Talking about comic books, TV shows, movies, sports, and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

One Sentence Reviews

I think I'm overdue for another rousing round of One Sentence Reviews. But first, since I'm finally taking the poll down, for posterity's sake I will say that the final vote regarding what caused the dent in the airplane's nose was this:

Superman, you can be a mean drunk.

Let's do some reviews.

God of War 2 (Playstation 2 Video Game): Meet a legendary Greek hero, kill a legendary Greek hero...what could be better?

His Dark Materials (Fantasy Series by Phillip Pullman): I loved the first book, liked the second one, and struggled through the third.

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008 Movie): Really, for the name being what it was, Guantanamo Bay had little to do with this but if you loved the first movie you'll like this one.

Into the Wild (2007 Movie): The sense of tragic inevitability makes for an interesting viewing experience.

The Watchmen (DC "Graphic Novel"): Wholly dark and depressing but overall a good comic made even better when I realized it was written in 1986.

Babylon A.D. (2008 Movie): I thought it had a chance to be a cool futuristic action movie but when a director pans his own movie I'm suddenly not instilled with confidence.

Disaster Movie (2008 Movie): I have not seen this movie yet but I can guarantee you this is one of the most unoriginal, painfully unfunny pieces of trash this year.

Summer Olympics (2008): Just when I thought there was nothing lamer than the Olympics the NFL preseason comes along.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

To Better know A Hero: Green Arrow

Real Name: Oliver “Ollie” Queen

First Appearance: More Fun Comics #73 1941

Nicknames and Aliases: The Emerald Archer

Powers and Abilities: Green Arrow is a phenomenal archer, considered one of the best in the DC Universe, as well as an accomplished hand-to-hand combatant, swordsman and detective.

Weaknesses and Achilles’ Heels: Blonds in fishnet stockings, woman in general, infidelity

Gadgets and Accessories: Everything Batman has, but with the word “arrow” replacing the word “Bat” as well as an assortment of bows and arrows, including various “trick” arrows, like gas arrows, boomerang arrows, glue arrows and the infamous boxing glove arrow.

Friends and Allies: Red Arrow (Roy Harper, his adopted son and former ward and sidekick, the original Speedy), Connor Hawke (his son, who operated as Green Arrow when Ollie was dead), Black Canary (Dinah Lance, his wife), Speedy (Mia Dearden, his current sidekick) Green Lantern (Hal Jordan, his best friend), the Justice League.

Foes and Antagonists: Merlyn (archer and member of the League of Assassins), Deathstroke the Terminator (Slade Wilson), Brick (Danny Brickwell, meta-human Star City mob boss), the Injustice League, the Secret Society of Evil.

Movies and Appearances: Green Arrow popped up in a random episode of Super Friends back in the day and appeared fairly regularly in the more recent Justice League Unlimited cartoon. He has also been a recurring character and heartthrob on the more recent seasons of Smallville, cast as a Bruce Wayne-esque playboy vigilante with a grudge against Lex Luthor and romantic inclinations towards Lois Lane. Green Arrow will also reportedly star in an upcoming movie in which he is framed and must escape from a prison for super-villains.

One-Sentence Origin: After being stranded on a deserted island, rich playboy Oliver Queen honed his natural archery skills to survive and after returning to Star City, used his newfound abilities and a healthy dose of liberal rhetoric to fight crime as Green Arrow.

Memorable Moment: Green Arrow vol. 2 #101: Green Arrow is aboard a plane above Metropolis rigged with a bomb that will destroy the city. He manages to delay the detonation, but is forced to remain holding the dead man’s switch as the plane crashes, sacrificing his life to save the city (don’t worry, he gets better).

Fun Fact: Back when he was “Batman…but with archery!” Green Arrow even had a Joker-esque, clown- themed archenemy called Bulls-Eye. To this day, Green Arrow has a surprisingly crappy Rogues Gallery.

Teebore’s Take: For all intents and purposes, there have been two very different Green Arrows in the history of DC comics. The first was basically a Batman ripoff, with all the bat-themed gimmicks replaced with arrow-themed ones, complete with a sidekick, an Arrowcave, and an Arrowmobile. He and Speedy starred in the backup strips of the more popular hero’s comics, which enabled him, like Aquaman, to stay in publication alongside the “big three” when most of the other superhero books died out in the wake of “Seduction of the Innocent.” After the rebirth of the genre in the Silver Age, Ollie joined the Justice League and began his decade’s long romance with Black Canary.

But in the late 60s and into the 70s, as new writers, like Denny O’Neil, broke into comics determined to bring some social-consciousness and realism to the genre, Green Arrow was given a new look (his now standard Robin Hood-inspired look and goatee) and found himself recast as a fierce liberal firebrand. He lost his fortune and became a ground-level crusader for the working class, a fairly unique innovation at DC for the time.

Later, Ollie was paired with the more conservative “space cop” Green Lantern in O’Neil’s “hard traveling heroes” stories, illustrated by the innovative Silver Age artist Neal Adams. The two heroes traveled the country and along the way encountered and reflected on various social issues of the times (including the infamous and much-loved-amongst-the- Gentlemen “my ward is …a junkie!” story). O’Neil’s writing in these issues comes across nowadays as ham-fisted and fairly simplistic (for example, the famous “what have you done for the ‘black skins’” diatribe against Green Lantern overlooks the fact that Green Lantern saves the lives of all black men, along with everyone else, every time he saves the planet from one menace or another), but it was one of the first times real world issues and socially conscious stories found their way into superhero comics, and the run remains hugely influential on the medium as a whole. And as a result, Green Arrow found himself locked into this new characterization, one far more complex and well developed than his old “Batman-lite” persona.

Green Arrow was now often shown arguing with his more conservative Justice League teammate Hawkman (another space cop) and chiding the Justice League for operating out of a satellite orbiting Earth, far removed from the people they were supposed to be helping. This political bent has become an integral part of his character to this day, such as when he was recently elected mayor of Star City in order to take a more direct role in cleaning up his city. Green Arrow remains one of the few superheroes whose political views are a firmly established element of his characterization.

The other interesting thing about Green Arrow is the fact that his schtick (he shoots arrows at criminals) doesn’t really fit into the more traditionally family-friendly world of superhero comics, in which, most often, the heroes capture the criminals rather than kill them. When first introduced this wasn’t much of a problem, as Green Arrow’s gimmicky arrows like the boxing glove arrow averted the issue and was more than acceptable to an audience largely composed of children. But as the audience got older and Green Arrow specifically and superhero comics in general began to take themselves more seriously, the notion of something like a “soot arrow” became entirely too ludicrous, even for a world where a millionaire dresses up like a bat to fight crime.

In the 80s, when the social relevance and realism started in the 70s really began to take hold in superhero comics, and countless heroes were “darkened” or cast in more “realistic” stories, Mike Grell started a new Green Arrow series which did its best to remove Ollie from the traditional superhero trappings, giving him a toned-down variation on his traditional costume, moving him to a real city (Seattle, as opposed to the fictional Star City) and refusing to sugarcoat the fact that Green Arrow was fighting criminals with pointy projectiles fired with unerring accuracy.

But it wasn’t long after Grell left the book that Green Arrow was gradually reabsorbed into the DC Universe-proper, fighting alongside the Justice League again, leaving the readers with the assumption that while he was still using “real” arrows as opposed to the gimmicky trick ones, he was using his skill to fire those arrows in such a way as to only disable or wound criminals rather than kill them.

Monday, August 25, 2008

MLB Headlines Week 21

So the Twins finally try to boost their bullpen. They trade for Eddie Guardado giving up a minor league pitcher. He was the Twin's closer before Joe Nathan. "Every Day" Eddie's a decent pitcher these days but not great. Still, he's better than anything else the Twins have...besides Nathan. So you'd think I'd be happy about it, right?
The minor league pitcher the Twins traded for Eddie Guardado was Mark Hamburger. I mean come on. With pitchers like Glen Perkins and Dennys Reyes, think of the kind of puns we could do with a guy like Mark Hamburger on the Twins. It's a down right shame... Headline of the Week:
As Labor Day approaches, contenders on the job

Yeah, that's a reach. Even for

August 22nd, 2008 - Twins 9 Angels 0
Angels in the outfield no use against homer hitting Twins

August 24th, 2008 - Twins 3 Angels 5
Tragic Crain Collapse: Twins reeling from Jesse's poor pitching in 8th inning Angels rally

August 24th, 2008 - Nationals 1 Cubs 6
Tough loss for Nationals as Harden continues to make Cubs pitching Rich

Dr. Bitz:
August 24th, 2008 - Twins 3 Angels 0
Bullpen bullshit again!

August 25th, 2008 - Red Sox 6 Blue Jays 5
Lowrie launches one and lifts Sox to victory.

August 17th, 2008 - Rays 5 White Sox 6
Dan's wheels come off in ninth

Special Bonus Olympics Pun!!!
Usain's insane bolt garners him gold

Teebore and I tied...again. At least we got two more votes this time. Don't worry folks, it's almost over.

11:09 AM: I've said it once and I'll say it again. Playing a team that isn't paying attention makes Fantasy Baseball much easier. However, I only recently realized that there's only one week left before the playoffs, and after last week I was on the outside looking in. I'm battling my sister for the last playoff spot, but she's currently losing 3-6 and I'm winning 7-3. So hopefully that keeps up:
Me: 33 6 30 2 .337 4 4 48 4.30 1.48
Him: 22 2 9 3 .217 2 3 26 0.49 0.44

Most of the categories are settles already. He has two starting pitchers going today, but they're playing each other, so I think I got Wins. Stolen Bases and Steals are the only two categories really up for grabs. Although, if my opponent's two starting pitchers and two relievers can't combine for one and two-thirds innings pitchers, then he won't make the inning limit and I win all the pitching categories. But I doubt that's likely to happen. However, since he has so few innings pitched, if both his pitchers get rocked, his ERA and WHIP could climb higher than expected. But again, I'm not holding out hope.

12:14 PM: First hitter of the day: Miguel Tejada. He fouled out to the catcher. I assume he did it spicily.

12:45 PM: Typical Sunday so far. My team starts off 0 for 3.

1:54 PM: Got back from Stupid Taco Bell and they screwed up my order. Anyway, Pujols hit a two run homer. So that's nice. And Tejada had a spicy run. That about all. My team is 2 for 14.

2:06 PM: Bitter-sweet two run home run by Carlos Quentin. And since Jermaine Dye doubled and Thome homers putting the White Sox in the lead it's REALLY bitter-sweet. C'mon Rays!

2:07 PM: By the way, I was wrong about my opponents pitchers facing each other. So I'm in jeopardy of losing or tying wins.

2:27 PM: Cueto has given up a run on Jay Bruce's fielding error. I blame Teebore.

2:38 PM: *phew* AJ Burnett is taken out in a tie game. I think I'm safe with Wins.

3:16 PM: A-Rod's on 1st in a tie game. I'm hoping for a steal.

3:19 PM: And Alex *Expletive Deleted* Rodriguez disappoints me again.

4:10 PM: Back from shower. Wheeler blew a save for the Rays which is doubly painful. But it's still in extra innings, so let's hope the Rays can still pull it out. Not much else has changed.

4:17 PM: The White Sox win thanks to an AJ Perzynski intentionally 'accidentally' hitting a fielder and acting like he was hit. No bad deed goes unrewarded, I guess. I should probably be quiet now or I'll I sound like an old fuddy-duddy. But the fact is the Rays did have a one run lead in the bottom the 9th with 2 outs and a 3-2 count and couldn't get it done. So in some ways, they have nobody to blame but themselves.

5:12 PM: So the Twins bullpen blows it again and they lose. I'm not surprised. After the White Sox came back in the 9th and won their game on a controversial call, it was down right predictable that the Twins would lose. Not much going on fantasy-wise.

5:25 PM: Uh oh...Mariano Rivera picked up a save tying the category. Anybody surprised Dan Wheeler's blown save is coming back to bite me in the ass? Anybody?

7:05 PM: The day games are done, and all my batters hit. Shockingly, none of them got a steal, despite me needing one. I'm down to hoping Eddie Guardado gets a save. That seems to happen often, lately.

11:30 PM: Hey, here's a shocker. Guardado was brought into the ninth inning of a tie game, gave up a run, and ended up being the losing pitcher. *sigh* This is how it finishes:
Me: 38 8 35 2 .316 4 4 59 4.08 1.43
Him: 26 3 13 3 .224 3 4 46 1.82 0.63

Obviously I was never going to win ERA and WHIP. He got lucky that the four starts his pitchers had were all solid ones. I think I'm most bitter about the save. especially since the Dan Wheeler blown save also hurt the Twins. I would go so far as to call it a debacle. My hitting did well again, though. It's just a shame that my pitching staff is so putrid that it'll probably cost me the playoffs.
Overall, I lost a half a category on the day and my sister only managed to win 3 categories this week. Where does this leave me? I'm 2 1/2 categories ahead of my sister going into next week. But if she wins 3 more categories than I do next week, I'm out. It'll be interesting.

Nemesis of The Week:
Dan Wheeler? I suppose not. Rich Harden pitched 14 innings, got 2 wins, 21 Strikeouts, had a 0.64 ERA and .029 WHIP. That's annoying. But I think my fantasy Nemesis of this week is Mariano "I had no saves last week but now that I'm facing Dr. Bitz I'll go nuts" Rivera. He had 3.2 Innings Pitched, 3 Saves, 3 Strikeouts, 0.00 ERA and a 0.27 ERA. Of course really, I wish my team could do better than just 4 Saves.

Savior of The Week:
Well, I'm going to go back to the well, or the toilet as the case may be, and go with Albert "Hehehehe" Pujols. I deem 3 Runs, 2 Home Runs, 10 RBI, and a .579 Average acceptable.

The Moral of this week's story is that steals and saves are surprisingly similar. When you need one, you just never seem to get them.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The "50 Things I Love About Comics" Meme

John Seavey recently posted this meme on his blog. Here's my list of 50 things I love about comics (in no particular order):

1. The X-Men
2. Cyclops
3. Stan Lee

4. Grant Morrison's "Batgod" Batman

5. Fables
6. The basic concept of the Green Lanterns: space cops with magic rings
7. Primates with super powers

8. The Legion of Super Pets

9. Digging through quarter bins at conventions
10. The smell of old comics
11. Covers with dialogue on them
12. Lex Luthor's 1980s, George Pereze-designed battle suit

13. Dr. Doom speaking in the third person
14. John Romita Jr.
15. Chris Claremont's Magneto
16. Uncanny X-Men #175
17. Steve Englehart's crazy time traveling Kang stories
18. "I know your secret."
19. Silver Age Jimmy Olsen stories

20. The Justice League
21. The Avengers
22. The crappy paper on which comics used to be printed before the glossy stuff used today, so comics felt like books instead of magazines.
23. Darkseid

24. Thanos

25. Fin Fang Foom

26. Noble Causes
27. "With great power comes great responsibility."
28. Stan Lee's memory-saving alliterative character names
29. Thor's Shakespearean speech patterns
30. Jack Kirby
31. Bernard the Poet
32. Uncanny X-Men #190 and #191

33. DC's Showcase Presents and Marvel's Essential collections
34. Kingdome Come
35. Marvels

36. The Watcher, especially the fact that he's sworn to observe and never interfere, but he interferes every damn time.

37. Subplots
38. "My ward is a junkie!"

39. Claremontisms, especially: I’m the best there is at what I do” “The focused totality of my telepathic power” “No quarter asked, none given” and “I'm nigh invulnerable when I'm blastin’!”
40. Cable's convoluted history
41. DC's legacy characters
42. The women of the Hellfire Club

43. The idea that superhero comics are a modern mythology
44. Continuity
45. Pouring through my longboxes for hours on end, organizing my collection
46. "Ultron. We would have words with thee."

47. The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe

48. "To Be Continued."
49. Footnotes: I've read countless comics I never would have otherise because of them.
50. The letters page, a great way to end a comic: the story is over, but I'm not quite ready to move on to the next one.