Monday, April 28, 2008

Thinkin' Bout... Acts of Vengeance

Back in 1990, Marvel tried something interesting with their summer crossover. What if the superheroes were challenged by different supervillains? If the Fantastic Four battled a powerful villain besides Doctor Doom or the Wizard, or the Avengers faced a team other than the Masters of Evil?

Yeah, I got your interest now, don't I?

That was the idea for Acts of Vengeance. A stranger (who proves to be a venerable Marvel villain) pulls together a "who's who" of evil in the MU. He gets Doctor Doom, the Kingpin, Magneto, Mandarin, Red Skull and the Wizard in the same room at the same time, then hits them with his sales pitch: let's switch enemies!

(Sadly, Apocalypse, Cobra and the Mad Thinker weren't interested, and Namor got huffy over being called a villain, despite abundant evidence to the contrary.)

Basically they mix it up and don't have much more luck than usual, before the "stranger" is revealed to be Loki, Thor's perennial pain-in-the-butt half-brother.

The match-ups that resulted didn't really dig into the potential of the premise; however, it got me thinking. The Ultimate Universe may one day revisit the idea... so who would you like to see pitted against each other?

Here are some of my quirkier picks:

  • Captain America vs. Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus
  • Iron Man vs Magneto
  • the Fantastic Four vs the Mandarin
  • the (original) X-Men vs the Red Ghost and his Super-Apes
  • Thor vs the Frightful Four
  • Hulk vs the Red Skull
  • Spider-Man vs the Mad Thinker (great shades of What Th...?) and the Awesome Android
  • Power Pack vs the U-Foes
  • the (all-new) X-Men vs the Serpent Society
  • Quasar vs Annihilus and Blaastar (did this already happen?)
  • Nick Fury vs the Leader

And I'm sure more will occur to me as the day goes on.

Do YOU have any match-ups that you'd like to see, if heroes and villains tag-teamed? Comment away!

Grading the Comics: Week of April 21

Hey folks,
Not the most auspicious or heavily-bought week but there were a few interesting items in the mix.
Here's what I got and what I thought:

  • COUNTDOWN #1- FINALLY! I feel somewhat liberated, having tortured myself on this sub-standard weekly for a full year. Bruised me enough that TRINITY is not on my pull list... Series Grade: F
  • HULK #3- Rick (New Abomination) Jones throws down with Red Hulk while Samson and Ross go see Green Hulk... and wackiness ensues. B
  • NUMBER OF THE BEAST #2 (OF 6)- The Paladins are... gone? Or is something else even more weird happening? Does anyone know what Eidolon (a character last seen during Warren Ellis' run on STORMWATCH) is talking about? B-
  • SPIRIT #16- Huh. Haven't read it yet.
  • ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #53- The end of the Thanos storyline, wherein Reed pulls a rabbit out of his hat (one that actually makes a lot of sense) and massive world-shaking changes are undone like *snap!* Way to go, Mike Carey! A
  • ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #121- A day in the life of Peter Parker. Story and art are okay but I wasn't jazzed. C
  • UNCANNY X-MEN #497 DWS- More of "groovy San Fran" as Emma and Scott penetrate the weirdness, and Peter, Logan and Kurt find a cold reception in Russia (ooh the puns are thick today!). B
And so it goes, ladies and gents.
Like the grades? Hate 'em? Write and say so!

till then- Drew

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Robert E. Bittner, 1927-1988

My dad passed away 20 years ago today.
He fell ill in December 1987 and began to lose weight rapidly, but his doctor consistently misdiagnosed what was wrong-- until it was much too late.
Dad had colon cancer that went to his liver.
By the time they found that out, it was impossible to do much more than give him some drug treatment and hope for the best.
He died on April 27, 1988.
One of the most painful experiences in my life was getting a call from my mom asking me to hurry to Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank. I was in Neptune, working for the Asbury Park Press, at the time. It didn't take long for me to log out, sprint to the parking lot and hit 70 heading north.
I got there about five minutes too late.
Mom and Rob were with Dad when he died; Beth arrived a few minutes after I did.
It is excruciating to lose a parent, because you lose all the time you might have had going forward.
Dad never:

  • saw his daughter get married;
  • held any of his grandchildren;
  • met my wife;
  • went to foreign countries with my mom (who did just that on her own, for several years);
  • got to enjoy retirement;
  • knew things would be so different without him.

He was a remarkable man. A lifelong musician (he played trumpet and loved jazz), Dad was:

  • a teacher,
  • a World War II US Navy veteran (served in the Pacific on a destroyer-tender),
  • an expert wood carver (he made me models of the B9 robot from LOST IN SPACE, the Starship Enterprise and more, all out of wood),
  • a master landscaper,
  • a draftsman (he loved to design prospective retirement homes),
  • a writer (he had a fine way with words) and much more.

I could write about Dad for hours, but will leave off here.
I love you, Dad, and I miss you.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hidden Pleasures: Gravelly Point, Arlington, VA

Most of the locals are familiar with that funny little park at the end of Reagan National's runway, but it doesn't get a lot of fanfare. Still, if you want to find a nice place to picnic, toss a football or hang out riverside, you might check out Gravelly Point.

Accessible from the George Washington Parkway northbound, it is literally just past Reagan National, filling a handful of acres that I guess the airport didn't need. There's a jogging/biking path that will take you there from Crystal City (Kat and I hiked it on Saturday), but it meanders a bit and takes awhile to cover. (You can find the starting point in Crystal City right near the Water Park--it's the Mount Vernon Trail path.)

Kat and I took a bottle of water and spent an hour or so walking, sitting and relaxing at the Point this past weekend. Picked up a nice sunburn (I did, anyway) but had a good time.

Don't Forget to See "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"

Kat and I went to the movies Friday night, choosing to see "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." Our friends were all planning to see "Forbidden Kingdom" but a nice break-up comedy called us much more strongly.

We were extremely happy that we went.

Kat has been a fan of Jason Segal's since she discovered "Freaks and Geeks" late last year (buy it on Amazon here). She Netflixed the series, got hooked and... presto, instant fan. So it wasn't a hard sell to see the first movie he's written and starring in, especially since it's gotten great buzz.

What we weren't quite as ready for was how great Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis were in their roles as Sarah and Rachel (respectively). We liked Kristen Bell in Heroes (honest, she was perhaps the only good thing in that botch we call Season 2), but hadn't seen her do comedy, while we knew Mila Kunis from "That '70s Show" and as Meg Griffin in "Family Guy"-- still, very nice to see she's versatile, funny and charming. (As is Kristen Bell. Equal time, ladies!) Fun fact: Mila Kunis shares my birthday of August 14. (So does Steve Martin, btw.)

We also thought Russell Brand was terrific as womanizing rock star Aldous Snow. Segal wrote a terrific rival in this guy. We heard that there was a lot of improv on set, in which case the cast gets huge props for making us laugh (and talk afterward a lot) even more than we might have otherwise. In all, huge amounts of fun.

And yes, you do get to see just about all there is to see of Jason Segal.

If you have AOL, Moviefone has a video of Segal and Bell interviewing each other--it's funny and revealing, with lots of nice byplay between them.

If you're in the mood for something fun, check out FSM.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Funniest Thing I've Read in Weeks

Okay, this is kind of an unfair tease, 'cause there's no link up at the site. However, this week's Onion had a half-page article about a mouse ruining a year's work building a maze... by solving it in thirty seconds.

See if you can find it on the site. I sure hope so. If the link turns up, I'll post it right away.

UPDATE: Well, the story isn't showing up on the site and might not ever... so I'll post this instead. Similar theme and pretty darn funny.

ALL NEW UPDATE! The Onion has put that original "mouse and maze" story on its site. Way to go, Onion! Here it is:

The Pope Scope

WASHINGTON DC - We've been overrun. Resistance is useless, and there is no place to hide.

Pope Benedict XVI has come to town and perhaps millions of the faithful have come to see him.

For us Protestants, it offers an intriguing spectacle, to be sure. Emotions are running quite high, with entire families crowding into Metro trains to see the Nationals stadium where he'll lead Mass in about an hour and a half. Kat got a glimpse of the Popemobile yesterday in Washington Circle (near GWU); our friend Roberto, who had a better view got snapshots on his camera. If he sends any around, I'll post them.

In the meantime, we're just glad it's nice weather. Huh... it hasn't been this nice in awhile. You think, maybe...?

Watchmen figures!

Hell yes!

Gettin' me a Rorschach figure first day, man.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Grading the Comics: April 10

Hey gang!
Let me see, what was in the grab bag yesterday...?

  • BOOSTER GOLD #8- haven't read it yet
  • COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #3- The end of suffering is in sight. D
  • GEN 13 #19 - haven't read it yet
  • GEORGE R.R. MARTIN'S WILD CARDS: THE HARD CALL - Absolutely fantastic addition to the Wild Cards story, with great art. A
  • GREEN LANTERN CORPS #23 - haven't read it yet
  • NUMBER OF THE BEAST #1- Great opening, great intro for the Paladins, plus a big honkin' mystery set up in the last few pages. A
  • RESURRECTION #4 - didn't find it! Dang!!
  • SUBURBAN GLAMOUR #4 - ditto! Double dang!!
  • TITANS #1 - haven't read it but am a bit nervous after that Newsarama review...

Okay, will update later.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


It's a Girl!

OCEANPORT - Paul and Belinda Skeen today celebrate the birth of their daughter. Paul conveyed the news in a short phone call around 2:35pm; mother and daughter are doing fine, and Ellie Skeen (Paul's mother) has already come to visit her newest grandchild.

We at Drew's Reviews are overjoyed for the new parents and hope we can visit them as soon as they're able and willing to receive visitors. As soon as Paul sends pictures, we will post them here.

Off to London in May

Kat and I are heading to London from May 17-24. We cannot wait.
This is our much-delayed honeymoon-- and to say HOW delayed, we'll be celebrating our third anniversary there.
Kat is researching things to do and see, and friends have already given us recommendations, so it is shaping up to be a very busy trip. The tour includes a visit to Bath, Stonehenge, and Stratford-on-Avon (Kat's especially excited about seeing Shakespeare's home), plus plenty of free time.
We're getting a couple spare chips for the digital camera-- I know Kat will be a shutterbug the whole time-- and are thinking what else we'll need to take.
Can't say how thrilled we are at making this trip.
More soon!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Grading the Comics! April 3 Edition

UPDATED! Friday April 4
Okay, I picked up some books and did a little reading last night.
Here's what I'm thinkin'...

ANNA MERCURY #1 - Okay, NOT Warren's version of Madame Mirage (thank God! I LOVE Dini's book!). Seems like there's civil war between two cities, with stealth operatives and saboteurs on the loose. Anna *seems* to be on the right side but... is she? And what the heck to make of that last page? B+

BOYS #17 - hits a new high note for "EWW!" Billy will be laughing about this one for months. And Hughie's gerbil only just started feeling safe. Oh no. B+

COUNTDOWN #4 - Mary's gone bad (again--oh, she is so gonna get killed), Jimmy's on a one-way trip to Apokolips, Red Robin calls it quits, Holly and Harley hit the road, Atom has misgivings and... oh, did I mention this is a spoiler-heavy commentary? I just saved you $2.99. C
COUNTDOWN SPECIAL: KAMANDI - Cool to see Klassic Kirby! A

DETECTIVE COMICS #843 - Spotlight on the all-new Ventriloquist and fan-fave Scarface. Interesting but I'm seeing an awful lot of Zatanna cropping up in 'Tec. Does Dini want to write a Zatanna series or what? B-

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED #44 - One kid's take on his old man, who happens to be... nah, I'd rather let you read it. B

NEW DYNAMIX #2 - I really have no idea what's happening here. Lots of talking, summoning up a few way-old characters from GEN13 (first volume) and mid-90s WildStorm, not to mention a pissing contest between Black Halo and Sword? Plus, I get the sense that Sword's more a whitewashed villain than a badass hero. Still, I'm onboard for a few more issues. C

SECRET INVASION #1 - Kick. Ass. The Marvel heroes just got their heads handed to them in nearly every possible way. Big opening to what looks like a very world-shaking series. A+

TRIALS OF SHAZAM! #12 - Freddie finishes his exam and... ok, here's one I won't spoil. A leeetle too obvious wrap up but still worth reading. B

WALKING DEAD #48 - OMG. Unbelievable. There's one splash page that I would defy any long term reader not to scream in horror and disbelief at seeing. Where the heck does Kirkman go from here? A

Haven't yet read...
ACTION COMICS #863 (sold out!)
KICK-ASS #2 (sold out!)
METAL MEN #7 (of 8) - I'm working on this one!

Join us here next time, true readers, as we wrap up this list.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April Fools Day Fun

Didja see the new item on Bugles Planet Daily?
It's a gag, folks. Sherin and Kat dreamed it up themselves.
Sherin was SUPPOSED to reveal the gag today but... she has not, yet. Ah well.
Just so you know.

Comics List: April 2, 2008

Looks like a pretty strong week to me...

I'm picking up/hoping to find:

  • ACTION COMICS #863 (last of the LSH tale, I believe)
  • ANNA MERCURY #1 (hope this won't be too similar to MADAME MIRAGE...)
  • BOYS #17
  • COUNTDOWN #4 (guess we now know what the Great Disaster was...)
  • JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED #44 (and you just know this series is folding soon)
  • KICK-ASS #2 (the first one was unexpectedly fun)
  • METAL MEN #7 (of 8)
  • SECRET INVASION #1 (think I can find it?)
  • WALKING DEAD #48 (grim times, my friends)

I'll be back Friday with a scorecard on what's good and what's... um, not.

Later, gators!

Philadelphia weekend

Hey folks!
Sorry about not blogging for a week-plus-- had a real busy weekend in Philadelphia with Kat and her cousins. It was a 23rd birthday party and much celebrating was done.
Philly is a pretty cool place to wander around. We were a few blocks from the Art Institute (aka the Rocky steps), across from a really terrific fountain. If I can find out how to download all the shots in my cell phone, you'll see what I mean.
One big plus: the Franklin Institute is having a huge STAR WARS show, with costumes, models, props, and a load of audio-visual supplementary material. It costs $20 for an adult to get in (not including an extra $5 to go into the Millennium Falcon recreation), but after 5pm, that drops to $10. So go late!!
Anyway, terrific weekend and I hope to put up some pics soon.
BTW, loads of great new stuff in this month's SFRevu, including an interview with three Wild Cards writers, an interview with David Cornish (writer of Monster-Blood Tattoo) and plenty of reviews.
Hope you're all great out there!