Friday, July 11, 2014
The Sandman was a formidable and deadly villain in his first appearance, one of those perfect, nigh-unbeatable foes for Spider-Man. It was an epic clash of might and will.
And then Spidey sucked him up into an industrial shop vac.
Thursday, July 10, 2014
But of course I do: I have an anger problem.
I think the Science Bros stuff plays up Bruce's awkwardness and anxiety, but the element I relate to even more has always been Bruce's panic and anger. That's why I've always been so into the Hulk; in too many respects, I am the Hulk. And whatever the faults of Ang Lee's 2003 movie, that was the movie that made me realize what it must be like for other people to live in terror of my volatile anger issues. I came to realize that part of the reason I was so fascinated by the Hulk was that, through him, I could understand what anger does to the people who can't control it. People like my mother, whose volatile anger I lived in terror of as a child.
So I guess I take the Hulk personally. One of my favorite scenes in the MCU is the moment in The Incredible Hulk when the Hulk has Betty in that cave. He rages at the surrounding storm in anger. That's me, or at least it very much used to be: ill-defined, unfiltered, misdirected rage at everything. And Betty soothes him. She calms him with her voice and her presence. That means a lot to me. I want to see more of how Bruce deals with not being able to have a normal relationship with the woman he loves.
In The Avengers, we saw Bruce turn into the Hulk twice. The first time was an uncontrolled panic response to a high pressure situation. The second time was on his own, channeling his omnipresent anger and directing it. The conflict between those two temperaments is compelling. I'd love to see if he can balance that with tentatively approaching Betty again. That kind of thing gives me hope.
I know there's always talk about what else the MCU can do with the Hulk. That seems like an interesting layer to me.
But of course it does: I have an anger problem. And I'm reassured when I see that, when you're making every effort you can to control them, you still get to be loved and supported.
Today would have been Muppet performer Jerry Nelson's 80th birthday. I remember being very affected as a kid by Floyd Pepper and his soulful moods. So here are my favorite Floyd performances by he who am, is, are, and be he who is known as the great Jerry Nelson.
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
My new therapist made me admit that I'm a person, and that I'm worthy, and it was surprisingly hard to say all of that. My whole being fought against it. Maybe now some of these walls will get torn down and I can start healing from a lot of the damage I've let build up inside of me.
I wanted to end my first round of ABC Wednesday with something hopeful. But I'd rather end it with just one declaration: I am. I exist in the world the same way everyone else does. I have to make room in the world for other people. They have to make room for me too. I know I am a worthy person because I'm kind, caring, and compassionate. I am loved by other people.
A review of the films I've seen this past week.
MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN (2014)
Okay, I'm always complaining about how DreamWorks makes these animated movies for kids that deal extensively with midlife crises and fatherhood issues that no kid could care about. But this is actually a great example of how you can touch on issues like parenting and social pressures and fulfillment in a way that (a) doesn't hitting you with an anvil and (b) is used to inform the characters rather than move the plot along. This is, of course, based on the Jay Ward characters from Rocky & Bullwinkle, though it's a great deal more action-packed and alters the characters slightly (in this version, Sherman is Peabody's adopted son). But the wit is, to my surprise, intact. There's a lot of great pun-based and snippy humor that doesn't get too snarky or defeatist; there's a real sense of optimism and, hey, it's nice to see an American movie--especially one for kids--where being smart is a good thing. Above all that, it's just fun. I found myself enjoying this one even more than I enjoyed The Lego Movie, which makes this my favorite animated film this year so far. The opening scenes of this movie would have made the best short animated film of 2014. And then it just continues from there, and it gets better. ****
THE WIND RISES (2013)
Fictionalized biopic of Jiro Hirokoshi, the man who designed the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. This is Hayao Miyazaki at his most impressionistic, not really telling a linear story so much as a collection of scenes, some of them emotional, some simply marveling at what human beings have achieved so they can fly. There's a dark undertone to the whole thing; it takes place in the period between the World Wars, and as much as the wind can symbolize hope, it also symbolizes the coming storm, and we're never allowed to forget what these planes are going to be used for. The film addresses that, too. Engrossing, lyrical, bittersweet, a little remote, but beautiful. ****
HELL BABY (2013)
Not exactly a spoof of demonic possession movies; more like a demonic possession movie played for laughs. It's a funny movie, but it's also subject to some of the tiresome tropes of those movies. But I enjoyed it. Not much to say about it, but I thought it was funny. Keegan-Michael Key stole the whole movie for me. Written and directed by Robert Ben Garant & Thomas Lennon. ***
DOWN THE HATCH (2014)
Another great, semi-grossout Mickey Mouse short. I love this one just for having Ludwig Von Drake in it, but the gags--Mickey and Goofy shrink themselves and then get accidentally swallowed by Donald--are fantastic. ****
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
It's alarming how easy it is to piss people off and make them turn supervillain in the Marvel Universe. Take this guy: Calvin Zabo, a scientist who wanted to get a job working for Dr. Donald Blake. Now, Zabo was already a weasel, and he wanted to work for Blake so he could rob him later "at my leisure," but Blake immediately turned Zabo away because he'd been fired a lot and he'd heard "you're no good." Zabo, humiliated, decides he's going to get revenge on Blake for making him feel bad.
So he becomes Mr. Hyde.
That's the terrifying origin story of this month's villain: I'm going to become a rage creature inspired by a Robert Louis Stevenson story because you made me feel bad. It's like Thor's about to get in a fight with an internet message board. Insert whichever one you think is the saddest. I'm sure one just came to mind.
Well, now Calvin Zabo is Mr. Hyde, who has the strength of 12 men, and who can apparently change his shape, even down to his fingerprints. You know where this is going, right? It's bank robbing time.
Meanwhile, Thor is in Asgard, begging Odin yet again to let him marry Jane. Odin is over it. Officially. No Asgardian will marry a mortal. Thor then asks Odin to make Jane immortal, which Odin finds outright offensive. But he's taken aback when Thor raises his hammer to his father in anger, and Odin agrees to listen to Thor's petition once more, if Jane proves worthy of immortality: "noble, unselfish, fearless, and possessing virtues far in excess of those which the ordinary earthbound human possesses." So, we'll see.
The wrinkle Stan Lee adds to this is that Jane is genuinely in love with Dr. Blake. When Mr. Hyde shows up for his revenge, he throws Blake out the window, and in the story's lone suspenseful moment, Blake is only barely able to tap his cane to the side of the building and turn into Thor, surviving the fall. When he returns to the office, Hyde is gone, and Jane is much more worried about Blake's fate than the presence of Thor. So it's an inversion of the earlier situation. Before, Thor was Don Blake's rival for Jane's affections; now, it's the other way around.
Hyde isn't thrilled to hear on the radio that Blake lived. But he still plans on having his revenge.
And then Thor robs a bank.
To be continued!
:: Zabo does indeed site Stevenson as his inspiration for creating a formula that gives him his powers. He also credits his new powers with giving him a "devious, scheming brain," but I don't think he really needed help there.
:: Zabo is also jealous of Blake for having "everything! Wealth, fame, a beautiful nurse!" First off, I just need to add, having someone beautiful work for you is not a status symbol. Let's stop thinking like that. A beautiful assistant is not a job perk you just get to indulge in, she's a person working a job in order to feed herself. But second... wealth? Don Blake has wealth? We've really seen nothing of his home life. We know he's taken seriously as both a doctor and a scientist, and he seems to have no shortage of colleagues who envy him and want to ruin him out of professional jealousy, but is he really a wealthy guy? He should probably have nicer suits, then. I don't know, Blake doesn't have much of a personality other than pining for Jane.
:: Tonight the part of Mr. Hyde will be played by Patrick Troughton.
:: Don Heck's art is being kind of wasted on this series. He's not a fantasy guy, I think, and his vision of Asgard isn't very compelling. I wish he was still doing those neat-o spy-fi Ant-Man comics. We've got to find a better place for him, because he's fantastic.
This visually splendorous short tells the story of Odin fighting trolls on his way to battle Surtur, the gigantic king of the fire demons. To hurt Odin, Surtur tries to destroy the Earth--as yet uninhabited--by burrowing into its center, driving out a chunk that becomes the moon. Odin creates the Rainbow Bridge, goes to Earth, and plunges his sword into the planet, drawing "all the electro-magnetic particles of the cosmos" in order to start the planet rotating, which traps Surtur inside, imprisoning him forever. The heat of our planet is really the demon trapped at its core. That's more or less how Carl Sagan explained it on Cosmos, right?
(Alright, just being a wag.)
Once again, beautiful art. Jack Kirby really, really shines in these stories. They're short, but he really gets to play with the scale and the scope in these, and is creating a cosmology that will only grow and grow in the future.
And these always make up for less exciting Thor stories, which is most of them...
Next time: the rivalry between the Human Torch and Spider-Man continues, and the origin of Dr. Strange!
Monday, July 07, 2014
Sunday, July 06, 2014
Songs for Becca #16. Another hip hop single from 2003. This was a period when she was really into hip hop. This is Missy Elliott, with another appearance from Mr. Wiggle himself, Ludacris. I still sing bits of the chorus all of a sudden for no reason, which is actually sampled from "Double Dutch Bus." This was a damn good album, too. Anyway, this is a summer of hip hop, apparently. Makes me aware of how much I've neglected the genre since I started posting a Song of the Week. (This is my 402nd week doing this, by the way. Time flies.)