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18 September 2010 @ 02:30 pm
Snuck on during Yom Kippur to write this.

Just finished reading "Batman & Robin: THE DELUXE EDITION: Batman Reborn".
Want the one-dollar version? Not too thrilled with it.
Want to know why? Read on.

Written by Grant Morrison, and drawn by Frank Quitely and Philip Tan - now there are a few names who've given us some great things. I re-read "All-Star Superman" last week, and it's still one of my favorite Superman stories ever written. On the other hand, this is also the same group that gave us "We3" and "JLA: Earth 2", neither of which particularly impressed me.

Let's start off with the art. Mostly, it wasn't too bad; Quitely has a fairly good grasp of scenery, and the character designs were all...interesting, at the very least. Newcomer Oberon Sexton sports a look I'm quite fond of, in particular; top hat, black suit, Nehru collar, black ski mask and opaque red glasses, topped off by a pair of spotless white gloves. Very stylish, in a basic sort of way. The new Batman suit is fine, as long as you're not part of the rabidly long-eared-Batman crowd, and while I have my issues with the new Robin costume, it's mostly a matter of personal preference - I despise the mask, but that really is just my subjectivity speaking.

I do want to cover the good stuff first, so don't think that this title was entirely bad; Alfred and Dick got some good scenes together, with the young Batman trying to get past the feel that he's just not big enough for Bruce's boots, and commiserating over the Brat That Walks Like a Man, Damian. They're both well-written and provide a nice respite from the action filling most of the rest of the book.

However, beyond the settings and character designs, this book has some serious issues. The new Batmobile somehow manages to be the first-ever Bat-car design that I've hated. Every other one - Adam West's marvelous ride, the animated series' tombstone roadster, Batman Beyond's flying jalopy - has meshed with the feel of its setting; even that hideous tank from "The Dark Knight Returns" was really the only imaginable ride for that grizzled old ultraviolence-loving Bat. The new ride for Dickie Grayson and the spawn of Bruce's loins...just doesn't fit. The design is an eyesore, the flying has no real purpose other than the "Gee-whiz" factor, and the coloring doesn't make any sense within the comic - a giant, bright red bat-shaped windshield, really?

As a reader, of course, I can see what they're trying for - it looks to me like Morrison is trying to slowly write his way towards Batman Beyond, but it just doesn't work. The off-handed reference about Damian "fixing" Bruce's designs doesn't make up for it being, essentially, a giant flying car out of nowhere.

There also appears to be some serious trouble keeping character design straight; Damian Wayne's face, for example, jumps between "wide and short" and "tall and angular" with no real rhyme or reason. It's something I noticed in "JLA: Earth 2" as well, with Wonder Woman's model in particular just not settling around a coherent look.

The fight scenes, sadly, are just no fun to read. There's no sense of motion to most of them, and sometimes the fragmented panels appear to be doing nothing more than trying to look "artsy" while at the same time making the fights harder to see; I'm put in mind of directors who zoom in far too close and shake the camera during a dramatic brawl, desperately trying to hide the fact that they just don't know how to choreograph the fight itself. In the fights where it's more zoomed out, it sometimes is even worse; I swear, there is a two-panel sequence where Dick goes from "left leg kicking high, left arm punching down and to the right" to "right leg kicking high, right arm punching down and to the right" with no apparent motion in between. All I can say is, the kid has got to be one hell of a Russian dancer.

Now, the villains. I quite liked the Toad, with the random "Wind in the Willows" references, though some idea as to the origin of the character would have been great. Pulling up random one-shot villains with no origin and no chance of surviving past the last page just gives the feel of sloppy writing - like Morrison didn't want to bother looking through the vast pre-existing gallery of Gotham rogues, so he just wrote in someone new. The "freaks" who attack the Gotham police station are fine, though - honestly - they feel more like they belong in the Joker's retinue during his "psychotic ringleader" days than anything else.

I can sincerely say that the idea of a grotesquely obese crossdresser in a tutu is a villain concept that I never would have thought of.

As for Professor Pyg...well...it's not like it's his first appearance, though his only other appearance WAS in another Morrison issue - but he gets points for at least using a pre-existing villain. The Dollotrons (ugh...that name...) are faceless mooks of the old school, though taking that crossdressing theme another step further, most of them appear to be male under the purple dresses and baby-doll masks. How the masks actually work...is never really gone into. How they control your mind, likewise. Oh well.

Pyg himself...ugh.
I cannot take this man seriously as a villain. At all. Honestly, he dresses up in a pig mask and wears a bow tie - no amount of psychotic rambling and power drill wielding can change that. The Joker is about at my limit for taking a bizarre-looking supervillain as a credible threat, and Pyg is far, far beyond that. The fact that his "Dollotrons" are just mind-controlled people in masks with no special training just makes it worse, especially when they somehow manage to teleport in around Damian and dog-pile on him - the miraculous super-assassin son-of-the-Bat superbrat, whose fighting prowess is only matched by his arrogance.


I'm not even going to bother mentioning Pyg's little musical freakout aside from this paragraph. Wasted pages, pure and simple. It doesn't establish him as a villain, it just makes him look pathetic - and honestly, he didn't need any help on that score. Two pages that could ahve been better-spent doing anything but show us a middle-aged, out-of-shape man doing a strip-tease and rambling about "trotters".

Oh, and apparently Pyg is capable of designing a virus that acts like a hallucinogen. Somehow. And it has a simple, clearly-marked antidote. Can I stop reading now?

Jason Todd...oh, Jason. Still one of my least favorite two Robins, you just cqan't keep a bad character down; he's back from the dead, again, somehow, and he's the Red Hood...again. Honestly, Jason, learn to let go. He's even retooled the costume, so I guess he's moved on from being a Deadpool wannabe to being a...Mysterio wannabe. (Yes, I know that it's also a move back to the original Red Hood costume, but somebody should tell Grant that that was never a good costume. Even the Joker didn't like it when he wore the damned thing.)

Anyway, Jason is...Jason. I never liked the character, even as Robin, and I do wish they would just let him lie and move onto something new...except that typing those words reminds me that Grant Morrison's idea of "something new" for Batman is Damian.

New "super-assassin" the Flamingo shows up, murders some random women and eats their faces ("ooh, how scary!"), shoots Jason and Damian and dies. That's it. He exists entirely to be a scary assassin who dies at the end of his first real story. I seem to be detecting a pattern here...anyone ever hear of the "Lightning Bug" before Jason killed him, by the way?

Damian Wayne manages, again, to narrowly snag the entry of "worst Robin" ever; Jason had a good shot of taking away the title, but was disqualified due to not actually being Robin any more. Oh, well, better luck next time. The real clincher to this, more than Damian's know-it-all attitude and complete lack of a personality beyond "I'm better than you so NYAH", is the end of the book. He gets shot in the spine, and Talia pops up literally minutes later to (presumably) patch him up...so just how long has Barbara Gordon been in a wheelchair, anyway?

Honestly, Grant, please stop writing Batman. You're good at other things - "All-Star Superman" is one of my prized possessions, and your run on Animal Man was beautiful - but Batman just isn't you.

TL;DR: If you want a good Batman and Robin story, pick up "Astro City: Confession". It's a better read all-round.
15 September 2010 @ 12:01 pm
For anyone who has seen me mentioning my lack of love for the man in the White House, this is a perfect illustration of my unease.

Taken from Dispatches from the Culture wars:

Obama may not be a bad man, but the stance of his administration as far as state secrets go is simply disgraceful, and his outright lies on the subject are even worse.

I'm thinking in particular of this:
I actually think that the state secret doctrine should be modified. I think right now it's overbroad. But keep in mind what happens, is we come in to office. We're in for a week, and suddenly we've got a court filing that's coming up. And so we don't have the time to effectively think through, what exactly should an overarching reform of that doctrine take? We've got to respond to the immediate case in front of us.

There -- I think it is appropriate to say that there are going to be cases in which national security interests are genuinely at stake and that you can't litigate without revealing covert activities or classified information that would genuinely compromise our safety.

But searching for ways to redact, to carve out certain cases, to see what can be done so that a judge in chambers can review information without it being in open court, you know, there should be some additional tools so that it's not such a blunt instrument.

The man said this with a straight face, while his administration went to court to prevent any victims of American torture from getting their day in court - by claiming that any case could be considered "state secrets", entirely on the administration's say-so - and thereby be automatically dismissed.

At the moment, the original court ruling that would have limited the state secrets privilege to specific pieces of evidence has been challenged by the Obama administration, and overturned. If the Supreme Court chooses not to hear the case, or decides to uphold the current ruling, the US Government will be legally able to take any individual they want - citizen or not - and do whatever the hell they want to him or her, and be entirely immune from prosecution for doing so.

If you can't tell why that scares the hell out of me, you're just not thinking.
16 August 2010 @ 12:55 am
From Shamus Young at twentysided.com:

"It’s fresh. It’s new. It’s from the guy who directed the also stellar Shaun of the Dead. It’s the sort of movie I’ll need to watch many times to catch all the references. It’s the best movie I’ve seen in years. I literally cannot remember the last time I had this much fun at the theater."

I wholeheartedly agree. Go read the comics if you can, and see the movie!
05 August 2010 @ 07:42 pm
We are not here because we are important; we are important because we are here. No loving God kindly cradled this world in paternal hands, and breathed the spark of life into the dust of the globe; we arose through the machine of life itself, the slow fire burning in the body of every living creature. Chance is the machine's fuel, and through that machine we were fortuitously brought forth; one spark of intelligence, alone (or so far as we know) in all the empty night.

We are important, because we are to the best of our knowledge the greatest expression of the mind in all the Universe.
We are responsible to the world in which we live because we are capable of conceiving of that responsibility - of shouldering the burden of safeguarding our (for this moment in human history) one and only home.
02 August 2010 @ 11:33 am
Didn't realize I'd skipped July.
Stuff's still going on. Looking forward to FurFright, also to OMGWTFBBQ this coming weekend.

Just stuck at home, job-hunting and trying to get into better shape.
21 June 2010 @ 11:49 am
Shamus Young has been learning to play DDR, and it's bringing back memories for me; I went searching, and found this, the very first song I ever played in Dance Dance Revolution (and still one of my favorites).

12 June 2010 @ 01:11 am
The thing that needs to be said and said most clearly about the oil spill is this:
BP claimed that they could handle a spill as bad as this - hell, much WORSE than this - and they lied. They cut corners, they had a horrendous, horrible safety record, and thanks to their bad business practices eleven men died and the livelihoods of thousands are wrecked - not to even begin to mention the environmental damage.

THAT is why it's BP's fault. Not "nature", not "the laws of physics", it is the fault of the people who broke something and claimed that they could fix it - but obviously cannot.

Here's a nice handy reference for how BP claimed that an oil spill ten times worse than what we've got would be no problem to fix: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/nat.....of_one_pl.html

BP safety violations. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009.....n5460864.shtml
MORE BP safety violations. http://www.businessinsider.com/bp-h.....-safety-2010-6

Summary version: BP has a horrible safety record and claimed they could fix something far worse than what thev've got now. Eleven men died. Catastrophe occurred.

Also, in a complete mood whiplash - I have the cutest foxy boyfriend in the entire freaking world. No lie.
06 June 2010 @ 10:44 pm
The thing about friend-zoning is that it really, really sucks, and the person doing it usually doesn't even realize that they are. But bringing it to their attention would only make things worse, which makes it suck even more.

Not based on anything in particular today, just thoughts percolating around my head.
31 May 2010 @ 11:21 pm
It is odd to feel uncomfortable with someone, try to figure out why, and realize "If I were a girl, I would have a crush on X".

On the other hand, it must be better than just feeling vaguely uncomfortable and not knowing why.

In other news, Memorial Day weekend was a blast! Had a ton of fun with some friends I haven't seen in awhile, will hopefully see most of 'em again at AnimeNEXT in three weeks.
Now to make sure a certain foxy person comes to ANext with me...
24 May 2010 @ 04:53 am
South African cartoonist receives death threats for a political cartoon featuring Muhammad.
Theo van Gogh, murdered for making a ten-minute movie offensive to Muslims.
Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard forced into hiding after multiple attempts on his life for drawing Muhammad in a political cartoon.

The South Park deal was the most recent item, but it is by no means the only or most serious one. People have been killed for drawing Muhammad. That must stop, and Draw Muhammad Day was intended as a step towards that.

Just in case anyone needed a reminder.