Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Conan, What is good in life?

Yeah, the lamentation of your enemies women is pretty good... but even better is recovering the comic book database you slaved over for the past year.

Or, close enough. I got a backup from about a month and a half ago. (June 7, before HeroesCon 2007.) All of the cover images are gone... those are separate files. But I can download those again. I can try to reason out what I got from HeroesCon 2007. The prices won't be there, but I should be able to cobble something together.

Either way, I'm breathing a little easier now, from the first time I had to put up with this mess.

And thanks to those who posted comments, and set e-mails of support. My PC's had a stroke, but it looks like it's going to be okay.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lamentation, and the Gnashing of Teeth

My mighty PC threw a rod this morning, and the hard drive was a casualty. Total loss. My comic book database is now... no more. This makes me particularly sad, since I'd cataloged which books I had obtained at the past two years of HeroesCon.

I'll be able to figure some of that out as I rebuild it, I know... but I'll miss being able to count those items among the various sources I use for my books.

Now, I'm just waiting for the company that created the software to help me out a bit. I need to reinstall the software, and now I don't have my activation key.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

In Defense of Judd Winick

At least here in South Carolina, I haven't sensed much love for Judd Winick as a comic writer. In fact, most of what I can recall hearing is how awful he is, and how he's ruining Captain Marvel. I'm going to go on the record here...

I don't see it.

About a year ago, maybe a bit more, I set up a database to help keep track of my comics. As I entered, one of the things I started to do was to pay a little more attention to who wrote things that I liked. One of the names that came up? Judd Winick. So I'm here to say that on the whole, I think he's a pretty fair writer. He's no Alan Moore, but I've really enjoyed most of what I've written that has his name on it.
So here are a few things I like about Judd Winick:
1) Exiles - The first 25 issues of Exiles are still some extremely enjoyable comics. Crossing the X-Men with Quantum Leap, the book introduces myriad versions of the Marvel Universe that have gone astray, and the characters are tasked with correcting each one in it's turn before moving on to the next.

I can't say for certain that I know he came up with the concept... but the series was very strongly written. Covering scenarios that included The Trial of the Phoenix gone wrong, an Earth that has been under the yolk of Skrull domination for over a century, Iron Man conquering the world, and a world where the Avengers were all vampires, there was a sense that this book could go in any direction at any time. The book had infinite possibilities. Chuck Austen, and later Tony Bedard's runs on the book eroded my love of it though, and ultimately the "Worlds Tour" storyline, which seemed largely to be just an excuse to refresh copyrights on the New Universe and Counter-Earth finally killed my desire to read it. Judd Winick made this book great.

2) The return of Jason Todd - There are a lot of folks, I know, who don't approve of this former Robin being back from the dead, but I actually like Jason where he's at now. He's a character who can get under Batman's skin even more than the Joker, because Batman's responsible for him.

I enjoyed Jeph Loeb's 'Hush' story, but I felt that it chickened out in the last couple of issues. Near the end of the story, they revealed that the mystery villain Hush was actually Jason Todd returned from the dead. They chickened out and made it Clayface, but apparently Judd Winick thought that having Jason back would mess with Batman in some pretty cool ways, and ran with the idea.

I would like to state that I think 'Superboy Prime punching the walls of reality' was a pretty lame way to bring him back. But moving past that, I think the character's got some interesting potential, and is one of the few people who can really get under Batman's skin.
Alright, those might only be two reasons, but to me they're two pretty compelling ones. Honestly, Exiles enough was enough for me. While Winick was writing it, Exiles was always #1 on my 'to read' list. Outsiders has meandered a bit, but I'm willing to give it a look post-CheckOut. I don't think he's the second coming, but I'll stand up and say that I've enjoyed some of what he's written, and enjoyed it fairly consistently.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Non-Comic Related Post Warning!

On my way to work yesterday, I learned that "Weird Al" Yankovic is coming close to my neck of the woods. He's got a show scheduled Saturday, 8/4 at Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina.

I've been a fan for the past 26 years or so. I heard "Eat It", back at the dawn of time when Michael Jackson was still:
  • cool
  • human
  • non-albino
In some form or another, I've owned pretty much every original album he's produced. I haven't gone back to buy things like the food album, or his boxed set... but believe me when I say I've got a LOT of "Weird Al". And while I may not have loved Straight Outta Lynnwood as much as I loved Running With Scissors, it still brought me many laughs.

So I've bought my tickets. Row 10. Score!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Revenge of the Backup Story

I confess... I sortof glossed over my first experience with a backup story. It's true. I didn't read what I'm sure were great stories in the Batman: Black & White backups of a few years ago. I didn't really follow Josie Mac's backups... in fact, if it was a backup in one of the Bat-books at DC, I ignored it for a long time. I was reading the books for the main story, right?

And, gentle reader, this is where I pay for my errors in judgement.

When I first started getting into comics about seven or eight years ago, I burned myself out fast on X-Men titles. I bought almost anything with the letter 'X' in the title, convincing myself it was a mark of quality. Poor deluded fool that I was. So to this day, I'm still not usually keen on the X-Books. There have been gems, like New X-Men: Academy X... then they stripped all of the charm from the book, injected a female Wolverine clone, making the book (now just 'New X-Men') dead to me, for all intents and purposes.

Which is why I feel rather disturbed that I purchased it this week for the first time in 18 months.

Why would I knowingly purchase a title that I know is nowhere near something I would enjoy? Because the Endangered Species backup story has me hooked.

I'd stopped buying 'adjectiveless' X-Men a year ago, mostly because Chris Bachalo's art made my eyes want to bleed. (Hey, personal taste here. I'm not trying to say his art is bad, just that I don't care for it. What do I know, I liked Kia Asamiya's 'manga-ized' art.) I bought #200 because it seemed that the comics world would come to an end unless every comic book reader bought it. The issue was alright, and the art wasn't quite so bad as I remembered back in #188 but the part that stood out the most for me was the backup story with Beast. The next two parts were in titles I was already subscribed to, Uncanny X-Men, and X-Factor so I got those auto-magically. But now it seems I'm going to be roped into continuing to purchase X-Men. I don't mind that one so much... but I feel dirty, or guilty for having purchased New X-Men.

Maybe next time around I'll remember just to ignore the main story and go straight for the backup. That is, unless Endangered Species gets a lot worse than it looks like it will.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Transformers: The Movie

Having finally picked up this movie on DVD, I was viewing it a bit earlier and noticed that Marvel seemed to be involved in it's production. This isn't really a surprise, as Marvel had the comics license at the time, and I believe was also involved in the production of the cartoon.

But it got me thinking...

I could honestly have seen this story originally proposed as a story arc for the Transformers comic in the Marvel Universe. Let's see... aside form our usual antagonists in the form of the Decepticons, we have a new, massive antagonist with immense power that consumes entire planets to provide the energy it needs to survive.

Does that sound familiar to anybody? Galactus has immense cosmic powers that we know he can bestow upon other beings, so the small matter of rearranging a few robots into more powerful configurations (IE, Galvatron, and his new Decepticons) would be a small matter.
I'll grant, there aren't any of the other staples of a Marvel tie-in, but I think that the similarities between Unicron and Galactus are too powerful to just ignore. Especially considering the fact that we're never given an explanation of why the Autobots Matrix of Leadership was able to defeat Unicron.
And in all honesty, wouldn't it be cool to see the Autobots and Decepticons unite to confront the threat of Galactus? Heck, you could even have thrown some Spaceknights in there too. Who knows... maybe Cybertron will show up somewhere in Annihilation: Conquest.

Monday, July 9, 2007

And Now For Something Completely Similar...

Anybody that knows me in a comic-book capacity has heart me rave about my neighbor Chad Bowers' entry in the Small Press Idol 2007 competition. That entry is now taking orders.

Now, it's easy to support something when the only cost is a few seconds of time. But this round, I gather, votes are counted in dollars. Danger Ace #0 is available for order in the link above. The book's going to be $3.50, and shipping almost doubles it... but a vote for Danger Ace is a vote for Giant Zombie Gorillas.

And I think I can safely say that the only thing cooler than Giant Zombie Gorillas are Zombie Pirate Trolls. I don't see a comic about them yet, so darn it, buy Danger Ace #0.

That is all.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

My Top Five Skrulls

My friend Chad wanted me to list my top five Skrull picks tonight, as my fiancee and I ate dinner with he and his wife. I declined to play the game over dinner, primarily to give me time to actually come up with most of my picks. So here we go...

1) Reed Richards - I think that the former leader of the Fantastic Four is a Skrull for multiple reasons. For starters, I think that there has to be a highly placed Skrull, trusted by the government, helping to form it's recent policy decisions related to super-humans. The first instinct is to scream Iron-Man... but I think that's too easy an answer. But Reed was there with Tony, every step of the way. The Skrulls are very familiar with Reed, which would assist them in replacing him, and his behavior, especially in regards to the Civil War, really seems to be pretty far out for his character. Add onto this, that we know Skrull scientists can grant Skrulls his elasticity, and I think there's a fair argument that makes him my number one pick as a Skrull in the Marvel Universe. Chad disagrees, but I've got to go with my gut.

Heck, if this cover alone doesn't condemn him, I don't know what does!

2) Charles Xavier - After Wanda Maximoff destroyed the House of M reality with those three now-infamous words, the founder of the X-Men dropped off the face of the Earth. He finally shows up when Gabriel Summers is revealing the truth of his existence, and Xaviers actions to his brothers. He did not contact any of his friends, colleagues or former pupils at the school, but silently showed up apparently out of nowhere.

And when he does return, he decides to lead a contingent of X-Men into space on an errand destined to bring strife to the Shi'ar Empire. And what's more, until being lost in the M'kraan crystal with Darwin, he no longer had any powers.

Due to his time with the Illuminati, as well as the X-Men's own actions, he is known beyond Earth, leaving me with a strong belief that he is a Skrull. He even left Earth to train a group of Skrull Mutants once. The Skrull-lover!

3) Dr. Strange - I know, I'm picking on the Illuminati awfully hard... but it seems to me that Dr. Strange is another character we lost sight of, and who has popped up without much explanation of why he's doing what he's doing.

The last time we saw someone I'm confident was the real Dr. Strange, he was meditating in one of the polar regions, hoping that the Civil War in the Marvel Universe would come to a peaceful conclusion. We all know how well that turned out. But now, the good Doctor is aiding the underground remnants of the New Avengers, contrary to his former member of the Illuminati, Tony Stark's wishes. We haven't been given a reason for his complicity with the New Avengers, or even a reason that he's allowing them to crash at his pad. If I were leading a Skrull invasion of the Marvel Universe, I'd be trying to place agents at or near the heads of all factions. I think that with the massive dependence of the New Avengers on Dr. Strange for a base of operations, as well as other assistance, that he'd be a prime target for Skrullification.

4) Apocalypse - I know it's been awhile since we've seen ol' Pokey-Lips but it seems to me that last time we saw him, he was definitely behaving a little oddly. Trying to unite Mutant-kind under him? Acting like a Mutant Messiah? Cutting in on Cable's racket? That definitely seems a bit odd to me.

Either way, Apocalypse is usually a pretty heavy player with the Mutant side of the Marvel Universe. And to see him act against form stuck out in my mind. I'll grant, I'm also reaching for people who are not, and never have been members of the Illuminati, so Apocalypse may be a bit of a reach... especially considering that he hasn't been active since before the latest & greatest crossover... but who knows. Occasionally that shot in the dark hits something.

5) Captain America (Steve Rodgers) - For my fifth pick, I relented to the Cynic that dwells deep within my heart. But I'm not suggesting that the Steve Rodgers that has been shown to be dead is a Skrull.

I'm suggesting that sometime in the not-too-distant future, before all of this mess with Skrulls has finished, Captain America will return with a pretty fair explanation as to why he isn't really dead. THAT Captain America, I think, will be a Skrull. Marvel will be able to sell us on his death, then on his return, and lastly on his true identity as a Skrull. There's an overwhelming desire on the part of heroes in the Marvel Universe to trust Captain America. I think that it's a dangerous impulse, and again, if I were leading a Skrull invasion of Earth, I think it's one that I'd try to take advantage of any way that I could.

But who knows... maybe *I'm* the Skrull!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Greetings From the Bizarro Universe


Apparently somewhere between North and South Carolina, one can cross into the Bizarro Universe. Allow me to relate a tale of strangeness and oddity!

As my Fiance and I traveled North to attend her sister's Wedding, we stopped at a Wendy's North of Charlotte. Not only was the restaurant clean, the staff friendly and competent... but they had Pepsi products on tap instead of Coke!

Madness! Madness, I say!

I only hope that the trip back to Columbia will return me to regular space before I'm trapped in the Underverse forever.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Independents Day!

Okay... posted a bit late, but hey... I had to work. I didn't have a chance to go celebrate Independents Day by purchasing black & white comics from obscure creators.

I figured I'd take a moment though, to muse a little on the new Countdown teaser image DC released... I mean, aside from poking fun at Emo Lex Luthor. (He cuts himself, you know.)

I guess the first thing I noticed is that there are items representing a lot of the heroes of the DC universe in the picture, with a damaged/destroyed look. (Batman's Cowl, Superman's Cape, a broken Green Arrow.

I also noticed that apart from Emo Luthor, all of the other characters are grouped in threes. Cyborg Superman, Kingdom Come Superman, Reign of the Supermen Superman... Mary Marvel, Eclipso, Granny Goodness... Desaad, Trickster and the Penguin. But I was surprised that the Pied Piper wasn't there with Trickster, since apparently their pairing is such a big part of the 'story'... such as it isn't. Sure, Trickster's holding Piper's flute... man, isn't that some imagery I really didn't want.

I wasn't surprised to see Eclipso and Mary Marvel together, but Granny Goodness? But then again, what's Desaad doing with the Penguin and Trickster. Characters in two of the three groups have a connection to Darkseid, so it seems reasonable to assume one of these Supermen does as well. It makes me think back a couple years, but I think a future Superman accepted Darkseid's help in trying to prevent a disaster. This goes back to the beginning of Jeph Loeb's run on Superman/Batman. Was that KC Superman? That would give each group a connection to Darkseid, whose image is featured prominently in the ruined statue. And these groups are surrounding Lex Luthor. Is he having problems with Apokolips?

I don't know... I'm mostly wondering out loud.

Incidentally, I'm going to be out of town for several nights, starting tomorrow night. So C0un7d0wn will have to wait until Sunday evening at the very earliest.

Monday, July 2, 2007

New Countdown Teaser Image

I just think everyone's making fun of Luthor for going emo.