts of land. No wonder Renee is smitten. Renee and Vic get into trouble with Intergang shapeshifters. Suddenly, it’s Batwoman to the rescue! * The Cult of Conner wants to resurrect Sue Dibney. *

12 - *Renee meets Captain Maggie Sawyer as she’s coming off shift. Captain Maggie Sawyer apparently goes to work in a leather miniskirt and a V neck blouse. She’s mad at Renee for messing up their Intergang sting. Vic and Renee decide to go to Kahndaq. * Black Adam takes Adrienne to the Rock of Eternity to meet Billy. Black Adam wants her to be Isis. * Cassie finds Ralph waiting in her crappy apartment. Already dressed like a street skank, she proceeds to do a very unsettling half-strip tease for him. Creepy. Ralph decides to help Cassie resurrect Sue. Can’t imagine why. * Adrianna turns into Isis. Ancient Egyptian goddesses dress like strippers, apparently. * Back up feature – origin of Wonder Woman.

13 - * Ralph and the loonies try to resurrect Sue. Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Metamorpho, and Zauriel (Zauriel?) are standing by to crash the party. * Black Adam & Isis break up a slave ring. * Back at the loonies, Ralph gives in to his friends and they break up the resurrection party. Turns out, maybe they really could have brought Sue back. The other heroes bring down the house, and a suicidal Ralph lets the debris fall on him. Somehow, though, he gets out with Sue’s battered, burned remains, but has apparently lost his mind. * Back up – origin of Elongated Man.

14 - * Rene and Vic fly to Kahndaq. They’re stunned to find it’s become a paradise. * Steel’s all depressed about Natasha going off to join Luthor’s new superteam. * G-men want Will Magnus to give them the Metal Men. He says they don’t work. Yeah, right. The G-Men threaten Will. He goes to visit T.O. Morrow at the bin. Craziness ensues. Somehow, T.O. Morrow has escaped! But he left an envelope for Will. * Rene and Vic investigate Intergang in Kahndaq. But Intergang has already slaughtered everyone. Rene and Vic are under arrest! Oops. * Will Magnus goes home and powers up Mercury. Told you the Metal Men still worked. * Back up – origin of Metamorpho

15 - * Booster battles a submarine in midtown Metropolis. I still can’t make that splash page work. * In Kahndaq, Black Adam hasn’t gotten around to prison reform. Vic and Renee are finding that out. But, suddenly, they escape! * Clark Kent wants to know what a sub is doing in midtown Manhattan. Turns out, some mythical sea beast carried it there. * Booster fights the mythical sea beast. Badly. But Supernova shows up to save the day! And then it’s Booster vs. Supernova! But the sub is going to blow up – Booster carries it high above Metropolis – and then it DOES blow up. Bye bye Booster. * back up – Origin of Steel

16 - * Black Adam and Isis have a garden. Black Adam proposes. * Renee and Vic are living in a shipping container, just like a refugee on Nar Shadaa in KOTOR II. * Mary Marvel can’t believe Isis loves Black Adam. She’s just hatin’. Captain Marvel can’t believe Black Adam is getting married. Black Adam says he just wants to make his own family, like Billy did. Awwwww. * Renee is certain Intergang is going to have a bomber in the crowd at the wedding. Something to do with rat poison. Captain Marvel, Jr. and Tawny the Talking Tiger are in charge of crowd control for the wedding. I can’t believe I just typed that sentence. Uncle Dudley is buying falafel. Or something. Ooh, they’re getting married! Renee spots the bomber. It’s a teenage girl. Renee shoots her. Later that evening, Black Adam and Isis get skippy. Oooh, Marvel babies. * Back on Paradise Planet, Starfire, Animal Man, and Adam Strange finally take off in their patched up space ship.* Backup – origin of Black Adam

17 - * FUCK! Lobo’s on the cover. * Team Luthor battles Kobra. Then they talk about it. They want code names. They want better costumes. They want a team name. Christ, they’re whiney. Lex is flirting with Natasha. Isn’t she, like, jailbait? Eliza is a druggie. Lex doesn’t like her. * In space, no one can hear you scream… at Starfire. Buddy says EMPIRE STRIKES BACK was the best STAR WARS movie. Damn straight. Adam prefers long distance relationships. Their ship sucks and they’re running out of air. Oh, and here’s Lobo! What a crappy day. Lobo wants to see Starfire’s tits. Well, get in line, pal. * Red Tornado is resting in pieces in Australia. * Back up – origin of Lobo. Excuse me while I puke and die.

18 - * At the House of Mystery, Detective Chimp and some people I don’t know show up. Someone is wearing Dr. Fate’s helmet. Whoops! He turned to dust. Bummer. * Vic and Renee are getting medals from Black Adam. Renee isn’t there. She’s coping with her grief by drinking and screwing servant girls. Vic points out the problem here is Intergang. Black Adam, Isis, Vic, and Renee are gonna stop ‘em. * Detective Chimp is talking to Ralph Dibney. Ralph is in Marseilles, and seems better now. So why did the guy wearing Dr. Fate’s helmet turn to dust? Ralph says that – wait, rewind that. Detective Chimp is a Republican? Fuckin’ dumbass monkey. I hope Lobo kills him. * Booster’s funeral. In Cincinnati. With a bunch of crappy heroes no one has ever heard of. This is the way a proud man dies. * Skeets meets Booster’s distance ancestor. New Booster Gold? * Dr Fate’s helmet is talking. It wants Ralph Dibney. Dr. Elongated Fate? * Back up – origin of the Question.

19 - * Skeets recruits a new Booster Gold. * Lobo takes the Lost In Space Three to church. Hey, he’s got the Emerald Eye! * Supernova and Wonder Girl shut down the Weather Wizard. She thinks Supernova is Superboy. It seems unlikely. * Skeets uses Daniel to scan Rip Hunter’s lab. Discovers that Rip Hunter knows something… probably, that Skeets and Booster between them are responsible for the damage to the time stream. Skeets betrays Daniel and lets him get sucked into a time vortex. I’m thinking this will eventually lead to Daniel becoming a new Booster Gold. * Back up – origin of Animal Man

20 - * Supernova’s in the Bat-Cave. He found someone’s big armored glove. He looks interested. Say, is Supernova really… the new Booster Gold? That would be cool. * Steel helps some firefighters. Geez, he’s tough now that’s he’s turned into Black Colossus. Hey, that sounds like a porn star. Dr. Kala from S.T.A.R. Labs has discovered Luthor can turn off the super powers he gives people. * Lobo and the Lost In Space Three are being menaced by a mob. But – no! Attack of the space cockroaches! Starfire uses the Emerald Eye of Ekron to turn them all into goo. But that’s bad – now Ekron knows where it is. And he wants his Eye back. * Back up – origin of Adam Strange

21 - * Natasha asks Lex to let Eliza back on the team. He says yes. Bad news for Eliza. * Ralph convinces a demonic gatekeeper to let him and the Helmet of Fate into Hell. Wait. Let me reread this… yeah, that’s what he did. He really is nuts. * Lex debuts his new Infinity Inc. I just love thinking about how all the old Infinity Inc fans are flinching when they read this issue. The new team is fighting the Hul—er, I mean, the new Blockbuster. Uh oh – looks like Lex created the new Blockbuster. And he’s about to turn Eliza’s powers off. What a fucker. * The Teen Titans? Who the fukk is Power Boy? Little Barda? Hot Spot? Whoops. Lex jacks up Blockbuster’s power, and he escapes. Eliza goes after him. Lex turns off her powers, and Blockbuster kills her. “Contact the first alternate in the female Caucasian candidates list”? Figures Lex would play the demographics. * Steel tries to tell Nat at the funeral that Lex can turn off their super powers. She won’t listen. But the Titans will – what’s left of them, after Power Boy, Little Barda, and Hot Spot all take off. Zatara and Raven are doing the wild thing? * Some guy in Australia has welded up a new body for Red Tornado. Thank God I’m reading Justice League or I’d be worried about this shit. * No back up!

22 - * Lex discovers Supernova is really Superboy. But – he isn’t! But Supernova is floating right outside his office! Lex thinks he’s really Superman. But we know he can’t be. Unless he’s a Superman robot. * Lex can’t use his process to give himself super powers. Bummer. * Jon Standing Bear throws some perv out a bus window. The redhead he helped is probably going to join Infinity Inc. * Jon Standing Bear goes to his father’s funeral. His crotchety old grandfather reveals a family secret – the Manitou Stone! The secret of Super-Chief’s power. I’m still fucking astounded DC actually even admitted Super-Chief ever existed, in continuity. And now they’re giving us a new one? This is so cool. * Jon Standing Bear smothers his grampa with a pillow. He’ll make a GREAT Modern Age hero. * Somebody named Ferry confronts Lex Luthor, saying Luthor can turn the superpowers off. The cops throw him out. But Steel believes him. * Will Magnus hears from his big brother David that something called ‘SHADE’ is coming after him. Then he’s attacked by – the New Metal Men! * Back up – Origin of Hal Jordan

23 - * Will Magnus wakes up in The Villag – er, on Oolong Island, with a lot of other crazy super scientists. T.O. Morrow greets him. * Intergang has turned into a freaky religious cult. Vic and Renee arrive just in time to see Isis’ brother crippled for life. They get into a big fight. Vic steals Intergang’s Unholy Book. Black Adam and Isis show up. Isis can’t heal Amon’s wounds. Black Adam turns him into Black Adam, J – er, Osiris. They decide to go to China. * Back up – origin of Wildcat.

24 - * Elliot Maggin is Oliver Queen’s campaign manager. Heh. * The new JLA calls Green Arrow and offers him membership. They’re a buncha hosers – Firestorm, Firehawk, Super-Chief, Bullet-broad… Bulleteer, excuse me… and – jesus – Ambush Bug. Keith Giffen can never fully answer for his crimes against comics, but I wish someone would make him try. * J’onn J’onnz has been busy trying to get Checkmate shut down. Didn’t work. Good thing, too. Greg Rucka rocks. Hey, are all those statues dead Justice Leaguers? I don’t know who hardly any of them are. Isn’t the pterodactyl boy from WILD CARDS? Is somebody making a funny? * Black Adam and Isis are pissing off China. Black Adam has gone soft. Osiris is bored with politics. * The new JLA goes into action. Baaaaaad plan. Jesus, would someone just kill Ambush Bug already? Wow, a bunch of really crappy superheroes showed up. And Skeets has gone psycho! Whoops. Loser heroes are dying right left and sideways. It’s like Infinite Crisis all over again. Okay, Skeets killed Super-Chief. In the Happy Hunting Grounds, the original Super Chief is teaching Ralph Dibney a lesson he so richly deserves. * Amanda Waller doesn’t believe Black Adam has gone soft. She’s setting up Atom Smasher to lead a team back into Kahndaq. Seems like a bad plan…* Back up – origin of Booster Gold.

25 - * Bruno Mannheim is taking over Gotham. He’s all about the Crime Bible. And killing crime bosses who don’t do what he says. And eating them. Toto, I don’t think we’re in the Silver Age any more. Hey, that’s the Kingpin at the big table with the other Gotham Bosses. Ha ha. ‘s’ funny. * Sabaac is attacking trick or treaters! But the Marvel Family will kick his ass. The Black Marvels, too. * Ralph and the Helmet are still touring Hell. He sees Felix Faust. Felix has looked better. * Icicle and Tigress are robbing a bank. The new Infinity Inc is on the case. Yep, there’s the redhead from the bus. * Alan Scott talks to Mr. Terrific about joining Checkmate. * Hey, DC has their own MODOK! Geez, he’s even uglier than MODOK. That’s hard to believe. He’s like, what if Humpty Dumpty and MODOK had a kid. Gross. He’s invented something called the Four Horseman for Intergang. * Backup – origin of Nightwing.

26 - * Black Adam and Isis fly Renee and Vic up into the Himalayas to meet Tot and Richard Dragon. * Jack Ryder has a show called “You Are Wrong!” Steel and Natasha are on it. They argue. * The Sivanas are getting up to shit again. Say, who’s in the time vortex? Is it… the new Booster Gold? But wait! The Black Marvels have come to dinner. Venus Sivana wants their help finding her husband. * Back on Oolong Island, everyone is still crazy as hell except for Will Magnus. Hey, it’s Veronica Cale! So when does Ozymandius put everyone on a freighter and blow them up? * Back at the Sivana’s, an experimental sentient humanoid crocodile escapes. Osiris befriends it. Awww, now the Black Marvel Family has their own talking animal buddy. * Back up – origin of Hawkman & Hawkgirl

Unanswered questions and unresolved plot points to date:

what’s this about Red Inferno?

Did Booster save that airliner or not?

What happened to Mal?

What’s up with Mr. Mynde?

What was in the envelope T.O. Morrow left for Will Magnus?


Supernova is actually that new Booster Gold guy. Or someone from the future who isn’t supposed to be in the past.

Lex Luthor ends up with the Manitou Stone.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

What would Batman do?

Odd to be back over here, especially when I have something like three posts sitting in the Drafts folder over on the other blog I'd like to finish. But they're harder work than the stuff I post here.

So I was thinking about CRASH the other day. Specifically, that scene where Ludacris and Larenz Tate carjack Brendan Fraser and Sandra Bullock.

Brendan Fraser's character did exactly the right thing. It's what we're all taught to do, when armed people try to rob us -- cooperate, get it over with, then call the cops. And it has nothing to do with how manly he is, or how good at hand to hand combat he may be. He could be Steve Austin, Kwai Chang Caine, Jet Li, Chuck Norris, Peter Parker, or Steve Rogers -- doesn't matter. The presence of a non-combatant who is also being menaced at gunpoint dictates that a responsible adult respond exactly as Brendan Fraser depicted -- meekly. Cooperatively. Docilely. Keeping everybody alive and unhurt.

Because no matter how fast you are, how strong you are, how tough you are, how high a degree your black belt is -- when you're a merely mortal human being up against a loaded gun or two, and there's someone else besides you at risk -- you back off, and pick a better spot.

Again -- exactly the correct thing to do. No matter how humiliated one may feel during and afterward.

Then I got to thinking -- suppose instead of Fraser and Bullock in a movie, it's a comic book, and the people on the other end of the guns are Bruce Wayne and, say, Vicki Vale?

This shouldn't change the equation at all. Bruce should still do exactly what Brendan did in CRASH. Or, so it seems to me. He may be able to handle two hoods with hand guns no problem... but things can go wrong. Guns can go off. People -- in this case, Vicki -- could get killed. Bruce especially, more than nearly anyone else in the entire world, should know this.

Also, there's that whole secret identity thing. What's Vicki going to think, if Bruce puts these two gunmen down with a couple of quick Tae Kwan Do flourishes? She's going to think there's more to Gotham City's most worthless wealthy socialite than is readily apparent. And, you know, she's a reporter, so all in all, that ain't such a great idea for Bruce.

And yet, I imagine this, and then I imagine the uproar that would ensue throughout the fan community if such a scene ever actually appeared in any comic book, anywhere. Batman -- even in his civilian guise -- standing there and letting two punks get over on him? Oh no, fuck that.

(Let me take a moment here to specify: reverse the genders of the two people being mugged -- make it Selina Kyle, or Dinah Lance, or Buffy Summers -- out walking with a non-combatant -- or make it Bruce Wayne and he's out with a non-combatant male friend, assuming he has one -- and it's still the same. If you're alone and you want to do something stupid, that's your look out. If someone else is on the bullseye with you, discretion becomes the better part of valor. This has nothing to do with gender.)

I realize this is entirely hypothetical, so I'm not going to belabor this into the ground. Obviously, I could be entirely incorrect; perhaps such a scene could be presented in, say, next month's BATMAN and nobody would even think twice about it.

Still... I doubt it. My genuine expectation is that the genuine expectation of Batman's fans is -- Batman will never submit. Batman will fight, no matter what the odds. Batman doesn't bend over for anyone.

No matter who his actions may put at risk.

It seems to me that, if I'm correct -- and I know, that's a big if -- then essentially, what the fans want is a really stupid, completely out of control, utterly reckless, totally irresponsible Batman.

This is, apparently, (assuming, again, that my speculation on a mere hypothesis is even remotely accurate) the kind of hero we want nowadays.

Well, suddenly I have a much better understanding of how half the country votes for Bush...

ADDENDUM: I thought it would go without saying that, you know, if I'm wrong in my speculations as to how Bruce Wayne knuckling under to a hood with a gun would be received by his fans, then I'm wrong about everything proceeding from that speculation, too. I thought that was obvious. However, Marionette has been good enough to disabuse me of that presumption. So, let me say it -- if I'm wrong in my hypothesis, or my further speculations on that hypothesis, then, yes, I'm wrong about the kind of hero modern day America is looking for, and that probably has no bearing on why so many of my fellow citizens voted for that murderous asshole in the White House.

S'awright? S'awright!