Posts tagged with "comic book" - Faerye Net 2009-02-16T17:24:06+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Power of Chest Expansion! 2009-02-16T17:24:06+00:00 2009-02-16T17:25:03+00:00 <p>Once upon a time, at the urging of one <a href="" target="links">Ryan Grove</a>, I added a copy of <a href="" target="links"><em>Essential Spider-Man Vol. 1</em></a> to my collection of <a href="" target="links">old <em>X-Men</em> continuity</a>. It didn&#8217;t strike the same chord with me. We&#8217;re talking seriously old school Spidey &#8211; J. Jonah Jameson was not the only one with a vaguely square head, the villains were kooktacular (and I say that as a Batman fan) and the dialogue was somewhat clunky. Most memorably for me, Spidey&#8217;s powers hadn&#8217;t been pinned down. In one panel, pinioned by ropes, he decided to snap them using &#8220;my power of Chest Expansion!&#8221; I think I fell off my chair.</p> <p>There may be worse sudden power inventions &#8211; the Superbreath of Memory Theft from <em>Superman II</em>, for instance &#8211; but it stands out for its petty perfection. <em>Chest expansion</em>? Couldn&#8217;t he have used his Spider Strength? From whence does this Chest Expansion spring? Since spiders have exoskeletons, it&#8217;s hard to imagine them puffing up their thoraces. It&#8217;s a one-off power (like the Superbreath) that solves the situation he&#8217;s in, with no care for consistency.</p> <p>Every time a character in a book &#8216;remembers&#8217; or discovers a new power or area of knowledge, I think of Spidey snapping those ropes. It&#8217;s lazy. It&#8217;s writing yourself into a situation and cheating your way out &#8211; giving the character a new tool to overcome the challenge, rather than using the capabilities he has creatively, rewriting the challenge, or changing the circumstances. It&#8217;s drawing endless Chekhovian guns out of your trenchcoat instead of going back and writing one onto the mantel. There are probably genres &#8211; campy, over-the-top or deliberately cinematic genres &#8211; for which this works. But for most books, having the author suddenly upload a skill into the protagonist&#8217;s head <em>Matrix</em>-style snaps me out of the action, unsuspends my disbelief, and leaves me feeling betrayed.</p> <p>At least until someone breathes on a cup of water and I forget the whole thing.</p> The Dark Knight reviewed 2008-07-25T08:03:00+00:00 2008-07-25T11:49:13+00:00 <p>I love Batman. And so, evidently, does Christopher Nolan. We even seem to love the same Batman &#8211; dark, driven, not played for laughs. The kind of Batman that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, with awe if not with fear. That&#8217;s what I meant a few years ago when I said <a href="" taget="links">&#8220;They made a Batman movie with Batman in it.&#8221;</a> THE Batman. The real one.</p> <p>Well, they did it again. <em>Dark Knight</em> was complex, well-written, and well-acted. As <a href="">Ryan</a> pointed out to me, it also had blessedly little <span class="caps">CGI</span>. Since we recently offended our eyes and brains by inflicting <em>Spider-Man 3</em> on them, this is particularly pleasant to note. It also lacked the one horrible jarring note that made rewatching <a href=""><em>Batman Begins</em></a> an alloyed joy: no Katie Holmes.</p> <p>I was somewhat concerned that the Joker in the previews would not seem like the &#8216;real&#8217; Joker. My fears were unfounded. Pared down, certainly, but the real, menacing core was there, vivid and compelling. The Joker is quicksilver, self-defining and self-redefining, striving for a moral victory as terrifying and shifting as himself.</p> <p>There were some pleasant surprises in plot and characterization, which I won&#8217;t get into as I enjoyed the way even the broad strokes of the subplots were left intact by the trailers I saw before going. Suffice it to say they involved some of my favorite things and people in Gotham (but not Harley Quinn, <a href=""> heart-stopping rumors</a> notwithstanding.) There were some honest frights and some moments of sheer, awed joy. The quick-cut action scenes did not interfere with my enjoyment overmuch. The music was, well, exactly the same as last time and exactly the same throughout. More of a missed opportunity than a regret.</p> <p>This movie maintained and deepened the moral tone of the first. It was important not only that Batman save X, Y or the city of G, but that he make the right choices, understand the complex choices before him. That richness goes far towards explaining why I say that these movies feature the real Batman. My favorite major superhero, in the best superhero movies ever. Sometimes they get it right.</p> The Promethea Review: or, come back, Alan Moore, all is forgiven 2006-03-18T22:26:40+00:00 2008-06-08T14:29:44+00:00 <p><img src="img/articles/promethea1.jpg" alt="Book cover" title="Promethea, Volume 1" class="imageRight" style="width: 60px;" /></p> <p>Some time ago I reviewed <a href="" target="links"><em>Batman: The Killing Joke</em></a>. It was not a positive review. This, my first experience with Alan Moore, left me unwilling to sample his work again; even when I heard that Joss Whedon adored one of his series, <em>Promethea</em>. (Usually, if Joss Whedon advocated jumping off a cliff, I would assume there was a really fun trampoline at the bottom or a dimensional portal into fairyland on the way down and act accordingly.)</p> <p>My views on <em>The Killing Joke</em> do not seem to hold wide sway in the Fanverse. My negative review on Amazon is one of the only sour pickles in a sweet barrel, and more than a few fanboys have told me how wrong I am in some comic book store or other. So imagine my glee when I heard, a few months back, several very trenchant quotes from a well-known comics writer about <em><span class="caps">TKJ</span></em>, along the very same lines as my diatribe. That writer? Alan Moore. Oh my. Apparently he rather hates <em><span class="caps">TKJ</span></em> himself, even as legions of his devoted worship it as one of the fewmets of the Great Dragon.</p> <p>This, along with the praise of my own Great Dragon Whedon, put me in a more positive frame of mind towards Mr. Moore, and so when I found myself in a comic book store with a gift certificate in my hot little hand and the colorful cover of <em>Promethea</em> before me, I gave it a try.</p> <p>&#8216;Oh my&#8217; is right. Promethea, at least the two volumes I have thus far read, is a stirringly wondrous story about the power of myth and the imagination, set in a drolly imagined [Well, parallel timeline with more advanced technology, and scienceheroes, and magic. Whatever!|text|near-future], and fashioned with great care and love. It&#8217;s beautiful, funny, intelligent, and resonant. On top of that, the art actually lives up to the idea (not always the case in comics/graphic novels) and even the color adds to the wonder, mystery, and eldritch loveliness (again, not always the case. <em>Sandman</em>, I am looking <span class="caps">ATCHOO</span>!)</p> <p>I am unsure how much to reveal of the plot, because I went into it blind and hugely enjoyed the journey. Let us just say, it&#8217;s about stories; the ones we create and the ones that have dwelt for long centuries in the cauldron of our mythologies; their power over us and our power over them. It&#8217;s an empowering story for bookworms :)</p> <p>So far, if I had to name a fault in <em>Promethea</em>, it would be that the stories and mythology, the history of the mystical and physical worlds, are rather occidentocentric, and not just in areas where it would reflect the characters&#8217; bias. I&#8217;m hoping this changes in later volumes; for the moment, it puts a strange regional cap on concepts and themes that otherwise seem to stretch majestically on into the infinite and universal.</p> <p><b>Bottom line:</b> If you love myths and playing with them; <em>Mage: the Ascension</em> or even <em>Sandman</em>, you owe this story a try. And especially, oh especially, if you&#8217;re an English major and want to be told how important that is. <strong>grin</strong></p> On movie rumors and girlish dreams 2006-01-13T20:58:09+00:00 2008-06-08T15:40:01+00:00 <p>Wonko, <a href="" target="links">human information sieve</a>, informs me that the next Batman movie, directed by the chappy behind <em>Batman Begins,</em> &#8220;may very well star Johnny Depp as the Joker and Rachel Weisz as Harley Quinn&#8221;. And you see, this is the trouble with movie rumors. Because right now, my little Harley-lovin&#8217;, Gotham Girl heart is full of gladness and a wee artificial springtime. And at any moment, the studio could put Joel Schumacher back, write Harley out, make Johnny Depp play the Mad Hatter as secondary villain, and have the main villain be a giant robotic spider (because, as you know, spiders are the fiercest killers in the animal kingdom.) Sometimes I wish I didn&#8217;t love movies &mdash; because you never know when they&#8217;re going to love you back.</p> If I were a supervillain... 2005-05-10T23:52:47+00:00 2010-08-03T12:57:08+00:00 <p><em>No, folks, I&#8217;m not dead, I&#8217;m just raking in the overtime. I promise Marcel&#8217;s mousy meanderings will conclude at some point. However, my own maunderings being more mollifying if they have some motive other than mollification, I shall merge this message with some musings.</em></p> <p>I have been thinking recently about what I&#8217;d do if I were a supervillain. Now, don&#8217;t think I&#8217;m taking the term &#8216;supervillain&#8217; in its strictest sense. Costume strictly optional here. But it&#8217;s fun to think, if I were a villain &mdash; a type from movies, from pulp, from comic books, from TV &mdash; what type would I be? After long consideration (okay, about two bites of yogurt), I&#8217;ve decided I would be the villainess who says many witty, strange, or cutting things and is utterly mad. The quotable crazy, shall we say.</p> <p>Now, this is not just because it suits my rather mad personality. This is not simply because my favorite villains ever are Callisto from <em>Xena</em> (&#8220;I never drink intoxicants, Theodorus. I like to experience life in all its agonizing glory. I don&#8217;t want to dull the sensation for a second.&#8221;), Drusilla from <em>Buffy</em> (&#8220;Miss Edith speaks out of turn. She&#8217;s a bad example, and will have no cakes today.&#8221;), and Harley Quinn from the Batverse (&#8220;I love museums. Do you think they&#8217;ll be mad that I drew raccoons on the abstract paintings?&#8221;)&#8212; and do <span class="caps">NOT</span> make me choose an order on those. It is not merely that I am fascinated by fictional madness, its wellsprings, meanings and clarity. I have a really practical reason for this.</p> <p>If you&#8217;re crazy enough, they can always foil your plan without you looking like a pseudo-competent poser. Cuz, you know, <em>crazy</em>! Even more importantly, if you&#8217;re quotable and lovable enough, the fans adore you. And if the fans love you and the writers can defeat you, you will never, ever die.</P> <p><em>P.S. What kind of villain would <span class="caps">YOU</span> be, fair reader? Bond? Buffy? I bet EMeta would wear gold lam&eacute; and debilitate the heroes with his horrible word-play attack. The <span class="caps">PUNSTER</span>!</em></p> The Roulette Wheel of Death and Rebirth 2004-03-18T14:07:43+00:00 2008-07-08T11:32:40+00:00 <p>Some of you may know &#8211; in fact, many people who have a minimal or marginal interest in comic books know &#8211; that Jean Grey (aka <em>Marvel Girl</em>, aka <em>Phoenix</em>, aka <em>The first X-Woman</em>) dies all the freakin&#8217; time. So much so that I have it on good authority that the following exchange actually occured in X-Men continuity at a recent Jean Grey funeral:<br /> <b>Emma Frost</b><em> (reformed villainess and X-Man)</em>: <strong>snicker</strong><br /> <b>Scott &#8220;Cyclops&#8221; Summers</b>: Goddammit Emma! It&#8217;s not funny!<br /> <b>Emma</b>: Yes it is, Scott, and <em>you know it</em>.</p> <p>If my source didn&#8217;t invent that passage through wishful thinking, then Marvel knows damn well that Jean Grey&#8217;s tragic deaths are as predictable as the tragic deaths of any number of Captain Kirk girlfriends. Why do they keep doing it? Why? I think I have the answer.</p> <p>Last night I was perusing the polychromatic pages of the periodical (okay, I&#8217;ll stop now) <em>Batman/Superman</em>. Er, <em>Superman/Batman</em>. Whatever, this is why they have a logo, not a title. And the last frame of this comic book, after several frames of people talkin&#8217; Kryptonian (yeah, Kryptonian. It&#8217;s kindee funny-lookin&#8217;.) shows Superman telling Batman as he gives the blonde girl he&#8217;s been talking to his cape to wear, &#8220;This is Kara Zor-El, my cousin from Krypton.&#8221; At this point, my head broke.</p> <p>You see, DC has had this here &#8220;Cousin from Krypton&#8221; angle before. She was the original Supergirl. Or the second one. Or something. Before Supergirl was an angel, or an alien-human hybrid, or an angel-human hybrid, or a shapeshifting girlfriend of Lex Luthor&#8217;s&#8230;umm, okay, I&#8217;m already confused. I don&#8217;t read Superman, and I don&#8217;t understand Supergirl history. But I do know she&#8217;s been reinvented so many times that even I, who, as I said, <em>do not read Superman titles</em> have seen at least one Supergirl debut — she was supposed to be Lois and Clark&#8217;s daughter from the future. So do you start to see what I&#8217;m saying here?</p> <p>A long long time ago, someone at DC and someone at Marvel made a bet that he (Marvel) could kill Jean Grey (Marvel Girl) more often than he (DC) could reinvent Supergirl. It all makes sense! At the time, it was a lark! Now, so many Jean Greys stenciled on that Marvel guy&#8217;s desk, a dartboard of Supergirl concepts mounted on the DC office wall, it&#8217;s a grim battle, each comics titan straining against the other to control the cheesiness of the superheroine ethos. This week some poor schmo at Marvel, with &#8220;counterintelligence&#8221; scrawled on his cubicle tag, read <em>Batman/Superman</em> and groaned. &#8220;Guys? Do you have the next Jean Grey death ready? I mean, have you got her alive again and ready to go? Those wily bastards have hidden it in this <em>Batman/Superman</em> thing &#8211; I know, a Bat-title! Sneaky! But &#8220;cousin from Krypton&#8221; only has one meaning&#8230;&#8221;</p> <p>Or, you know, maybe it sells comics.</p> Batman: The Killing Joke 2003-10-30T16:00:33+00:00 2008-07-25T14:18:15+00:00 <p><img src="img/articles/killingjoke.jpg" alt="Book cover" title="Batman: The Killing Joke" class="imageRight" /></p> <p>Yesterday I gave this trade paperback a second read, and I can&#8217;t say it changed my first impressions. As a Bat-fan, I picked up the book because it contains an important moment in Bat history, central to the story of a character I care about. <em>Batman: The Killing Joke</em> is the storyline in which the Joker paralyzed Barbara Gordon, former Batgirl&#8212;a constraint that eventually led to her becoming &uuml;berdecker to the hero world, Oracle.</p> <p>I&#8217;ve bought some fairly cheesy trade paperbacks in the name of Bat history lessons&#8212;<em>Batman: A Lonely Place of Dying</em>, for example, is the story of how Tim Drake becomes Robin, and it&#8217;s dripping with cheese and earnestness. I can cope with cheese (see my enjoyment of <a href="" target="links">70&#8217;s X-Men</a>) but there&#8217;s something about <em>The Killing Joke</em> that really rubs me the wrong way. It was written by Alan Moore, one of the two &#8220;dark&#8221; writers of the 80&#8217;s, who shocked the comics world out of its idyllic 70&#8217;s fluff and into grittiness. The other was Frank Miller. And while it&#8217;s obvious that Frank Miller has dark thoughts and muses far too much on sex with Wonder Woman, it&#8217;s equally obvious that Frank Miller loves superhero comics. Alan Moore, I have read and I now believe, hates superhero comics.</p> <p>The plot of <em>The Killing Joke</em> goes a little something like this: (don&#8217;t worry, I&#8217;m not spoiling anything good) Batman goes to Arkham to talk to Joker about stopping the eternal struggle that will eventually kill one or both of them. Joker has busted out, leaving some guy (they never explain who) in white makeup and a green wig in his cell. Joker buys an abandoned amusement park. Joker shoots Babs in the spine and has his lackeys carry off her father. Joker undresses Babs and takes pictures of her writhing in her own blood. Joker puts Gordon through a funhouse ride of horror, with huge flat-screen displays showing psychadelic nonsense; his own face as he harangues Gordon with very facile logic about how he, Gordon, ought to go insane; and pictures of Gordon&#8217;s daughter naked and writhing in her own blood. Batman easily figures out where Joker and Gordon are. Gordon is not insane, just very sad, and determined that he and Batman should &#8220;show Joker our way works&#8221;&#8212;&#8220;bring him in by the book.&#8221; Batman pursues Joker through the funhouse (yawn). Batman catches the Joker. Batman tries to convince the Joker that he can help him if he wants to be helped. Joker tells Batman a mediocre joke and they laugh together.</p> <p>Are you bored yet? The only thing that enlivens the very twistless story is the counterpoint of a possible creation story for the Joker, where he&#8217;s a loser stand-up artist who can&#8217;t get a gig, tries one night of crime to support his pregnant wife, etc. The creation story is a little more interesting than the rest of it, but it&#8217;s a little more set in stone, a little more definitive, then I&#8217;ve ever seen DC let anyone do for a Joker story. He&#8217;s <span class="caps">SUPPOSED</span> to be mysterious&#8212;an image of the madness that can be birthed without reason from man. Except for &#8220;he fell in a chemical vat&#8221;, there is no bottom line on this man.</p> <p>The story lacks emotional punch where it needs it &#8211; the crippling of a major ongoing character, for chrissakes; Gordon finding the resolve not to snap in the face of this <strong>coughstupidcough</strong> sophisticated psychological torture &#8211; and, in fact, seems emotionally illogical. Gordon doesn&#8217;t ask Batman whether Babs is <span class="caps">ALIVE</span> when he&#8217;s rescued. The fiercely protective Batman, after never laughing at a single thing the Joker has ever said (I mean, that&#8217;s part of why Mr. J hates him!), laughs at a mediocre joke he tells after <em>nearly killing Batgirl</em>. Are these human beings? No, they aren&#8217;t. They&#8217;re mouthpieces for Moore&#8217;s shallow conceits &#8211; one bad day makes people insane, in different ways, and the world is so awful you just have to laugh &#8211; and the only thing they show any commitment to is debating those overblown theories.</p> <p>On top of that, the story makes no <span class="caps">LOGICAL</span> sense, something I am more than happy to overlook in a comic book, provided something else &#8211; emotional punch or comedic value &#8211; fills the void. Who was the guy in the Joker suit in Arkham? Where did the Joker get the money to buy the amusement park, or, for that matter, to outfit it with vast flat-screen displays and deadly traps within a few days? Where did the Joker find so many sideshow freaks who like to hurt people? And finally, when did bondage midget minions (who lead a naked Gordon around by a leash) become part of Joker&#8217;s schtick? Joker is, Jack Nicholson aside, an asexual villain (please see Harley Quinn&#8217;s sexual frustration for details.) Stripping Babs for the pictures, while probably a humiliation for the character, is Alan Moore saying, &#8220;Ooh, I&#8217;m so <span class="caps">BAD</span>!&#8221; <span class="caps">NOT</span> anything the Joker would do.</p> <p>In short, I <em>do</em> believe Alan Moore hates superhero comics. And as Lana said on <em>Smallville</em> yesterday, &#8220;If you hate your job so much, why don&#8217;t you just quit?&#8221;</p> <p><b>Bottom line:</b><br /> Pretentiously &#8220;meaningful&#8221; and pretentiously dark, not to mention painfully 80&#8217;s. Characterization shallow and perfunctory, story trite and unexciting. Pictures okay&#8212;a few very good Joker portraits.<b> 2 out of 10</b> Top Ten Ways to Tell You're a Loony Fangirl 2003-07-01T14:40:05+00:00 2009-11-05T17:44:38+00:00 <p>Ah, to be a fangirl. Unfair as it is, &#8220;fanboy&#8221; is pejorative: most male fans don&#8217;t want to own a term associated with shrill youth, lascivious adults, myopic internet rants and over-insistent behavior<br /> in autograph lines. &#8220;Fangirl&#8221;, on the other hand, tends to be used positively. Because of real or perceived statistical rarity, the fangirl is rare and mysterious: she escapes the contempt bred of familiarity. Thus it is, perhaps, that I have no particular shame about the fact that I am a big ol&#8217; fangirl. Diagnostic help:</p> <p><b><u>Top Ten Ways to Tell You&#8217;re a Loony Fangirl</u><br /> 10.</b> You don&#8217;t wear your Batman hat shooting because of Batman&#8217;s aversion to guns.<br /> <b>9.</b> You have dreamt entire episodes of &#8220;Star Trek: The Next <br /> Generation&#8221;.<br /> <b>8.</b> You watch movies and either loudly shout or inwardly mumble, &#8220;Batgirl could kick his ass.&#8221;<br /> <b>7.</b> Your high school crushes were almost all fictional <br /> characters.<br /> <b>6.</b> You own at least one piece of merchandise from a webcomic.<br /> <b>5.</b> Your last three Halloween costumes were Harley Quinn, Catwoman, and Hutt Leia.<br /> <b>4.</b> In high school you once wore black for 6 months &#8212; not because you were depressed,<br /> but because all your sci-fi T-shirts are black.<br /> <br /> <b>3.</b> Somewhere, you have 4 &#8220;X-Files: Fight the Future&#8221; movie posters. <br /> Even though you didn&#8217;t really like the movie. <br /> <b>2.</b> You started wanting merchandise that said &#8220;<span class="caps">WWBD</span>&#8221; (&#8220;What Would <br /> Buffy Do?&#8221;) before you knew they actually make it.</p><p></p> <p>And the #1 indicator that you are a loony fangirl:<br /> <b>1. <a href="" target="links">You compare Rand al&#8217;Thor and Clark Kent in your blog</a>.</b></p><br /> <p>Yes. Yes I am.</p></p> Essential X-Men Volume 2 2003-06-19T14:05:19+00:00 2008-08-01T19:39:01+00:00 <p><img src="img/articles/ess_x-men2.jpeg" alt="Book cover" title="Essential X-Men Volume 2" class="imageRight" /><br /> <p>This Marvel <span class="caps">TPB</span> (Trade Paperback) is from before, in the immortal words of Wayne, &#8220;we got the money.&#8221; One of the first Marvel actions upon the box office success (is success a big enough word? Once more with reverb: suuuuukseeeeeess!) of <em>Spider-Man</em> was to hire about a dozen people to start their Trade Paperback department. Since then, while they haven&#8217;t stopped printing these &#8220;Essential&#8221; suckers, they haven&#8217;t been forthcoming with the next installment. You see, the &#8220;Essential&#8221; books are cheap. Very cheap. Reprinted old comics on newsprint in black &amp; white cheap. But I like them. They are sweet, sweet continuity.</p> <p>This particular gem is a big newsprint collation of <em>Uncanny X-men</em> issues #120-144. Those issues were written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by John Byrne. For those of you curious, this volume not only follows <em>Essential X-Men Volume 1</em>, but <em>Essential Uncanny X-Men Volume 1</em>. The latter volume comprises the first issues of the title, penned by Stan Lee himself. Now, I haven&#8217;t read those, but I can tell you this; they feature Cyclops, Marvel Girl (=Jean Grey), Iceman, Beast, and Angel; the heroes are younger and less experienced, though better at teamwork; and they all wear the same uniform. Very much the &#8220;Xavier&#8217;s Academy&#8221; focus. Those X-Men, along with part-time X-Men Havoc (Cyclops&#8217;s kid brother) and Polaris (Havoc&#8217;s green-haired squeeze), were mysteriously captured at some point. Cyclops managed to get free, and Professor X assembled the new X-Men at the beginning of <em>Essential X-Men #1</em>. These are an older, edgier, and wincingly multicultural group. They comprised Nightcrawler (German), Colossus (<span class="caps">SOVIET</span> Russian ooooooh!), Storm (Harlem + Egypt=whatever), Wolverine (history missing, presumed Canadian), Banshee (Irish), Sunfire (Japanese), and most wincingly of all, Thunderbird (Apache). Oh, and Cyclops (I&#8217;m not whitebread, I&#8217;m red! Well, everything&#8217;s red. My bad.)<br /> <br /> <p>Through stodginess (Sunfire), death (Thunderbird) and additions, we come up with the X-Men featured in this volume: Cyclops, Phoenix (=Jean Grey), Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and either Banshee or Sprite, depending on the period. Banshee has these tragic power-negating attacks of laryngitis, ya see&#8230;well, it happens a lot to him. Eventually he gives over heroing as much inferior to settling down with his girlfriend. As for Sprite (Kitty Pryde, later &quot;Shadowcat&quot;), she&#8217;s a teenager added partway through. She has one of <span class="caps">THE</span> most cool powers ever to grace a comic book (phasing through solids, walking on gases/liquids), and, while the outdated writing is most winceworthy in her case, being a teen (Golly gee! Neat!), she&#8217;s still a very cool character.<p><br /> <br /> Anyway, enough with that, on to the opinions! This volume contains some of the all-time classic X-Men storylines, including the Dark Phoenix saga, and my personal favorite, &#8220;Days of Future Past&#8221;. Both of these stories are epic and moving (at least to me). You shouldn&#8217;t have much trouble figuring out where you stand, because at the time extensive recaps and internal monologue explaining everybody&#8217;s powers was par for the course.<br /> <br /> <p>I don&#8217;t want to make it sound like I&#8217;m trashing the writing, here. Some people probably have trouble with this style &#8211; very word-heavy, paragraph-heavy even, and not very conversational at times. (&#8220;Malefic destiny&#8221;? Dude, Scott, it was cheesy when the narrator said it, so you had to pick it out of the ether?) I admit if you have a headache it&#8217;s not the comic book to head for. But the plot is engaging, the action is quick, and the intense verbiage can be thought of as opera arias &#8211; certainly not realistic, but an important part of the art form.<br /> <br /> <p>The characters are well-defined but not shallow &#8211; each of them has problems and quirks that play into non-fight interaction, as well as the personality and style that is obvious in fights. Storm is claustrophobic, still grieving for her parents, and really alien to mainstream American culture; as well as being &#8220;dignified and moral.&#8221; Colossus misses his family and farming, thinks it would be wrong to act on his and Kitty&#8217;s mutual attraction (she&#8217;s 14 or so, he&#8217;s 17), and questions why he&#8217;s a hero and whether it&#8217;s disloyal to the <span class="caps">USSR</span> to be an X-Man; as well as being &#8220;stalwart and kind.&#8221; You get to know these characters <em>very</em> quickly &#8211; there&#8217;s not much subtlety at play &#8211; but you can&#8217;t help but care about them.<br /> <br /> <p>The art is really great. Of course it&#8217;s dated, and some people&#8217;s costumes (especially the bit players &#8211; Havoc and Polaris need a re-draw STAT) are just a bit weird, but Byrne draws action-packed fights that are easy to understand; clear, realistic emotions; and well-proportioned human figures (leaving aside the comic-book pretty-people issue &#8211; I mean that their eyes, heads, legs, always look comfortable and graceful, and in the right place. Don&#8217;t scoff, I&#8217;ve seen some really gifted comic book artists put eyes too high or forearms too short.) My only real beef is that a lot of the white girls look the same. Jean Grey is &#8220;pretty white girl with medium-length curly red hair.&#8221; Amanda Sefton is &#8220;pretty white girl with medium-length wavy blonde hair&#8221; et cetera. That, frankly, is <em>still</em> common (<em>Ultimate Spider-Man</em>, I&#8217;m looking at you!), and at least these are quite pretty.<br /> <br /> <p>In short? If you hate four-color superheroes&#8230;why are you reading this? If you can take a bit of camp and still care about the characters, this is a great thing to pick up. It has great characters, twisted plots, pretty pictures, the occasional funny, and, I&#8217;ll admit it, the first time I read it I cried at least twice. (<em>&#8220;Once upon a time, there was a woman named Jean Grey, a man named Scott Summers. They were young. They were in love. They were heroes.&#8221;</em> I get misty just typing that.) Time travel, gods, alien empires, love, betrayal, racism, pinball, roller skates, disco, and sweet sweet continuity. Can&#8217;t beat that for $14.95. Top Ten Reasons Bat Boys Bag the Babes 2003-06-05T11:29:41+00:00 2008-10-02T17:48:16+00:00 <p>Nah, I don&#8217;t mean <!--<a href="" target="pics">-->the Bat-Boy of Weekly World News Fame. I mean two of the DC Universe&#8217;s finest: <!--<a href="" target="pics">-->Nightwing and <!--<a href="" target="pics">-->Robin.<p></p> <p>Nightwing, <span class="caps">AKA</span> Dick Grayson, <em>used</em> to be Robin. Tim Drake is the current Robin. I, as a ravening Gotham fan-girl, have noticed that these two fellows are absolute girl magnets. As for Jason Todd, the second Robin, well, death really keeps the ladies at bay.<p></p> <p>Let me paint you a picture. Nightwing was engaged to Starfire (an alien on the Titans), has had flirtations with his apartment manager in Bl&#252;dhaven, and dated the Huntress (why?). He is currently dating Oracle, former Batgirl and current operator/decker of the Gotham world. He is so attractive to women that Oracle starts getting snippy with him when she hears there is a new female vigilante in town &#8212; she is already <em>sure</em> the new girl will go after him. Heck, even Dick knows it &#8212; he was really nervous when his partner at his day job (policeman) asked him over for dinner, because he thought she was coming on to him! (Of course, blushes all around when he meets the hubby and small ones.) I don&#8217;t even know what he got up to as Robin &#8212; although in &#8220;Robin: Year One&#8221;, the girls come a-crushin&#8217; on his first day in school.<p></p> <p>As for Tim Drake, the incumbent Boy Wonder, he&#8217;s dating the Spoiler, a rather inept but charming Gotham vigilante. She set her hood for him while he was still dating his civvie girlfriend, Arianna. One of Tim&#8217;s Young Justice teammates, Secret, was so jealous of Spoiler she nearly killed her. And as for the other ones, well, Wonder Girl can maintain her crush on Superboy all she wants, but she (she of the superpowers and major hero lineage!) uses Robin as an example of what a hero <em>should</em> be, and there&#8217;s been some platonic hugging of late. As for minor flirtations, there&#8217;ve been a few. Spoiler has put her burgeoning detective skills to use in the cause of jealousy on a couple of occasions.<p></p> <p>So, why? Why the bat-boys? The pixie boots can&#8217;t be the answer, and the short-shorts are long gone. Why are these powerless do-gooders the heartthrobs of the DC Universe? Read on if you dare.<p></p> <p><b><u>Top Ten Reasons Bat Boys Bag the Babes</u><br><br /> 10. They&#8217;re cute.</b> Might as well get this out of the way. They&#8217;re ripped. They have the classic comic book strong jaw, black glossy hair, and startling blue eyes. Like Batman (and Superman, but let&#8217;s remember who was there first!)<p></p> <p><b>9. They have no powers.</b> That may sound a little weird, but think about it. They save the world with superteams full of people shooting energy beams and using &#8220;tactile telekinesis&#8221;. Your average villain is <em>not</em> going to go for the puny human tactician first. Safety of your boyfriend is a good thing.<p></p> <p><b>8. They&#8217;re urbane and well-travelled.</b> They charge all over the world, saving it from evil! No, really. Paris, the Himalayas, the Caribbean &#8212; they have it covered. Just think of the stories! &#8220;So then we&#8217;re hovering in mid-air from the Cobra-issue jet-boots, with a thousand-foot drop below and one hundred pygmy yeti charging hungrily in from one side!&#8221;<p></p> <p><b>7. They&#8217;re witty.</b> Despite Batman&#8217;s example and injunctions, they can&#8217;t stop mocking the mooks. They&#8217;re quick with the pun and the rejoinder.<p></p> <p><b>6. They have that &#8220;bad boy&#8221; charm.</b> The dark clothes, beating people up in alleyways, zooming around on motorbikes and hot cars in violation of multiple traffic laws&#8230;they have the &#8220;bad boy&#8221; charm&#8230;but at the same time, they&#8217;re more lawful good than a squeeky clean Boy Scout (All Boy Scouts are arsonists deep inside!)<p></p> <p><b>5. They&#8217;re heroes, duh!</b> Besides the cool-factor, if the city is racked by cataclysmic earthquake, if armed gunmen hold up your workplace, they will save you! It&#8217;s <em>dreeeeeeeamy</em>!<p></p> <p><b>4. They have mad skillz.</b> They can pick locks, crack computer security, climb just about anything, speak several languages, convince suicidal people not to jump, outwit supervillains, and drive alien motor vehicles. Not only is that pretty nifty, but it&#8217;s great to have something to fall back on &#8212; you know, if heroing becomes lame, and your <em>vast pots of money</em> evaporate.<p></p> <p><b>3. They are used to female authority!</b> Couldn&#8217;t resist putting that in. Oracle says &#8220;Jump!&#8221; and they ask &#8220;Straight up, or off the building?&#8221; Great training for the future.<p></p> <p><b>2. If they stand you up, you know the reason.</b> And it&#8217;s a good one. They&#8217;re saving the world! Or people&#8217;s lives! You can even get a vicarious sense of heroism by not complaining. Or is that martyrdom?<p></p> <p>And the #1 Reason Bat Boys Bag the Babes is&#8230;<br><br /> <b>1. Trained by the World&#8217;s Greatest Detective!</b> Need I say more?</p>