Monday, 29 April 2013

Smallville: Reaper

Not a lot to say about this one.

Lex really tries with Jonathan Kent. Jonathan is obtuse and really cannot see anything but the name "Luthor" when he looks at Lex, although there is a temporary coming together at the very end of the episode.

Lex tells Clark, "When my father dies, kings will come to his funeral. When yours dies, his friends will come to his." Not bad.

With the benefit of hindsight, the Kents should have been straight with Lex from the start. They practise honesty in their business dealings but dishonesty on a major scale when it comes to concealing Clark's secret from a friend. Lex - or his evil clone - has a point when he resents it later.

In his youth, CS Lewis wrote a poem called Loki Bound presenting the cosmic role reversal of Thor as jealous bully and Loki as tragic hero. Lex's worldview is another reversal: he sees himself as the best of humanity protecting his race against an insidious alien intrusion. 

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Christopher Rudd, the Risen One

Here are some good quotes from Mike Carey's Lucifer Vol 9, Crux (New York, 2006):

Christopher Rudd: There is no mortal sin. There are only souls, lost in a maze that someone else has made for them. (p. 18)

Lys: He says that nothing is eternal. That damned and demon alike should seek their fate in change -- -- as God and Lucifer have already done. (p. 12)

Christopher Rudd: From moment to moment, we change. We become. If we are anything at all, we are that becoming. Like Lucifer, who fell from heaven to hell, and then rose again. To show us the way. To show us how short eternity is. (p. 15)

Christopher Rudd: I was wrong in one respect only. I told the Lady Lys that there was no sin. But there is. Hell itself is a sin. (p. 25)

Gaudium: So then Rudd promised there was gonna be some kind of new deal. "You've seen the end of hell, and now you're gonna see the end of heaven." Stuff like that. At least I think that's what he said. On the other hand, it could've been "Thanks for coming." It was hard to hear over the singing and the shouting and the speaking in tongues. (p. 29)

Iron Man 3 Spoilers

OK. What is clever here?

Tony meets a couple of fan boys.
A reference to Downton Abbey (incredible).
The on screen "Mandarin" terrorist leader is a Brit actor who did a good Lear in Croydon.
I really thought that Pepper had died.
There are references to the Avengers, of course.
Tony and Iron Patriot have to spend a lot of time coping without their armour.
Tony's Malibu house overlooking the sea gets trashed real good.
Control the Vice-President, then kill the President - a stunt common to Garth Ennis' The Boys.
Tony rescuing people falling from a plane was a good performance by a sky-diving team.
Villain motivated by early rejection by hero, as in The Incredibles.
The post-credits dialogue that the whole cinema audience knew to wait for was just a joke (but I didn't recognise the doctor).

Wouldn't someone recognise the Mandarin? 

Lex And Max

Lex Luthor in Andy Diggle's Batman: Rules Of Engagement pulls the same stunt as Max in the same author's The Losers: quietly acquires power, then stages a coup.

One difference is that Max, introduced in Diggle's run on The Losers, can be, and is, killed in the same run whereas Lex, of course, must survive and has an elaborate exit strategy and escape route for when his coup is defeated.

Rules Of Engagement ranks alongside Diggle's Green Arrow: Year One, Miller's Batman: Year One and John Byrne's The Man Of Steel as a good early story of familiar characters showing the origins of well known aspects of their later careers.

These stories remain valid because of their quality whatever subsequent changes have been made to mainstream comics continuity.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Highland Laddie II

It is worthwhile to read this a second time, slowly. I realized that I had skipped an entire page on the first reading.

When Hughie and Annie talk above the sea, we follow their conversation while seeing the scenery around them. This does not happen in a prose novel. It does happen in a film but, in graphic fiction, we can read and reread at our own pace, move our eyes from panel to panel across two facing pages and turn backwards and forwards between pages in a way that is not possible even with rewind and fast forward on a DVD.

Learning the identity of one of the smugglers near the end of the story, we can look back for any visual clues that we might have missed earlier.

As Hughie enters his home village, he passes three silhouetted boys seated on a wall with a small dog at their feet and says, "Don't be gettin' sentimental." Whom does he address? The boys resemble Hughie and his two childhood friends whom he re-meets as adults and who are shown in flashbacks. Does Hughie see three boys who remind him of himself and his friends or are the silhouetted figures and the dog a memory?

Later, when we see Hughie as a child returning a lost dog to its home, he is menaced by dinosaurs and World War II hardware that clearly are in his imagination. The cover of no 4 highlights Annie as a child surrounded by other superhero children.

19/4/13: And it is possible to look back and work out in which panels Hughie's pocket must have been picked.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Boys Vol 8: Highland Laddie

The Boys by Garth Ennis was an ongoing series with three miniseries. In the collected editions, each miniseries is a single volume. I have just bought and read vol 8 which is the second mini, Highland Laddie. This is my third reading of the mini but the first as a single volume. I laughed aloud twice which I had not done before.

Wee Hughie revisits the Scottish seaside village where he grew up. Garth gives us scenery, nostalgia, frustration at the way life has gone, flashbacks both to New York and to Hughie's childhood, childhood adventures that are not too implausible, interesting villains, a surprise visit from Annie, a summary of her very different American childhood, the beginning of a credible reconciliation between Hughie and Annie thanks to Annie's admirable perseverance and despite Hughie's incredible obtuseness and an unexpected character who slightly advances the main story.

This kind of stuff is much better in a single volume and should be published this way in the first place.

Smallville: Stray

What occurs here?

A telepath who learns Clark's secret and doesn't die at the end of the episode. He could become a hero later.

Again, the telepathy is not caused by the meteors but this is a version of the DC Universe where strange things happen all over.

Telepathy is a good way for us to learn about Chloe's feelings towards Clark.

A comic book character, Warrior Angel, a strange visitor from another planet who helps people. Lex was a fan because Warrior Angel is bald. Ryan the telepath doesn't need Warrior Angel as a hero now that he has Clark.

Lex defies Lionel by staying in Smallville.

A good chase scene in a bowling alley.

Clark uses X ray vision, super strength and super speed to good effect.

All three Kents have now been involved in car accidents.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Smallville: Nicodemus

What happens here?

No meteors for a change but a local flower has a meteor-like effect.

The Native Americans had an antidote. (Does a connection develop later in this series between Native Americans and Kryptonians? I am not sure.)

Some characters - Jonathan, Lana and Pete - get to show their inner feelings but not others - Clark, Martha, Chloe or Lex.

There is a billboard for the Daily Planet in Smallville.

Lex moves Hamilton from Smallville to Cadmus near Metropolis.

Metropolis is indeed visible from the top of a windmill in Smallville and, as Lana says, it is beautiful - like looking into the future.

Anything else? 

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Comics Appreciation

Because this is a Comics Appreciation Blog, it has so far appreciated not only comics but also:

feature films derived from comics;
a TV series derived from comics;
novels based on the TV series;
a comic based on the TV series;
a Gotham themed costume night.

Another potential topic is computer games derived from comics but someone else will have to write about that.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Riddler (Prize Winner With Poison Ivy)

Catwoman (Sort Of) And Raven

Bane, Harlequin And A Guy With A Catwoman T Shirt

The - You Know Who!

Joker, Ivy And Alfred

Alfred And Harlequin

"Master Bruce is indisposed...Oh, is that the Bat Signal?"

Gotham Theme Night IV: Alfred And I

Gotham Theme Night III

Gotham Theme Night II

Gotham Theme Night, Dark Side of the Lune Goth Club

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Andy In Action

My Comic Book Guy, Mark, tells me that, although Andy Diggle wrote the current Action Comics no 19, he will merely be plotting from no 20 because of pressure of other work. This is a Bad Thing whereas a run of Andy following Grant would have been a Good Thing.

My comments will show that I have read almost no Superman for many years.When, in no 19, Lois Lane gets interested in Kent but he backs off, I cannot help remembering that they were married until recently but the continuity was changed yet again and I do not think that the outgoing continuity was properly wrapped up as Alan Moore did with the Superman of Earth 1 in "Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?"

Andy has to write a story that fits in with the other Superman titles and with the rest of the New 52 which means that the immense potential of the character is nowhere near to being realized. We need to see how the mere presence of even one Kryptonian would change the world forever. Instead, we get the pretense of business as usual despite the presence of hundreds of super-powered beings flying overhead, despite even the at least annual occurrence of a major event like an alien invasion, an evolutionary turning point or a cosmic crisis. So Andy has to show us Supes fighting war machines. John Byrne and Marv Wolfman made a start on a more realistic treatment of both Superman and Luthor but Byrne almost immediately returned to all the rubbish, Lori Lemaris, Mr Mxyzptlk etc, that initially he had seemed to discard.

The issue begins (almost) exactly as I would have wanted. Kent and Lane are covering a civil war in an unfortunately fictitious Middle Eastern country. We see four pages of people in a bar and learn about Lane's coverage of the war. Kent as Superman intervenes because the regime is smuggling in illegal weapons to crush the pro-democracy uprising. But he didn't intervene when they used legal weapons? This is the sort of question that Superman comics need to address. Why and to what extent does he intervene?

Luthor sent the "mechs" to trigger a US invasion. Here are welcome signs of the real world intruding into a Superman comic. But, at the end of this issue, Luthor has infected Superman with Kryptonite nanites... Longer term, I would prefer less Kryptonite and more about Superman and the US intervening in the Middle East. But, of course, it is too early to judge a story from its opening issue.