Monday, December 22, 2008

End of an Era

My mammoth book collection/accretion is getting a first hacking-down today. Roughly 12 paper-boxes of books and 10 smaller boxes of comics are going to the Salvation Army this afternoon, to be followed next month by many more.
I'm a little depressed. I know it needs to be done, and that the things I'm donating are largely things I (probably) would never read again, but there's always misgivings in changing things that you feel define you. For me, having lots and lots of books defined me; I'm a book guy. I always was a book guy. Back in fourth grade, I had one shelf on a bookcase where I put my earliest purchases-- and told my mom that that was the start of my collection.
That collection now fills a dozen bookcases and nearly 50 boxes.
But Kat and I are having a baby and the two cannot coexist. She needs a room of her own; my books... do not.
So I recognize the necessity and look forward to the reason for making this change, but excuse me if I'm not wildly celebrating getting rid of stuff I spent almost 40 years accumulating.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Joined Facebook

Hey gang- I joined Facebook this past week. Look me up under "Drew Bittner" and it shouldn't be hard to find me. Two days later, I have 62 friends. Wow!

I'll add a link to my profile later today.

Majel Barrett Roddenberry, RIP

Nurse Christine Chapel, Lwaxana Troi and Number One have taken their last ride on the Starship Enterprise. Majel Barrett Roddenberry passed away in Bel Air, CA, on December 18th following a struggle with leukemia. She was 76.

Regarded as the "first lady of Star Trek," not only for her long marriage to creator Gene Roddenberry but also for her role in the original series and its subsequent movies (not to mention her semi-regular role as "Lwaxana Troi" on Star Trek: the Next Generation"), as well as lending her vocal talents as the computer voice on all four spinoff series and multiple computer and video games.

Though best known as Nurse (later Doctor) Chapel, where her storyline revolved around a frustrated romantic interest in Mr. Spock, she was originally hired to be the Enterprise's first officer--which was later rejected by the studio as unrealistic. She was retained in the cast (one of the few actors to achieve that distinction) when a second pilot was shot with William Shatner as the new lead.

She is the only actor who can claim to have been part of every incarnation of Star Trek.

Her last role, as the voice of the U.S.S. Enterprise's computer, will be in Star Trek (2009), in theaters next spring.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Grading the Comics- December 17, 2008

All righty, what's on the menu for today?

  • AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #19 - hm... you're in the Avengers' own training camp and learned the guy in charge was a Skrull. I know it'd undermine my confidence in a federally-funded superhero career.
  • DARK REIGN: NEW NATION- Gotta say, I like the "Illuminaughty" nickname that's been kicked around.
  • STORMWATCH PHD #17- Random thought: having an orbital station sure makes for a gloomy spot to watch the end of the world, doesn't it?
  • TERRA #4- end of the mini
  • TRINITY #29-
  • ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #59- I'm betting Johnny Storm isn't really dead.
  • WALKING DEAD #56- wonder how much longer Rick's gonna last. Any bets? I'm thinking a year, tops.
  • X-MEN LEGACY #219- Professor X sits down with Juggernaut for a little brotherly heart to heart

Reviews to come...

Google Analytics

I love this site. Mostly, I love finding out where you readers hail from. Who'd have guessed I have (or have had) readers from all over the country? That someone in Oklahoma checked out my meandering prose, or someone from Beverly Hills dropped in to view a page? Not to mention Alabama, Washington State, Illinois, Massachusetts... quite a few places, all told.

Most of my readership is in the DC area-- the District, Virginia and Maryland-- 'cause that's where most of my friends are nowadays. (I'd add that my oldest friends and my family are elsewhere, but I know they check in too.)

As I said, I love finding out where you're from, and I'm glad that you came by to visit. I hope you'll find stuff here worth your time, and I'll be doing my best in 2009 to provide more. Please comment, if you would, on what you like and what you don't; I aim to please.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

HEROES Follow Up

Okay, my batting average for last night (prediction wise) wasn't terrible...

  • Peter did get his powers back;
  • Nathan and Peter ended as enemies;
  • there was a knockdown dragout fight (or two);
  • they DID try to use Doyle to take down Sylar but that lasted all of a minute;
  • they did thin the herd (geez, let's see: Meredith, Knox, Flint, Arthur [confirmed dead], Doyle, metal-arm guy, and possibly Sylar [yeah right]);
  • and time travel is apparently off the menu (yay!).

As for stuff I didn't predict (or got wrong):

  • Hiro did not get his powers back, but was retrieved from 1992;
  • Ando got powers;
  • PrimaTech is history;
  • Angela was NOT ready for Sylar;
  • the Mendez scrapbook was much less annoying than I thought it'd be;
  • the way they retrieved Hiro was clever;
  • and Kat and I both loved how Hiro punched out Tracey.

Among the miscellaneous, Spider-Mo is healed (and probably still has powers), Tracey is looking for a new job, and nobody but nobody is going to be using Papa Petrelli's magical jello except his son and Ando. (And apparently at least one Marine, per the ad for "Heroes: the Recruit" webisodes.)

What do we see for the future? Apparently Nathan convinces the President (Michael Dorn, aka Worf) that the heroes represent a danger and must be contained at an isolated facility (shades of DAYS OF FUTURE PAST, anyone?). Some of the heroes are on the run (hence the chapter title FUGITIVES), others have been captured and are presumably on their way to some American gulag. Beyond that, I imagine we'll see some of the heroes drafted into government service in different capacities as the talents are weaponized.

And so it goes. HEROES returns on February 2, folks.

UPDATE! Argh--forgot to give the chapter finale a grade. Having watched it a second time (and really enjoying the Sylar voiceover opening!), I'm giving this an A-/B+. Far more entertaining than the close out of either previous chapter and actually has me curious about the next volume.

Monday, December 15, 2008

HEROES "Villains" Overview

Tonight is the last episode of this chapter of HEROES. "Villains" has been in many ways a relaunch of the series, fixing points where the series had gone astray in Season 2 (and boy, had it gone astray). Whether it worked is debatable: fan reaction is mixed; ratings have declined; and two executive producers have been let go.

So what's my take on the whole thing? Cover your eyes, kids, 'cause there are spoilers below.

  1. Bromance is dead. Peter and Nathan are ending up enemies after this chapter; it's pretty clear that Nathan has drunk the Petrelli Kool-Aid and is going to further his dad's scheme to distribute powers to "the worthy." The fact that he thinks he can judge who's worthy and who isn't is a stamp of villainy in the making.
  2. On the other hand, Isaac Mendez just won't die. It's not Santiago Cabrera's fault; hell, I'd love him to be back on the show again. A junkie painter-prophet? Gold! But his damnable "missing issue" is a cheap McGuffin.
  3. And Arthur Petrelli might not be dead. Okay, Sylar allowed Peter's bullet to pass through Papa P's cranium. Is he dead? Well... Claire bounced back after a chunk of wood was lodged in her brain stem for awhile, so I'm not counting Papa P out just yet.
  4. Matt Parkman finds love. I'm thinking Matt and Daphne might have something that lasts (until next year, anyway). Unfortunately, Elle and Sylar... not so much.
  5. No love for time travel. This is one comic book cliche that needs to be buried once again. Honestly, every last friggin' thing is about saving the world from some future disaster. I'm pretty damned sick of it. How about saving your job from a bad evaluation? Sure, you can fly... so what? You'll be the flyingest guy in the unemployment line. More slice of life stories, less cataclysm-of-the-season please.
  6. HRG is back. Jack Coleman acts his ass off in that scene last week with Claire, where she tries to convince him NOT to let the Company experiment on baby Claire. "Claire bear, huh?" is a great new quotable for the show.
  7. Thinning the herd. About frickin' time. Maya's gone (for good?), Elle is gone (kind of a shame, 'cause I like Kristen Bell a lot), Arthur Petrelli may be gone (see above), and y'know, it's a good thing. We only have so much time and attention to give, so a sprawling cast is not helpful.
  8. Predictions. It looks like PrimaTech drafts puppetmaster Doyle to take on Sylar, though I'm guessing this is only the overt move; odds are good Angela has another trick up her sleeve and is ready for her not-really-son. I'm also betting Peter gets his powers back and we see a powerhouse knockdown fight in tonight's ep.

That's where I am, folks. I'd grade this season as a C+ with moments of pure A. Far better than the D+ of last season, but it has a ways to go before it recaptures its lost glories. Will the show be renewed? NBC needs hits desperately, so if pilot season produces something phenomenal, HEROES may be the victim. Then again, Bryan Fuller is coming back on board, so the next arc ("Fugitives") might be the shot of pure awesome the show needs right now.

Holiday Plans

Hey folks,
The blog will probably be very quiet over the holidays-- Kat and I will be seeing family and doing all the holiday ritual things.
We did get a Christmas tree yesterday (it's about Charlie Brown-sized, just 'cause the bigger and/or live trees were a lot more effort) and decorated it, plus there's more decorating around the condo to do tonight. It's beginning to feel like Christmas.
Plus we have cards to mail out.
We're kind of caught up now with Brielle coming in February. Lots and lots to do before then.
Anyway, though I plan to post a bunch before Christmas, I hope you'll all have a terrific holiday season and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Grading the Comics- December 9, 2008

Here's the review for this week. Reactions? Let me know!

  • ACTION COMICS #872 NEW KRYPTON - Hm. Reactron has a pretty nifty new weapon, and Metallo is kicking all kinds of butt. Meanwhile, Superman realizes the Kryptonians are NOT on the same page when it comes to settling down on Earth, while Luthor toys with Brainiac. Plus a pretty brutal final page. Great art by Gary Frank, involving story by Geoff Johns. A
  • BOOSTER GOLD #15 - Booster runs afoul of the Elongated Man while trying to tie up yet more loose ends from the multi-part story spinning out of a museum break-in. The McGuffin isn't great and the way it affects history is way too murky to be entertaining. Dan Jurgen's art is great but I don't know if he's locked in on the "Booster as Time Cop" premise wholeheartedly. UPDATE: re-read this over the weekend and decided to bump it up half a grade. Dan J is pretty solid and Booster IS his creation, after all. Still... C+
  • CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI 13 #8 - Captain Britain makes a heartbreaking realization, courtesy of his brutally honest subconscious, while the rest of the team fights the Mindless Ones, Blade produces a nifty new weapon, the Black Knight discovers something unsettling about his Ebony Blade's side effects, and Wisdom gets schooled in what demons really want. A
  • DETECTIVE COMICS - With Batman gone, Nightwing gets called into Gotham when a Two-Face groupie splashes acid on "the Face of Gotham." It's not a comfy situation for any of the major players, as the status quo post-Batman starts to shuffle around. Not a great story by Denny O'Neil but not a bad story either. B-/C+
  • FINAL CRISIS #5 (OF 7) - some interesting stuff going on here. The Green Lantern Corps enters the fray (though will they be able to DO anything?), the few remaining heroes are doing their best in Bludhaven, and Checkmate appears to be, um, checkmated. Plus a strange new arrival, delivered via a puzzle box. How do the good guys pull this out of the fire? Strong story, strong art. B+
  • FINAL CRISIS REVELATIONS #4 (OF 5) - Vandal Savage/Cain (with the Spear of Destiny) shows he's one sick puppy, the Question asks some questions (and gets answers!), Huntress shows up to reinforce the good guys (who are under siege) and God's mercy... well. A
  • GEN13 #25 - the Gen kids encounter Warhol fever victims in a mall and wackiness ensues. Well, not really--this is probably the bloodiest and nastiest issue of the series to date, with a hanging plot thread that will probably pay off sooner rather than later. And Eddie tries assimilating some unusual materials when facing a plague of rats... B-/C+
  • GREEN LANTERN CORPS #31 - Kryb takes on a squad of Green Lanterns, including a pregnant one out for revenge for the parental Lanterns murdered thus far. Nasty... and I never, ever thought Kryb was this badass. (Sure wasn't previously!). The Star Sapphire material is REAL interesting, too... B+
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #27 - the Milestone family of characters hits the DCU big time, following Static's recent debut in TERROR TITANS. They want the remains of a now-dead villain and are willing to face off against the JLA to get it. Lots of drama with Red Arrow and Hawkgirl, not to mention Black Canary giving the Trinity a piece of her mind (and rightly so!) and Hardware and Iota sharing some fun dialogue in the Hall of Justice gift shop (and you just knew there was one, right?). I guess I'm liking this book after all. B
  • SAVAGE DRAGON #142 - In the aftermath of killing a beloved (if psychotic) hero, Dragon finds his name is mud AND he's a target for some superpowered vengeance. Meanwhile, Dragon Jr. and his friends face off against Mr. Glum, the search for the long-missing Jennifer is NOT going well, and a mysterious stranger promises to make Dragon's life very interesting, and possibly very short as well. A-
  • SECRET INVASION DARK REIGN - love the story, not loving the art. Alex Maleev made Namor look like Bendis after a real bad night in the pubs--what gives? Namor with scruff and Bruce Willis hair? But Norman lays it out for the assembled villains (with serious badass style) and Emma Frost's motivations for being there get a good hard look. Story B+, art D+.
  • TITANS #8 - okay, I'm out. The art is good but the story has totally lost me. F
  • TRINITY #28 - the first part follows the six Friends of Trinity (FOT) into the former JLA HQ/cave in Happy Harbor, RI, then to terra incognita; meanwhile, the JSI and the League face off against an outbreak of weird-powered characters (including folks who were heroes in the mainstream DCU), while all hell appears to be breaking loose. B

Not a bad week so far, my friends. BTW, gave a glance at ASTONISHING X-MEN: GHOST BOXES by Warren E this week too... and WTF, man?? It's like RUINS all over again! Geez.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Random (Comic Book) Thoughts About 2008

  • Why didn't DC make more of a deal out of this being Superman's 70th anniversary?
  • Why can't they let Bruce Wayne be Batman for awhile before taking him out of the cowl yet again (this is, what, the fourth protracted leave-of-absence going back to "Knightfall")?
  • As for Marvel: SHE-HULK has been cancelled one more time, but I chalk this up to Peter David's radical departure from Dan Slott's excellent tenure on the book--basically, it was a lot less fun and I dropped the book three or four issues into David's run, and I LIKE the guy's work! Given Jen Walters' track record as a character, though, it won't be many years before SH vol 4 comes out.
  • Are we done with mega-events? SECRET INVASION and FINAL CRISIS between them burned me out, and FC isn't even done yet.
  • Enjoyed the heck out of FX (by Wayne Osborne and John Byrne) this year.
  • Most Overused Monster: zombies. I predict there won't be many (any?) zombie titles (apart from the superlative WALKING DEAD) this time next year. Horror will break fresh ground but the classic monsters need some retooling. And "Twilight" is not what I had in mind.
  • WildStorm is apparently doing good work adapting CHUCK (NBC-TV) into comics. This might be a whole new model for TV shows--and I'd love it if PUSHING DAISIES found its way into comics, if only to finish the story.
  • My daughter will be arriving in February; long before that, many years' worth of comics will be departing. I'm considering what to do with them, but am thinking most about donating to children's hospitals, the Red Cross or the Salvation Army-- I suspect these might do the most good, once I weed out anything I might want to keep.
  • And that's all that's on my mind right now. Later!

Killing Off the Politics Blog

My politics blog, Drew's Blues, is going away. I was one of those angry liberals boiling mad about all kinds of stuff... but now my fury has abated and my righteous wrath is in abeyance. Long time readers may notice I removed the link to the blog some time ago; well, now the blog itself is history.

Doubt if I'll make many political remarks here (this site is more about reviews, what I like and family stuff), but it was fun to get so much aggravation off my chest.

Anyway- reviews later!

Monday, December 8, 2008

What's On Deck for This Week?

What am I planning to read this week? Well... let's find out. (With comments!)

  • ACTION COMICS #872 NEW KRYPTON - SEE lots and lots of Kryptonians on Earth! SEE Superman try to mediate the differences between his native and his adopted people! SEE if I stay with this book after Johns and Frank move on.
  • FINAL CRISIS #5 (OF 7) - sure hope something happens after all this waiting.
  • FINAL CRISIS REVELATIONS #4 (OF 5) - I'm liking the Spectre enough to keep this rolling.
  • GEN13 #25 - ...
  • GREEN LANTERN CORPS #31 - looks like Kyle vs Kryb for all the marbles (or infants, or whatever)
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #27 - the Milestone-verse comes to the DCU at last!
  • SECRET INVASION DARK REIGN - gotta see what they do, coming out of SI. Has lots of potential.
  • TITANS #8 - at least we're done with Trigon's version of "My Three Sons"...
  • TRINITY #28 - you may be surprised that I'm hanging in with this title but I have faith in Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza. The story may be slow now but I figure it'll pick up speed until it's a runaway train this spring. Gotta hope, right?

See ya Wednesday!

Forrest J. Ackerman, RIP

I wrote to friends that sf and horror fandom (heck, the whole genres, from books to movies to videogames) might not exist as they are now without Forrest J. Ackerman (aka "Uncle Forry"). He really was that influential.

Ackerman passed away last week at the age of 92. I never met the fellow-- which I think puts me in the minority-- but from all accounts he was the best of us ("us" being anyone who enjoys a good story or is excited, even passionate, about their favorite things).

In his home, the "Ackermansion," he amassed a legendary collection of memorabilia (much of which was sold, I'd heard, to cover his growing medical expenses) and published FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND, one of the earliest horror-specific entertainment periodicals. He is closely associated with Ray Bradbury, having been an early fan and supporter of the great writer's work.

The passing of a tremendous talent is always cause for sorrow and reflection. But the passing of a man whose enthusiasm, generosity and greatness of spirit made the careers of so many talents possible is, if anything, an even greater loss. Many modern fans may never have heard his name, read his work or realized what role he's played in science fiction-- but there are not many who will be regarded by historians as more vital to the creative fields he so loved and nurtured.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Grading the Comics - December 3, 2008

Hey folks,
As Jeff points out in his comment, it's been awhile since I've done my usual reviews. So let me cue up what I'll be reading this week and (with luck) catch up later today/tomorrow on the huge mass of stuff I read last week.

UPDATED! All right, I have read my list for this week and here's what I think. (Drum roll please.)

  • AUTHORITY #5 - Continuing the post-apocalypse storyline, this features the Engineer racing to save a handful of refugees from "Warhol fever" victims in the wreckage of the Carrier, while her teammates both help and hinder her progress. Sets up some nice ongoing tension within the ranks. B
  • BATMAN #682 - a true Final Crisis tie-in and (I hope) the wrap up to RIP, this is a brilliant done-in-one about Batman's career--the start, the early days, the advent of Robin, the painful aftermath of Robin's departure, and the notion that something very wrong is happening inside Batman's noggin. Better than #681! A
  • BOYS #25 - Wee Hughie learns more than he wanted about the expansive "G-Men" and their myriad franchise teams, while Mother's Milk talks about the job and Butcher contrives something interesting in the name of research. B+
  • JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #21 - the $h!t is hitting the fan, boys and girls, with Gog setting a price for his miracles and the JSA deciding if they're going to pay it. And Superman-Grim punches a lightning bolt. Classic! And this is NOT yet the end of the story--that happens next month. A
  • MARVEL ZOMBIES 3 #3 - as Machine Man confronts (and rips through) legions of Marvel zombies (including lots of the Inhumans, Ghost Rider, et al), Jocasta finds what they're looking for, even as ARMOR finds that they have a mole from the zombieverse. Solid storytelling and I like it MUCH better than MZ 2. B
  • SECRET INVASION #8 - Wow, what a wrap up. Fans will love it or hate it; I thought it was pretty damn good. A major death very early on, a gigantic shake up to the status quo, and Iron Man pretty definitively falls from grace. A few loose ends and a heartwarming moment or two, all of which launch us into DARK REIGN, coming soon! A+
  • TERRA #3 - interesting story, setting up a subterranean culture (something that AQUAMAN got around to doing very, very late) that justifies spending lots of time underground. Plus Terra explains her origin, Geo-Force gets slapped around some and "Diamond Boy" has some ups and downs of his own. B
  • TERROR TITANS #3 - lots of fighting but not much to show for it, except an already-spoiled reveal on the last page. Three more issues of this? C-
  • TRINITY #27 - again, not a lot happening. If this weren't a weekly, I'd have dumped it by now. C+
  • WHAT IF... HOUSE OF M - "No more powers." Kind of says it all, except that a very old and very evil supervillain has an ultimate weapon that the nonpowered heroes can't fight. A pretty good look at what the heroic do when they don't have powers to prop them up. Plus a backup that'll run through all the What Ifs: What if the Runaways had become the Young Avengers? B
  • X-INFERNUS #1 - Magik is back (okay, the Darkchilde is back; not exactly the same thing) and she's kicking butt. Colossus wants to go after and rescue his little sister Illyana but it looks like she doesn't need rescuing. Who does? Oh, probably the whole X-team, once a teleportal opens up in the wake of Pixie's discovery. Nice to see S'ym and Nastirh back again too. B+

And that's it for this week. Thoughts, comments, agree/disagree? I await word from you.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Last Week's Comics

Even with the best of intentions...
Turns out the new books did not come out yesterday, so I'll stall for time by listing the ton of books I got last week, plus some quick grading and thoughts.
First, though, a mini-rant.
I'm not enjoying reading comics as much as I did. Why? Partly because of a big sense of "been there done that" that infecting everything on the market now. There's no real sense of anything truly new breaking in (with sporadic exceptions).
It leads me to wonder how much longer I'll indulge my hobby on a weekly basis. Could be the time's come to make a break. We'll see, but 2008 has not stoked the fires of my fanboy heart.
Now, as for last week, what'd I buy? Well... (SPOILERS BELOW, FOLKS!)

  • BATMAN #681 RIP - Okay, it's finally over. Batman meets the Devil (borrowing the image of his long-dead daddy) and blows up a helicopter. I'm surprised Nightwing and Robin bought it--this is the kind of faux-death that every Bat-villain has come back from bigger and badder than ever. Hell, the Joker does it every other month. Speaking of, let's retire the Joker for awhile, okay? I'm sick of that green-and-white freak showing up EVERYWHERE. B-
  • BODY BAGS (ONE SHOT) - why the hell doesn't Jason Pearson do Body Bags more often? Geez! I love this guy's stuff and it shows up, what, every two or three years? How the hell does he make a living? It's frustrating as hell to enjoy a creator's work so much and get it so infrequently. Clownface and Panda absolutely rock. Buy this book and write to 12 Gauge--tell them you want more Body Bags! A
  • HULK #8 - whew, talk about stinky cheese. Two stories that add up to more filler. Honest, is there any reason why three superheroes show up in Vegas at the same time as Bruce Banner and a busload of Wendigos? As for the other, I've lost any interest whatsoever in the Red Hulk (for the record, I think it's Talbot [aka Grey from Gamma Corps]) and just hope somebody will off this mort sooner rather than later. The art's nice (Art Adams and Frank Cho could illustrate the phone book, for my money) but the story's on life support and fading fast. D- (story), B+ art
  • JSA KINGDOM COME SPECIAL THE KINGDOM #1 - most spinoffs and tie-ins have nothing to say; luckily, this is the rare exception. The killer final page gets to what Geoff Johns has been building to throughout this arc, setting up JSA for a big smackdown and some payoff to long-running plot threads. Gog shows who he really is and the JSA, divided along ideological lines, has never been this unready to meet the challenge. And the artwork rocks too! A
  • PUSH #2 (OF 6) - Used to work with Marc Bernadin back in my freelancing days, when he was at STARLOG and I was scrambling for work. Now he's a bigshot comics writer (with a gig at ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, no less) and I'm... well, I'm reviewing his stuff. Dammit. At least (as I recall), he was always a nice guy; pleasure to find out he's so talented at writing too. Read PUSH and you'll have a whole new appreciation for the psychic/espionage microgenre. A
  • REIGN IN HELL #5 (OF 8) - Can somebody make sense of this story? I'll settle for being told why any DC reader ought to care at this point. C-
  • RUNAWAYS 3 #4 - This one is Kat's specialty. I'll post her comments when I get them.
  • SAVAGE DRAGON #141 - A big climax to the Solar Man story, along with a new vs old superhero throwdown. Erik Larsen does what he does best. B+
  • SECRET INVASION X-MEN #4 (OF 4) MD - Always a big fan of Mike Carey's work, and this does not disappoint. Sets up a classic "should we go there?" dilemma for Cyclops, with Beast acting as Jiminy Cricket, and a splashy payoff as the X-Men deal with the Skrull threat to San Francisco in a pretty definitive fashion. Next question: is Tony Stark going to ask for their final solution? B+
  • SUPERMAN #682 NEW KRYPTON - This is probably the most interesting way to go with Kandor that's been tried in a long, long time. Unfortunately, it's still not holding my interest. We all pretty much know 100,000 Kryptonians are NEVER going to assimilate on Earth--and is there any other reason to send Superman into deep space (2009) than to find them a new homeworld? Didn't think so. B-
  • TEEN TITANS #65 - Wonder Girl gets empowered and celebrates with a new look, as well as kicking the ass of her psycho nephew. Okay story but nothing I'll recall in detail three months from now. B-
  • TRINITY #26 - Earth is falling apart without the Big Three, I get it. Next. C+
  • ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #128 - More about Venom and Carnage finally got interesting. Also, a fairly intriguing return. B
  • ULTIMATE X-MEN #98 - An Ultimatum tie-in with the X-Men convinced that three of their teammates are dead in flooded Manhattan. Not bad at all. B-
  • UMBRELLA ACADEMY DALLAS #1 - Hilarious stuff, setting up a truly grim-feeling storyline. A
  • WALKING DEAD #55 - Rick's finally getting his head together, even as the little caravan makes some interesting discoveries (why are some of the zombies getting weak?). B+
  • WILDCATS #5 - We get inside Spartan's head a bit, with help from Nemesis and Voodoo, and see that Hadrian is not a happy camper (and is also suffering a bit of an identity crisis). Good stuff. B

And that's what went on last week, friends. Till tomorrow! DB

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Other News

November was kind of a "lost month" for me-- I had some health issues that weren't life-threatening but were debilitating, painful and frustrating. But these things happen and I'm getting better. Felt like my old self for the first time in weeks as of Monday.


Reading Batman: Gotham Knight, Louise Simonson's adaptation of the direct-to-DVD animated feature (which, sadly, might be the last time Kevin Conroy voices the Dark Knight). I'm enjoying it greatly-- I hope we'll be seeing more from her real soon!


Did an interview for SFRevu last month with Jim Butcher. Turns out he's a real nice guy, funny as heck and about as down-to-earth as a novelist can be. There are some real good anecdotes about Harry Dresden in the piece, so give that a look too.

Same issue has my review of By the Sword, the latest Repairman Jack novel by F. Paul Wilson. Paul's a great guy, too, and a fellow Jerseyan, plus one heck of a great writer.


Brielle is now kicking up a storm. Kat thinks she'll be a soccer player. 27 weeks and counting.


That's all for the moment. More soon!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Almost Four Weeks...? Really?

Hey folks,
Been a long time since I last posted. I've been laid up with a back-to-back pair of health problems-- none of which I'm eager to discuss in depth-- but I've been home sick for about two weeks. Kind of unpleasant, really.
Anyway, just a quick note to say that I am still here, and plan to get back into the blogging groove ASAP.
Hope you've had a fun end-of-October/start-of-November and that you'll come back and read this space again soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Voter Suppression: Don't Let It Happen to You!

Okay, I'm getting serious about this topic of voter suppression. Frankly, it's scary as hell and YOU ought to be worried.


Because across the country, dozens of political appointees have the power to purge names from the voter rolls because they feel like it. They've learned from the infamous and despicable Katherine Harris (that miserable failure of a pol in Florida) who quashed the Gore recount, after managing to get an unknown but not-insignificant number of voters disqualified from voting.

This is election rigging. This is criminal behavior, folks, a violation of our bedrock principles.

Look for "Steal Back Your Vote," a comic book about voter suppression and how you can fight it. Also, visit my friend Martin Bosworth's excellent blog post about this very issue.

We like to think it can't happen here, but it can and it has. The most ruthless people at the top of the political pyramid do NOT want to lose their gold-plated positions, and they will hold onto power at your expense. They will lie and cheat and betray you... so don't be blind, don't think it can't happen to you.

Be smart, be prepared, and be ready to fight for your rights as a voter.
And remember this number: 1-866-OUR-VOTE. That is the number to call if you see fraud at your polling place or if you are a victim of fraud yourself.

Key points:
1- Don't mail in your ballot (they can be "missed")
2- Vote early as possible, in person
3- Register, then register, then register (verify you're registered here)
4- Do not fill out a provisional ballot; they will NOT be counted, no matter what that sweet little old lady at the polling place tells you
5- Get involved and volunteer
6- Vote with friends (it's harder to turn away a group than a single isolated person)
7- It's not over till it's over; challenge fraud, abuse of process and violations wherever they occur and DO NOT GIVE UP

Don't be a victim. Don't let our political system be a victim. Fight the crime, expose the criminals.
Okay, post's over.

See also:
electoral fraud
booth capturing

Monday, October 20, 2008

Food Matters, Alexandria, VA

It's a hidden gem, just off Duke Street in Alexandria.
If you turn up into Cameron Station, which looks from the outside like a condo enclave, you'll find a fair number of businesses mixed into the residential set up of the community. Back past the traffic circle, you'll find Food Matters, a restaurant/store with a laid-back style and some great food.
Kat ordered a turkey-and-pesto sandwich, while I had the BLT. Both sandwiches were great, perfect for us after a long day of riding around and sampling food nearly everywhere we stopped. By the time we reached Food Matters, we were in the mood for something light but tasty, and we definitely got it.
If you have the inclination to try something new, visit Food Matters, 191 Somervelle St., Alexandria, VA 22304 (703) 461-3663‎.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Max Payne... WTF?

Is it me or does this movie look like a cut-rate Constantine?

I really thought the third-person shooter videogame was about a cop going on a rampage, boosted by painkillers and grabbing ammo wherever he could find it--sort of a "rogue cop" version of Grand Theft Auto. Sort of like Martin Riggs going all-out, y'know?

This looks a lot more like a supernatural "ordinary guy versus demons" kind of thing. Not sure if the story will be worth the time but the effects and sets and all look fantastic (to judge by the trailer).

Anyway, not sure if I'll have time in the next couple of weeks to do any movie-going, so this one might have to wait for Netflix.


Grading the Comics: Week of October 22

Hey gang!
Let's see what I have to look forward to this week...

  • FINAL CRISIS #4 (OF 7) - kind of weird that FC and SI are shipping on the same week, isn't it?
  • FINAL CRISIS SUBMIT #1 - guess this could be more of the Anti-Life mob...?
  • HULK #7 - more Rulk?
  • RUNAWAYS 3 #3 - okay, this is really Kat's book
  • SECRET INVASION #7 (OF 8) SI - see FC4 above
  • SUPERMAN NEW KRYPTON SPECIAL #1 - is this a "very special" issue of Superman? will we see a message, like "don't sunbathe too long, Kryptonians!"?
  • TRINITY #21 - Earth kind of sucks without the Big Three around
  • ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #127 - after bonding with the Venom symbiote, I'm guessing Peter Parker is ready to kick back and relax. I'm probably wrong.
  • WILDCATS #4 - oddly, I'm enjoying Wildcats more now than I have in a long time.
  • X-MEN LEGACY #217 - yay, Mike! Go team go!

And on Wednesday, we'll see if my snark is borne out.

Hasta la bye-bye!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's a Girl! (Or... it will be)

Kat and I had her third (and probably final) sonogram yesterday.
In late February or early March, we look forward to welcoming Brielle Grace Bittner into our family.
(Don't be alarmed, by the way--this first pic is our daughter yawning. She is NOT recreating Munch's "The Scream"! :) )

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Grading the Comics: Week of October 6, 2008

Hey folks,
Okay, time to grade the books! What did or didn't do it for me this week...?

  • ACTION COMICS #870 (pre-spoiled!) - you've probably heard the big spoiler, but apart from that final page, this issue featured a really cool throw-down between Superman and Brainiac, as well as Supergirl having a turning point moment of her own, plus Metropolis--in a bottle! Way cool. A
  • FINAL CRISIS REVELATIONS #3 - Radiant, the Spirit of Mercy, has some trouble dealing with Anti-Life maddened mobs in Gotham, as Crispus Allen tries to sort out some issues and the Question gets beat up by Batwoman. Probably the best street-level view of how this Crisis is affecting ordinary folks. And dig that mob scene outside the church! B+
  • GEN 13 #23 - a quintet of "what I'd be doing now if I wasn't with you guys," spotlighting each of the five kids. Kind of dull but probably a necessary deep breath before the series plunges into extreme action. C+
  • WILD CARDS: HARD CALL #4 - Daniel Abraham and Eric Battle keep the story rolling, as Croyd (the Sleeper) Crenson tries to find the guy who's framed him for murder. A neat murder mystery set in a decades-old superhero anthology world. B+
  • GREEN LANTERN #35 - more of "Secret Origins," with Hal standing up to the Guardians for the first (but not the last) time and Sinestro really getting serious depth. Plus snapshots of Black Hand and Hector "the Main Brain" Hammond. B
  • GREEN LANTERN CORPS #29 - a new Star Sapphire is born and Guy and Ice have a date (and a fight--what else is new?), while a batch of Lanterns search for a child-snatching member of the Sinestro Corps. Truly meh. C
  • MARVEL ZOMBIES 3 #1 - the Florida Initiative team is wiped out by zombies sneaking through from (you guessed it!) the "Marvel Zombieverse." Zombie Deadpool and his pack of flesh-hungry undead snack on newbies like Siege and Conquistador, while Jennifer Kale and Wundarr the Aquarian survive (barely). So Morbius sends Machine Man and Jocasta on a little mission... B
  • SECRET SIX #2 (missed #1... darn it) - missed this one too. No grade.
  • SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE VOL 2 #3 (for Kat) - Kat hasn't read it yet. No grade.
  • TRINITY #19 - more of "Earth without..." and we see how the world is worse off when Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman never existed. Both stories focus on folks who kinda-sorta remember the missing Trinity, but don't move the story very much at all. C
  • WALKING DEAD #53 - Rick and Tommy find some old friends and face some troubling realizations, along with an intrusion with an intriguing twist. A-

Agree? Disagree? The comment field is always open.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Movie Review: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

Having caught all of one commercial for this movie, I figured it would be a good "compromise" film for me and Kat. We have some overlap in our tastes and so this looked like a good bet to fit in that space.

We loved it.

Directed by Peter Sollett and written by Lorene Scafaria (who has a funny cameo), from the novel by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, the story follows a bass player named Nick (Michael Cera). He's been pining for his ex-girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena) for a month, making pitiful phone calls and mix CDs in a half-hearted attempt to win her back. He wants to bail on his band's gig in the city (NYC), but his two gay bandmates Thom (Aaron Yoo) and Dev (Rafi Gavron) have had enough; they pry him loose from his depression by dropping a rumor that the underground band "Where's Fluffy?" is supposed to play that night. Intrigued, Nick goes along.

The same rumor sparks New York plans for BFFs Norah (Kat Dennings) and Caroline (Ari Graynor)... who also happen to know Tris.

Converging in the bar where Nick's "queercore" band is playing, the hunt for this underground concert becomes a pretext for a long, loving look at the Big Apple, from the point of view of teens who are seeing the world through the eyes of love, jealousy, insecurity and hope. Do they make it to the show? Does one character go off the rails for an extended side journey, leading to a hilarious reunion? Well, can't really say.

Cera is great as Nick, playing the melancholy "nice guy" who deserves the girl but in real life rarely gets her. He has the soft-emo groove down, the shyness thing works for him-- but he needs to stretch some in his next roles. Not that he's bad by any means, but it would be a shame for this kid to get typecast so young. He handles his emotional rollercoaster ride well throughout, hitting the appropriate beats with deft skill; his chemistry with Dennings in particular is fantastic.

Dennings is likewise great as Norah. She plays off Cera's quiet doofiness, showing a young woman who's got serious self-doubt but is never weak. Norah is a good friend to Caroline, yet her best scene is in a quiet moment at the end when she and Cera trade philosophical snippets.

Ari Graynor steals the movie as Caroline, developing a persona who is lovable, sweet and completely out of control from one moment to the next. Her personal struggles are totally familiar to anyone who ever woke up somewhere and wondered "how the heck did I get here?" The movie comes alive in several of her scenes, particularly one wherein she reclaims a missing piece of gum.

Alexis Dziena was a complete surprise. Kat and I figured she was an honest-to-God teenager, since she looks decidedly younger than her co-stars... so imagine my surprise to find she's 24. Wow. She gives a terrific performance as Tris, the high school hottie who uses guys and gets away with it. Her scenes with Cera and Dennings have a snappy bite to them that show she has an A-game in her. (And is it just me, that she reminds me of Mila Kunis?)

Yoo and Gavron are fun as Nick's bandmates, realizing before he does what's happening and figuring out a way to help-- with some clever gifts at the right moment.

The movie was clearly shot in New York-- Kat and I were chuckling about how many landmarks we recognized (and how many of the restaurants we had visited)-- and as I said, it is a love letter to the city and to being a teenager. Really enjoyed it, so go see it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Baltimore Comic-Con: A Not-so-Live Blogging

I was at the Baltimore Comic-Con this year and wow, what a difference a year makes.
Some quick thoughts:

  • Attendance appears to be WAY up; there was a definite San Diego vibe at one point, given how densely packed the aisles seemed to be. It didn't last all afternoon but... it felt a lot busier than last year.
  • Adam Hughes is one of the most talented artists out there--he is also one of the nicest. Visit his website and buy his sketchbooks; they are a bargain at any price. And if you're lucky enough to get a commission from him, I envy you greatly.
  • Darwyn Cooke is a riot. He was willing to chat with Kat on my cellphone while he signed my two volumes of DC: the New Frontier. He and his wife struck me as real nice, genuine folks. Consider me a fan.
  • Jim Lee is immune to the passage of time, except that his art keeps getting better.
  • Saw Pop Mhan again this year and enjoyed it even more than last year. He's an ex-WildStormer like me and it's great catching up.
  • The bar at the Sheraton doesn't stay open late enough--though I was ready to bail at 12:30.
  • Rain, rain everywhere. Lucky for us, there was a roof over the line going into the con on Saturday.
  • the Kirkman-Bendis panel was great (you had to be there to see Kirkman pull out graphs of relative sales and how working for the Big Two doesn't necessarily mean a spike in your creator-owned work)
  • So was the "Marvel: Your Universe" panel, where I asked a question about the way events lately seem to reset the status quo to a decades-past iteration OR strive to create a new status quo; Tom Brevoort, Brian Michael Bendis, Dan Slott and C.B. Cebulski were very good at answering the audience.
  • Said hi to Jim Shooter, Bernie Wrightson and a flock of others (reminding them of either long-ago or trivial connections in the process; I interviewed a bunch of Shooter's team at Valiant back in the day and was working at Chaos! when he drew a story for our horror anthology mini).
  • Thought Howard Chaykin was astounding in his Sunday panel with Adam Hughes. He gives Harlan Ellison a run for his money when it comes to snark.
  • Caught a glimpse of Tim Sale, at the tip of a long line of fans.

And that's the quick notes from the con. I might blog a bit more later but... it was a fantastic two days.

I suspect Baltimore has been "discovered," though, which might be good or bad. The number and celebrity of the professionals here is amazing; plus, it's a comics-driven show (until SDCC, which has been Hollywood driven for a long time now).

If you have the chance, come to Baltimore next year. I think you'll find it is an event you'll want to revisit over and over again.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fighting the Good Fight

My former boss' husband received truly bad news--he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Their blog discusses the start of treatment, the struggles they've gone through, and words of encouragement from friends, family and colleagues.

The most tragic part? He's not even 30 years old.

To judge from the blog posts, his and Jen's spirits are quite strong and optimistic. I'm glad about that; attitude can be one of the most crucial aspects of healing. And lots of community support doesn't hurt, either, so I hope you'll join Kat and me in praying for Kurt Owen's quick and total recovery from this illness.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Look at the TV: Pushing Daisies

Kat and I can't wait until the new season of Pushing Daisies begins. We were lucky enough to see the pilot and cast panel at San Diego Comic-Con last year and have been fans ever since.

To get warmed up, we got the DVD set of Season 1. The episodes are charming, and we saw one and a half episodes we had missed the first time around. I'd strongly urge all the show's fans to buy the set; it is well worth the money.

My only complaint is that the extras, on the third disk, were not very generous. There was a bit of commentary--usually with Bryan Fuller (the show's creator) and Lee Pace (aka Ned the Pie Maker)-- and some illustration of how the show's team conceives the color palette, the different elements, and how various performers tackled tricky material. It's nice but I would have liked full commentary tracks, more from various actors, and so on.

Still, that's a pretty minor quibble. We're eager to see how Ned and Chuck resolve the cliffhanger/big reveal in the last episode, as well as what will move the story forward this season.

A Look at the TV: Heroes

HEROES is back on the air, after a long hiatus following a somewhat-wretched (and abbreviated) second season. The two episodes airing this past Monday were "The Second Coming" and "The Butterfly Effect," which essentially showed us (invisotext on):

  • Sylar gets Claire's power, and we see how his power really works at last;
  • Sylar is also Angela Petrelli's son (but who is his father?);
  • Future Peter is a dick and definitely not as smart as he thinks he is (as Mama Petrelli noted);
  • Modern Peter is a shmoe (honest, couldn't he have helped the two people being carjacked and murdered right in front of his eyes?);
  • Nathan finds religion and new job opportunities as he recovers from being shot by Future Peter;
  • Parkman finds a wise black man (oh jeez);
  • HRG finds a way to escape from the Company, along with a dozen "villains," and inexplicably decides that hunting them down is more important than, say, helping his family reestablish their lives;
  • Elle loses a dad and a job on the same day;
  • Angela Petrelli's power is precognitive dreams (though that may not be her only power) and she has a doozy in this one--literally half of the cast is lying dead after the villains (including Adam Monroe and Tracey Strauss) attack;
  • Hiro probably saw the wrong thing in the future (my money is on Ando being the good guy and Hiro being the villain);
  • Hiro has no idea how to handle women;
  • Linderman is dead to everyone but Nathan (WTF?);
  • Tracey Strauss finds that not only is she the spitting image of now-dead cybertease Niki, but she has a super-icing power of her own (my money is on Tracey being a clone or duplicate of some proto-Niki who has not yet been seen)--and it looks like she'll be a villain;
  • Bruce Boxleitner as a sinister NY governor? Gold.

Okay, that's enough for now. What did YOU think?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Music I Can't Get Out of my Head

For the longest while, I thought that it was a Monkees song. You know, it had that poppy, fast-paced and chorus-heavy style I associate with their work. Know what I mean?

But no.

Take a look at the song I've been head-playing since Saturday...

(Darn Lennon and McCartney anyway...)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Watching Justice League Unlimited Again and...

Damn that show was good.
Despite one or two clinkers in the lineup, the show as a whole was an incredible piece of animated storytelling that was (even better) faithful to the DC Universe. More faithful than the comics, in some respects.
I'm glad that Mattel and Target between them are keeping the JLU flame alive. It'd be nice if it were easier to get the toys--my sporadic trips to Target leave me staring at empty spikes where JLU toys should be stocked, and even MattyCollector (Mattel's fansite for toys) doesn't have anything beyond the SDCC Giganta toy. The customer service in that respect is pretty weak, but at least it's possible to find the toys on eBay.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Can You Guess Why I'm Happy Today?

Should be arriving this week.


It got here last night.
Kat was giggling over how happy it made me; she said she got a real good glimpse into how I was as a kid.
Hey, sometimes it's the littlest things, you know?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sept. 11- Seven Years Later

Everyone has their "where we you?" anecdote about 9/11. Here's mine:

At 8:30 that morning, I was up and getting ready to go to the library at my school, the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice, and do my twice-weekly stint helping out. Contemplating a morning no more demanding than shelving books, working on a library-sponsored website and maybe some other light paperwork, I was only halfway listening to the TV when it came in.

News of a plane crash at the World Trade Center.

I thought it was pretty damned odd that someone would hit one of the Twin Towers. It was crystal clear outside, beautiful weather and perfect visibility. Had the pilot had a heart attack? I had no idea, but got ready to leave and went to the library.

Wasn't long before someone came in and said, "The other tower was hit."

Okay, one might be an accident, two is... terrible.

We--that is, the two or three other people in the library and I-- hurried upstairs from the third to the fifth floor, where we would have a view of Lower Manhattan and the WTC. Sure enough, the buildings were nearly invisible inside the biggest puffball of smoke I could have imagined. They had not yet collapsed, btw, but then, collapse was inconceivable.

We went back to the library.

Wasn't long before someone came in and said, "One of the towers fell."

And the day spiraled down from there. I went back upstairs but there wasn't much to see. So, needing information, I headed to my dorm for my tiny portable TV (not thinking that the biggest TV antenna around had just fallen). I found Kat about a block away, heading toward my school building--I like to think she was trying to find me--and we got my TV but found the school was already being evacuated and the students dismissed.

Among the other students, we talked about what it could mean and how it might have happened, and milled in the courtyard in front of our building. Kat and I headed to my dorm room with her friend, then watched TV for a couple of hours trying to absorb what had happened. I called my mom and she called her dad, then I escorted her to where her dad waited to take her home. (It was my first meeting with the man I now call Pop and the first time Kat ever talked to my mom.) We'd only been going out for less than two weeks but sharing that awful afternoon somehow cemented a bond between us.

The rest of the day passed in a haze of grabbing lunch at the nearby deli (which miraculously had not closed or run out of food), searching for a place to donate blood, and hearing that our gym (the Golden Dome) would be a temporary relief station and staging area for rescue operations in New York City.

The weather that day, and for days after, could not have been better. It was astounding, as if Nature wanted to console us with all its beauty and give the rescue workers the best chance they could have.

By that afternoon, we knew we'd been attacked. I felt this murderous rage that was slow to disperse; even to this day, I want revenge against the people who did this to my country. I wish we had gotten it.

9/11 has a powerful place in our nation's history. My only hope now is that something will eventually come out of the madness and panic of the past seven years that is better than what we've endured-- that this dark age has not been endured in vain. We'll see if history validates me or not.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Some Random Stuff

Hey folks,
I don't know why but short weeks are rough. Last week seemed to go on forever, after Labor Day.
Of course, we had a lot going on.
We went out Wednesday night to attend a book signing by Terry Brooks (author of the Shannara epic fantasy series-of-series) He's a real nice guy-- I think I met him first in '88 here in DC-- and perked up when I mentioned the reviews I've done for SFRevu. His sister has a book in the works and hopefully we'll review it when it comes out.
Thursday night we went to join our usual pack of comic book readers, the former UCBB (alas), and were out kind of late. We weren't lucky with trains and got home around 10.
And Friday night was First Friday for WSFA (Washington Science Fiction Association). Fun bunch of folks, and I picked up the newest Wild Cards novel in ARC form. I'm reading it now for review.
Well, that was our week last week. I mentioned T.S. Hanna already. Good news: my mom got through Gustav just fine, but now they're worried about Ike. I think I could hate Ike...
Join me next time when I pick up the exciting adventures of my second stay in Hollywood.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Tropic Thunder

If I haven't posted on this yet--and it seems I haven't--I should have weeks ago.
This movie is not for everyone's tastes but it is one of the funniest films I've seen in ages.
Ben Stiller plays a clueless and aging action hero whose stock is plunging at the box office; Robert Downey Jr. plays an Australian Method actor who immerses himself in roles a bit too deeply; Jack Black plays a comic actor who's success hinges on fart jokes and fat suits; and Brandon Jackson plays a rapper whose self-promotion hits new highs.

These four are tossed into the jungles of Vietnam, where (thinking that they are making a movie) they fall afoul of real drug lords. Hilarity ensues. And Robert Downey Jr. proves that Iron Man was not a fluke; the man is an acting genius. He has the best and most quotable lines of the movie by far.

The movie is about as un-PC as it can be, with the most vile and inappropriate laughs of the year. If you like your humor edgy and even a bit unsettling, this is the movie you've waited for. (And don't miss Tom Cruise in the funniest cameo of the year.)

Hanna Passes By, Barely Stops to Visit

Hurricane Hanna came through the area today. We got treated to a very heavy few hours of rain and some wind.
Basically, we got off extremely lightly, compared to our friends and fellow countrymen in the Deep South and in the Caribbean. Between Gustav, Hanna, Ike and Josephine, it seems like we're in for a very active late-season round of storms.
Kat and I hope that all those in the path of danger will be safe and that these storms will pass by, leaving lives and homes unscathed in their wake.

Playing Video Games for Money Pt 2

Getting a job playing video games is definitely... interesting. For one thing, it is not a way to pick up chicks (but more on that later).
I got the job at Activision through an artist (Jo Chen) who referred me to a friend who got me an interview and the rest is resume fodder. That's where we left off the story last post.
Once in the company, the orientation was pretty basic; here's the game console, we play games and look for programming problems, and go to it. It wasn't long before I learned some fairly elementary things:
1- being in Quality Assurance (QA) is not a career destination, more of a waystation to becoming a Producer;
a) there were a LOT of ex-lawyers in QA and, as far as I could tell, all of them
were aiming at being game producers;
b) not many people lasted long and those who did either moved into supervisory
positions or moved up the chain;
2- playing games all day will kill your hands until you get used to it;
3- everybody in the room knows somebody cool, interesting or famous;
4- $10/hour is not much dough

But the work was interesting. You'd be amazed how many bugs a video game has during development; upwards of 300 was not unusual, as far as I could tell. There are some basic types of bugs: "showstoppers" (things that freeze the game), rubber bands (colored strips of light that either look like scratches or rubber bands zipping around the screen), and miscellaneous breaks between the control and the gameplay (like you try to shoot your weapon and it doesn't shoot IF the game figure is standing just so or aiming this way, etc.).

It's time consuming to debug each new build of the game but the end result (once it's finished) is cool, and you do get your name in the credits. My first game was BLAST CHAMBER, which had some cool gameplay to it-- you race through a series of rooms which have ever-changing challenges, alone or with up to three other players. No idea how it did in the market, though.

After BC was wrapped, I bounced between projects for awhile and ended up subbing for our office admin assistant, who was moving to Arizona with her husband. (Foreshadowing!) My job turned into managing timesheets and a lot of other miscellaneous tasks. They asked if I would take that job permanently, but I viewed it as a career deadend... and it also suggested that my gameplaying skills were either not up to par (and this would avoid them having to fire me) or that they needed someone immediately and I fit the bill well enough.

Ah well.

I qualified for a raise after a few months on the job and was wondering what the hell to do next.

Our group, which was the day shift at Activision, was pretty sociable; we went to a few movies together and hung out a bit. A couple of the guys, it turns out, were from Gulfport, MS (my mom's hometown) and so we shared thoughts about the Gulf Coast and our favorite places. Turns out they had made a shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark (which they showed all of us one night after work). Their film and story got some attention and I believe it was optioned for a movie.

Another guy left shortly before I did. He'd sold his first screenplay-- you might have heard of it: Elf. Can't say I knew him as more than a nodding acquaintance but I wished him well. That was about the time I got a job offer of my own... but more on that later.

Politics Out Again

One of my readers has commented that the political content is not why they come by the blog.
I understand-- and I would rather have the link to people, so I'll reaffirm my previous commitment not to post my politics here.
Hope that if you were turned off by the last few days, you'll come on back.
best, Drew

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Playing Video Games for Money, Pt 1

I did that for a living, briefly.
After getting fired from WildStorm, I was given two months paid severance--which helped me a lot, as I had no idea what I'd do next. So I contacted pretty much everyone in my rolodex and... lo and behold, one of the WildStorm artists knew a guy.
Jo Chen, I still owe you big.
Activision was looking for quality assurance folks. These are the game jockeys who playtest games to destruction, seeing where and how they break. It's not for the squeamish, folks.
Anyway, Jo's friend got me an interview and I talked up how much I was a big video game fan, etc. etc., and they bought it-- I got a job, making $10/hour to play video games.
I moved from San Diego to Hollywood, setting up in a comfy apartment off Gower, and settled in to master the intricacies of being a professional video game player.
On my second day at work...
Just kidding.
In the next installment, I'll talk about what games I started on, how my promising career seemed to derail early on, and more.

Pleasant Valley Sunday (and Monday)

Hey folks,
Had a truly wonderful weekend. Kat and I celebrated a little anniversary of ours on Saturday with dinner at 1789, went to see Dave Attell at the Improv on Sunday (got an autographed DVD too), and on Monday... pretty much did nothing. At least, I didn't do anything; Kat went to Alexandria and knocked around awhile, enjoying some truly beautiful end-of-the-season weather.
Only aggravation: Metro chose this weekend to literally close a stretch of railway, meaning we had to ride a shuttle bus from Braddock Road to Reagan National and back again. The shuttles ran quickly and the inconvenience was about as minimal as they could make it... but what gang of idiots does major reconstruction on a gigantic holiday weekend?
Rant over.
Back on the positive side, it couldn't have been a prettier weekend. We capped it off by enjoying our condo's pool on its last day of operation till Memorial Day (argh), sitting in the hot tub as the sun coasted behind the neighboring buildings.
Pretty sweet way to say goodbye to Summer 2008.
Hope you all had a great Labor Day Weekend too!

PS, Kat is at about 14 weeks-plus now and doing great

In a World...

Sad news, friends.
Don LaFontaine, aka "The Voice" of countless movie trailers, has passed away.
Ain't It Cool News had a nice tribute here.
I don't think I'll ever watch a movie trailer again without thinking "in a world..." as made immortal by Mr. LaFontaine.

Of interest: LaFontaine's website

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Answer to Trivia Question

Remember last week I said a character in the WildStorms game had a power they never displayed in the books? Boy, turns out I was wrong... and I was sharper back then than I thought I was! Yay, me!

I'd thought that Rainmaker from Gen13 had not been able to fly, for some reason, but turns out she could. Good thing we gave her that power in the card game, huh?

Anyway, the joke's on me.

This Week in Comics: August 27, 2008

First, a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my sister Beth, whose birthday is August 27. She's the best.

As for this week's comics, I'm looking at buying...

  • KICK ASS #4
  • REIGN IN HELL #2 (OF 8)
  • RUNAWAYS 3 #1 (Kat is a huge fan of the series)
  • SUPERMAN #679
  • TRINITY #13

Like always, the titles in italics are maybes; if I don't get them, it won't break my heart.

Come back Thursday for my exciting and all new GRADING THE COMICS!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Kat and I saw Woody Allen's new movie yesterday and enjoyed it, despite a few "whuh?" moments. In brief, no spoilers, it's about two close friends (Vicky [Rebecca Hall] and Cristina [Scarlett Johansson]) who spend the summer in Barcelona and go on very different journeys of self-discovery (mostly of a romantic nature). Part of the story revolves around Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) and his emotionally volatile ex-wife Maria Elena (Penelope Cruz, who is in less of the film than you might think).

The movie provoked some serious conversation between us at Starbucks afterward, and then later in our condo's jacuzzi. We thought the stars did an excellent job navigating Allen's complex storylines and penchant for ambiguity; I empathized with Johansson's character, having been a bit of a searcher myself earlier in life, while Kat understood Hall's character (even though she made different choices for herself than Vicky ultimately did).

Interesting film--not necessarily on Allen's short list of all-time greats, but still entertaining, thought provoking and insightful all at once.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

DC Universe Online Game

How many of you are going to jump on this the minute it's out?

I plan on being one of that number. Thing is, I have ideas for two characters and am morbidly certain that the names will be 'jacked, even if the premises aren't. We'll see. Maybe I'll get lucky.

Haven't seen too much so far, but it looks like Sony Entertainment is making a real all-star game here. I'll put some links into this post later... for now, I'm just thinking out loud.


WildStorm Odds and Ends

Dredging up memories of WildStorm, I came across a few random thoughts I'll toss onto the blog here. I remember...

--Jim Lee calling me at 11:30 at night in 1995, to go in and discuss the card game. (I was already in bed but got to the studio in about 20 minutes, since I lived maybe a half-mile away.) Probably one of three times I was in Jim's office talking one-on-one. Gotta say, he really is one of the nicest guys in the biz. I still have the notes from that meeting, where he sketched a Grifter profile while we were talking. (Yes! Jim Lee original art! :) Even better, Jim's a smart guy, asked a lot of great questions about games, and was eager to see the game come out. There's days I wish I was still working for the dude.

--watching the OJ Simpson verdict in Jim's office, along with the rest of the day shift, and wondering if we'd have riots in La Jolla too.

--hanging out in the offices of various artists, chatting with folks like Whilce Portacio, Scott Williams and his assistant JD, Joe Chiodo and his assistant Martin, Trevor Scott, Sandra Hope, Wendy Fouts, Mat Broome, Jeff Rebner and Tom McWeeney, John Tighe (who played the WildStorms game to win!), and a bunch more...

--talking Gen13 backstory with Adam Hughes while he worked in the studio (great guy, btw)

--going to lunch with Tom Harrington (my office mate) and Barb Kesel to talk WildStorm history in preparation for her series (a lunch that got my higher-ups furious with me, 'cause the book wasn't my project)

--the 1994 WildStorm/Homage Studios Christmas party, where we went bowling, eating and riding around on a huge bus, very possibly the most fun office Christmas party I've been to save Activision's

--doing endless comic book runs to Diamond Distribution and picking up the books for the whole studio (being an assistant editor does have its unglamorous side, kids)

--getting to write hundreds and hundreds of card backs for Ted Adams (founder of IDW, btw)

--and going to San Diego Comic-Con twice on the company dime... the second time after I'd been fired, through the courtesy of a friend.

Wow, memories. Funny thing-- I saw Warren Ellis in NYC back in '01 and we talked WildStorm for all of three minutes. He asked, "Do you miss it?" And I told him, "Sometimes, yeah."

Still do.

Star Wars: The Decline and Fall

Hey folks-

Once in awhile, you read something that really touches a nerve. In this case, I read Drew McWeeny's post on Ain't It Cool News about his fanboy love of Star Wars and the break-up a decade in the making. It's really sad but honest as all hell.

McWeeny writes on AICN under the pen name Moriarty. He reviews movies and scripts, while building up his own resume as a screenwriter (he's had a few things produced and seems to be coming along well in the industry, if a remote observer like me can be any kind of judge). Well, it seems he ticked off Lucasfilm and the Bearded One himself with his review of Phantom Menace, way back in 1999 or so, and thus incurred their wrath in ways great and small.

Ultimately, he said (in the above post), he's had enough. Lucas won-- he won't write about Star Wars again.

I think articles like this highlight something I came to believe awhile ago: George Lucas went from being Luke Skywalker to being the Emperor.

Star Wars (the original--I've never called it "the fourth movie" or "A New Hope" and never intend to) was something I saw 23 times in the theaters. Think about that. From the age of 12 on, I used a tiny fortune (or so it seemed to me then) to watch the same movie 23 times.

I can't say the same about Empire Strikes Back-- I didn't like it as much at the time and didn't feel like spending that much money. In retrospect, I think Empire was a better film--better written and much better directed, for all that it built upon Lucas's original.

I hated Return of the Jedi. Did you know Obi-Wan, the Merlin to Luke's prospective Arthur, is a liar? ("from a certain point of view" my ass.) I didn't... and I hated that that was the path Lucas took, snapping up the intriguing bait offered (but not substantiated) by Kasdan and Brackett. Luke and Leia are brother and sister, a tribe of furry teddy bears can overcome the military forces of an interstellar atrocity machine, and Darth Vader is completely redeemed for two decades of evil by tossing his boss down a shaft. What a crapfest. I wanted Luke to find out Vader wasn't his dad--it was Vader who was lying. I wanted Luke to end up with Leia; Han Solo could snuggle up with Chewbacca for all I cared, he wasn't the hero of the story. (Turns out Luke wasn't either.)

Then a whole bunch of years go by and I see Phantom Menace and think... WTF? To see a really bad movie and then be told that the whole series was meant for kids? Please. Pretend all you want but don't talk down to me. (Side note: does anyone else notice Lucas has a penchant for creating tough-looking bada$$ characters and then totally punking them with lame death scenes? Boba Fett, Darth Maul, General Grievous--okay, maybe that last guy wasn't THAT tough-looking but still, he died like a punk. So what gives? Maybe he just has a thing for disposable villains who look good but can't deliver. Personally, I think Vader would have gone the same way--knocked off by Luke in the second movie, maybe--if he hadn't become a fan favorite.)

I saw Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith almost incidentally. Sith came out the day before I got married, back in '05, and I saw it more as a goodbye to my vastly prolonged childhood than anything else. Turns out it wasn't that bad, despite Hayden Christensen. (On the other hand, I guess we know for certain that strength in the Force and being a crybaby are both genetic traits of the Skywalkers...)

The upshot? The movies don't have any real heart and haven't for a long time--they're just the product of an industrial process more concerned with technical wizardry than storytelling. Lucas can construct a dazzling movie but he can't tell a story. It's as simple as that. And his efforts are aimed more at merchandising his properties than doing anything worthwhile with them.

(I should point out, in the interest of fairness, that I have read and enjoyed many of the Star Wars novels put out by Ballantine and Lucas Books. Those authors have turned a sow's ear into a silk purse more than once. Might be nice if the movie folks took a cue from the talented writing group they've assembled...)

Ah well. I enjoyed Star Wars an awful lot as a kid. Maybe it's better to let those memories lie undisturbed and not try to recapture that particular lightning in a bottle. I have better things to do with my time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Comic Book Memories: FIRE FROM HEAVEN

The other day at Ye Olde Local Comics Shop (aka the LCS), someone asked me about FIRE FROM HEAVEN, the WildStorm mega-crossover event of 1996. Their fundamental point was: "I have no idea what happened in that story."

Well, I was there...

We had an offsite editorial meeting in early 1996, led by Jonathan Peterson. JP was our editor-in-chief about then and had it in mind to do a really big story to tie up some loose ends. Such as:

  • whatever happened to the Kherubim and Daemonite spaceships that brought these two races (and their millennia-long war) to Earth?
  • what was the source of the Gen-Factor, the biochemical that turned Team 7 (and their kids) Gen-Active?
  • who were the parents of the Gen13 kids?

And we had a few other things we wanted to "reveal" or accomplish as well...

  • Spartan's origin
  • Backlash's origin
  • a traitor in the StormWatch ranks (which was a story I got to write, btw, with one of the bloodiest on-panel deaths the company had had to date)
  • who's stronger: Dane or Battalion? (another story I got to write)
  • killing off Cyberjack from BACKLASH and Miles Craven from WETWORKS
  • who is Kaizen Gamorra really? And what connection did he have to Spartan (as alluded to by Emp in an early issue of WildCATS)?
  • launching DV8, Warren Ellis' "dark Gen13"
  • and probably some other stuff I'm forgetting. If you care to know the answers to the above, you can follow the first link to the Wikipedia entry and find out all the dirt.

Anyway, we covered two or three white boards in a hotel conference room with character names, notes and arrows linking them together. It seemed exciting at the time, this feeling of "okay, that guy is REALLY this other guy and he's doing this because..." and so on.

Needless to say, it was a struggle from the beginning. We were supposed to release the books on a set schedule, but WildStorm had never been a particularly punctual outfit--so delays meant that a) momentum and b) coherence were sacrificed as chapters were told out of order. Don't get me wrong, it had the elements and did have a lasting impact on WildStorm's titles--there were concepts introduced and back story laid out--but it did suffer from shipping and scheduling problems. For example, we didn't even tell the end of the story in the second bookend; it was in Deathblow #28.

As I said above, I got to write the StormWatch issue wherein Flashpoint is revealed as a traitor. Why Flashpoint? He was a jerk, he had a history of clashing with Battalion, and nobody in our office had any trouble imagining he was secretly working with Kaizen Gamorra. We hadn't laid any real groundwork for it--heck, he blows a hand off the four-armed Brutus in the same issue wherein he's outed, which is kind of weird if he's working for Brutus's sponsor (Gamorra)--but we liked the idea of having an "enemy within" as StormWatch gets into the fray. There are a lot of things I would have done differently in retrospect but that final Battalion/Flashpoint fight was a good one and helped establish Battalion as a ruthless enemy.

Apart from that, and the Battalion-Dane throwdown in #36 (which was fun, since I was editing StormWatch and WetWorks both, so I knew the characters pretty well AND got to use the joke "Your name is Jackson? Mine too!" for the first time [Steven Grant used it later, when he was writing WetWorks]), those two issues of StormWatch weren't all that good.

If I had it to do over again, I would have framed my two issues as a history lesson taught to a group of posthuman kids by the last surviving member of that era's StormWatch. We see the highlights of what goes on, the back-and-forth in flashback, a couple more heroic deaths (we could've sacrificed a couple more characters at that point)... and end with the reveal that Fuji was the one teaching the lesson and he's the only one left of that group, some 200+ years later. But that's what I would have done, or maybe should have done, not what I did. Oh well.

We did do a real nice job on the FFH trade paperback-- it was pretty much the last thing at WildStorm I ever touched, and my name was removed from the credits (kind of a vindictive little stroke from Mike Heisler, I'm guessing, the two-bit rat bastard), but I did get the book through production and up to print before I got canned. If you ever have an interest in reading the story in one shot, give the collection a glance.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Drew's Blues

I dislike the way that my blog is trending, with the political content. This should be a more upbeat space and my outrage is anything but.

So I'm creating a new blog that will be called Drew's Blues. There's where you'll find my political content. I'll move my current political posts there and vent about all sorts of political stuff, while this blog will go back to dwelling on... okay, everything else besides politics. (And I guess you can figure out my political orientation from the color choice...)

Visit Drew's Blues and we'll talk!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Why I'm Happy Today: A Question Figure for the JLU Line!

Happiness is an Action Figure
Okay, you've seen the blog (else you wouldn't be here reading this) so you know I'm a fan of The Question. (That's the faceless guy in my blog's header, lovingly designed by Kat.)
Created by legendary Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko for Charlton Comics, The Question was Vic Sage, two-fisted radio journalist and investigative reporter. In his original incarnation, as written by Ditko, Sage was a relentless, rigidly moral crusader who believed that "A is always A" and that evil must be punished ruthlessly. He was an embodiment of Objectivism, a philosophy created by novelist Ayn Rand. (I won't go into the details here but the Wikipedia entry makes for interesting reading.)
This version was the inspiration for Rorschach from Watchmen by Alan Moore.
Other versions followed. Denny O'Neil reconstructed Sage from the ground up in the 1980s in his "The Question" series for DC Comics (DC had acquired the Charlton characters and this was part of an effort to make use of them). This version of Sage was more philosophically complex, casting him as a seeker of truth, including his own murky origins as an orphan prone to trouble and having boundless curiosity. This series achieved considerable success but eventually trailed off into guest appearances in other books.
(Are you sick of reading this yet?)
Anyway, the Justice League Unlimited animated series reinvented The Question once again. Voiced by the peerless Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), this Question was a conspiracy theorist and borderline nutcase (or at least, that's what his fellow heroes thought) who was willing to take the fall when he exposed a horrific plot. He also had the Huntress as a girlfriend, giving him a couple of the best JLU episodes ever.
Mattel had not made a figure of The Question--apparently there were some rights issues around him and Captain Atom, another Charlton hero who had appeared in the show. But it appears those issues are resolved.
Glory be!
The Question and Captain Atom (the latter of which is now available) are Target exclusives, now that Mattel has forged a retail pact with the bullseye retail giant, along with many more to come.
I could not be happier. I have no idea if I will ever be able to find this figure on the shelves--seems like the toys are ALWAYS gone by the time I get there--but I can always hold out hope for eBay. But if anyone from Mattel is reading this post... hey, I'll plug the toys from here till Doomsday if you send one my way!
Of interest: Wikipedia on JLU toys and The Question

Thursday, August 14, 2008

On a Happier Note

Today's my birthday. Yay for me!
Turned 44 and spent it enjoying my day immensely, with visits to a handful of stores, a bit of writing, and ending with a great dinner with Kat.
I've been wondering at the passion and outrage I've brought to these posts lately. The issue for me is making the world better for my child-to-be.
Think about it.
What else is there to be passionate about?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Grading the Comics: August 8, 2008

You're probably watching the Olympics, my friendly readers, but just in case...

  • AUTHORITY #1 - Okay, the WildStorm Earth is WAY messed up. Gotta see how this plays out but it's a different kind of place to set superhero stories. The heroes are facing serious problems on several fronts, not the least of which is that half the team is... well, let's just say they've seen better days as a group and leave it at that. And things are not looking up, either. B
  • BOYS #21 - Part three of a four-part digging into the back story of why things are so jacked up in NYC especially, it has a lot to say about how superheroes don't work the way we think--even in the most cliche of situations. A-
  • FINAL CRISIS #3 (OF 7) - Gotta admit, I'm not sure where this is going or what I think of it. Some interesting images but I don't know if it jells for me. Still, Barry's back! B-
  • FX #6 (OF 6) - A neat six-issue mini, tightly plotted and very well drawn, with a cool Silver Age vibe to it. Here's hoping there's more on the way. A
  • HULK #5 - Is it me or is the Red Hulk way too powerful to believe? C'mon, a monster that shrugs off She-Hulk or Abomination (old and new) I can buy... shrugs off original green Hulk, maybe... shrugs off Thor slamming Mjolnir into his face? Um, no. Well drawn but the enemy is amped beyond my suspension of disbelief load limit. C-
  • STAR TREK ASSIGNMENT EARTH #4 - A nice done-in-one from John Byrne, who has a real affinity for Classic Trek. Hopefully he'll be on this title for a long while to come, 'cause I'm enjoying it a lot. A
  • TRINITY #10 - Some interesting ideas but I'm not any closer to knowing if I like this story or not. Great art but... I'm not locking into the story. C+
  • ULTIMATE ORIGINS #3 (OF 5) - Another story that seems a little too unfocused. We get to see Young Magneto and Young Professor X doing their bonding thing in the Savage Land, amid the original Brotherhood (guess the Evil Mutants part came later), while the modern FF try to figure out what this HAL 9000-meets-Stone Age probe is supposed to be doing. Um... halfway through and I have no idea what's really going on. Not good. C

Okay, that's it for this week. Overall not bad but not stellar either. Comments?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Funniest Thing I've Seen Today

Y'know, I'm convinced Paris Hilton is much smarter than anyone thinks. Her persona is a front--a way for her to make money and be famous without having too great a burden placed on her.

After all, if everyone "knows" she's a ditz, then she doesn't have to bother with the responsibility of using that fame to do anything hard or not-fun.

But look at this-

Oddly enough, her energy plan makes sense.

News of Significance!

We're having a baby.

Okay, here's the news.
Check the images.

Kat is approximately 11-12 weeks now (at the cusp of the second trimester) and overall doing fairly well. No morning sickness, at least!

No idea whether it's a boy or girl (and yes, we want to know). The next sonogram is October 13.

Coming March 1. A Kat-and-Drew Production.

Monday, August 4, 2008

This Week's Comics

Hey folks,
What am I buying this week? Let's see...

  • BOYS #21
  • FINAL CRISIS #3 (OF 7)
  • FX #6 (OF 6)
  • HULK #5
  • TRINITY #10

Not much on the list is really blowing me away as "must read" material, I'll be honest. FINAL CRISIS probably comes closest, though TRINITY has been more fun than I expected and BOYS is enjoyable in a darkly perverse way.

Is DETECTIVE still "Heart of Hush"? If so... I'll pass. I don't care enough about Batman's twisted childhood friend to follow the story with my $2.99.

Looks like this is the (temporary?) end of FX-- it's been fun and has a very retro/Silver Age feel to it, so I hope it'll be back.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Grading the Comics: July 24, 2008

Okay, here's what we had this week...

  • AVENGERS INITIATIVE #15 SI - In the last issue, a little wish really screwed over 3D Man, who might have become one of the major anti-Skrull heavyweights... but probably not any more. Thanks bunches, jerk. Overall, an okay story that doesn't much advance the Secret Invasion plotline so much as tell a peripheral character story. C+
  • BLACK SUMMER #7 - End of the road for the Seven Guns, though Warren Ellis has enough left to continue if he chooses (but he probably won't). Interesting take on the extremes to which superpowered vigilantism can go. Nasty but a good ending. A-
  • GREEN LANTERN CORPS #26 - End of the Mother Mercy story with a rather heroic (if out-of-left-field) effort by a GL. B
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #23 - The team gets its collective @$$ kicked by Amazo, whose use of their powers is inspired to say the least. Plus the first intimations that something is very wrong with Vixen after all. A-
  • NUMBER OF THE BEAST #8 (OF 8) - The end of a protracted and not-very-great "end of the world" story. By itself, not interesting at all, but maybe it opens up some possibilities for WildStorm to break out of being just another superhero universe. D
  • SUPERMAN #678 - Atlas kicks butt. Nothing special. C-
  • TRINITY #8 - Bruce Wayne hosts a party and Despero entertains an offer. B-
  • ULTIMATE X-MEN #96 - Big news for Wolverine (courtesy of a special guest star) and the X-Men have a little reunion. B-
  • UNCANNY X-MEN #500 - the store sold out! Go figure!
  • WAR HEROES #1 - Interesting kickoff: ongoing attacks inside the US result in a program that gives soldiers superpowers in pill form. Hm... Millar can't be making points about current events, can he? B
  • X-MEN #214 - Despite the cover, which has nothing to do with the insides, Professor X gives a good accounting of himself, Gambit and Shaw bond and a new villain is unveiled. B+

Overall, not a bad week. Still wish I was at Comic-Con.