Monday, May 29, 2006

Summer Lazin'

Sorry to all the folks who have sent me Civil War banners; I'll update the listing in the next couple of days. I'm not sure how updating will work for the next week or so. I'll get things done when I can, but it certainly won't be regular.

In the meantime, there's always the archives!

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Good, the Bad, and The Last Stand

X-Men: The Last Stand was better than I was expecting. Quite a bit better, actually. Unfortunately, there was one glaring problem with it, and it was exactly what I'd feared.

Here there be spoilers.
Just how many plot threads were there in X-Men III?
1. Phoenix/Dark Phoenix
2. The Mutant Cure
3. Xavier vs. Magneto
4. Pyro vs. Iceman
5. The Rogue-Iceman-Shadowcat love triangle
6. The Cyclops-Jean Grey-Wolverine love triangle
7. Storm's ascension to leadership
8. Angel's issues with his father
9. Leech
10. Teamwork and the morality of the cure
11. Magneto's betrayal of Mystique

And I could probably include Moira MacTaggart in there as well. I think the problem here should be obvious: X3 tried to do too many things all at once, and all the plots suffered because of that lack of focus. Angel's plot thread fizzled out without much buildup or resolution, Phoenix was just completely gone for a good twenty minutes or so when she was Magneto's secret weapon, Moira MacTaggart's relationship with Xavier was never explained, one love triangle lost a corner early on without much fanfare, the other died away without any resolution or confrontation, and we really learned absolutely nothing about Leech. The only plot thread I felt closure with was the Pyro/Iceman rivalry, and that's mainly because it built up in the previous movie. It's a shame, too, because it felt like this was a 2.5-hour movie trimmed down to just under two hours, and that extra 40 minutes or so would have helped greatly. Perhaps we could have seen more reaction to Scott's death, more internal conflict between Jean's personalities, more impact to Xavier's death, more introductions and character development; instead it feels like this was a little too rushed, a little too unfocused.

All that could have been fixed by dropping the Phoenix plotline. I realize the last movie made it seem like this needed to be X-Men III: Rise of the Phoenix, but there was enough material in the cure storyline to fll this whole movie, and it should have. The Phoenix story, however they want to play it, is deep enough and complex enough and epic enough that it deserved its own film as well. If this had been X-Men III: Rise of the Phoenix and X-Men IV: The Last Stand, it would have been fantastic. Both storylines could have gotten the attention they deserved; the moral implications of the Mutant Cure could be more thoroughly explored, and the deaths of Xavier and Cyclops would have carried much more emotional weight. Trying to cram both into the same film forced focus to be diverted away from both plotlines, and really short-changed every one of the movie's stories as a result.

I only had three other problems that couldn't be fixed by splitting the plotlines. First, Halle Berry proves here why she didn't have much screen time in the last two films. Ye gods, she is a terrible actress, and she milks every scene she's in. It's like she bludgeoned the director with her Oscar until he agreed to make her a major focal point, even though none of the main plots really had anything to do with her. She chewed, swallowed, and regurgitated the scenery. Apparently she plans on hanging up the leather and cape, which means that we can all breathe a heavy sigh of relief.
The other major problem was that, despite the huge number of characters we had here, the cast didn't feel nearly as ensemble-ish as it did previously. Maybe it's because the new villains didn't get any real development, maybe it's because there were less than a dozen X-Men, of whom Colossus got very few lines and Rogue disappeared halfway through, missing any battle sequences entirely.
My minor nitpick has to do with those state-of-the-art effects in the opening sequence. The computer work was well done, but Charles and Erik's faces seemed far too flat and stiff, as if they'd both had recent Botox injections. They needed a bit more movement, I'd say.

Other things: where is Kitty supposed to be from that it's having its first snow while upstate New York is still in spring/summer weather? There's no way that the Chicagoland area would get hit while Westchester was sunny and green. Did Xavier's pre-death eye contact with Logan make anyone else think that he was going to pull a "Search for Spock" and store his mind inside Wolverine?

I don't want to seem like I didn't enjoy it, nor do I want to sound like a whiny, nitpicky fanboy; I certainly didn't feel like I'd wasted my money. I thought Hugh Jackman, Shawn Ashmore, Patrick Stewart, and Ian McKellen were all on their A-game the whole way through. I thought from the previews that Beast looked pretty goofy, but Kelsey Grammer pulled it off fantastically. I couldn't believe that Angel was the kid from "Flash Forward;" I loved that show! And seeing Anthony Heald (Dr. Chilton from The Silence of the Lambs) get his ass handed to him by Mystique was great. The special effects were top-notch, and they did some interesting things with the plotlines, which I only wish they could have expanded. It was a decent, though somewhat mediocre, movie. Its main failing was that it should have been two really good ones.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Fifty Too

Yes, I'm doing a "50 Best DC Characters" post.

No, it's not done yet.

No, no one has actually asked.

That is all.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

His arch-nemesis: Nine-Year-Old Girls with Scissors

What the hell?Is there any superhero more useless than Doll Man?

I remember reading a couple of Doll Man stories as a kid, and I didn't understand his point then, either. What are his powers? Can he stop being doll-sized? Does his name inspire fear in criminals, or just hysterical laughter? How much tension does it take to suspend that much disbelief?

Can someone explain to me the point of Doll Man?

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Finals week

Finals week. English classes. Lots of papers. Graduation next Sunday. Don't expect much but tumbleweeds here for a little while, folks.

I'll post as often as I can justify not writing the gajillion other things I have to write. You know, "study breaks."

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

In lieu of content...another banner!

Following up on two posts...

He's not an everyman, he's just drawn that way.

Edit: More!
I was there 'cause my buddy's down...
WRONG!

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Hit List

In the past couple of weeks, the vast majority of my hits (if Sitemeter is to be believed) have come from being linked by Redhead Fangirl and Mike Sterling.

So, mad props to both of them. New readers make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

If you're new to the Fortress, wander around the archives for a bit. Feel free to post comments, let me know what you think. In the next couple of days I should have another "Comics I'd Write for Free" post or two up (including my long-ago-promised Adam Strange one), and maybe another Blue Prints entry.

Heck, I may even make another banner. Stick around, it'll be fun.

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Pompousness, etc.

The more I look at the meme post, the worse I feel about myself. Damn, do I come off like a pompous ass or what?

I had a pretty good Free Comic Book Day. My five-year-old brother assaulted a Stormtrooper. The guy behind the counter said "see, that's why you guys lost."

X-Men/Runaways turned out to be just as bad as everyone has said, though I wasn't too disgusted by the artwork. It was cartoony, sure, but it had a streamlined quality and told the story well enough, unlike some people (Carlos Meglia, I'm looking at you). Too bad there wasn't much story to tell.

I'm dropping Jonah Hex, I think. It's a good series and all, but I just don't have much passion for it anymore. I'll buy trades if they get released, though.

Supergirl, JSA, and Teen Titans are on the chopping block. I might stick with JSA until the end, since there are only a few issues left. Teen Titans OYL has suffered from terrible art, inexplicably-dickish Cyborg, and forced conflict. The only reason I'm still reading it now is because I want to see how the Superboy plot pans out.

Supergirl has fifty times the personality now than she did under Loeb, and I still don't like her. I think the idea of hanging out in Kandor is neat, and I like the return of the "Godfall" Kandor, but I'd really like to know exactly what Kandor is supposed to be in this continuity. I like how Kara's quest for Argo here sets up her delusions in S&LSH. Despite all this, I just don't feel anything for this book, and I blame Loeb's tendency to jerk readers around for that.

Superman/Batman and the Classifieds may be on the way out as well. I don't know about Verheiden and Van Sciver, especially after that one really ugly solicit cover, and the Classifieds haven't managed to hold my attention since JLA finished their second arc and JSA their first. Though Vandal Savage is pretty interesting.

So, uh, what's up with Alan Scott's eye? I've seen it patched, not patched, and strangely glowing, all in OYL shots. Will this be explained, or is the tighter continuity already falling apart?

The 52 Website is pretty cool.

More stuff later.

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Subconscious Meme

I'll claim responsibility for starting this one, since the guy Dorian credited posted his two hours after mine.

Edit: Looks like I even beat the first altered banner on the Newsarama discussion which kicked it all off, not to toot my own horn or anything. Lots of fun ones in there, including the Speedball and Stupid ones that I'd wished I'd thought of first.

To that end, I'll post links to all the ones I find. If you guys would like to tell me at tfoss1983@gmail.com, I'll get the links up more quickly.

Rann, Pantha's Head, DC
Aquarian
Wildcat
Doc Samson
Brother Eye
Her, U-Man, Dr. Bong, Inbetweener, Midget, Howard the Duck, Frigga, Pip the Troll, It, Gardener, Cancer, Angar the Screamer, Awesome Android
Stupid
Groo/Not Reading It
A Whole Bunch
Jarvis
Matter-Eater Lad
Grant
Hawkeye, Internet Jesus
Roger & Jessica Rabbit/Attractive Redhead, Gay Pimp, Lex Luthor/Bryan Singer
Another bunch
Ding Dong Daddy
The Question, the Spectre
Josie and the Pussycats, Them, Ambush Bug, Mr. Miracle
Booster Gold
Wolff and Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre
Friendoug
Neilalien

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Banners, neither Bruce nor David

Joe Quesada grasped furtively at straws trying to clarify his statement's about Spidey's marriage today. In addition to making himself look even less coherent, he offered up two Civil War banners, not unlike the ones that Robby Reed made for Rann-Thanagar War, which are still inexplicably in my sidebar.

Anyway, since I don't care at all about Civil War, I decided to make a couple of my own. This is a grand total of an hour in Photoshop, so don't expect much. Feel free to use 'em whenever.

Because the dead horse hasn't been beaten enough.

Because I'd rather get kicked in the nuts than pay for Civil War.

Props to Devon and Scipio for the idea for that second one.
Edit: Here's 'nother, which about sums up my feelings towards Civil War.

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Joe Quesada Addendum

So, what exactly
A modern stone-age family
is so unbelievable
Freakin' sweet
about an everyman
Are you the keymaster?
getting with
So many bad Dick jokes...
an attractive redhead?
Because I couldn't find a decent pic of Peppermint Patty and Marcie
I mean, I just
Puddin'
can't see how
So much subtext!
it makes the character
I really wondered if it would be better to find a picture of Irma.
less accessible to the readers.
Is Judas the most famous redhead ever?
Can you?
Okay, so in this one the everyman is the redhead, but it works otherwise, right?

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Not really a spoiler

Did anyone else notice this?
How many times must the Flashes die......before you realize that plot's been done?
Looks like Infinite Crisis is a sequel to all the Crises.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Infinite Crisis #7 Spreadblogging

Wow, that title sounds dirty. Spoilers below the fold.

So, uh, who the hell are these people? Is that Raven on the right?
Nightshade maybe?Um...the Green Hoodie?Raven shouldn't have a chest symbol.

So, which Flash is this? Jay Garrick is elsewhere in the spread, and Bart wasn't wearing Wally's costume (which this appears to be), and furthermore retired. I hope Wally's back.
Join W.H.A.T.-Wally's Hypersonic Attack Team!

Wow, what a crap costume. I thought that was J'onn on the cover of Brave New World. Thank goodness it won't last long; everything reverts eventually.
Because after forty years, J'onn thought 'gee, I need a shirt'

Is that Northwind? Black Condor?
Dude, Nuklon ditched the mohawk for a reason.

Either this is a new black superhero with a bland costume, or it's a horribly miscolored Dr. Mid-Nite.
Dr. Mid-Nite, more like Dr. Not-White! Yeah, I got nothin'.

Neat Batwoman costume, I wonder who's inside it. Rumors say Kathy Kane, and I could go for that.
Red is the new blue in Bat-costumes.

New Starman, it looks like. Could it be that James Robinson is working on some more Starman material?
Oh man, I smell all sorts of time-travel.

Big changes in store for the Marvel family. Looks like Cap grew a mullet, and someone's been taking fashion tips from Mike Grell's Green Arrow.
Who thought the hood was a good idea? Honestly.

When did Sand become so religious?
Ashes to ashes, dust to...um...

Yay! Steel's back! I kind of miss the bug-helmet, though.
Hooray for strong black characters!

Uncle Sam would look cooler if he didn't look like a Confederate soldier.
Johnny Reb!

So the new OMAC's a hero? That's actually pretty cool.
Ah, but is it Snapper Carr?


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One-Word Reviews

Infinite Crisis #7: Crazy.
Supergirl #6: Uninteresting.
JSA #85: Boring.
Teen Titans #35: Frustrating.
Y: The Last Man #45: Unpredictable.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Blue Prints 1: Superboy

"Attempt one hundred sixteen unsuccessful."

Robin's quest to resurrect Superboy has not yet been successful. He doesn't know what he's doing wrong, whether it's a matter of technology or knowhow or something else entirely. He studies the various logs he has regarding Superman's deaths and rebirths, and finally stumbles across some reports from the Y2K fiasco, where an Electric Superman, generated from B13 tech by our Brainiac, helped fight the futuristic menace. Robin finds the process detailed in various files that Luthor still had stored from the B13 Tech, and manages to duplicate the effects using Superboy's brainwave pattern. Sure, main power shuts down to the entire west coast for thirty-seven seconds, but Kon-El is reborn.

Being alive again doesn't exactly make life easier for Superboy. He has an easier time adjusting to his new powers than Superman did; his previous abilities derived primarily from telekinesis, using concentration and focus to manipulate energy fields isn't too different. It's the rest of his life that he has problems with. In his superheroic form, he is made of energy, and is generally immaterial or untouchable to some degree. He can become flesh and blood, but the transformation leaves him utterly powerless. So now, the divide between his superhero and civilian life becomes even more distinct, and while he once chafed under a civilian guise, now he needs it to retain some semblance of humanity. His questions about his legitimacy as a person and the existence of his soul are only complicated further by the knowledge that he has died, and his issues with cloning are greatly exacerbated.

Besides all this, he has been gone a year, though it doesn't seem that way to him. Wonder Girl has moved on, and while she still has strong feelings for him, she has already come to terms with his death, and his return only complicates their relationship. Having come back as a result of Robin's efforts have made Conner's friendship with Tim awkward, to say the least.

Despite all this, Conner has rejoined the Teen Titans and continues to fight the good fight, trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Ultimately, he hopes that Robin is successful in cloning his body, and he spends quite a bit of time trying to use his new powers to assist in that cloning process. Until then, he'll do the best he can with what he has.

Advantages: Well, there's the practical advantage that this character, as Jon mentioned, might be different enough from 'Superboy' to avoid any of the legal troubles currently associated with that name. Besides that, it brings back Superboy in an interesting way which isn't just a "reset button" on his death. Coming back in this fashion allows for the team to play him up like a ghost of sorts, since he is immaterial, and even when human he's a shadow of his former self. It develops some of the preexisting conflicts inherent in Conner's character, brings up new questions about the nature of identity, life, death, and cloning in the DCU, and gives a new source of drama for the Teen Titans. Plus, it leaves open, if not necessary, the possibility for a return to his real body. Besides this, it leaves some interesting options for Conner's visual depiction, and makes him very distinct from the rest of the Superman family.

Drawbacks: Bringing Conner back so soon might cheapen his sacrifice, but given the circumstances, I think it would be worth it. Having Robin recreate a process done by Brainiac might be a stretch, but that could be remedied with any number of Macguffins.

Of all my Blue Prints ideas, I think this one probably has the best options for story development. Maybe I should have saved it for last. Or maybe I just miss Superboy.

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