Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Resident Boobage or How To Pander To Your Target Audience

Resident Evil: Extinction came out on DVD here yesterday. Naturally I bought it, but something jumped out at me straight away (and it wasn't a zombie).

Back cover, top right, we get this picture:

In a ground breaking moment of cinematography, we get a simultaneous down-top/up-skirt shot of Milla Jovovich.


They just had to include that shot (which actually does not appear in the movie) as part of the promo material on the cover. Because it's clearly the best representation of the action in the movie, and is going to make people buy it.

I love breasts as much as the next guy, and it's fair to say I wouldn't kick Milla out of bed. But that's one hell of a cheesy photo to put on a dvd sleeve.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Ummm....... WTF?

I try to keep it clean here, but I need to vent for a moment...


I just finished watching Neon Genesis Evangelion. An interesting series about giant "robots" hitting things, and how does it end? With a giant naked 14-year-old girl and a bunch of metaphysical crap.

I want my two weeks back.

So obviously there's an underlying theolgical theme across the whole series, but a bunch of shit just pops out of nowhere at the end (for instance the 9 Eva units), and the world ends.

Shinji's character development was for nothing, because in the end he reverted to his former self, unable to bring himself to pilot his Eva, thus consigning Oska and her Eva to death. Then when he configures reality, wakes up next to Oska, and strangles her. Maybe him reverting was the point, but that makes him a pretty unsympathetic main character ultimately.

Which is to say nothing of the complete bollocks the original 2 final episodes were. Man, that series was fun for 24 episodes, but they had two goes at the final 2 episodes, and pretty much ruined everything on both attempts.

And what the HELL is the deal with that penguin?

OK, I feel a tiny bit better. Carry on.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nostalgia Week: Firestorm

Ahhhh, my first introduction to my favourite character. If only I hadn't found this issue to suck horribly at the time, I could've been a fan some 15+ years earlier than I actually was.

Firestorm #29 (1984) by Conway, Cavalieri, Kayanan, and Rodriguez.

I bought this from a local dairy. They had a tiny selection of comics, and never the same title twice. I don't know how that worked, but at the time it was the only local place to get comics. As a bonus, it was only 2 minutes walk from my house. As a minus, the comics were right next to the porn, which was pretty embarrassing (and yet strangely alluring...)

Things open up with some guy taking on Firestorm with the power of the wind.

Taking a cue from the bad guy, Ronnie creates a giant fan to blow him away (literally). Not such a good idea when your targets powers are wind based.

Spectators do what spectators tend to, and manage to get blown off the building.

Whew. Stratos was just a distraction though, to clear the way for the terrifyingly monikered Bazooka Joan! Look out Firestorm!

That was close. He rounds things out by turning the top of the building in to a giant magnet, pulling both villains to the ground. Victory! But not all is well- suddenly magnetising buildings might raise some problems.

Hey kids, do you need to turn a bad situation into a worse one? Just call 1800-FIRESTORM.


Ok, moving on. A volcano suddenly appears in the middle of the park! This is where the comic really started to lose me when I first read it.

That's pretty odd. Firestorm will have a solution though.

Cool. There's a problem though, not everything is as it seems.

Razor blades! It seems FS is seeing things. What's up with that?

Chalk up another dopey villain to Firestorm's rogues gallery.

Meanwhile Ronnie's scaring the crap out of everyone while he takes on a non-existant volcano.

This issue was really not a good first exposure to the character. As a 7 or 8 year old, this comic just did not make any sense. For a start I knew nothing about his powers, so the whole transmuting thing was puzzling. I totally missed the whole 2-people-fusing thing, which is what would eventually lead me to give FS a second try. Then he's seeing things. It was just... confusing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Nostalgia Week: Silver Surfer

I've previously covered how I came to be aware of the Silver Surfer, today it's time for a look at the first comic of his I read. SS #40 (1990) by Starlin and Lim.

There used to be a little bookshop in a nearby city that would carry titles noone else did. It's long since departed, but I made a few cool discoveries there.

We begin on Titan, with a gathering to mark the death of Thanos at the Surfer's hands.

Drax has a little fit and storms off, but everyone else is just glad the threat of a mass killer is over. SS leaves, promising to keep an eye out incase Thanos isn't really dead (not that that kind of thing ever happens...). However, he's about to have an unexpected run-in of sorts with his foe. Mid-flight, he's hailed by a strange robot.

The droid hails from Dynamo City, which Thanos had apparently become a recent citizen of. Their judiciary insists on investigating the deaths of all citizens, and call upon SS to give evidence at the inquiry. He rejects their summons, however he can't resist when offered the carrot of viewing Thano's last will and testament.

What is Dynamo City? I'm glad you asked. It's a large self-contained city floating in space.
(It takes up two pages, so you know it's really big)

Entering a landing bay, the Silver One makes an unpleasant discovery. Crossing the threshold, his board and powers both mysteriously vanish, leaving him to ungracefully crash along the deck.

Energy being their currency, Dynamo City have the tech to strip most forms of energy from anyone that enters. Internal currency isn't much good if you can just bring your own with you, after all.

As you would expect, he's not overly thrilled about it.

Nor is he particularly good at hand to hand combat.

SS comes to in a court room with the session already underway. He gets the pleasure of a brain scan to pull out the memories of his final encounter with Thanos.

Having been given all relevant info, the jury retires to consider it's verdict. Hey, there's a few minutes to kill, may as well go view that Will. Turns out that it specifically addresses The Silver Surfer. What kind words does Thanos have?

That sounds ominous, and has SS expecting the court to trump up charges against him. He's wrong though, and the jury finds that Thanos's death was self defence since he was, well, trying to kill half the population of the Milky Way. Hearing over, Surfer free to go. Guess Thanos wasn't as clever as he thought.

Which is how it looks, until he tries to leave. Seems there's a departure tax for leaving.

Just what does one do when they have no money?

Burrrrrrrrnnnnn. Poor old Surfey is left facing the prospect of getting a job.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Nostalgia Week: A.B.C. Warriors

Continuing my week-long look at my comics past, it's the ABC Warriors, who I first discovered with 2000AD #124

This issue was published in 1979. Before you ask, I can assure you I was not some hyper-advanced 2-year-old. I got this some time between 1982 - 1984. My school had a gala day where you could buy donated comics (and all manner of assorted junk) for something like 20 cents or whatever, and this is one of the ones I picked up. It wasn't my first issue of 2000AD, but it was my first glimpse of the "mek-nificent seven".

Hammerstein is busy recruiting members for his team. Next on his list is Deadlock, the head robot of a strange robotic mystical cult. Deadlock has agreed to join if Hammerstein can defeat him in battle. But first, both robots must draw from a tarrot deck.

Deadlock does this occassionally in Warriors storylines, resulting in some quite cool card designs, most noteably during Simon Bisley's run in the late 80's.

Cards, drawn. Fight, begin.

It's not a fair fight though. Deadlock has a bunch of tricks up his metal sleeve and Hammerstein can't land a blow. He tries to rationalise it as tricks with electromagnets and suchlike, but Deadlock declares his power is rooted in the occult. Who's gonna argue?


Hey, they drew cards at the start of this thing, right?

That ten-of-swords is starting to look really bad. He's dragged off back to their lair for the cerimonial being-impaled-by-ten-swords ritual.
Ouch. But Hammerstein's tough, right?


Deadlock, tied to ritual by his beliefs, is thusly forced to join the Warriors.

Pat Mills has been rather hit-or-miss with his stories over the years, but the ABC Warriors are still cool.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Nostalgia Week: X-Factor

Today, it's a look at the first issue I read of what became (and remains) my favourite ever series. X-Factor #53 (1990). Written by Louise Simonson, art by Terry Shoemaker and Al Milgrom.

I bought this one night in the city. I was with my mother and we were going to the opera. I went often, dad was in the orchestra and we would get cheap seats. We had some time to kill, so I stopped by this small magazine shop to get a comic. At that stage I think I was still pretty new to the comic world proper- I certainly wasn't familiar with the X-Men yet. I don't know why I picked this comic that night.

I recall that I didn't particularly like this when I first read it. It's a pretty quiet issue, lots of the character moments that are really what made this series great, but as a first introduction it seemed kinda boring.

Archangel was still cool though. Drugged (in the midst of a most excellent story arc involving pseudo-vampires), and then maimed by Sabretooth, he's busy hallucinating and bleeding to death on a rooftop, only to be assaulted by poor troubled Caliban.

Love this bit:

Very creepy. So too is this:

I always loved that angle of him vs his wings. Of course, Scott Lobdell later came along and erased it all in the space of 3 panels, but Archangel was a much more interesting character when he was tormented (and had metal wings. What can you do with feathers other than fly? Nothing *yawn*).

Cyclops and Marvel Girl are out on the town. However, Jean seems to've been on drugs also, since she's seeing things. Having recently aquired the memories of her "clones", she's having flashbacks of the lives of Phoenix and Madelyne. At the time I had no idea what the hell was going on, all I knew was she was seeing things and attacking random people.

Never mind, Scott will make everything alright!

Awwwww, yay. Just so long as he doesn't spoil it by doing something stupid, like proposing...

Not such a great thing to do when your girlfriend can flashback to the time you asked her clone to marry you. It gets a predictable response.

Time to pay Iceman a visit. He's trying to go on a date, but failing miserably
Oooops. Works out ok in the end though, he gets invited back to her place.

They get followed by a mole-guy, who has a crush on the girl (Opal). He's harmless though, except for the part where he accidentally drops a crane on them...

I didn't read another issue until a year later, jumping on board for the brilliant final story arc for the original team, "Endgame" I think it was called. I got hooked quickly, and over the next few years would hunt down all the back issues. I still don't have #61...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Nostalgia Week: Brave and the Bold

Welcome to "Nostalgia Week". During the next week I'll be taking a look back at the issues that introduced me to various characters that are important to me.

Today, it's the comic that I credit with starting it all, The Brave And The Bold #178, from 1981. I was 4 at the time, so of course I can't be 100% certain, but I'm pretty sure this was my first comic. There's only two other possibilities, an old Spider-Man comic and an issue of 2000AD. Both are long gone though, so there's no way to check when they came out. All my childhood comics bit the dust during one of my mother's cleaning sprees. The only reason this one survived was that it was mixed up amongst my father's "Classics Illustrated" comic collection.

"Paperchase", written by Alan Brennert, art by Jim Aparo. Not a bad way to be introduced to comics. Batman of course is ingrained in society and I was already familiar with him. The Creeper was new to me, and my 4 year old brain read his name as "The Creepier", which I thought was a strange name, heh.

Things open up with Batman on the trail of a serial killer. The killer keeps leaving a calling card of a chain of paper dolls on each victim.

Meanwhile, over at a TV station, there's some critic letting lose about society's moral decline.

This leads us to the introduction of Jack Ryder, who's none too happy with the angle being taken.

Working in news broadcasting is a good place for inside info, and Jack gets a tip from a reporter of a new attack by the paper killer. Time to jump out a window I guess
Lucky for Jack, and my four year old mind, that he's really The Creeper, and not suicidal. He's not overly popular with the public though.

Seems that loon on the news has quite a following and has the locals looking to clean out the trash, or whoever they happen not to like. Jack decides to ignore them though, so it's on to the crime scene. Things take a bit of a twist for the heroes though. They're not fighting a man.

Awesome design on the villain. Seems he's not too fond of The Creeper either.

What would a paper monster be without the ability to control paper? Boring, is what.
Batman takes a pounding, but in a last ditch effort to save Jack from being crushed, tries setting the bad guy on fire. It works, but it only makes it run away.

Back to the Batcave for some detective work.

The Creeper amuses himself by jumping all over Batman's trophies- the big coin and giant joker card included. And annoying Batman.

The next night, it's stakeout time. It takes 5 hours (poor Batman), but they get results. Or rather, a fight.


Or possibly not.

It then proceeds to knock our heroes senseless, leaving them for dead. Batman still has some tricks though (surprise!)

I always thought that bit was cool.

Armed with a sample, it's back to the Batcave. Bruce manages to trace the paper back to the supplier, finding out that their major buyer is that loony tv guy from earlier. They pay him a visit in his bed (ok, not quite how I mean it), but he denies any involvement. They leave, but Bats has a theory. Time to lay some bait.

Jack gets himself an anchor spot on the news, and lets loose with an attack against crazy-critic's views. Pretty soon, Jack is being chased by the paper monster, while Bruce grabs the suspect reporter to confront him with the truth.

Mid-fight explanation time!

So all the people Wetley was getting worked up, were in turn feeding him psychically. All this hate manifested itself in his subconcious ability to animate paper.

Cue meltdown, which in turn takes out the paper construct.

That whole psychic angle was lost on me as a child though. All I saw was an awesome paper villain fighting Batman and The Creepier[sic]. Good stuff.