Monthly Archives: November 2007

So addictive it should be illegal

A few days ago, Johnny Brazil sent me this link.  He warned of its addictive qualities, but I did not heed his cautionary words.  Instead, I’ve spent the last few days mesmerized by this game–damn those crazy Brits for mixing video games and physics.  Damn them…damn them all!!!

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Weekly Comic Review for 11/21/07

Angel: After the Fall #1 (Brian Lynch-writer, Franco Urru-artist)

After the success of Darkhorse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 series, it seemed almost inevitable that Buffy’s spin-off, Angel, would get the same treatment.  Like he did with the series, creator Joss Whedon is serving as “plotter” for Angel: After the Fall, giving the day-to-day writing chores to Brian Lynch.  The final episode of Angel found L.A. sucked into Hell and what’s left of Angel’s team about to face off against Hell’s demonic host (our hero’s final words: “Personally, I’ve always wanted to slay a dragon.”).

After the Fallpicks up a few months after these events.  L.A. is still in Hell and the more powerful demon lords have carved up the town into their own fiefdoms (not unlike what Gotham’s gangs and super-villains did after the city was hit by that earthquake).  It turns out Angel didn’t slay that dragon after all, instead he’s trained it to be his trusty steed–the way our boy figures it the dragon’s a lot like he is, they’ve both been used and manipulated by Wolfram & Hart.  Angel and his crew are doing the best they can against the demons that are infesting the streets of The City of Angels.  Angel’s son Connor, electric-gal Gwen, and Nina the werewolf are running a human safe-house in Santa Monica.  Wesley (who died in the final episode, “Not Fade Away”) has become a ghost, seemingly on the payroll of evil law firm Wolfram & Hart.  It’s hard to tell what Wesley’s deal really is.  He appears as his old clean-cut and suited-up self–as opposed to the rugged street-fighter look he’s sported since Angel’s third season–and we’ve seen how much the Senior Partners of W&H like this look (I give you Adam Baldwin’s Marcus Hamilton); he’s spouting off Wolfram & Hart edicts, first to the demons roughing up Angel and later to Angel himself; and, finally, he’s seen inside the “White Room”–which is usually how one contacts the Senior Partners.  But, despite all of this, in his chats with Angel, we get a glimpse of the real Wesley, so I’m not sure if we’re supposed to accept that this is the real Wesley or not.  And then there’s Gunn.  Gunn’s abandoned his super-lawyer path and returned to the world of grass-roots, street-level demon fighting.  “Team Gunn” busts into the gladiatorial arena of Kr’ph, “Lord of Westwood!  Dark overseer of everything west of Beverly Hills!”  Gunn’s crew saves the humans held prisoner there but…oh, what? holy shit…Gunn’s a freakin’ vampire!

After the Fall seems to be off to a pretty good start.  Even though Whedon isn’t personally writing the issues, Brian Lynch seems to have a pretty good ear for Whedon-speak, especially when it comes to Whedon’s classic “just-like-us” portrayal of demons.  The one problem I had with Angel(the series) was it’s scope.  Everything that happened on the show was a global apocalypse.  Whereas Buffy and the Scoobies were defending there hometown from the things that go bump in the night, Angel and his team were always trying to stop the end of the world…and, y’know what, it got old pretty fast.  Things got back on track when the show was rebooted for its fifth (and final) season, which included making Angel head of L.A.’s branch of Wolfram & Hart, bringing Spike into the fold, and (unfortunately) killing adorably shy physicist Fred Burkle.  As long as After the Fallkeeps things simple–and there’s no reason to think it won’t, if this is supposedly Whedon’s idea for the show’s sixth season–this should be an enjoyable series.

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Batman Confidential #11 (Michael Green-writer/Denys Cowan-artist)

“This is what happens when insanity goes insane.”  This is Batman’s near-poetic response when he comes face to face with the newly created Joker.  As much as I enjoyed this arc, I felt that it tried too hard to give us Joker’s pre-transformation motives.  But, now that Mr. J has been dunked in chemicals and emerged as the chalk-skinned, scarlet-grinned psycho we know and love, the storyline really hits his stride.

Green gives us an explanation as to why Joker runs around trying to transform his victims into mirror-images of himself.  In his own insane way, Joker is trying to help the people he’s killing.  He wants them to have their eyes opened like he has, to be able to see just how amazingly wonderful Gotham City is.  And, of course, the only way to do that is to expose them to the same kind of chemical bath he was exposed to.  It all makes sense in a creepy, psychotic way.

Green’s writing continues to be strong as he explores the early days of Gotham’s Dark Knight–for example, having both Alfred and Joker telling Bruce that he’s responsible for people like Joker solely through the act of dressing up as a bat.  Personally, I still find Cowan’s art to be a bit too sloppy and sketchy…not so bad as to distract from the story, but close.

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Catwoman #73 (Will Pfeifer-writer, David Lopez-artist)

What’s a reformed criminal to do?  Selina’s tried to go straight.  She’s tried to be a good mom to her little daughter.  But, no one seems to want her to succeed.  After faking their deaths and secretly giving her daughter up for adoption, someone decides to blow up Selina’s apartment.  Now, she has nothing.  Not even the stash she hid away in a locker at the bus station is safe, someone’s managed to break into the locker and clean it out.

So, Selina does what any of us would: she breaks into a store, nabs a new set of threads and some spending money, and goes to find out who’s been messing with her.  Maybe it’s just me, but I found Selina’s Converse and ski-mask get-up positively adorable, plus it added a bit of realism to everything that happened after.  With info gathered by Calculator (the evil version of super-hacker Oracle), Selina heads out to the mansion of Conrad Krupp to retrieve a spare mask.  It seems this guy Krupp has a major hard-on for super-villain memorabilia, including a Catwoman mask.  Once Selina gets her mask, Calculator sends her to a seedy bar where she should find the people responsible for blowing up her apartment.  Of course, it’s a trap, and Selina comes face-to-face with some dude I’ve never seen before.  He’s all decked out in black leather and straps, like Wildstorm’s Midniter, and he’s wearing some kind of groovy multi-lensed goggles. 

I liked what Pfeifer did here.  He took a very basic plot–they took my money and I want it back–and grafted it into the tights-and-capes world of DC Comics.  This issue was, essentially, no different than Point Blank or Payback, and that’s what makes it so much damn fun.

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Countdown to Final Crisis 23 (Paul Dini-writer, Tom Derenick-artist)

So, it looks like Superman-Prime may very well be the dude behind this “Final Crisis” everyone’s been talking about.  In his desire to get back to “his Earth”, S-Prime has been ripping apart the Source Wall.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, he’s the one responsible for kidnapping Mr. Mxyzptlk.  He’s holding Mxy hostage, the imp’s Fifth Dimensional magic sapped by the goth-inspired Annataz Arataz of Earth-3.  Superman-Prime wants Mxy to use his powers to erase every Earth in the Multiverse except his own.  I’m going to say this again in case DC missed it the first time: “DO NOT GET RID OF THE MULTIVERSE ONLY ONE YEAR AFTER BRINGING IT BACK!”  It would be a mistake.  It would be a Marvel-level mistake.

Elsewhere, “Black” Mary Marvel is having second thoughts about joining Darkseid.  She doesn’t want to help someone who’s evil.  Unfortunately, Eclipso is there to tell her that “evil” is relative.  People think that Mary is “evil.”  Is she?  People think Darkseid is “evil.”  Is he?  Just when you think poor, lost Mary is going to finally get her act together…

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Detective Comics #838 (Paul Dini-writer, Ryan Benjamin-artist)

“The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul” continues in this issue of Detective Comics.  Damian and Tim are brought before the resurrected-but-corpsified Ra’s.  Tim tries to help Damian escape, but as soon as that little douche Damian can save his own skin, he bails.  This is when Ra’s tries to seduce Tim to his side of things.  Ra’s tells Tim that Bruce will inevitably choose Damian over him.  He will turn his back on Tim, just like he turned his back on Jason Todd.  Tim should join forces with Ra’s.  Ra’s has more money, more power, more influence.  Hell, Ra’s could even bring Tim’s dead parents back to life.

Bruce and Talia arrive in Tibet and they’ve seemed to have reached some kind of understanding.  Talia has stopped bitching at Bruce about his parenting skills and Bruce has decided to accept the new cloak and armor that Talia’s offered him.  Also in Tibet, Dick and Alfred are met at the airport by Ra’s al Ghul’s annoying man-mountain of a servant, Ubu.  Dick makes short work of some ninjas and Alfred sucker-punches Ubu. 

When Ra’s and Bruce finally come face to face–after Bruce uses echo-location to find the secret entrance of Ra’s’ lair–Ra’s tells Bruce that the reason he needs a younger, stronger body is to face the Sensei (some old Chinese dude who’s been running the day-to-day business of the League of Assassins).  Bruce says no, of course, and Ra’s gives Batman a choice: he must choose whose body Ra’s will inhabit–Damian or Tim?

Yes, this story is about halfway over, but I’m not sure it needed to be as long as it is.  And I’m pretty sure that it didn’t need to run every week.  Since a lot of the story seems to be a bit repetitive, I think we could have handled it only taking place in Batman or Detective Comics.  The reason people agree to read a story that spans several different titles is that they don’t want to miss anything important or exciting.  I don’t feel like I would have missed anything important if I didn’t read Robin or Nightwing.  But, that’s just me.

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The Flash #234 (Mark Waid-writer, Freddie E. Williams, II-artist)

This issue starts off with Wally surveying Keystone City after the alien invasion.  He’s amazed by the resilience of Keystone’s citizens.  Wally’s also amazed to learn that if he moves fast enough, he can sync up to his twins and pull them towards him.  It’s the perfect way to make sure that Wally and the twins never get separated during an emergency.  Jai–still in shock over what he overheard at the end of the last issue–doesn’t think it’s such a bad idea.  Iris, however, is insulted that her parents would ever use what she calls “the leash.”

The bulk of this issue deals with Jai’s sudden and unexplained mutation.  His body starts to bulk up…his arms become reptilian spikes…his legs resemble those of an ape.  He can’t control his powers, resulting in a near-fatal rock-slide.  At Iris’s urging, Wally uses “the leash” to find her brother and stop the aforementioned rock-slide.  After Linda runs some tests in the Wests fancy underground science-lab, she discovers that Jai’s DNA was vibrating and, essentially, travelling back through the evolutionary ladder. 

This issue again highlights the Wests strength as a family, partly due to Wally’s grounded, blue-collar background.  They can have “family meetings” and not seem square.  Wally can call the twins “kiddo”, “champ”, or “big guy” and not sound lame.  He can talk to Iris about Kim Possible and it sounds right.  Normally, the addition of children to a series is a death sentence (anyone remember Cousin Oliver?), but the West Twins are providing a shot in the arm to a character who doesn’t even need one yet–it’s these little changes to The Flash’s status quo (like when no one knew who The Flash really was, not even Wally) that keep the book fresh. 

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Metamorpho: Year One #4 (Dan Jurgens-writer, Mike Norton-artist)

This is the issue when Metamorpho actually does his first bit of superheroing.

Stagg is manipulating everything.  He tells Rex that there may not be a cure for his condition and then, as an olive branch, offers to use his private jet to fly Rex wherever he wants to go.  He also gives Rex a latex mask of his normal human visage, knowing that there’s no way a latex mask would pass through airport security (especially after someone calls in a tip about a potential attack).  When Metamorpho is forced to flee the airport, he ends up at the estate of someone who calls himself Doc Dread.  Dread uses the fear of disasters to manipulate economics and increase his fortune.  He’s also planning on gassing the airport and blaming Metamorpho.  This is one Metamorpho returns to the airport and plays hero.

So far, Metamorpho: Year Oneseems more like a series of one-shots, and not a cohesive six-part story.  I would think that there would be a limit to the number of times that Rex would fall for Stagg’s shenanigans, but every month he’s just as gullible as the month before.  Jurgens has two more issues, and I wonder if he’s going to tie everything up into a neat little bow or if he’ll continue on his seemingly aimless narrative path.

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Powers #27 (Brian Michael Bendis-writer, Mike Oeming-artist)

The search for the Dead Girls’ Powers Killer continues.   Deena–no longer a cop and actually a suspect–takes matters into her own hands and visits sleazy underworld club-owner, Lance.  She roughs Lance up until he agrees to use his criminal connections to find out who the killer is.  Lance’s “connections” include a small army of creepy little gobliny dudes called Simons, who bounce around the city beating information out of people. 

Meanwhile, Walker is visited by his old buddy Triphammer.  It’s been a while since Trip was around and I’ve missed him.  I’ve always thought of him as George Carlin in Iron Man’s armor…anyway, ol’ Trip is calling on his pal Walker because Trip’s thirteen year old daughter is missing.  It should come as no surprise that one of the dead girls in the basement of police H.Q. is, in fact, Trip hammer’s little girl.  To make Walker’s life even more complicated, Callista (spurred into action by the apathy of her peers) appears at the precinct in her Retro Girl outfit ready to “help.”  I can only assume that this new Retro Girl (a teenager saved by Walker, who has taken on the role of her Obi-Wan) is going to use herself as bait to lure the Dead Girls’ Powers Killer into a trap.

Again, Bendis is at his best when writing his own characters.  Powers never fails to deliver–even if it has a less than ironclad printing schedule.  It would be easy to throw action-packed issue after action-packed issue at us, but that isn’t Powers’s style.  This book has always been a gritty, street-level procedural that just happens to have people with super-powers in it–as if someone took an episode of Heroes and an episode of Law & Order, put them in a blender and made a delicious entertainment frappe. 

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Quote of the Week

“Look in your underpants and you’ll see.  You’re still a boy, ‘Clarky.'”–Mr. Mxyzptlk to Superman(boy)-Prime in Countdown to Final Crisis 23.

What gives with The Alienist?

alienist-thumb.jpg 

I’ve been seeing copies of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist everywhere lately.  It’s on display at Barnes & Noble.  People are reading it on the subway.  Hell, when I was at jury duty yesterday, there was a fellow juror-to-be reading it.  And, for the most part, these copies aren’t the old mass market paperbacks, like the one I have…these are brand-spanking-new, big damn trade paperbacks.  What’s up, guys?

I loved The Alienist.  It was the first modern historical novel I ever read (one could argue that something like The Three Musketeers is also an historical novel), and it formed my opinions and expectations of that particular genre.  It was set in an interesting period–NYC in the 1890s, when old and new were still struggling for dominance.  It included actual historical figures, like Teddy Roosevelt, J. P. Morgan, and William Randolph Hearst.  It gave you a good idea of the way things were without trying to teach you any important lessons (I can not stress enough how important it is for a book to NOT try and teach me something…if I wanted to learn, I’d go to school.  Okay, book?  Okay.)  On top of all of this, it was about a serial killer.  But, for a post-Silence of the Lambs world, there was a twist.  Like the real-life case of Jack the Ripper, Carr’s serial killer was operating at a time when there was no such thing as “serial killers.”  Most of the conflict in the novel comes from not only the killer, but also from the clash between the police–who are using tried and true 19th century investigative procedures–and a doctor who specializes in the new science of psychology (at the time, crazy people were said to be alienated from the rest of society…and those who studied them, therefore, were called “alienists”).

Anyways…The Alienist is a pretty kick-ass book.  But, it’s a book that came out almost 15 years ago.  Sure, it spent two years on the bestseller list, but why is it suddenly all over the place again?  Did Oprah mention it?  Is there a movie coming out?  Are one of the Survivors reading it?

Weekly Comic Review #18 (11/14/07)

Batman and the Outsiders #1 (Chuck Dixon-writer, Julian Lopez-artist)

Since I’m a sucker for any book with Batman in it, I figured I’d give Batman and the Outsidersa shot.  I also happened to be a fan of Judd Winick’s Outsiders reboot–until the One Year Later jump, which, in retrospect, killed a lot of DC’s books for me.  Even though I passed on the five prelude issues after issue # 2, BATO didn’t disappoint.  It seems like a no-brainer to me: if you want to put together a covert, black ops team, there’s no one in the DCU better equipped than Batman.  Bruce is probably the best tactician out there.  Plus, he’s relentless and has no problem playing dirty to get results, which was what Nightwing wanted this team to be all about in the first place.  To accomplish his mission, Batman assembles a mix of old and new heroes.  Metamorpho and Katana (who were both members of Batman’s original Outsiders team in the 80s) join Grace and Thunder (from Nightwing’s group).  Catwoman and Martian Manhunter are also on the team because, let’s face it, when you’re planning some next-level shit, you want a burglar and a shape-shifter.

This team’s first mission seems simple enough.  Bruce sends Catwoman and Katana to break into Jardine Tower, regional headquarters of a Belgian corporation.  While they go in from above, Metamorpho slips in through the ventilation system, Grace trudges through the sewers, and Manhunter shapeshifts into a scruffy vandal and gets nabbed by builder security.  All pretty solid.

From the get-go, Bruce is playing the role of chess-master, moving his pieces across the board, while thinking three or four steps ahead of his opponent.  Bruce understands the skills that each team member brings to the table, and knows how to use them to best achieve his goals.  That’s why he holds Thunder back.  He doesn’t think she’s ready.  He pretty much only kept her on the team as a favor to her dad, Black Lightning, who was also on the original team with Batman.  To further prove his point, Bats tells Thunder that the fact that she’s standing around bitching at him while he’s trying to coordinate his operatives in the field is also proof that she’s “not ready.”  This is going to be the book where Batman can flex his fascist muscles without worrying about what the more “goody-goody” Justice Leaguers might say to him.

Early scuttlebutt about this series tied it to DC’s Salvation Run–y’know, their prison planet mini-series.  Although this issue takes place on good old terra firma, the reveal at the end of the issue–an O.M.A.C. bursting free from some sort of weird metal cocoon–could very easily lead into Salvation Run.  Honestly, if you’re going to build a prison planet to house all of the worst super-powered villains on the planet, who better to serve as guards than an army of O.M.A.C.s?

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Booster Gold #4 (Geoff Johns & Jeff Katz-writers, Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund-artists)

This issue finally reveals who’s been flying around in the Supernova costume, as well as revealing one of the men behind Supernova’s time-line tinkering.  The Supernova suit can only be used by someone with DNA similar to Booster Gold, which means a member of the Carter lineage must be in the cape and cowl.  It turns out that it’s Carter’s deadbeat dad, sporting a wicked eye scar and everything.  Booster’s dad plays the ol’ Darth Vader card again–attempting to turn Booster to the dark side so they can rule as father and son, blah, blah, blah.  Hell, Daddy Carter even throws Booster’s dead sister in his son’s face.  That’s good parenting.  The man responsible for recruiting Carter the Elder is Rex Hunter, a former member of Rip Hunter’s team.  Of course, as Rip points out, neither of these two gents are intelligent enough to pull this whole thing off on their own (much less to build a duplicate Time Sphere) , so there must be a bigger bad pulling the strings.  Exactly who remains a mystery at the moment.

At the end of the last issue, Rip and Booster have a bit of a fender-bender in the time-stream with Barry Allen and Wally West.  Being the big goddamn heroes that they are, Flash and Kid Flash agree to help these strange time travelers in their fight against evil–despite the fact that Rip practically begs them to mind their own business.  Heroes…there’s just no talking to them some times.  The Evil Leapers have gone back to the night that Barry is first struck by lightning, becoming the Flash.  Of course Booster and Rip stop them, ensuring that there will be a new generation of Speedsters.  The real kick of this issue is watching Barry and Wally do their thing.  This is a simpler time.  A time before heroes were dying left and right.  It was a time when heroes and sidekicks bantered in that “gee whiz” fashion that hasn’t been around since Leave it to Beaver went off the air.  Only a hero from the 60s can lecture his young sidekick on the dangers of alcohol and not be met by a sullen eye-roll from the youngster.

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B.P.R.D.:Killing Ground #4 (Mike Mignola-writer, John Arcudi-artist)

Mignola’s stories usually operate outside of the box, leaving you scratching your head more times than not.  That being said, this issue of B.P.R.D. was seriously fucked-up.  The B.P.R.D. headquarters has been infiltrated.  A hideous, man-eating Wendigo is on the loose.  Liz Sherman is having dreams where she’s chatting with David Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China.  And Johann is off getting drunk and getting laid.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, this issue sees Benjamin Daimio getting attacked by the Wendigo and turning into a Wendigo himself.  The Daimio-digo than goes on his own rampage, ripping apart his former teammates.  Since Daimio has already died once and “gotten better”, is it possible for him to come back from this Wendigo curse?  Or did he return from a premature death to fulfill some kind of weird destiny by becoming a Wendigo?  With Mignola it could go either way…or in a completely different direction.

Just when it looks bad for the B.P.R.D., Johann returns and trounces the Daimio-digo using the superhuman strength of his new fake body.  Unfortunately, Johann’s body isn’t strong enough to resist getting its throat ripped out by the Daimio-digo.  Things get even weirder when Johann’s spirit emerges from the dead simulacrum and it turns out to be…the ghost of Lobster Johnson.  Lobster-freakin-Johnson!  LJ runs down to the infirmary and pops a bunch of spectral caps into Liz Sherman’s comatose body, seemingly wounding the creepy Fu Manchu dude who’s been hanging out in Liz’s subconscious.  This whole scene leads me to believe that whatever is going on in Killing Groundis connected to Mignola’s other mini-series, Lobster Johnson: Iron Prometheus.

More than anything else, this issue reinforces that Mignola is writing horror comics.  Sure, they may have a hint of general super-hero-ness about that, but these (Hellboy, B.P.R.D., Lobster Johnson) are horror comics.

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Countdown to Final Crisis 24 (Paul Dini, Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti-writers, Tom Derenick-artist)

As this series progresses, it seems to get more and more pointless.  Maybe it was inevitable, after the success and critical acclaim of 52.  You can’t always catch lightning in a bottle twice.  I give DC credit for trying, but it might be time to give the weekly event comics a rest for a while.

After last issue, Desaad became Firestorm, only to have that power stripped from him in about two pages.  Desaad then Boom-tubes back to Apokolips, where there is absolutely no sign of Jimmy Olsen.  Darkseid is trying to get “Black” Mary Marvel to join his forces because the one kind of minion he lacks is a sorcerer.  Poor, lost, confused Mary tells Darkseid to stick his invitation where the Omega Effect don’t shine and takes off.

The majority of this issue deals with that maniac Superman(boy) Prime ripping Earth-15 apart, piece by piece.  Y’see, this dude used to live on Earth-Prime, where he was the only super-hero.  Then the Crisis on Infinite Earths destroyed the original Multiverse, trapping Superboy Prime in a pocket dimension with other refugees from the Multiverse, including Alexander Luthor and Superman from Earth-Two.  These fine folks than orchestrated Infinite Crisis in an attempt to “fix” everything that had gone wrong since the Multiverse ended.  Superboy Prime became a major pain in the ass, killing our Superboy (Connor Kent) and a bunch of former Teen Titans, and causing general mischief.  Now he’s back, having been released from his red sun prison by Sinestro, and is searching the new Multiverse for an Earth to call his own.  I’m going to be really disappointed in DC if they brought back the Multiverse at the end of 52 only to destroy it (and the cool narrative possibilities it holds) one year later.  C’mon, DC, don’t let me down.

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Gen13 #14 (Simon Oliver-writer, Carlo Barberi-artist)

Simon Oliver steps in for Gail Simone in this issue, which finds the kids of Gen13arriving in New York City.  There are two reasons why it makes perfect sense that the kids would want to go to NYC (which is why it happened in the original series, as well): first, they’re kids without any parental control, of course they’re going to want to go to New York City; secondly, what better place to hide than in a city known for treating its denizens with complete anonymity?

Upon arriving in the Big Apple, the kids suddenly feel the need to spread out and have their own space.  Sarah Rainmaker explores the gay scene.  Grunge hooks up with a gang of urban thrill-seekers.  Burnout Bobby finds himself in a record store, learning more about jazz and reggae.  Roxy gets herself an invite to a stereotypically pretentious Soho artist party.  And, while all of this is going on, poor Caitlin in trying to come to terms with what is and isn’t reality–understandably, since her entire life had been controlled and orchestrated by unseen forces, Truman Show-style.

This is a bad time for the kids to spread out like this, since I.O. (that’s International Operations–the folks behind the Tabula Rasa program that created Gen13) has implemented a new strategy to get the kids back under control.  With the mysterious Ezra Rothwell at the helm, I.O. will utilize something called “15 Minutes” to cut their losses from the failed Tabula Rasa initiative. 

I’m not sure what “15 Minutes” is, but since Roxy is offered her “15 minutes of fame” at that Soho shindig, I’m pretty sure I.O.’s days of messing with the kids’ heads are far from over.  What kid wouldn’t want to be famous in this day and age?  The media is bombarding us with stories and images of people who are famous just for being famous.  You’re far more likely to let someone control your comings and goings if it’s disguised as an agent “handling” their client.  Think about it…

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Nightwing #138 (Fabian Nicieza-writer, Don Kramer-artist)

It should come as no surprise that I like Nightwing–he is, after all, connected with Batman.  More than that, like Tim Drake, Dick Grayson is a fun character.  He knew he couldn’t live in Bruce’s shadow forever, so the former Robin adopted a new identity and then moved to his own town: Bludhaven.  I gave up on Nightwingafter the One Year Later jump (yeah…another one), when DC decided to destroy Bludhaven and move Dick Grayson to New York City.  I see no reason to set DC comics in real cities when DC has some of the greatest fictional towns ever.  On top of that, there was some lame-ass story about Jason Todd masquerading as Nightwing just to fuck with Dick.  Enough, Jason Todd.  Enough!

Anyways, I figured that I would pick up this issue of Nightwingbecause it’s the second part of the “Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul” storyline.  I wasn’t disappointed, because Dick is still awesome.  He’s called to Wayne Manor to help Tim fight off an invading horde of Ra’s al Ghul’s ninjas.  Bruce would go, but he’s too busy chasing down Ra’s and letting Talia tell him what a horrible father he is.  So Dick teleports from NYC to Gotham–he secretly has an access code for the JLA teleporter system, much to Bruce’s surprise (few people on Earth can surprise Bruce, but most of them were trained by him).

Dick and Tim put up a valiant battle in the Batcave–at one point, they drop Bruce’s giant penny on a bunch of evil ninjas–but in the end Dick has to let the ninjas take Tim and Damian (he was saving someone who, unlike Tim, wasn’t able to take care of themselves…so back off, okay!).  What I like most about these Bat-events is the opportunity to see the members of Team Bat hanging out together–especially Dick and Tim.  It’s great seeing how easily they fall into the role of siblings, despite the fact that Dick was off on his own by the time Tim came around.  But, without fail, Dick falls into the role of the older, jock brother and Tim becomes the smarter, younger brother.

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Ultimate Fantastic Four #48 (Mike Carey-writer, Mark Brooks-artist)

When I read the last issue of Ultimate Fantastic Four, it looked like Mike Carey was finally getting on track with what the Fantastic Four should be.  This issue was more of the same.  After a few bumpy storylines here and there, Marvel’s Ultimate version of their “First Family” finds themselves in the middle of a classic action/adventure story, with a heavy (but plausible) sci-fi component.

Sue was shot down over Siberia and kidnapped by Igor Kragoff (the man who should become classic FF villain Red Ghost), who wants to use Sue’s body to resurrect his dead wife.  Kragoff has Sue so doped up that he’s able to convince her to help them by telling her that she has to save her brother’s life.  Reed, Ben and Johnny high-tail it to Siberia to rescue their missing team mate.  As soon as they arrive, the Crimson Dynamo shows up and there’s a typical comic book battle–which means after a few pages of fighting, they realize that they’re on the same side.  What I liked most about Crimson Dynamo was how Brooks designed the armor to look like a robot from an 80s cartoon (hey, the Dynamo armor is on out-dated technology, why wouldn’t it look like something from the 80s?).

So, while Kragoff is trying to resurrect his wife, by sending both her body and Sue through the N-Zone (nice way of tying things back to Reed’s original experiment, Carey.  Well done!), his assistant, Rutskaya, decides she wants to explore other employment opportunities.  So, as one would assume, she kills Kragoff and decides to use Sue’s body to give herself super powers.  I’m sure she has the purist of goals: feeding the hungry, curing the sick, subjugating the planet.  Of course, Sue can’t have any of that.  She pulls herself together just enough to create a small force-field in her IV tube and blow the damn thing to hell…just as Rutskaya begins the N-Zone body-merging mojo.  Sadly, our crazy Russian chick merges not with Sue Storm, but with a box of slides containing DNA from various primates.  Seriously, she ends up looking like something out of John Carpenter’s The Thing

 Now, as long as Carey finds a way to keep Kragoff alive and fulfill his destiny as the Red Ghost, this might be a solid triple for Carey and Brooks.  Hey…I don’t give out home-runs like candy, kids.  I would have accepted Rutskaya becoming a female Ghost, but since she’s a mutated primate monster now, that ship has kind of sailed.

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Quote of the week:

“Simpleton!  Your tactics are flawed!”–Damian Wayne to Tim Drake, Nightwing #138.

That gap-toothed sonuvabitch is O-K

More news from Strike-land…Worldwide Pants–the production company owned by David Letterman–has informed the staffs of both The Late Show with David Letterman and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson that they will be paid through the end of the year, regardless of whether or not production resumes during the WGA strike.

I always thought Letterman was a class-act, but this story just proves that beyond the shadow of a doubt. You don’t see that squeaky-voiced, big-chinned freak Leno making this kind of offer…I guess he needs to buy another motorcycle or something.

Quothe the Raven: “Viggo??”

Sly Stallone (yes, THAT Sly Stallone) is making a biopic of Edgar Allan Poe. Cool, right? Maybe not. After Robert Downey, Jr. backed out of the project, Stallone has decided to pursue Viggo Mortensen. RDJ would have been a pretty good Poe, in my opinion. But, as much as I like Viggo–I thought he did a good job in Lord of the Rings and, even though I didn’t like the movie as a whole, I thought he was good in A History of Violence, too–he would be a bad Edgar Allan Poe. My choice? Why, Jeffrey Combs, of course. Hell, he’s already played Poe in an episode of Showtime’s Masters of Horror series.

Just check this out:

POE
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VIGGO
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COMBS
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‘Nuff said.

What I’ve learned from Hollywood

In the midst of the WGA strike, I feel the need to let you all know the many important lessons that I’ve learned from movies and TV over the years.  So, in no particular order, here it is:

1. If a volcano erupts, call Tommy Lee Jones or Pierce Brosnan.

2. If an asteroid is heading towards Earth, call Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck.

3. If there’s an alien invasion, call Will Smith.

4. If there’s a new Ice Age, call Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhal.

5. What not to do during your show’s season finale: (a) get on a plane, (b) plan a “dream vacation”, (c) confess your love for someone, (d) agree to meet someone at a specific place at a specific time.

6. The avalanche has begun.  It is too late for the pebbles to vote.

7. Never invite Angela Lansbury to a dinner party.

8. Losers whine about their best.  Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.

9. If you run for president, never EVER choose Powers Boothe as your VP.

10. If the doorbell rings and Rod Serling is at the door, do not, under any circumstances, let him in the house.  In fact, it’s best to call the cops and make sure he’s as far away from your house/place of business as possible.  Weird shit happens every place that dude goes.

11. Sometimes it’s just a guy in a mask.

12. You should have boards in these…bloody savage.

13. Sometimes it isn’t just a guy in a mask.

14. Robots will rebel…it’s just a matter of time.

15. Zombies on the rampage?  Aim for the head, dumbass!

Words to live by…trust me, kids.