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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Comic Review: Punisher: MAX

Punihser: MAX. #1-12

A two part review, that honestly I don't feel much like writing, so I'll just give it a quick summation. This hardback is the introduction to Marvel Max, through a character that people already expect to be a little, well, non-PC. The Punisher. It accomplishes just that. The first story (In The Beginning) is fine, although a little boring, and the second story (Irish Kitchen) is pretty damn good. The problem with Punisher is that is not a very deep character and usually his wights go only one of two ways, the bad guy runs away or gets torn to pieces by his M-16. Either way it's short. This is a problem because in order to fill out the story, you get endless scenes of crime heads talking crime in a bar and plotting their next attempt to bring Castle down, or scenes of cops at the station talking about how to catch Castle or the crime lords he's after. These make up about 15-20 pages of any given Punisher issue. Overalll the writing is very good, but there is just not enough excitement to go out of you way for.

Rating: 1/2

Saturday, May 15, 2010

House of M: Spider-Man

Spider-Man: House of M #1-5
House of M was a disappointment to pretty much all comic fans. The story involved the world being recreated in the way Scarlet Witch wanted it, with mutants completely in control of the world. Magneto is the unquestioned global monarch, and normal humans are treated in these times as you would imagine a black person was shortly after the Civil War.
In this new world, Spider-Man is believed to be a mutant, is one of the most beloved and wealthy celebrities in the world. He is married to Gwen Stacy, not Mary Jane, they have a child, and Gwen's father and Uncle Ben are still alive.
The story follows the rise and fall of Spider-Man, essentially, the consummate underdog that is Peter Parker starts the story as Tony Stark and before the end is closer to MC Hammer. He is outed and loses everything and struggles to find a way to still enjoy life with his family even without the wealth or fame.
This story is written like a tragedy, but does not end as tragically as one would expect. This, along with many other House of M mini-series, had the benfit of doing whatever they wanted with the characters, because nothing would stick once the universe went back to the way it was supposed to be. This is a fresh new take on Spidey, and possibly my favorite mini-series of all time. Summer reading has now kicked into high gear with back to back Mjolnirs.

Comic Review: Sub-Mariner vol. 2

Comic Review: Sub-Mariner vol. 2 #1-6

In the wake of the popular Civil War crossover, Sub-Mariner got a mini-series chronicling the consequences of Namor's involvement in the Civil War. I was initially really disappointed when the series was released with a "1 of 6" on the cover as Marvel Previews had been building it as an ongoing series. It was stuck with the "The Initiative" banner based on the fact that it had nothing to do with the initiative at all. That being said, I will not hold any of these things against the book itself.

Based on Namor's involvement in the Civil War, the United States military is worried that Namor is back to his old war against the surface world ways, and sick Tony Stark and S.H.I.E.L.D. on Atlantis. Meanwhile Atlantean terrorists have attacked on U.S. soil completely unawares to Namor himself. This leads an armada of S.H.I.E.L.D. submarines to surround Atlantis 24/7 to moniter Atlantis until Namor will negotiate a U.S. presence in Atlantis to prevent further incidents. Namor refuses and goes to the surfcae to hunt down the Atlantean terrorists behind the attack.

I'm not big on spoilers, so I don't want to give away a lot, but you can look forward to fights with Iron Man, Wolverine, and Venom. The conclusion to the series is maybe my favorite ending to any series since I started reading comics. It completely exemplifies the character of Namor, both as an individual and as the ruthless monarch he has been known as. The writing is godd throughout, the only problem I had is that it assumes you are familiar with Atlantean characters other than Namor, despite the fact that he has not had his own series in a decade. The art work is solid, and one of the reasons I love books like this one and space books is that you get to see some truly imaginative artwork. Some of the pictures of Atlantis are breathtaking. The covers also are very good.

In the end, the is no way I could not recommend this mini-series, it is porbably my favorite mini-series to come out in the last 2-3 years. Highly recommended.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Spider-Man: The Other

Comic Review, Spider-Man: The Other. Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1-4, Marvel Knights Spider-Man #19-22, and Amazing Spider-Man #525-528.

When I got back into comics, I wasn't really interested in my childhood favorite for one simple reason, I never had any idea who the villians were he was facing. My love of comics has always been based on my love villians, which I generally prefer to heroes, and Spider-Man had the best ones. After a few months of snubbing Spidey on my comic purchasing adventures, I heard about this big 12 part crossover and decided to give it a go while images of Maximum Carnage danced in my head. While a bit confusing, I really enjoyed the first time through and was excited to see if it stood the test of time.

It doesn't.

The Other suffers from many flaws, but the most fatal is the multiple writer approach. In the twelve part series, the ironic real-world based style writer, Peter David wrote the first three issues, Reginald, a black supremist, wrote the next three (what a surprise, he worked in a visit to Black Panther), and magical, mystical Michael Stryzenski takes the next three. They then rotate through the final three issues. The story is about Peter Parker, discovering that radiation in his blood from the spider bite that gave him his powers years ago, is going to kill him soon. He is then chased by Morlun, a god-totem seeker, hoping to devour his essence as he is a spider-totem. That is not any cooler than that sentence makes it sound.

Peter David writes a scattered story in the first issues that realistically make the point Spidey is going to die and takes way to long to do it. Even with keeping the authors the same across the crossover books, the artists change each issue, and each takes a completely different direction to the story whihc hurts it immensely. The artist on MK Spider-Man is just terrible by the way.

Hudlin takes over Spidey spends three isues going all over the place making peace with death, enjoying his last days, and hoping to find a cure. It fails and I got bored.

Stryzenski's writing is where the excitement happens, Spidey finally fights Morlun and dies, only to be reborn two issues later. The death of Spidey makes sense, the death of Morlun does not. Morlun survives ridiculous things in their fight, such as a several hundred foot fall into concrete, head-first. He dies when Spidey stabs him in the arms and chews on him a bit in a rabid near death state.

Spidey is reborn, after the necessary bullshit, "ah it's me in my subconcious while someone dark and morbid explains my life and the choices I make" dream like issue. He gains new powers that are ignored pretty much completely after this story ends, and they took them all away when Spidey got One More Dayed anyways, so completely pointless. The story is really over after 9 issues, the rest has the title for corssovers sake and we watch Spidey do random things that are just normal Spidey, while evey issue Stark runs tests on him concerning his powers, so I guess thats the tie-in? Things happen that do not make sense and are not resolved, probably because one writer thought it was brilliant and the next didn't care and the last three issues have absolutely no cohesiveness.

The eleventh issue ends with a close up of what appears to be some mysterious object that was tied to Spidey's rebirth, hinted at being a new threat.

There is no mention of it in issue twelve

In issue ten, Avengers tower is covered by spider, webs and it is never explained why. Nothing in the last three issues makes sense.

Overall, there were fun parts, but it would have been much better if they just made the story a year-long epic in just one of Spidey's comics. Too much pointlessness, and too many stupid ideas.


Summer Reading

It's here, it's here!! Hallelujah, it's here!!


I don't particularly love the weather (my skin is allergic to the sun), I don't like beaches, I stay up late all the time, and I start classes again in three weeks. Because I'm taking classes in two summer semesters. Because I hate myself.

But for the next three weeks, I have freedom. True, I do still work a part time job, but after a semester of nightly homework in three classes, some nail-biting down the stretch about passing those classes, and having projects to work on that were not covered in said homework, it is good to be able to sit at home and realize I have no nagging responsibilities (not with deadlines or grades anyway).

I have set summer goals for myself, and have only three weeks to really enjoy free time to accomplish them before I sacrifice my soul to the world of Finance, Supply Chain Management, General Business, Marketing, and ........... Philosophy? Yeah, I still have to finish up one stupid area credit before I can leave the liberal arts degree world to die and cozy up in the business building to earn my four degrees with classes that will actually be useful for the rest of my life. Three weeks where I can sit at my computer chair and surf the internet pointlesslessly and think, sweet, I won't regret this when I take a test next week. That being said, here are my goals.

1. Master manual on Wii Mario Kart. Ambitious? Important? No. I want to do it, I have one good friend who plays Wii Mario Kart and he plays manual. Until I learn it, I will never be able to enjoy multi-player mode with a friend, or unlock Baby Luigi. Hey, it's a goal.

2. Write something of more merit than this damn blog. I have been told by many that I am a good writer (if someone spell and grammar checks for me). I would like to actually write something of real substance to see if I truly am a gifted writer, or simply a good light-hearted read about sports, comics, and things that make a strange human being abnormally angry. I have considered mocking up a movie script (don't think I'll have time for that) and a comic book script (essentially worthless with my "artistic" skills). I need to find something that will work, I realy want to try this out.

3. Learn to play the guitar. Okay, I am not much more musically gifted than I am artistically, but I don't need to be Hendrix. I'd honestly settle for being Chad Kroeger, at least my wife thinks he has a hot voice. I have had my brothers old guitar in my closet for about a year now and have yet to take it out of the bag. That changes this summer.

4. Hear the entire Harry Potter series. That's right hear. I'm not going to read them myself, they are way too long. I enjoy the movies, and though I don't have a deep interest in the Harry Potter series, it seems fun enough. My wife loves to read aloud, and has decided that she loves reading to me. These facts are complementary. Last week we burned through book one, last night we started book two, if she doesn't get lazy I'll get through all of them by summers end.

5. Build some muscle. I don't have a deep seeded desire to be a bodybuilder or anything, but being in shape is more fun than being out of shape. Having fluctuated through this cycle like four times in the last five years, I am an expert on the subject. I also discovered that there is a TV with ESPN in the fitness center at my apartment complex, so it seems like heaven right now compared to the cableless hell I sleep in.

6. Figure out how this blog site works. It is no secret that I do not get along with technology, this site is just the most recent form of it to get on my nerves, navigating this site is impossible. I still don't know how to even browse for other peoples blogs, or see if anyone is viewing mine, but what is most annoying is that everytime I insert a picture it just creates like two new spaces between all my paragraphs. Meaning that on posts like my NFL draft one, I have to delete like 40 blank lines between all my paragraphs when I'm done writing it.

7. Finish my summer reading. What is my sumer reading you ask? I have long desired to go back and read some of my old favorite comic book series, but have either not had the time or the resources to do so. Having recently finally brought all my comics down to Boise, I have constant access to them, and plan to make this a priority during the next three weeks, as I will likely never get to it otherwise. I went through my boxes today and picked out the books I want to re-read. There are about five stacks of them, that all together are roughly the size of a full ong box of comics. Sorry honey.

These goals, bring more blogs. Why? If I'm going to read, I may as well give it a mini-review on my blog. That means that for the next three weeks, comics fans can enjoy, and sports fans, uh.... I'll make something up to post at random, can't afford to lose any of my six followers.

We will need to establish a ranking system for these reviews, and since I am ridiculous, I think it is best to use a picture instead of a number. It is more fun that way.

10 = Thor's Hammer
9 = Cap's Shield
8 = Dan Marino Jersey
7 = Silver Surfer's Board
6 = Gambit's Cards
5 = Brian Bendis
4= Toaster
3 = Canadian Flag
2 = DC Comics Logo
1 = Courtney Love

If I am feeling inspired, I might splice the images together when half or quarter ratings apply but in all likelihood, I'll just throw 1/2 after the picture.

Young Avengers #1-12

The Young Avengers was one of the first comics that was launched after I started reading comics again in spring of 2005. I was skeptical of it thinking it would be a Marvel attempt at DC's Teen Titans (a concept I hate) and was surprised to find that I was wrong. I bought this book only because I was excited by the New Avengers launch and was buying everything I could find that looked like it would invlolve Captain America. This book starts by being about four teenage boys who have been recruited by a vuture villian misplaced in time to save him from his destiny. I will not give any more details specifically, because I'm not a spoiler kind of guy. Captain America and Iron Man are deeply concerned by teenagers attempting to be superheroes and work to shut them down before someone gets hurt. In the end of the first story arc, one of the Young Avengers leaves their ranks and the book moves ofrward without him. The team does add two more members and has a total of seven by books end. The second arc is good not great, as Skrulls and Kree try to steal one of the Avengers away into their own ranks believing him to be a royal member of their own races. Some of the swerves are a little far-fetched, some of the action is non-sensical, but in the end the story is fine. The first story is incredible, and though the art also takes a dip in the second arc, the 12th (and final) issue has page after page of beautiful large scale fight depictions. The book was cancelled after the twelfth issue for a reason no really understood as it had been very popular. Fans were assured that the Young Avengers would be back. Since then they seem to show up as random support cahracters in every major crossover, landing a mini-series every two years or so, but really are just kind of there. If you want to read a really good Young Avengers story, honestly, this is the only place to do it.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Iron that Made the Man

In honor of the release of Iron Man 2, I have seen fit to celebrate with a list.

Iron Man has never been one of my favorite characters, as a matter of fact, he has always been one of my least favorites, but I cannot dismiss the fact that his first movie was great. I expect good things from the second one as it looks like the event of the summer and many have speculated that it could break box office records this opening weekend. I for one will be cheering it on, if for no other reason than to see it surpass The Dark Knight, after all, Marvel owning DC is always a good thing.

I have always seen Iron Man as the Marvel version of Batman, while I know that Moon Knight is truly the Marvel Batman, Iron Man has parallels that are natural whereas with Moon Knight everything is forced because he was literally created to be Marvel Batman. Iron Man is rich guy with no powers, toys that make him a superhero, has dead parents, is a dick, and the main driver of Tony Stark's character is that he can't control himself. Both have also wandered into a position as leaders in ther universe's respective planetary defense groups (Avengers, JLA), and now both are box office kings.

Since I have always linked Iron Man with Batman mentally, I have never cared for him, as my hatred of Batman and Superman are the reasons why I don't read DC Comics. That being said, he is an important character, a widely-exposed character, and honestly, not a terrible character. I can easily identify with his cut-throat, arrogant business man demeanor. Those things considered, I have read a decent amount of Iron Man. Today, I count down Iron Man's best comic book stories to celebrate.

To make this list, a story does not have to be from an Iron Man book, but just have Iron Man as a focal character of the story.

This list will only be a top 5, as I have not read enough Iron Man to do more without including stories that are just not that good.

5. Extremis

Extremis was a very well written story that gave Iron Man a big upgrade in powers. He invented a way to literally upgrade his brain and automate it like a computer. By doing so, he also could use his brain to control his suits instinctively and can now run his suits competely by mind, whether he is wearing it or not, he can summon it to his body simply by thinking of it. Mandarin steals the technology, uses it to make a chemical weapon, chaos ensues. For Iron Man fans, this story really starts the modern age of storytelling for the character and is essential reading. The story starts in Iron Man Volume 4. Issue 1 and ends in issue 6. However, it is an underlying theme in all the stories up to the cancellation of the series at issue 32.

4. World War Hulk

World War Hulk gives Iron Man fans something they aren't truly used to: battle issues. Iron Man's involvement in this story from the very beginning is him getting ready for battle, fighting, and dealing with the fallout from his battle. No sitting aroung drinking, chatting business or politics, no lab work, nothing passive or peaceful. After being a part of the Illuminati, Tony and Co. decide that Hulk is to dangerous to allow him to stay on earth any longer, so they trick into getting on a spacecraft and shoot him off into space. After a year or so, Hulk gets back to earth, it goes as well as you might expect. Iron Man is the first Illuminati member to try and take down Hulk and an epic fight ensues. World War Hulk is really not all about Tony Stark, but one issue is, and he stays relevant throughout. A great story that is viewed as dissapointing by many because of how poorly the crossovers were. Stick to the main title, skip the tie-ins, and you'l enjoy yourself. (World War Hulk 1-5).

3. Demon in a Bottle

Any true Iron Man fan knows this story. I have not read it in it's entiritey but have picked up enough back issues to grasp the entire story. This is a story that is much more about Tony Stark than his armored alter ego. The happy-go-lucky, playboy Tony Stark has a drinking problem, and it's not fun anymore. Stark is an alcoholic that has finally fallen far enough that he is no longer able to wear the suit without being more dangerous than helpful. Tony has to come to terms with his addiction and in the meantime, War Machine assumes the Iron Man identity while Stark figures out his life. This is as human as a comic book character has every looked, Stark is the polar opposite of Superman here, no boy scout, just an overpowered alcoholic. This story treaded where comics had not gone before, since it was publiched in the late 70's, when comics were still intended to only be read by children. The controversial story has won may awards and was the starting point of modern comics. (Iron Man vol. 1 issues 120-128)

2. World's Most Wanted & Stark: Disassembled

World's Most Wanted is the most recently concluded story in the currently ongoing Iron Man series, and is my favorite story ever out of Iron Man personal comic series. After failing miserably as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., Iron Man has had his position usurped by Norman Osborn. While Iron Man was head of S.H.I.E.L.D., however, the registration act has been a prominent issue and Stark's databanks contain the only copy of the registrations information. The identity and background of every registered hero is his and Osborn wants it. Stark saves the information in his own mind (which now operates like a computer, thanks to the aforementioned Extremis story). He goes on the run, now an outlaw, with Norman Osborn and all of his resources after him. Due to poor judgment in his directorial position, Stark is now broke and a fugitive. Knowing he cannot outrun Osborn forever, Stark wipes his own mind to keep him from getting the registration files. Stark slowly but surely starts to lose his intelligence as a result, getting progessively dumber until he literally cannot spell his own name, while his friends try to find a way to save him before he goes copletely brain dead. (Invincible Iron Man 8-24).

1. Civil War

Following a disaster involving wreckless superpowered heroes, congress enacts a new law requiring all individuals with superpowers to register with the government. If they wish to use them as a hero, they must train in a government run program, if they fail to register they will be arrested. This story sees the Avengers, and virtually every other hero in the Marvel Universe, split into two sides. One side, led by Captain America, believes the law to be an unlawful invasion of privacy and refuse to sign and start an unregistered rebellion against it. Iron Man is on the other side, fighting for the government registration. Iron Man leads teams on missions to find and arrest unregistered Heroes such as Luke Cage and Daredevil, and inevitably goes to war with the underground heroes. In this story there are no true villian (well not in the main book anyways) just men with opposing ideals that fight for what they believe in. Civil War is also the greatest crossover I have ever read. Iron Man is one of the two most imortant poeple in the story, and by virtue, this is his greatest story.

So that completes my list. I am not sure if I will be continuing this blog past this point because I don't know that anyone is reading it. I have discovered no way to see how many views I am receiving and my comments and followers are very small numbers. If you are reading this, just let me know and I'll keep going, but it takes a lot of time if there are truly only six people reading. Just drop me a comment or message either on here or facebook and let me know. If I do keep going, I have a lot of lists in mind that I would like to write up, so when you message me, send me a vote and let me know which one you'd like to see. Here are the contenders

Spots: Top 10.

Disapointments of the decade

Favorite athletes

Plays of the decade

People you love to hate

Irritating traditions

Comics: Top 10

Characters to collect



Underused character


Life: Top 10

Things I hate


Earth week

Mr. Marshall

Boring games

Additionally, I should let you know that regardless of whether I continue doing regular posts on here, (lists, etc.) I'll definitely be back at the end of the summer for College Football stuff. I am working on a preseason Top 25, a countdown of the best games of the season, and predictions of how each team will finish in their conferences and bowls at the end of the season. If you are interested in reading any of this stuff before August let me know, and I'll write it sooner.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Weed Rally

Today is May 1st, do you know why this is significant? If you live in Boise, I'm sure you hear about it every year. May 1st is the annual day where protesters gather in downtown Boise to make their case for the legalization of marijuana.

Before I get any further into this, I would like to state that this is not a blog about politics, this is a blog about idiots. I will try not to involve my political views in my blog because it is meant to be fun and lighthearted, except during election season when I likely will not be able to help myself. Therefore, I will not make a case for either side of the arguement or express mt personal opinions on marijuana.

I have never attended one of these rallies, as a non-smoker, the status of marijuana's legalization does not effect me whatsoever. I have, however, been unfortunate enough to witness parts of these rallies every year that I have been in Boise.

My first year here, I just caught a brief glimpse of the rally. I believe their plan was to protest at the state capital building, however, it was inacessible because of construction that was ongoing at the building. I was driving past the capital building when I saw the crowd. There is a large engraved rock about two hundred or so feet in front of the capital, as I drove past, I saw the mob of angry stoners piled on and around this rock. There were all making a point to throw their arms up wildly and scream to gain the attention of any car that drove past, which I'm sure was extremely successful. They were missing a key element of a protest: any form of arguement that what they stood for was right. I saw plenty of signs say "legalize it" with a cute little redition of a marijuana leaf drawn on it, even more signs with the leaf and no words whatsoever, and one sign that simply said "smoke everyday." None of this did a single thing to persuade anyone that their cause was valid, as a matter of fact, I would wager that simple seeing a hoards of morons literally screaming for attention to every passerby would go further towards disuading anyone on the fence. After all, who wants to encourage that type of behavior, it's very annoying.

Last year, I saw even less of the rally than I did the year before. I drove past a scattered portion of the rally, people were randomly strewn about the streets downtown, but appeared to not be in a group. I assumed they had broken into small groups to spread their word to a larger area. Again, I assume that when in large groups, there is at least a leader of sorts to encourage a positive message they should spread. Without that leader, these retards were hopeless. I had my window while passing these pastors of pott and had many wonderful chunks of evangelism thrown towards my ear as I passed.

The first was a simple statement of "LET'S GET HIGH! WOOO!!!" Great. I'm convinced. Legalize that shit now.

Second, I had a guy walk up to my car while I was stopped at a light. No big deal, I mean granted there was a lot of traffic and I was in the middle lane, but I'm sure this guy knew he could do this without being a problem for every driver on the road. This guy didn't even make a profession or statement of any kind, he chose to ask me "you like to get high, right man?" Glad you pranced into traffic for that, you couldn't have made yourself feel cool by asking someone on the sidewalk that question. I flipped the bird and moved on.

The third weed witnesser really irked me though. As I again slowed to a stop light, trapped in the insanity still, a guy yelled at me at the top of his lungs "POTT F***ING RULES!!!" Worth noting that less than ten feet from this guy, on both sides, there were parents with their kids. Thats you reach people, swear in front of their children, they will definitely react positively to your behavior.

Today was fun. I was returning from my venture for free comic books when I again, on the same damn street as always, had to stop at a light. I heard an uproar over my music, noted the people lined up on both sides of the street, and realized that comics were not the only thing being peddled today. I would wager a guess that there were about fifty people on each side of the street when I passed, about one-fourth of these were holdsing signs of some form. The rest? Raising their hands in the air, screaming random jibberish, and a few guys slamming drumsticks together just to make a lot of noise. Hell, I even caught one guy throwing the middle finger up, not at anyone, just doing it.

I would like to point out to any group that thinks about protesting this way: no one is listening. This comes across as begging for attention and when half of you are stoned (and acting like it) nothing you do is convincing anyone that legalization is for the best. While screaming, yelling, and pandering for attention are what people hate about people under the influence.
Signs that just say "legalize marijuana" or just show a picture of a leaf, are awareness media. They present no arguement, they just let people know that you are there. Hate to tell you this, but we already know you are there, as an employed taxpayer I'm very aware, I probably pay for your food and health insurance (ironically enough, this also means I am already paying for some of your marijuana). Finally, I would like to adress the few signs I did see that made an arguement of some form, choosing to fight for its legalization based on the medicinal purposes of marijuana. I have news for you people: its already legal for medicinal purposes, you just have to, you know, actually need it to get it. Its not even that hard to do I've heard. I know people who have gotten by BSing their doctor.

Learn how to protest, no matter what your cause it can work, but you have to do more than stand on the street corner and simply yell what you want to happen. You are annoying. Go away. Use Uncle Sam's funds, buy some Cheetos, and stop bothering us.