Archive for June, 2009

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The Top Ten Real Life Black Lanterns I Want to See

June 30th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

In only a few weeks, DC will release Blackest Night, the big summer event and culmination of Geoff Johns’ fantastic run on Green Lantern. Willpower, fear, love, hate, compassion, greed and hope will be duking it out as Black Hand and that Cosmic Harvey Dent Smurf resurrect all sorts of heroes and villains to join their side. We’ve been given notice about some who would return and others who might. Earth 2 Superman, Martian Manhunter, Terra and the Flying Graysons will be there for sure. Perhaps we’ll see Elongated Man, Alexander Luthor, or General Glory rise from the grave.

But you know what? It’s a bit cheap. All these black rings are flying around and the only major resurrections go to those who are superheroes, supervillains or acquaintances thereof? That’s no fun! Okay, that’s a lie, since this is going to rock, but that’s not as fun as it could be!

By focusing on the fictional, think of all those we’re missing out on. What about the real corpses out there? We could not only have Heath Ledger back, but also Cesar Romero as the icing on the cake. David Carradine could return to get revenge on those murdering ninjas. Jack Kirby could engulf Jim Starlin in a bubble construct and toss him into the deep recesses of space out of revenge for Death of the New Gods. Elvis Presley could return to Graceland and… oops. Disregard that. I forgot that Elvis never actually died.

After much deliberation, I have put together the Top Ten Real Life Black Lanterns I Want to See.

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For and Against

June 30th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

I’m not a fan of the later Bourne movies.  I think they skimp on the clever details of spy stuff and instead just show Bourne magically appearing places without explaining how he managed to be there.  I think the plots are shaky.  (Well, they were shaky to begin with.  He breaks into the ultra-top-secret headquarters in Paris, grabs all the guns and . . . gives them a good talking-to?  And that solves the problem?  Really?)  I think the camera is even shakier.  Shaky to the point where I couldn’t tell whether the struggles were between highly trained assassins or old ladies in a slap fight.

I have a friend who really likes the later movies, though.  And says so.  Usually to bait me into responding.  Which I do.  Vehemently.

During one argument, when I was getting particularly overheated about the idea that they were going to yet another Bourne movie, presumably called The Bourne Epilepsy, when he said, “You know, you don’t have to see it.”

And I realized that no, no I don’t.  I don’t particularly care about Jason Bourne or the movies in the first place.  Why was I even madly talking about how crappy the later movies were?

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Fourcast! 05: You Made Me Read This!

June 29th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

What’s on tap for Fourcast! #5?

-A special conversation about how Jack Kirby would’ve done the Transformers
-Our theme music is still 6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental
-Special guest podcaster, Jeff Lester of Savage Critic(s)
-We debut a new segment called You Made Me Read This! I got Esther to read the first hardcover of Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo’s Fantastic Four. Esther didn’t like it for what, in hindsight, is a very good reason.
-Our conversation about FF leads into a conversation about the different approaches DC and Marvel take.
-And… scene.

This one was a lot of fun, and I’m actually a little scared of which book I’m going to have to read. I’m pretty sure she mentioned this book… and goodness, have mercy! :(

Some Fourcast! notes–
-We’ve got one more podcast next week (07/06), also guest-starring Jeff Lester, and then we’re taking off the week of 07/13 off. We should be back in business the week of 07/20 with a pre-San Diego Comic-con show.
-Fans of the Character Continuity Clash Comics/Continuity Off/Comics Are Seriously Dumb/whatever will really like the 07/06 cast, I’m, betting. Tell your friends.
-Esther and I are both planning on attending SDCC, and we may end up doing a show from the show, so to speak.
-We’ve got real microphones! You won’t hear them on this podcast, or next week’s, but we’ll be using them going forward. I’ve got high hopes, as it’ll make everything from recording to editing much easier.
-We hit 1000 listens the other day. You guys rule.

The usual podcast stuff:
You can subscribe via podcast-specific RSS feed, site-wide RSS feed, or iTunes. Review us if you like us, review us if you hate us, and call us dumb down in the comments.

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We Care a Lot Part 13: Way Out of His Mind

June 29th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

The badness that stapled to the 90’s is well-documented, but it’s interesting to see the stages that followed it. In the present, we’re in the phase where failed 90’s ideas are being brought back. Onslaught got his own miniseries and an appearance in Ultimate X-Men. Bendis wrote the Ultimate Clone Saga and now Ben Reilly is set to make some kind of comeback. Azrael is back in the Bat-universe. The latest Superman/Batman arc was a one-sided version of Amalgam. Carnage is slated to make a return. Some of these come off as a writer deciding that maybe he could do justice to the idea this time. More often than not, it’s just another bad example of comics cannibalizing its past.

But during the late-90’s/early-00’s, Marvel was in the middle of its great purge. Seeing something like Ben Reilly or Onslaught namedropped was rare. They were trying to wash their hands of every concept that went wrong during that decade. Because of that, Venom downright vanished. After Howard Mackie’s questionable use of the character, Venom wouldn’t appear for a couple years. Unfortunately, he returned in a very bad way.

The 18-issue run of the series began in June of 2003, under Marvel’s Tsunami imprint. The imprint was supposed to be more geared manga readers, whatever that means. The comic series was written by Daniel Way. Now, let me get my thoughts on Daniel Way out of the, er, way.

It’s easy to hold a grudge on a comic writer if you hate a comic they wrote. Lord knows I do it with Jeph Loeb. Way has certainly written some comics I didn’t like outside of this. For instance, if you’ve ever read through Agent X, you might recall that one issue late in the series which is meant to be the anti-climactic finale until Marvel later decided to bring back Gail Simone and UDON to tie up loose ends. That was Way’s issue. Ouch. Adding to that, I’m not much of a fan of “Wolverine uncovers secrets over secrets over secrets”, otherwise known as Wolverine Origins.

That being said, the guy has written some good-to-great stuff. His two Bullseye miniseries were fun. His Nighthawk miniseries was pretty rocking too. Dark Wolverine is already off to a great start. Of course, how could I not mention is stellar run on Deadpool? It’s a comic that gets better by the issue.

But while Daniel Way has certainly grown as a writer, there’s still this mess.

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Lone Wolf and Cub 06: Lanterns for the Dead

June 28th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

Lone Wolf and Cub volume 6: Lanterns for the Dead
Writer: Kazuo Koike
Artist: Goseki Kojima
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
ISBN: 1569715076
288 pages

(Pardon this being a little late again– I may move it to Sunday@6 instead of noon, depending on how this week goes. Blame the podcast, which took forever to edit!)

Volume 6 has five tales: “Lanterns for the Dead,” “Deer Chaser,” “Hunger Town,” “The Soldier Is In The Castle,” and “One Stone Bridge.” Once again, Daigoro provides the most interesting stories or scenes in the book, this time in “Hunger Town” and “One Stone Bridge,” with a brief appearance in “Deer Chaser.” I’ll get to those at the end, though, while I look at the other stories.

Notable, if delayed, realization this week: Ogami Itto is invincible, except when fighting nature or himself. The man has walked through a forest of blades at this point in the series, and escaped basically unscathed. The only time he ends up flat on his back is when he gets sick, or when he sets an entire field of grass on fire to trap a target, and then fights inside those flames.

I can see why Frank Miller enjoys these stories so much. Ogami is the manliest man ever, incredibly secure in his choice of livelihood, devoted to his task and family, and able to spout off important facets of his ideology at a moments notice. Every in the book spends their time being afraid of him, in awe, complimenting his skill, or all three. He spends a portion of “The Soldier Is In The Castle” explaining “kanjo,” which can mean either shield or warriors, depending on the situation (though the two are inextricably linked), to a gang of skilled and respected warriors. Though they brought it up first, he understands it better than they do. He employs a technique called “kanjo satsujin,” which I believe means “Warrior Killer” or “Shield Breaker” if you want to get lyrical, and destroys his enemy by way of a fire trap and skilled swordsmanship.

“Hunger Town” doesn’t focus directly on Daigoro, but he’s used to emphasize the crap nature of their lives. It opens with Ogami firing blunt arrows at a small puppy. He’s training the dog to dodge arrows and run to Daigoro. Of course, Daigoro is three years old and he gets attached to the dog. It’s clear that they have a real friendship growing, and Daigoro almost, but not quite, pitches a fit when the dog is taken away by samurai.

Ogami was setting a trap for a lord who is a fan of Inu-oi, dog hunting for sport. Most people use blunt arrows when doing this, but the lord is so corrupt that he uses real arrows for a thrill. His men demand Daigoro’s dog and deliver it to their lord. He gets set up in the area where he practices inu-oi, shouts the equivalent of “PULL!” and the dog dashes off. The lord tries and tries to hit the dog with his arrows, but the dog dodges all of them and sprints into the woods. The lord follows.

As soon as I realized what was going on, I became certain that the dog would die. In a completely unsurprising move, I was right. The dog catches an arrow through the neck just as he reaches Daigoro, licks Daigoro’s nose, and dies. Daigoro simply watches the lord as he approaches with something like pure hate in his eyes. It’s very clear that he’s his father’s son in this instance.

Another scene where that becomes clear is in “One Stone Bridge.” Daigoro is catching fish under a bridge. He’s amassed a pretty small collection, but he’s made the rod, stolen hair from a horse’s tail for fishing line, and dug up worms for bait himself. He’s trying to feed his father, who has been sick after the events of “The Soldier Is In The Castle” and unconscious for days. All the fish Daigoro has caught and grilled (!) sit beside his bed, untouched. However, he fishes every day.

When boys come to harass him, he takes their taunts and a beating to protect the fish. When they kick the fish back into the river and go back to beating him, he goes and grabs his father’s sword, which is taller than he is, and moves to kill the boy.

It’s awful, but I like seeing how strong the bond is between Daigoro and Ogami. Their lives are in terrible shape, and the only thing either of them have is each other. So, their bonds are amazingly strong. Daigoro is a very bright boy, smart enough to have been a scholar in another world, and capable of judging a situation correctly. He was willing to take a beating to protect his father, smart enough to realize that feeding his father was important, and a volume back, wise enough to build a fire break and save his own life.

There’s a word for this, I’m sure, but I don’t know it. It’s really nice to see a book that’s as much about the relationship between father and son as it is about the father killing several dozen people at a time.

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Putting the Reign in Dark Reign?

June 27th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

A while back, there was that story about Gwen Stacy’s clone children. Originally, they were meant to be Peter’s, but it was overturned because Peter Parker having children of any kind would age him.

Joe Quesada decided that Peter Parker and Mary Jane should not be married anymore and that Peter should be single. One of his wafer-thin reasons was that Peter Parker being married would age him.

The whole idea about Mephisto retconning away their marriage was partially because Quesada definitely did not want the two of them to get a divorce. Why no divorce? You guessed it. It would age him.

My personal opinion is that no, none of these things would truly age the character. I mean, hell, Scarlet Witch has a father who survived the Holocaust, a brother with white hair and a full-grown daughter from another reality and she still seems plenty young. All that Spider-Man stuff mentioned above doesn’t totally age Peter. But you know what does?

Having an 8-year-old Danny Rand play with a Spider-Man action figure!

Let’s see… Danny is 8 in that sequence. The last year of his comic has made a big deal out of him being 33 now. Spider-Man started fighting crime at 15…

So there you have it. Spider-Man is at least 40-years-old! Looking pretty good for a guy that age. Soon he’ll be getting hair plugs and a shiny, new Spider-Mobile to deal with his spectacular middle age crisis. I wish him well.

Speaking of Iron Fist, that issue has a preview for Fat Cobra’s upcoming one-shot. It’s great already and I’m sure the final product will be brilliant. Fat Cobra is easily one of the best new characters from either of the big two in a long time.

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Grappling Under a Different Tune

June 27th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

I’m sure some of you may have seen the site Tube Dubber. It takes two YouTube videos and merges them, showing one vid’s visuals and the other’s audio. As it turns out, there are a mountain of wrestling entrance videos, otherwise known as Titantrons, on YouTube. These being the looped highlight reel videos that play on the big screen whenever someone walks to the ring. Not only are seemingly all of them on YouTube, but some fans decided to make these videos for those wrestlers from earlier eras.

At the Something Awful wrestling sub-forum Wrestlehut, a bunch of us started playing around with Tube Dubber and seeing what we could do to improve on these wrestling Titantrons. Here are some of my better ones.

The Hurricane
Doink the Clown
Vladimir Kozlov
The Ultimate Warrior
Jeff Hardy (my favorite one)
CM Punk
Adam Bomb
Brutus Beefcake
John Morrison (listen, the guy slows down time. I had to do this one)
JBL… if he was a face.
Rated RKO
The Miz
Mike Knox
The New World Order

Later on, I decided to take some CHIKARA and indy highlight videos and tack on a new soundtrack.

The Osirian Portal
The Super Smash Brothers
Chuck Taylor
Mike Quackenbush

This is way too fun. Try it!

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Seriously, They Need a Union or Something

June 26th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

A few weeks ago I made a post about how most comics had a ‘shoot-yer-henchmen’ scene, a depraved act of violence to show that the bad guy meant business and to angry up the reader’s blood.

Alert reader Alex Nuan sent me these:

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Batman: The Brave And The Bold – An Educational Experience

June 25th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

There’s really something to be said for educational comics.

Not genuinely educational ones (perish the thought), but ones that guide the inexperienced reader through the labyrinth of nuttiness that was the golden and silver ages of DC comics. 

Batman: The Brave and the Bold, is a comic aimed at kids, just like many comics were during the forties through the seventies.  This makes it a particularly good place to unearth all of those silly, funny, and imaginative characters that populated the comics world back when the medium was light-hearted, episodic, and frankly ridiculous.

The series also serves as a guide for those of us who are new to comics, and looking for something other than wikipedia to introduce us to older characters.  Each team-up is a fun, fast way to learn about some ancient character from a source that doesn’t expect any knowledge of the reader.  So you get an explanation of each character’s backstory, motivation, and abilities.

It’s a fun way to catch up on tone and continuity of long-lost characters, and I recommend it to anyone who isn’t willing to page through forty years worth of comics to find out what they might have missed in the old days.

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“Me? I’m magic.”

June 25th, 2009 Posted by david brothers

I’ve been digging Zeb Wells and Clay Mann’s Elektra miniseries. I wasn’t going to read it, because Elektra has been in pretty poor shape since Miller left her, but man, Zeb Wells is a guy who should be the next big thing. Him, Paul Tobin, Fred van Lente, Jeff Parker… Marvel has a legion of really dope guys playing their midlist right now. Anyway, each issue has had some sort of cool thrill. I died in the first issue, we got the awesome escape from Shield in the second, and a good dose of Night Nurse in the third. What’s the fourth issue got to offer?

elekbull-01elekbull-02elekbull-03
elekbull-04elekbull-05

Welp.

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