Friday, October 26, 2007

Vote for Panel of the Week 26.10.07

Each week I'll be posting the 3-4 most memorable panels from the week and putting them up for a public week-long vote. The winning panels gets posted on the sidebar and earns boasting privileges over lesser panels...

Last week Joss Whedon's teen cyborg dreamer won fair and square against meander competition with a solid 45% of total votes!

This week, we finally get juicier competition, and 4 candidate panels, as Marvel ups the ante over DC:

Panel A

Hulk Bored (Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four #29)

Panel B
Marvel Zombies Eat Ego (Marvel Zombies 2 #1)

Panel C

Hellcat Claw Puny Phone (Marvel comics Presents #2)

Panel D

DC kick gay characters (Countdown #28)

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

X-men #204 Advance Review

Writer: Mike Carey

Artists: Mike Choi and Scot Eaton

Marvel Comics

Mike Carey's run on the X-Men has been one long enjoyable game of Ten Little Indians.

...and then there was one.

Iceman is the last of Carey's X-Men registering brainwaves (though admitedly, not too loudly). Carey has slowly eased in the Astonishing X-Men cast into the book, first as supporting cast, and now as equal players. (More on the process of elimination in last issue's review)

This week's issue acts as the epilogue of 'Blinded By the Light'; Carey doesn't just wrap up the storyline, he provides a nice cap to his entire run to date using Iceman as his proxy; Bobby seems to be going from X-Man to X-Man, recounting the entire Carey run through the dialogue; it's not even obviously noticeable until you really pore through the text. Suave.

On to the plot in a hurry, before we hit 1000 words:

After their run in with the Marauders, Sam and Bobby have saved the day, but Cannonball has been left comatose. Bobby goes around being emo and angst-ridden, while Blindfold drops ominous hints for the deaths in the upcoming crossover. Cyclops is blue over Cable's death (why? Cable is one of the most oft-resurrected members of the Summers family, after Jean herself), but can't give too much time to grieve since he needs to fend off a worried Emma, rally the troops to (finally) figure out Sinister's plan, and bicker with Bobby to provide a recount of Rogue Team's scoreboard.

Over at the enemy camp, Sinister has meetings with his own lieutenants, while Remy finally gets some alone time with the comatose Rogue (so much sick-bed tending for one issue!)

Carey defines the limits of the allegiances between the three different villain camps: the Marauders, the Brotherhood, and the Acolytes. These are three very different sets of people with different priorities and agendas, and I was long expecting an explanation of how the three massive egos of Sinister, Mystique and Exodus manage to work together. It's all been built up nicely since the X-Men Annual earlier this year, and headed for an explosion during the Messiah Complex starting next month.

And now for our main feature, and what R&R (Rogue&Remy) fans have been waiting for since that solicited japanimation slash-fic cover. Without being allowed to give out too many spoilers in an advance review, yes, there is some brief resolution to Rogue's condition and a meaty sequence designed to please even the most hardcore fans in the R&R community.

During our conversation with Mike Carey last weekend in the Birmingham Comics Show, he went over his trepidations regarding the R&R issue, and how there are two extreme camps of thought (one for the R&R relationship, the other against) that are impossible to keep happy at the same time (bear in mind also, that R&R fans are the biggest and most vocal community online, with dozens of websites devoted to the romance). Carey had his work cut out for him with this issue. He has always been great about keeping an ear to the fans' thoughts, and even met with the admin couple from one of the fansites (whose name I forget, but I hope someone posts it here). Still, he -correctly for me- doesn't choose to make a statement in favour of either camp, but instead writes his own take on the character, and even does that unthinkable, attempting to look at the R&R relationship as a whole: The Jim Lee & Nicieza flirtations, the Lobdell romance, then the rift and the Seagle antarctic abandonment, the Davis mess, the Claremont happy retirement days, and the Milligan schism and further betrayal.

Remy is in full puppy-eyes mode, just like the girls (and some of the boys) like him, conflicted, trapped in the wrong side of the fence, everything he tries to embrace turning to dirt and it being his fault. Mike Carey resolves Rogue's condition with a sequence of surprising subtlety; I missed a crucial detail the first time I read through the issue, but even the second time I was confused as to what happened to trigger the events here. Did they or didn't they? And that's all I'm hinting at here.

Mike Choi is an ideal choice for this romantic wrap-up issue, capturing the fragility of the latter encounter, but also doing a stellar job in the other scenes, especially when it comes to the different character designs; Sinister has never looked scarier or sexier, black lipstick and all, the Goth Prince of Sadism, while I also appreciated the little details on Beast, with the marks on his snout from where he's shaved off his cat whiskers.

In the back of the issue we get the two (!) last installments of Endangered Species backup features. Beast has concluded his long journey around the Marvel Universe, turning every stone and looking at every possible aspect of the M-Day event and the mutant origins, finally coming up with a despairing conclusion, and a desperate final measure, as he tracks down the amnesiac Scarlet Witch to her hometown (last seen in New Avengers #26) in Transia.

Mike Carey has been a godsend on the X-Men titles, proving yet again he's got the rare gift of both rich characterisation -fueled by continuity but not constrained by it- and the ability to see the bigger picture of the thinly-spread x-franchise and channel it effortlessly to the reader. A single line could have resonance to more than 15 years of backstory, without being self-referential.

Grade: 7/10
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Birds of Prey #111

Story: Tony Bedard

Art: Jason Orfalas

DC Comics

[The title follows the life of Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl after she was cripple by Joker's gunshot. Now she is Oracle, the world's premiere cyber-espionage expert, leading a network of female super-operatives]

Tony Bedard continues his interim run on the title, after Gail Simone's celebrated run, and before Sean McKeever's anticipated arrival. Not stress. No fuss.

''Nerds of Prey' is the first story where I can actually believe he had fun writing. Someone somewhere has hacked a disc with information leading to Oracle's identity and Babs will have none of that. She tracks his trace to an info-geek convention and attends in person to manually delete the information from the offline info network. Sadly for her, Calculator (her arch-nemesis since Infinite Crisis, a high-level intelligence super-broker with super-OCD) is hot on the trail of the same information, and is attending the convention to smoke Oracle out in the open. Of course they will randomly bump into each other, they will chat, dinner, date and flirt, and eventually come to stand-off Mexico-style.

Bedard finally gets the hang of the title, in a story that is ally not editorially-mandated. Babs kicks us, and the Calculator actually has a human voice, and acts as our POV character. He does fall into an easy trap here and steps on a pet peeve of mine:


Now cyberspace has always been a darling comics sweetheart, and I'm always amused/slash/terrified at the different interpretation of the computer interfaces in comics. Technoorganic viruses, cyber-A.I.s who spring to life and materialize, computer programmes who gain sentience, and of course... -as in this current case- computer software who exist as cute on-screen cartoons which duke it out pokemon-style for dominance over the computer network! I cringe, I roll my eyes, I make angry fists at the comics page, but it's still there.

Jason Orfalas is filling in for Nicola Scott on the art front, and doing a better job of it; he sports all of her the good qualities, but none of the hindrances, with a good eye for anatomy and proportions. Babs is finally an attractive young woman, not a nerdy cripple, but a bona fide former superheroine. Here she looks it and she acts it! With more work on facial expressions and breakdowns, Jason'd be an ideal fit for the title.

Fun, but not too fun, Bedard and Orfalas are providing an entertaining supporting act while the main acts switch backstage. But don't get too attached.

Grade: 6/10
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ryan Kelly's inked art for American Virgin #19

Clearly the art loses a lot of its punch in the colouring stage, as Kelly is a true force of nature when it comes to inks.

With the title's announced cancellation it's unlikelty we'll ever get to see a B&W reprinting of these issues. Meanwhile, enjoy these pages from Ryan's blog. (more in the link)

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Survivor China s15e05

Romance and Sabotage!

Birds are a-tweeting in each camp:

James and the Ogre! (Denise)

He actually finds her attractive? I can see how they match wits, but talk about redneck love!

Eric the Virgin? Damn it was about time he revealed what was special about him to get him chosen! And now he's earned his nickname. Mr Nice Guy all the way!

Jaime and Eric, sitting in a lake, k-i-s-yadda-yadda-bling. She's totally using his soft emo ass.

Now that Velentine's is over, cue in the surprise twist!

Two members from each tribe switch over to the other. For good?

Now that's more like it, put an early kibosh into everyone's scheming. Of course they all go for each team's strongest, but that's not where things stop being interesting.

Jaime and P-G should be crowned Queens of Survivor, right here and now! The take a twist and twist it even more, all the way back around to their best interests. Seeing as how their tribe has 3 old and 2 new, they decide to throw the next immunity challenges to get rid of the newcomers and head into the merger even-numbered with the other -original- tribe. Twist-errific!

The twist cleverly comes after a series of strictly brawn challenges, to give an advantage to the schemers, as it clearly requires them to throw the challenge in order to win. At this point only one tribe figured this out. I wonder if Todd realises what Jaime and P-G are about, will he tell his tribesmen? Will we have a challenge next week where both teams are trying to throw the match? ;)

James and Aaron are helpless in this new scheme of things, as all they've got left is their frustration; now they wait to get voted off. One of them keeps his cool against impossible odds, the other one caves in and plays Judas. But they're both helpless against the tide. At least one kept his dignity.

Aaron, you poor misguided fool. A sad sight to see him just give up and side with the opposition, without even telling them. Weak.

Quote of the day: My brain hurts - James

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Survivor China s15e03

Highly enjoyable!

The reward challenge was a boring as the reward itself. Pillows? And what's with having girl-on-girl fights every week? I'd rather switch over to WWF. Dave's naked strategy may not have made a difference to the other camp, but it was good for the eye candy and the fond S1 memories. The Ogre (Denise) was the most fun revelation of the game, sitting back dumbfounded as everyone wrestled, waiting for all the survivors of the other side to come gang up on her once they've dealt with her teammates.

The treasure hunt as a continuity challenge through every episode could become fun to watch! I'm still curious for the players to explain the logic behind choosing Leslie as the abductee. Easiest person to pull over to their side? How can she be so naive as to just chat everyone up? To add insult to injury, she then goes back to camp and tells her team members how much she loves the other team and how close she feels to them. Why wouldn't they vote her off from fear of turning against them post-merge? Not Survivor material (plus, she TOLD someone else about the first clue in the previous episode! grrr, that still bothers me). 'Mom' probably came in to proselytize rather than actually try to get to the money.

Immunity Challenge... That was more interesting, if only to see Ashley the Anorexic Waitress try to lift the small axe and swing it blindly like she was aiming for a stuffed papier mache ox. The choices of who to sit out from the challenge that involves both brain AND brawn? It was fairly obvious really: Denise (the Ogre) and Leslie (the Mom). Stupid AND weak.

In the final voting, Todd the Rat-twink voted against his own conspiracy? Why? How does he ever hope to get rid of the Three Bulls if he keeps going at it like that? And to think he was the one I was rooting for. Meanwhile, the Anorexic Waitress survives against all odds, despite single-handedly costing them the mission... Good-bye Mom, you had no chance!

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Survivor China s15e02

Immunity challenge this week? Giant ball mud-wrestling which quickly descends into dirty clothes-pulling and a Roman Orgy in mud. Yum.

Leslie, you're an idiot! You tell Todd the RAT-twink, the secret immunity clue? You TELL him? You don't go there and negotiate some sort of alliance, you don't ask for anything in return ,you only GIVE it to him. The individual immunity clue. Why? Because you're stupid, and he's smart. You pretty much concede to that, sweetie. Buh-bye

Speaking of the infiltration, what a wasted opportunity. You get sent into the opposing team's camp, without any rules or restrictions, and you spend your time making nice and braiding each other's hair? Then you hug and say goodbye? Is anyone's mind in the game? You don't make friends on your time in the enemy camp. You pretend to fall asleep and then get up in the middle of the night, you wreck their fireplace, you tear down their beds and you break their fishing gear in half. You have been given NO restrictions to play nice.


Ashley is voted off this week, and it's sad to see her go. Because you were so right sweetie, and you do look the most awesome of the bunch! Still, it's Rat-Twink for the win, all the way! No personal grudges, m'kay?

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Countdown #28


Story: Paul Dini w/ Tony Bedard
Art: Al Barrionuevo

DC Comics

Only 28 left to go to end the torment.

Page by page:

Jimmy Olsen is kidnapped by a new Forager. Who? The Newsarama article said his is a redesign of a New God, but an editorial caption or a flashback or any bread scrap would be most welcome at this point, if only to explain why I should care at this point.

The Suicide Squad storms the cafe where Trickster and Piper are meeting Double Down, but the odd couple turn invisible and escape in a disappointing Gadget-Ex-Machina moment. So this whole time the Trickster has had an invisibility generator in his costume? One noone found when they arrested them, and one he never thought to use when they were captured by Poison Ivy, almost executed by Deathstroke, hidden in the warehouse of the Black Canary wedding, or mauled by a Golem? Double Down is the freakiest Rogue in DC's current repertoire (that's saying a lot), but the art in the last few issues hasn't done much to portray his powers since the Geoff Johns rule, with the deck of cards peeling off his inked skin, leaving behind visible muscle tissue. Here he's only a tatooed weirdo with a deck of cards.

Karate Kid and Una meet up with Brother Eye and something goes on with an old man and some kid. If I cared I would actually read the whole dialogue. But I don't (duh). Brother Eye's dialogue is creepy enough to make the effort, could we please have some off-beat moment in the future: I want to see him say 'Eye spy with my big Eye' :)

Speaking of Big Brother, Shadowpact is using Madame Xanadu to spy on Mary Marvel (or Black Mary, hehe) as she's using her new powers to-- wait, what ARE her powers? At this point, she's being shown doing pretty much whatever she wants. She's ageing people, she's bringing trees to life, she's transfiguring people into animals. She's a goddess, she's a witch, she's a bitch. Lovely.

The new Forager (man ,she looks UGLY! Why would someone commit this heinous crime to a Kirby design?) reveals DC's real plan behind offing New Gods left and right (Bardaaaaaaaaaa :-o ), as she enlists Jimmy to help retrieve the lost souls of the dead New Gods. Go Team Jimmy!

The Challengers of the Unknown are on Earth-8, the Earth mirrored after the Marvel Universe where the villains have brought on apocalypse and slain everyone. Captain Atom has somehow turned into an ass (the bug has been going around the DCU lately), and is sporting the Monarch armour, 2 decades too late. The challengers are kicking ass until not one but TWO yawn-inducing big surprise villains join the Big Boring Blue's cause.

On the art side, Al Barrionuevo is underperforming, dropping massively in quality compared to what he'd shown us in his debut series with Martian Manhunter. I guess he needs to make his art fit with the previous 23 bland issues of this title. I still don't really believe Giffen is doing breakdowns in this book.

The series is reading more and more like an endless random collage of 'Meanwhiles' and interludes in desperate need of a cohesive main plot to drive them to the finish line. It's not horrid, it's just aimless and dull with not a single redeeming value. Still a crime against our pockets.

28 boring Countdown issues on the shelf, read one out, burn it to ashes, 27 boring Countdown issues on the shelf.

Grade: 2/10
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Closeted Homosexual Professor Murdered at Hogwarts!

Shock. Gasp.

In unexpected news this week, J.K. Rowling outed Harry Potter's Professor Albus Dumbledore, fictional Headmaster of the Hogwarts School of Wizardry, a mere two books and 4 years since his death.

And everyone applauded, for a gay man who was never outed, not in his fictional lifespan, not in the books published or the movies released. Way to go to give us a great role model, ms Rowling!

As for the media circus?

Let's quote:

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell welcomed the news about Dumbledore and said: "It's good that children's literature includes the reality of gay people, since we exist in every society.

...and remain closeted in our studies not letting anyone know our real identity

And a spokesman for gay rights group Stonewall added: "It's great that JK has said this. It shows that there's no limit to what gay and lesbian people can do, even being a wizard headmaster."

... ... ... ...

"Dumbledore is gay," she said, adding he was smitten with rival Gellert Grindelwald, who he beat in a battle between good and bad wizards long ago.

This could actually fit, looking back. But I still couldn't prove this isn't something that Rowling tacked on after the fact; there was simply no hinting or nudging for the reader to make this jump on his own. If Dumbledore was always perceived as a gay character, why is there not a single hint in the series of 7 books? And what is the point of revealing it after all the books have been released?

Is it safe now?

Source: BBC News

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The U.S. Navy versus the Spaniards


Spanish: ... This the TO-853, please deviate your course fifteen south degrees to avoid collision with us.. You approach direct toward us, distance 25 nautical miles.

American: ... We recommend that you deviate your course fifteen north degrees to avoid collision.

Spanish: Negative. We repeat, please deviate their course fifteen south degrees to avoid collision.

American: (another American voice) You're speaking to the Captain of a ship of the United States of America. We insist, deviate your course fifteen north degrees to avoid collision.

Spanish: We consider your suggestion neither feasible nor convenient, we suggest that you deviate your course fifteen south degrees to avoid to collide with us.


You are speaking to Juan Manuel Rooms Alcбntara. We are two people. We are escorted by our dog, our food, two beers and a canary that now this sleeping. We have the support of Chain Dial of The Coruсa and the channel 106 of maritime emergency. We can direct to no side since we speak firmly from land, we are in the lighthouse TO-853 Finisterra, off the coast of Galicia. We do not have any idea in which place we are in the ranking of Spanish lighthouses. You can take all the f***ing measures that you consider opportune to guarantee the security of your f***ng ship, which-I repeat- is headed straight towards our rocky shores. But we still insist and we suggest that the best, healthy and more recommendable solution is that you deviate your course fifteen south degrees to avoid collision....!!!!

American: ok, understood, thanks.

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Radio Music Piracy killed the Video Star

A video fairytale with a didactic core. Starring a pop queen, a thieving sorcerer, a band of trovadours, and the court Jester who couldn't keep his mouth shut.

The ingredients of this little story, in video:

Music, is quite good, 'Clocks' from Coldplay

Piracy, is of Greek origin, 'Thelo Na Se Do' (I want to see you), from Despina Vandi, 'composed' by Greece's #1 music man, Foivos

Start playing the videos, and do a bit of mixing, see if you can Spot The Difference.

This is where the Video Star, or VJ, comes in.

Guy Krief is a French-Greek who has been making waves with his part off-beat, part brain-dead way of presenting a music show, on Greek TV's #1 (or is that 'only'?) music channel, MAD TV. Last week, he decided to push his luck, by commenting on the newly released Foivos song, and presenting a mix clip comparing it to Coldplay.

The Kill? That came after the show's end, with Foivos and the company Heaven, 'allegedly', calling in the station, causing havoc and giving Guy the ax for his (=their) sins. Guy's show Ninja TV was never seen again and the young VJ (the second most popular presenter on the station after the actual manager) was laid off.

After this, feel free to make your own conclusions; I'm feeling too happy this morning to get into Freedom of Expression, Media Hypocrisy and Survival of the Most Profitable.

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Survivor China s15e01

Retro-dated post to retro-kick off LYSAD's Survivor coverage.

This is Chicken,

we'll obsess more over him later on in the story

Introducing our tribes:

Yellow Zhan Hu Tribe

Bionic Woman Ashlee, from the WWF wrestling arena
Power-Woman Sherea
Wicked Witch of the East, P.G.
Monkey-Boy Frosti
Virgin Erik
Not-So Virgin Jamie
Leader Dave, a former model

Red Fei-Long Tribe

Rat-a-Twink Todd
Background Amanda
Momma Leslie, the Uber-Christian
Leader Aaron
Courtney, the Anorexic Waitress
Gravedigger James, the Juggernaut
Denise the Ogre, a lunch lady
Jean-Robert, the Poker Man

Early favourites:

Rat-a-Twink Todd: Jean-Robert is right, he is clever, and he's bound to cause a lot of conspiracies, which we love. Plus, he looks like a hairless Hobbit next to the Poker Man.

Bionic Woman Ashlee: she dares the jungle with piercings, bleach hair and platforms.

Monkey Boy Frosti: the living cartoon

but most of all:

Steve 'Chicken' Morris, a chicken farmer. Because we love daddy bears, cowboys, Brokeback Mountain and Santa. And he's all that.

A chicken farmer, calling himself Chicken. Come on, appreciate!

And of course he gets voted off first, quite unfairly so, as well. Take out your PG voodoo dolls, we need to get a-pinching.

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