Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Freedom Forever

LNA now at Comic Odyssey Galleria

Okay, it’s been a while since I plugged my stuff. I have reason to, right now.

Lexy, Nance & Argus: Sex, Gods, Rock & Roll is now at Comic Odyssey in Robinson’s Galleria. My thanks to Sandy Sansolis for letting me sell the comic book there. And thanks to Gerry Alanguilan for introducing me to him last week. Copies will be delivered to the Robinson’s Place (Malate) branch of Comic Odyssey by Wednesday, as well. I’ve been to the shops a few times, and I noticed that aside from being big stores, they’ve got a nice selection of titles and back issues, and good bargains on action figure sets. Go visit, and talk to the friendly guy and girl at the counter.

My book is also still being sold at Druid’s Keep in Gateway Centre (Magallanes), and Pride Exchange (Malate). Go grab a copy for yourself or a friend if you haven’t, yet.

Action Figure Hunter

Last January, I discovered that a Greenhills toy shop was selling the Wal-Mart exclusive Marvel Legends set at a considerably lower price compared to other hobby shops. I obsessed over it for a few weeks, and later decided, after much deliberation and computation, that I’d only get half of the 12-figure set. I couldn’t afford the entire thing even with the lower price tag, so I asked a fellow toy collector, old friend Ian O., to arrange a group-buy with other people from a local toy board. Luckily, Ian wanted to get three of the toys, and the remaining figures were bought by a guy named Al, who’s also knowledgeable on ML’s. Like Ian and myself, he's a little critical of certain action figures’ features (he wishes that the Wasp had translucent wings).

I’m quite happy with my haul. I wasn’t keen on building a Giant Man bonus figure anyway, as I already have the regular version of the character some time ago. So those that I really wanted, I finally got, like Sentry (finally, a Superman-level Avenger!), Warbird (one of my fave Marvel heroines), Kitty Pryde (which looks like Angelina Jolie), and Havok (in his classic costume with headgear), and to a lesser extent, the "Age of Apocalypse" Sabretooth (the good guy Exiles member) and Weapon X (another Wolverine, but scaled just right). Yay! They’re worth the wait. I wish though, that Sabretooth’s teeth paint didn’t make it look like he had gaps between teeth, and that Weapon X’s uber-thick eyebrows looked better. Despite those imperfections, I’m really happy with the bunch.

The toy hunt doesn’t end there, though. I’m looking out for some ML’s and other related toy lines because they suddenly became buy one-take one! I’m one excited toy geek. I waited for some of those to go on sale, and now they are. Woohoo! And, frack, I need money.

Civil War Finale Questions

Spoilers ahead!

My, that was disappointing. It took Captain America that long—seven issues—to realize that he’s not fighting for the interests of the common American anymore? It was perplexing, the way the main Civil War book didn’t mention important details, which happened off-title. But despite being a quick, jumpcut-y read, it still felt padded because of the weak resolution and squandered pinup pages. Cap’s surrender, while understandable because it was done to preserve lives and property, was executed rather unconvincingly. So, questions:

Why was Namor shown only once, and was never seen again? The poorly dressed, generic-looking new Champions had more panel time. And speaking of absences, where were Storm, Monica Rambeau, and Sentry? They’d have contributed significantly to the final battle, but all we got were the typical face-offs.

What was the point of resurrecting Captain Mar-Vell for this event, when his one-panel appearance didn’t show him doing anything important?

Why were the villains sicced on the heroes and left unwatched? Jeez. Brilliant idea, Iron Man.

Speaking of which, what exactly did Venom do to Cap? We don’t see any blow connecting in any way.

Why was Spider-Man wearing the black costume again?

If Bill foster was Tony and Hank’s friend, why was the murderous Thor clone-cyborg-LMD reactivated?

Why was Hank Pym Time’s “Man of the Year” and what exactly is his “global revolution”?

Why was there no mention whatsoever of the real villain in the Stanford tragedy? Nitro was in the town because he was placed there and power-augmented by someone from Damage Control, according to the Wolverine tie-ins.

Why keep the Negative Zone prison operational, when conditions there have forced one inmate (Digitek) to kill himself?

What are the other 41 ideas “for a safer world”? Was cloning dead superpowered friends one of them? Isn’t that unethical, and potentially dangerous to the world?

Anyway, Tony Stark’s side won, so, boo! Cap’s team was about the protection of the superhuman community’s civil liberties. Manipulative, lying Mr. Stark promises to protect the identities of his fellow costumed adventurers, but that didn’t work out too well for Peter Parker, did it? And SHIELD has most of the heroes’ secret ID’s, anyway. I hoped, when the first issue came out, that Stark would take over SHIELD, and he did just now, but it feels too late after the fascistic implementation of the registration act. Still, this new, more organized system of superheroing and regulated adventurism is worth looking into in Dan Slott’s upcoming The Initiative series. Slott knows his Marvel superheroes, and I hope that it’ll satisfy those who felt cheated by the CW ending.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Life is Bigger

Revolution Earth

I saw parts of the city where I live and other places I know on Google Earth a few days ago. It’s exciting and quite scary, since it gives you a very specific perspective--the top view of many cities--and you can quickly zoom onto locales from the skies, just like in the movies and TV shows. It was so cool to see areas near our house that I don’t know about, and places near my old schools that I used to frequent.

It’s amazing how those neatly arranged and diversely colored rooftops shelter different lives and dreams. From above, the communities look so peaceful. It doesn’t really show people, as we’re dot-scaled and virtually unseen. But in actuality, we’re mere meters away from others, just separated by walls, gates and streets. It’s easy to get a sense of that when you’re looking at the wide shots. It’s interesting, too, that those patches look so unrelated, but we all know that that’s the farthest thing from the truth. Man, just imagine the intersecting stories all over those maps.

Google Earth is all kinds of awesome.

I Wanna Be Cremated

I attended a funeral last Sunday afternoon. As I wasn’t close to the departed, my time there was spent observing and sitting through the rites quietly. It did make me think about my own life and some things I want to do and accomplish while I’m still here, among other things.

I'd rather have my remains cremated and put into a jar. I’m also okay with my ashes getting scattered someplace pretty, or at a place with sentimental value, actually. I’ve always preferred that, I think, not because I don’t want my decaying body to become worm food--I’m probably beyond caring by then—but I feel now that I’d rather have what’s left of my physical shell near those who care about me. I’m okay with being remembered by loved ones without them having to trek to the cemetery. Cemeteries are just way depressing. The cost of cremation, I hear, is normally cheaper than the usual casket funeral, too, so I guess I’ll go for that, instead.

It’s a Boy-Boy Thing

Ain’t they sweet. Teen couple Hulkling and Wiccan, from Marvel’s Young Avengers comic book, posed and photographed by Benedict. Wiccan is Scarlet Witch and Vision’s miracle child, while Hulking is the hybrid son of the Kree warrior Captain Mar-Vell and a Skrull princess. Hey, by the way, I’m wondering: just how long will Young Avengers be on hiatus, and when will volume two come out? Come on, Marvel, make it happen.

Party Like It’s 2099

Marvel Legacy: The 1990s Handbook was a good read. It’s the latest from the people behind the new Marvel Universe Handbooks, a one-shot comic book featuring profiles of select characters from the era distinctly remembered for the shoulder pads, gritted teeth, toughie codenames and massive weaponry. Image Comics-inspired art and coloring were all the rage, and many Marvel characters and titles at the time embraced a darker, but not necessarily a more mature tone. Those included, however, aren’t necessarily Liefeld-inspired characters.

It’s an interesting list, although there are those creations that look dated now. Some of them have yet to reappear. There’s Vengeance, Nightwatch, Lady Punisher, Blackwulf, Maxam, X-Treme, X-Men 2099, and so on. Maybe creators who adored them back then will make them feel fresh and contemporary.

I was half-expecting to see entries of the armored Captain America, Daredevil and Spider-Man, the bikini-clad Invisible Woman, and the jacket-wearing Avengers and New Warriors members, but they weren’t depicted. Maybe the updated Handbooks will devote space to them, since Storm’s new entry showed all of her previous costumes.

I liked that the cover sported the coloring style that evoked simple Photoshop effects. It also has a masthead that intentionally looks slightly retro, and a particular company logo that was used later in the decade. Also, it was funny that they included a Coolometer at the inside-back cover. “Bankruptcy,” of course, was at the “Uncool” end.

I emailed the Handbook people recently, and suggested that they include or update some characters. I listed about twenty or so characters, and writer Stuart Vandal generously replied. He detailed that some of those I mentioned are slated for appearances in future issues (Agatha Harkness will have an updated one in the Magic 2007 Handbook), or have already appeared in certain themed Handbooks. He added that each of the other characters will eventually have his or her entry, as long as the series continues.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Follow the Day

It’s been a typically busy week so I’m relaxing by catching up on some shows, as usual.

Mars Attack

Season two of Veronica Mars wasn’t as consistently entertaining as the first, but it’s still smart and endearing. A few season-long mysteries get resolved satisfyingly. I was shocked when long-forgotten arcs from the first season resurfaced and tied well to the heart-wrenching season ender. Some important characters have been written off the show, so it pretty much re-sets some relationship angles. I hope Veronica’s friend, the problem-solving techie Mac (Tina Majorino), becomes a regular cast member in the next season. Wow, they’re in college in the show’s third year. I wonder how different Veronica’s cases will be, and how her detective skills will be honed this time.

Basta, Veronica and Duncan forever.

Musings on Lyrics

I was able to catch the hilarious VH-1 special 40 Most Awesomely Bad Love Songs last week over at MTV. It had a few comedians commenting on some of the lyrical content of old and recent love songs, most of which have become hits in the US. The countdown list was a mix of guilty pleasures and those that fall under the “so bad, they’re good” category of songs, and it was interesting to hear what the comics had to say about the meaning or packaging of certain sappy ones.

Pleasant-sounding ballads like Oleta Adams’ “Get Here” weren’t spared. The commenters singled out that the lines “you can reach me by caravan/ cross the desert like an Arab man,” saying that it’s “racial profiling” in a song, and that it went too far by suggesting that the guy Oleta pertained to should “windsurf into my life.” Also mocked was The Jets’ “You Got It All,” as it’s a song that, according to the commentary, kept comparing the current boyfriend with the ex, among other things. Steve Perry’s popular “Oh Sherrie” was included, and some comedians wondered why the singer was yelling his lyrics (“You should’ve been gone!”). Other songs that made it were by boy bands, hair bands, and some ‘80s and ‘90s pop chart fixtures.

Super Jock Itch

I gave up on this show long ago, but I just had to see the “Justice” episode of Smallville. Clark “Boy Scout” Kent and Chloe “Watchtower” Sullivan team up with righteous pals Green Arrow, Aquaman, Impulse and Cyborg. Quite campy but fun. They got the guest actors who previously appeared as the characters, so there’s a cleft chin overload. I dunno if a live-action Justice League series in the works (I doubt it), but it was nice to see some of DC’s superheroes gather for an episode, even if they have a clich├ęd scene where they’re shown walking away, calmly, from an exploding building. Gawd.

Lost in Your Isles

I’ve seen about eight episodes of the first season of Lost. I dunno. It’s okay, but It’s not that exciting yet for me. I like that it has neat twists when it comes to the many characters’ back stories, though. I’m familiar with Matthew Fox, who played Charlie Salinger from the depressing but watchable ‘90s drama Party of Five. There’s also Dominic Monaghan, of course, an ex-Hobbit sidekick, and the actress who played the blonde villain girl from Roswell, whose name escapes me at the moment. It’s a nicely cast group of castaways and all, but I do hope that the story speeds up. I hope the truth behind the mysteries gets revealed before I lose interest, and that there’s a rewarding payoff after all this buildup. Maybe I’m just getting really impatient, but so far, the building-society-from-scratch thing isn’t bowling me over.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Gods Almighty

Beyonder versus Warlock, pencil drawing on vellum paper, Feb. 2007

After recently reading a boxful of borrowed Warlock and the Infinity Watch and related crossovers like Infinity War and Infinity Crusade, and finally reading old tie-ins to Secret Wars II, I was inspired to draw a meeting between the two main cosmic characters. Adam Warlock has been Jim Starlin’s Jesus-like figure, an artificially created being and hero, who sacrificed himself to save an Earth-like planet, was resurrected a few times, and ascended temporarily to godhood. Jim Shooter’s Secret Wars series introduced the all-powerful Beyonder, a being who sought to understand human desire and fulfillment. For a time, both were considered threats to the Marvel Universe’s different realities, and were opposed by its various heroes and entities.

I did this last Wednesday, after work. I chose to draw the Beyonder in the armor he wore in the Buscema-Avengers issues, as it looks way cooler that the casual jumpsuit he normally wore. Adam Warlock’s “God” mode only had one look, so I stuck with that. Warlock’s brief stint as omnipotent being and wielder of the Infinity Gauntlet was an interesting point in the character’s existence, as he pondered, like the Beyonder, what to do with the nearly limitless power. Unlike the Beyonder, though, Warlock didn’t have time to revel in his might, and divided the power among his chosen guardians.

They’re among Marvel’s most fleshed-out characters, and for a time, among the company’s more popular ones, which probably means that they’re being considered to have their own Marvel Legends figures someday (well, Baron Zemo and X-23 got immortalized in plastic first, so it’s hard to say if that’ll happen). Also, as the characters haven’t really met in the comics, I have this idea that, maybe, they actually have (they can do anything), or can still do so, what with retcons happening left and right in many titles. I think that it’d be a great meeting. They can try to eradicate each other from existence, and even have some pretty heated philosophical debates while they’re at it. This can so happen in the Exiles comic book.

No Mercy on the Battlefield

Early this week, I was able to attend a special preview of the Zack Snyder-directed 300, based on Frank Miller’s limited series. Awesome, awesome movie. I loved the moody, stylized look, the muted colors, and kickass battle sequences and character designs. Gerard Butler did a good job as Leonidas, leader of the 300 Spartan soldiers, as did Rodrigo Santoro, who played Xerxes, the conquering god-king to legions.

Thanks to the Warner people for that and the thick and pretty Art of 300 book, too. The movie opens March 7th. I hope it stays uncut.

Monday, February 05, 2007

You Can Call Her Anything You Like…

…but her name is Veronica Mars. That’s a riff on a line off of Elvis Costello’s “Veronica” (‘cause I can’t think of any other appropriate song with the name Veronica in it). Veronica and Logan are in costume for an '80s-themed party in the pic above, so no, they don't normally dress that way.

I just finished watching the first season, and I must say that I’m really digging this show right now. It’s kind of filling the void that Buffy and then Alias left, in that the title character’s an independent, intrepid young woman, but it doesn’t have the fantastical, end-of-the-world elements that those two previous shows smartly cultivated. Its contemporary high school setting allows for resonant and realistic storylines, with a Nancy Drew-ish twist. So yeah, it’s also world-shaking, but on a different level altogether.

Spunky and resourceful Miss Mars (Kristen Bell), 17-year-old assistant to her private investigator dad, takes on cases big and small, from proving the innocence of the wrongly accused, to solving secret admirers’ identities. Each of her cases has interesting personal repercussions, and re-acquaints her, and consequently, her viewers, with the good, bad and fugly characters from school and beyond. Veronica can be equally lost as the people she helps at certain times, but her persistence at getting the truth often get her incontestably good results. She’s become an unsung hero to some, and a socially unacceptable weirdo to others. She’s been called names and bad-mouthed, picked on by the cool kids, and so on, but she knows how to retaliate.

I can relate to her because she’s the inquisitive outsider, and the show reminds me that I didn’t really fit with the cliques back then. I wish though, that I was just as skilled in wisecracking retorts all those years ago. That’s how affecting the series has been for me; it brings you back to the times when you wish you were wise and had the snappy comeback for the jerk classmate or some snarkass teachers. For those who sometimes wish they could go back to school and do things differently, they’ll find the show quite appealing, escapist, and even cathartic.

Veronica is that special character, that cleverly written girl who only wishes that things were normal, but she doesn’t stand idly by when things get crazy. She gets to the bottom of things, peer acceptance be damned.