Revenge of the BLOG

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Comic reviews, August 24

I'll be doing comic reviews somewhat differently than I used to. While I was on my blogging break, I'd write fairly long comic book reviews and post them on the very cool CBR message boards. They'd usually start off discussion threads and I got a fairly positive reaction from people.

Now, because I'm lazy, I won't be writing long reviews here. Mostly because I could only bang out long reviews for 2 books a week, max. And I'll be posting the long ones on CBR. Here, I'll just give general observations and stuff. No more cover images to go with the reviews. Those were a bitch to track down, resize and host elsewhere.

Now then, what came out this week?

Ultimate X-Men Annual #1.
I dug this book. Basically a Gambit and Rogue side story where they fight Juggernaut. The cool thing is that GAMBIT DIES IN THE END. Rogue permantly absorbs his powers and memories before he dies, so he end up with one less shitty character and a slightly more interesting Rogue. The REAL weird thing with this book is Tom Raney's art. I've got all these STORMWATCH back issues, and his art today is better by leaps and bounds. It's nice to see an artist improve.

Daredevil #76
Begins the Murdock Papers story. Bendis and Maleev are on point once again in what is their last arc. We see positve stuff happening for Daredevil. He's become the most popular superhero in New York City, the public doesn't seem to care about the rumors of his true identity, and Milla is back in his life. So, with everything going good, things will take a turn for the worse for sure. This happens when the Kingpin spills all his secrets concerning Daredevil to Ben Urich to get his freedom. My issue with this is why would Urich write the story that is sure to ruin his friend Murdock? Doesn't make sense. Then again, this arc is just starting, so in true Bendis fashion, all will be revealed.

Daredevil VS Punisher #3
More Daredevil fun from David Lapham. This story looks rooted in 70's Marvel, but that might just be the art. Wondering where a story fits in continuity is a pretty stupid thing to do, so it's better to just enjoy the story. And it's a fun read. Some clever uses of supervillains, which is odd. We're getting more Supervillans here than in their 2 respective books, and this one is written AND drawn by Lapham.

Jack Cross #1
I LOVE this book. Then again, I tend to LOVE Warren Ellis books. And then, I tend to LOVE torture/interrogation sequences. And then, I tend to LOVE spy/espionage stories. This has everything I LOVE in one package, except for boobies. It is my goal to one day become a Warren Ellis character.

Wolverine #31
The end of Millar's Enemy of the state/Agent of SHIELD mega-arc. Wolverine basically kicks ass the entire issue, as he did for the entire arc. The way he offs the Gorgon is pretty cool as well, with some cool dialogue. This kind of story really can't sustain itself for more than 12 issues before it looks like a big joke, so Millar chose the right length to tell the story. Fun stuff.

Next week looks like it's gonna be HUGE. Expect reviews of JLA CLASSIFIED, SHINING KNIGHT, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, ASTONISHING X-MEN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, DAREDEVIL: FATHER, NEW AVENGERS, POWERS, RUNAWAYS, SUPREME POWER, WHA HUH?, and YOUNG AVENGERS.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Anonymity + competition = douchebaggery

Yeah, I've been on a break for quite a while. School demanded a lot of time and attention, and once I wasn't blogging for a while, I lost the feeling that I should. School went well, good grades all around, and then summer hit. I really enjoyed myself as I spent days at a time doing nothing, but after a month went by I started going nuts. I spent more time working, and I bought myself a subscription to Xbox Live.

Lemme tell you about Xbox Live. Xbox Live is an online service where after plugging your xbox into your cable modem, you can play games over the internet. Without a keyboard and mouse, player to player communication is handled via a headset. This is where the real fun is, listening to the INSANE trash talking that occurs during the course of a game.

The thing about trash talking is this: without any sort of physical proximity to the people one is playing against, one could turn into the worlds largest douchebag. Take my experience in Halo 2 for example. Before any single game, you are put in the pre-game lobby, where you wait while everyone loads the map or you wait for additional players. Here's where the initial trash talking begins. Expect to be called a bitch a few times, expect to be labeled a fag more than once, expect to be informed of your forthcoming "rape" eventually, and every once in a while, someone will call you some racial slur that can in no way be identified with your race. This is all before the game begins. Take away the actual threat of a physical confrontation and everyone becomes a tough guy. Not just a tough guy, but one with a middle school vocabulary. In the time between the pre-game lobby and the post-game stats, there is no single more important thing than the game. It is the measure of your manhood, your heterosexuality, your dick length, etc. Never have I felt more disconnected from youth culture than the moment I realized what everyone else my age and under were up to on Xbox Live.

So it's annoying and borderline offensive. It's like being back in high school all of a sudden. So take off the headset you say? I say thee NAY! This is all part of the experience. Play enough and you start to give yourself over to the experience, the game becomes THAT important. Now, I'm not calling anyone a fag or anything, but few things are sweeter than sticking the trash talking weilder of an energy sword with a plasma grenade, and knowing that even if they manage to kill you, their death is only seconds behind. Then you respawn and do the whole thing over again. It's an experience. It sure is.

After 24 days I'm a level 16 in Rumble Pit. I'm also a 17 in Team Slayer. My gamertag is IantistarI . Look me up sometime. I promise I won't call you a fag.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Oh snap

Yeah, I'm doing the blog thing again.

The Ultimates 2 Annual #1
This is really an issue all about Nick Fury. Although, he doesn't appear in it that often, we're shown glimpses of all the things accross the Ultimate Universe that he has his hands in. From new Ultimates recruits to assassins.

So, the Ultimates kick the crap out of some terrorists attempting to hijack an airplane. This scene is really set up to give us our first glimpse of the focus of the issue; the new recruits. We see the Rocketmen, piloting some older versions of the Iron Tech armor, they manage to save the lives of the terrorists after the Black Widow flings them out of the plane. Continuing the new recruits, we see a page that profiles all of them. There are five Goliaths, each with the power to get really big. A squad called the four seasons, with nondescript powers that come from their very colorful costumes. Thunderbolt and Intangi-Girl, who's name's decribe what they do. Finally, there is a guy named Lieberman, who's been injected with the new Super Soldier Serum. The thing with these characters is that they're not really fleshed out in way that makes them more than just jarheads with powers. Lieberman especially comes off like the most annoying jock you'll ever meet. I'm sure that's intentional, but he's the only one of them that gets anything that resembles a personality. Maybe this is some subtext dealing with how Millar feels about the American military, maybe he just can't be bothered with making us care about these new nobodies, whatever the case, these guys are boring.

Now comes the plot with the assassin. Some General, presumably a Russian one, gets on Fury's ass for using the Ultimates on foreign soil against a sovereign nation. Fury isn't having any of that shit, and basically tells him to fuck off. From there, we're led to believe that the general hires this aged assassin, Mr. Nix, to off Fury. It's all so obvious that it has to be a red herring.

After some complaining from Summer, one of the asshole Four Seasons, we get perhaps the coolest moment of the book. Confirmation that the Hulk is alive and smashing things in the Himalayas. It isn't even commented on, but it's Millar's way of hammering the point home for those too dumb to get the ending of #3.

Another cool moment is the appearance of the Defenders. Seems they've recruited a guy in a wheelchair. This gives Millar the oppurtunity to make lots of handicapped jokes. It's all very funny in a slightly guilty way. We also can infer from the narration boxes that Damian Hellstorm is on the team with the sole purpose of monitoring Hank Pym, who doesn't even bother to show up for the meeting.

Now another action sequence, shown from the perspective of the new recruits that don't really do any fighting. The team beats up some giant sand monster while the Four Seasons act like assholes. There IS a humourous bit though, commenting on how no one really knows what Scarlet Witches powers do.

After a pretty forgettable scene with Mr. Nix, we find out what the deal is with Lieberman. Turns out that he's gonna be the reserve Captain America in the event that Steve Rogers goes down. Makes a certain ammount of sense. But, of course, this doesn't last long, cuz on a night on the town, Lieberman tries to do the superhero thing and save the residents of a burning building. He's actually successful, but in the end the SSS fries his entire central nervous system. Fury comments that they should put his body with the OTHERS. Ugh, they've been killing a lot of people with this new SSS.

Finally, Nix attempts to make his hit, but Fury caps him instead. Turns out that Fury is the one who made the hire, all to catch a notorious assassin. Yeah, sure, didn't see that coming.

So what was the point of it all? Fury is a bastard. He does some sneaky, underhanded, fucked up things, but does so because he believes what he's doing is right. He's doing it for our safety... or something. Millar likes to write assholes, he's good at crafting situations where people are bastards, and this is no exception. I'm not that big a fan of Fury, but then, I'm not a fan of anyone who takes who they are and what they do THAT seriously. Like the Jack Nicholson character in A Few Good Men, he's guy on the wall that you and I don't know exists. And he'll put a bullet in the head of an innocent person to keep the world ignorant of that wall. He's got absolute power, and you know where that goes... right to hell on the pavement of good intentions. (wow, that's a lot of cliches.)