Saturday, December 11, 2010

My favorite Marvel Characters

I really have no clue why I feel the need to say this... but here it is: my list of favorite Marvel characters (in no particular order):

  1. Cable
  2. Colossus
  3. Shadowcat
  4. Juggernaut
  5. Captain America
  6. Captain Britain
  7. Havok
  8. Squid Boy
  9. Dazzler
  10. Nocturne
  11. Ares
  12. Hercules
  13. Amadeus Cho
  14. Cypher
  15. Lockheed
  16. Magik/Darkchilde
  17. Cyclops
  18. Sinister
  19. Hulkling
  20. Wiccan
Now, I'm noticing a pattern here: I tend to like Bricks, Nut jobs, and Spunky Kids/Wiseasses

Broken into these categories we have:

Bricks: Hercules, Ares, Cable, Colossus, Juggernaut, Captain America, Captain Britain, Hulkling (dude can shapeshift into anything.. that counts as a Brick).

Nut jobs: Sinister, Magik, Cyclops, Havok, Ares, Juggernaut, Cable (there's a bit of bleed between the Bricks and the Psychos... hmmm)

Spunky: Lockheed, Cypher, Amadeus Cho, Dazzler, Nocturne, Squid Boy, Shadow Cat, Hulkling, Wiccan

But, when you look at the plots the characters have been involved in... a different pattern develops:
Total Asshole (Very little redeeming qualities. They may be good guys, but they generally either don't care about collateral damage, or use it to their advantage. Or, they've blurred the lines so many times that they really are only 'heroes' because the people they fight against are so much worse than they are) , Douche (They've done some shitty things to people they care about with and without good cause, but, in general, they haven't blurred the line between good guy and villain), and Genuine Nice Guys (GNGs) (These are the Heroes who generally do the right thing, all the time, and try to support their fellow heroes. Dickish acts are almost non-existent).

Total Asshole: Cable, Sinister, Juggernaut (slips into Douche because of Sammy and Excalibur), Magik (she tried to destroy the world.. a few times... being fucked (literally) over by Belasco doesn't mitigate that in any way), Ares (other than how he treats Phobos.. the guy is a total dick),

Douche: Colossus (Tried to kill Wisdom, broke up with Kitty (after cheating on her), went with Mags), Cyclops (Do I need to explain it?), Havok (Lorna ('nuff said), breaks his bro out of catatonia via verbal abuse), Captain Britain (alcoholic verbally abusive towards Meggan, kind of a self-entitled prick), Amadeus Cho (just a smart ass in general, and he tried to kill SHIELD for hurting Hulk), Lockheed (he 'betrayed Kitty.. .this one's kind of tangential)

GNGs: Cypher (Ya, he was taken over by the zombie-technovirus But! he tried to fight it off, and didn't actually hurt anyone too badly), Shadowcat (she went all demon-ninja and tried to kill Logan. That's a good thin in my book), Captain America (dude, he's Cap. 'nuff said), Nocturne, Dazzler, Squid Boy (ya, he wanted to shoot his classmates, but he didn't. So, close call?), Hercules (ya, he's kind of a frat boy several thousand years overdo for graduation, but he's never actually done anything BAD to.. anyone. So.. GNG), Wiccan and Hulkling (dude, they're gay for each other.. how cool is that?!)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Make the bad man go away!

Am sitting in a workshop on using a program for online classrooms. He frightens me. He's a used car salesman on meth... With the personality of Ben Stein.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Shutter Island


Shutter Island?


Scorsese how you have betrayed me so. He did the Color of Money, Goodfellas, Cape Fear (take 2), Gangs of New York, Raging Bull, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Taxi Driver, the Age of Innocence, the Departed, and the Aviator. (wow, he's got a De Niro/DiCaprio thing doesn't he?)

He's this director who KNOWS how to make movies, good movies. OK, so there's a lot of crap in that list, too. Cape Fear was still disturbing, even though it doesn't compare to the original. But, Taxi Drive was AMAZING! And, so was Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore.... what I remember of it, anyway.

But, Shutter Island? Crap. Pure and total crap.

Now, I'm not a fan of DiCaprio. I admit that he's got some chops, and he's not afraid of playing range. But, really, he's just not my cup of tea. Maybe it's his voice, maybe it's the way he looks. Maybe, it's the fact that I still see that annoying little homeless kid from Growing Pains. I dunno, but whatever it is, I just don't like DiCaprio. However, I looked past that to see this movie. I actually enjoyed him in this role and thought he did a pretty bang-up job.

I did not, however, like this movie.

And, it's really through no fault of the acting.

It lies completely at the hands of the direction. There were certain cuts made, camera angels and glaring changes in props and positioning that seemed at first like poor editing. I still pray they are. However, on final analysis, after the big reveal of the movie, they're really just hack techniques to create evidence and pieces of a greater puzzle.

Pieces that are already there through the script.

For anyone who doesn't know, Shutter Island is a psychological thriller. A US Marshal goes to this asylum on an rocky island in the middle of the ocean to try and locate a missing person. It's the Alkatraz version of Arkham. Now, he's got issues himself and the movie plays on these issues. The script leaves hints and clues at the beginning (which are really more than enough to suss the plot), but it's as much messing with the characters as it is the audience. The pieces don't always connect, some contradict each other, and some are just plain red herrings. Some of the pieces are dialogue or action... things that happen or are said just don't mesh with the rest of the story. Others are strictly visual--a prop continually appearing, a glass that disappears and reappears, things like that.

Scorsese misses the point of these visual clues--which are much more important to creating the aura of madness that pervades the asylum than the dialogue. He forces the camera to dwell on them, he calls them to attention with frequent jarring camera work.

Within 30 minutes I had figured out the entire plot of the movie. the other hour and ten minutes was waiting for the film to catch up with my brain. And it was ALL because of the shoddy direction. I have the feeling that in the hands of a director more experienced in the genre, this movie would have been solid gold. (although it's kind of ludicrous to think of ANY director more experienced than Scorsese). Hitchcock would have done this movie justice.

Anyway, if you want a good psychological thriller, rent a Hitchcock flick, or Gaslight. Hell, rent Identity, same riff better plot.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I like Juggernaut.

There, I said it.


What's more, I like him as a hero. It's a nifty concept, really. Guy who for the passed forty-odd years of his existence in comics has been a villain (however reluctant that may be at times) decides to seek redemption. Thanks to Marvel's sliding time scale policy, these four decades of rampaging destruction are crushed to something more like ... never mind pre F4 events really don't fit with that time scale, and Xavier/Cain/Magneto kinda occupy that time period. Moving on. It's the idea of this guy being a hero after being the bad guy for so long, that really gets to me. The quest for redemption.

It's not like it's all that unwarranted. He tried to stop Onslaught, and helped the X-Men realize who he really was. He helped the Avengers (Iron Man, Thor, Xavier, and Spider-Man to be exact) stop the Exemplars from destroying the world. He joined the SCA to track down and stop supervillains.

Even before that, when he was a "bad guy" he had started to lose a lot of his punch. When Dazzler joined the team, he acted like an obsessed fanboy. Even when she was wailing on him with her powers he refused to really fight her. Instead, he thought he'd killed her when he knocked her unconscious to make her stop attacking him. He even built her a grave (which, ironically, almost killed her in truth. But, still it's the thought that counts). Sure, in the beginning, he was all about killing Xavier and the X-Men. But, soon afterwards, his appearances became more about him being a petty thug and the heroes trying to stop him. He wasn't really about taking over the world, or even killing people. He just wanted to make money.

And he kept getting cast as a hero. Reluctant though it could be.

And, we learned things throughout his appearances that endeared him to me. Ya he was a bully and real terror to Xavier, but his father was abusive and sent him to military school so he wouldn't have to deal with him. He comes home to find that he's been effectively replaced by another family. His brother experimented with his powers on Cain's mind. Cytorrak wanted Xavier, not Cain. He has a ... special... undefined friendship with Black Tom Cassidy and likes bubblegum pop (Dazzler always comes off as Britany Spears to me... even during her disco phase). And, he loves kids.

And, that's the real kicker.

He's this big invulnerable super-strong behemoth of a man who has literally ripped people in half. He's killed, maimed, robbed, and threatened everything under the sun at one point or another in his career. Yet, he listens to Dazzler, and he likes little kids. "Because there aint been time to screw 'em up yet".

He's hopeful. He honestly believes that kids are good and pure and the future in all the warm soft and pink fuzzy floppy-eared bunny goodness that that statement invokes.

So, ya, I'm a Juggernaut fan. I'm a Heroic Juggernaut fan. Thank you.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Magneto is Mojo Jojo

So, I'm reading through my old X-Men, and I come across X-Men #1. Now, because I live alone, I tend to read comics aloud. It keeps me from going stir crazy and going on a nine-state murder spree because I misinterpret the meaning behind a poem titled Ode to a Hall, or from getting lonely. You know, whichever makes me seem less crazy. (mmm... halls.....) As I do this, my inner voice tends to become my outer voice.

So, I'm reading and I come to this panel:

I notice that my voice suddenly goes deeper and a bit more guttural. Which is odd, because I've always heard the X-Men Evolution version of Magneto (Earth-11052 according to in my head when I read him in the comics. You know, sort of a lower-end baritone but resonating/echoing? It's a voice of command and respect, in my mind. *shrug* What can I say? I respond to child-abusing megalomaniacal dictators. I have issues. But, the voice in my head suddenly went deeper to a low bass as I read that panel. Which, I thought was weird but pressed on.

Then, I come to the panel directly next to it.

And I start speaking in gravely Engrish. You know the kind of accent that 'Really Old Japanese Patriarch Possessor of Profound and Ancient Wisdom' has on TV or in the movie-films? Again, odd, but I didn't make the connection.

I continue on for a while using this voice whenever Magneto speaks, without making any connections. Until I come to this panel and find unnecessarily exposition (TM!):

And my voice takes on a fast-slow-slow-fast-fast cadence. I start to think I know this voice from somewhere, but I couldn't quite place where. Until....

YES!! ALLITERATION! And, suddenly, *miraculously* I put it all together! Magneto has Mojo Jojo's voice! At least, in the early comics. By the time of Second Genesis, he's achieved more of his X-Men Evolution voice. Odd, I suppose, to think that he's evolved *snort* into a voice that won't be actually heard for another thirty years.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dr Spock Would NOT Approve...

Ok, so, I'm flipping through my old issues of the Spirit, and I come upon the lovely issue #... well it's the 13th issue, but since they're not numbered, I'm gonna call it the 8/25/1940 issue. Also known as "That One Where the Spirit Traumatizes Two Orphans." It opens with a pair of orphans sitting on a bed fantasizing about being in a gang (seeleft).

So, I'm left to thinking, how insanely bad can this place be? Right? It's got a church tower with Quasimodo jumping around, three square meals, beds,and everyone wears matching pyjamas! It's gotta be great right? PLUS! It's a STATE Orphanarium! That's, like double the cool!

Unfortunately, for young Billy and Barney (*snort*) that's not really good enough for them. They need to be the most feared and violent criminals known to America, wanted by G-men, the FBI, the police, and Boy Scouts:

And, thus they decide to carry on in the grand tradition of Baby Face Nelson, Al Capone, John Dillinger, and Pretty Boy Floyd. *sighs* Oh Johnny, how you led me astray... Go back to Burton, he treats us right.

Now, pay close attention to the faces of these two innocent youngsters. This will be an important hint of foreshadowing to come. See how Barney is half in shadow and half in light.... wow that's like some film noir stuff there, the interplay of shadow and light creating a tableau upon which we see the moral dilemmas of the characters presented in black and white bleeding into a pervasive gray... That's right. German Expressionism, baby. Except, we have colors. And a spotlight shining through the window. Whatever. I'm right.

Anyway, it's like important or something.

Now, no sooner do they leave than they decide to whip out some cigars and celebrate...Poor Barney, that face! No wonder he was given up!? Clearly, he's the reason why sweet, beautiful Billy is in the orphanarium! He's giving the kid a cigar AND talking bad to the Spirit! PLUS! his head was TOTALLY in shadow back in panel number 2! Dude, that's, like, comic-code for EVIL! This mook's no good, Billy! Stay away!

Knowing this, because the Spirit is a very intelligent fellow (he did manage to build a secret underground chemlab underneath his tessera... er grave... all on his own), he realizes instantly that Barney is a bad seed and there is no point in trying to redeem him. So, the Spirit leaves Barney to the fates, and takes sweet, adorable, cherub-like Billy with him to his secret underground lair. Now, in modern times, when a man in a mask took a small waif-like boy by the hand and led him through an abandoned cemetary, certain things were expected to happen. But, this is SO not the case here. The Spirit would NEVER...

Besides, he's altruistic and stuff, he's going to take that little boy to the authorities, and get him a new home and parents and stuff, after he gives him some hot cocoa and a good stern (but moral and fatherly) talking-to abut good, clean fun and the dangers of smoking. Right?

Sure. After, he drags Billy into the sewers.

But, the sewers! That's where Barney's gang is! He's there to rescue the misguided tyke isn't he?

Oh.. guess not.

Gee, kinda cold-hearted to use a 13 year old boy as bait for a gang. And, damn. To use the kid as an object lesson against the Criminal Element. Smart thinking, Spirit. Smart.

See how only Billy is allowed to have parents? No adoption for poor misguided Barney. It's back to Miss Hannigan, and the brush, and Rooster's closet for him! (Unless Spirit just left the kid to rot in the sewers). Serves the damn kid right. Secondhand smoke and all.