Tuesday, May 31, 2005

While I am happy about the defeat of the "EU constitution" in France, I fear that the French may have made the right decision for the wrong reasons. And if one makes the right decision for the wrong reasons, one is then less likely to make the right decision in later instances. Still, for now I shall simply enjoy the "non" vote and look forward to a similar result in tomorrow's referendum in The Netherlands.

March of Death
I have blisters on both big toes from Sunday's March of Death (centerpiece of the "3rd Annual Memorial Day Camping Bonanza"), an arduous trek through the Sleeping Bear Dunes all the way to Lake Michigan. How in blazes does one develop blisters while barefoot?! Son of a fuck, that smarts!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Man, we've got some big fucking bugs around here. I killed a wasp in the garage today; I hate wasps. (And WASPs... kidding.)
The Socialist government of Spain, the government that kowtowed to al Qaeda's demands following last year's train bombings in Madrid, has offered to open peace negotiations with the Basque terrorist organization ETA. In response, today ETA set off a bomb; three people were killed. Hyperlink. True to form, someone claiming to represent ETA phoned in a bomb threat to a Basque newspaper, and the Madrid police were able to largely evacuate the area. I abhor terrorism, but I am puzzled that ETA has not yet grasped the lesson of 3/11: kill enough Spaniards and they will give you whatever you want.

The Last Summer of Star Wars
A New Hope
The Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi
The Phantom Menace
Attack of the Clones
Revenge of the Sith


The Phantom Menace
Attack of the Clones
Revenge of the Sith
A New Hope
The Empire Strikes Back
Return of the Jedi

The Phantom Menace
A New Hope
* * * * *
Attack of the Clones
The Empire Strikes Back
* * * * *
Revenge of the Sith
Return of the Jedi

Now that the final chapter of the Star Wars saga has been released, it is easy to see that Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa really aren't Anakin's children as much as they are Padme's. Why doesn't Luke strike down his father and turn to the dark side in Return of the Jedi? Because of his mother's dying words:

"Obi-Wan, there's good in him. I know... I know there's... still...."

Luke has his father's power, but more importantly he has his mother's heart. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Mr. Lucas really has outdone himself. Thank you, sir.

Monday, May 23, 2005

I am of two minds. I have not paid adequate attention to the massacre and political crackdown in Uzbekistan, I lost almost all interest in the judiciary nominations/filibuster debate weeks ago, and I have not properly celebrated Arsenal's victory over Manchester United to win the FA Cup, all because of Revenge of the Sith. On the other hand, people die every day, the Potomac Shuffle continues regardless of my attention or inattention, I'm not even sure what the FA Cup is, and this is the last summer of Star Wars. Get fucking excited.

And why is the "international community" (including the U.S.) not outraged about the massacre of political protesters in Andijan, Uzbekistan as it was over the Tiananmen Massacre of political protesters in Beijing, China sixteen years ago? Three reasons: a) not as many people died, b) no one has ever heard of Uzbekistan, and c) most importantly, no Tank Man. You know, the poor brave bastard who stood in front of the People's Liberation Army tanks; to this day no one knows who he was, but rest assured a bullet was put in the back of his head well over a decade ago. Tiananmen Square was, from the point of the CCP leadership, a clusterfuck. All the major player in the Western press were in Beijing to cover Mikhail Gorbachev's visit, and they just stayed for the Tiananmen protests and massacre. The poor people of Andijan didn't attract the attention of the media elites, and so their deaths just don't matter to those same elites. If there are no video images of your life or death, neither ever happened.

Good news for the Uzbek dictatorship, though: the Tiananmen Square Massacre was in 1989; in 2008 Beijing is hosting the Summer Olympics. By that timeline, 2024 is looking good for the Uzbek Games.
Happy NARWHAL DAY, Cruel World!
As you all know, May 23 is Narwhal Day, a day of celebration and sympathy for the narwhal, nature's most misbegotten creature. There are three vital components to celebrating Narwhal Day. a) Listen to the song "Sympathy for the Narwhal" by DJ Seaghost. b) Wear at least one article of gray clothing, in my case my custom-made "NARWHAL" T-shirt. c) Take the Oath. To wit:

"The Oath of Narwhal Day"

The narwhal is a noble, pitiable creature,
A magnificent, monstrous visage.
An asymmetrical tooth for a horn,
Or sometimes two, or sometimes none,
Half again as long as the beast.

I swear my sympathy for the narwhal.
I will not lie and convince it all is well,
But I will be a friend to the narwhal.
The mocking dolphins and snobby manatees
Will get their well-earned comeuppance,
And the narwhal will frolic all day.

I dream this dream of the narwhal
And celebrate it in all its improbable, oddball glory,
On this the fifth Narwhal Day.

Friday, May 20, 2005

I have seen Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith three times, and this evening The Malingerer and I are going again. The film is unimaginably wonderful, the story so powerfully tragic that inside my mind I scream, "No! NO! Anakin, no!" during the scene in which he turns to the dark side and becomes Darth Vader. Mr Lucas has truly outdone himself. These are glorious days.

The Sith Lords
Darth Plagueis
Darth Sidious (Palpatine)
Darth Maul
Darth Tyranus (Count Dooku)
Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker)

Fear the revenge of the Sith.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A mere nine hours...

Star Wars: Clone Wars
Volume One
Chapter 1
The Clone Wars spread across the galaxy like fire
Chapter 2
Battle of Muunilist; ARC Troopers 1
Chapter 3
Battle of Muunilist; ARC Troopers 2
Chapter 4
Battle of Mon Calamari
Chapter 5
Battle of Muunilist; enter Durge, the Separatists strike back
Chapter 6
Gladitorial games, enter Asajj Ventress
Chapter 7
Darth Tyranus mentors Asajj Ventress
Chapter 8
Battle of Muunilist; Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Durge 1
Chapter 9
Battle of Muunilist; Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Durge 2
Chapter 10
Battle of Muunilist; crazy space battle
Chapter 11
Battle of Muunilist; Anakin Skywalker's starfighter vs. Asajj Ventress's starfighter
Chapter 12
Battle of Dantooine
Chapter 13
Battle of Dantooine; Mace Windu: ultimate badass
Chapter 14
Assault on the Temple at Ilum
Chapter 15
Rescue at Ilum; Yoda
Chapter 16
Rescue at Ilum; Padme Amidala, C-3PO, & R2-D2
Chapter 17
Duel at Yavin 4; ambush in the jungle
Chapter 18
Duel at Yavin 4; Anakin Skywalker vs. Asajj Ventress 1
Chapter 19
Duel at Yavin 4; Anakin Skywalker vs. Asajj Ventress 2
Chapter 20
Battle of Muunilist; the Republic is victorious/Battle of Hypori; enter General Grievous

Volume Two
Chapter 21
Battle of Hypori; rescue of the Jedi/
Anakin Skywalker becomes a Jedi Knight
Chapter 22
Anaking Skywalker & Obi-Wan Kenobi: brothers-in-arms/
Darth Tyranus mentors General Grievous
Chapter 23
Battle of Coruscant; aerial and space combat, Yoda & Mace Windu bring the pain/
Mission to Nelvaan; "ghost hand"
Chapter 24
Battle of Coruscant; General Grievous hunts Supreme Chancellor Palpatine 1/
Mission to Nelvaan; Anakin Skywalker faces the mirror
Chapter 25
Battle of Coruscant; General Grievous hunts Supreme Chancellor Palpatine 2/
Mission to Nelvaan; Anakin Skywalker and the dark side of the Force
In a mere twenty-four hours it will be done. Now that it's upon us, it's hard to believe it's real. My Bog, my Bog.

Monday, May 16, 2005

The editor-in-chief of Newsweek was on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer tonight. His defense was, essentially, "Yeah, okay, so we only used one anonymous source and didn't even bother to try and confirm this rather inflamatory information. Everybody uses anonymous sources and we are hardly alone is running single-source stories. Nobody bothers to seek double confirmation anymore!" Ah yes, the "everyone else was doing it" defense, a classic among eight year-olds and, apparently, American journalists. Or rather (Dan Rather?) American "journalists." I'll say this about yellow journalism: at least with yellow journalism you knew you were being sold.

Newsweek clearly agree with Lionel Hutz that there is "the truth (ominous intonation, grave expression, shaking head) and the truth!" (happy voice, big smile, enthusiastic nodding).

Of course, in life it is important to keep a sense of perspective. And by that I mean STAR WARS STAR WARS STAR WARS STAR WARS STAR WARS! Fucking Star Wars yeah!
I Don't Trust Clark Kent
This is why I don't trust reporters, why I view them not as seekers of the truth but as glorified ad-men trying to push their own agendas. Come the Revolution, every motherfucker who has ever had a byline is going up against the wall.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

21st Century Blues
What the hell happened to Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard? They used to be two of our finest directors, yet neither has presented a watchable film thus far in the third millennium. What is it about the 21st century that has sabotaged these men and made them mere shadows of their former selves?
I hate old people. No bones about it, I hate them. I hate their frailty, I hate their incompetence, I hate their confusion. I want to die at age 60 because I'd rather die than join their ranks. My parents are 55 and 54, and they are quickly becoming old. They are increasingly incapable of handling anything; at the opera tonight, they seemed disoriented by the crowd and had trouble grasping the concept that to reach the balconey we needed to keep going up the stairs. Bloody idiots. I hate old people.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The facet of modern European culture that really bothers me is their intense comfort with Jim Crow and naked, institutional discrimination. Turkey is part of Europe when the European Court of Human Rights deigns to condemn the Turkish judiciary. Turkey has been denied membership in the European Union time and tiem again, thus denying the Turkish people the economic benefits of being European.

Turkey's war against Kurdish separatist terrorism is reason enough to disqualify Turkey from joining the European Union, or at least that is the oft cited excuse. Yet the two seats of the European Parliament are Brussels, Belgium and Strausburg, France. Apparently, the evils Belgium wrought in the Congo and those France wrought in Algeria were not enough to keep them out of the EU; so, why is Turkey subjected to such a vastly different standard? Because Jim Crow holds sway in Europe and the Turks are brown, not lily white like the Germans and Swedes and French.

Repeat a Lie Often Enough...
This evening on the BBC, the topic was John Bolton's nomination to be ambassador to the United Nations and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's decision to forward the nomination to the full Senate without an endorsement. Oddly, this was repeatedly described as a setback for President Bush. How do you figure? A setback would have been a Republican defection, resulting in a 9-9 deadlock on the committee and the rejection of the nomination. Yet Senators Voinovich (R, Ohio) and Chafee (R, Rhode Island) fell in line and voted to send Bolton to the Senate, where the 55-44 Republican majority should assure confirmation, lack of recommendation be damned. How is that a setback for President Bush?

Also, for the story they spoke only to Seantor Biden (D, Delaware), the ranking Democrat. Not the Foreign Relations Committee chairman Senator Luger (R, Indiana), not of the the two Republicans previously considered likely to rejection the nomination. Imagine if the American press covered British politcs by interviewing only Tory MPs. Wouldn't that obviously give them a skewed and inaccurate picture of the events of the day? The same holds true for speaking only to the minority Democrats. For Bog's sake, the Dems lost seats in the Senate in the last election. If Joe Biden's views represented the American people, he would be Secretary of State right now serving under President Kerry.

Good Bad News
Every cloud has a silver lining. The only good news coming out of Iraq lately would have to be the large number of suicide bombings. Wait, how is that good? Because Ba'athists do not conduct suicide bombings; "martyrdom operations" are the hallmark of al Qaeda and affiliated jihadists. Al Qaeda is a Sunni organization and the Sunnis of Iraq are largely secular; almost all suicide bombers are foreign born. A terrorist campaign conducted by non-Iraqis can be defeated by Iraqis. The real danger has always been Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence, a possible precursor to civil war. Suicide bombings are horrific, but the one ray of hope is that they are not homegrown.

*shudder* I just felt a shiver thinking about how frighteningly close we got to a President Kerry. Gives me the chills.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Justice League of America
Superman (Clark Kent/Kal-El)
Batman (Bruce Wayne)
Wonder Woman (Diana of Themyscira)
The Flash (Wally West)
Martian Manhunter (J'onn J'onzz)
Green Lantern (John Stewart)
* * * * *
Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner)
Aquaman (Arthur Curry)
Plastic Man ("Eel" O'Brian)

Justice Society of America
Mr. Terrific (Michael Holt)
Green Lantern (Alan Scott)
The Flash (Jay Garrick)
Wildcat (Ted Grant)
Dr. Mid-Nite (Dr. Pieter Cross)
Sand (Sanderson Hawkins)
Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders)
Hourman (Rick Tyler)
Stargirl (Courtney Whitmore)
Dr. Fate (Hector Hall)
Power Girl (Kara? Karen Starr?)
Jakeem Thunder (Jakeem Williams)
* * * * *
Hawkman (Carter Hall)
Atom Smasher (Al Rothstein)
Captain Marvel (Billy Batson)
Black Adam (Theo Adam/Teth-Adam)
Hourman (Rex Tyler)

Teen Titans & Outsiders
Yeah, I don't care.
It's too late to punish Jean Chretien for being a douchebag, but I'm perfectly comfortable taking it out on puny human Paul Martin. Hyperlink!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Good
Only eight days until Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.

The Bad
Only three days until the premature end of Star Trek: Enterprise.

The Ugly
I'm sick of myself. I gave myself a chance, but I blew it. I couldn't snack in moderation; so, I can't snack at all. I'm going back on a 2/3 version on my Lenten sacrifice. No snacking except fruits and vegetables and only one dessert per calender week. Lousy self, why'd I have to go and ruin everything for me?

My very favorite thing about parliamentary democracy is the habitual existence of the shadow government. Hyperlink! In America, a "shadow government" would be a cause for genuine alarm. In Britain, it's a matter of course. By thunder, I wish I could be the shadow chancellor....

Justice League of America
Justice League
Justice League International
Justice League America
Justice League Europe
Justice League Task Force
Extreme Justice
Justice League Elite
JLA: Classified
Go Team Bachelor!
Awesome, I'm cold! For the first time all day the breeze coming in through the window is chilly. Well, it's May, time to forget what natural cold feels like and embrace the, pardon the pun, cold, mechanical chill of central air.

"No pleasure, no rapture, no exquisite sin greater than central air."

Sunday, May 8, 2005

Happy V-E Day, everyone. "Nazis... I hate these guys."

Though it seems increasingly unlikely that I will ever manage to mate and procreate (I swear to Bog, if anyone leaves any "encouraging" comments...), I still prefer to think of the future via the phrase "when I have kids" rather than "if I have kids." A thought came to me today during Mass. Father was baptizing a couple of babies and I wondered who in the world I will get to be my kids' godparents. Neither my brother nor my sister believe in God; thus, it would be quite impossible for them to be godparents. Hmmmm, a puzzlement.

HAL 9000
My HAL is still ailing. Installing anti-spyware software removed a lot of spyware, but seemingly did not address the underlying performance problems. If not the root cause, an aggrevating factor has been McAfee Firewall. (If any of you are domestic terrorists and are willing to do me a favor, please blow up the headquarters of the McAfee security company. Thanks.) Uninstall Firewall and my HAL runs more smoothly, but not perfectly; reinstall Firewall and POOF! absolute lock-up necessitating a hard shutdown. Fuckers. My father's efforts have similarly failed, despite consulting with some geeks. I feel the only solution left to us is to turn my HAL over to the geeks for a radical file eradication and reconstruction. It's a damned inconvenience is what it is. Stupid HALs.
Thus far, the summer movie season is off to a rousing start. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was astounding, and tonight I quite enjoyed Kingdom of Heaven. Boy howdy, do I love Ridley Scott.

Saturday, May 7, 2005

I just added the old serial Adventures of Captain Marvel at the top of my Netflix queue. Holy moley! The serial is from 1941, when Captain Marvel comics outsold both Superman and Batman by a wide margin. In a way, the serial, though I've never seen it, was my first exposure to Captain Marvel and the power of the wizard Shazam.

There are two multiplex cinemas in the Flint metropolitan area, Showcase East and Showcase West. (Who needs competition?) For years and years there was only Showcase East, but in the mid/late '90s National Amusements, the parent company, constructed Showcase West. It is a much more attractive structure than East, with a high roofed lobby running the width of the building. One end of this lobby is adorned with images, posters from the golden age of Hollywood and oversized portraits of the stars. There are posters for Charlie Chan at the Opera and The West Point Story ("Dandier than Yankee Doodle Dandy!"), and portraits of Audrey Hepburn and Sean Connery. Among the posters is one for Adventures of Captain Marvel.

Before I read Shazam!: Power of Hope, I had no idea who Captain Marvel was, and so I had never specifically noticed the poster. It depicts the Captain holding what appears to be a giant scarab beetle over his head, making ready to hurl it. Yeah, it's an old serial from the '40s, but from what I have read it is one of the finest examples of the genre. Plus, unless I descend into madness to the point of digging up the '70s Saturday morning series Shazam! (Billy and the Wizard, curiously named Mentor, travel the country in an RV), this will probably be my only chance to see Cap outside of comics.

Potential titles for an MW penned Captain Marvel series:
Shazam Comics
The Magic of Shazam!

Friday, May 6, 2005

I'm watching an old episode of Law & Order (Chris Noth & Paul Sorvino) and in the first eleven minutes the guest stars have included William H. Macy, Kelli Williams (from The Practice), and Judy Reyes (from Scrubs). Everybody who is anybody has been on Law & Order.

Pixar Animation Studios
Toy Story
A Bug's Life
Toy Story 2
Monsters, Inc.
Finding Nemo
The Incredibles
(coming 2006)
Doomsday Minus Eight
"...To boldly go where no man has gone before."
U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701

"...To boldly go where no one has gone before."
U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-D

"All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by." --John Masefield
U.S.S. Defiant NX-74205

"For I dipt into the future, far as human eye can see; Saw the Vision of the World, and all the wonder that would be..." --Alfred Tennyson
U.S.S. Voyager NCC-74656

Star Trek 1966-2005
continuous first-run television 1987-2005

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Here we go, Tories, here we go! *clap clap*
Here we go, Tories, here we go! *clap clap*

The Government
Labour Party, hyperlink

The Loyal Opposition
Conservative Party, hyperlink
Liberal Democrat Party, hyperlink

It's general election time in Britain, the birthplace of modern democracy. For centuries Parliament warred with the Crown for supremacy, and had the battle turned out differently the entire world would be different; kings might yet hold sway over all the world. A British general election is not a holiday on a par with Independence Day (since Parliament has been plenty tyrannical in its day), but it's still a grand day for the human race. Huzzah!

Identity Crisis Nos. 1-7
* * * * *
Countdown to Infinite Crisis
The O.M.A.C. Project Nos. 1-6
Day of Vengeance Nos. 1-6
Villains United Nos. 1-6
The Rann-Thanagar War Nos. 1-6
* * * * *
Infinite Crisis Nos. 1-?
Being The Last Angry Man
One of the first science fiction novels I ever read was Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. I loved it. Via the marvels of modern scienctific advancement, The Professor just sent me this item: hyperlink. Knowing Card's opinions, I walked over to my bookshelf, took down my dog-eared copy of Ender's Game, and tore it into three pieces. People are free to have their opinions, and I am free to hold those opinions against them. I cannot in good conscience own a book by a man who knocks Star Trek while at the same time praising Firefly; one or the other is permissible, but taken together they are intolerable.

In the words of Hedonismbot, "I apologize for nothing."

Wednesday, May 4, 2005

DC Comics For Me
Ongoing Series
Richard Dragon ***just cancelled, dammit***
Wonder Woman
Gotham Central
Detective Comics
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight
JLA: Classified
Teen Titans Go!
Justice League Unlimited

Limited Series
Adam Strange
The Rann-Thanagar War
Day of Vengeance
Green Lantern: Rebirth

Under Consideration
JSA: Classified
Adventures of Superman

Dropped in the Last Year and a Half
H-E-R-O ***cancelled***
Green Arrow
The Flash
Teen Titans
Action Comics
Green Lantern
The Legion**

Series From the Mists of Time
Starman (Robinson)
Suicide Squad (Giffen)
Doom Patrol (Arcudi)
The Power of Shazam!
Young Justice
Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.
Justice League
Justice League International
Justice League America
(all the same series, twice retitled but not renumbered)
Justice League Europe
Booster Gold

*I read Green Lantern, starring Kyle Rayner, through its conclusion with issue No. 181. There is a new series debuting this month starring Hal Jordan, beginning with Green Lantern No. 1, but I won't be reading it as I despise Jordan. The limited series GL: Rebirth depicts his transition from the cancelled series The Spectre to the new Green Lantern; hating Hal Jordan, a mass murderer, as I do, why am I reading it? I hoped to find out the disposition of Kyle Rayner. Now it appears that Rayner will still be a Green Lantern out and about in the DCU, and will be a major player in the miniseries The Rann-Thanagar War. Woot! So, I guess I didn't need to read Green Lantern: Rebirth after all, but there's only one issue left. I might as well see how it ends, if for no other reason than to fuel my hatred.

**The Legion chronicled the exploits of the Legion of Super-Heroes. But, those adventures were essentially retconned out of existence with last year's launch of the new The Legion of Super-Heroes. I read The Legion through its conclusion with No. 38.

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

I think the blog phenomenon has all but run its course. Of what was once an enthusiastic armada of almost a dozen blogs I'd read on a daily basis, only two remain. Some people have folded their tents, some post so infrequently they might as well have stopped altogether, and some blogs have become simply unreadable. It seems that many people simply have nothing interesting to say, at least not on a daily basis.
I don't really understand boredom. Restlessness, I understand. Dissatisfaction and I are old chums. But boredom? Dear Bog, how in the wide world can anyone be bored? There are a million and several things to do at all times.

1) Read a book.

2) Reorganize your book shelves.

3) Reverse alphabetize your CD collection.

4) Take a bath.

5) Pray.

6) Shake your fist at the sky.

7) Write a treatise. Your thesis: Fox News is local news writ large, and just as vapid. Extra credit: catalog CNN's attempts to be more like Fox News.

8) Spin around on a revolving chair until you puke.

9) Clean it up.

10) Read self-absorbed blogs (redundant). Leave peevish comments as "Anonymous."

Star Trek Wars
Star Wars Trek

Monday, May 2, 2005

Say the Word... Feel the Power
Captain Marvel is featured in a story running through Action Comics, Adventures of Superman, and Superman; both Cap and the wizard Shazam appeared in the first issue of Day of Vengeance (the good captain will be on the cover of the third); the Wizard was in Countdown to Infinite Crisis, with only a cameo by Cap; Mary Marvel is in "I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League" running in JLA: Classified; and, I am told, CM3 has been in the most recent issues of Teen Titans.

This morning, I read Paul Dini and Alex Ross's Shazam!: Power of Hope. While I was cooking and eating lunch, I read Jerry Ordway's graphic novel The Power of Shazam!, prelude to the long-cancelled monthly series of the same name. This summer, there is going to be a Superman/Captain Marvel miniseries, a prequel to the story currently in Action, Adventures, and Superman. By the end of the year, Jeff Smith's long-delayed Shazam: Monster Society of Evil is finally being released. Holy Moley, I'm excited!

I cannot fully explain why, but I absolutely adore Captain Marvel and the whole Marvel Family. I have ever since I was introduced to the Marvels via Shazam!: Power of Hope. The first two books in the Dini-Ross series were Superman: Peace on Earth and Batman: War on Crime; the fourth was Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth. At the time, I was greatly puzzled as to who this Captain Marvel chap was and how in blazes he rated a place alongside the big three of the DCU when I had never even heard of him. The publication history of Captain Marvel is long and complex, but the reason I had never heard of him is quite simple: he's not that popular. Superman has three monthly books: Action Comics, Adventures of Superman, and Superman; Batman has four: Detective Comics, Batman, Batman: Gotham Knights, and Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, plus a multitude of miniseries and crossovers; the two of them share the monthly title Superman/Batman; and while Wonder Woman "only" has one monthly book, Wonder Woman, she is one of only three characters who has been continuously published for sixty-five years (her, Supes, and Bats). The aforementioned series The Power of Shazam! ran forty-seven issues from early 1996 to late 1999, including a four-issue crossover with the magnificent Starman, but on the whole Cap, Mary, Junior, and the Wizard have been confined to guest and cameo appearances. Black Adam, Captain Marvel's archenemy, has fared somewhat better, being a member of the Justice Society of America for almost three years in JSA and having recently joined the so-called Secret Society of Super-Villains soon to star in the miniseries Villains United. Cap, too, was seen in the pages of JSA, but not for as long a period as Black Adam.

Of course, that I am so fond of Captain Marvel goes a long way to explaining why he does not have an ongoing book. I have found that just as in music, magazines, and all other forms of pop culture, my taste in comic books does not often conform with that of the greater public. Poor Cap. Still, I shall enjoy the Marvel guest appearances, Cap's return to JSA, and the two miniseries due later this year; I'll take my Marvel Family fix almost wherever I can get it.

(As part of my general fantasy to one day write comic books, I would love to write for Captain Marvel. I have ideas for stories with Sivana, Black Adam, Mr. Mind, Captain Nazi, Ibac, and all the Fawcett City villains. "A Tale of Two Captains," wherein Captain Nazi decides to stop fighting the Marvels with his fists and instead recruit an army of neo-Nazi skinheads to conduct marches and distribute hateful literature, all within the bounds of the law. How can Billy defeat an enemy he can't punch? Of course, that's the real challenge of writing the Marvels. You have to maintain the innocence of the characters, who are after all children, but the fanciful stories of the Golden Age just don't work anymore.)

Sunday, May 1, 2005

Having recently read Bram Stoker's Dracula and watched Bram Stoker's Dracula, I am now more than ever convinced that the Coppolas are, as a bloodline, monumentally overrated and essentially untalented. I have seen Lost in Translation and while I find it an adequate film, I fail to understand what all the fuss was about; The Virgin Suicides remains among the worst movies I have ever endured. And Papa Coppolas two exemplary films, The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II, are more than outweighed by his voluminous drek such as Apocalypse Now, The Godfather: Part III, and the aforementioned Bram Stoker's Dracula. I salute the man for directing Captain EO, but on the whole he can only be fairly categorized as a thoroughly mediocre talent.
Happy May Day, you Commie scum. Yes, yes, I am well aware that many socialists and trade unionists around the world also celebrate May Day and that they are most emphatically not Marxist-Leninist Communists. To them, I say, happy May Day, you lousy pinkos.

This afternoon, I sat down and reread all seven issues of Identity Crisis, written by Brad Meltzer, pencilled and inked by Rags Morales and Michael Bair. Reading it the first time, one issues being released per month, I liked it up until issue no. 7. Jean Loring's, The Atom's wife, motive for killing Sue Dibny, the Elongated Man's wife, struck me at the time as exceedingly weak; I greatly enjoyed the characterizations and dialogue through all seven issues, but as a murder mystery I found the resolution somewhat lacking. I still think it's weak, but once again I am of the opinion Meltzer has a gift for bringing a realistic humanity to Spandex-wearing demi-gods and mystery men.

Physics professor Ray Palmer is The Atom and was married to Jean Loring until she initiated divorce proceedings. (This was long before my time.) In Identity Crisis, Jean wants to get Ray back. From The Atom's few guest appearances in comics I've read and brief stint in JLA, it seemed as if he was still quite fond of his ex-wife. Instead of asking her ex-husband to dinner, Loring took one of his old Atom suits and attacked Sue Dibny. Loring claimed that Sue's death was accidental, that all she wanted to do was scare the superhero community, thus bringing The Atom back into her arms. Loring then faked an attack on herself and hired the villain Captain Boomerang to kill Robin's father (the two men ended up killing each other). Still, to me that just doesn't hold water; even if she's insane, all that still seems like an improbably complicated plan.

Ah well, what's done is done, and at least Sue still lives in "I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League" in the pages of JLA: Classified, set before Identity Crisis and before Blue Beetle's death in Countdown to Infinite Crisis. What really bothers me about Countdown and all the hoopla around this fall's much hyped miniseres Infinite Crisis is that Blue Beetle's murder was just gratuitous. It was unnecessary to the story. I hated to see Sue Dibny die, but her death was necessary to Identity Crisis and as such was treated with dignity and respect. The thinking behind Countdown seems to have been, "No one is going to pay attention unless we kill somebody. Hmmmmm. Hey, the Blue Beetle isn't popular enough to support an ongoing monthly book, let's kill him!" Bastards.

There are four miniseries with origins in Countdown to Infinite Crisis: The O.M.A.C. Project, Day of Vengeance, Villains United, and The Rann-Thanager War, one of which is supposed to be the direct lead in to Infinite Crisis. I shan't be reading Infinite Crisis both because I hated Countdown and because it is to be written by Geoff Johns, a once promising writer who has become pathetic. If Infinite Crisis holds true to form, it will be a simple rehashing of a Silver Age story, with plenty of drooling over the inability of Silver Age writers to make a single misstep. I am, however, reading Day of Vengeance and I will read The Rann-Thanager War. I like the character of Adam Strange, defender of the planet Rann, and have been greatly enjoying the miniseries Adam Strange, to which The Rann-Thanager War is a sequel. I picked up issue no. 1 of Day of Vengeance, written by Bill Willingham, whose work I have enjoyed as the writer of Robin, and the quality I found between its covers convinced me to follow the rest of the series. Plus, it promises to at least feature, if not star, Captain Marvel, and I'll read almost anything to follow the exploits of the wizard Shazam's champion.

The Power of S.H.A.Z.A.M.
Shazam, "the Wizard"
Captain Marvel (Billy Batson)
Mary Marvel (Mary Bromfield [Batson])
CM3 (a.k.a. Captain Marvel Jr., Freddy Freeman)
Black Adam (Theo Adam/Teth-Adam)

S = Wisdom of Solomon
H = Strength of Hercules
A = Stamina of Atlas
Z = Power of Zeus
A = Courage of Achilles
M = Speed of Mercury
My HAL appears to be in dire health. Defragging the bugger has not addressed the problem and McAfee assures me there are no viruses afoot. Nevertheless, Explorer locks up with alarming frequency, approximately as often as not. When this occurs, the entire HAL freezes up and the only way to restore normalcy is to perform a hard, manual shut down. The start up sequence then lectures me that I should always shut down my HAL through the proper channels, but, dear lad, were that possible I wouldn't have had to shut down the bloody thing in the first place. Cursed HALs. Oh, how I loathe them.

My HAL is very old and of limited abilities, but as HALs go I have nothing against it. It can't be blamed for being old and slow (Windows 98 is the most advanced version my processor will support), and until the recent unpleasantness it had never given me much trouble. And of course it holds priceless treasure: all the non-Publisher Newsletter files. If an alternative solution does no present itself presently, I fear we shall have to turn my HAL over to the tender mercies of the geeks.

I just watched The Empire Strikes Back and now I'm listening to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. Life is good.