Here's an important question: is Ana supposed to be a pretentious asshole, or does she just come across that way because she's written by a pretentious asshole?
Saturday, April 05, 2014
Friday, April 04, 2014
Toyota Highlander has released a bunch of outtakes and bloopers from their ad campaign featuring the Muppets. They're all super short, and are cheerful for what is (for me, anyways) a gloomy, cloudy, rainy Friday.
On a slightly unrelated note, is anyone else watching Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge on the channel formerly known as Sci-Fi? Because that is a damn good show.
Thursday, April 03, 2014
It's been 16 issues (and one annual) since the Fantastic Four foiled the Skrull invasion. Back then, Reed scared the Skrulls off by showing them clippings from Strange Tales and claiming Earth held a variety of monsters. But the Skrulls must have figured that out, because not only are they planning a new conquest of Earth--they've also realized that the key to a successful invasion is taking out the Fantastic Four.
Enter the Super-Skrull. This guy is a great villain. With Doctor Doom in retreat, the FF have a lot of free time on their hands. Stan & Jack clearly need to raise the stakes now, and they do so by creating a hero who not only has all of the powers of the Fantastic Four, but better versions of those powers. Mister Fantastic can stretch? Super-Skrull stretches much farther--at least a hundred miles! The Human Torch can flame on; Super-Skrull can flame on for longer, fly faster, and concentrate a blast of flame so densely that it literally becomes antimatter. The Thing has incredible strength? Well...
And the Invisible Girl's powers? He can duplicate those, too. And apparently there's one other secret power that's yet to be disclosed...
Damn, Skrull scientists. That is some amazing super-science.
The Fantastic Four are shopping in a department store when the Super-Skrull lands in Times Square and claims Earth for the Skrulls. (He even plants a flag in the sidewalk!) The FF are mobbed by the crowds, but rush to face this new menace.
Most of what follows is a fight scene, but it's a pretty epic one. I won't go through it blow by blow, but everyone's powers--both the FF's and the Super-Skrull's--are showcased really well. Super-Skrull flies rings around Johnny and blinds him with black carbon. He injures Reed worse than we've ever seen before. He batters the Thing so hard that Ben's thrown across the city and only stops himself by grabbing the needle at the top of the Chrysler Building. He uses his invisibility to throw them off-balance and fire flame arrows at them unseen, like the Predator. The Fantastic Four have to retreat back to the Baxter Building!
Reed figures out that the Super-Skrull's powers require an additional power source, and (somehow, but it's dramatic enough to accept) determines he must be receiving rays from his fifth quadrant homeworld to keep him powered. He makes a tiny, sub-miniaturized jamming device that will disrupt the signal and de-power the Super-Skrull, and decides that Sue is the only one who can get close enough to the Super-Skrull to put the device on him. (Sue, as usual, is under-utilized in this issue, so it's nice to see her suddenly become an integral component of Reed's plan.)
The FF use their Pogo Plane to draw the Super-Skrull out to Crater Island for the final battle. It's there that he unleashes his hidden power: a hypnotic glare that seems to rob everyone of their strength and will. He makes short work of the men, but Sue, invisible, jumps the Super-Skrull from behind and slaps the jammer on him. Cut off from his powers, the rest of the team recovers, and Sue tricks him into falling into the crater the island is named for. Johnny seals him inside and they basically just leave him there.
How many Skrulls does that make walking around the planet now?
Of course, this one's trapped in a deep crater on a remote rock in the ocean, but I can't wait to see what happens when he breaks out of there. (According to Marvel Wiki, I only have to wait... 14 issues? Aw, man!)
Another excellent issue in a long run of quality comic book storytelling!
:: The Thing sent away for a Mouseketeers pin when no one was looking. You ol' softie.
:: Reed and Sue take off to Waikiki for a while for a real vacation in their passenger ICBM. The dialogue in this panel is priceless.
:: "Boy, it must be a gas workin' in a place with all these chicks!" I can tell Johnny's never worked retail before. It's like how now I always feel bad when I hear a young person say they want to work at a bookstore because they "love books." Oh, you poor thing...
:: Interesting moment when the crowd in the store is mobbing the FF: Sue turns invisible, but her designer dress does not. Reed and Johnny use their powers and don't ruin their clothes, so they must pretty much be always wearing clothes made of unstable molecules, but Sue wears a lot of couture. I think that's a neat detail, and nicely paid attention to by Kirby and Ayers.
:: When the Super-Skrull lands in Times Square, right away someone thinks it's an advertising stunt. This must have been a golden age for advertising stunts. (And hauntings, considering how often Sue does anything and people think a place must be haunted.)
:: In the letter column, Stan Lee gives Steve Ditko the credit for creating the corner boxes on the Marvel covers. Paul B. Weinstein of Portsmouth, Ohio, would like more recognition of Marvel's Westerns (particularly Two-Gun Kid, which is a very good series). Dick Tedor of Lake Bluff, Illinois, wonders how Sue Storm could be so attracted to the "gremlin-like" Namor. Robert Caldwell of Peekskill, New York, doesn't care for the Red Ghost or the proliferation of cliche commie villains (I agree). Steve Sough of Findlay, Ohio, is annoyed by the letters which point out simple errors in the comics... if he thinks that's tiresome, I wonder what he thinks of the internet!
The letter column is also starting to become a home for the praise of other Marvel comics that don't have their own letter columns: Tom Jones of Aberdeen, Maryland, prefers Thor to the Fantastic Four and loves Loki, while Anthony Corda of Flushing, New York, thinks Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos is the best war book out there (I agree).
And Alan Wheeler of Oakland, California, says what we're all thinking about Marvel's books: "NOT ENOUGH GIRLS." What's with all of the sausage, Stan?
The last letter in this column is from Ron Foss himself! That's some fandom history, for you. Read a bit about Foss here. There's also a mention from Stan that an FF fan club will begin publishing a fanzine; he name-checks Fred Bronson as the editor, and you can read all about Bronson here. (He even wrote for Star Trek!)
:: In addition to teasing the FF and Strange Tales annuals, and the first issues of The Avengers and The X-Men, Stan also mentions that Reed Richards will make a brief appearance in Sgt. Fury #3. We'll get to that after the next one.
Speaking of which: be here next time when Thor faces Merlin, because why not?
Wednesday, April 02, 2014
I had a habit of not doing my homework, so she got me a copy of Roger Hargreaves' Mr. Lazy. I think I still have this around here somewhere. It's true: I am pretty lazy. I'm low-functioning, as my therapist calls it. And I'm not very motivated.
I was just thinking of this today because it's Wednesday and those days can be pretty lazy for me. I'm coming out of a few weeks of intense depression, and I'm trying to take it a bit easy. I always try to take it easy on Wednesdays. I don't always succeed.
What is it about Wednesdays? Well, it's the day my wife spends the longest working. She works for four different vendors, and Wednesday is a heavy day. She's out all over town for anywhere between 8 and 12 hours. Sometimes it's longer, particularly around the holidays, and I'm going to bed alone because she doesn't get home until 2:30 or 3 in the morning.
It's hard for me... ever since I came off of Lexapro in 2012, my mental and emotional issues have been much more pronounced, and my age-old issues with being neglected as a child tend to come into play when I'm alone for a very long time. I'm lonely, so I try to be lazy and just relax and watch movies or read. And, you know, take Xanax. A warm coffee and a book do a lot to take me out of myself.
Why did I have so much trouble in math in fifth grade? I was certainly low-functioning then. I lagged behind in math and it made me feel stupid, and so I just didn't do my homework because it made me feel stupid, and I didn't ask for help because for some reason that just felt wrong to me. To this day, I won't ask for help when I really need it because I feel like I shouldn't impose myself on anyone. It makes the simplest things hard, because over the past few years I find myself flustered and confused very easily.
This is my Wednesday, generally.
Time to shut down, make some coffee, and read.
Tuesday, April 01, 2014
I admit, there was part of me that held out hope for the final episode of How I Met Your Mother. I've spent a long time with these characters, and even as this final season got more and more teeth-grindingly stupid, there was a small part of me that hoped we could get away with a decent finale. I just wanted something to salvage so that watching the last couple of seasons hadn't been a total waste of time.
And that, kids, is the story of how I never got over your Aunt Robin. Even when I was married to your gestational carrier.
UPDATE: Joel Murphy really nails the moral of the ending.
UPDATE 2: Todd VanDerWerff has some thoughtful points about the series as a whole.
Monday, March 31, 2014
Semple also wrote two movies I love which, admittedly, are also pretty campy: Flash Gordon (another one it took me too long to appreciate) and Sheena (cable staple of my youth). His work gave me some enjoyment.