Month: April 2010

New Comic Day hangover

Only one book this week, so this will be quick.

X-Force #26 in which…holy crap, man.

I’m not going to spoil this one for you.  I’ll talk about it next week.  Let me just say that a commenter on last week’s Hangover owes me a hearty “I told you so.”  I deserve it.

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Revisiting the JLI: Part 9

Issues Covered
Justice League International #22-23 (as well as some Invasion! tie-ins)

What Happened
The JLI is called to the South Pacific to help with the Khund part of the alien invasion going on, leaving behind Max Lord, Oberon and Booster Gold (who draws monitor duty).  Booster hears one of the teleporter pods activate and is quickly taken down by a group of shrunken Khund agents who miniaturized themselves to help invade the Justice League embassy.  Oberon discovers the enemies but is blown off by Max who leaves for a meeting.  Oberon runs from the Khunds until he remembers Blue Beetle’s extra BB-Gun in his room.  He KO’s the aliens with a super-charged bright flash and leaves them trapped in several Roach Motels.

In the Pacific, the rest of the team is ordered to serve as a distraction for Wonder Woman who is infiltrating an occupied island to rescue her friend.  Martian Manhunter and Mister Miracle launch an operation that blows up a large part of the Khund fleet as the others keep them occupied on the ground.  As Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman discuss the massive loss of life they have caused in this war, Blue Beetle tells them both that a large superhero conference is forming and their presence is required.

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Comic Book DVD Review — Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

The movie

In a nutshell, the movie is about the Justice League taking on evil versions of themselves from another Earth in the Multiverse, the Crime Syndicate.  Here, the Crime Syndicate can best be described as a collection of mafia families, joined together for their mutual benefaction.  The two members of this Earth’s Justice League that are introduced in this movie are Lex Luthor and The Jester (Joker).  See?  Opposite.

And it is really easy to tell the good versions from the bad versions.  No, the bad versions are not sporting goatees.  Instead, the alternate Earth versions all have variations of the costumes of their counterparts.  It is close enough to tell who their counterpart is supposed to be, if the powers didn’t give it away, but different enough so you can tell them apart while they are fighting.

The story starts off with Lex Luther and The Jester infiltrating a Crime Syndicate base to steal a device.  When cornered Lex Luthor teleports himself to Earth, to ask for help from the Justice League.  Of course there is the expected mis-understanding when Lex Luthor arrives in the JLA Watchtower, and of course Superman doesn’t trust him, but he can see he isn’t the evil Lex Luthor because all of his organs are reversed.  See, opposite.

The Justice League, sans Batman who stayed behind to keep an eye on the Watchtower, follows Luthor back to opposite Earth, and confronts the Crime Syndicate.  Battles ensue.  There is also a side story involving Owlman trying to destroy the Multiverse.

The story is decent.  Yes, it’s a bit predictable, but it is superheroes versus villains.  It’s not exactly a secret that the good guys are going to win.  I also thought they did a nice job explaining the concept of the Multiverse to an audience that may not be familiar with it.  The animation is well-done.  All of the action sequences flow nicely, and are clear enough that the viewer can tell what is going.  The voice acting is okay, for the most part.  I like Mark Harmon as Agent Gibbs in NCIS, but I did not think he was a good pick to be Superman.  However, James Woods played a very menacing Owlman, and was a nice contrast to William Baldwin’s Batman.

Read below the jump for the special features. (more…)

Revisiting the JLI: Part 8.5

Issues Covered
Justice League International 16-21

What Happened
Using G’nort as a power supply, Martian Manhunter, Big Barda and Rocket Red attempt to follow Manga Khan’s ship, but lose it when it travels into warp drive (or hyperspace – no one’s really sure).  Big Barda installs her power rod into the ship, allowing it to travel via Boom Tube, but the destination they pick is the wrong one…until Khan just happens to travel straight to them.  Khan has learned that Mister Miracle is a New God and the son of the Highfather and is prepared to trade him to Darkseid in order to open a trade agreement with Apokolips.  Seeing that the Justice League members have found him, Khan contracts Lobo to kill the four of them.  The payment is a 10 year supply of space dolphin food, as the star-faring creatures are the only things that make Lobo happy.

Lobo finds their ship and attacks, destroying Rocket Red’s armor, but Barda opens a Boom Tube and transports him to the Justice League Embassy in New York.  His entrance cracks Guy Gardner in the back of the head, restoring his original personality.  Gardner attacks, but is eventually subdued by locking him into Booster Gold’s forcefield until he falls asleep.  Lobo realizes that he’s got no way to get back to fulfill his contract, so he agrees to join the Justice League (who are holding a membership drive) and wait until his targets return to Earth.  Also joining the League are Hawkman and Hawkwoman.

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The five stages of grief in comic book deaths

So you’ve got a favorite hero, right?  You keep an eye out for appearances from them, buy their own book every month, and know pretty much everything there is to know about him.  Then suddenly, you pick up the newest issue to find – bam! – your beloved protagonist is caught in a situation that surely no one can survive.  And he doesn’t.  You’re forced to watch the funeral, and then your character is gone, leaving you hoping for a resurrection.

Losing your favorite hero can be hard on the comic fanboy, and it is expected that the mourning process will be rougher than it should be.  In some cases, the Kübler-Ross model, or the so-called ‘five stages of grief’ will come into play.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of – it’s part of the healing process.

I went through my own grieving period back in 2005 when my favorite hero, Blue Beetle, took a bullet to the head care of Maxwell Lord.  I remember it well – I had heard in an interview that Dan DiDio was teasing of Blue Beetle’s importance to the DCU leading into Infinite Crisis.  Then the cover art for Countdown to Infinite Crisis was shown, with Batman holding a shaded figure before a number of DC heroes.  I looked closer and realized it was Beetle being held, I was suddenly worried that he would be the sacrificial lamb to kick off the event.

A phone call from a dear friend confirmed it.  She had access to our preferred comic shop’s preview issues and read the book a week before it hit shelves.  She was almost giddy in sharing the news, knowing that it would crush me knowing that my beloved character would not be making it out alive.  I am now dating that girl, and she is probably loving the memory of seeing my spirit crushed. 

And then I found myself going through the stages.

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Around the Web – April 2010

This Month’s Webcomic – Sarah Zero

Drowning in a sea of self-importance.

Where can it be found?
Right here.

How did you find it?
Honestly?  I Googled ‘worst webcomic ever’ and found it on someone’s list.

How much did you read of it?
I started at the beginning and went probably about a fifth of the way through.

What’s it about?
Well, I’m not really sure.  It’s mostly made up of single panel images spouting off psuedo-intellectual, nonsensical phrases while trying to make the art look profound.  The result doesn’t make a lick of sense, but it proves that the creator obviously thinks he’s pretty damn smart.

I suppose I could look at the author’s description:

Sarah Zero is an ongoing story about a feisty redhead and a group of malcontents struggling to find love and validation on the internet. Sarah’s trying to overcome her failings, find the strength to get her priorities straight and unstrange the estranged relationships in her real life.

SZ is a semi-autobio examination of human behaviour, digital culture and our constantly-changing world. It’s about making the right choices to become more than we are.

Huh.  Totally didn’t pick that up while reading the comic itself.

What happened in the part you read?
The main character was saved from floating adrift in the ocean (losing her clothes in the process) and meets a guy who takes her to a bar where she quickly loses him, brushes off someone hitting on her, then takes the stage with her guitar while someone goes in and talks about her stealing his music demos and clipping her wings.

Strengths?
The strip occasionally looks pretty.

Weaknesses?
The damn thing makes no sense.  It’s like someone took a bunch of motivational calendars, jotted down all the sayings and then drew images to it.  Eventually, it gets into a huge stand against media censorship which looks more like bitterness towards someone rather than ideals.

No, seriously, what do you REALLY think?
I have learned from YouTube that there is an audience for absolutely EVERYTHING, and this comic is no exception.  According to the site’s tracking info (which is available on the front page), he gets an average of 2000 hits a week.  And I’m sure a lot of those people think that the comic is downright profound.  I would humbly disagree.  I think Sarah Zero has a lot of effort likely put into it, but the fact remains that it’s just a bunch of ‘Wise man says’ quotes pasted to images that may or may not completely reflect it.  There’s no discernible plot to be found, and no characterization…since the characters hardly ever talk.  It’s pretty much what an emo kid wishes their mind was like.  I found myself unable to connect with the strip because I didn’t buy into the preachy BS I saw there.  It’s one big metaphor (and it’s aware of it) but I don’t think it even understands completely what it’s going for.

Final thoughts?
Sarah Zero is a comic that is pretty confident that it’s being smart – after all, the creator is calling it ‘semi autobio’.   I’m sure that a lot of people agree.

Revisiting the JLI: Part 8

Issues covered
Justice League International #16-17

What Happened
Bialyan President Rumaan Harjavti announces a special presentation rumored to be a secret weapon which catches the attention of Maxwell Lord.  He asks Batman to infiltrate Bialya to find out what’s going on, so Batman creates an infiltration team of Blue Beetle, Booster Gold and Green Flame.  “Disguised” as Bruce Wayne, Batman enters Bialya with a number of other celebrities and begins searching.  Their cover is quickly blown when Beetle and Booster are gassed in their hotel room and taken captive, and Batman and Green Flame are attacked at gunpoint, but easily subdue their attackers.  Batman changes his cover identity to Maxwell Lord and attends the presentation.  Harjavti tells the gathered celebrities and press that he plans on becoming a champion of the smaller nation to free it from the hold of the USA and USSR, revealing the horribly disfigured Wandjina.  As Harjavti brags, Wandjina attacks him from behind, irradiating his head and killing him.  Harjavti’s escort, Queen Bee, announces that she is taking control of Bialya and seals the country’s borders.

Batman, still disguised as Max Lord, decides to begin an escape plan and leaves Green Flame to go free Booster and Beetle.  Booster moves first, though, using his Legion Flight Ring to disable their cell guard and free themselves.  As they head back to recover Flame, she drops from the hotel into Booster’s waiting arms.  The Bialyans corner them, but their attack is blown by the arrival of Captain Atom, disregarding Batman’s orders not to interfere.  After a brief fight in which Atom destroys the mindless Wandjina, Queen Bee arrives and dismisses the JLI, promising not to make light of their gross discrepancy against her country as long as they do not return.  Batman threatens her, only to find that the people of Bialya fully support her.  Dejected, the team leaves.

Jacob Says
While seemingly unimportant by itself, Queen Bee’s coup of Bialya is one of the more important happenings of the title, especially in the story that closes the comedy JLI run.  By itself, it is quite an enjoyable, yet chaotic little story, made especially better with the art of Kevin Maguire.  There was more to the jailing of Beetle and Booster than meets the eye, too.  We’ll come back to that.  Like several stories here, this one hasn’t aged particularly well.  Amongst the celebrities mentioned at the shindig, Jim Nabors is constantly mentioned.  Even then, Gomer Pyle would be a dated reference, and today it’s easier to miss than not.  Again, the Cold War is featured, and its effect on the mideast (particularly Afghanistan, it seems) which really doesn’t work anymore. 

Queen Bee, despite her importance, is not a particularly interesting character.  She’s just a woman who uses mind control to get her way.  For that matter, Bialya stories usually aren’t particularly interesting.  Wandjina makes his return after seemingly dying in issue #3, but he gets even less characterization here than he did before.  He’s pretty much a walking nuclear corpse and he only lasts two issues before being killed again.  We get more hotheaded moves from Captain Atom, showing that he’s not really a team player, but these won’t really go anywhere before he’s shuffled off to Justice League Europe.

Note that this is part 1 of this part, since the story of Martian Manhunter and crew going after Mister Miracle is also running in the title, but that’s going to be saved for the next edition as to not have to balance them back and forth.